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PART 4+

By Christopher Harper,2014-01-24 22:42
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PART 4+

    CHAPTER 71

    Malakh stood naked in the billowing warmth of his steam shower. He felt pure again, having washed off the last

    1remaining scent of ethanol. As the eucalyptus-infused vapors permeated his skin, he could feel his pores opening to the

    heat. Then he began his ritual.

    2First, he rubbed depilatory chemicals across his tattooed body and scalp, removing any traces of body hair. Hairless were the gods of the seven islands of Heliades. Then he massaged Abramelin oil into his softened and receptive flesh. Abramelin is the sacred oil of the great Magi. Then he turned his shower lever hard to the left, and the water turned ice cold. He stood beneath the frigid water for a full minute to close his pores and trap the heat and energy within his core. The cold served as a reminder of the icy river in which this transformation had begun.

    When he stepped from the shower, he was shivering, but within seconds, his core heat emanated up through his layers of flesh and warmed him. Malakhs insides felt like a furnace. He stood naked before the mirror and admired his form . . . perhaps the last time he would see himself as a mere mortal.

    His feet were the talons of a hawk. His legsBoaz and Jachinwere the ancient pillars of wisdom. His hips and

    abdomen were the archways of mystical power. Hanging beneath the archway, his massive sex organ bore the tattooed symbols of his destiny. In another life, this heavy shaft of flesh had been his source of carnal pleasure. But no longer.

    I have been purified.

    3Like the mystical eunuch monks of Katharoi, Malakh had removed his testicles. He had sacrificed his physical

    potency for a more worthy one. Gods have no gender. Having shed the human imperfection of gender along with the

    earthly pull of sexual temptation, Malakh had become like Ouranos, Attis, Sporus, and the great castrati magicians of

    4Arthurian legend. Every spiritual metamorphosis is preceded by a physical one. Such was the lesson of all the great

    gods . . . from Osiris, to Tammuz, to Jesus, to Shiva, to the Buddha himself.

    I must shed the man who clothes me.

    Abruptly, Malakh drew his gaze upward, past the double-headed phoenix on his chest, past the collage of ancient

    5sigils adorning his face, and directly to the top of his head. He tipped his head toward the mirror, barely able to see the

    6circle of bare flesh that waited there. This location on the body was sacred. Known as the fontanel, it was the one area

    of the human skull that remained open at birth. An oculus to the brain. Although this physiological portal closes within a

    matter of months, it remains a symbolic vestige of the lost connection between the outer and inner worlds.

    Malakh studied the sacred patch of virginal skin, which was enclosed by the crownlike circle of an ouroborosa

    mystical snake devouring its own tail. The bare flesh seemed to stare back at him . . . bright with promise.

    Robert Langdon soon would uncover the great treasure that Mal’akh required. Once Malakh possessed it, the void

    on top of his head would be filled, and he would at last be prepared for his final transformation.

    Malakh padded across his bedroom and took from his bottom drawer a long strip of white silk. As he had done many times before, he wrapped it around his groin and buttocks. Then he went downstairs.

    In his office, his computer had received an e-mail message. It was from his contact:

    WHAT YOU REQUIRE IS NOW WITHIN REACH.

    I WILL CONTACT YOU WITHIN THE HOUR. PATIENCE. Malakh smiled. It was time to make final

    preparations.

     1 vapor /'veip../ n. 雾气, 汽,蒸汽,水蒸汽 water vapor 水蒸汽 ||〈医〉吸入剂 (亦作: vapour 2 depilatory /di'pil..t..ri/ n. 脱毛剂 >>> adj. 有脱毛能力的 3 testicle /'testikl/ n.〈解〉睾丸 4 metamorphose /met..'mo:fouz/ vt. 使变形[]; 使变成(to, into) Circe metamorphosed men into swine. 女妖锡西把人变成了猪。

    metamorphosis /met..'mo:f..sis/ n. (pl. -ses) 变态, 变形; 变异, 化学变化 A butterfly is produced by metamorphosis from a caterpillar. 5 sigil /'sidZil/ n. 印章, (被认为有神秘意义或力量的)图象, 符咒 6 fontanel /font..'nel/ 囟门:一柔软的膜状口,在胎儿或婴儿的未完全发育好的头颅骨头之间, 也作 soft spot

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    CHAPTER 72

    The CIA field agent was in a foul mood as he descended from the reading-room balcony. Bellamy lied to us. The

    agent had seen no heat signatures whatsoever upstairs near the Moses statue, nor anywhere else upstairs for that matter.

