consciousness and found himself lying in
a hospital bed. He tried sitting up but an elderly woman in a dressing gown who
sat by his bed got up out of her chair telling him to take it easy and that she
would fetch the doctor. He sat up and studied his surroundings. It was a
hospital ward alright, eight beds and he seemed to be the only patient. The
pair of frosted glass doors at the end of the ward opened and a tall man
wearing a white coat entered.
“Ah good you’re awake” began the doctor “that was a nasty fall but thankfully nothing broken, a touch of concussion. Apart from that just a few cuts and bruises, you were lucky” the doctor informed him. Had the Guardian got to you first, the result could have been decidedly worse for you, we’ll keep you in over night, purely for observation you understand. Then you can go home in the morning.”
“I want to go home there’s nothing much wrong with me, where are my clothes?” demanded the Prisoner sitting up and swinging his legs out of bed.
“I’ll be the judge of that” returned the doctor.
Number 6 ached all over, he felt dizzy and the ward began to spin and instantly he lay back upon the bed.
“Or perhaps you are the better judge. Now rest and your new clothes will be brought to you later” stated the doctor withdrawing.
“New clothes, what have you done with my old ones. You haven’t burned them have you?” asked the Prisoner.
“Burnt them, why should we burn them?” returned the doctor.
Number 6 thought for a moment “I don’t know!”
“The nurse will bring you some orange juice in a moment, I’ll be seeing you later on for your medical” said the doctor departing the ward.
Instantly the doctor disappeared through the frosted glass doors, the nurse appeared carrying a jug of orange juice and a glass, both she placed upon his bedside cabinet.
“Now look at the state of you, good job it’s not time for Matron’s rounds, she would have a fit!” said the young nurse, tucking in his bed sheets and fluffing up his pillow “now I hope you are not going to be awkward, I have other patients to see to you know.”
Number 6 looked about the ward and the seven empty beds “other patients?”
“Oh they are in therapy at the moment, been there all morning, are you in for therapy?” asked the nurse.
“Therapy!” the word itself sent a cold shiver down his spine ‘no not therapy, just overnight observation, I’m going home in the morning’
The nurse smiled walking along the ward, disappearing through the frosted glass doors."
Number 6 had been left alone for most of the afternoon. Lunch came and went, as did tea time, the usual inedible hospital food. The young nurse came in from time to time, just to see how he was, other than that he was all alone. Then came the need for a bed pan. He called out for the nurse, he pressed the button by his bed, but it’s always the same, never a nurse when you need one! Rather than put up with the growing discomfort, the prisoner threw back the bed sheets, swung his legs out of bed and slowly got to his feet. With his first steps he felt rather unsteady and his head thumped a little as he donned his blue striped dressing gown, but his ever growing discomfort was his immediate problem. Slowly he made his way along the ward and out through the frosted glass doors into the grey walled corridor beyond. Patients were being walked along aided by male orderlies and nurses alike. Others were pushed along in wheelchairs. Number 6 made his way along the corridor, no one asked what he was about, no one seemed to notice him. He passed the medical examination room, a day room, wash room, ward ‘B’ and then came the room he was looking for… the toilet!
Back outside in the corridor Number 6 felt much relieved, well that was until he was confronted by a large built woman, who put him in mind of Hattie Jacques, in a dark blue dress, black stockings and a white cap.
“What are you doing out of bed Number Six?” the Matron shouted.
He stopped to look to whom she was shouting and found that it was himself! “I needed to em….. there wasn’t a nurse” he tried to explain.
“Well we shall have to find you a nurse won’t we” Matron told him.
The young nurse of ward ‘A’ came scurrying out of the wash room.
“Ah nurse, please take this patient back to his ward will you, and see that he stays there if you would be so kind” Matron ordered.
“Yes Matron” returned the nurse, taking the patient’s arm.
“There’s no need, I can make my own way back” Number 6 told her.
“And what would I tell Matron?” retorted the nurse “now if you want anything else just wait or press the button by your bed.”
“I did but you didn’t come.”
“I did, but you were gone, and I got in trouble for it” snapped the nurse.
“I thought they had got rid of hospital Matrons?”
“Not in this hospital!”
“Sorry, but it was worth it, now I have a pretty young nurse on my arm” Number 6 smiled.
“Now we’ll have none of that, promise me now.”
“Scouts honour” he saluted with a smile.
On the way back to the ward the Prisoner and his nurse came to adoor marked “Aversion Therapy.”
“What goes on in there”’ asked the ever curious 6.
“That’s the Therapy Room” returned the nurse.
