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Thursday 29 April 2021

Further Tales From The Village

    A black global chair rose up through the hole in the floor, and now No.2 sat behind the grey curved desk. A tall woman with fair hair, dressed in a dark blue sweater and slacks stood looking through a file of reports.
   “What’s on for today Number 12?” No.2 asked.
    No.12 was a middle aged man with greying hair. He was of medium height, wearing steel rimmed spectacles, and a plain blue blazer
    “There’s always Number 6” Number 12 told her.
    “Number 6, what’s he been up to?”
    “Nothing, that’s just the point.”
    “How long has Number 6 been with us now?”
    “Thirty years ma’am.”
    “Thirty years” No.2 muttered to herself as she searched in her desk for a file.
     “Sixty-eight years ma’am.”
    No.2 emerged from behind her desk with a black file in hand “Thank you Number 12.”
    “I thought it would save you time looking his age up ma’am.”
    “Where does he reside now?”
    “He left the Round House three years ago ma’am, he’s resident in the Old People’s Home now” No.12 confirmed.
    “And no doubt that has given him cause for complaint” No.2 said thumbing through the 6 file.
    “He doesn’t like having been out with the old people, he forgets he’s one of them now. He complains we’ve taken away his independence.”
    “I read here he used to complain about our having taken away his identity.”
    “I am not a number.”
    “What’s that Number 12?”
    “I am not a number, I am a free man, It’s what he used to go about shouting, usually when he was running about the beach.”
    “Not shouting it now is he!”
    “No Number 2, he was one of a kind, not a prisoner like him before or since. He has mellowed in his old age.”
    “And the reason behind his resignation, I see it’s not noted in his file.”
    “That’s because we stopped asking. The nearest we ever got to an answer was he resigned for peace of mind, that too many people knew too much.”
    “And did he know too much?”
    “We think he did, but he was loyal you see even having left British Intelligence, he remained as loyal as ever.”
    “So they stopped questioning him about the reason behind his resignation.”
    “Yes, that was after he stopped trying to escape.”
    “He stopped trying to escape?”
    “Yes, we assume he finally realized there was no escape, no way out.”
    “So life in the Old People’s Home doesn’t suit him, perhaps we should take him out of it and put him back in his old home?”
    “Oh we can’t do that Number 2.”
    “And why not pray?”
    “There is someone else living in it. And even if we could, Number 6 isn’t the easiest man to look after, especially now he’s confined to a wheelchair.”
    “Tell me about the new occupant of the Round House.”
    Suddenly the pair of steel doors opened and a housemaid in black dress, frilly apron, and white sailors cap, wheeled a small trolley down the ramp and across the floor. Number 2 leaned forward and pressed a button on the control panel of her desk and a round disc in the floor slid away and a small round topped table rose up through the hole.
    “Time for your elevenses” the housemaid said setting out the tea things.
    “I’m sure you would like some tea and a biscuit” No.2 offered.
    “I have only brought one cup ma’am” the housemaid said.
    “Then fetch another one!” No.2 said.
    Somewhat indignantly the housemaid went to fetch a second cup.
    “You were going to tell me about the new occupant of the Round House.”
    “You mean ‘9 Private,’ he’s something of a non-entity. He told us all we wanted to know in three days. Generally everyone talks on the third day, since they we’ve left him alone.”
    “Describe him to me” 2 asked.
    “It’s in his file” 12 replied.
    “Yes, but it would save a little time if you just told me.”
    “Well he’s……..”
    The pair of steel doors opened and the maid, carrying a cup and saucer walked down the ramp to the desk upon which she plonked down the cup and saucer upsetting an empty tea plate. No.10 turned, and went back from whence she had come, the steel doors closing behind her.
    “Please, carry on 12 while I pour out your tea.”
    “Well he’s 40 years of age, of medium height, black hair, he sports a moustache and has a mole on the side of his neck. He worked for the Civil Service starting out as a tea boy, and slowly worked his way up the ladder, until finally reaching the position of Administrative Officer.”
    “Your tea Number 12” No.2 said offering the cup and saucer.
    No.12 took the cup and saucer and was about to help himself to a biscuit.
    “Not that one, not the one with the cream inside!” No.2 said helping herself to it.
    No.12 took one of the two digestive biscuits instead. 
    “Why Number 9?” 2 asked taking up her black global chair again.
    “I have no idea ma’am. I think it was that the number was available at the time.”
    “It hasn’t anything to do with the fact that 9 can become 6?”
    “I’m sorry I’m not quite with you Number 2.”
    “No I can see that. I want to see him.”
    “Number 9 of course, have him brought to me.”
    “Yes Number 2” 12 said placing his cup and saucer and half eaten digestive biscuit on the desk.
    “No, finish your tea first 12, there’s no rush.”

