Nathaniel Cannon and the Secret of the Dutchman’s Cross No. 24

“For meself,” Iseabail said, “I dinnae like the implications of t’ gods of th’ dead bein’ pu’ above the rest.”

“You and me both.” Cannon looked up into Osiris’ eyes, then shook his head and pointed his flashlight at the wall. “Where’s that draft coming from? This room isn’t big enough to be the whole temple.”

di Giacomo pulled a matchbox from his pocket, fumbled with it, struck a match, and held it very still. It flared to life, the flame bending subtly before the draft. Cannon let out a breath, and di Giacomo shook out the match as the others moved again. A few flashlights probed in the direction the match had indicated, revealing a patch of wall covered in hieroglyphs, indistinguishable from the wall around it.

Iseabail went over for a closer look, and Cannon waved for the others to follow here. “There’s a door here. Ha’ a look at yon outline.” She indicated a portion of the wall, where a fine line split a column of hieroglyphs in two. Splaying out her hands, she gave the wall an experimental push with her fingertips. Frowning, she moved two feet to her right and tried again. “Tha’s the ticket. Gi’ it a good shove righ’ here, cap’n.”

Cannon planted his feet, pressed his shoulder against the wall, and pushed. di Giacomo joined him, and as they heaved together, Cannon felt the wall give, then bind. They leaned into it again, but couldn’t get it to budge further, and in any case Iseabail, a mad glint in her eye and a grin lighting up her face, was saying, “Look!”

Cannon stepped back. The outline of the door was obvious now—six feet tall, three wide. The gap on its right side had grown enough to fit a fingertip into.

di Giacomo gave it a push. “It feels stuck to me, capitano.”

“That’s my take, too.” Cannon looked up and down the hinged side. “I thought I felt it catch on something.”

“Perhaps I could try?” Masaracchia said.

“Have at it.”

The monk swung his arms back and forth, hunched over, and wedged himself between the floor and the door. He straightened, then walked forward step by labored step, forcing the door open to the noise of grinding stone and, Cannon thought, a curious clicking—ten sharp noises like the creak of stressed metal spread out over the motion of the door.

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