MR. DANYA, I THINK YOU'VE GIVEN ME A WAY TO WIN YOUR GAME.
Liz's hands wrote slow, painfully, cramped. She bit her lip until it was bleeding. It's a game. Just a game. Treat it like a game, and play to win.
She shivered, under all her sweaters. She was thinking emotionally, irrationally. There were things to do before she played chicken with Danya.
She sat herself in a blind spot, and made one hundred and three copies of Plan Faraday. One hundred and three. It was a lot. Hopefully enough. One hundred and three was a number that made her grit her teeth. It was nothing good, that number. If they knew about Mr. Kwong, maybe they knew what numbers she liked and hated too.
And they wouldn't think she'd make one hundred and three copies of any fucking plan.
Then, in her tiniest handwriting, she wrote a note that might save her life. It was a very small hope.
She sighed. Pocketed the plans, all one hundred and three copies on folded paper. Pocketed the two knives, the mirror, the pad, the paper, the pen, the net gun and her worn lipstick. She was getting ready to run. After this, there would be a lot of running.
No. That was the wrong order to do things in. She took the lipstick out of her pocket. Wrote on Winnie's sweatshirt, in big, inky letters COLLARS HAVE MICS. She wasn't sure this was true, but she assumed it was. Better safe than sorry. And anyway, it was better than any other explanation for why she wasn't speaking.
Then she took off Winnie's sweatshirt and lipstick-wrote the steps to Plan Faraday on Cyrille's yellow halter top. This meant getting briefly naked in the middle of the forest, which was troubling if someone tried to kill her. But no one tried to kill her. So she was safe.
The shirt was inked with words. It looked vaguely punkish. She tied it back on, and carefully zipped up Winnie's sweatshirt over it.
Then she showed the pad to the camera.
MR. DANYA, I THINK YOU'VE GIVEN ME A WAY TO WIN YOUR GAME AND MAKE YOU LOOK DUMB.
Flipped the page. New, blank, lined. She wrote large again, painfully.
TWO HUNDRED CAMERAS IS NOT VERY MANY CAMERAS.
Flipped the page.
IF YOU'VE BLOWN UP TWO HUNDRED STUDENTS, YOU LOOK LIKE A PUNK.
That one was hard to write. Flip the page. Keep going. Lie. Lying on paper is fine.
IF I'M THE ONLY SURVIVOR, I'VE WON.
She flipped the page again. Her thoughts were not coming in the right, chronological order. This was disturbing.
But there was only one more thing to say here.
She pocketed the pad and pen, took out her knife, and gouged the lens out of a camera.
And another camera. And another camera.
The PA system crackled to life. The voice of Danya was calm, laconic, at odds with what anybody would expect.
"Evening children... my aren't we having a busy day? It seems that one of your number has no regard for the rest of you. Gee, I tried to warn you about that Liz Polanski, but she just won't stop playing roulette with your lives. Much as it pains me to say this... somebody came up with the unlucky number.
G004. Lucy Ashmore. ... ... now where's that button? Oh yes, there it is. ... Eliminated."
And another camera. And another. Gouging out the lenses carefully. She could smash later. When she had more energy. When she had to run.
"But that's not all kiddos. Why, as we speak, little Liz is continuing her destructive ways, sabotaging my valuable equipment. Help me help you, children. If you take her out, then, well. My fingers won't slip again
oops. Like then. B045, Alex Rasputin, eliminated. Oops! My my, aren't I clumsy today? There goes B149, Trent Hunter as well!"
There was no use trusting him. He probably lied. She should have told him--should have told him she'd give herself up in exchange for Mr. Kwong's release. But it was too late now. Anyway, they were terrorists. And she wasn't smart, with people. They could double-cross her in an instant, and she'd probably never know, unless Danya laughed in her face about it.
He probably would.
That was a glum thought. She should have eaten before doing this.
Another camera. Another. This was easy. She could cut through them like butter.
"Well kids, that's it for now. Do try to get rid of that pest, hm? Next time, it could be your head. Oh, and, speaking of executions. Miss Polanski? I'm dangerously close to having a ... ahem. Word with teacher dearest. Mull that one over for a bit, will you? Sayonara!"
Now, perhaps, was time to run. She had to cover as many zones as possible before she--
Before I die.
Well, that wasn't a cheerful thought. But it was inevitable.
She had forty-three plans, plus one on her shirt, and one note that could hopefully buy her a little time. And she was full of energy now, energy that was probably unhealthy, considering how little she'd eaten.
But energy. That's what she needed.
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