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Tuesday 28 June 2022

The Prisoner An Exercise In Logistics Chapter 21


It’s Virtually Simon Pure

    Perhaps it was the rattling of the bottles in their milk crates as the milk float trundled down the cobbled mews that woke Silas Blake from his slumber. Blurry eyed he looked at the illuminated numerals of the alarm clock it was six o’clock. It was somewhat early for him, but this morning he had things to do before his holiday could begin. Throwing back the duvet, he climbed out of bed put on his burgundy dressing gown, and went through into the kitchen and switched on the kettle. Collecting his mug from the draining board, took a teaspoon of coffee from the jar, instant having to do this morning, and added two spoonful of sugar before retiring into the bathroom to shower and shave. Then back into the kitchen to pour hot water into his cup, in the refrigerator there was no milk. He went to the front door and opened it to find a bald headed man dressed in a long brown smock standing there.

    “Good old milko” said Blake upon opening the door. The milkman just for a moment, reminded him of……. then it was gone.

    “Good morning sir, don’t often see you up and about at this time of day” said the milkman.

    Blake dug his hands deep into the pockets of his dressing gown “Well I’ve never been woken up by your milk float before.”

    “Want your usual then guv?” asked the milkman with one bottle already in his hand.

    “Usual?” he asked “no, I’m going on holiday today.”
    “That’s nice for you gov, somewhere nice?”
    “Yes, I’m going fishing. Tell me, do you have a twin who is keen on horticulture?”

    The milkman looked at the man, and handed over the pint of milk and carton of orange juice “Why yes sir, he works at Kew gardens, one of the gardeners he is.”

    Blake thought that was probably it, except for the fact that he had never been to Kew!

    “Looks to be a fine day, but showers later, be seeing you.”

    Blake looked at the milkman and shivered as though someone had walked over his grave “Why did you say that?”

    “Say what sir?” asked the milkman.

    “Showers later and be seeing you.”
    “I dunno sir, just a turn of phrase that’s all” the milkman said and went on his way.

   There was a look of puzzlement on Blake’s face as if he were trying

 to remember something, but the memory just wouldn’t come. Perhaps it was just a touch of déjà vu that’s all. He stood on the doorstep watching the milk float trundle off along the cobbled mews. The dairy was “Wychwood Dairies,” he’d never heard of it! At the entrance to the mews the milk float then made a left hand turn and was gone. Now the mews was quiet and deserted once again, except for the love of his life, his grey 1957 MGA left-hand drive roadster with red upholstery was parked outside the pair of garage doors. He had bought the car in an auction, it had seen better days, but over time he and a friend who was a motor mechanic had managed to restore it to its former glory. The 1600cc engine produced a top speed of 97.8 miles per hour, and 0-60 in 16 seconds. Its license plate read MWN 64 and was a particular one which he had wanted because he had known a former owner. But the tracking down of the owner of the license plate had proved difficult, and hard bargaining followed before cash and license plates changed hand. Closing the door, he retired to the kitchen, re-boiled the kettle and poured milk on his cornflakes and poured a glass of orange juice. There was something...something in the back of his mind, the more he tried to remember the further the memory got away, so he let it go, and instead he finished his corn flakes, orange juice and second cup of coffee. Then went into the bedroom and dressed. Emerging from his bedroom dressed in a blue shirt and grey two piece suit he checked his wallet for cash, credit cards. His suitcase he packed the previous evening, along with his fishing tackle. Picking his car keys up off the coffee table he glanced at the desk, and then the pad on the desk, meeting with the Colonel in Hyde Park by the bandstand was all it said. Meeting with the Colonel in Hyde Park by the bandstand, now why had he written that? He had no memory of doing so, besides which, the Colonel knew that he was about to go on leave. What possible reason could he have for wanting to see him now? And so it was that whilst Blake was still churning this latest enigma over in his mind, together with any possible reason, that he opened the front door of his home and a white Mini-Moke with a candy striped canopy drove passed, the driver a young woman sounding a two tone horn. Then a man riding a tricycle and wearing a grey crash helmet waved to him as he rode by. A young woman came along the path pushing an older woman in a wheelchair. Curiously, the woman sitting in the wheelchair had a blue tinted visor over her face, something like a welding mask!


    “Good morning, lovely day Number Six, but showers later. Be seeing you” said Number 67 giving a curious salute with thumb and forefinger.

    He was taken aback suddenly but that was nothing however when compared to the sudden change of scenery. Gone was the Chelsea Mews to be replaced by a picturesque scene of gardens and candy coloured cottages, a green domed building, bell tower, trees and hedges, and a flower bed which was being attended by a bald headed gardener wearing dove grey overalls. And here he was , standing in  the road by the top of the bandstand! Then a white Mini-Moke pulled up.

    “Where to sir?” the driver asked.

    A sudden chill came over Blake, and in something of a cold sweat, staggered back into his house and slammed the door shut with a resounding bang. This was stupid, he was never one for hallucinations. All he had to do was open the door and outside was the cobbled mews, and his grey MGA roadster parked where it should be! Perhaps he had been working too hard, and the strain had been too much for him. That three day trip to The Village.......... It was probably just as well he was going away for a while, a holiday in the Highlands of Scotland seemed very welcoming right now.


    Blake placed the suitcase and fishing tackle in the boot of the roadster, closed the front door to his house and climbed in behind the wheel of his car. He inserted the key into the ignition and turned it, firing the engine into life and pressing his foot on the accelerator to rev the engine a couple of times, the roar of which resounded loudly within the confines of the Mews. Engaging first gear and releasing the clutch he drove his MGA forward to the entrance of the mews where he waited for a gap before merging into the London traffic. It was much improved these days by the introduction of the congestion charges. Having driven across London, Blake finally drove into the underground Hyde Park car park, and after parking his car walked along a dimly lit corridor in a purposeful manner.

    “Remarkable” remarked an over excited Number 2 as he watched Blake stride out purposefully along that corridor, upon the wall screen “I knew this idea of yours would work, it’s great.”

    Number 2, being a tall man, with a military gait, and greying hair, dressed in double breasted blazer, grey polo neck jersey, grey trousers and deck shoes. The doctor-Number 21 a middle aged woman with dark short hair dressed in a white operating gown, tried to err her superior onto the side of caution.

    “This drug has not been tested properly yet, we don’t know what side effects it might have.”

    “Do I detect an air of caution in your voice doctor?”

    The doctor thought for a moment before replying “This new drug

controls his mind and together through virtual reality equipment and a computer programme. We can place him within any given situation of our choosing, but at the end of the day I cannot guarantee just how he will react, he was supposed to be going on holiday. But now we have him going to meet with the Colonel.”

    “What exactly do you mean by that?” Number 2 asked watching as Blake now crossed the green grass of Hyde Park.

    The doctor wished she had not said anything now “The fact of the matter is, that anything can happen in the world of virtual reality as you saw for yourself in that sudden flashback.”

    “You mean after the milkman made his delivery, that wasn’t meant to happen?” Number 2 asked with a look of worry on his face.

    “It is possible that it was caused by the Village itself” returned the doctor, herself grasping for a reason for the flash back.


    “The Village, how so?” Number 2 demanded.

    “The Village is a powerful entity, and leaves a person with a deeply embedded impression upon the mind” the doctor explained.

    “Oh just get on with it” Number 2 snapped “and get it right, or by thunder I’ll see that the drug is……. well just get it right that’s all. By the time we’re finished with him he won’t know the difference between Adam and Simon Pure!”

    “Just as long as we do” muttered the doctor under her breath.

