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Tuesday 26 April 2022

The Prisoner An Exercise In Logistics Chapter 12


That’s Me Standing Over There!

     Daily prognosis report on Number 6;

8:00 am Shower, shave and prepare breakfast consisting of black coffee, bacon and eggs, toast and marmalade.

9:30 am The subject takes his daily stroll around The Village, calling in on the General stores where he will buy a copy of the Tally Ho, a packet of curiously strong mints and deposit his grocery list.

10:55 am Subject will visit the Old People’s Home where he will play a game or two of chess matches with the admiral.

12:30 pm The subject attends the gymnasium for a bout of Judo.

1:00 pm Subject then cools off in the swimming pool.

1:45 pm The subject will go to the café for a ham salad and pot of tea for one.

2:15 pm Subject enjoys an afternoon stroll through The Village.

2:30 pm Subject sits in the piazza completing the day’s crossword.

3:30 pm The subject walks along the sea wall and along the cliffs, he is restless forever on the move, always on the lookout for something.

5:00 pm Subject sits to have his portrait pained by the resident artist.

5:30 pm Subject returns to the General stores to collect his groceries, then returns to his cottage, where he listens to Jazz music.

6:47 pm Subject leaves his cottage for an evening stroll around The Village

7:30 pm Subject returns to his cottage, a lullaby is playing as a maid enters to make Number 6 his night cap of hot chocolate.

7:45 pm Subject pours his night cap of hot chocolate down the sink, retires to bed for the night.

    However on one particular day Number 6 appeared to be somewhat ahead of himself, or should that be a little behind? You see it all began one morning at the General Stores.

   ‘Ting a ling a ling’

    Number 6 entered the General stores, helped himself to a copy of The Tally Ho from the rack and a packet of curiously strong peppermints.

    The portly shopkeeper was busy serving a middle aged woman dressed in a blue sweater, slacks, and large floppy hat.

    “There you are madam” said the shopkeeper placing a carton of six eggs on the top of her brown paper carrier bag “would you help yourself to a mango.”

    The woman turned selecting a mango from the fruit display and placed it in her shopping bag.


   “That will be fifty credit units in all” said the shopkeeper.

    The woman smiled rummaging in her handbag for her Admix card.
    “You can pay via your mobile phone if you prefer madam” offered the shopkeeper.
    “I don’t have a mobile phone” the customer said producing the credit card.

    The shopkeeper swiped the card and handed it back to his customer, who then picked up her brown paper carrier bag and walked towards the door.

    “Be seeing you” saluted the Shopkeeper.

    Ting a ling a ling.

    “Ah Number Six and what can I do for you this morning, forgotten something?” asked the shopkeeper.

    “No, just the copy of the Tally Ho, a packet of curiously strong peppermints and here is my grocery order, if you could have it filled, I’ll drop by and pick it up later” returned Number 6 holding out a white slip of paper.

    “Are you trying to be funny?” asked the Shopkeeper.

    “Do I look like a comedian? A copy of The Tally Ho, a packet of curiously strong peppermints and my grocery order if you please” Number 6 replied.

    “Yes I know because I already have your grocery list, you gave it to me not ten minutes since” returned the shopkeeper, taking a white slip of paper off a steel spike and handing it to Number Six, who studied the grocery list comparing it to his own. Both lists contained the exact same items. The paper was the same, what’s more the hand writing was identical, it was his handwriting.

    “You say I gave this list to you ten minutes ago’.

    “That’s right Number Six, when you purchased your copy of the Tally Ho and packet of curiously strong peppermints. I say are you alright? Perhaps you simply forgot, I forget things sometimes, easily done” said the Shopkeeper.

    “But I didn’t forget did I, and I can assure you that I have not set foot in this shop today until a couple of moments ago. Damn it all I only left my cottage a few moments ago” Number 6 confirmed.

    “I don’t know anything about that” said the shopkeeper “all I know is that at nine thirty-two this morning you walked in here as large as life, took a copy of The Tally Ho news paper from the rack just as you

have done, a packet of curiously strong peppermints from the counter and handed me that list you now hold in your hand.”

    “But I couldn’t have done, what game are you playing?” barked Number 6, reaching out for the shopkeeper.

“Game, I’m not playing any game. It’s the trick that you are playing that concerns me. Now do you want me to make up that order of yours or not?” returned the shopkeeper, pleased of the counter between himself and his customer.
    “You look a bit odd sir, perhaps you need a check-up” the shopkeeper suggested.



    Number 6 handed over one of the slips of paper and walked out of the shop.

   Ting a ling a ling.

    “Oh well he can pay me later!” thought the shopkeeper.

    Stepping outside Number 6 walked right into a stout elderly woman sitting on her mobility scooter, banging his shin as he did so.

   “Young man would you help me?”

   “Why don’t you help yourself!” snapped Number 6 rubbing his shin “and why don’t you learn to drive that thing and park it where it doesn’t get in people’s way? They’re a damned nuisance. Now get out of my way!”

    Number 6 settled himself down and continued with his morning stroll around The Village. He couldn’t for the life of him understand how he could have made such a mistake as that, perhaps he did need a check up. He made his way down to the Old People’s Home for his daily chess match with the Admiral. As he approached the lawn he could see the Admiral sat at his table as normal, busy setting out his chess pieces on the board ready for the game to come. Then ahead of him another of those infernal mobility scooters, giving it a wide berth he walked towards the Admiral’s table.

    “Don’t tell me you’ve come back for more!” said the Admiral looking up at him in surprise.

    “Sorry?” replied Number 6 as he sat down.

    “Not content with crushing me in a heavy defeat, you return to humiliate me further” returned the Admiral.

    “I’m sorry Admiral, I don’t……”

    “You weren’t sorry a few minutes ago. Checkmate in nine moves, not to mention that damned fool’s mate!” the Admiral sneered.

    “Admiral I haven’t played you at chess this morning, that is why I am here now, shall we begin?” asked Number 6, picking a white and black pawn.

    “Are you trying to make a monkey out of me lad?” asked the


    “We all make mistakes Admiral……”

    “I’m not as senile as some around here would have people believe. You left not five minutes ago and I think this is a very cruel trick to try and play on someone” returned the Admiral sternly.

    Number 6 fell silent, he had obviously upset the Admiral which was not his intention. But first at the General Store and now here at the Old People’s Home.

    “I’m sorry Admiral. To play such a cruel trick on you was not my intention nor was it to upset you. It seems that I’m getting a little forgetful” retorted Number 6.

    Just at that moment as the Admiral was about to forgive him, a waiter dressed in white jacket and black trousers, white shirt and

black bow tie came walking across the lawn towards the Admiral’s table.


    “Would you like more coffee gentlemen?” about to clear away the two cups and saucers on the table.

    Haven’t had any yet” barked Number 6 realizing there WERE two cups on the table “How long have I been here?” he asked.

   The waiter looked at him quizzically.

    “About twenty minutes sir, you paid for the coffee with your credit card, and you walked off. Then I saw you return a few moments ago, I thought you might like some more coffee” the waiter explained.

    “That’s not possible, I came down here this morning to play chess with the Admiral…….”

    “Yes sir as you do each morning and you were in particular devastating form, even if I say so myself. I take it, no more coffee?” returned the waiter.

    The waiter then paused and turned back to the table and took something from his pocket.

    “I’m sorry sir, but you left your Admix card behind.”

    Number 6 looked at the waiter and searched his pockets “That’s not my card, I have my card here” he said putting a hand in the pocket.

    “Is this not your card then sir?” asked the waiter studying the photograph upon it.

    “No it is not, I have mine here” returned Number 6 still going through his pockets. His card was not upon his person. He looked at the waiter and took the offered card and studied it closely.

    “No, this can’t be right’ said “Number 6 “this cannot be not my card.”

    “Well” said the waiter “I should like you to tell me whose card it is, seeing that it has your face and number upon it.”
    “But it wasn’t ME!”

    “Well if it wasn’t you sitting there Number Six, you must have a double!” said the Admiral.

    Number 6 glared at everyone about him, who stared back in

concern and confusion. He pushed through the crowd knocking over Number 118 carrying a paint box and easel on his way.

    And I won’t be sitting for my portrait either!” barked Number 6.

   The painter picked himself up, along with his paints and easel

    “Yes I know, you’ve already told me that” returned the artist.

    Number 6 took hold of Number 118’s arm “When, when did I tell you that?”

    “Just a few minutes ago by the waterfall, the one by the ornamental pool” retorted the artist.