    No.9 was relaxing to music and enjoying a cup of tea when the door to ‘9 Private’ opened and the figure of No.12 was framed in the doorway.
    “Well come in if you’re coming in, don’t stand on ceremony” 9 said.
    No.12 crossed the threshold “Number 2 wants to see you.”
    “Number 2 eh, well thank him for me, and say I’ve nothing else to tell him.”
   “It’s not a him, its a her!”
    “Oh, not another Number 2 has fallen by the wayside, how many is that now?”
    “Put your jacket on, and come with me 9, or it will be all the worse for you” 12 said menacingly.
    “You may not have noticed, but I have, things cannot get much worse for me than being in this place!”
   No.12 picked up the blazer and held it out to No.9, who stood up and put it on “I rather like Mahler’s fourth no chance of listening to the end I suppose?”
    “No chance at all” 12 said escorting No.9 out of his cottage. 

   In the Green Dome No.2 switched off the wall screen and waited patiently for her visitor to be brought to her.
   The pair of blast-proof steel doors slid open, and No.9, escorted by No.12, walked smartly down the ramp.
“It’s alright 12, you can go.”
    “Yes sir” 12 replied turning smartly on his heels and marching up the ramp and out of the office.
    No.9 turned to watch the steel doors close.
    “What do you want?”
    “I just wanted to see you.”
    “You’ve seen me” 9 said about to turn and leave.
    “I can’t help you, you know.”
    “I didn’t think you would, not even if you could.”
    “Fancy getting yourself into this predicament!”
    “I didn’t exactly get myself into this predicament as you so put it; I was hardly in a position to do anything about it!”
    “And you told them everything?” No.2 asked.
    “They, as you probably know, they have many ways and means, they are very persuasive. Of course I talked; I’m not Bond, Drake, Harry palmer, or that Philip Calvert chap, they wouldn’t have talked no matter what they did to them, but I did, I couldn’t help myself. You know they are listening.”
    “Are they?”
    “And they are probably watching….the Observers, perhaps even Number 1.”
    “I cannot help you” No.2 told him.
    “I know you’ll not be here long enough for that.”
    “You’re only interim, people like you come and go.”

    Three days later at 2 o’clock in the afternoon, the silver grey alouette helicopter landing on the lawn by the sea wall. No.9 sat at a table on the lawn of the Old People’s Home watching as a Mini-Moke arrived and the person of the former No.2 alighted carrying a suitcase. The pilot took the suitcase and placed it in the cabin, as the former No.2 climbed up onto the grey float; she paused and took a last look about her.
    An old man wheeled himself over to where No.9 was sitting.
    “You seem pre-occupied.”
    “No, not really, just watching an old friend leave.”
    “You know her?”
    “Number 2, we’ve met, she’s my wife!”

Be seeing you


Monday 26 April 2021

Village Life!


    “I didn’t see you in the cross country run yesterday.”
    “That’s because I wasn’t there, do I look the athletic type?”
    “No I suppose not. I was there though.”
    “You took part in the cross country run?”
    “No I didn’t take part, I was there in my official capacity.”
    “Official capacity, don’t tell me you fired the starting gun, or waved a flag to start the cross country run.”
    “No I didn’t do anything like that. I was officiating at the event.”
    “You mean you were standing about looking on like we always do.”
    “Well yes, if you want to put it like that.”
    “In other words you were a spectator!”
    “I was not, I was in the company of Number 2 herself.”
    “In the company of Number 2 herself….really?”
    “Well I stood quite close to her.”
    “Hardly in her company then. Did she speak to you?”
    She did, what did she say?”
    “Oh get out of my way you blithering idiot!”
    “Come on, we’ll go to the café, I’ll buy you a cup of tea and a bun.”

Be seeing you

Friday 23 April 2021

Village Life!

      The village local council are fond of finding ways for the citizens to amuse themselves, to keep both body and mind occupied. With such events as the exhibitions of arts and crafts, art seminars, educational programmes, painting competitions, the village festival, elections, human chess matches, the clock golf. Such amenities such as the café, Cat and Mouse night club, the recreation hall, concert hall, and the library, and swimming pool have all been created for the enjoyment of the citizen. Here we see a number of citizens taking part in the annual cross country run.

