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Back to Small Galaxy (a Serialized Web Novel)
Posted: 1/1/2011 1:17
Last Updated: 2/1/2011 8:45

Chapter 5: The Road

Where two people with only a vague sense of direction take a trip...

Ruth walked up to Randall's building in triumph, her hands clutching several bags. She punched in the code for his apartment, and he quickly buzzed her in.

She had found a few decent outfits, and it would be enough to last her a while. Having purchased just a few t-shirts, pants, skirts, and other necessities, Ruth assumed they'd find a laundromat somewhere on the road. She'd also found a cute backpack she could carry things in as well, which was lucky.

This was Ruth getting prepared for a long trip.

Her shopping budget had been fairly tight as Randall hadn't lent her that much money. Not that she blamed him, he had just met her the day before and she wasn't even sure if she had told him her last name. Heck, now that she was thinking about it, she hadn't even asked him his last name. They were going to be in a car for quite some time though, and she'd have ample opportunities to probe the mind of Randall.

That thought made her giggle to herself.

She walked up the flights quickly and with determination. She was going to take a shower, get into something clean, and they could be on their way. Ruth was very, very excited. Not only was she going to get home, but she was going to have fun along the way.

Ruth knocked on Randall's apartment door, and was let in without delay.

"Did you get packed?" she asked, bouncing past him.

Randall smiled, closing the door behind her. "Yes, yes I did." he replied, gesturing to a large suitcase on one of the futons. She laughed. His idea of packing for a trip was apparently very much in contrast to hers.

"Great - I'm just going to take a quick shower and change into something new and we can go," responded Ruth. After pulling off her boots, she did a quick little twirl on her way to the bathroom. Once she pulled the door closed behind her and locked it she quickly disrobed and turned on the hot water. She had purchased the necessary shampoos and cosmetics at the store and pulled them out of her shopping bag. Ruth was very much looking forward to this.

The hot water cascaded over her. She hadn't realized how stressed out she was until this moment. Tension melted from her as she let the warmth flow around her. It was finally beginning to process that she had almost died yesterday. In fact, it had been almost pure luck that her life hadn't ended quite abruptly. She had fallen asleep at the wheel, and she was incredibly fortunate to have woken up when she did.

Even more could have gone wrong though. The emergency pilot transporter might have malfunctioned. If it had, she would have been in her ship still when it plummeted into that building in an explosion of fire. This whole mess was all because she decided to fly somewhere after an eight hour shift. She had been far too tired to realistically operate her ship, but was too excited about a concert to skip it. It was ridiculous. Adrenaline had carried her through to this point, and it had knotted her up entirely. Reality was finally settling in her brain.

Ruth turned her head down, sighing deeply. She breathed in and enjoyed the sensation of inhaling just for itself. She was alive, and she was going to appreciate it.

After completing her much needed cleansing, she toweled off and quickly got dressed. She put on a simple pair of brown corduroy pants and a black Ramones t-shirt. The shirt was a little mainstream for her fashion tastes, but it would do. At least it was for a band she actually liked. Popping her glasses back on she exited the bathroom.

"Quick shower? You have a pretty flexible definition of the word 'quick.' That was forty-five minutes," said Randall, raising an eyebrow. He was sitting back on one of the futons with his feet up on coffee table.

Pulling out the backpack she'd purchased, she tossed the rest of her clothes into it. "Well, sometimes you don't realize you need a long shower until you get under the hot water," she replied with a smile. Every time she smiled at him he blushed a little.

It was amazingly cute. It was actually so cute it hurt her brain.

Ruth grabbed a collapsible hairbrush and a rubber-band out of her purse. Brushing out her hair, she sat down in a chair across from Randall, putting her boots down in front of her. "We'll get on the road soon enough, relax. I'm supposed to be the gung ho one, not you," she laughed. She put the brush away and deftly tied back her red hair.

She glanced at the stuffed suitcase, "Bringing enough stuff?" It really was quite a lot, and it looked like overkill to her.

"Har de har har," he replied sarcastically. "I just want to be prepared. It's a long trip, and I'd rather have it and not need it than need it and not have it." Randall paused for a second, "Also, I want to stop through Wisconsin and see my family if it's no trouble."

Ruth pulled on one of her boots. "Ah, that's one of those places in the middle of the country, right?" teased Ruth. Again, that urge to frustrate him was popping up.

Randall sighed, "Yes, it's one of the places in the middle."

