I opened the door to back seat of my Ford Aspire and let Argent out to run. Aspire right? Yes, it was a really old car, but I it got really cheap from its original owner some old lady that lost her license. It’s a shame for her, but her loss was my gain, right? I know it was old, but it was spotless. Was spotless, until me and my big slobbery dog got a hold of it. Now it was never clean. Short silver dog hair and slobber everywhere. Sometimes it wasn’t even worth cleaning it.
Argent, that’s my dog’s name, and I went for a hike in the woods near my apartment. I needed some fresh air to clear my head and figure out my next step. Today had been the worst day of my entire life, now I know I’m only twenty-five, but come on. It was a real shitter of a day. The man… boy... asshole, I had been engaged to and living with, decided that after two years together I wasn’t the one for him. If that wasn’t bad enough he already found the next love of his life and since the lease to the apartment was in his name, I was the one being evicted. EVICTED! By my fiancé. Well, my ex- fiancé. Of course, the new love of his life was a girl that I introduced him to because I worked with her. Ginger, what a hoe! A few times we all went out as a group of coworkers and their significant others. Dinner, club, whatever. I thought we had fun at least. Apparently, just not with me or Ginger’s boyfriend. I wonder how he’s taking it?
My schedule change at work makes sense, now. I was told that management decided to keep the payment office in the hospital open later to accommodate patient’s that worked later hours. She was my supervisor, so who do you think got the early hours and who do you think got the late hours. Perfect set up to make sure the competition isn’t around. Did you notice I said I worked with her? Because I don’t anymore. She was at the apartment with Brian when I got home from work. They were waiting for me. They decided to tell me together, so it would be more honest and mature. Assholes! There was nothing mature or honest about what they did.
That was when she said that working together wouldn’t be a good idea. She could no longer be my supervisor. She said she was sorry it didn’t work out and I could use her as a reference. HA! Fucking bitch. I really had no clue what was going on. How could I have been more stupid? Then Brian said that he would let me use the apartment until the end of the next month and the lease was paid in full. That it should be plenty of time for me to find another job and another apartment. That’s when the smart, beautiful and perfect Ginger handed me my severance pay. Two weeks’ severance, three weeks earned vacation and the hours I worked for the last week and a half. I was at the job for seven years, right out of high school. Good benefits, decent pay. I’ll never find another job like that again.
My eyes started to tear again, so I called Argent over and kiss her big beautiful head and rub her muscular chest. I got her from a friend who ran a dog adoption site. My sweet little baby girl was rejected by her mother a few weeks after she was born. She was the runt and her mother had too many puppies in the litter. So I offered to help with the feedings. Her eyes hadn’t even been open that long. I would love to say that she imprinted on me, but dogs don’t do that do they? Well any way, I practically raised her and when they time came for the puppies to be adopted, what option did I have? She was like the daughter I’ll probably never have. That was four years ago pre Brian, so at least he can’t say that she is his. She would probably bite him anyway. She never really did take to him. Should have been a clue right there. At least I have her. At least things can’t get worse.
Really, who in their right mind says or even thinks something like that. Because that is exactly when Murphy’s law decided to explode in my face. Argent saw something stir in the trees and darted off at breakneck speed. It must have been something pretty interesting too, because my normally well trained and obedient Cane Corso ignored me like it was bath time. She flew into the trees in a big silver flash leaving me to wonder what the fuck else was going to happen today. Normally I would let her have at it, but I was already feeling deserted enough and now my dog ran off leaving me to feel even more useless. It can’t get worse, I thought to myself.
I heard loud crashing in the woods and then everything stopped. Suddenly I heard a horrible howl and I knew, just knew my baby was hurt. I had to find her and help her. I sprinted in the direction of her howling filled with dread. She was a big girl, over a hundred pounds. If she couldn’t walk, if she was hurt, I didn’t think I could get her back into the car. Ugh! Please, please, please let her be okay. Let her just have treed a tabby cat or something equally ridiculous. Please, please, please.
I called her name over and over, saying here girl, here Argent. I’ve got cookies. Come to Mama. All that usually worked if she was in the mood. Soooo that either meant she was really hurt or she couldn’t get to me. I hoped it was the latter. Her howling seemed to weaker and weaker or farther and farther, but I continued to follow. Even after it started to drizzle a bit. Of course! Why do I keep thinking it couldn’t get any worse?
I finally saw her across the other side of a really deep ravine, maybe ten feet across. How did she get over there? She couldn’t jump that far, could she? She only had a small ledge to land on. There was no way I could get over there and lead her back and now it was starting to get late. In the next hour it would be dark.
Really, a complete shitter of a day. Would anyone disagree?
Then I saw the log. It must have been what she had crossed over, but it fell leaving her stranded on the other side. How was I going to get to her? Think, damn it. THINK!
That’s when it came to me. I could jump it. Definitely, I could jump it. I think I could jump it? People could do miraculous things when lives were on the line. Yes, I could do it. I would too. I think? Yes! Yes. Maybe? Then she looked at me with her beautiful golden eyes and bayed at me. Don’t leave me here Mommy, she said. Crap! I was going to jump the ravine. But first what was I going to do when I got over there? The ledge wasn’t really that big, how were we going to get back?
