Trish Dunne felt the familiar surge of adrenaline as she exited the bright lights of the Cube and moved into the raw darkness of the void. The SMSC’s front gate had just called to say that Katherine’s guest, Dr. Abaddon, had arrived and
required an escort back to Pod 5. Trish had offered to bring him back, mostly out of curiosity. Katherine had said very little about the man who would be visiting them, and Trish was intrigued. The man was apparently someone Peter Solomon trusted deeply; the Solomons never invited anyone back to the Cube. This was a first.
I hope he handles the crossing okay, Trish thought as she moved through the frigid darkness. The last thing she needed was Katherine’s VIP panicking when he realized what he had to do to get to the lab. The first time is always the
Trish’s first time had been about a year ago. She had accepted Katherine’s job offer, signed a nondisclosure, and then
come to the SMSC with Katherine to see the lab. The two women had walked the length of “The Street,” arriving at a
metal door marked POD 5. Even though Katherine had tried to prepare her by describing the lab’s remote location, Trish
was not ready for what she saw when the pod door hissed open.
Katherine stepped over the threshold, walked a few feet into the perfect blackness, and then motioned for Trish to follow. “Trust me. You won’t get lost.”
Trish pictured herself wandering in a pitch-black, stadium-size room and broke a sweat at the mere thought. “We
have a guidance system to keep you on track.” Katherine pointed to the floor. “Very low-tech.”
Trish squinted through the darkness at the rough cement floor. It took a moment to see it in the darkness, but there was a narrow carpet runner that had been laid down in a straight line. The carpet ran like a roadway, disappearing into the
“See with your feet,” Katherine said, turning and walking off. “Just follow right behind me.”
As Katherine disappeared into the blackness, Trish swallowed her fear and followed. This is insane! She had taken
only a few steps down the carpet when the Pod 5 door swung shut behind her, snuffing out the last faint hint of light.
Pulse racing, Trish turned all of her attention to the feeling of the carpet beneath her feet. She had ventured only a handful of steps down the soft runner when she felt the side of her right foot hit hard cement. Startled, she instinctively corrected to the left, getting both feet back on soft carpet.
Katherine’s voice materialized up ahead in the blackness, her words almost entirely swallowed by the lifeless
1acoustics of this abyss. “The human body is amazing,” she said. “If you deprive it of one sensory input, the other senses
take over, almost instantly. Right now, the nerves in your feet are literally ‘tuning’ themselves to become more
Good thing, Trish thought, correcting course again.
They walked in silence for what seemed entirely too long. “How much farther?” Trish finally asked. “We’re about
halfway.” Katherine’s voice sounded more distant now.
Trish sped up, doing her best to stay composed, but the breadth of the darkness felt like it would engulf her. I
can’t see one millimeter in front of my face! “Katherine? How do you know when to stop walking?”
“You’ll know in a moment,” Katherine said.
That was a year ago, and now, tonight, Trish was once again in the void, heading in the opposite direction, out to the lobby to retrieve her boss’s guest. A sudden change in carpet texture beneath her feet alerted her that she was three yards
2from the exit. The warning track, as it was called by Peter Solomon, an avid baseball fan. Trish stopped short, pulled
out her key card, and groped in the darkness along the wall until she found the raised slot and inserted her card.
The door hissed open.
Trish squinted into the welcoming light of the SMSC hallway.
1 acoustic /..'ku:stik/ adj. 听觉的；有关声音的 2 avid /'@vid/ adj. 渴望的; 贪婪的 be avid for (praise) 渴望(得到表扬) be avid of (money) 贪(财)
Made it . . . again.
Moving through the deserted corridors, Trish found herself thinking about the bizarre redacted file they had found on a secure network. Ancient portal? Secret location underground? She wondered if Mark Zoubianis was having any luck figuring out where the mysterious document was located.
Inside the control room, Katherine stood in the soft glow of the plasma wall and gazed up at the enigmatic document
they had uncovered. She had isolated her key phrases now and felt increasingly certain that the document was talking
3about the same far-flung legend that her brother had apparently shared with Dr. Abaddon.
