THERE WILL BE time to mourn, Langdon told himself, fighting back intense emotion. Now is the time for action.
Langdon had already asked Winston to search museum security feeds for any information that might be helpful in apprehending the shooter. Then he had quietly added that Winston should search for any connections between Bishop Valdespino and Ávila.
Agent Fonseca was returning now, still on the phone. “Sí … sí,” he was saying. “Claro. Inmediatemente.” Fonseca ended the call and turned his attention to Ambra, who stood nearby, looking dazed.
“Ms. Vidal, we’re leaving,” Fonseca announced, his tone sharp. “Don Julián has demanded that we get you to safety inside the Royal Palace at once.”
Ambra’s body tensed visibly. “I’m not abandoning Edmond like that!” She motioned to the crumpled corpse beneath the blanket.
“Local authorities will be taking over this matter,” Fonseca replied. “And the coroner is on his way. Mr. Kirsch will be handled respectfully and with great care. At the moment, we need to leave. We’re afraid you’re in danger.”
“I am most certainly not in danger!” Ambra declared, stepping toward him. “An assassin just had the perfect opportunity to shoot me and did not. Clearly, he was after Edmond!”
“Ms. Vidal!” The veins in Fonseca’s neck twitched. “The prince wants you in Madrid. He is worried about your safety.”
“No,” she fired back. “He’s worried about the political fallout.”
Fonseca exhaled a long, slow breath and lowered his voice. “Ms. Vidal, what happened tonight has been a terrible blow for Spain. It has also been a terrible blow for the prince. Your hosting tonight’s event was an unfortunate decision.”
Winston’s voice spoke suddenly inside Langdon’s head. “Professor? The museum’s security team has been analyzing the building’s external camera feeds. It appears they’ve found something.”
Langdon listened and then waved a hand at Fonseca, interrupting the agent’s reprimand of Ambra. “Sir, the computer said one of the museum’s rooftop cameras got a partial photo of the top of the getaway car.”
“Oh?” Fonseca looked surprised.
Langdon relayed the information as Winston gave it to him. “A black sedan leaving the service alley … license plates not legible from that high angle … an unusual sticker on the windshield.”
“What sticker?” Fonseca demanded. “We can alert local authorities to look for it.”
“The sticker,” Winston replied in Langdon’s head, “is not one I recognized, but I compared its shape to all known symbols in the world, and I received a single match.”
Langdon was amazed how fast Winston had been able to make all this happen.
“The match I received,” Winston said, “was for an ancient alchemical symbol—amalgamation.”
I beg your pardon? Langdon had expected the logo of a parking garage or a political organization. “The car sticker shows the symbol for … amalgamation?”
Fonseca looked on, clearly lost.
“There must be some mistake, Winston,” Langdon said. “Why would anyone display the symbol for an alchemical process?”
“I don’t know,” Winston replied. “This is the only match I got, and I’m showing ninety-nine percent correspondence.”
Langdon’s eidetic memory quickly conjured the alchemical symbol for amalgamation.
“Winston, describe exactly what you see in the car window.”
The computer replied immediately. “The symbol consists of one vertical line crossed by three transverse lines. On top of the vertical line sits an upward-facing arch.”
Precisely. Langdon frowned. “The arch on top—does it have capstones?”
“Yes. A short horizontal line sits on top of each arm.”
Okay then, it’s amalgamation.
Langdon puzzled for a moment. “Winston, can you send us the photo from the security feed?”
“Send it to my phone,” Fonseca demanded.
Langdon relayed the agent’s cell-phone number to Winston, and a moment later, Fonseca’s device pinged. They all gathered around the agent and looked at the grainy black-and-white photo. It was an overhead shot of a black sedan in a deserted service alley.
Sure enough, in the lower-left-hand corner of the windshield, Langdon could see a sticker displaying the exact symbol Winston had described.
Amalgamation. How bizarre.
Puzzled, Langdon reached over and used his fingertips to enlarge the photo on Fonseca’s screen. Leaning in, he studied the more detailed image.
Immediately Langdon saw the problem. “It’s not amalgamation,” he announced.
Although the image was very close to what Winston had described, it was not exact. And in symbology, the difference between “close” and “exact” could be the difference between a Nazi swastika and a Buddhist symbol of prosperity.
This is why the human mind is sometimes better than a computer.
“It’s not one sticker,” Langdon declared. “It’s two different stickers overlapping a bit. The sticker on the bottom is a special crucifix called the papal cross. It’s very popular right now.”
With the election of the most liberal pontiff in Vatican history, thousands of people around the globe were showing their support for the pope’s new policies by displaying the triple cross, even in Langdon’s hometown of Cambridge, Massachusetts.
“The U-shaped symbol on top,” Langdon said, “is a separate sticker entirely.”
“I now see you are correct,” Winston said. “I’ll find the phone number for the company.”
Again Langdon was amazed by Winston’s speed. He’s already identified the company logo? “Excellent,” Langdon said. “If we call them, they can track the car.”
Fonseca looked bewildered. “Track the car! How?”
“This getaway car was hired,” Langdon said, pointing to the stylized U on the windshield. “It’s an Uber.”在线阅读 网：http://www.Yuedu88.com/