© David Stimpson 2021
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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
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
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
“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.
“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?........
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