. . . secret location UNDERGROUND where the . . .
. . . somewhere in WASHINGTON, D.C., the coordinates . . .
. . . uncovered an ANCIENT PORTAL that led . . .
. . . warning the PYRAMID holds dangerous . . .
. . . decipher this ENGRAVED SYMBOLON to unveil . . .
I need to see the rest of the file, Katherine thought.
She stared a moment longer and then flipped the plasma wall’s power switch. Katherine always turned off this energy-intensive display so as not to waste the fuel cell’s liquid hydrogen reserves.
She watched as her keywords slowly faded, collapsing down into a tiny white dot, which hovered in the middle of the
wall and then finally twinkled out.
She turned and walked back toward her office. Dr. Abaddon would be arriving momentarily, and she wanted to make
im feel welcome. h
“Almost there,” Anderson said, guiding Langdon and Sato down the seemingly endless corridor that ran the entire length of the Capitol’s eastern foundation. “In Lincoln’s day, this passage had a dirt floor and was filled with rats.”
Langdon felt grateful the floor had been tiled; he was not a big fan of rats. The group continued on, their footfalls
drumming up an eerie, uneven echo in the long passageway. Doorways lined the long hallway, some closed but many
ajar. Many of the rooms down on this level looked abandoned. Langdon noticed the numbers on the doors were now
descending and, after a while, seemed to be running out.
SB4 . . . SB3 . . . SB2 . . . SB1 . . .
They continued past an unmarked door, but Anderson stopped short when the numbers began ascending again.
HB1 . . . HB2 . . .
“Sorry,” Anderson said. “Missed it. I almost never come down this deep.”
The group backed up a few yards to an old metal door, which Langdon now realized was located at the hallway’s
4central point—the meridian that divided the Senate Basement (SB) and the House Basement (HB). As it turned out,
the door was indeed marked, but its engraving was so faded, it was almost imperceptible.
“Here we are,” Anderson said. “Keys will be arriving any moment.” Sato frowned and checked her watch.
Langdon eyed the SBB marking and asked Anderson, “Why is this space associated with the Senate side even though
it’s in the middle?”
Anderson looked puzzled. “What do you mean?” “It says SBB, which begins with an S, not an H.”
Anderson shook his head. “The S in SBB doesn’t stand for Senate. It—”
“Chief?” a guard called out in the distance. He came jogging up the hallway toward them, holding out a key. “Sorry,
3 far-flung adj. 分布广的, 范围广的 far-flung trade connections 广泛的贸易关系 4 meridian /m..'ridi..n/ n. 【天】子午圈[线] || 正午, 中天; 十二点正 || 顶点; 全盛期 the meridian of life 壮年
adj. 子午圈的; 正午的; 顶点的; 全盛时期的 ~ hour 正午时刻 ~ sun 正午的太阳 ~ transit 子午仪
sir, it took a few minutes. We couldn’t locate the main SBB key. This is a spare from an auxiliary box.”
“The original is missing?” Anderson said, sounding surprised.
“Probably lost,” the guard replied, arriving out of breath. “Nobody has requested access down here for ages.”
Anderson took the key. “No secondary key for SBB Thirteen?”
“Sorry, so far we’re not finding keys for any of the rooms in the SBB. MacDonald’s on it now.” The guard pulled out
is radio and spoke into it. “Bob? I’m with the chief. Any additional info yet on the key for SBB Thirteen?” h
The guard’s radio crackled, and a voice replied, “Actually, yeah. It’s strange. I’m seeing no entries since we
computerized, but the hard logs indicate all the storage rooms in the SBB were cleaned out and abandoned more than
twenty years ago. They’re now listed as unused space.” He paused. “All except for SBB Thirteen.”
Anderson grabbed the radio. “This is the chief. What do you mean, all except SBB Thirteen?”
5“Well, sir,” the voice replied, “I’ve got a handwritten notation here that designates SBB Thirteen as ‘private.’ It
the Architect himself.” was a long time ago, but it’s written and initialed by
The term Architect, Langdon knew, was not a reference to the man who had designed the Capitol, but rather to the man who ran it. Similar to a building manager, the man appointed as Architect of the Capitol was in charge of everything
including maintenance, restoration, security, hiring personnel, and assigning offices.
