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Tuesday 26 July 2022

The Prisoner - An Exercise In Logistics Chapter {Episode} 25

 Nothing from Nobody

    Number 6 liked to spend time alone in his cottage listening to Jazz music, and when he was out and about in The Village he tended to keep people at a distance preferring his own company to that of others not knowing who to trust.

    “That’s not exactly normal behaviour is it” Number 38 remarked watching the wall screen.

    Number 2, a short balding man, with dark pools for eyes, and a slightly menacing air about him, sat in the black spherical chair behind his curved desk “If he doesn’t bend with the wind, he’ll snap like a twig!”

    “Fine by me if he breaks!” Number 38 replied with a broad grin on his face.

    “Well it’s no good to me I don’t want a man come to pieces. What are bits and pieces to me?” Number 2 told him.

    “Something to be picked over perhaps” queried Number 38 “it’s not as though he hasn’t given us enough trouble as it is!”

    “He must be made to feel that he is part of The Village, that he is Village. He must be given a purpose in life, and I fully intend giving him such a purpose” Number 2 informed his assistant with confidence.

    “But he doesn’t get involved with Village life. He doesn’t appear to want nothing from nobody.”

    “Suggesting that he wants something from everyone” Number 2 replied.

    “What have you in mind sir?”

    There came a smile to Number 2’s lips, and his whole face lit up as though a cunning plan was about to be hatched “A damsel in distress should just about do it I should think, who could resist a damsel in distress.”

    “He won’t go for it” 38 replied.

    “Then he’ll have to be made to go for it won’t he?!” barked Number 2

    “He won’t go for it if it’s a put up job” said Number 38.

    “Then it won’t have to be a put up job will it?”

    That afternoon there came a persistent rapping on the door of ‘6 Private.’ Number 6 turned up the volume of his CD player trying to drown out the noise of whoever it was at his door. But the knocking did persist. Turning down the volume of ‘Lonely Melody’ he left the lounge and went to the door of his cottage and opened it.

    “Can I come in?” asked the blonde haired young woman standing at his door.

    “Whatever you are selling I don’t want any!” he told her.


    “I’m not trying to sell you anything” the woman told him.
    “Then what do you want?”
    “Your help” said the girl who was agitated and a little frightened.
    “Why come knocking at my door? If you have a problem take it to Number Two, or the Citizens Advice Bureau” he told her.

    “You’re not like the others.”
    “I should think not!”
    “Can I come in?” Number 9 asked.
    “Well just for a minute then” he said stepping aside.
    He led the way through to the lounge.

    “Now what exactly is it you want?”

    “I’ve told you, your help” returned the girl.

    “I’m hardly in a position to help myself, so what makes you think I can help you?”

    “I thought better of you, a man with your ability!” returned the girl sharply.

    “You still haven’t told me what you want my help with” he said brusquely.

    “You think I’m one of them!” snapped Number 9 in response.

    “Isn’t everyone sooner or later?” Number 6 asked unable to hide the cynicism in his voice “who sent you here?”

    “No one, no one sent me. I didn’t think a man like you would be so suspicious. Are you suspicious of everyone, or is it just that you’re suspicious of me?”

    “Once bitten twice shy I think the phrase goes” Number 6 grinned in return.

    “You should get out more” she told him.

    “Alright what do you want? Speak up good and loud, so that everyone listening can hear!” Number 6 said folding his arms.

    “Your help to escape!” the girl told him.

    Number 6 was stunned for a moment at being unable to believe his ears, then he burst out laughing.

    “I see nothing to laugh about. There are those who as just as keen to leave this place as you are” the girl told him.

    “You know, I think they just about heard that. No doubt Number Two will be duly informed, and we’ll both be dragged off by two burly looking men for interrogation, or at least I will be!” Number 6 told her.

    “You think they heard?” asked Number 9.

    “Oh for sure, mind you if they don’t send anyone for us in the next few minutes I’ll know this is a put up job, won’t I” Number 6 shouted.

    Number 2 had been watching the proceedings on the wall screen in his office. He picked up his mobile phone and called his assistant Number 38 “Six Private, pick up the girl……. no just the girl, and rough her up a little, but just enough to make it look convincing.”

    Within minutes Number 38 with two guardians stormed into Number 6’s cottage, he stood between them and the woman.
    “We don’t want any trouble from you Number Six, we’ve come for 
the girl” said Number 38 indicating for his men to take her.


    The two men grabbed Number 9 roughly by the arms and shoulders.
    “Do you men have to be so rough?”

    “Its nothing to do with you Number Six, you still haven’t learned to mind your own business” Number 38 told him.

    “I was doing just that until this girl came knocking on my door disturbing the peace. But seeing you are all here together in my cottage, it does sort of make it my business.” he told them placing himself between them and the door.

    The two burly men looked at each other, then at Number 6 who stood in their way. The first to make his move was Number 96, a giant of a man with a full beard. He lunged at Number 6, and grabbing hold of him threw him bodily against the far wall, knocking a lamp over and a painting off the wall, as Number 69 rushed forward to take hold of the girl, who herself put up a pretty good fight, kicking his shin and biting the hands that held her. Number 96 stooped down and was about to pick Number 6 up off the floor, but seeing his colleague struggling with the girl turned to help him. As he did Number 6 stuck out a leg and tripped the man up, sending him sprawling forward onto the coffee table, smashing it and the vase of flowers set upon it. Number 6 picked himself up and lunged at Number 69 as the girl still fought him off, but Number 38’s fist made sudden and unexpected contact with Number 6’s chin, sending him reeling backwards against the alcove of shelves. Number 96 got quickly to his feet and held Number 6 in a deadly Dervish death grip. Finally, when he was dropped lying half choked, beaten and coughing on the carpet, two swift kicks from Number 96 were laid into him for good measure.

    “Let that be a lesson to you Number Six, not to interfere” Number 38 told him taking hold of the girl “don’t get in our way again, otherwise next time it may not go so well for you.”

    Number’s 96 and 69 took hold of the girl between them, and marched her kicking and screaming outside towards waiting Mini-Moke, followed by Number 38.

    In the Green Dome the pair of steel doors opened, and Number 38 entered the office.

     “Now that wasn’t too difficult was it?” Number 2 said with a feeling of satisfaction, he had been watching the little scene play out on the wall screen “now Number Nine is a damsel in distress, and with Number 6 beaten up in his attempt to defend her. The situation couldn’t be better.”

    “Yes, we bruised him a bit. But I don’t see where Number Nine being a damsel in distress gets you?” asked Number 38 cynically, not seeing the plot.

    “He’ll help the girl of course” retorted Number 2.

    “Help her do what?” asked Number 38 still not getting it.


    “Whatever she wants him to do, to escape probably” Number 2 informed his subordinate assistant.
    “Why do you want that, when we have gone to so many lengths to prove to him escape is not possible?”
    “It’s not him that wants to escape, it’s the girl!”

    “And if he doesn’t go for it?

