The "downtown" area of the Commonwealth is a pretty treacherous place. You can't turn the corner without running afoul of a pack of violent raiders or a gaggle of nuke-happy super mutants. Which is why it's easy to miss the unassuming red door leading into Pickman Gallery. Though it has the distinction of being an official location that shows up on the map, that name lacks the ominous ring of "Covenant" or "Parsons State Insane Asylum."
And then you go inside.
You'd be forgiven if you read "Pickman Gallery" and and thought of a family-friendly skeet shooting range or maybe a series of screenshots from that Nintendo game with the multicolored plant aliens. Instead, patrons are greeted with blood smeared on the walls, mounds of raw human flesh piled high and a series of decapitated heads that are less than thrilled to be impaled on spikes. It's like you unknowingly stepped into a portal to hell right after the 6000th Annual Murder Jamboree.
It quickly becomes apparent that this monument to depravity isn't just for funsies. In the mind of the infamous Pickman, his gala of gore is fine art. He fancies himself to be a more violent version of Rembrandt, or maybe a less pretentious Andy Warhol. Putting a freshly expired human into an open casket with a flower is his own version of the Mona Lisa.
It would appear as though the Commonwealth has its very own serial killer Banksy. You can actually catch wind of Pickman's activities before even stepping foot inside the gallery. In and around the area of the gallery, you can find pre-killed raiders whose corpses include Pickman's calling card: A heart drawn with blood, followed by a message goading any raiders dumb enough to come on down to his art show. It's pretty simplistic as far as psychopathic schemes go, but it appears to have worked wonders. Pickman has all the blood paint he needs to build his shrine to death and dismemberment.
As you work your way through the gallery, you come upon angry and scared raiders. They attack you, partly because they're the mindless Goombas of the Fallout universe, but they may also believe that you're Pickman himself. It's tough to explain between shotgun blasts that you're not the guy draining bodies and dumping them in the basement like dried-up paint tubes.
Towards the end of your journey through Pickman's house of horrors, you come upon a pack of raiders harassing what looks to be a civilian. It's not uncommon for players to completely ignore all the warning signs and let your inner Paragon take over, resulting in several raiders slaughtered and one innocent life saved. But that just wasn't any poor schmoe who happened to walk into Pickman's Gallery. You just saved Pickman himself.
Yep, this creepy-ass gentleman is none other than Pickman, the architect of this horrifying terror maze. Unfortunately, there's no dialogue option to ask him whether he named himself after the H.P. Lovecraft short story "Pickman's Model," in which a disturbed artist creates ghastly paintings. He simply thanks you for your service and hands you a key to a special safe. It's not a trap, but a genuine gift -- inside the safe is a pretty sweet knife. Yes, "Pickman's Blade" was almost certainly used to murder scores of people, but come on, they were raiders! They would have killed innocents themselves, given the chance. ...Right?
But the most unsettling thing in the safe would have to be the note that Pickman leaves for you.
You might have been trying to ignore it before, but this gruesome thank-you letter encapsulates what you've done -- you saved a psychotic serial killer. Because of you, many more people will die in the name of Pickman's twisted "art." But hey, at last that knife has some pretty sick stats.
If you've played Fallout 4 for a substantial amount of time, you're bound to have noticed them: The mannequins, those eerie white dummies that you often mistake for enemies. They're so common that fans have taken it upon themselves to mod the mannequins, whether it's to change them all into harmless flamingos or even scarier mannequins.
At first it seems like an easy way to fill out a world with detail, but as you go deeper you keep finding mannequins in the oddest places. At heart, you know that it's just the developers messing with you in particularly tense areas, but part of the lizard brain can't help but think that that something sinister is going on behind those dull plastic eyes.
Some of the scenes you come upon are kind of funny, at least. Like this fella in the Concord Speakeasy, not far from where you start the game.
It looks as though he lived out his last days with some drugs and some artificial company. Not the worst way to go, right? And then you peek in the bathroom.
If you can resist the urge to exit this window and abandon the internet forever, you'll see that this scene just gets creepier the more you look at it. Three naked male mannequins, two armed with machetes and one wielding a plunger, surround a filled bathtub that contains a headless corpse. If you look to the left, you'll see that the missing skull is in fact resting in the toilet. As demented as it is to see it written out in print, it doesn't seem like a stretch to say the guy in the bed cut off his wife's head in a bout of apocalyptic insanity, then set up the mannequins to take the fall for him.
It sounds far-fetched, but this is the same game where you can find a mannequin standing in front of a mound of burned corpses.
You have to go out of your way to witness this scene in the Mass Bay Medical Center. By picking an advanced lock, the door swings open and you're treated to the sight of several human skeletons half-buried in their own ashes. The nearby flamethrower and the fact that the embers are still glowing just under the surface imply that this happened recently. The only other person around is a life-size doll with a lovely summer dress. And she's not talking.
But hey, this isn't Doctor Who, or even The Witcher III. There aren't any evil statues that move in Fallout ga--
Ha ha, Bethesda. You almost got me there. The fact is, there just aren't any living mannequins in Fallout 4. The closest thing might be those synths who look like the androids from I, Robot, but it's not like they hang out in groups of mannequins, waiting to attack while in perfect camoflauge.
That's it! Fallout 4 is just too damned creepy. I'm going back to the Deathclaw Sanctuary.