The Hidden Code

The Hidden Code

by P. J. Hoover
The Hidden Code

The Hidden Code

by P. J. Hoover


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Eleven years ago, Hannah Hawkins’ parents disappeared while traveling abroad. Presumed dead, Hannah and her uncle are shocked when a letter from her mom arrives right after Hannah’s sixteenth birthday. By piecing together cryptic hints from the note and other clues left behind, Hannah realizes her parents disappeared while trying to find the mysterious Code of Enoch, an artifact they believed could hold the key to curing disease—or creating it. Hannah’s parents had been determined to destroy the Code, no matter the cost. Now with the help of her uncle, her best friend, and another cute but not entirely trustworthy guy, Hannah sets out to discover what happened to her parents and if the Code of Enoch is real.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781944821920
Publisher: CBAY Books
Publication date: 09/10/2019
Pages: 328
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.00(d)
Age Range: 12 - 18 Years

About the Author

P. J. Hoover wanted to be a Jedi, but when that didn’t work out, she became an electrical engineer instead. She’s the award-winning author of Tut: The Story of my Immortal Life and Solstice. When not writing, P. J. practices kung fu and spends time with her family in Austin, Texas.

Read an Excerpt


"YOU SHOULD GO WITH ME TODAY," I SAY TO LUCAS AS I SLIP INTO THE booth across from him. He's dressed in black jeans and a T-shirt and has chalk covering his dark arms and hands. Scattered all over the table are his chalks, erasers, and brushes. Hanging on the wall behind us at Java Coffee is this morning's work of art, a giant decorated chalkboard complete with amazing pictures of donuts and drinks, including a cappuccino like the one that is currently letting off steam in front of me.

"A lecture at Harvard, Hannah? Really?" Lucas says, trying unsuccessfully to wipe the chalk off his hands. "Why would I want to spend my summer going to school? I do that all year."

"It's one day," I say, tucking the bangs I'm growing out into the knit hat that's supposed to hold them off my face. They're still too short to reach the two ponytails I always wear. "Only a few hours actually. And Uncle Randall's giving it."

"It's still school," Lucas says. "And nothing you say is going to convince me otherwise. Anyway, I got tons of work. You know that."

I do know that. Lucas busted his butt and lined up twenty different chalkboard and window decorating gigs for the next month straight, for all sorts of places around Boston, not just coffee shops.

"Speaking of which, did you see this article?" Lucas asks, shoving his cell phone in my face.

I scan the headline. Giant Pharma CEO faces expulsion from board. Bankruptcy possible.

"Amino Corp?" I say, skimming the article. "Like that should surprise anyone. That'd be awesome if they went down." I blow my again-escaped bangs out of my face.

"What do you mean?"

That's right. Lucas doesn't read online science journals like I do.

"I mean that they're the worst. Their reputation is trash. They do all sorts of illegal tests on people in third world countries without their consent. And some people even think they released that gas in Indonesia earlier this year to test some new drug they're working on."

Lucas raises his eyebrows. "Seriously?"

I shrug. "If rumors can be believed. But this is kind of proof, isn't it? A scammy company is bound to get in trouble eventually. Why do you care though? You don't like science."

"No, I don't like science," Lucas says. "But I do like getting paid. And they're one of the places I'm scheduled for next week. They have two coffee shops, and they're paying my full rate for both. They better not cancel on me." He sets the phone back on the table, getting chalk all over the screen. Then he starts to pack up his supplies.

"Maybe they'll pay you in coffee," I say.

Lucas scowls. "I don't want coffee. I want cash."

I try one last time. "If you come to the lecture with me ..." Lucas puts up a hand to stop me. "I don't want cash that bad, Hannah."

I know that Lucas isn't going to budge. He'd way rather spend the day drawing than listening to a lecture on linguistics.

Lucas drives me to Harvard in his ancient Camry. It used to be tan, but the sun and snow have faded it to where it now looks more like old camel hide instead. He weaves through campus until he gets as close to the lecture hall as possible.

