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Thursday 6 October 2022

The Prisoner - A New No.2 Chapter 10

 Chapter 10


  Fingers dug into the wet sand as cool water washed over the body washed up on the beach. The man crawled on hands and knees out of the water and onto the beach. Raising his head he looked ahead of him, blurry eyes he thought he could make out buildings in the distance, and between him and them a wide expanse of sand. Slowly he stood up and began walking.
    In the control room an Observer reported seeing a man on the beach walking towards the Village.

    “Let’s have him on the screen, put up camera fourteen” the supervisor ordered.
    The man walked across the sand towards the Village; there were a few people on the beach who took little or no notice of him.
    “Get him closer” the supervisor ordered.
    The camera zoomed in on the figure.

    “Does anyone recognize him?” asked the supervisor.
    “He’s hardly dressed for the Village” remarked an Observer.
    The supervisor picked up the yellow ‘L’ shaped telephone and called No.2.

    “Number Two here……really.” He said pressing a button on the wall screen.
    The screen showed the council chamber, he pressed another button showing the control room.
    “Which button do I press to show the beach on my screen?”
    “Thirteen sir.”
    Pressing buttons one and three, then zooming in he saw the figure on the beach walking towards the Village.
    “Where has he come from?” No.2 asked.
    “We had better ask him” the supervisor replied.
    The man was about 5 feet ten inches tall, about 168 pounds, with sandy hair. He wore a light blue shirt, dark trousers and a pair of canvas shoes.
    “I’ll despatch guardians to pick him up” the supervisor said.
    “No, don’t do that” No.2 said “for the moment have him believe that this Village is merely what it looks like, a holiday resort. But keep him under close surveillance.”
    “Very good sir.”

    The pair of steel doors opened and No.21 walked smartly down the ramp and approached the desk. He looked at the screen.
    “Who’s he?”
    “I don’t know” No.2 replied, “he walked here across the beach.”


    “That’s impossible, people don’t just walk here!” 21 said.
    “He did, and if anyone can just walk in, why couldn’t one simple walk out?” No.2 asked.
    “You know why sir.”
    “Who do you have in administration who could be assigned to that man?”
    “You know what I mean!”
    “You’re not having him brought in?”
    “No, not just yet, I want him to meet with a friendly face, you understand?”
    “Yes sir, I’ll assign Number Nine.”
    “I want her to project herself as a tourist, someone on holiday” No.2 told him.
    “Yes sir.”
    The man on the beach stood a few yards away studying the skyline of the Village, a domed building and bell tower stood out. People were on the beach sunbathing, playing beach ball, relaxing in the sun, paddling in the water, building sandcastles the usual holiday beach activities. Immediately in front of him was a quayside, and alongside the quay was a yacht, its black sail and bunting fluttering in the breeze. He studied the yacht more closely; it was made of concrete and built into the quay! He looked at the people climbing the rigging, at those on deck, then wading through water he walked towards a set of steps leading up from the beach to the quay. People promenaded along the quay, people dressed in brightly coloured clothes, striped or plain jerseys, slacks. The men wearing piped blazers and straw boaters, the women wearing bright coloured hats, carrying open colourful striped umbrellas. Ahead of him was set of stone steps leading up to the lawn of what he took to be a hotel. On the lawn were a number of parasolled tables at which people sat eating and drinking. Crossing the lawn he sat down at a vacant table and looked about him. More people were dressed in brightly coloured attire, curiously, what he took to be two undertakers sat at one table drinking tea. An elderly man in a black and red striped jersey, and sporting a Navel cap sat at a table by a white balustrade. On the table was a chequered board upon which chessmen were set out ready for the next game. Two waiters in white coats were busy attending table’s, one of the waiters approached his table.

    “Co vám mohu dát, pane?” the waiter asked.

    The man looked at the waiter “I’m sorry I don’t understand.”

    “Co vám mohu dát, pane?”
    The man looked puzzled, and gestured that he doesn’t understand.

    A young woman in a blue trilby hat and brown cape seated at another table leaned forward saying “He’s asking you if you want anything a young woman said.

    “Oh, coffee.”


    “káva pro jednoho” the waiter said and walked away.

    “Is he for real?” the man asked the young woman.

    “No” she said “he’s Czech. May I join you?”
    “Please do.”

   For a moment No.9 turned away removing the numbered badge from her cape, then took her seat at the man’s table, as the waiter returned with his coffee.  

    “That will be two units sir” the waiter said putting the cup and saucer on the table.
    “Credit units sir.”
    The man looked puzzled.

