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Tuesday 22 February 2022

The Prisoner - An Exercise In Logistics Chapter 3


The Colonel’s Briefing

    Miss Stevens sat behind her desk busy typing up an urgent letter dictated to her only a few moments before, only to be disturbed by a large brown envelope being unceremoniously dumped upon her keyboard.

    “What do you call that mister Blake?”

    “My expenses miss Stevens” he said perching himself on the corner of her desk.

    Blake, a tall lean man with dark hair green eyes, dressed in an open neck shirt, a dark jacket and jeans.

    “You were supposed to have been here over an hour ago” she retorted, in turn dumping his envelope of expenses into an in tray.

    “I was on assignment. The old man’s not angry with me surely. Are you angry with me Miss Stevens?”

    “You were only on observation, you should have left it to Special Branch that’s why they were there in the first place, there was no reason for you to take matters into your own hands, besides you might have been hurt.”

    “Nothing was happening. So I had to make something happen, otherwise Special Branch would have been sat there till Doomsday!”

    “Your instructions were to take no action, the Colonel will not be best pleased’ returned an annoyed Miss Stevens, knowing that she would be second in line for any such stern comeback.

    “Miss Stevens you care!”
    “I most certainly do not care!”

    “You are so beautiful when you’re angry, to you I am and ever have been only Blake. But to me Miss Stevens you are and always will be Sylvia, who is Sylvia, what is she?”

    Miss Stevens looking annoyed, pressed a button on the desk intercom, announcing Blake’s arrival to the Colonel.

    “Send in him at once Miss Stevens” growled the Colonel’s voice.

    “We should go out tonight and celebrate” he suggested leaning over the desk.

    “Celebrate what?”

    “My not coming to harm today” he smiled boyishly.

    Miss Stevens allowed herself a momentary smile “You’re certainly dressed to go out. Evening dress, perhaps haven’t you been home yet?”

    “You smiled just then, let me take you out tonight and we can celebrate that instead.”

    “I’m washing my hair tonight” she returned without thinking.



    It was the usual feeble excuse, but the only one to hand in a hurry.

    “Wash it another night” Blake suggested, who was never one to give

up the chase.

    “I have to stay in and look after my mother.”

    Which after all was the truth, but no one would believe her.

    “Is she an antiquarian?”

    “No Sagittarius” returned Miss Stevens.

    The intercom buzzed annoyingly.

    “The Colonel’s waiting Mister Blake.”

    “Is he an antiquarian?”

    “No I shouldn’t think so, his birthday in on April first.”

    “That would account for it then” he grinned getting up off the desk.

    “Account for what?”

    “Oh a good many things Miss Stevens” returned Blake crossing over to door of the Colonel’s office.

Pausing at the door Blake turned and smiled “James Bond has his Miss Moneypenny, I have a Miss Stevens, not much difference really.”

    “Yes and Miss Moneypenny has James Bond, there’s a great deal of difference I should say!” quipped Miss Stevens sharply.

    Blake opened the door and boldly entered the Colonel’s office, closing it behind him and approached the desk behind which the Colonel sat.

    “Blake, where the hell have you been?”

    “And a good afternoon to you sir, where’s the fire?” returned Blake taking the vacant chair.

    “Yes do sit down” offered the Colonel.

    “I was on assignment, I was just telling Miss Stevens that there were developments and that I had to act fast…..….”

    ‘Yes well never mind that now, there have been certain developments. Evening dress Blake, not keeping you am I?” asked the Colonel.

    “All part of my character sir.”

    “Of that I have no doubt Blake, but these aren’t Edwardian times you know” retorted the Colonel, picking up a file and placing it before his top field agent.

    “Well the Wardrobe Department hadn’t the standard disguise…..”

    “Well never mind that now. I sent for you Blake because I have a new assignment for you.”

    “But sir what about Nosmitz, I had hoped to be in on his debriefing.”

    Nosmitz. You’ve brought in Nosmitz. Keep him under the closest possible surveillance, were Special Branches instructions are they incapable of obeying the simplest of instructions” barked the Colonel.

   “Three months of surveillance, and for what? So I decided to make something happen, and as it happens we’ve broken up a spy network.”



    “Well that’s all to the good, and lucky for you” replied the Colonel.

    Blake glanced at the green file with embossed canopied penny farthing and the two words   

    THE VILLAGE on its cover.

    “The Village?” he read.

    “That’s right, The Village” returned the Colonel sitting back in his chair.

