AS LANGDON MOVED toward the podium, he kept one eye on Fonseca, who was still engrossed in his phone call to Uber. He watched as Ambra drifted casually toward the center of the dome, talking on her phone too—or at least pretending to talk—precisely as Langdon had suggested.
Tell Fonseca you decided to call Prince Julián.
As Langdon reached the podium, he reluctantly turned his gaze to the crumpled form on the floor. Edmond. Gently, Langdon pulled back the blanket that Ambra had placed over him. Edmond’s once bright eyes were now two lifeless slits below a crimson hole in his forehead. Langdon shuddered at the gruesome image, his heart pounding with loss and rage.
For an instant, Langdon could still see the young mop-haired student who had entered his class full of hope and talent—and had gone on to accomplish so much in so brief a time. Horrifically, tonight, someone had murdered this astonishingly gifted human being, almost certainly in an attempt to bury his discovery forever.
And unless I take bold action, Langdon knew, my student’s greatest accomplishment will never see the light of day.
Positioning himself so that the podium was partially blocking Fonseca’s line of sight, Langdon knelt down beside Edmond’s body, closed his eyes, folded his hands together, and assumed the reverent posture of prayer.
The irony of praying over an atheist almost caused Langdon to smile. Edmond, I know that you of all people don’t want anyone praying for you. Don’t worry, my friend, I’m not actually here to pray.
As he knelt over Edmond, Langdon fought a rising fear. I assured you the bishop was harmless. If Valdespino turns out to be involved in this … Langdon pushed it from his mind.
Once he felt certain that Fonseca had spotted him praying, Langdon very discreetly leaned forward and reached inside Edmond’s leather jacket, removing his oversized turquoise phone.
He glanced quickly back toward Fonseca, who was still on the phone and now seemed less interested in Langdon than he did in Ambra, who appeared to be engrossed in her own phone call and was wandering farther and farther away from Fonseca.
Langdon returned his eyes to Edmond’s phone and took a calming breath.
One more thing to do.
Gently, he reached down and lifted Edmond’s right hand. It already felt cold. Bringing the phone to his fingertips, Langdon carefully pressed Edmond’s index finger to the fingerprint recognition disk.
The phone clicked and unlocked.
Langdon quickly scrolled to the settings menu and disabled the password protection feature. Permanently unlocked. Then he slipped the phone into his jacket pocket and covered Edmond’s body again with the blanket.
Sirens wailed in the distance as Ambra stood alone in the center of the deserted auditorium and held her cell phone to her ear, pretending to be absorbed in a conversation, all the while very aware of Fonseca’s eyes on her.
A minute ago, the American professor had leaped into action after Ambra had shared with him a recent conversation she’d had with Edmond Kirsch. Ambra told Langdon that two nights ago, in this very room, she and Edmond had been working late on the final details of the presentation when Edmond had taken a break to have his third spinach smoothie of the night. Ambra had noticed how exhausted he looked.
“I’ve got to say, Edmond,” she had said, “I’m not sure this vegan diet is working for you. You’re looking pale, and much too thin.”
“Too thin?” He laughed. “Look who’s talking.”
“I’m not too thin!”
“Borderline.” He winked playfully at her indignant expression. “As for my being pale, give me a break. I’m a computer geek who sits all day in the glow of an LCD screen.”
“Well, you’re addressing the entire world in two days, and a little color would do you some good. Either get outside tomorrow or invent a computer screen that gives you a tan.”
“That’s not a bad idea,” he said, looking impressed. “You should patent that.” He laughed and then returned his attention to the matter at hand. “So you’re clear on the order of events for Saturday night?”
Ambra nodded, glancing down at the script. “I welcome people inside the anteroom, and then we all move into this auditorium for your introductory video, after which you magically appear at the podium over there.” She pointed to the front of the room. “And then, at the podium, you make your announcement.”