    No.9 handed over her credit card, the waiter clipped it and went to attend another table.
    The man helped himself to sugar.

    “You’re all wet, have you been swimming?” she asked.
    “Yes” he told her.
    “With your clothes on?” she asked smiling
    “I forgot to pack my swimming trunks” he said drinking the hot coffee “what is this place?”
    “A holiday resort” she told him.
    “What holiday resort and where?”

    “Where is this?”
    “The Village.”
    “What Village? These people who are they?”
    “They are holiday makers, they’re here on holiday.”
    He suddenly felt strange, his head felt a little woozy and he tried to focus at those sat at other tables but they only blurred and out of shape. He put the cup in his hand back on the saucer, but only upset them both spilling the dregs of the coffee. Finally he collapsed back in the chair.

    The pair of steel blast doors slid open and two guardians helped the unconscious figure into the chamber and seated him in a chair. No.2 gestured for them to leave, while he and his assistant waited for the man to come round. While they waited the butler brought in the elevenses, tea and biscuits. Then the man slumped in the chair began to stir, he opened his eyes and tried to focus, the first thing he saw was the butler, this alarmed him. The man sat up, his mouth was dry, he had a headache, and slowly became aware of his surroundings, a purple walled domed chamber.
    “I expect you would like some tea” No.2 offered.
    The butler approached the man sat in the chair and offered him a cup and saucer.
    “I don’t drink tea” he said, but his mouth being dry he drank the hot liquid.


    No.2 stepped out from behind his desk “My assistant and I would like to know something about you.”
    “I have a few questions of my own.”
    “But we asked first” No.2 said finishing he tea and biscuit.
    “Why are you damp like that?” 21 asked “come on speak up, it’s not a difficult question.”
    “I’m drying out a bit now.”
    “Oh that’s good” 21 said “we should not wish you to get a cold!”
    “You were in the sea” No.2 said “the first we saw of you, you were walking across the sand. How did you come to be in the sea?”
    “You’re not very hospitable with your guests, who are you?” the man quipped.
    “Guests?” No.2 asked “this is not a hotel. What is your name?”
    “I asked first” the man said.
    “Very well” said No.2 “we shall have an exchange of information. You are in the Village.”
    “Village, what Village?”
    “I am Number Two, and this is my assistant Number Twenty-one.”
    “Numbers, don’t you have names?”
    “Take our new friend’s cup and saucer before he drops it” No.2 said.
    No.21 did as he was asked.
    “Now, it’s your turn, what is your name?”
    “Michael, Michael what?”
    “Six, Michael Six.”
    No.2 and his assistant looked quizzically at each other.
    “Six, that’s a strange surname” No.2 said.
    “I cannot help that.”
    “What were you doing in the water Mister Six?”
    “Perhaps he fell overboard!” No.21 suggested.
    “Is that it, did you fall overboard, or were your dropped here by submarine, is that it?”
    “He’s come to spy on us, and the submarine is somewhere off the coast, sitting on the seabed, waiting for a signal, waiting to pick him up” 21 said.
    “Search him Twenty-one, see what he has in his pockets.”
    21 went through the man’s trouser pockets, he found nothing.
    “So let us begin again.”
    “You say you are Michael Six. You were in the sea washed up on our shore, how did you come to be in the sea?”
    “My boat sank, I could not help being washed up on your beach. Throw me back if you like!”
    “Who are your friends who had you sent here, what are their motivations?” No.2 asked.
    “What are we going to do with him  sir?”
    “I think he should be taken to the hospital, our friend here should be given a medical” No2 said picking up the yellow ‘L’ shaped 
telephone “yes, a taxi please, Number 2 the Green Dome.”


   No.21 escorted the man out of the chamber, out of the Green Dome, pausing on the balcony for a moment allowing the man a brief look on the Village.

    “Picturesque, Italianate are we in Italy?” the man asked.
    “It doesn’t matter where you are!” 21 told him, then taking the man by the arm led him down the steps to the waiting taxi.
    “That’s dinky” the man remarked.
    “Its suits us” 21 told him, helping the man into a back seat of the white Mini-Moke and sitting beside him.
   The taxi driver engaged first gear and drove off through the first of two arches, then out of the Village and along a long winding drive until a castle came into view.
    “We are here” No.21 said as the taxi drove onto the gravelled forecourt.
    “The hospital.”

