ASSOCIATES (2018, November, v. 25, no. 2)

Fiction

The DAVE project – A Kelly Bourne Story

Jim Jackson
KellyBourneStories@yahoo.com

The Reverend Geoffrey Smyth smiled as he looked at his book collection, and he smiled a self-satisfied smile because he was as pompous and self-important as you could be, right down to informing people that it was Geoffrey with a G not a J in his name. Not that he ever liked being called it, he was the Rev Smyth to all but his very closest friends and even they did not know the real man. Well I shall soon be able to retire and enjoy my well-earned retirement just one more tedious theological conference and then the ultimate prize to complete his book collection.

Kelly Bourne had spent the last few months at the Medical Library, which was part of the University Wellingbrough, there had been excitement and hard work, but she was hoping that she might be able to return to the Main Library in the near future as Anne Marie Hicks was due to return to work after her maternity leave. True, her boss Claire Grey had still not forgiven her for the previous ‘excitement’ which had involved a secretive Government directive, but it really was not her fault. Well that was what she kept telling herself. Now she was completing the paperwork for her Continuing Professional Development work that she had wanted to do for ages but had been turned down several times, she pressed ‘send’ on her email to Claire Grey and hoped for the best.

Meanwhile back at the Medical Library life continued as before with work, the medical students, as well as, the others who used the library. The additional seating and work areas were being well used but this added to the problems of shelving books. Ros the part time shelver was still as slow as ever but Kelly had been refused extra funding for more hours for her, so she had devised an additional shelving rota for Jazz and Bella. Not only had this worked in terms of shelving but the interaction between students and library staff had increased, leading to greater student satisfaction. Which, finally, had pleased Claire Grey!

A couple of days later Kelly received an email reply from Claire Grey, ‘request for a week’s CPD in the Heritage Library has been refused, however after consulting with the Director of the Cathedral Library you have been granted a week’s CPD in the Cathedral Library’. Kelly did not know if she should cry with frustration, joy or relief with this reply. She had really wanted to do a job shadow in the Heritage Library, but she would settle for the Cathedral Library instead. She was not sure what she could do there, but it would be interesting she hoped.

Two weeks later she arrived early at the entrance to the Cathedral Library, which was around the back of the enormous cathedral. Her knocking on the huge wooden door was answered by Graham Brown, a man about 5 feet 5 inches tall of medium build, with a large happy smiling face.

“Welcome, welcome to the Library” he said, “so pleased to see you again. We did meet some time ago in the Heritage Library if you remember.”

“Thank you for the invitation” said Kelly, “what can I do to help here?

“I’m afraid we have a big theological conference starting the day after tomorrow and your help with that would be wonderful. There is a twin theme to the event, access to knowledge and security of knowledge. So, we will combine access to some very rare manuscripts and books while also discussing the security and world-wide access to them. Lots of ‘techie’ people coming and meeting lots of theological people. It should be wonderful, well I hope so! It’s taken 2 years to organise and prepare for this” said Graham.

Graham took Kelly into the library and introduced her to the other staff, Jackie Hobbs and Bill Todd.
“Let me show you around a bit” said Bill Todd, “there’s a fair bit that the general public don’t see, as well as all the stacks, reading spaces and study rooms we have.” At the back of the library was a door marked ‘Restricted Access’ and passing through that brought them to a security door which Bill opened with a swipe access card and PIN code.

“That’s a lot of security” said Kelly, “is this where you keep all the good stuff?”

Bill gave her a quizzical look and said, “if you mean the most precious then yes this is where we keep all the best of our collections. Even here there is extra security, but I am not allowed to tell you about it.”

There were rows of books on the shelves, some wrapped in what looked like non-acidic tissue paper, and others in boxes.

“This is amazing” said Kelly “but how do you know where everything is?”

“You will need to ask Mr Brown about that” said Bill “and see if he will tell you.”

Later when Kelly was in Graham Brown’s office she asked about what books they held, their academic value and security. At first, he was unwilling to answer much than vague comments but then relented.