    So where the hell did Langdon go?

    The agent retraced his steps now to the only place theyd spotted any heat signatures at allthe librarys

    distribution hub. He descended the stairs again, moving beneath the octagonal console. The noise of the rumbling conveyors was grating. Advancing into the space, he flipped down his thermal goggles and scanned the room. Nothing. He looked toward the stacks, where the mangled door still showed hot from the explosion. Other than that, he saw no

    Holy shit!

    The agent jumped back as an unexpected luminescence drifted into his field of vision. Like a pair of ghosts, the

    7dimly glowing imprints of two humanoids had just emerged from the wall on a conveyor belt. Heat signatures.

    Stunned, the agent watched as the two apparitions circled the room on the conveyor loop and then disappeared headfirst into a narrow hole in the wall. They rode the conveyor out? Thats insanity.

    In addition to realizing they had just lost Robert Langdon through a hole in the wall, the field agent was now aware that he had another problem. Langdons not alone?

    8He was just about to switch on his transceiver and call the team leader, but the team leader beat him to it. All

    Solomon. points, we’ve got an abandoned Volvo on the plaza in front of the library. Registered to one Katherine Eyewitness says she entered the library not long ago. We suspect shes with Robert Langdon.

    Director Sato has ordered that we find them both immediately.”

    Ive got heat signatures for both of them! shouted the field agent in the distribution room. He explained the

    situation.

    For Christs sake! the team leader replied. Where the hell does the conveyor go?

    The field agent was already consulting the employee reference schematic on the bulletin board. Adams Building,”

    he replied. One block from here.”

    All points. Redirect to the Adams Building! NOW!

    CHAPTER 73

    Sanctuary. Answers.

    The words echoed in Langdons mind as he and Katherine burst through a side door of the Adams Building and out into the cold winter night. The mysterious caller had conveyed his location cryptically, but Langdon had understood.

    9Katherines reaction to their destination had been surprisingly sanguine: Where better to find One True God?

    Now the question was how to get there.

    Langdon spun in place, trying to get his bearings. It was dark, but thankfully the weather had cleared. They were

    standing in a small courtyard. In the distance, the Capitol Dome looked startlingly far away, and Langdon realized this was the first moment he had stepped outside since arriving at the Capitol several hours ago.

    So much for my lecture.

    Robert, look.” Katherine pointed toward the silhouette of the Jefferson Building.

    Langdons first reaction on seeing the building was astonishment that they had traveled so far underground on a

    10conveyor belt. His second reaction, however, was alarm. The Jefferson Building was now abuzz with activitytrucks

     7 humanoid /'hju:m..noid/ adj. 似人的, 有人类特点的 >>> n. 类人动物; 猿人 || (科学幻想小说中的)星球人 8 transceiver /tr@n'si:v../ n. 收发设备; 无线电收发(两用) 9 sanguine /'s@ngwin/ adj. 血红色的; (脸色等)有血色的, 红润的; 多血质的a sanguine complexion 红润的脸色

    乐观的; 自信的; 怀有希望的 a ~ nature [disposition] 乐观开朗的性格[天性] be ~ of 自信, ...抱乐观

    n. 血红色, 自信 || (用氧化铁染色的)红粉笔; 赤铁矿 >>> vt. []血染; 染红 10 abuzz /..'b^z/ adv., adj. 嘈杂地(的;,乱哄哄地(的;

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and cars pulling in, men shouting. Is that a searchlight?

    Langdon grabbed Katherines hand. Come on.”

    They ran northeast across the courtyard, quickly disappearing from view behind an elegant U-shaped building, which Langdon realized was the Folger Shakespeare Library. This particular building seemed appropriate camouflage

    11for them tonight, as it housed the original Latin manuscript of Francis Bacons New Atlantis, the utopian vision on

    which the American forefathers had allegedly modeled a new world based on ancient knowledge. Even so, Langdon would not be stopping.

    We need a cab.

