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Tuesday 24 May 2022

The Prisoner - An Exercise In Logistics Chapter 16


Spread your Tiny Wings and Fly Away

    Number 2 had begun work early this morning, having left her room in the Town Hall she made her way to the office in the Green Dome. She propped the umbrella shooting stick up against the desk, and unwinding the old college scarf from her neck and shoulders she lay it on the desk. She knew what she wanted and knew how to set about getting it. Still wearing her dove grey Lenin hat she sat in her black global chair behind her desk going through a set of reports. And if there was one thing she detested it was paperwork! The pair of steel doors opened and Number 14, a man of medium height, slight of build, with ginger hair wearing a light blue piped blazer, olive green polo neck sweater and grey trousers marched down the ramp and approached the desk.

    “Good morning Number Two” he smiled.
    Number 2 was reading from a single sheet of paper “This has arrived. It seems a Government Minister has asked a question in the House..... about Silas Blake. Tell me Fourteen, why should a Government Minister have asked a question in the House about our Number Six?”
    “I really can’t say Ma’am.

    “Keep an eye on Number Six” she ordered handing back the photograph “if I know anything about him he will be screaming about his human rights!”

    “Yes Number Two. The Professor is continuing his experiments over on the island.”

    “What progress has he made?”

    “There is little or no progress to report. Of the last five subjects, two did not return, one suffocated to death, another died from fear or shock, the fifth subject did however return, but his mind had gone, he is still hospitalised” reported Number 14 with a quiet voice and saddened expression.

    “I shall speak with the Professor, these failures cannot be allowed to continue. I shall go over to the island myself, you will accompany me.”

    “Yes Number Two.”

    “Was there anything else?”

    “Number Fifty the eccentric who we allow to live the life of a hermit in his shed in the woods. You will recall how he modified that Penny Farthing for the Penny Farthing race” retorted Number 14.

    “Yes I know, have you discovered the location of his shed?”

    “That’s just it, we’ve never been able to pinpoint it exactly.”

    “What do you mean, surely it cannot be that difficult to find a shed!"      


    “Well every time the Observers look for it, it seems to change its location.”
    “You mean it moves?”

    “Well the Observers are able to triangulate the shed’s location, yet by the time a security team arrives, the shed has gone!”

    “You mean the old man has physically moved it, this shed of his. How is he able to do that?”

    “All I know is that it keeps moving from one location to another, by what means we have no idea” Number 14 replied “it’s inexplicable!”

    “Why have you become so obsessed by this shed?” asked Number 2 sitting back in her chair, the wheels in her head were spinning round and there was a far away look in her eye.

    “Number Fifty has helped us in the past has he not, solving problems and such like, until he was retired.”

    “And now lives the life of a hermit in the woods.”

    “A brilliant mathematician, engineer, with knowledge of electronics, physics, a scientist and inventor.”

    “Well I suggest you give the finding of this shed your top priority” suggested Number 2.

    “What do you think I’ve been doing all this time?”

    “Well carry on Fourteen.”

    “Yes Number Two, straight away” said the ever obedient and faithful Number 14, as he turned and briskly marched up the ramp and out through the already opening steel doors.
    “Oh Fourteen, watch Number 6 he may lead you to the shed!”
    “Yes Number 2.”

   Number 6 was engaged in a game of chess with the Admiral, who was in his usual position of being two pawns down. Attacking being the better form of defence, Number 6 pressed home his advantage by making a daring strike using his Queen’s Bishop, check. The Admiral studied the board and with his last remaining Rook, blocked the move, which was now pinned by the Bishop. Number 6 exchanged his Knight for the Rook, the Admiral had no option but take the Knight with his own Bishop, where upon Number 6 took the Bishop with his white Queen…..checkmate!

    “You are on form today lad, another game?” asked the Admiral already resetting the pieces on the board.

    “Not just now, but we’ll have some more tea…waiter. Tell me Admiral, have you seen Number Fifty this morning?”

