Misstep

Misstep

One

MandoFamily Practice, Mando,

SundayJune 25,02

He wore a black shirt under the fur jacket, and it seemed to work just fine concealing him in the darkness of the concrete stairway. There was no soul in sight, not even the gray-haired janitor who walked down the stairs immediately after the ward rounds every single day. Luck seemed to be on Peter’s side tonight.

It had puzzled him a few days back — the queer demeanor of the janitor. At exactly 10 pm on Wednesday, Peter had glued himself to the glass of the shutters, watching the janitor as he slowly descended the stairs. He had sat by the foot of the steps and began the absurd duty of talking to himself. Every few minutes, his eyes had darted around, as if feeling the straying stares of a highly unwelcome presence. It would have been a bother to Peter if he hadn’t seen how mentally incapable the janitor seemed, coupled with the fact that he had repeated the same thing every other night, except now.

Peter raced quietly up the stairs, almost sighing in relief as he reached the sixth floor. There he waited, backed up against the wall, trying to still his raging breaths and coax his eyes to adjust to the brightly lit hallway.

Regaining his composure, he looked around.
Things felt different here. Perhaps, it was the enthusiasm of lifelessness as it hovered expectantly over the erratic souls. Whatever it was, Peter resisted the urge to race back down the stairs as he started down the empty hallway.

Careful not to make a sound, he worked his way to the slightly open doors of the private ward and peeped in.

She laid still, guarded on all sides by the emphatic presence and loud hum of machines and tubes doing way more than Peter cared to know. But he was too aware of what those sounds meant; what their sudden absence would mean.

Soon enough.

Peter tugged the bandanna he had earlier put down over his mouth and chin and reached out to shrug the jacket off his shoulders, tying it across his waist. An instant later, he stepped into the ward, quietly shutting the door behind himself.

Peter frowned as he stared at her form. He pondered on how wasteful the verdict of a man could be, taken aback by the magnitude of her beauty.

He couldn’t help but smile to himself, slightly amused that it was going to be his doing. A few years back, they had all concluded that he would never do anything worthwhile in the whole of his existence. Well, here he was, doing something more than worthwhile.

His eyes caught the dust particle, slowly coming to rest on her hair. Perseus had always referred to her as a fiery redhead. He could see why now.
Although oblivious to the fate that awaited, her face held a little scowl as if upset with the outcome of things. Hell, she ought to be. She looked prepared to lash out at anyone if given the privilege to. Not that it was warranted.

And damn! she had a lot of red hair sprawled all over the head of the bed. He suppressed the itch to bury his fingers deep into them, busying himself instead with the task of taking the wrap off the syringe and getting the translucent fluid into it. Scrunching the wrap and carefully keeping it deep into the pockets of his sweatpants, he expertly flicked a finger over the needle, and then moved to stand at the bedside.

Peter stood with his hands hovering over her right arm, the syringe on full display when he heard a rather foreign sound. He looked around swiftly, staring at the machines a second longer. They couldn’t have sounded like a rolling cart.

He turned around to continue when he heard it a second time. He could tell where it came from now, suddenly aware it was only a matter of seconds before it got to the door.

Jamming the needle briskly into her arm, he got working on the tubes, trying to ignore the approaching sound until he’d disconnected all of it. He couldn’t risk the electrocardiograph machine going all haywire while still in the building. He wasn’t in surgical scrubs or the hospital’s gown and that meant going out undetected would be a great ordeal; one he wasn’t willing to experience.

A moment after unplugging the devices, Peter walked swiftly to the door, opening it wide enough to peer through.

Nothing.

Untying the jacket off his waist, he moved into the hallway and shut the door as he had met it. Then he put back on the jacket and strolled out, leaving the bandanna to shield his face.

He was back in the stairway on the first floor in less than two minutes. In a bid to let himself out through the window, Peter fixed his hands tightly to the upper part of the panes and tried to push out the remainder of his length over to the other side.

He heard the footsteps a split second before he saw him. That was enough time to ponder on what to do. The janitor had stopped by the foot of the stairs, going into a low crouch. The scene looked comical to Peter. What could a mentally derailed person probably do to him?

As if answering the unasked question, Peter sucked in a breath as he saw the look in his eyes. They managed to say a lot. It was obvious the janitor had discovered what had happened in that room already and was out for vengeance.

Peter had no time to appraise the mysteriousness of his sudden knowledge and appearance nor the reason behind his anger, as he flung himself out through the window before the janitor could make a move. He landed rather ungracefully, with his arms and legs awkwardly sprawled on the cold floor.

Scrambling to his feet, he looked up to see the janitor staring out the window at him with a blank expression, not making an effort to catch up with him. That scared the hell out of Peter. 

He could still feel the pair of green eyes fixated on his back as he walked out into the darkness. He thought of the probability of being discovered before the end of the day, then shook his head vehemently.

Not the slightest chance in the world.

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