Monthly Archives: April 2013

“Secret Agent Man” … Part 3

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Danger Man

Danger Man. Its a job.

(For “Secret Agent Man” … Part 2 scroll down or use the search box on the right of this page.)

~~~

As Dorthea Farmer reached for the phone John Drake stepped forward, gently took her by the arm, and holding his NATO I.D. up so that she had a clear view of it, guided her to the side and out of Amanda Fallin’s line of sight. He could feel her quiver in his grasp.

“Miss Fallin, my name is Drake, John Drake. We have to talk and there isn’t much time.”

“Wha? … ” She started to speak.

“I know this will be a lot to digest so quickly but we have good reason to believe that you’re in danger. Miss Fallin is working with a communist agent in Nigeria,” and she remained still, “by the name of  Georgio Rannesin,” her eyes widened, ” and I must get you to a safe place … NOW.”

“But, Amanda?” She looked searchingly.

“Don’t worry about her or anything else right now. Just follow my lead.” And he began, arm in arm with her, with his other hand hidden under his coat and next to her waist, to walk her back to her table, and Miss Fallin. The waitress was looking, a puzzled look.

“Miss Fallin,” and he moved his hand, the one hidden under his coat, visibly closer to Dorthea Farmer. “It’s important that we leave now. Everything will be explained shortly. But for now … we LEAVE.”

Fallin looked shocked. Shocked at seeing him? Shocked at what could look like a pistol being held to the side of Miss Farmer?

“Do as he says,” gasped Miss Farmer.

Drake turned to the waitress and called out, “That call? A medical emergency. We must go to the hospital, the lady’s mother is quite ill.” Taking his arm from Miss Farmers arm, his coat and other hand still in place, he laid some bills down on the counter as they continued to walk towards the door. “This should take care of both bills. Please keep whats left as a tip, and forgive the inconvenience.” And he smiled as they all made their way out the double doors. “Keep walking and be calm,” he whispered to the two girls. Mentally he prayed his sixth sense was right. Because if he was wrong …

~~~

A short time later, a few blocks down the street in a hotel room he had rented as a safe place for Miss Farmer, he stood before the two girls and, looking at Miss Fallin, he asked, “When was the last time you communicated with your uncle, Rannesin?” The girl looked completely at a loss. “Very well. We’ll talk more about it later. In that room,” he pointed to another door, “now.” The girl, pale as death, did as she was told silently. After she had gone into the other room and the door was shut he turned his attention to Miss Farmer.

“You said you’d explai … , ” she began.

“And I will,” at which point he described the plot to her as it had been described to him. “Now,” and he turned towards the window, it was now or never, his back to the girl, “you know what this is all about.” And he heard the purse open. He knew what to expect now. His hunch, given the clues offered, had proven itself. As he turned back to the girl he gave a low gasp of mock surprise as he looked at the pistol in Farmer’s hand.

“Well, Mr. Drake, you had most of it right,” she smiled a crooked, perverse smile. “But Amanda isn’t the agent you thought she was, is she?”

“Would you mind explaining, Miss Farmer?”

“Sure, why not? I’ll consider it the granting of a last request. In a few minutes it’ll all be over,” and she laughed. “I met Georgio two years ago, the last time he visited Amanda. It wasn’t long after Amanda and I met. She can’t stand him, by the way. But we hit it off immediately. We kept in touch through, well, lets just say through channels. We have a lot in common. We share a common desire to see people freed from poverty and the oppression of the wealthy who use them for their own greedy ends, to truly better the world. We began planning this about six months ago. Can you imagine the chaos in Nigeria and other African countries, when those bad business deals take place? There will be thousands out of work, almost overnight. We’ll force the issue and the money from my father will finance a popular uprising. It will give the Party the opportunity to bring about a glorious revolution! We’ll free the masses, Mr. Drake, in spite of capitalist warmongers like my father. The plan will still go forward, without Amanda. There are several others we can use as patsies. But you, Mr. Drake, you can take pride in the fact that you were right about every detail but one. Me.”

“I am curious about one thing, if you don’t mind my asking?”

“It’ll be your last question,” she answered sternly. “What is it?”

“I understand you go to church regularly. Why would you?” And this question was sincere.

“Mr. Drake, who would look for a communist sympathizer there? Part of the plan was my innocence. And it still is. In just a minute there will be a struggle. You’ve kidnapped me, Mr. Drake. No doubt after my daddies money. In the struggle between you and Amanda, good girl that she is, trying to save her friend, your gun will go off and just before you die you’ll manage to squeeze off one more round, killing poor Amanda. Sorry, Mr. Drake, but this is how it must be. I can’t let you jeopardize this plan”

“You’re a quick study, Dorthea,” and there was a calm confidence in his voice. “But you’ve missed one detail. I didn’t come here alone. I alerted Canadian Security before ever going to The Linden.” Looking at the door he called out, “You can come in now! She’s armed.”

As quickly as Dorthea Farmer turned towards the door he moved forward and reached for her wrist. Just a few seconds went by but when they were over it was Drake with the gun and Dorthea Farmer with a look of fear on her face.

“Oh, don’t worry, Miss Farmer. I’m not going to shoot you. I’m going to turn you over to the Canadians, to be held in legal custody until you’re tried for espionage.” The door to the room? After he had called out? It never opened. “Set in that chair,” he waved her towards a chair in the corner with the barrel of the pistol. Setting down on the edge of the bed he picked up the phone and dialed. “Charles? Drake here. Code word, checkmate. Yes, I have the girl in custody. We’re at the address I gave you earlier. We’ll be waiting.”

~~~

“But how did you know?” Miss Fallin, setting across the table, her eyes blurred with tears, asked.

“Honestly, I didn’t, not for certain. Everything known pointed to you. Any communication, for example, originating in Montreal and sent to your uncle, correctly worded, would naturally be attributed to you, especially if it were traced back to your flat. No one would have suspected Miss Farmer. But it was your reactions that made me suspect. You showed no sign of emotion when I mentioned Nigeria at the bank. Which made me wonder if you knew where your uncle was, if you were in contact with him. Miss Farmer’s emotional distance, her being so independent of her father,” he smiled, “the mention of Nigeria might not have elicited a response from you if she didn’t speak of him. You’d have no reason to know that Michael Farmer was in Nigeria. Your reaction, or lack of reaction, made me wonder. On the other hand, Miss Farmer’s eyes went wide when she heard your uncle’s name, and at no other point. By then I knew that if I could get the both of you to the hotel room, well, things would progress from there. Someone, you or her, would have to do something rather than risk failure and possible exposure.”

“That horrid man. I’ve only seen him half a dozen times in my life and he always seemed … evil. And Dorthea, she was going to make it look like it was me who was a part of all this.” Her voice trailed off and she visibly shook.

“Yes, and she nearly did. Don’t dwell on it Miss Fallin. And I don’t think you’ll be bothered by your uncle again. Not after this.” He tried to sound up beat. He wasn’t sure he’d succeeded.

In silence they continued with their meal. The Linden really was a good restaurant, and after the tip he’d left earlier the service was better than usual. He looked up at Amanda Fallin. It must be hard, knowing that you were being used by someone you thought a friend. It had been hard for him to tell her. It was his job, and the chance of betrayal,  along with the ongoing chance that he might not live to see tomorrow, was what kept him from forming many close relationships. Janet was the one exception. Perhaps someday, after he’d retired, he could settle down in some quaint village, hidden away, off the beaten track, and lead a normal life. Till then … Pity the poor guy who’d have to explain all this to Mr. Michael Farmer, Dorthea’s father. Pity the father. There were times when he just wanted to … The music filtered in from the little neighborhood bar next door. It was that Johnny Rivers song again. ” … given you a number and taken ‘way your name … ” Now, somehow, he just wasn’t in the mood.

THE PRISONER – 6 ALTERNATE THEMES – Pick Your Fave –

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Fan fiction. Its what you make it. Pick a theme, pick a scenario, go from there. Just don’t go too far. They’re watching.

THE PRISONER – 6 ALTERNATE THEMES – Pick Your Fave – YouTube.

“Secret Agent Man” … Part 2

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Flag of Nigeria and Canada

Flag of Nigeria and Canada.

(For “Secret Agent Man” … Part 1 scroll down or use the search box on the right of this page.)