    They arrived at the corner of Third Street and East Capitol. The traffic was sparse, and Langdon felt fading hope as he scanned for taxis. He and Katherine hurried northward on Third Street, putting distance between themselves and the Library of Congress. It was not until they had gone an entire block that Langdon finally spotted a cab rounding the

    12corner. He flagged it down, and the cab pulled over.

    Middle Eastern music played on his radio, and the young Arab driver gave them a friendly smile. Where to? the

    driver asked as they jumped into the car.

     We need to go to

    Northwest! Katherine interjected, pointing up Third Street away from the Jefferson Building. Drive toward

    Union Station, then left on Massachusetts Avenue. Well tell you when to stop.”

    The driver shrugged, closed the Plexiglas divider, and turned his music back on.

    Katherine shot Langdon an admonishing look as if to say: Leave no trail. She pointed out the window, directing

    Langdons attention to a black helicopter that was skimming in low, approaching the area. Shit. Sato was apparently

    dead serious about recovering Solomons pyramid.

    As they watched the helicopter land between the Jefferson and Adams buildings, Katherine turned to him, looking increasingly worried. Can I see your cell phone for a second?

    Langdon handed her his phone.

    13Peter told me you have an eidetic memory? she said, rolling down her window. And that you remember every

    phone number youve ever dialed?

    Thats true, but—”

    Katherine hurled his phone out into the night. Langdon spun in his seat and watched as his cell phone

    1415cartwheeled and splintered into pieces on the pavement behind them. “Why did you do that!

    Off the grid,” Katherine said, her eyes grave. This pyramid is our only hope of finding my brother, and I have no

    intention of letting the CIA steal it from us.”

    In the front seat, Omar Amirana bobbed his head and hummed along with his music. Tonight had been slow, and he felt blessed to finally have a fare. His cab was just passing Stanton Park, when the familiar voice of his company dispatcher crackled over the radio.

     from government This is Dispatch. All vehicles in the area of the National Mall. We have just received a bulletinauthorities regarding two fugitives in the area of the Adams Building . . .”

    Omar listened in amazement as Dispatch described the precise couple in his cab. He stole an uneasy glance in his

    rearview mirror. Omar had to admit, the tall guy did look familiar somehow. Did I see him on Americas Most

     11 Utopian /ju:'toupj..n/ adj. 乌托邦(); 空想的 Utopian socialism 空想社会主义 >>> n. 乌托邦的居民, 空想社会主义者 12 flag n. 旗帜 the national flag 国旗 show the white flag 竖白旗;投降 under the flag (of) 在…旗帜下;受…保护

    vt. -gg- 插旗 || (挥手或挥旗;使车停下 The secretary flagged me a taxi. 秘书为我招呼来一辆出租汽车。 13 eidetic /ai'detik/ adj. (头脑中的印象)异常清晰的 14 cartwheel n. 横翻跟头 >>> vi. 侧手翻 15 splinter n. 裂片, 碎片; 尖片 run a splinter into one's finger 手上扎了一根刺 The mirror broke into splinters. 镜子破成碎片。

    vt., vi. (使)裂成碎片, (使)分裂 Opinions are splintered now. 现在意见纷纭。

     3

Wanted?

    Gingerly, Omar reached for his radio handset. Dispatch? he said, speaking quietly into the transceiver. This is

    cab one-three-four. The two people you asked aboutthey are in my cab . . . right now.

    Dispatch immediately advised Omar what to do. Omar’s hands were trembling as he called the phone number Dispatch had given him. The voice that answered was tight and efficient, like that of a soldier.

    This is Agent Turner Simkins, CIA field ops. Who is this?

    Um . . . Im the taxi driver? Omar said. I was told to call about the two—” “Are the fugitives currently in your

    vehicle? Answer only yes or no.”

    Yes.”

    Can they hear this conversation? Yes or no?” “No. The slider is—”

    Where are you taking them?” “Northwest on Massachusetts.” “Specific destination?

    They didnt say.”

    The agent hesitated. Is the male passenger carrying a leather bag?

    Omar glanced in the rearview mirror, and his eyes went wide. Yes! That bag doesnt have explosives or anything

    in—”

    Listen carefully,” the agent said. You are in no danger so long as you follow my directions exactly. Is that clear?

    Yes, sir.”

    What is your name?

    Omar,” he said, breaking a sweat.