“The strange thing . . .” the voice on the radio said, “is that the Architect’s notation indicates that this ‘private space’
was set aside for the use of Peter Solomon.”
n all exchanged startled looks. Langdon, Sato, and Anderso
“I’m guessing, sir,” the voice continued, “that Mr. Solomon has our primary key to the SBB as well as any keys to SBB Thirteen.”
eter has a private room in the basement of the Capitol? He had always known Langdon could not believe his ears. P
Peter Solomon had secrets, but this was surprising even to Langdon.
“Okay,” Anderson said, clearly unamused. “We’re hoping to get access to SBB Thirteen specifically, so keep looking for a secondary key.”
“Will do, sir. We’re also working on the digital image that you requested—”
“Thank you,” Anderson interrupted, pressing the talk button and cutting him off. “That will be all. Send that file to
Director Sato’s BlackBerry as soon as you have it.”
“Understood, sir.” The radio went silent.
Anderson handed the radio back to the guard in front of them.
The guard pulled out a photocopy of a blueprint and handed it to his chief. “Sir, the SBB is in gray, and we’ve
notated with an X which room is SBB Thirteen, so it shouldn’t be hard to find. The area is quite small.”
Anderson thanked the guard and turned his focus to the blueprint as the young man hurried off. Langdon looked on,
surprised to see the astonishing number of cubicles that made up the bizarre maze beneath the U.S. Capitol.
Anderson studied the blueprint for a moment, nodded, and then stuffed it into his pocket. Turning to the door marked
SBB, he raised the key, but hesitated, looking uneasy about opening it. Langdon felt similar misgivings; he had no idea
what was behind this door, but he was quite certain that whatever Solomon had hidden down here, he wanted to keep
private. Very private.
Sato cleared her throat, and Anderson got the message. The chief took a deep breath, inserted the key, and tried to
turn it. The key didn’t move. For a split second, Langdon felt hopeful the key was wrong. On the second try, though, the lock turned, and Anderson heaved the door open.
As the heavy door creaked outward, damp air rushed out into the corridor. Langdon peered into the darkness but could see nothing at all.
“Professor,” Anderson said, glancing back at Langdon as he groped blindly for a light switch. “To answer your
5 notate vt. 以符号表示,把.....写成记号(或标志)
notation n. 符号 chemical notation 化学符号 binary notation 二进位符号 musical notation 音乐符号
question, the S in SBB doesn’t stand for Senate. It stands for sub.”
“Sub?” Langdon asked, puzzled.
Anderson nodded and flicked the switch just inside the door. A single bulb illuminated an alarmingly steep staircase
descending into inky blackness. “SBB is the Capitol’s subbasement.”
Systems security specialist Mark Zoubianis was sinking deeper into his futon and scowling at the information on his
laptop screen. What the hell kind of address is this?
His best hacking tools were entirely ineffective at breaking into the document or at unmasking Trish’s mysterious IP
address. Ten minutes had passed, and Zoubianis’s program was still pounding away in vain at the network firewalls.
6They showed little hope of penetration. No wonder they’re overpaying me. He was about to retool and try a different
approach when his phone rang.
Trish, for Christ’s sake, I said I’d call you. He muted the football game and answered. “Yeah?” “Is this Mark
Zoubianis?” a man asked. “At 357 Kingston Drive in Washington?”
Zoubianis could hear other muffled conversations in the background. A telemarketer during the play-offs? Are they insane? “Let me guess, I won a week in Anguilla?”
“No,” the voice replied with no trace of humor. “This is systems security for the Central Intelligence Agency. We would like to know why you are attempting to hack one of our classified databases?”
Three stories above the Capitol Building’s subbasement, in the wide-open spaces of the visitor center, security guard Nuñez locked the main entry doors as he did every night at this time. As he headed back across the expansive marble
floors, he thought of the man in the army-surplus jacket with the tattoos.
