The wide, tree shaded lunch quad of McKinley High School was buzzing with excitement over the big senior trip to Red River Adventure Park, but Wendy Christensen's mind was on other things. She was a serious, quiet girl with long, wavy brown hair that tumbled over her eyes in soft, tousled bangs, and fierce, driven intensity in her large, dark eyes.
She was quite beautiful, but didn't seem to think twice about that. Unlike many of her classmates, who seemed to spend every waking hour lost in girly, Cosmo angst, obsessing over their weight, Wonderbras, the season's new make-up shades and most importantly keeping the attention of boys at all costs, Wendy gave very little thought to her appearance. Her body, beneath her neat and practical clothing, was naturally slender, but well toned and fit, not because she worried about conforming to the TV standard of emaciated perfection, but because she needed her mile long morning run to help clear her mind and get her focused for her day. Her boyfriend, Jason Wise, often teased her about being too serious. A control freak, he called her. She guessed he was probably right, but she didn't really see what was wrong with wanting to stay in control of her life. So many people just tumbled senselessly through their chaotic existence with no goals and no plans, and then seemed so shocked when things inevitably went wrong.
Besides, Wendy knew that in spite of his teasing, Jason secretly liked her strong will and cool head. In many ways, he was like a bad little boy who really wanted to be taken in hand and told what to do. Tall and handsome, with a mobile and expressive face, Jason was a popular, well-respected jock who could have had his pick of the McKinley litter, but he chose Wendy. Even knowing she was a virgin and intended to stay that way, he wooed her for months with a kind of chivalrous determination until he finally won her over. He said he loved her, and she was pretty sure that she loved him too, but things were complicated and getting more complicated every day. She had just gotten her acceptance letter from Yale.
Jason had applied and been accepted to the University of Nevada, Las Vegas with a full athletic scholarship. Physical distance aside, those two schools might as well have been on different planets. Wendy was headed for academic hardball, intense competition and eventually a prestigious degree in law. Jason was headed for beer bongs and Jell-O shooters, and sorority sluts majoring in fellatio. Wendy was far too practical to pretend that he would stay faithful during their long separations, and she knew that she would be far too caught up in her new classes to worry about the drama and hassles of maintaining a long distance relationship. The only way to maintain control of the situation would be to end it, but sitting there, snuggled close between his long, muscular legs on a cement bench in the McKinley lunch quad, Wendy felt a wave of warm, melancholy love for him. It felt almost like prescient nostalgia, as if she were visiting some beloved place from her childhood that would soon be closing its doors for good. She just wanted to enjoy what they had while it lasted.
Leaning back against his chest, she spontaneously decided that she wanted to go all the way with him. She had always figured it would be best to wait, but didn't have any specific goal, like marriage or a certain age, in mind. She always told herself she would just know when she was ready. It would be good with him and she knew that. She trusted him, and trust for her had never been easy to come by. It would be a long time before she was going to be able to find the time to build up that level of trust with anyone again. She didn't want to wind up a thirty year-old virgin. Besides, it was nearly criminal to le that fine, athletic body of his go to waste. While many girls only wanted to give up their virginity in a relationship they imagined would last forever, it seemed to Wendy to be a perfect way to say goodbye.
"What are you thinking about, Wednesday?" Jason asked.
Wendy tilted her hear back and smiled up into Jason's handsome, bemused face. "Your mom working the night shift tonight?" she asked.
Jason's single mom was a nurse and often worked odd hours. If she was on nights, Wendy and Jason could be alone until six am.
"She's been on nights all week," Jason replied. "Why?"
Wendy turned around on the bench until she faced him, and looked up into is questioning eyes. She leaned in and kissed him.
He responded instantly to her unexpected ardor, pulling her close and kissing her back with urgent strength. She put a hand on his warm chest and pushed him gently back.
"After the trip to Red River tonight," she said. "I'll go check in for curfew and then sneak back out. Meet me around the corner and we can go back to your house."
"Wendy," Jason said, eyes wide. "You mean…?"
"Yeah," she said, smiling. "You don't mind, do you?"
"Mind?" He shook his head. "Are you kidding?"
