"The Book of Acts," a voice said from the door. The ghost turned, frightened. The young priest was smiling as he entered. His nose was awkwardly bandaged, and he was holding out an old Bible. "I found one in French for you. The chapter is marked."
Uncertain, the ghost took the Bible and looked at the chapter the priest had marked.
The verses told of a prisoner named Silas who lay naked and beaten in his cell, singing hymns to God. When the ghost reached Verse 26, he gasped in shock.
"... And suddenly, there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken, and all the doors fell open."
His eyes shot up at the priest.
The priest smiled warmly. "From now on, my friend, if you have no other name, I shall call you Silas."
The ghost nodded blankly. Silas.He had been given flesh. My name is Silas.
"It's time for breakfast," the priest said. "You will need your strength if you are to help me build this church."
Twenty thousand feet above the Mediterranean, Alitalia flight 1618 bounced in turbulence, causing passengers to shift nervously. Bishop Aringarosa barely noticed. His thoughts were with the future of Opus Dei. Eager to know how plans in Paris were progressing, he wished he could phone Silas. But he could not. The Teacher had seen to that.
"It is for your own safety," the Teacher had explained, speaking in English with a French accent. "I am familiar enough with electronic communications to know they can be intercepted. The results could be disastrous for you."
Aringarosa knew he was right. The Teacher seemed an exceptionally careful man. He had not revealed his own identity to Aringarosa, and yet he had proven himself a man well worth obeying. After all, he had somehow obtained very secret information. The names of the brotherhood's fourtop members! This had been one of the coups that convinced the bishop the Teacher was truly capable of delivering the astonishing prize he claimed he could unearth.
"Bishop," the Teacher had told him," I have made all the arrangements. For my plan to succeed, you must allow Silas to answer only to me for several days. The two of you will not speak. I will communicate with him through secure channels."
"You will treat him with respect?"
"A man of faith deserves the highest."
"Excellent. Then I understand. Silas and I shall not speak until this is over."
"I do this to protect your identity, Silas's identity, and my investment." "Your investment?" "Bishop, if your own eagerness to keep abreast of progress puts you in jail, then you will be unable to pay me my fee."
The bishop smiled. "A fine point. Our desires are in accord. Godspeed."
Twenty million euro,the bishop thought, now gazing out the plane's window. The sum was approximately the same number of U. S. dollars. A pittance for something so powerful.
He felt a renewed confidence that the Teacher and Silas would not fail. Money and faith were powerful motivators.
"Une plaisanterie numerique?" Bezu Fache was livid, glaring at Sophie Neveu in disbelief. A numeric joke?" Your professional assessment of Sauniere's code is that it is some kind of mathematical prank?"
Fache was in utter incomprehension of this woman's gall. Not only had she just barged in on Fache without permission, but she was now trying to convince him that Sauniere, in his final moments of life, had been inspired to leave a mathematical gag?
"This code," Sophie explained in rapid French," is simplistic to the point of absurdity. Jacques Sauniere must have known we would see through it immediately." She pulled a scrap of paper from her sweater pocket and handed it to Fache. "Here is the decryption." Fache looked at the card.
"This is it?" he snapped. "All you did was put the numbers in increasing order!" Sophie actually had the nerve to give a satisfied smile. "Exactly." Fache's tone lowered to a guttural rumble. "Agent Neveu, I have no idea where the hell you're going with this, but I suggest you get there fast." He shot an anxious glance at Langdon, who stood nearby with the phone pressed to his ear, apparently still listening to his phone message from the U.S. Embassy. From Langdon's ashen expression, Fache sensed the news was bad.
"Captain," Sophie said, her tone dangerously defiant," the sequence of numbers you have in your hand happens to be one of the most famous mathematical progressions in history."
Fache was not aware there even existed a mathematical progression that qualified as famous, and he certainly didn't appreciate Sophie's off-handed tone.
"This is the Fibonacci sequence," she declared, nodding toward the piece of paper in Fache's hand." A progression in which each term is equal to the sum of the two preceding terms."
Fache studied the numbers. Each term was indeed the sum of the two previous, and yet Fache could not imagine what the relevance of all this was to Sauniere's death.
"Mathematician Leonardo Fibonacci created this succession of numbers in the thirteenth-century. Obviously there can be no coincidence that all of the numbers Sauniere wrote on the floor belong to Fibonacci's famous sequence."
Fache stared at the young woman for several moments. "Fine, if there is no coincidence, would you tell me why Jacques Sauniere chose to do this. What is he saying? What does this mean?"
She shrugged. "Absolutely nothing. That's the point. It's a simplistic cryptographic joke. Like taking the words of a famous poem and shuffling them at random to see if anyone recognizes what all the words have in common."
Fache took a menacing step forward, placing his face only inches from Sophie's. "I certainly hope you have a much more satisfying explanation than that."
Sophie's soft features grew surprisingly stern as she leaned in. "Captain, considering what you have at stake here tonight, I thought you might appreciate knowing that Jacques Sauniere might be playing games with you. Apparently not. I'll inform the director of Cryptography you no longer need our services."
With that, she turned on her heel, and marched off the way she had come.
Stunned, Fache watched her disappear into the darkness. Is she out of her mind? Sophie Neveu had just redefined le suicide professionnel.
Fache turned to Langdon, who was still on the phone, looking more concerned than before, listening intently to his phone message. The U. S.Embassy.Bezu Fache despised many things... but few drew more wrath than the U. S. Embassy.
Fache and the ambassador locked horns regularly over shared affairs of state - their most common battleground being law enforcement for visiting Americans. Almost daily, DCPJ arrested American exchange students in possession of drugs, U. S. businessmen for soliciting underage Prostitutes, American tourists for shoplifting or destruction of property. Legally, the U. S. Embassy could intervene and extradite guilty citizens back to the United States, where they received nothing more than a slap on the wrist.
And the embassy invariably did just that.
L'emasculation de la Police Judiciaire, Fache called it. Paris Match had run a cartoon recently depicting Fache as a police dog, trying to bite an American criminal, but unable to reach because it was chained to the U. S. Embassy.
Not tonight, Fache told himself. There is far too much at stake.
By the time Robert Langdon hung up the phone, he looked ill. "Is everything all right?" Fache asked. Weakly, Langdon shook his head.
Bad news from home, Fache sensed, noticing Langdon was sweating slightly as Fache took back his cell phone.
"An accident," Langdon stammered, looking at Fache with a strange expression. "A friend..." He hesitated. "I'll need to fly home first thing in the morning."
Fache had no doubt the shock on Langdon's face was genuine, and yet he sensed another emotion there too, as if a distant fear were suddenly simmering in the American's eyes. "I'm sorry to hear that," Fache said, watching Langdon closely. "Would you like to sit down?" He motioned toward one of the viewing benches in the gallery.
Langdon nodded absently and took a few steps toward the bench. He paused, looking more confused with every moment. "Actually, I think I'd like to use the rest room."
Fache frowned inwardly at the delay. "The rest room. Of course. Let's take a break for a few minutes." He motioned back down the long hallway in the direction they had come from. "The rest rooms are back toward the curator's office."
Langdon hesitated, pointing in the other direction toward the far end of the Grand Gallery corridor." I believe there's a much closer rest room at the end."
Fache realized Langdon was right. They were two thirds of the way down, and the Grand Gallery dead-ended at a pair of rest rooms. "Shall I accompany you?"
Langdon shook his head, already moving deeper into the gallery. "Not necessary. I think I'd like a few minutes alone."