The Panoptican Syndrome
The Village is a place where people turn up, people with knowledge to be safeguarded or extracted, a place where life goes on much the same as the day before, and the day before that. Its citizens go happily about their daily lives, prisoners and warders alike. Control over the citizens is administered by Number 2 Chairman of The Village, through the power of surveillance which is carried out by the Observers who are reputed to see and hear everything!
In the Control Room the Supervisor-Number
56 was less than ninety seconds away from a calamity. All monitoring systems were
working, all surveillance cameras were on the top line, and yet in less than
one minute chaos would reign. And then without any warning all the surveillance
cameras went down and instantly the supervisor and the Observers were blind! The
cause, perhaps it was the slip of a screwdriver, a wrong electrical connection,
a short circuit caused by crossed wiring, or a spanner dropped in the works by
accident or otherwise. Whatever the cause surveillance operations in the
Control Room had ground to a halt. Observers turned from their black screened
monitors, and the two Observers riding up and down, round and round on the
steel see saw device all turned to the Supervisor. The Supervisor picked up the
yellow ‘L’ shaped telephone in his usual calm manner and called maintenance.
“Supervisor here, all Control Room surveillance systems are down. What’s the problem?....... Yes I know you were carrying out major maintenance work……. you are sure about that………. how long?”
“How long?” asked Number 2 into the telephone “and you’re sure it wasn’t sabotage?”
“A group of technicians were carrying out some minor systems maintenance work. Crossed wiring caused a wide spread short circuit, causing two electrical fires” the Supervisor explained.
“I want those men reprimanded!”
“Yes Number Two, but I think we have a larger problem to deal with at the moment. The Observers are blind, and until systems are back on line we shall have to rely on the guardians.
Number 2, a man of medium height, slight build, with white hair, and wearing horn rimmed spectacles, turned the problem over and over in his mind and then an idea struck him.
“Supervisor I want you to select your best Observer for special duties. Then the both of you are to come to my office immediately.”
“You have a solution?” asked the Supervisor.
“I will explain my plan when you come to my office, and on your way you might collect the keys to the Camera Obscura.”
“The Camera Obscura, what has that to do with anything?” questioned the Supervisor.
“Almost everything, oh and you might as well
stand the Observers down, the citizens will be safe enough for the time being,
they don’t know they are not being watched!”
The Supervisor ordered Number 252, a woman in the mid thirties to accompany him to the Green Dome, and collected the keys to the Camera Obscura on the way.
“Do you know why Number Two wants to see me?” 252 asked.
“All I know is that that Number Two has a solution to the current problem of surveillance, I suppose you along with the Camera Obscura are the two parts of his plan!”
They hurried from the Town Hall along the cobbled path, crossing the road and mounting the steps up to the Green Dome. In the foyer stood the butler.
“Yes” said the butler.
“We are here to see Number Two” said the Supervisor about to push his way passed him.
The butler held out an arm across the open
The Supervisor shot the butler a frustrated look “You know me, I’ve been here before.”
A worried look crossed the Observers face. The butler smiled at her, but did not remove his arm.
“Oh very well, I’m the Supervisor.”
“Did I ask you what you did for a living?” said the butler persistently.
“Oh very well, Number Fifty-six, and this is Number Two five-two.”
“Do you have an appointment?”
“Number Two instructed me to bring this lady to see him on a matter of grave urgency” the Supervisor explained.
The butler eyed the couple, then removing his arm, turned and stepped towards the pair of steel doors which opened automatically.
The butler standing in the doorway announced the two visitors “The Supervisor Number Fifty-Six and Observer Number Two five-two to see you” and stepped to one side to allow the two visitors access.
“Will there be anything else?” asked the butler.
“No, and I do not wish to be disturbed for at least thirty minutes”
retorted Number 2 rising up out of his black spherical chair.
“Right! I’ve polished your top hat, also brushed your black suit and overcoat which are laid out ready for your meeting with the board this afternoon” the butler informed him.
“Ah the meeting with the board, I had forgotten about that” returned Number 2 walking from behind his curved desk.
“Just as well I’m here to remind you then!”
“Cancel that meeting” Number 2 ordered.
“That’s what I said!”
The butler withdrew and the pair of steel doors slid shut.
