“Do I have your attention now?” the man’s voice said when Langdon finally answered the line.
“Yes, sir, you damn well do. You want to explain yourself?”
“I tried to tell you before.” The voice was rigid, mechanical. “I’m a physicist. I run a research facility. We’ve had a murder. You saw the body.”
“How did you find me?” Langdon could barely focus. His mind was racing from the image on the fax.
“I already told you. The Worldwide Web. The site for your book, The Art of the Illuminati.”
Langdon tried to gather his thoughts. His book was virtually unknown in mainstream literary circles, but it had developed quite a following on‑line. Nonetheless, the caller’s claim still made no sense. “That page has no contact information,” Langdon challenged. “I’m certain of it.”
“I have people here at the lab very adept at extracting user information from the Web.”
Langdon was skeptical. “Sounds like your lab knows a lot about the Web.”
“We should,” the man fired back. “We invented it.”
Something in the man’s voice told Langdon he was not joking.
“I must see you,” the caller insisted. “This is not a matter we can discuss on the phone. My lab is only an hour’s flight from Boston.”
Langdon stood in the dim light of his study and analyzed the fax in his hand. The image was overpowering, possibly representing the epigraphical find of the century, a decade of his research confirmed in a single symbol.
“It’s urgent,” the voice pressured.
Langdon’s eyes were locked on the brand. Illuminati, he read over and over. His work had always been based on the symbolic equivalent of fossils—ancient documents and historical hearsay—but this image before him was today. Present tense. He felt like a paleontologist coming face to face with a living dinosaur.
“I’ve taken the liberty of sending a plane for you,” the voice said. “It will be in Boston in twenty minutes.”
Langdon felt his mouth go dry. An hour’s flight . . .
“Please forgive my presumption,” the voice said. “I need you here.”
Langdon looked again at the fax—an ancient myth confirmed in black and white. The implications were frightening. He gazed absently through the bay window. The first hint of dawn was sifting through the birch trees in his backyard, but the view looked somehow different this morning. As an odd combination of fear and exhilaration settled over him, Langdon knew he had no choice.
“You win,” he said. “Tell me where to meet the plane.”