I let him in. Nuñez wondered if he would have a job tomorrow.
As he headed toward the escalator, a sudden pounding on the outside doors caused him to turn. He squinted back
toward the main entrance and saw an elderly African American man outside, rapping on the glass with his open palm and
motioning to be let in.
Nuñez shook his head and pointed to his watch.
man pounded again and stepped into the light. He was immaculately dressed in a blue suit and had close- The
cropped graying hair. Nuñez’s pulse quickened. Holy shit. Even at a distance, Nuñez now recognized who this man was. He hurried back to the entrance and unlocked the door. “I’m sorry, sir. Please, please come in.”
Warren Bellamy—Architect of the Capitol—stepped across the threshold and thanked Nuñez with a polite nod.
7Bellamy was lithe and slender, with an erect posture and piercing gaze that exuded the confidence of a man in full control of his surroundings. For the last twenty-five years, Bellamy had served as the supervisor of the U.S. Capitol.
“May I help you, sir?” Nuñez asked.
“Thank you, yes.” Bellamy enunciated his words with crisp precision. As a northeastern Ivy League graduate, his diction was so exacting he sounded almost British. “I’ve just learned that you had an incident here this evening.” He
looked deeply concerned.
“Yes, sir. It was—” “Where’s Chief Anderson?”
“Downstairs with Director Sato from the CIA’s Office of Security.” Bellamy’s eyes widened with concern. “The CIA
“Yes, sir. Director Sato arrived almost immediately after the incident.” “Why?” Bellamy demanded.
Nuñez shrugged. As if I was going to ask?
Bellamy strode directly toward the escalators. “Where are they?” “They just went to the lower levels.” Nuñez
hastened after him.
Bellamy glanced back with a look of concern. “Downstairs? Why?” “I don’t really know—I just heard it on my
Bellamy was moving faster now. “Take me to them right away.” “Yes, sir.”
6 retool vt. 改进工具 || 给...装备新机械工具, 改进机器(以适应新产品的生产) || (为适应新形势)重新组织 7 lithe /laiTH/ adj. 柔软的; 敏捷的, 轻快的 lithe movements 柔软的动作 a lithe dancer 柔软的舞者
As the two men hurried across the open expanse, Nuñez caught a glimpse of a large golden ring on Bellamy’s finger.
Nuñez pulled out his radio. “I’ll alert the chief that you’re coming down.” “No.” Bellamy’s eyes flashed dangerously.
“I’d prefer to be unannounced.”
Nuñez had made some big mistakes tonight, but failing to alert Chief Anderson that the Architect was now in the building would be his last. “Sir?” he said, uneasy. “I think Chief Anderson would prefer—”
“You are aware that I employ Mr. Anderson?” Bellamy said. Nuñez nodded.
“Then I think he would prefer you obey my wishes.”
Trish Dunne entered the SMSC lobby and looked up with surprise. The guest waiting here looked nothing like the
8usual bookish, flannel-clad doctors who entered this building—those of anthropology, oceanography, geology, and
other scientific fields. Quite to the contrary, Dr. Abaddon looked almost aristocratic in his impeccably tailored suit. He was tall, with a broad torso, well-tanned face, and perfectly combed blond hair that gave Trish the impression he was
more accustomed to luxuries than to laboratories.
“Dr. Abaddon, I presume?” Trish said, extending her hand.
The man looked uncertain, but he took Trish’s plump hand in his broad palm. “I’m sorry. And you are?” “Trish
Dunne,” she replied. “I’m Katherine’s assistant. She asked me to escort you back to her lab.”
“Oh, I see.” The man smiled now. “Very nice to meet you, Trish. My apologies if I seemed confused. I was under the impression Katherine was here alone this evening.” He motioned down the hall. “But I’m all yours. Lead the way.”
Despite the man’s quick recovery, Trish had seen the flash of disappointment in his eyes. She now suspected the
9motive for Katherine’s secrecy earlier about Dr. Abaddon. A budding romance, maybe? Katherine never discussed her
10social life, but her visitor was attractive and well-groomed, and although younger than Katherine, he clearly came from
11her world of wealth and privilege. Nonetheless, whatever Dr. Abaddon had imagined tonight’s visit might entail,
Trish’s presence did not seem to be part of his plan.
