ASSOCIATES (2019, November, v. 26, no. 2)


The Golden Mine Adventure – A Kelly Bourne Story

Jim Jackson

Brian Mitchell was sitting in the basement of the William Henry Johnson library, at the Golden Meadow university library, in Southern California. There were two reasons for this, one, it was beautifully cool and secondly it was where most of the geology and mining books and rock samples were located. The University had one of the biggest collections of mineral ore and rock samples in the whole of California and a huge history of mining dating back to the late 1840’s. Brian was a graduate of the University of Wellingbrough University in the UK, and his job was to discover if there was enough gold left in the old mines to make it worthwhile to start mining again.

Then a rumbling noise started as a whisper but quickly became a shout, and within seconds that noise had become a freight train, and the ground trembled and shook. Brian dived under his table and wondered what to do. Safety policy was to stay safe and not run but that was hard to do when the very ground you were standing on was shaking. Shelves of books of various sizes began to fall off the shelves, and then whole shelves swayed backwards and forwards, crashing to the ground. Followed by a domino effect of whole bookcases falling one after the other. Brian decided that staying where he was, was the best thing to do and hoped that it would soon pass. Then the lights went out and the noise and shaking continued for what seemed like ages. He was to discover later it only lasted about 30 seconds. Then suddenly it was quiet, not a sound was heard, nothing.

The 5.5 magnitude earthquake passed, and for the time being at least everything stood still. They say that sometimes it seems like time stands still, and nothing happens, but it was all too quick and terrifying for Brian. After a few minutes Brian decided that now was a good time to try and move and get out of the building before any aftershocks damaged the building more. There was a feint glimmer of light towards where the stairs were, so he made his way towards it. Feeling with his hands along a wall towards the light, hoping that the stairs were still intact so he could climb up them. He needed to go up two floors to the ground floor, so he knew it was going to take time. As he made his way towards the half light of the staircase, he felt one of the emergency boxes on the wall, these contained among other things a torch, and a wind-up basic cell phone. Grabbing both he continued to make his way to the staircase, now helped by the torch. He could see that books and shelves were all over the floor and a lot of the roof tiles had fallen. The doors to the stairs appeared to be shut but moving some of the fallen shelves gave him enough room to prise open a door. Climbing through the small space lead him into the stairwell. He tried charging the cell phone by turning the handle, and while this gave it some power there was no signal, hardly a surprise really. There was considerable rubble on the stairs, part of the roof had collapsed, and it was filled with dust. There was still no sign or sound of any other library user or staff. He continued to crawl up the stairs toward the exit on the ground floor. It took him over 30 minutes to cover the distance which would normally only taken moments to walk up the stairs. Then just as the light appeared above him, came the sounds of alarms and people shouting. The first of the aftershocks hit. Lasting only moments but it was enough to dislodge more debris in the building and on the staircase. When this past Brian could see clearer daylight ahead and redoubled his efforts to climb the stairs and exit the building.

Exiting the stairwell onto the ground floor Brian saw a collection of people in various states of distress and considerable damage to area. Now after the quiet of downstairs the noise of alarms and shouting seemed to deafen him. In a daze he stumbled out of the building before collapsing on the ground where he was picked up by medics and rushed to hospital.

Fortunately, Brian had suffered no major injuries and was suffering more from shock than anything else, and the bruises and scratches would heal in time. As the hospital beds were needed for the more seriously injured Brian was discharged from hospital after a few hours and went home to his apartment.

At his apartment he was greeted with many voice mails on his land line telephone from people asking if he was alright. Cell phone calls were still not connecting. Including one from his long-time friend Kelly Bourne, who worked at the Wellingbrough University library. Without really being aware of the time zone in the UK Brian phoned Kelly and explained briefly what had happened.

‘When you’re feeling better’ said Kelly, ‘why don’t you come over to the UK for a nice relaxing holiday with me, we can do some cool stuff and you can relax a bit.’

‘Give me a couple of weeks to try and sort stuff here’ said Brian, ‘there will be a ton of insurance claims to file, and I will need to ask work for some time off as well, but yes it sounds great.’

It was almost three months later that Brian finally made it to the UK, and met up with Kelly. She had booked two weeks leave to cover his visit. On the way to Kelly’s house Brian talked about his adventure, how the rebuilding work was progressing and his company’s suggestion that he make use of his time in the UK to investigate mining and the new science of geothermal heating. ‘That’s sounds great’ said Kelly, ‘I have friends who work in the School of Mines at the University, and some relatives who have connections with mining back in the 1840’s and afterwards.’