His face was so open and full of love and desire that she felt bad for being so casual about the ultimate demise of their relationship. Maybe she was wrong. Maybe they could find a way to make it work.
He kissed her again, harder this time, hand up under her hair, and nearly ready to do it right then and there.
"Hey," she said softly, breaking the kiss again. "Take it easy, tiger. There'll be plenty of time for that, and more, later tonight."
He glanced around, then reached down and adjusted himself with a comical look of torment.
"At this rate," he said, "I don't know if I'm gonna survive that long."
"Self control, Jason," Wendy replied with a smirk. "It's all about self control."
He laughed and then his face went suddenly serious. "I love you so much, Wendy," he said.
"I know," Wendy said. "I love you, too, Jay."
"Listen," he said. "Maybe it's not too late for me to…" He paused, eyes searching hers. "…Apply somewhere closer to Yale. We could find a place together off campus, or something."
Wendy put a finger to his lips. "Don't worry about that now," she said.
He kissed her again.
"Dude! UNLV, dude!"
Jason pulled away from Wendy and they both looked up. Jason's best friend Kevin Fischer was standing over them with his girlfriend Carrie Dreyer in tow. Kevin wore a UNLV T-shirt with the sleeves cut off, revealing his bulky, muscular arms. He was everything about jocks that Jason was not. Everything Wendy didn't like: loud, boastful, always making crude jokes and dirty comments. Jason said he wasn't like that all the time, that he was really intelligent and thoughtful if you got to know him, but if that was true, he hid it from Wendy pretty well. He seemed to know everything on earth about bad action movies, sports and porn, but little else. He and Jason had been best friends since elementary school and they had this complex secret language made up of action movie references and bizarre rhymes, and in-jokes that made no sense to anyone but them. Wendy always hated the way that Jason seemed to regress to Kevin's level of fart noises and tit jokes whenever the two of them were together. Kevin might be a secret genius, but she still didn't like having him around.
Kevin had a hand up for a high five, and Jason slapped it.
"Yeah, man," said Jason. "UNLV. You bet."
"What's with you, dude?" Kevin asked, frowning at Jason's less than gung ho reply. "You're not wussing out on me now, are you?"
Jason shook his head. "No way, dude."
"Number one party school in the US of A," Kevin crowed. "I'm talking double bad, flying ninja, Foxy Brown, power parties, J-dog!"
Kevin performed a series of comical faux karate chops, complete with high pitched noises that were meant to sound either like Bruce Lee or a pissed-off chicken. Jason shot an embarrassed glace at Wendy.
"Right on, K-dog." Jason said.
"Man, I can't wait to get there!" Kevin said. "Wish I'd signed up to start in the summer. You heard about those awesome houseboat parties they have on Lake Mead? Dude, think 'Thunder in Paradise,' but, like, with beer!"
"That's all you, Hurricane," Jason said quietly, his heart not entirely in the banter. "I'd get sea-sick, even without the beer."
"But dude!" Kevin replied. "It'll be like shark jumping with Carol Alt in a bikini, multiplied by nine million."
Carrie shot Wendy a pained glance while their boyfriends' unfathomable exchange continued. Carrie was a cute redhead, who Wendy always thought would look a lot cuter if she didn't try so hard to be pop star sexy all the time. She wore way too much make-up, gooey lip gloss an inch thick, and purple sparkle eye shadow frosting her wide blue eyes. She was dressed in a microscopic white halter top that didn't do a thing to hide her braless breasts, and the waist of her pink hip hugger cords was a good six inches below her pierced belly button.
Kevin eventually plopped down on the bench and pulled Carrie down on his knee. She threw an arm around his neck.
"So, we're still on for tonight, right?" Kevin asked. "You still picking us up?"
Jason nodded. "Yeah, six o'clock, on the dot," he said. "We'll be there."
"This Senior Night trip is going to rock," Kevin said. "We're taking Red River Park like Pelham One Two Three! You and me are gonna ride Devil's Flight ten time in a row, J-dog. Ten times."
"'Til we puke, Duke!" Jason slapped Kevin's hand again, enthusiastic once more now that they were back on a safer subject than UNLV and Jason's imminent separation from Wendy.
