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Authors: Travis Thrasher

The Remaining

BOOK: The Remaining
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The Remaining

Copyright © 2014 by Sony Picture Worldwide Acquisitions Inc.

Cover image copyright © 2014 by Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions, Inc. All rights reserved.

Designed by Dean H. Renninger

The Remaining
is a work of fiction. Where real people, events, establishments, organizations, or locales appear, they are used fictitiously. All other elements of the novel are drawn from the author’s imagination.

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Library of Congress Cataloging

Thrasher, Travis, author.

  The remaining : a novelization / by Travis Thrasher.

    pages cm

  Summary: “Just after a young couple says their vows, the earth shakes, and some people die suddenly and are taken away. The rest of their wedding party and friends are left to wrestle with what happened and with their faith”
 
— Provided by publisher.

  ISBN 978-1-4143-9752-8 (sc)

  I. Remaining (Motion picture) II. Title.

  PZ7.T411Rem 2014

  [Fic]
 
—dc23 2014024633

ISBN 978-1-4143-9798-6 (ePub); ISBN 978-1-4143-9753-5 (Kindle); ISBN 978-1-4143-9799-3 (Apple)

Build: 2014-07-22 11:46:34

THEN THE SEVEN ANGELS WITH THE SEVEN TRUMPETS PREPARED TO BLOW THEIR MIGHTY BLASTS.

REVELATION 8:6

(NEW LIVING TRANSLATION)

CONTENTS
  1. Prologue: Foreboding
  2. Chapter 1: Cameraman
  3. Chapter 2: The Bridesmaid
  4. Chapter 3: It’s Time
  5. Chapter 4: Perfect
  6. Chapter 5: As Long As We Both Shall Live
  7. Chapter 6: The Greatest Day of Our Lives
  8. Chapter 7: Mirrors
  9. Chapter 8: The End Is Near
  10. Chapter 9: Take a Deep Breath
  11. Chapter 10: Sanctuary
  12. Chapter 11: Gone
  13. Chapter 12: Strangers
  14. Chapter 13: Terror
  15. Chapter 14: Action
  16. Chapter 15: Frenzied
  17. Chapter 16: Hesitancy
  18. Chapter 17: The Stranger in the Dark
  19. Chapter 18: Snapshots
  20. Chapter 19: Dropped Out of the Sky
  21. Chapter 20: In Good Times and Bad
  22. Chapter 21: Storm and Silence
  23. Chapter 22: Buried and Forgotten
  24. Chapter 23: A Little Lost Girl
  25. Chapter 24: Black and White
  26. Chapter 25: Trapped
  27. Chapter 26: Deep Wounds
  28. Chapter 27: Hell on Earth
  29. Chapter 28: Ugly
  30. Chapter 29: Waiting for the End
  31. Chapter 30: The Screaming Soul
  32. Chapter 31: Undertow
  33. Chapter 32: Minivan Coffin
  34. Chapter 33: Attacked
  35. Chapter 34: The Big Question
  36. Chapter 35: The Ticking Clock
  37. Chapter 36: The Great General in the Sky
  38. Chapter 37: Confessions
  39. Chapter 38: All Apologies
  40. Chapter 39: This Is Not a Test
  41. Chapter 40: Wake-Up Calls
  42. Chapter 41: Ruiner
  43. Chapter 42: Breathe
  44. Chapter 43: The Day the World Went Away
  45. Chapter 44: In This Twilight
  46. Chapter 45: Darkness
  47. Chapter 46: Gone
  48. Chapter 47: Hoping and Praying
  49. Chapter 48: Allison
  50. Chapter 49: Forsaken and Forgotten
  51. Chapter 50: Hopeless Prayers
  52. Chapter 51: How to Disappear Completely
  53. Chapter 52: Choices
  54. Chapter 53: The Right Moment
PROLOGUE
FOREBODING
1

The visions predicting the end of the world began during a week spent on the beach in Wilmington, North Carolina, a week that was supposed to celebrate love and life and tomorrow.

