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[Other FULL] The Long Drive [M] [IC]

  • 25,614
    The Long Drive

    Chapter One: The Channel Tunnel

    The time has come and the group of old friends have finally convened on the same location: Folkestone, Kent, England. Of course, you don't stick around there for very long, because it isn't long until you're doing your passport checks and pulling up into the train itself. Of course, it takes a good half-hour to get everyone boarded, but soon enough your commencing the thirty-five minute journey into the French town of Coquelles... except this journey ends up taking longer than thirty-five minutes.

    Your journey gets off to a great start, facing an unfortunate hiccup early on when the train suddenly grinds to a halt and the lights shut off. Attempts to use the electrical implements in your vehicle or check your phones fail too. All you can do is sit around in the dark and hope that things get moving again soon...


    GP (GM) as Anthony Pine
    Sapphire Rose as Anastasia Campbell
    Shak as Jared Buchannon
    Groc as Malcolm Stone

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  • 25,614
    Anthony Pine

    Folkestone, England - Reluctance

    Grey skies, an unseasonal light drizzle pattering down on his rental's windshield and a road lined by old buildings. It was as though Anthony had driven right into what people thought England looked like. A few black cabs and a double-decker bus and it would have been the perfect stereotype. Of course, you only really saw those in London and Anthony was a full two hours away from his home back in the city now.

    Ahead was a half-dead port, dealt a near fatal blow by the opening of the Channel Tunnel in the nineties. Anthony couldn't help but think this was an appropriate setting for the revival of a half-dead group of friends. If he wasn't such a cynic, he might have found that poetic.

    Far removed from such romanticised thoughts, mostly Anthony just felt nervous and uncomfortable. He had told himself that this was a good idea - a chance to recapture a happier time in his life. Already he felt like this was a foolish thought. If anything, he was driving headfirst into a harsh reminder of some of the hardest times he'd endured. But he was there now. He was committed. He wasn't about to rebook the car, turn around and drive back another two hours just to escape his own poor decision making.

    He couldn't deny that there was a part of him that was tempted though. He wasn't naive enough to believe that these were the same people he used to know that he was going to go see. Even despite seeing their profile pictures and social media posts on a semi-regular basis, he struggled to even picture what his old friends looked like now. He couldn't for the life of him remember the details of their lives. What were they doing for a living? Did they have partners or spouses? God forbid, did any of them have children? Anthony didn't think so… but he couldn't guarantee it either. He wasn't sure he was up for a road trip punctuated entirely by uninteresting baby anecdotes. Not that there would be any avoiding that now regardless.

    The lights changed and Anthony almost missed it, the horn of the car behind him blaring in his ears and spurring him into motion. He continued on down the road until he was able to turn into the carpark of the Folkestone division of the rental company. He wasn't going to need a vehicle of his own past that point. Jared had volunteered his van as the road trip vehicle of choice and Anthony didn't see much reason to object. His little hybrid wasn't exactly the ideal option for a long journey.

    All that was left then was to get out of the rental car, return the keys and walk to the meeting place where he would wait for his old friends to arrive. He didn't move. It was almost as though something was physically holding him back. Anthony had committed though. He forced his way out of the grip of his own reluctance and opened the door, stepping out into the drizzling rain.

    He would probably be early if he went straight there from the rental place, but he could take a walk around the area and take in what sights there were to behold. That would at least reduce the odds of having to handle an awkward reunion more than once.

    Anthony walked into the storefront to return his keys, abandoning his means of escape and preparing him to face the discomfort that was ahead of him.

  • 1,660
    Mal Stone
    Age: 27 | He/Him
    Location: Folkestone, England

    Chapter 1: Arrival

    All things considered, things aren't as bad as Malcolm thought they'd be on the flight over. He'd sat in that seat and quietly dreaded arriving, agonizing over what he'd do and how things would be, jumping at every noise or shift of the passengers around him, until even the flight attendants didn't want to interact with him.

