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Monday 28 October 2019

A Clean Pair of Heels!

    In the Control Room the Supervisor and his assistant were watching the wall screen.
    “Who are they?” No.22 asked.
    “They are members of the village athletics club” the Supervisor explained.
    “I didn’t know there was such a thing.”
    “Oh yes, it’s been going for a while, one of Number 2’s new programmes, exercise being good to keep people fit and healthy, and while they are running about like that they are not digging tunnels and using other means of trying to escape.”
    “Digging tunnels?”
    “Oh yes, didn’t you know?”
    “The athletics club persuaded Number 2 to let them have a vaulting horse. They used to take it down onto the beach and spent half the day vaulting over a wooden vaulting horse.”
    “Used to?”
    “They aren’t allowed to anymore.”
    “Because they used it as cover for digging a tunnel, now they are allowed only to run. They run circuits of the village everyday” said the Supervisor.
    “Hello what’s happened there?”
    Something on the screen had attracted No.22’s attention. Where there were 9 men and women running there were now only 8!
    The Supervisor picked up the grey ‘L’ shaped intercom “Yellow alert, all units, all posts yellow alert!”
    The man had made a sudden run for it, the few weeks training had come in handy. At first the going was good across the sand, then good to soft, and then plain soft and running became a whole lot harder and he was yet to reach midway across the estuary. Two guardians aboard a Mini-Moke had been despatched to catch him, but Mini-Mokes are notorious for not being an all terrain vehicle. And soon it was bogged down in the sand. The two guardians being unable to free the Moke from the sands grip maintained pursuit on foot.
    The Supervisor watched how things were playing out via the wall screen, he was far from impressed. He contacted Post 10, but the escaping prisoner was out of range of his rifle. There being nothing for it the Supervisor alerted all posts of “Orange alert, orange alert.”
    From somewhere at the bottom of the sea a segment of the Guardian was released from the containment area, and the white amorphous sphere floated up through the water to eventually break the surface and skim across the waves to the sand of the estuary.
    By this time the escaping prisoner, No.10, had reached the small island in the middle of the estuary. He went round to the far side where he felt he was free from surveillance. Climbing the rocks he stood upon the island, then sat down with a sense of achievement, but he did not linger. There was a ruined house, he made for it, and found sanctuary within its cold stone walls. He cowered in a corner, from one pocket he took a hip flask and from the other two sandwiches wrapped in a polythene bag. He opened the hip flask and drank of the liquid, genuine non-alcoholic whisky, then he started to eat the two sandwiches. What was that? He stopped eating, held his breath and listened…….There it was the unmistakable sound of the helicopter overhead! He looked at his watch, it was two o’clock, the helicopter was on time, and he was late, perhaps too late. The helicopter was hovering above the island, searching, searching for him!
    The helicopter circled the island; the pilot had been instructed by the Supervisor in the Control Room to make a search for an escaped prisoner. Warning that there were two guardians in pursuit on foot, also the Guardian was also on its way towards the island.
    The escaped prisoner stayed put in the ruined house, there was no way he could out run a helicopter, no doubt the Guardian had been released by now, that being the case there was the opportunity out here to get himself killed! It would seem to give himself up would be the better part of valour, all it would take would be to step outside the ruins and wave his arms in the air to attract the helicopter pilot’s attention. It was that or sit there and wait to be recaptured.
    The helicopter pilot reported back to the Supervisor that there was no sign of the escaped prisoner on the island, that there was a ruined house where he could be hiding. The white amorphous mass of the Guardian was also patrolling the area, while the helicopter hovered about a hundred yards from the island. The escaped prisoner No.10 recognised the sound emitted by the Guardian as it circled the ruined house generating fear in his heart. Afraid of such a confrontation with the thing, he looked for a place to hide, there was nowhere………then he saw the fireplace, it was just large enough for a man, so he climbed into the grate and up the chimney. By this time the two guardians on foot had arrived at the island, they scrambled up the rocks and made for the ruin. The amorphous Guardian moved away allowing the two guardians to make a thorough search of the ruins. There was no sign of the escaped prisoner, and the two men made that known to the helicopter pilot who related the report back to the Control Room.
    The Supervisor picked up the turquoise ‘L’ shaped intercom “Supervisor here.”
    “What have you to report?” No.2 asked.
    “The entire island has been searched sir, there’s no sign of the escaped prisoner No.10.”
    It was at that point the over-sized curved red intercom began to bleep. No.2 looked at it nervously before picking it up.
    The helicopter pilot widened his aerial search to the far side of the estuary, and a mile or two beyond. Somewhere on the beach the two guardians were busy digging the Mini-Moke out of the sand.
    “What we need” 256 began “are a couple of planks.”
    “We haven’t got a couple of planks. Just keep digging" 245 said busy with his shovel.
    “Or perhaps some sand to help the wheels get a grip, and you could give it a bit of a push.”
    246 looked quizzically at 256 “Don’t you think there’s enough sand under the wheels already!”
    With darkness coming on the search was eventually called off, No.10 was nowhere to be found, it was as though he had somehow vanished off the face of the Earth!
   How 10 had managed to escape remained a mystery. And yet try as hard as he may, there was no avoiding the inevitability of the situation that he was well and truly stuck fast in the chimney of the ruined house! He shouted loud and clear and kept shouting until the realization finally set in that no-one heard his shouts, and no-one was coming to set him free.

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