Number 6 took a look through the door’s observation window. Inside a man was strapped into a chair, on the wall in front of the patient was a screen and upon the screen images of The Village Guardian were played, this seemed to cause great agitation within the patient as he struggled against his restraints.
‘Now please, back to your ward with you, I wouldn’t like to see you in there’ the nurse told her patient.
Number 6 allowed himself to be led further along the corridor, but stopped at the door of the next room. Inside various patients were sat on the floor, their backs to a wall of an infra red lit room.
“What’s going on in there?” Number 6 asked.
“You’re too curious for your own good, get both of us into trouble you will” returned the nurse, looking over her shoulder for any sign of Matron.
Finally ushering her patient back to his ward, the nurse tucked him safely back into his bed.
“That room, what goes on in there, you didn’t say” urged Number 6.
“That’s group therapy, counteracts obsessional guilt complexes producing neurosis” the nurse told him.
“Oh, that explains everything!” he quipped.
Later that afternoon the nurse returned to ward ‘A’, this time to take Number 6 to his medical examination. He was allowed to leave his bed, donning his dressing gown and followed the nurse out of the ward along the corridor to the Medical Examination Room.
“Sit down please” the doctor offered.
Number 6 did as he was bid and the doctor began his medical, pulse, heart, blood pressure, eyesight, hearing and reflexes. Then on a keypad of the computer upon his desk the doctor typed in the patient’s reactions, pulse and heart beat rates, blood pressure, and waited the result of the medical. After a few moments the results appeared upon the monitor screen.
“There you are, you’re absolutely fit, your
cuts and bruises will clear up in a day or so. All I need now is a
“Why?” snapped the Prisoner.
“There’s no need to get so worked up, it’s
purely for medical purposes and quite routine. We have
“Do I have a choice?”
“There is nothing to be afraid of, see how open I am being with you,
I could have taken it while you were unconscious and you would never have known, now would you?”
No.6 reluctantly opened his mouth to allow the doctor to take a saliva sample.
“There nothing to it, didn’t hurt did it?”
“Even Number Two?”
“Even Number two” returned the doctor sealing the sample in a plastic tube ‘now off you go back to your ward, you’re free to leave in the morning.”
Returning to his ward the Prisoner saw a bald headed man in a bath robe being led away by two orderlies, his expression one of blankness. Upon the man’s bald head are two electrodes held in place by white tape, he is mumbling something to himself. It was then that Number 6 recognition of this man kicked in……. The Colonel!
“What have you done to this man?” demanded Number 6 rushing forward to aid his superior.
Fighting off the two orderlies he took the Colonel by the shoulders and looked deep into his superior’s eyes. But the Colonel only stared back blankly, and without the merest sign of recognition from this now infantile man.
The two orderlies recovered themselves and took hold of Number 6, whilst two another orderlies escorted the Colonel into the next room.
“You recognise that man?” the doctor asked.
“The Colonel, what have they done to him?”
“Just be thankful that they are not going to do it to you!” returned the doctor “now please back to your ward.”
Number 6 could not help his curiosity. Looking
in through the door’s observation window, his eyes met with the awful sight of
the Colonel laid out upon a table, held firmly by leather restraints. The
electrodes on his head were attached to a monitor. Along one side of the table
were several clear jars of different liquids, each jar had a clear pipe
injected into different parts of the Colonel’s body and he was screaming as
each of the different liquids was automatically injected, his entire body
lurched and heaved with pain. Number 6 himself became agitated at the sight,
trying to force the handle of the door which was secured against him. His nurse
arrived to lead him away and back to his ward.
“Don’t give any trouble otherwise I shall have to call for the orderlies and they will have no choice but to heavily sedate you. Remember it’s not you in that room, it’s a question of survival.”
Reluctantly Number 6 allowed himself to be led back and put to bed, but he made himself a promise…… someone was going to pay and pay dearly for what they had done.
The following morning, Number 6 now dressed
in a grey blazer with burgundy piping, blue turtle neck jersey, beige trousers,
blue deck shoes and straw boater and carrying a furled black and white striped
umbrella, was escorted out of the hospital by one of the orderlies, a well
built man who carried with him a black file. The Prisoner’s black file.
“There we are, your Admix card” announced the orderly handing the said card over “all you need in one card, it’s your health and welfare, credit card, card of Identity and employment card. And finally your mobile phone and a free ride home.”
Number 6 stood by the waiting taxi studying both the card with his picture upon it and the mobile phone before placing both in his blazer pocket as the orderly turned his attention to an incoming patient lying in a Red Cross ambulance trailer. He took off his straw boater, removed the number 6 Penny Farthing badge from his lapel and tossed them both along with his umbrella onto the ground before climbing aboard. The taxi pulled away from the hospital, a solid grey stone structure resembling a castle with a large gravelled forecourt, situated on the outskirts of The Village.
