He felt the dog at the edge of his Pressure sphere before he heard the rapid patter of paws on damp ground. Yesterday's rain left pools in the asphalt's divots. Years ago a road, now a patch of ground being dismantled by nature.
The pup, carrying a stick in her mouth, whined. When was the last time she'd seen a human? Had she ever? And yet she yearned for this one's attention. How did she know he was kind? Maybe that didn't figure into her little brain. Here walked a human, and so she followed.
He sighed, mumbled some inarticulate thought, and glanced back. The dog caught up, matched his pace, tilted her head. In doing so one end of the stick dragged on the ground. She fought to look up, but the stick restricted her range of motion. Thomas laughed. Such simplicity was a joy. Alright then, that alone was worth her company--at least for now.
How long would he allow her to tag along? When, and how, would he end it? He couldn't allow himself to become attached. Letting her follow him for even an hour would make the inevitable separation that much harder. He could kill and eat her. Well, what of it? It was true, he could. It was a plain fact. She was a source of meat willing to carry herself where he went. That wasn't an end he wanted, yet it was a possible answer. Feeding her was not an option. Finding food for himself was struggle enough.
A week later they fell asleep. First her, curled next to him, her head on his thigh. The fire crackled at his feet. Rain--more rain--pattered on the corrugated steel awning. Halfway to sleep, Tom chided himself. He'd let this go too long, he needed to break this growing bond. He'd give her to a family, or the next person he met, or shoo her away. Kill her, if he had to. He needed to be alone. Her unrequited love was a source of pain. Solitude was all he deserved.