    “Oh he will. He won’t be able to stop himself” Number 2 grinned.

   Number 9 had been taken to the hospital having injured herself by leaping out of a Mini-Moke, the cuts and bruises needed to be convincing, and not put simply applied using make-up!

    Number 6 was still recovering from his beating when two men arrived at his cottage carrying a coffee table, and a box containing a vase and other ornaments to replace the ones smashed during the fight.

    “Sorry to disturb you sir” said Number 187 as he cleared away the broken wood and pottery, his mate Number 71 carrying the replacement coffee table. They re-hung the painting, and replaced the table lamp, along with one or two other broken ornaments. The cream telephone on the desk began to bleep, he picked up the receiver.

    “Yes what do you want?” he snapped into the voice piece.

    “Don’t be like that me’ dear fellow” said the voice.

    “Who is this?” asked Number 6 watching the two men leave.
    His lounge looking just as it had before the fight broke out.

    “The new Number Two” returned the voice.

    “What happened to the old one?”

    “Meet me at the hospital Number Six” offered the new Number 2.

    “Why should I do that?” growled Number 6 into the receiver.

    “I thought you just might be interested in what is happening to Number Nine.”

    Such was Number 6’s disinterest that a taxi was sent to ‘6 Private’ in order to collect him for his hospital appointment with Number 2.

    “And what if I don’t want to go?”
    “Number Two will be disappointed” the driver told him.
    “Then in that case he will just have to put up with being disappointed!” and made to close the door.
    But the taxi driver had a foot in the door.
   “Oh very well!”

    Number 6 was met at reception by a male orderly who escorted him through a pair of frosted glass doors. A little way along the corridor Number 2 was waiting for him.

    “Been in the wars again Number Six? You look as though you could do with some treatment yourself.”

    “No thanks, I’ve already had some, at the fists of your men. And they certainly know how to put the boot in!”

    “Trouble seems to find you easily Number Six. Are you sure I can’t get the doctor to look you over?” Number 2 offered.


    Number 6 shot Number 2 a derisory glance “I was in my cottage minding my own business when this girl came knocking at my door…….”

    “You didn’t have to answer it did you. What did she want?”

    “I couldn’t possibly say” Number 6 replied as they walked along the grey walled corridor.
    They stopped outside an observation room

    “Why do you think she came to you, you of all people?” Number 2 asked opening the door.

    “I really couldn’t say.”

    “You’re not being very helpful Number Six. Perhaps she has heard of your reputation” Number 2 suggested leading the way into the room

“Let’s see if Number Nine is being more cooperative shall we?”

    The room was of cream walls and ceiling. It was empty save for a lava lamp in a small alcove set in one wall and in another was a one way observation window through which Number’s 2 and 6 could see the figure of Number 9 standing at a round table. On the table was a stainless steel aerosol spray can. She stood under hot lights, and there was a disembodied voice repeatedly asking her questions.

    “What was in your mind when you went to call on Number Six? Why did you go to see Number Six? Was he going to help you attempt an escape? What was in you mind? What was in your mind? Were you thinking of escape? Was Number 6 going to help you escape? What was in your mind? Escape…. escape….. escape?” asked the disembodied voice of the interrogator over and over again and again in an attempt to wear 9 down.
    “Why put her through this ordeal, surely your Observers heard what was said back in my cottage?”
    “That’s not important, we need to know her motivation in coming to you that’s all.”
    “Then let her go.”
    “Oh we will, if she manages to vacate the room. There is a series of infra red beams crisscrossing the room. If she makes use of the aerosol spray she can see the beams and leave the room anytime she likes” Number 2 explained “personally I think it was a mistake sending her here in the first place. She hasn’t settled in at all.”
    “Perhaps she doesn’t like it here!”
    “Rubbish, we’ve done our very best to make her feel at home, but all she does is resist us at every turn” Number 2 complained.

     The disembodied voice of the supervisor kept repeating the same questions over and over. Number 9 began to sway under the hot lights and constant questions of the voice ringing in her ears, hurting her brain, making her tired. It was at this point that her eyes fixed upon the aerosol spray can upon the table.

    “Do you know I think she’s going to try it, yes” said Number 2 eagerly staring in through the observation window.


    Number 9 picked up the stainless steel aerosol spray can, turning it over in her hands, pressing the little white nozzle, it ejected a fine spray. Pressing the button again she sprayed the spray about her, revealed a number of crisscrossing thin infra red beams. Using the spray she saw her way clear to the door stepping over, and ducking under the numerous infra red beams until she reached said door. Hand on handle, she turned it, opened the door, and dashed out into the corridor only to be grabbed by two burly attendants in white coats. She screamed!

    “Let go of me I’ve done nothing wrong, you have no right to hold me like this” she protested.

    Numbers 2 and 6 immerged from the Observation Room, as the two attendants restrained Number 9.

    “You Six, you’re one of them!” Number 9 shouted accusingly.

    The two attendants were about to turn and manhandle her away when…..

    “I feel very bad about this” Number 2 said with regret.

    “Yes, you look as if you do!” 6 replied.  

    “If only she showed signs of settling down” Number 2 told him.

    “Why don’t you let her go!”

    “I’m not at all sure that would be altogether wise” Number 2 said thoughtfully.

    The two men looked at each other, both knowing that there was no other way.

    “I expect you think I’m about to offer you a deal in exchange for the girl” said Number 6.

    “What do you think I am?” Number 2 asked “besides your record shows you have nothing to trade.”

    “I’ll tell you what I’ll do. I’ll do my best to keep out of trouble and join in more.”

    “If that’s your deal Number Six it’s hardly an original one. What about the girl?” Number 2 asked turning to look at the girl still being restrained.

    “I’ll take her under my wing, you never know we might turn into model citizens” quipped Number 6 with a wry smile.

    “I’ll believe that when it happens!” Number 2 said, nodding to the two hospital orderlies.
    They released their grip on the girl.

    “I give you my word” said Number 6.

    “Your word, you give me your word?!” said Number 2.

    “For what it’s worth.”

    “It’s not much, but I expect it’s the best I’ll get. Alright, I accept your word. Mind you keep it!” said Number 2, pleased the assignment was getting off to a good start.

    “Be seeing you” said Number 6 turning and walking away along the corridor, and out through the doors at the end.

    The next morning Number 9 was released back into the village. She went looking for Number 6. She found him at the cafĂ©.


    “I understand that I have you to thank for my release” said Number 9 who didn’t sound at all grateful.

    “I made a deal with Number Two that’s all.”

    “And in return he released me into your parole” added Number 9.

    “Would you care for coffee or do you prefer tea?”

    Number 9 shook her head.

    “Well then let’s walk. The waitress here has a sharp pair of ears” he told her as he rose up out of his seat.

     They walked together through the Piazza and across the Village green.

    “You can talk openly, but softly” he said “be careful what you say.”

    “Why should I say anything to you?”
    “No reason at all, I’ll go if you like, and that can be an end to the matter.”
    “I don’t know.”

