Nathaniel Cannon and the Secret of the Dutchman’s Cross No. 35

Cannon followed the flashlight’s beam with his eyes down to the bottom of the flight, which the stone block, hollowed out on this side, covered. He could make out a sarcophagus in an open space, before the narrowness of the stairwell blocked his line of sight.

“How big is it down there?” he wondered.

“I don’t see any walls,” Burr said.

“That doesn’t make it big.”

“It does mean it’s not small. Look, skipper, I’m all for a big score, but—” Burr pointed down the stairs “—either that’s one something they thought they needed to bury deeper than the rest of this, which they already put in a cave behind a bunch of traps, or it’s a whole lot of somethings like this.” She swung her arm around, holding onto the Thompson with the other. “Either way, I don’t think we should stick around. We got what we came here for, and I don’t want to end up like van der Hoek.”

Cannon looked away from the stairwell. Something lingered in the air here, something he hadn’t felt in Panama or, more recently, Pitu. The nearby sarcophagi drew his gaze, their black, malevolent eyes staring undyingly at the ceiling. Maybe Burr had a point—

Beside him, she froze, whispering. “I saw something move.”

Cannon dropped to a whisper himself. “Where?”

“Down there. It went past the stairs.”

Cannon only took a moment to weigh his decision. Burr was not given to hysteria, and he heard genuine fear in her voice.

“All right, I’m convinced. Let’s get out of here.”

At that very moment, three things happened: a chill gust blew out Cannon’s torch, Burr’s flashlight flickered once and died, and an inhuman howl split the darkness.

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