    The laboratory was filled with all manner of electrical equipment, monitors, life support and a large wall screen. At the far end was a rest area complete with easy chairs and a small kitchenette.
   Number 6 was busy walking along enjoying the morning sunshine with a smile on his face, when in truth he was fixed in a steel frame work which allowed him to walk, run, lie down, fall over, swim and generally take up any bodily position, but on the spot! He was no longer wearing his usual Village attire, but a black skin tight rubber suit with electrodes connected to various points of the suit. Electrodes transmit information from Number 6’s body back to the life sign monitors, and the computer. On his head the subject wears a black helmet with a tinted visor. The subject receives sounds and voices through in-built speakers in the helmet, and picture are projected via the tinted visor. Through the suit, bodily sensations of feeling, pain, pleasure, all via a virtual reality programme fed into the subject by the computer. A thick electrical cable connected to the back of the helmet provides the power to both suit and helmet. As Blake continued his walk across Regents Park, he did so while walking on the spot, turning his head from side to side and still smiling. It was strange for Number 2 to see Number 6 act in this way. Only his actions made any sense to him. But to Number 2 who was watching most carefully the actions made by Number 6 had seemed to him rather comical, even bizarre, and made him look to him as 
a rather stupid figure, one to be ridiculed. However with the computer feeding pictures into Number 6’s mind, which were also onto the wall screen, this way they could keep track of what Number 6 was doing at any given moment.

    Blake walked across Hyde Park enjoying the morning sunshine. The park was bustling with people walking their dogs, sitting in deckchairs, reading newspapers. A group of lads were playing football with jumpers for goal posts, women pushing their babies in three wheeled buggies. Yes, for many it was just another perfectly ordinary day. He approached the bandstand, he saw the Colonel amongst the audience listening to the band playing a selection of military music.

    “Sit down Blake” offered the Colonel looking up at the man now standing over him.

    Silas Blake looked at the vacant deckchair and sat down “What’s this all about Colonel, I’m on vacation or had you forgotten?”
    The Colonel began to speak to Blake without actually turning 
to face him “I like to listen to brass band music, especially military music, it makes one feel patriotic.”


    “Do they play requests? If they do I’ll ask them to play the Galloping Major for you” Blake offered “now Colonel if you would care to tell me, what this is all about?”

    “I have a problem Blake, or rather we have a problem, it concerns the recent reconnaissance operation which you were involved in” the Colonel said still facing the bandstand and beginning to enjoy the music.

    “Problem Colonel. What kind of problem? You seemed pleased with how it all went at the time, my report accepted. There was no suggestion that there was any problem at the debriefings. So where’s

the problem now?” Blake asked with a sudden feeling of anxiety.

   “Oh yes I agree” said the Colonel “it was a job well done, in fact the Minister couldn’t have been more pleased with the results of the survey carried out at the installation. No, the problem lies with the missing photographs and the file.”

    “Photographs, I don’t know anything about any photographs. As for the file, I gave that up to Simmons back at North Foxley, you ask him about it” he told the Colonel in no uncertain terms.

    “Oh yes we did. But it’s not that file people are concerned about” the Colonel informed him still listening to the band and not facing Blake once.

    “No?” he said.

    “No, it’s the copy you made of the file, together with all those photographs, they want you to give them up” the Colonel told him.

    “I can’t do that Colonel, they are my insurance, for my own protection if you like.”

    “On the other hand, it could be your downfall Blake. Look I’ll be frank. The Minister came to me with full knowledge of what you had done........ just do yourself a favour Blake and turn them over to me. Then you can disappear in the highlands of Scotland or wherever it is you intend to go.”

    Blake thought and considered his options then “Seems to me that I lose either way. I hand over the file and photographs and I lose what little insurance they afford me. And because I know the location of The Village they cannot have me left hanging around, can they?”

    “Listen old chap I have to report back to the Minister after this meeting. I wouldn’t want anything to happen to you. Why not give them what they want.”

    “Is that a threat Colonel?” he felt that he probably was still holding an ace card.

    “How safe do you think you’ll be without protection? If you come over with the goodies I can offer you that protection, do you want it?” the Colonel asked facing Blake for the first time.

“How safe, how protected would I be if I simply handed it all over to you? I’m safe enough.”
    “You’ll be safe enough when you’re dead!”


    The brass band came to the end of its particular set, much to the applause of the audience. The band leader turned to take the applause and bowed looking directly at Blake, his colourful striped cape blowing in the breeze. He turned and took up his baton once more for the brass bands rendition of ‘The Galloping Major.’

    Number 6 rose out of his white seat, crossed the lawn, and climbed

up the stone steps in front of the stone façade of the bandstand with its many Ionic columns. Then along to a second set of steps, up towards the cobbled path ahead of which were another set of steps where he now stood at the roadside. A white Mini-Moke taxi with a black and white striped canopy drove slowly through the archway which straddled the road. The taxi was towing behind it a Red Cross trailer with a black canopy, behind which walked the citizens, still dressed in their colourful Village attire, but carrying open black umbrellas. As the funeral cortege drew by Number 6, the driver of the taxi brought the hearse to a stop and said from beneath the canopy “Room for one inside sir.”

    Number 6 saw the oak coffin lying in the trailer with one single wreath upon it, slowly lifted the lid to see the deceased lying inside was the Colonel...........Number 6 collapsed!

    “What’s gone wrong?” asked Number 2, in a voice of panic looking at the blank wall screen.

    “He’s collapsed” exclaimed the doctor rushing forward, stethoscope in hand, towards the slumped body of Number 6.

    “Why?” Number 2 asked with great concern, for himself if not for Number 6.

    “I don’t know. Help get his helmet off” the doctor ordered busy disconnecting the leads.

    “Is he still alive?” Number 2 asked, unable to comprehend what was happening.

    Number 6’s unconscious body was lying on an operating table, oxygen was being administered. The doctor checked the patient’s heartbeat. Number 2 had been restless all through the medical examination, pacing up and down glancing now and then at the over large red curved telephone, half expecting it to begin bleeping at any moment. The doctor turned to face Number 2, removing her stethoscope
   “He’s alright but he must rest.”

   Number 2 staggered forward with an anxious look on his face “Will he be able to go on?”

   “Yes, but he must rest for several hours so that he can adjust. These Village flash backs are most disturbing!” the doctor said thoughtfully.

    Number 2 glancing again at the large red curved telephone “I don’t have much time, we must press on.”

    “The drug is very strong, it would be too much of a risk to carry on pushing him, he must rest” the doctor said pouring out a glass of water from the carafe.


    “What are you going to do about these memories of The Village? Can’t you erase them somehow?”

    “I told you that The Village is a very powerful entity, it leaves a powerful impression on the mind, it may be causing memory recall. On the other hand he could be using the flashbacks as a way of resistance. Putting them in as a block” the doctor suggested sipping the water “he looked in the coffin why should he do that?”

    “How should I know? You’re the doctor!” snapped Number 2.

    “It’s no good you taking your frustration out on me, who was the man lying in the coffin?”
    “The Colonel!” Number 2 told her “the Colonel came to The Village on one occasion, but there’s no record of his funeral, therefore there was no such funeral took place!”

    “Perhaps it is a case of wishful thinking” grinned the doctor.

    Number 2 was beside himself “What I want to know is, is this experiment worth going on with, will your technique work?”

    “I can offer you no guarantees, and only you can decide whether or not it’s worth going on with. However if you don’t, two things will have happened.”

    Number 2 looked startled as he looked at the doctor “And they are?”

    “One, you will never know, and two, you will have failed” the doctor told him.

    It was at that precise moment that the red over-sized curved telephone began to bleep somewhat impatiently, Number 2 crossed the laboratory and tentatively picked it up.

    “Number Two here……. yes sir I realise how important this is……… no sir the doctor was concerned for the patient……… I have full confidence in both the doctor and her drug………… yes I know but he is a very difficult subject, if I could only have a little more time………….. two days sir, thank you……….. I’ll stake my future on it………. I see, I already have” Number 2 put the telephone down as a man under pressure, and if anything strengthened his resolve it was that telephone call.

