Water Water – episode fourteen

[start at episode one]

A new lead

The morning after Laura’s day trip up north, she was back at her desk in St Pancras under Rani’s watchful gaze.  Rani had decided that a bit of covert surveillance was required – not that it was particularly easy to be covert in acid green leggings with coordinating accessories. There was definitely something up with her friend, who seemed distracted and out of sorts. It was the new trainee’s birthday, and an open box of Krispy Kremes had been within smelling distance of Laura for more than half an hour but she hadn’t even twitched. Nor had she commented on Rani’s extremely fabulous new leggings, which had provoked admiring glances and snorts of derision in equal measure from the rest of the team.

Rani’s eyes widened as she desperately willed Laura to look up – that old cow Olga was marching up to her desk with a hostile look in her eyes:

“This is not like you Miss Poole,” (Olga always made sure her voice carried when she was giving someone a bollocking), “I’ve found mistakes in three of the five catalogue records you’ve created so far this morning. I’ve deleted them all just in case, so you can start afresh. Ooh doughnuts, how lovely,” and taking the biggest one she stalked away.

Laura was usually so conscientious. Rani was now absolutely convinced something was afoot so she went over and crouched down next to her desk, testing to the limit the stitching on her new leggings.

“Come on madam, spill.”

“What?” Laura looked at her friend. “New leggings?”

Rani nodded.

“They’re very… tight. And green.”

Rani grinned. “I know,” she said, “but don’t change the subject. What’s up with you today? You never make mistakes, and you certainly never hold out for half an hour in the presence of Krispy Kremes.”

“There’s nothing up,” replied Laura, “I’ve just got things on my mind.”

“Things? Do you mean a man?” Rani clutched Laura’s arm in excitement.

“No of course not. Is it ever a man?”

“Fair point, you are particularly nun-like at the moment. Ever since-“

“The map guy, yes I know. Let’s not revisit that please.”

“Okay, but there’s definitely something up with you, I can tell.”

“Well I am very tired,” Laura conceded. This was an understatement, she’d hardly slept after the encounter in the sub-basement and was absolutely exhausted. “In fact,” she clicked her mouse a few times and called up a calendar on screen, “I’ve got loads of leave owing so I’m going to take some today, right now. I’ll do those corrections for Evil Olga and then I’m heading straight home. Tony won’t mind and he can square it with her when I’m safely out of here.”

Rani smiled, of course Tony wouldn’t mind. Their line manager was a librarian of the old school who’d spent the past thirty five years with the Library, starting out when it was based in the more traditional surroundings of the British Museum and now here at St Pancras. He was a big old softie who adored Laura and Rani, two of his hardest working and most reliable members of staff.

As good as her word, Laura emailed Tony her plans and set about finishing the catalogue records, without any mistakes this time. She was almost done when a porter appeared with a package for her and her tiredness evaporated as soon as she opened it and unwrapped two of the old books from the transport collection she’d requested the previous week. A note tucked inside one of the books apologised for the delay in sending them – they had been difficult to find – and explained that were only two of the six she’d asked for as the rest had been transferred to the Transport Museum Library in 1953.

1953, there it was again. Laura quickly printed off her original request and crossed off the two books she’d received in the package. She then checked the online directory and making sure she wasn’t overheard she rang the Transport Museum. The library was only open by appointment and very busy, but after hearing she was from the British Library they decided they could fit her in.  Laura put the books into her bag and packed up the rest of her things. She said goodbye to a still suspicious Rani and told her she’d be back to work in a couple of days.

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