    A new recent event is the cross country run which begins in the cobbled square, the course twists and turns through the village, passed the Town Hall, down the hill towards the Old People’s Home, then turns left, then right down the slipway and onto the beach. The competitors continue along the beach towards the outer zone, passed the cemetery, and at the point of the lighthouse the competitors run up over the rocks and along the cliff path until the course runs through the woods and back into the village finally finishing back in the cobbled square.

   Although the cross country run is a competitive event, there is room for fair play amongst the competitors, for as No.92 stumbles and falls on the cobbles No.246 finds a moment in himself to help 92 to his feet. 

    The winner of the cross country run is presented with a trophy by No.2 herself, a silver cup upon which his or her number is engraved.

     This year’s cross country run was won by No.115 in a new record time of thirty-eight minutes and thirteen second. However it would appear that No.6 has failed to complete the course. It seems highly likely that in having taken part in the event No.6 took the opportunity to simply… run away!

Be seeing you

Tuesday 20 April 2021

Finders Keepers Losers Weepers!


    It was a fine day for a walk along the cliff’s, although the sun was shining there was a slight breeze to stop the day from becoming too hot. And as No.42 walked away from the village long the cliff path he could see out across the open expanse of sand, and some days it was hard to see where the beach ended and the sky began. And what was there to stop him from just setting out walking on the beach, to simply walk away?
    No.42 reached the lighthouse, well people call it a lighthouse but it doesn’t have a light, and as lighthouses go it wasn’t very tall, but it did have a bell. But why, as a navigation device to warn shipping, why when no boats ever came along the estuary. There was a walkway around the lighthouse which he climbed up onto via the stone steps round the back. It did afford him a little higher perspective, but not that he could see any further out towards sea. Not that No.42 could see any ships, what he needed was a telescope, if he had two different sized lenses he would make himself one.
    Leaving the lighthouse he walked over the smooth rocks onto the beach. 42 did wonder if he had kept to the cliff path how much further he would have been allowed to walk before the guardians, or guardian were sent to take him back. He had seen no surveillance cameras on his walk, so walk on he did, round to the cove where 42 knew there to be a small cave. Well not really a cave, more a large slit in the cliff, and it didn’t go that far into the cliff either. But it was a place of peace, a place with no surveillance, a place to be alone, a sanctuary of sorts, until the tide came in at least.
    He spent part of the afternoon there, just messing about, and ate his two ham sandwiches which he brought with him, and slowly walked back towards the village. No.42 wasn’t in any particular hurry, he poked about the rock pools a little and then in the crevice between two large rocks he found a square black leather pouch, unzipping it he discovered it contained a small square transistor radio. He switched it on and tried to tune it into a radio station but all he could hear was static. He replaced the radio in the pouch, zipped it up and placed it in his pocket muttering “Finders keepers, losers weepers” to himself.
    Slowly walking back towards the village, he passed a man walking in the opposite direction and when he looked back he saw the man ferreting about the rocks as though looking for something. 42 turned his attention back towards the village, and as he strode out across the sand towards it, he allowed himself a glance over his shoulder.....the man was no longer ferreting about the rocks, but stood staring at No.42, who turned and walked on gripping the pouch in his pocket with his hand.

