Search This Blog

Tuesday 26 April 2022

The Prisoner An Exercise In Logistics Chapter 12


That’s Me Standing Over There!

     Daily prognosis report on Number 6;

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

   ‘Ting a ling a ling’

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

    “Be seeing you” saluted the Shopkeeper.

    Ting a ling a ling.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

   Ting a ling a ling.

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

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

   “Young man would you help me?”

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

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

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

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

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

    “I’m sorry Admiral, I don’t……”

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

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

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


    “We all make mistakes Admiral……”

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

   The waiter looked at him quizzically.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

    “I am the new Number 2” she confirmed.

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

    “I believe he was moved on.”

    “Does that always happen?”

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

    “How do you rate your chances?”

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

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

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

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

    “You mean déjà vu” Number 2 said.

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

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

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

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

    “Haven’t you?” returned Number 6.

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

    “You tell me?”

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    “You’re the very spitting image.”

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

    “Where did they get you?”

    “They say we all have a double somewhere.”

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

    “I wouldn’t know.”

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Who are you?” bellowed Number 6.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


    Number 6 did likewise and both glasses were refilled.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    “Down the hatch.”

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    “In what Number Fourteen?”

    “Nothing Number Two.”

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    “Who’s escape?”

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

    Then one morning……………….

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

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

    “You going somewhere?

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

    “Fiasco, what fiasco?”

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

    “Heard, heard what?”

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

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

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

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

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


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

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


No comments:

Post a Comment