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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’.


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