Excerpt: Jim Butcher’s Hospital Escape

The monitor beeped its steady rhythm; an ironic annoyance, simultaneously comforting as it let everyone know that he was still alive.

There were a lot of questions, and no answers. What started the fires? How was he not dead? Who was the burned man, with nothing else aflame near him? How were his wounds cauterised? Who were any of these people to him, and who was he to them?

Most importantly: who was he at all?

Agent Stanfield stared blankly from behind pitch black wrap-around shades– they helped against the glare of the flourescent hospital lights, which always gave him a headache.

The beeps of the EKG were almost like a metronome, keeping time for some rhythm that nobody but Stanfield could hear. A melody struck up in his head, and he began to sway back and forth, adding complexity and breaks to the beat of the EKG.

In his mind, a dance club careened with swirling colours, sexy young women, more exctacy than one person could take, and drinks, drinks, drinks!

He was startled out of his fantasy by a heavy caloused hand cupping down abruptly upon his shoulder. He turned to look back at the interloper– it was Agent Ashwen.

Ashwen was an Indian fellow, good looking, young, fit, and an expert at Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. He had three kids, all U.S.-born, but he was a transplant.

“Status?” Ashwen asked, dispassionately.

“No changes,” Stanfield replied, his eyes already blanking and glazing back over in a haze of his own imagination.

“Keep us posted,” Ashwen said, straightening his black-and-white Ralph Lauren suit, “I’m gonna grab a coffee.”

Grab one for me too, Stanfield thought– and thought he said aloud– but actually said nothing as he drifted back to his night-club fantasy.

A gorgeous young brunette danced her way up to him. The lights were disorienting, as was the blur and rush of the extacy. She was wearing cat-ears, a mesh see-through top with no bra underneath, and tight, form-fitting booty shorts which didn’t fully cover her ass. She swayed her hips alluringly at him, and poked her bottom out as though daring him to slap it. He wanted to, but felt like he’d get in too much trouble if he did it and she actually didn’t want it.

She looked back at him with this innocent glance– he didn’t know what to make of it. Was she making eyes with him? Did she look forlorn because she really wanted him to touch her, or was she just checking for space so that she wouldn’t accidentally dance into him? He took a chance, he pressed against her. Her eyes went wide and she gasped, feeling his hard–

— another hand interrupted his beautiful dreams; this time, it was the patient, clasping Stanfield’s own hand.

A grizzled, sun-browned man with wild and wirey hair which reached out in all directions like the rays of the sun, he looked like he had wrestled with a mountain and lost.

“Mr. Doe,” Stanfield said, hoping the man would respond. The man locked eyes with him, and seemed to peer into his soul. The man saw Stanfield’s dreams, his visions of being in a better place, and he penetrated through even these to see Stanfield’s nature– and this shook Stanfield. He recoiled his hand suddenly, gasping, his eyes quivvering as though on the verge of tears, and after mere moments of this he got a hold of himself.

“Mr. Doe, we have some questions for you.”

The grizzled man took a deep breath and stared silently at the ceiling, placing his own hand on his chest.

“Butcher,” the man said.

“Excuse me?” Stanfield replied, raising a brow.

“Butcher,” the man repeated, with no further explanation.

“You’re a butcher? Or you mean I’m a butcher?” Stanfield queried.

“No. I’m Butcher. I need to go,” the man replied flatly.

“I’m afraid you won’t be going anywhere for now,” Stanfield replied, actually relieved to finally have a dialogue with this guy instead of baby-guarding an unconscious body as he had done for the past 11 hours.

“Says you,” the man replied, as flatly and dispassionately as Ashwen had been in his previous command.

“You may not have noticed–” Stanfield started, but at that moment the lights in the room burst into a bright flash, and with a small explosive POP, Butcher’s handcuffs were broken and he lept out of bed and to his feet.

Stanfield recoiled, still blind from the flash, unable to see what was going on.

Butcher smirked and glanced over his shoulder to see his open-backed hospital gown revealing his ass to the world. He shrugged inwardly, and threw the private room door open, casually making his way out as though he were walking out of a movie theatre in which he refused to see the rest of the film.

“Amateurs,” he scoffed, and sauntered undisturbed right out of the hospital, and into the dark night.

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