    The Admiral thought for a moment “Number Fifty, no lad keeps himself to himself, mostly in that shed of his somewhere in the woods, have you seen his shed?”

    “Yes, but it isn’t there now” returned Number 6.

    “Isn’t it, well it’s bound to be somewhere. Likes travel does Number Fifty, he should try the boat” the Admiral suggested

    “Ah yes the boat” Number 6 said with a smile.

    The stone boat at the quayside, its one black sail set and colourful bunting flapping in the gentle breeze, old people clambering about her deck and rigging. The waiter arrived carrying a tray with two cups of tea, a milk jug and sugar bowl upon it which he set down upon the table.


    “That will be seven credit units if you please sir” asked the gaunt waiter.

    Number 6 handed the waiter his Admix card which the waiter swiped and handed back to his customer.

    “I was just asking the Admiral here about Number Fifty, he doesn’t seem to be about.”

    The waiter shot the Admiral a derisive look “We don’t see much of him at all here. No wait, I do believe I saw a white haired gentleman cross along the lawn, he went through the gate at the bottom of the path there, and carried on along the path of the quayside down towards Admiral Nelson’s statue.”

    “Thank you” he said, placing his card in the breast pocket of his blazer.

    Number 6 added milk and sugar to his tea and stirred it “He’s an interesting fellow Number Fifty, he’s an inventor I believe. He has a shed full of the most interesting and obscure objects, electrical equipment, wires, switches, dials all over the place, he even has electricity laid on. Don’t know how he managed that, there’s no generator.”

    “Once upon a time he was something of an important man in The Village” the Admiral said “helped them with all kinds of problems. They retired him in the end though, he lived here in the Old People’s Home for a while, but then he moved himself out and into that shed of his in the woods, living the life of a hermit, and they let him do it!”

    Number 6 excused himself and set off along the lawn, through the gate and along the path towards Lord Admiral Nelson’s statue in the footsteps of Number 50’s footsteps, and eventually leaving the path and into the woods. He was careful to keep to the paths knowing the Observers would be watching. When he arrived at the place where he had known the shed to be, it wasn’t there! Studying the ground there was a large flattened oblong indicating where the shed had once stood. It was as though the shed had disappeared into thin air, “so it moves” was Number 6’s thought. He walked the paths of the woods for an hour or so, through the Mangrove walk, and amongst the Rhododendrons and Eucalyptus, until finally there on the other side of the bamboo was the shed. Crouching down he spent some little time observing, the woods were quiet, no movement outside the shed or along any of the paths as he could see. Finally he emerged from the undergrowth and slowly approached the shed, he tried the door, it was unlocked, he stepped inside. Everything was as he had once seen it. The work bench and tools, the modified Penny Farthing bicycle propped up in the corner, boxes of electrical equipment, a bank of controls and instruments, along with wiring all around the walls. And lying on the floor was the still body of Number 50. Number 6 crouched by the side of body and felt for a pulse, a heart beat. A mirror he found and put it to the old man’s mouth, but there was no breath, the body stone cold. He would have to report the death of Number 50 to Number 2, which in turn meant the shed, would disappear into a laboratory for examination! Or he could keep silent about Number 50, give him a quiet burial, and learn of the shed’s secrets for himself. It moved, and so could provide a way out! But even here in The Village a hermit would be missed sooner rather than later. There was as far as he could see only one alternative open to him, move the body! He carried the body of Number 50 a few yards away and slumped it over the trunk of a fallen tree. Suddenly there sound of someone stepping on a twig. He spun round to be confronted by Number 14.


    “What have you there Number Six?”

    “What were you doing with Number Fifty?” 2 asked.

    “I was walking the woods and found him slumped over the trunk of a fallen tree.”
    “You were searching the woods” Number 14 corrected him “and slumped the dead body of Number Fifty over that tree trunk yourself.”
    “Why did you do that?” Number 2 asked.

