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Director Sato stood alone in the study, waiting while the CIA satellite-imaging division processed her request. One of the luxuries of working in the D.C. area was the satellite coverage. With luck, one of them might have been properly positioned to get photos of this home tonight . . . possibly capturing a vehicle leaving the place in the last half hour.

“Sorry, ma’am,” the satellite technician said. “No coverage of those coordinates tonight. Do you want to make a reposition request?”

“No thanks. Too late.” She hung up.

Sato exhaled, now having no idea how they would figure out where their target had gone. She walked out to the foyer, where her men had bagged Agent Hartmann’s body and were carrying it toward the chopper. Sato had ordered Agent Simkins to gather his men and prepare for the return to Langley, but Simkins was in the living room on his hands and knees. He looked like he was ill.

“You okay?”

He glanced up, an odd look on his face. “Did you see this?” He pointed at the living-room floor.

Sato came over and looked down at the plush carpet. She shook her head, seeing nothing.

“Crouch down,” Simkins said. “Look at the nap of the carpet.”

She did. After a moment, she saw it. The fibers of the carpet looked like they had been mashed down . . . depressed along two straight lines as if the wheels of something heavy had been rolled across the room.

“The strange thing,” Simkins said, “is where the tracks go.” He pointed.

Sato’s gaze followed the faint parallel lines across the living-room carpet. The tracks seemed to disappear beneath a large floor-to-ceiling painting that hung beside the fireplace. What in the


Simkins walked over to the painting and tried to lift it down from the wall. It didn’t budge. “It’s fixed,” he said, now running his fingers around the edges. “Hold on, there’s something underneath . . .” His finger hit a small lever beneath the bottom edge, and something clicked.

Sato stepped forward as Simkins pushed the frame and the entire painting rotated slowly on its center, like a revolving door.

He raised his flashlight and shined it into the dark space beyond.

Sato’s eyes narrowed. Here we go.

At the end of a short corridor stood a heavy metal door.

The memories that had billowed through the blackness of Langdon’s mind had come and gone. In their wake, a trail of red-hot sparks was swirling, along with the same eerie, distant whisper.

Verbum significatium . . . Verbum omnificum . . . Verbum perdo.

The chanting continued like the drone of voices in a medieval canticle.

Verbum significatium . . . Verbum omnificum. The words now tumbled through the empty void, fresh voices echoing all around him.

Apocalypsis . . . Franklin . . . Apocalypsis . . . Verbum . . . Apocalypsis . . .

Without warning, a mournful bell began tolling somewhere in the distance. The bell rang on and on, growing louder. It tolled more urgently now, as if hoping Langdon would understand, as if urging his mind to follow.