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Tuesday 5 April 2022

Logistics Chapter 9


The Arrival

    Silas Blake had returned to his MGA roadster parked in Charles Street and drove through the busy London streets to return to his home of No. 3 St. Katherine Place. He had driven there straight from leaving the Colonel’s office and with something on his mind. So much so that he hadn’t noticed the black hearse which followed him for most of his journey, and which was now parked in St. Katherine Place as the light grey MGA turned the corner and passed the black  vehicle, and parked outside No.3, watched by the two undertakers sitting, waiting in the hearse. Entering his house Blake busied himself by packing two leather suitcases which he carried out of the bedroom and through into the lounge, just as the telephone began to ring. There was no need for him to hurry away so, no need for him to get away at all really, and certainly no need for him to answer that telephone. As officially he was on holiday. Outside one of the undertakers, a tall gaunt man dressed head to foot in black, including gloves and top hat got out and approached the door of No. 3. His colleague opened up the backdoor of the hearse, as the undertaker standing at the front door took something from his overcoat pocket and inserted it into the lock of the door. Inside Blake had poured himself a large scotch and was studying an AA map, this while he was deciding which was the best route to take out of London, when suddenly he was aware of a hissing sound. Turning, he could see a vapour of gas fill the room through the keyhole. Dropping his glass and spilling its contents upon the carpet, he made a swift move towards the window pulling at the blinds, but he was too late. He clutched at the window catch so to open it, but the room began to spin round until blackness over came him, finally collapsing backwards onto the carpet next to his spilt glass. Through the front door the two Undertakers carrying between them a coffin, placed it on the study floor, the lid removed. The two gaunt Undertakers lifted Blake’s unconscious body into the coffin, replacing the lid and then carrying it out into the street and into the back of the hearse.

    Eyes opened and slowly, focused upon the white ceiling above his head, inside of which a tiny man was tapping away with a hammer. Silas Blake sat up on the brown leather couch and looked about the room, he was home, still dressed in grey jacket and trousers, white shirt, and Chelsea boots. Everything was as it should be, nothing was out of place.


Television, telephone upon the small oak occasional table, the sound system, his collection of CD’s and vinyl records, his writing bureau with its brown leather desk blotter and other numerous pieces of deskanalia, including three dip pens and two ink wells. Table lamps, various prints hung on the wall including Turner’s Fighting Temeraire. The plaster bust of Napoleon Bonaparte sat looking at him from a shelf in the recess in the wall, on the shelf down his 19th century writing slope. He was glad to find himself still in the lounge of his home, sitting there on the edge of the couch he felt tired and drained, wondering what had happened. Only two things were missing, his laptop, and computer! Slowly he rose to his feet and went over to the window to look out. It came as a shock to him, but one which many before him have experienced. For as he pulled on the blinds, instead of gazing out upon the houses of St. Katherine Place, Blake was met with a view not exactly alien to him, but one that shouldn’t be as it was. Nor should he be there at all, and it was with that realisation that panic set in, not that he was open to panic, but on this occasion…… He spun round from the window, his pulse was racing and sweat broke out upon his brow. Here he was in his very own home, yet he was here, in The Village….. how was this possible? Checking his desk calendar it read Tuesday the 15th of May, if correct that meant it had been only a week since the survey mission…… no it couldn’t be, it just wasn’t possible. Yet through the window, the picturesque view of the Italianate Village told him otherwise. He opened the French door and stood on a small balcony, in the morning sunshine of The Village.
    Leaving his cottage he went out into The Village, no longer over grown as it was the last time he was there, but now standing in beautiful pristine condition and not a sign of decay anywhere. The candy coloured cottages of his row, all without broken windows and doors, not a slate missing from their roofs. Boxed hedges all neatly trimmed. The Bell Tower reached through an archway, cleared of most of its ivy, the door standing open. Blake slowly climbed the steps. From the top of the Bell Tower, he looked all about The Village. All was as it had been shown to him in photographs taken decades before, the hole in the Green Dome non-existent, the lawn of the far away Old People’s Home neatly cut and set out with colourful canopied white tables and chairs. The stone boat, her mast and jib restored as well as her cabin and ship’s wheel after a massive refit. Sail set, while bright colourful bunting flapped gently in the breeze amid her rigging, she was good in any weather!
    From his lofty position Blake could see all around The Village, which had been put through an extensive period of restoration. Paths cleared, roads re-tarmaced, steps reset, the ‘Free Sea’ cleared of it’s once slime and dead leaves and now filled with blue clear water, as was the stone triangular outdoor swimming pool. The Village looked so quiet and perfect, too quiet in fact. It was a cliché he knew that.