    Listen, Omar,” the man said calmly. Youre doing great. I want you to drive as slowly as possible while I get my team out in front of you. Do you understand?

    Yes, sir.”

    Also, is your cab equipped with an intercom system so you can communicate with them in the backseat?” “Yes,

    sir.”

     Good. Heres what I want you to do.”

    CHAPTER 74

    The Jungle, as it is known, is the centerpiece of the U.S. Botanic Garden (USBG)Americas living

    museumlocated adjacent to the U.S. Capitol Building. Technically a rain forest, the Jungle is housed in a towering

    16greenhouse, complete with soaring rubber trees, strangler figs, and a canopy catwalk for more daring tourists.

    Normally, Warren Bellamy felt nurtured by the Jungles earthy smells and the sunlight glinting through the mist

    17that filtered down from the vapor nozzles in the glass ceiling. Tonight, however, lit only by moonlight, the Jungle terrified him. He was sweating profusely, writhing against the cramps that now stabbed at his arms, still pinned painfully

    behind him.

    Director Sato paced before him, puffing calmly on her cigarettethe equivalent of ecoterrorism in this carefully

    18calibrated environment. Her face looked almost demonic in the smoke-filled moonlight that streamed down through

    the glass ceiling overhead.

    So then,” Sato continued, when you arrived at the Capitol tonight, and you discovered that I was already there . . . you made a decision. Rather than making your presence known to me, you descended quietly into the SBB, where, at

    great risk to yourself, you attacked Chief Anderson and myself, and you helped Langdon escape with the pyramid and

     16 daring /'de..riN/ adj. 大胆的;勇敢的 daring deeds 勇敢的行为 || 不平常的;新的 a daring idea || 惊险的 a daring film 17 nozzle n. 喷嘴;管嘴 18 calibrate vt. 测定...的口径 || 校准[],检查[],定标, 标定 || 使标准化, 使合标准

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capstone.” She rubbed her shoulder. An interesting choice.”

    A choice I would make again, Bellamy thought. “Where is Peter? he demanded angrily. How would I know?

    Sato said.

    You seem to know everything else! Bellamy fired back at her, making no attempt to hide his suspicion that she

    was somehow behind all this. You knew to go to the Capitol Building. You knew to find Robert Langdon. And you even knew to X-ray Langdons bag to find the capstone. Obviously, someone is giving you a lot of inside information.

    Sato laughed coldly and stepped closer to him. Mr. Bellamy, is that why you attacked me? Do you think I’m the

    enemy? Do you think Im trying to steal your little pyramid? Sato took a drag on her cigarette and blew the smoke out

    of her nostrils. Listen carefully. No one understands better than I do the importance of keeping secrets. I believe, as you do, that there is certain information to which the masses should not be privy. Tonight, however, there are forces at work that I fear you have not yet grasped. The man who kidnapped Peter Solomon holds enormous power . . . a power that you apparently have yet to realize. Believe me, he is a walking time bomb . . . capable of initiating a series of events that will profoundly change the world as you know it.”

    I dont understand.” Bellamy shifted on the bench, his arms aching in his handcuffs.

    eed to understand. You need to obey. Right now, my only hope of averting a major disaster is to You dont n

    cooperate with this man . . . and to give him exactly what he wants. Which means, you are going to call Mr. Langdon and tell him to turn himself in, along with the pyramid and capstone. Once Langdon is in my custody, he will decrypt the pyramids inscription, obtain whatever information this man is demanding, and provide him with exactly what he wants.”

    The location of the spiral staircase that leads to the Ancient Mysteries? I cant do that. I’ve taken vows of

    secrecy.”

    ” “Threaten me all you Sato erupted. I dont give a damn what youve vowed, I will throw you in prison so fast

    like,” Bellamy said defiantly. I will not help you.”

    Sato took a deep breath and spoke now in a fearsome whisper. Mr. Bellamy, you have no idea whats really going

    on tonight, do you?

    The tense silence hung for several seconds, finally broken by the sound of Satos phone. She plunged her hand into

    her pocket and eagerly snatched it out. Talk to me,” she answered, listening carefully to the reply. Where is their taxi

    now? How long? Okay, good. Bring them to the U.S. Botanic Garden. Service entrance. And make sure you get me that god-damn pyramid and capstone.”

