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Wednesday, 26 August 2020

Tales From The Village

    A black spherical chair rose up through a hole in the floor behind a grey curved desk. No.2 held a sheet of paper in his hand, a latest instruction he had received a few hours ago via the teleprinter in a room in the Town Hall. He sat down in the black spherical chair contemplating the instruction. The steel doors to his office slid open and the tall figure of No.37 walked smartly down the ramp, the steel doors closing behind him with a resounding clang! He had under his arm a black leather document case.
    “What have you there 37?”
    “This just arrived by courier sir” he said handing over the case.
    No.2 unzipped the case and took out a number of documents and photographs and spread them out over his desk.
   "Him, of all people!"
    No.37 unfolded a plan of the interior of a room, a lounge, possibly that of a study. There were also a series of photographs of the room taken from a number of angles, along with every item within the room. Of furnishings, furniture, ornaments, pictures, light fittings, table lamps books, the television set everything. There was also a dossier on the subject of a man which No.2 was reading.
   “This coincides with an instruction I received only this morning. What cottages do we have available?”
    “There’s the Round House sir.”
    The next day builders moved into the Round House and began the conversion work of the cottage interior. A new floor for the study was laid, and at the back of the cottage the floor was built up necessitating the need for the addition of four steps. A round arch leading into what would be the bedroom was constructed, a shower room was added between the bedroom and a dinette, the door to the shower room sliding to the left. A false wall was eventually added to act as the back wall of the study making the room a “Home From Home” when the new occupant first wakes up, but which when raised would lead to the rest of the cottage. The Round House was completely re-wired with electrics, and hidden surveillance cameras would eventually be fitted.
    The tall frame of No.37 stood framed in the door of the Round House “How are things going?” he asked.
    “Fine so far, we have just installed the false wall” No.146 said.
    “Does it work” 37 asked.
    “If you mean does it cut the cottage in half, then yes.”
    “I mean does it roll up into the roof area?”
    “I don’t know, we haven’t tested it yet.”
    “Then this might be the time to do so” 37 ordered.
    No.146 went outside and picked up a headset from the Mini-Moke and went back into the cottage “Site construction to control, activate the false wall in the Round House.”
    A moment later the wall was raised by electrics control, but the motor working the wall jammed as did the wall.
    “Get that sorted out, we don’t want any unwarranted surprises on the day” said 37 taking his leave of the cottage.
    “Who was that?” 83 asked.
    “Just a small cog from administration, now lets get that wall down, and a stronger motor fitted.”
    The bedroom was eventually decorated, and the dinette decorated and fitted out with a sink unit, cupboards, an electric cooker, and refrigerator and a large worktop which would also be the breakfast table. A rack for hanging saucepans and utensils were fitted in front of the two windows. The shower room was fitted out with wall mirror, sink unit, toilet and shower.
    146 popped his head round the shower room door as the plumber was fitting the shower “make sure those hot and cold taps are put on the wrong way round!”
    “Righto!” 77 replied.
    In the study work continued as it had to look exactly like the occupant’s own study, that was most important especially when he was to wake up for the first time.
    No.215 was fitting the fire place “Can anyone tell me why we should fit this fireplace when the Round House doesn’t have a chimney!”
    “The room has to look authentic to the original plans” 146 replied.
    No.263 was studying a photograph “Does that mean I’ve to cut a square hole in the wall here?”
    “What do you mean a square hole, what for?”
    “The wall safe hidden behind the television set” 215 said handing 146 the photograph.
    No.146 studied the photograph “Well I suppose so, I’d better check.”
    No.2 sat looking at the photograph then at his assistant “I didn’t know about the wall safe.”
    “No sir.”
    “Do our people know what was in the safe?”
    “Money sir, American Dollar bills” his assistant confirmed.
    “And we have the combination to this wall safe?”
    “We do sir, it’s in the dossier” No.37 confirmed.
    “Good. Then have an identical safe fitted.
    Work on the Round house continued apace, the false wall now worked smoothly, two alcoves were created, one either side of the fireplace. These were painted white and fitted out with shelving. With the decorating completed, carpets were laid throughout the cottage and light fittings were fitted.
    The steel doors slid open and No.37 walked smartly down the ramp, the doors closing behind him. No.2 sat in his chair a cup and saucer in his hands.
    “Elevenses already Number 2, it’s not yet
ten o’clock” 37 said looking at his watch.
    “It’s always later than we think” No.2 replied “how is the work going on the Round House?”
   “As you know the plumbing is finished, the builders moved out yesterday, painters and decorators will be finished today, carpets laid. The cottage has been completely re-wired, hidden surveillance cameras have been fitted, although they are not yet working, electrics control assure me they will be working by the end of the day. All that is required is for the fitting of fixtures and fittings, and furnishings.
    “Good” No.2 said “our new friend will be with us soon.”
   All the time while the work was being carried out in the Round House, in the large warehouse personnel had been given a list and photographs of properties which were necessary to complete the fitting out and furnishing. The content of the warehouse was extensive from furniture of all kinds to pottery, mirrors, carpets, fixtures and fittings. To all forms of art, statuettes in bronze, porcelain, paintings, knickknacks, books, table lamps, ornaments. If items were needed to fit out a cottage in a particular style then the warehouse personnel could supply it, even if something had to be either copied by a number of gifted craftsmen, or sourced and brought in under the canopy of “special imports.”
   And so it was that the Round House was finally fitted out to the smallest detail.
    “That’s not right” 88 said picking up a statuette “it should be gilt not silver, have it replaced that would be a dead giveaway!”
    “Right away” 91 said taking the statuette and hurrying away.
    The false wall was lowered into place and three pictures, three Vanity Spy prints were hung on that wall. Then one final touch, a Peg wooden doll was placed upon the desk flap of the writing bureau with a card which read “Welcome to your home from home.” While outside a black and white striped sign post with an orange and white canopy was placed by the door.
    The steel doors of No.2’s office opened and No.37 walked smartly down the ramp and approached the desk.
    “Well Number 37.”
    “Yes thank you for asking sir.”
    “No, I meant what have you to report?”
    “Oh, sorry sir, the conversion of the Round House has been completed. It’s a perfect likeness to that of the original.”
    “Good, now I can alert our masters in
London that the arrival of our new friend can take place any time of their choosing. Well done 37.”
    “Thank you sir.”