There. I actually admitted it on paper. Or at least on a computer screen.

My name is Lauren Hall. I’m a twenty-seven-year-old black woman who grew up in Wilmington. The only reason I’m writing this now is that I don’t know who to talk to. I love my friends, and I’m scared for them
 
—for all of us
 
—because of these visions.

The visions.
It sounds like something you might hear
about in an old Southern church with the snake charmer and the blind woman in the wheelchair suddenly walking
and
seeing. I’ve gone to church my whole life, but I’m not blind, nor do I need a wheelchair.

Lately, however, I’ve felt like I might need a shrink. And no matter how many times I’ve prayed and how many times I’ve waited on God’s Word, I keep seeing strange things.

I no longer question whether something’s going to happen.

My only question is when.

2

There was only one objective for the trip to NC: for Dan to propose to Skylar. Well, let’s make that two objectives. The proposal, and the total and complete secrecy surrounding it.

It’s amazing how something as simple as meeting at a college party could ultimately result in something as complex and intricately planned as that last week in July. Skylar, of course, had no clue, and even some of the rest of us didn’t know all the details. Dan had chosen to tell only those who could be the most tight-lipped. So that meant that out of the gang, Tommy knew almost nothing, Jack knew about as much, Allison knew a few more tiny details, and I knew the most. Dan knew me well enough to know I could keep a secret or two.

We’d had this trip planned for some time, so it wasn’t like Skylar was suspecting anything. The woman who loved
to plan everything in her life (and I mean
everything
) surely wanted to have some kind of say in the ring she’d be wearing and the date she’d be getting married. No, I take that back. I think Skylar really wanted to propose to Dan. And she wasn’t ready to, not just yet. So Dan beat her and surprised her.

He surprised all of us that week, actually. It really was a remarkable buildup to an amazing moment.

If only I hadn’t been so completely terrified by then of what was to come.

3

It started the night before I was supposed to leave for Wilmington.

I’d gone out with Blake to dinner and then to see a movie. It wasn’t like we went to see some movie about demons or ghosts or something like that, though I’ve never been bothered by horror films and I can’t really recall the last true nightmare I’d had before that night. I couldn’t blame it on the dinner, either. It was an enjoyable date night with the love of my life, the man I’d be spending a week away from.

I finished packing when I got home and went to bed just before midnight. Nothing unusual.

I woke up that night around three in the morning. Sweaty, breathless, worried, even guilt-ridden. I knew I had to say a quick prayer just to get my heart and soul back in order.

I’d seen things that didn’t make sense, that still don’t
make sense even now. Skylar in a bloody wedding dress. Dan running, his face full of tears, his anguish obvious. I wanted to help them but I couldn’t. It was like I was watching them on display through a window on the street. I could touch the window and even bang on it but there was nothing I could do to break through the glass and help. Not one thing.

And that was only the beginning. When I turned my back, I could see the flames from burning buildings and the rubble from explosions. People screaming and crying
 
—the ones who weren’t lying dead in the middle of the street or on the sidewalks.

I started to run (isn’t that what people do in dreams?) but I couldn’t go anywhere to escape the carnage. Each turn led me to someone else I knew who was hurting. Allison. Jack. Even Tommy.

It was just a dream, of course. I knew it was. My mind turning this time with all my friends into something terrible. I was thinking about them and the upcoming proposal and the future wedding.

But the images of all the people I loved most hurting and crying and bleeding were unsettling. And simply bizarre. I didn’t know where they were coming from.

It took a while to fall back asleep that night.

The next morning I simply dismissed the nightmares as just that and nothing more. Nothing worth telling anybody about. Just a mental glitch due to a busy schedule and an overactive imagination.

Yet something inside, some persistent voice, told me it was something else.

I ignored this voice. At least for the time being.

4

Our group came together during our college years. Thinking of them now is similar to thinking about family members you’ve grown up with and love. When a face comes to mind and makes you smile. That’s how I feel about this group. I love these people.

