Fache sprinted down the Grand Gallery as Collet's radio blared over the distant sound of the alarm.
"He jumped!" Collet was yelling. "I'm showing the signal out on Place du Carrousel! Outside the bathroom window! And it's not moving at all! Jesus, I think Langdon has just committed suicide!"
Fache heard the words, but they made no sense. He kept running. The hallway seemed never-ending. As he sprinted past Sauniere's body, he set his sights on the partitions at the far end of the Denon Wing. The alarm was getting louder now.
"Wait!" Collet's voice blared again over the radio. "He's moving! My God, he's alive. Langdon's moving!"
Fache kept running, cursing the length of the hallway with every step.
"Langdon's moving faster!" Collet was still yelling on the radio. "He's running down Carrousel. Wait... he's picking up speed. He's moving too fast!"
Arriving at the partitions, Fache snaked his way through them, saw the rest room door, and ran for it.
The walkie-talkie was barely audible now over the alarm. "He must be in a car! I think he's in a car! I can't - "
Collet's words were swallowed by the alarm as Fache finally burst into the men's room with his gun drawn. Wincing against the piercing shrill, he scanned the area.
The stalls were empty. The bathroom deserted. Fache's eyes moved immediately to the shattered window at the far end of the room. He ran to the opening and looked over the edge. Langdon was nowhere to be seen. Fache could not imagine anyone risking a stunt like this. Certainly if he had dropped that far, he would be badly injured.
The alarm cut off finally, and Collet's voice became audible again over the walkie-talkie. "... moving south... faster... crossing the Seine on Pont du Carrousel!" Fache turned to his left. The only vehicle on Pont du Carrousel was an enormous twin-bed Trailor delivery truck moving southward away from the Louvre. The truck's open-air bed was covered with a vinyl tarp, roughly resembling a giant hammock. Fache felt a shiver of apprehension. That truck, only moments ago, had probably been stopped at a red light directly beneath the rest room window.
An insane risk, Fache told himself. Langdon had no way of knowing what the truck was carrying beneath that tarp. What if the truck were carrying steel? Or cement? Or even garbage? A forty-foot leap? It was madness.
"The dot is turning!" Collet called. "He's turning right on Pont des Saints-Peres!"
Sure enough, the Trailor truck that had crossed the bridge was slowing down and making a right turn onto Pont des Saints-Peres. So be it, Fache thought. Amazed, he watched the truck disappear around the corner. Collet was already radioing the agents outside, pulling them off the Louvre perimeter and sending them to their patrol cars in pursuit, all the while broadcasting the truck's changing location like some kind of bizarre play-by-play.
It's over, Fache knew. His men would have the truck surrounded within minutes. Langdon was not going anywhere.
Stowing his weapon, Fache exited the rest room and radioed Collet. "Bring my car around. I want to be there when we make the arrest."
As Fache jogged back down the length of the Grand Gallery, he wondered if Langdon had even survived the fall.
Not that it mattered.
Langdon ran. Guilty as charged.
Only fifteen yards from the rest room, Langdon and Sophie stood in the darkness of the Grand Gallery, their backs pressed to one of the large partitions that hid the bathrooms from the gallery. They had barely managed to hide themselves before Fache had darted past them, gun drawn, and disappeared into the bathroom.
The last sixty seconds had been a blur.
Langdon had been standing inside the men's room refusing to run from a crime he didn't commit, when Sophie began eyeing the plate-glass window and examining the alarm mesh running through it. Then she peered downward into the street, as if measuring the drop. "With a little aim, you can get out of here," she said. Aim? Uneasy, he peered out the rest room window.
Up the street, an enormous twin-bed eighteen-wheeler was headed for the stoplight beneath the window. Stretched across the truck's massive cargo bay was a blue vinyl tarp, loosely covering the truck's load. Langdon hoped Sophie was not thinking what she seemed to be thinking.
"Sophie, there's no way I'm jump - "Take out the tracking dot." Bewildered, Langdon fumbled in his pocket until he found the tiny metallic disk. Sophie took it from him and strode immediately to the sink. She grabbed a thick bar of soap, placed the tracking dot on top of it, and used her thumb to push the disk down hard into the bar. As the disk sank into the soft surface, she pinched the hole closed, firmly embedding the device in the bar.