    But now that he's arrived, all that stress is behind him. And a whole new sort of stress has taken its place. For starters, he hadn't expected it to be raining. Not a catastrophic occurrence, but it's one more thing he'll have to deal with, one more expense he hadn't calculated into his plan. Going without any protective gear is simply out of the question, as such gross negligence would only invite more discomfort in the future.

    The original plan had been to walk to the port, but Mal finds himself running, clutching his new umbrella tightly and trying his best to ignore the looks he gets from passers-by. He knows he's overreacting, that if he just slowed down he wouldn't get stared at, and that running is actually making the umbrella less effective, so he forces himself to stop, catching his breath at a street corner.

    "This is crazy. Absolutely mental. What have I gotten myself into? Should have never gotten on that plane, but I already bought the tickets! I had to move heaven and Earth just to get here, can't back down now..."

    He realizes he's talking to himself, but it felt good to vent. Oddly cathartic to get that out there, even with the odd look he's now getting from two young women standing nearby.

    "Oh. Uh... hi." He waves awkwardly, a sheepish grin on his face. The girls don't respond, but one giggles as she looks away from him.

    "Hey, I made you laugh! I'll take that as a win." He looks down at his phone to hide his blush, checking his map to be sure he's going the right way. He'd hate to be late, or at least later than he already will be. He knows he won't be the first of his friends to arrive, but better late than never, right?

    "Better late than never..." There's an odd weight to those words, but he'll take that over the dread he'd felt before, and he finds himself repeating them to himself as he starts moving again, never mind the rain or the uncertainty or any other excuse he could have given to turn around. Better late than never.
  • 944
    • UK
    • Seen Apr 5, 2024


    Smoke plumed through the gaps in the wedged doors of the white transit van that sat on the roadside. The van was decorated with a mural to classic video game characters: Abe's Oddessey, Ape Escape, Halo, Dunk Hunt, Donkey Kong, Pac-Man, StarFox. It looked like a rave. Red and blue lights flashed, sirens blared, a homeless man banged the doors outside in the hopes of scoring some change from the intoxicated party animal inside. It didn't play out that way. This was no rave. The doors were wedged shut because the hinges were bent in from a car crash just a week earlier, the sirens and lights were coming from a police car that sped across the highway above and the homeless man would be receiving no money, as Jared Buchannon was the intoxicated party animal inside.

    "**** off! I'm innocent! I ain't got no blow," Jared hollered, his back pressed against the rear door. The incessant 8-bit tune of the of the classic Super Mario Bros set the backdrop for a progression that was non-existent in this stalemate. An epic heist for sure, but one that was going nowhere as the homeless man's "gimme mushroom" was met with Jared's equally persistent "I'm innocent" and "**** off pigs".

    Once the scene calmed, sirens had passed, Jared and the homeless man sat in the back of the van. Jared leaned against the rear doors, rolling a spliff while the homeless man sat with an NES controller in his hand, hopping over Goomba.

    "You're not good." The man spat through the cagelike assortment of beard hairs over his mouth.

    "And you look like Bane. **** off." Jared grumbled back, his attention wholly on lighting the roll of marijuana in his hand. He glanced back at the man, fully engrossed in the game. "When you said you wanted mushrooms…" He trailed off and shook his head, presenting the spliff to his new friend.

    "Used ti play wimme mates." The battered voice of the man croaked. Still his eyes never left the screen as he snatched the roll from Jared's hand and stuffed it in his mouth. Jared could see the scratch marks on the man's neck. He could see the dried skin around his nostrils, the jab wounds on his forearm.

    "Yeah…me too bud." Jared responded with a shudder before lighting his own spliff.


    Sapphire Rose

    [I]Only thorns left on this rose.[/I]
  • 3,449
    Anastasia Campbell
    Folkestone, England

    Old Friends, new strangers

    The light morning rain drizzled on the windshield of the uber Anastasia had rented for her journey to Folkestone. A little more than two hour drive from her nice apartment in London but considering the road trip she was about to make, a necessary expense. After all, she had to make sure her own Mercedes-Benz was still neatly and safely parked in the garage while she was away. Though she started to wonder if it was really worth it now that she had to listen to the overtalkative driver instead. Anastasia only occasionally gave a hum that she was still listening to his rambling.

