Zoe spent the next few hours eager to leave. Trying to hold the school building remained an exercise in futility and pointlessness. It was too large to defend with four people, let-alone two, and there was nothing of worth to be found in the dark, musty corridors or the wilted saccharine classrooms. Zoe began to detest ever entering the building with Joachim, and detest more her decision to remain there even after Paris and Cho had arrived. Her verbal agreement with Joachim extended only as far as the edge of the forest and everything afterwards was fair play. They had gotten what they wanted from each other and their brief alliance in the building had only granted them a brief stay of execution. After all, they had both known from the start that the partnership would end with either one or both of them dead. It was just a matter of who made the first move.
One-by-one, her reasons to stay with the killers were drifting away. Zoe tried to keep herself busy talking to Cho-the-maybe-killer, but she could learn little of Paris' motives from her. Zoe had been relegated to the sidelines, back in the darkness, her assertions that they needed
to move on had been ignored in favour of continuing the directionless and unsustainable strategy Paris had presented.
This was stagnation, the kind of stagnation that Zoe had sworn to avoid by leaving the forest. Stagnation was death. Worse than death, because at least a rotting corpse would feed the beasts and insects. Stagnation helped no-one and accomplished nothing. It was a slow decay that would eat away at her until she looked down and realised that there was nothing left.
Zoe needed to leave this building before it became her tomb.
In the darkness, it was easy for her to slip away unnoticed. It would have been unwise to announce that she was leaving. After all, it would have been unwise to loudly announce that she was leaving the Cult of Personality. This was the right choice. There was a chance that Cho, or Paris, or Joachim would see her slip out the fire exit at the back of the building and try to gun her down or worse, try to stop her, but dying now was a better fate than stagnation.
Never afraid of the killers
, Zoe reminded herself.
The large metal door opened with a loud, metallic creek. Her feet hit the damp grass running. Zoe took her chances long before the area became a dangerzone.
[Zoe Leverett will return in Walk Among the Cobras, Pt. 1.]