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Tuesday 29 March 2022

The Prisoner - An Exercise In Logistics Chapter 8


An Interview with the Colonel

    Blake sat in silence as the Colonel carefully read the report before him, stopping intermittently to study some of the photographs from both the pile upon his desk and those downloaded into his computer.

    “Tell me Blake what did you make of The Village?”

    “It’s all in my report Colonel.”

    “Yes, but I would like to hear it from you in your own words, not in the cold jargon of your report” returned the Colonel with a broad grin.

    “You knew it was still active, you sent me there knowing of the danger.”

    “I did warn you, there was no way that I could positively know.”

    “Well someone damned well knew!” barked Blake angrily.

    “The….the Guardian, what happened to it?” asked the Colonel, sounding strangely concerned.

    “The helicopter pilot killed it, shredded it with his Gatling gun” grinned Blake.

    “Pity, it would have made an interesting study subject. How did you find Foxley Manor?”

    “Quiet. I was given to understand that the place was a hive of activity, but the only people that I encountered were two burly men on the gate, Simmons, a maid and of course the General himself. I was told by Simmons that the General rarely pays a visit to Foxley Manor, but yet there he was for dinner, and he took our briefing himself and later our debriefing.”

    “Tell me how is the General? Did he ask after me?”

    “The General is the same as ever’ returned Blake.

    “And his two men…. Grimsdyke and Hyde, what did you make of them?”

    “I had the feeling that they were there for other reasons of their own, but on behalf of the General of course. They sabotaged the communications system. Grimsdyke was most keen to find a reel of magnetic computer tape in the Computer Room of the Town Hall, XO4. I feel that they were sent there to retrieve this.”

    “And did they?”

    “No Colonel, it could not be found.”

    There came a few moments of silence as the Colonel sat thumbing through the pages of Blake’s report.

    “So the Guardian was not deactivated…..”

    “Nor the electric force field of the Town Hall” Blake added.

    “And why do you think that was?” asked the Colonel putting down the report.


    “Because there is still much in the Village that needs to be protected.”


    “Colonel, The Village served to gather information, information of any kind, from anywhere, and from anyone. Information which could not be removed at the time of the evacuation of the Village, so they left it there, all that accumulated information safe and secure in The Village.”

    “The Village still has electrical power, even after all these years, how do you account for that?”

    “It’s in my report” Blake said “that someone visits The Village periodically. There were signs that someone had been there since the day of the evacuation. The maintenance work on the electrics speaks for itself, don’t you think Colonel?”

    “Well yes I would, I would indeed” the Colonel scrolled down the pictures on his computer screen “from the numerous photographs which were taken I can see that The Village is in much the state of dereliction as we thought it was, if not worse. A great deal of restoration work is needed, wouldn’t you agree?”

    “It would be a waste of somebody’s time I would have thought. Personally I’d bulldoze the lot to the ground!” returned Blake.

    “Why would you think that?”

    “The Village was not only a place for recalcitrant agents, but for experimentation, the development of technology, and a blueprint for an International community, like the one Europe has become.”
    “Yes, well Britain got out of that mess” returned the Colonel.

    “There is another way to describe the Village” Blake said.
    “And what’s that?”
    “As a penal colony!”

    “You might be surprised to learn Blake” began the Colonel “that there is still a need for The village, even today in the twenty first century, and perhaps an even greater need than ever before. Terrorists for example, they need to be put somewhere out of harms way. As do political demonstrators and agitators. Cabinet Ministers who bring disgrace upon the party, biting the hand that feeds to coin a phrase, and people who know too much or too little, people with certain knowledge who cannot be left around, I mean the list is endless.”

    “What about Village personnel. Who would you recruit to work in such a place, the world would be in uproar” barked Blake.

    “The world would not know. As for recruitment, that has long been underway, starting with building contractors and landscape gardeners” the Colonel grinned.

    “So it begins all over again. It’s going ahead isn’t it? Tell me Colonel, what was the bloody point of this exercise?”

    “What is the point of anything we do?” retorted the Colonel.


    “Which department is ultimately responsible? Not yours or the

General’s certainly, we just do other people’s dirty business….”

    “That is the way of things Blake you know that, you knew that the day you joined my department. You were sent to do a job, you did that job and now it is over.”

    “But someone knew, they knew before we arrived in The Village what it was like, they knew before the briefing at Foxley Manor, they knew before you put me onto this job, how long had ‘they’ known, that’s the question. Did you know Colonel?”

    “I couldn’t possibly comment. We are all responsible to faceless petty bureaucratic officials who want the work done, but are not themselves prepared to get their own hands dirty.”

    “Number One?” Blake asked.

   The Colonel looked stunned, it was as though a dark shadow from the past had returned to haunt him, the shadow passed, however the feeling of trepidation remained with him.

    “You did a good job, the whys and wherefores are none of your concern they are in the hands of other men…”

    “More faceless, petty bureaucrats?” asked Blake cynically.

    The Colonel closed the report folder, gathered up all the photographs and closed the picture file on his computer.

    “You need a holiday Silas.”

    “Another rare moment” Blake thought to himself, “he’s using my first name!” he knew that he was in trouble. The Colonel rarely used that.

    “Do I?” he asked surprised.

    “Why don’t you take a fortnight’s leave, get away from it all, go fishing, hiking or some such thing” smiled the Colonel.

    ‘And this?” said Blake, meaning his report.

    “You did your job and that is an end to it. Don’t look for answers to questions you will not be allowed to ask.”

    “A still tongue makes a happy life, eh Colonel” quipped Blake.

    “Yes and questions are a burden to others and answers a prison for oneself” returned the Colonel “your fortnight’s leave is effective immediately, take it I advise you. Go and lose yourself.”

