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Monday 30 November 2020

More Tales From The Village

    The silver grey alouette helicopter approached the village from across the estuary, it circled twice causing a downward daft with its rotor blades before flying out over the estuary once more then to turn and land on the lawn by the sea wall. A white Mini-Moke was parked waiting, as the rotors of the helicopter slowed the driver got out of the taxi and stood by the vehicle. Eventually the cabin door opened and a tall acid faced woman, her auburn hair was swept back and made her look all the more severe, stepped out onto the float and then down onto the grass, the taxi driver stepped forward.
   “I am your driver; I’m to take you to the Green Dome.”
   The helicopter pilot placed a single suitcase onto the float, the taxi driver collected it and escorted the woman to the taxi.   
“This is the village” the woman said.
   “Yes ma’am” the drive replied placing the suitcase in the back of the Mini-Moke.       The woman stood looking about her for a few moments, taking in her new surroundings “And that she asked?”
   “That’s the Old People’s home.”
    “I see we had better be on our way” the woman said climbing into the front passenger seat.
    The driver climbed in behind the wheel, started the engine and drove the taxi up towards the Old People’s Home, round the hairpin bend and up the hill into the village.
    “It would appear the old folk are well looked after here” the acid faced woman said.
    “They are ma’am we have an excellent welfare service.”
    “And that building what is it?”
    “That’s the Town Hall” the driver said as the taxi drove passed.
    “The Town Hall, a town council presumably.”
    “Yes ma’am, we’re democratic here….in some ways.”
    “Really, that’s rather like putting the inmates in charge of the asylum, wouldn’t you say?”
    “I wouldn’t know ma’am.”
    The taxi carried on its way, turning right, passed the café and following the road towards the imposing building of the Green Dome. The driver sounding the two-tone horn to warn pedestrians and cyclists alike of their approach, warning to clear the way. The taxi came to a stop at the foot of the steps leading up to the Green Dome.
    “We have arrived” the taxi driver said.
    The woman stepped out “What about my bag?”
    “I’m afraid you’ll have to carry it yourself ma’am. I have to drive your predecessor to the helicopter.”
    The woman took her bag and climbed the steps. Standing on the balcony she stood looking out, taking in the local surroundings before turning her attention to the pair of arches and the door under those arches. There was a wrought iron bell pull, she pulled it and from somewhere a deep sounding bell tolled and the front door opened. A diminutive butler in black tails and gloves greeted her. He bowed and taking her suitcase led her through the double French doors up a short ramp to a pair of steel doors which opened leading through into a large purple walled domed chamber.
   “Ah good you’ve arrived at last” said the bearded man sitting in a black globe chair. He got out of the chair and walked out from behind the grey curved desk.  
“And you are?” the woman asked.
   “An ex-interim Number 2, your predecessor, you are the new interim Number 2 my successor, and this is what I liked to think of as my inner sanctum. It is now your inner sanctum.”
   He picked up the two suitcases which stood next to the desk and made to leave.
   “Wait” she said “aren’t you going to instruct me on my duties?”
   “What show you the ropes you mean, oh no there’s no time for that, the helicopter leaves in a few minutes. If you want to know anything just pick up an intercom. There’s nothing to it really, just don’t become too involved there’s nothing much for you to do, after all you’re simply an interim Number 2 while my permanent replacement arrives. Be seeing you, well I won’t really, but good luck. Only just don’t get embroiled with Number 6”
   It was as though the ex-No.2 couldn’t get away fast enough, he hurried up the ramp, through the opening steel doors, through the foyer where the butler bowed bidding him farewell then outside and away in the Mini-Moke to take him to the waiting helicopter. The helicopter lifted off the ground and flew out across the estuary, it was but a quick flip to the landing stage where the ex-No.2 was transferred to a boat.
    It took the interim No.2 a couple of days to find her feet, relying heavily as she did upon her assistant No.22, a tall middle aged man, with light blue eyes and brown hair. He sported a light grey jacket with dark blue piping. He arrived this morning in No.2’s office to find her reading through a small number of files.
    “Good morning Number 2."
    “What can you tell me about this man?” No.2 asked holding up a black and white photograph.
    “That’s Number 6 ma’am, what is your interest in him?”
    “You haven’t answered my question.”
    “He’s a trouble maker, your predecessors did not fair too well against him.”
    “Is that all you can tell me?”