~~~

He had opened his account at the bank just yesterday. It had been a busy time since then. He had located the flat shared by Amanda Fallin and Dorthea Farmer. He’d checked with neighbors, posing as a gas utilities repairman, and gotten bits and pieces of information that might or might not prove useful. Little things like Miss Farmer going to church on a very regular basis, Miss Fallin’s fear of dogs, the fact that they ate lunch together at the local cafe, The Linden, each Saturday, and similar items of interest. Neighbors do so like to talk, and he was a good listener.

~~~

“Certainly, Mr. Drake. I can help you with that,” Miss Fallin smiled. He handed her the deposit slip and some cash. “Oh, I see you’ve only just opened your account with us.”

“Yes,” he smiled back. “New in Montreal. I’ve only arrived two days ago.”

As she was arranging numbers on a balance sheet the girl asked pleasantly, “Where did you move from, if you don’t mind my asking?”

Nigeria,” and he watched for a reaction.

“Really? Such an exotic place. I’d think it must be very interesting living in such a place. Montreal is all I’ve ever known.” Oh, she was good, very good. There hadn’t been so much as a blink. Most importantly her pupils, impossible for almost anyone to control, didn’t widen as they normally would. Yes, she was very good.

“Can you recommend a good restaurant?”

“Yes. You might like The Linden. It’s rather small and perhaps not so well-known but the food and service are very good,” and she handed him his deposit receipt. “Would you like for me to write down the address for you?”

“I’d be obliged.”

~~~

As he left the bank he wondered at the girls lack of reaction to his mention of Nigeria. Her eyes never changed. There was something, something. She was good at hiding reactions. Perhaps. To be that good would require much practice. At her age, she couldn’t be more than 22 or 23, it was odd for her to be so adept at controlling emotion and the show of it.

The next day was Saturday. If they were true to form the two girls would be together and at The Linden for lunch at about eleven. He would need to act then, separate the two without Miss Fallin seeing him. She might be suspicious of him, seeing him at the restaurant, after his having mentioned Nigeria. After having spirited Miss Farmer away he would confront Fallin, with Canadian agents nearby. Things were going well. A little extra caution now and this should prove to be one of his simpler jobs.

~~~

The two girls were seated at their regular table. Drake was in a booth towards the back, his back to them, watching them, watching their reflections in the window to his right.

“Ready to order, sir?” The waitress asked pleasantly.

“Yes, please,” he pointed to the menu, “This special sounds good. With hot tea please.”

China or India?”

“Either. Oh, and could you tell me, is there a public phone here in the restaurant?” He already knew there was. Knowing ahead of time was a part of caution. But now, right now, no one needed to suspect him of anything other than hunger.

“Yes sir, its to the rear of the building, there,” and she pointed with her pencil as she continued, “Your order will be ready in about 15 minutes. Is there anything else I can do for you now?”

“No, I’ll be fine, thank you. I’ll make a short phone call while waiting.”

~~~

At the back, at the phone, he placed his money in the slot and called the restaurant. The phone rang twice and the waitress that had just taken his order answered. She was less than ten feet away, around the corner and just outside the kitchen door at the far end of the counter. Changing his voice he said, “Would you check and see if Dorthea, Dorthea Farmer, is there? A friend told me she eats lunch at your place on Saturday and I really need to talk to her.”

A moment later he could hear the waitress calling out, “Phone call for Dorthea Farmer.”

~~~

End of Part 2

“Secret Agent Man” … Part 1

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A: Secret Agent 16

“Be seeing you, Mr. Drake.”

Note: Lots of folks think that Number Six of “The Prisoner” and John Drake of Patrick McGoohan‘s earlier series “Danger Man“, aka “Secret Agent”, were one and the same. For the record I’m one of those. So, here we have a tale of Number Six in his formative stage. Slowly getting fed up with the system. Slowly reaching that point of resignation.

~~~

He sat at the bar, sipping his beer. He could drink it and smile if need be but he never would understand how anyone could enjoy it chilled. He’d spent so much time working with the Brits that anything other than room temperature seemed something rather disgraceful. The music from the jukebox in the far corner caught his attention. That new song by Johnny Rivers. He liked it. It reminded him of … Well, it reminded him.

The man slid onto the stool next to his. By way of greeting he simply said, “Drake.”

“Nigel.” Nigel was ordering a whiskey and as the bartender retreated to the shelves to fetch his drink he asked, “Nigel, how’ve you been keeping? Why am I here and who is Dorthea Farmer?”

“In order … I’ve been quite well, thank you. Because you’re the most suited for this mission. The daughter of an industrialist currently residing in Nigeria.” And the bartender set his drink down in front of him.

“So I’m going to Nigeria?” He queried.

“No, you’re going to Quebec. Its her father who is in Nigeria. Miss Farmer lives with a roommate, a Miss Amanda Fallin, on the outskirts of Montreal. Miss Farmer works as bank teller. She’s very independent of her father. Her roommate works at the same bank, got her the job actually. Miss Fallin is the niece of Georgio Rannesin. Every thing else you need to know, along with your train ticket, is here,” and he passed him an envelope.