    As Blake left the Colonel’s office, a man in a dark business suit and black bowler hat, carrying a briefcase was waiting in the outer office.

    Miss Stevens pressed a button on her intercom “The Minister is waiting sir.”

    “Send him in would you Miss Stevens, and Blake is beginning a fortnight’s holiday, contrary to whatever he may say. See to the arrangements if you would be so kind.”

   Blake and the minister rubbed shoulders as they passed in and out of the office.

    “So you’re on a fortnights leave, lucky you” Miss Stevens smiled, returning a file to its place in a cabinet ‘where are you going?”


    “Fishing!” he replied, taking his usual position sat on the corner of her desk “who’s in with the Colonel now?” he asked trying to sound casual in the question.

    ‘Are you fishing now?’ Miss Stevens smiled, returning to her desk.

    “You said he was a Minister, a Government Minister? Probably one of those faceless bureaucrats the Colonel was taking about.”

    “I wouldn’t know” returned Miss Stevens, taking her chair behind her desk.

    Blake leaned forward across the desk “You know Sylvia, you know more than you ever let on!”

    Miss Stevens looked up from her work “Yes and that is what makes me so good at my job, why I keep my job in fact. Don’t forget to send a postcard, they help brighten up the office.”

   Blake glanced at the notice board set on the wall, there weren’t any postcards to be seen.

    “Sit down Minister” offered the Colonel

    “Thank you Colonel, you know why I am here of course.”

    “Here is my man’s report for you, together with a series of photographs of The Village. I take it all other relative information and reports were submitted by the General?” asked the Colonel, handing over the file.

    “All such information is being collated, this will be added to it” replied the minister, placing the file along with photographs and hard disc into his briefcase.

    “And you consider the exercise to have been a success?” asked the Colonel.

    “Exercise?” queried the minister.

    “An exercise in logistics is how you phrased it” returned the Colonel.

   The minister thought for a moment before answering “all indications would appear to show that it was. Why do you ask?”

    “Oh just professional curiosity. The man you passed on the way into my office was Silas Blake, he headed the team that went to The Village.”

    The minister made a mental note of the name.

    “So what will happen now?”

    “What do you mean Colonel?”

    “Well all of this is to see if The Village is capable of being reinstated when you know full well that it will be” stated the Colonel.

    “Professional curiosity Colonel?’ returned the minister “I can assure you that there is no need to concern yourself further, everything is in hand and will be put before the committee. It is they who will have the final say in the matter.”

    “Not number One then?”

    “Number One?” returned the minister, with a nervous twitch at his mention.


  “Is The Village still so important, even after all these years?”

 The minister rose from his chair “Questions are a burden to others…..”

    “Answers a prison for oneself. You see minister I haven’t forgotten,”

    “Not even after all these years. Be seeing you” saluted the minister.

    “Not if I see you coming first you won’t” thought the Colonel, careful not to actually utter the words.

    Outside the building the minister’s car was waiting for him, a black gleaming Bentley. His chauffeur alighted and opened the back door, the minister climbed in.

    “Where to now Minister, back to Westminster?” asked the chauffeur, now back behind the wheel.

    “Yes, err no Jenkins, to the undertakers on Cannon Street” the Minister ordered from behind the open plate glass window.

    “Very good sir” Jenkins returned, starting the engine and without so much as a raised eyebrow or having to ask for Cannon street.

    The black Bentley pulled gracefully away from the kerb and joined the busy London traffic.

    The Colonel may have been a stickler for duty, in getting the job done, but he detested his department being used by members of other departments looking to seek their own ends. And after this interview with the minister, it was quite apparent that he, the Colonel, was in the same position as he had put Blake, a very uncomfortable one! Pressing a button on his intercom he asked Miss Stevens to call Blake at his home at once, failing that his mobile, wanting him back in his office immediately if not sooner.

    “But he is on a fortnight’s leave sir” argued miss Stevens.

    “That action is hereby rescinded and don’t take any arguments from him, tell him it’s for his own good” snapped the Colonel.

    The Colonel got up from behind his desk and walked over to the window which overlooked Trafalgar square. Busy London traffic slowly circled Trafalgar square. Red double-decker buses, black London taxis, cars of all colours but all looking of the same design, and white vans, motor cycles, a police car, ambulances were some of the everyday vehicles all passing by. Pedestrians hurrying hither and thither, this way and that along the pavements, some hurrying back to work after an hours lunch break. Others were either shoppers, tourists, delivery men, pensioners, mothers, fathers, citizens to whom you would never give a second glance. Then a black hearse attracted the Colonel’s attention as it slowly made its way through the traffic. He stood watching from his window as it drove around Trafalgar square and passed his own building. It was innocent enough, an everyday occurrence which people hardly noticed or gave thought to, unless of course you knew its passenger. A black hearse with a pair of undertakers in the front and a coffin in the back, innocent enough to many, but to the Colonel the sight of any black hearse would always make him stop and wonder……..


    The intercom bleeped into life snapping the Colonel from his train of thought.

    “Yes Miss Stevens.”

    “No reply from Mister Blake’s home and his mobile is switched off sir. Shall I keep trying?”

   The Colonel made no reply.

    Miss Stevens repeated herself “Shall I keep trying sir?”

   Again only silence.

    “Sir is there anything wrong?”

    “No, no Miss Stevens there’s nothing wrong.” No nothing was wrong, he had been too late, that was all!



Tuesday 22 March 2022

An Exercise In Logistics Chapter 7


The Village - Day 3

   Blake had tried using the mobile phone he had packed as part of his personal equipment. There was no signal! So he turned his attention to the wrecked communications system, and worked on it for the best part of the night. Now in the early morning light Hyde and Grimsdyke gathered round as Blake prepared to send out a radio message.

