George let his arms fall. For a while he stood rooted to the spot, immobilized, his feet and hands numb. His wide eyes shifted from the heap on the floor to his clenched fists, covered in sticky red blood. The knuckles shone bright white against the darkness of his skin.
The silence rang eerily in the canals of his ears, with each tick of the clock going off like an explosion in his head.
What had he done? His employer now lay sprawled on the linoleum floor, swimming in his own blood. And because of what? He didn't deserve to die this way… No, he hadn't deserved to die at all. And yet there he was, beaten and as good as dead.
George gulped, his Adam's apple rising up slowly before falling down again. He raised his hands and stared at them in horror, as if the enormity of his sin was written all over them.
You're weak. You think what you did was sinful- a disgusting, hateful crime. But it's not. You rid the earth a rat, a snitch.
No, you didn't! a little voice said. You killed an innocent man! Look what you did to him! His family!
George shook his head and stepped back a pace, his breathing now coming on fast and heavy.
Lying in his own blood.
No, George. What you did was right. It wasn't bad. All you've got to do now is hide the body.
It's that simple. No one would ever know what you did.
His hands fumbled behind him before they found metal and the cool touch calmed him immediately. His hands and feet began to regain their senses, and his mind could think properly once more. Make one-way decisions.
Hide the body. The beguiling voice was back again, with no hint of that little, weak voice. Good. His course of direction from here on would be clear. He'll make a clean get-away, just like the voice told him.
There was no time for guilt, for weakness. What's been done is done. Besides, the voice said he'd been right to kill him.
Yes. He was a hero.
George started to move about dazedly, dragging the body into a dark corner of the room, slimy red blood trailing after.
He moved towards the sink at the back of the office. He turned the tap, icy water slicing through his skin as he rubbed the blood stains off- behind his thumb, under his fingernails, on the deep crevices of his hand.
George froze. Was that…?
No, it couldn't be. It was nearing seven now, almost two hours since everyone left for the night. No-one could still be here. It was just his ears playing tricks on him.
There it was again.
Someone was coming, George was sure of it this time. He wiped his hands hastily on the front of his shirt and opened the door a fraction, his ears leaning against the doorframe, straining for the direction of sound.
It was coming from the fire escape, right next to the office.
Run! The voice told him.
George yanked the door open and ran across the hallway to the lifts. He jabbed the down button a few times and waited, adrenalin and trepidation building inside him.
The footsteps were getting closer by the second.
George looked up at the panel above the lift doors, the floors lighting up slowly. Just a few more floors to go...
George's right leg began to shake and his hands trembled as he pushed the button a few more times.
His head turned to check the fire escape door. Any second now and it was going to open, and he'd be caught.
The elevator doors slid open and George jumped inside and jammed his forefinger into the ground floor button.
There was a millisecond of silence before the fire door creaked open. The lift doors slammed shut.
George let out a breath of relief. He noticed the droplet of sweat rolling down the side of his cheek and he laughed, a shaky, nervous laugh. He'd done it. He'd gotten away with murder!
Suddenly the lights went out and George was flung back, hitting his head on the bar support.