Was this it? Had he escaped - perhaps not unscathed, but at least escaped?
Travis telling him he'd made the right choice only served to remind him of the choices he'd made.
Travis telling him he was free to go only made him wonder if he'd ever be free of what he'd done.
He dared not move, convinced there was a catch somewhere. Any moment now, the other shoe would drop. It didn't seem right, that he could get away like this.
He heard Travis moving up the stairs. A while later, he heard Travis moving back down the stairs again.
He heard Travis moving out of the building, and still he didn't open his eyes.
He didn't know how long he stood there. Maybe he thought that, if he looked down, he'd see his bag still there. Then again, maybe if he opened his eyes he'd find himself back in bed at home.
But the moment had to come sooner or later. He opened his eyes, and he was a scared teenager slumped in the corner of a staircase of a long-dead high school, with a collar around his neck that was the physical manifestation of his orders to not die - by any means necessary.
Losing his survival pack wasn't a terribly good way to go about that.
Crawling back to the woods and spending another two days avoiding all human contact was completely out of the question now. His first encounter had gone horribly, and his second had gone even worse. But now, he must seek a third, or else his most dangerous enemy was dehydration.
That, and potentially himself.
Eventually, he peeled himself off from the wall, and staggered on shaking legs towards the school's exit - this time, the one nearer to most of his classmates.
((Edgar Tolstoff continued in Don't Panic