There on the chair before him was a dead girl. Her lifeless body slumped at an odd angle, and blazed with its own luminescence in that crazy light of the industrial flood lamps, which showed every grisly detail of the murdered woman with indelible clarity. The lights threw off an intense heat, and already the air in the small room began to waver like the desert sands. It gave the appearance that thousands of tiny scarabs silently traversed the entirety of the woman's nude body.
Reilly's stomach clenched. He fought to regain control of his breathing, but his guts churned angrily. Finally he put his hands on his knees and heaved uncontrollably all over the floor at his feet. He took two or three short, hitching breaths before vomiting again.
“Oh God,” he turned away and made his way back to the locked door. He addressed it again, but this time more feebly, and through a veil of tears and snot,“Please. Somebody. I don't want this. Get me out of here. I don't know what you want, but please get me out of here.”
His knees lost the ability to support his body, and he slid weakly down the wall, to the floor, and tears spilled from his eyes. He sat there for quite some time, begging and cajoling. He was unsure for how long he stayed like that, it could have been days. Images of the dead woman burst, unbidden, into his brain, as if his eyes were experiencing that awful sight once again.
After a while he was able to swing his head around toward the girl, but the ghastly sight on the chair which confronted him caused the room to swirl. Reilly looked away for fear he would pass out and slowed his breathing.
It was obvious he would get no help from those outside, and suddenly there was a quick flash of something else inside him besides horror: anger. How dare those idiots do this to him? What a sick, messed up thing to do. What kind of deviant would force some innocent stranger into a room with a dead body? That was not entertainment, that was something some psychopath would do.
Oh, Jesus. Reilly put his hands to his face; they felt cold on his mouth and cheeks. Was he in the clutches of some axe murderer? Some sick Ted Bundy game show? Perhaps he was being broadcast over the internet live. A new skein of sweat broke out on his neck, and it had nothing to do with the heat of the lamps.
He looked over his shoulder toward the body again. How come? Did he think this was some kind of elaborate prank, and that the girl was going to jump up and give him the scare of his life? No. She was dead. There was no doubt about it. It didn't take a med student to know that a slit throat was fatal. There was so much blood.
No, he looked at her because he knew – maybe not consciously, but he knew – that the key to his exit from that room of horrors lay with the corpse. He needed to suck it up and examine it for clues.
“Oh God,” he got to his feet, wobbly but upright, and shuffled over to the table, across from the chair. He looked first at her hands – anywhere but at her upper body, then slowly his eyes traveled up the gore to the face area... carefully skirting the gaping neck wound.
One of the woman's eyes were closed, but the other stared sightlessly to the ceiling through her lashes.
Reilly's stomach clenched with all the force of a blow from a baseball bat; if anything remained in there he would have vomited again, but all he could do was gag at the recognition of her.
It was Muriel.