Chapter no 5

The Lost Symbol

THE WORLD’S largest and most technologically advanced museum is also one of the world’s best-kept secrets. It houses more pieces than the Hermitage, the Vatican Museum, and the New York Metropolitan … combined. Yet despite its magnificent collection, few members of the public are ever invited inside its heavily guarded walls.

Located at 4210 Silver Hill Road just outside of Washington, D.C., the museum is a massive zigzag-shaped edifice constructed of five interconnected pods—each pod larger than a football field. The building’s bluish metal exterior barely hints at the strangeness within—a six-hundred-thousand-square-foot alien world that contains a “dead zone,” a “wet pod,” and more than twelve miles of storage cabinets.

Tonight, scientist Katherine Solomon was feeling unsettled as she drove her white Volvo up to the building’s main security gate.

The guard smiled. “Not a football fan, Ms. Solomon?” He lowered the volume on the Redskins play-off pregame show.

Katherine forced a tense smile. “It’s Sunday night.” “Oh, that’s right. Your meeting.”

“Is he here yet?” she asked anxiously.

He glanced down at his paperwork. “I don’t see him on the log.”

“I’m early.” Katherine gave a friendly wave and continued up the winding access road to her usual parking spot at the bottom of the small, two-tiered lot. She began collecting her things and gave herself a quick check in the rearview mirror—more out of force of habit than actual vanity.

Katherine Solomon had been blessed with the resilient Mediterranean skin of her ancestry, and even at fifty years old she had a smooth olive complexion. She used almost no makeup and wore her thick black hair unstyled and down. Like her older brother, Peter, she had gray eyes and a slender, patrician elegance.

You two might as well be twins, people often told them.

Their father had succumbed to cancer when Katherine was only seven, and she had little memory of him. Her brother, eight years Katherine’s senior and only fifteen when

their father died, had begun his journey toward becoming the Solomon patriarch much sooner than anyone had ever dreamed. As expected, though, Peter had grown into the role with the dignity and strength befitting their family name. To this day, he still watched over Katherine as though they were just kids.

Despite her brother’s occasional prodding, and no shortage of suitors, Katherine had never married. Science had become her life partner, and her work had proven more fulfilling and exciting than any man could ever hope to be. Katherine had no regrets.

Her field of choice—Noetic Science—had been virtually unknown when she first heard of it, but in recent years it had started opening new doors of understanding into the power of the human mind.

Our untapped potential is truly shocking.

Katherine’s two books on Noetics had established her as a leader in this obscure field, but her most recent discoveries, when published, promised to make Noetic Science a topic of mainstream conversation around the world.

Tonight, however, science was the last thing on her mind. Earlier in the day, she had received some truly upsetting information relating to her brother. I still can’t believe it’s true. She’d thought of nothing else all afternoon.

A pattering of light rain drummed on her windshield, and Katherine quickly gathered her things to get inside. She was about to step out of her car when her cell phone rang.

She checked the caller ID and inhaled deeply.

Then she tucked her hair behind her ears and settled in to take the call.

Six miles away, Mal’akh was moving through the corridors of the U.S. Capitol Building with a cell phone pressed to his ear. He waited patiently as the line rang.

Finally, a woman’s voice answered. “Yes?” “We need to meet again,” Mal’akh said.

There was a long pause. “Is everything all right?” “I have new information,” Mal’akh said.

“Tell me.”

Mal’akh took a deep breath. “That which your brother believes is hidden in D.C ….?” “Yes?”

“It can be found.”

Katherine Solomon sounded stunned. “You’re telling me—it is real?”

Mal’akh smiled to himself. “Sometimes a legend that endures for centuries … endures for a reason.”

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