Today has been unlike any other day before. I met a dog but this dog reminded me of some dog I may have had before my accident. I've been out of it for about 6 months. I have no clue who I am and what I was doing before this but this dog, he's so nice. He's protected me from thieves, off the dock while I've been bargaining with fruit sales women. While I was talking to one of the ladies she asked about the dog.
“Oh, my, that's such a handsome dog you have with you today. Where'd you find him?”
“He found me. Yeah, last night in my sleep he showed up out of nowhere. Woke me up and has followed me ever since!” I said.
“Oh wow! Do you want any food for him? We have fish scraps for the low. Real clean too! You know we fish away from the contaminated ocean.” She said,
“Yeah, yeah mama! You know I don’t remember anything about that. Do you eat this fish yourself?” I asked.
“Trust me kid, I’ll pull a fast one on you for anything else but I love dogs. This is good food, we only save it for us. I just love your puppy! Does he have a name? Have you checked that tag around his neck?”
“Name? Wait, what is that around his neck?” I say as I lower myself and check the dog's collar. “With loyalty we win” engraved on a gold key. I've seen this collar before, I think to myself and see this key with me and given to me by an older man.
I can't think of what any of this means. I lie to the lady and buy the fish scrapes from her. I tell her, “it's just a key with some words on it. “
She says “That's probably an old collar someone passed down to this dog from before everything happened. I think he just hitched a ride with you because he can tell you have a golden heart.”
I smile, she's always sweet on me but she herself taught me, people are sometimes sweet just so they can get more out of you. I thank her and leave with the dog. I think I'll call him Keyman
I have everything I need so I aim for the exit and Keyman ran into some guards checking everyone for any gold they might have left from any other shake downs. Lucky for me I took off keymans’ collar and put it in his food after I bought the fish from old lady shawna. We continue back to my hideout and the vanguard stops us.
“Who's dog is this?” The brut yells at me
“What dog?” I ask, messing with the guard.
“Shut up, this dog right here!” He announces pointing at Keyman.
“Oh, him!?!?! That's just Keyman! He's my boy and he usually stays out hunting so I can bargain on the dock.” I say foolishly.
“Whatever! You and that damn mutt, leave at once, I better not see you again tonight.” He shouts.
Before we leave, commotion breaks out at Old Lady Shawna’s booth. Guards and Shawna, yell at each other over the barely clean fish she sold us. Distracted, I steal the only bag left in the guards post.
We dash back to our morning meeting spot. The place I woke up one morning and started my life, the same place Keyman found me. We spilled out the fish and the stolen guards bag.
I need to leave, I need to remember, I need to- Keyman barks at the bag some more. The last thing in it besides wanted posters and a knife is a map. A delicately wrapped map with a gold knotted ribbon. A heart pattern in gold on the ribbon. He smells it and barks some more.
I untie the ribbon. The map unravels slightly and I take it by one end and start pulling. The map opens and seems to be a map of the bay we're in. Very accurate too, we're completely separated from where a vast piece of land once was. Old lady Shawna explained it a couple times but I'm tired just thinking of it. There's a special star over an abandoned house that is on the edge of the bay. Hopeful, I grab my things and get Keyman ready for the day trip in front of us. Day by foot, but three hours by car. Barely anyone has a car but some of the fishers and other labor women that run this town, do own a car. They won't even notice I'm gone.
We start our trip and the day is hot. Sun is at the highest point of the day. I still can't come up with a reason why Keyman is still following me. He's such a good boy and he does whatever I do. Walks over every log I walk over and jumps wherever I jump.
We make our way to a long bridge bringing us from the first wall of the city and the small lake between the edge of the rest of our journey, to the abandoned house. We walk what seems like almost a couple miles. Multiple times waving at the fishermen on the lake. We spot a small figure in the distance. They wave at us when we finally get within distance of seeing each other. It's an older man, short, scruffy and dusty looking.
“Oh what's up Youngsters?” The old man asks
“Oh hey! Hi, how's it going?” I reply
“What brings you guys to the lake?” He asks.
“Oh well, we've never been to the edge of the bay and we’d like to see the cavern.” I lie
“Just never seen into that broken earth, ya know?” I add, trying to fabricate a story out of nothing.
