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Friday 12 March 2021

No.2 Is Dead!


    No.2 is dead! She was found by the butler when he took No.2 her elevenses. No.2 was found dead in the black global chair, in the purple walled chamber of her office strangled to death by person unknown. I would say person or persons unknown, but generally it doesn’t take two people to strangle another person to death. There being a lack of police force on the village, I was sent for, being high up in the administration, and former assistant to a previous interim No.2. The butler has not ventured to speak, and we cannot get a word out of him! Did the Butler do it? Well it is curious the way he is nearly always seen to be wearing those black gloves, in the same way the Dorset strangler wore the same style of black leather gloves. But if you were to ask me if the butler did it, I could not say with any clarity that he did, neither can I say with equal clarity that he did not. On the other hand he might have seen the person who did do it. It is my bountiful duty to begin an investigation in order to ascertain the truth of the matter, which will be extremely difficult as the butler was the only other person in the Green Dome other than that of No.2, although the butler was in the annexe to the Green Dome making No.2 her elevenses. Both the tea things and the biscuits attribute to that fact, unless of course the butler strangled No.2 then calm as you like went to make the tea!
    There are two ways into No.2’s office, the one via the pair of steel doors which lead through a pair of French doors, into the foyer and out through the front door. The front door is often left unsecured during daylight hours, and the butler is not always in attendance in the foyer. So anyone might have entered by that route. The other way is through the floor, to rise up sitting in the black global chair, or any other of the black leather chairs from a void beneath the Green Dome leading from an underground passageway network. There is the possibility that No.2 was strangled to death before she had even reached her office, somewhere in the passageways, or in her room in the Town Hall. Then carried the body along the tunnels to the point beneath the Green dome, placed her in the black global chair and raised it up into her office to be found by the butler. And we come back to the question of the butler, as in all good fiction its always the butler who did it. So I shall not forget the butler, I shall remember him, and keep him in mind. The trouble is, other suspects are rather thin on the ground, and there have been deaths in the village from time to time, natural and sometimes unnatural when faced with that Guardian thing, suicides even. No.34 is one example of what I would term as an unnatural death, the body found on the shore, having been out after curfew. A death, which has as I understand it gone un-investigated, however I am getting away from the mater in hand.
   My first question would be, who would want to murder No.2? Someone clearly with means, motive, and opportunity, someone with a grudge against her perhaps, after all there are plenty of those in a place such as the village who might hold such a grudge, but prisoner or guardian? Perhaps someone with access for most areas of the village, someone in administration perhaps, No.2’s assistant No.22 springs to mind. It might be a good idea to start there, perhaps he can throw some light where all is dark!
    Suddenly the pair of steel blast proof doors slid open and No.22 strode into the office, the doors sliding shut behind him as the tall, fair haired man dressed in a grey blazer walked smartly down the ramp.
    “Who are you?” he asked, then he saw the figure of No.2 in the black global chair “what’s wrong with Number 2?”
   “Number 2 is dead” I said “I’ll call the hospital.”
    “ did she die?” 22 asked.
    “She was strangled to death” I said picking up the yellow ‘L’ shaped telephone “hospital could you send an ambulance to the Green Dome at once......thank you. You I take it were Number 2’s assistant. When did you last see Number 2?”
    “Whatever has that to do with you? And you have yet to tell me who you are number........?” It was at that point he saw that the man had no number on the badge he wore.
    “I do not wear a number, I don’t have to.”
    “You don’t exist without a number” 22 told him.
    “Then give me a number” I said.
    No.22 decided to humour the man “86” he said.
    The man removed the badge from the lapel of his coat and pricked this thumb using the pin on the back of the badge, then carefully wrote the number 68 in blood on the badge, then pinned it back onto the lapel?
    “Happy now?”
    “Why did you do that?”
    “It’s psychology my old school teacher taught me. I should like to see Number 2’s quarters.”
    “Because there is nothing personal to her in this office that’s why. Had she any callers this morning?”
    “I really couldn’t say.”
    “Oh could you not, you were Number 2’s assistant?”
    No.22 thought for a moment “I know she had had a meeting at the Town Hall, with the general purposes committee at ten o’clock.”
    “Had you been with Number 2 at all this morning?”
    “Yes, we always had a morning briefing.”
    “About what?”
    “About anything really, sometimes whether she needed me all day or not.”
    “I see.”
    Outside the Green dome a Mini-Moke towing a Red Cross trailer stopped at the steps leading up to the Green Dome, two orderlies alighted and carried a stretcher up the steps watched by a few concerned looking passers-by. At the front door one of the orderlies pulled on the black wrought iron bell pull, the butler opened the door and bid them to go in.
    The pair of steel doors slid open, the two orderlies entered the domed chamber.
    “Number 2 is dead” I told them.
    They looked at each other, then at me, and then at the body of No.2 still in the black global chair.
    “You may take her away to the hospital for an autopsy” I told them.
    Rigor mortis had not yet set in, so it was not difficult to remove the body and lay the body out onto the stretcher.
    “Tell the doctor I look forward to receiving his post-mortem report.”
    The two orderlies covered the body then carried her out of the Green Dome to the waiting ambulance, then drove out of the village in the direction of the hospital.
    “Right, shall we go?” I asked.
    “Go, go where?” 22 asked.
    “To Number 2’s quarters.”
    “Aren’t you going to question the butler?”
    “There seems little point, he’s a mute.”
    “Also he’s a prime suspect.”
    “Why, because he wears gloves?”
    “There were no fingerprints on Number 2’s neck, the strangler therefore wore gloves, and the only person in the village to wear gloves is the butler! You never did tell me who you are!”
    “I’m Number 68, it says so on my badge.”
    “You wore a white badge with a black penny farthing but no number. Who would wear such a badge?”
    “A man with no number perhaps.”
    “Just who are you, how did you get in here?”
    “All I have to do is pick up a telephone and call security.”
    “Go on then” 14 said calling the man’s bluff.”
    “You think I won’t?”
    “I know you won’t!”
    “I know one thing.”
    “What’s that?”
    “I’m not going back there!”
    “Back where?”
    “Don’t you know?”
    “No, why don’t you tell me?”
    The pair of steel doors opened and a man in a white coat stood framed in the doorway “I’ll tell you, it’s because he’s completely insane. He’s under the illusion that he’s the Dorset strangler.”
    “I am, you see I strangled Number 2 to death.”
    The man backed way taking something from his pocket he put them on, a pair of black leather gloves “She did it you see, she had to pay for sending me there.”
    “Where 14?” asked.
    “To the hospital. But I fooled them, I escaped, and made her pay for what was done to me.”
    “What was done to you?”
    “They put me through the Seltzman machine, they turned me into a murderer, a strangler. I didn’t want to strangle all those women. If they hadn’t messed with my mind, hadn’t sent me to Dorset in the first place........”
    The doctor moved forward.
    “You aren’t going to take me” he said pressing a button on the control panel.
    A round disc in the floor slid back to reveal a dark hole.
    “No, you’re not taking me back there noooooo” and with one bound the man leapt through the hole and to his death.
    “I shall have to make a report about this doctor” 14 said.
    “Why, it’s just another failed experiment” the doctor replied staring down into the black hole.
    “There’s two deaths, and the murder of Number 2 to be accounted for” 14 reminded him.
    Suddenly the red ‘L’ shaped telephone began to bleep.
    “Well it’s not for me” said the doctor.
    No.14 approached the desk and nervously picked up the device.
    “Number 14 here, Number 2 is dead.......................”

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