“Rannesin. Interesting.” It was all he said as Nigel left.

“Be seeing you, Drake.”

~~~

The train lumbered along, the rails clacking. The steady beat was a sleep inducer. He had gone over the information Nigel had given him, committed it to memory, destroyed it. All of the current evidence pointed in one direction. Amanda Fallin was a communist sympathizer, an operative for the other side. Fallin, working with her uncle Georgio Rannesin, would use the life of Dorthea Farmer as a means to force her father to make several bad business decisions. Michael Farmer, for his part, would be loosing money to a certain group of business people. A very neat form of blackmail and a clean way to obtain ransom money. Simply transfer funds from one bank to another, from the looser in the business deals to the winners. Ingenious. All Drake had to do was take Miss Farmer to a safe place while exposing Miss Fallin. The safe place would be easy enough. Forcing Fallin to tip her hand so that the Canadian Intelligence Bureau could take her into legal custody was another subject, a problem he hoped to be able to play by ear. Once he had looked over the situation he felt certain he’d be able to trust his sixth sense.

~~~

“Certainly, sir,” the Bank Guard pointed towards a hall at the opposite end of a long line of tellers. “New accounts would be the third door to the left.”

“I’m obliged,” he smiled as he walked towards the hall. As he passed the tellers he saw both Miss Farmer and Miss Fallin, recognizing them from the now disposed of photos supplied by Nigel.

“Good morning, sir. May I help you” A very plump, middle-aged woman with horn rimmed glasses looked up, smiling, from her desk.

“Yes, please. I’d like to open an account.”