“You have had a few adventures over the years haven’t you he said. Our sponsor Prince Ali Bin Shar speaks highly of you so I want to tell you something very secret which might explain how we work. We only allow a small number of well-known academics into our inner sanctum to work and never more than three at a time. We are part of a worldwide project called the DAVE project. That stands for Device Activated Value Enhancement which provides our security while also providing us with a stock management tool. The staff here know all our stock by sight but to check what is on the shelf without having to handle it constantly we have each item individually tagged and theses tags can be read by a hand-held scanner as it passes along the shelf. Each book if moved from the shelf the scanner records when it was moved. If it goes beyond the security door an alarm sounds so we should be able to stop all but the most determined thefts.”

Graham added, “I would like you to help the visiting academics and IT people prepare for their presentations, they should be prepared but you know what these people are like for last minute changes.”

Later that day the first of the attendees started arriving and were offered a tour of the cathedral but the Rev Geoffrey Smyth said in an almost offensive manner, “that he could see the cathedral any time and would rather have a ‘wander around the archives’.”

Graham Brown almost exploded at the suggestion and Kelly leapt in and said, “I will show you around but that’s the best any of the delegates will have.”

Rev Smyth said, “I want to see your copy of the 13th Century Codex Britannica you hold as I am due to speak about it.”

A now calmer Graham Brown said, “that can be arranged please follow Kelly.” He passed her a swipe card and PIN code then said, guard these well from everyone,” smiling at the Rev Smyth as he did so.

She took the Rev Smyth into the security room and placed the book on a padded cushion in front of him where he sat down. “You can go” he said, but Kelly wasn’t going anywhere and would wait for him. She spent the next hour familiarising herself with the layout of the large room and spent time looking through the online catalogue. It had pages linked to scanned copies of some of the fantastic coloured pictures from some of the stock, including the Codex Britannica which turned out to be an original edition of a 13th century book written in stunning colours and beautiful script listing the land and buildings owned by the church. Thirty minutes later the Rev Smyth said, “he had finished for now but would need to come back again multiple times over the coming days.” He seemed irritated that she had stayed and watched him.

Later that day Kelly met many of the other delegates and they seemed much friendlier. As the event was not due to officially start later that day many indicated they would look around the city and cathedral and try and meet up with old friends and colleagues in the cathedral coffee shop.

Rev Smyth insisted on going back to look at the Codex Britannica and was escorted each time by a member of staff. As the afternoon wore on Kelly went to see where the lectures were due to take place, which was in part of the old Bishops Palace, with large rooms with plenty of air but small windows. Ideal for the conference.

The first day of the conference included a big national media interview session with several of the big-name speakers at the event. The Rev Smyth let everyone know that he was the ‘star’ of the event even though it was pointed out that there were other academics who were equally well-known attending. The first argument of the day was when the Rev Smyth asked that the Codex Britannica be brought out of its secure room and placed on display in the old Bishops Palace meeting rooms. Just so the TV crew could have better access and interview him. Graham Brown refused totally to agree to this but did agree that the film crew could enter the secure room to film and interview Rev Smyth, even though it was going to be a bit of a squash. After the interview Rev Smyth went to pick up the book with some papers he had left next to it. Fortunately, Kelly was on hand to prevent this. “It’s not that I am trying to steal it” said Rev Smyth “I was only moving it to one side.” Kelly could clearly see he was angry about this.

Later the same day one of the IT specialists was trying to connect his netbook to the projector but it would not allow him. Rev Smyth seemed to gloat over this problem, but it was eventually solved, even though there was then a partial power cut which lasted only a few minutes.

At the end of the day Graham Brown meet up with Jackie Hobbs and Bill Todd and Kelly to thank them for all their work that day and to ensure that everything was securely locked up for the night. The lights briefly flickered but stayed on, I do hope that not a bad sign said Kelly.