    “What made you interested in the old man in the first place?” 14 wanted to know.

    “It was curiosity.”

    “Curiosity Number Six, now that is definitely in your character, as is poking your nose in things which are none of your concern” bellowed Number 14 “was it not in fact the shed which attracted your curiosity?”

    “He was an eccentric, I like eccentrics….”

    “He was also a hermit, why should a hermit welcome you into his life?” was Number 2’s next question.

    “He didn’t, but he intrigued me” quipped Number 6 with a wry smile.
    “Are you sure it wasn’t his work which intrigued you? Number 14 asked.
    “You were in the woods” Number 2 said.

    “You were searching for something.”
    “If you say so.”
    “I do say so, and you found it” Number 2 said “thank you for leading the way so Number Fourteen could follow. He’s been looking for the shed for simply ages.”
    “Obviously he wasn’t looking in the right place!” quipped Number 6.

    “You might be interested to learn that Number Fifty died from heart failure” Number 2 said reading the pathologists report.

    “He died on his own” Number 6 said with reluctance.
    “What else was he supposed to do; he lived as a hermit outside The Village and its protective canopy”

    “You allowed that, why?”
    “You did not care about Number Fifty, Number Six, let us not be fooled into thinking it is otherwise!”
    “Where’s his shed?” 14 asked bluntly.


    “That’s twice you have mentioned this shed. What do you find so fascinating about it?” asked Number 6, trying to turn the tables upon his inquisitors.

    “You were curious!”
    “Yes about his motorised Penny Farthing yes” 6 replied.
    “And then about the man, and then his shed” Number 14 said.

    “He does like to keep going on about this shed doesn’t he” quipped Number 6.
    “He has a fixation about it. I’m surprised your Observers haven’t found it by now.”
    “Perhaps you could lead us to it, after all its not your property, it’s nothing to do with you” 14 insisted.
    “You must be in a bad way if you need my help!” 6 told him.
    Number 2 leaned forward in her chair “Tell us where the shed is, and we can all go home!”
    “Can I have that in writing?” grinned Number 6, knowing that in this game, he held the ace in the hole.

    “Very well Number Six, you can go” Number 2 told him.
    “But we’ll be watching you!” 14 told him.

    “Then I hope you learn something!” he said rising out of his chair.

    “Don’t play me for a fool Number Six” 14 told him.

    Number 6 walked towards the ramp paused and turned “You know

the curious thing about this shed, it keeps moving around. It’s never in the same place twice, always in the woods, I wonder how the old man did it?”

    Steel doors closed behind the departing Number 6.

    The day of Number 50’s funeral came and went. The coffin itself was carried in a black canopied trailer towed behind a white Mini Moke with a black and white striped canopy, which wound its way along the street and out of The Village towards the cemetery. The brass band was in attendance, marching behind playing Tchaikovsky’s Slavonic March, followed by what appeared to Number 6, to be a token number of mourners each carrying open black umbrella, who probably were never aware of the old hermit’s existence. Also two Undertakers or Top-Hat officials, dressed in black top hat and overcoat, each sporting a pair of dark glasses and carrying a black leather documents case under their left arm were officiating. The cortege wound its way through The Village, eventually down the slipway and onto the sand, then along the beach making its way towards the cemetery below the cliffs and lighthouse. Number 6 made his way along the cliff tops and observed the funeral from there. Number 14 was also there, not to observe the funeral, but Number 6. The grave had already been dug in the sand amongst the headstones, the mourners gathered around the grave and four pall bearers lowered the coffin of Number 50 into the grave.

    “Why are you skulking about here Number Six?”


    Number 6 turned to see the figure of Number 14 walking along the sandy path towards him. Ignoring him he turned his attention back to the funeral.

    “Shouldn’t you be down there as the chief mourner?”

    “I never have liked funerals.”

    “What about paying your respects?” mocked Number 14.

