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Home > The Lost Symbol (Robert Langdon #3)(13)

The Lost Symbol (Robert Langdon #3)(13)
Author: Dan Brown

"Sir?" a guard said behind Langdon. "Please step back." Langdon barely heard him. There are other tattoos. Although he could not see the fingertips of the three clenched fingers, Langdon knew these fingertips would bear their own unique markings. That was the tradition. Five symbols in total. Through the millennia, the symbols on the fingertips of the Hand of the Mysteries had never changed . . . nor had the hand's iconic purpose.

The hand represents . . . an invitation.

Langdon felt a sudden chill as he recalled the words of the man who had brought him here. Professor, tonight you are receiving the invitation of your lifetime. In ancient times, the Hand of the Mysteries actually served as the most coveted invitation on earth. To receive this icon was a sacred summons to join an elite group--those who were said to guard the secret wisdom of all the ages. The invitation not only was a great honor, but it signified that a master believed you were worthy to receive this hidden wisdom. The hand of the master extended to the initiate.

"Sir," the guard said, putting a firm hand on Langdon's shoulder. "I need you to back up right now."

"I know what this means," Langdon managed. "I can help you."

"Now!" the guard said.

"My friend is in trouble. We have to--"

Langdon felt powerful arms pulling him up and leading him away from the hand. He simply let it happen . . . feeling too off balance to protest.

A formal invitation had just been delivered. Someone was summoning Langdon to unlock a mystical portal that would unveil a world of ancient mysteries and hidden knowledge.

But it was all madness.

Delusions of a lunatic.

CHAPTER 14

Mal'akh's stretch limousine eased away from the U.S. Capitol, moving eastward down Independence Avenue. A young couple on the sidewalk strained to see through the tinted rear windows, hoping to glimpse a VIP. I'm in front, Mal'akh thought, smiling to himself.

Mal'akh loved the feeling of power he got from driving this massive car all alone. None of his other five cars offered him what he needed tonight--the guarantee of privacy. Total privacy. Limousines in this city enjoyed a kind of unspoken immunity. Embassies on wheels. Police officers who worked near Capitol Hill were never certain what power broker they might mistakenly pull over in a limousine, and so most simply chose not to take the chance.

As Mal'akh crossed the Anacostia River into Maryland, he could feel himself moving closer to Katherine, pulled onward by destiny's gravity. I am being called to a second task tonight . . . one I had not imagined. Last night, when Peter Solomon told the last of his secrets, Mal'akh had learned of the existence of a secret lab in which Katherine Solomon had performed miracles-- staggering breakthroughs that Mal'akh realized would change the world if they were ever made known.

Her work will unveil the true nature of all things.

For centuries the "brightest minds" on earth had ignored the ancient sciences, mocking them as ignorant superstitions, arming themselves instead with smug skepticism and dazzling new technologies--tools that led them only further from the truth. Every generation's breakthroughs are proven false by the next generation's technology. And so it had gone through the ages. The more man learned, the more he realized he did not know.

For millennia, mankind had wandered in the darkness . . . but now, as had been prophesied, there was a change coming. After hurtling blindly through history, mankind had reached a crossroads. This moment had been predicted long ago, prophesied by the ancient texts, by the primeval calendars, and even by the stars themselves. The date was specific, its arrival imminent. It would be preceded by a brilliant explosion of knowledge . . . a flash of clarity to illuminate the darkness and give mankind a final chance to veer away from the abyss and take the path of wisdom.

I have come to obscure the light, Mal'akh thought. This is my role.

Fate had linked him to Peter and Katherine Solomon. The breakthroughs Katherine Solomon had made within the SMSC would risk opening floodgates of new thinking, starting a new Renaissance. Katherine's revelations, if made public, would become a catalyst that would inspire mankind to rediscover the knowledge he had lost, empowering him beyond all imagination.

Katherine's destiny is to light this torch.

Mine is to extinguish it.

CHAPTER 15

In total darkness, Katherine Solomon groped for the outer door of her lab. Finding it, she heaved open the lead-lined door and hurried into the small entry room. The journey across the void had taken only ninety seconds, and yet her heart was pounding wildly. After three years, you'd think I'd be used to that. Katherine always felt relieved to escape the blackness of Pod 5 and step into this clean, well-lit space.

The "Cube" was a massive windowless box. Every inch of the interior walls and ceiling was covered with a stiff mesh of titanium-coated lead fiber, giving the impression of a giant cage built inside a cement enclosure. Dividers of frosted Plexiglas separated the space into different compartments--a laboratory, a control room, a mechanical room, a bathroom, and a small research library.

Katherine strode briskly into the main lab. The bright and sterile work space glistened with advanced quantitative equipment: paired electro encephalographs, a femtosecond comb, a magneto-optical trap, and quantum-indeterminate electronic noise REGs, more simply known as Random Event Generators.

Despite Noetic Science's use of cutting-edge technologies, the discoveries themselves were far more mystical than the cold, high-tech machines that were producing them. The stuff of magic and myth was fast becoming reality as the shocking new data poured in, all of it supporting the basic ideology of Noetic Science--the untapped potential of the human mind.

The overall thesis was simple: We have barely scratched the surface of our mental and spiritual capabilities.

Experiments at facilities like the Institute of Noetic Sciences (IONS) in California and the Princeton Engineering Anomalies Research Lab (PEAR) had categorically proven that human thought, if properly focused, had the ability to affect and change physical mass. Their experiments were no "spoon-bending" parlor tricks, but rather highly controlled inquiries that all produced the same extraordinary result: our thoughts actually interacted with the physical world, whether or not we knew it, effecting change all the way down to the subatomic realm.

Mind over matter.

In 2001, in the hours following the horrifying events of September 11, the field of Noetic Science made a quantum leap forward. Four scientists discovered that as the frightened world came together and focused in shared grief on this single tragedy, the outputs of thirty-seven different Random Event Generators around the world suddenly became significantly less random. Somehow, the oneness of this shared experience, the coalescing of millions of minds, had affected the randomizing function of these machines, organizing their outputs and bringing order from chaos.

The shocking discovery, it seemed, paralleled the ancient spiritual belief in a "cosmic consciousness"--a vast coalescing of human intention that was actually capable of interacting with physical matter. Recently, studies in mass meditation and prayer had produced similar results in Random Event Generators, fueling the claim that human consciousness, as Noetic author Lynne McTaggart described it, was a substance outside the confines of the body . . . a highly ordered energy capable of changing the physical world. Katherine had been fascinated by McTaggart's book The Intention Experiment, and her global, Web-based study-- theintentionexperiment.com--aimed at discovering how human intention could affect the world. A handful of other progressive texts had also piqued Katherine's interest.

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