As he sat there, the two of them filling out the required bank forms, he asked simple and polite questions about the bank and its services. And the woman, eager to share with a new customer, gave him much more information than she realized.

~~~

End of Part 1

Secret Agent Man … Its all fun and games until someone looses a spy.

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Danger Man Game 2

When Mr. Drake arrived in the U.S. he was given a theme song that tells his story very well. It even mentions that they gave him a number and took away his name. But that’s another story, isn’t it?

Secret Agent Man – Johnny Rivers cover – YouTube.

The Prisoner … Episode 19 … “Half Dozen of the Other.”

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Created using the free Village font. Saved in ...

(Note: For Episode 18 scroll down or use the search box on the right side of this page.)

The Prisoner … Episode 19 … “Half Dozen of the Other.”
~
“No further evidence is needed to show that ”mental illness”is not the name of a biological condition whose nature awaits to beelucidated, but is the name of a concept whose purpose is to obscure the obvious.” Thomas Szasz.
~
He hadn’t felt well for several days now. It wasn’t normal, he was never sick. Alternately he felt cold and hot, chilled or feverish. And his energy level was almost non-existent. He had to push himself constantly. He wondered at first if he’d been drugged. There was really no way of knowing. He actually thought he might have to present himself at hospital. He didn’t want tothink about that.
~
“Supervisor?” The new Number 2, a short, stout, balding man in his forties turned away from the screen. “Yes” “Surveillance on Number 31 and Area 6, both. Split screen.” “Done.” Number 2 turned back to the screen. Number 31 was relaxing in his chair. Normal enough for him. Number 6 was making his way through the woods, Area 6, to his contrived personal gym. “Time to pay a call on Number 31. Keep this going. I may want to review it later.” “Of course,” the Supervisor replied. Number 2 was already striding towards the door, moving much faster than one would expect from a man his size, headed for the home of Number 31. Nothing like the personal touch, a personal visit.
~
“And you’re very certain that I can’t persuade you?” Number 2 was speaking to Number 31 across the kitchen table, a wine glass in his hand. “More wine, Number 2? I have a passable white. Tastes the same, looks the same, costs …” “No thank you.” Number 2 interrupted. “This is sufficient. But back to your vocation. Surely you miss the practice?” “Yes, I do. Very much in fact. But I’ve seen no worthwhile subjects here.” “What if I could provide you with one? He’s currently in need of help such as yours. I’d consider it a personal favor, Number 31. And you know that one hand washes the other.” He winked knowingly. “I’d need to talk with him first. Casually, to gauge his receptivity,” Number 31 stated flatly, seemingly without any real interest. “A simple task to arrange an accidental meeting. Will you be near the phone in the morning?” “Certainly.” “Expect my call,”Number 2 smiled. After he returned to the Green Dome he reviewed the tape of Number 31s actions after he had left his flat. The glee was evident. “I have him,” Number 2 smiled at the Supervisor.
~
 “Number 6! Good morning! Good late morning I should say,” Number 2 waved pleasantly, “Its nearly lunch time. Come,” rising from his chair on the cafes patio and waving his hand towards a chair next to his. “I’ve not ordered yet. Please join me.” Number 6 walked over, smiled a stiff smile and accepted the seat. This particular Number 2 had been less intrusive than any other. In fact Number 6 often felt ignored by him. A blessing he counted almost hourly. “Number 6, you look a bit pale. Feeling alright I hope.” “Fine, thank you.” The waitress was approaching. “Give us a moment, will you, dear? You’re in no rush, are you umber 6?” “Not currently, no. I’ve been planning a trip to London but its been postponed.” Number 2 laughed heartily. “Oh, I say,” wiping tears from his eyes, “your wit always both catches me off guard and cheers me. You are a Village treasure.” “Yes, well, enjoy me while you can,” Number 6 smiled a tad more. Number 2, beginning to chuckle, choked back his mirth as he caught sight of … “Say, Number 31! What a piece of luck!” He waved at the new man. “Come, you must meet my good friend, Number 6.” Looking at Number 6, “This may turn into a regular party!” And the three men had what would have been, in any place other than the Village, a very pleasant lunch. Number 31s end of the conversation took odd turns at times but he seemed, Number 6 observed, rather eccentric. It takes all kinds to make a Village.
~
“And your impression?” Number 2 leaned closer to Number 31 as they sat, watching the human chess match. “Actually a very interesting prospect,” Number 31 answered. He referred to Number 6. “Then you’ll … ?” Number 2 had begun a question and then let the sentence trail off. Number 31 smiled. “With pleasure,” he said. “Oh, look!” Number 2 nearly squealed. “The whites in check!”
~
The chills, the fever, the lack of energy thankfully weren’t getting any worse. Regrettably they weren’t getting any better either. This was day six. Hot tea and a good nights rest. Sleep came in fits. And during a lull in the fits the over head light glowed, began to lower itself, began to pulsate.
~
“You should be glad that Village residents are watched. Its a sign of care. An active interest in you’re welfare, your well being. Who knows what might have happened if you hadn’t been watched. Be thankful, Number 6,” the doctor said sternly. He had opened his eyes only moments before. He had been in bed. He still was, just not the same one. “Where am I?” It was the first thing out of his mouth. “In the hospital,” had been the curt response. “We’re on your side, Number 6. What do you want?” “I want to know why I’m here!” “I meant would you like some tea, perhaps milk? And as to why you’re here, well, you have every indication of a rare form of meningitis,” the doctor answered firmly. “I’ve had chills.That’s not a symptom of meningitis.” “No, it isn’t. You also have a mild flu bug that seems to be hanging on, given the evidence in your blood work, much longer than normal. That’s what got you here earlier tonight. Surveillance noted your fitful sleep in the extreme tonight. It was while running tests, we are very thorough Number 6, that we found indications of meningitis.” “I wasn’t awakened by your ‘medics’. Was it a special blend of tea that I had prior to bed?!” The doctor shook his head, a sort of pity written on his face. “Oh, I know you’ve been drugged in the past, Number 6. But this time you were unconscious due to your illnesses. In fact, I had to give you a drug to wake you just now. You’re a very lucky man, Number 6. Catching it at this stage should make recovery a foregone conclusion. With the proper treatment of course,” he smiled faintly. “You are in the best of hands here. Meningitis isn’t that common among men of your age, but its not unheard of either. This type, rare as it is, requires a very specific care. But not to worry. We actually have a retired immunologist here in the Village. He specialized in the treatment of certain ailments, meningitis being one of them.” “Who?” Number 6 asked. “I wouldn’t think you’d know him, Number 6, but he’s Number 31.”
~
Number 31 stood next to his bed. “Fancy meeting you here,” he said. His voice was flat, flavorless. “You realize its been some time that I’ve been retired.” “So I’m told,” Number 6 replied. “Still, I’m willing. You provided an interesting chat the other day at lunch. I’d be glad to keep you around.” Number 31 smiled, patting Number 6 on the shoulder. So much for bedside manner.
~
“How did he respond?” Number 2 looked at Number 31 earnestly. “I believe he believes that he has meningitis. I don’t foresee a problem, do you?” He looked intently at Number 2. “No, from all indications he’s accepted this diagnosis. But we can’t afford to give him cause for suspicion.” “Then we won’t,” Number 31 said matter of factly.
~
He lay there, looking up at the ceiling, the blasted muzak never ending even in hospital. He didn’t notice it so much at the moment. He was to busy thinking. Thinking it was odd that he had met 31 just prior to his hospitalization. A coincidence? Fate? Luck? Number 2?
~
“We have wonder drugs now days, Number 6.” Number 31 was holding up a rather large syringe, looking at the contents. He looked down at Number 6. “I’d like to be able to say this won’t hurt a bit. It will.” The needle punctured the skin of his arm. Not so bad. Then Number 31 started to slowly inject the medicine. And Number 6 understood fully the words, “It will.”
