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Home > Inferno (Robert Langdon #4)(4)

Inferno (Robert Langdon #4)(4)
Author: Dan Brown

Dr. Brooks flicked the lights back on, and the Florence skyline disappeared. She came to his bedside, whispering calmly. “Mr. Langdon, there’s no need to worry. You’re suffering from mild amnesia, but Dr. Marconi confirmed that your brain function is fine.”

The bearded doctor rushed in as well, apparently hearing the call button. He checked Langdon’s heart monitor as the young doctor spoke to him in rapid, fluent Italian—something about how Langdon was “agitato” to learn he was in Italy.

Agitated? Langdon thought angrily. More like stupefied! The adrenaline surging through his system was now doing battle with the sedatives. “What happened to me?” he demanded. “What day is it?!”

“Everything is fine,” she said. “It’s early morning. Monday, March eighteenth.”

Monday. Langdon forced his aching mind to reel back to the last images he could recall—cold and dark—walking alone across the Harvard campus to a Saturday-night lecture series. That was two days ago?! A sharper panic now gripped him as he tried to recall anything at all from the lecture or afterward. Nothing. The ping of his heart monitor accelerated.

The older doctor scratched at his beard and continued adjusting equipment while Dr. Brooks sat again beside Langdon.

“You’re going to be okay,” she reassured him, speaking gently. “We’ve diagnosed you with retrograde amnesia, which is very common in head trauma. Your memories of the past few days may be muddled or missing, but you should suffer no permanent damage.” She paused. “Do you remember my first name? I told you when I walked in.”

Langdon thought a moment. “Sienna.” Dr. Sienna Brooks.

She smiled. “See? You’re already forming new memories.”

The pain in Langdon’s head was almost unbearable, and his near-field vision remained blurry. “What … happened? How did I get here?”

“I think you should rest, and maybe—”

“How did I get here?!” he demanded, his heart monitor accelerating further.

“Okay, just breathe easy,” Dr. Brooks said, exchanging a nervous look with her colleague. “I’ll tell you.” Her voice turned markedly more serious. “Mr. Langdon, three hours ago, you staggered into our emergency room, bleeding from a head wound, and you immediately collapsed. Nobody had any idea who you were or how you got here. You were mumbling in English, so Dr. Marconi asked me to assist. I’m on sabbatical here from the U.K.”

Langdon felt like he had awoken inside a Max Ernst painting. What the hell am I doing in Italy? Normally Langdon came here every other June for an art conference, but this was March.

The sedatives pulled harder at him now, and he felt as if earth’s gravity were growing stronger by the second, trying to drag him down through his mattress. Langdon fought it, hoisting his head, trying to stay alert.

Dr. Brooks leaned over him, hovering like an angel. “Please, Mr. Langdon,” she whispered. “Head trauma is delicate in the first twenty-four hours. You need to rest, or you could do serious damage.”

A voice crackled suddenly on the room’s intercom. “Dr. Marconi?”

The bearded doctor touched a button on the wall and replied, “Sì?”

The voice on the intercom spoke in rapid Italian. Langdon didn’t catch what it said, but he did catch the two doctors exchanging a look of surprise. Or is it alarm?

“Momento,” Marconi replied, ending the conversation.

“What’s going on?” Langdon asked.

Dr. Brooks’s eyes seemed to narrow a bit. “That was the ICU receptionist. Someone’s here to visit you.”

A ray of hope cut through Langdon’s grogginess. “That’s good news! Maybe this person knows what happened to me.”

She looked uncertain. “It’s just odd that someone’s here. We didn’t have your name, and you’re not even registered in the system yet.”

Langdon battled the sedatives and awkwardly hoisted himself upright in his bed. “If someone knows I’m here, that person must know what happened!”

Dr. Brooks glanced at Dr. Marconi, who immediately shook his head and tapped his watch. She turned back to Langdon.

“This is the ICU,” she explained. “Nobody is allowed in until nine A.M. at the earliest. In a moment Dr. Marconi will go out and see who the visitor is and what he or she wants.”

“What about what I want?” Langdon demanded.

Dr. Brooks smiled patiently and lowered her voice, leaning closer. “Mr. Langdon, there are some things you don’t know about last night … about what happened to you. And before you speak to anyone, I think it’s only fair that you have all the facts. Unfortunately, I don’t think you’re strong enough yet to—”

“What facts!?” Langdon demanded, struggling to prop himself higher. The IV in his arm pinched, and his body felt like it weighed several hundred pounds. “All I know is I’m in a Florence hospital and I arrived repeating the words ‘very sorry …’ ”

A frightening thought now occurred to him.

“Was I responsible for a car accident?” Langdon asked. “Did I hurt someone?!”

“No, no,” she said. “I don’t believe so.”

“Then what?” Langdon insisted, eyeing both doctors furiously. “I have a right to know what’s going on!”

There was a long silence, and Dr. Marconi finally gave his attractive young colleague a reluctant nod. Dr. Brooks exhaled and moved closer to his bedside. “Okay, let me tell you what I know … and you’ll listen calmly, agreed?”

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