    “Can I be sure the old man is in that coffin?”

    “You may depend upon it Number Six, and depend on this, one day there’ll be a coffin just like that for you” grinned Number 14 with more than just a hint of menace in his voice.

    “Why don’t you run along and wipe Number Two’s nose or something” Number 6 suggested.

    “Think you’re pretty tough don’t you” 14 said squaring up to his opponent.

    “At least I’m not one of Number 2’s lap dogs!”

    “Do you know what I’d like to do?”

    “Crawl on all fours and lick Number Two’s boots!”

    Number 14 sneered but fought to keep his self control “To give you a thorough sound thrashing!”

    “Perhaps one day I’ll give you satisfaction, but now is hardly the time or place” retorted Number 6, not taking his eyes off the funeral.

    Number 14 grabbed Number 6 by the lapels of his blazer, Number 6 broke free, twisted Number 14’s arm behind his back and hurled him into the nearby bushes. Number 14 pulled himself out and threw himself at Number 6 who was standing waiting for him, delivering first one punch to 14’s stomach and an upper cut to his face, sending him sprawling backwards to the ground. As Number 14 slowly picked himself up, there was anger and hatred in his face. Dusting his blazer down he made his way back along the path he had come.

   Over the next couple of days Number 6 became only too aware of Number 14 constantly dogging his footsteps. At the café 14 sat at another table watching him. He stopped at a kiosk to buy a copy of The Tally Ho and there he was standing on the street corner, and he probably enjoyed the brass band concert just as much as Number 6. At a work out in the gymnasium there was14 wearing boxing gloves and punching the living daylights out of a punch bag. Number 6 imaged he was the punch bag! A stroll around the village was always in the company of Number 14 who kept his distance, but always with Number 6 in sight. It became an obsession with 14, to the extent that he neglected his other administrative duties.

    “What if you are wrong Fourteen?” asked Number 2.

    “I assure you that Number 6 is merely playing a cat and mouse game Number 2. He will make his move any day now” returned Number 14 watching the wall screen.

    “That is as maybe, but I cannot help but wonder, who is the cat and who the mouse!”
    “I’m sure Number Six will lead me into the woods, and the shed!”
14 said trying to reassure his superior.


    That is enough Fourteen” Number 2 said with force “you have spent enough time on Number Six. You have one more day and no more, do you understand?”
    “Yes Number Two.”
    “After that, if there is no result, you must return to your usual administrative details, and my assistance.”
    “Yes Number Two.”

    As it happened it was early the next morning when Number 6 ventured into the woods, there was no sign of his shadow. Reaching a clearing there it was, the shed. He opened the door and went inside. There was a constant electronic hum which he had not noticed before. He searched for the source of electricity that powered the shed, in a corner there was a heavily shielded cube with wires leading from it to a control consul. There were two handles on one side of the cube which gave the impression of control rods. He resisted the temptation to adjust the rods, or indeed to mess with the control consol, the operation of the shed was beyond him. Instead he turned his attention to a large tarpaulin sheet at the back. He pulled it away, and uncovered steel poles which made up the frame work. There was a bucket seat undercarriage, an engine, a large battery which was plugged into a socket, propeller and controls. The flying machine was in every detail complete, save for the wings which were detached. It was a Microlight aircraft! Number 6’s pulse raced, his heart beat like a drum hardly daring to believe his discovery. All he had to do now was put the machine together in the cove where the wings could be attached and the beach would give him an open runway.

    “Congratulations Fourteen.”
    “Thank you Number 2.”
    “And now you know the location of the shed.”
    “Yes Number 2, I managed to camouflage myself and follow Number 6 through the woods.

    Number 2 put down her cup and raised a hand “Somehow I would not have expected anything less of you, so where is this shed, I presume it is still there?”

    “I expect so Number Two. It is camouflaged, it takes on the colour

and texture of its background, like a chameleon.”

    “What if the shed should move from its current location?”