    “Let’s get on with it, and it had better work, otherwise…. Well just get it right!” Number 2 growled.
    “But he must be given time to rest” the doctor pleaded.
    “I cannot afford the time!”

    “I could give him a further injection of Myadroxine, that might preclude any future memory recall” the doctor suggested.

    “Just get on with it” Number 2 ordered “then we can get him back into the virtual reality contraption.”

    The doctor walked over to a work bench, and from a glass phial filled a syringe with the clear fluid then injected it into Number 6’s left upper arm. The patient was then fitted into the steel framework of the virtual reality machine, electrodes replaced as was the black helmet. The tinted visor providing the pictures fed to him, and two speakers within the helmet provided sound, and a microphone for his voice.


    The grey MGA roaster turned into the Chelsea Mews and stopped, there was the familiar dark shape of a the Colonel’s Bentley parked outside his home! Blake could have backed his car out of the mews and set off on his holiday as he had planned, but he didn’t. Instead he parked the MGA behind the Bentley, and at the door of his house inserted his key into the Yale lock. Turning it he pushed the door open, stepped over the threshold slamming the door behind him, announcing his arrival.

    “What happened to you Blake, why did you walk off like that?” asked the Colonel handing his empty whisky glass to the man Thorn who was with him.

    Thorn, a weasel looking type of character, sneaky, malicious and a thoroughly nasty piece of work, picked up a bottle of eighteen year old single malt whisky, and refilled the Colonel’s glass.

    “You can pour me one of those while you’re about it” Blake told him framed in the lounge doorway.

    Thorn took the replenished glass and handed it to the Colonel and shot him a quizzical look.

    “Better pour him one, after all, it is his whisky” the Colonel told him.

    “Don’t put yourself to any trouble Thorn. I’ll help myself” Blake said pouring himself a generous measure.

    “So what happened to you, where have you been?” asked the Colonel taking a long draught of the whisky.

    Thorn propped himself up by the fire place trying to look menacing.

    Blake took a drink from his glass “Nothing happened to me, I’ve been getting ready for my holiday in Scotland.”

    “At the bandstand in Hyde Park, you became distant. You simply got up and walked away. I called out to you but you ignored me, was that deliberate?” the Colonel asked looking into his glass at the golden liquid.

    “Well you’ve certainly made yourselves at home. Not drinking Thorn? That’s not like you at all!” Blake said with sneeringly.

    “He’s driving” the Colonel said “So what happened?”

    Blake drained his glass and poured himself another drink “I don’t know. Something came over me. Something suddenly came to mind, and then I was in some other place!”

    “In what other place?” Thorn asked coldly and detached.

    “I don’t remember” Blake answered.

    “Sounds all too vague for my liking, you do need a holiday!” the Colonel suggested.

    “I’m going on one if you will let me!” Blake said draining his glass.
    “What’s that supposed to mean?”
    “I’ve really no idea” Blake said.


   “Isn’t it time you handed them over?” Thorn asked.
    Blake looked at him “Why don’t you go and play with the traffic on the motor way?”
    “Hand them over and we’ll leave you alone. You’ll be free to go on your holiday, and then return to the department to take up your activities once more.”
    “The Village file!”
    “And the photographs, don’t forget the photographs” Thorn said “are they here, I could take the place apart.”
    “You could try” Blake said “if you want a broken nose!”
    “And if you want to go on working for the department!” the Colonel said.
    “I could resign.”
    “No you couldn’t, I wouldn’t let you!”
    “Because I know too much!”
    “I can give you protection.”
    “Protection from who?”
    “Perhaps from yourself!” was the Colonel’s reply “and as you know there are other departments within Military Intelligence who would love to gain the information in your possession. Certain people who would stop at nothing in getting what they want, and if you didn’t give it, they’d take it! They’d go to any lengths, and do unspeakable things to you to make you talk. Why not put yourself under my department’s protection?”
    “But I work for you and your department already, and that alone should afford it’s and your protection without having to ask for it.”
    “Yes, but you are not helping yourself!”

    Blake poured himself another single malt, after all he and the Colonel usually worked well together. The Colonel had often watched his back from behind that oak desk of his. But this time it was different, he had come out from behind that desk of his.

    “Twenty four work units” said Blake suddenly looking into his glass.

    “What?” asked the Colonel.

    “Twenty-four work units, that’s how much whisky costs in The Village” he said.

    “Oh yes, The Village, I think our friends last assignment took a little too much out of him, what do you think Thorn?” asked the Colonel holding his glass out for a refill.

    “I think you could be right sir” Thorn confirmed.

    “You must not let that place play on your mind my dear fellow. After all The Village is in ruins, isn’t that right Thorn?” the Colonel asked.

    “Quite right” Thorn replied “what’s more we have the photographs to prove it.”

    The Colonel sipped his single malt whisky “It is quite obvious that the possession of that copy of The Village file and photographs has

become a burden to you, it’s playing on your mind.”


    “Someone’s playing on it, and that’s for sure! If I give you what you want that will leave me with precisely nothing, and then where would I be?” Blake asked.
    “Working for me in a nice comfortable office job, my dear chap, all I want is to see you out of harm’s way.”

    “Colonel, I have some very clear memories of The Village, very clear memories, they are not due to the possession of any file or photographs neither is it in a state of ruin!. The Village exists today as it existed back in the nineteen-sixties and probably long before that for all I know!” cried Number 6 as he started to claw at his head.

    “He’s having some kind of fit” Thorn said.

    The Colonel stood back watching Number 6 clawing at his head, he shot Thorn a look. And there was a look of fear on Number 2’s face as he looked at the doctor, as Number 6 clawed frantically at the helmet he wore. The straps were torn away and he pulled the helmet off dropping it on the floor. He pulled the cables from the full body suit he wore.....then suddenly jumped up off the curved desk he had perched himself upon. He was in something of a panic. His heart was pounding, his pulse racing and sweat covered his brow.

    “Whatever is the matter with you Number Six, someone walked over your grave or something? Or have you simply woken up?” Number 2 asked him from the comfort of his black spherical chair.

    “I, I err” was all Number 6 could manage to say. He was unsure of his surroundings, for a moment he thought........

    “I do believe you haven’t heard one single word I have said for the past twenty minutes, what is the matter with you this morning, it’s not like you to day dream. I don’t know where you’ve been but you certainly haven’t been here with me!” exclaimed Number 2.

    Number 6 looked about, running his fingers through his hair and over his face “I err I don’t know, where’s the Colonel, and that weasel Thorn gone?”

    “The Colonel...the Colonel’s not here. No-one has been here except you and I, you had better pull yourself together you’re all woolly minded, or the doctor will have you sectioned onto the psychiatric wing of the hospital!” Number 2 told him.

    “Perhaps I’ve been over doing it” muttered Number 6.
    Number 2 rose up out of his chair and poured a glass of water from the carafe on his desk offering it to Number 6 “You’ve never over done anything while I’ve been about!”

    Number 6 sipped the water “Sorry, I’m sorry” he said with no idea why or what he was sorry for. But he did look pale and drawn, and not quite the thing at all.

    “You need to rest we can take this matter up later. Go home and I’ll have a doctor look in on you.” Number 2 suggested taking the glass from Number 6’s trembling hand.

    Number 6 looked at Number 2 something at the back of his mind

 told him something “I have a doctor of choice” he told Number 2.


    There was a startled expression on Number 2’s face as he watched Number 6 cross the floor, walk up the ramp and out through the now open steel doors, and he could not help but wonder.......

    In the laboratory Number 2 and the doctor watched Number 2 sit back in his chair as the wall screen dimmed and finally went dark. Number 6 meanwhile in his virtual world was still walking along on the spot within the steel frame work.

    “What just happened?” Number 2 asked having expected more of himself.

    “He knew” said the doctor knowing herself that the game was almost up.

    “He certainly knew you!” Number 2 said accusingly.