The next day started early again and the Rev Smyth was waiting to gain access when they arrived for work in the morning. He was muttering about, “time wasting and could they not just let him in to the secure room and let him start work without having to be escorted.” “Not a chance” said Kelly as nicely as she could. Opening procedures must be followed and as soon as we can we will let you in. He seemed to take great interest in the unlocking procedures and even greater interest in the keys and swipe cards for the door locks, which made Kelly nervous. There was something about him that gave her the shivers and constantly wanting to see over her shoulder at what she was doing. The afternoon session did not require any books from the special collection, so Kelly had a great afternoon listening to the speakers talking about remote access to archive materials via encrypted networks. A relaxed Kelly returned to the main library area to help close up after the afternoon. A lot of the academics had been working there and there were a large number of books to return to their shelves. After that she then started working in the secure room. Where of course Rev Smyth still seemed to be working and she had to ask him to pack his papers up and leave as it was closing time. “Very well” he said “if I must!” “How’s your research going” Kelly asked, “very well” he replied “but no thanks to you”.

The following day was devoted to actual manuscripts and various items were laid out in the strong room and others were being prepared for use in the day events. Various speakers spoke about why the items had been produced, how they had been produced and for who. The subject of value was discussed in terms of ecclesiastical value and monetary value.

Returning the items to the secure store room was a long process as Kelly was afraid to carry too many items at once for fear of dropping them. On her third trip back, she was walking through the outer book stacks when the lights flickered once again and plunged the area in to darkness for a few minutes but then the power was restored, and they came on again. She felt uncomfortable carrying such valuable items in the dark and stopped and waited for the lights. Kelly was sure that someone else was in the stacks close to her but she did not see anyone. It was more a case of hearing a shuffling swishing sound of clothing. Keen to return the books to their shelves she hurried through the library and approached the secure door. All seemed well, and she proceeded in to the room. Having placed the books down on a nearby table she turned to close the door only to find Rev Smyth directly behind her. His approach had been silent and somewhat intimidating, and he said, “thought I would do some more work while I was here.” Kelly Bourne replied we are closed you will have to return tomorrow and tried to close the door, but he placed his foot in the door way and said, “you sure about that.” Startled Kelly replied with a slight hint of fear and defiance yes, “please remove your foot.” At that moment Graham Brown could be heard calling from down in the library, “are you OK Kelly you seem to have been gone a long time?” Rev Smyth eyes seemed to burn into Kelly’s with a deep intensity before he finally said “until tomorrow then” and swept around and left. Graham Brown appeared moments later and said, “you’ve gone quite pale are you ok?” “It was Rev Smyth” she said “he was here a moment ago did you see him leave?” No, he said that’s rather worrying I wonder where he went. Despite a search of the library he was nowhere to be found so they assumed he had left. All was secured for the night and they left.

Next morning was the penultimate day of the conference and it started badly, as Kelly Bourne discovered that they had been a power failure in the night and an attempt had been made to enter the secure room, but it had failed. While the power failure had deactivated the alarm system for the library and the doors had opened because of the loss of power it had not affected the secure room. The locks had clearly been tampered with, but they had gone into ‘lock down’ mode. Which meant that the standard swipe card and pin number access had been disabled and the electronic locks became dead locks.

“How could someone have done this?” Was the question the police had asked, which at first no one had any ideas. Only Graham Brown had the override pin number and the master keys.

Kelly took Graham Brown to one side and said, “do you think this has any connection to the Rev Smyth yesterday after being so aggressive and seemingly vanishing in the Library?” “Well” he said “it does look odd but hardly something I can accuse him of without any proof.” The police continued their investigations but seemed to have little to go on. The rest of the conference delegates arrived for the day’s sessions. Rev Smyth was there, looking tired and a bit disheveled but clearly not in the mood to talk to Graham or Kelly.

Kelly decided to have a closer look around the library and see if the Rev Smyth had managed to hide there the night before. There seemed to be nowhere for him to hide, which made it even more mysterious.

A long day of lectures about public access to historical artifacts and how to share knowledge in a secure environment filled the day. Again, numerous items were produced from the library and were the subject to great debate. Rev Smyth argued that only scholars of the highest education could fully appreciate them and that the public would not know their significance. This caused great debate and raised tempers about education and historical value. At the end of the day tempers were frayed and hostile. Kelly was glad when the last session finished, and people filed out of the room. “Now to put these away and get home and relax” said Graham. Walking through the library together Graham and Kelly were in deep discussion when again the lights failed and this time a black cape seemed to envelope them both causing them to stumble and fall to the floor. Four books fell from their hands onto the floor. Struggling to escape the cape Kelly saw what appeared to be a large figure racing down the library carrying a book she had been carrying. “Stop” she cried, but the thief ran out of sight. The lights came back on and momentarily blinded her and by the time she could see again there was only her and Graham Brown.