    “Dovetail this is Hacksaw, Dovetail this is Hacksaw do you read, over.”

    There was only static.

    “Dovetail this is Hacksaw do you read, over.”

    Again there was only static.

    “Dovetail this is Hacksaw requesting immediate evac, repeat immediate evac, do you read, over.”

    Static was his only reply.

    “Are you sure the radio’s working, you have the right frequency?” asked John.

    “It’s the right frequency, not sure about the radio, I’m no expert you know” returned Blake “Dovetail this is Hacksaw, Dovetail this is Hacksaw. Mayday, mayday, mayday, requesting immediate evacuation. Repeat, immediate evacuation do you read, over.”

    The response was there none!

    Despite the unheeded request for immediate evacuation there was still the mission, and there’s no point in sitting about when there’s work to be done. The last target, the Town Hall, would be down to Silas and Paul, leaving John standing watch and transmitting a radio message at given intervals.

    “Any response from the radio or at the first sight or sound of the helicopter, radio us” Blake ordered.

    John nodded unhappy to be left on his own, but then he was as safe here in the old people’s home as anywhere in The Village.

    Paul ducked as the stone which Blake had just hurled at the entrance to the Town Hall was repelled back towards him.

    “Oi, you tried that yesterday and it didn’t work then!”

   Blake paced up and down “There must be a way passed this force-


    Paul forced his way through a hedge and busied himself in chopping away ivy from one of the lead windows with his machete. Then using his scout knife prised the blade between the gap in the

frame work to release the catch of the window. Blake stood watching as Paul climbed up and eased himself through the narrow window.


    Paul grinned “So much for security, protect the door and leave the windows unguarded. Come on, were in.”

    The window led into a small office. Taking out their flash lights, they waved the beams of light about the room. There was a desk, couple of chairs, a coupe of grey filing cabinets. A picture or two decorated its drab walls, and a 1967 calendar denoting the month of December. There was a door which when opened led out into the foyer. Paul lagged behind glancing at the papers littering the desk and the files in the cabinet drawer which he slid open.

    Blake’s head reappeared through the door “There’s no time for that now, come on.”

    Finding a light switch, Silas flicked it on, bathing the foyer in light. It was functional with few elaborations, two alcoves set in the walls along with two paintings. In the centre was a round oak table, a couple of matching easy chairs by a wall. A curving staircase led to the floors above. Ahead were a pair of doors, to the right a pair of French doors, and behind them a solid door which was firmly bolted. Slipping the pair of bolts, Blake opened the door to find that it led outside to the porch and electrical force-field. Beyond, in the street, the white membranic mass of the Guardian stood quivering violently, as if annoyed at their presence and angry because of the force-field now protecting them!

    Paul stood by Blake’s side “That’s torn it and we didn’t bring the weapons!”

    “They weren’t much use against it yesterday, what chance today?” returned Blake, taking a radio from his pocket.

    “John this is Silas, receiving over.”

    “Receiving, how are things over.”

    “Paul and I are in the Town Hall, the Guardian’s outside, anything over the radio, over.”

    “Negative and there’s been no sign of the helicopter, will keep watching and listening, out.”

    Blake returned the radio to his pocket then closed and bolted the door against the Guardian outside, Silas and Paul turned their attention inside.

    “Nothing from the radio eh?” Paul asked.

    Blake shook his head

    “Okay, which way?”

    Blake pointed towards the pair of French windows, which led into

the council chamber. Through the doors and standing at the top of the staircase they shone their flashlights into the gloom of the Council Chamber. It was a circular chamber, its orange dark painted wall, with steel cage-like framework did not differ too much from that of Number 2’s domed office. They descended the staircase to the floor of the chamber, they discerned in the gloom a slightly raised dais. This was circled by twelve rostrums, when examined closely, it could be seen that each one was denoted by the subdivided number 2 by a etter; 2a 2b 2c 2d 2e 2f 2g 2h 2i 2j 2k 2I. There was also a chair raised up, and behind that, led to by a step on either side, a curiously large abstract chair with a light set near the high point of it’s back rest. And suspended from the wall above the chair, was a large black round disc, upon which was the white design of the canopied Penny Farthing.


    “It’s quite remarkable really when you think about” Paul remarked, clicking away with his digital camera.

    “What’s remarkable?” asked Silas, the echo of his voice following that of Paul’s.

    “That out of all this dereliction, the power plant somewhere still functions. Powering electrical force fields, lighting and such, makes you think why the hell are we here.”

    “I know why I’m here, why are you?” returned Silas casually.

    Standing at a pair of doors to the right of the staircase, they found the doors secured against them. Blake finding a button in the wall to the left of the doors pressed it. Hey presto the doors opened, permitting access to a brightly lit grey walled corridor. Pocketing their flashlights, the two men stepped through the door and progressed along the corridor which eventually opened up into a larger waiting area {for want of a better term}. Here there was a single table with an intercom built into it. Paul pressed its button but there was no one at the other end to answer. At the head of another grey walled corridor was a small plastic black box with a narrow slot upon the top, this together with a claret coloured speaker set in the wall. Paul stepped forward and was instantly repelled by an electrical force field.

    “Do not attempt to pass without using the key, second occasion is fatal” announced a voice through the speaker.

    “Thanks Blake, I owe you one!” Paul said, once the tingling feeling had stopped.

    “I’ll remember to remind you of that another time, but I hate to disappoint you. It’s an automatic voice, so don’t worry there’s no one there. Don’t suppose you have a security pass disc on you?” grinned Blake, stepping forward to examine the said box.

