Nathaniel Cannon and the Secret of the Dutchman’s Cross No. 38

Staccato flashes pierced the darkness. The strobing light gave the scene a feel like an old Chaplin flick. Three rows to the left, Cannon thought, and they could make a right turn and follow the aisle between the sarcophagi all the way to the stairs.

Movement drew his eye. Three people, the rest of his crew, hustled along. Another figure staggered toward them—and the Thompson, empty, clicked in his hand.

“You saw more than just the others, too, right?” said Burr.

“Yes.” Cannon held the Thompson out in her direction. “Take this, put your hand on my shoulder, and let’s ankle.”


The flickering of the muzzle flashes briefly revealed Iseabail’s face: her brow furrowed as she looked over her shoulder. “Tha’ sounds serious,” she said, raising her voice over the chorus of tortured sounds filling the chamber.

Ahead of her, Masaracchia said, “The captain and Miss Burr are formidable enough. We aren’t nearly so well armed—only Pietro’s pistol. If we go back now and they reach the rendezvous, they might decide to look for us. We ought to give them a minute to catch up first.”

“All righ’,” Iseabail said doubtfully. “If they dinna turn up after a wee bit, we go back an’ find them.”

“I don’t think that to be wise,” said Masaracchia.

“Naebody died an’ made you boss,” Iseabail snapped. “The cap’n wou’ do it for any of us.”


Cannon turned right and felt for the sarcophagus which marked the edge of the path to the stairs. He touched cool stone, then the figurine he’d seen topping the coffin. “Ready,” he said.

“Let me reload first.” A steel magazine clattered against the cavern floor, and metal slit against metal as Burr worked the charging handle. “All right.”

Cannon felt her hand settle onto his shoulder, and he said, “We’ll take three steps left, then head down the row as fast as we can manage.”

“Sure thing.”

The fastest they could manage turned out to be a slow run. Between keeping the Thompson at the ready and sticking close to Cannon in the enveloping darkness, Burr could go no faster. As the ringing in Cannon’s ears died away, he became aware of a new aspect to the din around them, metallic clanks and rasps.

Suddenly, something slammed into his side, throwing Burr’s hand from his shoulder. It dragged at his khaki shirt and fell to the ground with a thump. Cannon stumbled to a stop.

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