That evening they spent time talking about both of their various adventures at work, and their forth coming holiday. Kelly said, ‘I know you are not the sort of person who wants to become one of those ‘red lobster’ people who lie by a pool all day and get terribly sunburnt. So, I have booked a holiday with a difference, walking a heritage trail along the coastal footpath. There will be lots of old tin mines to see and fabulous coastal footpath views with lots of local wildlife.’ ‘That’s fantastic’ said Brian, ‘just what I wanted, and a chance to recover my confidence about visiting mines.’ A bit of research found that one of the heritage mines called The Golden mine had a downloadable map of the mine with its various levels, as well as the rest of the buildings there. They both stored the map on their cell phones.

The next morning, they set off for the long journey, having packed all they needed into two large back packs and put them in the car. They arrived at the aptly named Sea View hotel and were amazed that the owners had converted an old farmhouse into a wonderful hotel, complete with swimming pool, enclosed sun terrace, and a room full of books on the history of local tin mining and walking tracks for the whole area. ‘I think I could come and live here’ said Kelly that evening, as they sat in the lounge overlooking a sunset that a Hollywood film director would have been happy with.

After a huge breakfast Kelly and Brian started walking to The Golden mine, which was about 2 miles away, and joined a group of others listening to a guide talking about the mine and its history. There were tales of how the mine was all dug by hand with pick, shovel, blood, sweat and tears, and that in later years how the steam powered engines had helped the mine owners dig deeper into the ground. There were tales of disasters, triumphs and huge amounts of money being made from the sale of tin ore. They were offered the chance to descend the mine shaft and explore one of the levels over a hundred feet below. There were plenty of other levels but a lot of those were now flooded. ‘Come on’ said Kelly, ‘let’s do it, something different for a change.’ There was a short safety briefing and they were given hard helmets, with battery powered lights on the front. They entered the cage with the tour guide who told them all about the mine shaft, how deep it had been originally and what they would see down in the mine workings. The cage would have taken 15 miners at a time down to the lower levels but today it was limited to 10 people. The descent only took a couple of minutes and they were nearing the stopping point when Brian heard a familiar but frightening sound, the whisper he had heard all those months ago in California.

The lift started to shudder and then stopped at the level they were due to get off. The whispering sound seemed to fade, but Kelly even in the dim light of the mine could see that Brian had turned white. Kelly said, ‘are you ok, you look scared?’ ‘Do you have earthquakes here’ asked Brian, his voice shaking somewhat. ‘Occasionally I think we do but we can ask the tour leader, why do you ask’ said Kelly? ‘Because I could swear, I just heard and felt a tremor and it freaked me’, said Brian.

They started to walk along one of the mine workings and were amazed at the amount of machinery that had been left down there when the mine closed. Various parts of the walls and ceilings glistened in their headlamps, and they were told they were deposits of various precious metals which at that time were not considered worth mining. Only the tin was. Fast forward to the present day said Brian and things like Lithium are worth a huge fortune. If this mine is sitting on large deposit it could be highly profitable! After a fascinating tour of the mine workings the tour guide said, ‘in a few years unless pumping started again the whole mine would flood.’

As they waited for the lift to return to take them back to the surface, the feint noise that Brian had heard previously returned and this time everyone heard it! He shouted to the group to stand at the sides of the mine workings in case there was a roof fall. The lift descending could be heard creaking and groaning and then the whole area began to shake. This only lasted no more than a few seconds, but it was enough for some cracks to appear in the roof and walls. The lift was now in sight of them and continued its decent. The noise and the vibration passed, and the lift stopped. The tour guide said, ‘at times this can happen, but they had better return to the surface as soon as possible.’ They entered the cage and it began its ascent to the surface. They were all strangely quiet as they waited to reach the top. Then the lift stopped, and no one moved. The tour guide took the phone from it cradle and waited for a reply. ‘Hello, Hello,’ and then an audible crackle sounded followed by a feint voice. He shouted that the lift had stopped and what was the problem. Moments later he put the phone on its cradle and turned to those in the lift and said, there’s a small problem with the winding engine. That last shake has cut the power, but they are hoping to reset the mains very shortly and not to worry.