    She was staring outside the window from the backseat of the car, watching how the rain droplets that hit the glass made its way down while reuniting with some of the other droplets. Almost ironic considering she was about to reunite with some old friends as well. She only just noticed how the scenery had changed from city buildings to grass meadows and hills decorated with a tree here and there. A metaphor to how they were just kids the last time they met. Now they were all adults.She wondered how everyone had changed for a brief moment until the driver pulled her out of her daydreaming.

    "So you're meeting up with friends, huh? What are they like?"

    Anastasia briefly glanced in the mirror to look at his face before turning away again. She wasn't too keen on sharing personal information with someone she's barely met but she barely knew an answer to it anyway.

    "One of them moved to the states and became a cook." She muttered out.

    "Oh! I bet they make real good nosh if they went all the way to the states for it."

    "I suppose. Don't know what the other two are up to. I'm pretty sure one of them is jobless."

    The driver looked up in confusion from Anastasia's nonchalant behavior when it came to her supposed friends. He sat up straight behind his wheel and stammered a bit.

    "It… It sounds like you don't know them at all, ma'am."

    "I might as well not. It's been at least 10 years."

    "Ah! So like a friend reunion then! That sounds bonkers. Are you nervous?"

    Anastasia stayed quiet for long enough that the driver took it as her being uncomfortable and continued his blabbing. In mere moments Anastasia was listening to him going off about his own friends while she continued her occasional humming. It could be worse all things considered. The road signs she read indicated she was now at the last stretch.

  • 944
    • UK
    • Seen Apr 5, 2024

    Now That's What I Call Music: Four Ghosts Soundtrack

    A SNES and a Sega Genesis, docked onto a metal frame, sat patiently in the back of the van. Their wires splayed chaotically across any space that wasn't occupied by an assortment of bean bags or small towers of stereos held together only by a blanket and a set of loosely attached cable ties. Perhaps most impressively, the van's interior had been 'pimped out' with a pair of TVs either side of the rear window and surround stereos in each corner. The proud rigger of the contraption sat in the front of the van, complaining to his dealer about a dodgy pick up. "It was laced, bro. It had to be," Jared's basey voice hummed below the sounds of his stereo blasting a Spotify ad. "Why would I let a ****ing homeless dude in my v-"

    *Dfft* *Dfft*

    The volume of the stereo lowered. Jared cleared his throat and his voice fell to a whisper. "I'll call you back…" his eyes narrowed onto the side of the van where the strange thumping had come from. He tucked into the glovebox and pulled a swiss army knife out, flicking the switchblade out.

    Anthony had stood staring at the van for several minutes before summoning up the willpower to walk over to it and knock. Splashes of ridiculous colour, crudely painted but familiar video game characters. It had been described to him in text, but a description was one thing, seeing the monstrosity in person was another. It was the sort of thing they would have all lost their minds over as children.

    "Uh… you in there?" Anthony said. "It's Anthony."

    The slow creak of the descending windows cut through the silence that followed Anthony's declaration. He glanced to his left, where Jared's head poked out of the window in question and the bearded man reeled at the sight before him.

    "**** me…have I found a ghost? Ant?" Jared scoffed, staring at his guest in disbelief. "The **** are you doing here?"

    Good question, Anthony thought. Jared looked… well he looked different, but that was a given. They'd hardly said a word to each other in ten years and Anthony wasn't the sort to pay attention to someone's social media pictures. It wasn't like he had much room to judge appearances, but these days Jared looked like someone who old ladies would cross the street to avoid. The open window letting out a suspicious smell didn't really help matters, nor did it make Anthony feel better about the idea of being stuck in Jared's van.

    Realizing he was taking entirely too long to respond, Anthony hastily replied. "I was invited last time I checked."

    "A couple of people were, actually!" Malcolm called out as he jogged up to the van, wearing a large backpack and carrying an umbrella. He'd arrived just in time to overhear the conversation and couldn't help but chime in, completely oblivious to the slowly building awkwardness that he'd just slammed face first into. He smiled between his bag encumbered old friend and the head popping out of the van window. It was the latter who spoke up first.