    “You still think I’m working with Number Two, and that I’ve been assigned to you” Number 6 said turning his back on Trotsky’s bust.

   “‘Are you?” asked Number 9 tentatively.

    “You came to me remember?”
    “What’s it all for?”
    “What The Village, I would have thought even you had managed to work that one out.”
    “No, I mean this, you and I?”
    “What exactly do you want of me Number Nine?”

    “I shouldn’t be here at all!” she told him.”
   “That’s no hard up story, we can all claim that!”

    “It’s all been a mistake you see. A mistake on their part, and one they will not admit to making” she told him.

    “They don’t generally make mistakes” he informed her.

    “I was in the wrong place at the wrong time, temporarily seconded to a different government department for two weeks. I guess they took me for someone else” was her only explanation.

    “Which government department? Which government?” quizzed Number 6.

    Number 9 looked at him startled by his persistent questioning and stood up to leave “Does it matter?”

    “How long have you been here?” asking him a question of her own.

    “It’s difficult to say, days, weeks. And you?”

    “Oh I’ve been here a long time, an old hand you might say. And you are still here!”
    “There’s no way out, I know, I’ve tried and so have those before me.”

    “All that means is that you haven’t found a plan that could work. Together we might……”
    “Let’s move on, I think we’ve said too much, and no doubt attracting attention” he told her.


    “We’re only watching a croquet match together.”
    “Doesn’t matter what we’re doing. The Observers have large eyes, and big ears!”
    They walked and talked seemingly about nothing at all, simply two people taking in the Village. They took tea and an iced bun on the lawn of the Old People’s Home, sitting at a table by the balustrade and admiring the view.
    “It seems so close” she said “the outside world.”
    “And just as far away!” he replied.
    They finished their tea, he rose up out of his seat to go.
    “Shall I see you tomorrow?”
    “You might not be able to avoid it” he told her.

    “Perhaps we could go on a picnic tomorrow” she suggested out of the blue.
    “A picnic?” he asked curiously “why a picnic?”

    “It’s something to do, I could make up a small hamper.”
    “I’m not sure Number Two would like it.”
    “I didn’t ask him, I asked you. Well?
    “We’ll see, depends what the weather’s like” and with that he went on his way across the lawn.

    Number 9 waved a hand attracting the attention of the waiter “Waiter, some fresh tea please.”

    “Certainly miss” said the waiter.

    The next day the weather was fine and sunny, the perfect day for a picnic. They went along the cliffs to where Number 6 knew was an old abandoned stone house, and there was the stone semi circle where boats would once have berthed, or where people bathed. The roof long gone, the stone walls having taken a battering over the years. The window frames long since rotted away. They settled themselves down to enjoy cold chicken, pate on fresh bread, washed down with a sparkling non-alcoholic wine.
    “So what are we going to do?” she finally asked.
    “A hike across the mountains he told her.”
    “Are you mad?”
    “No, it’s not been tried before.”
    She looked across the estuary at the hills beyond “They would be bad enough, but the mountains. And that’s your plan?”
    “It’s the best you’ll get. If you don’t like it find someone else, it’s all the same to me.”
    “Across the estuary?”
   “No, through the woods behind us. I know the ground that lies beyond, get across that and we’ll be fine” he told her.

    “So we simply march off looking for a pass through the mountains to where, to where?”

    “Isn’t anywhere preferable to The Village?” he asked “besides I know where we are.


    “The location of The Village?” she said excitedly “so where are we?”
    “We shall require a few items before we can set off” he told her “we’ll take our time in gathering them, there’s no rush, and we don’t want to attract attention of the Observers do we?”

    The next couple of days Number 6 and Number 9 could be seen in each other’s company, the idea being that they would put both Number 2 and his Observers to sleep. They attended the regular brass band concerts, a folk music concert at the Recreation Hall, strolled together, had tea at the cafe. However some risks had to be taken in squirreling away essential supplies bread and tinned food, a stout rope, and bottles of water. Of course this activity was observed, but Number 2 gave the order for the Observers to “turn a blind eye.”

    “Well done my dear, you’re making excellent progress’” Number 2 told her.

    “I am happy that you are happy with how things are progressing.”
    “I couldn’t be happier. You’re sure he trusts you?”

    “As much as he’s likely to trust anyone” Number 9 confirmed “but he did say something rather curious.”

    “And what was that?” Number 2 asked eager to hear.

    “He told me that he knows the location of the Village” she told her superior.

    “And he intends to get you away across the mountains. Interesting, that’s never been tried before.”

    “Not over them, through them. I suppose he thinks, or possibly knows of some mountain pass” Number 9 replied.
    “He’s a clever fellow, would you like some tea?”

    That evening there came a knock on the door of ‘6 private,’ Number 6 answered it to find Number 9 standing outside.

    “May I come in?” she asked.

    “Of course” said Number 6 stepping to one side.

    Number 9 crossed the threshold into the lounge.

    “Would you like a drink?” he asked

    “Drink?” she replied.

    “A night cap?” he said.

   “That would be nice, gin and tonic please” she replied ‘is there anything I can do…..’

    Number 6 picked up the bottle of gin and placed a finger to his lips “Shush.”

    Number 9 realised instantly what he meant, and smiled as he poured out her drink, and a large whisky for himself.

    “Be seeing you” he toasted handing her the glass.

    “And you” she replied taking a deep draught of the non alcoholic drink.

    They may have been enjoying their drinks, however both felt awkward in each other’s company, but trying not to show it.


    “How did your chess match go with the Brigadier?” she asked sipping her gin for courage.

    “Checkmate in seven moves” he replied unemotionally, not taking his eyes off her for one moment.

    “Do you think we could have some music?” she asked suddenly feeling naked and vulnerable.

    “Certainly” he returned jovially “what would you like, classical, Jazz?”

    “Do you have Bix Biderbecke?” she had read that name in his file. She thought music might help calm her nerves.

    “Bix Biderbecke the first white Jazz musician. I have three or four more CD’s of his music here somewhere” he told her searching through his collection “are here we are” and switched on the midi hi-fi which suddenly blew the lights leaving the pair in utter darkness.

    “What’s going on?” cried Number 9 dropping her glass on the carpet.

    “Must be an electrical fault, the lights have blown. Don’t move I expect the electric’s truck will be here in a few minutes.”

    Suddenly the telephone began to bleep. In the darkness Number 6 lifted the receiver “Wait where you are Number Six. Electrics is on its way” a voice informed him.

    Number 6 lit a match and found a candle, he lit it knowing  he would not have long to act. He rushed at Number 9 in the darkness covering her mouth with his hand to stop her from calling out as he pulled her to the floor. She kicked and struggled against her assailant who was much too strong for her, his hand cupped over her mouth which she tried to bite, the other at her throat as she began to choke and gasp for breath as she was slowly strangled into oblivion. Working in the dark he carried the unconscious body of Number 9 into the bedroom, where he tied and gagged her and put her in the wardrobe. The door to ‘6 Private’ opened and the electrician wearing brown overalls entered, flashing his torch about the lounge.
    “Anyone about, Number Six?”

