The silver grey Alouette helicopter had made its usual arrival at the village at . The pilot circled a couple of times, not that his passenger was awake to enjoy the view. She was an attractive woman, late twenty’s, early thirties, not very tall, brown hair, hazel eyes, slight of build.
The helicopter flew out across the estuary then turned and made its approach to land on the triangular lawn by the sea wall. A white Mini-Moke towing a Red Cross trailer acted as an ambulance, and two medical orderlies alighted the vehicle as the helicopter landed. They took a stretcher from the trailer and waited for the rotor blades to stop turning before they approached the helicopter. It was the pilot who opened the cabin door, and helped place the unconscious woman onto the stretcher. With the patient safely in the trailer the medical orderlies drove the ambulance back to the hospital.
The pilot was making his routine safety checks on the helicopter watched by someone skulking behind a bush. After a moment or two No.117 casually stepped out from the bush and approached the helicopter. In his pocket an electronic device called an
which synchronises with the alarm and
lets one through. But in this case there was no need to use it, as there was no
alarm, no membranic Guardian on station, just the helicopter pilot checking the
tail rotor. The cabin door was still open, this was his chance. 117 climbed up
onto the float and then into the Perspex cabin quietly closing the door behind
him. It was at this point the pilot ran to the cabin, he saw the man seated at
the controls, the engine coughed into life, the rotor blades began to turn. The
pilot jumped up onto the float and opened the cabin door, 117 held a gas gun in
his hand. Electro Pass
“One squirt you’re paralysed, two squirts you’re dead.”
The pilot closed the cabin door and stepped down from the float, then stooping slightly backed away from the helicopter, its rotor blades spinning faster and faster until it lifted off the ground, and turning flew out across the estuary making for the hills on the far side.
In the Control room an Observer reported the unauthorised flight of the helicopter.
“Let’s have it on the screen” ordered the bald-headed supervisor.
In an instant the large wall screen came to life and the helicopter gaining height across the estuary was being closely tracked. The matter was reported to No.2.
The yellow ‘L’ shaped intercom began to bleep, No.2 who was just enjoying an afternoon cup of tea picked it up “Really, who would have thought it. Bring him back” he said leaning forward to press a button on the control panel of his desk.
The wall screen came to life, and he switched in one of the aerial view cameras showing the helicopter high above the hills on the further side of the estuary.
In the Control Room the supervisor-No.28 gave one of the operatives sitting on the steel see-saw device the nod. It was then the operative took remote control of the helicopter. It came as a shock to No.117 when the helicopter hovered in the air for a moment before turning back towards the village. He fought to regain control, but the controls resisted, the helicopter was heading back towards the village eventually landing on the lawn, where a white Mini-Moke was waiting. The rotor blades slowed and a man in a white coat approached the helicopter and opened the cabin door.
“Come along” said the orderly “time for your medication and a spell of therapy.”
No.117 was helped into the back of the Mini-Moke and was driven to the hospital.
A the next day No.117 was called to the Green Dome for an interview with No.2.
“Sit down 117, perhaps you would care for a cup of tea or coffee, you’re just in time for elevenses” No.2 said pouring out a cup of coffee “You know I never realized you could pilot a helicopter, there’s nothing in your file about that.”
“I blame the researchers!”
“Did you really think you could escape 117?”
“I gave it my best shot.”
“Don’t you like it here?”
“I can think of better places to be.”
“And worse ones Sing-Sing for one, and there are some Russian Gulags in
with atrocious reputations. But I think I’ll let you go back.”
A spark of hope was suddenly ignited in his heart, and it showed in his eyes “Back, you’re sending me back?”
“Oh don’t get excited, only back to your cottage. Only if you try to escape again, there is worse out there than a helicopter flown by remote control, you had better remember that.”
No.117 got out of his chair and walked towards the ramp as the pair of steel blast-proof doors opened and No.12 walked in and down the ramp as 117 was leaving.
“Just a minute!” No.2 shouted.
117 stopped dead on his tracks.
“Who gave you the
?” Electro Pass
117 turned and took the wristwatch looking device from his pocket and dropped it on the floor, then walked up the ramp and through the doors as No.12 was arriving.
“You’re letting him go?” 12 asked.
“He’s had enough of adventure for now. I think he’ll be more compliant. What do you want?”
“I’ve come to report about the sceptic tank.”
“If we don’t sort it out we’ll be up to our necks in it. What has the works department got to say for themselves?”
No.12 saw the empty coffee cup, and picked up the coffee pot.
“Yes do help yourself to coffee.”
“What no biscuits, there’s always biscuits for elevenses” 12 said adding milk and sugar.
“There were four digestive biscuits, but I’ve had them.”
“What no proper biscuits, you know the ones with the cream inside.”
“I asked the butler about those.”
“What did he say?”
“He said it wasn’t his fault! Now about this sceptic tank?”
“The works department said that they can have a tanker here in a couple of days.”
“Well if that’s the best they can do. You see Number 12 it’s not all glamour here not by any means. Some of us have to get our hands dirty, if you ask me it’s the prisoners who have the best of it!”
“We’ll all get the best of it if that tanker doesn’t arrive on time!”
“Never mind that, 117 had an
, I want to know one thing, who gave it
to him, and why wasn’t a Guardian on station?” Electro Pass
“Don’t be facetious, just get on with it, otherwise we’ll both be up to our necks in it!”
Be seeing you