    “A what?”

    “A security pass disc. Oh never mind, perhaps there’s another way” replied Blake, taking his Swiss army knife from his pocket.

   He took the knife and pressed the narrow blade into the slot, where upon there came a curious loud whirring sound from the box, the lid of which slowly rose up and from inside the box a tiny white plastic hand emerged. Blake removed the blade of the knife and the small hand sprang back into the box and the lid snapped shut,

other than that nothing happened.

    “Ingenious, but it still doesn’t get us passed the force field” Paul remarked, staring at the little black box.

    Blake again pressed the blade of the knife into the slot and again

came the whirring sound, the lid slowly raised and the small white hand again emerged. This time he removed the blade from the slot and placed it under the lid, just as the hand sprang back inside the box preventing the lid from closing with a snap.


    “Now that is ingenious!” Paul exclaimed with a smile.

    “It will be if this next bit works” returned Blake, slowly lifting the lid and peering inside the box.

    Inside the black box was the small white hand and several white discs, about the size of a one pence piece. Easing two fingers inside, Blake was able to retrieve two of the white security pass discs each with the Penny Farthing design on either side.

    Having studied the two discs, Paul watched as Blake placed one of the discs into the narrow slot on top of the box. There came instantly the whirring sound, the lid rose slowly as once again the small white plastic hand emerged, snatching the security pass disc and disappeared back into the box with a snap of the lid.

    “Pass” announced the voice.

    The corridor lighting was on and cobwebs arched from one wall to the other. There was a frosted glass door on the left, black lettering denoted ‘projection’. Inside were steel steps leading up to a steel gantry, there a chair and ….. periscope!

    “What the hell’s that for?” Paul exclaimed, clambering up the steps, sitting in the chair and peering into the lenses of the periscope.

    “What can you see?” asked Silas.

    “Nothing, haven’t got a tanner have you?”

    “Come on, you’re not on Brighton pier now” retorted Silas.

    Further along the corridor came the double doors of the ‘Boardroom’. Inside it was much the same as that of the Council Chamber and Number 2’s domed office, but again an orange painted wall. The same black disc with the canopied penny farthing design hung from the wall, and a circle of green baize curved tables, with a chair placed at each one. Paul found a black leather document case, it was empty, so he placed it back upon the table and began his usual taking of photographic evidence. Beneath The Village it was a maze of corridors all painted in the same grey colour with no signs to show where they were or to indicate the way. So it was simply by trial and error that eventually they came upon the glass frosted door of the computer room complete with computers together with deciphering and decoding equipment. Paul looked at the racks of sealed magnetic reels. It was reel XO4 which he had to retrieve. He looked amongst the steel cans. XO4 was not amongst them!

    “Looking for something Paul?” Blake asked casually.

    ‘Eh no, I look simply out of curiosity. What information there must

be on these reels of magnetic tape.”

    “Broken codes and ciphers too I shouldn’t wonder, if you’re so interested stay awhile, I’ll go and look for the Control Room, it must

be here somewhere” Blake suggested, turning to the door.


   With Blake gone, this would leave Grimsdyke free to complete his search, for whatever it was he was hoping to find, and Blake knew this. Out in the corridor Blake followed his nose and it was further along the corridor and round a corner that he was confronted by a pair of solid steel doors. As he approached they opened automatically for him, as he entered, Grimsdyke was busy pulling the Computer Room apart.

    “It must be here somewhere, I was told that it would be here” Grimsdyke muttered to himself.

   About him were the cluttered remains of torn open box files, their papers strewn about the room. Broken doors hanging off their hinges and the contents of a cupboard emptied upon the floor, Computer banks searched, but still the tape XO4 was nowhere to be found within the room.

    In the Control Room Blake stood on the steel gantry looking about the brightly lit chamber noting its similarity not only to that of Number 2’s domed office, but also to the council chamber and boardroom. A large portion of the chamber’s wall was covered in a huge map of the world, while another large section was given to a huge astrological chart of our solar system. In the centre of the ceiling was a bank of lights set in a circle, and suspended from the ceiling a steel electronic eye at the end of a steel rod. This, the all seeing eye of Number 1 Blake supposed. He stared into the electronic eye wondering if there was anyone to see him. If there was someone even now after all these years still there observing his every movement. Set in the wall to his right was a large wall screen, upon which the supervisor would have observed any part of The Village. A map of which, and set at an angle, ran a complete circuit at the base of the chamber wall, of which half was made up by a World map, and an astronomy chart of the northern hemisphere. He descended the steel steps to the floor of the chamber, in the centre of which was a steel see saw device like the one he and his confederates had seen in the cavern. On the far side were four monitor consuls each with its own chair, these being the positions taken by the observers. Suddenly the pair of steel doors opened and Paul rushed in.

    “Found what you were looking for?” asked Blake, looking up at the gantry.

    “Er no, it wasn’t there’ retorted Grimsdyke.

    ‘Don’t worry, the General is a hard man to resist, but for now we still have work to do….if you don’t mind” urged Blake.

    “So this is the Control Room, the Supervisor’s domain, where

observers watched the citizens every move.”

    “Observers of life should never get involved” quoted Blake.

    “And it seems that even the observers themselves were observed” Paul said looking up at the stainless steel eye.

    Blake began to study a small control consul, when his radio squawked into life, it was John’s voice.


    “Silas, Silas there’s a radio message, the helicopter is on its way.”

    “Receiving you loud and clear John, what’s its ETA?”

    “About ten minutes” John replied excitedly.

    “Any sign of the Guardian?’


    “We’ll be there in five. Out” said Blake “Time to go Paul.”