    “What village?” he asked picking up the file, “where?”

    “Not just any Village, but the Village, there are some photographs in that file” said the Colonel.

    Blake opened the file and thumbed through until he found the photographs in question.

    “It’s very picturesque is it not, Italianate wouldn’t you say?”

    “Pictures of a holiday resort, innocent enough I suppose” Blake returned, studying the pictures closely

    “Then you would suppose wrong” returned the Colonel with a sudden far away look in his eyes.

    “These people in the photographs, they all look happy enough. What bright coloured clothes they wear. I say, girls in swimming costumes and bikinis, I wouldn’t mind a fortnight’s leave there.”

    “That’s been said before, but believe me you wouldn’t” returned the Colonel with a far away look in his eye.

    “Piped blazers, straw boaters, Mini Mokes, it’s a holiday camp” smirked Blake.

    “The Village was far from being that” began the Colonel “It’s all in the file. Basically The Village was a dentition centre, which specialised in the acquisition of information. People were taken there, people who had become suspect, or had resigned from a particular kind of job, but could not be left to roam free. Recalcitrant agents were sometimes sent there, I’d remember that if I were you Blake. And people with a certain kind of knowledge that was in need of safeguarding, or extraction. The photograph of the man you are looking at the moment is of Number 6, he was their prize prisoner at one time.”

    “Prisoner, this Village was a prison?”

    “The only one of its kind, it was unique. But an International community, very cosmopolitan you never knew who you would meet next” began the Colonel “in fact one certain Number 2 saw The Village as a blue print for world order but you can read it all for yourself, its all in the file.”

    “Number Two?”
    “Chairman of The Village, its all in the file.”

    “Fifty five years ago, the cold war was still on, so which side ran The Village, oh don’t tell me it was our side!”

    “It’s all in the file.”

    “You keep saying that. You said was, that means the past tense, this Village no longer exists then?” asked Blake going through the file.


    “Oh it still exists, but not as you see it there, those photographs were taken some fifty odd years ago. Here are some up to date pictures, taken only three weeks ago.”

    The Colonel handed over a set of more recent pictures, of an over grown Village which had long fallen into dereliction.

    “So we are looking at a long abandoned, over grown and derelict Village which has seen better days, what’s that to do with me?”

    “Because that’s your next assignment, you’re going….. to The Village” returned the Colonel.

    “You’re sending me there, what the bloody hell for, unless of course to head up a demolition team! If you ask me The Village is ripe for demolition!” quipped Blake.

    The Colonel looked Blake straight in the eye, his voice calm and quiet “quite the opposite I’m afraid to say. You see there is a certain government department who want The Village restored to what it once was, it seems that they have found a use for it once more, after all these years. I never thought it would happen again, no one did.”

  “You were involved with this Village?” asked Blake returning to the photographs.

    “I was not a Colonel in those days, but I did go to The Village as an assistant to Number 2, he acted as the chief administrator, and at times an interrogator of those prisoner’s brought to The Village. Oh it was peaceful enough on the surface, but behind that façade, some of the most awful things went on there, interrogations were only the start, drugs, conditioning, brainwashing, human experiments and worse. Oh you were looked after for as long as you lived, cough up the secrets like a good boy and you were gracefully retired into the Old People’s Home. No names were ever used in The Village, prisoners and warders all dressed alike, that way you couldn’t distinguish between the prisoners and warders. It had its own credit card system, news paper, town council democratically elected, a taxi service {local service only}, but no escape” the Colonel expanded.

    “Is that a boat at the quayside?” asked Blake, studying a photograph.

    “The Stoneboat, once good in any weather so I’m reliably informed!” recalled the Colonel.

    “Thanks for the potted history lesson, so what happened?”

    “Number 6 happened. He and three confederates brought The Village down to its knees. The village was evacuated, and as far as I know no one has been back there since.”

    “Well somebody has been back there and recently, otherwise how come the aerial photographs of the ruin?” returned Blake, placing the pictures in The Village file.

    The Colonel remained silent for a few moments, placing rekindled memories to the back of his mind where they belonged.

    “You will head a small survey team, there will be two others from another department, John Hyde and Paul Grimsdyke. You will flown to The Village by helicopter, dropped there and spend three days involving yourselves in survey work, then to be extracted on the morning of the fourth day, do you understand?”


    “No. This Hyde and Grimsdyke, are they from the General’s department?”


