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Friday 16 July 2021

Further Tales From The Village


    It had to be the blackest of days for No.2, the day the General was destroyed. It blew several circuits when it failed to answer one simple question……WHY? The trouble was the General might have been able to answer any question but it needed the basic facts first, and No.6 hadn’t supplied any. And then that put an end to the education experiment called Speed Learn. And yet that wasn’t the end of it, two men lay dead on the floor, the Professor who was attempting to save his computer, which is really strange because he was supposed to have given birth to it {not literally} loved it with a passion, but hated it even more. If to stop Speed Learn the General had to be destroyed, then the General had to be destroyed and No.6 was only too happy to oblige!
    It was a sombre occasion, the Professor’s funeral, Madam Professor bore her grief well. The funeral cortege left the Manor House, that’s where the Professor and his wife lived, and lead by the brass band playing a march made its way through the village. The white Mini-Moke with black and white striped canopy acted as the hearse towing a black canopied trailer the coffin inside covered with flowers. The Professor’s widow walked behind the hearse, followed by two Top Hat administrative officials and a small number of citizens, all carrying open black umbrellas.
    Two grave diggers had been busy digging two graves, the second funeral had been timed for the afternoon. But for now the hearse had to stop at the end of the sea wall, the brass band kept playing as the four Top Hat administration officials/undertakers alighted from the hearse and lifted the coffin out of the trailer. Then the band led the way along the path which skirts both the woods and the cliff edge, followed by the four undertakers carrying the coffin, with the widow of the Professor, and a few citizens. They made their way to the lighthouse and from there over the rocks and down onto the beach, along to the graveyard. There was little ceremony, the four undertakers lowered the coffin into the grave, the widow Madam Professor threw a handful of sand on top of the coffin, and as the cortege turned and walked away the two diggers filled in the grave and used a wooden headstone to mark the Professor’s grave.
    “I’m sorry for your loss madam, but that is the situation as I understand it” No.2 explained “you will have to leave the Manor House and take a smaller cottage.”
    “And my art seminars?”
    “A privilege which shall now have to be denied to you, you must understand that since the death of the Professor you are no longer of any importance to us, and consequently you are merely citizen Number……oh apparently neither you nor your husband were issued with any kind of number. An oversight would you say, and I see you are wearing your own clothes.”
    “Another privilege allotted to us, seeing as we were never allowed to leave our house and go out into the village, except when my husband was taken to…….” the woman told him.
    “To…….to where?”
    “Taken to the General’s office.”
    “I see.”
    “Well we’ll get you some new clothes, for now here is your badge of identity” he took a round black badge from a file he was holding “your identity card, health and welfare, and credit card” which he laid out on his desk.
    The woman stepped forward and picked up the items, looking at the badge she saw the number 36.
    “You’re not going to let me go?”
    “Oh I couldn’t do that, once you have been brought here there is no leaving the village. Didn’t they tell you that on your arrival here?”
   “What am I to do now?”
   “Your new cottage is being prepared for you, we’ll make you as comfortable as possible, the rest it entirely up to you. Just a minute” he ferreted in his desk for a file and thumbed through the pages “The library is to have a new mural.”
    “What of it?”

    “You are an artist, therefore we should employ your talent, and you will paint the new mural.”
    “And what is to be the subject?”
    “The village of course with a few villagers thrown into the scenery.”

    The widow left No.2’s office just as No.12b, a tall woman wearing a light blue jersey and grey slacks and dark blue mariner’s hat entered through the open steel doors.
    “Was that the widow?”
    “Yes, what do you want?”
    “Just to remind you there’s another funeral this afternoon.”
    “What of it?”
    “It’s Number 12 once of administration, it’s his funeral you should put in an appearance.”

    “Why would I want to do that?”
    “To pay your respects.”
    “Why, he didn’t know me did he?”
    “No Number 2.”