“Oh. Well then, are ya from around here then? Most folks here have seen that cavern, boat loads of times.” He says, scratching his chin. “Unless you were shipped here, most people that were brought here by the repopulation act the new leaders put into place, years ago, just get put right on the docks. Say, you work on the docks then?” He asked, trying to figure me out.
“Something like that, I just never got the chance to see them is all. I know there's a bridge crossing the cavern but I've always wanted to look down into it.” I say, quickly, nervously. Trying to sound like I'm actually from here and not forgetting who I actually am.
“Alrighty, well, I'm headed out there. Got some treasure hunting I got planned at this old house out there. Pretty beat up old shack.” He says, as he continues to ramble on as we get into his truck.
I start to panic. He's going to the same place I'm going and there's a chance the vanguard will be waiting for us. Something in my stomach starts turning. I start to slightly tremble, Keyman notices and starts pointing and growling at the old man before he starts his truck.
“Rudys’ the name. Justice is the truck's name. Oh yeah! Rudy and justice. Just like the old days, this truck and I go way back. All the way before the accident and before the world became what it is today. Just be glad they figured out how to desalinate the ocean water before the accident. We’d be at each other's throats like everyone who isn't surrounded by the ocean. Oh yeah, justice and I had to really hold it down for the vanguard, just like how we used to transport people to the dock. Just like how I have no idea who you are and why you're trying to see the cavern but I got a tip earlier today that someone stole a map from the vanguard off the docks. I don't remember bringing you to the docks with the rest of the emergency evacuates. Who are you and what do you want with that map? '' He asks.
He knows! He knows and he's going to stop our plans. He's going to take me to their jail and I'll never be able to see Keyman or freedom again.
Rudy “I'll ask you again, who are you? And what are you doing out here?” He shouts.
“Joseph, my name is Joseph.” I say without even thinking, I have no idea where I got the name but it's right, that is my name. I remember my name.
“What are you doing here Joseph?” Rudy askes.
As Rudy continues to shout out questions at me Keyman starts barking at him hard.
Rudy backs up and puts a hand into his truck. With his body pointing to us and his right arm behind him grabbing for something.
I lost it. I rush Rudy, throwing my body into him. Completely slamming him into his truck. We both fall down. He starts choking for air. I knocked the wind out of his chest. He seems hurt, really hurt. I push past it and get into his truck with Keyman. He’s still on the ground gasping for air. I throw his bag out the window and something heavy slides out. What appears to be a weapon, he uses and starts pointing it at the truck. With the keys in the ignition, I start the truck and start taking off. Rudy in the rearview mirror, still gasping for air, tries to lean up and use his weapon at us. Loud bangs ring out from the weapon one hits the truck but completely misses Keyman and I.
“I'm just glad he didn’t notice your collar Keyman, who knows what he's looking for but I bet you somehow we're behind all this. Or at least you.”
I say to Keyman as he sits beside me.
It seems as if my instincts take over and I operate the truck without even remembering how or when I even learned to drive. I have my name, I have this dog and we have a map. We're ready to find this treasure and get out of here.
About a few hours pass and we start seeing the house. The only house within walking distance of the cavern. I feel like I've seen this house before. I can remember people and lots of them, walking around this house with plates of food, laughter and loud people having a good time. We get out of the truck and I tell Keyman to stay outside the house and keep watch for Rudy or other vanguard.
I walk up the steps into the house. Each giving off a creak as I make my way inside.
The first room I enter is a room full of broken glass and broken furniture. I walk around. Each room looks incredibly similar and very familiar. Most things have been ravaged through. Looks like a lot of people before me tried to find the treasure first. Images start filling my head, the hall, and all the way at the end of the hall is a man moving the floor boards around. Right under a window, I make my way to the hall I remember. I look out the window and see Keyman. He's standing ready for the vanguard to come back.
I start reaching down to the floorboards, all the way at the end of the floor, the boards come up with ease. One at a time, I start pulling them up. A covered object appears in the middle of what seems to be a secret compartment. I take off the cover to reveal a golden gem heart shaped locket. With the words “with Loyalty, we win” engraved on the locket, I step back. Wide eyed, I know what this is- barking in the distance gets my attention.
“Spike!” remembering and relieving Spike of his terrible name I gave him earlier.
I look out the window at what he's barking at. A small man leading a group of vanguard.