Handing the bar to Langdon, Sophie retrieved a heavy, cylindrical trash can from under the sinks. Before Langdon could protest, Sophie ran at the window, holding the can before her like a battering ram. Driving the bottom of the trash can into the center of the window, she shattered the glass.
Alarms erupted overhead at earsplitting decibel levels.
"Give me the soap!" Sophie yelled, barely audible over the alarm. Langdon thrust the bar into her hand. Palming the soap, she peered out the shattered window at the eighteen-wheeler idling below. The target was plenty big - an expansive, stationary tarp - and it was less than ten feet from the side of the building. As the traffic lights prepared to change, Sophie took a deep breath and lobbed the bar of soap out into the night.
The soap plummeted downward toward the truck, landing on the edge of the tarp, and sliding downward into the cargo bay just as the traffic light turned green.
"Congratulations," Sophie said, dragging him toward the door. "You just escaped from the Louvre."
Fleeing the men's room, they moved into the shadows just as Fache rushed past.
Now, with the fire alarm silenced, Langdon could hear the sounds of DCPJ sirens tearing away from the Louvre. A police exodus.Fache had hurried off as well, leaving the Grand Gallery deserted.
"There's an emergency stairwell about fifty meters back into the Grand Gallery," Sophie said. "Now that the guards are leaving the perimeter, we can get out of here."
Langdon decided not to say another word all evening. Sophie Neveu was clearly a hell of a lot smarter than he was.
The Church of Saint-Sulpice, it is said, has the most eccentric history of any building in Paris. Built over the ruins of an ancient temple to the Egyptian goddess Isis, the church possesses an architectural footprint matching that of Notre Dame to within inches. The sanctuary has played host to the baptisms of the Marquis de Sade and Baudelaire, as well as the marriage of Victor Hugo. The attached seminary has a well-documented history of unorthodoxy and was once the clandestine meeting hall for numerous secret societies.
Tonight, the cavernous nave of Saint-Sulpice was as silent as a tomb, the only hint of life the faint smell of incense from mass earlier that evening. Silas sensed an uneasiness in Sister Sandrine's demeanor as she led him into the sanctuary. He was not surprised by this. Silas was accustomed to people being uncomfortable with his appearance.
"You're an American," she said.
"French by birth," Silas responded. "I had my calling in Spain, and I now study in the United States."
Sister Sandrine nodded. She was a small woman with quiet eyes. "And you have never seen Saint- Sulpice?"
"I realize this is almost a sin in itself." "She is more beautiful by day." "I am certain. Nonetheless, I am grateful that you would provide me this opportunity tonight." "The abbe requested it. You obviously have powerful friends." You have no idea, Silas thought.
As he followed Sister Sandrine down the main aisle, Silas was surprised by the austerity of the sanctuary. Unlike Notre Dame with its colorful frescoes, gilded altar-work, and warm wood, Saint- Sulpice was stark and cold, conveying an almost barren quality reminiscent of the ascetic cathedrals of Spain. The lack of decor made the interior look even more expansive, and as Silasgazed up into the soaring ribbed vault of the ceiling, he imagined he was standing beneath the hull of an enormous overturned ship.
A fitting image, he thought. The brotherhood's ship was about to be capsized forever. Feeling eager to get to work, Silas wished Sister Sandrine would leave him. She was a small woman whom Silas could incapacitate easily, but he had vowed not to use force unless absolutely necessary. She is a woman of the cloth, and it is not her fault the brotherhood chose her church as a hiding place for their keystone.She should not be punished for the sins of others.
"I am embarrassed, Sister, that you were awoken on my behalf."
"Not at all. You are in Paris a short time. You should not miss Saint-Sulpice. Are your interests in the church more architectural or historical?"
"Actually, Sister, my interests are spiritual."
She gave a pleasant laugh. "That goes without saying. I simply wondered where to begin your tour."
Silas felt his eyes focus on the altar. "A tour is unnecessary. You have been more than kind. I can show myself around."
