First look: Getaway by Zoje Stage is a terrifying thriller about female friendship
Zoje Stage is continuing her run as the master of the psychological thriller. After breaking out with her debut horror novel Baby Teeth in 2018, she released Wonderland, which is described as Shirley Jackson meets The Shining in July. But she's not done yet — on Aug. 17, Stage's latest thriller Getaway will hit shelves. EW has the exclusive first look at the book's cover and a peek inside the pages.
The novel is set during a hiking trip to the Grand Canyon, and explores the dark side of friendship: jealousy, envy, and more that change the relationship between three women forever. Here, read a portion of the novel in which we see tensions between Tilda, Imogen, and Beck begin to take hold on their travels.
Hands on her knees, Imogen stood hunched for a moment, her legs like crab claws. Standing upright would shatter the claws—send pink shards everywhere—that was how tight her muscles felt. But slowly she straightened. Limped a few feet. Greeted Tilda, who was attempting a Sun Salutation on her stripped-down mattress pad. The sun hadn't warmed the air yet, so Imogen layered up with clothing from her pillow.
In the kitchen, Beck already had the stove going, its signature roar like a greeting from another time. They exchanged good mornings, though the morning was a shock for Imogen, who hadn't awakened out of doors in many years. So much air! So much sky! The gloriousness of it distracted her, made her forget the stiffness in her calves and down the backs of her thighs. It was so quiet she could hear the murmur of voices from the camp beneath them, and the creek water rippling through its eternal bed. A canyon wren trilled its little song, an almost melancholy series of notes, dropping in pitch. The breeze took a more tactile approach and caressed her cheek—"Hello dear, welcome back."
An outdoor morning was so different from an indoor morning, with a loss of certain creature comforts, but a gain in mindfulness. Back home, there was nothing and no one to acknowledge her upon awakening. In the Canyon, she was part of something elemental, returning to consciousness to resume being alive.
"Head to the loo?" she said to Tilda, by way of invitation, as she shook out her boots.
"Yup." Tilda, enviously limber, abandoned her yoga and plucked the partial TP roll from her left boot before slipping her foot into it. "What if we run out of toilet paper?"
"That would suck. Don't overuse the toilet paper."
"Get the food bag on your way back?" Beck asked.
"You got it," said Imogen.
Beck already had the mugs lined up. She was a Coffee Person of the First Order, Tilda of the Second Order. They both had many ways of describing their nonpersonhood when confronted with life before the day's first cup of coffee. At home, Beck's standards for the type and strength of that coffee were quite high. Not willing to sacrifice, she'd brought a small Melitta cone and a wad of filters to make individual "pour-over" cups. Tilda, not needing it quite as strong, had agreed long before they entered the Canyon to take the second cup, so they could reuse the dark grounds and justify this bit of luxury.
None of them were quite awake enough to be sociable, but Imogen was glad for Tilda's company as they headed for the pit toilets. Was this what it would be like to live with someone? A boyfriend, in Tilda's case. A wife, in Beck's. Someone to brighten your day with companionship? Help you with ordinary tasks? Sometimes Imogen thought she wanted that, and other times she told herself it would be too annoying—cleaning up after another person, having them around when she wanted to be alone, sharing a bed. Arguing.
In college the trio had started out in an apartment together—financed by their busy, guilt-ridden parents—but Imogen had moved back to her dad's when she quit school. A few years later, with her dad's help, she'd gotten her own small apartment. She'd lived alone since then. It was hard sometimes, having to handle every single contingency by herself. Laundry, meal prep, paying the bills. Walking to Rite Aid for ibuprofen in the middle of a migraine. Sitting in the dark alone when the electricity went out. She'd suspected for a while that she might be missing out on something, but hadn't figured out how to remedy it. Joining the synagogue was meant to be a beginning.
After their pit stop they headed toward where they'd hung the food the previous evening. Even a short walk helped to loosen Imogen's cranky legs.
"Did you sleep well?" she asked Tilda.
"Great. Better than I expected."
Imogen beamed; Tilda might be a full-on outdoor enthusiast by the end of the week. She could already hear her exclaiming, "Why didn't you make me do this sooner?" But all her good vibes withered when she spotted their bright blue food bag—not swaying on its branch as it should have been, but resting in the dirt.
They hurried to the bag. It lay open, on its side.
"I knew I didn't get it high enough off the ground. Beck's gonna kill me."
In a panic, Imogen dropped to her knees and sorted through the contents, taking a quick inventory. If too much was damaged or eaten…She couldn't—simply couldn't—be the reason they had to leave the Canyon early; they'd never had to abandon a backpacking trip before. And she wasn't ready to go. If one day in the Canyon could do so much, who would she be after seven days? She wanted the chance to find out.
Imogen looked for signs of gnawing—tooth marks or ragged holes. She expected to find the spilled contents of instant oatmeal or gorp. But she didn't. And then she realized the drawstring bag had been opened, not chewed.
"Imogen?" Tilda's voice—uncertain, borderline alarmed—instantly drew Imogen's attention. "Look." She held the end of the thin rope that still hung from the tree. "I'm not an expert. I'm not anything…But this looks cut to me. Cut with a knife."
"That's…" Imogen wanted to say impossible. But there were no teeth marks on the food or the bag. And the rope…had clearly been sliced at an angle. A clean angle.
Had they been robbed?
Excerpted from Getaway by Zoje Stage. Copyright © 2021. Available from Mulholland Books an imprint of Hachette Book Group, Inc.
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