What I dreamed last night - Page 5

  "But you do." said Tom, "All the people who work here stay overnight, so I've heard. The shielding and glass-fields here could keep out an army. The triumphs of the modern age are all employed in protecting the past... and those who study it. Let us stay." His dark eyes went very wide, and it must have been pretty difficult to refuse him, but our lady did, and the firmness of her voice attracted the attention of various sturdy-looking workers scattered around the ground floor, who began to drift over to us."
  "I'm sorry, no. We wouldn't be nearly so safe if they knew we were here, keeping things to ourselves. And... no offence, but not all of your nephews and nieces look exactly squeaky. If they got off their faces, and opened the doors, we could all be massacred. We're careful about who works and lives here, you see."
  "I'll answer for them," said Tom, though knew the others only barely, and me not at all. "and I'll improve your defences, too, if you like. I've got some great techniques for glass-field enhancement: yours stops at the porch at the moment, right? Quite close to the switches. I can stretch it a lot further than that, so a sixty-second powercut doesn't mean all your defenses go off and stay off. We can help you. Please let us stay."
   "Well...," she said uncertainly, but she was interrupted by one of the sturdy men who looked like he was in security.
  "Early closing tonight, miss. Lots of trouble on the streets already. People getting worked up. Time to close." He made to shepherd us out the door. "Time to go home, people," he said.
  Major Tom was still staring pleadingly at the woman at the desk, and she was still looking uncertain, and I was getting desperate.
  "Please, ma'am!" I said, in my best "polite young 'un" voice. I could feel the other three despising me, but this was life and death.

She relented, and gave the word to the security guys and girls that they could seal up the entrances with us inside. Major Tom looked happy and smug, and stood gazing around the room with great satisfaction at having made us safe. We kids were spreading out, preparing to settle in for the evening. I was heading for the books, and Daisy was heading for the sofas, and the two boys were heading for the kitchen, when one of the security ladies shouted out a warning. Something had gone wrong with the glass-field generator, and whatever the problem was, it was also affecting the mechanism that was supposed to draw back the bridge to stop people crossing. And it would be dark in an hour.
   "Barricade the doors!" shouted Tom in that military way of his, and we kids ran to grab sofas and pianos as briskly as if we were soldiers too. "Wait!" screamed the lady at the desk who, I'd better let you know, was called Doreen. "If we look like we're defending ourselves, they'll think we're keeping something from them!"
   "They'll think that anyway, if they see there's anyone in here with the doors closed!" Tom yelled back, "and if we don't shut the doors they'll smash everything anyway, just to check nothing's hidden. These are troubled times!"

So we carried on hauling the sofas around, and the rest of the people in the building started to help us.  We needed their help. Already, a pale and raggedy crowd shouting "Share is fair!" and "Thrills or spills" was gathering on the other side of the doors, and already, some of them were starting to push against the oak. One girl was even hacking with some kind of axe, so it was a good job the door was so thick. It wouldn't last forever, though, and the crowd was growing moment by moment.

Tom was working on the field-generators, and was knee-deep in wires and circuitry. I left the doors, which were as secure as we could make them for the moment, to go and speak to him. "Can't we leave?" I asked. "Go forward again. You said this place will last centuries..."
  "Leave these kind people in the lurch? To die without us? I'm disappointed in you, whatsyername. Besides, if the mob gets in tonight, this place won't last very long at all. Nowhere to run, I'm afraid. You're rather a coward, aren't you?"
  "Yes," I said, ashamed, "I suppose. I'm afraid of most things, the way things are."
  "Try not to act it," he snapped, but it was brisk, not angry. "See if you can find a good-old fashioned screw-drive anywhere in this place." It took me half an hour, but I found one, and took it to him. He nodded and carried on working.

 Site by Sian Hogan. Last updated on 1st June by Sian.