    Having returned to the village No.42 felt panicky, nervous, he felt sure that what he had found amongst those rocks belonged to that man, whoever he was. Perhaps it would have been better had he returned it, but it was too late now. He kept to public places, the cafe, he even attended the regular brass band concert, then sat in the Piazza watching citizens promenading. All the time he was dogged by this man, and there he was now, the same man he had seen on the beach, he was staring at him from across the Piazza. No.42 stood up from the bench and walked away, up the steps, through an arch, and hurried along the road not once daring to look back. Passing the cobbled square and through the arch which covered the road, stepping to one side to avoid an approaching taxi, he took a path to the right, then through an arch in the wall and onto the outlook on top of the cliff. Only he went round the structure and into the grotto beneath. He sat down and taking the black pouch from his pocket he removed the radio, switched it on and began to turn the tuning button. To begin with all there was, was a good deal of static, then some foreign language which he didn’t understand. He turned the tuning button again this time he picked up an English voice.
    “And that ends the lesson for today. Tomorrow for our mathematics students we shall concentrate on logarithms” the radio announcer said.
   Then retuning the radio..... “Nowhere is there more beauty than here. Tonight when the moon rises the whole world will turn to silver. Do you understand, it is important that you understand. I have a message for you, you must listen. The appointment cannot be fulfilled. Other things must be done tonight. If our torment is to end, if liberty is to be restored, we must grasp the nettle even though it makes our hands bleed. Only through pain can tomorrow be assured.”
    Switching the transistor radio off it was clearly a message of some kind, but from where the message had been transmitted, or for whom the message was meant, clearly there was no way for No.42 to know. But there was something about that message, not the message itself, but the voice reading it, it was a voice that was familiar to him. A voice he had heard before here in the village!
    “Now isn’t this nice” a voice said.
    42 spun round to see that man who had been dogging his footsteps since down on the beach. The man held a strange looking gun in his hand.
    “Nerve gas, five yard range, one squirt you’re paralyzed, two squirts your dead” the man said, holding out an empty hand.
    “This is yours?” 42 asked nervously.
    The man nodded still with an outstretched hand “Luckily for you I managed to hear the radio message, unluckily for you however!”
    “You could kill me and simply take the radio” 42 said, hardly believing what he heard himself say.
    “I had considered that” the man said.
    “If I hand over the radio you’ll kill me anyway.”
    “That is always possible” the man said.
    “You, you err do not wear a number.”
    “That’s because I do not exist, not officially anyway” the man told him.
    “The.....the message was meant for you?”
    “Hand it over.”
    “I...I recognized the voice” 42 said.
    “Voice, what voice would that be?”
    “The voice which read that radio message” the woman said.
    No.2, a woman in her early forties stood at one end of the grotto with a strong arm guardian at her back. At the other end her assistant also with a guardian at his back.
    “Give my assistant, Number 14, the transistor radio then go home 42 and forget all about his.”
    “But the voice Number 2, I recognise the voice” No.42 said, sounding in a bit of a panic.
    “I know you did, but do not worry he is being taken care of as we speak.”
    “It’s always difficult to discover the village is being betrayed by a former friend. But in every barrel of apples there is at least one which is rotten. Take this.... person away.
    “You forget ma’am I have a gas gun.”
    “That had not passed me by, if you have not already taken the antidote you will not only gas us, but yourself included.”
    The man dropped the gas gun, No.14 dashed forward and picked it up. They left the grotto in a body, and gathered on the lookout.
    “You cannot win all the time” No.109 said “there are many unhappy people here dissidents ready to act at a moment’s notice.”
    No.2 looked about her “Where are they then, where are they to come to your aid? You see I heard the message as well, it would seem you have been hung out to dry, left high and dry!”
    At that moment No.109 broke free of 14’s hold upon him, and hurled himself from the outlook down onto the rocks below.
    “Pity” was all No.14 said.
    “You see Number 42, what comes of listening to propaganda.”
    “But the voice, it was of a former Number 2!”
    “Yes, a former predecessor who is, as we speak, being questioned about his motivations. Go home 42, all is well, how could it not be otherwise?”
    Village life goes on as it must, but always on guard against those who would spoil that village life for others.

Be seeing you

Saturday 17 April 2021

Out of The Village!


    “Is there a problem officer?”
    “I’ll say there is. Are you in charge of this vehicle sir?”
    “What me?”
    “Yes you sir. Are you aware this lorry has no license plates?”
    “You had better ask the driver about it.”
    “Can I have your name please sir?”
    “Yes officer Peter, Peter Smith.”
    “Number 1 Buckingham Place.”
    “You realise this will mean a fine sir.”
    “I’ve got some travellers cheques!”
    “Do you have any identification; can I see your driver’s license?”
    “I can do better than that, here’s my passport.”
    “The name you gave me isn’t the name on this passport sir!”
    “No, well I’ll leave it with you officer.”
    “You realize I’ll have to have the lorry towed away.”
    “Best thing to do with it if you ask me.”
    “I wish you wouldn’t take that attitude sir.”
    “Must go, places to be, people to see and all that….be seeing you”

Be seeing you

Wednesday 14 April 2021

Who's That On The Telephono?