But he could not see a solitary sign of one single person. Descending the steps of the Bell Tower Blake’s next point of call would be the Green Dome, which he knew to be the residence of Number 2, Chairman of The Village and the one person who could give answers to his growing list of questions. Down the path he marched, across the square, across the street, up the steps, he couldn’t miss it. However, walking under the double arched porch, he found the white door of the Green Dome was secured against him. Pulling a couple of times on the black wrought iron bell pull to the right of the door, brought a negative response, it looked like he would have to wait. From the right side of the Green Dome’s balcony, stone steps wound their way to the road below. Blake descended these steps and bumped into a gardener, a man of medium height and bald as a coot, dressed in brown overalls, he was busy tending a flower border, pulling out the old plants and planting new ones.

    “Here, watch what you’re doing!” the gardener exclaimed.
   Blake had accidentally upset a crate of plants.

    “Sorry, how long have you been here?” Blake asked.

    The gardener stood up slowly and thought for a moment before replying “About twenty minutes sir.”

    “No I, I err didn’t mean that, I meant how long have you lived here in The Village?” Blake asked.

    “Longer than I care to remember sir, my father was here before me” returned the gardener.

    “You were born in The Village?” queried the Prisoner, becoming more confused by the minute.

    “Where else? This is where I live” said the gardener “The Village having been my home for the past …….”

    “The past week?” Blake suggested.

    “I’m sorry sir?” The gardener said looking quizzically at the new arrival.

    “I myself was here in The Village not more than a week ago, the place was over grown then, the place had long fallen into dilapidation and dereliction.”

    “What’s that sir? Let The Village get overgrown! Oh no sir the grounds are tended to every day, not even the woods are allowed to get over grown in most places. We horticulturalists take pride in our work. More then me’ jobs worth to let things get overgrown!” the gardener said with indignation.

    “What’s the date today?”

    The Gardener thought for a moment, it was during this moment that Blake noticed the black circular badge pinned to the man’s brown overalls. It had a white canopied penny farthing design upon the badge and in the penny wheel the red Numeral 38.

    “Tuesday May fifteenth sir” replied the gardener.

    “You’re sure, you couldn’t be mistaken?” Blake asked   

    “Why no sir, two days ago was my birthday that was on the thirteenth so today must be the fifteenth” retorted the gardener.   


Blake couldn’t take this in, he was stunned “It can’t be, it just can’t
be, its not possible not in so short a space of time. Months possibly, a year or so yes, but certainly not in the space of ….. a week!”

    “What did you say sir, are you alright sir?” asked the gardener, somewhat concerned “you seem to have had a nasty shock!”

    As Blake wound his way down along the path, the gardener shrugged his shoulders and returned to his work without giving the man a second glance. He stood in the road at the bottom of the steps, to his left was a small stone pantiled loggia, inside of which was the golden statue of Buddha. Opposite were steps leading down to a narrow cobbled path. He took to the road which ran passed the top of the stone bandstand and a stone wall. On his right a rock face atop of which were a variety of cottages large and small. There came a bend in the road, an arch in the wall and turquoise coloured gates opposite, with steps which led up to a grand looking mansion. Past the bend in the road came the elaborate balcony of the Gloriette, the back of which was not as elaborate as its façade. Then came the café where a middle aged waitress dressed in a black dress and white frilly apron was setting out the canopied tables on the patio, a gardener was watering plants in terracotta pots with a hose pipe.

