A century after its construction, and a radical shift in transport patters and fuel source - the US Interstate highway system remained a major part of life. Despite decades of dreaming futurists, flying cars don't exist - getting to altitude would be inefficient, and hundreds of people above the ground could render any crash potentially catastrophic. Even after the event, most people still think of distance in terms of driving.
However, the savy ones know to avoid the highways and major road systems when traveling through the Zone.
Even with the automatic guidance systems, the roads could get fairly choked up on holidays.One can use tele-presence to replace trips to the office, but that doesn't work so well for swimming with dolphins in in the Florida Keys.
Remote operation works even less well when trying to evacuate enmasse from cities where the dead are beginning to rise and rumors are flying that an alien orbital strike could be only hours away. The roads quickly became choked with vehicles of all description, many driven under manual control by those who wanted to get out faster than the automatic systems would allow, or when those systems were out of commission entirely. But each accident, as seen on highways streching back into the 20th century - means an exponential slowdown at the bottleneck, and when the columns of cars got too slow, creatures would emerge from the shoulders.
Five years later, the service roads and off-ramps are still littered with the bones of those too shredded or trampled in the panic to be reanimated. Weather-beaten, looted, and smashed cars are parked bumper-to-bumper for miles in some places - a good supply of spare parts, but unlikely to move again, and choking the thruway. Since the roads channel people into predictable paths - bandits are a bit more likely than if blazing a trail.
Most people are reasonably sure that the Reanimate phenomenon is not a supernatural one, and yet at least some are convinced certain places are haunted. The one agreed upon fact, however, is that there are areas of unreasonably elevated danger. Few people are willing to approach an area rumored to be a muderyard, and even fewer - if any - return.
Of course, there is some contention on this point. It could be that the rumors are simply a ruse to keep people out - if outsiders are too afraid to approach the walls, they're unlikely to climb over them. Many supposed murderyards coincide with places that would feature heavy environmental contamination - old bomb ranges, Superfund waste dumps, unmaintained chemical refinery and the like - meaning that toxins, hallucinogenic compounds, radiation, or normal wildlife exposed to teratagens - could play play a part in the deadly reputation of these places.
Also detracting from the veracity of these claims is the wide range supposed phenomenomn observed in or near these places. A partial list includes:
- Large concentrations of reanimates
- Claims of type Four, Five, or unclassified strains of reanimate
- Military vehicles that match no known human or citizen models
- People in hazmat gear and gas-masks moving about aimlessly
- Mirages, unexplained fires
- Aggressive and deformed wildlife
- Citizen Military Outposts
- Military or Center for Disease Control camps (of either refugee or termination variety)
Some places just smell like trouble. Any building is up for looting, but a few are rumored to be true treasure troves. Anyplace with water and a bit of flat terrain could house an outpost - but some areas are just the perfect location. If someone doesn't take control of the area decisively and quickly, it becomes a warzone. Like an uncovered pot- they're dangerous, and can spill over into surrounding territory.
It would not be incorrect to compare boilertown to the boom-towns of of gold-rush fame. A lot of people after the same resource, and then some more that are preying upon the former group.
If a boilertwon is ever covered, it can turn into a nice place. The Capital of New Birmingham would be archetypal of a site that would instigate this kind of fighting - water, sea access, power, a nearby city, and of course a research hospital. However, since the area is secured, it is instead the linchpin of a powerful and expansionist state.