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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.”
    “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.
    The professor administered the drug, and then he turned his attention to a control panel.
    “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.”
    “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.”
    “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

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