    “He refuses to settle down, he has tried numerous times to escape, and when he’s not organizing escape plans he’s putting his nose into business which does not concern him. He refuses to give any information away. Only on rare occasions has he responded to his number, which he has always refused to wear, except on the one occasion when it suited him to do so.”
    “I want to see this Number 6.”
    “You can ma’am at any time” No.22 told his superior “may I?”
    The large wall screen was switched on at the touch of a button displaying No.6 in his cottage, he was pacing up and down in his study, a half eaten ham sandwich in one hand and a cup of coffee in the other.
   “Tell me, does he do that a lot?”
   “I want to talk to him.”
   “That is easily arranged, simply pick up an intercom and have a call put through to his cottage ‘6 Private.’
   “I mean face to face, bring him to my office.”
   “I don’t think that would be terribly wise, after all you’re……….well there’s no need."
    “Interim……I still want to talk to Number 6” No.2 said sternly.
    “Yes Number 2, I’ll have him brought to you at once.”
    No.22 marched smartly across the floor, up the ramp and out through the opening steel doors. It was but a short walk down the steps, across the street, across the square to ‘6 Private.’ He was accompanied by two burly set men in striped jerseys, guardians. Approaching the door to the cottage it opened automatically and the three men went inside.    
    No.6, a man of medium height with dark hair was lying on a recliner listening to music “What do you want?”     
“You Number 6, you are to come with us” No.22 ordered. 
   “What if I don’t want to, after all here I am nice and comfortable listening to a little Purcell, you come barging your way into my cottage demanding I go with you. Where are we supposed to be going anyway?”
   “Number 2 wants to see you.”
    “What if I don’t want to see him?”
    “Her, oh I see there’s been a change in command, well it won’t be the first time, shouldn’t be surprised it’s not the last” Number 6 stood up, stopped the record playing and put on his blazer “right, shall we go gentlemen?”
    “To the Green Dome, I hear there’s a new Number 2 in office, I think it’s time I made her acquaintance” No.6 said joyfully and led the way out of his cottage, across the square, across the street, up the steps to the Green Dome.
    The pair of steels doors opened No.6 walked in to No.2’s purple walled office followed by No.22, the steel doors closed behind them>
    A woman sat in the black globe chair, she had an open file on her lap and was drinking tea.
    “You must be the new Number 2, I’m………”
    “Number 6” the woman said “I know all about you.”
    “What from my file?”
    “You can go 22, I won’t be needing you.”
    “If you’re sure Number 2, I mean you’ll be alright on your own with him?”
    “Why is he dangerous? Would you like some tea?”
    No.22 could tell when he wasn’t wanted, and made to leave the office while No.2 poured out a cup of tea for her visitor.
    The steel doors closed.
    “Milk and sugar?”
    “Two lumps” he said.
    She offered the cup and he drew close to her “You, of all people, what are you doing here?”
    “If I told you there would be a submarine off the mouth of the estuary in two days time at midnight, would you believe me?”
    “We’ll talk later, here you never know who might be listening” she told him “enjoy your tea, and while you’re about it tell me why you resigned.”
    “Are you trying to earn Brownie points, if you are, you’re talking to the wrong man, and I’ll tell you nothing!”
    Of course someone had been listening, and watching as it happened, No.1 wasn’t at all impressed. “Where do they find them” might have been one question on his mind, another what to do…..what to do?
    It was after curfew that No.2 finally got to be in a somewhat elaborately decorated room in the Town Hall. Something was on her mind, it having been easy to get into the village; it would prove rather more difficult even for a No.2 to get out. Perhaps together she and No.6 might just make it by stealing one of the jet boats at night under the cover of darkness.
    The next day when No.6 came to call on No.2………
    “Number 6 is it, well what do you want?”
    A white haired gentleman probably in his early 60’s sat in the black globe chair.    No.6 walked across the floor and approached the desk “I want to see Number 2.”
    “Who do you think I am?”
    “Number 2?”
    “I’m a busy man, state your business if you would be so good. Otherwise get out!” No.2 said sternly.
    “I want to see your predecessor.”
    “You mean the one who was sent here to get you out.”
    No.6 tried not to let the expression on his face give him away.
    “Oh you needn’t try to hide it Number 6, she has told us all we needed to know, and more."
    “Where is she?”
    “In the hospital where she is being well looked after.”
    “What will happen to her?”
    “There is a price to pay for conspiracy. She’s being given the best treatment, and will be released back into the community……as a prisoner.”

 Be seeing you

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