Home > Inferno (Robert Langdon #4)(10)

Inferno (Robert Langdon #4)(10)
Author: Dan Brown

Langdon had been mesmerized by Michelangelo’s David when he first saw it as a teenager … entering the Accademia delle Belle Arti … moving slowly through the somber phalanx of Michelangelo’s crude Prigioni … and then feeling his gaze dragged upward, inexorably, to the seventeen-foot-tall masterpiece. The David’s sheer enormity and defined musculature startled most first-time visitors, and yet for Langdon, it had been the genius of David’s pose that he found most captivating. Michelangelo had employed the classical tradition of contrapposto to create the illusion that David was leaning to his right, his left leg bearing almost no weight, when, in fact, his left leg was supporting tons of marble.

The David had sparked in Langdon his first true appreciation for the power of great sculpture. Now Langdon wondered if he had visited the masterpiece during the last several days, but the only memory he could conjure was that of awakening in the hospital and watching an innocent doctor murdered before his eyes. Very sorry. Very sorry.

The guilt he felt was almost nauseating. What have I done?

As he stood at the window, his peripheral vision caught a glimpse of a laptop computer sitting on the desk beside him. Whatever had happened to Langdon last night, he suddenly realized, might be in the news.

If I can access the Internet, I might find answers.

Langdon turned toward the doorway and called out: “Sienna?!”

Silence. She was still at the neighbor’s apartment looking for clothes.

Having no doubt Sienna would understand the intrusion, Langdon opened the laptop and powered it up.

Sienna’s home screen flickered to life—a standard Windows “blue cloud” background. Langdon immediately went to the Google Italia search page and typed in Robert Langdon.

If my students could see me now, he thought as he began the search. Langdon continually admonished his students for Googling themselves—a bizarre new pastime that reflected the obsession with personal celebrity that now seemed to possess American youth.

A page of search results materialized—hundreds of hits pertaining to Langdon, his books, and his lectures. Not what I’m looking for.

Langdon restricted the search by selecting the news button.

A fresh page appeared: News results for “Robert Langdon.”

Book signings: Robert Langdon to appear …

Graduation address by Robert Langdon …

Robert Langdon publishes Symbol primer for …

The list was several pages long, and yet Langdon saw nothing recent—certainly nothing that would explain his current predicament. What happened last night? Langdon pushed on, accessing the Web site for The Florentine, an English-language newspaper published in Florence. He scanned the headlines, breaking-news sections, and police blog, seeing articles on an apartment fire, a government embezzling scandal, and assorted incidents of petty crime.

Anything at all?!

He paused at a breaking-news blurb about a city official who, last night, had died of a heart attack in the plaza outside the cathedral. The official’s name had yet to be released, but no foul play was suspected.

Finally, not knowing what else to do, Langdon logged on to his Harvard e-mail account and checked his messages, wondering if he might find answers there. All he found was the usual stream of mail from colleagues, students, and friends, much of it referencing appointments for the coming week.

It’s as if nobody knows I’m gone.

With rising uncertainty, Langdon shut down the computer and closed the lid. He was about to leave when something caught his eye. On the corner of Sienna’s desk, atop a stack of old medical journals and papers, sat a Polaroid photograph. The snapshot was of Sienna Brooks and her bearded doctor colleague, laughing together in a hospital hallway.

Dr. Marconi, Langdon thought, racked with guilt as he picked up the photo and studied it.

As Langdon replaced the photo on the stack of books, he noticed with surprise the yellow booklet on top—a tattered playbill from the London Globe Theatre. According to the cover, it was for a production of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream … staged nearly twenty-five years ago.

Scrawled across the top of the playbill was a handwritten message in Magic Marker: Sweetheart, never forget you’re a miracle.

Langdon picked up the playbill, and a stack of press clippings fell out onto the desk. He quickly tried to replace them, but as he opened the booklet to the weathered page where the clippings had been, he stopped short.

He was staring at a cast photo of the child actor portraying Shakespeare’s mischievous sprite Puck. The photo showed a young girl who could not have been more than five, her blond hair in a familiar ponytail.

The text below her photo read: A star is born.

The bio was a gushing account of a child theater prodigy—Sienna Brooks—with an off-the-chart IQ, who had, in a single night, memorized every character’s lines and, during initial rehearsals, often cued her fellow cast members. Among this five-year-old’s hobbies were violin, chess, biology, and chemistry. The child of a wealthy couple in the London suburb of Blackheath, the girl was already a celebrity in scientific circles; at the age of four, she had beat a chess grand master at his own game and was reading in three languages.

My God, Langdon thought. Sienna. That explains a few things.

Langdon recalled one of Harvard’s most famous graduates had been a child prodigy named Saul Kripke, who at the age of six had taught himself Hebrew and read all of the works of Descartes by the age of twelve. More recently, Langdon recalled reading about a young phenom named Moshe Kai Cavalin, who, at age eleven, had earned a college degree with a 4.0 grade-point average and won a national title in martial arts, and, at fourteen, published a book titled We Can Do.

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