- "We're saying goodbye my boy. The world's a-burning soon, this very afternoon, goodbye my boy. Death comes today, thirty minutes away, goodbye my boy. No birds are singing with Vault sirens ringing, goodbye my boy."
On October 23, 2077: the television stations were frozen with a familiar test pattern, radios blared with Civil Defense warnings and instructions, and telephone services were commandeered by the government for the war effort. In short, the likely and traditional means for private citizens to coordinate anything beyond an immediate, local level were unavailable. It was in these unlikely circumstances that the short poem came to life and spread across the nation like a memetic virus. Across towns and cities the poem began appearing in black spray paint along wide walls and billboards. Nobody quite knew who wrote it and nobody realized that this bit of apocalyptic art was all over the place.
Replicated across thousands of buildings and billboards across the nation, relatively few examples survived the bombs or decades of exposure to the elements and scavengers. These few surviving instances would only occasionally be found by survivors literate enough to understand them. Despite all this it continues to be replicated, frequently by people who have never even seen an original instance or heard of the poem from those who have, including by illiterate tribes.
The poem was the last work of Dr. Karol Weiss, a gifted renaissance man who worked on various related projects in years prior to the war. Most notably he was one of the individuals involved in the creation of both CODE and the Mesmetron. The poem was a futile act of desperate hubris, intended as a slap in the face to his professional and academic rivals who never had the opportunity to even recognize what was happening before they were all destroyed.
Weiss was removed from the project at St. Aubin's thanks to the meddling of Professor Calvert. He found that many doors had been closed to him, his rivals were powerful enough to keep him out of other institutions and have him simultaneously declared an intellectual asset of the state so he couldn't immigrate. Weiss retreated underground and used his own fortune to work on a device capable of broadcasting a signal that replicated the effects of CODE and the Mesmetron, completing a prototype in October of 2077. He had hoped to achieve a coup in psychological warfare, but when the warnings started coming on the fateful day he knew he wouldn't have the opportunity. Dr. Weiss programmed the device to broadcast a command to write the poem Goodbye My Boy then shot himself.
The prototype only seems to affect limited numbers of people, the exact qualifiers are unknown. They do not even recognize that they're being forced to do anything, they simply perform the command and go about their lives. It seems that fulfilling it once frees people of the need to do so anymore. The device is well hidden among the larger machinery of a still-functioning broadcasting station somewhere east of the Mississippi River. Assuming anyone realized the device existed, could find it, and was some kind of an expert electrical engineer, biologist, and psychiatrist they might be able to reprogram it to broadcast a different command. Any effort to discover the whereabouts of the device would have to start in Mount Pony, where some of Dr. Weiss' journals were stashed after his ejection from St. Aubin Medical Facility.