Wendy rolled her eyes. "Why would anybody want to do something that made them puke?" she asked.
Jason and Kevin exchanged a sly look and laughed. Jason poked Wendy in the ribs.
Wendy scootched away from him. "I don't like roller coasters." She said.
"Everybody says that before they get on one," said Kevin. "Then they want to ride it again and again. Just like my dick."
He bounced Carrie up and down on his knee like a little girl getting a horse ride, and she slapped his high, giggling.
"Well, I don't like them," Wendy repeated, ignoring Kevin's lewd comment.
"Aw, come on, Wendy," Jason said. "You gotta go. If only so u can buy the picture of your face they take on that last drop. I'd pay a billion dollars to see that."
"Oh," said Wendy. "That reminds me. I have to remember to bring the camera so I can take a few more pictures for the yearbook."
"I thought the deadline for the yearbook was past already." Jason said.
"Amy Hauer dropped the ball yet again," Wendy replied. "She never delivered her photos of the drama club's A Midsummer Night's Dream, so of course I have to swing in on a vine and save the day, as usual. If they'd just given it to me in the first place instead of trusting that flaky pot head, there wouldn't have been any problems."
"Aw, Wendy," Jason groaned. "Can't you leave the damn camera at home, just this once? Every time we do anything, I end up sitting around half the time while you take pictures."
"I promised Mr. Smith I would do it. I can't just flake out on him now. I'd be no better than Amy. Besides, don't you want your high school memories immortalized?"
Jason shook his head and gave her a wry look. "Yeah," he said. "But you're so busy recording other people's memories, you might forget to have any of your own."
"We'll have plenty of memories," she said, giving him a significant smirk. "I promise."
He flushed and grinned.
Kevin stood up suddenly, picking Carrie up with easy strength, then setting her down on her tiny, high heeled shoes. She giggled. She did that a lot.
"All right, lovebirds," he said. "We gotta jet. We're late for skipping Mrs. Lockler's social studies class, but we'll see you at six, right?"
"Six," Jason said. "Right."
They touched knuckles and Kevin and Carrie sauntered away, Kevin's heavy arm draped over her shoulders like a possessive python.
Jason turned back to Wendy. "Now," he said, reaching for her. "Where were we?"
"Late for class," said Wendy, smirking and turning to gather her books.
"Aw, come on, Wednesday. There's only two weeks left of school. Nothing matters now. Let's skip, like Kev and Carrie."
"It matters to me. And we'll have all night, right?"
"Yeah." He looked down and took her hand. "Right."
"Hey, Wendy. Shoot this for the yearbook."
Wendy looked around. In the back seat of Jason's black Expedition, Kevin was pulling Carrie's T-shirt up, exposing her sheer, turquoise lace bra. Carrie's T-shirt was identical to the ones they all wore; white and cheaply made, it read "I survived DEVIL'S FLIGHT! McKinley High School-Class of '05-Grad Night." Wendy couldn't help but find it a bit presumptuous to wear a shirt claiming to have survived something when they hadn't even gotten there yet. But the whole class had the shirts, and she couldn't help but succumb to the peer pressure to wear it, in spite of the fact that she had no intention of riding the stupid roller coaster.
Carrie was slapping at Kevin's head and struggling to get away.
"Kevin, stop it," she cried. "You're such an asshole."
Wendy rolled her eyes and looked away. At least Carrie was wearing a bra tonight.
"Real mature, Kevin" Wendy said.
Kevin retreated to the far side of the back seat, fending off Carrie's slaps, laughing and yelping.
"Aw, come on!" he said. "You want people to buy the yearbook, don't you? You gotta put in the good stuff."
"Carrie?" Wendy asked. "When is your birthday?"
"July eighteenth," Carrie said. "Why?"
"Because," Wendy said, "unless Kevin plans to bail me out of jail for taking dirty photographs of a minor, I think I'd rather wait until July eighteenth to photograph your breasts, if it's all the same to you."
"Great, it's a date," Kevin said. "I'll bend her over the birthday cake and really give you something to take pictures of."