“This is Number Two-five- two she is my best Observer” stated the Supervisor with confidence.
“Is that true my dear?” asked Number 2 looking the girl up and down.
“I do my job to the best of my ability sir.
I get to know my subjects very well” 252 returned in a quiet tone of voice.
“I’m sure you do, do sit down” 2 said pressing a button on the control panel.
A round panel in the floor slid away and a black leather chair rose up through the whole in the floor.
“But they don’t know you do they?”
“No sir” answered 252 with an unfeeling air in her voice.
“Does that bother you?” Number 2 asked.
“No Number Two. I’m told observers of life should never get involved” returned 252 with austere conviction
“Good, excellent” said Number 2, who could
not be more pleased “I am pleased to inform you that you are to be promoted,
please do sit down.”
She looked at the black chair, walked over to it and sat down.
“Promoted sir?” asked the Supervisor “promoted to what?”
“Promoted to the position of Inspector. What do you have to say to that…….. Inspector” smiled a highly delighted Number 2.
Number 252 did not know quite what to say, and simply said “Thank you sir.”
“But there isn’t a position of Inspector to be promoted to sir” the Supervisor said.
“Well there is now, I have just created the vacant position, and what an important position it is to be promoted to that of Inspector” said Number 2 smiling at the woman.
“What shall my duties as Inspector be?” Number 252 asked nervously.
“As Inspector you will inspect and observe” then turning to the Supervisor “I take it you brought the key to the Camera Obscura with you?”
“Yes Number Two” the Supervisor said producing a large key from his blazer pocket.
“Step forward my dear” Number 2 said with a kindly and disarming smile.
The newly promoted Inspector did as she was asked.
“I put this key in your charge Inspector” said Number 2 with some feeling of ceremony, “and I look for great things from you, because you will be responsible for the surveillance of The Village and its entire community for the immediate future.”
“Yes sir” returned the Inspector “but if I may ask to what does this key belong?”
“It is the key to your office!”
“In the Camera Obscura” added the Supervisor.
Number 2 looked at the Supervisor “Thank you, yes the Camera Obscura, you know what that is don’t you my dear?”
The newly appointed Inspector looked at Number 2 and lied “Yes Number Two.”
“Then perhaps you would like to explain the working of the device to me.”
Number 252 stood there thinking what to say, and said nothing.
“You cannot deceive me two five-two. You
don’t know what a Camera Obscura is…..do you?”
“No, Number Two.”
“Well never mind my dear, I know a man who does, and he will instruct you in its operation. You are going to be at the very core of a new social experiment.”
“You will be the only Inspector responsible for maintaining surveillance over The Village and surrounding area reporting directly to the Supervisor in the Control Room via a telephone link. You will be free to come and go to the Camera Obscura as you wish, but it is imperative that no-one should observe your coming and going, do you understand?”
“I do. But is it not too much for just one Inspector, I cannot be there all the time….”
Number 2 looked upon the Inspector with a kindly smile “That’s the trick of the thing, that the good citizens of our community will know you are at your post in the Camera Obscura, but not when. Given time, the citizens will effectively control their own behaviour, because they cannot know when they are being observed. Simple don’t you think?”
“If the citizens do not know the surveillance cameras are down, will the result not be the same?” asked the Supervisor.
“It would be if it were not noticeable that the cameras are not operating” Number 2 replied “so we shall be straight with them, and tell them they are not working hence the need for the newly appointed Inspector. Do either of you know what a Panoptican is?” Number 2 asked.
“Yes” replied the Supervisor with a look of satisfaction “the Panoptican is basically a prison without bars, come to think of it no prison doors either!”
“The trick on the side of the Inspector who was positioned in a tower in the centre of the Panoptican was to keep watch over the prisoners who never knew when they were under surveillance because the prisoners never knew when exactly the inspector was actually in his tower. The prisoners behavioural patterns changed when being under constant surveillance. They behaved, not making any form of trouble, nor did they attempt to escape. Because the prisoners never knew when the Inspector was in his tower keeping the prisoners under his
Watch. In effect they behaved exactly the same, whether the Inspector was in his tower or not!”
“Control through uncertainty and discipline” offered the Inspector.