“There has got to be another exit from here” she said, “we just have to find it!” A search of the whole library seemed to reveal nothing, but how could this be, people don’t just vanish.

A long day turned into a long evening as well, the police came again, as did the Cathedral Bishop and all were at a loss to explain.

“Let’s try and locate everyone who was here today” suggested Kelly “and see if they have alibis but it’s going to be embarrassing to ask I know.”

That night Kelly Bourne was trying to sleep – with the emphasis on the word trying! Finally, she fell asleep and was dreaming of the day’s events and trying to replay in her mind what might have happened. At 4 am she awoke with a start and shouted at no one “I know how but not who!” Now fully awake she grabbed her laptop and started researching the cathedral and looking for specific information. The various ages of parts of the cathedral meant that parts had been built and remodeled over the years.

At about 6 am, after her third cup of coffee, she found what she was looking for, she just needed to check something at the cathedral. She was waiting for every one of the staff to arrive that morning and the coffee was making her buzz with excitement. Kelly started to explain the moment they were inside the doors. Hundreds of years ago the City of Wellingbrough had been involved in the civil war and been a great supporter of the King, a protestant. The cathedral Bishops clearly supported the King and they suffered for this from time to time with various battles and treachery. The church was attacked on more than one occasion and suffered damage as a result. So Priest holes had been incorporated in the various rebuilds, so that people and artifacts could be hidden a times of crisis and danger. All Kelly and the cathedral team had to do was find the one in the outer Library because that was where the thief was hiding! But where? The secure room was a new addition so that could not be the place, so it must be the public side of the library. Kelly knew she was running out of time, the conference ended today and one of the attendees was a thief but who? There were several people who had expressed interest in some of the items, and even the Rev Smyth while being rude and arrogant would surely not steal one of the books they held in the library.

They had one hour before the first of the delegates arrived for the Key speech by the Rev Smyth, talking about the Codex Britannica, the jewel in the cathedral’s collection.

Forty five minutes of frantic searching for the priest hole found nothing, and Kelly’s excitement dropped as the effect of the coffee wore off. She sat down in the small Lady Chapel next to the main reading room and leaned against the cold stone wall. Where was it? It was the only solution to someone vanishing in the library or being there unnoticed. Idly she ran her hand over a figure of a saint and suddenly noticed scratching marks at its base. With a sudden new rush of adrenalin, she tried to pull and push the figure, finally she discovered that you needed to pull and push at the same time and a part of the wooden panelling next to her opened! The panelling entrance lead below the floor into a space about 8 feet in length and about 5 feet high. While covered in dust there were clear shoe marks in the dust, someone had been there recently. So, her thoughts of who were correct, now all she needed was the how and the why?

It was hard to know if the shoe marks were recent or had been there for years, if they were new then the person was clearly connected to the conference any older and they could be anyone’s. Looking at the shoes prints Kelly noticed that the sole tread had a distinctive pattern and was clearly worn on one side, perhaps the wearer walked with a limp she thought. There was clearly nothing else in the small room, so she left. Being careful to close the door by pushing and pulling the saints small statue.

It had clearly been raining in the time that Kelly had been looking in the Cathedral but had now stopped. All the delegates were outside the entrance to the library meeting room enjoying a coffee and snack before the next event. She joined them and was chatting to the Rev Smyth who asked, “if he could have the Codex Britannica brought to the lecture room for his talk.” Kelly said that, “she could not agree to this and he would have to speak to Graham Brown.” He said, “that only he could appreciate the true value and beauty of the book and that he was trying to explain this to the conference.” He almost sounded sincere she thought but there was something almost manic in his eyes as he talked about the Codex Britannica and also a little scary about his intensity of expression of love for the book and the fact that only he could really appreciate it. Perhaps he was the person trying to steal it? With a sniff and a sigh Rev Smyth said, “I will go and ask if I could use the book.” Everyone then moved back into the lecture room ready for the morning’s discussions. While Kelly followed everyone in she noticed that one pair of shoes seemed to have the same pattern of sole as the ones she had found in the priest hole. So, it was someone here thought Kelly but who? She could hardly ask everyone to take their shoes off, that would be too embarrassing for words, and if no one’s matched she would look even more stupid.

