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“Sean!” Despite her solemnity, Benita said his name with warmth. “It’s wonderful to see you. I’m just sorry about the circumstances.”

“I’m sorry, too, Benita, but it’s good to see you. You’re doing well?”

“Yes, very, thank you. I’ve been wanting to see Eddie, and we got our chance today. We were at lunch. I wanted him to know that he and Alistair have my undying support.”

Eddie watched the exchange in silence. “Sean, you have something?” he asked.

Sean nodded. “Eddie, I’d like to take the elevator down to the basement in the studio.”

Frowning, Eddie shook his head. “No one’s been down there in at least a decade. I’m sure I have the only key. It could be really dangerous down here.”

“Where does the basement lead?”

“What do you mean, where does it lead?” Eddie repeated. “It’s a basement. Basements don’t lead anywhere.”

“I think this one does,” Sean said.

“Leave it to the master of illusion.” Benita gave him a glimmer of a smile.

“I just need the key. Don’t worry about any danger. This is what I do now, and my team and I know how to be careful.”

“I’ll go with you. I may remember something when we’re down there,” Eddie said.

“The scene hasn’t been cleared yet,” Sean reminded him.

“The Black Box Cinema and the tunnel museum haven’t been cleared yet,” Eddie corrected. “The studio—we’re opening it for work tomorrow.”

Sean looked across the lot, where Duffy and other officers were still on duty. He didn’t want to take a chance on someone thinking Eddie Archer might taint evidence.

“I know what you’re thinking,” Eddie said. “But everyone figures we’ve got a conflict of interest here to begin with, rather than realizing you’re going to understand the cinema and the studio better than any other cop. I’ll go with you to the studio and down to the basement. If you find anything after that, I’ll keep my distance.”

Eddie was grim and determined, and Sean gave in.

“Benita, do you mind waiting?” he asked.

“Well, of course I mind. I’m scared of being anywhere around this place,” she said.

“Benita, there are a pack of cops out here. I’d say you were safe. And I’d rather not have to worry about your prints being somewhere,” Sean told her.

“How long do they stay on a surface? Because my prints are already all over this place. I used to be married to Eddie, remember? And I came to the studio frequently back then.”

“Yeah, but they won’t be in the basement, and that’s the point. Please wait here,” Sean said again.

“Please,” Eddie echoed. “Do as Sean asks.”

She let out a deep sigh, and then stroked Eddie’s cheek. “All right.” She turned to Sean. “I expect you to get this whole mess sorted out, okay?” Looking back at Eddie, she said, “I know you’ll want to head home or to the hospital when you’re done, but I’ll hang around for a bit, anyway.”

“That’s kind of you, Benita,” Eddie murmured.

Benita walked toward Eddie’s car and slipped into the passenger seat. She had a way of walking that Sean could only describe as stylized. So did Helena, but hers was different.

“I told you, Sean. I’m here to provide anything you need—anytime,” Eddie said.

“Thanks. You can meet the team in a few minutes. Let’s get to the studio and the elevator. I want to go to that basement.”

“I’m not sure the elevator will even go there anymore. I can’t remember the last time I took it down that far,” Eddie muttered. “A decade ago at least. Lord, I don’t know if there’s any light down there.”

“You have the elevator inspected, right?”

“Yes, of course. It’s just that we never use the basement. Anything we tried to store down there deteriorated too quickly. The place was too damp, I guess. We didn’t really need the space so didn’t bother with it.”

“Then the elevator should work, and I’ll get a flashlight from Bailey. I know he’ll have a bunch—he’s prepared for the earthquake that’ll rip out our electrics,” Sean said. He winced at the word our. He hadn’t worked here in years. He’d always have a soft spot for the studio, though, and would probably always feel a part of it. He’d been an adult—but young, just out of college—when he worked here, so the place was an influential part of his past. The people, too…

Colin Bailey was at the security station, as Sean had expected. He snapped to attention when he saw Eddie. Although Eddie was distracted, he seemed aware of Colin’s attempts to reassure him and was cordial in return.

Sean procured a large lantern-size flashlight from Bailey and steered Eddie into the office side of the studio and toward the elevator. It was fairly large, a necessity when taking large props or costume pieces from one level to another or to one of the storage areas.

