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Discussion in 'THREAD ARCHIVES' started by Asmodeus, Nov 21, 2009.
Astorath pulled her close, letting his tongue explore her.
Rufus sat at the rear driver's side window. He watched as the trees blurred past under the blue morning skies, laden with big white clouds. A perfect morning. Rufus kept his window up because some of the other passengers seemed to still be waking, and he thought it appropriate. The aroma of coffee was pleasantly wafting through the cabin. He took a brief sip of his own cup before wincing slightly. It was Hot.
Rufus lowered the zipper on his hoody and rolled up his sleeves to allow his body to breathe and adjust to the temperature of the cabin. He then went back to watching the roadside twist around them. It should only take a few days. A quick cleaning...
Susan was sitting in the front seat, her seat-belt securely fastened and her body twisted so she could rest comfortably and still have a good view out the front and side windows. She jumped on the opportunity to claim this spot, having no desire to stare at the back of someone's head for hours. Having been on two buses before stumbling across this strange carpool, it seemed like a way more pleasant way to travel.
Tilting her head, she glanced over at the driver and gave a quick look in the rear-view mirror at the passengers in the back seat. Much like the occupants of the bus, everyone in the vehicle really didn't look... normal. For the moment it was quiet and Susan was finding it awkward.
"How often do you guys uh... take up random offers to join carpools?"
"You ask that like it's a bad thing," Connor answered, glancing across at the girl, dead-pan for a moment, before flashing a little smile and looking back at the road. "But the best drama happens in the space between strangers. Right?"
They drove on for a while in silence, Connor stretching his arms, squeezing the steering wheel. Then he looked over at her again and this time his gaze was longer, almost too long for safety.
"You look tense. What's up?"
It was not asked in a sensitive way, but a way more academic. He was looking at her like an exhibit... a piece of evidence... a curiosity in this little cave of wonders.
"Besides you not watching the road?" she responded, easily and with a hint of humor. Susan forced herself to try and relax by letting out a slow inconspicuous breath. There was no harm in curious strangers, there was bound to be conversations and questions. It's not like she was a criminal or something.
Susan shrugged her shoulders, casting a wry grin as she answered his question. "Early mornings and not feeling so good. It's not a big deal." She looked out the window again, watching as trees zoomed by at dizzying speeds. Her gaze was forced to shift back to the insides of the car before she found herself giving in to the urge to hurl.
"Oh hey, does anyone like road trip games?" Susan changed the subject, turning in her seat so she could peer in the back at the other passengers.
Left side of his face plastered against the window, Simon had been asleep the moment he slid into the back of the van. Last night had been...wild. No excuses, no limits...just a wild going away party that had stretched well into the morning. The turn out had been favorable, thirty people packed into the small apartment with enough alcohol to kill them all twice over strewn through the kitchen like a menagerie of glasswork. Try as he might, Simon couldn't remember what he'd done from midnight to three A.M...and alcohol awareness be damned, he was proud of that. Let them tell stories of the King Richard's last Hoorah. Let none say Simon Banks didn't know how to let it all out when the chips were down.
Or the booze bottles were up...as it were.
Honestly it was a miracle he had made the trek from 20th Bakers street to 5th and Bolin in the state he'd been in...weaving sidestep by sidestep through a murky haze with a sense of urgency he wished he'd had around 2...when he should have begun his journey. After answering the add for a road trip on Craig's List, Simon had celebrated the savings he would make in a cross country trip rather then a short plane ride for almost quadruple the money.
Now here he lay, alcohol induced coma straight into the van window looking for all the world like some grotesque experiment floating in an industrial sized ether jar.
It was Susan who woke him, her voice snapping him back to reality with a jerk and a wince, his skin snapping slightly as he tore it from the window. Rubbing his cheek, he blearily tried to shake the hangover out of his head...failing utterly and groaning.
What was it his old roomate used to say? Davy...Davy Roderick, that was the guy. One morning Simon had woke with the hangover of hangovers...a sort of crippling pain that laid him out flat in his bed and demanded his every move to be short.
"Get your ass up Simon," Davy had said then, pulling Simon lethargically squirming to the ground. "Don't be a fucking pussy, just do something to get your mind off of your headache, works for me and hell if it won't work for you."
So maybe a car game would be better then sitting here and suffering.
"Yeah...sure..." Simon croaked groggily with a half smile "What did you have in mind? Twenty questions? Grandmother's Basket? ABC I Spy?" The sounded retarded in retrospect...where was the risk of it all...where was the padiddle nudity?
Probably hidden in the deep recess of his suffering migraine induced brain.
Kids games would work for now.
