The Da Vinci Cod

July 9, 2006 at 1:09 am Leave a comment

“All persons, both living and dead, are purely coincidental, and should not be construed” etc.


Jean Garlique ran down the long, dark hallways of the Louvre. His heart thudded like a hammer. He knew there was no escape.

“There is no escape,” his assassin had said at their confrontation, and Jean was generally a trusting person.

On hearing those words, Jean had turned around and looked the assassin in the face. A pair of dark, evil eyes had stared back at him. Fish eyes.

“You… have the head of a fish!” Jean exclaimed.

The fish man pulled back his hood. Scales ran down his neck. Slime dripped from them.

“Die!” the fish man exclaimed.

Jean sagged against a wall and reflected. I never had a chance. The fish man had forced him to eat barbecued food. Jean knew about the research. The carcinogens would kill him within sixty to a hundred years.

He thought about how he would use the time he had left. At least I still have time to put together a ludicrously complex series of clues, he thought.

Chapter 1

Professor Sean Hunkman, Professor of Riddlology at Harvard University, looked across the room. Everyone was attentive and bright-eyed. He began with his trademark opening:

“Good morning students, my name is Professor Hunkman. We don’t know one another yet, but I’m confident you’ll find me to be a handsome, rugged and remarkably intelligent alpha-male figure. Before we begin today’s lecture, I’d like to give you a more lengthy physical description of myself…”

A sharp knock at the door interrupted Hunkman.

“Sean come quick!” exclaimed his secretary. “There’s been a murder in Paris!”

Chapter 2

Hunkman raced down the corridor, adrenaline pumping through his veins. He wasn’t ready for all this yet. Goddammit! Suddenly an idea struck him like a lightning bolt. He burst into an undergraduate French class.

“I need a sidekick… NOW!” he shouted. “Put your hand up if you want the job.” Eager hands went up all over the classroom. Only one girl didn’t volunteer for this dangerous adventure. Hunkman knew from his wealth of experience that only a girl with real courage and intelligence would dare to use reverse psychology on him like this.

“You!” said Hunkman, and pointed at the mysterious girl. Everyone gaped.

“But I can only speak Franglais,” the girl said. “I would just seem like a token foreigner.”

“Never mind, come anyway,” Hunkman said.

“So Indiana, can I call you Indy?” the girl said after they had left the room. Hunkman stared at her, entranced by her beauty and confidence despite her obviously inferior intellect. Suddenly the question registered.

“Oh, erm, well actually for copyright reasons you have to call me Sean,” said Hunkman. “You can only call me Indy off-page.”

“Ohh, je understand.”

“What’s your name by the way?” Hunkman inquired.


“Right Hélène, let’s go to your home town of Paris.”

Chapter 3

Hunkman stood at the window of Garlique’s office in the Louvre, watching as the sun set behind the Eiffel Tower and illuminated the Arc de Triomphe with a golden light. Beautiful, he thought. The exact opposite of that corpse behind me. Hunkman suddenly remembered and turned around.

Garlique had used his own body to leave a clue. He lay prostrate and naked, with his whole body painted silver and with plastic fins taped to his back and feet. His face was smeared with some kind of yellow, pus-like substance. Hélène put some on her finger and tasted it.

“Tartar sauce,” she said. But what could it all mean?

“Intriguing,” Hunkman thought aloud. He knew that Garlique would have left some kind of message for him, but he didn’t know how. Hunkman didn’t have time to look at the open laptop, the notepad, or the message on A4 lined paper hanging from the doorframe in front of his face. He had to play a hunch. He looked closely at Garlique’s head.

“That wig… it’s encrypted!” Hunkman exclaimed.

Chapter 4

Hunkman carefully separated the hairs from their precise pattern. It was a classic technique developed during the Crusades to pass Holy secrets from wig to wig. Hunkman had to read every last knot and strand. It took him several hours and he worked up a manly sweat. Suddenly he stood up.