Graham Brown came rushing over and said that the Dean of the Cathedral had agreed that the Codex Britannica could be moved from the secure room in the library to the lecture room for Rev Smyth, provided that a member of library staff was with it all the time and did not leave it alone for a moment. Would she mind acting as a guard for the book once he and Bill Todd brought the book to the room.

Tension in the lecture room mounted as the Codex Britannica was displayed for all to see. Its glistening colours almost danced around the room as the sunlight caught it, it gave off an almost magical feeling or aura. Rev Smyth eyes shone with an almost demonic intensity, which was weird having in mind the location and who was talking. He started his talk describing why the book had been produced in the first place and who had ordered it to be complied. He then moved onto to the historical importance of the book and how only people like him could fully appreciate the beauty and value of the book. People in the room seemed spell bound, all except Kelly who was becoming more and more worried about Rev Smyth. He was talking like someone possessed by some power, and not a good one at that. People in the room started twitching and looking uncomfortable as the lecture became a rant about modern technology destroying the value of the written word, and then the worst happened, the lights began to flicker again. Still the Rev Smyth continued to talk about the wonder of the Codex Britannica and its value today and in the future. At the height of his impassioned talk the power to the projector failed and the lights went off.

Kelly had half been expecting this and had carefully mapped in her head what she would do in the situation. She stepped forward and grasped the priceless book and started to make her way to the exit. It was dark, and the only light came from emergency exit signs, but Kelly knew what she had to do, she had to get back to the secure room in the cathedral library. She had a momentary head start before those in the room started shouting “put the lights on”, above all could be heard the wailing of Rev Smyth, shouting, “save the book.” Kelly made her way through the dark corridor towards to the strong room, there was little light and even the emergency lighting was off. This was more serious than originally thought. She made her way carefully through the cathedral conscious of footsteps behind her. Kelly decided not to take the direct route to the secure room in case someone was after the book she was so carefully carrying. The cathedral was an awesome building and it had its own presence to it, and this seemed to enfold Kelly as she made her way to the secure room. Finally, she made it and swiped her entry card and pin number into the key pad. Now the sound of an approaching person was clearly heard, they were running but shuffling at the same time. Despite the power cut the door had remained closed thanks to its own power supply. Kelly almost threw herself through the door once the entry light turned green. Inside was pitch black but all she had to do was turn and close the door. It clicked shut just before a bang was heard and someone tried to open it.

Safe! Thought Kelly, well at least for the moment. The room was completely dark, and she leaned against the wall. Her cell phone only gave off a small amount of light, as she had forgotten to charge it last night. She said to herself, at least I am safe and the only person who can open it is Graham Brown with the override code. Who was trying to steal the book and why she wondered? It had all gone very quiet outside, which was either a good thing or a bad omen. She was not sure which.

Just as Kelly thought things couldn’t get any worse the fire alarm started ringing and a red light started flashing on the wall of the secure room. She was trapped in a secure room with the possibility of a fire in the building. There was no cell phone signal and the emergency telephone was also dead. Great thought Kelly Bourne I might be dead as well very soon if I don’t get out of here.

At that moment the secure room door lock clicked and started to open. Kelly’s relief turned to fear as the Rev Smyth appeared in the doorway, carrying a very large knife. “Give me the book” he commanded, and I will not kill you, hurry I only have a few moments before those bumbling fools find me here. “But why” said Kelly, “you should know the value of this book.” The Rev Smyth slashed with the knife at Kelly and she cried out as it sliced across her arm. She threw the book at him and he caught it singlehanded, and the turned and ran.

Kelly looked at her arm in the dim light and saw blood seeping out between her fingers, and the shock made her feel faint.