“You have an instant grasp of the situation Inspector” 2 said “Supervisor take the Inspector to the Camera Obscura and instruct her in the workings of the device.”
“Yes Number Two at once.”
The Inspector followed the Supervisor up the ramp and out through the open steel doors as Number 2 picked up a turquoise ‘L’ shaped telephone “Put me though to The Tally Ho……editorial department.”
Ting a ling-ling-ling sounded the shop bell as Number 6 entered The General Store. He took a copy of The Tally Ho newspaper from the rack and approached the counter, behind which the shopkeeper stood arranging a display of fresh cheeses. Number 122 was of medium height, he wore a blue and white striped apron and straw boater. He turned away from the display, and looked at his next customer.
“Good morning sir, The Tally Ho that will be two Credit Units if you please. Will there be anything else?” asked the shopkeeper as Number 6 placed the newspaper on the counter.
“Yes I’d like a pencil and a small notebook” retorted Number 6 with a smile and one hand upon the counter.
“Very good sir” said the shopkeeper turning his back and opening the cabinet behind him, from which he turned back, and laid a pencil and black notebook on the counter “there you are sir.”
“It’s not an HB pencil” Number 6 said picking up the pencil.
“No sir, it’s a three B pencil” observed the shopkeeper “you want an HB pencil?”
“If you would be so kind” said Number 6
with a smile.
The shopkeeper turned back to the cabinet, opened it, took a box of
from therein, and turning back to the counter, HB pencil in hand “There you are
sir. Will there be anything else?”
“No I don’t think so” he said and paid with his admix card.
“Be seeing you sir” bid the shopkeeper.
“And you” 6 replied
Ting a ling-ling ting a ling
Outside, The Village was covered by a cloudless pale blue sky and bathed in glorious sunshine. As Number 6 walked down the road he became aware of a quite pleasant smell, an aroma which curiously belongs to The Village alone, conjured by a particular mixture of fragrant plants, flowers and bushes and always at this time of year. Arriving at the cafe he looked for a vacant table outside, and seeing one in the corner of the patio he made direct for it and sat down. A middle aged waitress in a dark blue dress, white frilly apron and white sailor’s hat came over to take his order.
“Black coffee and toast” Number 6 ordered opening his copy of the broadsheet newspaper that is The Tally Ho, the head line read:
An Inspector Is Appointed!
Due to unforeseen problems with the
surveillance system, a newly appointed Inspector will now be responsible for
maintaining security of the citizens. The Inspector will be based in the Camera
Obscura, and will be the all seeing eye over The Village and its citizens.
Number 6 put the broadsheet down, there’s no surveillance, the cameras are down “What trick is this? he thought.
The waitress returned with his coffee and toast, placing the things on the table.
“That will be eight credit units if you please sir” the waitress told him.
“And if I don’t please?” asked Number 6 sarcastically taking his
Admix card from the breast pocket of his blazer.
“It will still be eight credit units sir” returned the waitress taking his Admix and swiping it in her credit card swipe.
Putting his card back into his breast pocket Number 6 sipped his coffee and crunched on his buttered toast.
“Ah there you are Number Six” said a young man dressed in a brown piped blazer and straw boater.
“So it would seem” retorted Number 6 contemptuously without taking his eyes off his chess problem in the paper.
“There’s a chess match in a few minutes, can I save you a chess pole?” Number 24 asked eagerly “after all you’re a fine player of the game and all that.”
“Flattery will get you almost anywhere, but not today” returned Number 6 taking a sip of his black coffee.
“Well just come and watch anyway” 24 urged eagerly.
“You seem very insistent that I be in your company this morning, why should that be?” asked Number 6 casually
“No particular reason Number Six, only I know how fond you are of chess, by the way what do you think of this new Inspector thing? I would have thought they would have enough Observers, wouldn’t you?” 24 asked.
“I couldn’t possibly comment, not being privy to the inner most working of the administration here” Number 6 replied.
“Some of us think it’s the thin end of the wedge. What do you think?” 24 asked.
“I think it’s time for your game of chess, I will observe from the touch line” Number 6 told the eager chess piece.
Having finished his breakfast Number 6 made his way across the piazza descended the steps down onto The Village green where the human chess game was about to commence. It was a colourful event drawing quite a number of spectators. The two callers or players approached the board then took their positions at the top of high chairs, two ushers dressed in baseball caps, chequered blazers and striped shorts stood by the board in readiness to escort any piece taken off the board.
