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brought him here. Professor, tonight you are receiving the invitation of your lifetime. In ancient times, the Hand of the Mysteries actually served as the most coveted invitation on earth. To receive this icon was a sacred summons to join an elite group — those who were said to guard the secret wisdom of all the ages. The invitation not only was a great honor, but it signified that a master believed you were worthy to receive this hidden wisdom. The hand of the master extended to the initiate.

“Sir,” the guard said, putting a firm hand on Langdon’s shoulder. “I need you to back up right now.”

“I know what this means,” Langdon managed. “I can help you.”

“Now!” the guard said.

“My friend is in trouble. We have to —”

Langdon felt powerful arms pulling him up and leading him away from the hand. He simply let it happen… feeling too off balance to protest.

A formal invitation had just been delivered. Someone was summoning Langdon to unlock a mystical portal that would unveil a world of ancient mysteries and hidden knowledge.

But it was all madness.

Delusions of a lunatic.

CHAPTER 14

Mal’akh’s stretch limousine eased away from the U.S. Capitol, moving eastward down Independence Avenue. A young couple on the sidewalk strained to see through the tinted rear windows, hoping to glimpse a VIP.

I’m in front, Mal’akh thought, smiling to himself.

Mal’akh loved the feeling of power he got from driving this massive car all alone. None of his other five cars offered him what he needed tonight — the guarantee of privacy. Total privacy. Limousines in this city enjoyed a kind of unspoken immunity. Embassies on wheels. Police officers who worked near Capitol Hill were never certain what power broker they might mistakenly pull over in a limousine, and so most simply chose not to take the chance.

As Mal’akh crossed the Anacostia River into Maryland, he could feel himself moving closer to Katherine, pulled onward by destiny’s gravity. I am being called to a second task tonight… one I had not imagined. Last night, when Peter Solomon told the last of his secrets, Mal’akh had learned of the existence of a secret lab in which Katherine Solomon had performed miracles — staggering breakthroughs that Mal’akh realized would change the world if they were ever made known.

Her work will unveil the true nature of all things.

For centuries the “brightest minds” on earth had ignored the ancient sciences, mocking them as ignorant superstitions, arming themselves instead with smug skepticism and dazzling new technologies — tools that led them only further from the truth. Every generation’s breakthroughs are proven false by the next generation’s technology. And so it had gone through the ages. The more man learned, the more he realized he did not know.

For millennia, mankind had wandered in the darkness… but now, as had been prophesied, there was a change coming. After hurtling blindly through history, mankind had reached a crossroads. This moment had been predicted long ago, prophesied by the ancient texts, by the primeval calendars, and even by the stars themselves. The date was specific, its arrival imminent. It would be preceded by a brilliant explosion of knowledge… a flash of clarity to illuminate the darkness and give mankind a final chance to veer away from the abyss and take the path of wisdom.

I have come to obscure the light, Mal’akh thought. This is my role.

Fate had linked him to Peter and Katherine Solomon. The breakthroughs Katherine Solomon had made within the SMSC would risk opening floodgates of new thinking, starting a new Renaissance. Katherine’s revelations, if made public, would become a catalyst that would inspire mankind to rediscover the knowledge he had lost, empowering him beyond all imagination.

Katherine’s destiny is to light this torch.

Mine is to extinguish it.

CHAPTER 15

In total darkness, Katherine Solomon groped for the outer door of her lab. Finding it, she heaved open the lead-lined door and hurried into the small entry room. The journey across the void had taken only ninety seconds, and yet her heart was pounding wildly. After three years, you’d think I’d be used to that. Katherine always felt relieved to escape the blackness of Pod 5 and step into this clean, well-lit space.

The “Cube” was a massive windowless box. Every inch of the interior walls and ceiling was covered with a stiff mesh of titanium-coated lead fiber, giving the impression of a giant cage built inside a cement enclosure. Dividers of frosted Plexiglas separated the space into different compartments — a laboratory, a control room, a mechanical room, a bathroom, and a small research library.

Katherine strode briskly into the main lab. The bright and sterile work space glistened with advanced quantitative equipment: paired electro encephalographs, a femtosecond comb, a magneto-optical trap, and quantum-indeterminate electronic noise REGs, more simply known as Random Event Generators.