    “We’ll be open in a minute” the waitress told him.

    Blake noticed that she, like the gardener, was wearing a black badge with white canopied Penny Farthing upon it, its red numeral denoting the Number 243. He sat down at one of the vacant tables, there seemed little point in doing otherwise, well for the moment anyway.

    “What can I get you sir?” asked the waitress, note pad and pencil in hand.

    “Coffee please” he said.

    “Anything to eat? Full English is it, toast or maybe just a croissant?” the waitress suggested.

    “No nothing to eat, just the coffee.”

    The waitress disappeared into the café but returned in a few moments carrying a tea tray with a cup of black coffee, milk jug and sugar bowl and placed the items upon the table in front of her early morning customer.

    “I haven’t had the pleasure of your custom at the café before sir. You’re new here aren’t you, have you just arrived?” asked the waitress

    “I’ve been here before, in what appears to have been less affluent days” he said, adding two sugar lumps to his black


   The waitress made a note upon her pad.

    “What did you write down?”

    “Black with two sugars, just for future reference” replied the waitress with a smile.

    “Why would you want to do that?”


    “I like to remember the tastes of our regular customers sir, it

makes for a better service. That will be…..” smiled the waitress.

    “……Four credit units” Blake suggested.

    The waitress was taken aback for a moment “Yes sir, but I was going to say that seeing as you are a new arrival you can pay me later.”

    “Is the phone box still around the corner?” Blake asked, finishing his coffee.

    “Yes sir” replied the waitress.

    He rose from his table and set off around the corner, leaving behind him a slightly bewildered waitress, who took a mobile phone from the pocket of her apron and dialled a single number before speaking.
   The phone kiosk was just as it had been, but now like The Village, in pristine condition, a wooden structure with a red and white canopy. A notice read ‘for information lift and press’ He lifted the blue ‘L’ shaped cordless telephone and pressed the silver button.

    “Number please” asked a cheery female voice.

    “Isn’t this an automatic exchange?” asked the Prisoner.

    “Your number please” repeated the operator.

    “02078593120” said the Prisoner.

    “I’m sorry but that number is not recognised” the operator said.

    “Not recognised? Please check again” he asked.

    “I’m sorry, that number is not recognised” returned the operator after a few moments.

    “It’s the number I want” he told the operator.

    “But is it your number?”

    My number, oh I haven’t got a number.”

    “No number, no call” said the operator.

   The telephone went dead, Blake replaced it on the wooden shelf and walked away.

    Opposite was the red and blue painted stage coach set upon a small paved patio and there standing by a tree was the electronic ‘Free Information’ board. Standing before it Blake made a study of the ‘Map of Your Village’ upon which his eyes settled on the image of the Green Dome. Then casting his eyes over the two banks of multiple black buttons, each indicating a different white number, except for any kind of numerals containing the numeral ‘7’ he selected ‘Taxi Rank’ and pressed the button and instantly with a squeal of tyres, a white Mini Moke with a candy striped canopy drew up beside the Information board.

    “Where to sir?” asked the taxi driver, a pretty blonde haired girl in a white cap and orange and white striped jersey, the Penny Farthing badge denoting the Number 22.

  “The Green Dome” Blake told the driver, climbing into the front seat beside the driver.

   The taxi driver engaged first gear and the taxi pulled away smoothly, but not in the direction which the Prisoner had expected. The route took them passed the Town Hall and down the hill towards the old peoples home where the taxi turned round and returned back up the hill, taking the right fork, passed the pink pavilion and round the statue of Hercules back round and up the road passed the Town Hall, up the road and through a huge yellow and white arch.


    “I said I wanted to go to the Green Dome” he said gruffly.

