The Sunday Serial: Episode 4 – Night Loan
It is the day after the night before, and Sarah is taking out library books as if it were any other day. But what has happened to the stranger? How did last night end? What are the inhabitants of the Sleepy Corridor plotting?
Steps outside, approaching with purpose. A knock on the door.
“Everything alright, ladies and gent?” It was Jeremy the porter, self-important and with heavy duty flashlight. “Someone’s been seen around college looking a bit dodgy. People have said they’re uncomfortable.”
“Jeremy, there’s been something that…”
A not-unevil thought came to Cassandra’s head, and she kicked Jamie sharply in the ankle.
“All fine, Jeremy. We certainly haven’t noticed anything here.”
“Are you bringing back or taking out?”
“Just the Sedgwick or are you having the Deleuze as well?”
“Both. Deleuze too.”
It might have been the morning after one of the most exhilarating nights of her life, but Sarah still had an essay to do. Besides, she liked the ‘double life’ edge that this banality gave her. Clark Kent had his mediocre journalism, Spiderman enjoyed drinking glasses of milk and eating coffee cake with his neighbours, and now she had her “Both. Deleuze too.”
With a barely hidden glee, she tugged down at her skirt to conceal the bramble scratches on her shins. She was playing a song in her head to which her toes danced in her Doc Martens, but couldn’t remember where she’d heard it. The chorus, roared on an electric guitar, was about going to a zoo, she thought. The verse was too garbled to understand.
“Did you know the Deleuze is overnight loan only?”
“Yes, sorry. Um. You can actually only take this out from quarter to four…”
Sarah glanced at the clock, winced and shifted weight in her shoes, hearing them squelch slightly from the damp.
“It’s twenty to four…”
“I can only let you get this book out at quarter to I’m afraid…”
Wince. Squelch. Going to a zoo.
“Well I suppose I’ll just stand here, then. Five minutes.”
The librarian – a young man in his late twenties with centre-parted boy band hair and New Look cardigan – made the face of an old woman attempting to smile whilst sucking on a particularly tart Sherbet Lemon. His eyes danced a circle of eight, as if sensuously lost in the pain of the imaginary sour, before landing on the sheet in front of him. Boxes to tick. Things to be filed.
Sarah put Sedgwick and Deleuze down on the library desk, for fear that she might suddenly throw them as hard as possible at the librarian, and instead concentrated as hard as she could on the clock. With twenty seconds to go, she nudged the books forward.
“Annnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnddd………..” tuned the librarian, raising his voice at the end as if he was a speaking version of the Countdown clock. “Now you may borrow.”
He turned to look back at the patient student to find no one standing in front of the desk.
Sarah, suddenly taken over by an unbearable dizziness, had been forced to run off down the stairs. She burst open the double fire doors at the bottom, gasping like a resurfacing whale.
The scene startled a few Freshers on a bench, who momentarily put down their overpriced brie and cranberry sandwiches to watch as the girl stumbled disorientated towards the flower bed. One of them took a sip out of her University Of Cambridge thermal beaker, whilst looking on with cattily narrowed eyes.
Sarah’s hands landed on cold, hard dirt, and she wretched once or twice onto the newly flowered Princess Camillas before collapsing onto her back, out of breath. What was wrong with her? Why, having been so excited the night before, did she now feel that things were falling out of her grasp.
A concerned fourth year places a tatty UL bag down next to her.
“You forgot these.” She said.
The Sedgwick and the Deleuze.
Back at The Sleepy Corridor, everyone was waiting for Sarah.
Jamie had read the timetable in her room the previous night, and had noted that Sarah had class at ten and that she would probably be back for about eleven thirty. Having waited up in her room to return for hours on end, they had given up around 4am and gone to bed. On her way out, Jamie had buoyantly produced her new Nikon D5300 in order to comprehensively photograph the broken mug, the shards of mug, and any other upturned object that might have been worthy of “evidence”. Evidence, that is, of a crime that now all comfortably thought they knew the full extent of.
Sarah was heard panting through the quad, and climbing the stairs to The Sleepy Corridor.
“Yes I am.” With this, Sarah made for her room.
Cassandra was stood in her most emerald dressing down. Arms folded.
“I think you should stay and explain yourself.”
“Who is the man?”
“The man you’ve been hiding.”
Sarah made a noise in the directing of denying any knowledge but Cassandra was in an even more impatient mood than she had herself thought. “The stranger you let in last night. We heard him returning this morning, from wherever you two had got to last night through your window…”
Sarah twitched. “Where is he?”
“We secured him in your room.”
“What do you mean secured?”
Sarah’s eyes filled with tears and she burst through her door. The stranger was sitting in the middle of the floor, his hands secured behind his back with a pair of pink, fluffy handcuffs.
“Guilty!” giggled Cassandra. Jamie and Sam forced a smile.
The stranger had been gagged with a college scarf, yet he made no protest. In front of him, someone had placed a laptop which was playing the season one of The Wire. How compassionate, thought Sarah. A real cushy deal this captive has.
“You explain everything,” came Cassandra’s imperative. “Or he leaves. You know the amount of trouble things like this could get us into. He’s told us everything.”
Sarah missed a breath. “Everything?”
No one noticed the black Corsa circling the college on the road outside.