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Saturday 30 January 2021

Out of The Village!

 

    “You want to go to the left here.”
    “Straight on, but he’s going to the right!”

    “It doesn’t matter.”
    “But we were instructed to follow him.”
    “We weren’t following him when he over took us a moment or two ago!”
    “Yes, but we know where he’s going, and when he gets there we’ll be there before him!”


    “There you are, I told you.”

    “I’m not at all sure we’ve got this right you know.”
    “We were told to follow a green, yellow nosed Lotus seven, yes?
    “Yes.”
    “License plate KAR 120C yes?”
    “Yes.”
    “But the description written on this piece of paper doesn’t match that of the driver.”
    “Not our problem, we’re at the right address, and he’s gone into the house.”
    “I suppose so.”
    “We’ll give him a few moments then we’ll go and get him.”
    “I still think someone has got this wrong!”

Be seeing you

Wednesday 27 January 2021

Village Life

 


    “Who’s that?”
    “No idea.”
    “Doesn’t look very happy does he?”
    “He’s obviously a new arrival.”
    “How do you make that out?”
    “He’s wearing his own clothes.”
    “Yes, but then so are we!”
    “Yes but WE are in uniform!”
    “Ah that makes all the difference!”
    “I wonder who he is?”
    “Perhaps he’s an inspector.”
    “An inspector, what a Police Inspector you mean?”
    “What would a Police Inspector be doing here, there hasn’t been a crime committed has there?”
    “Not that I’m aware of.”
    “No-one’s been murdered?”
    “No.”
    “Well then.”
    “Number 2 does seem to be giving him the half crown tour of the village.”
    “He is an inspector, here to inspect the village, to inspect us!”
    “He’s staring at us!”
    “I know, act nonchalant. Finish your tea and we’ll go.”
    “Go, go where, I was going to have another tea and slice of toast.”
    “If he’s an inspector we’d best get back and tidy the office.”
    “Oh crickey!”
    “What now?”
   “The picture of Number 2!”
    “You mean the one pinned to the dartboard.”
    “Yes.”
    “The picture you’ve been throwing darts at!”
    “You’re right, drink up and we’ll go.”

Be seeing you

Monday 25 January 2021

The Tally Ho

 The General Stores – Under New Management!

by our own reporter

        The General Store has been placed under new management, No.19, or was it 56 has been replaced. It would appear a recent audit of the Store’s books has shown a number of discrepancies in the accounts, in brief it appears the shopkeeper has been “cooking” the books! No.2 said that this is an administrative error the fact that the Store’s books had never been checked before!
    No.112 has now been given the position of shopkeeper, and has already implemented a number of improvements to the village shop, a number of “special imports” now stock the shelves. Various LP records are now for sale, which any prospective buyer can listen to in the newly installed record booth. Although I cannot see much call for Cuckoo clocks! For those budding photographers there is now a selection of cameras and photographic equipment which can be purchased as well as 3 pounds of King Edward potatoes, Brussels sprouts, oranges, pineapples, and for the table, and imported blue and white Cornish ware, along with Portmeirion pottery. A 1940’s till is also a new addition to the shop. I asked the shopkeeper No.112 why there was a need for the till when the village is a cashless community which runs on credit?
    “Well sir, every time I clip a customer’s credit card I have to keep the clippings somewhere, so what better till could there be for what is supposed to be an olde worlde, typically English corner shop?”
    I found I could not argue with the man. So I asked the shopkeeper for 20 cigarettes.
    “Cigarettes sir?”
    “Yes, I’ll take 20 woodbine, oh and a box of matches.”
    “I’m sorry sir, but we don’t sell cigarettes.”
    “You do there’s a cigarette machine next to the door” I said turning to look.
    “There used to be sir, but I had it removed.”
    “Since when?”
    “Since the no smoking policy in the village sir.”
    “I’ve never heard of anything so ridiculous, a no smoking policy. I’ll see Number 2 about this!”
    Ting ling a ling.
    I stood outside the shop for a few moments, took out a packet of woodbines from my pocket and a box of matches and lit a cigarette, a passer-by gave me such a queer accusing look, but my mind was on the previous shopkeeper who couldn’t make up his mind what his number was. A question buzzed around inside my mind, with the village being a cashless community, how could the shopkeeper No.19 or 56 have been found to be “cooking” the books, and so removed from his position because of fraud? There was no possible way he could have skimmed cash off the top, there being no cash to skim, unless he was philching goods, but then to what end? The shopkeeper isn’t the only citizen not to be seen recently, there’s No.14 the ex-Count, the painter No.42, and No.58. I have asked around, but no-one could say they have seen any of them; no-one leaves the village, and the only funeral recently was that of No.73. So where are they? It’s as though they have been wiped off the chessboard, as if they never existed! What’s more there are no more games of chess using people as chess pieces!

Be seeing you

Friday 22 January 2021

ASSIGNMENT

 