~
“Number 6, there seems to be, well, certain complications. Nothing we can’t deal with, but there are things that you need to be aware of. The inflammation risks damaging brain tissue. We wouldn’t want the tissue damaged. The inflammation, in effecting the brain, can cause hallucinations, even symptoms approximating mental illness. In treating this form of meningitis we also have to treat these symptoms, just as we would if you were a truly mentally ill patient. This is necessary in order to keep the patient, in this case you, in a mental condition that’s conducive to the physical treatments. Otherwise you could well prove to much for hospital personnel to deal with necessitating that we keep you sedated. Then you wouldn’t be able to communicate with us. In other words you couldn’t tell us ‘where it hurts’. That would be worse than counter productive. I tell you all of this so that, in your more lucid moments, you’ll better understand what it is we’re doing.” Medically much of what he had said was nonsense. Close approximations to unrelated facts giving the impression of validity. Number 6 was intelligent, perhaps brilliant. Number 31 trusted that the medical misinformation fed to him by that mind-altering mental control administered by way of the pulsating light would keep things believable and him confused long enough to effect Number 31s mental treatments. Immunologist. What a farce. A Ph.D. in psychology from an Austrian university under Nazi control during World War 2. And he was very proud of it. This was his chance to both perfect and prove his mind control technique. “Unsere sache wird sich durchsetzen.”
~
“How long?” Number 2 queried. “Depends on his metabolism, but on average no more than twelve hours, no less than five,” Number 31 mumbled as he flipped through the chart. “Keep me posted. Hourly, day and night,” Number 2 said sternly. Number 31 looked up, smiled faintly, “I’ll see what I can do.”
~
Number 2 received hourly updates for six hours. Thirty three minutes after the seventh update he received one last note, short and to the point. It read, “Its working.”
~
Number 2, Number 31, and Number 14, one of the hospitals staff physicians who had dealt with Number 6 in the past, stood over an unconscious Number 6. His face went from placid to grotesquely twisted regularly. “And he’ll remember nothing of this?” Number 2 looked from one doctor to the other. Number 14, pushing blond hair back out of her eyes, answered, “When its over he’ll think he was cured of meningitis. He’ll remember nothing else. He may even be thankful to us for our help. In that, all of this may have a lasting positive effect. He might just decide to fit in after this.” Number 2 smiled at the thought. He would accomplish what nearly two dozen others had failed at. And his primary weapon would have been distance and a benevolent disregard. The others were, one and all, obviously amateurs.
~
The room was brightly painted. The curtains were of a type found in nurseries, horses dancing across their folds with clowns standing atop each steed wielding colorful parasols. A large plastic car, a grand toy, a Lotus with plate numbers KAR 120C, took up the middle of the room. There were three rocking chairs. And muzak. And Number 6, in pajamas with feet. A two way mirror on one wall, every corner hid a camera, every cranny hid a microphone. He could be seen, he could be heard. Most importantly, he could be talked to. The microphones provided the voices in his head.
~
“How do you feel today, son?” A smiling Number 2 entered the room. He walked over to Number 6, put his arm around his shoulder and gave him a fatherly squeeze. “I’ve been worried about you lad. You’ve been ill, most ill. We thought that your mind had left us, that you’d resigned the human race. But we care, son, we care. And you trust us, we’re going to help you be all better.” The arm still around his shoulder Number 2 gave another squeeze, his smile widening. Number 6 grinned. A bit of drool on his chin, Number 2 took out a handkerchief and wiped it away. “Set down my boy. Lets talk. The doctors, they’re your friends, tell me that talking about things, straightening out the past, will clear the way for the future. You talk with me, you’ll feel better, you’ll be better. You’ll see. There’s no shame in getting help, and you needn’t resign yourself to any illness, physical or, in this case, mental. Talking it out, all of it, will still those unwanted voices, the ones that taunt you with your own foibles. I’m here, I’m here for you. Remember that.” Number 6 continued to grin. Number 2 didn’t notice it, he had removed his arm from Number 6s shoulder, but as he said the words, “I’m here for you”, the spine stiffened and the shoulders grew taught. They sat in rockers, looking at each other. Number 2 smiled, Number 6 grinned.
~
Every day for five days he rephrased the same question, always avoiding the direct usage one word when forming the question but using it often in general conversation. The word took slightly different forms. “Resignation” or “resigned” or “resign”. When he slept these were all repeated though the microphones, along with one other word. “Why?”
~
It was day six. They seemed to be getting no where. Every time the conversation was steered in the desired direction by Number 2 something seemed to distract Number 6. The car, the curtains, the mirror, the walls, anything, everything. Number 2 cornered Number 31 in the hall. “Another dosage.” “That won’t help,” said 31. “Then what will? What will?!” “Let me talk with him. Introduce me in the morning, let him rest the remainder of today.” Number 2 exhaled as though he wanted to be rid of something from the inside out. “Oh, alright. Alright.”
~

“Number 6! I want you to meet the Doctor. He’s one of your good friends.” And Number 2 gently pushed Number 31 forward. They spent the day together, Doctor and Number 6, chatting away, the topics meandering, Number 6 stiffening imperceptibly every time he heard the word “resign”, “resignation”, “resigned”.
~

“I’m telling you it takes time and what you’re suggesting simply will not work. In order to produce the desired results …” Number 2 stopped him there, his finger shaking in his face. “Results? And you’ve obtained exactly what? So far you’ve made him drool. I need more than spittle!” Number 31 began to go livid. “Now look here, Number 2 … ” “NO! You’ll do the looking and what you’ll see is success on my part. You’re technique is lacking. We’ll try mine now and you’ll see, you’ll see!” “You’re going to ruin … ” “I’m going to WIN!” Number 2 shouted. “Nearly two dozen others have failed at this. Several more than once. I will NOT fail, YOU will NOT keep me from the prize! You’re drugs have worked a wonder and for that I say thank you. But beyond the drugs you’ve obviously lost the touch. Now its my turn and I’ll add MY touch!”
~

He spoke in a low, deliberate way. “Lad, I’m here to help. You know that.” Number 2 took a step forward, towards Number 6. “And you want me to help, we both know that. But,” Number 6 took a step back as Number 2 advanced again, “we can’t continue like this forever. For me to help you,” and he took yet another step towards Number 6, “for me to help you I need for you to help me. One hand washes the other, we both know how that works,” Number 6 took another step back. Now he had retreated as far as possible, now his back was against the wall. This physical reality, his back being against the wall, had a psychological impact. Number 2 continued to talk. “You want to please the old man, don’t you lad? And the Doctor. You like him, you know,” Number 6 was grinning but the grin was changing, “that he wants to help you. Its why he’s here,” and he took another step, slowly. This physical reality, this last forward step, with Number 6 backed up against the wall, had yet another psychological impact on the mind of 6. And this psychological turn took, in turn, a physical twist. The now twisted grin turned into a smile. A few minutes later, the room filled with guards holding Number 6 and medics attending Number 2. With the blood wiped away it was obvious that the nose was broken in more than one place. They were taking Number 2 to hospital. Number 6, even though held by several guards, was still smiling. A certain touch had been added to the whole affair. A boxers touch.
~