    “He was your predecessor.”
    “And a dissident.”
    “Yes Number 2.”
    “You must not grow up to be a dissident Number 12b.”
    “No Number 2. What about Number 6 for his part in the General’s destruction?”
    “I can’t touch him.”
    “You mean he gets away with it?”
    “Yes” No.2 said reluctantly.
    “That Number 6 gets away with everything, if I were Number 2 I know how I would deal with him.”
    “Oh you do, do you?”
    “Sorry Number 2 I spoke out of turn.”
    “No, don’t be sorry, I like people who have ideas, tell me more……..”

    The former No.12’s funeral went off much the same as the Professor’s funeral; there was no mourner except for perhaps one, who observed the proceedings from the cliff top. The coffin was lowered into the grave and the two gravediggers began to back fill the hole.
    “I would be careful if I were you Number 6.”
    Number 6 spun round at hearing the voice.
    “I know someone who would love, just love to put you in a hole small than the one they’ve just put Number 12 into” No.2 told him.
    “Chambers!” No.6 exclaimed.
    “Number 2 to you old man. The trouble with you is, you’re always poking your nose into business that doesn’t concern you. Take me for example, you wanted to try and change my mind, if I’d allowed that I probably wouldn’t be standing here now. Number 12, a friend was he?”

    “Not that you’d notice.”
    “If it wasn’t for you he’d still be alive.”
    “Number 2, not you, would still be in office and Speed Learn would be just about ready to be rolled out across the World, if we are playing a game of consequences.”
    “The consequences are, don’t expect any favours from me Number 6, you’ve been getting away with it for far too long. Put another foot out of step and I’ll crush you!”
    “Thanks for the warning” No.6 said and made to go.
    “I’m sorry Number 6.”
    “For what?”
    “For you, take him.”
    Suddenly four burly set men emerged from the bushes and grabbed hold of No.6 who in the ensuing brawl gave as good as he got. But four against one was too overpowering even for No.6, he was rendered unconscious and manhandled along the cliff path to the waiting Mini-Moke. 
    No.6 was dragged through the open steel doors and into the purple domed office and sat down in a leather chair. From behind his desk No.2 directed the two guardians to leave the office.
    “So Number 6 here we are.”
    “Happy on that side of the fence are you?”
    “Fine, just fine.”
    “You know each other?” No.12b asked.
    “Oh Number 6 and I are old chums. Why did you destroy the General?”
    “Because there was no-one else to do it!”
    “The Professor?”
    “I couldn’t say.”
    “You could not say?”
    “You were there.”
    “And you could not say?”
    “No. Number 2, your predecessor said the Professor loved the General with a passion, and probably hated it just as much. He wanted it destroyed.”
    “Then how do you explain his actions towards the end?”
    “He was probably trying to save it!”
    “And Number 12?”
    “He tried to save the Professor.”
    “Not taking the so called easy way out then?”
    “Depends on how you look at it.”
    “And for your part?”
    “What is this, an enquiry?”
    “You attacked the security guards.”
    “Number 2 stepped forward, I think he was going to help the Professor, but he didn’t.”
    “And you stopped the security guards.”
    “And Number 12 made an heroic act!” 
    “And if the General hadn’t blown a fuse……!”
    “Do not try and lay the blame on an inanimate object!”
    “There must have been something wrong with the General.”
    No.2 thought for a moment “What do you mean?”
    “It must have got its wires crossed; I mean computers do not blow up like that simply because they cannot answer a question.”
    “Then why?”

    “You see, you’re doing it now. I asked the question, it was the Professor who fiddled with the General turning knobs. Perhaps he did it.”
    “This is getting us nowhere Number 2” 12b said.
    “I agree” No.6 said.
    “Oh you agree, then permit me to take this interview to a new level” No.2 was about to press a button on the control panel of his desk when the red ‘L’ shaped telephone began to bleep.
    “Number 2 here…..yes sir….I see sir....then what am I to do……I see sir, as you say” he put the telephone back onto the desk “you can go.”
    “Thank you very much.”
    “Don’t thank me Number 6… seem to live charmed life.”
    “You mean I have friends in high places.”
    “You can’t” No.12b protested “not after what he did.”
    “It was a test my dear, all part of the ordeal nothing more. Once motivated enough, to see if Number 6 would be able to find a way to actually destroy the General.”
    “As well as my uncle in the process!”

Be seeing you

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