Number 6 was on hand to observe, but not just the game.
“Pawn to King 4.”
“Pawn to King 3” replied the second caller without delay.
“Knight to King’s Bishop 3”
“Knight to King’s Bishop 3”
“Pawn to Queen’s Knight 3”
“Bishop to Queen’s Bishop 4”
The game progressed through the opening moves Number 6 began to calculate what the next two or three moves might be as he followed the game when something in the corner of his eye took his attention. The bust of Voltaire set upon a plinth a few feet away, it was known to hold a surveillance camera, but which had not rotated once in either direction, so a confirmation of a now known fact!
Meanwhile the chess match came to an end.
“Queen to King’s Knight seven… checkmate” called a chess player.
This brought about a round of applause from chess pieces and spectators alike, the chess pieces remaining on the board shook hands as did the two chess players when the met together on the board.
“Hello Number 6, enjoy the game?” asked a voice behind him.
“You managed to stay on the board right to the end game this time” Number 6 replied “Shall we walk?”
“What are you up to now Number Six?”
“The camera in the bust of Voltaire isn’t
working, what’s more there was no sign of an electrician to affect a repair,
don’t you find that curious?”
“Perhaps he’s still on his way, you know how slow those tractors are.”
“Yes, but in an emergency they walk!”
“Your point being?”
“The whole surveillance system is down.”
“Where have you been, it’s common knowledge!” 24 told him.
“You see the possibility?”
“Escape!” 6 suggested.
“Look” 24 said “citizens going about their daily lives and business. Taxi’s plying their trade, people promenading in the Piazza, the Admiral and flag officer sailing their battleships in the Free Sea. Painters paint walls, gardeners tending the flower border, trimming hedges, mowing lawns, and window cleaners...well cleaning windows.
Life goes on no matter what Six because they know the Inspector is
“Who’s the Inspector?”
“How do you know he’s watching?”
“We don’t know the Inspector is a he, might be a she.”
“How then, with the cameras down?”
“No idea, but let it go Number Six, that’s my advice, no point in going looking for trouble.”
“Well you know me Twenty-four” Number 6 said gazing into the lens of a surveillance camera.
For the next hour or so Number 6 wandered
The Village upsetting people. The painter busy painting a wall was given the
authority treatment, in complaining about how long the job was taking, in his
best commanding voice. The painter responded.
“What’s it got to do with you?
The result was much the same with a gardener, the postman who was late on his round. He questioned a woman with a camera.
“What do you think you are doing?”
“Taking photographs of the Village” 188 said.
“That could be considered as being an act of spying?”
“I’m not a spy, I’m a member of The Village photographic society, and you know what they say.”
“No what do they say?”
“You can never have enough photographs of The Village!”
Number 6 approached others, trying to upset him, enough to get himself both noticed and reported. But no guardians turned up to take him in charge and drag him off to see Number 2. So he went back to his cottage, and was greeted by a young man who had made himself at home. A tall lean man with dark brown hair.
“You’re a bit of a nuisance aren’t you Number Six” Number 22 told him.
“Am I, you tell me” quipped Number 6.
“I just did, you have been going about upsetting people” Number 22 said.
“So you noticed!”
“I didn’t, the Inspector did.”
“So he was watching after all. Can I offer you a drink?” Number 6 asked politely, picking up the whisky bottle.
“I’m here to take you to see Number Two.”
“Oh I see, you’re the new hand!”
Outside in The Village the citizens were all going about their daily lives as usual, there was talk and discussion about the newly appointed Inspector. The consensus seemed to be that the Inspector would not have an effect on their way of life, nor for the innocent, only the malcontents in The Village may fear the all seeing eye of the Inspector!
It was but a short walk from ‘6 Private’ to the Green Dome, the butler was standing in the foyer as the door opened.
“He’s waiting to see you” the butler said leading the way, opening a pair of French doors, and walking up a small ramp.
The pair of steel doors opened, allowing, the butler to admit Number 6.
“Numbers Twenty-two and Six to see you” announced the butler before turning and walking away, the steel doors closing behind him.