Dan Wilson is the all-American guy. Our young Harrison Ford. Tall, dark, and handsome with a bright future. He was a smart guy long before meeting Skylar at a party and knowing she was the one, but the fact that he realized this and pursued her only made him seem that much wiser.

Jack Turner was Dan’s childhood buddy growing up in Wilmington. As kids they were friends simply because they were both involved in sports and had a lot of similarities. While Dan’s the all-American, Jack’s more of the heartthrob. He’s the Tom Cruise of the bunch, the good-looking athletic type who always seemed to be surrounded by friends.

I met these two because of my friendship with Allison Costa. She was a classmate I got to know the first two years I was at Duke. If it hadn’t been for my mother and her ailing health, I wouldn’t have transferred to UNC Wilmington before my junior year. But I know that was something that God chose to allow for a reason.

And sometimes his reasons remain unknown to us.

Allie and I continued to be close friends even while I was gone. I relied on my girl a lot during those years when my mother fought her cancer and even after she passed. It’s amazing how God puts just the right people in your life at the exact time you need them. Allie kept me sane while my faith kept me hopeful.

What can I say about Allie? She’s good people. She’s got a good soul. She’s an honest, outspoken, and sometimes even fiery Italian. I’ve always loved her because I never need to wonder where I stand with her. It’s no wonder Jack fell for her. They’ve been dating for over six years now. I’ve wondered just how serious it is, but Allie doesn’t really like to talk about it. And now it’s Dan beating Jack to the punch, proposing to Skylar before Jack can make it official with Allie.

Skylar
 
—“the girl next door,” a cliché I hate using but one that really does fit her. I’ll be honest since I’m writing this to myself and nobody else. I didn’t like Sky when Allie first introduced us. I felt like I’d been replaced. Here’s this beautiful blonde who’s vivacious and well-to-do with wonderful parents and a wonderful life and surely a wonderful dog, too. Or so I naturally thought. And the selfish person inside of me went,
So I’m losing my friend to this chick while I’m dealing with my mother’s cancer? Thank you, LIFE.

But while Skylar might
look
like the girl next door, she’s got an immense heart. I know that now.

At my mother’s funeral, one thing stood out more than anything else. It was something Skylar did for me. So simple
yet so meaningful. She showed up at the funeral and came over to give me this huge hug. She’d come to the wake the night before and had been one of the many people I barely remembered seeing. But that morning, as I stood filled with an ocean of grief I didn’t know what to do with, Skylar gave me a tiny little bag.

“These are violet petals,” she said to me.

And that was it. She hugged me and let me be.

My mother’s name was Violet. So during the funeral, I remember clinging to that bag of petals as if somehow squeezing them might bring my mother back. Or at least take away the pain of losing her.

I still haven’t told Skylar how much those petals meant to me. Or how much that simple gesture still means to me now.

5

Snowprints on the sand in the summer. I could see them stretching out for miles.

The snow fell in huge flakes, and normally I might dance around with an open mouth, but now I ran in terror. Running to find someone to tell. Running to try to figure out what exactly was happening.

Again, I knew I was dreaming. Sort of. My feet felt lighter. The touch on the ground felt softer. Yes, it was snow on sand, such a strange mix. But I knew it wasn’t real.

Yet the terror wrapped around my heart felt authentic. It was pure. Even if I knew it was unnecessary.

I hadn’t been this afraid since first learning about my mother’s cancer. And then it took months and months of desperately giving it to God before I learned to let it go.

This feels like something impossible to let go.

I ran to find someone to tell. Not to help me but to help them.

If you knew the world was about to end, what would you say? Or maybe the question should really be, if this world was going to end, whom would you tell?

I could see the sea, ripe and red. The color of blood. The color of death.

I ran and glanced back at bloody tracks I was making.

I was bleeding myself, though I didn’t know how and couldn’t figure out why.

And this was when I woke up. Still out of breath. My feet felt wet.

I had been at the beach house only one night, but already the dreams were seeping into my mind, heart, and soul.

