Actually, with the exception of Myra Sue, their “creatures” rarely bothered Madison. She was accustomed to them. But there were a few mannequins in the offices that were far more upsetting. They were incredibly realistic. In the first office, there was one on an autopsy table, the sheet drawn up, eyes glazed and open, blond hair streaming around a beautiful face. She was the first victim in a murder mystery. In the second office, there was a mannequin of a beautiful, terrorized woman peeking out from the leaves of a bush. Neither victim had been played by a living actress; the work was so good, it just looked like they’d been real.
Entering the second office, Sean commented, “So Matilda is still here.”
He flashed a smile. “We dubbed her Matilda. She didn’t have a name, even in the script. She was just ‘devoured victim number one.’ But we all liked her when my crew was around, and we called her Matilda. She used to really creep out a lot of people. A guy named Harry Smith was working on digital back then, and he used to swear that he hated being in the office alone. He felt like Matilda was watching him.”
“You can feel like our characters are watching you,” Madison said. “The studio’s always done great work. And when it’s great, it looks real.”
Sean left the office, and for the first time, Madison felt that “Matilda” was watching her and she, too, hurried out.
In the second hallway circle—complete with vampire, witch and slasher-movie victim—Sean paused for a moment, then headed to the hall with the elevator and the emergency exit that led to the fire escape outside. He didn’t touch the door; he saw that the police had dusted here, too. Instead, he returned to the elevator, then saw that the police had dusted there, as well. “We’ll take it.” He pushed the button and they waited for a moment, listening to the whir of motors.
When they were inside the elevator, he said, “Did you know there’s a key to get to the basement—or the end of the tunnel?”
“What?” Madison asked, surprised. As far as she was aware, the elevator only went down to the main level. There were two buttons to push in, for the first and second floors.
Sean pointed to a little metal piece where a key could be inserted. “The elevator can go to the first and second floors and to the basement…or to the tunnel entrance. As far as I’m aware, no one’s used it—except for Eddie Archer, maybe—since Eddie’s owned the place. I think there’s only one key and he has it. But I saw the plans once, and this elevator will go to the basement. I wonder if Eddie thought to mention that to the police.”
“I don’t know if he did,” Madison said. “I have my keys with me, of course. And I have keys to almost everything, but not the elevator.”
“I don’t want to try getting down to the basement yet. I’m going to ask if anyone’s checked it out. For now, we’ll stay clear until the crime scene units have gotten what they need.”
Upstairs, the basic floor design was the same. They passed by a circle of prop creatures and came to Eddie’s office—home to several charming little gnomelike beings from a children’s fantasy movie—and then moved on to the large office occupied by Mike Greenwood, managing artist of the studio. Mike liked aliens, and his office was filled with sci-fi and space creatures and miniatures of a spaceship that appeared several stories tall on film.
A window in the back of his office looked over the rear of the property; it was high enough that the cemetery in back with its historic family vaults and funerary art could easily be seen. Sean paused there, gazing out.
“Peace Cemetery,” he murmured, glancing at her. “Did it ever disturb you to work in the midst of a cemetery?”
“No,” she said curtly, perhaps too curtly.
“That’s an old, old place.”
“And still accepting burials,” Madison said. “I think Eddie loves that it’s there. He says it’s a place where history and contemporary life meet.” She hesitated a moment. Eddie knew she had a sixth sense, as he called it, because of the cemetery, because of the times they’d walked there together—and the day he’d caught her talking to a ghost. “There are dozens of stories about the cemetery, secret burials and, of course, ghosts. Naturally, it’s got a reputation for being haunted.”
“Most cemeteries do,” Sean said. “Eddie told me once that if he ever had time between the projects that paid the bills, he’d love to do a documentary on the cemetery.” She had the uneasy feeling that he was looking inside her soul. Good Lord, Eddie hadn’t told him she was some kind of a freak who talked to ghosts, had he?
“Does it mean anything to you?” she asked. “The cemetery being there?”
He shrugged. “Right now? I see it as a place where a killer could escape—that’s what I see. Let’s keep going, shall we?”
