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Tuesday 14 September 2021

Further Tales From The Village


    No.2 sat in the brown leather chair behind the large oak desk in his office of the Green Dome, he ran his fingers through his hair, wondering how he had managed to turn up here again. Surely there was someone else; after all it had all gone so dreadfully wrong the last time they brought him here, what makes them think it will be any different this time? He took his pocket watch out of his waistcoat pocket and checked the time.
    The front door of the Green Dome opened and the lean figure of No.42 walked smartly through the doorway, removed his top hat, and stood smartly at the desk.

    “So, they have brought you back for a second term sir” No.42 said with a smile.

    “And they have resurrected you as my assistant” No.2 replied also with a smile.
    “I wonder why, we were not such a tremendous success the last time.”
    “Because they never fail” No.2 told his assistant.
    “I question that…sir.”
    “Perhaps they brought us back to work together again, because they simply cannot admit failure, and have given us both a second chance” No.2 suggested.
    “I didn’t need a second chance sir, being ensconced in administration.”
    “Well it’s nice to be working with you again 42. Now the question

    “Who are they going to inflict us on this time?”
    “No 42, the question is when is breakfast!”

    “How is Number 6?”
    “About the same, as rebellious as ever, but he’s not why you have been brought back here. Tell me sir, do you believe time travel is possible?”
    “Time travel?”
    “Is it possible?”
    “I don’t know sir, I’ve never thought about it.”
    “If you will, allow me to show you someone who does.”

    No.2 donned his black frock coat, collected his black top hat and walking stick, No.42 put on his top hat and they went out together. Leaving the Green Dome, walked round the corner, through a narrow arch and through the trees to a large shed, opening the door then went inside.
    “What do you think of that?” No.42 asked of his superior.
    No.2 stood looking at a steel framed machine with numerous wires, cog wheels, and gears. There was a seat and a control panel with a number of leavers, and something that looked like a calendar.
    “What is it?”
    “He tells me it’s a time machine” No.42 said.

    There was a figure of a man who was busy working on the machine.
    “How did it get here, just materialized did it?” No.2 joked.
    No.42 turned to face his superior “As a matter of fact, yes. It scared your predecessor out of his wits!” 
    A tall man, with a long hair and a long shaggy beard turned from his work, he held a cylinder in his hand “This is no good, it doesn’t fit properly” he raved and threw the cylinder on the floor, it broke and a silver looking fluid spilled out.    

    “He’s a bit hysterical isn’t he?”
    “You would be too sir if you had come back from the future.”
    “Back from the future, how far back from the future?”
    “A goodly way it seems. And he brought information with him.”
    “This shaggy haired individual has come to help us, I can hardly give it credence 42!”
    “He’s a sceptic but he’ll learn” the man said returning to his work.   
    From beneath the man’s long hair there was a glint of white, a once white badge pinned to the lapel of a once brown piped blazer.
    “Interesting, isn’t he sir, let’s leave the man to his work.”

    A head turned and bright eyes started the pair “Don’t forget a new cylinder, tell your scientists to get it right, and the correct amount of mercury!”
    No.42 closed the pair of doors of the shed and put on his top hat.
    “You’re going to just leave him in there?”
    “He isn’t going anywhere, the cylinder didn’t fit right” 42 explained.

