It was a cold and dreary night, and Iranian cryptologist Robert al-Langdon was lying down in bed, his eyes fully opened. His eyes were opened because he couldn’t sleep, for he was still haunted by things he had seen. Terrible, terrible things.
“Al-Langdon!” a booming voice cried.
The cryptologist turned around to see a morbidly obese individual walking towards him with a smile on his face. “Yusuf!”
“Very nice to see you, old friend!” Yusuf boomed again as he squeezed his partner in a misguided attempt to give him a bear hug. “How is the world of cryptolology going for you?”
“It’s cryptology, friend,” al-Langdon corrected. “And it’s going marvelously. Why, in the past few years I’ve been involved in more global scandals than any other man or woman on the planet Earth!”
“My goodness, that sounds exciting,” Yusuf cried.
“Actually, it’s getting a bit too repetitive,” al-Langdon said. “It’s almost as if I’m a character in some deranged man’s mind and he’s sending me on all sorts of dangerous adventures because he’s too much of an intellectual coward to break new ground.”
Yusuf laughed and bear hugged his friend a second time. “Whatever the case, it is good to see you again. I need help with something.”
“Whatever it is, I’m your man,” al-Langdon said.
Yusuf gestured for al-Langdon to follow him, and brought him to a small computer sitting on a small wooden desk. He then pushed a button on the computer, which turned it on. He opened a text file and showed it to his old friend.
Al-Langdon looked at the file and read the singular word it contained. “Myrtus.”
“Yes,” Yusuf said. “We suspected someone was hacking into our computer system, and we perused through the code for our missile system and came across that one particular word. Do you know what it means?”
“Well,” al-Langdon began, “‘myrtus’ has multiple meanings. The most obvious allusion is to the flower, which is native to southern Europe and north Africa.”
“Are there any other, more discreet meanings?” Yusuf asked.
“Well, the word ‘myrtus’ is also related to Esther, the Jewish wife of King Ahasueras, but…”
“AHA!” Yusuf cried. “The Zionists! Israel is trying to hack into our missile system!”
al-Langdon thought his friend was being a little too melodramatic. “Now, hold on a second. I said it’s a possibility, I didn’t…”
“It makes perfect sense!” Yusuf cried again. “Our foreign spies in China, India, and Indonesia have found this same computer virus in those government’s systems as well! A calling card in the code could be part of a mind game, or sloppiness or whimsy from the coders!”
al-Langdon’s voice rose as he tried to calm down his friend, but it was too late.
“Quick!” Yusuf bellowed. “Somebody call The New York Times!”