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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.”



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