The taxi driver barely looked at her passenger, instead concentrating upon the narrow winding rhododendron lined road which led back into The Village. The Mini-Moke which acted as the Village taxi was practically silent, save for a slight electric whine.
“A hybrid?” asked the passenger.
“No, all electric” replied the driver “I can drive all day around The Village on one charge of the batteries.”
Upon entering The Village through the first of two archways, the driver sounded the vehicles two tone horn warning the pedestrians and cyclists alike of its approach she sped the taxi, through the first of two entrance archways, disappearing into and through the second.
“You can drop me off at those steps” the passenger instructed the driver.
The driver glanced at her passenger and slowed the vehicle eventually pulling up at the steps. Number 6 jumped out of the taxi and dashed up the steps as the taxi pulled away and drove off down the street. Instead of going home, he dashed along to the Green dome, the white door opened automatically for him, he marched through the foyer and through the opening steel doors into Number 2’s office without being announced.
“Get him” barked Number 6 across the desk at the man now sitting in Number 2’s chair.
“Who is it you want?”
“Number Two” the Prisoner demanded.
“I am number Two” the man smiled. He was slightly older than his predecessor, with dark brown wavy hair, but dressed in the same attire as his predecessor.
“Then get me Number One” 6 demanded.
“What makes you think you are in a position
to make demands?”
“Number One’s the boss, I want to deal with him, not his underlings!”
Number 2 stared at this upstart who came marching into his office making demands “As far as you are concerned I am in charge. Now what can I do for you?’
“The Colonel” barked Number 6.
“What we do here has to be done it’s the law of survival, its them or us. At this point in time, it’s the Colonel’s turn” Number 2 stated and with cold icy stare.
“You imprison people, take their minds, destroy them!” barked Number 6.
“Depends on whose side you’re on wouldn’t you say?” smirked Number 2.
“I’m on my side!” bellowed Number 6 in a show of defiance.
“Aren’t we all” returned Number 2 “the Colonel……..” began Number 2.
“The Colonel is a good man, was a good man” stated Number 6.
“Aren’t we all?” asked Number 2 “Now why don’t you tell me where you seconded away The Village file and all those wonderful photographs and you will avoid the same fate.”
“Sounds like a threat” said Number 6.
“It is, think about it Number Six. Good day.”
The interview clearly over Number 6 returned to his cottage where he found a maid, dressed in a blue dress with frilly white apron, and a sailor’s hat perched on her auburn hair. She was busy with a feather duster in his lounge.
“Who are you?” barked Number 6 clearly in a bad mood.
“I’m your personal maid” smiled the flighty Number 10.
“Never asked for one, so you can go now!”
The maid leaving in a huff, was not given
the satisfaction of slamming the door shut behind her as the door closed automatically.
Number 6 was left to explore his new ‘home from home’ which was identical in
every way to that of his London home, right down to the fixtures and fittings. He
examined his writing bureau, and the various deaskanalia it contained. The
three dip pens and inkwells, his box of fountain pens he opened briefly. The
roll blotter, pen and pencil holder. He checked the drawer for his common place
book, it was there. Taking the book from the drawer he opened it, the first few
pages were taken up with the descriptive text of everything which had happened
to him since his arrival in The Village. The text was written in his own
handwriting. He tore the pages out and dropped the book into the Art Nouveau
wastepaper basket. Beyond the combined lounge and study, the bathroom at the
end of a short passageway. Off to the left a fully equipped and provisioned
kitchen, tins of Village Food in a cupboard, each with a different coloured
label and a Penny Farthing design. Village milk and cream, a wedge of cheddar
cheese, roll of salami, butter together with two bottles of village wine and a
cooked chicken in the fridge. While to the right the bathroom. From a black
chrome edged loudspeaker came the music ‘Jazz Me Blues’ by Bix Beiderbecke and
his gang. This Number 6 suspected as he returned to the lounge, was to help him
feel more at home. But that is the last thing he wanted to feel. Besides if he
has anything to do with it, he will not be there for long to feel at home!
Having made himself a sandwich and cup of coffee, he paced the floor of the lounge when suddenly the mobile phone which he had been given upon his discharge from the hospital earlier began to play its irritating electronic tune. Taking it from his pocket Number 6 opened the phone, the screen indicated two words, Number 8 calling. Not knowing a Number 8, he pressed the red button terminating the incoming call. However the caller was persistent as the phone began to play again. Number 8 calling was again displayed on the screen, this time Number 6 pressed the green button and took the call.
