Bodil pulled out her notebook, returned to where she had made space for herself yesterday and sat down cross-legged in the middle of the neatly sorted piles of the previous day's labour.
She took a deep breath and flipped open the notebook.
"Right then Mr Spivey, let's see what you have to say for yourself."
Outside the door, Victor was negotiating for a cup of coffee with one of the pretty students.
In an office off the balcony just above his head, Cybil's find was sitting on the glossy open pages of a rarely viewed ring file.
The pictures on the page displayed objects of similar size and beauty. The voice belonged to Gillie Summer.
"...damaged but the same size and style as the others." There was a pause where Gillie's fingers absently rotated the object as he listened. Then.
"The student who unpacked it is waiting in an interview room. Yes, Miss Troy... Yes, Miss Troy. I'll wait for you here."
Archaeologists tend to love digging holes and getting their knees and fingers dirty. Perhaps it's a throwback to early childhood and playing around in the sand pit.
Archaeologists tend not to love sitting in libraries at a desk piled high with books or at a computer screen where access to social media has been blocked by some university admin.
Rare is the bird that can get just as excited by finding a doubtful reference in some dead guy's otherwise boring treatise as they can by finding absolute dating evidence when ankle deep
in freezing mud at the bottom of some hole. Professor Bodil Ramsbottom - Hill was well known to be one such rarity.
Which is perhaps why she was now stepping carefully around the neatly arranged and mentally logged piles of fragile paperwork in the dusty, airless and silent Troy archive.
After Victor had closed the door behind her Bodil had finished off what she was doing the day before.
Taking notes and squinting through the magnifying glass she had acquired, she deciphered the almost invisible writing on the flimsiest of police flimsies.
But, while one part of her brain was thusly engaged, another part was concerned with the much bigger problem of finding what she needed in the limited time she had available.
The archive was huge. There was years-worth of research all around her. But none of it was catalogued, just held in hundreds of various sized, randomly placed unmarked boxes.
These thoughts swirled round and around, stirred by the methodical intellect that had been grown and nurtured by a couple of centuries worth of pragmatic experience.
Slowly, those thoughts began to coalesce into something that began to look like an idea.
This was a museum. 'The Archive', sorry, The Archive had been the very reason the museum existed in the first place. At one time everything had been catalogued.
Sorted, indexed and cross-referenced to within an inch of its life.
That painstaking work had been done under the direction of the curators, people who catalogued things in their sleep and who probably used the Dewey decimal system to organise their socks.
When The Archive had been boxed up and locked away in this one single room it would have been done so under the direction of those same curators.
They would have directed the move the only way they knew how; methodically, systematically and section by section.
Bodil put down the magnifying glass and let the pencil drop from her lips onto her lap.
Still with that thought in her mind, she slowly stood up, not heeding the pencil that now fell from her lap to roll across the floor and hide under a fold of paper,
and which she would spend annoying minutes looking for later.
She stood up and looked around, seeing the ghosts of those curators with their clipboards directing lines of overall-wearing men and women, each carrying a box,
or two such sweating and grunting students (likely as not) with a larger box between them.
"Those, over there. Those, along that wall. Those... Be careful! Start a new pile over here."
Those wonderful curators unconsciously cataloguing seemingly random boxes into seemingly random piles and stacks. Sorting things into order even when it looked like there was none.
Because that's what they did, it was who they were. All Bodil had to do now was to learn how to read their catalogue.
There were many possible ways the archive could have been categorised for storage.
Chronologically, Geographically, Contextually, Sociologically, 'Factionally' and several other words where you could add 'ly' onto the end.
All but the first three words in the list would have resulted in just a few very large piles in the room. But that wasn't the case at all.
Looking around yet again, Bodil reluctantly dismissed the Contextual option.
Which was a shame because that was the way her training had taught her to think and so that would have been the easiest option for her.
A distribution by archaeological context would have given a more even distribution size-wise but some of the piles were much bigger than others,
something that would have been very unlikely if context was the indexing method.
Chronologically would have been the historian's choice with a huge cross referencing database for research. But this was a museum.
Most of the visitors would not be academics, they would be the curious, the families on a day out, the tourists, the school trips.
The museum would be built around their needs, not those of the intellectual elite.
Of course, there would be a database because the second largest group would be those academics, like Bodil herself and her overworked, under-appreciated researchers.
No, the curators would be used to arranging displays and 'events' and other things to catch the imagination of the hoi-polloi with their sticky fingers and their guide books.
So, distribution by geographic location was the most likely.
For the Troys the most important locations would be Hope Springs and, much later, Papermill. But she wasn't looking for mention of the Troys just now, she was looking for Joe Spivey.
So where was home for the middle-aged, pot-bellied entrepreneur? Where were the best business opportunities?
Where was the lowest point of the dirty belly of the post apocalypse wilderness where someone like Spivey would have thrived?
Bodil's narrowed eyes scanned the room, quickly alighting on the biggest, tallest pile of boxes in the whole room. New Flagstaff.
It was hungry. The hunger never went away, not entirely. The passage from day to night was no longer cognate with the abstract label called a 'day'.
Such mental constructs were well beyond its pulped and botched brain functions.
But it knew that there had been 'time' since its last meal and it knew that this time was bigger than some of the other times it had experienced. It was hungry.
It disappeared off into the trees. Everywhere was trees, mainly ancient woodland.
Hugely overgrown with ferns and brambles which colluded with the older trees to starve the new saplings of light and oxygen.
The old trees guarded their place in the land with savage jealousy, for a tree.
Another 'It' shambled into view. Heading south, just like the other one. Just like all the others that had passed this way. Just like all the others that would follow.
Most of the 'Its' were naked.
Their skin a sickly greyish yellow and encrusted with the blood of some animal that had been unlucky enough not to escape the 'Its' deceptive speed when attacking prey.
Sometimes one of the 'Its' would have a tuft of sparse hair somewhere upon its head.
Very rarely one of them would even be wearing some article of faded, torn or rotting clothing it had found somewhere on its southward meander.
Evidence, maybe, that locked deep inside their rotted brains there would sometimes be a memory of wearing clothes.
The 'Its' had been passing this way for decades. Usually no more than one or two each week but sometimes there might be three in a single day.
Of course, not all of them made it this far because the woods were home to other predators large and small, and small usually came in packs. The 'Its' would put up a good fight though.
Often trying to eat their attackers even as they were being eaten themselves. A 'Circle of Life - Extreme' sort of thing I suppose.
Then there were the indigenous human tribes like the Dood-Li or, further south, the much more aggressive Bru-Mei.
All of these hazards took their toll on the 'Its' during their trek south, but the one directing them, the one who spawned them.
The ancient one whose mind still functioned, was patient and, after centuries of recovering, the land surrounding the first machine was verdant and bountiful.
It was still hungry. Up ahead it first heard and then saw the food. The food was fast but it was being fast the wrong way. The food was coming towards it.
The food wasn't watching where it was going. The food was being too loud and constantly looking behind.
It stood up. More foods chased the first food. The second foods stopped. Their noise grew louder and they waved their sticks. The first food stopped. The other foods ran away.
Only when it was standing looming over the food did the food start to turn its head. But by then it was much too late.
It dragged the food until it found a cave where it could eat without having to fight off bigger food and closed the entrance behind it with a flat thing it had found.
From outside the cave the flat thing faintly displayed markings the thing inside had no memory of and even less interest in but if it had,
then it would have known that its journey was nearly over.