    “Survey work eh, well I can do that from here if those aerial photographs are as accurate as they appear, this village is only fit for demolition. In fact I wouldn’t even go that far, leave The Village alone and it will fall down all by its self that’s my considered survey report.”

    The Colonel hadn’t been listening “You are unique Blake and what makes you so unique is your uncanny ability to deal with the unknown, that is why you are going to The Village’.

    “In other words I have no say in the matter, nice one General!”

    “Do any of us?” retorted the Colonel enigmatically.

    “This Hyde and Grimsdyke, they sound like a pair of undertakers” commented Blake.

    “You haven’t seen them yet” returned the Colonel with a knowing smile

    “Can they be trusted?”

    “I am informed that they are excellent men, however they might come under that heading of the unknown, after all you know the General” said the Colonel who himself knew the General only too well, and what undertakers meant to The Village.

    “That file is yours, study it most carefully. Tomorrow you will go to North Foxley, Hyde and Grimsdyke will already be there to meet you……”

    Blake did not like the thought of that, it seemed too much like the opposition getting the first foot hold!

    “There you will receive all your equipment and Village indoctrination. From there you will be taken to North Harrington air base, flown to a landing stage and from there by helicopter to the Village” completed the Colonel.

    “Where is The Village?”

    “It’s in the file.”

    “Are you trying to save time Colonel?”

    “A word of warning Silas…..”

    That was something of a first, the Colonel had very rarely used his first name before, in fact he could never recall his ever doing so, except at the Christmas party.

    “There is something of the unknown quantity about The Village, and that could be a very clear and possible danger. The Village was evacuated, but so rushed was the evacuation that it is possible that certain procedures of safety may not have been carried out, either forgotten or neglected during the panic and chaos of that evacuation.”

    “What procedures?” asked Blake, his bold voice hiding the twitching of his stomach.


    “The turning off of electrical power, water and gas….. electrical force fields and then there’s the possible danger that The village

Guardian had not been deactivated!’ replied the Colonel.

Whatever his personal feelings towards Blake, he could not see his arrival in The Village without fair warning. The danger may not be present, but knowing the General…….”

    “Village Guardian, what like some mythical guardian of the lair you mean?’ Blake quipped.

    “The Guardian or ‘Rover’ as it became known, was or is because I have no way of knowing of its current status at the time of the evacuation, kept the citizens in line. Anyone attempting to escape would find themselves herded back to The village, if they were lucky, the not so lucky found themselves being suffocated into unconsciousness or worse. Somewhere below the sea is the Guardian’s containment area, it was activated by the command Orange Alert.”

    “And if not deactivated……”

    “It will be waiting for you. Good luck Blake.”



Tuesday 15 February 2022

An Exercise In Logistics Chapter 2


Adamant Makes An Entrance

    The antiquarian bookshop with its dingy dark green frontage stood on Percy Street. Silas Blake, aided by Special Branch, had had the premises under surveillance for some time from a building across the street. Every customer who came and went were photographed. The proprietor of the antqiuarian bookshop, one Vladimir Nosmitz, and his bookshop had become suspect. All that was required was hard evidence in order to make several arrests. Mister Nosmitz, was a very clever man, who in all probability, knew that the game was already afoot! A gaunt looking man, he had a slight stoop, which meant his height could be greater than his appearance gave. His greying hair, long and matted, he had the look of an eastern European about him. When he went out, he tended to wear a long grey coat with wide brimmed hat, the front of which sometimes drooped down over his eyes.

    “Ting a ling” sounded the shop bell.

    “Ah a customer’ Jonesy muttered to himself. He pressed a button on the camera, click “the fifth today and its only half past one!”

    Hanson wrote a note in the log book and remarking sarcastically “Busy man our Mr Nosmitz, he must be making a fortune’.

    “Yeah, but not from selling books” returned Jonesy.

    The two special branch officers we re-positioned to an empty room across the street from Nosmitz Antiquarian Book Shop. The floor of the room was bare and covered in dust and discarded sandwich holders. The walls were covered in a grimy yellow wall paper, the mantlepiece of the fire place served as a ledge for two flasks which had contained coffee, and half empty day’s old coffee mugs, cola cans, and empty plastic sandwich containers, and burger cartons littered the floor and a small transistor radio. All signs of a long surveillance job.

    “Put some music on Hanson, this excitement will be the death of me” said Jonesy, rubbing his eyes and stretching his arms out wide.