Number 2 was sitting in his chair behind his desk speaking on the telephone to electrics control, listening to an update report on the current situation “Just make sure the work is completed on time, yes I know you are having problems, but if this latest experiment shows favourable results then the whole of the surveillance system, yes I am aware that such a problem is never very far away, such a problem has just walked in” and he put the phone down on his desk “what a pleasant surprise Number Six.”
“Surprise really. I was under the impression that I had been summoned to the headmaster’s study!” smirked Number 6.
“Whatever gave you that Idea?”
“Perhaps it was the fact that I was brought here by the school prefect!” Number 6 told him.
“Can I offer you some refreshment in return.”
“In return for what?”
“Always suspicious, aren’t we Number Six? You don’t even wear your Number!” Number 2 observed, walking from behind his desk and approaching the Prisoner.
“I’m not the only one. Why don’t you do something about that butler of yours? He doesn’t wear a number either!” returned Number 6 with a wry smile.
“My, we are observant today aren’t we? Perhaps he takes after you” retorted Number 2 turning away from his visitor.
“You had better hope not, for your sake” Number 6 grinned.
“You know what you are? You’re a trouble maker, and this Village will not tolerate trouble makers. There have been complaints, the latest one from Number One-three-three” Number 2 informed him turning back to face the Prisoner.
‘You haven’t asked what my complaints are yet!” retorted Number 6 flippantly.
“Number One-three-three’s complaint is one of intimidation towards her when all she was doing was taking photographs for the photographic competition. Really Number Six you should be more tolerant towards your fellow citizens” Number 2 suggested.
Number 6 folded his arms instantly putting up a barrier “I would have thought you had problems enough, without bothering about me!”
Number 2 feigned disinterest “Really, why do you say that?”
“Don’t you have a problem with your surveillance cameras?”
‘Yes, I was just coming to that. As well as intimidating innocent citizens you’ve been poking your nose into our cameras!”
At that moment the steel doors opened, and the butler pushed a trolley down the ramp toward Number 2’s desk where upon he set out a silver tea service, two bone china cups and saucers, together with milk and sugar bowl.
“I didn’t know if you wanted Indian of China, so I brought both. Mind you I prefer cocoa myself, but I made tea” said the butler smugly.
“That will be all” said Number 2 to his manservant.
“Wait a minute” said Number 6 to the butler “why is it you do not wear your number?”
The tall, handsome faced butler stopped pushing his trolley and turned to face the Prisoner “Numbers aren’t for the likes of me, I’m not a prisoner you know! Besides you’re not wearing yours, fall off in the street did it?”
“I am not a number I’m me!” the Prisoner said.
“Yeah that’d be right!” retorted the butler with no show of emotion.
“Thank you. That will be all” said Number 2, watching his personal gentleman’s gentleman withdraw “A loyal servant. Shall I be mother?” Number 2 asked eagerly picking up the silver coffee pot.
“As you will” returned Number 6 with folded arms, and perching himself on the curve of the desk.
“Either” said Number 6.
Number 2 selected the teapot and poured out two steaming hot cups of tea, handing a cup and saucer to Number 6 who helped himself to two sugar cubes.
“I am pleased you’re here” Number 2 informed him.
“At least that’s one of us whose happy!” quipped Number 6 “Who is the Inspector?”
“The Inspector is the solution to a current problem.”
“The Inspector cannot be watching and listening all the time. Someone might take advantage and instigate a mass breakout” Number 6 suggested sipping his tea.
“And who is to instigate this mass breakout, you? Is this you warning me?” Number 2 said sitting back in his chair.
“Not me, but the idea might cross some
bright sparks mind.”
“You have seen, people out there enjoying themselves, all behaving correctly, all under the all seeing presence of the Inspector. More than that it’s psychology of the conditioned mind, control through uncertainty!”
Number 6 finished his tea and walked up the ramp to the steel which remained doors closed.
“I have one of the Inspector’s reports on
my desk. Oddly enough it concerns you and all of your activities this morning”
2 told him.
“And whilst the Inspector has been watching me, what’s everyone else been doing?”
“You still do not get it do you
Number Six, not everyone falls under the gaze of the Inspector. Shall I list
all of your activities for you?”
“Why bother, I lived through them all!”
