Against Future Emergency

"We don't go back here much. Very leaky, you know, especially in spring. A lot of water…"

I nodded, having barely heard him over the  blood rushing in my ears. The brickwork was different, older than the rest of the church, larger bricks and a different color. The floor was of cut stone slabs, expertly fitted.

"Can't say I understand why it's suddenly so important. Lots of these old churches sit on Roman foundations."

"Roman," I echoed, nodding. I came out of my reverie long enough to continue, "I'll be a while, sorry. No need to keep you from your work."

"As you like, Professor. I'll be seeing to the graveyard leaves if I'm needed." He trudged back up the steps into the upper, modern section of basement.

I'd seen it almost immediately, having known what to look for: the stone to press, the one with the mechanism behind it, but I waited until I heard the leaf-blower noise from outside. When the wall slid back and then aside, my flashlight played across a furnished room clear of cobwebs and damp.

An armored figure sitting within looked up and regarded me at his leisure, and then asked, "I am needed?"

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