    “Anything I can do for you?”
    “You called me.”
    “I called you?”
    “Yes. The phone began to bleep, my assistant picked it up.”
    “Your assistant, who’s that?”
    “Number 58.”
    “Oh I see. Well I was making up my ledger when the telephone began bleeping, I picked it up and said anything I can do for you.”
    “So who called me?”
    “I have no idea.”
    “Well someone did.”
    “Well it wasn’t me!”
    “You don’t know who it was?”
    “Do I sound like the telephone operator?”
    “Just checking……… seeing you.”
    “And you.”

Be seeing you

Monday 12 April 2021

Further Tales From The Village


    There was a man of mystery in the village, no-one knew who he was, no-one knew where he came from, and everyone kept their distance from him. Dressed in a black wide brimmed hat, black suit, and crimson lined cloak he wandered the village like a lost spirit. No-one ever saw his face, because he wore a black linen mask over his head. The only thing that could be defined was his nose and the spectacles he wore. They say that anonymity is the best form of disguise, if it was a disguise, it was a very elaborate one, as he stuck out like a sore thumb in the village. This prisoner was dressed more for the dimly lit, atmospheric of the Montmartre district of streets of Paris than the holiday resort atmosphere of the village. Some citizens nicknamed him Sandeman!
    “Who is this mysterious figure that goes about hiding his identity behind a mask?”
    “The Lone Ranger sir.”
    “I made a joke sir.”
    “Oh yes very humorous Number 14. You should be on the stage.”
    “The stage sir, so you really think so?”
    “Yes, there’s one leaving in five minutes!”
    “Oh very good sir.”
    “Alright, alright no need to go overboard.”
    “Unless you’re on the Titanic!”
    “What’s that you say?”
    “Overboard…Titanic….never mind sir.”
    “Oh you made another witticism do try to avoid them Number 14.”
    “Yes sir.”
    “Well what sir?”
    “It’s a hole in the ground….get it?”
    “Yes sir.”
    “So who is this eccentric dressed figure that haunts the village, and creates such a pall?” 
    “No-one knows sir.”
    “What do you mean no-one knows sir, we must know.”
    “Well the story goes that he was once a man who wielded a not unsubstantial power, like yourself sir, a man who likes impressive offices, again like you sir” No.14 said glancing about the domed chamber that is No.2’s office.

    “Are you trying to tell me that he’s a former Number 2?”
    No.14 shrugged his shoulders.
    “Why isn’t he compliant by wearing clothes more in keeping with the village?”
    “He’s allowed to wear his own clothes sir.”
    “Why is that?”
    “I really couldn’t say sir, I believe he started wearing those clothes having had a bad experience.”
    “A bad experience?”
    “At the hands of Number 6 sir, who revealed him to be part of a spy ring operating in Paris.”
    “So he was brought here to the village.”
    “He was here already sir.”
    Suddenly the pair of steel doors opened and the diminutive Butler appeared.
    “Yes what do you want?” No.2 asked looking passed his assistant.
    The Butler stepped to one side and the mysterious cloaked figure stood framed in the doorway. No.14 turned round, the Butler withdrew and the mysterious figure spoke.
    “I imagine you were not expecting me!” the mysterious figure said.
    “What do you want?” No.2 asked.
    “To see you.”
    “What about?”
    The figure looked at No.14.
    “He’s my assistant, and confidante.”
    “If only I had had one of those perhaps I would have avoided my current predicament.”
    “Which is?” No.2 asked.
    “To act as a spectre, as a warning.”
    “A warning?”
    “Well you wouldn’t want to end up like me!”
    “There are worse fates, I’m informed my predecessor ended up a brainwashed imbecile on the town council!”
    “Who would be Number 2?” 14 thought quietly to himself.
    “I don’t think there’s much danger of me ending upon like you, 14.”
    “Yes sir.”
    “Rip this man of mystery’s mask off.”
    “You will take away my anonymity!”
    “I want to see who I’m dealing with” No.2 said rising up out of his chair.
    No14 stepped forward and made to rip off the black linen mask, the man of mystery did raise his hands in defence, but it was no more than a gesture. 14 then spun the figure round; flung off the wide brimmed hat he wore and ripped opened the back of the mask then spun the figure round again. It was a shock to look upon the face which just moments before had been hidden from human eyes. No.2’s jaw dropped, and then the face was once more dressed in a black linen mask. The figure stooped to pick up his wide brimmed hat, and with a theatrical swirl of his cloak the figure walked up the ramp and out through the opening steel doors. No.14 turned to face his superior, but found him to be completely alone in the domed chamber.