Despite Noetic Science’s use of cutting-edge technologies, the discoveries themselves were far more mystical than the cold, high-tech machines that were producing them. The stuff of magic and myth was fast becoming reality as the shocking new data poured in, all of it supporting the basic ideology of Noetic Science — the untapped potential of the human mind.

The overall thesis was simple: We have barely scratched the surface of our mental and spiritual capabilities.

Experiments at facilities like the Institute of Noetic Sciences (IONS) in California and the Princeton Engineering Anomalies Research Lab (PEAR) had categorically proven that human thought, if properly focused, had the ability to affect and change physical mass. Their experiments were no “spoon-bending” parlor tricks, but rather highly controlled inquiries that all produced the same extraordinary result: our thoughts actually interacted with the physical world, whether or not we knew it, effecting change all the way down to the subatomic realm.

Mind over matter.

In 2001, in the hours following the horrifying events of September 11, the field of Noetic Science made a quantum leap forward. Four scientists discovered that as the frightened world came together and focused in shared grief on this single tragedy, the outputs of thirty-seven different Random Event Generators around the world suddenly became significantly less random. Somehow, the oneness of this shared experience, the coalescing of millions of minds, had affected the randomizing function of these machines, organizing their outputs and bringing order from chaos.

The shocking discovery, it seemed, paralleled the ancient spiritual belief in a “cosmic consciousness” — a vast coalescing of human intention that was actually capable of interacting with physical matter. Recently, studies in mass meditation and prayer had produced similar results in Random Event Generators, fueling the claim that human consciousness, as Noetic author Lynne McTaggart described it, was a substance outside the confines of the body… a highly ordered energy capable of changing the physical world. Katherine had been fascinated by McTaggart’s book The Intention Experiment, and her global, Web-based study — theintentionexperiment.com — aimed at discovering how human intention could affect the world. A handful of other progressive texts had also piqued Katherine’s interest.

From this foundation, Katherine Solomon’s research had vaulted forward, proving that “focused thought” could affect literally anything — the growth rate of plants, the direction that fish swam in a bowl, the manner in which cells divided in a petri dish, the synchronization of separately automated systems, and the chemical reactions in one’s own body. Even the crystalline structure of a newly forming solid was rendered mutable by one’s mind; Katherine had created beautifully symmetrical ice crystals by sending loving thoughts to a glass of water as it froze. Incredibly, the converse was also true: when she sent negative, polluting thoughts to the water, the ice crystals froze in chaotic, fractured forms.

Human thought can literally transform the physical world.

As Katherine’s experiments grew bolder, her results became more astounding. Her work in this lab had proven beyond the shadow of a doubt that “mind over matter” was not just some New Age self-help mantra. The mind had the ability to alter the state of matter itself, and, more important, the mind had the power to encourage the physical world to move in a specific direction.

We are the masters of our own universe.

At the subatomic level, Katherine had shown that particles themselves came in and out of existence based solely on her intention to observe them. In a sense, her desire to see a particle… manifested that particle. Heisenberg had hinted at this reality decades ago, and now it had be come a fundamental principle of Noetic Science. In the words of Lynne McTaggart: “Living consciousness somehow is the influence that turns the possibility of something into something real. The most essential ingredient in creating our universe is the consciousness that observes it.”

The most astonishing aspect of Katherine’s work, however, had been the realization that the mind’s ability to affect the physical world could be augmented through practice. Intention was a learned skill. Like meditation, harnessing the true power of “thought” required practice. More important… some people were born more skilled at it than others. And throughout history, there had been those few who had become true masters.

This is the missing link between modern science and ancient mysticism.

Katherine had learned this from her brother, Peter, and now, as her thoughts turned back to him, she felt a deepening concern. She walked to the lab’s research library and peered in. Empty.

The library was a small reading room — two Morris chairs, a wooden table, two floor lamps, and a wall of mahogany bookshelves that held some five hundred books. Katherine and Peter had pooled their favorite texts here, writings on everything from particle physics to ancient mysticism. Their collection had grown into an eclectic fusion of new and old… of cutting-edge and historical. Most of Katherine’s books bore titles like Quantum Consciousness, The New Physics, and Principles of Neural Science. Her brother’s bore older, more esoteric titles like the Kybalion, the Zohar, The Dancing Wu Li Masters, and a translation of the Sumerian tablets from the British Museum.