Jason laughed. "Dude, you are such a perv," he said, but he didn't sound all that mad. He signaled left and slipped into the fast lane. They were on the way to Red River Park. The fat sun was bleeding orange into the sunset clouds.
"Come on, J-Dog," Kevin said. "I'm counting on your help for the DP scene."
"Jesus," Wendy said, disgusted.
"Hey, man," Jason said with wide, mock-solemn eyes. "I'm here for you. Anything for a friend."
Wendy shot Jason a look. "I swear," she said. "Get the two of you together and you act like a couple of juvenile idiots. I shudder to think what atrocities against human dignity will take place when you two are off on the planet UNLV together for four years."
"Nothing bad's going to happen, babe," Jason replied. "We like to have fun, that's all. We know when to be cool."
"Hey," said Kevin. "We're cool all the time. Cool as the other side of the pillow."
"You bet," Jason said. "Too cool for school."
They exchanged hand slaps over the seat.
"That's what I'm afraid of," Wendy said.
She looked back at Carrie, ready to change the subject. "So," she said. "Speaking of school, where are you going to college, Carrie?"
"Me?" said Carrie, surprised. "I… I'm not."
"Really?" Wendy was suddenly embarrassed. It never occurred to her that someone she knew wasn't going to go to college. Had Carrie screwed up her SATs? Was she too poor? Wendy didn't really know very much about the girl. She had been going out with Kevin for a while, but they always went to those awful, jock, keg parties that Wendy refused to attend with Jason, so she had never really had a chance to get to know the girl.
Kevin put an arm around Carrie. "Carrie doesn't need to go to college," he said. "She's gonna be working in her dad's business. She'll be richer than all of us someday."
"Oh really?" said Wendy, relieved to be able to escape her embarrassment. "What does your dad do?"
"He installs swimming pools and spas," said Carrie. "It's no big deal."
"It is too," said Kevin. "Dreyer Pools has put in every pool and spa in this town. They got a contract with Smithson Homes and those guys built every development in the valley."
"Dreyer Pools put in our pool," said Wendy. "Wow, that's cool."
"Yeah," said Carrie embarrassed. "But I'm only gonna be the secretary. Just filing and stuff."
"And someday you'll take over and be the big boss lady," said Kevin. He gave her a squeeze. "Don't be so down on yourself all the time, kiddo."
"Well," she said. "You guys are going to college."
"Yeah right," Kevin laughed. "Me and Jay, we go to UNLV, try to get scouted by the NFL, play a little semi-pro ball if we're lucky, don't make the cut for the big team, and end up selling insurance because we spent four years partying and flunked out of Business 101. College ain't no guarantee, Carrie, trust me. You're going to do better than either of us."
Wendy looked at Kevin, surprised. She'd never heard him sound so insightful, so grown up. Maybe Jason was right about his hidden depths. She never would have guessed he had the brains to think past tomorrow, let alone four years from now.
Suddenly Kevin threw himself forward in his seat and pointed out the front window. "Dude! There it is, Red River. I can see Devil's Flight from here. Ten times, J-dog." He smacked Jason on the shoulder. "Ten time. You and me. 'Till we puke!"
"You got it, K-dog." said Jason. "'Till we puke."
They slapped hands again.
Wendy shook her head. Grown up? What had she been thinking? Who could ever mistake this Cro-Magnon for a deep thinker? It must have been a fluke. She looked forward. Ahead, on the horizon, Red River Park rose to the left of the highway. Silhouetted in the last red glow of the setting sun, it was as crimson as its name. Painful red highlights glinted off the girders and roofs of the rides and pavilions, blinding her. Above them all towered Devil's Flight, the multi-loop roller coaster that was the park's premier ride. It seemed coiled like a cobra, ready to spring.
Wendy shivered. Two red lights at its head looked like eyes. It seemed to be looking right at her.
This is a transcription of the novelization written by Christa Faust of the film Final Destination 3.
It always seemed to me that the film had a potential wasted, luckily the novelization deepens more in certain aspects, which makes it the definitive version of the story.
By relying on a first draft of the film's script, it contains several differences with the final product.
My mission will be to upload all the chapters of the book when possible, and although it is possible that nobody reads this, I will do it anyway.