In the dim light of the mine lift each of the people looked at each other, before they all started talking at once, how they were going to get out. ‘You know’ said Brian, ‘it’s at times like this you really have to stop and be thankful for what you have got and for the friends you have, especially those who are close to you.’ Kelly said, ‘that it’s a bit like a life review moment.’ One of the others said, ‘don’t go all weird on me I just want to get out of here!’ ‘Don’t we all’ said Kelly, ‘but just stop and be thankful for a moment and then you can enjoy when you get out of here even more.’ After what seemed like several hours but was only about one hour the lift suddenly started moving and there were a few frightened screams, but the lift continued to move closer to the surface and then they were there.

The sun was just beginning to set, making the whole area appear to be on fire. They all rushed out of the lift and promptly sat on the ground. Further time was taken as the emergency services insisted to checking each person for injuries, while the local press wanted their ‘inside story’ but were slightly disappointed to discover that they had escaped relatively easily. Then they were all allowed to go home, with Brian and Kelly returning to their hotel. They were greeted by the anxious owners and offered a meal and something to drink. Kelly wanted a long hot bath before she did anything else. She could not help but think of the miners killed in the mine in previous years, and what might have happened to their families. Kelly and Brian spent the next three days resting and going for short walks in the area, but the thought of the miners killed in the mine disasters was never far away. Kelly and Brian really enjoyed their time together and agreed that they were pleased to have found each other, even if it was as a result of near disasters.

Kelly and Brian returned to Wellingbrough at the end of their week, and Kelly prepared to return to work. Brian said that he intended to spend some time during the following week working in the library, on the history of the Golden mine and to see about those formations of rock. There was always the hope they might be valuable, and perhaps the mine might return to some form of production.

Monday was return to work for Kelly and was like most weeks started with a meeting with Claire Grey, her boss, where she said what she wanted done, and her plans for future projects. The major project being the one that had been on both their minds for months was a replacement system for the library. The new system would have to cope with circulation, cataloguing, account management for online resources, and orders for books. Some research by Kelly had shown there were only a few systems in the world that could handle such a request and to convert their existing system to fit the new one, while allowing the whole library to continue to work as normal. Kelly had supplied Claire with a careful breakdown of each prospective system, its strengths and weaknesses and possible costs. Claire said that she had been doing her own research and had put together a file of proposals which she intended to submit to the University finance team for approval. Kelly questioned who would take the credit for a successful bid for money, and who would take the fall if that bid failed.

Kelly and Brian spent the next few evenings looking at online back copies of newspapers which had covered the past Golden Mine disasters. Learning about the amounts of tin dug out of the ground, which made the owners fabulously rich, and the faults in maintenance which led to disasters. There were several reports which related on the other minerals found, which Brian found very interesting, and would talk to his boss back home.

The file had been in Claire Greys documents file for several months now, it was unopened and had a file name of PROGRESS.exe system and had come from some of her early research for a new computer system from a company which was unknown to her. She now combined the file with all the other work she had as she prepared for her final presentation to the Finance Board. This was going to be her big day! She opened all the files on her computer before sending them off for approval. However, the moment she opened the file, her computer slowed down by over 50%, she opened the other files while waiting for it to open. But they slowed down as well. Kelly was working in the library office on her part of the Finance bid when she heard a big scream from Claire’s office, followed by ‘Kelly get in here!’

Claire’s PC seemed to have stopped working all together, ‘what’s happened’ snapped Claire, ‘what have you done to the proposal?’ ‘I have not been working on your file’ said Kelly, ‘I have been working on a different part of the submission.’ Kelly took her keyboard and got her task manager on the screen which showed that the processor was showing a speed of 98% but showing no output. ‘You need to shut this down now’, said Kelly ‘if there is a virus on your PC, you could spread it around the network.’ Claire looked at Kelly for a moment deciding what to do, and then tried the usual way of shutting down her PC, only nothing happened, it seemed to be working but at a dead slow speed. Kelly looked on in horror and then pulled the power cord out of the machine and said ‘If I am wrong then I will apologise, if I am right you can thank me later. Now you need to phone IT support and report the problem.’ All the library telephones, like those on the rest of the campus, were VOIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) and Claire lifted her phone to make the call, but the line seemed dead. ‘This could be even worse than I feared’ said Kelly. Claire said ‘I have never seen you like this before, what should I do?’ Kelly pulled her mobile phone from her pocket and dialled the IT help desk and eventually got a reply. A very terse and stressed person said, they ‘could not talk at the moment as they were dealing with a crisis’. There seemed to be denial of service attack on the university systems. ‘I can guess where it started’ said Kelly, ‘on Claire Grey’s PC, can you isolate the whole library network as a matter of urgency.’ The person on the IT Help desk said, ‘I’ll need to speak to the IT Director to do that and right now he’s busy.’ ‘Just tell him to do it’ shouted Kelly.

