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Saturday, 12 November 2016

An Alternate Arrival!

    The Village is fifty years old, and it hasn’t changed in all that time. It still looks very much lived in, the gardens tended but the bushes are allowed to run riot, they are not confined or trimmed. People live their lives in The Village in much the same way, gardeners tend the flower borders, painters paint, and if it’s not satisfactory the painter will paint it again! Taxi drivers ply their trade driving white Mini-Mokes with candy striped canopies. Oh look, the cafe  will be open in a minute, no doubt there will be the offer of breakfast and the waitress will go and see if coffee’s ready. No nothing has changed, the Bell Tower, the Green Dome. No doubt the Town Hall is still fussy about who it lets in! Number 6 lives there in the Round House, and Number 8 lived close by. Oh look, there’s an electrician, he’s driving one of those tractor things, so it’s not an emergency.
    “Here watch it, mind the plants!”
    “Oh sorry.”
    “They’re new.”
    “Sorry, goodbye.”
    “What do you mean goodbye, where are you going?”
    “Well I had thought of getting as far away from here as possible.”
    “Yes why do you want to get as far away from here as you can?”
    “I’m a prisoner here.”
    “Aren’t we all, but we all get used to it.”
   “Who is Number One?”
    “Number One?”
    “Number One’s the boss!”
    “He’s not my boss, Number Two-three-four is my boss, he’s my foreman. And he’ll soon give me what for if I don’t get these new plants in the ground. So I’ve no time to stand about bandying words with the likes of you!”
    I go to the electronic free information board to see where I am. The map of The Village is just the same as ever it was. I stand looking at the buttons, and wonder, if I press the number 1 button, where will the number 1 be indicated on the Village map. I go to press the button......
    {A white Mini-Moke suddenly pulls up with a squeal of tyres}
    “Where to sir?”
    “Where to sir?”
    “Yes that’s what I thought you said. I didn’t call for a taxi, oh well take me to the nearest town.”
    “Oh we’re only the local service.”
    “Well don’t worry about that, take me as far as you can.”
    {The taxi sets off on a tour of The Village}
    “You didn’t speak to me in French!”
    “Why should I do that?”
    “French is international.”
    “Not here, English is the international language. Everyone here speaks English, even if they come from
Latvia, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, even France.”
    “That’s twice we’ve driven up this street, and now we’re going along it in the other direction, through the archway, through the square, and we’ve driven passed the cafe twice, in both directions.”
    {The taxi comes to a sudden stop}
    “Well if you’re going to be like that you can get out.”
    “Why?” We’ve arrived.”
    “Arrived where?”
    “I did tell you we’re only a local service, and that being the case I took you as far as I could, just as long as you arrive back where you started.”
    “But you haven’t, we started at that electronic information board, not outside.....the General Store!”
    “Well never mind. The taxi is two units.”
    “Credit units, oh well pay me next time. Be seeing you.”
    {The taxi drove off}
   I intended to enquire about private hire cars in the General Store, perhaps even to buy a map of the area.
    Ting a ling ling sounded the shop bell.
    “Gratzi amoura de contravia amio mora gonswalla. Would you help yourself to a cucumber madam. That’s forty seven work units if you please. Thank you madam, good day.”
    {The woman in the brightly coloured cape and red trilby hat, carrying a wicker basket leaves the emporium}
    Ting a ling ling sounds the shop bell.
    “Now sir what can I do you for?”
    “I’d like a map of the area.”
    “A map?”
    “Yes, a map.”
   “Colour or black and white?”
   “Just a map.”
   {the shopkeeper turns his back and his attention to a glass cabinet behind the counter}
    “There you are sir, I think that will show you all you need to know.”
    The shopkeeper placed an imitation leather bound Map of Your Village on the counter, I slowly unfolded it. It showed the mountains, the sea, the beach, the Old People’s home, the stone boat, roads, lanes, a few unnamed buildings and nothing else. This wasn’t what I meant.
    “This isn’t what I meant.”
    “Doesn’t it show you everything you need then?”
    “Well no, I meant a larger area.”
    “Oh I see you want a bigger map.”
    “Yes that’s it.”
    “Only in colour, they’re much more expensive.”
    “That’s fine.”
    “Can I ask you, did you pay the taxi driver?”
    “Taxi driver......well as a matter of fact......”
    “Ah just as I thought. If you can’t pay for the taxi ride, how are you expecting to pay for a Map of The Village either in colour or black and white?”
    Ting a ling ling sounded the shop bell.
    I will not delay you with a prolonged description of what happens next, besides you know what happens next........I thought I saw a housemaid flicking a yellow duster, but by the time.......hello that wasn’t there before, a sign post outside my cottage, 6 Private.......the housemaid had gone!
