She rested the laptop on the table and turned it slightly so that Joshua could see it clearly. There was a navigation window of some kind listing dates, times, and a code. She pointed at the screen with a finger.
“These are the times that each file covers,” she said. “The code here is simple enough; there’s a single digit for the floor of the building, a letter code for the corridor and, if needed an additional number that indicates which part of the corridor. Your office is number 23, second floor, corridor D. It’s a short corridor so we don’t need any additional digits.”
Joshua nodded, seeing that she was pointing at a list of times for 2D23. She clicked on the first one.
“This is half-past one until three,” she said. “The length of time is 90 minutes. She clicked on the video player window that came up, full-screening it, and then clicked several times on the speed icon. “This is played back at eight-times speed, and as you can see there was little activity in that corridor then.” Something flickered on the screen, and she clicked stop and rewound the player at a slower speed. Shortly the flicker reappeared and resolved itself as Joshua coming out of his office
“You left your office at 14:11,” she said, pointing at the timestamp in the top corner of the screen. “You left the building and went to the library.”
Joshua looked at her, uncertain if she was asking a question or telling him what he’d done. “Er, yes,” he said, but she was pointing at the screen again.
“As you can see, there is no activity in the corridor after that until this file ends.” She closed the window down and clicked on the next file. “This is now three o’clock to four-thirty,” she said. She clicked play, but didn’t speed the video up, letting it play through at normal speed. “And here, at 15:01 is Dr. Hawne knocking on your door. She looks… displeased.”
Joshua nodded; the picture quality was much better than he’d expected from security cameras, and it was quite clear that something was upsetting Dr. Hawne. She knocked a second time, and appeared to say something.
“There’s no sound,” said the security woman. “These are just used for recording people coming and going. We’re not an espionage operation. Anyway, Dr. Hawne leaves,” and on the screen she did just that, “and then the corridor remains empty until 15:47 when you return.” She clicked on the speed-up icon and ran the video forward until Joshua appeared and went inside his office. “After that, there are two students who come down the corridor,” she pointed them out on the screen, letting the video run by at twice-normal speed, “though they don’t come near your door, and then Dr. Hawne reappears. She knocks on your door and it is opened.”
“Yes,” said Joshua. “Yes, she knocked and I opened it.”
“So there you are,” said the woman. “No-one has been in your office this afternoon other than you, or people you’ve answered the door to or brought in with you. I hope that answers your questions.”
“Not really,” said Joshua looking at the laptop screen. The security woman closed it down as though to protect it from him. “Because there’s still a journal on my desk that wasn’t there when I left. Don’t you have cameras inside the office?”
Joshua returned to his office thinking about the security office. He’d not been there before and it was clear that it was a much more professional operation than he’d seen on other university campuses. In fact, at some conferences he’d heard of things being stolen from people’s rooms and the security staff recommending that the attendees take more care and call the police rather than doing anything about it themselves. Here, it looked at though the police would only be brought in when the S.U security already had a water-tight case to present to them. He wasn’t entirely sure how that made him feel.
At his own door he hesitated again, wondering if perhaps the strange, lanky figure that he’d seen had hidden while he was in there with Mark and was now waiting for him to come in alone. He shuddered, and then made himself key-card the door anyway, determined not to let it get to him. The door swung open and he reached in for the light-switch without actually stepping forward. When the switch clicked on and the room was blessedly empty he heaved a sigh of relief, and then laughed at himself a little.
He gathered a few things together and then hunted for his bag, which turned out to have been covered by a minor landslide of papers. He looked around the room again and decided that it really was time that he tidied up and put things away – but that it could wait until tomorrow, and daylight. He glanced at the window and was relieved again to see that it only showed his own reflection, and then left.