Leaving Claire’s office without another word Kelly went back to the Library office and said, ‘attention everyone, there is a serious network problem, and I need you to switch your computers off now, if they will not shut down just pull the power cord out.’ There was a stunned silence from the whole room. Kelly said, ‘there is a virus in the network we need to control it or at least contain it’ she added. With that she pulled the power cable out of the nearest computer. ‘Are you nuts’ said Donald Higgins, the head of acquisitions? ‘Have you tried you phone lately’ asked Kelly, ‘or tried to use your PC?’ ‘Well now you mention it the phone has been quiet for a while now which is strange, and the pc does not seem to be loading a page I wanted.’ ‘OK everyone’, said Donald ‘unplug your PC now! If it’s just a temporary problem anything you were working on should be saved on the network backup system, otherwise we are all in trouble.’

A trembling Claire came out of her office, and said in a weak voice, ‘the head of IT security had declared a campus wide alert and that all non-essential work PC’s were to be switched off.’ I need to go and see what happening with book circulation for users’ said Kelly and dashed out of the door into the main part of the library. There her worst fears were confirmed, the self-issue machines seemed to be struggling to issue or return books, students using dozens of PC’s were looking at frozen screens, and many were shouting ‘what’s going on!’ Kelly shouted to everyone, ‘there is a network system problem that was being investigated, and that everyone should switch off the PC they were using.’ Many did, but others ignored her and started hitting their keyboards, but nothing happened. Then the power supply to all the PC’s was shut off. ‘This is so much worse than I feared’ said Kelly, to no one in particular.

Kelly dashed back into the library office and said to everyone ‘I need you to go out into the library and try to keep people as calm as possible, the last thing we need is any sort protest starting.’ Donald Higgins looked at Claire, who seemed to be in a state of shock, and mumbled, ‘just do it.’ Everyone left the room, which was now eerily quiet, while Kelly picked up her mobile phone and started making some calls to people in the University, trying to find out what was happening. Of those who answered, they answered on the mobile phone not the office phone. Still Claire offered nothing in way of advice or leadership, so Kelly said, ‘you need to organise a way to try and issue books to people, even if it’s on the old paper fall-back sheets where you record the borrower number and the item code for each book. ‘But’………. said Claire………. ‘I’m in charge here’………… ‘Really’ said Kelly, ‘well prove it, do something!’

Kelly looked in an old filling cabinet and found a stack of old fall-back sheets which had not been used in years, and she had been asked to get rid of before now, but had always keep some, just in case. ‘Here take these out to the front desk’ said Kelly, ‘and see if you can help. I need to walk over to IT and see what’s happening.’

Running over to the IT building took Kelly about 10 minutes and by the time she arrived she had noticed lots of people staring at their phones with blank screens. She was greeted by a member of the estate security team at the entrance to IT, who told her that, ‘no one was allowed in at the moment as they were dealing with a problem.’ ‘I know’ said Kelly ‘and I can tell them where it started!’ Minutes later she was talking to James Fairburn, head of IT security, and explaining as quickly and fully as possible how the problem seemed to start with Claire Grey opening a file she had been sent in an email, and after that how everything seemed to fall apart. ‘All the network PCs on campus were connected to a network backup service, if that file is activated in the back up service we might lose a lot of data, fortunately there were nightly backups made so it might only be a day’s work lost across the campus’ said James. ‘I will need to go off campus to try and isolate that file, but to do so I need access to the network and now I am not sure what’s causing the problem.’ Their discussion was interrupted by a call to James from the University Chief Executive who was demanding to know why he could not access his email or work documents. A brief update was followed by James saying, ‘yes sir right away sir.’ Turning to Kelly he said, ‘I need to authorise an emergency campus wide shutdown of all network activity with the outside world. This must be contained on campus, there is too much at stake here.’

Stunned, Kelly walked back to the library, where she was greeted by a collection of people asking why PC’s were not working and neither was the wi-fi anymore. ‘There is a technical issue’ said Kelly ‘and IT is working on it, but we don’t know how long it will take to fix.’

Kelly looked at the main enquiry desk and found it under siege from library users, Claire Grey seemed to be fending people off, by using the fall-back issue sheets and passing the books over to library users, while those who wanted access to the online journals were leaving frustrated and angry. Hours past and nothing more was heard from IT security and no one was answering any type of telephone, and of course there was no email. By 6pm nothing had changed apart from the pile of fall-back issue sheets had grown. The number of books waiting to be returned was filling all the library trolleys at a fast rate. The decision was taken to only allow night access to the library for study as there was no staff to return or issue books.

