Joshua woke with a dry mouth and the hint of a headache. He rolled over, wondering why and then remembered going out to one of the campus bars with Mark after they’d eaten and finished off the beers that he’d brought round, and then leaving again when last orders were called. He rubbed his face with his hands, and then recoiled from the smell. He decided at that point he’d rather get up and washed than try and sleep for any longer and find out what else he might have put his hands in or on while he was drunk.
After his shower he skipped breakfast and went into his office. He was through the door and shifting papers on the desk to make some room before he remembered the events of the day before. He stopped and looked around the room carefully, and then he checked under the desk and inside all of the cupboards. No-one was hiding there. He looked over at the Macbook and saw that the old journal was still lying propped up against it. He picked it up and turned over the pages again, looking idly through it and wondering still where it had come from. When he reached the bookmarked pages he reached a decision: he’d photocopy the pages and then take the journal back to the library and let them deal with finding out who owned it. With any luck they might tell him who’d taken it out in the first place.
The photocopy room was more of a cupboard and contained two large photocopiers and a printer than was connected to the computer-lab next door. All the machines were card-operated, so that you couldn’t get a print-out or make a photocopy without touching an RFID-enabled card against a reader first. As usual there was a short queue of students outside the room waiting for their turn to get their print-outs from the printer. One of the photocopiers was occupied by Sheila, a department secretary who knew Joshua slightly. She grinned at him when he came in; she was younger than him and liked to tell him about her nights out in the campus bars and nightclubs whenever he popped into her office. She looked a little dishevelled this morning, and he guessed that she’d been out the night before too.
“Hi Josh,” she said, pushing a hand through her hair. It was thick and blonde with dark roots. “I must look a mess, right?”
“No, of course not,” he said. He fumbled in his pocket for his card. “Where were you last night then?”
“Oh, I think we started in the Ivy,” she said, naming a bar near the student accommodation. “There was a band playing and we wanted to see if they were any good. They weren’t.” She giggled a little. “After that we went on to the Cavern and we were going to go off-campus and maybe go by the Aquarium but it got late and we couldn’t be bothered so we just stayed in the Cavern till the end.”
“Mark and I went to the Campus Pub,” said Josh. The Campus Pub was decorated in the style of an olde Englishe pub and tended to attract post-docs and lecturers except at the beginning and end of terms when all the bars struggled to cope with all of the students being out at once. “I wasn’t going to out at all, but he made me.”
“Oh, if I’d known you were going out I’d have invited you to join us! It was a bit dull anyway, my sister came out but she’s always complaining about her job these days. And her boyfriend’s a bit –“ she mimed gagging. Josh smiled. He opened the journal and laid it on the glass plate of the photocopier.
“What’s that then?” asked Sheila. “I’ve just got twenty-four copies of the report to make for the department meeting today.”
“It’s a journal,” said Joshua. A thought struck him. “No-one came back asking where my office was yesterday, did they?”
“Oh, this journal turned up in there and I don’t know where it came from. It was just on the desk when I came back, and I’m wondering who wanted me to look at it.”
Sheila looked puzzled. “No-one can get into your office when you’re not there, can they?”
“I don’t think so,” he said. “I thought maybe they’d come by someone’s office who can get in and asked them for help.”
“I can’t get into any of the offices,” said Sheila. She looked slightly flustered. “I can’t even get into my own office after 5, my card stops working except to let me out. Security could let people in, and maybe Facilities might be able to. You could ask them.”
Joshua turned the page and photocopied the next one, the machine humming quietly to itself. “I asked Security,” he said. “They’ve got an amazing office down there, haven’t they?”
“I don’t know,” said Sheila. “I’ve not had much to do with them to be honest. They issue cards when they’re lost, and sometimes come round and ask questions about students, but that’s about it. I think their office is downstairs somewhere.”
“Yeah,” said Joshua. “It’s impressive, if you get the chance to see it you should!”
“I hope I don’t,” said Sheila. “Well, you could ask Facilities then, but if Security don’t know then I don’t see why Facilities should.”
“Yeah,” said Joshua. “That’s what I thought too.” He turned the page of the journal again and discovered that he’d reached the end. He gathered up his pages of photocopiers and touched his card against the reader again to update the balance and close out his account on the copier. “See you later, then! I’m going to return this to the library and see if they know who took it out, then I might know who wants me to read this!”