    Number 6 rushed off, leaving Number 118 to his own bemusement.

    Of course there was no one by the waterfall when he got there. Perhaps he shouldn’t have expected anyone to be there. If someone was going around impersonating him he certainly wouldn’t hang around. The question being who and why? Certainly the game seemed to be afoot, and it occurred to him that there was only one man who

could be responsible, and if he was expected to play along with the game then they were to be sadly disappointed. Instead of paying Number 2 a sudden visit and wasting his time shouting the odds, Number 6 went instead to the gymnasium, this for his usual bout of Judo.


    “What YOU again!” said Number 29.
    “What do you mean again? I’ve only just got here!”
    “I was your Judo opponent, and a few minutes ago you almost broke my leg!”

    “I know who put you up to this and you can tell him from me that it’s not going to work!”

   Number 6 stormed out of the gymnasium leaving the sportsmen standing in total bemusement. As the double doors of the gymnasium closed behind him, Number 6 caught sight of the locker room. He could not resist taking a look just in case his supposed doppelganger was in the shower or something. But there was no one there. He hadn’t really expected there to be, but he had to be sure and would have been, if it had not been for the fact of the still warm, wet towel hanging over the open door of the Number 6 locker. The locker itself was empty, but the towel was undisputable fact.

   Number 6 stood at the top of a set of stone steps looking up at the Green Dome. Crossing the road, a tricycle rider holding aloft an open umbrella rang his bell ting a ling as he passed by and down the street. He walked up the street and mounted the steps leading up to the Green Dome. There standing under its impressive double arched porch he pulled on the black wrought iron bell pull. From somewhere inside the dome a bell sounded and the white door opened automatically for him and he walked over the threshold and into the foyer beyond. He swept passed the housemaid, through the pair of open French doors with the woman in a black dress and frilly white apron giving chase. The pair of steel doors sliding open and Number 6 rushed into the purple walled office. Number 2 was in conference with her assistant Number 14, a tall young man dressed in a blue piped blazer with dark grey piping and an olive green polo neck sweater and grey trousers. She sat in her black global chair reading from a black file open on her lap, when steel doors opened and the housemaid showed Number 6 into her office.

    “Number Six to see you madam” the housemaid announced “will there be anything else?”

    Number 6 marched down the ramp and approached the curved desk.

    Number 2, a slim middle aged woman in a green roll neck jersey, white slacks wearing a cream cap, looked up from the open file upon her lap, and at her visitor.

    “No I think you have brought me quite enough for the moment” answered Number 2.

    “Very good madam” the housemaid turned, the steel doors closing behind her.


    “Well Number Six, what have I done to deserve this unexpected pleasure of your company?” asked Number 2, remaining calm and closing the file.

    “You’re new here” Number 6 said looking at the woman sitting in the chair.

    “I am the new Number 2” she confirmed.

    “What happened to the old one, not up to the job was he?” quipped Number 6.

    “I believe he was moved on.”

    “Does that always happen?”

    “I wouldn’t know, I’m new here” Number 2 replied.

    “How do you rate your chances?”

    “Pretty good from where I’m sitting” she said with confidence.

    “Time will tell I’m sure” retorted Number 6.

    “Was there something specific you wanted, or are you here simply to waste both our times?” asked Number 2.

    “Have you ever had one of those days when you always seem to be ahead of yourself?” asked Number 6, folding his arms and sitting on the curve of the desk.

    “You mean déjà vu” Number 2 said.

    “No not quite like that” he said easing himself off the desk and now pacing the floor “That is a feeling, a feeling of having experienced before, something which is actually happening. No what I mean is when something has actually happened before you have done it. You see wherever I seem to go in The Village it’s as if I’ve been there only a few minutes before. It’s like I am running a few minutes fast, or slow, depending how you look at it.”

    “You look tired and you have been under something of a strain since your arrival here, perhaps you need a check up.”

    “Perhaps someone is impersonating you!” smirked Number 14.

   Number 2 shot her assistant a disgruntled glare then said “A Six impersonator, I wish I had thought of that one!”

    “Haven’t you?” returned Number 6.

    “Surely you don’t think that I have anything to do with such a preposterous idea, I mean why should anyone want to impersonate you, what would they have to gain?”

    “You tell me?”

    Number 2 turned in her chair towards her assistant “Have the Observers picked up anything of this kind?”

    “No Number 2" answered Number 14 with great assurance “no Observer has reported anything on the lines suggested by our friend here.”

    “What can I say? If our Observers have not picked anything up there is nothing I can do. But rest assured Number Six I shall place this on report. And should anything further untoward occur then you know where I am” said Number 2.

    Number 6 looked at both the new Number 2 and her assistant Its not going to work you know!” barked Number 6 loudly.


   Numbers 2 and14 said nothing as Number 6 turned and stormed up the ramp and out through the opening steel doors, then to return to the confines of his cottage.

    Number 2 pressed a button upon the control panel of her desk activating the wall screen.

    “Perhaps Number Six, will catch up with himself, that will make for an interesting encounter I should think.”

    “Are you sure this is going to work Number 2, it seems all very elaborate, not to mention the risk it entails. Besides, it has been tried before, twice more in fact.”

    “Don’t worry, it will work. We all have to take a chance now and then, even with our friend Number Six, and this is a chance he will not be able to resist taking himself, once he’s over the initial shock that is. He will then strike up a friendship, he won’t be able to stop himself. Then he will confide, and once he has done so there will be an escape attempt by Number Six, to which of course we shall turn a blind surveillance eye. Our subject has been fully indoctrinated, that has been proved this morning while he was out about The Village and any risks are minimal. Besides it’s worth a risk or two isn’t it? And when we’ve pulled this one off, it will be a feather in both our caps” said Number 2, allowing herself a smile, perhaps savouring the victory that is to come.

    They watched the wall screen as Number 6 entered his cottage, he had a visitor, who had made himself at home.

    “Who the hell do you think you are?” exclaimed Number 6 finding himself lying upon his leather couch listening to Bix Beiderbecke playing on his CD player.

    “I could ask you the same question, but it had to be I suppose. At least I know I’m not going round the twist! ” Number 6 said rising from the couch.

    “I’ve caught up with myself at last. ” retorted Number 6.

    “You’re the very spitting image.”

    “It’s like looking into a mirror!”
    “Why have you been going about the village impersonating me?”

    “Where did they get you?”

    “They say we all have a double somewhere.”

    “If this is one of Number Two’s little games, she knows what she can do!”

    “I wouldn’t know.”

    Both men stood looking the other up and down. They were identical in every way, even dressed alike, a grey blazer with burgundy piping, a burgundy coloured turtle neck sweater, beige trousers and blue deck shoes. Both over six feet, tall and lean with dark hair and green eyes, yet there was only one tiny difference which was hardly noticeable. Number 6 wore a white Penny Farthing badge upon the left lapel of his blazer.


    “At first I thought it a put up job, the shopkeeper, the Admiral, the

waiter and the General. I hadn’t banked on someone like you.”

    “Nor I you. Why don’t you go away and bother someone else!” returned Number 6.

    “At the gym I couldn’t have been far behind you, your towel was still wet.”

    “Oh I see’ chuckled Number 6 “I’m supposed to be the one going

around impersonating you! I’m sorry old boy, but haven’t you got it the wrong way round? It’s you who have been going around impersonating me!” he barked accusingly.

    “Seeing as how I’ve caught up with you, the game would seem to be up!” quipped Number 6. “And what am I supposed to do now? Bury my head in the sand and pretend I don’t exist?!”

    “I’ve no idea, the least I can do seeing that you have gone to so much trouble is to offer you a drink” smiled Number 6 moving towards the drinks table.

    Number 6 then made his move, lunging at his doppelganger and grabbing him by the lapels of his blazer and forcing him against the wall.

    Who are you?” bellowed Number 6.

    “I should be careful if I were you, the Observers are bound to be recording this on DVD!” quipped Number 6, smiling.

    “I shall ask you once more before I wipe that smug smile off your face. Who are you?’

    “I’m you, I mean me” replied Number 6, his smile gone.

    What do you mean you’re me, are you a look-a-like or something, or did they use surgery. They did a fine job, there’s no sign of any scarring” barked Number 6.

    “There wouldn’t be. You see I’m more than that, much more. You could say that I am your brother, but I am even more than that.”

    “Then you would be an impostor, I haven’t got a brother” barked Number 6.

    “Yes I know, and nor am I an impostor. You see I am you, I am your clone.....I am you, you are me together!”