Kelly got home late that night, exhausted after the day’s events and spent several hours talking to Brian, saying that the experience of being stuck in the lift, and the sight of the sunshine when they finally emerged from the mine shaft had really changed her outlook on life. Now she was going to live each day, as a day for action and standing up for herself. ‘Perhaps that’s why you did what you had to today at work’ said Brian, ‘perhaps there’s a “new” you waiting to emerge from your shy self?’

The next day Kelly arrived for work early, well at least she was in the library early but could do nothing much as there was no network, no PC’s and no self-issue/return system. She groaned when she saw the size of the pile of fall-back sheets, they were going to have to do something with those, but what? Kelly walked over to the IT building hoping for some good news. She found an exhausted James Fairburn working with a small team from IT security trying to solve the problem of how to delete all the corrupted files, while not deleting anything else. He said ‘they had called in additional help from a well know data recovery company to try and resolve the problem. I’m not going to tell you how much they charge per hour but it’s enough to wipe the smile off anyone’s face.’ Kelly returned to the library and told her team ‘they would have to carry on as they did yesterday and tell people that the system problem was being worked on as a top priority.’ Kelly’s morning was not helped when a local news reporter turned up and started asking students what had happened to the university network as it had been noticed that there were no links from outside the University into the University pages. Kelly tried to take him to one side and explain that there was a network problem and that there was no need to panic. The reporter said, ‘oh, you mean the University has been hacked and the system has been disabled.’ ‘NO’, said Kelly, ‘there is a software issue and as a precaution network access is restricted to certain areas of the network. If you want further information you will need to contact the University press office otherwise, please leave the library.’

Claire Grey marched over to where Kelly was standing and demanded to know what was happening and what she was doing about it. A lot of pent up frustration and anger boiled up in Kelly and chose this moment to release itself. ‘I am doing what you should have done, contacted IT security, put in place a temporary solution to circulation problems, dealing with people asking difficult questions, all because you opened a virus file on the network.’ With that Kelly walked away, worried that she might say or do something she might later regret. For once Kelly did not feel afraid of Claire, this was all on her, but Kelly was determined to dig a way out of the mess Claire had created.

The piles of books being returned were now clearly visible, so Kelly had an idea. She told all the library staff who had little to do without a PC, to take a trolley of books to the library back room office, out of sight of the users. There they were to unload the trolleys onto workspaces used for processing, and when they had done that to return the empty trolley to the front of the library, to try and clear the books from the floor outside. This would only help for a day or two at most before it became obvious there was a big problem. Hopefully some sort of system would be restored in the next day or so and they could start the mammoth job of returning all the loans from people’s records, and then they could start updating all the records for books issued.

The Library closed again early that night, not only to restrict people returning or borrowing books but to give the staff a rest who had been working flat out all day. By now it was over 24 hours since the initial shutdown, and Kelly wondered if she dared go over to the IT building and ask how long it was going to be before they could restore some sort of network. James Fairburn had just returned from a few hours’ sleep and greeted Kelly as she knocked on the entrance door. He unlocked the door and let her in and said come and sit down. ‘This is a very serious event, but it could have been much worse, thanks in part to you, I think’ said James. ‘Me’, said Kelly, ‘what did I do?’ ‘It would seem’ he said ‘that you disconnected Claire’s PC while it was processing a virus, which tried to launch a denial of service attack on the University servers, but stopping it when you did stopped more damage being done. The University security protocols detected what was happening and started a managed shutdown of the network. This was then hastened by the University requiring an immediate shutdown meaning that some processes were damaged in the shutdown. Security is now trying to restore access on a limited basis, but it will take time. It may require some areas to have a complete sweep of the software to make sure that there are no hidden software flaws, or damage. So, another 24 hours will be needed before there is any visible improvement.

‘Is there anything else you want me to do, or just tell people to carry on at the moment in the hope that things improve’ said Kelly. ‘Something like that’ said James, ‘but you will have to prepare yourself for a “firebomb” of an inquiry about how this happened and there is likely to be severe consequences if it’s found that mistakes were made.’ ‘Well I know where just to look’ said Kelly, ‘and if you don’t then I can tell you!’

