NW Wilson River Highway, OR, September 2, 2013
The early afternoon sun scorched the surface of the pavement to three digit temperatures, making the heat even more unbearable for Chloe Price as she walked along the side of the road, a sturdy backpack weighing on her shoulders. A blue trickle of sweat ran down her forehead. The color was a result of a freshly dyed hair. A lit cigarette was hanging loosely between her lips, leaving a trail of smoke behind her.
She had been walking roughly for an hour now. She was hitchhiking back home to Arcadia Bay after spending a couple of days in Portland, following a lead that might help her to find her girlfriend Rachel Amber who had gone missing last spring.
Well, that lead amounted to jack shit, she thought as she took one determined step after another.
And of course the truck had to break down right now. Chloe had been forced to take the Greyhound to Portland and her funds had only covered the trip there. Therefore she had to resort to her own feet and hitching a ride from someone in order to get back.
Ain't life just dandy! She angrily wiped another blue trickle from her forehead. After a ride to the outskirts of Portland, all the cars had just passed her by. The traffic was pretty sparse at this time of hour, so the prospective rides weren't that easy to come by. There was a service station a couple of miles ahead. The last one before Arcadia Bay. Maybe I'm able to catch a ride from there.
Chloe flicked the burned cigarette away and exhaled the remaining smoke out of her lungs. She cast a glance over her shoulder and saw a car coming her way. Her expression brightened as she turned to face the approaching car and extended her right arm raised her thumb.
"Come on, momma needs a ride!" the punk said out loud as the car, a champagne BMW convertible came closer.
As much as Chloe tried to wave her thumb, the BMW didn't show any signs of stopping. On the contrary, the blonde, pixie cut young woman behind the wheel cast a scowl at the punk and accelerated past her.
The initial dismay changed to anger as the bluenette turned to flip both birds after the car and its driver.
"Yeah, drive on you bitch!" Chloe yelled angrily. "Wouldn't have wanted a ride in your fucking Bimmer anyway!"
Well, back to the original plan, Chloe thought and started walking again.
This pretty much sums up the last few months since Rachel went missing. And here was I thinking that life had finally decided to give some slack, when I met her.
My life had been going downhill ever since dad died and Max decided to dump me for Seattle.
Rachel really was a saving grace. My angel.
Now she's vanished like she never existed and my life's going down the drain again.
Chloe lit another cigarette and took a deep drag.
The draught from the open top gave a little relief to the swelter as Victoria Chase sped down the highway towards Arcadia Bay. She had started from Seattle early in the morning, stopped for a quick lunch in Portland and was now on her final stretch to her destination.
Victoria would be starting her senior year at the Blackwell Academy. She had spent the summer at home in Seattle and was looking forward to see her friends again.
I wonder how Nathan's been getting along with his father, she thought as she checked her Facebook feed from the BMW's information display.
I really hated to leave him behind, when I left to Seattle. His father can be a real dick towards him.
He sounded really stressed out last time I called him.
Victoria looked down the road. Someone was walking along the shoulder.
Some trashy hitchhiker, she thought as she saw the walker turn around and raise her thumb. She could make out bangs of blue hair gushing under a navy blue beanie.
"Not in my Bimmer!" Victoria said out loud as she frowned and sped past the hitchhiker. From her rear-view mirror she could see how the girl was flipping the birds for her angrily. The sight made the blonde smirk.
A chime from the car dashboard drew the blonde's attention from the mirror and she cast a glance at the dashes. The refill fuel indicator had lit. She'd need to refuel at the earliest convenience. Victoria tapped the information display to switch over to the navigator and tapped a search for nearby service stations. Luckily, there was one just a few miles ahead.
I'm really looking forward for Mark's lessons, she thought as she set the service station as her destination. Mark Jefferson, a renowned photographer was their photography teacher.
His work is just amazing. And I'd be lying to myself, if I said I didn't find him attractive – in his seasoned way. She smirked at reflection in the mirror.
Maybe this year he finally notices me, now that Rachel Amber is out of the picture. What does that slut have that I don't?
Besides, I've got class. Rachel was so blatantly flirting with him that one could file a complaint for sexual harassment.
The service station gleamed in the distance. Victoria slowed down and stopped at a self-service pump. She unlocked the hatch covering the gas cap and opened the door. She walked to the other side of the car and unscrewed the cap before turning her attention to the pump pay station. The blonde dug a credit card out of her purse and swiped it in the pay station. She took the pistol and stuck it into the filler hole.
As the gasoline began flowing, she noticed a girl about her age walking with a middle-aged couple into the shop. The girl had a disheveled chestnut colored bob. She was wearing a grey hoodie on top of a washed purple t-shirt and a pair of jeans. A messenger bag was hanging from her shoulder. She turned her glance at the blonde and their eyes met momentarily. There was a slight gloom in those sapphire blue eyes.
Pfft, hipster trash! Victoria sneered as she watched the girl to enter the shop with who appeared to be her parents.
I hope Taylor's mother is doing better. Taylor took it really hard, when her mother was in the surgery.
The fuel pistol clicked as the backpressure valve cut the feed. Victoria placed the pistol back into its holder and closed the gas gap.
Hmm, I have to keep good pace so that I have time to hang out with Courtney and Taylor once I get to Blackwell, she thought when she looked at her designer watch. She placed herself behind the driver's seat and turned the engine on.