    “He tore off his helmet, you saw that, and he saw us, if only for a second” retorted the doctor who was fighting to keep herself calm.

    “But that was long enough wasn’t it?”

    The doctor walked over to the steel frame holding the still walking figure of Number 6 “You are to blame just as much as I am, we must give him time to rest, we could do his mind permanent damage or...”
    “Or what?” Number 2 wanted to know.
    “We could blow the whole programme from which he’ll walk away, and we will have learned nothing. We dare not push him further” the doctor told him.

    “Have we lost control?”
    The doctor thought for a moment “I wouldn’t go that far.”

    “But we saw him remove the virtual reality helmet, we saw him do it, and pull the cables from the suit.”

    “Yes we did, but in our world or his virtual one?” the doctor pondered “and yet there he stands, all connected up, walking along, probably enjoying a stroll through The Village.”

    “What do you mean?” Number 2 asked glancing over to the red telephone and expecting it to bleep at any moment.

    “What we see on the screen is what is taking place in both Number Six’s subconscious and the virtual world we have created for him” the doctor explained.

    “He was struggling with his helmet in the frame” Number 2 confirmed.

    “Yes, but we should not have seen him remove it on the screen. If he had done, he would be standing there in the frame with the helmet at his feet and the programme would be over” the doctor replied.

    Number 2 had the look of sudden enlightenment and a smile slowly crossed his lips “Then it didn’t really happen!”

    “But it could have been a sign of resistance. At the very least he

somehow knew my number and put you well and truly in the frame!” warned the doctor.

    “You are thinking of stopping the programme!”
    “We have no choice, we have so much to lose” the doctor said.
    “But so much to gain, I never thought that you would lose your 
scientific enthusiasm. We have no choice but to go on with the programme.”


    “Be it on your head” The doctor warned.
    “You need not remind me of that” Number 2 replied glancing over to the red telephone.
    “He may have become aware, be thankful that it was only in his virtual world. Here in the world of Simon Pure he failed to do so, and that puts us firmly back in control” the doctor told him, already busy feeding in another virtual reality programme via the Computer terminal.

    “Who is this Simon Pure when he’s at home?” Number 2 asked suddenly.

    The doctor gave Number 2 a sideways glance “Where do they get them?” she muttered under her breath.

    “What did you say?”

    “Number Six is on his way through The Village, probably on his way back to his cottage” said the doctor not taking her eyes off the screen.

    “This is all fine and dandy but can’t you get him back to London? What I’m after is in London and I need him to get it for me. Or to show me where it is at the very least” Number 2 said feeling the pressure upon him.

    “For some reason he wants to be here in The Village” observed the doctor watching the wall screen “perhaps what you want is here in The Village, possibly under your very nose!” she suggested.

    Number 2 was about to pooh-pooh the absurd idea but then “What if…..”

    Within the confines of his cottage ‘6 Private’ Number 6 was pacing up and down just as he was within the steel frame in the laboratory, there was plainly something on his mind. He was trying to figure something out, he’d been given a shock, or had it been a dream, and that was bothering him. Were the Colonel and Thorn behind it, or was it someone much closer to home? There was more pacing up and down when the ‘Things To Do’ pad on his desk caught his eye and the words ‘collect file and photographs.’  

    “So that’s their game is it?” thought Number 6 deliberately showing no reaction “well we can all play games.”

    He slowly and quite deliberately walked over to an alcove set in the wall with a painting of the Turner’s The Fighting Temeraire. Releasing a catch the painting swung away from the wall on two hinges, revealing behind it a small wall safe.

    In the laboratory Number 2 and the doctor observed Number 6 as he turned the dial of the safe.
   “I had never considered the possibility, we must get the combination to that safe at all costs!’

    Number 6 turned the dial to the right four turns and stopped on the first number 2. Then turned the dial to the left passing the second number twice, stopping on the third time on the second number 4. Turning the dial to the right passing the third number once, stopping on the number 5, and then to the left to the fourth number 8, and the door opened, and he removed a green file and a large brown envelope. Upon the file was a plain label The Village.


    “That’s it, the result I have been waiting for, well done doctor. I didn’t think this idea of yours was going to work, but you pulled it off” shouted Number 2 in his excitement.
    The doctor urged caution, but Number 2 was in no state of mind to listen, and before you could say knife he was on his mobile phone sending his assistant Number 8 a text message.

    Number 8 was minding the fort in Number 2’s office when his mobile phone indicated a new text message, ‘6 private, wall safe behind painting of the fighting Temeraire, safe combination 2458’. Instantly he rushed up the ramp and out through the opening steel doors, and out of the Green Dome. Turning left he went through an archway then left behind a row of terraced cottages until he reach the door of ‘6 Private.’ The door opened automatically for him, he went through and into the lounge and finding the room deserted he wasted no time in going straight to the painting. He couldn’t find a catch, so he lifted the painting off the wall, there was no safe set in the smooth wall! He had a feeling Number 2 wasn’t going to like this!
    What!” bellowed Number 2 into his mobile phone “what do you mean there’s no wall safe?”
    “I’m standing here looking at a smooth wall, there is no wall safe.”
    “There has to be!”
    “Come and look for yourself sir if you don’t believe me” Number 8 challenged his superior.
    “I have already seen the safe, I’m looking at it now, it’s open and what’s more Number Six is sat on the couch reading a file and looking at photographs.”
    Number 8 turned and looked about the room, there was no sign of Number 6 “There’s no-one here but me sir.”
    “What do you mean he’s not there? I’m looking at him on the wall screen.”
    “Sir, can you see me on the wall screen?”
    Number 2’s jaw dropped and he stared at the doctor “No I can’t see you, because you’re not there. Well obviously you are. Look wait there I’m on my way.”

    Number 2 headed straight for the pair of steel doors, he turned to the doctor “Look after the patient I have to go out.”
    Standing still in the steel frame Number 6 was turning over imaginary pages of an imaginary file.

    “Will you be back?” the doctor asked.

    Number 2 looked at the figure of Number 6 “I don’t know, I’m not sure if I know anything anymore.”

    “Wait” the doctor said “this doesn’t feel right, you shouldn’t go dashing off like that” but her words were already too late.


    The pair of steel doors closed behind him.

    Number 2 burst through the opening door of ‘6 Private’ where he found Number 8 sitting on the couch.

    “Well!” barked Number 2.

    Number 8 stood up “See for yourself sir, there is no one here but me, and there’s no wall safe, as you can see for yourself.”

    Number 2 did indeed look for himself, and was devastated by what he didn’t find. It took a moment or two for him to recover, but when he did he took his mobile phone out of his pocket and called The Department of Replication.

    “Department of Replication” said a voice at the other end “Number Eighty-two speaking.”

    “Number Two here” said the voice.

    Number 82 swallowed the bite of cheese and ham sandwich “Yes Number Two, how can I be of service?”

    “Six Private. When the cottage was structurally altered for its current occupant, was a wall safe included in those structural alterations?’ Number 2 asked trying to keep calm.

    “I can’t say off hand sir, I’ll have to check the schematics.”

    “Then perhaps you would be so kind as to put down that cheese and tomato sandwich, and look up the schematic for Six Private  on your Computer” the voice of Number 2 ordered.

    Number 82 sitting at his desk looked about his office, his cheese and ham sandwich still in his hand “Yes Number Two, at once.”

    It took Number 82 a moment or two to bring up the schematics for ‘6 Private’ on the computer, then studied the screen. He picked up his yellow ‘L’ shaped telephone “I have the plans in front of me now sir, there was no inclusion of a wall safe.”

    “There’s not a wall safe set into the wall of the alcove behind the painting of the Fighting Temeraire in the plan of the cottage, you’re absolutely sure of that?” Number 2 asked, feeling the noose about his neck suddenly tighten.

    “Absolutely sure sir I can send you the plan in an email attachment if you like” 82 suggested.

