In the Green Dome Number 2 paced the floor of her office in her black boots, matching her blue military uniform, allowed as she was not to adopt the more usual style of Village uniform. Hands clasped behind in the small of her back, growing ever more impatient at the lateness of the supervisor. Steel doors suddenly opened and the supervisor-Number 25 hurried through and down the ramp, the steel doors closing behind him with a resounding clang.
“Ah supervisor I’ve been waiting for you.”
“I got away as soon as I could Number 2, there was a bit of a flap on at the hospital, Number Six……..”
“Why is it when there is any trouble, or disturbance in the Village, Number 6 is always at the heart of it?”
“Something should be done about him!” the supervisor recommended.
“Don’t worry, something will be done” Number 2 told him “did he find what he was looking for?”
“Of course not.”
“Perhaps, but Number Six is persistent, he was asking about a previous Number 6’s description” said the Supervisor.
“That damned quest of his!, why can’t he
give it up?”
“He’s a loose cannon, he’s already discovered the black room once, if he should discover……”
“……. It could be the ruination of us all” she told him “you wouldn’t be trying to tell me what to do, would you?”
“No Number Two, you have the final word, but I am here to advise.”
“I have to work within certain parameters, not to interfere too much with Number Six and his quest. Apparently he was brought here for his own protection against himself” Number 2 explained “and I am to allow him a certain amount of latitude in allowing him to carry on with the search for his predecessor.”
The supervisor looked at Number 2 and knew he shouldn’t, but did so anyway “do you think that’s wise?”
“No, but it is what our masters want, and I am not one to go against them. But don’t worry” said Number 2 taking her seat behind her desk “our friend Number Six has a very nasty and painful shock coming to him.”
“Harrowing and traumatic?” suggested the supervisor “one that might prove to be fatal?”
“Well perhaps that is too much to wish for. But at the very least the shock should be enough to see him see the truth behind this Village
and to toe the line in future. It seems that he was not simply brought to the Village for his own good, but also for the good of others.”
“He was put here out of the way of them” suggested the supervisor.
“For protection” said Number 2 “protection against himself, but then I have to ask myself, who then is to protect him from us?”
“What do you have in mind?” asked the supervisor.
“Well that all depends upon Number Six, wouldn’t you say. And should he find his way back into that black room, well he can stay there, after all the woods are littered with the doctor’s failed experiments, one more will not make any difference either way!”
“He’s expendable then?” the supervisor asked.
“Number Six could have been of great value to this Village, but his behaviour has proved him to be more trouble than he is worth, which makes him worthless to us” Number 2 explained.
“And the doctor?”
“She will be pleased for another subject to experiment upon.”
“The doctor seems a little too unstable if you ask me.”
“I didn’t ask” snapped Number 2 in response, then thinking again “but I am aware. You have your costume?”
“Yes Number 2”
“Then I shall be seeing you later on.”
“Yes Number Two” he said walking towards the ramp.
“Just a minute, those jamming reports” Number 2 asked “do we get many of these?”
The supervisor stopped and turned “not as many as we used to, but if one is known to be a Jammer, then we simply ignore them.”
“So you have never acted upon any of these jamming reports?”
“One or two, the more probable ones” he replied and then after thinking for a moment or two said “then there was the case of the glider!”
“Glider, tell me about that” said Number 2 with keen interest.
“Well it was before your time, Numbers 24, 14, 105 were discovered to be building a glider in the attic of 24 Private.
“Whatever will they try next!” Number 2 said smiling to herself “but please, go on.”
“Of course they had no chance of launching it, it would have been stupid even to try.”
“Why did my predecessor even allow them to construct this glider in the first place, I would have put a stop to it the moment it was discovered by the observers!” was this Number 2’s response.
“Well your predecessor was a very clever and astute man. Always in control, calm and calculating, and seeing that there was never any chance of them launching, let alone escaping in the glider he thought to allow them to continue. Besides it gave them something to do, and kept them out of trouble.”
“But it was an escape attempt!”
“Oh it was never that, they were jamming, that’s what jammers do”
the supervisor explained.
“Yes, but they actually built the glider”
“What happened to it?”
“We had it dismantled” the supervisor replied “will that be all?”
Number 2 nodded “Until later.”
“Yes Number Two” said the supervisor turning and walking up the ramp, the steel doors opening, he turned “a very clever man, your predecessor.”
“So it would appear” said Number 2 “but he is yesterday’s man.”
The doors closed behind the departing supervisor.