“Is that Number Six?” asked a woman’s voice.
“How did you get my number?” he asked, the caller’s voice sounded familiar somehow.
“We must meet, I have to speak with you” the woman’s voice replied.
“My phone says the call is from Number Eight, are you Number Eight?”
“What’s in a number, I could be a friend a very good friend” she replied.
“Your voice sounds familiar, do I know you?” he asked.
“The brass band concert at , I’ll meet you there.”
The phone went dead, Number 6 tried to return the call, but Number 8 whoever she was had turned her phone to voice mail.
The Brass Band was a regular event in The Village
and was always well attended by its citizens. ‘Here comes the band’ was the
tune being played as Number 6 came walking along. He casually glanced at each
citizen’s badge as he passed. Everyone was dressed in brightly coloured
clothes. Some ladies wore colourful striped capes, gentlemen wore blazers and
straw boaters, as though attending
He looked at the woman sat next to him. Slowly she lowered the magazine.
Number 8 continued to look at her magazine giving the appearance of reading “You have to be careful here. You never know who
may be watching and listening. They do it all the time.”
“Dana what are you doing here, how is it you are here?” asked Number 6, startled by her sudden presence.
Dana, a brunette in her mid thirties, and single, attractive, medium height, with a trim figure, and a well turned ankle.
“I arrived here a few days ago, or is it weeks? I arrived with the Colonel. Have you seen the Colonel, I haven’t, not for two days, I’m so scared they keep asking me questions, they want to know all about me” Dana replied almost in tears.
“You? But you don’t know anything.”
“I don’t know too much, or too little, just enough to see me brought here” she replied
“Have they hurt you?” he asked trying not to draw attention by looking at her.
“No not yet, they have released me into The Village for forty eight hours so that I can reconsider my position in the tranquil atmosphere. They are more interested in the Colonel of course. They said they would let me go if…..if only the Colonel could help, can you help?” Dana begged.
“I have seen the Colonel, they have him at the hospital” he told her unable to hide the regret in his voice.
“The hospital, what’s wrong with him? He was fine two days ago. Do you think they will let me visit him?”
“I shouldn’t think so, unless it suits their purpose for you to do so. Mind you he didn’t look to be in any fit condition to receive visitors, he didn’t seem to recognise me!” Number 6 told her.
Dana was horror struck, there was no hiding the fear in her face.
“What have they done to him?”
“Believe me you don’t want to know, just be grateful that they are not doing it to you!” Number 6 said, for he was grateful for himself.
“That’s the trouble, they might. Perhaps if I tell them what they want to know”
‘And then what?” replied Number 6, glancing around nonchalantly.
“They might let me go” she told him turning another page in the magazine.
“And the Colonel?”
“The Colonel, they came for him sooner than expected” she explained, her nose still in the magazine.
“He was expecting them?” asked Number 6 casually.
“What he wasn’t expecting was to find me here as well!”
“They only give you so much time to give them what they want………..” she began.
“The Colonel is evidence enough for that” he replied.
“……before they take it from you.”
“The Colonel is proof enough of that!” he told her.
“Can you help me?” pleaded a tearful Dana.
“Having recently arrived here, I’m not sure if I can help myself”
returned Number 6.
“But you will do what you can” she begged him.
“The Colonel is certainly beyond anyone’s help” retorted Number 6 not being sure of the game he was playing, or indeed whose game it was.
“Then my time will come soon” she said lowing the magazine to her lap.
“We can’t talk here. Meet me in the main
cabin of the Stone Boat at ” and with that she hurried away.
The brass band came to the end of ‘Spring’ and continued its concert with the Farandole from the ‘LArlesiene’ suite as Number 6 followed and then watched Dana hurry up the step to the Green Dome.
A little before the appointed hour of three, Number 6 could be seen sitting at a table playing chess with a senior citizen.
“I’ve got all day if you have!” urged the Admiral, a man dressed in usual Village attire plus a white British Naval cap.
Number 6 apologised, his mind and eyes being elsewhere. He made his move without thinking, the Admiral made his move eagerly announcing “Checkmate. Never mind we’ll have another game” already beginning to reset the pieces on the board.
Number 6, out of the corner of his eye, observed
Dana, still dressed in lime green jersey and slacks move slowly along the quay
and then boarding the Stoneboat entered the main cabin.
“Err not just now I’m not on best form today” Number 6 said apologising and rising out of seat said “think I’ll go for a walk.”
“Sorry you can’t try the boat!” the Admiral told him.
“I’m beached myself!”
“Can’t take her out, she’s in for a re-fit” the Admiral told him looking over the balustrade.