    Number 6 emerged from the darkness “Over there I think. I turned on the stereo and the lights went out.”

   The stout electrician went over to the stereo and began to carry out his checks. In the pug he found two wires crossing each other to create a short circuit “There’s the problem, a loose wire causing a short circuit, I’ll have it fixed in a minute. I’ll have to contact Electric’s

Control and have temporary reserves switched in.”

    The electrician left the cottage. Number 6 took out his torch, he knew he had only seconds to act. Finding the glass on the floor he picked it up, refilled it, and placed it on the coffee table, then mopped up the spilt gin and tonic on the carpet with his handkerchief.

    Outside the electrician picked up his radio “Calling Electric’s Control, calling Electric’s Control, switch in temporary reserve power to ‘6 Private,’ a loose wire causing a short circuit.”


    Inside ‘6 Private’ the lights suddenly turned on, the cottage filled with music ‘Jazz Me Blues,’ and the door opened “that’s fixed it” said the electrician.”

    Number 6 switched off his torch and smiled at the electrician, as he took his leave. Now he could put the next part of his plan into operation. Taking off his piped blazer he exchanged it for a green and white anorak. From a cupboard in the kitchen he took a haversack in which he had placed his provisions. He checked his watch, it was five minutes to curfew. He opened the door to his cottage and slipped out into the night.

    In the Control Room a shift change over had taken place, the Observers sat at their monitors and began making sweeps of The Village. As the morning grew on it became apparent to the Observers that there was no sign of Number 6. He could not be found anywhere.
   “Not again” said the Supervisor “main screen to multi screen configuration, cameras three, five, and seven auto zoom and scan.”

    But Number 6 had gone, there was no sign of him at all!

    “What!’ said Number 2 into the telephone “what do you mean there is no sign of Number Six, where is Number Nine?”

    “He’s not in his cottage, we have scanned the entire Village but he’s nowhere to be found” the Supervisor reported “but we have found Number Nine.”

    “Tied up and gagged in Number Six’s wardrobe!”

    “The mountains” Number 2 said calming down “he’ll be heading on foot for the mountains. Despatch security immediately to track him down, and have Number Nine report to me.”

    “It would seem Number Six has out foxed us both my dear!”
    “He’s gone?”
    “He has a good start on us, but he won’t get far.”
    “He said he was going to take me with him!”
    “You thought to turn the tables on me, by getting Number Six to help you escape? You can’t trust a man like him, and never forget Number Nine you are Village, you work for us.”

    The helicopter having arrived at The Village, was sent to join in with the search, the pilot having been given grid references to search beyond the Outer Zone and towards the mountains. The search was being organised and controlled from a Mobile Unit.

    Number 6 however hadn’t gone very far at all, in fact he had been holed up deep in the woods waiting for things to die down for three days, before making good his escape. The helicopter had been flying about overhead, but he was safe enough where he was. Even the guardians making a ground search of the woods had passed by without detecting his presence. It was now or never!


    Three days had passed by, it was unthinkable that Number 6 was long gone! It had been a complete disaster! Number 2 had been replaced because of his inability to recapture Number 6, Number 9 in her despair had committed suicide by hurling herself from the cliffs. That was something else which had gone against Number 2. The new Number 2, a woman of short, slight stature, with long auburn hair fixed in a bun at the nape of the neck. She wore a dark green sweater, grey slacks, and the old school scarf wound about her neck. The badge she wore upon her chest was of the negative variety, black with a white canopied Penny Farthing, and white numeral 2. There was an air of confidence, and efficiency about her. She had ordered an immediate tightening up of Village security, yet called off the search for Number 6 much to the surprise of both the Supervisor and her assistant Number 38.
    “Do you think that’s wise, after all we haven’t found Number Six” 38 told her.

    “Exactly” retorted Number 2 “that is why I’ve called off the search, because you have failed to find him dead or alive.”

    “Then you will have allowed him to escape.”

    “I will have done nothing of the kind. That was my predecessor, who has paid the price for his failure. No, I believe that there is an alternative” Number 2 said.

    Both the Supervisor and Number 38 looked at each other as though they had somehow missed something.

    “It is my belief that Number Six remains well within our grasp. It is my belief that he has gone to ground somewhere.”

    “You mean to say, that Number Six is somewhere here in The Village?” asked Number 38.

    “Not in The Village. Where would there be for him to hide for all this time? No, he has gone to ground somewhere in a secluded spot, I’m of the opinion, that he is waiting, biding his time before he makes his move.”

    “Then you have given Number Six his chance, and he’ll take it!” 38 said.

    “Oh I do hope so” said Number 2 pressing a button on the control panel of her desk activating the wall screen.
   The camera scanned an area of the woods.

    “Somewhere in the woods would afford a suitable place to hold up I should have thought.”

    “Chameleon!” Number 38 suggested.

    “Yes Chameleon could track down Number Six without being seen” the Supervisor added.
    “Chameleon, what is this Chameleon?” Number 2 asked.
    “It’s a new device which has not yet been tested in the field.”
    “Then let it be so now!” Number 2 ordered.



    Deep in the woods Number 6 emerged from his cover, it was quiet, too quiet, not a sound could be heard. The atmosphere was strange, eerie, something was not quite right, nothing stirred, but then...... He couldn’t be sure, in the branches of a tree, something camouflaged moved. The effect was like that of a kaleidoscope effect taking on the surrounding leaves and branches of the tree, he couldn’t be sure, but there it was perched on a branch. Then it moved, swiftly from one tree to another, moving towards him, like a predator seeking it’s pray!

    In the Control Room it was operations as normal, the Supervisor had everything in hand, and operations were as normal. The pair of steel doors slid open and Number 2 stepped spritely onto the gantry.

    “Anything to report?” Number 2 asked, looking down onto the Control Room floor.

    “All quiet on the western front” the Supervisor reported.
    “Are you sure this Chameleon thing will work?”

    “Chameleon will be fine’” the Supervisor assured her “although I understand it doesn’t mix well with water. The suit worn by the operator takes on both the colour and texture of its surroundings. It’s a new concept in camouflage that’s why we called Chameleon.”

    Number 2 stood at the rail looking at the wall screen in its multi-screen configuration “He’s got to make his move soon!”
    “If he’s hiding in the woods as you think” the Supervisor said.
    “He’s there, he’s got to be there...somewhere. When things develop you know where I’ll be.”
  “Yes Number Two.”

   Number 2 found herself wondering why she took on such assignments as this, spending so much of her time clearing up the mess left behind by others. She supposed that someone had to do it, it just so happened to be her.