    "Malky!?" Jared blurted in jubilant surprise. Like a beast breaking free from a cage, the door swung open and Jared's body followed his head out of its former prison. His hesitation withered and replaced with excitement, Jared approached the two men to see how much of his old gaming buddies he could recognise in their faces. "MC Malky ****ing Malk. Dude you ****ing look the exact ****ing same," he spat to Malcolm with a sneer. A short embrace, little more than hands on the arms and a pat on the arm to Anthony, was enough to remind Jared that this was already an overwhelming experience. He needed a distraction. "Come on, let me show you ****ers the Basswagon," he smirked, the small falter of social energy quickly leaving him, as he gestured for the duo to follow him to the back of the van.

    "Well, I see it's gotten quite lively here..."

    The voice of a familiar woman came from behind them as they were now facing the colorful van. The figure of a young, somewhat short woman holding an umbrella stood waiting. With her hair now pastel pink, her waist noticeably a lot thinner and no longer wearing glasses or braces, only the shimmer of a Millennium Falcon keychain and a Vulpix pin on her bag was what gave away that this was Anastasia. Otherwise known as Ana.

    Anthony had scarcely managed to process the phrase "Basswagon" or the sudden arrival or Malcolm when Ana showed up behind them, nearly made him jump out of his skin with surprise and then prompted a double and triple take. She'd certainly changed her appearance at the least. So had he, he supposed. Just in the opposite direction.

    "Well…" Anthony started to say before trailing off, effectively killing whatever liveliness the latest arrival had perceived. "I guess we're all here then."

    Malcolm's grin and exuberance had only grown after interacting with Jared, but Ana's appearance left him as stunned as Anthony. He couldn't help but stare until Anthony's words prompted him to respond. "Yeah… Guess we are. It's been a while, huh?" He gently clapped one large hand on Anthony's shoulder before waving at Anastasia.

    Jared stared at the girl just a little longer than the others. This wasn't at all the girl he remembered, the girl he'd spent years tormenting. Sure, he'd seen her celebrating the triumphs of her software development team on LinkedIn…yes, the fact she was so active on LinkedIn proved she was still a dork, but the girl he saw before him was a far cry from the one he remembered. She was gorgeous. Internally at least - he could admit that. It took him a moment to remember she was still 'Lil' Annie' to him.

    "Fashionably late Lil' Annie? Is that what it took to win all those awards?" He scoffed, leaning against the van and forgetting entirely about his plan to give an MTV cribs style tour of his beloved Basswagon.

    "No, that required skill. This took no effort at all." Anastasia immediately shot back with a smile. She took her time to examine the three men, her eyes shifting to each and every one of them before returning Malcolm's wave. A quick thought of how much everyone had changed crossed her mind but she didn't look taken aback by the nickname at all, despite that it had been 10 years. It was as if they were momentarily back in time. Until her gaze shifted to the van in the background and to the reality of the situation. "Is this… the van you mentioned, Jared?"

    "The very same. My pride and joy. The Basswagon. Done a lot of gigs out the back of this bad boy." Jared explained, with a slap to the side of the van, his face brimming with pride.

    "What kind of gigs?" Anthony asked, in part just to keep himself talking. The van looked and smelled like the only work it was involved in was the kind that got you arrested. He resisted the instinct to scrunch up his nose when that thought transitioned back to remembering he was about to spend days at a time stuck inside the vehicle. He generally tried not to be judgemental, but his discomfort was definitely bringing out the worst of his thoughts. The questioning only led to Jared's smile curling into a smirk.

    "I'll show you," the Basswagon owner responded. He ushered the trio in, even giving Malcolm a tap on the arm both to add to the suspense and reassure his old friend. The latch on the door clicked. Jared backed the group up, then backed himself up as he pulled the doors open. "Bow!"