At the lobby’s security checkpoint, a lone guard quickly pulled off his headphones, and Trish could hear the Redskins game blaring. The guard put Dr. Abaddon through the usual visitor routine of metal detectors and temporary security
12“Who’s winning?” Dr. Abaddon said affably as he emptied his pockets of a cell phone, some keys, and a cigarette
“Skins by three,” the guard said, sounding eager to get back. “Helluva game.”
“Mr. Solomon will be arriving shortly,” Trish told the guard. “Would you please send him back to the lab once he arrives?”
1314“Will do.” The guard gave an appreciative wink as they passed through. “Thanks for the heads-up. I’ll look
Trish’s comment had been not only for the benefit of the guard but also to remind Dr. Abaddon that Trish was not the only one intruding on his private evening here with Katherine.
“So how do you know Katherine?” Trish asked, glancing up at the mysterious guest.
8 anthropology n. 人类学 9 budding adj. 开始发育！发展，的；初露头角的 a budding sportsman 初露头角的运动员 10 well-groomed adj. 精心修饰的; 过分注重整洁的; 衣冠楚楚的, 整洁的a well-groomed lawn. 修剪得整整齐齐的草坪 11 entail vt. 把(疾病等)遗传给, 把...遗留给(on, upon) || 使承担 entail great expense on sb. 使某人承担大笔费用
需要 The work entails precision. 这工作需要精确无误。
n.【律】 限定继承权[财产] || 预定继承人的顺序 || 招致, 承担, 需要 12 affable 和蔼的, 友好的(amiable) an affable smile 笑容可掬 || (天气等)宜人的 13 appreciative adj. 有鉴别力的, 有眼力的; 有欣赏力的 an appreciative audience 有鉴赏力的听众[观众]; 表示欣赏的听众[观众]
感激的 I am appreciative of her kindness. 我感激她的厚意。 14 heads-up adj. 足智多谋的; 表现出机警且能干的风格的 play heads-up basketball. 打篮球很机智
Dr. Abaddon chuckled. “Oh, it’s a long story. We’ve been working on something together.”
Understood, Trish thought. None of my business.
“This is an amazing facility,” Abaddon said, glancing around as they moved down the massive corridor. “I’ve never
actually been here.”
15His airy tone was becoming more genial with every step, and Trish noticed he was actively taking it all in. In the
right lights of the hallway, she also noticed that his face looked like he had a fake tan. Odd. Nonetheless, as they b
navigated the deserted corridors, Trish gave him a general synopsis of the SMSC’s purpose and function, including the various pods and their contents.
The visitor looked impressed. “Sounds like this place has a treasure trove of priceless artifacts. I would have expected guards posted everywhere.”
rity here is “No need,” Trish said, motioning to the row of fish-eye lenses lining the ceiling high above. “Secu
automated. Every inch of this corridor is recorded twenty-four/seven, and this corridor is the spine of the facility. It’s
impossible to access any of the rooms off this corridor without a key card and PIN number.”
“Efficient use of cameras.”
“Knock on wood, we’ve never had a theft. Then again, this is not the kind of museum anyone would rob—there’s not
16much call on the black market for extinct flowers, Inuit kayaks, or giant squid carcasses.”
Dr. Abaddon chuckled. “I suppose you’re right.”
“Our biggest security threat is rodents and insects.” Trish explained how the building prevented insect infestations by
17freezing all SMSC refuse and also by an architectural feature called a “dead zone”—an inhospitable compartment
between double walls, which surrounded the entire building like a sheath.
“Incredible,” Abaddon said. “So, where is Katherine and Peter’s lab?” “Pod Five,” Trish said. “It’s all the way at the end of this hallway.”
Abaddon halted suddenly, spinning to his right, toward a small window. “My word! Will you look at that!”
Trish laughed. “Yeah, that’s Pod Three. They call it Wet Pod.” “Wet?” Abaddon said, face pressed to the glass.
