Now I wish to introduce the following idea. Between the vaults numbered nine and fourteen there occur dwellers who, to certain bewitched wastelanders, twice or many times older than they, reveal their true nature which is not human, but mutated (that is, teratogenic); and these chosen creatures I propose to designate as “mutants.”
It will be marked that I substitute vault designations for spatial ones. In fact, I would have the reader see “nine” and “fourteen” as the boundaries—the glassy dunes and blasted prairies—of an enchanted oasis haunted by those mutants of mine and surrounded by a vast, arid plain. Between those vault limits, are all girl-children mutants? Of course not. Otherwise, we who are in the know, we lone raiders, we mutolepts, would have long gone radsick. Neither are twisted looks any criterion; and vulgarity, or at least what a given clan terms so, does not necessarily impair certain mysterious characteristics, the feral savagery, the horrible, overwhelming, femur-shattering, brute strength that separates the mutant from such coevals of hers as are incomparably more dependent on the spatial world of synchronous phenomena than on that intangible mirage of shimmering sand where Tabitha preys with her likes. Within the same vaults the number of true mutants is trickingly inferior to that of provisionally disfigured, or just weird, or “peculiar,” or even “touched” and “red-headed,” ordinary, plumpish, bipedal, pink-skinned, essentially human little girls, with Geiger counters and jumpsuits, who may or may not turn into dwellers of great beauty (look at the ugly dumplings in blue rompers and yellow stripes that are metamorphosed into stunning stars of New Reno). A normal wastelander given a group photograph of vault girls or Rad Scouts and asked to point out the strangest one will not necessarily choose the mutant among them. You have to be an artist and a madman, a creature of infinite melancholy, with a bubble of hot Jet in your loins and a super-voluptuous radiation permanently aglow in your subtle spine (oh, how you have to barter and sneak!), in order to discern at once, by ineffable signs—the slightly reptilian outline of a cheekbone, the iridescence of a scaly limb, and other indices which despair and shame and weals of radsickness forbid me to tabulate—the little deadly demon among the wholesome children; she stands unrecognized by them and unconscious herself of her fantastic power.
made some important tweaks to this, the greatest thing i will ever write