    Click, and ‘Tam O’Shanter’ by Malcom Arnold issued forth through the speaker.

    “Blimey Hanson, haven’t you gone digital yet?”

    “It’s good enough for me, besides I can’t afford to ‘go digital’ not with a wife, three kids and a whopping great mortgage. It’s alright for you single blokes, I don’t know where you get the money. You’d better watch yourself or they’ll be watching you next, they don’t like big spenders!”


   “I’ve got contacts in the trade, I get a good deal” Jonesy replied.

    Jonesy gave a broad grin and went back to watching the shop opposite “Yeah, that’s what Philips said, and look what happened to him.”

    Suddenly the door burst open and framed in the doorway, stood a tall man dressed in a black top hat, evening dress, and black cape. The man sporting a thin moustache leaned casually on his silver topped walking cane.

   “Good afternoon gentlemen. I do hope I’m not intruding!” the man said removing his top hat.

    Hanson and Jonesy turned together to face the man.

    “Who the devil are you?” Hanson asked, his hand reaching inside his jacket.

    The man who was over six feet tall entered the room and remained silent, his cold light blue eyes scanning both the men and the room.

    “Come on, I asked who are you, and while you’re about it, what do you want?” said Hanson, his right hand feeling the gun in its holster.

    “Dressed like that I’d say he was on his way to the theatre!” Jonesy quipped

    The man said nothing, he simply stared back with cold, light blue fearless eyes.

    “Always wear that fancy dress get-up do you, what are you some sort of eccentric?’ asked Hanson, feeling that something wasn’t quite right about this intruder.

     “I know” said Jonsey suddenly “he thinks he’s Adam Adamant!”

    Hanson made to pull the forty-four calibre revolver from its holster.

    At that moment the man dropped his top hat and pulled the blade out of the swordstick, putting the point of the blade to Hanson’s throat “Now we’re not going to get all belligerent are we?”

    Hanson released the grip on the butt of the gun, pulling his hand from beneath his jacket, and the man put up his sword.

    “How did you get in here?”

    “You saw for yourself, by the door. But perhaps you weren’t paying attention ” the man said making his way passed the two men and gazing casually out of the window and down at the bookshop opposite.

    “Look here, how about showing us some ID, and telling us what it is you want” ordered Jonesy.

    “You can call me Richard Roe” the man said sliding the blade of his sword back into the cane. Then he put his hand into his pocket beneath his cape and produced a black wallet, which he tossed casually to Hanson. who reached out to catch it.

    Hanson opened the wallet and read the identity within.

    “Who is he?” asked Jonesy making eye contact with the intruder, and being held in a trance like state, but only for a few seconds.

    “It says he’s Silas Blake of MI9.”

    “MI9?” exclaimed Jonsey.


    “Forgive my attire gentlemen.”

    “Blake, Silas Blake” exclaimed Jonesy “I’ve heard of you. You look ridiculous.”

    “I see my reputation precedes me gentleman. Fooled you for a moment though, didn’t it?” returned Blake with a smile.

    “So why the elaborate disguise?” Hanson asked, handing back the wallet.

    “Believe me it would have been even more elaborate, had they had the standard Mister X disguise!”

    “So why are you here?”
    “I’ve an interest in a mutual friend who occupies the bookshop opposite.”

    “We have kept Vladimir Nosmitz under the closest possible surveillance for the passed month. We have logs of all his movements, records of all the comings and goings of his customers, and whoever else has entered and left his bookshop. And still we have nothing. Weeks of surveillance and we are no closer to him than we were when we started!” Jonesy explained.

    “That’s why I am here, I am going to make something happen” returned Blake confidently.

    “And who exactly are you supposed to be?”

    “I am Richard Roe, a dashing Edwardian man of action. I am also a keen antiquarian, you’ve heard of the legend of the three crowns…”

     “Isn’t that the pub down the road?” quipped Jonesy.

     “The three crowns of east Anglia it is said to have guarded the East Anglia coast against invasion. I will pose as an antiquarian looking for such a book on the subject.”

    “In that disguise?” asked Hanson, doubting Blake’s thinking but not ability.

    “It will serve well enough, now this is how it works………”

    Richard Roe strode out across the street towards the bookshop, his cape billowing out behind him as he went. Hanson and Jonesy had taken up their positions as instructed, if possible Nosmitz was to be taken alive.

