A Writer of Sorts
Spiggy sleeps closest to the door, so when Mook knocked, I kicked him out to answer it. Mook arrived with breakfast. Breakfast in bed is getting to be a common occurrence. I like it.
He apologised for disappearing, but my previous annoyance evaporated with the smell of bacon. Bacon is a cure all. Universal rule for dating. Give a woman flowers. Give a man bacon. Guaranteed action.
“Sorry,” he said.
“No problem. If you needed time, you needed time,” I smiled what I thought was a reassuring smile, but got one back that didn’t seem forced exactly, but certainly wasn’t as warm as they have been. I changed tack.
“Breakfast is good, thanks. How’s the leg?”
“Not being on it yesterday helped,” came his curt reply. Okay, I appear to have done something wrong. Even Spiggy is giving him strange looks. I sensed that his apology was covering something and he was just trying to smooth the waters.
“So. We found some chess sets. None of them were complete, but we can work a full set of of the ones we found. Do you want to teach me to play?”
Both Mook and Spiggy raised an eyebrow at that, but at least I got a smile from Mook.
“Sure.” he said.
Spiggy rolled his eyes and said,
“Prepare for ritual humiliation!”
Mook giggled a bit, but he’s still a little distant and not really himself.
After dressing, Spig and I cleared breakfast things away and Mook sat at the refectory table looking forlorn. I went to the boxes of junk we got yesterday and found the architectural plans that Mook wanted. I gave them to him and he beamed, unrolled them and after a quick “Thanks”, lost himself in the plans. I started to explain what we were going to do today, but he just shooed me away with a “yeah yeah” and a flick of the wrist. I will never understand how he gets excited about this stuff, but . . .
Spig and I decided we’d access the science labs today and see what was there. I went to the generator room and switched the lights on to the teaching block. We went to the entrance at the southeast end of the building and removed the barricades. As soon as the doors opened I got chills. I remembered how alive this place had been and how desolate it seems now.
But there was no time for maudlin nostalgia. We had work to do. We unblocked the double doors leading to the stairwell and then the doors leading to the second floor teaching space. We paused for a while – this time we had remembered to bring some drinks – before tackling the doors into the labs. It didn’t take long.
There wasn’t much left in the labs, just the fixed benches where we performed experiments that invariably failed. I really was rubbish at science. There were a few glass beakers but nothing particularly interesting. We went into the office and found various boxes of chemicals and more glassware but again, little of interest. The stores were almost as much a disappointment and we were just about to leave when I remembered that behind the stores was a second office. We just needed to open a locked door.
We didn’t have the keys. Spiggy just kicked the door down. However flimsy, that was another line of defence. He saw my expression and apologised. I shook my head and sighed, then walked through the door frame into the second office.
Much more interesting. There were empty tanks and jars that once housed biological specimens, either as curiosities or for dissections. They had been emptied and the specimens buried or burnt. I forget which. I didn’t work with that team but there were vegetarians, so I’m guessing it was fairly emotional whatever. Good news, though. There were many tanks and troughs that were usable for the proposed hydroponics labs.
“Are we picking anything up or just logging stuff?” Spig asked.
“Just logging for the moment.”
I took a huge intake of breath. Spiggy looked at me,
I wasn’t. Opening these rooms up . . . you try and be dispassionate and get on with the job, but like the library, this room has associations.
When the community was in full flow, the lab with the fixed tables was the only room still used for education. There were a few children here. Giving them a basic education was the least we could do. Seeing them alive with promise was a beautiful thing. Now I don’t even know if they are alive to fulfill it.
The other lab was used as sleeping quarters for whoever didn’t have a partner or a family or who just needed to feel the safety of greater numbers. This was my sleeping space for many months. When a couple of people left, I was given a room to myself by virtue of the fact that most of my ideas had been sound and been acted on. I had a way with people. They trusted me. I was pretty much the community’s counsellor.
At times it felt like the world really did revolve around me. Not in an egotistical way, I don’t mean that. I just never had a moment to myself. Ironic. No free time, but more space to spend it in.
By the time I’d finished reminiscing, Spiggy had logged everything. Like I said, there wasn’t much of interest except the tanks troughs and chemicals, there were a few beds left, but that’s pretty much it. We left. Audit completed. Barricades rebuilt.
It was my turn to lock myself in my room. The library and the labs. Too much. Good night.