The sun stared down at me as I walked down the cracked sidewalk. The streets were empty as always. I kicked a piece of rubble away as I moved forward. The soft padding of feet next to me repeated my footsteps in a steady rhythm. I unrolled the map in my hands and stared down at it. The neatly drawn lines helped guide me as I tried to match my surroundings with the piece of paper.
"I really hope we're going the right direction, Chester," I muttered to my companion. I tilted my head down to watch him walk along with me. His short brown and black fur moved as a soft wind passed by. His snout was lowered to the floor as he went along. Chester looked up at me with his large dark eyes. "You're a good boy," I stopped and bent down to give him a pat on my head. The german shepherd gave my hand a quick lick and sat down. Chester has been with me for 7 years now. He was a gift from my brother, given to me on my birthday. I remembered when he was just a small thing, eyes wide with curiosity. He would always wait by the door when he heard my car in the driveway and he would always snuggle up against me every night. He was my world and now he's the only thing keeping me sane.
"You want a drink?" I questioned as I pulled out my water bottle. His ears perked up at the sight of the plastic container and he waited. I uncapped it and poured a small amount of water into my cupped palm and let him drink it up. The liquid slowly dripped between the crevices of my fingers. The droplets left a darkened stain on the concrete sidewalk. I wiped the excess water onto my shorts and put the bottle away after he was done. "Come on, let's keep moving," I eyed the windows of the stores around us warily. I thought I saw some movement but it seemed to have been my imagination. "Let's go boy," I whistled and started moving ahead. I heard Chester shake his body before soft pants followed me. His mouth was open, tongue sticking out without a care.
The wind picked up slightly; particles of dirt and stone flew into my eyes. "Gah," I rubbed my eyes quickly. I heard the scuffling of feet in the building next to me and the soft growls from Chester. I turned to look into the darkened doorway. The wooden door had been broken long ago it seemed and there was pieces of the wall missing. The windows were boarded up so there was hardly any light inside. I saw a dark figure with bright eyes staring at me a few feet away from the opening. I shuddered at its eerie orbs and quickly motioned for Chester to speed up. He happily obliged having sensed something's presence from inside. The german shepherd seemed to be more cautious of his surroundings, eyes darting around as he moved. "I feel ya buddy," I mumbled as I put a hand on my gun. It was a Smith & Wesson M&P9 with a full magazine. The feel of the grip comforted me as I moved away from the home. I only had an encounter with one of those things once and the memory was definitely unpleasant. Their pale faces and sharp teeth where embedded in my mind from that night about a year or two ago. I shook my head and walked on, suppressing a shudder.
We continued for another few hours before I noticed the sun starting to set. I picked up the pace, looking around for a secure building. Chester followed me as I sped up. Every time I paused in front of a door, Chester would growl and his hackles would rise. I ignored them and moved on. "How 'bout this one boy?" I stopped in front of a small convenience store. The lights on the sign were off and one of the letters was hanging by a corner. He didn't seem bothered by the building as he slowly approached it and sniffed the floor inside. I drew my gun and held it at ready as I walked in. I looked around cautiously as I took in the dirty shelves and the wrappers littered all around the floor. Empty boxes lay against the wall and the register was broken behind the counter. There were a few dollar bills sprawled on the hard floor and I pocketed them. Chester came to me after he scouted the back of the store. He nudged my foot before looking towards where he searched. "Did ya find something?" I questioned as I followed him. He avoided the containers on the floor and pawed at the bottom of a door. It was labeled with "Employees Only." With one hand still positioned the shoot, I tried the doorknob. It twisted with ease in my grip and I pushed the door open. The storage room filled with light as I stood in the doorway. It was empty. I left out a sigh of relief before walking inside. There wasn't a lock on the inside of the door so I took a fallen shelf piece and carried it to the door. I set it down before digging through my bag to find some matches and a semi-used candle. I lit it up and placed it on one of the metal shelves. I then turned and closed the door, propping the other metal against the doorknob. Chester watched me with his head lying on his paw. After I was sure the door was secure, I made me way to the middle of the room. Empty boxes were strewn everywhere with only a few items here and there. I noticed a few cans of food in the corner of the room and smiled. I picked them up, noticing that a few of them had leaked. I set them back on the floor and kept the sealed ones. "Look at this Chester," I shook the can of beans in front of him. His tail wagged as he lifted his head from the floor. I took out a pocketknife and started to open the can carefully. Chester got onto his feet and stopped next to me. He waited until I finally lifted the lid before nudging my side and giving a soft whine. I laughed and gave him a soft pat on the head before pulling out a metal bowl from my bag. I poured a fourth out and slid it over to him. He quickly devoured it and licked the bowl. I then proceeded to open another can by the tab. I was met by the sight of sausages and I dropped a few into his bowl. Chester ate them happily before pushing the bowl back to me. He stepped back and plopped down on to the floor, eyes still watching me as I started to eat. I took out a spoon and scooped the beans into my mouth. I savored each bite before moving onto the sausages.
With a full stomach, I moved the empty cans to the corner of the room. I put the last two cans into my pack and exchanged the candle for a bigger one. I lied down onto the floor next to my dog and sighed as he moved closer. His warmth radiated off of him as he leaned comfortably against my stomach. "I love ya buddy," I whispered as I ran my hand along the top of his hand. He lifted it and gave my hand a lick before getting comfortable again. I gave a small smile before I felt my eyelids droop. "Goodnight."
AN: I hope you enjoyed the second chapter with our companion, Chester. Thank you guys for reading and leave your comments if you have any suggestions on how to improve the story!