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.

~

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s