    ‘Ting a ling a ling’ sounded the shop bell as Richard Roe entered taking off his top hat, closing the door behind him ‘ting a ling a ling.’

    There were no customers in the shop, only rows of book filled shelves and Mr Nosmitz himself standing upon a set of steps, as he arranged books up on a higher shelf. Roe began to casually browse the books, many of which were old and dusty, as was the bookshop itself, it reminded him of something out of a film he had seen long ago, he couldn’t remember which one.

    Mr Nosmitz saw the man browsing the books and descended the steps “Can I be of service?”

    “I wonder if you can, the three crowns of East Anglia” was all he said.


    “What about them? Are you are an antiquarian, and you are interested in old legends?” the bookseller asked eyeing the man closely, an antiquarian maybe, an eccentric certainly.

    “It is amongst my interests certainly, along with secret writings, codes, ciphers and that kind of thing. I became interested in them when I was a boy” Richard Roe explained.

    “A fascinating subject I’m sure. I think I can help you with the Three crowns of East Anglia, but codes and ciphers, they are a little out of my line sir. This is an antiquarian bookshop. I’m not sure that I can be of service to you otherwise.”

    “And Incunabula I see” Richard Roe observed, pointing to a number of books with the tip of his cane.


   “Books printed up to the year fifteen hundred.”

   “Quite so” said the bookseller

    “But come now, to return to my other subject. Codes and ciphers are as old as history itself, are they not?”

    “True, but I have little knowledge of such…….”

    Richard Roe continued to browse the shelves, but moving towards the door of the back room, which stood slightly ajar. He hoped Jonesy and Hanson were in position, at which point he saw Jonesy standing outside the shop window, gazing in at the display of books and dead flies.

    Mr Nosmitz also saw the man standing outside the shop window and knew that something wasn’t quite right, there was danger, he felt it in his bones.

    ‘Ting a ling a ling’

   Jonsey entered the bookshop and closing the door dropped the latch and turned the sign to ‘Closed’.

    “I think I might have what you are looking for in the back room, please feel free to browse while you are waiting” said Nosmitz suddenly making for the door.

    As Nosmitz turned he felt something touch his shoulder, the hard point of something, it was the point of Roe’s walking stick.

    The flick of a concealed button, a whiff of nerve gas and Nosmitz collapsed unconscious on the floor.

    “An old trick Jonesy my boy, but an effective one, wouldn’t you say?”

   Richard Roe darted forward into the back room where he found Hanson restraining one henchman, while the other lay out for the count on the carpet.

    “They left the window open, about to leave they were, and without saying goodbye.”

    “And just as the party was getting started!” quipped Richard Roe.

   In the back room was a computer and lap top, with code books, and files of gathered information.

    Jonsey brought Nosmitz into the back room to join the party, the effects of the nerve gas starting to wear off.


    “Phone up some transport Jonesy, a removal van would be preferable” Richard Roe ordered.

    “Clever aren’t you?” Nosmitz said.

    Blake began to go through the items upon the table. “Only slightly more so than you, an old musty, dust ridden antiquarian bookshop as a cover. And yet here is the Wonderful World-Wide Web, information gathered and despatched to customers the world over, via your dark website, all in code of course. So that to the unsuspecting, Antiquarian Books were nothing more than that” Blake said picking up the lap-top from the desk.

    “Antiquarian perhaps but certainly not antiquated!” returned Nosmitz, staring back at him.

    “Just my sense of the theatrical” Blake replied

    Jonesy turned off his mobile “Transport will be here in five minutes and there’s a message from your Colonel. He wants to see you in his office.”

    “He would, when is the appointed hour to be?”

    “An hour ago” grinned Jonesy.

    Blake rested upon his cane for a moment in deep thought and anticipation.

    “Yes it would be, it’s always like that with him. No doubt the balloon’s gone up somewhere, world shortage of ‘proper biscuits’ no doubt!” Blake said removing his cape.

    “Why don’t you go as you are?” smiled Jonesy.

    “Think yourselves lucky that you’re only in special branch. I might have a sense of the theatrical, but not so the Colonel I can assure you. I’m obliged to you both, be seeing you.”

‘Ting a ling a ling’ sounded the shop bell as the door closed behind the departing Richard Roe.

    London traffic had much improved since the introduction of traffic congestion charge, not quite the open road, but Silas Blake was enjoying driving his grey open topped left-hand drive MGA roadster as he always did. It was his pride and joy.