“Perfect,” Edmond said, “with one small addition.” He grinned. “When I speak at the podium, it will be more of an intermission—a chance for me to welcome my guests in person, let everyone stretch their legs, and prep them a bit more before I begin the second half of the evening—a multimedia presentation that explains my discovery.”
“So the announcement itself is prerecorded? Like the intro?”
“Yes, I just finished it a few days ago. We’re a visual culture—multimedia presentations are always more gripping than some scientist talking at a podium.”
“You’re not exactly ‘just some scientist,’” Ambra said, “but I agree. I can’t wait to see it.”
For security purposes, Ambra knew, Edmond’s presentation was stored on his own private, trusted, off-site servers. Everything would be live-streamed into the museum projection system from a remote location.
“When we’re ready for the second half,” she asked, “who will activate the presentation, you or me?”
“I’ll do it myself,” he said, pulling out his phone. “With this.” He held up his oversized smartphone with its turquoise Gaudí case. “It’s all part of the show. I simply dial into my remote server on an encrypted connection …”
Edmond pressed a few buttons and the speakerphone rang once and connected.
A computerized female voice answered. “GOOD EVENING, EDMOND. I AM AWAITING YOUR PASSWORD.”
Edmond smiled. “And then, with the whole world watching, I simply type my password into my phone, and my discovery is live-streamed to our theater here and, simultaneously, to the entire world.”
“Sounds dramatic,” Ambra said, impressed. “Unless, of course, you forget your password.”
“That would be awkward, yes.”
“I trust you’ve written it down?” she said wryly.
“Blasphemy,” Edmond said, laughing. “Computer scientists never write down passwords. Not to worry, though. Mine is only forty-seven characters long. I’m sure I won’t forget it.”
Ambra’s eyes widened. “Forty-seven?! Edmond, you can’t even remember the four-digit PIN for your museum security card! How are you going to remember forty-seven random characters?”
He laughed again at her alarm. “I don’t have to; they’re not random.” He lowered his voice. “My password is actually my favorite line of poetry.”
Ambra felt confused. “You used a line of poetry as a password?”
“Why not? My favorite line of poetry has exactly forty-seven letters.”
“Well, it doesn’t sound very secure.”
“No? You think you can guess my favorite line of poetry?”
“I didn’t even know you like poetry.”
“Exactly. Even if someone found out that my password was a line of poetry, and even if someone guessed the exact line out of millions of possibilities, they would still need to guess the very long phone number I use to dial into my secure server.”
“The phone number you just speed-dialed from your phone?”
“Yes, a phone that has its own access PIN and never leaves my breast pocket.”
Ambra threw up her hands, smiling playfully. “Okay, you’re the boss,” she said. “By the way, who’s your favorite poet?”
“Nice try,” he said, wagging his finger. “You’ll have to wait till Saturday. The line of poetry I’ve chosen is perfect.” He grinned. “It’s about the future—a prophecy—and I’m happy to say it’s already coming true.”
Now, as her thoughts returned to the present, Ambra glanced over at Edmond’s body, and realized with a rush of panic that she was no longer able to see Langdon.
Where is he?!
More alarming, she now spotted the second Guardia officer—Agent Díaz—climbing back into the dome through the slit cut into the fabric wall. Díaz scanned the dome and then began moving directly toward Ambra.
He’ll never let me out of here!
Suddenly Langdon was beside her. He placed his hand gently on the small of her back and began guiding her away, the two of them moving briskly toward the far end of the dome—the passageway through which everyone had entered.
“Ms. Vidal!” Díaz shouted. “Where are you two going?!”
“We’ll be right back,” Langdon called, hastening her across the deserted expanse, moving in a direct line toward the rear of the room and the exit tunnel.
“Mr. Langdon!” It was Agent Fonseca’s voice, shouting behind them. “You are forbidden to leave this room!”
Ambra felt Langdon’s hand pressing more urgently on her back.
“Winston,” Langdon whispered into his headset. “Now!”
A moment later, the entire dome went black.在线阅读网全本在线阅读：http://www.yuedu88.COM/