“Here’s the message then,” he began. He read the message aloud:


“Merde! It’s a cryptic clue,” Hélène said dejectedly.

“It’s a riddle alright,” Hunkman said. “The kind of riddle only a Professor of Riddlology could solve.” Hunkman stared intensely at every line and every letter. Come on Sean, you still got it, he thought. Blood pulsed through his temples. He took deep breaths.

“It means we have to go somewhere,” he concluded, looking at Hélène.


“Come on Hélène, we’re going to New York so I can think about this more carefully.”

Chapter 5

Hunkman’s New York hotel room was sparse but stylish. Nearly all the room was taken up by the four-poster bed that he took everywhere with him. The rest of the space was filled with riddlological equipment. Hunkman was crouched over his electronic Debiblifier, looking depressed.

“It’s not in the Book of Job then…” he mumbled, noticing the latest readout.

“Is there any way je t’aide?” Hélène said, massaging his shoulders.

“Hmm… there could still be hope. There’s something that I think could maximise my riddlological powers.”

“Oh?” Hélène raised an eyebrow.

“Yes… passionate lovemaking.”

Chapter 6

Hunkman turned his head on the pillow, and looked at the young, naked, Gallic beauty panting on the bed beside him.

Ahh, he thought. Now I remember why I became a lecturer. Suddenly Hélène sat up. “So what have you come up with then?” she asked.


“About the riddle?”

“Oh right yeah… erm, Knights Templar, Golden Ratio, Moon banks Swiss landings…”

“Oh Sean! Tu es so clever! Mais quelle does this mean?”

“We’re going to Madagascar!”

Chapter 7

Hunkman cut through the undergrowth that was all around him. The jungle was hot like an oven.

“Mamma mia! This jungle sure is hot,” Hélène remarked.

They had been searching through the jungle for nearly three hours. Hunkman looked puzzled. If there was anything in this country we would have found it by now, he thought.

At that moment, Hélène stepped on a loose palm leaf and the ground gave way beneath her. She froze and her legs turned to jelly. She knew she had fallen into a trap. As she fell, Hunkman’s eyes went wide. His jaw dropped and his blood ran cold like a fridge. Hélène gripped the edge of the pit. Her feet hung inches above a bed of metal spikes. They were sharp like daggers. She couldn’t hold on for long.

Chapter 8

Hunkman pulled her up and they carried on walking.

“That odd little interlude got me thinking,” Hunkman said. He furrowed his brow. Hélène looked up at him curiously. “The riddle says, ‘You’ll find out everything if you go to Madagascar’,” Hunkman said.


“But who said it has to be the country Madagascar?” The idea was like a light bulb switching on in Hunkman’s head.

“C’est crazy!”

“Think about it. What if the riddle actually refers to the evil English fish magnate, Michael Adagascar?”

Hélène gasped. She put her hand over her mouth. “You’ll find out everything if you go to M. Adagascar…” she said.

“Exactly.” Hunkman replied. How could I not have seen it before?

They raced back through the jungle. Hunkman’s heart thudded like a hammer. The next direct flight from Madagascar to London left at 5pm – in thirty minutes. They had to catch it if they were going to reach London by nightfall.

Chapter 9

On board the plane, Hunkman explained the threat they were up against. Hélène could not believe her ears.

“So Adagascar est one of les Knights Templar?” she asked.

“It looks like it. Adagascar keeps his money with an exclusive Swiss bank: Gnikhts Remplat. For centuries conspiracy theorists have claimed that the bank is connected to the Knights Templar, but they never had any evidence… until now.”

“So Gnikhts Remplat is bankrolling the Knights Templar?”

“Gnikhts Remplat is the Knights Templar, Hélène. Look at this…” Hunkman pulled out a pen and paper from his jacket pocket. He spelled out the words:


“What’s that for?” Hélène inquired.

“Look closely,” Hunkman said, “And you’ll see… it’s an anagram.”