    The taxi came to a stop and No.21 and the man alighted to be met by a tall man with black hair wearing white trousers and coat.
    “This is our new friend is it?” asked the orderly “just in time for his medical.”
   The man was led into the hospital, along a corridor where patients were being wheeled along in wheelchairs, or walked with the aid of orderlies to the medical examination room. The orderly opened the door and they went in.
    “Ah here he is” announced the doctor “do sit down, and do not be apprehensive, this will not hurt, it’s merely a medical, it’s for your own good.”
   There was a single medical chair in the room, and overhead surgical lamp, a small table containing medical instruments, and along one wall a computer. The man sat in the chair while the doctor checked his pulse, he picked up a stethoscope and opening the man’s shirt listened to his heart beat.
    “Doesn’t seem to be much wrong there” the doctor said. Then crossing the room he stood facing the computer. He pressed a number of buttons activating the computer and programming the machine with his diagnosis, then waited.
    The computer whirred into action, magnetic tape reels turned, and eventually a computer print out card was ejected through a narrow slot. The doctor picked up the card.
    “There was are, you’re as fit as a fiddle” the doctor announced.
    At that point two men in white coats entered the room, one pushed a wheel chair into which they sat and restrained the man, who was wheeled out of the room and along another corridor where a patient was being wheeled but in the opposite direction.


The patient looked physically drained, half dead! There was a door at the end of the corridor, it was opened and he was wheeled inside.

    No.21 returned to the Green Dome steel doors slid opened and he walked smartly down the ramp and approached the desk. No.2 was watching the wall screen as the man was wheeled into the room, then turned the screen off.

    “What are we going to do with him sir?”
    “You ask a very good question, at the moment he’s being interrogated.”
    “And after that?”
    “I wish I had the answer!”
    “Perhaps we shall have some answers when he’s brought out of that room.”
    “You think he has something to hide?”
    “Don’t you sir?”
    “The jury is out on that one for the moment.”

    “Now” said the doctor “how is it with you?”
    “It’s wasn’t so bad, but I think my luck’s just turned!”
    “This can go easy for you, all you have to do is to talk, you like to talk don’t you?”
    “What about, football, only you don’t look a sporting man to me.”
    “I like the sporting odds.”
    “Are the odds in my favour?”
    “That’s not very sporting of you; I’d have thought you’d give a chap an even chance.”
    “I can’t afford to do that, Number 2 expects results.”
    “On my way here I saw a chap being wheeled away he looked half dead.”
    “He was” the doctor said selecting a syringe and a small phial from a tray on the table and filling the syringe with liquid.
    The man began to rub his wrists against the leather restraints, it hurt and that was the intention.
    “Please do not struggle, save your strength, you’ll be in need of it” the doctor said pulling at the shirt sleeve and administering the drug.
    The doctor waited a few moments then the questioning began.
    “What is your name?”
    He worked his wrists against the leather straps “What do you want to know that for?”
    “If we are going to be friends I must know your name.”
    “You’re not acting very friendly.”
    “Then tell me and all this can stop” the doctor told him “again, what is your name?”

   He struggled against the drug, but it was difficult to think, then he said the first name he thought of “Jones, my name is Jones.”
    “Jones, are you telling me the truth?”



    “That’s for you to find out.”
    “Oh I will. But first we’ll bind those wrists of yours.”
   A medical orderly entered the room and released the patient’s restraints, the patient was ready, he lashed out at the orderly and made for the door, opening it he was faced with another orderly with a clenched fist which made contact with his jaw.
    The doctor tended to the patient’s injuries while he waited for him to come round.
    “Brute force will avail you nothing my friend.”
    “I’m not your friend!”
    “Oh dear” the doctor sighed and filled another syringe.
    “Now who sent you here?”
    The patient tried to close his mind, or at the very least try to think of something else, to put his mind at least, in a different environment.
    “I shall ask again, who sent you here?”
    “Colonel, you said Colonel.”
    “Yeah Kernel, I’m nuts!”
    “The Colonel, did the Colonel send you here?”
    “Fotheringay, who is Fotheringay?”
    “He’s my uncle.”
    “Why were you sent here?”
    “I don’t know.”
    “You do know, I have been asked to de-brief you, make your report, why were you brought here to the Village?”
    “The Village!”
    “The Colonel knows, ask the Colonel.”
    “I would, but the Colonel is not here.”
    “Then bring him here and we’ll all have a nice party together, he could bring some girls along. I know a girl, I met her soon after I was washed up on the beach.”
    The orderly made a fist and was about to strike the patient.
    “No. You were washed up on the beach?”
    “How did you get here, by submarine?”
    “I don’t remember.”
    “Of course you remember, you must remember.”
    “We’ll have to use the Kaleidoscope” the doctor said.
    The patient was sat in front of a square screen, the doctor turned the screen on which was instantly filled with colourful shapes, the shapes; the colours began to rotate and change as those in a child’s

Kaleidoscope. The patient’s head was fixed so he could not turn his eyes away from the screen, he could not help but stare at the shapes, the colours, and the more he stared the deeper his mind was penetrated.


