Midnight in the Lab

This is what happened the night before Mikkel’s visit.

Gary pulled up outside the square, squat building of the University’s Archaeology Department. “Okay, we’re here, bet your pass doesn’t get us in.”

Sarah blew a raspberry at him. “It’ll get us in, and then you’ll see. The stuff we’re documenting from the Andor Barrow Dig is mad cool.”

Her boyfriend, Trevor, turned to look at where she was splayed out across the back seat. “Are you sure this is a good idea. I mean, we’re all pretty drunk—”

“You mean she’s pissed off her tits.” Gary was a pig. Why was Trevor friends with him?

She waved a hand and grabbed at the door handle. “It’ll be fine, just so long as Gary doesn’t touch anything.”

He protested. “Why are you picking on me?”

She gave him a withering glare as she stumbled out of the car. “Hammer-hands Gary? Gee, why would I not want you going near ancient relics.”

She put her hands on her hips, only swaying slightly. “So? Are you two coming? Or was this whole thing just you lot wanting to get away from the rowing team at the pub?”

Gary snorted and bounded out of the car. Well, it started as a bound, ended as a stagger. Yeah, he probably shouldn’t have driven.

Trevor clambered out a bit too carefully and wove across the grass to where she stood.

“Look, we’re really drunk and he’s probably going to break something. How about you bring us back when we’re all sober?”

Gary scowled. “Now you’re trying to cover for her. She’s just a girl, there’s no way she’s got all-hours access to the archaeology lab.”

Sarah glared, then spun, wobbled, and marched towards the heavy glass doors waiting at the top of the path.

She frowned as she got closer. Where was Bruce? Wasn’t he meant to be on this evening? And why were there no lights on in the building? There was usually at least one mad professor who’d lost track of time in pursuit of a tantalising clue in a relic, their office light glowing like a beacon to academia in the wee hours of the morning.

She swiped her card and the doors clicked open. She smirked at Gary, who shrugged. “Big deal, I bet even the pizza delivery van has building access. I know they do for the IT Department.”

Sarah rolled her eyes. “You’re allowed to feel inadequate Gaz.”

With that she strode up the main hall, heading for the dim glow of the stairwell lights. “Make sure the door’s properly closed behind you.”

She didn’t hear it click. She stopped and turned. Both men were behind her. She glared at them. “And this is why neither of you get access cards.”

She stomped around them, pulled the doors closed, then resumed her path to the stairs.

She took the left-hand stairs, heading down. Gary baulked. “You didn’t say it was the basement.”

She looked up at him from halfway down the flight. “What difference does it make?”

She smirked. “Don’t worry, we don’t have any mummies or coffins.”

Gary scowled, and started down the stairs after her, Trevor trailing the pair of them like a worried balloon.

At the bottom of the stairs, Sarah flicked the light switch. Only the emergency ones came on. Maybe there was a fuse problem and Bruce had gone to fetch the campus handyman.

She went left again, heading for a set of double doors at the end of the corridor. They were classic institutional doors, the same dull cream as the walls surrounding them, with a narrow strip of glass, inset with wire mesh near the centre edges. Sarah had never understood the point of the glass, it wasn’t like you could see anything through it.

She got to the doors and swiped her card again. There was a pause long enough for Gary to start sniggering, and then the doors swung open. The snigger was cut off by a choke.

Sarah glanced over her shoulder as she walked in. “Well? We’re here. What are you waiting for?”

She reached for the lab’s light switch. It worked. Sort of. The square bank of lights in the middle of the room came on, leaving the walls in shadow and the corners in darkness.

That didn’t matter, the interesting stuff was on the central table anyhow.

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