   The room fell silent as both Number 6’s stared at each other. Number 6 slowly released his grip and stood back “I bet you could do with a drink, I know I could” he said pouring out two glasses of whisky and offering a glass to the other.

    Number 6 took the offered glass “How, how was it done?”

    “From the sample of your DNA which you freely gave during your hospitalisation, remember?” Number 6 said taking a drink from his glass.

    But it’s just not possible, there hasn’t been time. You’re nothing like me, not inside you’re not” barked Number 6 tapping his temple with a finger.

    “I assure you that it is possible, I am living proof of that. In appearance we are identical, but I have to agree with you inside we are different I don’t have your temperament for one thing, how could it be otherwise?” smiled Number 6 draining his glass.


    Number 6 did likewise and both glasses were refilled.

    “I had to learn to be you, the way you walk, and talk, your mannerisms. What you like to eat, what you were, politics and religion oh no, we have no religion. I watched hours of film of you, listened to your voice over and over until I was sick of the sound of it! And there was electrical therapy, memories inserted into my psyche” Number 6 explained draining his glass a second time.

    “You know all about me then?” asked Number 6 draining his own glass.

    Number 6 refilled the glasses “There is the odd gap I have to admit. But on the whole they did a pretty good job, I’m as much like you as you are like me.”

    “I’m nothing like you!” barked Number 6.

    “No. For a start I’m more laid back about this than you are. What’s the matter, afraid that I might just take your place?”

     Number 6 laughed “If that’s all I’ve got to be afraid of, you can take my place and welcome to it!”

    Number 6 laughed “At least we share something, a sense of humour.”

    They drained their glasses simultaneously and Number 6 refilled them again.

    “You wouldn’t be trying to get me drunk would you?”

    “Now you know as well as I, that this is non alcoholic whisky, as is the gin and vodka. Cheers.”

    “Down the hatch.”

    “Number Two is behind this, what game is she playing?” asked Number 6 putting his glass down.

    “Where are you sleeping tonight, I could make up a spare bed if you like.”

    “It’s you who will be sleeping in the spare bed. What is it that Number Two wants? It must be important seeing that she has gone to so much trouble.”

    Number 6 put his empty glass down and turned off the record player.

    “For you to come to trust me, even to confide in me as I am confiding in you now, remember we are of the same tissue to coin a phrase” Number 6 smiled.

    During the days that followed Number 6 at first rejected his cloned self, but couldn’t help watching the way he did things, from making breakfast to filling in The Tally Ho crossword thirty seconds before he did. There were the little annoying things of shared mannerisms, the clicking of fingers, the gentle smacking of lips, pulling on his ear lobe as he was doing now. They had the same taste in music and literature, both equally skilled in both chess and Judo. And when they spoke it as if he was talking to himself, but it was the shared memories that were difficult to come to terms with, him knowing what he knew. Yet strangely Number 6 began to get used to having his cloned self around, yet to the question of trust, that was a long way off!


   Together citizens were pleased to see 6 and 6b. Alone they were never quite sure to whom they were speaking and that put some a little on edge. Then there were times of trouble, trouble when they were found taunting The Village Guardian, it being unable to make up its mind which one of them to bite!

    Number 2 sat in her black spherical chair reading the latest report on the pair of 6’s and couldn’t be more pleased “They seem to be bonding nicely, friends almost” read Number 2.

    “There is still the question of trust Number Two, that is the one thing that has yet to be put to the test” returned Number 14.

    “It will be, and once Number Six has passed that particular test, he will confide. I take it that all is prepared?”

    “Yes Number Two, but should Number Six and his cloned self ever join forces……”

    “That is highly unlikely, Number Six-b is utterly loyal and devoted, of that there can be no doubt” snapped Number 2.

    “Yes, it states much the same in Number Six’s file!” returned Number 14 sarcastically.

    “Just get this right and we will both be showered in glory” Number 2 smiled.

    “Either that or up to our necks in……”

    “In what Number Fourteen?”

    “Nothing Number Two.”

    “Then get out and get on with it. Otherwise it will be you mopping it up!” snapped Number 2 in annoyance.

    Later that afternoon a taxi pulled up in the cobbled square and four security men dressed in grey overalls, white helmets, gloves and boots and wearing dark glasses, each brandishing a white truncheon marched off briskly up the steps and along the path to ‘6 private’. The door opening automatically for them they marched inside, each guard with a fixed look of determination upon his face. Moments later a struggling Number 6 was being manhandled out through the door of his cottage by three of the guards, the fourth leading the way back to the waiting taxi into which Number 6 was then bundled and restrained by two of the security men. Just as the taxi was about to pull away from the square, the tall athletic form of Number 6b came running along the road and leaping aboard the already over loaded Mini Moke taxi, threw one guard to the ground, a second he punched in the chest and face. Number 6 now free of his two restraining guards, hit one and kicked the other out of the taxi and onto the ground. The fight quickly turned into a free for all, and with Number 6 and Number 6b each armed with a truncheon, the four security guards were left lying battered and bruised upon the cobbles of the square.


    From the confines of his Control Room, the Supervisor-Number 28 had observed the scene which had just taken place in the square and picked up his mobile telephone “Orange Alert, orange alert, Number’s 6 and Number 6b in the cobbled square.”

    Somewhere below the waves the white membranic mass of the Guardian was released from it containment, floating upwards, its shape contorted by the water pressure until it burst through the surface, then to skim swiftly across the waves towards The Village.

   Number’s 6 and 6b dusting themselves down as the security guards lay at their feet, just as the Guardian came rolling and bounding along the street towards them, emitting its blood curdling roar.

    “Looks like were in trouble with the headmistress” said 6b.

   The Guardian stopped just in front of them, quivering in something of an agitated state but in the end herding both Number 6 and 6b up to the door of the Green Dome, which opened bidding them to enter and closed behind them.

    Standing waiting in the foyer was the housemaid “If you would step this way please gentlemen.”

   Number 6 and 6b looked at each other and submissively followed the housemaid through the pair of open French doors and steel doors into Number 2’s office.

    “Two gentlemen to see you madam” the housemaid announced looking both dishevelled men up and down with a look of disdain “they appear to have taken part in a brawl.”

    From the comfort of her chair Number 2 watched as Number 6 and 6b entered her office, the housemaid took leave, the steel doors closing behind her.

    “Now what is all this brawling in the street indeed, you made a right spectacle of yourselves” began Number 2.

    “It’s this synthetic twin of mine” began Number 6.

    “Listen to him! Don’t believe a word he says. He’s Number Six, a troublemaker alright!”

   Number 2 began to wonder if it was worth the trouble ‘they’ had gone to? Having one Number 6 was bad enough, now it appeared she had twice the trouble!

   That evening at curfew Number 6 and 6b watched the maid depart the cottage, chocolate night cap left getting cold in their cups.

    “I think its time we learned to confide in each other, don’t you?” asked 6b.

    “I have nothing to confide to you” returned Number 6 defiantly.

    “But we have become friends if not brothers and perhaps you trust me just a little” said 6b.

    “The Observers will be watching and listening you know.”


    “The lights are out and can see little in this semi darkness, and if we speak softly” 6b suggested.

    In the Control Room one of the Observers hearing this then switched to infra red, easily picking out the two figures in ‘6 private.’

    “Number 2’s plan is for me to gain your trust and confidence so that you will learn to confide in me” said 6b “but yet here I am confiding in you, placing my trust in you.”

    “What does Number 2 want?” asked Number 6 coldly.  

    “There is the question of that copied file on The Village which you have seconded away in some safe place. They want it back, and Number 2 is determined to retrieve it for them, it would mean a feather in her cap” 6b said quite openly.

    “So where do you come in all of this?” asked Number 6, looking for the trap.

    “I get you to confide in me the location of the file and an escape is then arranged.”

    “Who’s escape?”

    “Why mine of course, the idea being that I then retrieve the said file and return it to them. Nothing could be more simple.”

   Number 6 had to agree that by any Number 2’s standards it was a cunning plan. But it had one particular flaw, everything hinged upon Number 6 confiding in 6b. So perhaps with a gentle tweak of the plan could turn it to his own advantage, but then to do so would mean placing his absolute trust in 6b. He would play along with Number 2. 6b would be given certain information and allowed to escape as planned, later to return to The Village with a rescue team. All 6b would need would be the contact names back in London and the location coordinates for the Village.