    “Yes sir and that is where I am taking you” replied the girl, with a sweet smile.

    The tree lined road ahead wound round passed the stone balustrade of a large pond, winding up and down until it joined the main street leading into The Village.

    “Are you giving me the guided tour, or are you just deliberately taking the longer scenic route?” Blake asked.

    The girl turned her head towards him and smiled.

    “I bet you couldn’t take me to the nearest town could you?” he asked as the taxi followed the road through an archway.

    “Oh no we’re only the local service” returned the girl, still smiling.

    “I knew you would say that” he replied feeling satisfied.

    The taxi sped through the second archway and came to a stop at the foot of the stone steps.

    “Say what sir?” asked the taxi driver, pulling on the handbrake “we’re here sir.”

    “That you are only the local service’ he returned stepping out of the taxi.

    “That will be …..”

    “…. Two credit units?”

    The girl taxi driver looked startled at her passenger “Oh well, pay me next time.”

    Blake stood in the road and watched the taxi drive off before turning his attention to the imposing structure of the Green Dome above him. Having climbed the steps for a second time that morning he stood at the white door of the Green Dome. This time the door opened automatically for him and he crossed the threshold into the small foyer beyond where a smartly dressed butler stood waiting. He was tall this butler, bald-headed, dressed in a dark two piece suit, white  shirt, dark blue tie and highly polished black shoes. There was nothing really extraordinary about him.

    “I’m here to see Number Two” Blake said as he approached the centre table.

    “That’s alright, he’s been waiting to meet you all morning” he said in his gruff voice. “His nibs instructed me to have breakfast prepared for your arrival. If you would like to step this way” returned the butler doing his best to be and sound polite, and with a slight bow turned and opened the French doors behind him.

     Leading the way through a pair of steel doors which opened automatically, the Butler stopped at the top of a ramp with Blake about to enter, but was stopped by the butler.


    “A gentleman to see you.”

    “Who is it?” asked the man sat behind a curved desk.

    “What’s your number?” the butler asked.

    “I haven’t got a number!” Blake replied.

    “No of course you wouldn’t have, not yet! Sorry Two, he hasn’t got a number, on the account that he’s only just got here.”

    The man sitting in the chair looked up from the file he had been reading, and smiled “Very well, send him in.”
    “Alright, you can go in now” the butler instructed.

    Blake marched smartly down the ramp and into the domed chamber of Number 2’s office.

   The butler withdrew and the pair of steel doors closed behind him.

    The office was just as he remembered it only now redecorated. The Penny Farthing bicycle was still free standing and the pair of lava lamps{the one above the other} were switched on and the perpetually moving wax inside reminded him of……… The black spherical chair behind the curved desk slowly revolved round, sitting in it was a man in his mid to late thirties, with black curly hair. Dressed in a double breasted dark blue blazer, roll neck jersey, grey flannel trousers. About his neck was the dark blue, white and yellow striped old school scarf, in his hand a furled umbrella shooting stick.

    “There was a hole in your dome the last time I was here, it’s been repaired, and you have been redecorating” Blake observed.

    “Really!?” Number 2 said from the comfort of his chair.

    “How did you do it?” asked Blake pausing by the lava lamps.

    “Do what?”

    This, all of this, how did you manage it in so short a time? his shouts echoing round the dome.
    “You’re confused, only to be expected. The Village, it’s always been here, its wonders to perform” smiled Number 2.

    Blake turned to face the man sitting in his chair and looked him sternly in the eye.

    “You are Number Two Chairman of The Village, and I know all about The Village. Its a place where people turn up, people who have a certain type of information, as well as people who know too much or too little, people who cannot be left around.”

    “Just like you, you mean?” returned Number 2.

    At that moment the pair of steel doors opened and the butler entered pushing a breakfast trolley down the ramp. A small round table suddenly raised itself through a hole which appeared in the floor and upon which the butler set out the breakfast things. Pots of both tea and coffee, two cups and saucers, milk jug, sugar bowl, a rack of toast, butter, marmalade, and a plate covered by a stainless steel cover which the butler removed, revealing a full-English breakfast and smiled at Blake “I didn’t know whether you liked black pudding, but I added it anyway.”

