My name's Tyler, and it's all I have right now, so if you ask me anything other than my name, I wouldn't know what to say. I woke up in a dark alleyway, with a girl leaning over me, an inch away from my face. She had piercing black eyes and frizzy blonde hair, and as she stared, her head tilted as if she couldn't quite figure me out. I tried to back up, but I realized I was in a corner, between a dirty old brick wall and a filthy dumpster overflowing with garbage.
"Uh..." I had no room to move and she was literallly so close I could feel her breath on my face. I guess I must be clausterphoebic, because my heart was racing a million miles per hour and I started hyperventilating. I felt trapped and if I didn't get out of there in the next second, I was going to really freak out or something. Luckily, the girl stood up straight and backed up a step.
"Well, and here I thought you were going to sleep all day," she said, as I got my breath back. "You haven't moved for at least three hours."
I looked up at her. She was wearing a pair of oversized denim overalls and a bright red long-sleeved tee shirt. She also had on a purple scarf wrapped around her neck and hanging down over her shoulders, and for some reason, she was wearing black elbow pads. All in all, she was a very strange looking girl.
"Uh, d-did you say three h-hours?" My voice was quiet and raspy, like I'd been yelling for hours and it finally gave out. Either that, or I hadn't had any water for a couple of days. The girl smiled.
"Yup! I've been standing here waiting for you to wake up the whole time." She'd been standing an inch away, breathing on my face for three hours? The thought made me shudder, but I pushed it away. I needed to figure out what was going on.
"Um, what happened?" I asked the girl. She shrugged. "Beats me," she said. "I was about to ask you the same question. What, did you get in a fight and lose your spot?" I blinked. "... What?" She looked at me, frowning. "You know, did you lose your spot to one of the troupes? Or did the Defs chase you off? A dumpster isn't a very good place to take a nap, especially this time of year."
I felt lost. Too many words, and I didn't know half of them. "I- I'm sorry," I croaked. "Troupes? Defs? I... I don't... uh..." She cut me off. "You know," she said again. "The troupes, they're a bunch of thugs who travel in packs like wolves, hunting down loners and using us for punching practice. That would explain the black eye."
I raised a hand and felt my face. Sure enough, one of my eyes was slightly swolen and stung when I touched it. I looked at the pile of garbage next to me and saw a bit of broken glass like a mirror. I picked it up and looked at my reflecton, and the girl was right, I had a real shiner. Curious, I looked at the rest of my face.
My eyes were sort of olive colored like a weak green, and my face was pale except for the bruise around my eye. My hair was light brown, possibly even dark blonde, but it was tangled and dirty, apparently I hadn't showered in a while. I looked down at myself, I was wearing faded jeans with holes in the knees and some old sneakers. I had on a really worn out coat that looked like it was tan colored leather, and under that, a black graphic tee shirt with some band logo on the front, also worn out.
I looked back up at the girl, who was still talking. "Or did the Defs find you and chase you away from your spot? They don't usually like having kids spend the night out in the public places where the rich people can see them. They get pay cuts if they don't keep us confined to the slums. So what's your name, anyway?" "Tyler," I said, almost without thinking. "What are the Defs?" She folded her arms and frowned at me.
"Oh come on," she said, exasperated. "The Defs? The Defenders? They're the police force in this wasteland of a city, and they work for Mr. King? Don't tell me you don't know who Mr. King is?" With the way she talked, I felt pretty stupid. I could practically feel my ears turn red.
"Actually, I don't." She looked at me angrily, as if I were a stupid waste of her time. "What, you're how old? Fifteen? Sixteen? How can you live here and not know who Mr. King is? Everybody and their little brother knows who Mr. King is!"
That didn't help me feel any better. I bit my lip trying not to cry. Hey, you try waking up next to a dumpster in an alley with a black eye and a sore throat, with a short tempered girl standing over you telling you how stupid you are for not knowing what the heck is going on. It doesn't exactly make you feel good.
But then my stomach growled and I realized I was starving, and that sort of took my mind off the whole I'm-so-stupid thing for a bit. I took a shaky breath and looked up again. "I don't know anything," I told her. "I don't know who this Mr. King is, I don't know what Defenders are, I don't even know how old I am. All I know is my name's Tyler, and that's it."
And that was also it for my voice. I coughed hoarsely a couple times and knew I wouldn't be talking for a while. The girl looked at me warily, as if she thought I was trying to screw with her head or something. "...Really?" She asked. I nodded.
"How can I be sure you're not trying to scam me or something?" I thought for a moment and shrugged. She sighed. "Fine then," she snapped. "My name's Christie Evans. If we're gonna be friends, then I can't let you stay next to this dumpster. It's filthy, and I won't associate with people who sleep in filth."
Before I knew what was happening, she was pulling me to my feet. I tried to stand on my own, but I couldn't seem to get my legs to hold my weight. I felt dizzy and everything started to go dark, giving me a headache. I closed my eyes, trying to remember something, anything.
Who was I? Tyler. That much I knew. Beyond that... nothing. Why was I sleeping next to a dumpster? What had happened to my voice? Where had I gotten the black eye? Who was Mr. King, and why was he so important that everybody knew about him? And why was I so weak? I felt like I hadn't had any food or water for days, and now to top it all off, I was being half carried, half dragged across the alleyway, by a random girl I'd never seen, to a place I'd never been, and there was nothing I could do about it. But the biggest question of all was what I was thinking as I slipped into unconciousness: What had happened to my memory?