    Observations over the next couple of days made by Number’s 6 and 6b, showed that at 2 o’clock precisely the Alouette helicopter arrived daily and stayed for two hours each trip. While it was there the helicopter was guarded by the Guardian, it was clear that they would need some kind of diversion. Then the morning of the fourth day, Number 6 and 6b put their plan into action. It was a strange feeling knowing that they would succeed with the help of Number 2, not that either of them felt sorry for the fate she would receive. The trick was to keep Number 2 convinced that her plan was in fact working, and this was done by two planned visits one by Number 6 and the other by 6b. They were enough to put her at her ease and settled any doubts that she may have had. The day itself was one much of a much-ness really, sunshine and showers later. Number 6 sat at a table on the lawn of the Old People’s Home, he was doing the Tally Ho crossword and keeping an eye open on 6b at the same time. The helicopter had arrived at 2 o’clock precisely, landing on the triangular lawn by the sea wall. The pilot having made his final landing checks closed the clear Perspex cabin door and walked away as the Guardian rolled up the short slip way off the beach, taking up its position by the now vacant helicopter, until the pilot’s return.


   Meanwhile 6b was slowly descending the stone steps by the waterfall and at the bottom kept surveillance on both the helicopter and the Guardian, but out of sight and at a safe distance. Number 6 finished his coffee and paid the waiter the 6 credit units and slowly stood up  and walked away in the direction of the waiting Alouette helicopter. While in the Control Room a very confident Number 2, now wearing an old school scarf and carrying a furled umbrella shooting stick stood watching the large wall screen along with the supervisor and Number 14. Strict instructions had been given by the Supervisor to all posts, that what ever may happen, no action was to be taken by anyone. On the screen Number 6 approached the helicopter via the open air swimming pool, but at a distance of ten feet the Guardian came rolling between the waiting helicopter and Number 6, who tried to move out of its path, first to the left and then to the right. The Guardian was becoming more and more agitated. Number 6 who didn’t want to incur its wrath turned and fled down the slipway and onto the beach with the Guardian close on his heels. 6b then made his move. Dashing from the cover of the undergrowth, he ran across the lawn and with a single bound landed upon the helicopter’s starboard float, opened the cabin door and climbed aboard. Number 6 had given himself up to the Guardian, but after a few moments study of the controls 6b flicked a couple of switches and pressed the starter button. The engine of the helicopter roared into life and the rotor blades began to turn. At this the Guardian forgot about its prey and rolled back along the beach and up the slipway to the lawn, emitting that blood curdling roar as it went, but too late. The rotor blades were spinning ever faster until 6b pulled on the joy stick with another hand on the yaw stick and feet on pedals, and the helicopter lifted off the lawn over the sea wall and away out across the estuary gaining height all the time as it headed for the mountains. Number 6 stood alone on the beach watching until the helicopter was clearly out of sight. Now all he could do was bide his time, until his rescuers turned up via sea or air.

    Number 2’s mobile phone rang its musical ringtone, the illuminated screen indicated that it was her superior calling.

    “Number Two here……. yes sir Six-b is now on his way……… No sir just as you planned…… I would say if there are no hold ups Six-b should return here in three perhaps four days sir….. well thank you sir I will” at that the phone went dead and Number 2 departed the Control Room for that of her office.

    The steel doors closed behind her the supervisor looked at number 14, both rolling their eyes and shaking their heads.
    “Number 2 looks like she’s the cat who’s got at the cream!” 14 remarked sarcastically.


    “There’s many a slip twixt cup and lip” said the Supervisor “I’ve seen many a better Number Two than her brought to heel by Number Six.”

    Number 14 was about to further his comment, but glancing up at the stainless steel electronic eye which orbited the Control Room suspended from the ceiling, he thought better of it.

 Days passed and Number 6 kept a daily look out from the top of the bell tower, but of any such rescue team there was no sign. Only seagulls and cormorants flew in the sky and with the tide being out, this restricted any rescue by sea! Number 2 also waited, waited in her office for word of the helicopter which would be carrying its passenger 6b back to The Village. Each day life was much the same as any other in The Village, and now five days had passed since the escape of 6b. Gardeners tended the gardens and surrounding woods, taxi drivers plied their trade, waiters and waitress tended tables at the Café and old people’s home, the shopkeeper served his customers at the General Stores, and citizens went about their daily lives. However for Numbers 2 and 6 as each passing day came with no sign or return of 6b. This brought about an ever growing feeling of deepening anxiety, and for two very different reasons. 

    Then one morning……………….

    The door to ‘6 private’ opened and a contrite Number 2 entered, wearing a dark blue two piece business suit, carrying a black attaché case.

    “I thought I would drop by and say goodbye.”

    “You going somewhere?

    “After this latest fiasco I shouldn’t think so, I’m not exactly flavour of the day” returned Number 2 regretfully.

    “Fiasco, what fiasco?”

    “Oh of course you haven’t heard have you” and a wry smile came over her lips.

    “Heard, heard what?”

    “Well at least there is one saving grace for me. you still here and for you, well you have need to continue with your daily climb of the bell tower. We have both been betrayed Number Six you and I together.”

    “Betrayed?” was Number 6’s only stunned reply.

    “Five days Number Six, too long for the both of us. My plan was to have you confide in Six-b, for him to escape, retrieve that copy of The Village file and to return here with it. Your plan on the other hand was to confide and entrust certain information to Six-b, for him to make certain contacts in London and for him to return here with a rescue party, perhaps with the idea of blowing this place back to hell. Two masterly plans wouldn’t you agree Number Six?”

    Number 6 had to agree “So what’s gone wrong?”

    “Six-b appears to have had a plan all his own, which was to go along with both of us and play us both for fools, resulting in an escape plan all his own. Six-b will not be returning to The Village for the present. So far he has managed to elude all capture, but they will find him eventually, wherever he is and then he will be returned, only not this week. But you will still be here to welcome him when he does, sadly I shall not. You simply can’t trust anyone these days, can you Number Six?” smirked Number 2 turning towards the door.


    “I once asked how you rated your chances, I believe your words were, “pretty good” from where you were sitting. Tell me, how do you rate your chances now?” grinned Number 6.

    “Let’s face it Number Six, we both failed. However I am free to leave no matter the circumstances, whilst you remain a prisoner!’


Tuesday 19 April 2022

An Exercise In Logistics Chapter 11


Oh What A tangled Web We Weave

    At the Old People’s Home afternoon tea was being served on the lawn by two waiters in white jackets. The elderly residents were enjoying the warm sunshine either sitting at tables or in deckchairs, while others busied themselves clambering about in the rigging of the Stone Boat, its black sail and coloured bunting flapping in the breeze.
    Sat at one of the tables Number 6 and the Admiral were playing their daily game of chess, however on this occasion Number 6’s concentration was continually broken by the seemingly incessant electronic ring tones of mobile phones about him, from annoying  ‘musak’ to ‘s o s’ dit, dit, dit, dot, dot dot, dit, dit ,dit. Some have ringtones that sounded like an old fashioned telephone which was a step forward.

    “They’re a damned nuisance and should be banned, at their age you’d think they would know better wouldn’t you?” the Admiral grumbled.

    “It seems that even here in The Village, people cannot live without their mobile phone. Makes you wonder how people ever got on without them!” commented Number 6, glancing about him at the people and their phones.

    “Your move lad, and they used telephone boxes!” returned the Admiral.

    At that moment an elderly woman in a colourful striped cap, red trilby hat and a red tinted face visor, whizzed passed in an electrically powered four wheeled mobility scooter. She was being raced by an elderly man in a three wheeled mobility scooter.

    ‘And there’s another bloody nuisance those things, just get in everybody’s way” moaned the Admiral.

    “They get people about, helps give them a new lease of life” said Number 6, watching the elderly man make a waiter leap out his way crashing into one of the tables.

    “Maybe so, but at what price?” asked the Admiral.

    A waiter carrying a tray walked across the lawn towards their table. There placing two cups of tea, a jug of milk and bowl of sugar.

    “That will be four credit units sir” said the waiter.

   Number 6 reached into the breast pocket of his piped blazer and produced his Admix card, handing it over to the waiter and making his next move on the board, Kt-K8. The waiter swiped the card in his portable card swipe and handed it back to its owner. The Admiral studied the board and moved Q-QB4.


    “Now they can get hold of you at any time and any place, there’s no getting away from them and they know exactly where you are every

time you use one of those blasted phones they track you.”

    Number 6 moved R-KR7, fingering his own mobile phone in hiS pocket.

    “Don’t you own a mobile phone Admiral?”

