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Saturday, 22 March 2014

Prismatic Reflection

    A play in three acts. Number 2 has had the whole of the Prisoner’s life researched and computed, and Number 2 is of the opinion that the Prisoner was going to sell out. He wants to know what the Prisoner had to sell, and to whom he was going to sell it. It all boils down to three people, A B and C.
    Number 2 receives a telephone call from Number 1 “Yes sir I am doing my best, he being very difficult. I know it’s important sir. He’s no ordinary person sir, but if I had a free hand, yes I know sir I’m not indispensable.” He then calls Number 14, a doctor who has developed a new wonder drug that allows one to enter the subconscious dreams of another person, but the experiment must be brought forward. The only thing is, the drug had yet to tested on animals let alone humans. Number 14 needs all of a week in order to conduct the necessary tests. But Number 2 hasn’t got a week, he’s got just three days, and so the experiment must begin tonight!
   There is a clash of thunder, it’s a wet night, as into a laboratory somewhere in the woods two men bring in the slumbering body of Number 6. Waiting to receive the body are Number 14 and Number 2.
   The sedated body of Number 6 is placed on an operating table and the doctor-Number 14 administers to her patient. She attaches plastic bracelets to his wrists, electrodes to his head. As she works she tells Number 2 that she hasn’t had time to prove the drug. “Just get it right” Number 2 tells her, “or I’ll see that it’s proved on you.”
   The doctor attaches wires of the electrodes to a monitor, which she switches on and it immediately projects the sedated Number 6’s brain waves, energy from his brain. Thoughts, like sound waves, converted into electrical impulses, and finally……..the doctor crosses to tuning consol, tweaking a control….into pictures onto the wall screen. “Extraordinary!” Number 2 exclaims.
   The pictures on the TV monitor are of one of Madame Engadine’s celebrated parties in Paris. However Number 6’s subconscious thoughts are being played out on the large wall screen. The scene of Number 6 handing in his resignation to a man sat behind a desk is played out. “How very single-minded” Number 2 comments. The act of the Prisoner’s resignation is played out on the screen over and over again. The doctor comments that he’s not conventional. Number Two sometimes thinks he’s not human. But certainly the Prisoner is suffering from an anguish pattern.
   The doctor takes a syringe from a glass box, which is one of three such syringes, each containing a single dose of the drug. Three doses is bad enough, four would kill him! Just as the doctor is administering the first dose of the drug, the subject opens his eyes and sees the doctor, who at the same time is projected onto the wall screen. At this vital moment Number 2’s attention is diverted away from the screen. The doctor decides not to inform her superior, and closes the subject’s eyelids, and saying nothing, administers the drug, and his mind is now Number 2’s.
   Number 2 wants to know what would have happened to the Prisoner if they had not got to him first. Number 2 believes he was going to sell out, and wants to know what he had to sell, and to whom he was going to sell it. ‘A’ has one thing in common with the Prisoner, they both attended Madame Engadine’s celebrated parties, and that is where they are to meet. Number 2 hands the doctor a film cassette containing film of the most recent one.
   There’s nothing like a good party, and I’m sure the Prisoner will welcome the change of scenery. But before the experiment can continue the Prisoner lying on the operating table grunts and twitches. The doctor checks the subject, he’s alright so far. Then the moment of truth as the doctor turns a dial and on the screen appears the Prisoner dressed in his charcoal grey suit. Behind him the party is taking place, to which he turns and joins. He is greeted by a number of people who appear to know him, and finally is greeted warmly by the hostess.
   “Engadine!” his arms open wide.
   “Darling” Engadine exclaims and hurries to her guest “I am so happy you are here.”
   “You look as wonderful as ever” he tells her.
   “You look tired darling. Things are bad?”
   No, not now, he’s starting a holiday, but not the English holiday with big boots and fishing sticks. Somewhere different, somewhere quiet where he can think. Engadine and the Prisoner engage in small talk, say hello to a passing guest, and then Engadine makes her excuses and leaves the Prisoner.
   I think it‘s time to introduce ‘A.’ Once upon a time he and the Prisoner were on the same side. They used to be friends, with a great deal in common. But a few years ago he made world news, by defecting. Now they do the same job, but for opposing sides, and for different reasons. But whichever way you look at it, they both want to conquer the world. “A” is under the impression that the Prisoner has something to sell, and he wants to buy it. If the Prisoner hasn’t a price, he must have a reason, although they are not the same thing. Turning off the banter, the Prisoner makes to leave the party, this upsets Number 2, he must not leave “Get him back!” But it’s the Prisoner’s dream, it’s what he would have done. The doctor can only create the situation, she cannot influence events!