Eddie’s fingers seemed to tremble as he fit the key into the lock that would allow the elevator to go down to the basement level. “It’s been so long. So long…” he whispered as they stepped inside.

The elevator didn’t squeak or protest. A moment later, it came to a silent and slightly jarring halt. The door opened.

A black hole seemed to gape before them. A maw. Stygian was the word that came to Sean’s mind. The basement was pitch-dark and smelled of must, earth, decay.

Sean turned on the flashlight and let it blaze around him. The basement seemed empty, and he couldn’t see anything other than the concrete support beams that stood here and there.

Until he saw the arm bone jutting through the side wall, brilliant and opalescent as the light fell upon it.

* * *

“So, it’s highly probable that the killer stole some of this cloth to hide himself,” Logan said. “Do you know how much you had? Is there a way to find out how much is missing?”

Madison shook her head. “No. When it gets low, we just reorder it. It’s a staple in many special-effects studios. There could’ve been dozens of small snatches of it in the remnant bin.”

“Where’s that?”

“Over there, beside the shelves.” She pointed to what looked like massive bookshelves against the wall, surrounded by some of the rat creatures. There weren’t any books on the shelves, just endless bolts of fabric—bolts of metallic cloth and glossy knits in brilliant colors, the better to create the world of The Unholy. Right now, there was a lot of “blackout” material.

“The large green garbage can against the wall has remnants in it. We usually have remnants of this stuff because the fabric is delicate and I probably do at least ten masks for a stunt double during filming,” Madison explained.

“I assume,” Logan said, “that anyone could have helped themselves to a few remnants and not been noticed, correct?”

“Who’d really notice anything around here?” Jane asked, and laughed. “I’ve worked with dozens of human skulls, sketched hundreds of crime scenes,” she said. “But this…this is creepy.”

“I work with dead bodies and I have to agree,” Kat said.

“Wait until you see all the mannequins in the hall,” Madison warned her.

“I can only imagine,” Jane said, staring at their fabricated victims from the Victorian murder movie—Miss Mary, Parson Bridge and Myra Sue.

“Things aren’t half as creepy as real people,” Tyler stated, and they all nodded. “They’re good, but remember—they’re not real, they’re just things.”

“Yeah, but it’s about the emotions good props create,” Jane said with a shrug. “I wouldn’t want to be locked up alone in this place.”

“It is a little creepy when there aren’t many people here, and you’re not sure where your coworkers are,” Madison told her, smiling. Then her smile faded. “But it never bothered me…before.”

“Madison, can you give us about half a yard of that fabric?” Logan asked.

“Of course.” She went to the bin and pulled out a piece.

As she did, a phone rang, and she heard Logan pick up.

“Right away,” he said.

Madison stared at him, as did the others.

“What?” she mouthed.

“We’re needed in the basement. Sean and Eddie will meet us at the elevator on this level.”

“He needs all of us? What did he find?” Madison asked.

“A bone,” Logan said. “A human bone.”


Despite the heavy-duty lantern, it was difficult to see much in the basement.

But the bone, Sean was certain, was real—and human. He’d soon know for sure; Eddie had taken his key to go back to the first floor and bring the others down to the basement. Kat Sokolov would recognize immediately what they had.

The basic structure of the basement was sound, but there were areas where the concrete that constructed the below-ground walls was worn through. The hard-packed earth beyond might have created pressure on the sides. He’d found the bone stuck in the wall, and what it meant, Sean had no idea.

“It is real, and it is human. A humerus. Hard to say exactly how old,” Kat said, studying the bone. “Are there…more?”

“No, just that one bone. It came out of the wall,” Sean told her.

“Oh, God. Oh, God, what else?” Eddie moaned.

Madison cleared her throat. “Eddie, we’re bordering the graveyard here.” She looked at Sean. “Is it possible that this arm bone belongs to someone long dead—and with time, it’s worked its way through? I don’t know that much about funerary processes and certainly not in the 1800s, but weren’t pine boxes allowed back then? We’ve only recently—in human history, that is—learned that disease can be spread, so we started using sealed coffins.”