"Have fun without me," Lucas says.

I straighten my knit hat once more and tighten my ponytails, pulling them over my shoulders so they hang down in front.

"It's only three hours," I say. "Not even a whole day. It's still not too late ..."

"Nope," Lucas says, then to punctuate the matter he sticks his Camry into reverse and waves.

I'm ten minutes early, but when I walk into the lecture hall, it's packed. There are only maybe a hundred seats in the entire room, and they sell out basically in the first five minutes after registration opens. Uncle Randall sees me and waves and points to a single seat up front that's still empty. I kind of don't want anyone to know I'm related to him, so I grab a seat in the back row instead. Not two seconds later, a guy about my age walks into the lecture hall and sits in the empty seat. He's got shaggy blond hair with sideburns, a gray hoodie, jeans, and dirty work boots, like he's going to hit up the nearest construction site after the lecture and build a few houses.

Uncle Randall is hooking up his computer to the projector and doing mic checks, blowing into the microphone so loudly that it nearly shatters my eardrums because the room isn't that big. Blessedly, my cappuccino has cooled off enough to drink. While I'm waiting, the guy who took my seat up front turns around and scans the room, and when his eyes find mine, they hold there for a moment. Confusion crosses his face. A weird feeling runs through me, like I should know this guy. But I've never seen him before. So I look away and act like I don't see him.

Uncle Randall gets everything working and finally dims the lights. A handful of younger kids make spooky ghost sounds but then settle down once Uncle Randall clears his throat. He clicks the slide, and a giant tower appears.

"We start with the Tower of Babel," he says, and from there he goes on to talk about the myth surrounding the tower, how all the languages of Earth are said to have sprung from that moment in time. It can't be true, but it makes for a good story to explain why there are so many different languages on Earth.

Some of what we cover isn't new to me. Linguistics is Uncle Randall's specialty. We talk about it all the time at home, and he's always putting together mysterious linguistics scavenger hunts for me. But everyone in the lecture hall, me included, is shocked when Uncle Randall shows the Ice Age map and asks where Boston is. After five wrong guesses, Uncle Randall clicks to the next slide.

"During the Ice Age, Boston was one mile under the ice," Uncle Randall says.

With the Boston winters we've had the last couple years, I think maybe the Ice Age is coming again.

"That's a lot of ice," some girl with a pink buzz cut in the third row says. "Didn't that cause a mess when it melted?"

Uncle Randall clicks to the next slide. It shows the entire world map but with much of it covered by water.

"Enter the Great Flood," Uncle Randall says with a flourish. "The single most destructive linguistics event in the history of our world. Nearly every language created to that point, every symbol, every letter, was wiped out to the extent that very little remains from before the Great Flood for us to study."

"But isn't the Flood like the Tower of Babel?" some Asian guy a couple rows ahead of me asks. "Aren't they both just myths?"

"Yes, for the Tower of Babel," Uncle Randall says. "Or at least that's a widely held popular belief. As for the Great Flood, nearly every civilization on Earth has some account of it. From the Sumerians and the Chinese to the Aztecs, all talk of a time when water flooded the earth, wiping out plants, animals, and people."

"And everything got destroyed?" the guy up front who'd looked at me earlier asks.

Uncle Randall smiles, like he's expected this question, but then he notices who's asked it. A weird moment passes where Uncle Randall looks at the kid but doesn't say anything, almost like he knows him. Then he blinks a few times and clicks to the next slide.

"Exactly what I was going to get to next," Uncle Randall says. "There are some linguistic artifacts that try to recreate what was lost." He goes on to talk about the Rosetta Stone, the Fuente Magna, the Dead Sea Scrolls. I've heard about these before. Seen pictures and documentaries about them. But then he clicks to a slide that has a picture of something I can't name.

"And then there's this beauty," Uncle Randall says. "Let me introduce you all to what is referred to as the Deluge Segment."