    “Don’t I get any breakfast?” Number 2 asked.


    The butler nudged Blake with his elbow “Don’t let him fool you. He

had his breakfast over an hour ago.”
    “Then it must be time for elevenses” Number 2 remarked.

    “Elevenses, listen to him” said the butler consulting his pocket watch “it’s barely ten o’clock. There’s coffee or tea, toast and marmalade. I have to look after him, it’s in me contract!” the butler said “Right, I’ll leave you to it.”

    “Yes that will be all, for now” said Number 2 watching the butler who was about to leave.

    “Don’t forget you have a meeting with the Town Council this afternoon, it is logged in your computer events diary’ the butler reminded him.

    “Yes, thank you.”

    “And The Village Festival Committee have requested an interview with you for later today” the butler told him.

    “Yes by all means, thank you” retorted Number 2.

    “Shall I tell them three o’clock?”

    “What? Oh anything you like” returned Number 2 wearily.

    “Just as you say, and I suggest that you do not forget your scarf and umbrella shooting stick like you did the last time” returned the butler.

    “No I won’t forget!” retorted Number 2.

    The butler smiled “Enjoy your breakfast” and turned pushing the empty breakfast trolley across the floor and back up the ramp and out through the opening steel doors.

    “Excellent man that. But there are times when I wonder who’s the boss here! Now to business, oh do help yourself to breakfast” Number 2 offered.

    “I’m not hungry, so you can forget the pleasantries” Blake snapped.

    “Oh dear, and after my butler had gone to all the trouble of preparing it, he will be disappointed” said Number 2.

    “You could always eat it for me, and save him the disappointment.”

    “That would be a deception!”
    “I would imagine that people here are used to that sort of thing. You see I know all about The Village and I know all about you!” 
barked Blake leaning across the desk at the man sitting in the chair.

    “You mean you’ve read my file? I’ve certainly read yours” began Number 2 picking up the black file from his desk “and I know all there is to know about you. Well almost everything, from your date of birth 10th June 1980 to your career in the navy from which you were recruited into British Military Intelligence. We know your preferences, your likes, dislikes, your politics. What you like to eat, what you like to drink, your friends, relatives, your mother’s maiden name being Smith. You enjoyed your work which you were very good at, unique in dealing with the unknown I believe, but hated being ordered to clear up the mess made by others. Where you like to go on holiday, usually the east coast of England, Wells-next-the-Sea was the last time.”


    “Which demonstrates what?”

    “That we know decidedly more about you, than you know about The Village, in fact you know only a fraction and you don’t know anything about me because we have never met before, I would have remembered. However let me assure you that we do know all about you my friend” returned Number 2 with a wry smile.

    “You will learn very quickly, that I am not your friend!” snapped Blake.

    “No not yet, but perhaps we will become friends during the time you are with us” Number 2 smiled.

    “I have no intention of being with you, but I do have several questions, questions to which I should like answers if that is not too painful for you. First why have I been brought here?” he barked, his voice echoing around the chamber.

    Number 2 rose up out of his chair, poured himself a cup of tea, added milk and two lumps of sugar and helped himself to a slice of buttered toast before returning to his desk.

    “My dear fellow of course, you have every right to feel aggrieved, after all they have taken quite a liberty. You were brought here on the decision made by other people and for protection” Number 2 answered, slowly sipping his tea.

    “What people, for whose protection, theirs or mine?” Blake snapped, pacing the chamber.

    “Why yours of course” returned Number 2 “believe me I can understand, but try to see it from their point of view. With the certain knowledge and information you now have in your possession it has become impossible to leave you at large so to speak. You don’t realise what a hot property you have become.”