"Neat!" replied Ruth, pulling on the second boot. "It'll be fun to see where you came from. What environment spawned young Randall..." She leaned over and began to tie her laces. Looking up at him with a wink she asked slyly, "Do I get to meet you mom?"

Randall rolled his eyes, but she also noticed him blush a little as well. He was just absolutely adorable. Talking to him at the coffee shop yesterday was the best random impulse she had ever followed. Ruth spent most of her time listening to whatever random impulse pulled her at the moment, and that particular one had guided her well. Her first impression of him was that he was a nice guy... a bit nervous, but a nice guy.

She thought herself a very good judge of character, and recent evidence seemed to be backing up that opinion.

Standing up, Ruth straightened her shirt quickly. After gathering her things, she gestured to the door. In a pseudo formal tone she said,"Shall we disembark, my compatriot in travel? Grand adventure awaits!"

Randall laughed and got to his feet. Grabbing his messenger bag and suitcase, he looked back to her and replied, "Why yes we shall my dear! To our vehicle of conveyance!"

Ruth giggled. It was exactly the kind of response she had hoped for, and it meant that Randall had considerably loosened up since she met him yesterday. With that the two headed out the door and down the stairs.

Upon arriving at Randall's car, they loaded their things into the trunk. His suitcase took up most of it, and she plopped her backpack into the remaining space.

"Now, tell me you're bringing some decent music," she asked, looking over her glasses at him.

"That's your concern about all of this?" he responded, in incredulity.

She gave him a serious look, "After everything we talked about yesterday, you're somehow surprised that my only concern is what we're going to listen to on the trip?" She smirked at him, "How obvious does a girl have to be about her interests?"

Randall smiled back and held up a small MP3 player, "Relax, I've got a dock for this in the car. My whole music collection is on it."

"Awesome," she smiled. She actually did quite approve of his taste in bands. She had gone through most of his CDs the night before, but there were quite a few she hadn't gotten the chance to actually listen to yet. Of course, she had her own music player with her, and hoped that she had the right adapters to hook it up to his stereo system. She fully intended to expose Randall to some new, non-terrestrial bands on this trip as well. She had some bizarre need to expand not just his, but ever person's musical education.

Ruth gestured to the car door, "Then lets shall, shall we?"

He laughed, "Yes, lets."

The two got into the blue four door sedan and Randall pulled them out of the parking lot. Randall's car wasn't that fancy, but it would do the trick. It wasn't quite new, but it wasn't that old either. It had the feel of a vehicle that had served someone well for quite some time though, and Randall appeared to drive it through instinct.

"So... I assume you've plotted out a course I suspect?" Ruth asked as they pulled out onto the street. She had started to fiddle with Randall's music player, getting used to its interface.

"Yeah, I figure once we get over to Interstate 15 I would take that to..." Randall stopped himself. "You really don't care what roads we're taking... you were just checking to see if I would explain the whole thing to you in detail turn by turn, weren't you."

Ruth looked at him with a grin, "Yep!" The boy had caught on.

He sighed. He did that a lot. On the other hand, he was kind of cute when he sighed, so it was alright. Also, exasperating him was hilarious to her and she had a hard time resisting the urge to entertain herself. She hit play on a track that she hadn't heard before and leaned back in the seat, letting the sun hit her face. This may have started as a botched day trip less than twenty-four hours ago, but at least it was turning into a fun adventure. In her life fun adventures were always appreciated.

As they were pulling onto the freeway she sat up and looked at Randall, realizing now that she'd actually forgotten to think about something fairly important, "So, how long is this trip actually going to be?"

Randall paused, and then answered, "Well, if we drive straight and push ourselves hard, a few days. If we take our time, see the sights and relax? A couple of weeks."

"My vote is for a couple of weeks," she replied, turning forward. She didn't know for sure why she wasn't in a hurry, she did have a life to get back to, but she just didn't want to rush this experience. Also, spending a few weeks alone with Randall might be fun... she wasn't sure why she thought this, but it was what it was.

"Well, then I figured we'd drive until we got hungry, and then think about how far we go today," he said with a smile. He had a nice smile. It was a very, very nice smile.

"Cool," responded Ruth. With that she began to contemplate her later food options. "When we stop, I vote for cheeseburgers."

"Sounds like a..." Randall stopped talking as they spotted a man up the road holding out a cardboard sign. His mouth hung open for a split second before saying, "Is that guy's sign asking for a ride to Proxima Centauri?"

Ruth spotted the man, "It is... but it's not in English. Pull over!"

Trae Dorn
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