Tattoo: The Books of Glory

a webserial about people who are not like us

Tattoo Book 6.17

Posted by harmony0stars on June 2, 2010

Once again Scott cursed at the broken lock on the door. “This is the humanities building.”

“I thought this was a newer building. Were the tunnels extended to accommodate it?”

Scott shook his head. “Before the Humanities building was added, there was a shack more or less where we’re standing now. The tunnel, unbeknownst even to the groundskeeper, let out in a boarded up trapdoor. When the shack was torn down and the ground ripped up for the foundation of the new building, my predecessor made sure the tunnel was preserved and modernized. The tunnels are both a blessing and a curse. The passages make it easier for faculty to avoid foul weather. I just wish the students stayed clear. These locks cost money to fix and if the lights go out or they don’t know how to open one of the hidden exits at the other end, they can hurt themselves badly. There was a student about ten years ago who gave himself a concussion running around in the tunnels during a power outage. They‘re also a security risk. We‘ve had equipment go missing in the science department that anyone could have smuggled out through the tunnels.”

He waved at a colleague in the corner office. “Excuse me a moment.” The other teacher looked as displeased as Scott had when he mentioned the broken locks. As the professor came back out into the hall, she saw the other man pick up his phone, presumably to call security and have the doors fixed.

They walked the length of the building. It was a long, narrow structure, stretching from Pickman street to College street, a broad picturesque avenue that ran straight through the campus. “The library sciences and computer labs are all held in the Library, but the rest of the Humanities hold classes here. I imagine most of your classes would be in this building… if you choose to take me up on my offer,” he amended.

“As amazing as your campus is,” Glory replied, “I think most of my classes would have to be done over the internet. I am responsible for two children now.”

Scott turned to look out the door, but not before she saw him scowl. The rain seemed to have stopped for the moment, but if anything, the clouds were lower and more ominous. “It seems this break in the weather is the best we’re likely to get. Unfortunately from this point on, there aren’t any tunnels that will get us where we want to go.” Scott opened the door and moved briskly to the curb. He paused by the street as a car sped past. Then looking to make sure she was still with him, he trotted across the road to a small restaurant.

Holding the door for her, he said, “This is the University Diner. It was privately owned until recently, but the school purchased it when the bank foreclosed on the owners. We did try to work with the former owner and prospective buyers to maintain the restaurant, it being a landmark in the area. In the end though, the University decided to buy it and allow the students to run it as a business exercise, with teacher supervision of course. Would you like a cup of coffee?” he asked.

“Ah, no, thank you. I try to stay away from caffeine. A glass of water would be fine.” The diner wasn’t crowded, though there were more people inside than she’d seen on the rest of the campus combined. It was to be expected considering the weather. She thought she saw Professor Murdock sitting in a corner, hunched over a drink, but the woman turned away as soon as they entered the building. Scott wrapped his hands around the hot cup of coffee gratefully, while Glory made a pretense of sipping at her glass.

“The round building next to us is the Arts Center built in 2001. The half facing into the parking lot is a theater, while the nearest half consists of art classrooms and a gallery to showcase the efforts of the students. I don’t imagine that would be interesting to you?” When she shook her head, he continued, “Beside that is the athletics center. It used to be larger, but half of it was torn down to accommodate the theater. We offer a variety of athletics classes, including defensive. There’s a football team, but their facilities are now off campus in their own stadium. Behind us is the new dorm for upper classmen. It’s coed, which surely would have scandalized the University founders, but since most of our seniors are either in fraternities or maintain their own housing off campus, we decided to just build the one building. As I mentioned before, there are two other dorms. They were all one building, but it was cut in half to accommodate our female students. The rooms are quite nice from what I remember when I took classes, though the newer dorm is more spacious. Between the two dorms is the student center where the campus bookstore and cafeteria is located, as well as student affairs and a game room. The dorms also have their own lounges and entertainment areas.”

As the sky continued to darken, lights suddenly lit up across campus. Following her gaze, Scott smiled. “We are very conscious of security. There are photosensitive lights throughout the campus. As soon as it gets dark enough, they come on automatically. We haven’t had any incidents since installing them and introducing a stronger campus security presence. There are always three guards on call, one at the Medical Building and two at Admin who take turns patrolling the campus.”

“Were there many incidents before the lights were added?” she asked.

“No, no,” he said, waving his hand dismissively. “There were a few episodes of harassment when women were first allowed on campus, but that was decades ago. With the daily decay of societal norms, and examples of crime at other colleges and universities, it’s just better to be proactive. Besides the lights deter other elements as well..”

Though the security on campus was good for the students, Glory wondered just how paranoid Scott actually was. Other elements? She knew he wasn’t talking about criminals. Though her judgment of him was like the pot calling the kettle black, at least she was only paranoid against one person. The good professor seemed to think the entire world was a very scary place… a world that had a good likelihood of ending soon. He was like a well-cultured, end of days prophet. She wouldn’t put it past him to have his foot in a survivalist time-share.

“I think we’ll cut through the athletics center, just to keep out of the wind a bit,” Scott declared, setting his cup down. They left, using the building as a windbreak and running for the Athletics Center when they came around the side.

Though she had at first found Phoenix‘s control of her senses distressing, she really didn‘t envy Scott his sensitivity to the elements or his thin jacket. However much money the Dean allocated to his department, Scott obviously didn’t keep a dime for himself. Rubbing his hands ruefully, he stared out the door to the dark clouds. It definitely looked as though it was going to start raining again at any second.

“Would you like my gloves?” she asked. “I’ve just been keeping my hands in my pockets.” She held them out to him.

“Thank you, no,” he replied stiffly. She couldn’t tell if she’d insulted him or if he was just too proud, but she didn’t like to see anyone suffer needlessly. It wasn’t as if she was using them or even needed them.

“Well, it’s no bother if you want them,” she said with a shrug, stuffing them back into her coat. “I’ve got a lot more padding than you. I should have told you it was getting nasty out when we left your office.” Not that she thought he had anything warmer, or he probably would have grabbed it himself. The weather had been threatening all day, so he would have at least been aware of the impending storm.

“If you really don’t mind…” he said after an especially strong gust of wind rattled the doors. A wet newspaper went skidding across the sidewalk. She dug the gloves back out, and he pulled them on, watching the sky the entire time.

to Book 6, page 18

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