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Wednesday 30 December 2020

More Tales From The Village

     No.2 sat in a black globe chair behind his desk dealing with some paperwork, he did not like paperwork. Suddenly the grey ‘L’ shaped intercom began to bleep, he picked it up.
    “Yes what is it…….is he, send him in.”
    The pair of steel doors slid open and the fire chief stepped lively down the ramp the doors closing behind him.
    “What can I do for you Chief?
    A tall man in a steel helmet and dark overalls approached the desk “I want to hold a fire drill.”
    No.2 looked up from his paperwork, a look of surprise on his face “A fire drill?”    “According to the fire brigade’s records there’s never been a fire drill.”
    “Fire brigade, I didn’t realize the village had a fire station let alone a fire brigade.”
    “You see!” the fire chief said exasperated “even you didn’t know there’s a fire station here in the village.”
    “Where is this fire station?”
    “It’s in the Town Hall.”
    “In the Town Hall?”
    “Well you know where the steps of the Town Hall are, well if you walk passed those you’ll see a pair of turquoise doors with the words Fire Station in red painted on them.”
    “And you’re the fire chief?”
    “That’s right.”
    “And how many in your brigade?”
    The fire chief rubbed his chin “Two, Numbers 151b and 151c.”
    “That’s not a very big brigade” No.2 remarked.
    “Well how big a brigade do you want; this is only a small village after all.”
    “Has there ever been a fire in the village?”
    The fire chief rubbed his chin again “Well no, but that’s not the point, our job is chiefly fire prevention.”
    “Well what’s your problem, if the village has never had a fire that’s all to your credit.”
    “Look, can I organize a fire drill or not?”
    “A fire drill for the Town Hall, I should think so.”
    The fire chief pressed his point “No, I mean for the whole village, the citizens should be made aware of what to do in case of a fire.”
    “I don’t know about that. Look I’ll carry out an inspection of your fire Station and your equipment tomorrow” No.2 said.
    “Tomorrow!” the fire chief ejaculated.
    “What’s wrong with that?”
    “Nothing….nothing at all.”

    “Now what did you want to go and do a thing like that for?” the young 151b said.
    “That’s right” the white haired 151c said “now you’ve gone and drawn attention to us.”
    “Yes, and now you’ll have Number 2 coming poking his nose in!”
    “Well what’s the point in having a fire brigade if there’s never been any fires. All I wanted was to hold a fire drill” the fire chief pleaded.
    “Fire drill, what do you want to go a hold a fire drill for?”
    “Well it was 177’s idea.”
    “What’s it got to do with him?”
    “He said if I could get to hold a fire drill, he could escape in the confusion.”
    “Yeah that would be right” 151b said “is there going to be a fire drill?”
    “I’m not sure, Number 2 wants to come and see the fire station and inspect the equipment. He didn’t even know the village had a fire brigade” 151 explained.
    “No, I bet he didn’t.”
    “He does now though!” 151c said.
    “Yes and now we’ve got to get this fire station spruced up this afternoon, and give the fire engine a once over” the fire chief said.
    “Why what’s the hurry?”
    “Number 2 will be here tomorrow to carry out his inspection!”
    “Tomorrow well I like that!”
    “Well I don’t” 151c said “I’ll be expected to do all the work!”

    The village fire brigade worked all morning and long into the afternoon, sweeping, polishing in order to put both the fire station and the antiquated fire engine to right. Dust and cobwebs were everywhere, and by the time No.151 had cooked their tea the fire station was thoroughly spick and span. A passer-by saw the open doors to the fire station, and attracted by the open doors couldn’t resist a look inside.
    “What are you doing?”
    “What’s it got to do with you?”
    “Do you know that fire engine belongs in a museum.”
    “Tell him to clear off out of it.”
    “Coming here asking questions, as if we’ve got time to stand about answering questions.”
    “Well really I didn’t come here to be insulted” and the citizen went on his way.
   It was a small fire station as fire stations go, not exactly in the Town Hall more underneath it, in the cellar but at ground level, with just enough room for living quarters.
   “You know what this fire station needs is pole” suggested the fire chief.
    “A pole, what do we need a pole for?” 151b asked.
    “Every fire station has a pole for the firemen to slide down.”
    “Yes but this isn’t like most fire stations!” 151c said.
    “And seeing as everything is on ground level a pole would be superfluous!” 151b said.
    “Well everything looks ship shape and Bristol fashion anyway the fire chief said.
    “Yes all ready for Number 2 to come poking his nose in tomorrow.”
    “Yes, just wait till he sees that fire engine!” 151b said chuckling to himself.
    “Hey, hey you can laugh, you’re ten years older that fire engine.”
    “Well are we going to have this fire drill or not?”
    “It will all depend on tomorrow’s inspection by Number 2” the fire chief said.
    “You know what we want don’t you” 151c said.
    “No but I expect you’re going to tell us” the fire chief replied.
    “We need a fire to put out, then they’ll see how efficient we are!”
    “Listen to the old fool. There hasn’t ever been a fire in the village” the fire chief said.
    “Well that makes us superfluous, and before you know it we’ll be out of a job!” 151 said “now what about our tea, I’ve got a nice rabbit pie cooking.”

