“Easy... Easy, Boy.” I lowered my hand to the dog's head and patted affectionately, trying to calm him. He whined low in his throat and looked around at the darkness that closed in on us.
We were in a garage that much I could tell. Just a nondescript, average run-of-the-mill garage. I had had this dream many times. Some leftover thoughts, spike on the imagination line, something like that.
The dog lived here. Not the garage specifically. Specifically he lived with, or was owned by, the people that lived on the ground floor of the nearby house. I knew that was true because I lived on the top floor of that same house, even though I had only ever set foot there once or twice, and then only in dreams. I still knew the place. It looked the same. Familiar. The dog, Bear, slept in the garage.
The dog squirmed under my calming hand, whined once again, and then darted out of the garage toward the lower floor of the house. Maybe the first floor. Maybe the basement if he had or could find a way into it. Either way, he was safe now. A kind of exit stage left. Still, I waited a few long minutes to see if he might return, when he didn't I turned my attention back to the grocery cart I had just pushed for the last few miles to reach the garage.
It wasn't mine. Well, technically it wasn't mine, but everything in this world was mine if you came right down to it. I had entered what looked to be an abandoned house and found the cart, already loaded, and sitting in an attached garage just off the ground floor apartment. I remember thinking... “So... This is how it begins...
It always begins some way and I suppose that sometimes the ends justify the means, and here was the end... I mean to say that I took the cart, loaded as it was, no more thought involved, pushed it out of the garage at a run and went blindly down the rain-slicked dirt road in front of me.
There was one bad part when I nearly got stuck, but I saw the problem from a long way off, put on a burst of speed and made it through the mud hole and out the other side. It was only a matter of minutes later that I had come in sight of the house and knew what the deal was. I had been contemplating the cart and its contents, feeling ears of corn through the side of a large sack, about to check some other stuff, when the dog had appeared.
When the dog came, memories came with him: The house; the people that owned the dog... Returning from work... or? I don't know. Work or something else. Daily? Was it before things got bad? If so it had to be work: There was nothing else but work before. So work, or something like work... Coming home... The people downstairs... The family upstairs that I knew so intimately, but had never actually seen... Other memories... Leaving to go and get the cart... Knowing it would be there somehow... Getting there... Looping back to here and the present time...