    “I don’t know if it can. The old man who built the shed is dead. I would say that he took his secret with him to the grave.”

    “And if he passed that secret onto Number Six?” asked Number 2, now pacing the floor.

    “It is unlikely. But he has been working against you and The Village. I can have the shed and its contents retrieved and Number Six brought before you straight away, just give me the word.”

    Number 2 thought for a moment “Number 6 is fine where he is for the time being, but yes take your men and have the shed and all its contents transported, very carefully over to the island. A technical team of scientists and technicians will make a complete study of it there. I want to know the technology behind it, and how it works.”


    “Yes Number Two, and Number Six, do you want me to follow him?”

   “There’s no pint, we shall soon have what we want. You have your orders. Number Six will get a shock when he finds the shed is not there, he’ll think it’s moved again!”

    Number 6 moved stealthily through the woods, eventually emerging close to the Lighthouse. He scampered over the rocks and on top the beach, then made his way into the cove just around the corner. His next move was to go into the cave and carry out several steel tubes and lay them on the sand, to be followed by the bucket seat and fuselage, engine and propeller and undercarriage. With the tools he had taken from the shed he set about bolting the frame of the Mircolight together, and over the triangular frame a tarpaulin sheet was secured. He put on the pair of goggles, and it was now or never. The sand under foot was firm, and he climbed aboard the aircraft and buckled up the harness, he switched on the electric engine the propeller at his back spinning at a rate of revolutions, the battery indicator read three quarters charge. He tested the controls and then the micro light moved slowly forward pointing its way out of the cove. Then it came towards him, rolling and bounding across the sand…..the white membranic mass of the Guardian emitting that blood curdling roar. Number 6 turned the throttle and pushed the joystick forward, the Microlight rolled forward across the sand and into the wind picking up speed as it went, it would now be a case of achieving lift off before the Guardian got to him first. As the Microlight’s speed and the wheels began to lift off the ground, a pull on the joystick and it rose up into the air, much to the agitated annoyance of the Guardian below which now began to float up, higher, higher almost reaching him. But the speed of the Mircolight was Blake’s saviour!

    Number 2 stormed into the Control Room “What’s going on here?”

    The Supervisor didn’t know how to say it, but finally found the

words “We can’t find Number Six!”

    “Put up the tactical screen” Number 2 ordered.

    “Supervisor, something has just appeared on my radar screen, flying away from The Village on course blue three hundred, speed thirty-five” reported the radar operator.

    “Put up camera thirty-seven and scan” Number 2 ordered, not taking her eyes off the wall screen for one second.

    The screen changed from tactical to a camera displaying one of clear blue sky.

    “It will not be long before it’s out of range” said the Supervisor “direct TV transmission is two miles.”

    “What could it be?” asked Number 2, still watching the screen closely.


    “Its small whatever it is” replied the Supervisor.

    “A light aircraft perhaps?” suggested Number 2.

    “Smaller than that” replied the radar operator “I should say it’s a Microlight aircraft of some kind. The course is steady blue, three hundred, speed forty, range now four miles.”

     “Is there any sign of Number Six?” Number 2 demanded.

    There was a negative response from all the Observers.

    The Supervisor turned away from the radar screen and looked at Number 2, it was enough.

    “No don’t tell me, I don’t want to hear it.”

    “In all probability, it looks as though Number Six is the pilot of that small aircraft.”

    Number 2 could hardly bring herself to believe it “How the devil did

that happen, the helicopter….” Number 2 ordered.

    The Supervisor picked up a yellow ‘L’ shaped telephone “Left for the landing stage one hour since, with your permission Number Two?”

    Number 2 nodded.

    The Supervisor picked up the yellow ‘L’ shaped telephone “Attention post nine, attention post nine……”

    At that point the pair of steel doors opened and the figure of Number 14 appeared on the gantry and looked down at the figure of Number 2.