    “Like everyone who arrives here, I was issued with one, lost it down the toilet though. Now they have to come and find me if they want me, not that they do these days you understand. B-QB4 checkmate” said the Admiral, stirring his tea.

    “Well played Admiral” said Number 6, adding one lump of sugar and stirring his tea.

    “Look at that man sitting at the table over there, the one in the pink blazer” said the Admiral.

    ‘What’s wrong with him?” asked Number 6, looking in the man’s direction.

    “Nothing, except he is busy sending a text message” returned the Admiral.

    “Lots of people do you know, it’s a whole new language which has been created” retorted Number 6, sipping his tea.

    “Yes I know that lad, but he’s sending a text message to the man sitting on the balustrade at the far end of the lawn, they are always texting one another” grumbled the Admiral finishing his tea.

    “What of it?” asked Number 6, seemingly unable to grasp the Admiral’s meaning.

    “Well they are friends, have been for some time. Before mobile phones began to be issued here, that chap sitting there would have had to get up and walk across the lawn in order to talk to his friend face to face. Don’t you see?” urged the Admiral.

    “Yes I see perfectly Admiral, I bet the Guardians find mobile phones invaluable in their work wouldn’t you say?”

    “Indeed I would lad. Look at the woman standing over there. She’s just taken a picture of the Bell Tower up there and now she’ll be sending it to one of her friends sat at that table over there, sad isn’t it?”

    Number 6’s mind was working over time, if Guardians can make use of such an instrument then why not himself, having a built in camera means that there is the possibility of ……….

    “You’ve got that far away look in your eye again lad, have another game and forget it” was the Admiral’s advice.

    Number 6 drew closer to the Admiral “The Village has its own mobile phone network and that means a satellite somewhere, now if I could…..”

    “Yes and if I knew how to work a computer I could do my shopping at the General Store on line, save me walking up that hill every day!” quipped the Admiral.

    Number 6 sat back in his chair somewhat startled “On line, you don’t mean The Village has its own internet?”


   “The Village Web I think they call it, it’s marvellous so they say, free information on millions of subjects as well as emails and chat rooms.”

    “It sounds a bit anti social this Village Web, it’s a wonder The Village administration allows it” said Number 6.

    “Isn’t that the way of things these day?” began the Admiral “man’s way of doing business, chatting with people without actually leaving the comfort of their own home or office to meet anyone, oh it’s all carefully monitored you understand, they don’t allow you to do just anything.”

   That far away look in Number 6’s eyes remained and somewhere in the back of his mind a cunning plan was forming.

    “A new game lad and it’s your move” smiled the Admiral wryly, pushing his queen’s pawn forward.

    Late afternoon and Number 6 could be seen strolling through The Village and down along the beach, his mobile phone in his hand taking photographs of various points of The Village and its citizens. It was something which citizens did and didn’t strike anyone as being odd, except perhaps to Number 240 a top hat official. Top Hat officials dress in dark suits, black over coats and black top hats, any other description would be akin to an Undertaker!
    In his office Number 2, a man of about five feet ten, with long red hair, wearing copper framed spectacles, was far from amused by a piece of information brought to him by the Supervisor.

    “Lost you say, how?”

    “Apparently Number 240 was following Number 6 along the beach. He says Number 6 was acting suspiciously at the time.”

    “Number Two-four-zero is a Top Hat official isn’t he, what was he doing down on the beach following Number 6, what does he think we have Observers and guardians for. Anyway what was Number 6 doing at the time to make Number Two-four-zero follow him?’ snapped Number 2.

    “He was taking photographs. He has been doing that all over The Village, not just of buildings but also of some citizens, both Observers and guardians have reported this” answered the Supervisor.

    “Well citizens do take photographs, they send them to one another in text messages and such like” Number 2 replied “but Number Six…………..”

    “Precisely my point Number Two” returned the Supervisor “Number Six never does anything without good reason.”

    “So what more about Two four-zero?”

   “He reported that he had lost his smart phone” the Supervisor reported

    “Was the smart phone found?”

    “No sir, an extensive search was carried out” retorted the Supervisor.


    “And Number Six was down on the beach you say, acting suspiciously” said Number 2, rising out of his chair “you think Number Six has it?”

    “Number Two-four-zero was observed by an Observer, observing

Number Six sitting amongst the rocks at the foot of the cliffs, he had the back of his mobile phone off, he was tinkering with the components inside. I did email you a report together with an attachment containing intercepted photographs and transcripts of text messages Number Six was busy sending” offered the Supervisor.
    Number 2 looked at the lap top upon his desk, a large white envelope was flashing indicating “new mail.” Scrolling down the new email messages, he found one from the Supervisor and opened the email and down loaded the attachment. Ignoring the report Number 2 cast an eye over both the photographs taken around The Village and the transcripts of the text messages.

    “You say Number Six was tinkering with the phone, and he was sending these?”

    “Ye sir, he was observed sitting amongst the rocks at the foot of the cliffs, he had a watchmaker’s tool with him and had removed the back cover of his mobile phone. Then attempted to alter the transmission frequency or possibly improve the transmission signal of the phone, there by attempting to send the photographs and text messages which you see there to another phone via a different phone network outside that of The Village.”

    “Is that possible?” Number 2 asked.

    “You would have to ask our technical people about that.”

    “Listen to this if you would, to these text massages, Freedom of the individual - Is technology your warden? Those who control technology control you, SOS, here are photographs of The Village take them to Rupert he will know what to do with them and signing himself Blake.”

    “You have to hand it to our friend Number Six, he’s an ingenious chap for what little good it did him. I suppose it was his own mobile phone he was tinkering with?” said “Number 2 closing the file and dropping it on his desk.

    “You mean it might have been Two four-zero’s smart phone” the Supervisor suggested, and he was following Number Six with the idea of retrieving his phone himself.”

    Number 2 began to pace the floor of his office in deep thought “Number Six was down on the beach, perhaps he found something else to tinker with, he’s very good at sticking his nose in where it has no business to be.”

    “Shall I have a block placed on the smart phone sir?” asked the Supervisor.

    “, let’s wait and see.”
    “It might be too late by then” the Supervisor suggested.

   At that moment Number 2’s mobile phone began to emit the ringing of a telephone ring tone. The illuminated screen indicated that Number 1 was calling.


    “Haven’t you got work to do?”

    “Yes Number Two” replied the Supervisor, what was it the Admiral had said “they can get you anywhere and in any place, they always know where you are!

   The steel doors closed behind the exiting supervisor, leaving Number 2 free to take his call.

    “Number Two here, sorry about that sir……… Number Six sir, oh no trouble at all sir I assure you…….. well he is very ingenious sir and we do keep him under the closest possible surveillance……. of course not sir I give you my personal guarantee.”
     The call ended, Number 2 placed the phone in his pocket, picked up his furled umbrella shooting stick and walked briskly up the ramp through the opening steel doors out of his office and into the late evening of The Village.

    The door of ‘6 Private’ opened and Number 2 stood framed in the doorway. A man of medium height with dark brown hair, moustache and glasses, dressed in a double breasted black blazer, grey polo neck jersey, grey flannel trousers and deck shoes. He was accompanied by two security men who instantly began their search upon entering the cottage. Number 6 was relaxed on the brown leather couch listening to a little Mozart playing on his c d player and in the kitchen a maid was making his nightly cup of hot chocolate.

    “A strange time to come calling isn’t it?” asked Number 6, looking at his watch ‘it’s only a few minutes to curfew.”

    “Plenty of time. I thought as we haven’t seen very much of each other recently I would drop in to see how you are” returned Number 2, his men busy with their search.
    “As you see!”
    The maid came through from the kitchen carrying a brown cup and saucer. She saw Number 2, placed the said cup and saucer on the coffee table and bid the gentlemen good night hurrying out through the opening door. Number 2 was accompanied by two guardians who began to make a search of the lounge and study.

    “What exactly are they looking for?”

    “Don’t let your chocolate night cap go cold” said Number 2, avoiding the question.

    “Would you like some?” asked Number 6 jovially.

    “No, actually I wouldn’t” Number 2 returned brusquely.

    Number 6 smiled “What is it your men are looking for exactly, and what makes them think they’ll find it here?”

    “You were down on the beach earlier today, busy sending text messages not to mention photographs” said Number 2 sternly.

    “You saw me?”

    “No, the Observers saw you. You’ll no doubt be disappointed to hear that your text messages were not received.”

    ‘Can’t blame a chap for trying!”

    “And as for you’re……holiday snaps, I’m disappointed in you Number Six.”