Be seeing you

Thursday 8 April 2021

Village Life!


     It was a warm sunny day, and two top hat administration officials were enjoying a walk through the village on the way to the Town Hall.

    “Carnival begins tomorrow.”
    “Yes I know.”
    “Have you your costume?”
    “Yes it arrived yesterday.”
    “What is it?”
    “I’m wearing it!”
    “You can’t go to carnival dressed like that!”
    “You didn’t choose it for me then?”
    “Then I’m sorry.”
    “Sorry, sorry about what?”
    “The costume I chose for you.”
    “You didn’t?”
    “I did, you’ll look a right ducky as Scaramouche!”
   “And Number 2 as Peter Pan I hear.”
   “A better choice than Jack the Ripper!”
   “Sorry, I’m not quite with you old boy?”
   “And Number 240 as Little Bo-Peep.”
   “Who as an observer knows where to find her sheep, and the doctor Number 40?”      “As Napoleon he’ll end up as one of his own patients on the psychiatric ward one of these days!”  
    “And then there’s Roland Walter Dutton?”
    “He’s a fool!”
    “Who at court is the only person who can say the things which need to be said!”
    “Do I have to go as Scaramouche?”
    “Haven’t you seen the film with Stewart Granger?”
    “Did he look a bit of a ducky in tights?”
    “Not at all, he is the hero.”
    “But people will see the contours of my Bolingbroke’s!”
    “What will it matter…after all it is CARNIVAL!”

Be seeing you

Monday 5 April 2021

The Stone Boat


    No.8 of administration stood on the quayside looking at the stone boat. He was soon joined by one of the village’s senior citizens, No.66.
    “A fine old vessel, sailed her many a time.”
    No.8 looked at the man wearing a naval cap and red and black striped jersey who was standing next to him “Really!”
    “She’s good in any weather” the ex-Admiral said with confidence.
    “You don’t say” No.8 replied turning his attention back to the stone boat.
    Of course it was impossible to physically sail the stone boat anywhere, being part of the quay as she was, despite the black sail, and yet psychologically you could sail anywhere in her. And now the more No.8 looked the more he could see wrong with the stone boat, she was certainly beginning to show her age, and looked to be more than ready for restoration, and a complete refit! Then he saw two workmen in dove grey overalls and peaked caps, they were sitting on the starboard side of the stone boat having their lunch.
    “Oi, you two come here a minute.”
    “What’s he want?” No.251 said looking over his shoulder.
    “That’s Number 8 of administration, he’s always wanting something, and if its a minute he wants, its for job that will take us all day!” No.215 replied.
    “What do we do?”
    “Better go and see what he wants I suppose.”
    “Right you two, what’s the game?” No.8 asked.
    “Game, me and my mate here were having our lunch” 251 said.
    “And our coffee’s getting cold” 215 added.
    “Have you seen the state of the stone boat?”
    The two workmen turned round and gave the boat the once over.
    “Admittedly she could do with a coat of paint” 251 said.
    “And the bunting’s looking a bit on the shabby side” 215 added.
    “I want you two to organize a complete refit of the stone boat.”
    251 and 215 looked at each other.
    “We can’t do that.”
    “We can’t do that...sir” 215 agreed.
    “And why not?” 8 asked.
    “Because it has to go through the works department first, then they hand the order down to our foreman in the form of a work order, then the foreman hands the order down to us and tells us to get on with it” 251 explained.
    “And by the time that’s all done it will be next week!”
    “That’s right” 215 said.
    “Well it’s not right!” No.8 said “all this red tape!”
    “The dinghy” No.8 said pointing at the small white boat hanging from the starboard davits.
    “What about it?” 251 asked.
    “What’s wrong with it?”
    “Nothing that a couple of new straights won’t put right” 251 replied.
    “Good” No.8 said turning on his heels and striding away.
    “Someone should have a word about that one” 215 said.
    “Yeah, but not right now, its still lunchtime!”

    A few days later the refit of the stone boat began, under the close inspection of the ex-Admiral. Six men in dove grey overalls were working on the vessel. The black sail and bunting had been removed, and the mast, prow, and ships wheel had been removed. Carpenters got to work on the fore cabin, main cabin, and stern cabin. Rotten wood was removed, and the job made good. The stone hull was painted white, and black and red made up the painted trim. A new mast was erected, and prow fixed in place. The dinghy was taken down from the davits and removed to the workshop where two new straights were fitted, and the dinghy given a fresh lick of paint before taken back to the stone boat and re-hung from the davits. The ships wheel, after refurbishment and a couple of coats of varnish was refitted to the helm. More than that a new black sail, and fresh bunting fluttered in the breeze.