Today I joined a gang of unknowns on a road trip to.....I don't know actually, but I hope it'll take me somewhere nice and quiet. Last night I was up late, spending hours just to work on my pronounciation.
With Juliana's spirit with me, I pray to God everything turns out okay."
Games? Sergio didn't quite get what they were talking about until he remembered a movie about a family also on road trip. It couldn't be that hard, and the silence bored him very much.
"Sure, I'm up for it." He said, bending forward from his middle-seat.
"While I'm sure mommy and I would appreciate that, you should grow up."
With two volunteers and one guy frowning and casting one hell of a peculiar look, Susan thought that was plenty enough volunteers for a game.
"Great. We'll play Road Trip Alphabet since it's easy and we can still chat. Um..." Susan leaned back in her chair, trying to think of the rules for the game as she glanced around at the other cars on the road. "We try to find all the letters of the alphabet on vehicles or billboards. A through Z. Liiiike," she leaned, pointing out the window. "There! Anniston Street. Now we wait for a B to come by."
It was kind of funny being a car full of adults and playing a silly game like this. A few days ago she had been typing up faxes and using copy machines. "Isn't it funny how things can change so drastically in one day?"
"That's the root of all things, Susie."
Connor did not look at her, but checked his mirror as he overtook the station wagon and accelerated clear.
"All stories begin at the point when something goes wrong. That's why we first came up with them - so the strong could explain to the weak why shit happened. The whole goddam course of human society is built on mistakes and miscalculations."
He adjusted the rearview mirror, running his gaze across the dishevelled-looking passengers. "Ergo, my friends, today is a good day. Stories to be told, mistakes to be made, patterns to be found."
He looked back at the road and added with a taunting glance at Susan. "Like this lame-ass game. Looking for patterns amid the mistakes."
He nodded past Susan at a sign on the dusty roadside. "Barbeque Steakhouse, Next Left." He grinned again.
Astorath removed his hands and the world Lyra would see was blurred and everything seemed to blend together. When she focussed on something, it would become clear she would see trails leading off of it, showing where it had been and where it might go, feeding her information.
chik chik, chik, chik chik chik
Khalid savoured the flavour of the tobacco, moving his tongue so that the smoke inside his mouth moved over it, the cigars flavour was thick and rich, and the Saudi Born migrant exhaled, watching as the smoke was sucked out of the window and into the daylight.
he had awoken this morning feeling much more serene than usuall, and it showed on the gentle look of contentment that creased his face.
Faces pressed to the dark windows, two ginger children stared at Simon from the station wagon their driver had passed on the road. It was only for a moment or two, a girl and a boy holding Simon in their gaze like some new toy or strange animal. Resisting the urge to make a face at them, Simon marveled at how easy it was to revert to child-like nature on a road trip. As an adult, he hadn't time for such lofty plans of adventure anymore. The only excitement in that regard was the kind acted out on a stage for him. But this opportunity was almost reminiscent of the trips he'd used to take with his parents to the Old Bear camping grounds back in Colorado. Then it would have been him with a pallid face pressed against the window, staring at the cars that passed him by...at the houses by the side of the highway wondering how they lived...who they were...if they were happy.
"Well said...driver," Simon complimented Connor with a wan smile. He couldn't remember the mans name...everything was faded from the days before...He'd have vowed to never drink again if he knew his resolution would hold up for more then a few days. "But certainly not everything has been a miscalculation or failure...I think I recall at least a few events going 'according to plan' in my history class...but it might just be wishful thinking, I was never much of a history buff you see."
The sight of a nearing bill board brought a sharp pain to his forehead as he almost bounced out of his seat with the effort of pointing, long arm shooting past Connor's head to indicate a nearing sign.
"Denny's! D!" He said loudly, falling back against his seat with a groan. "I don't suppose we can stop for breakfast or lunch soon can we?"
The rich scent of cigar smoke wasn't terrible, but Susan was still casting a slight frown in the rear view mirror trying to see which person had lit one. With the window open, most of the smoke was flying out, but air flow still circulated it throughout the vehicle. And that wasn't good for the little secret she hadn't quite sprung on her travel mates.
For now, she didn't say a word, turning to take a peek at Simon. "Actually, food sounds really good right now. Or some snacks. A chili cheese slaw dog or jalapeno cheddar fries." Just thinking about food had her stomach growling. Why didn't she grab some snacks before?
"Anyways- Oh! There's a Evergreen tree farm. E!"
"An hour, folks. We've been driving for an hour. You really wanna stop for saturated fats and e-numbers already?"
There was a pause. Connor looked over his shoulder, receiving a mixture of blank stares, facetious smiles and growling stomachs from the passengers. "Nietzsche would be fucking proud," the driver said with an ambiguous flash of his eyes.
