The floor sits empty by 5 am. Well, almost empty. Here and there a solitary figure slumps over a desk. Some are typing, one or two are packing up, but the vast majority of them have fallen asleep. As the sun starts to filter through the south wall, these last stragglers rise and shuffle out to class. Or to a resting place a bit more comfortable than their wooden cubicle.
Around 7 or 8 the flow reverses and those who had passed a night in bed take up their posts. Coffee and muffins mingle with readings and problem sets as the carts begin to roll. Slowly a days worth of words finds its way back to the shelves. By noon both the shelves and the tables stand full. And equilibrium sets in.
Those who stumbled out early this morning return after dinner, groggy and clutching their fourth espresso of the day. They search for their usual haunts and fall into now-familiar chairs. The floor begins to buzz. The sound leaks out gradually. It first reaches the rows of wooden cells in each corner, then crawls into the stairwell. By 10 pm the whole building is filled with an inescapable hum. People battle for seats and tables and even spots on the carpet, as long as they're near an outlet. The printers spit out page after page without ceasing.
By midnight the last of the night's visitors trickle in. They search in vain for an empty place before descending to the bowels of the building. A lucky one grabs the last desk, hidden in the far corner under the flickering light no one had bothered to fix yet. As she put down her bag and began unpacking the evening, now morning's work, she noticed speck of neon green just out of view. She looked up. And she alone smiled.