“I’m so glad that you see it that way” said Number 2 closing the file “I am delighted to have had this little chat with you Number Six, and to have been able to put your mind to rest on the current situation. Perhaps if you have any further doubts you might like to put them to a practical demonstration.”
“How so?” asked Number 6.
“Escape my dear chap, escape!’” Number 2 answered as though offering out a challenge.
The steel doors suddenly slid open and Number 6 turned and stormed out.
Outside on the balcony of the Green Dome Number 6 found himself leaning against the stone balustrade muttering something about the Inspector, the all seeing presence over The Village. Then while he stood there looking down at the citizens he began to shout down to them “This is our chance take it now. The Observers are blind, the cameras are down, no-one is watching. Your deliverance is at hand. Escape now and be free!”
Not one of the citizens in the square paid any heed to the voice; no-one looked up at the figure standing on the balcony, they remained undisturbed as they passed through the square on their way to the General Store, passed by along the street, or sat on benches their conversations unbroken whilst as Number 6 maintained his ranting about freedom and escape. He finally fell silent leaning forward with his hands on top of the balustrade then dashed off down the steps of the Green Dome across the street, across the square, to a man wearing a yellow and black striped blazer and straw boater. He physically shook the man by the shoulders “Didn’t you hear what I just said?”
“Yes’ said Number 234 unmoved by this sudden physical attack on his person.
“Then why do you just stand here like this?” Number 6 demanded.
“What do you think you’re doing? You mustn’t!”
“Why not, who’s to see?”
Number 234 looked nervously about him “The Inspector!”
“Who’s the Inspector?”
“No-one knows, but the Inspector is always watching” Number 234 said nervously.
‘How do you know if you have never seen this Inspector?’
“Everyone knows the Inspector is always in the tower” 234 answered.
“How do you know he is in his tower, which tower?”
Number 6 fell quiet as though something had suddenly struck him dumb. Instantly he went dashing off through a gate to the base of the bell tower, the door was unlocked. He burst in and dashed up the step to the top of the bell tower. The wind blew all around him, from this lofty position he could see all around The Village, and the estuary. But he top of the Bell Tower did afford a clear view all around, and surely no such Inspector would be situated right up here, such was the precariousness of the lofty position, not to mention affording no protection against the elements. No Inspector would be perched at the top of the bell tower for any great length of time!
Later that afternoon Number 6 could be found at the Old People’s Home. He was sitting at table on the lawn having his portrait painted by one of the residents. The artist a small eccentric gentleman in a large light blue beret and striped sweater with a small white goatee beard which gave him a look of Renoir about him.
“You moved. Please don’t fidget” 94 told his sitter.
“Sorry” Number 6 replied finding another comfortable sitting position, he seemed to have been sitting for hours, but really it had only been ten minutes.
“Quite comfortable? Good. Then I shall continue” said the artist who mixed a little more paint on his palate before applying it to the canvas.
“Of course we know the Inspector is watching” began Number 94 “you know it, I know it, it does not mean we are sympathetic to the situation, nor make any difference to the community, because there has always been surveillance. The Observers see and hear everything, and we are aware of the cameras, so much so that they can be taken for granted and forgotten about, that’s surveillance for you. But now there is the all seeing presence of the Inspector. It makes no difference to you or I.”
“Why do people behave so normally, when there could be the possibility of escape?” Number 6 asked indicating other citizens on the lawn.
“They behave like they do because they are never sure” the artist informed him.
“Never sure of what?” asked Number 6 fidgeting in his seat again.
“Please sit still” urged the artist “unsure whether they are being watched or not. So people behave correctly at all times. Social control and conforming to the power of surveillance I believe it is called.”
“You mean the citizens know if there are times when they are not being observed?” Number 6 asked.
“Of course, that stands to reason, doesn’t it?” asked the artist from
behind his canvas.
“Then there are times when we are not being observed, and if we know when that is, there is room for escape.”
“I suppose so, but no-one is prepared to take the risk. We know we are being observed, but not when!” the artist said, peering out from behind his canvas “besides where would anyone escape to?”
“Back to their homelands their own people, friends and family” Number 6 told him.