The hour was drawing ever closer to noon, which in turn brought the ceremony for Village Day ever closer. Outside the citizens were everywhere enjoying themselves, the village fete already open. Citizens eating candy floss, toffee apples, and Number 23 one of a few happy citizens winning prizes at the ‘Duck on a Stick’ stall, yellow plastic ducks floating in shallow water around in a circle, each with a hook in their heads, the idea being to snag a duck with the hook in the end of a pole, and the number on the bottom of the duck corresponded with the prize won. And in testing his strength number 73 rang the bell and won himself a Teddy Bear! The Brass Band was playing, Top Hat officials made their way to the Gloriette in time for the ceremony. Numbers 42 and 73, with Teddy Bear in arms, arrived at the Green Dome, they to provide security for Number 2, and waited on the balcony. At the bottom of the steps of the Green Dome, a taxi stood waiting. The driver busy giving the paint work a final rub over in places, just to make sure it was clean and shiny for its most important passenger to come.
The Village was filled with excitement and gaiety; everyone was in fancy dress costume, even the Admiral-Number 66, as Admiral Lord Nelson, who sat with Number 6 down on the lawn of the old people’s home over a game of chess that neither were playing.
“Not joining in with the Village Day festivities then lad?”
“Gentlemen” the waiter said clearing the tea things away “you did hear the announcement?”
Number 6 paid four work units with his credit card “No, I was at the hospital this morning.”
The waiter clipped the card and handed it back to his owner, who slipped it into the breast pocket of his piped blazer.
“Really lad, nothing too serious I hope” said the Admiral.
“Just a quick check up, a general examination that’s all, to see if there was anything malignant” Number 6 replied.
“I trust nothing was found?” the Admiral asked.
“Unfortunately the examination was incomplete, there was a bit of a flap on, and I didn’t like to outstay my welcome.”
“You’re a fool lad” that’s my opinion, “there’s no point in fighting battles you can’t win.”
“Tell me Admiral, are there any battles you did not fight, just because you thought you might not win?” Number 6 asked.
“Listen lad, there’s a lot you don’t know. You have to learn to play the game, just as I have done, now it’s your move” said the Admiral.
Number 6 looked down at the chessboard and played pawn to king four “what’s it all about?”
“What?” the Admiral asked moving his king’s pawn forward three squares.
“This Village Day, a lot of stuff and
nonsense about nothing, wouldn’t you say?”
“Don’t know about that lad, but they do say that the founding of the Village was sometime in 1928. But what is it to you lad, let them play their game. If you don’t learn to bend a little, you’ll break!” the Admiral advised.
“It’s their game” Number 6 replied “and I am only just beginning to
learn the rules.”
The Admiral drew closer to Number 6 across the table and warning him said “Aye lad, and theirs for the winning!”
Seeing the Admiral was a long time resident of the Village, it seemed to Number 6 that he was the man to ask “How is it that you have managed to survive for so long?”
“One may not be able to win the game lad, but a minor victory here and there is sometimes as good as a battle won!” the Admiral replied with a knowing wink.
All interest in the chess match was now lost, not that it was there ever to begin with, not today, far too many distractions, like the issue of The Tally Ho lying upon the table. Number 6 cast an eye over the front page ‘Founders Day Statue To Be Unveiled By No. 2’ and there was a photograph of Number 2, all severe looking, with cold unfeeling eyes, a firm jaw and unsmiling lips.
“That’s dangerous you know” said the Admiral.
Number 6 looked up from the newspaper “What is?”
“Thinking, they say it corrupts the mind” the Admiral told him.
“A complaint which few around here suffer from.”
“But one which can lead to trouble lad” the Admiral warned.
“Tell me Admiral, was it celebrated last year?”
“Why do you ask that lad, is it important?”
“I don’t know, what day is it Admiral?”
“No, I didn’t mean that, I meant the date.”
The Admiral looked blankly at the young man sitting opposite him,
and Number 6 beckoned to the waiter.
“What date is it today?” he asked the waiter.
“Village Day sir” replied the waiter.
“You’re as bad as he is, no, the date, what is the date?”
“Why the nineteenth sir” said the waiter indicating the date upon The Tally Ho.
“And today is founders day” said Number 6.
“Yes sir, didn’t you know?” the waiter asked.
“And the Village celebrates its founding every year?” Number 6
“Why yes sir, it’s a tradition of the Village every year, but this year is extra special” the waiter confirmed.
“Why is that?” Number 6 demanded to know.
“Because of the founder’s statue sir” was the reply.
“And who is the founder?” Number 6 asked.
“Enjoy your Village Day sir” said the waiter and hurried away.
The Admiral could see that the game was well and truly over and began putting the chess pieces back into the wooden box “They say lad that the statue could turn out to be a likeness of the founder of the Village, and that could only be…….”
“Number One” said Number 6, finishing the sentence for the Admiral “who so ever Number One should prove to be!”
There then came the following announcement over the public address system.
