Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Dead Rite chapter 62.08

“It's coming from this way.” Peters held up his candle, the flame flickering wildly.

“There's an air passage down here.” White shone the torch in both directions before proceeding “I wonder if there's an exit somewhere.” He stumbled and almost fell.

“Are you all right?” Peter crouched at the side of the older man.

“Bumps and bruises.” White shone the torch at the stairs. “You could have warned me the stairs were uneven.”

“I didn't notice.” He ran his finger over the surface. “That's odd. They've actually been worn down.”

“They've been here a long time.” White got to his knees and crawled over. “These are steps, cut into the rock. God knows how long they've been here. Pre-Roman at the very least. Millenia. No wonder Waterman doesn't let anyone into the cellars. If this got out it'd become a national heritage site. He'd be swarmed by scholars and tourists.”

“Sounds like a money maker to me.”

“Would you want your house to be compulsorily purchased?” White scratched his chin. “It does beg the question of why he doesn't open it himself, though. He'd make a goodly sum from charging an entrance fee.”

“I wouldn't want people trooping through my house. Especially if there really are bodies bricked up in those arches upstairs.”

“It rather begs the question of what's down here, though, doesn't it?” White got to his feet and brushed the dust and dirt off his trousers. “Something important, for the number of people who came down here.”

“Smells a bit.” Peters wrinkled his nose. “Was that you, sir? Eggs for breakfast was it?”

“No sergeant. It was not me. I think you'll find the smell was carried in on the current of air.”

“Yes sir. I'll believe you.” Peters moved forward, a process made more difficult by his attempt to shield the flame from the breeze with his hand.

“Here, I'll go in front.” White pushed past him, the beam of the torch flashing across walls of dressed stone. “Look.” He directed the light at the ceiling. “This section was a natural cave at some point.”

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