    The Chameleon watched the Prisoner emerge from the place of his concealment, it watched as the Prisoner paused, he was listening for something. Then he looked up at the trees, looking at something....the Chameleon moved from its perched position to another tree, it saw the Prisoner make his move, Chameleon followed. It wasn’t far to the far side of the woods and the open ground beyond leading to the hills. The electronically suited Chameleon observed the Prisoner from his advantage point then dropped down out of the tree into the dense ferns below, stealthily moving towards its target, the imaging visor showing everything ahead in thermal vision, detecting the body heat of anything alive within the woods. Number 6 a few yards ahead appeared as a blue and orange coloured figure amongst the green undergrowth. He stopped at the edge of the woods, a grey stone wall ahead of him, looking back he thought he saw....but it was too late! Something, a kaleidoscope of colour leapt out at him pinning him to the ground. He couldn’t make it out, an indefinable shape which held him down, a mixture of different alternating colours and textures. Then a finger flipped opened a control panel on the things left wrist, deactivating the Chameleon camouflage, to reveal a grey armoured suit complete with gloves, helmet and tinted visor.


    The pair of steel doors opened, the unkempt figure of Number 6 was manhandled unceremoniously into Number 2’s office by two security men and dumped into a chair.

    “Where is he?” Number 6 asked.
    “Where’s who?” 38 asked

    “I have taken his place” Number 2 said with a smile “I am the new

Number Two.”

    “Then I want to speak to Number One” the Prisoner demanded.

    “You think One will be interested in anything you have to say raggedy man? Look at the state of you. What have you been up to?” Number 2 asked rising up out of her chair.

    “Wouldn’t you like to know” he snapped back.

    “You’ve been hiding out in the woods!” Number 2 told him.
    “You do know, then I don’t need to tell you anything!”
    “I find I am in your debt Number Six.”
    “How so?”
    “For helping us put our new Chameleon suit to the test.”
    “Is that what I did?”
    “You were given purpose, something to keep you occupied!” she told him “and in the process you made yourself useful to us.”
    “I wouldn’t if I had known.”
    “But you didn’t know.”
    “I want to see Number Nine.”
    “You can’t I’m afraid.”
    “Why not?”
    “She is no longer with us, and that wasn’t very gallant of you, the way you treated Number Nine.”
    “I wouldn’t have done, but I saw here leaving the Green Dome, that told me she was one of you.”
    “Take him to the hospital” Number 2 ordered “get him cleaned up, and have a doctor examine him.”
    “There’s nothing wrong with me!”
    “Thank you Number Six.”
    “Oh don’t thank me. From now on I want nothing from nobody!”

    The two guardians marched Number 6 up the ramp, and out through the open doors leaving Number 2 alone, but with a feeling of self-satisfaction. Her term of office would seem to have got off to a good start. They should be well pleased with her. It was just as though someone, somewhere, was reading her thoughts. Because just at that moment, the red ‘L’ shaped telephone began to bleep.

    She picked up the telephone and announced herself with pride “Number 2 here………”      


Tuesday 19 July 2022

An Exercise In Logistics Chapter {Episode} 24


Miss Anirue

    The attention span of an Observer is approximately twenty minutes, after that he begins to fail to notice movement on the monitor in front of him. When that happens any such Observer has to take a break. It was a keen eyed Observer who first sat at his monitor and saw the large object drifting into the mouth of the estuary. It was one of the two workmen at the top of the bell tower who was the second person to see the object.
    “Here!” Number 91 said.
    “What’s up?” asked Number 90b
    “What’s that?”
    “What’s what?” 90b said looking in the direction in which his workmate was pointing.
    In the Control Room the Observer drew the attention of the object to his Supervisor.
    “Let’s have it on the screen, put up camera fifteen” the Supervisor ordered “get closer.”
    The camera zoomed in on the object.
    “Get as close as you can.”
    The camera zoomed in to its maximum range.
    The object now in the mouth of the estuary turned out to be a de-masted yacht estimated to be about fifty to sixty feet in length.

    “What’s that doing there?” asked the Observer.
    “Drifting into the estuary” the Supervisor replied picking up the grey ‘L’ shaped telephone “Where is the powerboat?”
    “I have her on sonar now sir, she’s on her way back from patrol” said the operator.
    “Good, calling Natalia, calling Natalia....investigate a yacht in the estuary. She’s de-masted, not making way and drifting” the Supervisor then put a call through to Number 2 alerting him about the yacht.
    “Send the power boat to investigate, and I’m on my way to the Control Room” Number 2 said.

    The Natalia powered her way through the waves, the two man crew keeping a sharp lookout for the stricken vessel.
    “There she is, two points off the starboard bow” 49 said.
    The helmsman steered a course straight for her.
    “Stand by a line, and stand by to board her and take her in tow” 50 ordered.
    “Why me?” 49 asked.
    “Because there are only the two of us, and I’m the helmsman!”


    “Well get as close as you can to her before I jump aboard!
    It was a calm sea which made it easy for the helmsman to draw the power boat alongside the yacht. As the Miss Anirue was taken under tow Number 49 made a search of the yacht. Her mast had gone, rigging lines lay strewn across the deck. Below there was nothing but chaos, and she was partly flooded, but of the crew there was no sign.
    Number 2 arrived in the Control Room and glanced at the large wall screen from the gantry.
    “Why has the Natalia taken that hulk under tow?”
    “We could hardly leave her to drift further down the estuary” the Supervisor replied.
    Number 2 descended the steel staircase “Where did she come from?”
    “She was observed drifting into the mouth of the estuary, looking at her she’s been through a storm. The crew of Natalia report no-one aboard” the Supervisor reported.
    “What are we going to do with her?”
    “She’s being towed in as you can see sir, I thought to have her moored at the quayside.”
    “What for?”
    “Well we can do that, or we can have her towed out back to sea and sink her!” the Supervisor suggested.
    Number 2 thought and considered the situation.
    “She’s called the Miss Anirue” said the Supervisor.
    “What’s that to us?”
    “I’ve had the name run through our computers.”
    “Oh you have!”
    “The Miss Anirue is one of a number of yachts taking part in a round the World yacht race” the supervisor said.
    “So what’s she doing washed up here?”
    “I’ve no idea sir. But she was crewed by the yachtswoman Philippa King, who wasn’t found aboard!”
    “So this Phillipa King is lost at sea.” Number 2 said.
    “Yes Number Two.”
    “Probably no bad thing as far as we are concerned.”

    “There is another question...the yacht’s Global Position System.”
    “What about it?”
    “It could be used to track the last position of the yacht and bring any possible search here to The Village!”
    “Yes of course” Number 2 said “have the yacht moored at the quayside, have the GPS deactivated, and put a security team aboard to keep watch.”

    The powerboat having a wrecked yacht in tow attracted the attention of a number of citizens who watched the vessel’s slowly approach along the estuary. Number 6 was one of the citizens watching from the lawn of the Old People’s Home.
    “Looks like she’s been in a storm” the Admiral said.
    “Wonder if the crew’s still aboard?” Number 6 asked.