    The Huey helicopter cleared the hills and was flying across the estuary. The passenger left his seat and looked over the pilot’s shoulder.
    “Is that it?”
    “Yes sir” the pilot replied.
    “Fly over the place and make a couple of circles before you land.”
    The pilot nodded “I expect you want to make an entrance.”
    “No, I want to see what I’m dealing with!”
    The helicopter flew over the village, then circled a couple of times giving the passenger a good all round birdseye view. Then it flew out across the estuary before turning back towards the village as it made its final approach before landing on the lawn by the sea wall.
    “Don’t forget to come back in three days” said the passenger taking hold of his suitcase.
    “I’ll be back” the pilot told him.
    A crewman slid open the door and the passenger stepped down onto the grass, then walked across the lawn to a waiting taxi. Behind him the helicopter took off and flew at speed across the estuary back towards the hills. The man holding his suitcase stood watching it disappear from view.
    “Excuse me sir.”
    “Why, what have you done?”
    “Nothing.”
    “Then why do you look to be excused?”
    “I don’t know, I’m here to escort you to the Green Dome, I have a taxi waiting.”
   The man looked at the white Mini-Moke, walked over to the vehicle and climbed into one of the back seats, and his escort sat beside him as the taxi pulled away driving up the hill into the village.
    “Who are you?”
    “I’m Number 14, No.2’s assistant.”
    “No, I mean your name.”
    “My name sir?”
    “You have a name surely?”
    “Drake sir.”
    “I want to see the body Drake.”
    “I’m sorry sir, but we do not use names here.”
    The man looked at No.14 as though he had not heard “I want to see the body Drake.”
    “My orders are to take you direct to Number 2.”
    The man sat in silence peering out of the Mini-Moke at the pedestrians, passed the town hall to the right at the top the street, passed the café.
    “It’s Italianate” the man said.
    “I’m sorry sir?”
    “The architecture it’s a mixture, mostly Italianate.”
    “Yes sir, the Green Dome is just ahead on the left.”
    “Colourful, the clothes the people wear.”
    “Yes sir.”
    The taxi came to a stop at some steps. No.14 alighted followed by the new arrival, who handed No.14 his suitcase.
    “You don’t mind do you Drake?”
    “No, not at all” 14 replied, although he did mind being treated like some porter at a hotel.
    The front door to the Green Dome opened automatically, and waiting in the foyer was the diminutive butler who bowed. No.14 dropped the suitcase, then showed the two men into the purple walled domed office.
    No.2 was a large stout man who rose out of the black globe chair in order to greet the new arrival.
    “That will be all Number 14, you can go.”
    “Very good sir.”
    “But don’t go too far, I’ll need to talk to you later in the morning Drake.”
    “Very good sir.”
    No.14 turned smartly on his heels, walked up the ramp and through the opening pair of steel doors.
    “Can I offer you something, tea coffee?”
    “Coffee would be fine.”
    No.2 picked up the silver coffee jug and poured out a cup of hot coffee “Milk… sugar?”
    “No thank you, black will be just fine.”
    “Do sit down my dear fellow No.2 offered pressing a button on the control panel of the desk.
   A disk in the floor slid away and a black leather chair rose up through the floor.
    No.2 handed the arrival the cup and saucer “A word of advice, we do not use names here, and I’m sure Number 14 wouldn’t have been able to tell you that much.”
    He sipped his coffee “I think I had best be the judge of that….don’t you? But right now I would like to see the body and the doctor’s report.”
    “You wouldn’t prefer to rest in your quarters after your long journey?”
    “I understand the man died from asphyxiation.”
    “Where did you understand that from?” No.2 asked with a sudden stern expression.
    “I shall also want to see the doctor’s autopsy report.”
    “Autopsy report, the man was dead.”
    “You know how he died?”
    “Yes.”
    “I still want to see the body.”
    No.2 stood considering the request.
    “Your instructions were to cooperate with me in every way.”
    “Yes Colonel.”
    “Well then?”
    “I can take you to the Town Hall later this afternoon if you wish.”
    “Why the Town Hall?”
    “It’s where the mortuary is.”
    “You have the mortuary in the Town Hall?”
    “Yes.”
    “Not the hospital?”
    “No.”
    “It’s more usual to have a mortuary in the hospital.”
    “I’ll have you shown to your quarters” No.2 said “then after you have refreshed yourself you can view the body.”
    “Where are my quarters…..no don’t tell me, in the Town Hall.”
    “No, just a door or two away, we have put a cottage at your disposal. I’ll take you there personally, when you have finished your coffee.”

    No.2 led the way along the back of a row of terraced cottages.
    “Here we are, this is your place” No.2 said, ‘10 Private.’
    “How quaint” said he, and opening the door lead the way inside the fully furnished cottage.
    They stood in the lounge.
    “Who lives here?”
    “You do.”
    “My stay here is to be short lived, I’m sure such accommodation is not warranted.”
    “Nevertheless” No.2 said smiling “I shall leave you now to settle in, and I’ll have your suitcase brought you.”
    “I still want to see the body!” The Colonel demanded.
    “Yes of course you do, unfortunately the funeral was two days ago, be seeing you.”
    “Then you must have the body………” but No.2 had gone.
    A young housemaid brought his suitcase to the cottage “Is there anything else I can do for you sir?”
    “No I don’t think so. But tell me do you know this man?” the Colonel took a photograph from his wallet and showed it to the girl.
    The housemaid looked at the picture “Why this was his cottage sir.”
    “Thank you” and placed the picture back in his wallet and glanced at the badge pinned to her frilly apron “did you know him?”
    “No-one knows anyone here” she told him.
    “What did you do for him?”
    “I’m just the maid sir, I made his breakfast, made his bed, cleaned and dusted the place, that’s all sir.”
    “How was he?”
    “I’m sorry sir?”
    The Colonel pressed the girl “In himself, his demeanour, was he happy, tortured, what had they done to him?”
    “You mustn’t ask me such questions, I hardly knew him” the maid said and then rushed out of the cottage.


    In the control room No.2 and the bald-headed supervisor stood watching the Colonel unpacking his suitcase on the wall screen.
    “I think he is going to be difficult” the supervisor observed.
    “Tell me something I don’t know!” No.2 replied.
    “Under the circumstances there was bound to be an investigation.”
    “We could have handled it in-house” No.2 replied “why did they have to send an outsider here, poking his nose in?”
    “How would you have handled it?”
    “Easy, I would have swept it all under the carpet!”
    “It’s a pity you were so quick to organise the funeral.”
    “How do you mean?”
    “Now you’ll have to dig him up!”
    “And I know who is going to have to do it!”
    The supervisor glanced sideways at his superior and smiled quietly to himself.
    Later that afternoon an exhumation was carried out supervised by No.14.

