It had not gone well. It hadn’t gone well at all. In fact, it was an absolute failure, and they do not like failure here! It should have been so simple, the extraction of some information. Well it’s what we do here in the village, we gather information, we extract it, or protect it depending on which side the subject is on. All we wanted to know was why did she resign? There she was, well-established in a job deep in the Civil Service, then what does she go and do? She hands in her resignation.
“All we wanted to know was why did she resign?”
“I know that.”
“Wasn’t much to ask. One of well-established agents deep undercover, and suddenly it all goes pear shaped!”
“How was I to know she had become so unstable?”
“You weren’t, no-one knew. It wasn’t in her file.”
“I wonder what made her do it. You don’t think she suddenly developed a conscience do you?
“Bit late for that even if she had.”
“Yes. I suppose we’ll never know now. I wasn’t too hard on her, you don’t think that?”
“Doesn’t matter what I think.”
“No, you’ll be alright no matter what.”
“That’s administration for you, serving each Number 2 with equal loyalty, and without question.”
“You think I’ll not be here tomorrow?”
“It wouldn’t surprise me if your successor has been lined up already.”
“I wish him the best of luck!”
“Might be a she.”
“Oh tomorrow is another day for me. You know it could have turned out so differently.”
“You mean had I kept closer surveillance on her?”
“Observers are not infallible. I know they are supposed to see and hear everything. But really what chance have they, there being only seven observers on duty at any one time!”
The next day the new Number 2 took up his position in the sanctum of the Green Dome. A tall, lean middle aged man with silver hair had been given a second chance, as Number 2 he carried the can for the previous failure. But was told that under no circumstances would a second failure be tolerated. Number 2’s task was a simple one, to oversee an escape from the village!
The steel doors leading into the dome’s chamber of Number 2’s office slid open, and Number 14 stepped through and down the ramp. The steel doors sliding closed behind him with a resounding clang.
“You’re still with us then?”
“Well you know how it is, you can’t keep a good man down.”
“So what is it this time?”
“Simple, we allow Number 9 to escape, then we let him run unhindered.”
“And how far do we let 9 run?”
“If he can make it a “home run” well all the better.”
“We are going to let Number 9 escape?”
“By winking a blind surveillance eye 14, understood?”
“Do you mind if I check?”
“Are you questioning my authority 14?”
“It sounds like it to me. Tonight don’t drug the tap water in 9 Private, and make sure the French window of his cottage is left unsecured.”
“I’ll be seeing you later on in the Control Room”
It was a little after curfew, Number 9 was restless probably because he had not been given his nightcap, he wouldn’t have drunk it even if he had. From the wardrobe he produced a haversack, filled with as many supplies as he would be able to carry. For him the only way out of the village was through the woods and across open countryside.
The night was pitch black, there were surprisingly few lights on as a darkened figure flitted about. Across the street, across the square, along a narrow path. Then left along a cobbled path, passed the statue of Hercules, then up a set of steps, through wrought iron gates, and right along the street until the figure turned left up steps taking to the back of a cottage. It was then he made a dash for the woods.
Meanwhile in the Control room.
“You are sure about this Number 2?” the Supervisor asked.
“Of course. He’ll head for the far side of the woods and the countryside beyond.”
“And if he doesn’t?
“There’s no other direction for him to take.”
“I’m surprised at you being party to this 14.”
“I’m not, I’m just an impartial observer.”
“There’s no such thing” the Supervisor told him.
“Now that 9 is finally on his way, we can all relax.”
“Can we?” asked the Supervisor not bothering to hide the concern in his voice.
“Don’t worry, for you tomorrow is another day.”
It had been a long and arduous journey over land. The escaped Prisoner was thirsty, hungry, and exhausted. He had walked by day, resting where he could by night. He had crossed mile after mile of open countryside, until there came a road. A small group of gypsies had given him food and a ride in one of their caravans for a good deal of the way. But now he was once again on his own, and walking again. He kept to the road, trying to thumb a lift. Several cars passed him, probably they didn’t want to pick up a raggedy vagrant. For his hair was matted, his clothes dirty and torn. He was about to leave the road, and ready himself to spend the night under a hedge, his supper being the two sandwiches the gypsy woman made for him, when out of the night a big bright light. A lorry was bearing down on him, it almost ran him down. But the lorry stopped, and the escaped Prisoner ran and jumped over the tailgate and into the back of the lorry. He banged on the side to alert the driver and the lorry began to move. There were a large number of cardboard boxes in the lorry all marked “import.” The man settled himself down to sleep, covering himself with some old sacking.
When he woke the lorry was no longer moving. He crawled out from beneath the sacks, moving slowly and peered out from over the tailgate. Suddenly he leapt out of the back of the lorry, and stood frozen to the spot. There was a group of men dressed in dove grey overalls, they were being supervised by a man in a piped jacket. The man stood there rooted to the spot.
“Whatever do you think you’re doing. Where have you come from?” Number 138 demanded to know.
“I……I’m back, I don’t believe it!”
“I think we’d better get Number 2.”
“Sorry to disturb you at such a time Number 2.”
“Well what is it, what’s the matter?”
Number 14 handed 2 a small box.
“The aspirins have arrived, I thought you might like to take a couple for your headache.”
“I don’t have a headache.”
“Number 9 is back.”
“I beg your pardon.”
“The lorry bringing the milk, ice cream, the potatoes, and the aspirins also had a hidden cargo……..Number 9!”
Number 9 was escorted into Number 2’s office by two burly set men. A chair rose up out through a hole in the floor, and was roughly seated in it.
“What were you doing in the back of that lorry Number 9?” Number 2 asked from the comfort of his chair.
“I was escaping!”
“Anywhere that isn’t here.”
“And yet here you are.”
“You, you had me brought me back here!”
“I? I didn’t want you back here, because you are supposed to be in
“It would appear that there’s been an error of judgement.”
“You had the lorry driver bring me back here to the village.”
“How did I manage that do you suppose? I’m sorry to have to tell you, but the mistake was yours.”
“How do you make that out?”
“It’s a sorry state of affairs for both of us really, and I suppose it was a mistake anyone could have made. You see the lorry was on its way here as part of a regular delivery run.”
Tomorrow is another day, and with it a new arrival in the village to take up office in the Green Dome………
Be seeing you