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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 café.


    “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………”      


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