    “She looks abandoned” the Admiral said “she’s taken on water judging by the list.”

    The power boat came inshore, slowing and manoeuvring so to bring Miss Anirue alongside the Stoneboat. A crewman threw two mooring lines to two men standing aboard the Stone boat, and secured both bow and stern lines. Number 6 now standing on the quayside stood watching, two guardians went aboard the yacht to make a search, there was no-one aboard. Either they were washed overboard in a storm, or they abandoned the vessel, certainly the life lines were broken and lay limp over the port side.

    “You don’t miss much, do you Number Six?” said a female voice behind him.

    “You could hardly fail to miss her if you tried!” Number 6 quipped with a broad grin on his face “she’s the Miss Anirue.”

    “Tell me something I don’t know!”

    “This could constitute a breach in security, what have you done with the crew?”
    “Nothing, there is no crew, she was apparently abandoned at sea.”
    “I can see why!”

    “The crew might still turn up, in a lifeboat perhaps.”
    “Hope springs eternal eh Number Six” Number 2 said “even if they do it will be of no help to you.”
    “Hell of a place to get yourselves shipwrecked!”
    “She drifted here on the current, having been caught up in a storm well out to sea. Nobody is going to turn up here Number Six.”

 “The yacht will be equipped with GPS, someone somewhere will have her course plotted, and a search will extend outwards from the last known position….”

    “Why don’t you go and bother someone else!”
    The two guardians emerged from below deck, one carried a lap top, the other a log book.

    Number 2 contacted the Control Room via her mobile phone.

    “Supervisor here” said Number 56.

    “Have a search made of the coastline, there is the possibility of the crew having been washed up somewhere.”

    “Yes Number Two, at once.”

    “A marvellous invention are they not Number Six?”
    “Once upon a time they were a novelty, now virtually compulsory and people cannot seem to live without them!” Number 6 replied.
    “Makes you wonder how people managed before?”
    “They used something called a telephone box, and back in those good old days you could go about your business without others knowing where you are! How do you stop others from detecting The

Village, what with spy satellites and all that?”

    “The Village is cloaked!”
    “The Global Positioning System aboard the yacht won’t be cloaked!”
    “Thank you for your concern Number Six, my men were sent aboard to disable the GPS! Where is your mobile phone?”


    “I keep it in the fridge!”
    “That could be deemed as misuse of Village property!”
    “And you keep yours in your pocket, why?”
    “So that I can be contacted at any time of day, no matter where I am.”
    “Then how very uncomfortable for you!” Number 6 replied.

    “What will you do with her?” he asked.


    “Miss Anirue.”

    ‘It all depends” Number 2 replied turning to leave.

    “Depends on what?” he asked casually.

    “On whether or not we find the crew or not” returned Number 2 turning back to face him “there is an active search underway, perhaps you would like to join in”’ asked Number 2 with a knowing smile.

    Number 6 said nothing.

   “I thought not. Be seeing you” Number 2 saluted and walked away with log book and lap top under her arm.

   Number 6 casually returned her salute before turning and stepping aboard the Stoneboat in order to get a closer look at the Miss Anirue.

    “Take much to get her sea worthy again Admiral?” Number 6 asked.

    “Aye lad. Probably take weeks” said the Admiral as he stood looking her over “she needs a new mast and jib, rigging, perhaps a new rudder, and the self steering gear could be damaged.”

    “Engines?” asked Number 6.

    The Admiral looked at Number 6 “Aye lad, the auxiliary engine should be sound, if she didn’t take too much water on board. I know that look lad, what are you thinking?”

    “Ask no questions Admiral and I’ll tell you no lies” retorted Number

6, who was already calculating how he could turn the Miss Anirue to his advantage.

    With the tide out, the afternoon found Number 6 walking along the base of the cliffs searching amongst the rocks and pools with other members of the search team. They searched the wide expanse of open sand and the water filled gullies left by the outgoing tide. But it was a fruitless search, nothing and no-one was to be found anywhere. In the cipher room technicians had been able to log in on the Lap Top found on the Anirue, while Number 2 occupied her time by going through the yacht’s log. This while Number 6 maintained his own search, and it was while he was poking about in the cove where the small narrow slit cave is set in the cliffs that Number 6 found it, a yellow life jacket! He had found the life jacket floating in a rock pool. It was badly torn, but of the body of the person who had been wearing it there was no sign. It was at this point that he found himself gazing in the direction of the cave. There were no footprints in the sand, so it was reasonable to assume that the cave had been neglected during the search. Easing himself through the narrow slit he entered the small narrow cave, it was cold and damp and just inside was a yellow life jacket. The cave was not very deep, and there lying on the damp sand was the body of a woman. Kneeling down he turned the body over, she was dead, he could only imagine the body was washed into the cave by the sea. It was obvious to him that the woman was off the Anirue, he decided to leave her where she was for the time being. For it to be discovered it might hamper his chances of using the radio aboard the yacht!


    Number 2 was in her office, she had been reading through the log of the Miss Anirue when the pair of steel doors opened and the Supervisor entered. 
    “What have you to report?”
    “There is no sign of any crewman of the yacht Number Two. The coastline has been searched to the both the northern and southern perimeters all with negative results.”

    “And the yacht?”
    “A survey has been carried out and it appears she does not warrant repairs to be carried out. She has a hole on her starboard side. The GPS has been disabled, also the radio.”
    “Good. What makes you think I should not wish repairs carried out on the yacht? But get a pump installed on board, I want the water pumped out.”
    “Yes Number Two. What about the search, do we continue or should I call it off?”
    “Don’t waste any more time, call it off. Any such body might well wash up somewhere else, either that or it has been lost at sea.”

    “And Number Six?”
    “What’s Number Six got to do with it?”
    “It is reported that he involved himself in the search along the base of the cliffs. He may have found something.”

    “Did he find anything? More important did he find anything and decide to keep it to himself?” asked Number 2.

    “I’ve really no idea” returned the Supervisor nervously.
    “Then we had better find out, hadn’t we?”
    “Yes Number Two.”

    “And have security keep a close watch aboard the Anirue.”
    “Yes Number Two.”
    “And I want the yacht camouflaged!”
    “A yellow and blue will stand out a mile don’t you think? We may have given up on a search, the question is....has anyone else? We don’t want to inadvertently attract attention to us do we?
    “No Number Two.”

    Outside on the balcony of the Green Dome, the Supervisor met with Number 6 who was just about to pay a call on Number 2.

    “Where do you think you are going Number Six?”

    “In there to see Number Two” retorted Number 6, whilst hiding something behind his back.


    “What have you there?” asked the Supervisor, curious to see what the Prisoner was trying to hide.

    “What are you, Number Two’s assistant?” quipped Number 6.

    “I asked you what it is you have there, do not have me ask a third time” the Supervisor demanded.

    Number 6 produced his find from behind his back, that of a yellow life jacket.

    “Where did you find that?” Number 2 asked rising out of her chair.

