“Tell me why you are here.”
“You tell me, after all who would know better?”
“You don’t like it here do you?”
“Given my position, would you?”
“No, probably not.”
The village is a place where people turn up, people who have a certain kind of knowledge which is of great value to one side or another. Information which is to be protected, or extracted, if the latter then by fair means or foul. And there’s no escape, and if you give them what they want then they’ll look after you for as long as you live, for however long that is. It’s a picturesque village, giving the impression of being a holiday resort, which hides a much darker underside.
“You’ve never really settled in have you?”
“I was supposed to?”
“In your position yes, it was expected.”
“Well it would appear you picked the wrong person for the job!”
“Yes, we don’t usually make mistakes like that, we misjudged you.”
“So now what happens?”
“To a former Number 2?”
“A former Number 2 with a conscience?”
“Well we can hardly let you leave.”
Number 2 stood at his desk, considering his options for a few moments. Then he turned and faced his predecessor.
“You heard me, get out.”
“And go where.”
“I do not care, just go, go anywhere you like.”
“As long as it’s with the confines of the village.”
“Not necessarily. You can go and live in the woods.”
Number 2 returned to his seat behind the desk.
“And live how?”
“Live as you will. You can become the wise-woman in the woods.”
“The wise woman!”
“Yes, you’re into herbs and all that kind of thing.”
“You’re casting me out.”
“Lady you didn’t want “in” in the first place!”
The now former No.2 rose out of her chair and crossed the floor to the ramp leading up to the ramp and the steel doors. The doors slid open, she halted framed in the open doorway.
“I curse you for this, one day you will pay.”
“Yes I know, I won’t die in my own bed, let alone with my boots on. Just get out oh wise woman!”
The former No.2 drew provisions from the General Store. She stole tools from the maintenance workshop, and placed them in a wheel barrow and pushed it along one of the paths deep into the woods where she knew there to be a cave. She had brought candles, a lantern, and matches with her. Lighting the candle she went into the darkness of the cave. It was cold and damp, but served as shelter. She would make it her home.
This former No.2 made a life for herself living off the land and the woods. Yet availed herself of the General Store when need be. No-one from the village bothered her, and she them. And yet in time her reputation grew, as she had the knowledge of a nurse, she helped people with herbal remedies, help and advice. She would talk with those who came to see her, this wise woman of the woods. And they brought things which she might need in payment for her help. She called her cave the Therapy Zone, a place of peace and protection for those who came. Then one day…………
A man came stumbling through the woods, he hid in bushes, and when he thought it safe he stumbled on, finally tripping over a tree root he fell to the ground. He lay there for a few minutes expecting his pursuers to be upon him at any moment. Then a shadow was cast over him, he looked up to see a woman standing there looking down at him.
“Have you hurt yourself?” she asked in friendly way.
“Y….yes, I’ve twisted my ankle” he told her.
“Do you think you can make it to my cave, it’s only a few yards away.”
“Yes I think so” he said struggling to his feet.
The woman helped the man back to her cave, and sat him down inside. She made him a hot drink, and bathed his swollen ankle.
“Who are you?” she asked casually.
“I could ask you that same thing” he said sipping his hot drink.
“They call me the wise woman.”
“And are you?”
“In some ways, I can fix people, make them better.”
He looked at her, and about the cave.
“So” she began, “you haven’t told me who you are.”
“You’re the wise woman, you tell me” he said standing up.
“You’re a goat” she told him.
“A goat, whatever do you mean?”
“You’ve come amongst us to cause trouble” she said accusingly.
“I came to find you” he told her.
“There’s a submarine lying at the bottom of the sea, its waiting there for a signal from me. In two hours time the submarine will surface for 15 minutes and wait for that signal. Then a boat will come for us. I’m here to take you away Helen.”
“Just who are you?”
“I am Commander John Fielding, I work for British Military Intelligence, or if you prefer 006.”
“You said a submarine is on the seabed!”
“What’s the matter?”
A submarine sat on the bottom of the sea, the Captain checked the time and gave the order to blow main ballast.
“Surface” came the command, and a klaxon was sounded.
The crew worked as part of one great machine, the submarine rocked but failed to lift off the seabed.
“Blow main ballast” the Captain ordered.
