Oh What A tangled Web We Weave
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
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
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,
“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.
“Yes...no, 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 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
“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 . 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
“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 S.Haslet-@.net.com 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
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
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, S.Haslet-@.net.com 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 .
“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.”