    “No, I can see perfectly well for myself that there isn’t a wall safe!” returned Number 2 in a quiet tone of voice.

     “Well if you’re there in Six Private and can see for yourself, why go bothering me during my lunch break then?”
    The call was suddenly ended, 82’s words had gone unheard, which for him was probably just as well.

    Number 2 was about to go ballistic “There is a wall safe here someplace I know it. I’ll have this whole room stripped bare, the walls stripped down to their bare bricks if necessary!”

    “Don’t you think that a bit extreme? And whatever gave you the idea that there was a safe behind the picture in the first place?” asked Number 6 standing in the doorway of his cottage.


    “You did” answered Number 2 defiantly “What are you doing here?”

    I did?” Number 6 asked entering his cottage with a knowing smile on his face “as to what I’m doing here, I live here, remember?”

    “I saw you, and what’s more I have a doctor as my witness to you opening a safe hidden behind that painting. A safe from which you took the green Village file together with a large brown envelope.”

    “Well as you can see for yourself there is no wall safe, so how can there be a file and large brown envelope. Oh I see, you think I kept them in a safe” smiled Number 6 inspecting the alcove for himself “surely something you imagined!”

    You imagined!” bellowed Number 2 believing what he had seen with his own eyes.

    Number 8 turned to leave the cottage.
    “Wait Number Eight, don’t go” Number 2 ordered.

    “You come in here threatening to take my cottage apart right down to the bare bricks in order to find some imaginary safe, you must be round the twist!” Number 6 said “who the hell do you think you are?”

    “I am Number Two Chairman of The Village as well you know.”

    “You claim to be Number Two, you’re wearing his badge, and there is a look about you. What do you think Number Eight?” Number 6 said attempting to gain the upper hand.

    Number 8 remained silent, waiting to see how this game would play out.

    Number 2 could hardly believe it “You traitor!” he shrieked “traitor, traitor!”

    “I think Number Two should be brought in on this don’t you Number Eight” Number 6 suggested crossing over to the telephone.

    Number 8 remained silent and yet as Number 6 put through to Number 2 he thought to himself “This should be worth seeing.”

    As for Number 2 he was completely bemused by it all, and what’s more completely lost in what was no longer his plot.

   “Number Two…… its Number Six. I have a small problem, could you come over…… good, be seeing you” said Number 6 putting down the telephone “Number Two will be here directly.”

    “This is going to be interesting” Number 8 said “I wonder who is going to come walking through the door?”
    They wouldn’t have that long to wait.

    Number 2 glared at his assistant “I don’t want any more of your tricks Number Six, I’m Number Two, you know it, Number Eight here knows it and so do I. It’s you that isn’t here, because you’re back there in the …”

    The door of ‘6 Private’ opened automatically footsteps could be heard then a moment later standing framed in the doorway, the colour drained from Number 2’s face as he stood staring at himself!

    “Is this a private party, or can anyone join in?” asked Number 2 in that quiet manner of his.


    “Who the devil are you?” asked Number 2.

    “‘I ask the questions here. I don’t know who you are yet…… but I will. I can see your problem Number Six, very good of you to give me a call, guards if you would.”
   Number 2 was been accompanied by two guardians, who stepped forward into the room and took a struggling Number 2 under close protection.
    “You can’t do this to me, don’t you know who I am? I’m Number Two, Number Two, I am Number Two.” Just as he was being dragged out through the door it came to him “doctor if you can hear me, cancel the programme, cancel the programme that’s an order.”

    And with that the door to ‘6 private’ closed and Number 2 was gone.

    In the laboratory the doctor had heard Number 2’s order. She walked over to the computer and cancelled the virtual reality programme. She turned to Number 6 in the steel framework removing the virtual helmet and removed each of the electrodes attached to the suit. The pair of steel doors slid open and Number 2 staggered into the laboratory.

    “What have you done?” he barked loudly seeing the blank screen and monitors “you’ve shut the programme down, and he’s removed his helmet!”

    “I acted on your order” the doctor confirmed unbuckling the harness securing Number 6 within the steel frame work.

    “I gave no such order” said Number 2.

    “But I watched you, I saw you on the screen in Number Six’s cottage……..”

    “I haven’t been anywhere near Number Six’s cottage” began Number 2 rubbing his left arm “I was crossing the road towards the square when some damned fool came at me driving a taxi, I had to leap out of the road, and do you know, when I reported it to control they had the sheer audacity to tell me that no such incident had occurred!”

    “Well while you were away I reached a crisis…….” began the doctor

    “We reached that before I left!” growled Number 2.

    “So then you can understand how I came to act upon, what I thought after all, to be a direct order from you” said the doctor in her own defence.

    Number 6 stepped out of the steel framework.

    “He knew all along, he was playing with you!” exclaimed the doctor watching Number 6 walk towards them still dressed in his skin tight rubber suit.

    “What you were after is not here in The Village, but in another place where it will remain out of both our reaches” Number 6 said as he walked slowly towards the steel door.

    As the steel door opened, Number 6 turned and looked directly at Number 2 “You thought you could get to me through virtual reality. However, if one is to get involved one should be able to distinguish between that and the medium of Simon Pure, don’t you think?”


    The steel door slammed shut behind Number 6. In that instant the over large red curved telephone began to bleep impatiently. The

doctor quietly continued her clearing up of the laboratory as Number 2 slowly and reluctantly picked up the telephone.

    “Number Two here………..” his face now pale and drawn, his attitude was one of a broken man.


Tuesday 21 June 2022

An Exercise In Logistics Chapter 20


Reformation of a Character

    Number 2 rose up in his chair behind his desk, he was a little late this morning, his hair was uncombed and what’s more he was still in his blue and red dressing gown and cream pyjamas. With a press of a button on the control panel of his desk the wall screen came to life.

    “I wonder how our friend Number Six is this morning?” Number 2 muttered.

     Number 12 was already in the office, having perched himself on the desk.

    “Oh he’ll be fine. Either he’s having one of his daily strolls through The Village, later he’ll be fencing, possibly shooting. Swimming in the public lido, or at his weekly Judo practise” Number 12 offered.       
    “He likes to keep himself active.”

    Number 12, a blond haired man, dressed in a light blue piped jacket eased himself off the desk “But there are times when he prefers his own company to that of others.”

    Number 2, a man of slight build, not tall, not short, with normally well groomed hair and moustache, put on his spectacles and began to read the file “Does he, that could be deemed as antisocial!”

   “It might even be construed as being Dissonance” Number 12 suggested.
    “Dissonance what’s that mean?”
    “Dissonance, it means lack of agreement or harmony between people or things.”
    “How does that help us with Number six?”
    “Perhaps we should force his hand a little” 12 suggested.

    “How do you mean?”
    “Have Number Six brought before the committee, have him charged with dissonance, make him disharmonious with the people!”

    “Would such an action be approved?”
    “If we simply sit about waiting for orders nothing will get done, will it?” Number 12 said.

    “Well on your head be it” Number 2 told him.

    “How will you bring Number Six to the attention of the committee?”
    “I’ll get two of my men to pick a fight with Number Six, then when he’s beaten six bells out of them they’ll report him to the committee, and Bob’s your uncle!”

    Number 12 left the Green Dome with a lively step in his walk. At the bottom of the steps was a Mini-Moke occupied by two burly set men, Numbers 36 and 36b, both dressed in colourful striped jerseys and light blue trousers.

    “Look out, here comes the boss” said Number 36 sitting behind the wheel with his eyes half closed.


    “He’s not the boss” Number 36b corrected his colleague.

    “Well obviously he’s not the boss, of course he isn’t, but he is our boss” Number 36 corrected his colleague.

    “Because he tells us what to do” Number 36b agreed “look out here he is.”

    “Come on Thirty-six, don’t go to sleep there, we’ve got work to do” ordered Number 12 jumping into the waiting taxi.

    “I wasn’t asleep sir” Number said 36 in his defence.