    The day of inspection.
    “So this is the fire station” No.2 said.
    “What’s that?” No.14 asked.
    “Our fire engine” the fire chief said proudly.
    “How does it work?”
    “Well” the fire chief said rubbing his chin “You see these buckets here.”
    “Yes” No.2 said.
    “Well you use these buckets to collect water and you fill the reservoir here. Then 6 men man the two horizontal poles either side of the pump and work the pump sending the water shooting out of the hose pipe.”
    “Its rather dated isn’t it?” No.2 asked.
    “It belongs in a museum!” No.14 said.
    “Yes I’m inclined to agree” No.2 said “it’s high time the fire brigade was up to date.”
    “Up to date in what way?” asked the fire chief.
    “Well a new fire engine to begin with. Have you never been called out to extinguish a fire?”
    “No” 151b said.
    “Well the sooner this brigade is brought up to date the better” No.2 said.

     A few days later a new fire engine arrived at the fire station, and quite a crowd had gathered to watch. A special 6 wheel Mini-Moke in red livery with a Penny Farthing on the bonnet. Fitted out with a bare steel frame supported two ladders, at the rear a small pump capable of pumping 100 gallons an hour, and in tow a water bowser.
   “I think you and your men should spend time getting used to this new piece of equipment” No.2 told the fire chief.
   “Yes Number 2.”
    “And I think we can arrange a few fire training days for you and your men.”
    “Certainly Number 2.”
    At that moment No.92 came running up to the fire station and began operating the hand fire bell and the alarm rang out.
    “Just a minute, what’s the idea ringing our fire bell?” asked the fire chief.
    “There’s a fire!” 92 said catching his breath.
    “A fire, where’s the fire?”
    “256 Private” said the gardener “a bonfire has got out of hand!”
    “Right everyone out of the way” the fire chief ordered as he and his men manned the fire engine and set off in the direction of the fire with 151c ringing the brass  bell as the fire engine raced through the village.
    Two men sat quietly on a bench.
    “Did you see that Number 48?”
    “I did 73.”
    “I wonder what would happen if one day the fire brigade was called out to a large fire?”
    “I would imagine it would create a great deal of activity.”
    “More than that, it would create a smokescreen and divert the attention of the Observers, and then one might be able to slip away unnoticed.”
    “And be far away before they were missed!”
    “It’s a plan” No.73 said.
    “We don’t need to start an actual fire” 48 said “We simply need a smokescreen to create panic and confusion!”

    A few days later the alarm of fire was raised by concerned citizens as billowing smoke rose up from the rear of the Green Dome. Nearby cottages were evacuated and the fire brigade was sent for. Within minutes the fire engine was on the scene and the fire chief took command of the situation. But it was soon discovered that it was a false alarm, as there was no fire only old oil drums which were used to contain a mixture which when set light produced a dense, almost toxic smoke. A roll call was made and two citizens were discovered to be missing, No.s 47 and 73 had apparently made good their escape through that part of the woods under the cover of a dense smokescreen. The two escapees didn’t get far before they come within the telescopic sights of Post 5’s high powered rifle. He took careful aim and fired a warning shot, this made 73 and 48 scatter in different directions, both looking for cover. There wasn’t any, it was open ground. Then Post 5 fired two further shots in fairly quick succession and two bodies lay stiff and stark in the scrub.

    The next day there was a funeral, the white Mini-Moke with a black and white striped canopy acting as a hearse. The brass band played, and a top hat official from administration attended the funeral, as did a few citizens carrying open black umbrellas. And now there are two fresh graves in the village cemetery displaying the only escape there can ever be from the village.

Be seeing you

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