   However, much to Number 2’s relief, “A” who never could take a hint, but then he doesn’t want a hint, he wants the Prisoner. Besides this way, abducting the Prisoner from the party with the aid of two henchmen, “A” is saving himself money!
   A ride through Paris ensues, Number 2 doesn’t know where they are going, but its what would have happened. Its what Number 2 wanted. The destination a chateau somewhere outside Paris. The kidnappers take their victim out of the car. They are in “A’s” country now he tells the Prisoner. But the Prisoner claims diplomatic immunity. He likes travel, it broadens the mind. And at that point a fight breaks out. They dare not shoot the Prisoner, who wins hands down even when the odds are 3 to 1. Victorious he sniffs the air, straightens his bow tie “Be seeing you.”
    This is a disappointing outcome for Number 2, but at least he knows that it wasn’t “A” he was selling out to. So, let’s try the second dose, let’s get on to “B.” But Number 14 cannot allow this. It’s a very dangerous drug. The subject must rest for twenty-four hours, because it’s a very dangerous drug, and the subject must have time to readjust. Number 2 looks anxiously at the over-sized curved red telephone half expecting it to begin bleeping immediately. It remains silent.
  The following morning Number 6 wakes tired, and aching, it seems that he did not sleep well. Donning his dressing gown he crosses from the bedroom into the lounge. The front door opens. Outside there is an oriental flower seller selling flowers to a blonde woman. She turns, Number 6 has seen her before. He pulls up the right sleeve of his dressing gown, he sees a puncture mark on his wrist.
    A little later that morning Number 6 can be seen on the lawn of the Old People’s Home, sat at one of the tables is Number 14, Number 6 joins her. His handbook on social etiquette doesn’t deal with this situation. How does one talk to someone that one has met in a dream? Number 14 is usually a social animal, but not just at the moment. Last week Number 14 was an old lady in a wheelchair, Number 14 is new in the Village, and she’s one of them!
   Number 6’s next port of call is to the Green Dome.
   “Oh really, send him in.”
   The pair of steel doors open and the butler shows Number 6 into Number 2’s office.
  “Come in my dear fellow. Come and sit down” Number 2 offers.
  “I’m not tired, I slept well” Number 6 tells him.
  “We don’t seem to have seen very much of each other.”
  “I haven’t seen very much of you!”
  Number 2 informs Number 6 that he has better things to do, he doesn’t spend all his time spying, but apparently all his predecessors did!
   Number 2 appears unsympathetic to Number 6’s plight. And all this nonsense about why he resigned, if people can’t chuck up a job things have come to a pretty pass. He offers Number 6 a seat for the second time. Number 6 is still not tired. Number 2 asks if Number 6 would pour him a glass of milk, he didn’t have a good night. Number 6 is kind enough to do this, but as he offers Number 2 the glass of milk, he makes sure he sees the bruised puncture mark on his right wrist.
    Number 2 has no option but to comment on the bruised punctured mark “Where did you get it?”
   The Prisoner suggests in his sleep, to which Number 2 responds “You must have been restless!” And further more goes on to suggest that perhaps he needs a check-up. Number 6 has a favourite doctor, Number 14! Number 6 departs the Green Dome, leaving Number 2 to answer the red, curved, oversized telephone. His future is at stake and gives Number 1 his guarantee, in two days!
    That night in his cottage Number 6 retires for the night. On the bedside table his nightcap of hot chocolate left for him by his personal maid. He drinks the said drink, and collapses onto the floor unconscious!
    Now it is time for “B,” and the Prisoner finds himself back at Engadine’s party. She is annoyed as “A” has left the party without saying goodbye. But never mind, she never liked him! What’s more Engadine gets further annoyed by a note which Number 6 receives via the French maid Lucette. There is no name on the note which is from an old friend, and is written in a woman’s hand and directs the Prisoner to meet her in the arbour.
   Number 6 makes his way through the garden to the arbour, where he finds a woman popping a champagne cork, a sound Number 6 would recognise anywhere. The last he remembers of the woman is that she was hiking across the mountains to Switzerland, she apparently got sore feet! They discuss Number 6’s other friend, he’s a very bad loser, and his chums are all over the place. Music plays, they dance together. “B” asks him where he’s going on his holiday, he doesn’t seem to be surprised that she’s heard, but it’s going to be a very long one.