Hélène’s jaw dropped. “Mon Dieu!” she exclaimed.

Chapter 10

The aircraft landed just in time for Hunkman to watch the sun set behind the majestic London skyline. He braced himself against the cold midsummer air. As the towers of London Bridge glowed orange in the light, Hunkman glanced up at Big Ben: 8.26pm GMT. At 10pm Michael Adagascar would leave town to attend a meeting at Knights Templar HQ. We have to work fast, Hunkman thought. Hunkman and Hélène jumped into a taxi and headed for Adagascar Mansions.

Hélène was puzzled. Her brow was furrowed. “What’s Adagascar got to with all this?” she wondered aloud.

“Our friend Michael isn’t just the regular kind of Knight Templar you meet every day,” replied Hunkman. “He’s with the Order of the Monkfish.”

“Le what de la what?”

Hunkman was startled: “You’ve never heard of the Order of the Monkfish? They’re the secret enforcers of the will of the Knights Templar. They do the dirty work of the Catholic religion. You’ve never wondered where the word ‘monk’ comes from?”

“Well… non.”

“It’s a shortened form of the word ‘monkfish’… just like the word ‘fish’. The Order of the Monkfish predates both. They killed Lincoln, JFK, Pope John Paul II…”

“Don’t you mean…”

“No, I always mean what I say Hélène.” Hunkman looked sternly. “Didn’t something about John Paul II’s death strike you as a little convenient? A little sudden?”

“But, erm…”

“Shut up, we’re here.” Hunkman said.

Chapter 11

Hunkman rang the doorbell at Adagascar Mansions. When the door opened, he saw a familiar face. It was a character he’d met in the prequel you haven’t read. But the face was also familiar for another reason: it was a face he’d seen in every fish market in every fishing village all over the world – the face of a fish. Hélène gaped, while Hunkman narrowed his eyes like a hawk.

“So we meet again, Mr. Hunkman,” the fish man said.

“I hope you’re ready to get battered,” Hunkman quipped menacingly.

“It’s un enormous poisson!” Hélène exclaimed.

“Not quite, Hélène,” Hunkman replied. “He’s half human… don’t ask.”

At that moment the fish man pulled out a dagger. It was sharp like a metal spike. He lunged at Hélène.

“Duck!” Hunkman yelled. Hélène dodged away and Hunkman parried the thrust with his bare hand. Manly blood ran down his arm.

“What is that thing?” Hélène squealed while the men continued to grapple like stags. Hunkman punched hard, but his blows just slipped off the fish man’s oily skin.

“An assassin for the Order of the Monkfish,” Hunkman answered between punches. “If I remember correctly from my research, his name is Steve.”

The fish man narrowed his huge eyes evilly. “Actually, I prefer to be called St… erm… wait, you got it right. You… you know my name.” The fish man froze like an ice cube. A tear appeared in his eye and he began to sob like a baby. “No-one ever cares about me… you’re the first one who…”

Hunkman took his chance. He spotted the kitchen just to the left of the lobby. He ran through the front door and pushed Steve into the kitchen. Hunkman had to act on instinct. Out of the corner of his eye he saw a bubbling deep fat fryer. How ironic, he thought. He threw Steve into it and watched him gradually cook through. He wiped his hands, winked at the chef and went back to the lobby.

“Come on Hélène. We’ve got bigger fish to fry,” he quipped.

Chapter 12

Hunkman and Hélène sprinted up the ornate stairs leading to Michael Adagascar’s study. Adrenaline flowed in their blood and their pulses raced. It seems like only yesterday I was an undergraduate French student, Hélène thought. But she knew she had to put those thoughts out of her head. It was time for the final showdown. When they stopped outside the door to the study, she listened attentively with wide eyes as Hunkman explained his elaborate plan.