“Citizens wishing taking part in the grand parade should gather in the square, I repeat all those citizens wishing to take part in the grand parade should gather in the square. The parade begins in five minutes, the minutes are five.”
“I should be going really lad, don’t want to miss the big parade and all that” said the Admiral “are you coming lad?”
“Why not, I’ve no other place to be at this time!”
When Number 6 and the Admiral stood up from their table, they realised that they were in fact alone, everyone else making their way up the hill into the centre of the Village.
Meanwhile, Number 2 and her entourage of Numbers 42 and 73, minus the Teddy Bear, trooped one after the other down the steps of
the Green Dome as the citizens paraded on their way around and
around the piazza, it was quite a colourful affair to see so many citizens all in a variety of fancy dress costumes, from the mysterious east to pantomime characters, from National dress to historic characters, all around the piazza they paraded.
Number 2 and her entourage climbed aboard the waiting taxi which drove off slowly along the road and through the cheering, waving citizens, and even Number 2 began to succumb to the carnival atmosphere, giving the citizens as she passed by a gentle wave of the arm. And behind them all, bringing up the rear so to speak, was the butler, still in his usual pair of black tails, brown cape, black gloves and bowler hat and holding aloft his black and white striped umbrella!
There was shouting, cheering and gaiety all around the village, as Admiral Lord Nelson saluted an old enemy, Napoleon!
“You stick out like a sore thumb lad” the Admiral told Number 6.
“Good, it reminds me that I am still myself!”
“You do have a fancy dress lad?” the Admiral asked.
“You mean apart from the school boy one I’m wearing at the moment, oh yes Admiral, and rest assured I shall put it to an extremely good use later this evening!” Number 6 assured his old friend “for tonight I am going to be Scaramouche!” he said with a flamboyant bow.
The Top Hat officials had taken their positions upon the balcony of the Gloriette, who stood awaiting Number 2, who now arrived at the back of the Gloriette dressed immaculately in her blue military style uniform and black boots, alighting from the taxi, climbed the three steps onto the balcony of the Gloriette and from the turquoise railings saluted the citizens as they came to the end of their parade. And now lining up beneath the balcony, awaited a speech from Number 2 who cut a most impressive figure and was handed a megaphone by one of the Top Hat officials, and waited, giving the still cheering citizens time to settle.
“Who do you think she was?” the Admiral asked Number 6.
“Who?” asked Number 6, who walked around amongst the citizens, but not actually taking part in the parade.
“Number Two lad, who do you think she was, in her former life before the Village?” asked the Admiral.
“In that uniform, probably a chief of security for some south America Republican President” was Number 6’s conclusion.
As the citizens settled themselves, amongst them Sir Walter Raleigh was there and Good Queen Bess, as was the Cardinal, a couple of frogmen, a cowboy, red Indian, Harlequin, a well dressed gentleman in dog tooth coat and plus fours, pushing his penny farthing and a tall white robed monk, his face unseen hidden away deep inside the cowl of his robe.
Number 2 looked down upon the citizens of this community from the balcony of the Gloriette. She felt a sudden sense of pride, this was her Village, all former allegiances suddenly forgotten, and these people her citizens, who now all stood waiting for their leader to address them.
“Fellow citizens, friends. We are all gathered here upon this most auspicious and very special day, to both celebrate and honour our fine community.”
At this the citizens gave a rousing applause, and Number 2 waited for them to quieten once more before continuing.
“Not only are we here to celebrate our way of life here in the Village, but to pay tribute to someone who made all this possible, the founder of this Village. A man of vision, with idealistic principles, a man who has been an example to us all, a man of both steel and determination and without whom, none of us would be standing here today.”
The citizens cheered and waved showing their appreciation of their leader, lapping up every word Number 2 uttered. Number 2 waved to the crowed before turning to leave the Gloriette, followed by the Top Hat officials and the butler as she made her way to the lawn and the unveiling area of the statue or bust, there to stand waiting as the citizens gathered around, all jostling for the best position in which to view the unveiling ceremony. Number’s 42 and 73 both dressed in black and sporting dark glasses, were there on hand to see that no one got too close for Number 2’s comfort, especially Number 6, who was being closely observed.
“Good people of our community” began Number 2.
Hooray, hooray, hooray, the crowd cheered.
“To commemorate this anniversary of the founding of our Village, I am both proud and privileged to unveil this special commemorative bust of the most singular man who made possible our idyllic way of life with its community you see before you today. If it had not been for him we would not be standing here together today, he would be proud to see so many of you gathered to pay him homage. I ask you all now to raise your voice in appreciation of a truly great man, and remarkable individual.”