    Number 6 may be relaxed at the party, but not on the operating table, if this goes on much longer the drug will be used up in no time. Number 2 urges Number 14 to do something about it. If only she could manipulate his dream, put words into his mouth. If they can feed the Prisoner with pictures, then why not words? But whose voice will he hear? The danger is, if he hears Number 14’s voice and recognises it, he will wake up, and they will have failed. But Number 2 asks 14 where’s her scientific enthusiasm?
  Number 14 having made the preparations to put word in “B’s” mouth by speaking her words for her, but doesn’t know what to say.
   “Shall we have some more?”
   “More?”
   “Champagne.”
   “Not yet.”
   “I wonder if they will kill me?”
   “I thought you didn’t care?”
   “I do!”
   But the Prisoner will help her, she knows that. They are there to kill her, and “B’s” only way out is if the Prisoner makes a deal with her, tells her why he resigned, then she’ll have something to swap. But the Prisoner is suspicious, this isn’t like “B”.” Is it her asking this? Has she the feeling she is being manipulated?
   “Manipulated?
    It would appear that “B” is not who she claims to be. The Prisoner makes to leave, but his path is blocked by two henchman, and a fight breaks out, with No.6 once more leaving the two men sprawled unconscious on the ground. A hoodlum holds a gun to “B’s” head.
   “Tell him. He’ll kill me!”
   The Prisoner asks “B” two questions, one about how long her husband has been dead. “Four years” Number 2 reads from a file, and 14’s words on the lips of “B.” How old is “B’s” son now?…………..Husband yes, but there’s no son! The Prisoner thought she couldn’t answer that one! And the Prisoner leaves “B” in the arbour.
   “Come back, don’t leave me. Come back I can explain everything…..please” she screams.
    In the laboratory Number 2 is mortified by the outcome, and is about to hurl “B’s” file across the room, when he sees the oversized red curved telephone, and thinks better of it!
    The following morning Number 6 stirs beneath the sheets of his bed. He’s tired, and has had another restless night. Then he sees the cup and saucer on the bedside table and examines his wrist, there is a second bruised puncture mark!
    Later that day, Number 6 is secreted in hiding outside the cottage of ’14 Private,’ waiting for the doctor Number 14 to emerge. When she does he follows her through he Village and into the woods. Number 14 goes through a steel door into the hidden laboratory, but when Number 6 tries the door it will not open for him. Instead he descends an air ventilation duct into the laboratory, where the doctor is checking equipment.
  Eventually Number 14 leaves the laboratory, and Number 6 emerges from the air duct by kicking out the wire frame into a corridor. At either end are steel doors, a pair of which open and allow Number 6 into the laboratory itself. He discovers what Number 2 and the doctor have been up to. The film of one of Engadine’s parties, the three box files A B and C, which he opens in turn,’ and more than that, the third dose of the drug! Taking his handkerchief Number 6 empties half the syringe into it, and makes up the difference with water taken from a carafe, thus diluting the drug, and hopefully the drugs effect upon him that night. He departs the laboratory leaving everything just as he had found them.
   In the Green Dome Number 2 is a late riser still dressed in pyjamas and dressing gown, it looks like he didn’t have a very good night either! He couldn’t sleep, possibly feeling the pressure, as his three days are almost up, and he’s no further forward at gaining what Number 6 had to sell, and to whom he was going to sell it, than he was at the outset. In fact he finds Number 6 to be an irritating man, he’s always walking!
    That night Number 6 emerges from the bathroom, to find his nightcap of hot chocolate left for him by his maid. Instead of drinking it he pours it down the plug hole of the sink, and pours himself a glass of water from the cold tap instead. But having taken one sip, the Prisoner collapses onto the bedroom floor. It was the tap water that was drugged all the time!
    For the third and final time Number 6 is lying on the operating table in the laboratory with the doctor and Number 2 in close attendance. However this time their experiment does not go according to plan, it would appear that Number 6 is subconsciously controlling his dream, his dream of a dreamy party! Number 14 says that the drug is too much for him, and wants to stop the experiment. But Number 2 stops her, it’s now or never. And so it’s on Number 2’s head, something he will worry about later if it all goes wrong.
    The Prisoner appears amid the guests at Engadine’s party, it’s so wild that it’s bound to end in tears, as all the best parties do. Hanging on the wall is a mirror, Number 6 straightens it, although I’m not so sure it was in need of straightening! Number 14 tells Number 2 that they’ll have to hurry, and asks for a picture of “C,” but there isn’t one. The only information on “C” is known to be French, known to attend Engadines Parties, probably disguised.