“The key to our scientific future,” her brother often said, “is hidden in our past.” A lifelong scholar of history, science, and mysticism, Peter had been the first to encourage Katherine to boost her university science education with an understanding of early Hermetic philosophy. She had been only nineteen years old when Peter sparked her interest in the link between modern science and ancient mysticism.

“So tell me, Kate,” her brother had asked while she was home on vacation during her sophomore year at Yale. “What are Elis reading these days in theoretical physics?”

Katherine had stood in her family’s book-filled library and recited her demanding reading list.

“Impressive,” her brother replied. “Einstein, Bohr, and Hawking are modern geniuses. But are you reading anything older?”

Katherine scratched her head. “You mean like… Newton?”

He smiled. “Keep going.” At twenty-seven, Peter had already made a name for himself in the academic world, and he and Katherine had grown to savor this kind of playful intellectual sparring.

Older than Newton? Katherine’s head now filled with distant names like Ptolemy, Pythagoras, and Hermes Trismegistus. Nobody reads that stuff anymore.

Her brother ran a finger down the long shelf of cracked leather bindings and old dusty tomes. “The scientific wisdom of the ancients was staggering… modern physics is only now beginning to comprehend it all.”

“Peter,” she said, “you already told me that the Egyptians understood levers and pulleys long before Newton, and that the early alchemists did work on a par with modern chemistry, but so what? Today’s physics deals with concepts that would have been unimaginable to the ancients.”

“Like what?”

“Well… like entanglement theory, for one!” Subatomic research had now proven categorically that all matter was interconnected… entangled in a single unified mesh… a kind of universal oneness. “You’re telling me the ancients sat around discussing entanglement theory?”

“Absolutely!” Peter said, pushing his long, dark bangs out of his eyes. “Entanglement was at the core of primeval beliefs. Its names are as old as history itself… Dharmakaya, Tao, Brahman. In fact, man’s oldest spiritual quest was to perceive his own entanglement, to sense his own interconnection with all things. He has always wanted to become ‘one’ with the universe… to achieve the state of ‘at-one-ment.’ ” Her brother raised his eyebrows. “To this day, Jews and Christians still strive for ‘atonement’… although most of us have forgotten it is actually ‘at-one-ment’ we’re seeking.”

Katherine sighed, having forgotten how hard it was to argue with a man so well versed in history. “Okay, but you’re talking in generalities. I’m talking specific physics.”

“Then be specific.” His keen eyes challenged her now.

“Okay, how about something as simple as polarity — the positive/negative balance of the subatomic realm. Obviously, the ancients didn’t underst —”

“Hold on!” Her brother pulled down a large dusty text, which he dropped loudly on the library table. “Modern polarity is nothing but the ‘dual world’ described by Krishna here in the Bhagavad Gita over two thousand years ago. A dozen other books in here, including the Kybalion, talk about binary systems and the opposing forces in nature.”

Katherine was skeptical. “Okay, but if we talk about modern discoveries in subatomics — the Heisenberg uncertainty principle, for example —”

“Then we must look here,” Peter said, striding down his long bookshelf and pulling out another text. “The sacred Hindu Vendantic scriptures known as the Upanishads.” He dropped the tome heavily on the first. “Heisenberg and Schrödinger studied this text and credited it with helping them formulate some of their theories.”

The showdown continued for several minutes, and the stack of dusty books on the desk grew taller and taller. Finally Katherine threw up her hands in frustration. “Okay! You made your point, but I want to study cutting-edge theoretical physics. The future of science! I really doubt Krishna or Vyasa had much to say about superstring theory and multidimensional cosmological models.”

“You’re right. They didn’t.” Her brother paused, a smile crossing his lips. “If you’re talking superstring theory…” He wandered over to the bookshelf yet again. “Then you’re talking this book here.” He heaved out a colossal leather-bound book and dropped it with a crash onto the desk. “Thirteenth-century translation of the original medieval Aramaic.”

“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.

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