Extraction: Episode 1 “The Graduation”
A supernatural thriller by Tom Farr
Bryant exchanged a look with Skylar across the room. Her curly blonde hair flowing out from beneath her blue graduation cap and the smile on her face made his heart beat a little faster. Of course, she always had that effect on him.
“Skylar Evans,” he heard the announcer say as Skylar walked across the stage and received her diploma.
“I can’t believe you guys are getting married in two months,” Bryant’s best friend Zander said next to him.
“I can’t wait.”
Zander shook his head, incredulous. “But you never even got to experience college life and dating a new girl every week.”
Bryant laughed. “Skylar’s all I want, man. And don’t forget, I tried the date-a-new-girl-every-week method during sophomore year. It wasn’t that great.”
“That’s because Mallory Traven had you believing she was pregnant.”
Bryant gave him a cold look. “Don’t remind me.” He caught a glimpse of Mallory, her dark hair framing her pretty face, further back in the line. He averted his eyes the moment she looked his way.
“Gotta be honest,” Zander said. “I was surprised Skylar started dating you, knowing how much of a partier you were.”
They took a few steps as the line moved forward.
“I was an idiot back then,” Bryant said. “She knows I’m different now.”
Zander gave him a look of skepticism. “Come on. Do you think anyone really changes?”
Zander opened his mouth to speak, then hesitated.
“What were you about to say?” Bryant said.
“What about your mom?”
Bryant sighed, trying to catch a glimpse of his dad out in the crowd. Instead, he saw an empty seat next to Skylar’s mom and dad. “Not holding back any punches tonight, are you Zander? What gives?”
Zander looked at him and grinned. “Honestly, I still just don’t get how you could get someone that hot. Does she even realize she could’ve had me instead?”
Bryant returned the grin. “Watch yourself, Zan. And stop looking at my girlfriend.”
“Seriously, though,” Zander said, his tone more serious. “Your mom left your dad even though she changed, right?”
Bryant let out another sigh, more weighted this time. “My mom tried. That’s all I know.”
He looked at Skylar, now sitting in her seat. She waved at him and he waved back.
People can change, he thought.
“Bryant Summers, I’m so proud of you,” Skylar said as she wrapped her arms around Bryant’s neck.
Bryant held her tight. “We did it,” he said, his voice betraying disappointment.
Skylar pulled away and Bryant could see the look of concern on her face even in the moonlight. “Is something wrong?”
Bryant shook his head. “It’s nothing. Just something stupid Zander said earlier.” He couldn’t shake thoughts of his mom, or, at least, what was left of his mom.
“You wanna talk about it?”
He smiled, taking her hand in his. “Not really. We should be celebrating, right?”
She returned the smile.
They started walking the sidewalk, hand in hand.
“Excited about your trip?” Bryant said.
“I am. I just wish you could come with us.”
“Me too, but your mom makes a good point in excluding me.” They stopped and Bryant pushed a strand of hair out of her eyes. “Your parents just want you to themselves before I take you away.” He smiled, looking deeply into her eyes.
“Can you just take me away now?”
“Don’t tempt me,” he said, pulling her close to him.
They kissed, and Bryant’s hands moved down her back.
She pushed him away. “Hold up, Cowboy,” she said, smiling. “Not just yet, remember?”
Bryant felt his face go red. “Sorry.” He gave a sheepish grin.
“Don’t worry,” she said sweetly. “In two months, I’m all yours.” She playfully punched him in the shoulder. “But not until then.”
He put his hand up to the place where she punched him, feigning injury. “I think you broke my heart.”
She stepped forward and kissed him on the cheek. “I would never break your heart.”
He pulled her close and kissed her again.
Bryant’s cell phone rang inside his jacket pocket, ending their moment. He pulled it out.
“Probably wondering why we’re not at the party yet,” he said. “Your parents are probably freaking out by now.”
She rolled her eyes as he put the phone to his ear.
“Hey, Zander, what’s up?”
“Bryant…” His voice was quiet. Somber. “You need to get Skylar to the hospital, quick.”
Bryant’s heart dropped. “Wait. What’s going on?”
Bryan heard a loud noise through the phone.
“Zander, what’s going on?”
He could see the concern on Skylar’s face.
“It’s Skylar’s parents,” Zander said, his breathing heavy. “There was an accident.” A beat. “You just need to get her here as quick as possible.”
Bryant took her hand, squeezing it. “Okay. We’ll be right there.”
He ended the call and met Skylar’s gaze.
“What is it?” she said.
He took a breath. “We’ve gotta go.”
“How could this happen?” Bryant paced the floor of the hospital waiting room.
Zander sat in the corner, his clothes tattered. “I don’t know,” he said, staring forward as if in a daze. “When I came upon their car… It was like something had attacked them… I got out and tried to help, but…” He shook his head, clearly rattled by what he saw. Looking up, he met Bryant’s eyes. “It was unlike anything I’d ever seen.”
Bryant could only imagine the worst. Bryant took a seat next to Zander. He ran his hands through his hair. “If she loses her mom…” He paused, grasping for words. “She can’t lose both of them.”
They sat still, the silence hanging thick in the air.
Bryant thought of the smile on Skylar’s face when she walked across the stage. It was such a contrast to the look of horror on her face when the doctor told her that her dad was gone.
“This wasn’t supposed to happen,” Bryant said, frustration apparent in his voice. “Tonight was supposed to be about new beginnings. Not tragedy.”
The door to the waiting room opened and Bryant looked up to see Skylar in the doorway. Her eyes were puffy and distant.
Skylar stumbled toward him and he met her halfway. She looked him in the eyes and he saw the sadness.
He reached out and took her hand.
Tears filled her eyes as her face scrunched up again. “She’s gone,” she said through sobs. “My mom’s gone.”
Bryant pulled her into an embrace as she cried into his shoulders.
He watched Zander hanging his head low, and he silently cursed whatever force in the universe would allow this to happen.
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