The slide shows a limestone colored circular piece of rock on a red backdrop with rough edges and symbols engraved all over it. There's a ruler next to it, showing us that it's only about a foot in diameter, but since the picture is head-on, I can't tell how thick it is. The picture is in color but pretty grainy, like it was taken back in the old days.

"The Deluge Segment is one of the oldest known linguistic archaeological finds ever. This piece was found by Lewis and Clark on their explorations across America, though based on the precise type of Precambrian stone the artifact is made from, there is no way that the segment originated here in America. Harvard acquired it in 1866, and for years it was on display here at the Peabody Museum."

The guy who took my seat leans forward, angling his head like he's trying to read the markings on the stone. "But not anymore?"

"Not anymore," Uncle Randall says. "It was sold to a private owner back in the eighties."

"Who?" the guy asks.

Uncle Randall narrows his eyes. "I don't know."

It's a pretty blunt response, and I immediately know why. Uncle Randall is old school. He thinks that artifacts like this should be available to everyone for studying. A private owner means that people like him can't study it anymore. We've been donating a ton of the stuff that our ancestors pilfered over the ages to museums.

"What does it say?" someone asks.

Uncle Randall zooms in so we can see the symbols up close although they still look pretty blurry. "Many of the symbols are similar to symbols we recognize from ancient civilizations, but as of yet this piece hasn't been deciphered. And now, out of the hands of experts, it probably never will be. The piece remains a mystery."

He clicks to the next slide and goes on to talk about changes in linguistics once the Roman Empire came along. Then it's on to language in the Americas. He's about to launch into what he calls his Master Chart of Alphabets when a girl walks into the room. She has on a navy blue Harvard polo shirt and tan pants, so I'm guessing she works here.

"Sorry," she says, waving at the group. "Just a message for Dr. Easton." She walks onstage and hands Uncle Randall a large manila envelope. Then she leaves the way she came. He opens the large envelope and upends it. A small yellowed envelope falls out, into his hand. Uncle Randall studies the envelope for a moment, then traces a finger over the front of it. His eyes are wide, and he looks right at me.

My heart races, but I have no idea why. It's just a piece of mail. Nothing special. Except Uncle Randall's face tells me that it's something more.

He tucks the envelope into the pocket of his jacket, but his hands are shaking. No one else probably notices, but also no one knows him better than me.

"Now where were we?" he says, clicking to the next slide.

We were at the linguistics lecture, that's where. But my mind isn't there anymore. It's spinning because I need to know what's in the envelope.


I TRY TO FIND OUT WHAT'S IN THE ENVELOPE ALL WEEK, BUT UNCLE Randall doesn't mention it and doesn't leave it sitting around for me to find. I bring it up twice at dinner, but he changes the subject. So during the day, when he's at work, I scour Easton Estate. Our house was built in another age, for another time. There are twenty-seven bedrooms, as many baths, three kitchens — though I can't for the life of me imagine why anyone would need three kitchens — a ballroom that my parents converted to a lab twenty years ago, and two guest houses on the property, though no one has lived in them since Uncle Randall moved back into the main house after my parents died. I look everywhere. The envelope is nowhere.

Saturday rolls around, which happens to be my birthday. Uncle Randall tried to throw me a big party for my sixteenth birthday, but the only celebration I wanted was to have Lucas come over for dinner and to hang out and watch cheesy movies on the Lifetime Network. A few minutes after six, he pulls up and blows the horn just to let us know he's arrived. It sounds like a bullfrog dying.

"When are you getting your permit, Hannah?" Uncle Randall asks, cringing at the sound of Lucas's horn. The lines in his forehead crease. Uncle Randall's not old, only around forty-five, but over the last few years, I've noticed a lot more of his forehead showing. My grandfather never went bald, so genetics tells me that there's a good chance Uncle Randall never will either.

"I'm signing up on Monday," I say. For the last eleven years, anytime he couldn't drive me himself, Uncle Randall has insisted on having our driver Devin take me everywhere, refusing to let me take public transportation. The small fact that Lucas has been able to take me places these last six months has been a major relief. Getting my own license will be even better. Even though Devin is pretty chill, being chauffeured around town is like having a permanent babysitter.

