Home > Inferno (Robert Langdon #4)(22)

Inferno (Robert Langdon #4)(22)
Author: Dan Brown

In the hallway, Sienna ran ahead, rushing past the elevator, which was already descending, no doubt summoned by the men now entering the lobby. She sprinted to the end of the hall and, without looking back, disappeared into the stairwell.

Langdon followed close behind, skidding on the smooth soles of his borrowed loafers. The tiny projector in the breast pocket of his Brioni suit bounced against his chest as he ran. His mind flashed on the strange letters adorning the eighth ring of hell: CATROVACER. He pictured the plague mask and the strange signature: The truth can be glimpsed only through the eyes of death.

Langdon strained to connect these disparate elements, but at the moment nothing was making sense. When he finally came to a stop on the staircase landing, Sienna was there, listening intently. Langdon could hear footsteps pounding up the stairs from below.

“Is there another exit?” Langdon whispered.

“Follow me,” she said tersely.

Sienna had kept Langdon alive once already today, and so, with little choice but to trust the woman, Langdon took a deep breath and bounded down the stairs after her.

They descended one floor, and the sounds of approaching boots grew very close now, echoing only a floor or two below them.

Why is she running directly into them?

Before Langdon could protest, Sienna grabbed his hand and yanked him out of the stairwell along a deserted hallway of apartments—a long corridor of locked doors.

There’s nowhere to hide!

Sienna flipped a light switch and a few bulbs went out, but the dim hallway did little to hide them. Sienna and Langdon were clearly visible here. The thundering footsteps were nearly upon them now, and Langdon knew their assailants would appear on the staircase at any moment, with a direct view down this hall.

“I need your jacket,” Sienna whispered as she yanked Langdon’s suit jacket off him. She then forced Langdon to crouch on his haunches behind her in a recessed doorframe. “Don’t move.”

What is she doing? She’s in plain sight!

The soldiers appeared on the staircase, rushing upward but stopping short when they saw Sienna in the darkened hallway.

“Per l’amore di Dio!” Sienna shouted at them, her tone scathing. “Cos’è questa confusione?”

The two men squinted, clearly uncertain what they were looking at.

Sienna kept yelling at them. “Tanto chiasso a quest’ora!” So much noise at this hour!

Langdon now saw that Sienna had draped his black jacket over her head and shoulders like an old woman’s shawl. She had hunched over, positioning herself to obstruct their view of Langdon crouched in the shadows, and now, utterly transformed, she hobbled one step toward them and screamed like a senile old woman.

One of the soldiers held up his hand, motioning for her to return to her apartment. “Signora! Rientri subito in casa!”

Sienna took another rickety step, shaking her fist angrily. “Avete svegliato mio marito, che è malato!”

Langdon listened in bewilderment. They woke up your ailing husband?

The other soldier now raised his machine gun and aimed directly at her. “Ferma o sparo!”

Sienna stopped short, cursing them mercilessly as she hobbled backward, away from them.

The men hurried on, disappearing up the stairs.

Not quite Shakespearean acting, Langdon thought, but impressive. Apparently a background in drama could be a versatile weapon.

Sienna removed the jacket from her head and tossed it back to Langdon. “Okay, follow me.”

This time Langdon followed without hesitation.

They descended to the landing above the lobby, where two more soldiers were just entering the elevator to go upstairs. On the street outside, another soldier stood watch beside the van, his black uniform stretched taut across his muscular body. In silence, Sienna and Langdon hurried downstairs toward the basement.

The underground carport was dark and smelled of urine. Sienna jogged over to a corner packed with scooters and motorcycles. She stopped at a silver Trike—a three-wheeled moped contraption that looked like the ungainly offspring of an Italian Vespa and an adult tricycle. She ran her slender hand beneath the Trike’s front fender and removed a small magnetized case. Inside was a key, which she inserted, and revved the engine.

Seconds later, Langdon was seated behind her on the bike. Precariously perched on the small seat, Langdon groped at his sides, looking for handgrips or something to steady himself.

“Not the moment for modesty,” Sienna said, grabbing his hands and wrapping them around her slender waist. “You’ll want to hold on.”

Langdon did exactly that as Sienna gunned the Trike up the exit ramp. The vehicle had more power than he would have imagined, and they nearly left the ground as they launched out of the garage, emerging into the early-morning light about fifty yards from the main entrance. The brawny soldier in front of the building turned at once to see Langdon and Sienna tearing away, their Trike letting out a high-pitched whine as she opened the throttle.

Perched on the back, Langdon peered back over his shoulder toward the soldier, who now raised his weapon and took careful aim. Langdon braced himself. A single shot rang out, ricocheting off the Trike’s back fender, barely missing the base of Langdon’s spine.


Sienna made a hard left at an intersection, and Langdon felt himself sliding, fighting to keep his balance.

“Lean toward me!” she shouted.

Langdon leaned forward, centering himself again as Sienna raced the Trike down a larger thoroughfare. They had driven a full block before Langdon began breathing again.

Who the hell were those men?!

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