18“There are over three thousand gallons of liquid ethanol in there. Remember the giant squid carcass I mentioned earlier?”
“That’s the squid?!” Dr. Abaddon turned from the window momentarily, his eyes wide. “It’s huge!” “A female
Architeuthis,” Trish said. “She’s over forty feet.”
19Dr. Abaddon, apparently enraptured by the sight of the squid, seemed unable to pull his eyes away from the glass.
For a moment, the grown man reminded Trish of a little boy at a pet-store window, wishing he could go in and see a
puppy. Five seconds later, he was still staring longingly through the window.
“Okay, okay,” Trish finally said, laughing as she inserted her key card and typed her PIN number. “Come on. I’ll
show you the squid.”
As Mal’akh stepped into the dimly lit world of Pod 3, he scanned the walls for security cameras. Katherine’s
2021pudgy little assistant began rattling on about the specimens in this room. Mal’akh tuned her out. He had no interest whatsoever in giant squids. His only interest was in using this dark, private space to solve an unexpected problem.
15 genial /dZi'nail/ adj. 愉快的; 亲切的, 和蔼的, 友好的 a genial character 和蔼的性格 a genial climate 宜人的气候 16 squid /skwid/ n. squid 或squids 〈动〉乌贼 || (BrE.) 英镑 17 hospitable adj. 好客的；殷勤招待的 hospitable host 好客的主人
inhospitable adj. 冷淡的, 不亲切待客的 || 不适于居住的, 不毛的, 荒凉的 18 ethanol /'eth..no:l/ n. (=alcohol) 醇, 乙醇; 酒精 19 enrapture vt. 使狂喜, 使陶醉 The audience was enraptured by her beautiful voice. 听众为她的优美歌声所陶醉。 20 pudgy /'p^dZi/ adj. -ier, -iest 矮胖的(矮而粗的 21 tune out sl. ignore 忽略 tuned out the children's screaming. 对于孩子们的尖叫不予理睬
The wooden stairs descending to the Capitol’s subbasement were as steep and shallow as any stairs Langdon had ever
22traversed. His breathing was faster now, and his lungs felt tight. The air down here was cold and damp, and Langdon couldn’t help but flash on a similar set of stairs he had taken a few years back into the Vatican’s Necropolis. The City of
Ahead of him, Anderson led the way with his flashlight. Behind Langdon, Sato followed closely, her tiny hands occasionally pressing into Langdon’s back. I’m going as fast as I can. Langdon inhaled deeply, trying to ignore the
cramped walls on either side of him. There was barely room for his shoulders on this staircase, and his daybag now scraped down the sidewall.
“Maybe you should leave your bag above,” Sato offered behind him.
“I’m fine,” Langdon replied, having no intention of letting it out of his sight. He pictured Peter’s little package and
could not begin to imagine how it might relate to anything in the subbasement of the U.S. Capitol.
“Just a few more steps,” Anderson said. “Almost there.”
The group had descended into darkness, moving beyond the reach of the staircase’s lone lightbulb. When Langdon
stepped off the final wooden tread, he could feel that the floor beneath his feet was dirt. Journey to the center of the Earth.
Sato stepped down behind him.
Anderson now raised his beam, examining their surroundings. The subbasement was less of a basement than it was an ultranarrow corridor that ran perpendicular to the stairs. Anderson shone his light left and then right, and Langdon could
23see the passage was only about fifty feet long and lined on both sides with small wooden doors. The doors abutted one
another so closely that the rooms behind them could not have been more than ten feet wide.
ACME Storage meets the Catacombs of Domatilla, Langdon thought as Anderson consulted the blueprint. The tiny
section depicting the subbasement was marked with an X to show the location of SBB13. Langdon couldn’t help but
notice that the layout was identical to a fourteen-tomb mausoleum—seven vaults facing seven vaults—with one
removed to accommodate the stairs they had just descended. Thirteen in all.