    The next morning the Colonel rose early, he had spent a good night in his cottage having had no choice in the matter, they had locked him in! Having washed and shaved he went back into the bedroom to get dressed…..he looked for his clothes, they had gone! Instead he found a pair of grey trousers hanging on the back of a chair, a folded burgundy sweater, and a grey piped blazer hanging up in the wardrobe. He went into the lounge and picked up the telephone.
    “Number please” the female operator asked.
    “Number……..I want to make a call to London.”
    “I’m sorry sir, but local calls only” the operator told him.
    “You can’t put me through to a London exchange?”
    “No sir, I’m sorry” the operator hung up.
    He replaced the receiver then picked it up again.
    “Number please” the operator asked.
    “I want to make a call to.”
    “Oh it’s you again, what is your number sir?”
    “Number?” he looked at the telephone and saw the black number 10 “Number 10” he said.
    “And you want to make a call to…….?”
    He thought for a moment “Number 2.”
    “I’ll put you through” the operator told him. 
    In his office the yellow ‘L’ shaped telephone began to bleep, No.2 leaned forward in his chair and picked it up “Yes what is it?”
    “I have Number 10 for you sir” the operator said.
    “Number 10?” He queried “oh yes, put him through “Good morning Colonel, what can I do for you?”
    “I can’t find my clothes” the Colonel protested.
    “We have given you some new ones.”
    “I can see that!”
    “Well we thought you would feel more at home in village attire” No.2 told him.
    We, you mean you don’t you?”
    “What does it matter, just as long as you are able to carry out your investigation.”
    “Just as long as I can rely upon your cooperation.”
    “I have the doctor’s report for you, and the body will be made at your disposal, shall we say after breakfast?” No.2 suggested.
    At that moment the door opened and the maid walked in carrying a breakfast tray.
    “Yes” said the Colonel “after breakfast” and put down the receiver because he had just seen a face he recognised.
    “Your breakfast sir, better eat it before it gets cold!” the maid told him.
    He looked at the two fried eggs, bacon, baked beans, and fried bread and then back at the dark haired maid.
    “Elsa?”
    “I can’t stop talking now sir, I have my work to do.”
    “Elsa it is you?”
    “Yes it is.”
    “How did you end up here?”
    “We can’t talk now, someone is watching and listening.”
    “Surveillance, we must meet again, talk.”
    “I’m not sure we can they are always watching, listening.”
    “I’ve been sent here to conduct an investigation, I could call you in for questioning.”
    “I’ve been questioned, interviewed, interrogated, and…… tortured” she told him.
    “You talked?”
    “YOU would have talked Colonel, believe me, even you would have talked, either that or you are here to make people talk, which makes you one of them!” she said accusingly.
    “I’m here to investigate a death….”
    “Number 34, he was a friend” she said “eat your breakfast.”
    “We must talk” he insisted
    “At twelve o’clock at the brass band concert if we must.”
    “Why then?”
    “It will be easier then” she told him and leaving the cottage she went on her way.
    His breakfast was cold! Having made himself a cup of instant coffee, and toast, he dressed and made himself ready to go out, he was met at the door by No.2.
    “I thought I would call for you Colonel, if you will come with me, however I don’t quite see what the body will tell you” No.2 said.
    The colonel closed the cottage door and they walked to the Green Dome, down the steps to where a taxi was waiting.
    “It will identify itself to me” the Colonel said climbing into the white Mini-Moke.
    No.2 took his seat in the taxi and the driver drove the taxi to the hospital.
    “But you know who the dead man is.”
    “I still have to identify him.”
    The driver sounded the two tone horn warning pedestrians and cyclists alike of the taxi’s approach. It was a pleasant enough drive, then a large stone building appeared ahead and on the left, a castle.
    “That is the hospital” No.2 said.
    “I thought we were going to the mortuary in the town hall?”
    “I had the body moved” No.2 replied.
    The taxi turned onto the large gravelled forecourt to the hospital, an ambulance was parked at the door and an old woman was being helped into a wheelchair by two male orderlies. The taxi came to a stop and the two men alighted and walked towards the large imposing building.
    Inside the hospital it was a hive of activity, nurses hurrying this way and that. A bald-headed patient was being let along the corridor to an examination room, while another patient was wheeled towards the operating theatre. 
    “What’s in there?” the Colonel asked.
    “That’s the aversion therapy room, its where people with aversions are treated. Stop me if I’m getting too technical for you.”
    “There’s not much danger of that!”
    “This way Colonel.”
    No.2 led the way along a corridor to a laboratory where the body of No.34 had been taken, and was now lying on a slab. A doctor in a white coat stood to one side as No.2 entered the room. No.2 nodded and the doctor stepped forward and removed the white sheet covering the body.
    “Well Colonel?”
    “Yes that’s him, when did you dig him up?”
    No.2 glanced at the doctor.
    “It’s blindingly obvious that the cadaver has not been refrigerated” the Colonel observed “so how did he die?”
    “He drowned” the doctor replied.
    “I understand he was suffocated.”
    The doctor glanced at No.2.
    “The body was found on the beach, at the water’s edge to be precise, there was a certain amount of water in the lungs so death by drowning was an easy conclusion to form” the doctor explained.
    “How did he drown, was it by his own hand or another’s?” the Colonel asked.
    “I don’t understand?”
    “You’re not a pathologist doctor?”
    “No.”
    “Can I see the pathologist?”
    “There isn’t one” No.2 said.
    “In your opinion then doctor, was No.34 murdered?”
    “You can see for yourself that there’s no bruising on the body, which suggests to me that no undue force was used.”
    “Then it was suicide?”
    “A man may take his own life for many reasons” said the doctor.
    “Perhaps because life didn’t suit him within our community” No.2 suggested.
    “He was unhappy?”
    “No more no less than anyone else here.”
    “I take it you are satisfied Colonel?” No.2 asked.
    “I am far from satisfied, one of my operatives has died in your installation, our masters also will be far from satisfied. I intend to find out how and why he died, and YOU Number 2, are going to help me!”
    “Number 34 was a plant….why?”
    “That is for me to know!”
    The pair of steel doors opened and No.2 followed by his assistant No.14 entered the domed chamber.
    “The damned nerve of the man!” No.2 said pacing the floor of his office.
    “Another accident could be arranged” 14 suggested.
    “It’s the first one that’s got us into this fine mess, Number 34 was a plant, sent here by our masters!”
    “Why?”
    “To check on security, to check on me, you……he was friendly with that what’s her number?”
    “You mean Number 22 the maid.”
    “That’s her, where is she now?”
    “I don’t know sir.”
    “Well find her, it shouldn’t be that difficult, and when you have, have her brought to me.”
    “Yes Number 2.”
   When the housemaid No.22 could not be found physically No.14 made his way to the control room where he and the supervisor conducted a visual search for her.