“I told you! Didn’t I say … ” Number 2 interrupted Number 31. “Yes, you did,” it was hard to talk through the bandages, “but just now I have other concerns. You’re excused, Number 31.” The tone lent itself to no quarter. Number 31, face red, teeth clinched, bowed slightly and walked up the ramp. In the foyer the butler handed him his hat. Number 14 stood close by Number 2. “You’ll be needing these,” she said, and handed him what seemed a rather large bottle of pain killers. “Thank you, Number 14. You may go now.” The red phone buzzed. Number 2 sighed, trying to exhale through his nose. He was at that point veryglad for the bottle of pills. He raised the phone to his ear. “Yes sir…”
~

Number 6 sat quietly. He wore regular hospital issue pajamas now. The laundry was washing the blood of Number 2 out of the others. He smiled to himself. Drugs could do so much, but only so much. The mind, the body, under certain types of stress, would create its own and these in turn might well off set the man made pharmaceuticals. Number 14 stepped into the room, a chart in her hand. “Ah, Number 6, whatever shall we do with you?” “If it were me I believe I’d send me home as a punishment,” he quipped. She looked at him, shook her head, turned to the medic with her and said, “See to his release.” Turning to Number 6 she smiled. “I’ll send you home Number 6. Remember that home is where ever you hang your hat. It is, after all, six of one …” “Half dozen of the other, yes, I know.”
~

Be seeing you.

“Doppelganger”

Standard

The Prisoner

Number 6 is obviously a very intelligent person with a wide range of experience. Maybe he has one or two mental tricks up his sleeve that we don’t know about …

~

“Doppelganger”

~

Number 10 stepped through the door, stood at the top of the ramp, and froze. “What the devil?”

Number 2, a puzzled look on his face, raised both hands, palms upward, and shrugged.

Two men stood in front of Number 2s desk. To the left was Number 6. He nodded to Number 10 in greeting. On the right was, well, Number 6. He nodded to Number 10 and smiled. Number 10 approached slowly. Curtis was dead, of that he was quite sure. Plastic surgery? Number 2 looked honestly at a loss. Again, quietly and to himself, Number 10 repeated, “What the devil?”

“Supervisor.” Number 2s voice quivered.

“Yes.” The voice seemed to come from no where in particular.

“I want you to go over ALL surveillance records for the past three days. I want to know if you can find Number 6 in two places,” he hesitated, “at the same time.”

“What?!” The Supervisors voice belied his confusion.

“You heard me!” Number 2 barked. “Just do it. NOW!”

“Yes sir.” And on his end the Supervisor shook his head even as he began pulling up video files. “Another one gone round the bend,” he whispered to himself.

The Butler entered with a cart. Tea service for five. Five? The Butler bowed to Number 6. Twice. He stepped back, waiting to serve.

Exasperated, Number 2 spat out, “And we’re supposed to do exactly what with TWO of you?!”

“Well,” said the Number 6 on the right, “if you’ve no use for the both of us … ”

“You can always send one of us home,” the Number 6 on the left finished the sentence.

Number 2 laughed oddly. “Which of you would you suggest?” He queried, looking from left to right, right to left.

“You choose.” Both Number 6s answered him in chorus.

The Butler began to ready the tea service for five as though someone had just asked him to serve.

The metal doors opened again. And in walked … Number 6.

Number 10 went numb. Number 2 bolted from his chair, running to the back of the room. There was a hidden panel, an escape route there. But as he ran his legs seemed laden with lead weights. His feet sank into the floor. For all his efforts at running he moved centimeters, if at all. Looking over his shoulder he watched as three smiling Number 6s walked calmly towards him. He began to scream …

Number 2 jumped upright in bed, a cold sweat covering him and soaking the sheets. His eyes were wide, his mouth hung open. His heart was pounding, his breath came in short, labored gasps as though he’d been running. He leaned forward, putting his face in his hands. “Oh, bloody hell. That’s all I’d need, that’s all I’d need.”

Not so very far away, in his flat, Number 6 rolled over in bed, ready for sleep now, a satisfied smile on his lips. And he remembered happily Dr. Seltzman, and all that he had taught him so many years before.

Drabble … “Welcome to The Village.”

Standard
Drabble … “Welcome to The Village.”

“Welcome to The Village.”

~

“Welcome to The Village! May I help you?” “Why do you call it that?” “The Village? We thought it comforting. Customers are number one here.” Odd name for a book shop. “Are you looking for something? I’ll help if able. Including,” he put fingers together and ran them across his lips, zipping them. “A still tongue makes a happy life.” “A guide to Italy.” “We have this. One pound even.” He took the book. “Yes,” and he opened his wallet. “Thank you. Enjoy!” “Thanks.” The clerk said, “Be seeing you!” “And you.” Extended holiday. But first to tender his resignation.

 

English: A part of Portmeirion, the real-life ...

A part of Portmeirion, the real-life filming location for exterior shots of the Village, the fictional setting of the 1960s UK television series The Prisoner. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

The Prisoner … Episode 18 … “Your Home From Home.”

Standard

the prisoner

The Prisoner … Episode 18 … “Your Home From Home.”

~

“One returns to the place one came from.” Jean De La Fontaine.

~

It had been nearly four years. A new series of drugs had been produced, new hypnotic techniques developed along with new and more powerful mind control devices, all developed by the doctors in the Village. Things had changed. Some had changed for the better and others for the worse. And they needed him … Again.

~

The Lotus came to an abrupt stop. As he climbed out of KAR 120C the door of his flat opened on cue. Stepping across the threshold he wondered at the absence of the butler. Well, he thought to himself, he’s probably gone on errand. He went into his kitchen to brew a cup of tea. He needed it now, it had been a rather stressful day at the bank. He wondered if the promotion was worth it. With tea in hand he settled into his chair, adjusted himself comfortably, took a sip, and abruptly passed out.

~

When he awoke he sensed something was wrong. The room. Everything looked right but there was something, something about the air. It seemed somehow stifling. And then he saw it. A small wooden figure setting on his desk. It held a card. He knew what it said without reading it. “Welcome to your home from home.” By now he was up walking. The phone rang. Picking up the receiver he gave the voice on the opposite end no chance but barked immediately, “I’ll be there in a moment!” The door opened as he turned towards it. Going outside he turned right and went directly to the Green Dome.

~

As he entered the foyer the diminutive butler bowed while extending his gloved hand towards the door opposite. Entering the familiar circular room the globe-like chair in the middle turned towards him. The contents of the chair was a tall, gaunt man in his sixties, bald save for a small wisp of white hair at the very top of his head. He smiled. “Why am I here?!” The mans smile grew as though about to greet a long lost friend. “We regretted your loss. It was decided that allowing you to leave was a mistake. We’ve rectified the mistake.” Number 6 struck the desk between them with his fist, nearly knocking a teacup and its saucer to the floor. He said, “No, you’ve made one.” And he left.

~

As he walked the old familiar streets, looking, observing, he watched the villagers. What, who, had changed? Many of the faces were the same. Some smiled at him, saluting. The shops didn’t seem to have changed. He was looking for one in particular. He knew where it was, where it had been, where it should be, but was taking a circular route in order to register any measurable major alterations. There didn’t seem to be any other than a few new faces. It was just before arriving at the General Store, his destination, that he saw it through a stand of trees. A large white globe, shuddering in the morning sunlight. No, nothing had changed.

~

The store proprietor turned as he entered. His was a new face. It didn’t matter, he wasn’t there to renew old acquaintances. “Good morning, sir.” The man looked to be in his early twenties, a rather out of place mustache in the middle of a baby face. “How may I help you?” “I’d like a map of the Village. I seem to have misplaced my credit card. Number 2 will vouch for me if need be.” “Oh, its all very well sir. You have a trustworthy face. The map. Black and white or in color?”

~