Connor went back to concentrating on the road, stretching his arms and legs as he yawned. "So, the doleful delights of Denny's..." he muttered as he took the next turn and swung the car towards the nearest service area.
A short drive and following signs later, the motley crew of passengers pulled up in to the parking lot of a Denny's. Susan pushed open her door and stepped out, leaning backwards to stretch her back. They hadn't been riding long at all, but she was still feeling pretty achy.
"I need to get my wallet out of the back. I can meet you guys inside." Rounding to the back, she opened up the trunk. Susan gave a small curious look at the gun back there. It belonged to the older woman, but she wasn't about to go asking any questions about that one! She grabbed her bag and tugged it to her. Unzipping here and there looking for her wallet. Susan paused for a moment when she came across a smaller bag she didn't remember stuffing in there with the rest of her clothes and belongings. As she plucked it out and opened it up... she let out a soft surprised squeak.
It was money. A lot of money. And she sure didn't own it!
"Tell me about it."
Susan squeaked again as Connor suddenly appeared beside her. He looked straight past her and into the trunk.
"The shotgun, right? Yeah, it belongs to that Marion woman - she turned up with it. Good thing I don't ask too many questions, right?"
He flashed her a smile and leaned past her, checking a bag near the back of the trunk. As he opened it a little, Susan noticed there was a carefully wrapped gift inside, tied with ribbon and about the size of a shoebox. Connor checked it over cautiously, smoothing the wrapping paper, testing the ribbon. He seemed to treat it like a sacred relic, his whole attention absorbed by it.
After a moment he straightened up again and rubbed his face. "So, how about it?"
"Sorry...?" Susan blinked.
"You and me - how about it?" Connor looked at her.
"How about... what?"
There was a pause and then Connor smiled again. "Well I figure if I you and me got a romance going, it might give the others something to talk about."
A smile tugged at the edge of Susan's mouth.
Closing the trunk, Connor slapped her on the arm. "Relax, will ya?" He set off towards the Denny's, spinning the car keys in his hands.
As the side door swung open, Simon missed his first step and roughly clattered to the ground.
"Christ..." he murmured, getting to his hands and knees, "I think THIS time I'll never drink again." Staggering up against the car, Simon shook the groggy pain out of his head and swung around toward the trunk. He caught the slap Connor offered Susan and wondered if perhaps they'd known each other from somewhere. Small world and all that jazz.
"Whoa miss!" he exclaimed as he caught the glance of green in the small bag she held "A bit much money to be traveling don't you think?" As she turned to offer a bemused smile he shrugged and straightened his bag in the back, careful to make sure the album was neatly centered before emerging with his wallet.
"Eggs and bacon should be the wake up we need eh?" He shrugged toward the other passengers of the car, some slumped cataonically against the seat or windows. "Might get some competition for your road game if we're lucky."
Offering a quick grin, Simon jogged to catch up with Connor...feeling the lance of pain blast his skull with every step. By the time he'd reached the driver at the door, the car seemed like a more appetizing place to lay low.
"Hey cabby," he croaked, falling into step beside Connor, "Why don't I cover you for eats this time around. It's the least I can do after being so wasted this morning." Simon knew he wasn't the most agreeable drunk to tangle with and honestly couldn't remember staggering to the car...hopefully he hadn't been too much of a handful but in the case he had, maybe a tenspot for the first foodstop might be a good step on the road to redeeming whatever misbehavior he'd caused.
Connor spun the keys again, hovering by the restaurant door and raising an eyebrow at Simon's swaying figure.
"Funny. Shouldn't the remorse and genorosity come during the drinking, not after?"
Simon was still rubbing his head and fiddling with his wallet, so he didn't really hear the question. Connor shrugged, tossing the car keys in the air, catching them with his other hand, tossing them behind his back, catching them again, then looking bored.
"Well, okay then. But I don't kiss on the first date."
There was a pause as the two men looked at each other. Then Connor laughed and gave Simon a playful punch.
"Nah, I'm just kidding." He opened the door of the Denny's. "I ALWAYS kiss on the first date." He went inside and smiled at a waitress.
Susan made sure to zip up that bag of money and stash it back where she found it. She had to think about what she should do and... that was too much for her to deal with at the moment. Pushing her duffel bag back in the trunk, she closed it up tight and ran to catch up with the men.
Just in time to hear Connor say he always kisses on the first date.
"First you hit on me and now on Simon? A bit shameless, aren't cha?" Susan cast him another crooked smile again as a waitress came to lead them to a booth. Even though only the three of them had stepped inside the restaurant so far, they had a nice large corner booth in case the others wanted to join them.
Susan looked over her menu, trying to avoid eye contact with the desserts listing. ...for now.