   On the screen the dreamy party gets wilder. Engadine needs more champagne, we all need more champagne. The Prisoner is introduced to a woman. They engage in small talk, and the Prisoner tells her he’s retired, to which the woman thinks he’s young to retire, but age it would seem is relative. The woman takes this to mean the Prisoner is free. She knows something, and the pay is very good. She hands him one of her earrings “Number 6, I’m sure it’s your lucky number.” The Prisoner places the earring on number 6 of the roulette table, and in exchange when the number 6 comes up, the Prisoner is given a key by the croupier.
  “C” it would seem is Engadine, and she appears to have fooled the Administration of the Village for years! Engadine also has a key, the same as the Prisoner’s. There can be no change of mind, the Prisoner has to be sure, as there can be no going back. The Prisoner is sure, and has the papers with him from London. They make to leave the party together, and each holding their key, approach a wooden door with two locks. Number 2 is excited by the prospect ahead, this is what he‘s been waiting for. But suddenly the Prisoner stirs, he is restless, his eyelids flickering, and then just at the crucial moment the picture on the wall screen rotates and spins, until it goes blank, and the patient on the operating table collapses!
    The doctor and Number 2 attend the patient. It would seem they have pushed him as far as they dare. But Number 2 has not learned what it was the Prisoner had to sell. The doctor stabilises the patient’s condition.
   “And if it kills him” says the doctor.
    “I shall have to take that risk” Number 2 replies.
    Reluctantly the doctor administers a heart stimulant, and the experiment continues.
    The Prisoner is in a car being driven across Paris by Engadine, even she works for someone who we shall have to call “D.” It is to “D” that the Prisoner is to hand over his papers. The car stops opposite a large building, apparently “D” likes impressive offices. Here Engadine leaves the Prisoner, as she has to get back to the party, otherwise people will talk. The Prisoner approaches a pair of large wooden doors, he pushes them open and steps through into a Parisian street, to the sound of a train.
    Out of the darkness comes a voice “I’m glad that you could come.“
    The Prisoner calls out “Where are you?
    “It doesn’t matter.”
    “I want to see you.”
    “It won’t make any difference.”
    “People who hide are afraid!”
  From somewhere a bell tolls, not unlike the Village bell, and at the far end of the street there appears a figure of a man, dressed in black, and wearing a mask.
   The Prisoner takes an envelope from his pocket containing the papers. It is very important to him. But then it’s only a commodity, and yet it’s the Prisoner’s future. The Prisoner wants to see who this man is, as does Number 2. The man tells the Prisoner that no-one will see him. But the Prisoner assures him that he will! Then whipping the mans black hat off tears away his mask, and to Number 2’s horror…………..looks at the wall screen to find that the face staring back at him is his own………….”C!” Or it could be “See,” depending on your interpretation.
    The Prisoner walks away towards the big heavy wooden doors. He pushes them open to reveal a scene of the Village Piazza below, then Number 6 appears back on the screen.
    He knew all the time, Number 6 has been playing with Number 2! Number 2 sees it quite differently, that the doctor’s drug failed! But either way Number 6 succeeded!
    On the wall screen the Prisoner is making his way through the woods to the laboratory. Approaching the steel door in the rock face it opens automatically for him, and he marches with purpose, and the envelope he had in the dream, in his hand. Number 2 and 14 watch the screen as the pair of steel doors open, and Number 6 walks smartly into the laboratory, whereas the actual steel doors in the laboratory remains closed! Number 2 and 14 watch themselves on the wall screen.
   “I owe you an apology” says Number 6 as he approaches Number 2.
   The Prisoner forgot to give him the envelope! Number 2 on the screen appears calm, unlike his other self in the actual laboratory, who is frantic for his other self on the screen to open the envelope so he can see the content of the envelope.
   “Open it you fool, open it!” he shrieks at the wall screen.
    Seen on the wall screen Number 2 slowly opens the envelope and removes it’s contents…..travel brochures! The Prisoner really was going on holiday, he wasn’t selling out. That’s not why he resigned.
   The Prisoner calmly walks over to the operating table and lies down, and on the wall screen the Prisoner is back in that room handing in his letter of resignation, pacing up and down angrily, shouting at the man sat behind the desk, and slamming a white envelope with his fist, the action of that event taking place on the screen over, and over, and over again repeatedly.
    The now broken Number 2 slowly staggers away from the screen, his head bowed. On the control consol the oversized curved red telephone begins to bleep as impatiently as ever. Number 2 spins round in apparent shocked surprise, staring at it in horror!

Be seeing you next time, and if not, well, it’s your Funeral!

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