   The two guardians, having moved from room to room returned empty handed, one shaking his head.

    “Didn’t fine it eh!”

    “Didn’t find what Number Six?”
    “Whatever it was they were looking for!”

    As the two guardians were leaving the cottage there came a quiet fanfare through the black speaker.

    “Five minutes to curfew, the minutes are five” said the quiet female voice.

    “One of our administrators lost something, his smart phone, I don’t suppose you’ve seen see it?” asked Number 2 casually.

    “You suppose right” returned Number 6, holding up his own mobile.

    “If you should happen upon it there is a reward” Number 2 offered walking towards the opening door.

    “And how much exactly is that in work units, nothing?” mocked Number 6.

    Number 2 stopped at the threshold and turning asked “Tell me Number Six, what would you say if I were prepared to let you go?”

    “How many more questions have you, it’s getting late.”

    “I thought we could reach a compromise should you by chance come across the smart phone.”

    “Lucky for anyone who might find it!” returned Number 6.

    “Oh one more thing, you haven’t seen Number Two four-zero have you? He seems to have gone missing.”

    “It must be your day for losing things” quipped Number 6 with a smile.

    “Don’t let your hot chocolate get cold” smiled Number 2, stepping out into the night.

   The door of ‘6 Private’ closed and securely locked itself against the night. The black speaker was playing a quiet lullaby as Number 6 carried his cup of chocolate into the kitchen, sniffed its aroma and poured the cup’s contents down the sink!

    The following day began much the same as any other in The Village. The sun was shining, yet there was a gentle breeze. And

according to a Village announcement, the spell of good weather was to continue for at least another month. The General Stores and Café

were both open for business, the waitress serving breakfast, the portly figure of the shopkeeper Number 19, busied himself cleaning the bay window of his shop.

    “Good morning sir, how can I be of service?’ asked the jovial shopkeeper.

    ‘I should like a Top up card for a mobile phone” Number 6 replied.

    “Well step inside sir, twenty, thirty, of fifty work units?” asked the shopkeeper leading the way.
    “Oh let’s live dangerously, let’s go for the 30 work unit one shall we?”


    Inside the General Store all manner of household goods and provisions both fresh vegetables and fruit as well as tinned goods, fresh bread and eggs were on sale, as well as a few luxury

items such as digital cameras. Number 6 selected a copy of the newspaper from a rack on the wall.

    “Ah yes sir The Tally Ho, well that will be thirty-two units in all” said the shopkeeper.

   Number 6 handed over his Admix card and having it swiped and handed back to him along with his news paper and mobile top up card, turned towards the door.

    “Be seeing you” saluted the shopkeeper.

    “And you” returned Number 6, on his way out.

    The Village was a hive of activity, taxis plied their trade, pedestrians promenaded the piazza and down on the lawn a human game of chess was underway. But then quite suddenly there came the blood curdling roar of ‘Rover’ The Village Guardian. Everyone stood stock still, cyclists dismounted their bicycles and as the pedestrians stood to the side of the road, even the jet of water of the fountain ceased to spout as the white amorphous mass of the Guardian rolled and bounded past. Once the Guardian had passed by on its patrol, everyone and everything went about his or her business, just as though nothing had happened and that included the human chess match. Had he Number 6, been the only person to notice what had happened?
     On the Village green a series of hoops had been set out and three people stood leaning on their mallets while a fourth took his shot only missing a hoop by inches. Number 6 had never seen a game of Croquet played before, so he settled himself down in a deckchair to watch the match, not that he was conversant with the rules. The Tally Ho sat on his lap;

       Number 2 set for second term of office

                                          An Exclusive Interview

                                                        by our own reporter

   Unfolding the broadsheet he looked for the crossword puzzle and took a pencil from the breast pocket of his blazer. As the Croquet match continued it attracted the attention of other citizens, and there was an almost holiday camp atmosphere about The Village. But it must never be forgotten that they were always watching, listening, the observers. And as though to prove the point the nearby bust of Voltaire mounted upon a stone column, slowly turned in the direction of Number 6, who glanced at it out of the corner of his eye and gave those watching a casual salute.

    “Irritating man” growled Number 2, watching the wall screen in the Control Room.

    “He’s very relaxed, I think he is beginning to enjoy himself” observed the Supervisor-Number 54. He was capable enough, for man in his position. He wore the uniform of a black single breasted blazer and olive green polo neck sweater.


    “I’m not concerned with Number Six at the moment. What I want to know is where is Number Two-four-zero?”

    “We have searched the entire village, he is nowhere to be seen” reported the Supervisor.
    “He must be somewhere, search again, then widen your search” Number 2 ordered.

    “Put up camera fourteen” ordered the Supervisor.

    Camera 14 covered the central piazza, Gloriette and pond area.

    “Scan” Number 2 ordered.

    “Scan” ordered the Supervisor.

    The camera operator scanned camera 14 around its designated area. Two taxis being driven around the Piazza while the Admiral sailed his plastic battleship in the ‘Free Sea.’ Another citizen was actually sitting in his rowing boat on the ‘free Sea’, while citizens promenaded around in the bright morning sunshine.

    “Put up camera eight” ordered the Supervisor.

    Instantly the scene of the café appeared upon the screen.

    “Camera twenty-three’ the Supervisor ordered.

    Again the view changed to that of a woodland area, the Mangrove walk and gazebo.

    “Camera nine.”

    Camera 9 displayed the view of the taxi rank, stagecoach area and outside the Job Centre.

    “Try cameras eleven, six, forty-five, thirty-two, twenty-two and thirteen not necessarily in that order” Number 2 suggested.
    “Change to multi screen configuration” ordered the Supervisor.

   A number of cameras were put up on the wall screen in a multiple display, displaying and scanning the main streets and paths of the area around the Bell Tower, Stone boat and quayside, Old People’s Home. The swimming pool and sea wall and the round outlook set on top of the cliffs. The woods, and Mangrove walk and out across the beach. Every part of the village and area beyond was screened.

    “We have looked everywhere, Number 240 must be hiding somewhere” returned Number 2, turning his back on the wall screen.

    “He hasn’t been seen in his quarters, and he missed a meeting of the general purposes committee” reported the Supervisor.

    “Well he cannot go anywhere. Two four-zero has been suspended, and his official access has been cancelled, since he has become suspect.” returned “Number Two, sounding more frustrated than ever. He climbed the steel steps up to the gantry, paused and turned ‘Alert all posts, put out a general alarm for Number two-four-zero, and when he is found have him brought to my office.”

    “Yes number Two” said the Supervisor looking up at his superior, who turned and disappeared through the opening steel doors.



    Number 6 who had completed the day’s crossword, got up, left his copy of The Tally Ho upon the seat and calmly walked off, before he was asked to take part in the next chess match. Then having made his way down the path from the outlook set atop the cliffs, he walked along the sea wall and down onto the beach where citizens were making the best of the warm weather. Girls wearing swimming costumes or bikinis, either paddled in gullies of water, played beach ball or were lying on rubber lilos or sitting in deckchairs soaking up the sun as indeed were a variety of citizens. There was a red and white striped canvas kiosk nearby, selling everything for the beach. He gave a cursory glance as he passed on his way further along the beach. Coming to a small cove Number 6 made sure that no one was in sight before crouching down and groping in the sand at the base of a clump of grass. This was where he had buried the smart phone which he found only the day before, only it was no longer there!

    “Looking for this?” asked a voice behind him.

    Number 6 drew his fingers in the sand and slowly stood up and turned round. There stood a tall gaunt man dressed in a black overcoat, black top hat and sporting a pair of black rimmed sunglasses holding the smart phone in his hand. The white Penny Farthing badge on the left lapel of his coat denoted the red numeral 240 and to Number 6 there seemed something familiar about him.

    “I asked if you were looking for this?” said the Top Hat official holding the smart phone out in his outstretched hand.

    Number 6 took two steps forward “Don’t I know you?”

    “I believe we have met previously” returned Number 240, taking off his dark glasses.

    “Grimsdyke, Paul Grimsdyke!” exclaimed a surprised Number 6.

    “Haven’t you yet learned that we don’t use names here?”

    “I once said that you and Hyde looked like a pair of undertakers, looks like I was right, Hyde not with you?”

    “Do you want this phone or not?” asked Number 240, still holding the smart phone out to him.

    “What are you doing here in The Village, not working for them by any chance?” barked Number 6, quite unsure of his own position.

    “I’m a Top Hat official in Administration, recently suspended.”

