“Crossover”

Standard
The New Number Two

“The Village is VERY cosmopolitan. You never know WHO you meet next …” 

DISCLAIMER (AKA, Why I wrote this.): Sometimes, and I think this may be the result of having way to much time on my hands plus having been raised with comic books and Johnny Carson, I get these really odd “what if” scenarios. You have been warned. And for what its worth, I actually did a little research and the color of the stone, given its effects, is right. Some of my “what ifs” may be pretty weird but they are technically correct.

~
“Crossover”
~

He had  seen him for the first time only the day before. Number 6 had wondered about the strange pendant, a rather plain bit of jewelry with a shard of gold-tone rock embedded in a small circular disk. The man, wearing a lapel badge with the number 5 on it, looked to be in good physical condition. But his actions were odd. Everything he did seemed to take great effort, each movement was an obvious struggle. His physical presence coupled with this weakness of body made him stand out, stand out in a very strange way.

~

Number 6 had watched Number 5 for three days now. He hadn’t gone out of his way. It wasn’t as though he had this person under surveillance. 5 went to the cafe, so did Number 6. He sat at the daily concert, Number 6 walked through the area daily on his way to his private gym. And Number 5 lived only three doors down from Number 6. Just that morning he had passed him, had said to him, “Beautiful day.” And with the familiar salute said, “Be seeing you.” The man had struggled to reply in kind, saluting with difficulty. “And you.”
~

It was the number, five, that had made an impression on Number 6 immediately. Villagers were given numbers according to their importance, as a sort of ranking. Pity Number 413. This man, such an oddity, was obviously important. But important why? Because he was a valuable prisoner, or a powerful warder?
~

Number 6 stepped, with some force, as though having been walking at a brisk pace, around the corner. The two men collided, chest to chest, just as 6 had intended. For a split second, just as their chests met, Number 6 felt a sensation that was indescribable. It was a feeling of physical weakness coupled with mental lethargy and emotional exhaustion. It lasted only a second. “Terribly sorry. I need to pay closer attention to where I’m going,” Number 6 made his apology in a friendly tone. The other man, looking rather shocked at the encounter, smiled weakly, and with a mid-western American accent, replied, “Don’t worry about it. I seem to be in every one’s way currently. Even mine.” The words came out slowly, without emotion, listless. Number 6 asked, “Well, now that we’ve run into each other would you care for coffee? My way of making right our ‘accident’.” He smiled. “I was just thinking of going to the cafe and would be glad for the company.” Company was the last thing he had in mind. Solving this curiosity was uppermost in his mind. He was almost certain, trusting in his sixth sense, that this man was a prisoner and no warder. But, given his current escape plan, and given that this person had seemed to have arrived on the day 6 had made his assessment of the north section of the beach, he needed to be sure he wasn’t a plant of some sort. The ointment was ready. The last thing 6 needed was an unsuspected fly.
~

The breeze was pleasant and the cafe nearly full. Idle chatter filled the air. Numbers 6 and 5 sipped coffee. “So,” said Number 6, “How are you enjoying your stay in the Village? Settling in?” The mans eyes flared. It was weak but it was there. That wasn’t like a Village “employees” reaction to that type question. “I’m as settled as possible, given the circumstances.”
~

Number 6 hadn’t garnered much information. He had convinced himself that this man wasn’t one of “them”. Number 5 was something different. He reminded Number 6 of himself, but with the heart removed. And later he had seen the man trying, in vain, to remove the pendant. It seemed to be too heavy to lift. Number 6 remembered the feeling he had experienced when he “accidentally” ran into Number 5 earlier. The look on 5s face made it obvious that he wanted the thing OFF. It also spoke volumes about his inability to complete so simple a task.
~

