I was writing an email to one of the nice people who not only read my stories, but writes to me as well. It brought to mind an incident from my own checkered career. I've rewritten it into the TS universe. No actual damage occurred in the writing of this story, except for some lost sleep due to some party-ers. We won't go there, though. Let's just say that when I go anywhere, I am ALWAYS the designated driver.
The usual disclaimers apply. They aren't mine. I won't make any money at this. Thank you for not suing me. Oh, yeah. BTW, when this happened, I came up with the title, and it really was as silly as this. I did get the call at oh-dark-thirty. I did go in immediately. I did laugh like a lunatic about it. I am very glad that it wasn't me who went through the building four times that night and never noticed the water flowing. I still wonder how/why it happened. I mean, even if they were using the freight elevator instead of the front one, why didn't anyone hear the dripping water? It wasn't until they were opening the building that they noticed the soggy floors.
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The phone rang, very early that morning. The sun wasn't quite up. For a change, Blair was sound asleep, and Jim answered the phone.
"Sandburg! Phone!" He yelled from his bed, upstairs.
Blair blearily opened his eyes and stumbled from his room to find the portable phone. For a change, it was in the charger.
"'Lo?" He murmured, grogily into the device.
Mr. Sandburg? This is Security, at the University?" The voice was hesitant.
"Yeah?" Coming awake. Security calling at....he focused on the clock on the VCR, five-thirty in the morning? Not a good sign. He woke up a little more, starting to worry. "Yes. This is Blair Sandburg. What's the problem?"
"Well, there's been a little problem in Hargrove Hall. There was a fire..."
"WHAT?! How bad? Was anybody hurt? How much damage? Wha..."
"Oh, no. Nothing major, sir. Just a little fire, up on the third floor. Just a wastbasket fire. No real damage from the fire."
The third floor? His office, such as it was, was in the basement. Why would they be calling him? "The problem is, the sprinkler went off, and, well..." The caller took a deep breath to steady his nerves. "Well, it went unnoticed for several hours, and, well there was a slight flood..."
"Several hours?" He latched on to the one piece of information that seemed to matter.
"Uh, yes, sir. It wasn't until we were opening up this morning that the damage was discovered. We found the remains of the fire, and, well, the entire building is, well, kind of, well, flooded. We need you to come down, if you would. There's..."
"Flooded. But, my office is in the basement. If this was on the third floor, why..."
"Uh, sir? The entire building was flooded. All three floors, and the basement. In fact, there's about six inches of standing water down there. We, uh, well, we called maintenance, but neither they nor us knows where the controls for the sprinkler system are, and we can't find the drainage controls for the system. We did manage to get the sprinkler head turned off, about half an hour ago, but we're still looking for the controls. We have to drain the entire system, before we can reset the sprinkler head. We've shut off all power to the building, because of the water problem. What we'd like for you to do, is come down and check your office for damage, and, uh, maybe the sprinkler controls, or the drainage controls. We understand that they are all in the basement somewhere."
Six inches of water in the basement. In his office. Oh, man. This really sucked. He looked up as Jim appeared, heading for the kitchen to start a pot of coffee.
"I'll be right down." He said, his voice stricken, then hung up.
"You OK, Chief?"
"I don't know. You listened?"
"Yeah. You want some company?"
"Would you? Please?" Needing the moral support, if nothing else.
"Sure. No problem. I'm awake, now, anyway." He smiled at his worried friend. "Why don't you go ahead and take the first shower? Just leave me some hot water."
"OK. Thanks, Jim." For just being here. For the moral support. For everything.
"No problem, Chief. Go on. I'll fix breakfast. We can be out of here in half an hour. Go on, get going." Blair went.
Less than an hour later, they were at the University. The building was dark, still. Maintenance and Security people still searching for the elusive controls. Jim had his five cell Maglight, and was using it to find their way to Blair's office. Once there, the Grad Student unlocked his office door and waded inside. The water wasn't quite three inches deep inside. He rushed to his files and pulled open the bottom drawers and pulled out the contents, piling the folders on his already stacked to overflowing desk. He then pulled the contents of the bottom shelves of the bookshelves and stacked them in his chair. Jim looked around the office.
"Yeah, Jim?" Heartbroken over the damage, even though nothing of his was really more than damp, he wondered about the rest of the building.
"Bad news, Chief. You've got the controls. Behind the filing cabinets." Blair looked at where Jim's flashlight pointed, and saw the red painted drain control and the yellow and red painted sprinkler controls.
"Uh, OK. What do we do?"
"We get the Security and Maintenance guys over here to take care of it."
It took them nearly fifteen minutes to find anyone. When they did, it turned out that no one knew how to operate the system. Fortunately, there was still a fire truck and crew around, who did. Blair watched, carefully, memorizing the steps to shut down the sprinkler system, and then drain it. It was going to take at least six hours to drain the system, so in the meantime, they all started on the cleanup of the mess.
Jim called in to work and explained that he was going to stay and help at the University. He then went out and purchased filing boxes and returned, with hot coffee as well. They spent the next several hours packing up Blair's office into the sturdy cardboard containers. Clearing off the desk, first, and then using it to stack the boxes on. Jim insisted on labeling all the boxes so that Blair would actually be able to find things when he needed to. When the system had finished draining, the cleanup crew had managed to drain most of the water from the basement floor as well, by using sump pumps. It was still very damp, and it would probably soon mildew. Jim went back out and returned with several bottles of mildew inhibitor and lunch for them. They liberally sprayed the offices and surrounding hallways with the chemicals, then were forced to vacate the premises until the next day. At least Blair's files and artifacts would be safe. They had also pitched in with the cleanup of the other rooms in the basement. And, with the generous addition of the mildew inhibitor, it would probably be able to be put back into its normal condition within a week or two.
It was late afternoon by the time they were finished and managed to return to the loft. Both men collapsed onto the couch with their bottles of beer.
"Thanks, man. I'd still be emptying out the file cabinets if it weren't for you."
"No problem. I overheard the heads of Security and Maintenance reaming their guys over the entire fiasco. Made me glad that I didn't work there." Jim stretched.
"Oh, yeah. Me, too. What a mess. Do you think I'll be able to go back and do some work tomorrow?"
"I'd wait until the building inspectors are through OKing it. Also give the mildew stuff time to dissipate. That was some nasty stuff."
"At least you didn't have a reaction to it."
"Yeah. Thanks to your insisting I wear a mask. It helped, a lot."
"Did you hear the security guys talking?"
"Which ones and which time?" Sipping from his beer.
"Uh, the ones who were called in on their day off?"
"No. What did they say?"
Blair smiled, a little tiredly. "One of them mentioned that the whole school could burn down or float away, he couldn't care less. Just as long as it wasn't on his shift."
The two men exchanged tired looks, and chuckled. Jim only said: "I can understand that. Works for me." They relaxed, enjoying their well earned rest.
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