    It was a warm, bright sunny summer’s day and the Edwardian citizens; all dressed in their finery were enjoying themselves promenading in the Piazza. Gentlemen in frock coats, sack suits, cravats, top hats, bowlers, as well as straw boaters. While the ladies looked most elegant in their frilly blouses and ankle length skirts and dresses, and elaborately decorated hats twirling their lace parasols. Whilst on the beach, citizens dressed in bathing costumes enjoyed themselves like any holiday maker at the seaside, paddling in the gullies of water, building sandcastles, and enjoying penny-lick ice cream.
    Such frivolity and casual activity was not for No.2 and his assistant as they returned to the Green Dome. 
    “If you would excuse me sir” 42 said approaching the desk, picking up the receiver of the candle stick telephone he tapped the cradle a couple of times “operator put me through to the laboratory please.
   In the laboratory the telephone began to ring, one of the two laboratory technicians walked over to the wall phone and picked up the receiver.
    “Number 252 here…….yes sir…….right sir…….straight away sir” he replaced the receiver.
    “Who was that?” No.234 asked.
    “Number 42, apparently we have a new interim No.2.”
    “What’s that to us?”
    “He’s been here before!”
    “And that cylinder we made…..”
    “What about it?”
    “Apparently it didn’t fit!”
    “I said you were a two tenth’s of a millimetre out!”
    “Now I’ve another to make, how are we set for mercury?”
    No.234 went into the store and checked, emerging with a half filled container.
    In the Green Dome No.42 replaced the receiver of the telephone while No.2 settled himself in his chair.
    “So what’s this all about 42?”
    Apparently the future of the village doesn’t look to rosy, and a plan to avert catastrophe and disaster was hatched to send one man back in time in order to change certain events which brought about the evacuation of the village, this man was supposed to stop that from happening. However there was either a miscalculation, or the machine developed a fauly which sent the man back in time, not by the few hours planned, but by several years, 50 years in fact, materialising in the village in1910! What’s more the time machine blew several circuits, as well as the mercury cylinder, and for the past month the time traveller calling himself No.8 has been by trying to repair his machine, with the aid of laboratory technicians, so that he can get back to the village.
    “And we do what?” No.2 asked.
    “We help him in any capacity we can” 42 replied.
    “He’s been interrogated?”
    “Yes sir, but we have been unable to account for him or his machine. So we confined him to his shed, and allowed him to work on his machine.”
    “Because Number 1 wants to see what happens once he’s repaired his machine.”
    “And his unkempt state, his long hair and beard, how does he account for those?”
    “He doesn’t, but he works like a demon in trying to repair his machine.”
    Eventually the laboratory technicians were able to finally replicate the cylinder, complete with the required amount of mercury, however this news was held back from No.8.
    “Why?” No.42 asked.
    “Because I want to know more about him and his machine, that’s why” No.2 replied “it reads like something from Jules Verne for my liking.”
    “But he’s an outsider.”
    “He is village, that much is plain.”
    “And you don’t want him going anywhere!”
    “No, take the man in hand, give him some new clothes, burn the old ones, and have him given a shave and haircut.”
    But that night it was reported there had been a break-in at the laboratory; upon investigation it was found only one item had been taken. The next morning No.2 sat at his desk reading the report.
    “Why was I not told about this immediately, with me 42.”
   The two men dashed out of the Green Dome, and ran into the woods to find the doors of the shed open, and inside both No.8 and the time machine gone.

    A blinding flash of white light and the machine materialized in the woods, and then sparks flew everywhere as circuits suddenly fused, and there was a strong smell of burning. No,.8 threw himself out of the machine as it burst into flames.
   No.8 made his way through the woods; the question on his mind wasn’t where he was exactly, but when! Breaking out of the woods he finally stood within the confines of the village. Yet the sight which greeted his eyes was one of ruin and decay as several buildings now stood slowly crumbling away, the village long since deserted for many years and no longer nurtured by man, now overgrown as nature moved in. He stood in the decay of a once self contained unit of society, along with the realization that it had gone wrong again, and here he was and here he will remain.
   He made his way through the undergrowth to the Green Dome, standing on the balcony he listened; the silence was almost absolute, broken only by the song of the birds. Turning his attention to the building behind him he pushed the creepers aside and walking through one of the two arches, and faced the door its while paint flaking off. Putting a hand to the door he pushed it open, and instantly the rotted wood fell off the rusted hinges, he stepped over the threshold. There was a smell of mould and decay, dust covered the Quarter table in the centre of the foyer, the mantelpieces, the armchair in the corner and cobwebs covered the paintings. The pair of French doors stood open, No.8 stepped forward and up the short ramp to face the pair of steel doors. Forcing his fingers between the pair of doors he forced them open and stood framed in the doorway. The chamber was partially shielded in darkness, the only light coming from a hole on the dome, part of which had collapsed onto the floor. He reached for the torch in his pocket, and shone the light ahead. The beam of light showed cut through the darkness. There was the wall screen, the desk, the Penny Farthing bicycle, and the black global chair behind the desk. There was a figure seated in the chair the double breasted blazer hung loose on the skeleton’s bones, moths had got at the old collage scarf wound about its neck and shoulders. No.8 walked down the ramp and across the floor towards the desk, he shone the light on the control panel, he pressed a number of buttons and nothing happened, but then at the touch of one button the screen was switched on. He stared at the screen and the figure of a one time No.2 sat in the black global chair looked back at him.
    “I have been waiting for you Number 8” he said leaning forward out of his chair on his umbrella shooting stick.

Be seeing you

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