    You know where my loyalties lie” Blake shouted “I was on a fortnights leave…”

    “And so you are here, and we have to be sure don’t you see?!” returned Number 2 with a knowing smile “people change so do

loyalties and they have to be sure” retorted Number 2.

    “By having me brought here?”

    “Better to be safe than sorry” retorted Number 2.

    Blake helped himself to a cup of tea and added two teaspoons of sugar, then standing in front of the desk staring at Number 2 he stirred and sipped his tea.

    Number 2 munched on a piece of buttered toast.

    “Having read my file, don’t you think that they may have made a mistake?” asked Blake with confidence and a sip of tea.

    “Mistake?” queried Number 2, the file in question upon his desk.

    “Might I not be a danger to yourself and this Village of yours?”

    “It a risk I freely admit that, but the same can be said of anyone brought here. Now all we want is for you to be happy, try to settle down, join in with the community spirit. There are opportunities here

for the right man.” offered Number 2.


     “Me for example?”

    “Perhaps, if you cooperate and tell us what we want to know” returned Number 2.

    “Well there had to be a catch didn’t there.”

    “We know that you secretly made a copy of The Village file, together with all those photographs, we want to know where you put them. Now that’s not much to ask is it?” asked Number 2 rising again from his chair.

    “I’ve nothing to say, is that clear absolutely nothing, I will not be.....

    “Stop! I do not wish to hear it, besides it’s hardly original!” retorted Number 2.

    “You won’t hold me” Blake promised.

    “Same old, same old. I suppose I’m to say won’t we, let me show you that we will” and then I take you in a helicopter tour of The Village. Down at the Old People’s Home I tell you that you’re looked after for as long as you live. Is that how it goes?”

    “You mean I’m to be a prisoner for as long as I live here?”

    “That all depends upon you, your attitude to The Village and whether or not you give up that which we seek” Number 2 offered.

    “I don’t usually make deals, but I’ll make an exception in this case. You release me from The Village and I’ll make sure that its file and photographs never see the light of day again” was his offer.

    Number 2 began to laugh “We release you from The Village, and you will bury the file forever, that’s your deal, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha.”

    “What’s so amusing, it’s the best deal you’ll get” retorted the Prisoner.

    “You’re so amusing Number Six.”

    “What did you call me?”
    “Six, Number Six.”
    “I have a name, Blake, Silas Blake.”
    “Not here old boy, you should know that names are not used here” 2 told him.

    “I am not a number I am a person” retorted Number 6.

    “That’s hardly original either, but then I suppose it’s six of one, half a dozen of the other” returned Number 2 “I’ll bid you a good day.”

    The interview clearly over, the Prisoner walked up the ramp and up to the opening steel doors at which he paused and turned.

    Number 2 had picked up his mobile phone and was recording a message. “Report on Number Six, re normal classification. Subject arrived today and showed shock symptoms, but has not then followed the usual accepted behaviour pattern, this can be put down to his pre knowledge of The Village and which will prove to make him difficult. Although he is aggressive and has been uncooperative, he has not yet attempted to escape, but this can only be a question of time. Here for his own protection does not automatically make him important, only the information in his head. However no extreme measures are to be used yet.”


    Now a prisoner, Blake, having been classified as Number 6, marched through the open steel doors, out of the Green Dome and into The Village. Returning to his cottage he paused by a loudspeaker mounted under a candy striped canopy upon a black and white striped pole.

    “Good morning, good morning’ began the cheery female voice ‘the good news is that the fine spell of weather will continue for another month. Here is a warning, there is the threat of intermittent showers later in the day. Ice cream is now on sale, flavour of the day is chocolate.”

   The speaker fell silent and Number 6 continued on his way, up the steps and back to his cottage. The music of the brass band could be heard playing the Radetski March. Outside the door of his cottage a sign had been erected, white lettering on a light blue background mounted underneath a candy striped canopy, upon a black and white striped pole ‘6 Private.’ The door of his cottage opened automatically for him, accompanied with an electric hum. Number 6 turned from the open doorway and hurried down the steps, he had read about The Village, even been here in less affluent times, but now he was a prisoner of the village and he wanted none of it. No one had ever escaped from The Village well he vowed to be the first!

