Copyright© 2012 Angharad
All Rights Reserved.
I collected the girls from school and sent them off to do their homework after they’d had a snack and drink. I’ve nagged them so much about hanging up their clothes and putting the dirty ones into the laundry basket, they sometimes do as I ask. Just in case, as soon as they’ve changed I try to check that dirty school blouses or dresses are in the dirty basket and not just thrown on the floor or behind the bed.
Danny arrived as I came down stairs and he mouthed, ‘dormouse’ at me and I nodded. Fifteen minutes later we were off to the university to feed and check the health of the captive animals there.
It was after five by the time we got there and the laboratories are usually shut by that time out of term time, and as the new intake doesn’t start until October, I was surprised to discover the door was unlocked. It could mean someone was carrying something bulky in or out of the place, or more likely, they forgot to lock the door after then entered or left.
I locked the door after we entered. Danny must have picked up on my surprise. “Isn’t that door usually locked, Mum?”
“Yes it is.”
“It was yesterday.” He observed and looked at me as if for guidance.
I shrugged, “I don’t know why it wasn’t, it’s supposed to be, there’s thousands of pounds of equipment in here, in each lab. So keep your eyes peeled—just in case something’s going on.”
“With your reputation, Mum, nothing would surprise me.”
“And just what is that supposed to mean?” I asked with mock indignation.
That was when we heard a door shut on the floor above and we both jumped out of skins.
“What’s up there?” he hissed at me.
“Have they got lots of stuff?”
“Yes, loads of very expensive stuff.”
“C’mon, let’s take a look,” he grabbed my hand and before I could suggest this might be a mistake we were creeping up the stairs. Each floor has a set of fire doors, so they concealed any noise we might have made, but we were pretty quiet anyway.
Once up the stairs and through the doors, we had laboratories in both directions. He pointed at himself and then to the left and me to check the right end of the corridor. I was very unhappy at this, to start with he was unauthorised to be here and as a child if he saw anything, what was he supposed to do?
So I overruled him and we stayed together taking the risk that someone could escape from the opposite end of the corridor while we were at the other. I mean, we were hardly likely to stop a gang of thieves anyway, but we did have our mobile phones and they had cameras as well as a means to call the police.
The department of Biochemistry had four laboratories on this floor, two which had doors near the top of the stairs and one at each end of the corridor. Alongside the stairs is the lift or elevator as they call them in the colonies. The door of this was wedged open, which in itself is an offence—there are keys available for working the doors, so they stay open if using the lift for loads—which they’re not supposed to do anyway.
The labs have a glass panel down the side of them so you can see inside without having to open the door—handy for checking for fires I suppose. It also meant anyone in there would be able to see us as well.
It was daft, if they’d had workmen in or having new equipment why do it in the evening when the number of students is very small out of term time and is usually only post grads or staff. It didn’t make sense. I was tempted to call the security desk in the main reception, except I didn’t have its extension number and the main switchboard would be closed now.
We crept up to the doors and peered through the glass panels, of the two central labs, nothing seemed to be happening. Off to number one, up to the left. This is the main laboratory and I know they have some very nice microscopes and computers up here let alone things like centrifuges and all sorts of testing equipment.
As we approached the door we heard voices. We both froze, I actually stopped in mid stride and had to lower my foot very carefully. I pushed Danny behind me and peeped through the panel, or would have done if some big bloke hadn’t been leaning against it. We had visitors or intruders? There was no way I was going to knock and ask, but the sounds of people moving things was apparent.
I motioned to Danny to go and find the security man and ask him if anyone was supposed to be here—workmen, deliveries and so on. I explained where he had to go on the campus—which not being that big—he should manage in a few minutes. I meanwhile would hide on the stairs and keep a watching brief. If it was okay, he was to call me on my mobile and I could go back to the dormice. He nodded and took off like a scalded cat.
I stood just inside the doors on the stairs and tried to see through the glass panels what was happening at Lab one. It was difficult, but hopefully I’d see them and could sneak downstairs before they saw me.
The minutes ticked by and I hoped Danny was able to find the security office, what if he didn’t? Did I just hide and observe, or call the cops or what?
I felt a drip of sweat roll slowly down my back, under my bra strap and then down the small of my back to deposit itself presumably in the waistband of my panties—lovely—I don’t think, and I was just standing watching.
I heard a door open and what sounded like a trolley being wheeled towards me. I switched to the other side of the stairs and threw myself flat against the wall hoping they wouldn’t see me. I couldn’t really make out any faces and the conversation was either very quiet or muted by the doors.
Something was rolled into the lift and the doors closed, a moment later I heard it start to descend just as my mobile began to trill. I meant to switch it to vibrate only, instead it trilled twice before I could stop it.
I shoved it to my ear, “Mummy, the security man says get the hell out of there.” I looked up as the door to the stairs opened and a rather large man stood there.
“Um, nice weather for the time of year, don’t you think?” I said as I stepped backwards down the stairs.
He glared at me and began to descend. I could hear Danny shouting at me to get out as I stepped slowly down the steps trying to maintain eye contact with the rather large and intimidating man who was about five stairs above me. I had another dozen to clear to get to the bottom and below me I could hear the lift door opening. Oops, now what?
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