    It was half past 12 when the Colonel took up a deckchair on the lawn in front of the bandstand, the band was playing the Trumpet Major. A few minutes later No.22 appeared and sat down next to him.
    “I’m sorry I’m late, it was difficult to get away.”
    “Difficult to get away?”
    “In here one has to be careful otherwise you become suspect.”
    “Suspect of what?”
    “What do you want to know Colonel?”
    “How did you end up in here?”
    “I was in Prague, I went to my hotel, to my room, after that I have no idea, I woke up here!”
    “Why?”
    “They wanted to know all about me, and after I told them they put me to work, Number 34 was my first assignment.”
    “You knew him?”
    “No, I did not know him, no-one knows anyone here. It doesn’t pay to get too close to someone.”
    “How did Number 34 die?”
    “It was just before curfew, they lock us in our rooms then. But he had found a way to break the electric circuit locking his cottage door. He went out one night, I never saw him again. They say his body was found on the beach. A funeral was held two days later.”
    The band came to the end of the set and began to play the Blue Danube Waltz, this made No.22 prick her ears up.
    “What is it Elsa?”
    “Nothing, nothing at all” she said and settled herself back down.
    “It’s clearly something.”
    In the control room the supervisor and No.14 completed their search.
    “Well you’ve found her” the supervisor said.
    “She’s talking to the colonel, can we get the audio?”
    “Once the band stops playing, curious, they’ve never played the Blue Danube Waltz before.”
    “I went to the funeral, but kept my distance, I watched from the top of the cliffs” she told him “now if that’s all I have to go.”
    “We must meet again” the Colonel told her.
    “We mustn’t, they will have seen us together, that’s enough.”
    “What if I said I could get you out of here?”
    “You’ll be lucky to get yourself out, never mind me as well!”
    “Tomorrow a helicopter will come for me, you can leave with me.”
    “And you think Number 2 will just sit back in his chair and allow that to happen?....I must go, but ask Number 2 about the Guardian.”
    And at that No.22 hurried away and into the arms of the waiting No.14.

    “Well my dear, you have been talking to the Colonel, have you learned anything?”
    “No, he was asking me about Number 34.”
    “Covertly?”
    “What do you mean?”
    “Because of the brass band Number 14 here couldn’t hear a word you were saying, could you Number 14?”
   “No sir.”
    “Would you say she and the Colonel had met previously?”
    “I would Number 2.”
    “We had, I took him his breakfast this morning.”
    “Don’t get clever with me, the same thing could easily happen to you as happened to No.34.”
    “A warning Number 2?”
    “No my dear, a promise, and don’t think for one minute the Colonel can protect you.”

   “Good evening citizens, five minutes to curfew, the minutes are five, sleep well.”
   The sudden announcement came over the black loudspeaker, it was followed by a lullaby to aid a peaceful sleep, that and the cup of hot chocolate left for him by the maid, a little grey haired lady in a black dress, white frilly apron, and white sailors cap. He didn’t drink the hot chocolate, instead he tried the door to his cottage, it was locked, as were the windows. Then the lights went out, and he went to bed, though he did not sleep.

    The next morning the Colonel paid a call on No.2, it was the last day of his assignment.
    “I take it you are satisfied Colonel.”
    “I am far from satisfied, what’s the Guardian?”
    No.2 crossed his legs and put a hand to his chin “Where did you hear about that?”
    “Never mind, what is the Guardian?”
    “It serves and protects the village.”
    “Protects, protects against what, intruders?”
    “Yes, and prevents anyone from leaving.”
    Ah, now we get down to it. Is that what happened to Number 34, he tried to escape and this Guardian caught him?”
    “Do you wish to see the Guardian, it can be easily arranged.”
   “Is that a threat?”
    “Not at all” No.2 said pressing a button on the control panel of his desk with the tip of his umbrella shooting stick.
    The large wall screen came to life showing a view of something akin to hot lava in a lamp, perpetually moving, unable to rest, a prisoner as any other prisoner in the village. Yet at the beck and call of those masters who control it.
    “The Guardian” No.2 announced.
    “What is it?”
    “Living membrane, mind you do not succumb to it.”
    “Is that likely?”
    “Step out of line and find out, after all you are the investigator here.”
    “About Number 34……..”
    “He will be re-interred this afternoon.”
    “I should like to attend.”
    “Before you leave?”
    “After I have written my report.”
    “Your investigation has been concluded then.”
    “It was the Guardian….how was it done?”
    “The man was out after curfew, he broke out of his cottage and was on the beach. When the Guardian turned up on the scene he ran, the Guardian gave chase and was suffocated to death by living membrane.”
    “I don’t think for one minute my superiors will like that, after all……”
    “He was a plant sent to infiltrate the village, to what purpose Colonel?”
    “A helicopter will be coming for me this afternoon, I wish to take Number 34’s personal effects with me.”
    “And what about the housemaid Number 22, will you be taking her with you?”
    “Is that possible?”
    “Shouldn’t think so for one minute!”
    “Ask Number 1!”
    The colour instantly drained from No.2’s face.
    “We each have our masters Number 2.”
    “Now I shall return to my cottage and write up my report, and I expect my own clothes to be returned to me.”
    As the Colonel was leaving the domed office No14 passed through the open steel doors.
    “Are you going to allow him to leave?” 14 asked approaching the desk.
    “I have no choice, if he stays and suffers an accident our masters will be sure to hear of it. No, better we see the back of him.”
    “He knows about the village.”
    “And so did his predecessors.”
    “But they were in the pay of our masters, this one shows signs of individuality.”
   “Then best he be gone before his individuality spreads like a plague!”

