The Diamond Dog's Guide to Engineering

by Tolerance

Chapter 1: Aaron's Adventure Awaits

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Error detected: Data entity transcription detected during patch. Entity ID:[Entity name parsed to 'Aaron Wendel'] Assessment: Minimal impact, continue normal operations.


The sun was bright, the skies were mostly clear. Under normal circumstances, Aaron would call it a pretty good day. As far as he was concerned, the weirdness of it all far outstripped any other descriptor. For one, he was pretty sure he was lost. Really lost. And two, there seemed to be gaps in his memory that didn't quite account for why he couldn't find any of his landmarks.

He'd stopped on the trail for lunch and a quick nap. The meadow adjacent the trail had just been asking for someone to nap on top of it. Some dark clouds had built enough mass to block out the sun after a bit, waking him from his impromptu siesta. Only he couldn't find the trail again.

"Come on, Aaron, calm down a bit. Think things through like always. Trails don't just vanish, right? So, maybe it was just farther from the clearing than I thought it was. That's gotta be it."

That wasn't it. Aaron had circled the meadow twice and forged a path in each cardinal direction, far enough to just lose sight of the clearing, and back. Still no sign of the path, and now he was sure that something was wrong. There was no way he could have missed the trail now, it was gone.

The mountains just visible between the trees seemed normal-ish. Aaron had to admit that he'd need to travel farther away from the original path, almost straight up the nearest hill, to get his bearings.

The exercise was probably the only thing keeping him calm at the moment. Getting lost on such a simple day-hike was really going to put a damper on the rest of his day. 'Wasn't I supposed to meet someone for dinner or something?' He'd thought, suddenly aware of a gap in his memory.

Before he could chew through that particular harrowing thought though, Aaron had reached another clearing. Turning around, Aaron could see a gap where he guessed his meadow to be. Other than that though...

"What the F-..." Aaron trailed off.

Sure the mountains looked mostly the same, but that was the only thing that looked familiar. None of the usual indicators that hinted at the civilization, especially the one that he knew was supposed to sit at the bottom of the valley, were present. Just a sea of trees where his hometown was supposed to be.

Before he could process exactly what that meant, the rainclouds that had been building up all afternoon had decided to take his day from a odd, but pleasant, to a downright vindictive one.

Trail or no, Aaron carefully made his way down the slope towards the river that cut down the valley, or at least where he hoped a river that cut through the valley would be. Fully drenched now, he spotted the water feature a short ways off.

As some sort of karmic twist or something, the river looked much as he remembered it. This was definitely a plus. If the river was the same as he remembered than maybe the cave he hoped would get him out of the rain would be there too. Unsure why he'd remember a cave over what his future plans were, Aaron soldiered on.

"Finally!" Aaron said as he sprinted the final distance to cavern mouth. Soaked through and through, he'd stripped out of his clothing and replaced his shirt, socks, and shorts with their dryer equivalents that had been in his bag. As he did so, the radio he'd had stashed inside the backpack fell to the cave floor.

Aaron picked it up and checked it for damage, and was thankful that he found none. Turning it on, he was even less surprised than he thought he'd be when nothing came through on any of the channels. Regardless of the lack of communication on the other bands, Aaron turned it to the emergency channel and tried to contact anyone who'd listen.

"Hello? Is anyone there?" Aaron keyed into the mike. "If anyone's listening, My name's Aaron, and I seem to have gotten lost up near-" He suddenly realized that he couldn't name the place he'd been hiking through all day, " Up in the woods. If you can hear this, please respond!"

Nothing came through, not even static.

"Maybe the storm's blocking the signal. I've just got to wait it out and-" Aaron stopped and listened. Something scrapped the rock down in the depths of the surprisingly dark cave. His first thought was that, while the cave did have a back room, the sound seemed to come from far deeper than the cave was supposed to be.

"Hello?" he called cautiously.

The noise stopped for a moment, only to continue as it did before.

Moving to the back room, Aaron noticed that the cave dropped down drastically into the earth at a point where the cave wall should have been. "If there's any kids down there messing around-" Aaron suddenly realized why he remembered the cave, "-or something, I promise I won't tell your folks. I'm just trying to get home."

More scratching from somewhere deep inside the tunnel.


The wall of solid rock to his left suddenly gave way to a second tunnel, this one inhabited by a hairy creature that stood about chest height. Even in the dim light, Aaron could see the dog-like appearance of it's face.

"Yeah, I hear." The beast said sniffing the air. "But this no your home."

"No kidding..." was all Aaron could say before blacking out.

The creature bent down to Aaron's slumped form and got a better scent. "That odd. Boss gonna wanna see this." It said, before dragging Aaron unceremoniously behind it.

Author's Notes:

Even I have no idea where this is going, which both frightens and entertains me.

Next Chapter: Brawlers, Bruises, Business. Estimated time remaining: 1 Hour, 44 Minutes
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