As I fought to keep control of myself, I felt a familiar cold damp feeling cross my hand. I smiled. It was Argos. I managed to roll onto my side and prop myself up on my elbow, and stroked his soft white fur with my other hand. I told him he was a good boy and he seemed to smile in response. Argos is a Golden Retriever I had raised since he was just a puppy. He was lean and fit, and his fur was beautiful shade of white mixed with the natural honey and gold color of a Golden. Many people find his name strange, but I don’t care. I gave it to him for a reaosn, and he lives up to it in every way. Let them judge if they want. It’s their own fault for not understanding its meaning.
As I pet him I also search him for wounds. He could have been hurt when he came to defend me, and I don’t know what I’d do without him. Once I’m satisfied that he isn’t hurt, I bring him closer to me and he nuzzled my chest. This is why I love him, and all dogs.
This is the unspoken bond between a man and his dog. I keep him alive, and he keeps me from giving up on myself. Even when I want to give up and I feel their is no hope, he reminds me to keep going, that as long as he is there I am not alone.
I let go of him and looked around for the flashlight, which was a few feet behind me. Rather than inch my way to it and risk injuring myself anymore I pointed to it and spoke to Argos.
“Argos, fetch.” I taught him to fetch a few months after the darkness set in, hoping he could help in situations like this, where I was unable to get something. He lits his head and follows my gestures. He trots over to the flashlight and uses his nose to roll it towards me. I reward him with some affection and loving words, then picked up the flashlight and used it to look around and get my bearings again.
The center of the park was a small square centered on a statue of the man who built it, and whose name has faded from memory faster he’d have hoped. The statute now stood only to mock the natural beauty of the nature that surrounds it. Their were once park benches here and there, but I can’t see any around, and wont crawl around the park looking for one. I thought about trying to make my way home, but I knew it was too far. I wouldn’t have made it back safely in my current condition.
I lived in a ruined apartment complex, but I was not alone. An old man lived in an apartment across the hall from mine. He was kind and I looked out for him when I could, sharing supplies or giving him thinks he needed. Down the hall slept a young man, his girlfriend, and two young boys they found abandoned. They rarely spoke with me, but the young man once helped me defend our home from a group of thugs seeking to take whatever they could carry, and for that I consider him a friend. The only other tenant was a woman who lived next door to me. She was beautiful, and on occasion we have eaten diner together or sat and talked on lonely nights.
I realize now that I was wrong. Argos is not the only one I have to live for. I think I love her, even though I have only known her a short time. We have never kissed, hugged, or even held hands, but still I feel a connection with her that seems different and special. Whether she feels the same way or not, I would protect her and shelter from harm even if it cost me my life.
I think of my fellow survivors and hope they would come looking for me, but I doubted they would. They will notice I am missing of course, but that doesn’t mean they will search for me. Their was another man who lived with us, and he went missing some time ago. We all had heard him speak of where he was going, and we all could have gone to find him. None of us have even mentioned his absence.
I thought about what I could do. I could die trying to get home, or sit here and hope someone finds me before I die of starvation...or something worse. I reach over and grab my pack, which was beside me, and made my choice.