For my birthday, Chef Lilly, who's been with our family forever, makes all my favorites, including vegetarian meatballs, butternut squash soup, and truffle layer cake. By the end of the sixth course, I want to undo the top button of my jeans.

"Did you show Lucas the Georgia O'Keeffe yet?" Uncle Randall says as Lucas is finishing up his third piece of layer cake.

"You do not have a Georgia O'Keeffe," Lucas says, shoving the last bite into his mouth. He stands awkwardly as he tries to figure out what to do with his dessert plate. One of our maids, Sylvia, spots him and swipes it from his hands before he can take a step.

"We just got it," I say, trying to act like it's no big deal. Lucas is convinced he's somehow related to Georgia O'Keeffe though there are no records to prove it. I've been trying to do a DNA test, which would be no problem if I could actually get some of Georgia O'Keeffe's DNA. Hence the painting. I spent a god-awful amount of money on it. I'm praying there are hairs or something caught under the paint.

"Show me now, woman," he says.

I laugh, and we head off into the game room where I've hung the thing. We stop in the ballroom-turned-lab to pick up my sugar gliders, Castor and Pollux, who, now that it's night, are awake and active. Castor sits on my left shoulder, tucked under one of my ponytails, and Pollux jumps to the top of my head, like it's some sort of game.

I show Lucas the painting, and he reaches his hand out, closing his eyes and holding his fingers inches away from the canvas, like somehow he can feel the image. Artists are strange.

"So I guess you like it," I say when he's finally finished worshipping the painting.

"Just a little," Lucas says.

"I was going to give it to you," I say.

Lucas's eyes open wide. "There is no way you can —"

I put up a hand to stop him. "Don't worry. Uncle Randall says we have to give it to a museum." It was the only way Uncle Randall allowed me to buy it.

Relief seems to flow through Lucas. "Good. Because there is no way I could even afford the insurance on that thing. And you can't be giving me stuff like that. It's ..."

"... awesome?" I suggest.

"Yeah, something like that. Oh, but speaking of presents, I got you one."

"I said no presents, remember?"

"How about you buy me a print of the Georgia O'Keeffe, and we call it even?"


He hands me a small box, maybe only five inches high by seven inches wide. It's obvious that he wrapped it using whatever he could find around his house, which in this case happens to be the last Chemistry test that he took.

"You got a C?"

"I'm not you, Hannah. Remember? I wasn't born with the Periodic Table implanted in my head."

"The Periodic Table is almost like a work of art," I say. "You'd like it if you gave it a chance."

"It's had its chance," Lucas says. "And I've determined that it sucks."

"Don't diss the Periodic Table," I say.

He puts up a hand. "No disrespect meant."

I tear the paper, ripping it in half so the subpar Chemistry test becomes nothing but a memory. Inside is a picture of an eye. But not just any eye. It's my left eye, green with two dots of brown mixed in like freckles, one on the bottom and one on the left. There are eyelashes and even my eyebrow, complete with the scar running through it where I cut myself when I was three. It's printed on metal and surrounded by a black metal frame.

"This is the coolest thing I've ever seen," I say.

"It's a digital painting," Lucas says.

"It is not!"

"Would I lie?"

I hold it closer, looking for anything that looks computer generated. "You did this on the computer? How is that even possible?" Lucas tries not to look proud, but he can't hide his grin. "I've been going through a ton of tutorials. Traditional art is great, but I figured since you gave me the computer, I might as well expand my skills."

I brush my finger over the image. "I'd say you're off to a good start."

"You should see some of the other stuff I'm working on," Lucas says. "It's unbelievable what you can do with a computer. Some of those software packages are crazy awesome."

I angle my head at him and wait.

"I know," Lucas says. "This is where you say 'I told you so.'"


Excerpted from "The Hidden Code"
by .
Copyright © 2019 P. J. Hoover.
Excerpted by permission of CBAY Books.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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