A black global chair rose up through the hole in the floor, and No.2, middle aged man with greying hair was seated in it. He was of medium height, well set, wearing a single breasted pain blazer, grey flannel trousers, and the old college scarf about his neck and shoulders.
“What’s on for today Number 8?” No.2 asked.
No.8 a young man with dark brown hair, wearing steel rimmed spectacles, a light grey blazer with dark blue piping stood at the desk.
“There is this sir.”
No.8 took the cardboard file from under his arm and handed it to No.2 across the desk.
“It’s marked information.”
“That’s right sir, the primary objective of the village is for the protection or extraction of information.”
No.2 opened the file “It’s empty.”
“And why is it empty Number 8?”
“Because we are waiting for you to provide the information!”
“Me, are you mad, you know who I am?”
“Yes Karl Kopeck, the former head of Czechoslovakian Military Intelligence.”
“I was recruited for the position as Number 2 in this God forsaken village!”
“There is no church, no place for people to practice their religion.”
“Perhaps the people here do not need to practice, perhaps they are perfect at it already.”
N.2 rose up out of the black global chair “The people, yes the people, do you know what they do to people here?”
“I’m sure it’s the same on the other side of the Iron Curtain.”
“No Number 8 or whatever your name is it’s not the same because we do not have a place like the village
“No, but I bet you’d like one!” No.8 said with a smile.
“Your people brought me here under false pretences.”
“And you expect me to do what?”
The pair of steel doors slid open and a man entered, the doors closing behind him he walked slowly down the ramp and across the floor.
“Who is this man, what is his number?”
“He doesn’t have a number, but he does have a code name, ZEDEF14.”
“What is his business here, why does he stare at me, now he’s looking me up and down.”
“He has been observing you ever since your arrival here Number 2.”
“Because he is going to become you, he knows all about you, your wife and children, as well as your mistress Kettia.”
“This man is going to become me, he doesn’t even look like me!”
“Believe me Karl, by the time we’re through he will be the spitting mage of you. But how you will feel after the process well that’s a different matter.
“Process, what process are you talking about?”
The pair of steel doors opened again a wheeled stretched rolled down the ramp and stopped, two burly looking medical orderlies entered the dome office.
“No just a minute” No.2 protested “You can’t do this to me.”
The two orderlies approached the desk and grabbed hold of No.2 as he was about to make a dash for the doors. One produced a hypodermic syringe, while the other rolled up No.2’s sleeve and administered the sedative.
No.2 woke up on the operating table amid a steel framework, he turned his head to see another man lying on another operating table within the steel frame. A number of doctors and nurses busied themselves with the two patients.
The interim No.2 approached one of the patients “How do you feel?”
“Fine if a little groggy” the patient said.”
“That will pass, we shall let you rest before you leave” the interim No.2 said.
“We shall give him time to adjust before we extract every piece of information inside his head” No.2 said.
“I only hope I can impersonate him well enough,”
“At least now you look the part, we computed his whole life, you have studied the man, you have proved you know him as well as the man knows himself.”
“One slight mistake and they’ll interrogate me and scramble my mind before putting me up against a wall and shoot me!”
On the lawn by the sea wall the pilot was making pre-flight checks of the sliver grey Alouette helicopter when a village taxi pulled up. The figure of No.2 and the Kopek impersonator carrying a brown suitcase, alighted and walked towards the helicopter. The pilot saw them, opened the door and taking the suitcase he placed it inside the glass cabin of the helicopter.
No.2 shook Kopek’s hand “Good luck, I’m sure you will be able to pull it off.”
“If I don’t you’ll never hear from me again” Kopek said turning and climbing into the helicopter.
The pilot started the helicopter’s engine, the rotor blades began to turn.
No.8 arrived to see the helicopter take off “He’s a brave man.”
“Yes, and if he pulls it off we shall have a man high up in Czech Intelligence.”
The helicopter rose up off the lawn and took to the air.
“And you will be showered with congratulations” No.8 told him “either that or….”
“That’s enough Number 8, you had best get back to work!”
No.2 stood watching as the helicopter flew out across the estuary towards the hills and landing stage beyond.
Be seeing you