    “I want to see you in my office later, for now be about your business” Number 2 ordered.

    Number 14 had found out how quickly it is one can fall out of favour “I’ll make my rounds of The Village.”

    “Yes you do that” returned Number 2.

    “He’s young and ambitious” urged the Supervisor as the steel doors slammed shut.

    “Faced with the continuing prospect of Number Fourteen, I almost wish I was up there with Number Six!” returned Number 2.

    “He wants your job” said the Supervisor “That’s what I’ve heard.”

    “If we don’t get this right, he’ll be welcome to it!” grimaced Number 2.

   Up in the sky Blake felt that he was free at last, the wind in his hair, his chilled face and hands, the hum of the electric motor, the clear open sky. He pulled more on the joystick and the micro light climbed higher, having now left the village far behind and with no helicopter to pursue him he was clean away.

    “Huzzah, huzzah, huzzah!” ” he cried against the wind, which blew the words back in his face, as if mocking him for ever daring to escape.

    Blake studied the contours of the land below looking for any signs of habitation, a village or hamlet or at the very least a farmhouse. But there was nothing, only rolling hills and green pastures with the mountains in the distance.. Suddenly the motor died there being no charge left in the battery. Now the Microlight was nothing more than a heavy hang glider. He fought to keep its nose up, but it was no good, the aircraft was going down and began to lose height rapidly. Ahead was a hill, and there was no going over or around it. Through his goggles he peered down at the ground looking for a landing site. He saw a line of trees, then a hedge row, and beyond that another pasture, it was his only chance and he went for it. Pulling on the stick Blake brought the aircraft’s nose up, its undercarriage clipped the top of a tree as the ground loomed up at him ever faster as the microlight glided over the top of the hedge row. Then the rear wheels of the undercarriage hit the soft ground, slowing the machine immediately. The nose of the aircraft came down, it’s wheel instantly ploughed into the soft boggy ground, bringing it to a jarring halt. He hit his head and everything went black.


    It was night time when Blake finally opened his eyes, his head thumped and his neck ached, but otherwise to all intents and purposes he was alive. Throwing his goggles to the ground and unbuckling his seat harness he climbed out of the aircraft and inspected the damage. The undercarriage which took the full brunt of the crash landing would need work, and that blockage in the fuel line would need clearing, but all things considered not too bad. Yet as he stood by his crippled flying machine he was now all alone and in the middle of nowhere. His first need was to find shelter, the second, fire, and possible something to eat and drink, and if possible, close by. He set off on foot in no particular direction, one way seemed as good as any other. He walked for about half an hour when he came to a track way which he followed and came to a gate. He climbed over it, and trudged on his way. After a mile or so he came to a second gate and a sign post ‘Hollows Farm.’ This did indeed brighten Blake’s spirits and passing through the open gate towards the farm house, towards the lights in the windows. Crossing the farm yard the farmhouse door opened, casting a shaft of light across the yard, he ducked into the darkness, watching, framed in the doorway, a rather stout and portly woman, no doubt the farmer’s wife. For a few moments the woman stood peering out into the gloom, as the farm animals began to settle themselves. Then as the woman turned back into the house closing the door behind her, Blake slowly emerged out of the darkness and walked to the door of the farmhouse and lifting the brass knocker rapped three times upon the door. From within the depths of the farmhouse slippered footsteps approached the door, the door opened, light glared in Blake’s face and a large man stood framed in the doorway brandishing a shotgun.

    “Who are you and what the hell do you want at this time of night?” bellowed the farmer.

    “I’m sorry to disturb you at such a late hour, but I seem to be lost and wondered if you could put me up for the night?” Blake asked nervously.

    The farmer looked this strangely dressed man up and down “You can sleep in the barn if you wants.”

    Looking at the farmer and thinking of his wife, the barn did look the best bet “Thank you.”

    “Who is it Zak?” asked the large stout farmer’s wife, peering over his shoulder.