"It is no trouble," she said. "After all, I am awake."
Silas stopped walking. They had reached the front pew now, and the altar was only fifteen yards away. He turned his massive body fully toward the small woman, and he could sense her recoil as she gazed up into his red eyes. "If it does not seem too rude, Sister, I am not accustomed to simply walking into a house of God and taking a tour. Would you mind if I took some time alone to pray before I look around?"
Sister Sandrine hesitated. "Oh, of course. I shall wait in the rear of the church for you."
Silas put a soft but heavy hand on her shoulder and peered down. "Sister, I feel guilty already for having awoken you. To ask you to stay awake is too much. Please, you should return to bed. I can enjoy your sanctuary and then let myself out."
She looked uneasy. "Are you sure you won't feel abandoned?" "Not at all. Prayer is a solitary joy." "As you wish." Silas took his hand from her shoulder. "Sleep well, Sister. May the peace of the Lord be with you." "And also with you." Sister Sandrine headed for the stairs. "Please be sure the door closes tightly on your way out."
"I will be sure of it." Silas watched her climb out of sight. Then he turned and knelt in the front pew, feeling the cilice cut into his leg.
Dear God, I offer up to you this work I do today... .
Crouching in the shadows of the choir balcony high above the altar, Sister Sandrine peered silently through the balustrade at the cloaked monk kneeling alone. The sudden dread in her soul made it hard to stay still. For a fleeting instant, she wondered if this mysterious visitor could be the enemy they had warned her about, and if tonight she would have to carry out the orders she had been holding all these years. She decided to stay there in the darkness and watch his every move.
Emerging from the shadows, Langdon and Sophie moved stealthily up the deserted Grand Gallery corridor toward the emergency exit stairwell.
As he moved, Langdon felt like he was trying to assemble a jigsaw puzzle in the dark. The newest aspect of this mystery was a deeply troubling one: The captain of the Judicial Police is trying to frame me for murder
"Do you think," he whispered," that maybe Fache wrote that message on the floor?" Sophie didn't even turn. "Impossible." Langdon wasn't so sure. "He seems pretty intent on making me look guilty. Maybe he thought writing my name on the floor would help his case?"
"The Fibonacci sequence? The P. S. ? All the Da Vinci and goddess symbolism? That had to be my grandfather."
Langdon knew she was right. The symbolism of the clues meshed too perfectly - the pentacle, TheVitruvian Man, Da Vinci, the goddess, and even the Fibonacci sequence. A coherent symbolic set, as iconographers would call it. All inextricably tied.
"And his phone call to me this afternoon," Sophie added. "He said he had to tell me something. I'm certain his message at the Louvre was his final effort to tell me something important, something he thought you could help me understand."
Langdon frowned. O, Draconian devil! Oh, lame saint! He wished he could comprehend the message, both for Sophie's well-being and for his own. Things had definitely gotten worse since he first laid eyes on the cryptic words. His fake leap out the bathroom window was not going to help Langdon's popularity with Fache one bit. Somehow he doubted the captain of the French police would see the humor in chasing down and arresting a bar of soap. "The doorway isn't much farther," Sophie said." Do you think there's a possibility that the numbers in your grandfather's message hold the key to understanding the other lines?" Langdon had once worked on a series of Baconian manuscripts that contained epigraphical ciphers in which certain lines of code were clues as to how to decipher the other lines.
"I've been thinking about the numbers all night. Sums, quotients, products. I don't see anything. Mathematically, they're arranged at random. Cryptographic gibberish."
"And yet they're all part of the Fibonacci sequence. That can't be coincidence."
"It's not. Using Fibonacci numbers was my grandfather's way of waving another flag at me - like writing the message in English, or arranging himself like my favorite piece of art, or drawing a pentacle on himself. All of it was to catch my attention."
"The pentacle has meaning to you?"
"Yes. I didn't get a chance to tell you, but the pentacle was a special symbol between my grandfather and me when I was growing up. We used to play Tarot cards for fun, and my indicator card always turned out to be from the suit of pentacles. I'm sure he stacked the deck, but pentacles got to be our little joke."