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March 6, 2014 | by  | in V.C. Guilford |
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V.C. Guilford Episode 5: Library Not-So-Fines Part 2.

At Kelburn Campus (and everywhere else, if you think about it), afternoon was slipping into evening. Staff and students were retiring to their homes, all of course except those in Engineering hoodies who lurk in the shadows.

“I don’t like it,” said Guilford. “I suppose it shows a sense of camaraderie, but you don’t see Accounting students going around in packs with BCom T-shirts do you? Or English students with ‘I love Bachelor of Arts’ mugs. That would be pe-cue-ler wouldn’t it? There’s something fishy going on in Cotton and I don’t like it one bit, Petersen, not one bit at all.”

Actually, Guilford thought there was something fishy going on everywhere, which is how he’d managed to get himself stuck underneath a bookshelf in the Anthropology section of the Library. He had been trying to conduct a covert zoological survey on study habits, but only managed to make everyone feel a bit uneasy as they tried to pretend he wasn’t there. “Students look uneasy while studying,” he’d written in his notebook. There were still a few people loitering on the floor, and Guilford was humming ‘Slice of Heaven’ to himself.

He heard some footsteps behind him. He froze.

“What light through yonder window breaks?” he whispered to himself, “Oh it’s just bloody Petersen, have you figured out a way of getting this shelf off me yet?”

“Yes sir, I think I have.”

Arcadia-Rae, Guilford’s mole on the inside of the student body, recruited while under the influence of half-a-dozen vodka shots at the Toga Party a few weeks prior, and who he hadn’t seen since, appeared behind Petersen.

“Hello Guilford,” she said dryly.

“Arcadia-Rae! How the hell did you get this slice of who-knows-what to come here, Petersen?”

“We help each other out,” said Arcadia-Rae.

“Do you two know each other outside of our pro-fesh-nal arrange-munt?”

“Petersen has been teaching me how to write academic essays, and I give him details of all the shit going down in first-year Tourism. He’s writing a series of short stories about it.”

“You’re giving him insider information? You’re meant to be giving me insider information. I’ve been trying to get in touch with you for four goddamn weeks, didn’t you get my pxts?”

Petersen coughed. “I think, sir, that perhaps you’re acting a little too keen. The trick to winning over the student body seems to be to act as uninterested as possible. And no one pxts sir, no one ever has.”

“That sounds like more of that Walsh bullshit I said we were done with, Petersen. You’ve hurt my feelin’s, Arcadia-Rae. What kind of name is that anyway? Arcadia-Rae. It’s two names, that’s what. Why isn’t one a middle name?”

“I’ve already got one.”

“Well what the bloody hell is it then?”

“Mae.”

“Arcadia-Rae Mae?”

“Fa Sol La Ti Do,” muttered Petersen.

“God damn it Petersen, shut up, this is no time to be indulging your love of musicals: we’ve got more pressing issues at hand.”

“Yes sir.”

“I mean, Jesus Christ, what are you playing at? You’re becoming real slippery, Petersen. First it was all yes sirs and no sirs and now you’re fratern-ise-ing with the mole behind my back.”

“You should get a doctor to look at that, sir.”

“Ha ha buggering ha, Petersen.”

“Sir, I think Arcadia-Rae—“

“Mae.”

“Arcadia-Rae Mae is smarter than you think. Yes, her hair can only be described as off-white, and her favourite song is ‘The Only Exception’, but she’s smarter than we’ve been giving her credit for. If you want her to help you infiltrate the student body you’ll have to give her something in return.”

“I got her into Tourism! She didn’t even have blimmin’ UE.”

“And for that I’m going to get the shelf off you,” said Arcadia-Rae.

“Okay then Petersen, Arcadia-Rae Mae. Maybe you’re right. I’ve had a lot of time to think things over under here today, and I s’pose I have been getting carried away, milking twice a day and all that. What’s the plan to get me out of here?

“Arcadia-Rae —“

“Mae.”

“Arcadia-Rae Mae has managed to convince the rest of her Tourism tutorial to check out all the books on the shelf above you, one by one, so as to avoid suspicion.”

So it was that over two hours, Arcadia-Rae and her classmates borrowed every single book on uncontacted tribes in Papua New Guinea. They were never returned, and no one at Victoria has ever completed an essay on uncontacted tribes again. Conversely, by 2025, Papua New Guinea had become the number-one travel destination for New Zealanders. Not that they didn’t want to go somewhere different (they did), but because those in the tourism industry didn’t know anything about anything else.

“Why don’t they just take all the books off and put them on the floor?” said the acetous librarian to the other one.

“He doesn’t want anyone to notice.”

“Everyone’s noticed. He’s on Overheard @ Vic. The post has over 600 likes.”

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