    “I dunno, some bloke wearing a school blazer, says he’s lost I’ve told him he can bed down in the barn” said the farmer, half closing the door.

    “Zakariah, the man will be cold and hungry. Can’t you show the man better hospitality than that” said the woman pushing passed her husband and calling out to the man now crossing the farmyard “young man come in and have some supper with us.”

    Blake did as he was bid, the door stoutly locked and bolted behind him.

    “I cannot possibly impose myself upon you in this way, if you could just tell me where there is a road and I’ll be on my way” Blake offered.

    But the farmer’s wife would hear none of it. She removed his piped blazer for him and sat him down in front of the Aga, the bright red glow of the fire was both comforting and warming.

    “Now we’ll soon be settling down to a nice rabbit stew. Zak always says that my cooking is the best he has ever tasted, isn’t that right Zak?” asked his wife, checking the rabbit stew, her stout frame blocking his view of the fire.

    “My wife’s the best cook that I know of” said Zak reaching for his pipe “so where have you come from?”

    Blake watched the farmer’s wife dishing out the rabbit stew “I was flying and I was forced to crash land in a field close by and found my way here.”

    “Here you are” the farmer’s wife said placing a plate of rabbit stew before him “you haven’t told us your name.”

    “Blake, Silas Blake” he said tucking into the food and helping himself to a slice of bread.
    A mug of tea was placed in front of him, the rabbit stew tasted good, as did the tea. The farmer didn’t take his eyes off the man for one single minute “Some kind of student are you?”

    Blake looked at the farmer “Student?”

    “Well I mean for someone to go about wearing a school blazer like that, bit strange.”

    “Common enough where I come from” Blake told him.

    “Where’s that then?” Zak asked with a mouthful of bread and stew.

    “A village not too far from here” Blake replied sipping his tea.

    “What’s the name of this village, Zak and I might know it” said the farmer’s wife smiling.

    “I doubt that very much. Do you have a telephone here?” asked Blake looking about the kitchen.

    “In the parlour’ returned the farmer “want to call someone, at this time of night?”

    He took the hint “Well I suppose it could wait until the morning.”

    ‘That’s right my dear, now you just have some more tea, then I’ll show you where you can sleep” offered the farmer’s wife.

    “You didn’t tell us the name of this Village of yours” Zak said.


   “It’s called The Village.”

    “Strange name for a village, The Village!” Zak replied “can’t recall any such place called The Village around here.”

   “It’s about 6 or seven miles away.”

    “Ah, not around here then.”

    “Perhaps you could help me fix my aircraft tomorrow, or perhaps I could just borrow some tools?” Blake asked.
    “A small aircraft is it? Zak asked.

    “A Microlight.”

    “You didn’t frighten my sheep did you?” asked the farmer brusquely.

    “I didn’t see any sheep!”

    Supper being over the farmer’s wife poured out another cup of tea for their guest “Now you just drink that and I’ll go and get your bed ready, now don’t you go bothering the lad Zak. I think he’s in some sort of trouble.”

    “Nothing I cannot handle. A good night’s sleep and I’ll be on my way in the morning. I’m grateful to you and your wife” said Blake.

    “Your bed is ready” the farmer’s wife said leading him up the stairs “this is your bedroom, the bathroom, and along there is the other place. I’ve laid out a pair of my husbands pyjamas, they’re a bit large, but they’ll do you.”

    Blake felt a little unsteady on his feet, and lying on the bed he was asleep as soon as his head hit the pillow.

    Blake woke up, he felt rather groggy, his eyes took time to focus on the ceiling over his head. As he sat up he soon realized he was sitting on the couch back home in his cottage, and was greeted by the smiling face of Number 2. She offered a cup of tea and two Paracetamol tablets, he accepted both.

    “You will begin to feel better soon Number Six.”

    “I hope so!”

    “That was pretty dangerous you know, you could have been killed in that crash landing, I was really quite worried about you” Number 2’s expression showing her relief.
    “I didn’t know you cared!”