    “But we have so much still to do, what about the hospital?” Paul argued.

    “You want to stay here and search for whatever it is you want, then fine. Me, I’m out of here” returned Blake halfway up the steel steps.

    Paul was at Blake’s heels as the steel doors closed with a loud, firm clang behind them. Back along the grey walled corridors they rushed. Finding the security point, Blake placed his second security pass disc in the narrow slot of the black box. The small white hand emerged as the lid slowly opened, snatching the disc inside the box with a snap of the lid.

    “Pass” said the automatic voice.

   They raced along the corridor to emerge through the pair of doors into the foyer of the Town Hall and stopped dead in their tracks.

    There in the foyer was the white membranic mass of the Guardian. Not its full six feet circumference, but a mere four feet or so.

    “How the hell did that thing get in here?” Paul asked, unable to take his eyes off Rover.

    “Through the open window would seem favourite, by the altered size of its mass” returned Blake.

    “What do we do now?”

    “Don’t move, it is attracted by movement” returned Blake, wondering what would be their next move.

    “For how long? We can’t stand here all day what about the helicopter?”

    Blake looked at the open door of the office “This one’s smaller. If we can make it to the office we can secure the door against it and then out through the window and away, simple and full proof.”

    “What if there are two of them. I mean this thing might be able to divide itself. Its twin could be waiting outside for us” Paul suggested nervously.

    Blake put one hand slowly into his pocket for the radio.

    “John do you read over? John can you get to the Town Hall, and

quick, the Guardian is here, repeat the Guardian is here.”

    The Guardian began to quiver with agitation, not only that but began to increase in size. Blake dropped the radio and reached into

his other pocket, his semi automatic fired a stream of bullets as he squeezed the trigger.

   Holes sealed in the membrane of the Guardian as they appeared, it roared its blood curdling roar.

    “Now, before it’s too late” Blake cried out, making a dive for the door.


   Paul dashed through and they slammed the door shut behind them.

    “Quick the filing cabinet” said Blake.

    With the filing cabinet wedged against the door, Blake was the first through the window, dropping to the ground, with Paul close behind as they quickly made a run for it. As behind them came the blood curdling roar of a second Guardian, bounding towards them.

    “Any more ammunition for that pistol of yours?”

    “Two clips, but they’re in my pack” Blake said.

    “Fat lot of good they are there!” Paul retorted.

    Suddenly there came a burst of gun fire from ahead of them, and both men threw themselves into the undergrowth as John emptied his magazine clip at the pursuing guardian, which let out an agonising roar of pain. Through a gate and down stone steps Blake and Grimsdyke plunged, John keeping up constant withering fire, covering their escape. Down the slope Paul and Blake raced towards the Old People’s Home, John now out of ammunition was beating a hasty retreat, as across the estuary the helicopter cleared the hills.

    “The helicopter it’s here, were free!” John shouted excitedly.

    “Not yet we’re not. Collect what you need and let’s get out of here” Blake ordered.

    Paul made sure he had all his camera equipment, all wrapped up in polythene bags for added protection, while John collected his notes and sketches and Blake collected his backpack.

    “Any more ammunition for those machine guns?’ asked Blake ramming home a spare clip in his semi automatic.

    “Out, used it giving you two covering fire” John retorted.

    In a body the men moved out of the old peoples home and across the over grown lawn, down the steps to the quayside and onto the beach.

   The helicopter was now descending, flying low towards them from the other side of the estuary. The three men stood waving to attract the pilot’s attention, then began running across the open sand to meet it. It was then that they heard the blood curdling roar of Rover as it rolled and bounded across the sand towards them.

    “Run” Blake shouted dropping to his knee and emptying the clip of his semi automatic at the pursuing Guardian.

   He might not have bothered for all the use it was, for the Guardian just got closer and closer with every bound. Blake got to his feet, turned and ran, ran for his very life, fast on the heels of his two confederates. The Huey helicopter was now flying fast and low across the estuary directly towards the three running men. J.T saw the huge white amorphous mass pursuing them and was about to meet it head on.

    “Get down” was J.T. Ferguson’s only command, through the helicopter’s loudhailer.

    The three escapees didn’t need telling twice. As one man they hit the sand, just as J.T released the arming safety catch and squeezed the trigger on the joystick. Instantly a hail of bullets burst from the Gatling gun mounted on the side of the Huey. In one minute 2,000 high calibre bullets tore into, and ripped apart, the white membrane of the Guardian. The Guardian had faced gun fire before but nothing on this scale. Thousands of bullets tore into ‘it’ tearing its membrane apart. Rover gave a roar of defiance as it rolled on towards the closing helicopter, but more than that it gave out a roar of renting agony and pain just before the final rupture. The Huey came to a hover just a few feet off the ground, Blake was first to his feet struggling against the down draft to climb aboard the chopper.


    “My god, you move fast JT.”

    JT raised the visor of his helmet and smiled “Just as well for you. You’ve had a lucky escape!”

    Paul and John scrambled into the cabin gasping for breath, as the Huey turned and climbed swiftly towards the mountains and home, leaving The Village far behind.

    “What was that thing back there?” asked J.T.

    “The death of Rover my friend, the death of Rover” returned Blake settling back, pleased to be going home.

    Back on the beach, shreds of white membrane were scattered all across the sand, the air was quiet and still. Then the pieces of torn membrane began to twitch, each forming a tiny sphere, each rolling across the sand as though blown together by some sudden breeze. White sphere’s melding with others until only one membranic Guardian remained. It gave a roar of defiance as it turned, rolled. and bounded back towards The Village where it would remain ‘to serve and to protect’.