    “Yeah I bet, who told you to say that, Number Two?”

    “It’s true. I’ve been suspended because I stupidly lost this phone.”

    Number 6 looked at the man facing him, he didn’t fully trust him back in The Village and he saw no reason to start now “Well you can take it back and redeem yourself, I bet they’ll be very pleased” he said.

    “I take it you want to get away from here? What’s the matter don’t you trust me?” asked Number 240 now toying with the smart phone.

    “I didn’t trust you back then, so why should I trust you now!”

    “Who do you trust Number 6?”



    “Me? I trust myself” was the reply.

    “Here it could be your way out” the official said tossing the smart phone to Number 6.

    “Why should you help me?”

    “Because I can no longer help myself. The return of that phone will not return me to the position of trust I once held” returned Number 240 “I’ll be forever suspect.”

    “And the phone?”

    “It’s a smart phone, it has web capability, The Village has its own internet, you can order groceries on line, play games, and its where all the information is.”

    “What how to make a bomb, sabotage techniques, I could ask it who is Number One?”

    “Don’t be flippant Blake, it doesn’t suit you, of course there is a limit on certain information, but from your point of view it is the web itself that matters. Once logged on it is possible to hack into a ‘weft.”

    “A what?” asked Blake.

    “A ‘weft’ it’s a cross thread in a web not always as strong and supported as they should be, such a weft could provide a breakout point.”

    “A breakout to where?” asked a doubting Number 6, turning the

smart phone over in his hand.

    “Why out into the World Wide Web of the internet, not a physical escape of course, but an encrypted email could be sent and to the right quarter it could easily result in …..”

    “In help being sent, resulting in our extraction from The Village” added Blake somewhat excitedly.

    “You know the location of The Village. And only you know who is to be trusted on the outside, trusted enough bring help here” Grimsdyke said.

    “I’m not so sure about that. But thanks for your confidence.”

    “It will only be possible to do this once, there will be no second chances” Grimsdyke told him.

    “Why are you doing this, you could save yourself and give Number Two my head on a platter at the same time.”

    “Why do any of us do anything? If I manage to survive the day I’ll meet you at the back of the Town Hall tonight ten minutes before curfew.”

   Number 6 watched the man known to him as Paul Grimsdyke hurry away along the beach back towards The Village. It crossed his mind that he may possibly have misjudged him, but nevertheless he would take no chances. He would arrive early for their meeting, well before the appointed time before curfew.
    Being a Top Hat official dressed in black top hat and overcoat, makes one stand out, so it was easy for Post 14 to spot the still wanted Number 240. He had reported the sighting to the Control Room, where the Supervisor had taken immediate action.


    “Attention Post Seven, yellow alert Number two-four-zero now approaching sea wall” announced the Supervisor into a blue ‘L’ shaped telephone.

    This order had despatched two men in a Mini-Moke down towards the sea wall. The driver turned the vehicle, and drove down the slipway and onto the sand. Splashing through a shallow gully of water, the two men set off in pursuit of Number 240. The siren was a bit of a giveaway, as it alerted Two four-zero to the approaching vehicle. He threw his top hat away, discarded his black overcoat, turned and ran for his life! Number 6 had made his way to the top of the cliffs, and was slowly ambling his way back to The Village, when his attention was drawn to the sound of a siren. He moved to the edge of the cliffs and observed the tall gaunt figure of a man dressed in black being running away from The Village along the beach. It was Grimsdyke, running for his life, pursued by two men in the Mini-Moke. But Grimsdyke could only run so fast, and within moments the vehicle caught up with him. The passenger in the Moke sprang out of his seat and hurled himself from the vehicle, tackling Grimsdyke to the sand. In the struggle which ensued, Grimsdyke gave as good as he got, eventually punching the man in a striped jersey unconscious to the ground. The Mini-Moke had by this time turned in a wide circle, and gave chase once again. Number 6 watched as Grimsdyke flung his body out of the path of the vehicle. Rolling on the sand he tried to regain his footing, but slipped, his ankle sprained. The driver stopped the Moke, climbed out in order to take Number 240 in hand. But a foot to his groin brought 82 to his knees, and a blow to the back of his neck rendered the guardian unconscious. It took but moments for Grimsdyke to clamber into the Mini-Moke, and once behind the wheel to drive off at speed across the sand away from The Village. Also observing this was the Supervisor in his Control Room, he picked up a yellow ‘L’ shaped telephone “Orange alert, orange alert, now approaching Outer Zone in our vehicle, I repeat in our vehicle Number two-four-zero.”

    From somewhere below the waves the sea the membranic white mass of the Guardian was released from its containment. Up through the water the Guardian rose, its shape contorted by the pressure of water, until finally bursting through the surface and skimming across the waves towards its prey which was even now speeding towards it. Ahead of him Number 240 saw the white Guardian rolling and bounding across the sand towards him, emitting its blood curdling roar. He swerved the Mini-Moke out of the path of the approaching Guardian, losing control the vehicle it took a sudden dip into a gully half filled with water. The sand soft and yielding, and that’s where the wheels of the vehicle stuck, in water up to its bumper! Upon impact there was a loud bang, and a white sphere appeared between Grimsdyke and the steering wheel and windscreen. It saved his life…….before it covered his face with membrane! He clawed at it with his fingers in desperation, trying to get it off his face. His breathing became short, his lungs began to burn as he fought for breath, as the thing slowly but effectively, suffocated the life out of its prey. The unconscious body of Number 240 slumped down in the seat, as an ambulance towing behind it a Red Cross trailer arrived on the scene.


    Two male medics and a nurse clambered out hurriedly to attend the body in the crashed vehicle. But it was soon apparent that they had arrived too late.
   It was the Supervisor’s unenviable task to inform Number 2 of Number 240’s untimely demise. The failure to take him alive would not go down at all well. The opportunity to question him lost. That and the fact that the smart phone was still missing, meant that it was an extremely nervous Supervisor who picked up his telephone to call Number 2.

    “What, Number two-four-zero dead!” bellowed Number 2 down the telephone.

    “Yes sir, I issued an orange alert and Rover got to him before post Fourteen,” returned the Supervisor.

    “And the body, where is that?”

    “Taken to the hospital mortuary sir.”

    “Was the smart phone found on the body?” asked Number 2 as a matter of urgency.

    “No sir, no sign of the phone.”

    “Knew it” said Number 2 “I should think he kept it under his hat!”

    “No sir, there was nothing in his hat” returned the Supervisor.

    “That was meant to be a joke.”

    “It was reported by an Observer that at the time of Two-four-zero’s’ death, Number Six was watching from the cliff tops, you still think he has the phone?”

     “I’d put money on it, I know Number Six has it, and he knows that I know he has the smart phone in his possession, and at some point soon he will be unable to resist the opportunity to take advantage of it” grinned Number 2 “see to it that Number Six is put under the closest possible surveillance.”

    “And when he does…….?”

    “We’ll have him, and the phone!”

    “Why not have him brought in for questioning, while I have guardians take his cottage apart?” suggested the Supervisor.

    “What and waste yet more time. No there are more subtle ways in dealing with Number Six.”

    “Yes Number 2.”

    The pair of steel doors opened and butler entered and slowly walked down the ramp, passing the supervisor on his way out.

    “Will you be wanting dinner this evening?” asked the butler approaching the desk.


    “Yes, I thought a steak, rare and a bottle of that fine claret, the eighty-two” returned Number 2.

    “And then you woke up! There is a fine non alcoholic Village Burgundy, the fifty-five” the butler suggested.

    Number 2 looked at his servant astounded “The claret, if that is not too much trouble.”

    “I’ll see what I can do. Dinner will be ready at eight o’clock. I’ve cleaned and pressed your other blazer ready for tomorrow, its hanging up in your wardrobe.”

    “Tell me, why is it that you do not wear your number like everybody else?” asked Number 2.

    “Badges aren’t for the likes of me, besides no-one ever uses my number.”

    “I take it you do have a number. One would have been issued to you upon you’re arrival here” Number 2 said.

    “Numbers! They say you don’t exist unless you’re a number. Well who do you think makes your breakfast, mends and cleans your clothes, and generally looks after you? I do, and I don’t need a number to do that! No, generally I find that if I leave numbers alone, they don’t bother me!”

    “There will be a funeral tomorrow, I should like you to attend in my stead” Number 2 informed his manservant.

    “Oh good, I like a funeral!” the butler smiled.

    “Tell me, what do you make of Number Six?” asked Number 2 casually. 