    “Amongst the rock pools, your people missed it!” Number 6 with a look of satisfaction.
    “You involved yourself!”
    “I thought I would lend a helping hand.”
    “Helping yourself would be more like it” Number 2 said examining the life jacket.

    “It was easy to miss, I only came across it by chance.”
   “Lucky you!”

    “I don’t suppose you found a body to go with it?” asked Number 2 casually, but it was an obvious question.

    “No, there was no body to be found” Number 6 lied.

    “Well thank you Number Six that was very public spirited of you. If you would perform one favour for me?”
    “Yes what is it?”
    “Show two guardians exactly where you found this life jacket.”

    Number 6 led the two guardians across the beach, but in the opposite direction to where he actually found the life jacket.
    “Right” said Number 256 “where did you find the life jacket?”
    “It was here, amongst the Maram grass.”
    The two guardians made a search of the area for themselves, there was nothing else to find.
    The Supervisor and Number 2 watched them searching on the wall screen.
    “What’s Number Six’s game?” asked the Supervisor.
    “If, and it is if, Number Six has found the body of the yachtswoman he will be aware that there will be those from the outside world looking for both her and the yacht. He may have found the body and has hidden it, thus attempting to delay the finding of it. He might be under the misapprehension that a search team from the outside World might turn up on our doorstep and rescue him!”

    “It’s a long shot.”
    “Yes. The tide being out I want certain repairs made to the Miss Anirue, just enough to make her seaworthy. I want rid of that vessel, 
towed well out to see on the next tide, then cast adrift for someone else to find it miles away from here!”

    The quayside was a hive of activity and Number 6 went to see what was going on. He was standing on the starboard side of the Stoneboat watching, observing, and making mental notes.


    “What are you doing here Number Six?” asked one of the security guards.
    “Just looking.”

    “This has got nothing to do with you, clear off!”
    “I have been, I’ve been assisting Number Two.”
    “That will be the day!”
    “No it’s perfectly true.”
    “Well we don’t need your help here.”
    “I can see that, getting her ready for sea are they?”
    “It’s no business of yours if she’s being broken up, her planking turned into items of treen to be sold to tourists!”
    It was apparent to Number 6 that he would need a small crew in order to handle Miss Anirue at sea!

    In the Control Room, the Supervisor was watching the activity of Number 6, and reported his interest in the activity aboard the yacht.
    “Is he, I wouldn’t have expected anything else from him. The guardians report they found nothing else. I believe Number Six purposely led them in the opposite direction to where he actually found the life jacket. Have another search conducted, in the other direction.”
    “Yes Number Two, and Number six?”
    “Leave him to me.”

    Number 6 decided that it was time for the discovery of the body in the cave. Making his way along the cliffs and a little way past the lighthouse he lookd down into the cove. A Mini-Moke towing a Red Cross trailer was parked outside the cave, and the body was being placed into the trailer by two medics. He was too late!

    “Well Number Six, your little ruse, I’m not quite sure what you hoped to gain by it!” Number 2 said with a feeling of satisfaction “and as you saw Miss Anirue is being made ready for sea.”

    “So clever aren’t you!”

    “Yes we are, very clever don’t ever forget that!”

    “And the woman?”
    “She will be given a burial at sea, far from here.”
    “And me, what happens to me?”
    “Nothing, you are free to go.”
    “If only!” he said unable to disguise the disappointment in his voice.

    Number 6 strolled about The Village looking for a likely crew to help man the yacht. Himself as navigator, he needed a mechanic for the engine, and a couple of hands, his problem being how to select them? He thought of the Admiral and his flag officer, but they were too old sea dogs! On the taxi rank a man in dove grey overalls had his head under the bonnet of one of the taxis.



    “Excuse me” said Number 6 his hand on the bonnet.

    “Yes” said the mechanic come electrician looking up from his work “if it’s another breakdown you’ll just have to wait.”

    “Fair enough” said Number 6 and calmly walked away, obviously he was not the man for the job.
    A gardener who had been cutting the grass of The Village green had stopped to attend to the engine of the tractor.
    “Excuse me” Number 6 said “But are you by any chance a motor mechanic?”
    “No, I’m a gardener, but I know a little about engines.”
    “Good, then you could well be the man I’m looking for” Number 6 told him.
    “Very good sir!”
    As for his two hands, he could think of no-one else other than the Admiral and his flag officer despite their age, he was sure they would appreciate a sea voyage!

    Number 6 had been an early riser, forgoing his usual early morning stroll round The Village. Instead he went down the hill to the quay where Miss Anirue was moored. Work had been carried out at a feverish rate in order to make the vessel seaworthy, all that was needed was a full tide in order to tow her out to sea, that tide was already on the turn. He was going to board the Stoneboat in order to get a better look at the yacht but the white amorphous white mass of the guardian intervened blocking his progress. As he stood facing it the thing became agitated at his defiance, then Number 6 backed slowly away as two guardians stood aboard the yacht watching on.

    Later that day Number 6 approached both the Admiral and his flag officer talking to them confidentially. The Admiral questioned Number 6’s reason for the sea voyage and took a little convincing, the flag officer was all for the plan, at least he agreed it was something to do.
    The gardener was sitting on his garden tractor cutting one of the lawns when Number 6 approached him, he stopped the tractor but kept the engine running.
    “A sea voyage, I’m no sailor, I’m a gardener!”
    “Yes but I need a motor mechanic” Number 6 told him, the noise from the engine disguising their conversation.
    “I don’t know, I’m not much in favour of The Village. I’m an horticulturist when I was recruited I expected more, but I’m just a gardener fit only for trimming hedges and cutting grass!” Number 87 

    Number 6 had his man! The four met up at the stage coach, Number 6 laid out his plan. It was argued that the yacht was nothing more than a hulk, with no mast, no prow with a hole in her starboard side. But Number 6 told them she was being made seaworthy. That the rudder is undamaged, so too the steering gear, that she had three advantages, an engine, GPS and a radio transmitter Number 6 said he could deal with communications and navigation. At the very worst they could send out an S.O.S, and so he was able to convince his three confederates.


    “How are we going to work this lad?” the Admiral asked “she’ll be towed out to sea behind the power boat!”

    “We just step aboard and take her do we?” asked the flag officer “they would be onto us before we had time to cast off!”

    “Number Eighty-seven and I will overpower the two guards on the yacht and take their place. Then we can smuggle you two onboard the yacht and you stow away until we are out at sea when the yacht will be cast adrift, but able to make way under the power of the engine.”
    “Then what?”
    “We will be a prize crew!”

    In the Control Room the Supervisor picked up the yellow ‘L’ shaped telephone and called Number 2 “I have to report Number Six has been seen spending time with the Admiral and his flag officer.”
    “Well Number Six does pay chess with the Admiral.”
    “And he’s been talking to the gardener Number Eighty-seven.”
    “I never realised Number Six was interested in horticulture!”

    “He’s never shown interest before!”