Tuesday 15 March 2022

The Prisoner - An exercise In Logistics Chapter 6


The Village - Day Two

    Along with the morning sun, came the smell of hot coffee mingling with the aroma of bacon and eggs sizzling in the pan. The previous night had passed quietly enough. Of the Guardian there had not been sight nor sound. John had been the last man to stand his watch, and upon wakening, despite the events of the previous day, he felt in good heart.

    “It was a hearty breakfast that the condemned man ate” quipped John, wiping his plate and downing the last of his coffee.

    “Glad to see that the events of yesterday have not dampened either your appetite, nor damaged your sense of humour” said Silas.

    “I was trying to forget” John replied with a frown.

    “Well a good breakfast will set us up for the day. Now that we know that the Guardian is still active we have to be careful and remain alert at all times’ said Silas with his usual air of authority.

    ‘Can’t we deactivate it in some way.” Paul began.

    “We need to get into the Control Room to do that” said Silas.

    “And that’s situated beneath the Town Hall” Paul added

    “Protected by an electrical force-field!” Silas said.

    “Wouldn’t have thought it worth protecting!” returned John, looking about the crumbling room around them.

    “Well there must be something here that ‘they’ want kept protected.”

    “What do you think that Guardian eats?” asked Paul.

    “If it does eat” added John.

    “It exists and that is all that we need concern ourselves with at this time. If we can deactivate it then that’s all to the good. Now let’s break camp, get your equipment together, don’t forget those night vision goggles.” Silas ordered, checking his gun.

    “Got any more of those tucked away?” asked John.

    “One of its kind, I’m sorry to say, here” said Silas, offering John the weapon.

    John shook his head, he had read the file and knew that a gun would be no defence against the Guardian.

    Blake secured the gun in its holster, He too knew that it would be

of no defence, but its weight pressing against his side was a comfort somehow.

    “If you encounter the Guardian, don’t run but stand perfectly still.”

    “Yeah, but for how long?” asked Paul.

    Back in the Green Dome a rope was secured around the dais of the

black chair, that being the strongest fixture. A length of rope, some

fifty or so feet of it, was then thrown through the hole in the floor and down into the blackness beyond.


     Silas having donned his night vision goggles, was the first to lower himself down, the darkness engulfing him from all sides. About twelve feet down he stopped, and hanging from the rope, looked into the darkness and along what appeared to be a corridor. So The Village plans had been correct, he had passed through the ceiling of a corridor and now dangled above the hole in another floor below him. Then at the further end of this corridor would be the ‘Embryo Room.’ Peering down into the darkness below him, Blake continued his descent into the unknown. Through the hole in the floor he dangled below a ceiling and eventually reached the end of the rope. The descent was longer than Blake had anticipated, he called out to the men above, who called down to him to climb back up. But he was never one to give up at the first attempt. Dangling there he looked about him, through the green light of the goggles he saw he was peering into another corridor. He could see the floor and let go of the rope.
    Getting to his feet he took the walkie-talkie from a pocket and radioed his men. John put on his night vision goggles as well as a backpack and slowly followed Silas through the hole into the darkness below. At the end of the rope John looked down and could see the figure of Blake below who was shining his torch along the corridor.

    “Silas, are you okay Silas?” he called down into the darkness.

    “Fine” he responded “mind your footing when you get to the end of the rope, you have to let go and drop six feet John, then you’ll be standing on a dais, I just took one step and fell flat on my face!”

    They were soon joined by Paul, and each removed their night vision goggles both followed in their master’s footsteps, shining their torches as they went.

    There was no question of which way to go, there was only one way to go and that was along a cavernous tunnel. On the left was a cold clammy rock face. So too on the right, but carved out of the rock were a series of alcoves and each of the five alcoves contained a juke box. Blake looked at a record on the turntable of the first juke box, ‘All you need is love’-The Beatles read the record label, and it was the same of the other four.

    “Bloody odd that!” Paul remarked.

    At the end of the cavernous passageway there was a thick wooden door, it was open, Blake shone his torch on it. There was a neon sign

it read,



    “Even odder!” said John “somehow I don’t feel very welcome!”

    That could have been said of them all, as they moved slowly forward through the open door and into the darkness beyond.


    From the roof of what turned out to be a cavern, long tapering stalactites hung down and smaller stalagmites rose up from the floor of the cavern in an attempt to meet. The floor of the cavern was perfectly smooth but in parts stalagmites grew. Something lay upon the floor ahead of them Blake shone his torch on the object, stooped down and turned it over. Tattered blue overalls were the only thing which held together the bones of the skeleton. A white steel helmet was loosely strapped to a grinning skull. The remains of white gloves on the bony hands, as were his white boots upon his feet, and just out of reach a machine gun.

    “A security guard” said Silas, picking up the Thompson machine gun “take this, it just might come in handy.”

   John checked the magazine clip, it was empty.

   They found other dead security guards piled up on a dais, obviously killed during the fire fight which took place all those years ago. Two such skeletons dressed in the remnants of black polo neck jersey and trousers, and deck shoes, were sat on either end of a metal see saw device, both slumped over their Maxim machine guns. A stainless steel wrist watch dangled loosely from one of the skeletons wrists, it had stopped at 4 o’clock.

    Other Thompson machine guns were found, most with empty magazine clips, and yet three clips were found to contain bullets, these were placed in Silas’ back pack, and two further machine guns were claimed. Paul busied himself with more photographic evidence and then found….. a white cowled figure lying upon the floor, a black and white mask hung loosely upon the skull.

    “Silas, one of the delegates of the Assembly no doubt” Paul called out.

    “Yeah, and over there is where he sat” retorted Silas, looking passed the President’s rostrum to the delegates benches.

