> Read more closely the circumstances surrounding Root's supposed death, gents.
> You ought to pick up intimations of medical fraud. I strongly doubt that
> Stephenson had any time-travel/alternate universe narrative foolishness...
Ja, I think the hooded man (p.542) must have indeed been the padre. I had dismissed that possibility, being as the doctor etherized Root, so I had a hard time believing Root had revived enough to walk out under his own power a few minutes later, but there was no one else who would have left the doctor's office. Also that explains Root's comments on page 541 about cigars. In Rudy's mysterious cigar box was alpha tetradotoxin, which would simulate death and allow Root to escape, and, as a bonus, would explain the padre's curious comments on page538.
However, that still doesnt explain the prisoner next to Randy Waterhouse. Was that the old man himself? Wouldnt Randy have thought it odd that an 80 year old guy was so up to date on cryptology? spike