The command was repeated by the first lieutenant, but again the sub failed to rise off the seabed. Then came a report of the engine crew being attacked. The Captain and first lieutenant went to the engine room to investigate. The bulkhead door was closed and sealed. The Captain give the command to open the door, it was his last. As the door was opened white membrane ooze out of the engine room and into the next compartment suffocating every man inside. It spread throughout the boat, what was left of the crew took up arms, but weapons had no effect on the thing. The final refuge of the remaining members of the crew was the forward torpedo room, and one bulkhead door stood between the five men and it!
“What the hell is this thing, and how did it get aboard the boat?” asked one of the ratings.
“By one of the propeller shafts I shouldn’t wonder” said the Boson.
“What are we going to do Boson?” asked one of the ratings.
The Boson looked at his four companions, they were afraid, and he was scared witless! There was nowhere to go, nothing had the slightest effect on this creature that has invaded the submarine suffocating the crew in its path.
“What about the torpedo tubes?” suggested the second rating.
“What about them?” the Boson asked.
“They are a way out.”
The Boson studied the six torpedo hatches. He looked at the three escape suits. “It’s possible, but we have only three escape suits, and there are five of us.”
The other four men looked at each other, three of them were armed with hand guns.
“So it’s us three that escape” said the third rating.
“Now lads let’s not be hasty” said the Boson slowly reaching for a release leaver “all I have to do is pull this and the torpedo room floods and we all die.
“That bulkhead door should hold it a while” said the second rating “let’s draw cards for the three suits” and he produced a deck of playing cards from his pocket.
“No” said the first rating “I think the three youngest should be the ones to go.”
“I can’t” said the third becoming erratic “I hate those suits, you can’t make me go, you can’t, you can’t!”
The second rating turned to his other three comrades “So, now there are four of us!”
The bulkhead door began to give, and a little of the membrane could be seen.
“There’s not long, we must be quick” said the first rating grabbing one of the pressure suits.
The Boson decided that he would remain. The three remaining ratings made to suit up. The job was not to panic because of the pressure, and to breathe normally during the assent to the surface. When ready an inner hatch was opened on one of the torpedo tubes. The first rating climbed inside, the inner hatch closed and the tube flooded, then the outer hatch was opened and the fire button pressed sending the rating shooting out of the tube at immense speed. And it was with the second and third ratings, propelled from the submarine to eventually emerge on the surface. That left the Boson and one of the ratings. The bulkhead door was under pressure from the thing on the other side. The two men looked at each other.
“We can sit and wait” the Boson said.
“We can end it now. All we have to do is leave the outer hatch open and open the inner one.”
“Flood the compartment” the rating said.
The bulkhead door gave a little more.
“And we take this thing with us.”
The Boson nodded.
It was a terrible death, the inner hatch of the torpedo tube was opened and water shot into the compartment just as the bulkhead door gave way and the white membrane poured into the compartment. The men both drowned and suffocated, the village Guardian entered back into the sea via the open torpedo tube.
The motor cruiser M. S. Polotska was on night patrol when the crew saw the three men in the water wearing orange pressure suits. The cruiser stopped to pick up the men who were grateful to the crew. With the three men below, M. S. Polotska headed back towards the estuary and the village.
“I don’t know what they’re going to make of this” Gunter said.
“What were we supposed to do, leave them?”
“Well where did they come from, answer me that?”
Ernst thought for a moment “They’re wearing deep sea pressure suits. If you ask me they’ve escaped from a submarine.”
“What would a submarine be doing here?”
“That’s what Number 2 will want to know” Ernst said “I’d better tend to our guests.”
“Yes, and while you’re about it…..”
“Bring you some tea.”
“And see what you can get out of them!”
Meanwhile on the cliffs the wise woman was with 006 who was signalling with his torch, but to no avail.
“She must have dived I’ll have to wait and try the same time tomorrow. Just a minute, what’s that?”
“A patrol boat” said the wise woman.
006 began to signal the boat with his torch.
“Put that out!” the woman told him.
“Because M.S. Polotska is our boat!” No.2 told.
The two security guards in grey overalls, white helmets, gauntlets, and boots rushed forward taking the man in hand.
No.2 stepped forward, there was a smirk on her face “You have now been stripped of your double zero ranking, you are now merely citizen Number 6.”
No.6 looked out into the night as the lights of the motor cruiser drew closer inshore.
“I’m afraid there has been an accident, a submarine lost at the bottom of the sea.”
The Guardian left the submarine by the open torpedo tube, and returned to the confinement area, and No.2 to the Green Dome
Be seeing you