    “I’m just glad to see you back safe and in one piece.”

   “I’m touched by your concern, or are you just glad to see me back in any condition?!”

   “Perhaps now you will believe us when we tell you that escape is not possible. However should you continue with such endeavours….”

    At which point Number 2’s mobile phone began to play its ringtone, the opening bars of Beethoven’s fifth.

    “An unusual ringtone for a warder” said Number 6.  

    “That is the irony of it” said Number 2 glancing at the illuminated screen.

    “Number Two here….. very well, have Number fourteen collect me in a taxi, I’m at Number Six’s.”


    “Don’t tell me you have to rush away!”

    “The Village does not revolve just around you” she told him sternly.

    Outside in the cobbled square a taxi was waiting with Number 14 at the wheel. Number 2 climbed aboard ordering Number 14 to drive to the slipway.

    “How is our friend Number Six?” Number 14 asked nonchalantly.

    “He’ll be no problem. It’s your future I’m concerned about, aren’t you?” asked Number 2 enigmatically.

    “I hadn’t given it much thought” returned Number 14.

    “Then perhaps you should, before it’s too late.”

    The taxi drove passed the Town Hall and down the hill, finally arriving at the slipway where two men in dove grey overalls were waiting with the power boat, it’s engines already running, the crew waiting to cast off. Both Numbers 2 and 14 alighted the taxi and walked together towards the waiting boat, which Number 14 did with a certain amount of anxiety and trepidation.

    “What’s the matter Fourteen, you look anxious” asked Number 2, about to step aboard the boat.

    “Are you going across to the island?” Number 14 asked.

    “Indeed I am, but you will not be pleased to learn that you are to accompany me Fourteen.
    “Me, why do you need me?”
    “I don’t, the Professor does. The latest run of the Time Reflux Unit saw the subject successfully retrieved but he returned a gibbering idiot” offered Number 2 with a thoughtful expression on her face.

    “I don’t understand.”
    “The Professor asked for you, after a word from me of course” Number 2 said with a self satisfied grin.

    “Me, how can I be of help?”

    “Further failures cannot be tolerated” Number 2 said “we thought you might be able to have some input into the problem.”
    “I don’t see how!”

    At the landing Jetty, three armed security guards in blue overalls, white helmets, boots gloves and sporting dark glasses, they along with two men in white coats stood waiting for the now fast approaching power boat. One of the crew threw the bow line to a security guard who caught it and tied it off around a bollard.

    “It seems you have a reception waiting to greet you Number Two” Number 14 said observing the people standing on the Jetty.

    “I assure you Number Fourteen, the reception is entirely for you. It seems that The Professor is in need of another subject, you are it!”

    At a nod from Number 2, three security guards boarded the power boat and dragged Number 14 kicking and screaming onto the Jetty, where Number 2 and the two technicians were waiting.

    You can’t do this to me, I’m loyal” 14 screamed his protest for the whole world to hear.

    “Then think of this as a reward for that loyalty” whispered Number 2 in his ear “oh you know that shed of yours.”
    “My shed, its not my shed” 14 told her.


    “Whosever. The Professor took delivery of the shed, his technicians reassembled it, it had to be taken apart for transportation you see. And it was the strangest thing…that’s all it was, an ordinary common or garden shed!”
    “It can’t be” 14 protested “it’s got to be more than that, it must be part of its camouflage!”” 

    A technician-Number 254 approached Number 2 “The Professor is waiting for you Number 2, he is in the General’s office.”

    “Thank you. Tell him I’ll be right there.”

    As the still screaming Number 14 was dragged away through the pair of open steel doors into the Island’s installation, Number 2 realised that she could ill afford another failure. Otherwise it might be she herself who would have to face the fate, which was about to befall her one time assistant. She reflected on the fact that the future of them all, may very well lie in Number 14’s success or failure.


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