    “Who are you…..why did the Colonel send you here…..what is your purpose in being here……what did you hope to achieve…..who are you….what is your name……tell me your name……why were you sent here…….”
    “I must not say…….its secret…….top secret……only the Colonel and I know.”
    “Fotherginay, he knows…….Fotheringay knows…… can tell me……..why are you here Jones?”
    “Jones….who is Jones?”
    “You are Jones……you told me your name is Jones……”
    “My name isn’t Jones…………” and at that he collapsed into a deep unconsciousness.
     Having been wheeled out of the room at the end of the corridor Mr. Six looked half dead to the man being wheeled in the opposite direction!

    After his ordeal Michael Six was put to bed in on one of the wards and allowed to recover. In time he was allowed to leave the hospital and given new clothes as well as a number, the number 46. A small flat was found for him, lounge, dinette, bathroom, and bedroom. He stood at the bay window looking out across the Village. There was a rectangular Piazza and a fountain, and stood for several minutes just staring at the scene then he remembered the girl in the brown cape! Putting on his blue piped blazer he went out. He made to lock the door of his flat, there was no key, there was no keyhole. He walked down the wooded steps and round the fish pond, and was attracted to the sound of music, and made his way to the bandstand where the brass band was playing the Radetzky March. Then all of a sudden two guardians approached him, but he was ready to try and even the score and got in first with the first punch knocking one guardian off his balance. The second rushed forward his fists clenched, but he was quick on his feet and tripped the man to the ground. The first guardian recovered, but a punch to his face stopped him dead in his tracks, two quick karate chops and the man lay unmoving on the ground. The second guardian looked at the first lying on the ground and rushed at No.46 his head punching him in the stomach winding him and sending him backwards onto the ground. A few citizens had gathered and stood watching. Then the blood curdling roar as a large white sphere came rolling and bounding onto the scene, the citizens stood stock still, no-one moved. The guardian released his hold on the prisoner, stood up and backed away. The prisoner got to his feet and faced the white sphere.
    “I shouldn’t if I were you” a voice said, as though she could read the Prisoner’s thoughts.


    No.46 turned to see the girl in the brown cape standing a few feet away.

    The Guardian remained on station.
    “What is it?”
    “The Guardian” No.9 told him “I would not advise tangling yourself with it, I’d hate to see you get yourself suffocated to death!”
   46 turned to face the white sphere again, then slowly he backed away, and the Guardian returned to its patrol, and the crowd slowly dispersed.
   “Shall we walk?” the girl asked.

    “What are we to do with him?” 21 asked as he and No.2 watched the fight taking place on the wall screen.
    “He was sent here with a purpose, we must find out what that purpose is.”   
    9 and 46 decided to attend the brass band concert, its one place where you could talk in the Village without being heard.
    “What is this place?”
    “The Village.”
    “A prison, a place where information is extracted or protected” she told him.
    “Has anyone ever escaped?”
    “Some have tried to”
    “Well they’ve never managed it!”
    The music stopped and those attending the concert applauded. Then the band struck up again playing Offenbach’s Barcarole from the Tales of Hoffmann, No.46 pricked up his ears.
    “Offenbach’s Barcarole from the Tales of Hoffmann” he said.
    “What about it?”
    “What, nothing, nothing at all. Let’s go for that walk; you can take me on a guided tour of the Village.”

    “You’re sure about that?” No.21 asked.
    “Yes sir, as soon as the band began to play that tune he was startled for a moment, as though he recognized it.
    No.2 and 21 looked at each other and together said “It’d a recognition signal. Have the band leader brought to see me.”
    “Yes sir.”
   “During the brass band concert today you played a piece by Offenbach.”
  “Yes sir.”


