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Saturday 20 June 2020

Tales From The Village

    The man lying on the couch opened his eyes, and sat there looking  about the room. Standing up he opened the blinds and looked out of the window at what he expected to be the house across the street. But instead the view was one more picturesque than that of the house opposite. He spun round, he was in the lounge of his London home, yet not in London. He crossed the room and opening the doors stepped out into the village!
    “I know him” the bald-headed man said staring at the wall screen.
    No.2 glanced at the Supervisor “I should think you do, he’s been here before.”
    “Why has he been brought back, is he on assignment?”
    “No” No.2 said pressing a button on the control panel of his desk “He’s resigned his job!”
    “He resigned…….things haven’t gone according to plan then?”
    The camera changed and panning tracked the Prisoner across the lawn, through the Piazza to the café.
    “We’ll be open on a minute, do you want breakfast?” the waiter asked.
    “How very perceptive of you.”
    “Why, what went wrong?” the Supervisor asked.
    On the wall screen the Prisoner and the waiter were seen to be engaged in conversation.
    “We don’t know that’s why he’s been brought back here to discover the reason behind his resignation.”
   “If he’s been here before, why is he so confused?”
   “Surprise I suppose, perhaps he never expected to find himself back here again!”
    “You had best get back to your control room.”
    “Won’t that make your task more difficult?”
    “How do you mean?”
    “Well he’ll have no idea which side runs the village, he’ll think he’s been brought back here to have information extracted, not that he’s supposed to simply tell you why he resigned!”
    No.2 pulled a face “Let me worry about that, just get back to your control room, and let me know the moment he decides to try and escape.”
   The black spherical chair turned and No.2 looked at the man standing in front of his desk “Do you remember your first day here?”
    The memory was still painful even after so many years.
    “It wasn’t what you thought it was going to be was it?”
    “No Number 2.”
    “You were a mediocre Civil Servant back in those days, but you soon grew into the part.”
    The steel doors closed, the man stood at the top of the ramp.
    “Ah good, there you are. Would you like tea or coffee?” offered No.2.
    The man walked slowly down the ramp and across the floor. Standing at the grey curved desk he looked at the man sat in the black spherical chair.
    “I realize how you must be feeling.”
    “No you don’t.”
    “Believe me I do, because there was a time when I stood in your shoes.”
    The man changed his mind, and poured himself a cup of coffee, adding just two lumps of sugar.
    “Tell me now, why did you resign?”
    “Why should I tell you, why should I tell you anything?” the man asked stirring his coffee.
    “No reason, no reason at all, only if you tell me now it will go much easier for you.”
    “I’m over whelmed by your kindness.”
    “People like you are brought here because they have a certain kind of knowledge inside their heads, knowledge that is to be either extracted, or protected.”
    The man sipped his coffee “Which category do I fall under?
    “You have been here before.”
    “Yes, it wasn’t a nice experience as I recall.”
    “That’s why you said you would work for us, rather than spend the rest of your life here, in the village.”
    “I would have agreed to anything just to get out of here.”
    “And yet here you are” No.2 said menacingly “your mistake was to resign your job.”
    “Well if one can’t chuck up a job things have come to a pretty pass” the man said finishing his coffee.
    “Your only value to us was for you to remain in your position. From there to gather information, and stand in readiness should we call upon your services in other capacities” No.2 instructed.
    “I took against my new masters.”
    “Is that why you resigned?”
    “If you like” the man said placing his cup and saucer on the desk.
    “Now you are here, here you will stay. We have no need for a rogue agent.”
    “You don’t think I can escape?”
    “Ask Number 8, she can at least tell you what not to try” No.2 informed him “Good day Number 5.”
    No.5 turned his back and walked across the floor, up the ramp and through the opening steel door. In the way out he passed a tall fair-haired man entering No.2’s office. They glanced at each other but that was all.
    “Is that him?” No.14 asked approaching the desk.
    “Yes. I want you to keep an eye on him.”
    “I’m surprised they had him sent back here. You realize he could have turned.”
    “Gone over you mean to the other side.”
    “Resigned and planted here in the village!”
    “A double agent you mean.”
    “It’s an idea” No.14 said happy with his suggestion.
    “Then what does he do?” 2 asked.
    “Then what does he do?”
    “He reports back.”
    14 thought for a moment then said “That’s his problem!”
    “It’s true that the village has been the object of another department’s desire. They have at least once attempted to have it shut down, simply because they couldn’t get their hands on it.”
    “Perhaps this plant will attempt to bring the village down from within.”
    “Well he’s told me why he resigned, and that’s all we really wanted to know. So if he were to suffer a fatal accident, there’s no-one here will ask any embarrassing questions.”
    At that moment the red ‘L’ shaped intercom began to bleep. No.2 did not hesitate to pick it up “Number 2 here………yes sir……..I understand sir…….of course sir. That was a stupid idea!” No.2 said putting the intercom back on the desk.
    “I don’t think you should say things like that sir” 14 said “you never know who might be listening!”
    No.2 looked at the intercom then at No.14 “Yours is the stupid idea 14, nothing is to happen to Number 5. If anything happens to him our masters will get to hear about it and we’ll both be for the high jump!”
    No.5 wasn’t a plant, double agent or anything like that. Nor did he have the wit or the ability to escape. Instead he spent the rest of his life in the village. Prior to his having been brought to the village, he had been a Civil servant who was duty bound to serve without bias no matter which party was in office at the time. It was after a recent General Election that a question was asked in the House of Commons about an installation called the village. His new masters wanted to know all about the village, and it was through his resignation, No.5 had avoided any embarrassing questions.

Be seeing you

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