    Dark clouds, the sound of thunder, a long runway and looming at speed out of the distance a green yellow nosed Lotus 7. The driver’s face has the expression of determination; he is a man on a mission. He drives over London Bridge, turning left driving passed the Houses of Parliament. He parks his car in an underground car park which he leaves via a dimly lit corridor. Somewhere in a building in Whitehall the man storms into an office, he rants and raves at a man sat behind a large oak desk on which he slams down a letter marked personal, private, by hand and stamping his determination by banging his fist so forcefully on the desk that he upsets a cup in its saucer and breaks a tea plate in the process. Then he storms out of the office returning to the car park and drives out to be followed by a black hearse. At one point the lotus is behind the hearse and overtakes it, and then is followed to Buckingham Place. The driver of the Lotus parks outside No.1 and goes inside the house while the hearse pulls up outside. He collects two suitcases which have already been packed, his passport, and airline ticket. A gaunt looking undertaker dressed in black suit, overcoat, white shirt, black over coat, tie and top hat gets out of the hearse, and with a key lets himself into the house closing the front door behind him. The man gathers up two holiday brochures and puts them in a suitcase as the undertaker puts a gas gun to the keyhole of the study door and squeezes the trigger sending nerve gas into the room beyond the door. Suddenly the man feels strange, the view of sky scrapers spins and he falls back onto a couch unconscious, paralysed by the effects of the nerve gas. While this was taking place a second undertaker goes round to the back of the hearse and opens the rear door and pulls out the oak coffin. He is joined by his colleague and together they carry the coffin across the pavement and into the house.
    Once inside the house the undertakers lay the coffin down in the hallway and close the front door. They remove the lid of the coffin and gave it a few moments for the nerve gas to dissipate before entering the room. One checks the man lying unconscious on the couch, then carries in the coffin and places the body of the man inside before replacing the lid. Then they carry the coffin out into the street and put in into the back of the hearse. While one undertaker locks the back of the hearse, the other returns to the front door and closes it.

   The sliver grey Alouette helicopter circled the village before landing on the lawn by the sea wall. There was a white Mini-Moke towing a Red Cross trailer parked on the lawn as two medical orderlies waited for the arrival of the helicopter. They waited for the rotors to stop turning before they approached, carrying a stretcher between them. The pilot opened the cabin door and the medic in the helicopter helped take the unconscious body of the Prisoner out of the helicopter and place it on the stretcher. The two orderlies then carried the stretcher over to the ambulance placing the patient into the Red Cross trailer before driving up the hill into the village eventually arriving at the Round House. The patient was taken inside and laid on an identical couch as the one in his London Home.
    Lying on the couch the Prisoner stirred, he opened his eyes and slowly sat up in what he thought to be his own home. He sat for a moment or two felling a little groggy wondering what had caused him to collapse so suddenly. Slowly he stood up and went to the window, pulling the Venetian blinds open. The view outside the window was not one he was expecting to see. The view of the house across the street had gone, replaced by a colourful vista of lawn, a piazza, bandstand, and numerous Italianate buildings. Turning away from the window shock and bewilderment began to set in. He was in his own home, and yet not in
London, the view outside was alien to him. He found the door and stepped out into the village and then he began to feel disorientated, confused, where…..where was this, and how did he arrive in such a place? He took in the view, looked through an archway then saw someone in the bell tower……… “as I went up the stair I met a man who wasn’t there, he wasn’t there again today, oh how I wish he’d go away,” and yet from the top of the bell tower he could see the café was opening. Descending the tower the prisoner made his way along a cobbled path, across the lawn, through the piazza to the café as bell tolled the hour of eleven.
    “We’ll be open in a minute” the waitress tells him.
    “What’s the name of this place?”
    “You’re new here aren’t you.”
    “Do you want breakfast?”
    “Where is this?”
    “The village”………

Be seeing you

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