Two days later the men met again by accident. Only this time the accident was just that. They both arrived at the Green Dome, coming from opposite directions. “Hello, Number 5. Visiting Number 2?” “I suppose you could call it a visit. I’ve got some questions I’d like answered. This,” and he pointed to the pendant, “is one of them.” “I noticed it the other day. A very different sort of jewelry,” Number 6 replied. “May I look?” And 6 reached for the pendant. “I’ve no idea how they put it on me,” Number 5 blurted out weakly. “All I know is that I can’t lift it off and no one else seems to be able to either. I do recognize the stone though.” Those last few words were whispered, a dread surrounding and holding up the words lest they fall to the ground as a result of his weakness. “You’re a prisoner, aren’t you?” Number 6 put at least some of his cards on the table. “Yes, but it won’t do them any good. They think they’ve taken all my strength and will from me. They haven’t. And they won’t.” There was more force in those few words than any Number 6 had heard from him before. “Lets go talk with our illustrious Number 2 together, shall we?” Having said this Number 6 reached for the bell. “And I’m supposed to believe you’re not one of them, that I can trust you?” There was a bitterness in Number 5s words. “Don’t trust anyone but yourself. I don’t,” 6 said flatly as he rang the bell.
~

“Good afternoon, gentlemen,” Number 2 beamed. “And to what do I owe the pleasure?” “I want answers!” “Ah, my good Number 5. Everything needed will be provided, answers included, in proper order. But I must warn you,” with a stage whisper, “Watch our Number 6. He is a tad, shall we say, subversive?” Smiling broadly at Number 6 Number 2 gave a low, unpleasant chuckle. Number 6 sat on the corner of 2s desk and leaned towards him. “Once again … Whats it all about?!”
~

“Did you really expect answers?” Number 5 looked at Number 6, disbelief clearly written on his features. “No, not honest ones. But you never know what might slip. And so long as you’re not the one making the slip it’s always worth trying.” Number 6 looked Number 5 in the eye and continued, “We’re people, not numbers. We won’t give them the satisfaction of being ‘mutual’ as they say. We WILL be who and what we are in spite of them!” He thrust out his hand. “My name is John. And yours?” Number 5 smiled weakly as they shook hands. “Clark, my name is Clark.”
~

Number 6 had made his normal rounds for two days now without having seen Number 5. Number 5 had seemed to be getting steadily weaker. A visit with Number 2 seemed in order.

~

“Where is Number 5?” Number 6 didn’t ask, he commanded. “The gentleman in question is no concern of yours, Number 6. Be content in knowing he’s well cared for, as you are, and let it go at that.” Number 2 spoke absently, his mind somewhere else, his attention on some sordid Village detail and not on Number 6. “WHO is Number 5? Why number 5? Who is he that he’s so important and WHAT is that pendant?!” Number 6 never gave up easily. Number 2s attention was now focused on 6. “WHO he is doesn’t matter. And the pendant, did you notice the small piece of yellow stone?” He laughed and he smiled as though he knew a secret worth more than all the yellow gold in the world. “Its a bit of meteorite. We’ve been bombarded with such for decades. Our scientists think they’re the left over bits and pieces of a planet, who knows from what part of the galaxy. The planet seems to have disintegrated. The meteors, all with the same basic atomic structure, come to us in a variety of colors. The colors seem to be the result of various types and dosages of radiation. They have peculiar properties.” Number 2 laughed riotously at this last part. “And now that I’ve shared all this, and I realize you’ll think I’ve lied whether I have or not, you know precisely how much more than you did before? I mean really? And the information helps you how? Number 6, questions honestly are a burden to others and answers ARE a prison for oneself. You always question, don’t you? For any answer you may come by, are you FREE?!” This last word Number 2 spat out like caustic.

~

“Where’s your friend, Number 6? Haven’t seen him about in weeks now.” The waitress at the cafe queried idly.”Who? Do you mean Number 5?” “Yes, Number 5,” and she brightened up a little. “You know,” she leaned towards him, her voice lowered, and with a sly smile she said, in her best conspiratorial tone, “He told me once that he was a newspaper reporter from some American metropolis.”

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