    “I don’t understand sir” the band leader said.”
    “You played the Barcarole, why?”
    “It was part of the concert that’s all sir.”
    “What can you tell me about this man?” No.2 pressed a button on the control panel and the picture of No.46 appeared on the wall screen.
   The band leader looked at the man pictured on the screen “Nothing sir, I don’t know him.”
    “Are you sure about that?” 21 asked.
    “Yes sir.”
    “Then why did Number Forty-Six sit up and take notice when you played it?”
    “Did he sir, I didn’t notice. Perhaps it was a favourite of his.”
    “Very well you can go” No.2 said.
    “Thank you sir.”
    The pair of steel doors closed.
    “I want him watched.”
    “Yes Number Two.”
    “Have him put under close surveillance.”
    “Right away Number Two.”
    The pair of steel doors closed. No.2 pressed a button on the control panel and No.46 and No.9 appeared on the screen. They were on their walk around the Village, with No.9 pointing out buildings of importance, the Town Hall, the Citizens Advice Bureau, the Recreation Hall, Café, the Concert Hall and the Library. And she explained how the Village functions on a daily basis.
    No.2 picked up the grey ‘L’ shaped telephone “Number Nine, Number Nine report to Number Two the Green Dome immediately.”
    No.9 listened to the message which came over the public address system “I have to go.”
    “Just like that?”
    “I have to go” she said.
    “You’re one of them!”
    “Yes! Number Two calls and you go running!”
    “It’s not like that” she protested.
    “No, well you tell me how it is.”
    “I have to go.”
    Two women walked passed in colourful striped capes.
    “Tell me why you wear your cape inside out.”
    “To be different” she said and then hurried away.

    The pair of steel doors opened and No.9 hurried down the ramp a little out of breath and her colourful lined brown cape fluttering out, the steel doors closed.
    “You called Number Two.”


    “You need not have hurried Number Nine. I just wanted to get you away from Number Forty-six. I want to see if he attempts to meet up with the band leader. Tell me Number Nine, you were talking with Number 46, what did you tell him?”

    “He wanted to go for a walk, he asked me to give him a guided tour” she said.
    “What did you tell him?”
    “Nothing, I just generalized about the Village, its day-to-day life, pointing out some important buildings that’s all sir.”
    “Tell me Number Nine, did you put in a request to the leader of the brass band earlier today?”
    “No sir.”
    “The brass band plays requests.”
    “I didn’t know that.”
    “Well you do now” No.2 told her.
    “Yes sir, thank you sir.”
    “Do you know what I think Number Nine?”
    “No sir.”
    “I think the Barcarole was a red herring. Tell me Number Nine, why do you wear your cape inside out?”
    “I……I like to…..”
    “To be different, to be individualistic, or simply to stand out maybe, I assigned you to the man who was washed up on the shore, and that really made it easy for you. The music wasn’t a recognition signal; it was your brown cape!”
   There came a startled look on No.9’s face, which quickly turned to one of fear.
    “You have been spying on us Number Nine, who was it who sent you here……. was it the Colonel?”

    “I was sent here to gather information.”
    “That’s our task surely. And Forty-six?”
    “To infiltrate the Village as an outsider” she said.
    “Again why?” No.2 asked pressing her for an answer.
    “To get me out, there’s a submarine lying off shore waiting for a signal.”
    “You….a plant!”
    No.2 picked up the yellow telephone “Number Twenty-one have Number Forty-six brought to the Green Dome, and don’t be too gentle about it. Tell me do we have sonar capability?
    “Yes sir.”
    No.2 ended the call then “Put me through to the control room….supervisor there is a submarine off shore, probably sat on the seabed, have sonar make a sweep for it, I want to know the moment it makes a move.”
    “Yes Number Two.”



   Steel doors opened and between them two guardians manhandled the battered and bruised body of No.46 into the chamber, followed by No.21. No.2 pressed a button and a black leather chair rose up through a hole in the floor, and No.46 was seated in it.
    “Well Forty-six, all is known” No.2 told him.
    No.46 raised his head and through blood soaked eyes saw the figure of No.9 sat in a chair opposite him. She had sad looking eyes behind which were the pain she felt for the man who had come to take her away from all this, the village. But now the game was up.
    “Neither of you can do any harm now” No.2 told them “you must realize you’ll never leave here.”

    “I must tell you that there is a……..”
    “Yes, there is a submarine lying somewhere off shore at the bottom of the sea.”
    “The captain is waiting for a visual signal.”
    “Then we shall be most obliging by sending him one, the submarine will leave and you two will be left here high and dry!”
    “When we don’t return” No.9 began “others will come looking for us.”
    “What, they’ll send in the Marines to rescue you? Wipe this place off the face of the Earth, obliterate it and me with it?” those words resonated in his ear from a bygone time, but now he was on the other side of the fence.

    At Moonset No.21 was assigned to the top of the cliffs, he had been issued with a torch, his mission to send a signal out to sea. His Morse code was a little rusty, they hadn’t taught him that in Intelligence!


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