    “Your eyes were closed, you looked asleep to me.”
   “A few more minutes and you’d be snoring your head off” Number 36b accused him.

    Number 36 closed his eyes in utter frustration “Look sir, can’t we get him transferred or something? Perhaps he could resign!”

    “If you ask me you’re both as bad as each other, now can we go?” asked Number 12.

    Number 36 started the electric motor, pressed the accelerator and the taxi sped off down the street “Where are we going sir?”

    “If you don’t know, where are we off in such a hurry, then why the siren?” asked Number 12, watching the pedestrians step to the side of the road, and cyclists veer to one side.

    The taxi slowed and Number 36 turned off the siren, rendering the Mini-Moke practically silent, save for the electric whirring of the motor.

    “That’s better. I want you to pick a fight with someone, call him names, threaten him with violence” 12 said.
    “We’ll enjoy doing that” 36 said.

    “Why?” asked 36b from the back seat of the taxi.

    “Why what?” asked Number 12.

    “Why should we want to pick a fight with this chap, what’s he done to us?” 36b returned argumentatively.

    “Because I tell you to, I want Number Six roughed up, and leave him lying face down in the dirt, and you two are just the men for the job. You can drop me off around the corner.”

    “Are you sure you’ve got the right men for the job?” asked 36b.

    “Do as you like just do it!” Number 12 ordered.

    The taxi came to a stop around the corner and Number 12 alighted the taxi, and stood in the road watching it drive away.

    “There’s the Café” offered Number 36b.

    “What’s that to us?” asked 36.

    “Why don’t we go for a coffee?” 36b suggested.

    “What?” asked 36.

    “Well he said do as you like, so I’d like to go for a coffee, cappuccino and perhaps an iced bun” retorted Number 36b watching the Café pass by “no coffee then!”

    “The boxing game wasn’t good to you was it?” asked Number 36, turning the taxi round the left hand bend sounding it’s two-tone horn.

    “I could have been a contender, I could have gone all the way” returned Number 36b clenching his fist and gritting his teeth.


    “Yeah, well think of this as your comeback fight!” retorted Number 36 “there he is!”
   Number 36 turned the Mini-Moke and followed the figure along the track into the woods.
    “Hey you, we want a word with you” Number 36 shouted bringing the Mini-Moke to a stop.
    “What do you think you’re doing?” 36b asked.
    “If its got anything to do with you I’m having a nice walk, and minding my own business at the same time, and keeping myself to myself, what’s it to you?”
    “That could be deemed as being antisocial” 36 told him.
    “He’s dissonance” 36b said.
    “I’m what?”
    “You think this place is some sort of holiday camp, don’t you” 36 said in a threatening manner.

    “He thinks he’s someone special!” 36b said.
   “Water skiing, boxing, swimming in the public lido, fencing, shooting, just how good are you at Judo?” 36 said pushing the man.
    “Please don’t do that, I don’t like violence.”
    “Hark at him” 36b said “he don’t like violence!”

    “No, but nevertheless he’s going to get some!” 36 said clenching his fists.
    The man stepped away, but 36b barred his way.

    “Look I don’t want any trouble, you’re a couple of nice boys and it would be a shame if we all got into trouble over absolutely nothing, wouldn’t it.”
    “He’s trying to talk his way out of trouble!” 36b said.
    “He’s got no stomach for it” 36 said.
    “If I were you I would leave the man alone” a voice said.
    “Who said that” 36 asked.
    “He did” 36b replied.
    Number 36 turned to see Number 6 standing there.
    “Now why don’t you boys go and bother someone else!” 6 suggested.
    “You going to make us?” 36 asked.
    “Just a minute” 36b said “who are you?”
    “They call me Number Six.”
    “Then who’s this?”
    “I’m Number Six h.”
    “Who?” 36 asked.
    “Number Six h” the man replied.
    “Well” said 36 “It’s all the same to us”
    Number 6 stepped forward and hit 36 on the nose, and it was at this point that Number 36b realised that they were in trouble and why they were there, but there was no retreat and so he rushed forward but even then he was far too slow to avoid the upper cut to his chin which sent him reeling backwards. 36b saw this and despite his blood loss, hurled his large frame at Number 6 who defended the punch thrown at him, delivering a punch to 36b’s stomach and as he folded 
in half he spun him around and bringing the sole of his foot to Number 36b’s backside sending him face down in the dirt.  Number 36 had by this time recovered and hurled himself at Number 6 in order to head butt him in the stomach. Number 6 grabbed hold of his assailant by the scruff of the neck but instead of punching his lights out threw him over his shoulder. 36 got to his feet, staggered towards Number 6 and threw a punch which hit its mark, another followed sending Number 6 back on his heels. 36 rushed forward, Number 6 grabbed him by the arm and got 36 in an arm lock, then threw the man to the ground.


    “We’ll report you for this Number Six, you see if we don’t. We’ll tell the committee about you!” 36 told him.

    Steel doors opened the butler entered followed by Number 12 who walked down the ramp approaching the desk of his master the Number 2.
    “Ah Number Twelve what have you to report?

    “Well that seemed to go rather well!” Number 12 said.
    Number 2 turned the wall screen off “They picked on the wrong man, lucky for you Number Six intervened!”
    “I got the desired result, now Thirty-Six and Thirty-six b can report Number 6 to the committee, it’s all the same!” 12 said.
    The butler busied himself clearing away the tea things “He instigated that schmozzle in the woods did he?”
    “What’s it to you if he did?” Number 2 asked.
    “I think you are both looking for trouble, that’s my opinion” offered the butler.

    “Its nothing to you is it?” snapped Number 2 raising a finger to stop Number12 from speaking.

    “No, I was just offering my opinion” returned the butler picking up the tray.

    “Well I’m not interested in your opinion. So if you would just be about your business, I’ll be about mine” Number 2 said brusquely.

   Number 2 pressed a button on the control panel of his desk, Number 6 was pictured on the wall screen he was just passing by the bandstand.
    “We shall soon change your attitude Number Six” Number 2 said smiling.

    The complaint brought about Number 6 was duly presented before the committee and ordered that Number 6 should be brought before them. And so it was that Number 6 found himself sitting in the foyer of the Town Hall waiting his turn, because there were several people waiting to be taken before the committee that morning.

    “They’re right you know” said a small chap grabbing Number 6’s arm.

    “Are they?” queried Number 6.

    “They are right, quite right. I’ve been found wanting, I’m deficient, disappointing, and simply not enough!” Number 183 said.


    Number 6 released the hold of 183’s hand for him “You speak for yourself!”
    Then.....”Number Six.”

    He rose out of his seat and crossing the foyer opened the pair of French windows and walking through stood at the top of a steep staircase which led down into a domed orange walled chamber. It reminded him of the Council Chamber with its orange wall and domed ceiling. As he descended the staircase he could see an almost complete circle of baize covered tables round which sat nine men all dressed in different striped jerseys and wearing black top hats.

    “Did you complete the provided questionnaire?”

    “Now why should I want to go and do something like that, don’t you know enough about me as it is?” Number 6 folding the sheet of paper and launching the paper dart into the air “You have a curious saying here, questions are a burden, answers a prison for oneself.”

    “We have another” returned the chairman “a still tongue makes a

happy life.”

    “Meaning?” asked Number 6 approaching the circle of tables.

    “Sometimes it is best to keeps one’s mouth shut, thereby avoiding any unnecessary trouble. And believe me Number Six that is some excellent free advice” the Chairman informed him “now would you be seated please, after all, this Committee is here to help you.’

    “Help me. Why am I in trouble then?” quipped Number 6 taking the chair set in the circle of tables.
    The final segment closed by the butler who then departed the committee chamber via a side door.

    “The fact that you failed to complete the questionnaire is hardly helpful Number Six” said the Chairman “any show of arrogance will go against you, nor will this committee be intimidated as you clearly intimidated Number’s Thirty-six and Thirty-six-b.”
    “Oh dear, did they put in a complaint against me?”

