I really didn’t like working late, but sometimes it was necessary. As I rubbed my  tired eyes I yawned and looked at the clock on the wall. It was already 8:30 and I had planned on being home by seven. I was tired. The big bay window in front of me looked out over the river and the rolling hills of North Yorkshire, a beautiful tranquil view, it was relaxing. Are we ever aware of the exact moment we fall asleep. I certainly didn’t remember falling asleep on that quiet September evening.
When I awoke I was very disoriented and wondered where I was.

It was dark.

The street lights on the road below, glistened in the gentle drizzle making the river Swale, which ran by the road, look like a black snake writhing in the darkness. They flickered, as thought they were fed by flames and not electricity. Rubbing my eyes again I decided I should go home.

The clock on the wall had stopped at eight thirty. What time was it? Why did everything look so different. I reached for the telephone to call my husband, who would be wondering where I was. My hand touched thin air where the telephone should have been. My desk had changed dramatically too.

Maybe my eyes were playing tricks with me in the darkness. The building in which I worked was an old ‘listed building’ which had been carefully converted to house the local government offices. We loved the building, along with its history. This was the first time I had been here this late, and in the darkness, it looked very different.

Someone knocked lightly on the office door behind me, scaring me half to death. Who else would be in the building at this time of night?

The door opened to reveal a woman carrying a tray. She bustled past me and placed the tray  on the desk in front of me, talking all the while.

“It’s not right for a young lady to be working so late. Education is for men, not pretty young women. You should be getting your beauty sleep young lady.”

She lit an oil lamp on my desk, put a cup of hot chocolate in front of me and then left.

I couldn’t move. Was I still asleep? I looked at the oil lamp and the shadows it cast around the room. My laptop was nowhere to be seen. Instead on the table at which I was sitting, (my desk no longer there) was a pile of large and very old books. Some of them were open. An old-fashioned pen, the sort that had a feather on the end, stood in a small bottle of ink beside me.

I stood up and walked to the double doors that led to the computer room, not sure what would be revealed when I opened them.



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