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She had just witnessed a murder.
A murder by torture.
Of a friend.
By someone who might be living in the next room, for all she knew.
On Denali, climbing with Emily, she had been buried by an avalanche. One second she was leading a pitch on the Cassin Ridge route; the next, the avalanche had swept her away, consolidated around her, and encased her like cement. Only her tongue and one eyelid could move. She could not even struggle.
That was how she felt now, on the floor in the dark.
So many questions. Why was there a surveillance camera in the room? Emily must have placed it herself. If someone else had put it there, they surely would have removed it before Hallie arrived. What reason could Emily have had for doing something like that? She must have been afraid, but why, and of what? Of whom? Hallie knew that Emily had been an inveterate video blogger. Maybe she just wanted to record time spent in the room without having to activate a camera every time she returned.
What should she do now? Tell somebody? Who? Not tell anyone? But then what? Was the killer still here in the station? Killers, plural? Who else was in danger? Was concealing evidence of murder a crime in its own right?
She was suddenly, intensely claustrophobic. A very experienced cave explorer, she had not felt that way for years. She did now, squeezed into the tiny room, gripped by the dark station, trapped by the Antarctic wasteland that stretched a thousand miles in every direction around the South Pole station. Ironic in a way, feeling like that in a place with more empty space around it than any habitation on earth. Like an outpost on Mars, Graeter had said. Just words at the time. Not any longer.