    The re-interment of No.34 was a simple affair, the only people who attended were two top hat officials, four coffin bearers, and the grave diggers, and the Colonel. But there was one other, watching from the cliff tops.
   After the simple funeral the Colonel climbed over the rocks, passing the Lighthouse to the cliff top. It was there that he caught up with No.22.
    “Elsa my helicopter is due soon, I want you to come with me.”
    She looked shocked “Number 2 will never allow it.”
    “He can’t stop me, he has to let me leave.”
    “Number 2, I was thinking about Number 1!”
    “Is there anything you want to take with you?”
    “No.”
    “I have to go back to my cottage to collect my suitcase, clothes, and my report.”
    “Do you have to?”
    “If I don’t it will look suspicious” he told her.
    “If I come with you it will look even more suspicious, they might let you leave but I will die here” she said
    “Then we leave from here” he said glancing at his watch “the helicopter will be here in an hour, all we have to do is wait.”
    “You make it sound so simple” there was a tremble in her voice as she said it.
    An hour was spent quietly in the woods, but an hour soon became an eternity as they waited. Then to great relief it was time, the helicopter would be arriving any moment. They emerged from the wood and made their way along the cliff to the Lighthouse, and from there down onto the beach.
    In the control room the couple were picked up on a monitor by one of the Observers. The pair of steel doors opened and No.2 appeared on the gantry.
    “Where are they?”
    The supervisor looked up at him “They’re running away along the beach.”
    “Supervisor” said the radar operator “there’s a target approaching the village from over the hills.”
    “Continue tracking, keep the man and woman on screen” the supervisor ordered.
    The couple were heading out across the sand of the estuary, they heard it first the deep throb of the engine, then they saw it the Huey helicopter clearing the last of the hills. They stood still waving their arms trying to attract the helicopters pilot’s attention. The crew made ready as the pilot flew the helicopter across the estuary towards the village. Then he saw two figures on the beach waving frantically at the helicopter. Frederickson alerted his two crewmen, a door was slid open and the Huey helicopter descended to the beach
    “Shall I order a pursuit team?” asked the supervisor.
    “You should have done that long ago” No.2 said sternly.
    “Then orange alert.”
    “Don’t be ridiculous; what good would a balloon type creature be against an armed helicopter….activate the beam!”
    From out of the top of the flagpole a steel rod rose up and set at an angle, and began to rotate.
    “Beam on sir” the operator announced.
    “Beam maximum strength” No.2 ordered.
    Suddenly aboard the helicopter all the electronic controls ceased, the engine cut out, the pilot fought to regain control, to restart the engine. Then suddenly the helicopter pitched violently, the rotor blades cut into the soft sand, a fuel pipe ruptured causing a fire to break out and then a violent explosion leaving the helicopter a burning heap of twisted metal the pilot and two crewmen dead. The man and woman fell to their knees on the sand. Behind them an ambulance and white Mini-Moke with security men aboard were racing towards the crash site.
    Hearing the sirens they looked behind them at the approaching vehicles.
    “They are coming for us, it looks very much like we shall be staying Colonel. There is just one piece of advice I can give you, don’t drink the water……………”

Be seeing you

Tuesday 19 January 2021

Out of The Village!

 

    PR12 “The Colonel is here to see you Sir Charles.”
    “I can see that, I thought……yes I’m sure we did, we sent the Colonel on assignment to the village.”
    “We did sir.”
    “Then what are you doing back here Colonel?”
    The Colonel “Sir Charles………”
    “Yes.”
    “Look what they have done to me!”
    “What have they done to you?”
    “They changed my mind, and made me wear these clothes!”
    “You’re dressed like my future son-in-law!”
    “Sir Charles I am your future son-in-law!”
    “My daughter is going to marry you?”
    “Yes Sir Charles.”
    “I didn’t know you knew her!”
    “I’m sorry?”
    “Oh don’t be sorry, if my daughter wants to marry you Colonel, well who am I to stop her?”
    “No Sir Charles, I’m ZM73.”
    “Really, then why do you look like the Colonel?”
    “Someone has played an awful trick on me!”
    “I don’t think my daughter will like you looking like that.”
    “Just a minute…….you said you sent me to the village!”
    “Well I didn’t send you exactly, I sent the Colonel.”
    “And here I am in his body, while mine lies somewhere over the sea, back in the village.”
    “The village!”
    “You know about the village because you admit to sending the Colonel there.”
    “And you claim to be ZM73.”
    “Yes.”
    “Answer me something, why should you, the Colonel, claim to be ZM73?”
    “He doesn’t, I claim to be ZM73.”
    “I think you got hold of ZM73’s clothes and in impersonating him managed to escape the village in order to avoid something being done to you. Then having escaped you come back here with this trumped up story. If I were you Colonel I would go back to your office and think about your current situation, a situation you may not be in for much longer. While I contact Number 1 and try to explain how you managed to escape!”
    “Making love to my daughter is one thing, but trying to pull the wool over my eyes is another!”
    “I never did!”
    “Colonel I don’t care what you did or didn’t do, do you know where Seltzman is?”
    “Yes.”
    “Then go and find him Colonel, go and find him. Then you might be able to extricate yourself from your current situation.”

Be seeing you

Monday 18 January 2021

What’s The Verdict?

 

    “I think he’s rather dishy.”
    “Dishy, I don’t see it.”
    “He’s a lucky fellow though, because Number 2 stopped me from experimenting on him, and just when I was about to make him talk!””

Be seeing you

Friday 15 January 2021

Village Life!

 


    A vote for Number 6 is a vote for the security of the citizens as your local candidate stands for election as once again he takes to the hustings.

    “There are those who come in here and deny we can provide every conceivable civilized amenity within our boundaries.”

   “What’s he banging on about now? Did you hear his election speech on the telly yesterday?”
    “Yes, I tried to switch him off, but the on-off switch doesn’t work!”
    “He said the community being able to rest assured that our interests are very much his own, and that the security of the citizens will be his primary objective. He sounded like No.2 already!”
    “I heard he tried to escape.”
    “Escape from where?”
    “Here.”
    “Will you two be quiet, I want to here want he has to say.”
    “You can enjoy yourselves and you will. You can take partake of the most hazardous sports and you will.”
    “He doesn’t mean Kosho does he, he’s not making me take part in that it’s far too dangerous!”
    “The price is cheap, all you have to do is give us information.”
    “Oh here we go, and if you don’t give it, they take it!”
    “You are then eligible for promotion to other and perhaps more attractive spheres where do you desire to go?”
    “They let Cobb go, they released him from the village to go on to more attractive spheres as he goes to serve his new masters.”  
    “I wouldn’t mind going to Skegness.”

    “What has been your dream? I can supply it, winter spring, summer or fall they can all be yours at any time. Apply to me and it will be easier and better.”
    “Promises, promises, always promises!”
    “Six six six six six six six six six six six six six six.”

   “Place your trust in the old regime their policies defined the future certain, the old regime forever and the old Number Two forever. Confession by coercion is that what you want? Vote for him and you have it, or stand firm upon this electoral platform and speak a word without fear the word is…..freedom. They say six of one and half a dozen of the other, not here, it’s Six for Two and Two for nothing and Six for free for all for free for all vote, vote.”

    “I must say Number 6 seems to be doing pretty well.”
    “Yes, but freedom what does he mean by that.”
    “You mustn’t say that!”
    “Say that word, freedom, I mentioned it once but I think I got away with it.”
    “What about Number 2, what does he do in his spare time?”
    “And another thing you mustn’t do here is to enquire.”
    “He said he can’t afford spare time because he’s working to his limit. I mean we’re all entitled to spare time, Number 6 says leisure is our right.”
    “What less work and more play, do you want half-day closing?”
    “I wonder what Number 6 does in his spare time?”
    “He doesn’t do anything, I’ve never seen him do a stroke of work since he arrived here!”
    “I think he’s just out for himself, his words don’t ring richly in my ears.”
    “Mine neither, let’s go to the café for a coffee.”
    “What do you do in your spare time?”
    “We go to the café mate!” a voice shouted from the back.