He sat at “his” desk, the map spread out in front of him. “You might like to put your camera on zoom. You’ll want a good look, I’m sure.” Anyone hearing and watching and not knowing might have thought him a little off being the only one in the room and talking to the air. His purchase of the map had been only an excuse to reconnoiter. It also had given them the opportunity to observe him, which at this point he wanted them to do. His poring over the map now was an excuse to engage in conversation. And so he talked. Alone, and to the air. But he knew. Here you were never alone, never unobserved. “I’ll be going back to London soon. Just checking for the location of the nearest airport. If you care to you may give me your postal address. I’ll gladly send you a card!” And at the other end of the camera, which was on zoom, Number 2 actually laughed.

~

The phone rang late that evening. “Yes?” “Number 6! I hope you’re settling in. After you’re short visit this morning I was concerned that you might try to do something, ah, unseemly almost immediately. Knowing that you’re still with us,” and he chuckled, “is a great comfort. There is one thing I wanted to be sure you understood. I just want you to know that I won’t be asking you why you resigned. Its no longer important, happily no one cares any longer. That’s not why you’ve been brought back home.” And his chuckle seemed to take a perverse turn. “Lunch tomorrow, the café, at elevenish? I’d love to answer all your questions, as I’m sure you have many.” “At eleven, yes. Be seeing you.” And he slammed the receiver down in a very real effort to crush it.

~

Number 2 stood close by Number 21, both looking at the screen. Number 6 was asleep. “You know what needs to be done.” Number 2 spoke without looking at 21. “I’ve poured over his file. Nothing ever worked before, this is utterly useless,” Number 21 whined. Number 2 turned abruptly, shoving his face near Number 21s. “JUST DO IT!” And Number 21 lowered his eyes, the lesser of the two, like a dog, giving way to the other, the top dog. “NOW!”

~

Number 6 smiled a rigged smile, his jaw set. He and Number 2 were setting outside at the café. The day was pleasantly warm with a few large, fluffy clouds drifting in various directions. Number 2 pushed a small envelope across the table to Number 6. “You’ll be needing these. Your health care card, work card, credit card, and, oh, I took care of the map for you. My gift.” “How very kind of you.” Number 6 took the envelope and slid it into his jacket pocket. The white piping on the lapel seemed electric in the sunlight. At least this time the jacket had come without a numbered tag. Were they making a concession? They ordered and sat, waiting for lunch to arrive. Number 6 had decided to let Number 2 take the lead and so he continued to smile, silently. “I know you have questions Number 6,” Number 2 was playing with his napkin, arranging it in his lap. “I’ll tell you, show you this. It will answer few and raise many questions, I’m sure. But at least you’ll have an inkling as to why you’ve been brought back home.” He said the word “home” so matter of factly. He produced a photo and, the picture itself facing away from Number 6, held it out to him. As he took the photo he turned it to look at … And rising immediately he yelled, “JUST WHAT ARE YOU TRYING TO DO?!” Across the patio, alone at another table, Number 21 watched silently, a small canister of nerve gas hidden in his hand, just in case.

~

He paced the floor. Number 2 had answered questions admirably, with as many cryptic lines as might be found in an Agatha Christie who-done-it. The one question he hadn’t answered, the one Number 6 wanted an answer to most of all, was “Why?” Why had they brought HER here, to the Village? Because of her ties to him? Because of her father? Had she heard, had she seen, something that would make her of value? Or was she there, another prisoner, to help domesticate him? To be held over his head in exchange for what? Information he was sure. But of what kind? Never once had the question of his resignation been raised. That didn’t mean it wouldn’t. But this seemed … Different. Something in the game plan had been altered. And he needed to find out what and why. Number 2 had said he would bring him to her in the morning. How could he sleep? Finally he ceased pacing. He lay down on “his” bed. He needed rest, to clear his mind. He closed his eyes. He began to drift towards sleep without effort on his part. The light overhead began to glow, lowering itself. It pulsated. Number 21 watched the monitor intently. Some techniques need never change. Tried and true, simple as they might seem, were often the best, the most effective.

~

Number 2 stood in the open doorway. It wasn’t yet seven o’clock. “Come, we’ll walk. It isn’t far.” He smiled broadly. His tall, gaunt self seemed almost a cadaver in the early light filtering in around him. “Please pardon the early time of my arrival, but I assumed you’d want to go as soon as possible and, finding you dressed as I have, I believe I was right. And I’m sure she’s expecting my visit.”  He backed out of the doorway and waved an open hand towards the walk. “Shall we?” “Of course.” And he strode quickly, yet with a relaxed air that was believable even though an act, out the door to the offered path.

~

They stood in front of a door. The sign said “Number 85”. Four years prior it had read “Number 112.” The door opened. Number 2 went in first. A woman at the opposite end of the room began to turn. “I told you I’d bring you a proper surprise!” Number 2 chimed cheerily. The eyes of the new arrival, the newly numbered Number 85, met the eyes of Number 6. She gasped the word, “You?”, and promptly fainted.

~

They were alone now. Number 2 had revived Number 85 with smelling salts. With a glance at Number 6 he had said, “I’m sure you two have much to talk about.” His tone was almost fatherly. He left them there. Together. They hadn’t seen each other in over three years. And now, to be together again … Here. Number 6 and Janet, now Number 85, talked most of the day.

~

He walked down the ramp, the metal doors behind him swishing closed. Before the chair turned fully around he barked, “Why have you brought her here?” Ah, a “new” Number 2. The more things change the more they stay the same. This one he knew. He had dealt with him twice before, once when they had entered his dreams, and again when he had destroyed the General. “Why? You seem fixated on that question,” Number 2 replied. “Would you care for a glass of milk? Good for ones temper you know.” “Why? WHY? WHY?!” “Please calm yourself, Number 6. All in due time, all in due time.” He was pouring himself another glass of milk, emptying the one pitcher even as the butler entered with another. The red phone buzzed. “Yes sir. Yes sir, I expect to at any time now. Yes sir. Certainly sir.” “Your keeper?” Number 6 asked with a jeer as Number 2 set the phone down. “Number 6, you would be the last to admit this but we all have a ‘keeper’. Its a necessity of life, of society. For the good of the whole conformity is a must. And conformity must be enforced. Hence, the ‘keepers’ as you call them. You’ll come to realize in time that we’ve never wanted information from you nearly so much as we’ve wanted you to be IN formation. And you will conform, I promise you. And you’ll be happy that you did.” “Don’t count on it.” “Oh, Number 6, I’m not only counting on it, I am, as they say, ‘banking’ on it. You’ll excuse me now. I have other, more important concerns currently.” And the chair turned away. “Certainly. We WILL talk later. And I WILL have answers from you! Be seeing you. I give you my word.” The metal doors opened, the butler bowed as he left. Number 2 swallowed hard, and nearly choked on his milk.

~

There was a knock from outside. A knock? In the Village? Curiosity takes control. Who knocks in the Village? Number 6 walks outside, looking first to the right and then to the left. And another knock. This time he pinpoints the direction, and walking to a corner of the house, and turning the corner he is greeted by a familiar face. “So, they’ve brought you back as well,” said Number 6. “Two months ago,” the man replied. “Lets take a walk.” “Certainly, young man, certainly.” And Number 48 smiled ever so slightly.

~

“Do you think he suspects?” Asked Number 21 nervously. “Were the drugs administered? Was he subjected to the Device?” Number 2 queried. “Yes, I saw to all of that.” “Then he will HEAR what WE want him to hear and he will SEE what WE want him to see,” Number 2 snapped.  “This isn’t four years ago. We’ve improved. Supervisor?!” “Yes.” “Go to section five, camera and sound.” “Section five on.

~