“It’s all in the riddle,” Hunkman said. “Remember: ‘There’s something fishy in M. Adagascar’. I’m willing to bet that means Adagascar is keeping some kind of secret artefact kept inside his bowels… something so precious that the only way to protect it is to eat it every day. If we can get it out, we’ll find all the answers we’ve been looking for.”

Hélène looked puzzled. “And how are tu going to do that?” she said.

“All I have to do is trick him into ingesting these laxatives,” Hunkman said, holding up a bottle of tablets. “That shouldn’t be too hard, thanks to my amazing powers of persuasion.”

Hunkman dissolved the tablets in a glass of wine he had fetched from the kitchen, and strolled calmly into Adagascar’s study.

“Hello…” Adagascar said, slowly looking up from his desk and adjusting his spectacles.

“Good evening Michael. So good to see you here. Can I offer you a drink?”

“What? No… this is my house.”

Goddammit! Hunkman thought. I’ve underestimated him… this guy knows every trick in the book!

“OK, what do we do now?” Hélène inquired from behind the door. Hunkman went back and they whispered to each other. Adagascar looked on, raising his eyebrows.

“Don’t worry Hélène, I have a Plan B.” Hunkman whispered. “It’s complicated and will require careful coordination. I’ll do the hard bit, but I need your help.” They discussed the details of the plan and went back into the study. Suddenly Hunkman rushed up to Adagascar.

“RAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRR,” he yelled. Adagascar jumped and then fainted. “Right Hélène, now you pull his trousers down.”

Hélène shrugged and walked over to the desk. She carefully examined the turd. After a few minutes she stood up triumphantly. She handed the artifact to Hunkman with awe on her face and poo on her hands.

“Mon Dieu!” she whispered. She was dumbstruck. The artifact was a mummified fish.

“Fascinating,” Hunkman thought aloud, unwrapping the fish. “It’s some kind of cod… in the shape of Leonardo Da Vinci.”


Adagascar began to wake up. His eyes opened and he began to rectify his trouser problem.

“But… Da Vinci… how?” Hélène said as her jaw dropped to the floor. “That’s some coincidence.”

“Ahahahaha!” Adagascar squealed with a high-pitched, girlish laugh. “You young, naïve, Gallic fool! In the real world, there are no coincidences. Everything is ridiculously contrived.”

Hunkman knocked him out again. “He’s right. This is no coincidence. It looks too much like the real thing. This is Da Vinci, shrivelled up by centuries of mummification. That’s the secret: Da Vinci was a fish.”

Hélène stared, wide-eyed. Hunkman knew her jaw was at risk from overdropping and could fall off completely, but he had to keep going.

“That’s not all Hélène. My research has shown conclusively that Da Vinci is descended directly from Jesus Christ. If Da Vinci was a fish… it’s a genetic certainty that Jesus was too. The whole Christian religion is based on a lie. It explains all those miracles he did involving fish. Jesus simply tricked all his buddies into getting caught and eaten. Ironic huh?”

Hélène knew there could be no doubt. Hunkman’s argument was flawless. All the evidence supported it. She was speechless. At that moment, Hunkman noticed something else inside Adagascar’s faeces: a secret message to go with the fish. He started reading:



Hélène gaped. “Un secret message from the Knights Templar!” she exclaimed.

“Yes,” Hunkman said. “Well that certainly ends the story abruptly. You might call it a deus ex machina. That’s Latin for ‘God from the machine’ – the phrase originates from Greek theatre where a god would be lowered on to the stage to end the story abruptly.”

“Wow, I sure needed you to spell that out for me,” Hélène said.

“Well that’s what I’m here for.”

“So I guess that’s it then.” Hélène shrugged and walked towards the door. As she was about to leave, Hunkman suddenly spoke.

“Unless…” he said.


“Unless this is actually a riddle. A riddle even more complex and challenging than the previous one.”

Hélène sighed. “Right, fine, I’ll get my kit off,” she said.

Boy am I too smart for my own pants, Hunkman thought, slipping his pants off. This is gonna be a long night.



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