    “Their complaint against you is, that you brutally attacked them yesterday.”
    “I did no such thing!”
    “You refute the complaint?”
    “I do, they had picked a fight with Number Six h, whoever he is, and I simply stepped in to defend the man.”
    “That is no excuse.”
    “I don’t know who put them up to it, but it’s obvious that they picked on the wrong man, mistaking Six h for me!”
    “And yet here you are, and the complaint against you still stands” said the Chairman.
    “So it would seem.”
    “You made the first blow.”
    “One of them was coming at me, what do you expect, I had to defend myself.”
    “You could have stepped aside, or simply have walked away” the Chairman suggested.


    “I have never walked away from a fight yet!”

    “You should temper your aggression Number Six.”
    “People shouldn’t go about picking fights with those who cannot defend themselves!”

    “Gentlemen it’s time… if you agree I think we are all more than ready for a tea break. The psychiatric report on Number Six will be studied at the next hearing of this committee.”

    “I was brought here for my own protection. What kind of protection do you call this, when I am accused of aggressive violence?” barked Number 6.

    “I warn you Number Six, this committee will not tolerate such out bursts which can only go against you” the Chairman counselled.

    The committee members then rose from their seats as one man, and followed the Chairman out of the chamber via a side door. The butler entered the chamber and pulled back a segment of the round table in order for Number 6 to leave.

    Number 6 jumped out of his chair and faced the butler “What are you doing here?”
    “Someone has to make their tea!” said the butler “you want to be careful with this lot Number Six” he advised “Number Two is gunning for you in any way he can.”

    “Now why would you want to go and tell me that for, whose side are you on?” asked Number 6 with a hint of suspicion in his voice.

    “Like you, I’m on my side.”

    “But you are subservient; you follow each new master without question….”

    “Well perhaps it’s just better to go with the flow. We all have to live here the best way we can, even you” the butler said. But his words were wasted on Number 6. He ran up the stairs and out through the French doors back into the foyer. There was a sign on the wall;

                    “Confession Is Good For The Soul”

    After treating the poster with a look of disdain, Number 6 rushed out of the Town Hall and into the street, his next port of call was Number 2’s residence….. the Green Dome.

    A now well groomed Number 2 sat in his chair drinking Earl Grey tea out of a Royal Dolton china cup. The pair of steel doors of his office opened and Number 6 came storming through, down the ramp to face the man behind his desk. He looked at his visitor through a pair of steel rimmed spectacles.

    “Is it your tea break as well?”
    “Would you like some?”
    “You can forget the tea, what’s the game?”

    “Game, I don’t understand my dear chap. You really are in a tizzy

aren’t you. Are you sure you wouldn’t like some tea?”


    Number 6 still refused the offer of tea “I have just come from the Town Hall as you are probably well aware.”

    “The Town Hall, “I thought the Town Hall was fussy about who it lets in!”

    “I was summoned by that Kangaroo committee!”

    “I wouldn’t let them hear you call them that if I were you Number Six, you were only too glad of the committee that time you thought to get yourself co-opted onto the Town Council. But what have you been up to this time?”
    “Don’t you know?”
    “Perhaps I can help you?”
    “Just tell this committee to drop this trumped up charge and we’ll call it square” said Number 6 showing great sincerity in his voice.

    “Call it square Number Six, what do you mean?” asked Number 2 feigning a misunderstanding.

    “This Village owes me a favour or two, now I’m calling in those favours. Get this committee off my back, and we’ll say no more about it” was Number 6’s offer.

    “You really are the limit! You think you are innocent in all this. You didn’t attack Number Twelve’s........”

    “Number Twelve, what’s he got to do with it? It was Number Thirty-six and Thirty-Six-b who was picking a fight with Number Six h.”
    “Six h, who’s he, any relation to you?”

    “I admit there was a bit of a fight….”

    “Well there you are you see, unsocial behaviour Number Six, the committee has you banged to rights. Oh I see, you think that I’m a

member of this committee and therefore you want me to use my influence against them.”

   “Something like that.”
    “The committee is completely independent and free of any influence from me I assure you.”
    “I’m here for my own protection.”
    “Yes I know, I’ve read your file.”
    “Well what are you going to do about it?”
    “There’s nothing I can do.”

    “I thought you were the boss around here” Number 6 said.

    “Now you flatter me. Number One’s the boss” Number 2 assured his visitor.

    “As far as the people of this community are concerned, you are the boss! But tell me, does Number One know what you and your committee are up to?”

    “Who am I to say what Number One knows or does not know?” Number 2 told him “the trouble with you Number Six, is that you are your own worst enemy. Look why don’t you simply accept The Village and its community, is that really too much to ask?”
    “What knuckle down, assimilate, become like you!?”
    “Become a model citizen.”

    “You are dissonance Number Six, the people will turn against you, believe me” Number 2 warned.


    “And it could get worse.”
    “Oh really, how?”
    “Through the ordeal of Transition Therapy.”
    “What’s that all about?”
    “It will result in a quiet mind. We shall soon alter your attitude Number Six, through chemical Transition Therapy we will bring about the complete reformation of your character.”
    “You can’t do that!”
    “It’s not me who will doing it, it will be the committee!”
    “You are prepared for them to take my mind?”
    “They will give it back.”
    “But I’ll not be as I am.”
    “That might be considered an improvement, good day Number Six.”
    His visitor having left, Number 2 picked up his mobile phone and sent a text message to Number 12, it read “tonight after curfew.”

    That night an independently minded citizen was drinking his night cap of hot chocolate which was unusual, but perhaps he just wished for deep oblivion, a few hours release from the prison called The Village. The night-time Supervisor had the slumbering Number 6 pictured on the wall screen.
    “That’s curious, he drank his nightcap!” observed the Supervisor.
    “Perhaps he just wanted to get a goodnight’s sleep!” returned his assistant.

    The door to ‘6 Private’ opened and two medics entered, one carrying a black Gladstone bag, they were accompanied by a nurse. In the bedroom the nurse approached the bed, while one of the medics checked the cup on the bedside table. The patient’s pulse and heartbeat were checked, and at a nod from the nurse the medic prepared a syringe and injected a yellow liquid into the lower left arm of the patient. Then the medical team waited, and a second injection was made, this time a syringe containing a reddish orange coloured liquid. Soon after, the nurse and medics left the cottage, as the overhead light began to pulsate, then was lowered until it was just above Number 6’s face.

    “Well Number Six? The Chairman of the committee asked.
    “Can’t complain” he replied with a smile.
    “How do you feel, all that aggressiveness gone, perhaps you feel at peace in your mind.”
    “I do, I believe this morning I am looking at life here in The Village with a clear mind.
    “That’s good, it is as it should be.”
    “When did it happen?”


    “When did what happen?” the Chairman asked.
    “I thought there would have many are there like me in The Village?”
    “Only special people are given the Transition Therapy.”
    “People like me?”
    “People like you.”
    “Can I go?”
    “I don’t see anything stopping you Number Six, and by the way well done.”
    Number 6 was confused!

    Having left the Town Hall Number 6 went straight to the Green Dome. There was a different air about him this morning, he was genial, approachable, and seeing the Village for the first time through fresh eyes, and he liked what he saw.
    “Good morning Number Six, how pleasant to be seeing you again” Number 90 smiled as she passed by.

    “Yes it is isn’t it, and on such a beautiful day” Number 6 saluted casually as the woman passed him.

    A taxi pulled up opposite the cobbled square and two burly looking men got out and leaned against the vehicle as Number 6 crossed the square

    “We want a word with you Number Six” 36 said.
    “I was just on my way to see Number Two.”