    Then came the day when the stone boat would be re-launched, and a celebration ceremony was organized much to the pleasure of the ex-Admiral and his first officer No.1. The crowds gathered on the quay, and above along the balustrade and on the lawn of the Old People’s Home. The band played, people waved flags, and there was a genuine air of joy and happiness. No.2 was in attendance and gave a short speech before smashing a bottle of wine over the bow of the vessel. Also amongst the crowd was No.8, he was looking for No.52, and then he found her. A woman about 28 years of age, brunette hair, not tall, not short, she was quite attractive, and worked as a hair dresser. But she had not been happy in the village; it was not as she imagined it would be. No.8 had cultivated a friendship with Valerie. They sat together in deckchairs by the bandstand.
    “It must be tonight” he told her in a quiet voice.
    “I’m not sure” she said nervously.
    “You said, you gave me your word, you know I cannot manage it without you” he told her, trying not to sound desperate.
    “Alright, when?”
    “Ten minutes after curfew. You remember what I showed you about the door?”
    “And you still have the tinfoil?”
    “Good. I have gathered a few supplies, and I have a compass.”
    “Where did you get that from?”
    “A friend, I showed interest in his nautical collection in which he has several compasses, he’ll not miss one. So are we set?”
    “Well meet in the Pink Pavilion, and go down the steps from there.”
    “What about the oars?”
    “They’re already hidden at the back of the waterfall. Don’t look so worried, try to be a little more nonchalant” he told her.
    “I don’t feel nonchalant” she told him.
    He smiled at a couple walking passed “We had better go our separate ways, people are beginning to look.
    “They think we are a couple.”
    “Then perhaps we should walk a little ways together before going our separate ways” he said taking her hand.
   They walked together talking about nothing in particular.
   “Romance they make an attractive couple wouldn’t you say” No.39 said watching the couple on the wall screen “what are your views supervisor?”
    “Romance? I’ve no time for it.”
    “Dedicated to you work eh. I didn’t think Number 8 was the type to let himself get involved.”
    “Neither did I” replied the supervisor.
    “Should we tell No.2 of this development?”
    “It can do not harm.”
    No.39 thought for a moment “Which is it, they can do no harm, or it can do no harm telling Number 2?”

    That night the maids came to turn down the beds, and make nightcaps for the citizens, as they did every night. Except tonight numbers 8 and 52 didn’t drink their nightcaps, sleep was the last thing on their minds. Both had fixed the doors to their cottages with tinfoil, this made the connection of the electronic lock, but prevented the actual locking of the doors. It hadn’t been an easy thing to do, not with the surveillance cameras.
    Then the time came at 5 and twenty minutes past the hour of curfew. At the same moment 8 and 52 under the cloak of darkness opened their cottage doors and slipped out into the night. They eventually rendezvoused at the Pink Pavilion, thus far unseen by the night-time Observers. It was a dark night, there was no moon which made it perfect. No.8 led the way out of the Pavilion, then down the steps leading to the top of the waterfall. At the bottom No.8 collected the pair of oars, taken from the boathouse, which he had hidden behind the waterfall a few days earlier. There was one obstacle, the searchlight on top of the tower!
    “If we keep low” No.8 said “we’ll be able to dodge the searchlight.”
    It was touch and go, but once passed the swimming pool it got easier to dodge the arc of the light. Having reached the stone boat, No.8 placed the haversack containing their supplies into the dinghy along with the pair of oars, and then he and No.52 worked together at the davits to lower the dingy into the water. Suddenly the stone boat was lit up by the searchlight crew on top of the tower, and three figures stood on the quay.
    “You surprise me Number 8 you really do, to try something like this, I thought better of you” No.2 said.
    No.8 realizing the game was up secured the rope, and with No.52 crossed the deck of the boat and stepped onto the quay.
    No.2 explained. “You became suspect the moment you took it upon yourself to order the refitting of the stone boat, admittedly she could have done with a lick of paint. Then I thought what attracted you to the stone boat in the first place, what possible use could she have for you....the dinghy! Two work men came across a pair of oars, quite by accident when they were cleaning out the bottom of the waterfall. We left them there quite on purpose to see who would come along and collect them.”
    One of the two guardians stepped forward.
    “If you go with this gentleman my dear” No.2 said in a courteous fashion.
    “Where is he taking me?” 52 asked with a feeling of trepidation.
    “No need to worry my dear, he’ll take you home that’s all” No.2 said reassuringly.
    “And me, what is to be my fate?” No.8 dared ask.
    “I suppose I can sympathize with you Number 8, there comes a point when we all want nothing more than to escape. Take him away.”
    The second man in a black and red striped jersey stepped forward and led No.8 away along the quay, the searchlight crew returned to normal duties and No.2 to his bed. No.8 was taken to another place, one known for the best treatment and therapy.
   “Don’t worry Number 8, you’ll soon know peace of mind.”