Be seeing you

Monday 11 January 2021

All The World’s A Stage…….

     And in the village citizens have their exits and their entrances, and in his time a man plays many parts.

    In his office the new interim No.2 sat in his black global chair contemplating his future. It’s true the village hadn’t been quite what he had expected, more of a holiday resort than a prison. And yet his task had been a simple one, or relatively simple, the first part had been to bring a quick change artiste to the village. Oh not to tread the boards in the Recreation Hall, but to take on a number of character roles. The first of which was....
    The electrics truck stopped outside the cottage of 9 Private, a man climbed off the garden tractor, he had a black book in his hand and approached the cottage door and knocked. A middle aged man with black hair opened the door.
    “Electrics sir, I’ve come to read your meter sir” the tall man in dove grey overalls and black peaked cap said.
    “My what?”
    “Your electric meter, I’ve come to read it.”
    “The meter’s never been read before” No.9 protested “come to think of it, I don’t think I’ve got an electric meter.”
    “Well if I can come inside for a minute” the young man said brushing passed and entering the cottage “in the cupboard under the stairs will be favourite.”
    “There is no cupboard under the stairs, there are no stairs” No.9 said holding the cottage door open.
    “Well the kitchen then” and with that he disappeared into the depths of the cottage.
    No.9 followed the meter reader and found him in the kitchen.
    “No meter here, any chance of a brew?”
    “No chance whatsoever, just what is your game?”
    “You’re the kind of man who gets noticed” No.9 told him.
    “I try to maintain a low profile.”
    “Just so, just so. Look I’m in this place because I chucked my job up.”
    “What’s that got o do with me?”
    “Now they want to know all about me.”
    “Again what’s that got to do with me?”
    “Nothing, I can see that nothing. But I felt I could trust a man like you, a man who’s been around, who’s seen a few things, know what I mean?”
    “Just get to the point.”
    “What here.”
    “Yes, you came here.”
    “No not here you never know who might be listening!”
    “Then it’s too late, they’ve heard, they are aware and most likely two burly set guardians will be here in two shakes of a dogs tail!”
    In the control room the supervisor and his assistant were listening.
    “Do we?”
    “Do we what?” asked the supervisor.
    “Send round two burly set guardians to 9 Private?”
    “No, Number 2 said leave it to one double zero.”
    “Yes but if we don’t send the two burly set guardians won’t that look suspicious to Number 9?”
    “Maintain surveillance but leave the rest to one double zero.”
    “Yes sir.
    “Well sir I can hardly read your meter if you haven’t got one” said the meter reader almost too deliberately.
    No.9 stood by the open door of his cottage.
    “I’ll bid you good day sir.”
    “I take it you accomplished what you came for?”
    “Sorry sir I’m not quite with you?”
    “I take it you accomplished what you came for?”
    “I’m electrics no more than that” the man said climbing onto the garden tractor.
    “That covers a multitude of sins!”
    “I actually came looking for help.”
    “And went away empty handed.”
    “I’m a prisoner...just like you.”
    “Unlike you I don’t trust every Tom, Dick, or Harry who comes knocking on my door, good day to you.”
    The door slammed shut and the electrician drove away on his electrics truck.

    The next day it’s was a little old lady who crossed No.9’s path.
    “Good day to you young man.”
    “Good day to you old crone.”
    “Oh don’t be like that sir” the wizened old woman said “I bet you would buy a bunch of my lucky white heather” the old woman said taking a bunch from her basket.
    “I wouldn’t put money on it” he said about to walk away.
    “You’ve got a lucky face young man” the old woman told him.
    “Then I don’t need your lucky white heather!”
    “Why don’t you tell them the reason you resigned?”
    “What’s it to you old woman?”
    “I could tell them” the old woman said “I’ve seen you in my crystal ball, in an office shouting at a man sat at a desk.”
    “Then you’ll know I didn’t resign, I walked out!” and with that he went on his way.
    Another time it was “Come along young man” said the grumpy old man wearing an RAF peaked cap “do you think we have all day, well you might but I don’t.”
    “You’re in a hurry to be somewhere?”
    “Make you move young man.”
    He did, Knight took Queens Bishop’s Pawn “That suit you Group Captain?”
    “I wish I’d had you in one of my squadrons!”
    “You think I’d have made a fighter ace?”
    “You’d have made ground crew at best.”
    “Well someone had to keep the Messerschmitt’s flying, or was it Fokker Wolfs?!”
    “Damned impertinence, whose air force do you think I was in?”
    “Sorry Group Captain, but it is your move.”
    Queen took Knight.
    Bishop took Rook checkmate.
    “Hummp! Clever aren’t you!”
    “Sorry Group Captain.”
    It was then No.9 saw the Group Captain looking over his left shoulder.
    “Do you know what I think I’ll do?”
    “Organize an escape, you’ll have to talk to the escape committee first.”
    “I think I’ll fly that helicopter out of here” the Group Captain announced with determination “coming with me?”
    “You mean escape?”
    “It’s the duty of every captured officer to try and escape.”
    “This isn’t Colditz castle you know.”
    “I didn’t expect you, a civilian to be up to the challenge. I’ll go along, and as I fly off into the distance you’ll be sorry!”
    As it happened the gruff, defiant Group Captain never made it anywhere near the Alouette helicopter. He walked smartly across the lawn of the Old people’s Home and down the slope. He reached the lawn by the sea wall where the helicopter was, but between the Group Captain and the helicopter was the white membranic sphere of the Guardian, and there was no way passed that, not without an electro pass which synchronises with the alarm system. The result was an obvious one; the Group Captain succumbed to the Guardian, suffocated by its membrane!