    19Sato hung up and turned back to Bellamy with a smug smile. Well then . . . it seems you’re fast outliving your

    usefulness.”

    CHAPTER 75

    Robert Langdon stared blankly into space, feeling too tired to urge the slow-moving taxi driver to pick up the pace.

    Beside him, Katherine had fallen silent, too, looking frustrated by their lack of understanding of what made the pyramid so special. They had again been through everything they knew about the pyramid, the capstone, and the evenings

    strange events; they still had no ideas as to how this pyramid could possibly be considered a map to anything at all.

    Jeova Sanctus Unus? The secret hides within The Order?

    Their mysterious contact had promised them answers if they could meet him at a specific place. A refuge in Rome,

    north of the Tiber. Langdon knew the forefathers’ new Rome had been renamed Washington early in her history, and

    yet vestiges of their original dream remained: the Tibers waters still flowed into the Potomac; senators still convened

    beneath a replica of St. Peters dome; and Vulcan and Minerva still watched over the Rotundas long-extinguished

     19 outlive vt. ...长寿; ...经久; 度过...而健在 outlive one's contemporaries 比同时代的人长寿

    老到超过...的程度, 久活而失去 outlive one's usefulness 衰老无用 outlive one's health 年老多病

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flame.

    The answers sought by Langdon and Katherine were apparently waiting for them just a few miles ahead. Northwest

    on Massachusetts Avenue. Their destination was indeed a refuge . . . north of Washingtons Tiber Creek. Langdon

    wished the driver would speed up.

    Abruptly, Katherine jolted upright in her seat, as if she had made a sudden realization. Oh my God, Robert!She

    turned to him, her face going white. She hesitated a moment and then spoke emphatically. We’re going the wrong

    way!

    No, this is right,” Langdon countered. Its northwest on Massachu—” “No! I mean were going to the wrong

    place!

    on was being described by the Langdon was mystified. He had already told Katherine how he knew what locatimysterious caller. It contains ten stones from Mount Sinai, one from heaven itself, and one with the visage of Lukes dark

    father. Only one building on earth could make those claims. And that was exactly where this taxi was headed.

    Katherine, I’m certain the location is correct.”

    No! she shouted. “We dont need to go there anymore. I figured out the pyramid and capstone! I know what this is all about!

    Langdon was amazed. You understand it?” “Yes! We have to go to Freedom Plaza instead!

    Now Langdon was lost. Freedom Plaza, although nearby, seemed totally irrelevant.

    Jeova Sanctus Unus! Katherine said. The One True God of the Hebrews. The sacred symbol of the Hebrews is

    the Jewish starthe Seal of Solomonan important symbol to the Masons! She fished a dollar bill out of her pocket. Give me your pen.”

    Bewildered, Langdon pulled a pen from his jacket.

    “Look.” She spread the bill out on her thigh and took his pen, pointing to the Great Seal on the back. If you

    superimpose Solomons seal on the Great Seal of the United States . . .” She drew the symbol of a Jewish star precisely over the pyramid. Look what you get!

    Langdon looked down at the bill and then back at Katherine as if she were mad. Robert, look more closely! Dont

    you see what Im pointing at?

    He glanced back at the drawing.

     6

    What in the world is she getting at? Langdon had seen this image before. It was popular among conspiracy theorists as proof that the Masons held secret influence over our early nation. When the six-pointed star was laid perfectly over

    20the Great Seal of the United States, the stars top vertex fit perfectly over the Masonic all-seeing eye . . . and, quite eerily, the other five vertices clearly pointed to the letters M-A-S-O-N.

    Katherine, thats just a coincidence, and I still dont see how it has anything to do with Freedom Plaza.”

    Look again! she said, sounding almost angry now. Youre not looking where I am pointing! Right there. Dont

    you see it?

    An instant later, Langdon saw it.

    CIA field-operations leader Turner Simkins stood outside the Adams Building and pressed his cell phone tightly

    to his ear, straining to hear the conversation now taking place in the back of the taxi. Something just happened. His team

    was about to board the modified Sikorsky UH-60 helicopter to head northwest and set up a roadblock, but now it seemed

    the situation had suddenly changed.

