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gulfnp > Eileen Reed - Ground Zero > Part 16
"In the confusion surrounding the body, the murderer steps from his hiding place and becomes one of the horrified crowd."

"Nice. I saw it on late-night TV last week," Eileen said dryly.

"Me too," Art said, and his shoulders slumped. "Besides, I was there. There wasn't anyone in the room."

"I've been watching the tapes. I've zoomed in so close, I can see a stray hair fall from Terry's back and land on the carpet behind her. Nothing."

"I could explain it in a Star Trek episode," Art said glumly. "A mysterious creature that could blend into the walls. I don't know."

"I want to know too. There's got to be a way. There was a way. Thank you for the coffee."

"I wish I weren't a suspect," Art said quietly. "If I could be here, watching the tapes, I might see something-"

Eileen shook her head no. Art pinched his lip between two fingers.

"Smart. I'd do the same. Wish I had an alibi, though."

"Believe me, so do I," Eileen said. "So do I." As the door closed behind Art, Eileen turned back to the machine. It was time to move beyond the Game start and see the discovery of the body. She wrote the time of Game start in her notebook: 7:57 A.M.

"They started early," Eileen murmured to herself. She poured another cup of coffee, and pressed Play.

Nelson Atkins swung away from the door, his hand to his mouth. He swung away from the door, his hand to his mouth. He swung away a hundred times, obeying Eileen's hand on the mouse key, until Eileen knew beyond a doubt Terry Guzman was not being murdered as the door opened. Her body was still and lifeless from the moment the door started its swing. Nelson could not have stabbed her or shot the screwdriver from some hidden device at the moment he opened the door. She would be twitching. She would be hitching, breathing a last breath, the headset falling from her head. Terry was absolutely still.

"d.a.m.n," Eileen said. She rubbed her eyes. Was there any way to view the tapes that she'd missed? She hadn't played them backward yet, but other than that she couldn't think of another way to look at them. The phone rang.

"Lunch? Shrimp bisque is our soup today. I never miss shrimp bisque."

"Sure, Jeff," Eileen said, feeling a ridiculous sense of guilt over calling a major by his first name. "Lunchtime already?"

"Lunch already. I'll be right over. I'll bring a guard so we don't have to lock up the Center."

"Okay."

Eileen hung up the phone and turned back to the screen. Lowell was being dragged into his cube by Sharon Johnson and Roberto Espinoza, his mouth a wide O of confusion and despair. Art Bailey and Joe Tanner stood side by side in their Truth Team doorway, looking with blank shock at Terry's back. Colonel Eaton, the smooth and elegant Air Force officer, stood with eyes round and wide, hands braced on the table in front of her. The audience members, seven military and five government civilians, sat in their chairs and held their hands over their mouths like

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