Vittoria glared at the Swiss Guard standing outside Olivetti’s locked door. The sentinel glared back, his colorful costume belying his decidedly ominous air.
“Che fiasco,” Vittoria thought. Held hostage by an armed man in pajamas.
Langdon had fallen silent, and Vittoria hoped he was using that Harvard brain of his to think them out of this. She sensed, however, from the look on his face, that he was more in shock than in thought. She regretted getting him so involved.
Vittoria’s first instinct was to pull out her cell phone and call Kohler, but she knew it was foolish. First, the guard would probably walk in and take her phone. Second, if Kohler’s episode ran its usual course, he was probably still incapacitated. Not that it mattered . . . Olivetti seemed unlikely to take anybody’s word on anything at the moment.
Remember! she told herself. Remember the solution to this test!
Remembrance was a Buddhist philosopher’s trick. Rather than asking her mind to search for a solution to a potentially impossible challenge, Vittoria asked her mind simply to remember it. The presupposition that one once knew the answer created the mindset that the answer must exist . . . thus eliminating the crippling conception of hopelessness. Vittoria often used the process to solve scientific quandaries . . . those that most people thought had no solution.
At the moment, however, her remembrance trick was drawing a major blank. So she measured her options . . . her needs. She needed to warn someone. Someone at the Vatican needed to take her seriously. But who? The camerlegno? How? She was in a glass box with one exit.
Tools, she told herself. There are always tools. Reevaluate your environment.
Instinctively she lowered her shoulders, relaxed her eyes, and took three deep breaths into her lungs. She sensed her heart rate slow and her muscles soften. The chaotic panic in her mind dissolved. Okay, she thought, let your mind be free. What makes this situation positive? What are my assets?
The analytical mind of Vittoria Vetra, once calmed, was a powerful force. Within seconds she realized their incarceration was actually their key to escape.
“I’m making a phone call,” she said suddenly.
Langdon looked up. “I was about to suggest you call Kohler, but—”
“Not Kohler. Someone else.”
Langdon looked totally lost. “You’re calling the chamberlain? How?”
“Olivetti said the camerlegno was in the Pope’s office.”
“Okay. You know the Pope’s private number?”
“No. But I’m not calling on my phone.” She nodded to a high‑tech phone system on Olivetti’s desk. It was riddled with speed dial buttons. “The head of security must have a direct line to the Pope’s office.”
“He also has a weight lifter with a gun planted six feet away.”
“And we’re locked in.”
“I was actually aware of that.”
“I mean the guard is locked out. This is Olivetti’s private office. I doubt anyone else has a key.”
Langdon looked out at the guard. “This is pretty thin glass, and that’s a pretty big gun.”
“What’s he going to do, shoot me for using the phone?”
“Who the hell knows! This is a pretty strange place, and the way things are going—”
“Either that,” Vittoria said, “or we can spend the next five hours and forty‑eight minutes in Vatican Prison. At least we’ll have a front‑row seat when the antimatter goes off.”
Langdon paled. “But the guard will get Olivetti the second you pick up that phone. Besides, there are twenty buttons on there. And I don’t see any identification. You going to try them all and hope to get lucky?”
“Nope,” she said, striding to the phone. “Just one.” Vittoria picked up the phone and pressed the top button. “Number one. I bet you one of those Illuminati U.S. dollars you have in your pocket that this is the Pope’s office. What else would take primary importance for a Swiss Guard commander?”
Langdon did not have time to respond. The guard outside the door started rapping on the glass with the butt of his gun. He motioned for her to set down the phone.
Vittoria winked at him. The guard seemed to inflate with rage.
Langdon moved away from the door and turned back to Vittoria. “You damn well better be right, ‘cause this guy does not look amused!”
“Damn!” she said, listening to the receiver. “A recording.”
“Recording?” Langdon demanded. “The Pope has an answering machine?”
“It wasn’t the Pope’s office,” Vittoria said, hanging up. “It was the damn weekly menu for the Vatican commissary.”
Langdon offered a weak smile to the guard outside who was now glaring angrily though the glass while he hailed Olivetti on his walkie‑talkie.