    Seconds ago, Katherine Solomon had begun insisting they were going to the wrong destination. Her explanation

    something about the dollar bill and Jewish starsmade no sense to the team leader, nor, apparently, to Robert Langdon. At least at first. Now, however, Langdon seemed to have grasped her meaning.

    My God, youre right! Langdon blurted. I didnt see it earlier!

    Suddenly Simkins could hear someone banging on the driver’s divider, and then it slid open. Change of plans,”

    Katherine shouted to the driver. Take us to Freedom Plaza!

    Freedom Plaza? the cabbie said, sounding nervous. Not northwest on Massachusetts?” “Forget that! Katherine

    shouted. Freedom Plaza! Go left here! Here! HERE!

    Agent Simkins heard the cab screeching around a corner. Katherine was talking excitedly again to Langdon, saying

    something about the famous bronze cast of the Great Seal embedded in the plaza.

    Ma’am, just to confirm,” the cabbie’s voice interjected, sounding tense. “We’re going to Freedom Plazaon the

    corner of Pennsylvania and Thirteenth?

    Yes! Katherine said. Hurry!” “Its very close. Two minutes.”

    Simkins smiled. Nicely done, Omar. As he dashed toward the idling helicopter, he shouted to his team. We’ve got

    them! Freedom Plaza! Move!

    CHAPTER 76

    Freedom Plaza is a map.

    Located at the corner of Pennsylvania Avenue and Thirteenth Street, the plaza’s vast surface of inlaid stone depicts

    the streets of Washington as they were originally envisioned by Pierre LEnfant. The plaza is a popular tourist

    destination not only because the giant map is fun to walk on, but also because Martin Luther King Jr., for whom

    Freedom Plaza is named, wrote much of his I Have a Dream speech in the nearby Willard Hotel.

    D.C. cabdriver Omar Amirana brought tourists to Freedom Plaza all the time, but tonight, his two passengers were

    obviously no ordinary sightseers. The CIA is chasing them? Omar had barely come to a stop at the curb before the man

    and woman had jumped out.

    Stay right here! the man in the tweed coat told Omar. Well be right back!

    Omar watched the two people dash out onto the wide-open spaces of the enormous map, pointing and shouting as

    they scanned the geometry of intersecting streets. Omar grabbed his cell phone off the dashboard. Sir, are you still

    there?

     20 vertex /'ve:teks/ n. -texes -tices 顶角, (角的)顶点 || 顶点;绝顶 the vertex of an arch 拱顶 the vertex of hill 山顶

     7

    Yes, Omar! a voice shouted, barely audible over a thundering noise on his end of the line. Where are they now?

    Out on the map. It seems like theyre looking for something.”

    Do not let them out of your sight,” the agent shouted. Im almost there!

    Omar watched as the two fugitives quickly found the plaza’s famous Great Sealone of the largest bronze

    medallions ever cast. They stood over it a moment and quickly began pointing to the southwest. Then the man in tweed

    came racing back toward the cab. Omar quickly set his phone down on the dashboard as the man arrived, breathless.

    Which direction is Alexandria, Virginia? he demanded.

    Alexandria? Omar pointed southwest, the exact same direction the man and woman had just pointed toward.

    I knew it! the man whispered beneath his breath. He spun and shouted back to the woman. Youre right!

    Alexandria!

    The woman now pointed across the plaza to an illuminated Metro” sign nearby. The Blue Line goes directly there.

    We want King Street Station!

    Omar felt a surge of panic. Oh no.

    The man turned back to Omar and handed him entirely too many bills for the fare. Thanks. We’re all set.” He

    hoisted his leather bag and ran off.

    Wait! I can drive you! I go there all the time!

    But it was too late. The man and woman were already dashing across the plaza. They disappeared down the stairs into the Metro Center subway station.

    Omar grabbed his cell phone. Sir! They ran down into the subway! I couldnt stop them! They’re taking the Blue

    Line to Alexandria!

    Stay right there! the agent shouted. Ill be there in fifteen seconds!

    Omar looked down at the wad of bills the man had given him. The bill on top was apparently the one they had been writing on. It had a Jewish star on top of the Great Seal of the United States. Sure enough, the star’s points fell on letters

    that spelled MASON.

    Without warning, Omar felt a deafening vibration all around him, as if a tractor trailer were about to collide with his

    cab. He looked up, but the street was deserted. The noise increased, and suddenly a sleek black helicopter dropped down out of the night and landed hard in the middle of the plaza map.