Two things then happened, voices could be heard in the distance and the first of the emergency lights came on. Moments later Graham Brown and Bill Todd rushed up to Kelly and saw the blood on her arm. She felt close to tears, but these were tears of anger, no one had ever harmed her before and she was determined to fight back.

“Quick” she said “the Rev Smyth has taken the Codex Britannica and is trying to escape with it we must stop him”. “He cannot go anywhere” said Graham Brown all the alarms going off has resulted in the police and fire brigade sealing of the entire area and they have started ensuring the entire building is empty.

The three of them walked down the length of the cathedral and saw no one, at the exit a paramedic insisted on looking at her arm and bandaging it up. To make a neat job of it he said you really need a few stitches in your arm.

Kelly thanked him and said that she was going nowhere yet but would go to the hospital later. One of the police team approached Graham Brown and started asking all sorts of questions about why Rev Smyth would want to steal anything and reporting that no one was in the building. The Fire brigade were satisfied that there was no fire but that the alarm had been activated via one of the fire points in the library. “So how could the door of the secure room be opened once the fire alarm started” asked Kelly. “It’s a part of the overall security system” said Bill Todd, “in case of a fire alarm you can enter the room and hopefully save the contents.”

“Well” said Graham Brown, “we have no idea where he is hiding in the cathedral or the library, so I don’t know what to do.”

Kelly smiled and said, “I have an idea, let’s use the DAVE equipment to find him.” The small hand-held scanner was used only in the secure room usually to locate books on the library shelves which were in boxes. “Let’s start using it within the library and set it to find the location of the book, and if we find the book I think we will find Rev Smyth.”

The policeman said, “he did not know what she was talking about” but the other two next to her also smiled and said what an excellent idea. “Let’s start near where we found the priest hole the other day” she suggested “and see what happens.” As they walked slowly through the Cathedral the torch sized scanner bleeped every few seconds, but the indicator stayed red. As they approached the wooden panel where Kelly had found the switch it began to bleep faster and faster and then turned green when pointed at the exact panel that opened into the priest hole.

One of us needs to open the hiding place while the rest of us stand by to catch whoever is inside and the policeman looked at Kelly’s blood-soaked arm and said, “you turn the opening switch and we will deal with them”.

Twisting the sculpture as she had done before the priest hole door clicked open and Graham Brown shown a bright torch into the hole beneath. There hiding in a corner lay Rev Geoffrey Smyth, covered in dust and clutching the Codex Britannica! He had tripped on entering the hole and his knife had dug into his leg, causing a deep wound.

The policeman said, “Rev Smyth you are being arrested for attempted murder and theft” and he then proceeded to give him a formal caution.

“I’ll take that” said Kelly as Rev Smyth clutching the Codex Britannica and the police officer came out of the priest hole. She gave the Codex Britannica to Graham Brown and said somewhat weakly, “I would now like to go to the hospital and have my arm fixed.”

Sometime later after a few stiches had been put in her arm Kelly was sitting quietly talking to Graham Brown and the police inspector. “So, is he completely mad” she asked “or is he just a fanatic about books?” “It’s difficult to say” said Graham “but all I heard him say was that he was the only person who could appreciate the Codex Britannica and therefore he needed it for his collection.”

“Perhaps I can add something here” said the police inspector, “we went to his address and found hidden in a basement of his house was a huge collection of valuable books which he has stolen from all over the world. Each one has exact details of where it was stolen from and its condition, it’s as if he has classified each one like a library book. A very personal library though, but it should make it easier for us to return the items to their rightful owners once we have completed our investigations.”

Kelly turned to Graham Brown and said, somewhat awkwardly, “do you think we can minimise my role in this, otherwise my boss Claire Grey will go mad at me?” “Perhaps you can say that the DAVE project equipment was used by a member of library staff and that saved the book” said Graham.

“I really want to pass my CPD work with you rather than be another news story,” said Kelly. To which Graham replied, “I am sure that the Bishop of the Cathedral would rather say that the Cathedral had security measures which had prevented a theft, rather than a device that was needed to retrieve it, especially as it was from a previously well regarded clerical academic!”

Copyright Jim Jackson 2018. All events and characters are fictional and have no connection to any event or person what so ever.

146 views