    Blake turned the MGA roadster, registration MWN 64 into Charing Cross road, round Trafalgar Square and onto Whitehall. Turning right into Charles Street he looked for a parking space and found one, much to his surprise. Raising the hood and locking his car he


fed a handful of change into the parking metre and made his way back up Charles Street to Whitehall. There into a grey grime encrusted building that he knew only all too well.


Tuesday 8 February 2022

The Prisoner - An Exercise In Logistics Chapter 1


©  David Stimpson 2021 

The right of David Stimpson to be identified
as the author of this work has been asserted by
him in accordance with copyright, Design and
patent act 1988.

All rights are reserved. No part of this publication
may be produced in any form or by means – graphic,
electronic, or mechanical including photocopying, without
the prior permission, in writing, of the publisher.

  The Prisoner – An exercise In Logistics’ is published under the banner of “Fan Fiction” which means the promotion of ‘the Prisoner’ from which no money will be earned.

“When I was one I had just begun
When I was two I was nearly new
When I was three I was hardly me
When I was four I was not much more
When I was five I was just alive
But now I am six, I'm as clever as clever;
So I think I'll be six now for ever and ever.”

Now we are Six – A. A. Milne

Chapter 1

The Beginning

    London was dull and overcast, the weather forecast was for showers later that afternoon.
   The Colonel’s office overlooked Trafalgar Square through which busy people passed on their way to and from the office, while tourists lingered to take photographs, as others sat on benches eating their lunchtime sandwiches. There was a man worse for drink messing about in one of the fountains, two policemen had to wade in and remove the man, paddling in the fountains was not permitted. And Admiral Lord Nelson stood aloof of it all on top of his column. Despite the fact that Trafalgar Square, having long since become a no-fly zone for pigeons, the occasional “rogue” pigeon still found its way through the Hawke defence system! And it was two such “illicit” pigeons that found there way onto the window sill of the Colonel’s office. The Colonel now stood at the open window, feeding the two birds seed from a small polythene bag.

    The Colonel, a tall man with greying hair and moustache, closed the window and returned to his desk where he turned his attention once more to the top of the stack of files before him. The majority of these which had been brought before him were due for de-classification, deemed no longer to be top secret, most secret or confidential. He had begun to work his way through the pile. Some had been put to one side with only a cursory glance, others opened and a page or two read before closing them again. It was a waste of his time and that of someone else. But his word was final, and so was his seal of approval. Then came a grey file, BF14-XP2, the Colonel remembered seeing this file twice before on two separate occasions, but surely this was a mistake. As far as he was aware, and according to recent reports this group was still active, if only just. These people carried out walks and marches through certain areas of London, including Westminster. They wore a certain type of uniform which they claimed made them different from anyone else, claiming to be individuals, while others as being unmutuals and completely disharmonious. But generally they are harmless group, some suffering from delusions of grandeur, while others claim to be looking for something, something missing from their lives! Opening the file he began to read, it was all there, the date of the group’s forming, names and addresses of the ring leaders who had and still were to some extent, kept under the very closest possible surveillance. Agents



had once infiltrated their number, only to be discovered for what they were, and ejected from their society, or worse. The file was quite extensive with reports, photographs, not to mention a complete list of the names of past and present members of this aged radical group of individuals.

    The intercom bleeped impatiently, the Colonel closed the file and pressed a button.

    “Yes what is it Miss Stevens?”

    “The Minister is here to see you sir.”
   Miss Stevens, a brunette in her mid thirties, attractive, medium height, with a trim figure, and a well turned ankle, a single woman with no inclination towards marriage.

    “Very well, send him in would you, and could you make some tea, some biscuits would be rather nice, the ones with the cream in the middle” asked the Colonel.

    “I’ll see what I can do for you sir.”

    In the outer office, a tall well dressed man in a dark suit, bowler hat, black coat and carrying a furled umbrella and attaché case stood waiting impatiently, he had done so for some five minutes before being announced.

    “You can go in now sir, the Colonel’s ready for you” said Miss Stevens in her cold and aloof manner.

    The Minister stepped towards the door of the Colonel’s office, then pausing, turned to Miss Stevens, who had risen from behind her desk in order to switch on a nearby kettle.

    “How do you get on with the Colonel, alright is he?”

    Miss Stevens turned and gave the minister an icy stare.

    “I mean I have heard so much about you, your efficiency and devotion to work….”

    She stood staring at the man and remained silent.