I could only hope the tide would eventually take them all away.

6

I was grabbing coffee that first morning at the beach house when I saw Tommy coming up to me, carrying that video recorder of his.

“Listen, Scorsese,” I told him, “it’s a little early for filming, isn’t it?”

“Never.”

Tommy Covington was the lovable comic in our group, the guy who seemed to love life the most and always seemed to be at odds with it too. He was the moodiest one out of the three guys but also the one I knew the best.

“Everybody else still sleeping?” I asked.

“Late night last night,” he said, a question in his voice. I hadn’t joined them.

“I needed some sleep,” I told him.

“Oh, come on. You’ve gone soft on me already.”

Tommy ended up being nice and set his video camera aside. I knew he’d be shooting a lot this week, leading up to the big moment.

If Tommy Covington could do anything in the world, it would be to direct motion pictures for Hollywood. But I don’t see Tommy doing that. Oh, I’d never tell him to his face. I could see him maybe doing a small indie flick or two. But he doesn’t seem to have the Hollywood kind of persistence.

Then again, I might be wrong about him.

I remember the first time I met him, when he came up to me after seeing me at a party I’d attended at Duke University. I was going to UNC Wilmington by then but still liked to go to parties with Allie at Duke on the weekends. Tommy was at UNC Wilmington too, and we ended up realizing the connection we had with our friends. There was definitely a connection between Tommy and me too, at the beginning. But Tommy was never someone I could imagine myself being with long-term. The fact that
my mother probably wouldn’t have been thrilled about me bringing home a white guy had nothing to do with it; it just wasn’t meant to be. And eventually someone else would capture his attention.

“Looks like we’re going to have great weather,” Tommy told me.

“I can’t wait to sit on the beach and put on my headphones and veg out.”

“Oh, no. Come on
 
—I have activities for us to do.”

“Activities? Like what?”

“We’re going on a cruise. Beach volleyball. Bicycling into town. Beach football.”

“Oh, and let me guess,” I said, joking. “Beach . . . soccer?”

“No vegging out this week.” Tommy paused. “Think Sky knows anything?”

“No. She’s too much of a control freak to imagine Dan would plan all this to propose here.”

“Hope she doesn’t get mad.”

I only shook my head.

“What?” Tommy asked.

“Skylar won’t be upset.”

“How do you know?”

“I saw the ring.”

7

That makes Skylar sound so superficial. She can be, but so can anybody else. And what girl doesn’t dream of the
perfect guy and the perfect house with the white picket fence? Okay, maybe my perfect house doesn’t have a fence around it but rather happens to be fenced in by the woods, but regardless. Skylar’s a girl. And Dan wasn’t going to upset her.

The nightly ritual turned out to be sitting on the beach around a campfire. Everybody would be tired and giddy and full and warm from the day’s sun on their skin. We would laugh and tell college and post-college stories. We imagined how our lives would be in one year or five years or ten years.

Even there, in the midst of so much happiness, I felt prompted to finally say something about my dreams and the worry I was carrying around with me. Tommy even asked me in front of everybody what was wrong.

For a second, I almost told them.
Almost.

“I’m fine. I’m just tired.”

“Oh, come on, Lauren,” Tommy said. “You were just crying with laughter, and then all of a sudden we start talking about the future and you become a zombie.”

“How are things with Blake and you?” Skylar asked.

“They’re good. Really.”

“So are you guys pretty serious?” Allie asked.

“Yeah.”

“Something’s wrong,” Tommy said.

“Nothing’s wrong.”

“Why so glum, then?”

I only shook my head. I wanted to tell Tommy to leave
me alone and stop prying. I wasn’t about to tell them my dreams. Not as a group. Not in this setting.

Nothing ruined the mood like telling everybody I was seeing visions of their deaths and the end of the world.

I might
 

might
 
—tell Allie at some point. And the only reason I’d do that is to have her convince me I wasn’t totally losing my mind.

BOOK: The Remaining
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