    Anthony was perplexed. On the one hand, it was weirdly impressive to make the back of a van look that comfortable. But he also had no idea why someone would feel the need for multiple TVs and game consoles to be present in the back of their van. It didn't look like something Jared had set up just for the road trip. It looked more like he lived in the back of his van and he was struggling to parse that with his mental image of Jared as the hypercompetitive teenager.

    "Maybe I'm not as smart as I thought I was," he said, "But as comfortable as this looks, I still have no idea what work you're talking about."

    Malcolm was visibly confused by the setup, but did give a small bow to the van. At least until he noticed no one else doing so, and quickly straightened with an awkward cough. "So, you like, do events and stuff? Hook up a sound system and play music, maybe? How's it all work?"

    Anastasia had a similar reaction as Anthony. She crossed her arms and held a fist in front of her mouth so as to not make the shift in her expression clear, only removing it as she spoke just to put it back once the words were out. "Are you by any chance living in this van…?" She eventually managed to muster out. She didn't have the largest expectations for Jared's vehicle choice, nor is she not so snobbish that she would openly insult it but somehow Jared had been able to go even beyond her lowest expectations. She momentarily felt regret for agreeing to this trip. Or at least the van. It gave very similar vibes to a cartoon she used to watch.

    Jared simply groaned and shook his head. Both Anthony and Anastasia just didn't get it. He had to show them. With no words, he turned away from the group and hopped into the back of the van. He unlatched one of the towers of stereos and surfaced a DJ Deck from behind it. Several moments of rigging later, Jared had successfully hooked his decks up to the van's stereo.

    "Alright, pick a song…" Jared suggested, raising a finger to select one of the three friends that had lined up for his performance. Anastasia was first, but he hesitated. "Nah, I don't want this place to turn into a flash mob. All your little High School Musical playlists should've never made it past the iPod era." He shook his head and moved onto Anthony. Again he shook his head. "Nah, I let you play your music my stereo would probably get depressed and start wearing black eyeliner…" Finally he was left with Malcolm. "Go ahead Malc, pick a song."

    "Wait, me?" Malcolm pointed to himself incredulously, as though there were any other Malc's present. He stammered lightly, looking around for inspiration, before turning slightly to hide the fact that he was blatantly hitting the shuffle button on his phone. "Uh… Escape from the City?"

    "Uh…" Anastasia stammered. "I-Isn't that… Isn't that a Sonic song?" She stood with widened eyes. Yes these were still the same nerds as 10 years ago. "I never want to hear something about my old High School Musical playlist again." A glare was shot in Jared's direction as she crossed her arms.

    "Yeah, but… I mean it's still a good song, I like it…" Malcolm blushed a little, looking away from Ana.

    "I don't remember that one," Anthony said, ignoring Jared's comments about the music he typically listened to ten years ago. "But I usually just listen to whatever, so it works for me."

    "Oh my god…" Was the response Jared whispered through a sharp inhale. "I'm in charge of the music then, clearly. Here, let me drop some culture on you," Jared continued as he flicked through his phone. Not long after, a song began to blast through the speakers.

    "BIG DIRTY STINKING BASE! BIG DIRTY STINKING BASE! DIRTY STINKING BASE!" The words of Dizzie Rascal's 'Baseline Junkie' blared through the car park as Jared's three old friends watched him headbang away in the back of his spraypainted van.

    "I think if you do this on the train they might throw us off while it's moving," Anthony remarked. He couldn't help but smile just a little bit though. There was something kind of nostalgic about the scene - even if in the past it would have been some competitive gaming thing Jared was into and not something loosely defined as music. "And speaking of which, we should probably start making our way over there."

    "Probably a good idea." Malcolm reached over toward the Deck, hitting the power switch. "Jare, let's save the music for the road, yeah?"

    "If this is culture then mom was right about our generation…" Ana said underneath her breath, hastily checking her bag if her iPods had been sufficiently charged.

    "****in 'ell. I'm gonna need some more 'stuff' for the road at this rate." Jared grumbled with a sigh, hastily grabbing his things before chasing behind the group. The train was only moments away and before long, he'd be leaving the world he and his friends had spent their childhoods in together behind, at least for a little while.

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