Number 6 stood at a white balustrade and looked down from his lofty position of the lawn of the Old People’s. He saw the busy painters at the prow and stern of the vessel. Two men were pulling on ropes of a davit, as they hauled up a dingy on the starboard side, while two other men busied themselves in the vessel’s rigging. Then walked off, leaving the Admiral sitting at the table awaiting his next chess opponent. He made his way down to the quayside, and quickly walked towards the Stoneboat. As he boarded the vessel he was given a salute using forefinger and thumb by a man in dove grey overalls, a salute which he returned. Inside the main cabin he found Dana sat on a garden seat, he crouched down and sat beside her.
“It’s rather cramped in here” he commented having hit his head on one of the wooden beams.
“This is one of the few places we can talk in privacy” she told him.
“No chance of any of the workmen onboard over hearing then!” he returned.
“Not if we speak quietly” she told him.
“I can guess why the Colonel was brought here. But why were you in such a hurry to see Number 2 earlier?”
Dana looked startled “You saw me?”
“You were assigned to the Colonel and now you’ve been assigned to me, quick work. They must be pleased with you” retorted Number 6 belligerently.
“I haven’t been assigned to either of you, I wanted to get the Colonel out before it was too late, soon it will be too late for you.”
“I’m touched by your concern, but how were you going to do it, by collaboration?”
“Yes, if that’s what it takes, you see you were not the only one to make a copy of that file on The Village, you see the Colonel was with me when they came for him…..” Dana began to explain.
“That’s a coincidence, how did they know the Colonel would be with you?”
“….. I don’t know, I was keeping the file at my flat until the Colonel could find somewhere safer.”
“Did he?” he asked, not knowing whether to trust her or not.
“No, he was collecting the file when they came” retorted Sylvia, feigning regret.
“Another coincidence, so if they have the file why bother to go through all this, your desperate persuasion of me, the torture of their old colleague?”
“Oh, didn’t you know, the Colonel has connections with The Village that go way back. I find it difficult to believe that they would torture one of their own” he said unable to hide his doubt.
“You don’t know how they work. They even turn on their own when push comes to shove. Just tell them where your copy of the file is and you can stop all of this, it may even secure our freedom.”
He looked at her, it appeared to be an act of desperation she was putting on, but desperate for who? “I don’t think I can do that” he told her.
“If you won’t do it for your own sake, then for me and the Colonel’ was Dana’s plea.
‘It’s far too late for the Colonel. But you, you really believe that if I told you where the file is, that they would let us go?”
“Co-operation is a sign of goodwill” she told him.
“It’s obvious that it would do you an inordinate amount of good. Think of the Brownie points you would earn. No, you had better go back and tell Number 2 that I cannot help him because he already has the file” Number 6 explained somewhat reluctantly
Dana was suddenly shocked by this sudden admission.
“I, I don’t understand.”
“It’s quite simple the Colonel’s file and mine are one and the same, there never were two copies so you’re all wasting both your time and
mine, be seeing you” he said, and crouching left the cabin, left the Stoneboat and Number 8 wondering.
In the Control Room the Supervisor-Number 33 being a rather short man with thinning silver hair, stood with Number 2 and the Colonel, at the top of the steel gantry watching the recent events upon the wall screen.
“She’s not as clever as it was supposed” the Supervisor commented.
“This is a man of a different calibre. He won’t bend, not even to help old friends and colleagues. Given enough time he’ll snap!” returned Number 2, and turning to the Colonel said “I hope you won’t think too badly of us. We have our ways, and I’m sure your hair will grow back soon enough. The toupee suits you by the way.”
“It has been an experience which I will not easily forget, nor one I’d find easy to repeat. Don’t be too hard on the woman she was after all, a loyal, and most capable.”
“Don’t worry, we’ll take very good care of her. We might even give her a position of authority” returned Number 2 with a wry smile.
“You’ll find him a hard man to break” returned the Colonel, watching the wall screen as Number 6 returned to his cottage “oh well, must get back. I expect I’ve been missed for too long as it is.”
“You’ve been on leave” Number 2 confirmed.
“What about........” the Colonel asked from
the top of the gantry.
“Oh, she’s had to leave the service, gone to Brighton to look after a sick aunt” Number 2 explained “Be seeing you” he saluted
Number 2 returned the salute.
The pair of steel doors closed behind the departing Colonel. The helicopter was just a short taxi ride away. It was waiting for him down on the lawn by the sea wall.
“Do you think Number Six was speaking the truth about The Village file?” asked the Supervisor.
“I hope so” Number 2 replied, “if only for the Colonel’s sake!”