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Sunday 17 May 2020

Tales From The Village

    “WHY……..WHY AM I HERE?” The room was in almost pitch darkness. How I came to be here is beyond my reasoning. I was at home with my wife living our life in quiet way being no bother to anyone. We went to bed……I woke up here!
    I have no idea how long I sat in the darkness before I dare move, but simply sitting, waiting for something to happen was a pointless occupation, besides I was both hungry and thirsty and the keenness to know where I was, why I had been put in this predicament was growing on me. I shouted aloud “Hello….hello….hello” all that happened was that my words echoed back to me “hello….hello….hello”
“Is there anyone here?” I shouted “Is there anyone here?” asked the echo, it was quite apparent to me that I was all alone.
   I stood up, I felt in my trouser pockets, the pockets of my jacket they were empty, anything I had in them had been removed. That included credit card, my card of identity, health and welfare card, even the badge I wore on the lapel of my blazer had been removed, and with it my identity. But then I knew who I was, I had known it long before I arrived in this place, but they had removed that identity and reduced me to being a mere number. I remember how my wife and I came here because we thought it would be different, but it certainly wasn’t what we were expecting. My wife being a bio-chemist was put to work in the hospital conducting medicals and eventually witnessed, if not being actually involved in, medical experiments and therapy treatments which often extended well beyond the usual methods of a medical practitioner. In time my wife was taken to a laboratory and put to work helping other bio-chemists and technicians working on the ROVER project. I being a former administrator was absorbed into administration and found myself wearing a top hat, striped jersey and sitting on committees. Then one day someone came along and took away my top hat and striped jersey and gave me a piped blazer to wear, and I found myself promoted to the position of assistant to Number Two. Life was difficult there being things we had to do, but there were benefits with the occasional day on the beach, perhaps a picnic on the cliff top. We never once turned our minds to escape, unlike some who were more often than not brought back although not always alive, we had come to serve. “So what went wrong? You tell me!” I shouted the words echoing back to me.
   I decided to find the dimensions of this darkness, taking a few tentative steps forward without encountering any obstacle I walked forward counting the paces as I went. At 12 paces my foot hit something and I fell forward and found myself lying on a slope. I lay there for a few moments getting my bearings before on hands and knees I was climbing the slope at the top of which was the base of a wall. Standing up I had to brace my legs so not to slide down the slope as there was nothing in the wall to grip. Stretching my arms out on either side of me and feeling the wall with my hands, I found it to be perfectly smooth save for a small chink my fingers detected. I tore at one of the lapels of my blazer and placed a piece of cloth into the chink. Then turning to my right I began to move slowly along the slope to the wall feeling my way as I went, my feet slipping now and again but counting the paces as I made my way along the wall. Then suddenly I tripped and fell in a gap in the slope. I climbed my way up and stumbled onto what appeared to be a ramp at the top of which was a shallow alcove in the wall. Again it was perfectly smooth except for a thin line running from the base presumably to the top of the wall. I moved on and stumbled once more into another gap in the slope. I lay there for a moment or two before standing up and climbing back onto the slope. During this time I tried to keep a count of the paces I had taken from the piece of cloth in the wall when I suddenly felt that same piece of cloth again. I was in a round chamber, a chamber I calculated to be approaching some 200 feet in circumference, give or take two or three feet. I slipped down the ramp and rolled over on the floor. I was about to get to my feet when my hands felt the edge of something curved. Stretching out my hands there was nothing! I worked my round the curve….a hole, there was a hole in the floor!
   Suddenly laughter filled the chamber “Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha” the laughter grew louder and louder and to the point of hysteria like a crazed maniac. Then as suddenly as it started the laughing stopped!
    “How is it with you man?” a voice said.
    “Why, why am I here?”
    “Why, why are you here?” a voice replied.
    “You should know better than I.”
