Ben stumbled and nearly tripped as he clumsily rushed down the long, cold corridor. He was breathing heavily and deeply and occasionally made choking noises. He stared, almost glared, at the blood that seemed to stain his hands, in a way suggesting it was in some way to blame. Nevertheless, he knew he had to try to think clearly. No. How could he?
He collapsed into a chair in the corridor, energy escaping him completely. He sighed -- long, deep, and hard -- ran his hand through his hair, and tried to gather his thoughts. Usually, he would be buzzing with thoughts. When the merger would come through, when the parcel he was expecting would arrive, when he would see his wife.
The gun in his hands slipped effortlessly from his grip, like it was in slow motion. It fell to the ground with a frightening clatter and would have continued if Claire hadn't stepped on in with her expensive-looking stiletto.
"What the bleeding hell do you think you're doing?”
No answer. Then, more angrily, but still in an exaggerated whisper:
Still no answer.
"Have you done it?"
Ben lowered his head.
"Have you done--"
"Yes!" he growled, in an angry but regrettable tone. "Yes, I've done it! I've done it -- are you happy?" he snarled. "Are you whoopy-dee-doo over the moon?"
"Shut up, and keep your voice down!" came the angry reply. Claire, though at first appearing a timid and small attractive young girl, was a formidable woman, and Ben, who was feeble in tough situations, knew it. "Is he dead?"
Ben looked up at her. He rose from his chair slowly. "Is he dead? Is he dead? 'Course he's dead. I've just shot him, with a pistol, right in the head! I've killed the man who trusts me the most! I've killed Peter -- I've killed my boss!" he wailed. His long, moaning cry echoed through the cold corridor and into the dark midnight sky.
Claire clasped the shoulders of her shivering, blubbering husband. "Get a hold of yourself, and grow up. How's thinking like that going to help? Don't you want this promotion? The top job at the firm? More money for us? A better life? Don't you want that?" Ben forced a nod. "Then stop regretting what you've done and -- you've still got the gun?" Ben made no reaction. "You were meant to leave it by the security guard. Make it look like they killed him. Oh, give it here!" Claire snatched the gun and scurried off up the corridor of the hotel, leaving Ben alone. His face sank into his hands. No one heard him rambling to himself.
"Peter -- Peter, I'm sorry. I'm so sorry. You had to realise the situation I was in. It was. The wife. She. Oh, God!" He stared at the blood that blotched his hands. "As long as I live, this blood." Claire returned back to her husband, walking as fast as she could in the shoes and tight skirt that she was wearing.
"Get a grip, Ben. I'm in as deep as you are. Do you see me crying like a--"
The buzzer at the front of the hotel rang. "Right," she said, showing signs of panicking for the first that night, "let's get back to our room, and this has never happened. Do you understand? Come on, move, Ben."
Ben didn't move. Instead, he stared, wide-eyed, at the door where the buzzing was coming from. "Wake Peter, will you!" he burst out. "Please, wake my boss!"
"Okay, we'll leave it there for now, everyone," came the voice from the darkness. "We'll take a ten-minute break, and then back to positions for scene twenty-two." The voice, belonging to the director, emerged from his hidden position at the back of the theatre and moved up to the stage to speak to the two actors.
"It's looking good," he told the actor playing Ben, a genuine sense of satisfaction in his voice.
The actress playing Claire pulled off her stilettos and let down her hair. "Well, it had better had if we're starting our run tomorrow," she joked. "Six weeks -- aaah!"
The director made a mock scared expression on his face. "You know, to start with, even I had my doubts, but I think a modern version of Macbeth is the perfect production to put on for this theatre."
There were murmurs of agreement.