I was first alerted to an event when two of my co-workers stood in the middle of the room and burbled.
Gerda: B B B B B B B B B –
Samantha: D D D D D D D D –
Gerda: B B B B dirt B B B B –
Samantha: D D D D D alien dirt D D D D –
Tata: What are you talking about?
Gerda: B B B filing cabinet B B –
Samantha: D D D D microfilm D D –
Tata: Something’s happening, isn’t it?
Indeed, something was. Gerda, Samantha, Chuan and I walked sort of spastically through the reading room to where Gerda had made an astounding discovery. I take the example I set very seriously so I was giggling loudest and making pointed remarks about the library’s patrons. We turned a corner at the very back of the room and Gerda pulled open an unmarked drawer. Chuan took a picture.
This photograph does absolutely no justice to the strange colors, textures and shiny bits, not to mention the discoloration that appeared to be rust and the little hunks that looked like pencil shavings. And yet, I love this photograph with my whole black heart. I was discouraged from touching the pans of dirt. The mature person in my office who determines these things called campus police, who followed Chuan back to the end of the room. Gerda, Samantha and I followed.
Cop 1: That’s dirt, all right.
Cop 2: Call the fire department.
Chuan: The fire department?
Cop 2: Yeah. It’s dirt.
Next, a guy in gym shorts with a sack full of test tubes arrived and took samples because this is New Jersey and the HazMat guys were busy. The police took a statement from Gerda because nobody’s ever found dirt in the library before. And now we’re all waiting to find out if some mad scientist lost it before his thesis project bore fruit in the form of accidental mushrooms.