“For some maybe, but not for those born of The Village here is home, there is nowhere else for them to go. For others, The Village offers no pressures of daily life, no conundrums, no disagreements, no doubts, only harmony. Only you want escape!”
“No freedom, no independence, no choice, no rights for the individual, what kind of existence is it without those?” Number 6 argued.
“There is freedom even within the prison! There is a saying here no doubt you have heard of it. A still tongue makes a happy life”’ the artist informed him.
“And what does that get you?” Number 6 asked sarcastically.
“A quiet life” snapped the artist “don’t you sometimes crave the quiet life Number Six?”
‘”I still don’t believe in this tame Inspector. I climbed the bell tower earlier today.”
“What did you do that for, don’t tell me you like the view!” the artist said dipping his paint brush in light blue paint.
“To find the inspector, the bell tower being the highest point in The Village.”
The artist began to laugh to himself “The Inspector wouldn’t be in the bell tower. You were looking in the wrong place. It’s the Camera Obscura where you should have been looking.”
“Camera Obscura?” asked Number 6.
The artist looked quizzically at him “Don’t tell me you don’t know about the Camera Obscura, you must be new here!”
“Where is this Camera Obscura?” Number 6 asked.
“You can see it from here, down along the sea wall, the white tower with the star on top of its peak” the artist told him pointing in the direction with his paintbrush.
“And the Inspector is in there? That white tower?”
“Look, how am I to finish your portrait if you keep moving about?”
“Is the Inspector there now?’ asked Number 6 calmly.
“We might well be under surveillance as we speak” 94 replied.
“Have you never seen this Inspector?”
“See the Inspector!” the artist chuckled “no one has seen the Inspector, the Inspector sees you!”
“If no-one has never see the Inspector how do you know….. how do you know he exists?” barked Number 6 loudly.
“We don’t. That is the control the Inspector has over us” the artist said applying himself to the portrait.
his office of the Green Dome Number 2 had received a report regarding the
current state of surveillance. The pair of bomb blast steel doors slid open and
his assistant Number 22 marched smartly down the ramp.
“Number Six climbed the bell tower earlier today” 22 reported.
“Why did he do that?”
“I can think of only one reason.”
“If you’re going to say he likes the scenery, or was looking for a signs of life beyond The Village I don’t want to hear it!”
“My money would be on Number Six looking for the Inspector!”
“Then he was barking up the wrong tower!”
quipped Number 2.
“If you ask me” 22 said “this social experiment seems to me to be a waste of time.
“No-one did ask you Twenty-two.”
“Yes but if the announcement about the surveillance cameras being down, no-one would have been any the wiser, and still the citizens would behave mush the same.”
“But if someone did find out the cameras were down, what then, we would have had no control whatsoever!”
“Point taken sir.”
“I’m pleased that it is.”
“There is another aspect to this situation” Number 22 suggested.
“If the experiment works, there would no longer be any need for the Observers!”
“I don’t see any reason why the experiment should fail, its going along quite nicely in fact.”
“There is always Number Six!”
“Yes, the one rotten apple in the barrel!”
“Then let me deal with him now, why give him the opportunity to run things?” Number 22 said who was more than eager to give Number 6 a good working over.
“The Inspector reported Number Six sitting to have his portrait painted by Number Ninety-four. I hope he was able to allay Number 6’s suspicions a little?”
“If anything only fuel was added to Number Six curiosity about the Inspector. That’s why something must be done about him” 22 suggested.
Number 6 sat on the quayside halfway between the statue of Lady Hamilton at one end, and Lord Nelson at the other. He was keeping a watch on the Camera Obscura, and Number 22 was keeping a close eye on Number 6! The door to the white square tower was closed, a door by which the Inspector would come and go. But no! Number 6 sat on the quayside for two hours pretending to read the latest edition of The Tally Ho, and keeping an eye out in the bushes opposite Number 22 was getting cramp! Number 6 made certain observation of the tower, which at first sight appeared to be rather impressive, yet at second sight it was rather squat. Half way up was a large open window with no glass, and each window appeared to have a small balcony. Higher up there was a shuttered window on each side. At the very pinnacle of the tower was a boxed square with optic lens on each side, and above that a star which was rotating. This indicated to Number 6 that the Inspector was at home, and operating the Camera Obscura, possibly with him in the Inspectors sights!