“….. You wouldn’t fancy a change of position……”

    Miss Stevens raised an eyebrow, which got the Minister in a sweat….. “I mean a change of department. After all prospects of promotion within the Colonel’s department must be very limited. A woman like you would get on in say, my department.”

    Miss Steven’s returned the Ministers warm smile with a penetrating icy stare and her coldness seemed to freeze the room.

    “That’s very kind of you Minister, but you see I’ve become used to the Colonel’s ways and he to mine. I’m sure that he would not wish to see me leave, nor I to go. What’s more, the Colonel does not take kindly to members of his staff being ‘poached’ by another department, not even when the General tried!”

    The Minister was not a man to be put off “If it’s a question of money…….”

    Miss Steven’s switched off the boiling kettle, the steam warmed the office.



  “No Minister. It’s a question of loyalty!”

    The Minister stood at the door a disappointed man “If you should change you mind…”

    “I wont, the Colonel is waiting Minister” said Miss Stevens busy warming the pot.

    The Minister opened the door and entered the Colonel’s office,

closing the door behind him.

  He saw the Colonel sat behind his large oak desk and a pile of files. As he crossed the floor his shoes made a loud stamping sound upon the bare unpolished but varnished floorboards, which he looked down

upon with disdain.

   “I say, can’t your department afford carpets?”

    The Colonel did not stand to greet his visitor but remained seated, he could tell that this was possibly going to be one of “those” interviews.

    “We do not waste money on such luxuries here, this is a working department, you’re not in the House of Commons now you know” returned the Colonel “besides my office keeps moving around, never know where I’ll be next, security and all that.”

    The Colonel’s office was indeed minimalist to say the least, desk and two chairs, two grey filing cabinets in the corner. Two pictures hung on the walls, one of the Battle of Trafalgar and the other a water colour landscape of Beachy Head lighthouse. These with a small television set and recorder set upon a small stand.

    “Now Minister please take a seat, and what exactly can I do for you?”

     The Minister did as he was bid, propping his umbrella against the desk and placing his attaché case on the top of the desk, upsetting the pile of files as he did so, sending them cascading to the floor.

    The Colonel ignored this, as at that moment there came a knock at his door and Miss Stevens entered carrying a tea tray. This she placed upon the attaché case and presumed to pour out two cups of steaming hot tea into two china cups.

    The Colonel leaned forward and stared disapprovingly at the two digestive biscuits upon the tea plate and poking them with his pen “Don’t we have any proper biscuits?”

    Miss Stevens placed a cup and saucer in front of the Minister, she knew what the Colonel meant but asked all the same “proper biscuits sir?”

    “Yes the ones with the cream inside” said the Colonel.

    “No sir.”

    “Not even chocolate biscuits?” asked the Colonel with a hopeful look on his face.

    “Sorry sir” replied Miss Stevens, pouring out the Colonel’s tea.

    “Could you not have bought some this morning on your way into work?” asked the colonel, now examining the tea in front of him.


    “Sorry sir, I’ll buy some tomorrow.”

    “Yes do that would you, and a new tea pot, this one’s got a cracked spout, its dribbling all over the place. Half my tea’s in the saucer!”

    “And the other over my attaché case!” added the Minister, wiping it with his handkerchief.

    Miss Stevens placed the cup and saucer before the Colonel, having

poured the tea out of the saucer into the cup.

    “Alright now sir?”

    “Not really, but I suppose it will have to do!” replied the Colonel, with a saddened glance.

    Miss Stevens then withdrew, leaving the two men to their business.

    “I see you still keep an eye on them” remarked the Minister, casting a glance toward the BF14-XP2 file.

    “We used to, but not so much these days, the file is apparently due for de-classification. Anyway they’re a harmless enough society these days, I hear that in past years they have spent more time with in fighting amongst themselves than they do in promoting what they actually stand for. Their only real crime is their interest in a certain….”

    “Let me assure you Colonel that no society is ever harmless, they are subversive like so many societies such as these. I believe they call themselves or did at one time, a society of individuals, and individuals are dangerous, if nothing else they breed individualism. And yet they are also of a mind” explained the Minister.

    “They are something of an obsessive group, but then this is a free country” the Colonel added.

    “Quite, and you are about to do what?”

    “Why, recommend that its de-classification go ahead.”

    “Well I wouldn’t be so quick to do that if I were you” said the Minister opening his attaché case.