    “He seems a clever enough sort of fellow, ingenious at times, stubborn at others. He seems to care little for his fellow citizens, he is defiant of The Village and takes the chance of any opportunity which presents itself to him. He could prove to be a very agile and difficult opponent for you I’d say.”

    “He’s loyal. But not to you, he doesn’t like it here. Six isn’t one of us if you take my meaning.”

    “You think he would try and leave us at the first opportunity, or at least bring harm to The Village?” asked Number 2.

    “At the drop of a hat I’d say.”

    Number 2 sat back in his chair and simply nodded and switched on the wall screen as the steel doors closed behind the departing butler. On the screen was the image of Number 6 sitting at a table outside the café. It became clear to Number 2 that something would have to be done about Number 6. He might be here for his own protection, but then again who was there to protect him against them? It was also becoming clear to a certain number, that Number 6 was becoming something of a personal obsession with this current Number 2.

    Suddenly the oversized red curved telephone began to bleep impatiently……….



    The next day saw Number 6 biding his time, a few games of chess with the Admiral down at the old people’s Home. The game ended in an eleven move checkmate win for Number 6.

    “That’s two games in a row you’ve won.”

    “I seem to be on better form today” he said smiling.

    “Don’t want to waste your time though, keep yourself occupied. I would have thought they would have found something useful for a man like you to do. I never allowed hands to get idle on my ship!”

   “Which ship was that, which Navy? Number 6 asked helping to set the chess pieces out once more.

   The Admiral looked at his opponent squarely in the eye “The British Navy, aboard the Defiant!”

    Lunch was taken at the café, a cheese and tomato sandwich and a pot of tea for one. At the kiosk he purchased the daily copy of The Tally Ho and finding a quiet bench, sat down and proceeded to complete the crossword. In the Control Room the Supervisor was catching up on the surveillance reports on Number 6, which revealed nothing unusual in his activity at all, in fact the report made for very dull reading indeed. If he did have the smart phone, he was in no hurry to use it.

    That evening the maid was in the kitchen of ‘6 Private’ making Number 6 his nightly cup of hot chocolate, while he sat in the lounge still fully dressed, reading a book and showing no sign of getting ready for bed. The maid carried his night cap through to the bedroom, placing it on the bedside table. Where upon the maid returned to the lounge and bid Number 6 goodnight.
    “Goodnight” returned Number 6, putting his book down and walking over to his desk. Sitting down at his desk he took a note pad and pen wrote this was then followed by a series of numbers14 23 24 56 44 2 5 66 17 56 89 98 90 11 10 32 43 30 7 5 55 19 3 28 1 11 46 14 24 90. Tearing the sheet of paper from the note pad, he folded it and placed it in the inside pocket of his blazer. Then carefully examining not only the second sheet but also the third and fourth sheets then tore these from the pad, folding and placing them in his pocket! The Village was slowly settling itself down for the night. “Ten minutes to curfew announced the female voice “the minutes are ten. Sleep well.”

    In the Control Room the night Supervisor-Number 22 had just relieved the day Supervisor from his shift and Number 2 was relaxing with a glass of Village Burgundy and truffle roll in his room. But in ‘6 Private’ Number 6 was far from sleepy, the cup of hot chocolate still stood upon the bedside table, untouched. He carefully checked the smart phone, along with his written coded message in his pocket, and waited for the hour of curfew, and the lights to go out.


    With the door securely locked against him, Number 6 repaired to the bathroom, whereupon opening the small frosted glass window, he climbed out into the night, making sure that the window was wedged slightly ajar for his return.
    Under the cover of darkness Number 6 moved stealthily through The Village, keeping to the shadows and undergrowth and avoiding the infra red cameras and the prying eyes of the Observers. Crossing the road through turquoise coloured wrought iron gates, Number 6 made his way along the street passed white rhododendrons bushes, the ice cream kiosk and various cottages. There was a path between two buildings, a path which led to a set of winding steps between two over grown breeze block walls, which in turn opened up at a path leading off into the woods. Number 6 crouched down and took the smart phone from his blazer pocket, and switched it on, then logged on to The Village web. In the search box he typed ‘weft’ and clicked on search. Deeper and deeper Number 6 delved into the web following link after link until he reached the technical detail for the weft he was looking for, but an access number was required! He was dumbfounded! Grimsdyke had not supplied him with such a code, it could be anything, and without it he could not enter the weft. Continuing with another line of search Number 6 found a download site. Scrolling down Number 6 came across ‘weft capability’ app download now. Clicking on the download box, it took only a few seconds for the download to be completed, then back tracking his way to the weft access point he clicked on ‘enable’ and entered the weft. This enabled him to break out of The Village web via the weft into the World Wide Web. As he clicked on email and typed in an email address, hoping for his own sake and possibly that of others, no one was monitoring his activity, this was then followed by a series of numbers14 23 24 56 44 2 5 66 17 56 89 98 90 11 10 32 43 30 7 5 55 19 3 28 1 11 46 14 24 90 and clicked on send.
    The phone was switched off, returned to his pocket, and making his way back to his cottage, returned to its confines through the frosted glass window. He was feeling pleased with himself and his night’s work. That is until after removing his blazer in the lounge, he turned to see the scowling face of Number 2 upon his television screen.

    “I hate being disturbed at this time of night” Number 2 said.

    Number 6 looked at the carriage clock upon the mantelpiece, it was only 8:30.

    “However I congratulate you upon your little enterprise” said Number 2 “of course you understand that we could not possibly allow such an email to be received.”

    “Oh it was sent then?” returned Number 6, there seeming little point in its denial “you know what I can’t believe?”

    “No, what?” asked Number 2, the scowl now gone.

    “That I’m actually speaking to you through my television set!”

    “Yes I know, isn’t technology wonderful?”


    “Depends who’s in control of it and to what use they put it to!” retorted Number 6. 

    “Indeed” agreed Number 2 “like the ballpoint pen in your blazer

pocket, an intriguing device, you know, oh of course you don’t do you! Everything you have ever written down using that pen since your arrival here has been electronically transmitted to our cipher room and your coded message proved no different. Your mistake was in actually writing it down on the note pad in your cottage first.”

   Number 6 picked up his blazer and taking the chrome pen from his pocket, and unscrewing the pen discovered the ink cylinder along with a tiny micro chip and his face dropped.

    “You see Number Six, we knew all about your coded message long before you sent it in that email. Oh your friend Haslet has received the email and you can rest assured that he will act upon it. However the coded message was amended slightly, so when your ex-colleague does act upon your instructions he will be doing so but in the wrong place. And when his superiors realise that he has been on a wild goose chase, he will be reprimanded and you will be quite forgotten, filed away in some grey cabinet filled room somewhere, which I assure you, will suit your people as equally as it does me.”

    Number 6 looked at the pen in his had and let the pieces fall to the carpet and put his heel to them.

    “There will be a fine for that, but I don’t blame you” grinned Number 2’s face on the Television screen “I would have done the same in your circumstances.”

    “A fine what for, I’m still your prisoner aren’t I” barked Number 6.

    “Oh there is always a price to pay for success as well as failure” Number 2 began “take Number Two-four-zero for example, he was a good man but paid the price for his failure. You will remain here for your failure as well as the fine for the destruction of Village property. As for me, well even though I succeeded, I’m probably just as much a prisoner here as you are, that is the price I have to pay. In time Number Six you will learn that you no longer have the edge which you have enjoyed for so long a time.”

   The television camera panned back to reveal the contents upon Number 2’s desk. An electric plug, a silver statuette, paper weight, coat button, a stone, a piece of shell and the twig of a tree. All the items different and quite unconnected, except for either the digital micro camera or a tiny digital microphone concealed within them.

    “As I said Number Six, isn’t technology wonderful. You see there is nothing which my Observers do not see or hear. This shell for example was on the beach with so many others, how were you to know it was bugged!” laughed Number 2.

    Number 6 turned his back on the television set and poured himself a glass of non alcoholic whisky, then turned back to face the screen to toast his latest adversary.

    “Then I hope they are watching now” retorted Number 6, as he grabbed the half filled bottle and flung it at the television screen.


   There was a loud bang, and glass flew everywhere as the half filled

whisky bottle smashed into television screen which exploded on impact.

    “And you can add that to the fine for the damage to Village property to my account!” barked Number 6 at the ceiling loudly, for No.2 to hear.

    But it was Number 2 who had the last laugh “Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha,” over and over, louder and louder, his laughter echoing and re-echoing around the room fit to burst Number 6’s eardrums “ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha.”