After another fraught night’s sleep Kelly arrived for work the next day to receive some good news. The library circulation servers had been restored to a certain extent using off campus backup copies of loans and general stock. Network file space was still being inspected and the finance system would be offline for another day to ensure that it was secure and for back up files to be reloaded. All this news came to Kelly via Claire Grey who had been in touch with IT Security and they had asked her to pass the message on to Kelly. So, would she please ensure that the mess with the books was sorted out as soon as possible, and that she was pleased they had all managed very well thanks to her. Kelly was glad that she had been holding a full cup of coffee when she heard this and debated with herself whether to waste it by throwing it over Claire or not but decided it would have been a waste of good coffee if she did.

Kelly walked into the library back room office and looked at the hundreds of books lying around, and at the faces of her tired staff. No way was this going to end like this thought Kelly. A telephone rang in the office, the first to do so for some days now, and Kelly answered and said, ‘Hello can I help you?’ James Fairburn laughed and said, ‘well you can switch on your returns machine and see it loads up ok if it does, then great and we can start getting back to work, if not, then it might take a while longer. I will wait while you try it, there is not much else for me to do at the moment!’ Kelly walked over to the large returns machine and plugged it in and pushed the power on button. Hushed moments past and then the screen went from blank to the soft coloured blue they were all used to. Then it bleeped once, and then the screen said welcome to the University Library automated circulation system. All those in the room cheered. James on the telephone said ‘I gather that it works, now it might be a bit slow to start with, we are trying to restart the whole university network a bit at a time so you will have to be patient, try not to rush things.’

‘No one do anything just yet’ said Kelly, ‘we need to do this carefully, and think about what to do first. I had better go and tell Claire and see what she says I suppose.’ Kelly found Claire in her office sitting in front of her PC and seemed to be waiting for it to reload. ‘I don’t think that’s a good idea’ said Kelly, ‘as that’s where all the problems started.’ ‘I have work to do’ snapped Claire ‘now go and start clearing that mess up outside.’ Kelly had only just left the office when she heard a cry from the office, NO! Rushing back in she saw Claire bashing away at her keyboard, they cannot do that she was saying. Kelly advanced to her desk and looked at the screen. The sentence of the screen was short and concise – ‘All Access denied.’ Claire looked at Kelly and she looked back but said nothing. She simply walked out of the office.

Back in the library back room office she said to everyone, ‘this is today’s plan of action, switch your PC on and wait for it to load. Any security messages read them carefully and let me know. If you can get into circulation services then you need to take one of the fall-back issue sheets and start entering those, it’s going to take a while but those need to be done first. When that’s done, we need to restart the public automated terminals once the system had stabilised. Then we can begin to return all books we have on the floors and trolleys. Ignore the telephones if they start ringing, we need to clear this up first.’

Two full days later all the issues had been updated, and the library records were also being updated. Books were still being returned but it was looking much more hopeful now that the full system had been restored.

Meanwhile Claire Grey still could not log into the University system and was screaming at everyone that she had work to do and to let her access her files.

Later that afternoon several senior academics, led by James Fairburn, appeared in the library and took over one of the main teaching rooms. Both Claire and Kelly were requested to attend an immediate meeting to discuss events of the last week. Claire launched into a huge speech about how it was not her fault and how well she had managed the event. James held up his hand and said ‘Quiet’. He said this very quietly but with great intensity. Claire stopped and looked around the room and went very quiet. James Fairburn introduced the other members of staff as being members of the Vice Chancellors Executive group, with huge responsibilities and power within the University. James then said, ‘the Vice Chancellor is currently out of the country attending a highly important conference and so has asked us to deal with the situation and to inform him of what happened and how the situation was resolved. There will be a formal investigation of what happened, those involved and what might need to be done to ensure it doesn’t happen again.’ Claire and Kelly looked at each other, knowing that something was about to happen. Was this the “firebomb” Kelly had been warned about? James continued, ‘as head of the library Claire will be asked to step aside from daily activities and take some paid leave of absence.’

In the meantime, an acting head of library services will take over daily running of the library, with the necessary powers to do so but under the supervision of a senior member of the Executive group. It has been decided that in the interim period of investigation to ensure that the library continues to provide both basic book stock and electronic access that Kelly Bourne will take on this role. ‘Would you be willing to do so Kelly’ asked James Fairburn? Kelly’s head swam, her blood pressure almost fell through the floor and she heard herself say ‘yes, I would be proud to do so.’

Copyright Jim Jackson 2019
This is a work of fiction, and all characters, places and events are fictitious and have no connection to any person or events.

There is a Cornish walking heritage trail which can be found at if you are interested in this type of activity.

One such mine disaster was the Levant mine when on 20th October 1919. 15 men lost their lives. See the BBC news report at