Vitamins, Supplements, Sport Nutrition

CHAPTER 101

“You’ve got to let him out!” Katherine begged, crying now. “We’ll do whatever you want!” She could hear Langdon pounding more frantically as the water flowed into his container.

The tattooed man just smiled. “You’re easier than your brother. The things I had to do to get Peter to tell me his secrets . . .”

“Where is he?!” she demanded. “Where is Peter?! Tell me! We did exactly what you wanted! We solved the pyramid and—”

“No, you did not solve the pyramid. You played a game. You withheld information and brought a government agent to my home. Hardly behavior I intend to reward.”

“We didn’t have a choice,” she replied, choking back the tears. “The CIA is looking for you. They made us travel with an agent. I’ll tell you everything. Just let Robert out!” Katherine could hear Langdon shouting and pounding in the crate, and she could see the water flowing through the pipe. She knew he didn’t have a lot of time.

In front of her, the tattooed man spoke calmly, stroking his chin. “I assume there are agents waiting for me at Franklin Square?”

Katherine said nothing, and the man placed his massive palms on her shoulders, slowly pulling

her forward. With her arms still wire-bound be hind the chair back, her shoulders strained, burning with pain, threatening to dislocate.

“Yes!” Katherine said. “There are agents at Franklin Square!”

He pulled harder. “What is the address on the capstone?”

The pain in her wrists and shoulders grew unbearable, but Katherine said nothing.

“You can tell me now, Katherine, or I’ll break your arms and ask you again.”

“Eight!” she gasped in pain. “The missing number is eight! The capstone says: ‘The secret hides within The Order—Eight Franklin Square!’ I swear it. I don’t know what else to tell you! It’s Eight Franklin Square!”

The man still did not release her shoulders.

“That’s all I know!” Katherine said. “That’s the address! Let go of me! Let Robert out of that tank!”

“I would . . .” the man said, “but there’s one problem. I can’t go to Eight Franklin Square without being caught. Tell me, what’s at that address?”

“I don’t know!”

“And the symbols on the base of the pyramid? On the underside? Do you know their meaning?”

What symbols on the base?” Katherine had no idea what he was talking about. “The bottom has no symbols. It’s smooth, blank stone!”

Apparently immune to the muffled cries for help emanating from the coffinlike crate, the tattooed man calmly padded over to Langdon’s day-bag and retrieved the stone pyramid. Then he returned to Katherine and held it up before her eyes so she could see the base.

When Katherine saw the engraved symbols, she gasped in bewilderment.

But . . . that’s impossible!

The bottom of the pyramid was entirely covered with intricate carvings. There was nothing there before! I’m sure of it! She had no idea what these symbols could possibly mean. They seemed to span every mystical tradition, including many she could not even place.

Total chaos.

“I . . . have no idea what this means,” she said.

“Nor do I,” her captor said. “Fortunately, we have a specialist at our disposal.” He glanced at the crate. “Let’s ask him, shall we?” He carried the pyramid toward the crate.

For a brief instant of hope, Katherine thought he was going to unclasp the lid. Instead, he sat calmly on top of the box, reached down, and slid a small panel to one side, revealing a Plexiglas window in the top of the tank.

Light!

Langdon covered his eyes, squinting into the ray of light that now streamed in from above. As his eyes adjusted, hope turned to confusion. He was looking up through what appeared to be a window in the top of his crate. Through the window, he saw a white ceiling and a fluorescent light.

Without warning, the tattooed face appeared above him, peering down.

“Where is Katherine?!” Langdon shouted. “Let me out!”

The man smiled. “Your friend Katherine is here with me,” the man said. “I have the power to spare her life. Your life as well. But your time is short, so I suggest you listen carefully.”

Langdon could barely hear him through the glass, and the water had risen higher, creeping across his chest.

“Are you aware,” the man asked, “that there are symbols on the base of the pyramid?”

“Yes!” Langdon shouted, having seen the extensive array of symbols when the pyramid had lain on the floor upstairs. “But I have no idea what they mean! You need to go to Eight Franklin Square! The answer is there! That’s what the capstone—”

“Professor, you and I both know the CIA is waiting for me there. I have no intention of walking into a trap. Besides, I didn’t need the street number. There is only one building on that square that could possibly be relevant—the Almas Shrine Temple.” He paused, staring down at Langdon. “The Ancient Arabic Order of Nobles of the Mystic Shrine.”

Langdon was confused. He was familiar with the Almas Temple, but he had forgotten it was on Franklin Square. The Shriners are . . . “The Order”? Their temple sits atop a secret staircase? It made no historical sense whatsoever, but Langdon was in no position at the moment to debate history. “Yes!” he shouted. “That must be it! The secret hides within The Order!”

“You’re familiar with the building?”

“Absolutely!” Langdon raised his throbbing head to keep his ears above the quickly rising liquid. “I can help you! Let me out!”

“So you believe you can tell me what this temple has to do with the symbols on the base of the pyramid?”

“Yes! Let me just look at the symbols!”

“Very well, then. Let’s see what you come up with.”

Hurry! With the warm liquid rising around him, Langdon pushed up on the lid, willing the man to unclasp it. Please! Hurry! But the lid never opened. Instead, the base of the pyramid suddenly appeared, hovering above the Plexiglas window.

Langdon stared up in panic.

“I trust this view is close enough for you?”The man held the pyramid in his tattooed hands. “Think fast, Professor. I’m guessing you have less than sixty seconds.”