    Over on the far side of the cave was a steel gantry, with electrical cabinets and switch gear. Silas suddenly made a bee line for them, bounding up the steel steps and onto the gantry itself.

    “What are you doing Silas, it won’t matter how many switches you throw, none of that’s going to work” John shouted, his voice echoing and re echoing around the cavern.

    In the torchlight Blake examined closely the electrical cabinets and switch gear and two things were missing, one being dust, the second being cobwebs.

    “This switch gear has been maintained” Silas called out, his voice echoing.

    “Which means that someone has been here and with a purpose” John called back in reply.

    Blake gripped a lever and pulled, and the whirr of electric motors could be heard and arc lights set in the roof lit up, flooding the entire cavern in light. In about the centre of the cavern was the raised dais with its blue carpet. Atop of the dais an elaborate throne covered in


cobwebs, around which lay the pile of long dead security guards. To the right of the dais was a large hole in the floor which made up part of the rockets silo. Paul leaned over the raised circular wall and peered down into the darkness, Silas pulled him back.

    “Don’t want to lose you down that silo now, do we?”

    “Silo, that’s not a silo” replied Paul sharply.

    Blake directed him to look up to the roof of the cavern, where there was an equally sized hole directly above the other and through which the blue sky over The Village could be seen.

    “This is where the rocket was launched” Paul said.

    “You’re learning my boy” returned Silas.

    “To where?”

    Blake simply shrugged his shoulders.

    John was busying himself on the gantry in front of a large wall screen, next to which was of course a control panel.

    “There’s something not right here.”

    “You’re wrong, there’s plenty that’s not right here” Paul replied.

    “All these controls, there’s no dust, no cobwebs, they’ve been cleaned and maintained as well.”

    It was then that John turned a switch on the control panel and suddenly the wall screen came to life. The cavern filled with the continuous laughter from a portly man with a goatee beard upon the screen.

    “Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha” laughed Number 2 sat in the comfort of his black spherical chair in his office.

   Another flick of a switch and the same portly Number 2 was drinking a glass of red wine. He was slowly counting down, 2…. 1 and then collapsed backwards onto the floor.

    All three stood riveted to the screen, it was archive film of what had once taken place here. How much more there was, could only be guessed at. The Village had been infamous for the collecting of all kinds of information.

    With the wall screen switched off and the laughter of Number 2 silenced, music could now be heard and there was only one place from where it could be coming, outside in the passage way.

All three of them raced to the door, its neon sign now lit up, but still unwelcoming for all that, to find to their complete and utter astonishment, all of the juke box’s playing the same song ‘All you need is love’ by The Beatles, but not from the same point in the records. So that each record in turn was a beat of two behind the others, and loud enough as to fill the entire cavern. There was no stopping the juke boxes, Paul did try pressing their reject buttons, but the records continued to play.

    “We’ll just have to wait for the records to finish” Paul said “don’t mind The Beatles myself.”

    “Strange how the record seems to bring life to the cavern’ John remarked “it seems less, oh I don’t know… less empty somehow and more inviting.”


    As The Beatles finished their song a final sweep of this more inviting cavern was being made and an eerie silence that they had not noticed before pervaded the cavern, each man felt it but said nothing. Behind the president’s rostrum were the benches of the one time delegates, each place noted with a plaque such as; 


    Next to the steel see saw device, were three pits leading down into blackness. Rising out of the three pits, were steel piston like devices.

    “What do you think these were these used for?” John asked, while Paul took photographs.

    “They’ve got steel restraining straps attached to the steel shafts” Paul remarked.

    The pits suggested yet another level below the cavern.

    Then there was the rectangular arched void, the start of a tunnel.

    “The Colonel said that there were three ways into The Village, by sea, by air, and a tunnel” Silas said wondering.

    “You know Blake, it appears to me that you know more about this Village and its history than you’re letting on” was Paul’s accusation.

    “Do we try it?” John asked peering into the gloom of the tunnel.     

    “Try what?” asked his confederates in unison.

    “We should at least see where the tunnel comes out. It could provide an emergency escape route.”

    “You’re anticipating an emergency then John?” asked Silas.

    “Now don’t you start on me, it was only an idea” returned John, grumpily.

    “I think we have seen enough here, perhaps we should turn our attention to our next objective” was Silas’ suggestion.

    “Which is the Town Hall” retorted Paul, as they in a body crossed the cavern floor.

    Paul smiled and took a picture of the pair together, for verification purposes, or so he said!

    Through the WELL COME door, and retraced their steps along the passageway to where they had descended through the hole in the


    “How did people get down here, I mean people were meant to come down here, so how was it done?” Paul wondered.

    “I bet they didn’t have to climb up a damned rope!” John grumbled.
   Silas stepped onto the round dais, followed by his two comrades, and were instantly elevated upwards. The dais was a type of elevator, rising up from the floor carrying them up through the ceiling to the level above, where it came to a stop. No man moved and the elevator 
carried it’s passengers up to the next level, where once again it stopped. This time Silas stepped off the dais.


    “Come with me, if you want to see something really strange” Silas said.

    “The Embryo Room” Paul replied with a grin “you see I do know something about this place.”

    “Never doubted it” Silas retorted, as the floor beneath their feet began to move and carry them forward, catching them all off guard.

    At the end of the corridor was an open steel door, the room beyond was illuminated with light from arc lights suspended from the ceiling. To the left of the door and upon the wall was a clock timer. The room beyond the door was a strange one indeed, and known as the Embryo room, where you could enact a life from the cradle to the grave, seven ages -William Shakespeare. Slowly each man entered this room, it was an eerie place, filled with all kinds of props and devices. An organ, a child’s rocking horse, an infant’s playpen. A swing, blackboard and easel, a free standing door, not to mention bicycles, a couple of seated lawn mowers, a table and chair, wardrobe, school desk and something which resembled a hair dryer on casters and three steps which lead to nowhere!