    “You know why you are here, but it would be better if you were not!”
    “Then let me go, let me and my wife leave this place.”
    “That cannot be, you are a danger to the village. You are a plant
sent here to spy on us.”
    Suddenly there was a bright beam of light shining on the large hole on the floor. I saw the desk. I rushed over to it and began pressing buttons on the control panel. One of the switches activated the wall screen and the smiling face of No.2 appeared on the screen. And out of the hole set on a dais was a black spherical chair; in the chair was a large white balloon looking sphere.
    “What’s that?”
    “That would be telling” the voice said.
    “That’s not the new Number 2 is it?”
    “I do not know, is it?”
    “Get Number 1.”
    “You think he would be concerned with you?”
    The thing in the chair was showing signs of life, it pulsated, it deflated itself slightly then rose up out of the chair it made a noise something like Gregorian chant crossed with the noise a bicycle pump makes, and someone breathing through an aqua lung. With the chamber now partially lit I could see the shallow recess in the wall was a door. I rushed across the floor but stumbled in my haste.
   “See how he grovels on the floor” said the voice, the face of No. 2 still smiling on the screen.
   I got to my feet and rushed up the ramp to the pair of steel doors. I tried putting my fingernails in the narrow gap between the doors in a vain attempt to prise them apart. The attempt was futile. I turned and looked at the grey curved desk.
   “That’s right” the voice said “one of the buttons on the control panel does open the door…but which one, and can you get to it?”
   The voice seemed to be goading me, for now the white sphere having left the chair now stood quivering between myself and the desk. I ran down the ramp and ran across the floor in a quick zig zag pattern trying to dodge out of the way of the sphere. But it was quick, too quick, as I reached the desk it was upon me it gave out a blood curdling roar which echoed around the chamber. I buried my head on the desk and began to press buttons; none of them seemed to operate anything. But then the pair of steel doors opened. I dared a glance over my shoulder; between me and open doors was clear floor. I pushed myself away from the desk and made a run for it, but just as I reached the top of the ramp the doors closed! I hammered on the steel with my fists for all I was worth. Then I heard the blood curdling roar again. Turning I saw the white amorphous mass come at me from out of the gloom. I screamed and screamed again as the membrane, at which my fingers clawed, covered my face cutting off the air I breathed. My lungs burned, my hands fell away at the end of limp arms, and my legs crumpled beneath me, blackness over took me, and I fell to the floor.
    It was while I was still in hospital that No.2 came to see me.
    “I trust there’s no permanent damage after out little experiment?”
    “No permanent damage no, but why?”
    “Ask your wife; after all she helped to develop ROVER.”
    “You know what you are don’t you number so called 2.”
    “No, but do tell me.”
    “You are a complete and utter bastard!”
    No.2 smiled, “I’ve been called much worse than that I assure you. I’ll let your wife come and see you tomorrow.”
    “Don’t bother, tomorrow I won’t be here!”
    “Escape, from your sick bed, this hospital, I’d like to see that. You might manage to get out of this room, even out of the hospital, but the village? There is no escape I assure you. Come and see me in my office when you’re feeling better, you can resume your duties then.”
   I saw then the open window, I pulled back the sheets and eased myself out of bed, I made it across the floor and then…..steel doors opened I walked smartly down the ramp feeling the object in my blazer pocket. As I approached the desk I produced a nerve gas gun, procured through a contact in administration. Holding my breath I squeezed the trigger and vapour filled the space around the black globe chair in which No.2 sat. One squirt you’re paralyzed, two squirts you’re dead, No.2 stumbled to his feet his hands reached for the desk, I squeezed the trigger a second time, No.2 fell forward slumped over his desk dead. I stepped back and waited for the nerve gas to dissipate before approaching the desk. I picked up the red ‘L’ shaped intercom and pressed the chrome button.
   “I have to report Number 2 is dead……….yes suddenly a few moments ago……yes sir…….very good sir.
    I saw the badge pinned to the lapel of the single breasted plain blazer, removed it and pinned it onto the breast pocket of my blazer then calling security I sat back in the black chair and waited.

Be seeing you

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