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
“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 .
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.
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;
ACCOMMODATION - NUTRITION - BOARD - ADMINISTRATION PRAGMATISTS - ARCHANGELS - GOVERN - OBSERVERS - HEALTH SECURITY - REHABILITATION - EDUCATION - OLD FOLK - UNMUTUALS UNITARIANS - COMMITTEE - TRANSPORTATION - IDENTIFICATION DEFECTORS - THERAPY – REACTIONISTS - NATIONALISTS ENTERTAINMENT - RECREATION - ACTIVISTS - ANARCHISTS YOUNGSTERS – PACIFISTS - WELFARE
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!
“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
“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