   The telephone began to bleep and I was to have breakfast with Number 2 in the Green Dome. You can’t miss it, across the square, across the street, up the steps and you’re there. Not that the dome is actually green, it’s more of a turquoise colour, but the Turquoise Dome doesn’t roll of the tongue as easily as the Green Dome!
   A brief debriefing then took place
   I was then treated to an aerial tour of The Village.
   I’m then shown the stone boat, the Old People’s Home, and taken for a ride! 
    The taxi takes Number 2 and I up into The Village, where it stops outside the Town Hall. From there Number 2 goes his way and I go mine on foot. The Brass Band go on their way to the Bandstand........
    “Attention please, here are two announcements. Ice cream is now on sale for your enjoyment, the flavour of the day is strawberry. Here is a warning there is a possibility of light intermittent showers later in the day. Thank you for your attention.”
   Then there’s a demonstration of Rover, and some poor chap is smothered to death!
   At the Labour exchange there is an attempt to get information out of me, by getting me to fill in a questionnaire. I’ve never liked questionnaires, if they’d read my file they’d know that!
   I returned to my cottage to find the housemaid had returned, she was busy dusting..... there was no dust! I told her to get out!
   I began to get to know my new “home from home,” music was playing through a black loudspeaker, but it had no on/off switch and the music really began to annoy me. So I threw it out through the French window, it fell to the ground and smashed to bits on the cobbled path below the balcony. Then the housemaid came back for the yellow duster she left behind. She tried to extract information from me. She thought that if I gave her some sort of information they might let her go, they might.
    It was a busy old morning, soon after telling the housemaid that her services will not be required tomorrow, I heard something outside. A chap in overalls was driving a garden tractor. He stopped and picked up the pieces of the smashed loudspeaker and placed them in the trailer, from which he took another speaker.
    “Electrics, sorry for the intrusion.”
    “Help yourself. Why do you drive those things?”
    “The garden tractor.”
    “They’re steady, get you there in the end.”
    What he meant was there’s no hurry, if it had been an emergency he’d have walked. I fancied a bit of a walk myself!
    I took a path up into the woods, having to dodge about trying to keep out of sight of the cameras set in statues, and evading that white membranic Guardian. Eventually found a way down onto the beach. They must have thought I was going to run away, because they sent two men in a Mini-Moke after me. I dealt with them, and drove off in the Moke. But I hadn’t taken into account the Guardian, and that encounter landed me in hospital!
   I met with Cobb, who didn’t know how long he’d been in The Village.
   The doctor gave me a medical, his diagnosis being that I’m absolutely fit. They gave me new clothes, having burnt my old ones, they must have thought they had become contaminated in some way!
   Cobb committed suicide!
    The next day, having been discharged from hospital, I went back to the Turquoise Dome and went to complain about people’s treatment to Number 2. But he’d gone, replaced by a new chap! I told him to get Number 1, but he told me that as far as I was concerned he was in charge! In short he told me that what they do here has to be done, it’s the law of survival, it’s them or us, but preferably us doing it to them! He told me that if I don’t give them what they want.....they’ll take it!
    I attended Cobb’s funeral from a distance, so did Number 9. She was crying, apparently funerals make her emotional, even funerals of people she doesn’t know. I told her I was a friend of Cobb’s and told her how he died, by jumping out of a window. Apparently Number 9 hadn’t known Cobb long, just a short while. I asked her when we could talk again, she didn’t want to, but agreed to meet me at the Brass Band concert at
12 o’clock.
   Surprisingly I was enjoying the concert, then Number 9 turned up.
    “I want to help.”
   “I know a way out, we planned an escape together.”
   “They found out?”
   “No. They came sooner than Cobb expected.”
   “He was expecting them?”
   “In here you only have so much time to give then what they want before they take it from you. His time had come, so will yours. Can you fly a helicopter?”
    “What’s the matter, you seem disappointed.”
    “I was rather counting on you being able to fly a helicopter.”
    “The last pilot gave me an
Electro Pass.
    “A what?!
Electro Pass, it synchronizes with the alarm system and lets you through.”
    “Through where?”
    “To the helicopter.”
    “But I can’t fly a helicopter!”
    “Yes that is a drawback!”
    A few minutes later in Number 2’s office of the Turquoise Dome.
    “You’ve done very well It’s a pity about Cobb, but it wasn’t your fault.”
    “He can’t fly a helicopter!”
    “Who can’t?”
    “Number Six.”
    “Oh..........then we’ll just have to try something else that’s all. More tea?”

Be seeing you

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