   The next day a gardener was busy fitting a window box at 9 Private.
    “What the devil do you think you are doing?” No.9 asked, having just bought a copy of The Tally Ho from a nearby kiosk.
    “What it looks like guv, fitting a window box.”
    “Who told you to do that?”
    “My foreman guv, he said 153 go and fit a window box to 9 Private. So I did, and here I am doing it.”
    “Supposing I don’t went any flowers?”
    “Well it don’t matter whether you want flowers or not, My foreman instructed me to fit a window box and that’s what he will expect me to do.”
    “What are those flowers called?”
    “Them flowers sir?”
    “Yes.”
    “What these flowers here?”
    “Yes, those flowers there.”
    “They’ll be Delphiniums.”
    “Delphiniums, they look more like pansies and petunias to me.”
    “With a scarlet Pimpernel” the gardener said with a sly wink.
    “Pimpernel, scarlet pimpernel?” No.9 asked.
    “Yes guv.”
    “Do I look like I need saving from the Guillotine?” 
    The gardener in dove grey overalls and peaked cap made a final check of the window box then turning to No.9 said in quiet tone “No, but you’re a prisoner here just like me.”
    “So what?”
    “You have a secret, and Number 2 wants to know what it is.”
    “I could take the easy way out and just tell him.”
    “You could tell me.”
    “Why should I tell you?”
    “You know what they say.”
    “No, what do they say?”
    “A trouble shared is a trouble halved.”
    “What makes you think I trust you any more than I trust Number 2? Now, why don’t you go running back to your master and tell him to go and take a running jump!”
   And with that No.9 went into his cottage slamming the cottage door behind him. Then he stood thinking, and having left his cottage made his way to the Green Dome, crossing the street, up the steps, onto the balcony and at the front door he pulled on the wrought iron bell pull, at which a bell sounded somewhere. After a few moments the door opened the diminutive butler in black gloves and tails opened the door and showed the visitor through the foyer, through the open French doors and the pair of opening steel doors beyond. He stood at the top of the ramp, the pair of steel doors closed behind him, ahead of him the spacious purple domed chamber. He walked down the ramp and across the floor with purpose, and at the grey curved desk he demanded to see No.2.
    “I am Number 2.”
    “Your predecessor set his creatures upon me!”
    “Did he?” No.2 replied but not quite in all innocence.
    “Yes he did, they dogged my footsteps...why?”
    Then the penny suddenly dropped!
    “It was....you came to read my meter, the gruff old Group Captain, the gardener, even the old crone that was you!”
    “Along with one or two other faces in the crowd you failed to notice. The young woman who dropped her handkerchief which you so readily picked up for me.  I was the old man in the wheelchair, I served you coffee at the cafe, sold you a copy of The Tally Ho, a bag of sweets, and a bar of soap at the kiosk, and just now you had no idea I was the butler who let you in!”
    “You must be what, almost 6 feet tall, the butler........”
     “Is five feet in his stocking feet, I have to admit I did have to take quite a bit of height off to impersonate him so well, and you had no idea that was me!”
    “That’s impossible!”
    “Oh I assure you its perfectly true.”
    “No, you couldn’t have impersonated the butler to get from the foyer into that chair so quickly!”
    “So you didn’t resign, you walked out, what before you were pushed?”
    “And where did they find you, on stage at the lyceum?”
    “The Palladium actually.”
    “Well get yourself out of here if you can Mister Pimpernel” No.9 said walking away from the desk. At the foot of the ramp he turned “what was it all about?”
    “I don’t know, they didn’t tell me.”
    “Well if you don’t mind I’ll exit up this ramp, and through the steel doors.”
    “They told me to tell you that this is only the beginning.”
    “Then I wish them better luck next time!” No.9 said reaching the top of the ramp, the steel doors opened.
    The steel doors slammed shut with a resounding clang.

Be seeing you

Thursday 7 January 2021

More Tales From The Village

    The pair of large oak doors opened and PR12 stood framed in the open doorway.
   “Yes what is it?”
    “The Colonel J. is here to see you sir.”
    “The Colonel, oh yes, show him in.”
    A tall man with thinning grey hair in his early fifties walked smartly into the large well furnished office, and approached the large oak desk. Sir Charles Portland, white haired, sporting an Eton tie, and being a keen rosarian he wore a new rose bud in his button hole every morning, sat behind that large oak desk.
    “Good morning Colonel, do sit down.”
    “Thank you Sir Charles.”
    “I sent for you because……..”
    At that moment the large oak doors opened and a dark haired woman in a light blue coat entered the room.
    “Father I must have a word with you” the woman said from the doorway.
    “As you can see I am rather busy my dear.”
    Janet Portland entered the room “He isn’t there.”
    “Who isn’t?”
    “John, and his car’s gone!” 
    “Oh your fiancé.”
    “Have you sent him on a mission?”
    “I’m afraid I can’t tell you.”
    “He wouldn’t go and not tell me.”
    “Can we talk about his later; I have an awful lot to do today.”
    In frustration Janet left her father’s office not knowing what to do.
    “I’m sorry about that Colonel, now; you are to be seconded to the village.”
    “The village?”
    “Yes, but it’s not quite as simple as that…..”
    “I’m sorry Sir Charles, the village?”
    “Oh yes I see, well I cannot tell you much I’m afraid but basically people with certain information are sent to the village to have that information extracted.”
    Sir Charles words put Colonel J. a little on edge.
    “One such person is proving to be rather difficult. It is thought that seeing how you and he worked together a friendly face would help relax him. Your job Colonel will be to get him to talk about Karl Kopek who went missing from a top secret establishment. Tell me Colonel, what is your view on time travel?”

   The silver grey alouette helicopter cleared the hills and flew across the estuary towards the Italianate village, which it circled once before landing on the lawn by the sea wall. A white Mini-Moke with orange and white striped canopy was parked by the edge of the lawn. As the rotor blades of the helicopter slowed the cabin door opened and a man stepped out onto the grey float carrying a brown suitcase. He crossed the lawn walking towards the waiting taxi.
   “I’m to take you to Number 2” the driver said.
   The Colonel put his suitcase into the back of the Mini-Moke and sat in the front passenger seat. The driver started the engine and turned the taxi round up the slope, round the hairpin bend, and up the hill into the village.
   The pair of steel doors slid open and Colonel J. stood in the doorway. A stout man with black hair sat in a black global chair behind a grey desk, he greeted his visitor.

    “Ah Colonel, have a good trip?”
    “A reasonable one.”
    “Good, would you like some tea?
    “Is there time for tea?” the Colonel asked.
    “Oh there’s always time for tea.”
    “And my assignment, I should like to speak with Karl Kopek as soon as possible.”
      “Who?”
    “Karl Kopek.”
    No.2 thought for a moment, then leaned forward and pressed a button on the control panel on the desk switching on the wall screen “Don’t worry about him; after all he’s not going anywhere!”
    But the cottage was empty, No.9 had gone! A yellow alert was posted.