There came a sudden drum roll through the public address system and it was the butler’s honour to pull on the scarlet cord and unveil the bust mounted upon its ornate stone plinth. The crowed were stunned into silence as they marvelled in awe at the bust of the founder of their Village. The head and shoulders of a man perfectly immortalised forever in stone. A handsome man with thick wavy hair, his face unsmiling and curiously there was just the hint of a frown, and the eyes staring somehow accusatory, the sculpture having captured the man’s persona to a tee! To say it came as a shock would be putting it mildly, Number 6 was dumbfounded as he stared at the face unveiled, a face that he knew only too well, but not wanting to believe it could be possible!
“You know lad” said the Admiral “there’s a look of you about that bust.”
Number 6 said nothing, he was stunned in disbelief. But once the shock began to subside a little, he found his old self and stormed forward, ready to confront anyone who stood in his way and that included 42 and 73 as they stepped forward to block Number 6’s path to Number 2 and the bust of the Village’s founder. However Number 2 motioned her two lap dogs back into place, allowing Number 6 to storm forward unhindered.
“This, this farce cannot be right!” shrieked Number 6, pointing to the founders bust “he is an individual, independent and would never, never have anything to do with a place like this, unless he was a prisoner. He would never conform to any of the Village’s beliefs, unless it was through absolute coercion! He” barked Number 6 pointing at the bust again “would not think himself a member of this community, let alone be the founder, you’ve got the wrong man!”
Number 2 stepped forward to face the aggressor “I can see how upset and agitated you are, but how would you know what he is?”
Number 6 stared back at Number 2 in sheer anger and outrage and from his pocket produced that photograph he has been so keen to show about the village and now holding in front of Number 2’s face
yelled for all to hear “because he’s my brother, as well you know!”
Then there came more murmurings from the gathered citizens, as they remained as onlookers, seeing the likeness between Number 6 and the commemorative bust.
“So what have you done with him, is he still here, somewhere in the Village?” Number 6 asked, ready to vent his anger upon the first person who now got in his way.
Number 2 took another two steps forward and stared into the face of Number 6 “Questions are a burden to others…….”
“And answers a prison for oneself!” he added.
“You may not like the answers” Number 2 warned him.
“Perhaps not, but I think I’ll go on asking the questions anyway” he said in response “at least that way I shall remain a burden to you! He’s still here isn’t he, what have you done with him, this founder of your village who you are so proud of to pay tribute to him this day?”
Finally Number 2 relented “Yes he is still here in the Village and always will be….with us. A long time ago something inside of him died, and after death there is birth….. he gave birth to the Village, and
everyone of us within its community. Even as a child there was something in his brain which was a puzzlement, perhaps the Village was there even then!”
Number 2 face to face with Number 6 “Strange how often we don’t know those closest to us, we think we do, but we don’t. Sometimes we hardly know ourselves!” there was a deep malevolence in her voice and a cruel smile lingered upon her lips.
There was no need for violence, even numbers 42 and 73 could see Number 6 was a broken man, as he fell to his knees in tears upon the ground. He looked up at the bust of his brother and one word passed his lips……. “Why?”
Number 2 content with the day’s events so far, lifted the megaphone to the good people of this community “Let the festivities continue. Feel free and enjoy yourselves its Village Day.”
Suddenly and instantly the seemingly paralysed crowd became animated once more, cheering and waving in Village Day celebration as many went off to enjoy the many attractions. As for Number 6, he was still kneeling on the ground, reading the inscription beneath the bust;
For Him His Days Are Not Numbered
Number 6 slowly picked himself up off his knees, appearing a broken and disappointed man, and now he stood alone before the founder’s bust. Number 2, the ceremonial pageant over, had now returned to her administrative details in the Green Dome, just as had most of the other citizens gone, and those few who were left, felt little or nothing for Number 6. But if Number 2 thought Number 6 to be the broken man she thought him to be, then she was to have yet another thought about that. For the tears that Number 6 had wept had gone, and the once anger inside was being replaced with burning revenge, but to enjoy this Number 6 would have to bide his time until the Masque Ball tonight.
In the control room the supervisor instructed the observers to keep a special observant eye open for Number 6, just in case, because Number 2 feared he might do something stupid after his terrible ordeal, because of the shock and trauma. Yet suicide was not 6’s way, he was more likely to cause trouble, and that is what the observers were watching for.
Number 6 walked slowly through the Village, he was the subject of much muttering and murmurs.
“That’s the way to do it” shrieked Mr Punch, dressed in piped blazer and straw boater, as he beat a rather portly policeman with a goatee beard with his own truncheon, much to the enjoyment of the citizens.
“Ah, Number 6” said the Victorian showman “you wanted…….”
But he simply ignored the showman and walked straight passed him, having seen more than enough for one day! His mind was in a state of stupefaction, insensitive and lethargic as he walked on, ignoring anything and everyone about him. He merely returned to his cottage.
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