Rather than risk walking up the steps and entering the trailer, I slipped round to the side so I could crane my head round and peer in. All the curtains were closed and no lights were on so it was difficult to see much but the amount of blood was clear. It covered almost every corner. I couldn’t see a body – Bellows, Brutus or otherwise. On the opposite wall, however, there was something that gave me pause. I stepped back to get a better look. A pentagram. It was lopsided and rather messy but since it had been painted with daubs of blood that was hardly surprising. Winter had wanted evidence of magic and here it was.
‘What the bejesus…?’
I half turned, clocking Bellows. He was staring into his trailer with a horrified expression. Thankfully, Brutus was by his side. The cat sniffed the air then recoiled. Without a sound, he ran away, tail between his legs. Despite the relief I felt that he was alright, the question remained: if it wasn’t Bellows’ blood and it wasn’t Brutus’s, then who the hell did it belong to? There was far too much of it to signal anything other than a brutal and untimely demise. The only saving grace was that I couldn’t see any dismembered limbs.
Bellows took off his hat, dropping it to the ground and running a hand through his hair. Either he was the world’s best actor or he was as shocked as I was. He stumbled forward as if to enter but I grabbed his robe by one trailing cuff and yanked him back. ‘You can’t go inside,’ I said. ‘The police will need to examine the scene first.’
Given the pentagram on the wall, so would the Order but I figured it would be better not to mention that just yet. ‘And we don’t know whether there are any traps. If you enter you could trigger something else.’
Bellows blanched, going even paler than before if that were possible. ‘Uhhhhnnn,’ he said.
I nodded. ‘Yeah, I know.’
Two of the security detail marched up. ‘What is in there?’ the first one asked, even though he had exactly the same view as I did.
His partner had considerably more savoir faire. ‘We need to seal this area off immediately,’ he barked. ‘Someone call the police too. No one is to enter.’ He twisted back towards the still-moaning Marcus. ‘Find out what the hell happened!’
Morris Armstrong, looking surprisingly gentle, took control. He ushered everyone else back and crouched next to Marcus. ‘What happened?’ he asked softly. ‘We need to know, Marcus. You need to pull yourself together.’
Marcus hugged his arms to himself and continued to moan.
‘There are no injuries that we can see,’ said one of the medical team. ‘But he should be checked out anyway.’
Armstrong nodded and tried again. ‘Marcus, tell us what happened. Why were you in Trevor’s trailer?’
It was the implication that he’d been up to no good that finally broke through Marcus’s brain and encouraged him to pull himself together. Somewhat. He was still shaking like a leaf and his voice was little more than a hoarse whisper. ‘I went to fetch Mr Bellows’ stick,’ he said.
We all looked at the wannabe witch. He swallowed and nodded, his purple robes flapping gently in the breeze. ‘My staff. I’d left it here and asked Marcus to get it for me.’
His staff? Who did he think he was? Gandalf?
‘Good,’ Armstrong said. ‘That’s good. What happened next?’
Poor Marcus looked like he was about to keel over. ‘I went inside. I was sure no one was there and it looked empty. I went to the corner and picked up the sti— I mean the staff, and then something hit me on the back of the head. When I came round, I was surrounded by blood. It was everywhere.’
He began to moan. Any second now he’d be screaming again. Someone probably ought to fetch him a cup of sugary tea but I wasn’t going to suggest it. If I said anything, I’d be the one sent off and I needed to find out everything I could about what had happened. Winter would not be happy if I missed the salient details of another murder because I was waiting for the kettle to boil.
Armstrong glanced up at Bellows. ‘What time did you send him to get your staff?’
Bellows scratched his head. ‘It was just after the final sound check so that would have been…’
‘Just after ten.’
Bellows jerked his head in assent. ‘Yeah, I guess.’ He cleared his throat and tried to sound more confident. ‘After ten.’
I tapped my mouth thoughtfully. This was supposed to be a closed set. Either someone who was already a crew member had sneaked inside when no one was looking or someone from outside had found a way in.
It seemed impossible that someone could have created that kind of bloody mess and stayed clean themselves and there was certainly no one here – other than Marcus, of course – who looked like they were splattered in O neg. I stepped back and edged away from the rest of the crowd, most of whom were still wringing their hands. It was inconceivable that our murderer had just blithely strolled out of the front door with no one noticing.
The intelligent security guard was giving instructions to the others. I tapped his arm. He paused in mid-sentence and looked down at me. ‘You need to find out who’s not here,’ I told him. In other words, who had been drained of their blood.
He gave me a grim nod. ‘That’s what we’re doing.’ I watched as Mazza appeared, handing him a clipboard with a long list of names on it. The police would get here before he got even a quarter of the way down it.
I let him get on with it and headed towards the back of the trailer, sucking in a breath when I spotted the open window. It was definitely large enough for a person to squeeze through. There was also a trickle of blood dripping down from its edge. Here was the point of entry. Beyond the blood, I couldn’t see any other clues.
I sketched out a quick rune designed to reveal that which was hidden but all it revealed was a rabbit hole by the trailer’s left side. Without forensic analysis, there was nothing else to be seen here.
I abandoned my scrutiny of the trailer for now and turned round in the other direction. There was a makeshift fence and, beyond that, a copse of pine trees. I studied the fence. Given that it had probably only been erected recently by the film crew, it was surprisingly sturdy – but it wasn’t all that high. Even I could probably scale it.
I scanned its length, eventually spotting something that had snagged along the top several metres along. I frowned and picked my way through the long grass to get a closer look.
Tufts of straggly white hair had caught in several places. I raised myself on my tiptoes just to be sure. What had happened inside the trailer – and why – was still a mystery but it wasn’t quite as disastrous as it had first appeared. I nodded to myself and backed away, just as the first sirens began to sound.
The police who arrived might have been from a small local force unused to dealing with elaborate television productions and murder cases, but they seemed to know what they were doing. They immediately cordoned off the site and took down the details of everyone who’d been present. Naturally, the big show-stopping opening of Enchantment was postponed, if not cancelled for good.
Eventually we were all allowed to leave. I might have been persona non grata on the journey in, but the fact that I’d been the first to approach Marcus meant that I had suddenly gained a raft of new buddies. Several people wanted to sit next to me to go over in detail what I thought had happened and who had died. No one yet seemed to have clocked that every crew member was accounted for.
‘It’s just as well we don’t film live,’ someone behind me said. ‘Can you imagine?’
‘It doesn’t matter,’ another person dismissed. ‘It’ll be front-page news tomorrow morning. This show is scuppered for good. I just hope we still get paid.’
I suspected that all of this would boost Enchantment’s ratings rather than diminish them. This was reality television, after all; it invited voyeurism. I kept mum, however, sitting next to Amy who I felt I could count on to be at least a little circumspect.
‘This is just terrible,’ she said, over and over again. ‘Simply terrible.’
I took off my shoes and started to massage my feet. ‘Yeah,’ I agreed. ‘I’ve got at least three blisters. And the next person who complains because I’ve got their coffee order wrong is likely to end up with it upended over their head.’