They returned to the first floor and stopped at Bailey’s station. Sean thanked him and asked, “You’re not working around the clock now, are you?”
“No, but I’ve always taken on the Sunday evening shift. You know how Eddie Archer loves his cinema. And it’s not even like we have break-ins or anything of the kind, but I take over for Winston Nash at five in the afternoon on Sundays and work until morning. Today I’m in because I was already here, and because I’d do whatever I could for Eddie Archer.”
“And Nash didn’t report anything?”
“No, Nash said it was quiet as a tomb all day. I saw Alistair when he went into the Black Box.”
“Did you see when Ms. Henderson showed up?” Sean asked.
Bailey flushed. He shook his head. “But she knew I was here. Even if I weren’t, there’d still be a guard watching over the place. I think she parked on the other side of the cemetery—well, that’s where they found her car—and came around through the graveyard. The front of the cemetery is only on the one side, but the graves stretch around to the back. I assume she slipped around the building. We must’ve caught her entry on the security cameras, but I admit I wasn’t watching that screen when she got in. From what I understand, Alistair told his father that Jenny Henderson said he’d forgotten to lock the front door.”
“And had he forgotten?” Sean asked.
“I haven’t talked to Alistair since I raced over to the Black Box when he came for me. He was…he was crazy, hysterical, when I saw him. He was screaming that a monster killed Jenny. I went back to the tunnel with him…” He shook his head. “It was a pure zoo here last night! When Alistair ran up to this door it was as if he was being pursued by demons. I saw the blood on him and hit the call button for the police, and they were here within minutes. I tried to calm Alistair down enough to talk, but he just kept screaming about the priest and the mummies.”
“Did you go down to the tunnel?”
“Yes. I walked in, saw Jenny Henderson and the blood and walked out again. But I had to check it out because he was so hysterical. It’s my job.”
Sean was thoughtful. Silent.
Bailey continued. “It was a slip-and-slide of blood down there. A slip and slide. When I saw the way the girl was lying there…. Well, I knew she was dead. I backed out, not wanting to mess anything up for the police.”
“That was the right thing to do, Colin.”
“I never had anything that resembled a coherent talk with Alistair. He was in shock. And then the police got here—and Eddie. Eddie seemed to be in shock, too, and they arrested Alistair. Eddie told me not to leave my post, and it’s been a long time now, but I haven’t left,” Bailey said, nodding with determined loyalty. “I haven’t left,” he repeated doggedly.
“Thank you, sir,” Sean said. He handed Colin Bailey a card. “If you think of anything—even something that might seem unimportant, will you call me?”
“You bet, Sean. You know the police interviewed me for more than an hour. I think I said everything. But, Sean, yeah, you bet. I’ll call you.”
They walked out into the dying sunlight. Sean paused. Some of the police cars were gone; they could see that Benny Knox was still standing outside the entrance to the Black Box Cinema, like a sentinel.
“I’m going in,” Sean said. “They should have finished up with the crime scene evidence by now.” He turned to her. “There’s no reason for you to come.”
Yes, there is. The reason Eddie picked me to be with you.
She studied him, wondering how to explain that she somehow knew it was important that she go in without sounding like a fool. She didn’t want to say she might get some kind of feeling from the place. He’d probably look at her as if she should be committed if she said, “There’s a slim possibility that there’s a ghost in there now, and that she might talk to me.”
What would happen? This man wouldn’t really react. He’d hold his thoughts, be polite—and then see that she was committed.
“I really love Eddie Archer,” she began. “He gave me my life. I want to go in, I don’t know if it’ll help, but maybe…”
“I think it’s a mistake,” he said. He might be a legend, but she sensed that to him she was just the guide. No real help, just the guide.
“Eddie asked me to be here. I feel I should go in,” she said stubbornly.
He knew she resented him at that moment and maybe he resented her back. He was the man in charge, so she understood.
“All right,” he said. “I just wanted to know what we were doing before I challenged the buzzard.”
“Detective Knox,” he said, rolling his eyes toward the entrance—and the man in question.
He didn’t say any more as he headed toward the Black Box. Benny Knox had already been standing in a ramrod-stiff position, but his whole body seemed to straighten further as they approached.