Folding The Tally Ho Number 6 eased
himself off the wall and began to walk along the path, observed by Number 22
and perhaps the Inspector. At the top of a set of steps was a plain wooden
door, it was padlocked on the outside, thus making it impossible for anyone to
actually leave the tower. Taking his picklock from his blazer pocket Number 6
quickly opened the padlock and pulled back the bolt recurring the door. While
Number 22 stepped out from the bushes and watched Number 6 sip inside the
tower. Closing the door behind him he climbed the steps passing the small open
windows, which actually helped the tower look taller than it actually was.
At the top of the steps was an open trapdoor, at the top was a darkened room, dark because shutters were closed over four small windows. Opening a shutter Number 6 saw a round white table, above him two control rods, and four lenses. He got the impression that the Inspector had recently vacated the tower. He closed the wooden trapdoor, and the shutter which enclosed the room into virtual blackness. Taking hold of the pair of controlling rods, he operated the contraption with a 360 degree span, and with differing angles of sight by use of the control rods. Views of The Village, the estuary and woods projected onto the round white table. He could see people enjoying themselves on the beach, taking tea on the lawn of the Old People’s home, as citizens scrambled about the Stoneboat. He was able to scan far out across the beach, the woods and The Village. Turning the control rods he looked down to see a Mini-Moke approaching, as the figure of Number 22 stood looking up at the tower. He watched as three burly set guardians step out of the taxi and stand talking with Number 22. One thing for sure he was trapped at the top of the tower! But if so, how did the Inspector leave this place of observation?
Number 6 was so engrossed in the scene outside being played out on the table that he didn’t see the trapdoor raise up and the white helmeted security guard emerge from the steps below brandishing a white truncheon. But he felt it, as it was brought down on the back of his head, leaving his unconscious body draped over the round table. The scene outside of a parked taxi with the figures of Number 22 and the three burly men approaching the steps of Camera Obscura, projected onto the back of 6’s piped blazer.
Number 6 began to regain consciousness. He found himself sitting in a black leather chair in Number 2’s office, with guardians standing on either side, and Number 22 standing at the side of his superior’s desk with Number 2 sat in his chair.
“Ah, at last you’re back with us Number Six, this is a pretty kettle of fish I have to say. Been poking your nose in again where it isn’t wanted haven’t we” said Number 2 accusingly.
Number 6 scowled at his captures “How did you know?”
“Know what?” Number 2 asked knowing full well what Number 6 had meant.
“That I was in that tower” Number 6 growled, the back of his head feeling as though it had been caved in.
“The starburst!” retorted Number 2 with a wry smile.
“Starburst?” asked Number 6 wincing at the pain in his head.
“The starburst on top of the Camera Obscura, when the device is being operated, the star on top of the tower rotates accordingly, but you knew that of course, and so you thought you would catch the Inspector at her post. But of course our friend Number Twenty-two here had you under close surveillance. He saw you break into the tower, and called security.”
Number 6 remained silent, and ever defiant, the scowl on his face ever deepening.
“You really are an obstinate fellow. It will do you no good in the end you know. After all what did you discover?” Number 2 asked the Prisoner.
“That there is no Inspector” Number 6 growled the answer.
“Well, not while you were there, there wasn’t. But that’s the trick. You never know when the Inspector is there and when she isn’t” Number 2 smiled with satisfaction.
“I watched that tower for ages” Number 6 said.
“Yes of course you did.”
“All the time I was there I never saw anyone enter or leave that tower. There couldn’t have been an Inspector.”
“Social control Number Six, the discipline of the mind and power through surveillance. Once that has been achieved, just having the thought of the Inspector indelibly impressed on the mind is control enough. Citizens when under long term surveillance their behavioural
pattern’s change to such a degree, that they behave the same whether they are being observed or not” Number 2 explained.
“Not me!” retorted Number 6 in defiance of his captors.
“Then how very uncomfortable for you old chap” Number 2 said with a smile.
“Are you under constant surveillance?” Number 6 asked casually.
“Why my dear fellow we are all under surveillance by an invisible
all seeing presence” Number 2 informed the Prisoner.
“God?” the Prisoner suggested meekly.
“Number One” retorted Number 2 with an obscure smile.