“Beware the black Queen!”
“Why do you say that?”
They sat studying the human chess match as
it was played.
“That was a poor move” No.23 said “he should have played his King’s Knight.”
“Why did you say that?” No.71 asked.
“Because moving his Queen’s Rook like that he’s left himself wide open to mate in four moves.”
“No, I mean beware the black Queen, your own mother couldn’t give you better advice.”
“Queen takes Rook” a player called out through his megaphone.
The black Queen moved diagonally two squares, two men in yachting caps, and black and white striped blazers and shorts stepped onto the chessboard and escorted the white King’s Rook off the chessboard.
“What was he saying?” the black Queen
“He told me not to trust you.”
There was a round black badge pinned to the woman’s cape, with the red number 18. The acid faced woman was tallish, brunette hair, about 30 years of age.
“You don’t know me!”
The opponent raised the megaphone to his mouth and called out “King’s Knight to King’s Rook five.”
No.71 moved two squares then one horizontal, three moves later, as the white King’s Knight, he was himself removed from the board and went to stand with No.23.
“What makes the black Queen so dangerous?”
“Because she is not to be trusted, that’s why I cannot put it plainer than that” and with that No.23 wandered off.
Later that day No.71 was sat at a table on
the lawn of the Old People’s Home, he was enjoying afternoon tea and the view
across the estuary.
“Not thinking of escape are you?” a woman’s voice asked.
He looked up and saw the black Queen standing over him, and without being asked she sat down.
“Aren’t you going to offer me tea?”
He raised a hand and a waiter came over to his table.
“Another cup if you please.”
The waiter hurried away.
“If you are going to attempt an escape,
please, do not bother yourself.”
“What’s it to you?”
The waiter returned with cup and saucer in hand and placed it on the table.
“Everything that has been possible has been attempted, and no-one has escaped yet. Or at least their bodies have not been brought back.”
“Sugar?” he asked.
“No thank you” she replied.
“Milk?” he asked with milk jug in hand.
He poured milk into the cup, and then poured out the tea.
He watched the black Queen while he sipped his tea “How do you find the tea?”
“Delicious” she said taking the cup from her lips.
“It’s just that a way out has not yet been found” he told her.
“And you think you can find it?”
“It all depends upon who you can trust.”
“And you don’t trust me?”
“Lady I don’t trust anyone!”
“You’re just a professional bastard!”
“It’s got me where I am today” he said rising from the table.
The waiter returned for payment for the tea, No.71 paid with his credit card and went on his way.
“You think he’s going to try and escape?”
No.2 asked watching No.71 returning to his cottage on the large wall screen.
“I think he’s weighing up his options” she told her superior.
“When will he make his move do you think?”
“I think he’s made it already!”
“I think he’s found a way out already.”
“What do you mean?”
“I have been observing our friend from a distance, and there are times when he has a faraway look in his eye, and then he’s gone.”
“Gone, gone away and subconsciously he’s somewhere else.”
“In his mind?”
“I think his mind creates places where he can escape to, if only for a few minutes it gets him out of the village"
On the screen No.71 arrived at his
cottage door, he went inside only to see he had visitors.
“Where have you been?”
“Nowhere, I’ve been here.”
“You weren’t here when we arrived.”
“So you let yourself in, you, your son, and your goons!”
“Why are you so against us 71? Why are you so troubled? Outside the people are going about their daily lives, happy and content.”
“And you want me living happy and contented.”
“You could at least try and settle down, join in.”
“I keep thinking what’s wrong with this place, questioning how I came to be here.”
“They tell me you are often seen to be in a daze, with a far away look in your eye. I think you should go to the Clinic and have a check-up just to be on the safe side.”
“On the safe side, on the safe side of what?”
“It’s just what they say.”
“How are you today 71?” the doctor asked.
“I’m the same today as I was………I know you, you’re Number 23.”
The woman in a white coat gazed down at her patient “I’m 131 always have been” she said smiling.
“131……no you’re the black Queen!”
The doctor turned from the operating table to a small trolley and prepared a hypodermic syringe, then turned back to her patient.
“What is real to you 71? This drug works on human perception, the organization, identification, and interpretation of sensory information in order to represent and understand the presented information or environment. In other words you are where you think you are. The subconscious has many different levels, together we have explored one level. But which is real, the Italianate village surrounded by the woods and mountains. Or here in the village surrounded by desert and mountains?”
There was a small scratch as the
needle of the syringe entered 71’s forearm.
It was the cold that stuck the Prisoner first. Snow was think on the ground and on the roofs of the surrounding buildings. He was sat on a park bench, there was just one set of footprints in the snow which led up to the bench he now sat on.
“Are you alright sir? You shouldn’t be sat out here in the cold, its twenty below zero, you’ll freeze to death.”
The man in the piped blazer looked about the village with its Scandinavian architecture, and at the man standing in the snow, dressed in furs and snow goggles.
“Where….where am I?”
“Dette er dette landsbyen."
Be seeing you
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