Im under Second Street.
Langdons eyes remained tightly shut as the conveyor rumbled through the darkness toward the Adams Building. He did his best not to picture the tons of earth overhead and the narrow tube through which he was now traveling. He could hear Katherine breathing several yards ahead of him, but so far, she had not uttered a word.
Shes in shock. Langdon was not looking forward to telling her about her brothers severed hand. You have to, Robert. She needs to know.
Katherine? Langdon finally said, without opening his eyes. Are you okay?
A tremulous, disembodied voice replied somewhere up ahead. Robert, the pyramid youre carrying. Its Peters, isnt it?
Yes, Langdon replied.
A long silence followed. I think . . . that pyramid is why my mother was murdered.
Langdon was well aware that Isabel Solomon had been murdered ten years ago, but he didnt know the details, and Peter had never mentioned anything about a pyramid. What are you talking about?
Katherines voice filled with emotion as she recounted the harrowing events of that night, how the tattooed man had broken into their estate. It was a long time ago, but Ill never forget that he demanded a pyramid. He said he heard about the pyramid in prison, from my nephew, Zachary . .
. right before he killed him.
Langdon listened in amazement. The tragedy within the Solomon family was almost beyond belief. Katherine continued, telling Langdon that she had always believed the intruder was killed that night . . . that is, until this same man had resurfaced today, posing as Peters psychiatrist and luring Katherine to his home. He knew private things about my brother, my mothers death, and even my work, she said anxiously, things he could only have learned from my brother. And so I trusted him . . . and thats how he got inside the Smithsonian Museum Support Center. Katherine took a deep breath and told Langdon she was nearly certain the man had destroyed her lab tonight.
Langdon listened in utter shock. For several moments, the two of them lay together in silence on the moving conveyor. Langdon knew he had an obligation to share with Katherine the rest of tonights terrible news. He began slowly, and as gently as he possibly could he told her how her brother had entrusted him with a small package years earlier, how Langdon had been tricked into bringing this package to Washington tonight, and finally, about her brothers hand having been found in the Rotunda of the Capitol Building.
Katherines reaction was deafening silence.
Langdon could tell she was reeling, and he wished he could reach out and comfort her, but lying end to end in the narrow blackness made it impossible. Peters okay, he whispered. Hes alive, and well get him back. Langdon tried to give her hope. Katherine, his captor promised me your brother would be returned alive . . . as long as I decipher the pyramid for him.
Still Katherine said nothing.
Langdon kept talking. He told her about the stone pyramid, its Masonic cipher, the sealed capstone, and, of course, about Bellamys claims that this pyramid was in fact the Masonic Pyramid of legend . . . a map that revealed the hiding place of a long spiral staircase that led deep into the earth . . . down hundreds of feet to a mystical ancient treasure that had been buried in Washington long ago.
Katherine finally spoke, but her voice was flat and emotionless. Robert, open your eyes.
Open my eyes? Langdon had no desire to have even the slightest glimpse of how cramped this space really was.
Robert! Katherine demanded, urgently now. Open your eyes! Were here!
Langdons eyes flew open as his body emerged through an opening similar to the one it had entered at the other end. Katherine was already climbing off the conveyor belt. She lifted his daybag off the belt as Langdon swung his legs over the edge and jumped down onto the tile floor just in time, before the conveyor turned the corner and headed back the way it came. The space around them was a circulation room much like the one they had come from in the other building. A small sign read ADAMS BUILDING: CIRCULATION ROOM 3.
Langdon felt like he had just emerged from some kind of subterranean birth canal. Born again. He turned immediately to Katherine. Are you okay?
Her eyes were red, and she had obviously been crying, but she nodded with a resolute stoicism. She picked up Langdons daybag and carried it across the room without a word, setting it on a cluttered desk. She lit the desks halogen clamp lamp, unzipped the bag, folded down the sides, and peered inside.
The granite pyramid looked almost austere in the clean halogen light. Katherine ran her fingers over the engraved Masonic cipher, and Langdon sensed deep emotion churning within her. Slowly, she reached into the daybag and pulled out the cube-shaped package. She held it under the light, examining it closely.
As you can see, Langdon quietly said, the wax seal is embossed with Peters Masonic ring. He said this ring was used to seal the package more than a century ago.
Katherine said nothing.
When your brother entrusted the package to me, Langdon told her, he said it would give me the power to create order out of chaos. Im not entirely sure what that means, but Ive got to assume the capstone reveals something important, because Peter was insistent that it not fall into the wrong hands. Mr. Bellamy just told me the same thing, urging me to hide the pyramid and not let anyone open the package.
Katherine turned now, looking angry. Bellamy told you not to open the package?
Yes. He was adamant.
Katherine looked incredulous. But you said this capstone is the only way we can decipher the pyramid, right?
Katherines voice was rising now. And you said deciphering the pyramid is what you were told to do. Its the only way we can get Peter back, right?
Then, Robert, why wouldnt we open the package and decipher this thing right now?!
Langdon didnt know how to respond. Katherine, I had the same exact reaction, and yet Bellamy told me that keeping this pyramids secret intact was more important than anything . . . including your brothers life.
Katherines pretty features hardened, and she tucked a wisp of hair behind her ears. When she
spoke, her voice was resolved. This stone
pyramid, whatever it is, has cost me my entire family. First my nephew, Zachary, then my
mother, and now my brother.And lets face it, Robert, if you hadnt called tonight to warn me . .
Langdon could feel himself trapped between Katherines logic and Bellamys steadfast urging.
I may be a scientist, she said, but I also come from a family of well-known Masons. Believe me, Ive heard all the stories about the Masonic Pyramid and its promise of some great treasure that will enlighten mankind. Honestly, I find it hard to imagine such a thing exists. However, if it does exist . . . perhaps its time to unveil it. Katherine slid a finger beneath the old twine on the package.
Langdon jumped. Katherine, no! Wait!
She paused, but her finger remained beneath the string. Robert, Im not going to let my brother die for this. Whatever this capstone says . . . whatever lost treasures this engraving might reveal . . . those secrets end tonight.
With that, Katherine yanked defiantly on the twine, and the brittle wax seal exploded.