“They can still see us, but they can’t hear us.” “Yes,” Number 6 replied. “I’m familiar with the area,” he said wryly. “I overheard Number 2 talking with Number 21 at the cafe. I understand they’ve brought your fiancee here,” Number 48 said. “Ex-fiancee,” Number 6 replied flatly, correcting him. “Oh. Is that, the part about being an ex I mean, a good thing or a bad thing?” “Its a thing.” Number 48 stepped closer to him. “I’ve planned an escape, but I can’t do it alone.” “Really?” A distinct lack of interest. Number 6 had heard this sort of thing to many times before. “I can get all three of us out.” “Really?” Number 6s voice manifested sarcastic doubt. “Really,” said 48 with resolve. “I can get one of their speed boats.” “And Rover can get you.” “I’ve found a way to jam Rover. It can’t seek what it can’t see.” “Really?” Interest now. “Tell me more.

~

The phone rang. She’d been expecting this. “Number 85, Number 2 here. Please join me for tea this afternoon at three.” “Yes,” was all she said. At three she sat opposite Number 2s desk as the butler poured the tea. “Do you take milk in you tea, Number 85?” “No.” Number 2 continued. “You seem a helpful sort, Number 85. I believe you know whats expected of you.” And “Yes” was all she said. “Marvelous. Please, enjoy your self. Teas getting cold you know.”

~

He heard a faint singing just out side. He picked out just a few words. “… bones … hear the word of the Lord …” The door opened, Number 48, his long frame leaning against the doorpost, was smiling. “I love singing in harmony, don’t you?Feel up to a stroll?” And so they strolled, silently. Through the Village, down to the stone boat, along the shore, further along the shore. The cave that he knew so well, the one he had hidden the body in a few years ago, was just ahead. “We wouldn’t want to go in just now,” Number 48 said as he turned on his heel and headed back towards the Village. “Its been remodeled. Twenty feet in, to the left, there’s a corridor. Its about a hundred feet long. It opens into a man made cave with a lagoon. That opens, on the other side of the cliff, into the sea. They keep the boats there. The corridor is guarded by two men at the lagoon end. The guards are changed promptly at ten each morning. Its another five hours before another change. If we arrived at ten-fifteen we could have our pick of boats.” “The guards?” “I told you I need help. I’ve seen you box,” Number 48 grinned. “And Rover?” Number 48 pulled a small metal box from his trouser pocket. There were three buttons, one green, one yellow, one red. “You push the buttons, green, yellow, and red to turn it on. The reverse order turns it off. It takes care of Rover.” “They’ll see us on radar.” “Yes, but by the time they see that Rover isn’t its normal self we’ll be out of their radars range.” “From Lithuania to Poland?” “Yes, about thirty miles.” “Tomorrow morning?” “Oh, you catch on fast, daddy.”

~

Number 6 sat holding Number 85s hands. “Come to see me in the morning at nine-thirty.” She nodded.

~

At nine-thirty sharp his door opened and she walked in. She looked curiously at Number 48. Number 6 smiled at her and said, “We’ll take a morning walk with my friend, this young man,” and he pointed at Number 48. She smiled as Number 48 bowed low. Number 6 had said nothing to her about the escape plan. If she knew nothing there was no chance of a mistake or slip of the tongue on her part. And they can’t extract what you don’t have. They walked, Number 48 keeping up a pleasant chatter. Diversion. The walked through the Village, to the stone boat, along the beach, further along …

~

Number 2 looked up at Number 21. “Well?” “Everything is in place, sir.” “Good. Now we wait. Milk, Number 21?”

~

Overcoming the guards turned out to be a simple affair. One was setting on the dock with his back to the entrance. The other, just inside the entrance, had his head down, his hands cupping a match, lighting a cigarette. They went from boat to boat checking fuel gauges. All were nearly full. All had electronic ignitions, a button with no need for a key. Of course they had known this. Both of them had ridden in one of these before. Under less pleasant circumstances. And all were exactly the same. They climbed aboard the last one they checked and Number 48 hit the ignition. There was no hesitation. Within a matter of seconds they were out to sea.

~

They were fully five miles out when they spotted Rover. It was coming up on them fast. Number 48 pulled the small box out of a pocket and pushed the buttons. Green, yellow, red. Rover slowed, stopped, and in just a few more seconds it faded away in the distance. “What sort of range does that thing have?” Number 6 asked, pointing at the box. “Don’t know. They wouldn’t let me check,” He laughed. The girl sat very still. She was obviously nervous. Number 6 approached her to comfort her. At about that same time she jumped to the side of her seat, looking at the engine cowl as if it had bitten her. “What was that noise?” She was asking and pointing. The boats motor made noise of course, but just in case she’d heard something that ought not have sounded Number 6 lifted the cowl to look. He saw a lump of what looked like putty. He saw the timer. Fifteen seconds left. He grabbed the girl by the wrist, he yelled, “Bomb! Jump!” A few seconds later, in the water, the explosion was ear shattering.

~

Only a few minutes passed. He was trying to find Number 48 when he heard them. Then he saw them. Six speedboats. They surrounded him and the girl. He was pulled into one craft, she into another. The next stop was hospital. They carried her down one hall. She was looking over her shoulder, looking back at him. He was carried down another hall, taken into a room and held down upon a bed, the doctor smiling as he gave him a shot. He relaxed, drifting …

~

The next day, or given the angle of the sunlight through the window he assumed it to be the next day because it was early morning, he awoke. The doctor was looking at a chart and then at him. “Well, Number 6, everything seems to be in order. You can be discharged. I’ll call for an orderly to help you dress.” “I can dress myself! Wheres the girl?” “As you will. The girl was discharged just a few moments ago. She’s fine. She was called to Number 2s. You’ve been called as well. He’s waiting to see you even now. Well, Number 6, you go easy today. You’ve been through the proverbial ringer. Be seeing you.

~

He walked through the metal doors, down the ramp. Number 2 was looking at him with a pleased look. His fiancee, ex-fiancee, was standing off to the right, clutching her hands. “Number 6! So good of you to drop by. I do hope you’re feeling better after your little jaunt. As you can see, Number 85 is doing well. Please, have a seat.” There was a tingling at the back of his neck. He rubbed it. The chair rose from the floor to meet him. He stood. “I want to congratulate you, Number 6. You played your role admirably. Of course we expected that you would. Thank you so very much.” Colors in the room seemed to be changing. The lighting grew dim and then brighter. The girls hair began to go from brunette to blond. “What are you talking about?” The tingling at the back of his neck continued. Number 85 seemed taller. “Why the great help you’ve been to us, of course. And I’d like to think its just the beginning.” And Number 2 smiled a smile that would have wilted any row of rotting cabbages. “What help?” Number 6 asked. “With Number 48 and the device he created to block our Rover. We knew he had something of the sort but we couldn’t find it. He’s nearly as resourceful as you are. But now that we’ve obtained the device and know how it works, well, the problem has already been rectified. Can you imagine the Village with a disabled Rover?” “I’d like to.” “Oh, come now Number 6. Without Rover we’d have to put up guard towers, fences, we’d need dogs. Those things wouldn’t do at all. Think of the clash with the existing decor! No, it wouldn’t do at all. So, again I say, thank you, Number 6.” He was looking at the girl now. She was blond, pale and a full three inches or more taller. He had never seen this woman before in his life. “Ah, by your facial expression its right on time I see.” Number 2 held up his wrist and tapped the face of his watch with a finger. “Your dosage is running out now. Time release pharmaceuticals. Wonderful things, wouldn’t you say? Well, no, I suppose you wouldn’t say, would you?” “Where is Number 48?” “You ask entirely to many questions my dear fellow.” “Yes, I know, I’m a burden to others!” Number 6 turned, heading for the door, his fists clinched. “Oh, Number 6?” He stopped and turned to face Number 2 again. “Just one last thing.” “What is it?!” “There’s something I’ve been meaning to ask and just now seems an opportune time.” “Well?” “Number 6, just why did you resign?”

~

Be seeing you.

~