Suddenly I saw a faint movement a little farther down the side of the ravine under Argent. I barely saw it, but I did see it. It was a rabbit and it was on another ledge a little bit bigger, but this led into a cave. Yuck, a cave. But at least we could get out of the rain and I didn’t hear any growling or see the rabbit run back out. So it was safe, right? Nothing in there to eat it…
So here I go. Mommy’s coming, Argent. Mommy’s coming. I backed up pretty far and started to run for it. How hard could it be. You run. You jump. You land. Perfect! It was unbelievably perfect. I can’t believe I landed on that tiny little ledge right next to Argent.
Did I mention that the drizzle had gotten heavier? Kind of like a shower. No, just like a deluge. A stream of water poured on us and the ledge gave way. I heard Argent yelp as she slipped down the side scrambling to catch on anything to stop falling. I couldn’t help her because I was falling too. Falling. Nothing to grab onto but slippery wet mud and then I crashed to the ledge below with a thud.
Oof! I think Argent landed on me sandwiching me between a hundred pounds of muddy wet dog and the cold wet rocks underneath me.
I think I fell unconscious because when I came to, it was dark and wet. I tried to open my eyes and couldn’t find the strength.
I think I blacked out again. It was getting harder to breathe. Was she still on top of me? I think I have to cut back on the treats. Ugh! Definitely cut back on the treats.
Darkness again. I think I heard some yelling too. Someone must have found me because I heard voices getting closer, but I couldn't make out the words. I couldn't hear over my ragged breathing. Man, I was getting thirsty. I fell asleep again.
Now I think I heard screaming. The sound of metal scraping against…something? I’m really weak.
Argent! I screamed her name, but it came out in a whisper.
Argent. I whispered again or was it in my head.
I heard voices again and more metal scraping on something. Now I felt someone next to me. I tried to turn and look at them but I was so so tired. I think I’m bleeding from somewhere too because I felt sticky and smelled copper.
The voice was high and melodic and definitely another language, but it's soothing and a hand brushed my hair out of my face and another handed me… A bag of water? I don’t care. I drink it greedily, coughing most of it up. Then try for some more before the water is taken away from me. I think the voice was talking to me, but I had trouble concentrating and it sounds so soothing. I feel like I am going to fall asleep again.
I heard shouting again and someone shakes me awake.
Oh. I guess I am not supposed to sleep. I tried to open my eyes and barely manage it. Maybe they already were open because it is really dark in here. Did I make it into the cave?
“Argent.” I managed to groan.
“Argent?” The voice repeated. I felt someone lift me and set me on my feet. I collapsed almost immediately and a stronger pair of hands gripped me and leaned me against the wall.
Wait, where did the wall come from?
The female voice spoke to me gently, soothingly. By her inflection, it sounds like she is asking me something. I can’t understand so I shake my head. Then I hear a man’s voice, oddly comforting. Familiar even.
My vision starts adjust to what little light there is in the cave and I looked around. Ugh, I groan. My head feels like a dog fell on it. Which I’m pretty sure happened, even if I can’t find my dog. A wave of dizziness overwhelms me and suddenly I feel sick. Real sick and I dry heaved. When’s the last time I ate or drank or relieved myself. Suddenly I really have to go. Oh God! It’s going to come out both ends. And it does. I am so weak that when I dry heave again I expel so much fluid from my body that I collapse right next to a pile of filth.
I heard the voices shout and they got weaker as my vision gets cloudier then I am out.
I woke to the feeling of a cool damp cloth pressing against my forehead. I heard the voice again; I still can’t make out the words. They are arguing, hissing at each other.
Why didn’t they take me to the hospital? I groan in disgust as I start to notice the stench, probably from me. Yuck. Am on the floor? It feels like I am laying on something really sharp. I groan again louder as I try to adjust my position and the fighting stops.
Ah. Great I got their attention. I heard two distinctly female voices hoovering over me. The musical one from before and the gentle grandmotherly voice wiping my face. I try to crack my eyes open but they feel crusted shut. The older voice seems to be telling the younger voice something and she doesn’t seem to like it.
I heard metal scraping again and the younger voice is yelling. I hear a new voice, a male voice and he seems to be distressed. I hear them coming closer to me and the young voice is hissing at the man. I am still trying pry my eyes open and for some reason they are not very cooperative. Finally, finally I manage to get one eye open and the room is dimly lit. There seems to be a torch on the wall. And I finally can see where I am and it sure as hell isn’t a cave!
It almost looks like a freaking dungeon. Great! I’ve been taken to some lunatic’s basement. Murphy’s Law is in overdrive right now.
My surprise must have been obvious because the owners of the three voices turned to look at me. If I thought I was surprised to be in a dungeon, can you imagine my surprise when I found myself looking at Leliana and Wynne.
Great I was dead. How could this day get any worse?