He suspected America’s “thirteen” conspiracy theorists would have a field day if they knew there were exactly thirteen storage rooms buried beneath the U.S. Capitol. Some found it suspicious that the Great Seal of the United States had thirteen stars, thirteen arrows, thirteen pyramid steps, thirteen shield stripes, thirteen olive leaves, thirteen olives,
24thirteen letters in annuit coeptis, thirteen letters in e pluribus unum, and on and on.
“It does look abandoned,” Anderson said, shining the beam into the chamber directly in front of them. The heavy
22 traverse /tr..'ve:s/ vt. 通过; 横过; 穿过 || (爬山时)作Z字形攀登 >>> /'tr@ve:s/ n. (爬山时的)Z字形攀登 23 abut /..'b^t/ vi., vt 毗连; 靠紧 abut against 紧靠 abut on [upon] 接连, 邻接; 靠在...上 two lots abutting each other 毗连的两块地 24 annuit coeptis n. <拉>天佑吾人基业(美国国玺背面两句铭言之一)
wooden door was wide open. The shaft of light illuminated a narrow stone chamber—about ten feet wide by some thirty
feet deep—like a dead-end hallway to nowhere. The chamber contained nothing more than a couple of old collapsed
wooden boxes and some crumpled packing paper.
25Anderson shone his light on a copper plate mounted on the door. The plate was covered with verdigris, but the old
marking was legible:
“SBB Four,” Anderson said.
“Which one is SBB Thirteen?” Sato asked, faint wisps of steam curling out of her mouth in the cold subterranean air.
Anderson turned the beam toward the south end of the corridor. “Down there.”
Langdon peered down the narrow passage and shivered, feeling a light sweat despite the cold.
26As they moved through the phalanx of doorways, all of the rooms looked the same, doors ajar, apparently abandoned long ago. When they reached the end of the line, Anderson turned to his right, raising the beam to peer into
room SBB13. The flashlight beam, however, was impeded by a heavy wooden door.
Unlike the others, the door to SBB13 was closed.
This final door looked exactly like the others—heavy hinges, iron handle, and a copper number plate encrusted with green. The seven characters on the number plate were the same characters on Peter’s palm upstairs.
Please tell me the door is locked, Langdon thought. Sato spoke without hesitation. “Try the door.”
The police chief looked uneasy, but he reached out, grasped the heavy iron handle, and pushed down on it. The
handle didn’t budge. He shone the light now, illuminating a heavy, old-fashioned lock plate and keyhole.
27“Try the master key,” Sato said.
Anderson produced the main key from the entry door upstairs, but it was not even close to fitting.
“Am I mistaken,” Sato said, her tone sarcastic, “or shouldn’t Security have access to every corner of a building in case of emergency?”
Anderson exhaled and looked back at Sato. “Ma’am, my men are checking for a secondary key, but—” “Shoot the
lock,” she said, nodding toward the key plate beneath the lever.
Langdon’s pulse leaped.
Anderson cleared his throat, sounding uneasy. “Ma’am, I’m waiting for news on a secondary key. I am not sure I’m
comfortable blasting our way into—”
“Perhaps you’d be more comfortable in prison for obstructing a CIA investigation?”
Anderson looked incredulous. After a long beat, he reluctantly handed the light to Sato and unsnapped his holster.
“Wait!” Langdon said, no longer able to stand idly by. “Think about it. Peter gave up his right hand rather than reveal whatever might be behind this door. Are you sure we want to do this? Unlocking this door is essentially complying with
the demands of a terrorist.”
“Do you want to get Peter Solomon back?” Sato asked. “Of course, but—”
“Then I suggest you do exactly what his captor is requesting.” “Unlock an ancient portal? You think this is the
Sato shone the light in Langdon’s face. “Professor, I have no idea what the hell this is. Whether it’s a storage unit or
the secret entrance to an ancient pyramid, I intend to open it. Do I make myself clear?”
Langdon squinted into the light and finally nodded.
Sato lowered the beam and redirected it at the door’s antique key plate. “Chief? Go ahead.”