    The Minister removed a green ring binder file from it, on the front of which was a silver embossed canopied penny farthing together with two words THE VILLAGE. This file was placed upon the desk before the Colonel, the Minister remaining silent, while the Colonel sipped his tea and peered at its cover. Just to look at the canopied penny farthing was enough to send a shiver down his spine. He had seen this file but once before, it would in his opinion never be de-classified and with good reason.

    “What are you doing with that? The Village was closed down since the end of the 1960’s” remarked the Colonel.

    “I beg to correct you Colonel. The Village may have been evacuated in early 1968, but never closed down, merely mothballed. I take it that you have read this particular file?”

    “It passed though my department I believe.”

    “And it does so again now. I strongly recommend that you read it again, and please take your time” urged the Minister.


    “Now why should I want to waste my time doing that, according to the file, The Village was evacuated, there’s no-one there. No-one has been there in over fifty years. I’ve seen the photographs. If, as you say The Village was mothballed, they didn’t make a very good job. The place is in dereliction and decay. Overgrown, and beyond any

form of restoration. I shouldn’t think that The Village is important to anyone. Not after all these years.”

   The Minister quietly drank his tea, placing his cup down upon its saucer.

    “It’s important to me. As for anyone not being there, well we simply don’t know what’s there and that is what you are going to find out.”

    A dark shadow suddenly passed over the Colonel’s face.

    “You see Colonel, there are certain people who are keen to see The

Village restored to its former glory. To be re-instituted into the system. You see there are certain individuals just asking to be put there, and we wouldn’t want to disappoint them now, would we?”

    “And for my part in this?’ asked the Colonel.

    “You are to have a survey carried out, a survey of the entire Village. Call it an exercise in logistics. Pick your best man for the task. He together with two of my men will be taken to the village, where they will have three days, before extraction by helicopter.”

    “Why my man and my department?” asked the Colonel.

    “This is to be your operation and your man will be in overall charge once boots have touched the ground, so to speak” the Minister replied.

    “Why, so that you will have someone other than yourself to blame if it all goes pear shaped? It seems a bit of a pointless exercise to me.”

    “Then my dear Colonel you cannot see very far, there is indeed a point to all of this. And as far as The Village is concerned, we will then see what’s what.”

    The Colonel was under no illusions that the Minister knew more about this than he was letting on, that he was also covering his own backside, which was more often the case than not these days. He was also fully aware that he had no alternative but to co-operate with the Minister, like it or not.

    “I want your best man on this” the Minister said “your best man, you understand Colonel?”

     “I understand. But if I am to send my man there to The Village, I need to know……”

    “Nothing, just obey your orders and carry out this operation with your usual efficiency and all will be won in the end. As for your man, I trust he will the best in his field and will carry out his orders without too many questions” returned the Minister, who then closed his attaché case and stood up collecting his umbrella said “I’ll leave the file with you, your man will be of need of it, I’m sure you wouldn’t


want to send him in blind would you? None of your predecessors had any qualms over The Village, and neither should you. I’ll be in touch, once I have organised my two men for the team, John Hyde and Peter Grimsdyke, who are also excellent men and highly trained in their business.”

    Then crossing the room to the door, the Minister opened it, paused and turned to the Colonel, giving a salute with thumb and fore finger “Be seeing you” he said.

    The Colonel was left with something of an uneasy feeling, he had

been in difficult and tricky situations before and had never batted an eyelid at sending a man out into the field, whatever the dangers. But somehow this seemed different, this was something from the dim and

distant past, something which was about to rear its ugly head once more. He placed his hands upon the green Village file and opened it, thumbing through the pages there in, filled with information, maps, photographs and schematics of all kinds and he began to study them.

   An hour had passed when the Colonel reached out and pressed a button upon the intercom.

    “Miss Stevens, get Blake on the telephone and tell him to be here in my office a.s.a.p. And don’t take any of his lip or no for an answer.”

    “Mister Blake is on assignment sir, the Pollock case. His last report was that he was verging on something.”

    “He’s verging on something alright, but this is important. Send a replacement and order Blake back here post haste!”

    “Very well sir, but he won’t like it, he is just one step behind Nosmitz he’s suspected of running a…… ” she began to explain.

    “I am aware of that Miss Stevens, but something has come up which now takes priority.”

    The intercom went silent. Miss Stevens picked up the receiver of the telephone and made the first of two calls, as the Colonel returned his attention to The Village file, for somewhere within its pages was the answer he was looking for, why?........