Victoria looked down the road. She saw a semi approaching the junction where the service station exit joined the highway. With determination, she put the gear into drive and stepped on the gas pedal. The BMW dashed off with tires squealing towards the exit. Keeping close watch on the semi with the corner of her eye, Victoria accelerated into the junction and with just yards to spare, she made it in front of the semi, resulting with angry horn blows from the truck driver. She grinned triumphantly as she revved away.
"What do you say, Ryan, should we stop here and buy a couple of sodas for the rest of the journey?" Vanessa Caulfield asked, when she saw a service station ahead.
"Why not," Ryan Caulfield answered. "Wouldn't mind stretching my legs. What do you say, Max?"
"Sure, whatever," Maxine Caulfield said indifferently. Stretching and sodas weren't on the top of her mind right now. She was feeling both excited and anxious.
Maxine, or Max, as she preferred to be called, would be spending her senior year at the Blackwell Academy, where she had been accepted. Even though Arcadia Bay was her home town from five years ago, moving away from home and being independent was a big step.
Can't wait for Mark Jefferson's classes to begin, the brunette thought. He's the sole reason why I decided to apply to Blackwell for my senior year.
I wonder what my dorm room will be like. I just hope I can get all my stuff to fit in, she thought as she looked at the pile of boxes next to her on the back seat and the trunk of the SUV.
I should've called Chloe and tell her that I'm returning to Arcadia Bay.
I wonder if she's still mad at me. She didn't take me leaving to Seattle too well. Can't really blame her though, as William had just died. She really needed me.
I should've stayed behind.
I should've visited her every now and then.
I should've at least called her from time to time.
Yep, you did a bang up job maintaining your friendship, Caulfield.
The SUV stopped at a parking spot.
"Okay, ten minute break!" Ryan Caulfield announced. "If you need to go, now's the time to do it. The next stop will be in Arcadia Bay."
They all stepped out of the vehicle. Ryan took Vanessa's hand into his own and they walked together towards the service station shop. Max followed a few steps behind her parents.
As they walked in, Max made notice of a champagne BMW convertible at the gasoline pumps and the tall blonde filling it up. She looked really posh and confident in her pixie cut and her designer clothes. Every detail in her seemed well thought out. The expression on her face was aloof, though.
That Bimmer must've cost a fortune, Max thought. I'm gonna have to rely on the public transportation system during my stay in Arcadia Bay.
They stepped inside the shop. Max's parents went directly to the soda shelves. She headed to the restroom to freshen up a bit. She washed her hands and splashed a little water on her face, before grabbing a towel and drying up. Using the service station toilet didn't feel too appealing, so she returned back to the shop.
Max saw her parents still standing by the soda shelves, choosing drinks and chuckling.
After all these years, they still look so happy together, the brunette thought. The sight gave her an inspiration, so she dug out her Polaroid JobPro, armed the flash and took a picture of her parents.
"I think there's a paparazzi amongst us," Ryan Caulfield grinned to her wife.
"Is it a keeper, Maxine?" Vanessa Caulfield asked her daughter.
"Yes, Mom, it's a keeper," Max answered as she looked at the picture judgingly. "And how many times, Mom, it's 'Max', never 'Maxine'."
"So, are we ready?" Ryan asked.
"I guess so, yeah," the brunette answered.
They walked to the counter, paid their shopping and stepped outside. Dark clouds were beginning to gather in the sky. It would rain soon.
"How long to Arcadia?" Vanessa asked as they arrived to the SUV.
"An hour, give or take," Ryan answered as he unlocked the doors.
They all stepped into vehicle and Ryan backed out of the parking spot. When they approached the exit. Max noticed a blue-haired girl with a backpack, holding her thumb up.
"Mom, Dad, that girl is heading our way. Should we give her a lift?"
"I don't know Max," Vanessa said. "The car's packed full and I don't feel comfortable about giving a ride to strangers."
Ryan didn't comment, so the decision was final. They drove past the hitchhiking girl, onto the highway. Max cast a final glance at her. There was something awfully familiar about her but she couldn't put her finger on it.
My mind's probably playing tricks on me, she thought as the service station was left behind.
"Sure, just drive on, I'm all good here," Chloe scorned at the SUV as it drove past her. Because of the tinted windows, she couldn't make the people inside.
The roar of a thunder made her look in the sky. Oh that's just hella great! Chloe put her backpack on the ground and began to dig out her poncho, when she heard the air brakes of a truck making a hissing sound next to her.
Chloe turned to see a bright red 80's Freightliner FL86 COE pulling a semi stopped beside her. A thick silver horizontal line ran along the cab in the middle. The passenger side door opened and a dark-haired mustached man wearing a Stetson looked down at her.
"Where ya headin', miss?" the truck driver asked.
"Arcadia Bay," the punk answered.
"Ah'm going to Lincoln. Arcadia bay's on the way, so hop on, Ah'll give you a ride," he said, smiling.
"Thanks, mister, I really appreciate it," Chloe said as she climbed in.
"Call me Pete," the driver gave his hand.
"Chloe," the punk shook his hand and smiled.
A/N: Hey folks, thanks for reading 'Encounters'! This was my entry to the Life is Strange Fans Fan Fiction Prequel Comic contest. While it didn't make it to the finals, I'm still happy how this one-shot turned out. Congratulations and best of luck to those who made it to the finals. Now that the contest is over I'm free to publish it also elsewhere. When the contest was announced, I got the idea for the story almost instantly. I wanted to create a scene where some of the main characters would almost, but not quite meet, in order to stay in line with the canon.
I hope you enjoyed this short bit and please do review!