    A group of black-clad men jumped out. Most ran toward the subway station, but one came dashing toward Omars

    cab. He yanked open the passenger door. Omar? Is that you?

    Omar nodded, speechless.

    Did they say where they were headed? the agent demanded.

    Alexandria! King Street Station,” Omar blurted. I offered to drive, but—” Did they say where in Alexandria they

    were going?

    No! They looked at the medallion of the Great Seal on the plaza, then they asked about Alexandria, and they paid

    me with this.” He handed the agent the dollar bill with the bizarre diagram. As the agent studied the bill, Omar suddenly

    put it all together. The Masons! Alexandria! One of the most famous Masonic buildings in America was in Alexandria. Thats it!” he blurted. The George Washington Masonic Memorial! Its directly across from King Street Station!

    That it is,” the agent said, apparently having just come to the same realization as the rest of the agents came

    sprinting back from the station.

    We missed them! one of the men yelled. Blue Line just left! Theyre not down there!

    Agent Simkins checked his watch and turned back to Omar. How long does the subway take to Alexandria?

    Ten minutes at least. Probably more.”

    Omar, youve done an excellent job. Thank you.” “Sure. Whats this all about?!

     8

    But Agent Simkins was already running back to the chopper, shouting as he went. King Street Station! Well get

    there before they do!

    Bewildered, Omar watched the great black bird lift off. It banked hard to the south across Pennsylvania Avenue, and then thundered off into the night.

    Underneath the cabbies feet, a subway train was picking up speed as it headed away from Freedom Plaza. On

    board, Robert Langdon and Katherine Solomon sat breathless, neither one saying a word as the train whisked them

    toward their destination.

    CHAPTER 77

    The memory always began the same way.

    He was falling . . . plummeting backward toward an ice-covered river at the bottom of a deep ravine. Above him, the merciless gray eyes of Peter Solomon stared down over the barrel of Andross handgun. As he fell, the world above

    him receded, everything disappearing as he was enveloped by the cloud of billowing mist from the waterfall upstream.

    For an instant, everything was white, like heaven. Then he hit the ice.

    Cold. Black. Pain.

    He was tumbling . . . being dragged by a powerful force that pounded him relentlessly across rocks in an impossibly cold void. His lungs ached for air, and yet his chest muscles had contracted so violently in the cold that he was unable even to inhale.

    Im under the ice.

    The ice near the waterfall was apparently thin on account of the turbulent water, and Andros had broken directly

    21through it. Now he was being washed downstream, trapped beneath a transparent ceiling. He clawed at the underside

    of the ice, trying to break out, but he had no leverage. The searing pain from the bullet hole in his shoulder was

    evaporating, as was the sting of the bird shot; both were blotted out now by the crippling throb of his body going numb.

    22The current was accelerating, slingshotting him around a bend in the river. His body screamed for oxygen.

    Suddenly he was tangled in branches, lodged against a tree that had fallen into the water. Think! He groped wildly at the

    branch, working his way toward the surface, finding the spot where the branch pierced up through the ice. His fingertips found the tiny space of open water surrounding the branch, and he pulled at the edges, trying to break the hole wider; once, twice, the opening was growing, now several inches across.

    Propping himself against the branch, he tipped his head back and pressed his mouth against the small opening. The winter air that poured into his lungs felt warm. The sudden burst of oxygen fueled his hope. He planted his feet on the tree trunk and pressed his back and shoulders forcefully upward. The ice around the fallen tree, perforated by branches and debris, was weakened already, and as he drove his powerful legs into the trunk, his head and shoulders broke through the ice, crashing up into the winter night. Air poured into his lungs. Still mostly submerged, he wriggled desperately upward, pushing with his legs, pulling with his arms, until finally he was out of the water, lying breathless on the bare ice.

    Andros tore off his soaked ski mask and pocketed it, glancing back upstream for Peter Solomon. The bend in the river obscured his view. His chest was burning again. Quietly, he dragged a small branch over the hole in the ice in order to hide it. The hole would be frozen again by morning.

