The Slemnec Stone (Episode 2)

Panic struck him when the key jammed in its hole. Forcing himself to relax a little he tried again. A sigh of relief escaped him as the door creaked open. The key must have been slightly imperfect due to heat deformation of the plaster cast or something. That was one answer to the hindrance but now was not the time for theorising he thought as he glanced at his watch. Fifty minutes left before they made their down and caught him in flagrante delicto. The situation was too risky to chance turning the light on, if the security men caught a glimpse of a light from one of the opposite long corridors on the higher floors, they would be down in no time. With three months to plan this little jaunt Professor Heinkel was primed good and ready. He rummaged in the deep pockets of his long black trench coat and withdrew a small torch.

There were so many pot plants scattered around that for a second Professor Heinkel had the surreal feeling of being thousands of miles away, not in Blackdale, but in a tropical jungle or a rain forest. Some of the plants were seven feet high and just about touched the ceiling. The windowsills were so full of plants that it was difficult to actually see out of the windows. He contemplated turning a light on, but decided that was not such a bright idea. Between the plant pots there was a potpourri of different types of rocks spread at random. Rocks covered the floor as well as the window sill basalts, granites, gabbros, komatiites and various other exotic types. The surreal feeling soon passed and he wondered where to start looking.

The filing cabinets, which surely held the vital information he was seeking stood against a wall to the right hand side of Dr Chandos’ desk facing the door. Forty five minutes to go before the security men started to check the ground floor. Ten minutes just to get here and look around. Good going. He started flicking thorough the first filing cabinet. Another fifteen minutes passed and he was still none the wiser. Each filing cabinet had three drawers, five minutes per drawer. Must speed up. Forty minutes passed by and he had just about finished going through the last drawer of the third cabinet when his flashlight threw a beam upon a red file. This was the one; the others had been black. He remembered Dr. Chandos boasting the previous term, in the staffroom, the work in this file was going to revolutionise the field of geology. That day Professor Heinkel seethed with jealousy as Dr. Chandos danced from the room waving a red file above his head.

Professor Heinkel began to read the file which had ‘Plans for October 2015’ scrawled across its plastic front in black marker pen. His attention was interrupted when he saw the second floor lights go out, and a few seconds later the first floor lights came on. They were slow this evening, at least another ten minutes at least before I need to get my skates on. There was a reclining padded leather chair tucked under Dr Chandos’ desk. Chuckling to himself he pulled the chair out, sat down, reclined the chair rested his feet on the desk, and started to read.

Half way down the first page a quiet humming disturbed him from his reading. The sound came from directly behind him. He abruptly turned around. The noise stopped. A wasp was resting on a gigantic leaf of one of the tropical plants which filled the office. I’m getting jumpy in my old age, he thought and laughed out loud. Two pages into the file he frowned at what he was reading. “Just what the hell is this? It certainly isn’t geology”.

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