    “Where are they all now?” asked Number 2.

    “They are sat talking together at a table on the lawn of the Old People’s Home” the Supervisor told her watching the wall screen.
    Number 2 pressed a button on the control panel of her desk activating the wall screen.
    “I can’t get the audio” she told the Supervisor.

    “The microphone is kaput, I bet Number Six has fixed it!” the Supervisor said.

    “How can it be broken if Number Six has fixed it!”
    Number 2’s witticism went over the Supervisor’s head.

    “I don’t suppose one of the Observers can lip read?”
   “They have an unhealthy interest in the yacht. Earlier today Number Six tried to get close to the yacht but the Guardian steered him away” the Supervisor reported.
    “You think they will attempt to take the yacht?”
    “I think Number Six has found his crew. Shall I have them brought in?”

    Number 2 thought for a moment “No. Whatever Number Six is planning it will teach him that there is no point in being mutinous!”

    “He and his crew cannot possibly escape in that hulk!”

      “No, but it might be interesting to see him try. You know where I’ll be if you need me.”

    The next day the tide was in and final preparations were being made to tow the Miss Anirue out to sea. The powerboat had drawn alongside. The quayside was not exactly bustling with the madding crowd, there were two men on the deck of Miss Anirue, and Number 6 had them under close surveillance from the main cabin of the Stoneboat. He was wondering how they were going to get aboard when the gardener Number 87 turned up.


    “Where are the others?” Number 6 asked.
    “They have had a change of mind.”
    “They’re not coming?”
    “No, they say they are too old for escape.”
    “Perhaps it’s just as well”
    “How do we get aboard with those two standing there?”
    “We wait” Number 6 replied “we wait and take our chance when it comes.”

    “Have you checked the sea cocks?” asked Number 234.

    “No, I was just about to go below and do that” answered Number 155 “what about the yacht’s log and lap top, Number Two still doesn’t have them?”

    “No they’re here. While you’re at it, plug in the lap top’s connections and boot it up, the access code is written on a piece of paper inside” Number 234 told him handing over a black case.

    Number 155 took the black bag and disappeared below deck. Then Number 234 turned his back making a final check of the helm and steering gear. Numbers 6 and 87 seized their chance, and from the starboard side of the Stoneboat jumped aboard the yacht and ducked down into the forward compartment. Then there came footsteps on deck and Number 6 dropped through the open hatch.

    “That was a close call.”

    “What’s happening?” Number 87 asked.
    There was the deep growl of the twin diesel engines of the powerboat.

    “If they close and bolt the hatch down……” began 87.

    “Shhh” returned Number 6 as a shadow passed across the open hatch way, and all they could do was wait as they listened to the voices on deck.

    “Here catch this line and tie it off” shouted a crewman aboard the powerboat throwing a stern line to his fellow crewman aboard the Miss Anirue.

    “Did you check the sea cocks?” asked another.

    “Well that’s what I went down for isn’t it” Number 155 muttered to himself.

    ‘Well just make sure I’m off this hulk before you open them, I don’t want to be going down with her!” said Number 234 busy tying off the tow line.
    “They’re going to sink her then?”

    “That’s the plan, Number Two has had a change of mind. Secure the towline, I’ll take the helm, and prepare to cast off” ordered Number 234.

    “Aye aye sir” Number 155 saluted standing by the stern line.


    “Did you hear that, the sea cocks. They’re going to scuttle her!” whispered a startled Number 87 “why ever did I listen to you?”

    Number 6 grabbed 87 as he made a move for the open hatch and pulled him back “Once the two guardians are off there will be ample time to close them.”

    Miss Anirue’s lines were cast off and the helmsman on board the powerboat revved her twin diesels and prepared to take the stricken yacht under tow. Not so much a spectacular sight, but a little excitement to entertain those all watching from the quayside. Also the senior citizens watched from the lawn of the Old People’s Home, where the Admiral and flag officer stood at the salute whistling the sailor’s hornpipe as the power boat, its diesels growling, slowly got under way towing the Miss Anirue out into the estuary. Number 2 also watched the proceedings, but from the comfort of her chair and with a smile of great satisfaction, as did the Supervisor in the Control Room.

    Miss Anirue did not behave well under tow. The waves giving the impression that she was bucking against her tow line as though she was resisting her return to the open sea. The two crewmen on board were feeling distinctly uncomfortable and would be glad when it was time to abandon ship. That time was now not so far off. Below, the pair of stowaways were not having a pleasant voyage either, being rocked about in their forward compartment as they waited their moment which was now quickly approaching. Suddenly the stricken yacht was no longer under tow, the powerboat was standing by to take the two guardians off. One guardian went below deck to open up the sea cocks, while the other prepared to release the tow rope. Then the two jumped ship onto the powerboat, the helmsman revved the twin diesels, pushed the throttles forward before making way back to the estuary and The Village. Number 6 and 87 threw back the forward hatch and burst out onto the deck to find they were still moored alongside the Stoneboat!

    “We couldn’t have you two being cast adrift in such an un-seaworthy craft Number Six” Number 2 told him “a danger not only to yourselves but also to shipping” from the deck of the Stoneboat.

    “It had all been for nothing” 87 said in despair.
    Two guardians stepped aboard the yacht and took Number 87 in hand.

    “You knew all along” said Number 6 “the voyage was merely a simulation!”

    “That’s one way to put it I suppose” retorted Number 2 still smiling.

    “Why, why go to the bother?” asked Number 6 from the deck of the Miss Anirue.

    “Call it a practical demonstration” Number 2 grinned broadly, holding out a hand as to assist Number 6 aboard the Stoneboat.

    “What will happen to Eighty-seven?” asked Number 6.

    “Don’t tell me you care. I expect he’ll be back at work tomorrow.” retorted Number 2 as she walked with Number 6 along the quayside

“what are we to do with you is perhaps more to the point?”


    “You could simply let me go, then we would both achieve peace of mind” quipped Number 6 with a smile.

    Number 2 laughed “Ha ha ha ha ha, you kill me Six!”

    “You shouldn’t go making promises for me!” quipped Number 6.

    “It’s good that you maintain your sense of humour. You may be in need of it in the very near future” was Number 2’s promise to him.

    “What will happen to her?” asked Number 6.

    “Miss Anirue” said Number 6 following behind Number 2.

    “She’ll be towed well out to sea where she will be found by someone else. The lone yachts- woman having been swept overboard and drowned” Number 2 explained “can I offer you a ride home?” indicating with the point of her furled umbrella shooting stick the waiting taxi.

    “I prefer to walk, get my land legs back you know!” he quipped sarcastically.

    “Suit yourself. Be seeing you” Number 2 saluted from under the taxi’s candy striped canopy.

    “Be seeing you” he saluted as the taxi pulled away
    Number 6 made his way slowly through the Village, passed Hercules, the pink pavilion, and up the cobbled path. Music played through the speakers of the public address system, an old favourite by the Sutherland Brothers “Sailing.”