    As Andros staggered into the woods, it began to snow. He had no idea how far he had run when he stumbled out of the woods onto an embankment beside a small highway. He was delirious and hypothermic. The snow was falling

    harder now, and a single set of headlights approached in the distance. Andros waved wildly, and the lone pickup truck

    23immediately pulled over. It had Vermont plates. An old man in a red plaid shirt jumped out.

     21 underside n. 下面, 内面; 下腹, 下侧; 阴蔽面, 阴暗面 22 slingshot n. 弹弓 23 plaid /pl@d/ n. (苏格兰高地人穿的;方格花呢披衣, 格子花呢;方格呢

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    Andros staggered toward him, holding his bleeding chest. A hunter . . . shot me! I need a . . . hospital!Without

    hesitation, the old man helped Andros up into the passenger seat of the truck and turned up the heater. Where’s the

    nearest hospital?!

    Andros had no idea, but he pointed south. Next exit.” Were not going to a hospital.

    The old man from Vermont was reported missing the next day, but nobody had any idea where on his journey from

    Vermont he might have disappeared in the blinding snowstorm. Nor did anyone link his disappearance to the other news story that dominated the headlines the next daythe shocking murder of Isabel Solomon.

    When Andros awoke, he was lying in a desolate bedroom of a cheap motel that had been boarded up for the season. He recalled breaking in and binding his wounds with torn bedsheets, and then burrowing into a flimsy bed beneath a pile

    of musty blankets. He was famished.

    24He limped to the bathroom and saw the pile of bloody bird-shot pellets in the sink. He vaguely recalled prying

    them out of his chest. Raising his eyes to the dirty mirror, he reluctantly unwrapped his bloody bandages to survey the damage. The hard muscles of his chest and abdomen had stopped the bird shot from penetrating too deep, and yet his body, once perfect, was now ruined with wounds. The single bullet fired by Peter Solomon had apparently gone cleanly through his shoulder, leaving a bloody crater.

    Making matters worse, Andros had failed to obtain that for which he had traveled all this distance. The pyramid. His

    stomach growled, and he limped outside to the mans truck, hoping maybe to find food. The pickup was now covered

    with heavy snow, and Andros wondered how long he had been sleeping in this old motel. Thank God I woke up. Andros

    25found no food anywhere in the front seat, but he did find some arthritis painkillers in the glove compartment. He took

    a handful, washing them down with several mouthfuls of snow.

    I need food.

    A few hours later, the pickup that pulled out from behind the old motel looked nothing like the truck that had pulled in two days earlier. The cab cap was missing, as were the hubcaps, bumper stickers, and all of the trim. The Vermont plates were gone, replaced by those from an old maintenance truck Andros had found parked by the motel Dumpster, into which he had thrown all the bloody sheets, bird shot, and other evidence that he had ever been at the motel.

    Andros had not given up on the pyramid, but for the moment it would have to wait. He needed to hide, heal, and

    2627above all, eat. He found a roadside diner where he gorged himself on eggs, bacon, hash browns, and three glasses

    of orange juice. When he was done, he ordered more food to go. Back on the road, Andros listened to the trucks old

    radio. He had not seen a television or newspaper since his ordeal, and when he finally heard a local news station, the

    report stunned him.

    FBI investigators,” a news announcer said, “continue their search for the armed intruder who murdered Isabel

    Solomon in her Potomac home two days ago. The murderer is believed to have fallen through the ice and been washed out to sea.”

    Andros froze. Murdered Isabel Solomon? He drove on in bewildered silence, listening to the full report. It was time to get far, far away from this place.

    The Upper West Side apartment offered breathtaking views of Central Park. Andros had chosen it because the sea

    of green outside his window reminded him of his lost view of the Adriatic. Although he knew he should be happy to be alive, he was not. The emptiness had never left him, and he found himself fixated on his failed attempt to steal Peter Solomons pyramid.

    Andros had spent long hours researching the Legend of the Masonic Pyramid, and although nobody seemed to agree on whether or not the pyramid was real, they all concurred on its famous promise of vast wisdom and power. The

     24 pellet n. 小球;小丸 || (枪用;小弹丸 25 painkiller n. 止痛药 26 gorge n. 峡谷,山谷 >>> vt., vi. (与on, with连用;塞饱(肚子;;贪婪地吃 27 hash n. 回锅肉丁 || 混杂,乱七八糟 >>> vt. (把肉;切碎 || 把(事情;搞得乱七八糟

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