    “That must have been where the cage was” remarked John, surprised by his own knowledge.

    “You mean the cage which was detachable, in fact lowered onto the back of a low-loader lorry you could go anywhere in it. It was lowered down into the cavern below” added Paul, looking down the rectangular hole in the floor

    “Either that or Number Two’s tomb, depending on how you look at it” Silas added ‘decree absolute,’ it had to be either one of them.”

    “You have done you’re home work, haven’t you” Paul remarked, staring at Blake.

    “As much as you have done yours” returned Silas.

    Time was given to the writing of notes and the taking of photographs, then via the elevator were returned through the floor to the sanctum of Number 2’s office in the Green Dome.

    The steel doors of Number 2’s office were closed. Blake marched up the ramp towards them and they slid apart automatically for him, which came more of a surprise than a shock. Turning the power back on in the cavern had somehow restored power to the Green Dome.

    John stood behind the curved desk in the centre of the chamber.

He looked down at the panel of switches and pressed one.

    The large wall screen came to life. There was a man on the screen, he was tall with light brown hair. Dressed in a dark piped blazer, he was walking through a wooded area onto a stone round outlook over looking the centre of the Village.

    The man turned “Be seeing you” he said, giving a casual salute with index finger and thumb and resuming his walk.

    “That gentleman was The Village’s prize prisoner, Number Six” said Silas, keenly watching the screen.


   John pressed a second button and the image on the screen changed, there was music as the brass band played. Ghostly citizens dressed in colourful clothes all paraded around the Free Sea of the piazza, twirling their open umbrellas and parasols and taxis ferrying their fares, local service only.

    “My god, there are people out there” John exclaimed rather excitedly.

    “That was decades ago, there’s no one out there now!” retorted Paul loudly.

    “Time to go” said Silas glancing at his watch, it was late afternoon “back to camp, food and hot coffee.”

    That sounded good, there might even be a large dram of whisky into the bargain.      Paul was the first up the ramp and out through the pair of opening steel doors, quickly followed by John close upon his heels and Silas who took a final look round before departing through the pair of steel doors which closed solidly behind him. Outside the sky had clouded over.

    “Showers later!” joked John, pausing at the top of the steps.

    “Hold it you two, I have something for you” Silas offered removing his back pack and placing it on the ground.

    Both Paul and John gathered round to see what it was…… machine guns and two clips of ammunition. Taking his, Paul pulling out the clip and checked the firing mechanism to see that it wasn’t jammed, it wasn’t, then checking the clip, pushed it home and cocked the weapon.

    “Well mister Blake, if you had any ideas that you couldn’t trust Hyde and me, this is the time when you face the truth, whatever that truth may be.”

   Blake was crouched on the ground staring up into the barrel of the machine gun, his own with its ammunition clip removed leaving Grimsdyke with the drop on him.

   Hyde having checked his weapon rammed home the clip, was deciding on whose side he should be, when Paul Grimsdyke raised his

gun and smiled.

    “Okay Blake, the General did give us certain instructions regarding

you. But as I see it we’re all here on the same side, but with different leaders so to speak.”

    “We’re not leaving him here then?” asked Hyde.

    “If we don’t all pull together, none of us will be leaving” Blake said, slowly rising to his feet.

    “That’s how I see it” Paul replied.

    “Good, I’m glad that’s sorted out, because I didn’t really want to have to leave him here” John added with a smile.


    “And for my part I found some components in an electrics truck, they’re a bit past their best, but they should do the job” Blake announced.

    John and Paul looked surprised and speechless at each other.

    “The radio……don’t worry” began Blake, throwing his back pack on over his shoulder “I won’t hold it against you, I’ve come up against the General before. For the moment we have to think of our continued survival. Truce?”

    “The Guardian you mean” returned John, who spun round as if it were at his very shoulder. Which really wasn’t far from the truth, for as the three comrades made their way through the over grown village, there was movement to their right as the white membranic mass of the Guardian suddenly came rolling and bounding towards them, emitting that blood curdling roar. Blake flung himself to the ground while Paul and John took up positions in the pink pavilion. Bursts of machine gun fire echoed around The Village, their bullets having no effect upon the Guardian as it absorbed them and the membrane sealed the holes as they were made. But the gun fire did hold it off for a moment, allowing Blake to move out of its path and into the pavilion.
    To get back to the relative safety of the old people’s home, they managed to clamber out through the open windows, dropping to the ground below. There was a slope and over grown steps which led down to a stone balustrade and a waterfall at the bottom. Climbing over, the three dropped into the pool of green water below, from there it was only a short distance to the Old People’s Home. For now they had out manoeuvred the Guardian, they could hear what sounded like its frustrated roar somewhere about The Village, which held promise of its return. It was late afternoon. The first job had been to secure all doors and windows of the room, leaving not the smallest gap, as the Guardian was able to alter its mass, however small, and get through most defences. The fire in the grate had been made up, food had been cooked and the smell of fresh coffee was a much welcome pick me up.

    Later Paul and John sat cleaning the two machine guns, there

being only enough ammunition for the two weapons, while Silas attempted to effect a repair of the radio communications system with the parts taken from the electrics truck. He was no communications expert, but even if he managed to get the radio working, they could order an early extraction, after all The Village was only a quick flip in the helicopter from the landing stage.

     Tonight there was no need to take turns keeping watch, no one would be sleeping