    The Village was now busy with its citizens, who either attended the regular brass band concert or promenaded around the central piazza where an Admiral was busy playing with his plastic boat in the ‘Free Sea’. Gardeners tended the flower beds, taxis plied their trade, cyclists and pedestrians were everywhere. Cyclists riding shopper bicycles with candy striped canopies! An electrics truck drove slowly past, obviously not an emergency, as in an emergency ‘they’ walk!

    “Beautiful day” saluted two citizens as they passed by.

    Number 6 took no notice, only the path which led up into the woods where he dodged behind bushes to avoid being seen by a passing taxi and worse evading the white membranic sphere which slowly bounded past. There were several paths through the woods the prisoner could take, along the Mangrove walk was one. Another led to the cliffs, atop of which the Prisoner now stood looking out over the open sands of the estuary below. Walking along the cliffs Number 6 was looking for a way down, but found the structure of what seemed to be a lighthouse but without the light! Below this on the beach was The Village graveyard, complete with crosses and headstones some of which tilted this way and that in the sand. Descending the cliffs he stood amid the headstones which only denoted the number of each of the dead lying in their graves; 11, 73, 108, 8, 48, 86, 12, 14, 66.

    In the Control Room the Supervisor Number 28 was watching the Prisoner’s progress upon the large wall screen, he smiled to himself as he watch him make his way from the graveyard out across the sand of the estuary and moving away from the village. He picked up an ‘L’ shaped telephone.


    “Now approaching outer zone on foot, Number Six, I repeat Number Six. Orange alert, orange alert.”

    From somewhere beneath the waves the white membrane of the Guardian was released from its containment area. Floating upwards, its shape ever distorted by the water pressure, breaking through the surface of the sea it skimmed across the surface and through the waves towards the open estuary. The sound emanating from the Guardian, was a cross between the sound of an aqualung, a bicycle pump, and Gregorian chant!
    Number 6 was making good progress, but was surprised that they had not sent anyone or thing in pursuit of him, after all there were cameras everywhere. So with no sign of any one in pursuit he pressed on, in an unknown direction and without knowing how far he would get. Then there it was, rolling and bounding across the sand ahead of him, the white membranic mass of the Guardian which was getting closer and closer. No wonder they had sent no one in pursuit. He had faced this thing before, and knew what it was capable of. Now he was unarmed and with no cover to hide behind. But there were the cliffs which he now ran towards and began to scale. The Guardian gave chase, rolling and then hitting a rock, suddenly bounded into the air towards its intended prey emanating a blood curdling roar. It missed its prey, and floated back down to the beach where it stood agitated at the base of the cliffs. Yet everything comes to “it” that waits. And pride comes before a fall. And so it was that a loose rock gave way under Number 6’s right hand, his footing gave way and he fell backwards to the rocks and sand below.

    In his Control Room the Supervisor observed on the large wall screen what had taken place. The order to deactivate Rover given, and an ambulance was immediately despatched to the area. He watched the Guardian as it slowly backed away, as from out of the distance another white shape was emerging across the sand. Number 6 heard the high pitched sound of a siren, as a white Mini-Moke approached, towing behind it a canopied Red Cross trailer, speeding across the sand towards the body lying at the foot of the cliffs. As the ambulance neared its objective, the siren was switched off, leaving the electric powered vehicle practically silent. The ambulance came to a stop, two male medics got out and carried a blanket and stretcher over to the unmoving body of the Prisoner, over which one of the medics bent and spoke.

    “You’ll be alright now, don’t try to move we’ll take care of you, can you hear me?”

   But Number 6 could not reply, he could not move as blackness came over him like a dark shadow, and unconsciousness engulfed him.


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