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Home > The Lost Symbol (Robert Langdon #3)(15)

The Lost Symbol (Robert Langdon #3)(15)
Author: Dan Brown

"Superstring theory in the thirteenth century?!" Katherine wasn't buying it. "Come on!"

Superstring theory was a brand-new cosmological model. Based on the most recent scientific observations, it suggested the multidimensional universe was made up not of three . . . but rather of ten dimensions, which all interacted like vibrating strings, similar to resonating violin strings.

Katherine waited as her brother heaved open the book, ran through the ornately printed table of contents, and then flipped to a spot near the beginning of the book. "Read this." He pointed to a faded page of text and diagrams.

Dutifully, Katherine studied the page. The translation was old-fashioned and very hard to read, but to her utter amazement, the text and drawings clearly outlined the exact same universe heralded by modern superstring theory--a ten-dimensional universe of resonating strings. As she continued reading, she suddenly gasped and recoiled. "My God, it even describes how six of the dimensions are entangled and act as one?!" She took a frightened step backward. "What is this book?!"

Her brother grinned. "Something I'm hoping you'll read one day." He flipped back to the title page, where an ornately printed plate bore three words.

The Complete Zohar.

Although Katherine had never read the Zohar, she knew it was the fundamental text of early Jewish mysticism, once believed so potent that it was reserved only for the most erudite rabbis.

Katherine eyed the book. "You're saying the early mystics knew their universe had ten dimensions?"

"Absolutely." He motioned to the page's illustration of ten intertwined circles called Sephiroth. "Obviously, the nomenclature is esoteric, but the physics is very advanced."

Katherine didn't know how to respond. "But . . . then why don't more people study this?"

Her brother smiled. "They will."

"I don't understand."

"Katherine, we have been born into wonderful times. A change is coming. Human beings are poised on the threshold of a new age when they will begin turning their eyes back to nature and to the old ways . . . back to the ideas in books like the Zohar and other ancient texts from around the world. Powerful truth has its own gravity and eventually pulls people back to it. There will come a day when modern science begins in earnest to study the wisdom of the ancients . . . that will be the day that mankind begins to find answers to the big questions that still elude him."

That night, Katherine eagerly began reading her brother's ancient texts and quickly came to understand that he was right. The ancients possessed profound scientific wisdom. Today's science was not so much making "discoveries" as it was making "rediscoveries." Mankind, it seemed, had once grasped the true nature of the universe . . . but had let go . . . and forgotten.

Modern physics can help us remember! This quest had become Katherine's mission in life--to use advanced science to rediscover the lost wisdom of the ancients. It was more than academic thrill that kept her motivated. Beneath it all was her conviction that the world needed this understanding . . . now more than ever. At the rear of the lab, Katherine saw her brother's white lab coat hanging on its hook along with her own. Reflexively, she pulled out her phone to check for messages. Nothing. A voice echoed again in her memory. That which your brother believes is hidden in D.C. . . . it can be found. Sometimes a legend that endures for centuries . . . endures for a reason.

"No," Katherine said aloud. "It can't possibly be real."

Sometimes a legend was just that--a legend.

CHAPTER 16

Security chief Trent Anderson stormed back toward the Capitol Rotunda, fuming at the failure of his security team. One of his men had just found a sling and an army-surplus jacket in an alcove near the east portico.

The goddamn guy walked right out of here!

Anderson had already assigned teams to start scanning exterior video, but by the time they found anything, this guy would be long gone.

Now, as Anderson entered the Rotunda to survey the damage, he saw that the situation had been contained as well as could be expected. All four entrances to the Rotunda were closed with as inconspicuous a method of crowd control as Security had at its disposal--a velvet swag, an apologetic guard, and a sign that read THIS ROOM TEMPORARILY CLOSED FOR CLEANING. The dozen or so witnesses were all being herded into a group on the eastern perimeter of the room, where the guards were collecting cell phones and cameras; the last thing Anderson needed was for one of these people to send a cell-phone snapshot to CNN.

One of the detained witnesses, a tall, dark-haired man in a tweed sport coat, was trying to break away from the group to speak to the chief. The man was currently in a heated discussion with the guards.

"I'll speak to him in a moment," Anderson called over to the guards. "For now, please hold everyone in the main lobby until we sort this out."

Anderson turned his eyes now to the hand, which stood at attention in the middle of the room. For the love of God. In fifteen years on security detail for the Capitol Building, he had seen some strange things. But nothing like this. Forensics had better get here fast and get this thing out of my building.

Anderson moved closer, seeing that the bloody wrist had been skewered on a spiked wooden base to make the hand stand up. Wood and flesh, he thought. Invisible to metal detectors. The only metal was a large gold ring, which Anderson assumed had either been wanded or casually pulled off the dead finger by the suspect as if it were his own.

Anderson crouched down to examine the hand. It looked as if it had belonged to a man of about sixty. The ring bore some kind of ornate seal with a two-headed bird and the number 33. Anderson didn't recognize it. What really caught his eye were the tiny tattoos on the tips of the thumb and index finger.

A goddamn freak show.

"Chief?" One of the guards hurried over, holding out a phone. "Personal call for you. Security switchboard just patched it through."

Anderson looked at him like he was insane. "I'm in the middle of something here," he growled.

The guard's face was pale. He covered the mouthpiece and whispered. "It's CIA."

Anderson did a double take. CIA heard about this already?!

"It's their Office of Security."

Anderson stiffened. Holy shit. He glanced uneasily at the phone in the guard's hand.

In Washington's vast ocean of intelligence agencies, the CIA's Office of Security was something of a Bermuda Triangle--a mysterious and treacherous region from which all who knew of it steered clear whenever possible. With a seemingly self-destructive mandate, the OS had been created by the CIA for one strange purpose--to spy on the CIA itself. Like a powerful internal- affairs office, the OS monitored all CIA employees for illicit behavior: misappropriation of funds, selling of secrets, stealing classified technologies, and use of illegal torture tactics, to name a few.

They spy on America's spies.

With investigative carte blanche in all matters of national security, the OS had a long and potent reach. Anderson could not fathom why they would be interested in this incident at the Capitol, or how they had found out so fast. Then again, the OS was rumored to have eyes everywhere. For all Anderson knew, they had a direct feed of U.S. Capitol security cameras. This incident did not match OS directives in any way, although the timing of the call seemed too coincidental to Anderson to be about anything other than this severed hand.

"Chief?"The guard was holding the phone out to him like a hot potato. "You need to take this call right now. It's . . ." He paused and silently mouthed two syllables. "SA-TO." Anderson squinted hard at the man. You've got to be kidding. He felt his palms begin to sweat. Sato is handling this personally?

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