25 verdigris /'ve:digri(:)s/ n. 铜绿；铜锈 26 phalanx /'f@l@ks/ n. -lanxes 或 -langes (古希腊士兵的) 密集方阵 || 密集队；列成密集队形的人！或动物， 27 master key n. 万能钥匙
28Still looking averse to the plan, Anderson extracted his sidearm very, very slowly, gazing down at it with
“Oh, for God’s sake!” Sato’s tiny hands shot out, and she grabbed the weapon from him. She stuffed the flashlight into his now empty palm. “Shine the damned light.” She handled the gun with the confidence of someone who had trained with weapons, wasting no time turning off the pistol’s safety, cocking the weapon, and aiming at the lock.
“Wait!” Langdon yelled, but he was too late. The gun roared three times.
Langdon’s eardrums felt like they had exploded. Is she insane?! The gunshots in the tiny space had been deafening.
Anderson also looked shaken, his hand wavering a bit as he shone the flashlight on the bullet-riddled door. The lock
29the door now mechanism was now in tatters, the wood surrounding it entirely pulverized. The lock had released,
having fallen ajar.
Sato extended the pistol and pressed the tip of the barrel against the door, giving it a push. The door swung fully into
the blackness beyond.
30Langdon peered in but could see nothing in the darkness. What in the world is that smell? An unusual, fetid odor
wafted out of the darkness.
Anderson stepped into the doorway and shone the light on the floor, tracing carefully down the length of the barren dirt floor. This room was like the others—a long, narrow space. The sidewalls were rugged stone, giving the room the
feel of an ancient prison cell. But that smell . . .
“There’s nothing here,” Anderson said, moving the beam farther down the chamber floor. Finally, as the beam reached the end of the floor, he raised it up to illuminate the chamber’s farthest wall.
“My God . . . !” Anderson shouted. Everyone saw it and jumped back.
Langdon stared in disbelief at the deepest recess of the chamber. To his horror, something was staring back.
“What in God’s name . . . ?” At the threshold of SBB13, Anderson fumbled with his light and retreated a step.
Langdon also recoiled, as did Sato, who looked startled for the first time all night.
Sato aimed the gun at the back wall and motioned for Anderson to shine the light again. Anderson raised the light. The beam was dim by the time it reached the far wall, but the light was enough to illuminate the shape of a pallid and
ghostly face, staring back at them through lifeless sockets.
A human skull.
31The skull sat atop a rickety wooden desk positioned against the rear wall of the chamber. Two human leg bones sat beside the skull, along with a collection of other items that were meticulously arranged on the desk in shrinelike
3233fashion—an antique hourglass, a crystal flask, a candle, two saucers of pale powder, and a sheet of paper. Propped
34against the wall beside the desk stood the fearsome shape of a long scythe, its curved blade as familiar as that of the
Sato stepped into the room. “Well, now . . . it appears Peter Solomon keeps more secrets than I imagined.” Anderson
the rest of the empty nodded, inching after her. “Talk about skeletons in your closet.” He raised the light and surveyed
chamber. “And that smell?” he added, crinkling his nose. “What is it?”
35“Sulfur,” Langdon replied evenly behind them. “There should be two saucers on the desk. The saucer on the right
28 averse adj. (常与to连用)嫌恶的 The minister is averse to/from flattery. 部长不喜欢听恭维话。 29 pulverize /'p^lv..raiz/ vt., vi. 磨成粉；使成粉末 || 粉碎; 彻底击败 30 fetid /'fetid/ adj. 发臭的；恶臭的 The air of the room was fetid with stale tobacco smoke. 房间里的空气有陈烟的臭味。 31 rickety /'rikiti/ adj. 佝偻病[软骨病]的; 患[似]佝偻病的 || 蹒跚的, 虚弱的 32 hourglass n. ！古代计时的，沙漏(水漏 33 flask n. 长颈瓶；烧瓶 || 携带用扁瓶 || 保温瓶 34 scythe /saiTH/ n. 大钐镰(长柄大镰刀 >>> vt. 用大钐镰割(用长柄大镰刀割 35 sulfur n. (=sulphur)【化】硫(16号元素, 符号S), 硫黄[磺]