    “He doesn’t remember us” 36 said.
    “No, he doesn’t recall us to mind.”
    “What he did in the woods.”
    “If you don’t mind” Number 6 said as he was about to pass by.
    “But we do mind, as it happens. Thinks he can get away with it.”
    “Now my friends, I don’t know what it is you want with me.....”
    “As it happens we do mind.”
    “Now I don’t want any trouble.”
    “You know what Thirty-six.”
    “Know what Thirty-six b.”
    “I think he’s one of them, he’s had that Transition therapy.”
    “He’s a reformed character now.”
   As Number 6 was about to go on his way 36b stuck out a leg and tripped him and he fell hard onto the tarmac of the road.
    “Oh he’s fallen down, help the gentleman up Thirty-six.”
    As he helped Number 6 to his feet 36b delivered a punch to his face, quickly backed up by one to the stomach, and then Number 36 joined in and together they delivered blow after blow, Number 6 in his weakened condition was unable to fight back, until, until Number 6 suddenly regained his faculties. He returned blow for blow as he began to feel more like his old self, vanquishing his adversaries for a second time he left them lying in the road. He began to mount the
 steps to the Green Dome. Once in the foyer the butler showed him into Number 2’s office.


    “That will be all Number Twelve, we can discuss this matter at a later date.”
    As Numbers 12 and 6 passed each other through the door they gave each other a salute, there was a smile on Number 6’s face.
    “You’re looking pleased with yourself” 12 remarked.
    “And why not on such a lovely day.”

    Number 2 rose out of his chair and came out from behind his desk to greet Number 6.
    “My dear fellow how wonderful to see you. Can I offer you anything?”

   Number 6 walked down the ramp toward Number 2, who greeted him with a hand shake.
   “No nothing at all, I simply wanted to see you. It’s a beautiful day out there, and do you know what?”
    “No what?”
    “I am seeing the Village through fresh eyes, and with such peace of mind. It’s as though my brain had been taken out and given a wash!”
    “Really, how wonderful for you. 

   “You’re right of course” Number 6 suddenly stated out loud.

    “I’m right?” Number 2 asked.

    “Quite right” Number 6 added sharply.

    “Quite right?” said Number 2 in response.

    “Yes quite right, and I was wrong I fully realise that now, wrong to both struggle against and reject what is seen to be quite right….  this our fine community” smiled Number 6 in triumph at this sudden realisation “I was afraid you see, afraid to accept what so many before me had so easily, willingly and quite readily accepted. I wasn’t sure you see, I wasn’t sure if The Village was for me.”
    “Oh believe me Number Six, you are village.”
    “Yes I see that now. How was it done?”
    “Done....oh I see.”
    “It was so without trouble, so without bother, I didn’t feel a thing, but I do have three puncture marks on my left lower arm!”
    “I am so pleased for you Number Six I cannot tell you.”
    “You really should come outside, enjoy your Village. After all it is your Village, and if you cannot enjoy it who can?
    Suddenly the ‘L’ shaped telephone began to bleep. Number 2 excused himself and picked it up. The Supervisor had phoned to report two assaults on Numbers 36 and 36b, apparently there had been something of a coming together between them and Number 6, who after a fight left the two men lying in the road! Number 2 replaced the telephone on his desk turning his attention back to Number 6.
    “I feel different today, as though I belong.”

    “Why shouldn’t you, you are a reformed character, is there anything you wish to tell me?”
    “Tell you?”


    “So you are seeing The Village through fresh eyes, you wouldn’t be trying to pull the wool over my eyes now would you?”
    “I want to serve, to be of help to you, things are going to be different around here you see if they aren’t!”
    “I can’t wait. You wouldn’t know anything about a fight a few minutes ago?”
    “A fight?”
    “Down in the street, two of Number Twelve’s men, Thirty-six and Thirty-six b were attacked.”
    “Yes really, you wouldn’t happen to know anything about that...would you?”
    “I don’t know anything about it at all, nothing to do with me.”
    “But you were seen, it was reported to me, that is what the telephone call was about.”
    “I...I really don’t know...I feel a little strange.”
    “Well why don’t you go home and rest, we can talk again later on” Number 2 advised him.
    Number 6 did as he was bid, but unsure if he convinced Number 2 or not. As the pair of steel doors closed behind Number 6 Number 2 made a telephone call to the hospital “Doctor the Transition therapy carried out on Number Six?”
    “What about it?”
    “I suppose it went ahead successfully?”
    “Yes, you’ll find Number Six to be fully co-operative, all his aggressiveness has been taken away by the drug, given him peace of mind. He’ll be feeling happier in himself and with his surroundings. He’ll be looking at things in a different light now.”

    “Tell me doctor, is there anything which could counter the three drugs used in Transition Therapy?”
    The doctor thought for a moment.
    “If the patient experienced a sudden rush of adrenalin for example, that could counter the effects of the drugs” the doctor said.
    “A rush of adrenalin caused by being in a fist fight you mean?”
    “Yes a physical fight would do it” the doctor agreed.

     In the Green Dome Number 2 was watching Number 6 on his wall screen, he was sat in his lounge eating a ham sandwich and drinking a cup of coffee. The pair of steel doors opened and Number 12 entered down the ramp, and carrying a brown cardboard file.

    “All that work, all that time and effort gone to waste, tell me what

went wrong?” Number 2 asked who was once again far from happy with his assistant.

     Number 12 approached the desk and placed the file before his superior in silence.
    “How should I know Number Two.”


    “You should know, who better?”
    “I don’t understand Number Two.”
    “They were your men, you should have known.”
    “I’m sorry Number Two, I’m not with you.”
    “You have that right at least. Numbers Thirty-six and Thirty-six b picked a fight with Number Six.”
    “Well that was the plan.”
    “They picked a fight with Number Six earlier, and he left them lying in the street.”
    “I had no idea Number Two.”
    “Well you damned well do now! That fight caused Number Six to have a rush of adrenalin, and that had an adverse effect on the drugs given to him.”

    Yes oh!”
    “It’s not my fault!”
    “They were your men, no doubt they went looking for revenge on Number Six.”
    “We could start again” 12 suggested.
    “Start again, of course we can’t start again!”
    “We could get the chemist to reformulate the drugs.”

    “You’re finished Number Twelve.”

    “You will be sent over to the Island” Number 2 ordered “who knows, a man with your intelligence, you might just survive the ordeal.”

    “Island, ordeal, what do you mean sir?” asked Number 12 who was only a finger touch away from blind panic.

    Two discs in the floor slid to one side and up through the two holes on two round dais rose two men in grey overalls. It was only a question of time before they managed to over power and restrain Number 12, and took him screaming down below, leaving Number 2 cowering in the comfort of his black spherical chair to ponder his own fate.

    Blurry eyes opened, and he tried to focus on the two masked shadowy figures looming over him. Number 12 could hear muffled voices and then realised that he was lying down, not only that but also restrained, upon the operating table which he was now lying on.

    “Doctor, the patient is regaining consciousness” the voice of a nurse reported.

    “The operation was successful.”
    “Yes Professor” the doctor said “the implant is perfectly situated in the subject.”
    “The subject is conscious?”
    “Yes Professor.”
    “Good, complete his preparations, then we will be ready.”

    “Yes Professor.”
    Number 12 was stripped naked and wheeled out of the examination 
room strapped in a wheelchair.


    “Who is in charge here?” Number 12 demanded.
    “I am” said the Professor.
    “You can’t do this to me!”
    “I assure you I can.”
    “I’ll tell Number Two.”
    “And if this experiment goes well you will be able to tell him all about it.”
    “What experiment?”
    “You are about to take part in the most important experiment I have ever carried out.”
    “What experiment?”
    “Put the subject into the machine.”
    Two men in white coats stepped forward and released the restraints.
    “No...please you can’t do this, I’m Number Twelve of administration, Number 2’s assistant.”
    “Calm yourself Number Twelve, you might very well be helping us make history today” said the Professor making a note on his clipboard!