14: Bob's Peak Peaks

Bob had followed Katerina out of the new books room as soon as he'd heard the noise. He pushed past the whelp from Ref and glanced at the new guy, who was walking towards them with a wide, vacant eyed smile plastered over his face.

Bob knew what was going on. He grabbed his socks and leapt into action. He was scared. He was excited. He was fully trained. He was at his peak. He knew he only reached his peak once or twice a year. He knew none of the others would know how lucky they were that his peak had peaked on the day of the noise.

'Shut the doors,' he says to Linda, who is still tugging at John's arm. Linda looks at him. She is smiling too. They are all smiling. There are a few borrowers wandering about, looking for someone to be in charge, looking, maybe, for the source of the noise so they can lay their heads against it and go to sleep forever. The new guy actually has tears in his eyes. Somewhere over to his left, Katerina is giggling.

'Shut the doors!' he shouts - 'seal the pigging building. Get the borrowers out. Are the Book Group still here?'

Bob looks around him. He gestures with his hands. He points towards the doors. No-one moves and the noise still continues.

'John, you plum.' John looks at Bob. He focuses on his face, but only very slowly, as if he is drunk. 'John, get those doors. There's no time for evacuation now. We have to seal off the perimeter and do a head count later. Find out who we've got. What provisions we have.'

John steps towards the doors hesitantly. There is a big red button at the side of the electrical box that works the revolving mechanism. It is for use in an emergency only. John stares at it for a second or two, as if he is trying to figure out how it works.

'Press it, John.' Bob says. He says it 'grimly', or 'balefully.'

'Garry, get yourself over here. You're new, but you'll do. What's in that bag?'

Bob gathers his men around him. His team. His troop. He nods at them, and bends to put his socks back on. They aren't much, but they're all he's got.

John presses the button and the doors stop revolving.

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