Be seeing you  

For an alternate ending scroll down È



     That night the maids came to turn down the beds, and make nightcaps for the citizens, as they did every night. Except tonight numbers 8 and 52 didn’t drink their nightcaps, sleep was the last thing on their minds. Both had fixed the doors to their cottages with tinfoil, this made the connection of the electronic lock, but prevented the actual locking of the doors. It hadn’t been an easy thing to do, not with the surveillance cameras.
    Then the time came at 5 and twenty minutes past the hour of curfew. At the same moment 8 and 52 under the cloak of darkness opened their cottage doors and slipped out into the night. They eventually rendezvoused at the Pink Pavilion, thus far unseen by the night-time Observers. It was a dark night, there was no moon which made it perfect. No.8 led the way out of the Pavilion, then down the steps leading to the top of the waterfall. At the bottom No.8 collected the pair of oars, taken from the boathouse, which he had hidden behind the waterfall a few days earlier. There was one obstacle, the searchlight on top of the tower!

    “If we keep low” No.8 said “we’ll be able to dodge the searchlight.”
    It was touch and go, but once passed the swimming pool it got easier to dodge the arc of the light. Having reached the stone boat, No.8 placed the haversack containing their supplies into the dinghy along with the pair of oars, and then he and No.52 worked together at the davits to lower the dingy into the water. Then descending down the ropes they managed to get into the dinghy with No.8 taking the oars he began to row away from the stone boat, away from the village. They kept as close to the shore as they could, making it passed the furthermost cottage and out into the night, now out of range of the searchlight, with the cliffs to starboard, and the wide estuary to port.

    The next morning No.2 awaited the arrival of his assistant No.8, when he didn’t turn up he telephoned 8 Private. Surveillance cameras showed No.8 was not at home. Contacting the control room he spoke to the supervisor.
    “Supervisor Number 8 isn’t in his cottage, he may be in the Town Hall, find him.”
    “Yes sir. It’s been reported that the dinghy is missing from its davits on the stone boat, and Number 52 has failed to turn up for work at the cafe.”
    “Yellow alert!” No.2 ordered.
    The supervisor picked up the yellow ‘L’ shaped telephone, “All units, all posts yellow alert, yellow alert.”

     Later that morning...........

    The supervisor picked up the yellow telephone “Put me through to Number 2.”
    In his office the yellow telephone began to bleep, he picked it up “Yes.”
    “Supervisor here sir, the crew of M. S. Polotska report they have found the dinghy, abandoned and drifting in the mouth of the estuary.”
    No.2 put the telephone down, and instantly the curved, over-sized red shaped telephone began to bleep impatiently, as through the woods beyond the outer zone, two figures made their way across country in a north easterly direction.

Be seeing you

Friday 2 April 2021

Further Tales From The Village


    “You did hear the announcement this morning, didn’t you?”
    “No, I never listen to announcements.”
    “Why ever not?”
    “Because its propaganda, I never listen to propaganda.”
    “Propaganda, what the weather forecast?”
    “Yes, on Thursday they said the weather would be fine and dry, it rained all day! Yesterday I went to buy an ice cream.”
    “The flavour of the day being strawberry.”
    “You see, you’re like all the rest, brainwashed!”
    “What do you mean, brainwashed?”
    “I went to buy an ice cream.”
    “Yes so you said.”
    “I asked for raspberry ripple, I was told they don’t have raspberry ripple seeing as the flavour of the day is strawberry. You see!”
    “No I don’t see.”
    “When they tell you the flavour of the day is strawberry you can’t buy any other flavour, its strawberry or nothing!”
    “That doesn’t bother me.”
    “Why ever not?”
    “I like strawberry!”

Be seeing you