Wednesday, October 04, 2006

The Ayn Rand Code

(with apologies to Terry Goodkind, Dan Brown, George RR Martin, several members of the board and the French language)

Richard Langdon awoke slowly in a strange room.

A telephone was ringing in the darkness – a tinny unfamiliar ring.

Richard was initially confused about where he was before remembering he was in Paris for a lecture to promote his book and show off his intellect to impressionable students. In fact, he had just been having a pleasant dream about the way some of the female students gazed at him adoringly as he explained some fanciful symbology when he was rudely awakened.

Richard reluctantly answered the phone.

“Yes,” he said, yawning. “I’m sorry, could you repeat that? … The police want to speak to me? Why? A murder… Jacques Rahl murdered, that’s terrible news… but why… I see symbology, expert opinion, the Louvre… Yes, I’ll be there.”

Richard put the phone down, shaken. Only a year ago he had nearly died in the Vatican trying to thwart the evil Mord Sith conspiracy and now he had the sinking feeling he was about to embark on another adventure just as dangerous, intriguing and implausible.

“Blade be true this day”, he whispered to himself.

* * * * * * * * * *

A short time later Richard Langdon approached the glass pyramid that was the famous entrance to the great museum of the Louvre. He couldn’t see anyone around so, feeling slightly foolish, he knocked on the pyramid. A French policeman appeared and opened the door.

“Bonjour, je suis Lieutenant Orignaux Fous. Êtes-vous le professeur américain que nous essayons d'obtenir à nous sommes incriminés dans le meurtre ?” the policeman asked.

Richard looked briefly confused then snapped “I don’t have time for your weirdo cultural diversity, speak English!”

The policeman glared at him briefly, then asked “Are you Richard Langdon?”

“That’s ‘Professor Richard Langdon pHd BSC SSC BBHN’ to you, but yes I am he” Richard replied arrogantly.

The policeman looked even more irritated but indicated that Langdon should follow him into the Pyramid. He lead Langdon down into the foyer of the museum then through to the Denon wing, climbing up the stairs past the Winged Victory of Samothrace statue and into the dark corridors beyond, illuminated only by red security lights.

Eventually they got to the crime scene. In the middle of one of a gallery filled with a priceless collection of some of the world’s most famous paintings there was a shockingly incongruous sight.

Jacques Rahl, respected curator of the Louvre and the man Richard had been scheduled to meet earlier in the evening (but who had never shown up to the meeting) was lying dead in the middle of the gallery floor. What made the scene even more bizarre was that Rahl’s limbs had been arranged into such positions that to somebody with Richard’s knowledge of the history of art his corpse was instantly reminiscent of Leonardo Da Vinci’s famous drawing of the Vitruvian Man.

Along with Orignaux Fous he approached the police captain who was staring at the corpse. Standing next to him was a pretty young woman who was staring anywhere but at the corpse and looking extremely sick.

The captain turned round and inspected Richard. “You must be Professor Langdon”, he said, “I am Captain Jean Reno of the Central Directorate Judicial Police. I am investigating this heinous crime and I called you here to assist us with our inquiries.”

“Of course, anything I can do,” Richard replied, “I will do anything to help you find whoever killed him. The sort of person who would brutally murder a respected academic and then arrange his body in such a way must be very dangerous and lacking in moral clarity, he must be captured.”

Captain Reno looked slightly surprised, “Professor Langdon, there is something you don’t quite understand, Jacques Rahl was fatally wounded elsewhere in the museum, but the arrangement of his body… he did this to himself.”

“I don’t understand”, Richard admitted reluctantly, saying words he tried never to use.

Reno explained, “Our coroner has provisionally determined that Jacques Rahl was wounded by an unknown assailant who partially ripped his spine out. Rahl somehow managed to get away and ran through the corridors, triggering the alarm system by pulling a painting – Cheradenine Zakalwe’s priceless masterpiece “Ninja Tyrion” - from the walls, bringing down security gates which separated him from his attacker. Anything that happened to Rahl’s body between then and the time that he died was done by him.”

The woman turned round then, looking shocked, and said, “I cannot believe that, how could someone survive so long with such severe injuries and manage to do these senseless things?”

Reno said to Richard, “This is Sophie Cypher, one of our best cryptographers. You’ll soon see why we called her in.”

Richard smiled at her, “It is unfortunate that we meet under such tragic circumstances. As to Rahl’s ability to do these things with such severe injuries, you’d be surprised what someone can do when critically wounded, why I remember the time I eviscerated Michael Baigent for suggesting I hadn’t really sold 50 million books worldwide, he still had time to phone his lawyer and sue me for plagiarism before he died.”

Reno and Sophie stared at him.

Richard realised what he had said and quickly stated “Of course I didn’t really do that, it was… err… just a joke, yes a joke, that was it, I was never convicted, just a joke, yes.”

Richard laughed. Then Jean Reno laughed. Sophie laughed. Lieutenant Orignaux laughed. All the men laughed.

“What was that about a code?” Richard asked once the communal mirth had died down.

“Look here,” Reno indicated, shining an ultraviolet torch on a section of floor next to Rahl’s body. It revealed some scrawled writing, it said:

15 42 23 8 16 4
Why A Dad Warlord Loll Nutty?
Nor Oil Dance Diva


“Jacques Rahl wrote this while he was dying, obviously it meant something important, but what?” Reno asked.

Suddenly another policeman came rushing up to Captain Reno. “Capitaine, c'est le poulet qui n'est pas un poulet, il s'est échappé! Toutes les unités doivent aider à le dépister vers le bas,” he said urgently.

Reno looked annoyed, he turned to Richard and Sophie, “Excuse me please, there is an urgent plot device I need to attend to.”

He hurried off, the rest of the police following him, leaving Richard and Sophie alone.

What happens next? Do Richard and Sophie crack the code? What does it mean? Will there be an even lazier plot device in the second chapter? To find out you'll have to wait for chapter 2 of The Ayn Rand Code


- williamjm

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