    “Are you absolutely certain this is completely necessary?” the Colonel asked nervously.
    “I assure you Colonel you have nothing to worry about” The Professor said in an unspecified accent, although with a strong German tint
    “I should think I’ve everything to worry about!”
    The Colonel had been briefed on the mission ahead, and had been given a complete change of clothes, including a piped blazer and straw boater.
    “Do I really have to dress as though I’m going to the Henley regatta?”
    “When you get there Colonel you must blend in immediately, and not stick out like a new arrival.”
    “And just how am I to return?”
    The Professor prepared a hypodermic syringe “I tell you Colonel, you will feel nothing whatsoever and it will only take a few moments, and then you’ll be there. Getting back you have a chip implanted under the skin of your left wrist. It will self activate at a certain time on a certain day, that’s three days after your arrival.”
    “You know what you are to do when you get there?” No.2 asked.
    “Yes.”
    The professor administered the drug, and then he turned his attention to a control panel.
    “Good.”
    “Yes but will they know who I am when I get there? I’m sure this is a job for a much younger man…..”
    Two laboratory technicians helped the Colonel into a clear Perspex tube, the door closed the two technicians withdrew. The professor and No.2 stood behind the protective partition, as the professor operated the control panel, arcs of electricity danced above and around the Perspex tube, and then in a flash of bright white light Colonel J. was gone!
    “You know what you have to do now Number 2” the Professor said.
    “Don’t worry Professor, everything is in place. When he wakes up he won’t have a clue of when he is!”

    The Colonel woke up sitting on a bench in the Piazza. Citizens were promenading in the afternoon sunshine. In the Free Sea there was a chap wearing a piped blazer and straw boater sitting in a dingy, being pulled along by another chap pulling on a rope, and there was an older man wearing a British Naval cap sailing plastic boats in the Free Sea, and a man pushing a Penny Farthing bicycle passed by giving the Colonel a curious salute. It took him a few moments to gather his thoughts.

   In the control room an Observer turned from her monitor “Supervisor.”
   “Yes what is it?”
   “There’s a man sat on a bench in the Piazza, he’s a face I have not seen before.”
    “Perhaps he’s a new arrival. Let’s have him on the screen.”
    The large wall screen was activated and the figure of the man pictured sitting on a bench.
    “He’s not wearing a badge” the Supervisor observed picking up the yellow ‘L’ shaped intercom.
    In No.2’s office the yellow ‘L’ shaped intercom began to bleep. With cup and saucer in one hand he picked up the intercom with the other.
    “Yes what is it?”
    “Supervisor here sir. I’m standing looking at the screen watching a man I’ve never seen before sitting on a bench in the Piazza.”
    “Really.”
    “Have there been any new arrivals?”
    “Not recently no” but No.2’s curiosity was roused. Leaning forward he pressed a button on the control panel activating the large wall screen “he looks perfectly ordinary.”
    “Yes No.2 but his face is unknown, and he’s not wearing a badge.”
    “Perhaps it fell off, perhaps the pin broke!” No.2 suggested.
    “If he is an unknown, who is he, how did he get here?” No.12 asked as he entered No.2’s office.
    “Why don’t you go and ask him?”
    “Yes sir” 12 said turning on his heels.
    “No wait. Have him brought to see me.”
    “Yes Number 2.”
    The pair of steel doors opened smartly as No.12 left the office and closed equally smartly behind him.

    Colonel J. was still sat on the bench, and had just made up his mind what to do next when a young man and two companions approached him.
    “You’re a new face aren’t you” No.12 said.
    “Am I?”
    “Number 2 would like a word with you.”
    “As it happens I would like a word with him!”

    The pair of steel doors opened with No.12 leading the way into the domed chamber, with the Colonel in close company of the two guardians. No.2, a tall man with light brown hair sat in the black global chair.
    “I don’t seem to know you face” No.2 said.
    “I want to talk to Number 2” the Colonel said.
    “How fortunate for you then, I am Number 2. What do you want to talk to me about?”
    “You are Number 2?”
    “Yes, but more to the point who are you?”
    “Colonel J.”
    “Colonel J, never heard of you. How came you here, who brought you?”
    “I….I was sent here on a mission, Number 2 sent me here on a mission.”
    “Number 2, but I tell you I am Number 2.”
    “Then it was your predecessor, or your successor who sent me here.”
    “Have you been sent here to infiltrate the village, perhaps to spy on us, to spy on me?”
    “Kopek, Karl Kopeck.”
    “Never heard of him” No.2 said “Now Colonel, why don’t you tell us all about yourself.”
    “I was sent here on a mission by Number 2………..what is the date?”
    “What’s the date got to do with it?” No.12 asked.
    “I must know the date.”
    “February tenth.”
    “What year?”
    “Nineteen sixty four” No.2 said “Now perhaps you will tell us something about yourself, how you come to be here and who sent you.”
    “I have told you!”
    “You were in the village and Number 2, presumably one of my future successors sent you back here to the village from the future.”
    “Yes.”
    “Anyone can spin a yarn like that” No.12 said.
    “Yes, but why would they want to, and what would they have to gain?” No.2 asked.
    “But I bet it’s not everyone who can simply walk into the village!” said the Colonel.
    “We seem to have a breach in security Number 12” No.2 suggested.
    “I too have a problem, I know where I am, but not when!” the Colonel said.
    “Number 12, have our new friend here taken to a vacant cottage, it will not quite be your home from home Colonel, but it will be cosy enough. Then we can set about clearing this little matter up.”
    There was a copy of The Tally Ho, the village broadsheet laying on the desk, the Colonel glanced at the date, Feb10th but there was no year marked!
    In the control room No.2 and the supervisor stood watching the wall screen.             “You think this will work?” the supervisor asked.
    “We’ll make him feel comfortable for a while, let him settle in then Number 2 and Number 12 must convince the Colonel and then extract every piece of information from the Colonel they can.”
    “And Kopek?” 
    “He’s safe enough where he is for the time being.”

    In the comfort of a cosy cottage, Colonel J. sat on a sofa thinking of his current situation. Then he remembered, pulling up his left sleeve there was no scarring of a cut, he could feel nothing implanted under his skin…..

Be seeing you