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The Prisoner … Episode 20 … “All the Worlds a Stage … “

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“All the worlds a stage, and we’re all pawns, m’dear.”

(Note: For Episode 19 scroll down or use the search box on the right side of this page.)
The Prisoner … Episode 20 … “All the Worlds a Stage … ”


“All the world’s a stage,

And all the men and women merely players;

They have their exits and their entrances,

And one man in his time plays many parts … ”
William Shakespeare, As You Like It, Act II, Scene VII.


“It was after the war,” Number 6 replied. “I was in Japan on military
assignment. The Royal Air Force had loaned me to the Yanks.” “Ah, so you
learned from us,” Number 66, a slight Japanese gentleman in his late
thirties with a pencil thin black mustache riding his upper lip, smiled.
“What level?” Number 6 continued to dress for their bout. “Number 0ne,”
Number 6 said. “Most impressive,” Number 66 smiled, bowing his head in
respect. In Kosho you began at level nine, and as you progressed you
moved from level to level until you reached the level at which you
functioned best, stopping there unless and until you felt competent to
proceed to the next level by way of a series of bouts with individuals
who had already attained that level. You were pitted against six
different Koshi over a twelve day period. You had to win all six bouts.
Moving up in Kosho rank was rather like the belt system of other forms
of martial arts. Any Koshi having become a number one was considered a
master. “And you?” Number 6 asked. “Number two,” replied Number 66.
“This should prove interesting.” Having said this Number 6 motioned
towards the Kosho bout area. “Yes,” Number 66 agreed, “Perhaps today I
begin to move up in rank.”

Their bout had ended in what both considered an agreeable
draw. Having dealt with each other for nearly thirty minutes both
thought a tie better than an exhausted loss. They talked of another
bout, perhaps early the next week, and parted, both appreciating the
skill of the other.

Number 2 sighed, tossing the book to the side. “We go over
it and over it, looking for a clue, a key that we can use to unlock his
mind and we come up with what? With a big, fat zero, that’s what. We
look at his childhood. Its normal. We look into his teenage years. He
was a good lad, studious, quick with sports. He even considered becoming
a priest. His military record is spotless, a fine Airman.” He looked at
the man next to him. “I’m tired of it. I’m just tired. And open to
suggestions. ANY suggestions.” The other man smiled.

“The plays the thing, Number 6,” Number 2 shifted his
weight to his good leg. One was just a tad shorter than the other.
Automobile accident as a youth. “You’re an intelligent man 6.” “You call
me 6? Not Number 6? Are we on a first name basis then?” Number 2
ignored this and went on from where he’d been interrupted by Number 6.
“You know I’m right. I’m NOT asking you to spill your guts or come over
to what you think of as ‘our side’. Its just a simple job. You’re
familiar with the Bard, perhaps more so than anyone else in the Village.
I know you care about the welfare of your fellow Villagers. I don’t
expect you to care about your ‘warders’ as you call us. All I’m asking
is that you help them, the other Villagers, not me. This isn’t about cat
and mouse. Its a matter of emotional well being. We want people to be
content for our own reasons, true. But you’d rather see them content
than just setting, wasting away mentally, wouldn’t you? Come now, do
THEM a favor.” “I’ll think about it.” “As you like it, Number 6. And
thank you. For now your consideration is all I ask, and honestly more
than I expected. Thank you.” And he actually sounded sincere.

He hated to admit that Number 2 might be right about
anything, and he was very certain that there was an ulterior motive, but
he was also aware of the change he’d seen over the past few months in
the other Villagers. Lethargy. An unhealthy air of ‘Who cares, anyway?’
And it seemed extreme. They were worse than rotting cabbages. There was
no desire for anything. No desire to fit in, co-operate, escape, live. A
theatrical productions could easily give people not only something to
look forward to but something to DO as well. Involve as many as
possible, in whatever capacity. Knowing there was an ulterior motive,
even though he didn’t know what it was … yet, would keep him on guard
and therefore less likely to be used as a pawn. His blood still boiled
at the thought of the affair with Number 48. He could see no real
downside, no real reason not to. He could see several honestly good
reasons to do it. He might as well. Just to see what the ulterior motive
would turn out to be if for no other reason. He picked up the phone.
“Number 2, please.” A moment of dead air followed by a click. “Number 6
here. Of course you know that already. Just thought I’d let you know.
Yes, I’ll direct your play for you. Or for ‘them’ rather. We can sort
out details in the morning. Be seeing you.” Number 2 put the phone down.
“He’ll do it,” he said to the empty room. “He wants to know whats
behind it all.” He laughed to himself. “Ah, Number 6, you are a hard nut
to crack, its true. But we do recognize that you’re a nut.” And he
laughed heartily at his own joke.

He was dealing with more of the Villagers than he’d ever
really wanted to. However he had to admit that the reaction had been
nearly miraculous. People were taking an active interest. Even the
elderly, not physically able to make or move props and the like, with no
memory for lines and so no possibility of acting, talked it up with
everyone that came their way. Not that everyone didn’t know about it
already. Two editions of the Tally Ho had been dedicated to the thing,
announcements were made daily over the loudspeaker system, there were
even progress updates on the telly. It must be an impressive ulterior
motive, he thought to himself. And he hated to admit it, and would never
admit it to Number 2, but he was actually enjoying his role as
director. Everyone seemed to think he was the number one man, the ‘go
to’ individual. That part he could take less of. But there were so few
REAL outlets for creativity here in the Village, if any, that he was
willing to indulge, even happy to do so. Number 2 watched from the
sidelines, a sly smile resting on his lips. He said, to no one in
particular even though he was flanked by others, “Told you.”

They were dressing. Number 6 had bested Number 66 in their
Kosho match but only by inches. “Very good match,” Number 66 was wiping
sweat from his face with a small towel. “Yes. I thought you had me
several times,” Number 6 was being both honest and complimentary. “So
did I,” Number 66 smiled. At the Green Dome Number 2 called out,
“Supervisor!” “Yes.” “Go to the theater. Center on the stage for me.”
“Done.” Number 2 sat waiting expectantly. “He’ll go there next,” he
mumbled to himself. The metal doors swished open. He didn’t bother
looking up. He knew who it was. “Help yourself to a sandwich,” he waved a
hand towards the lunch cart, still intent on the monitor. “You must be
hungry after that bout.” “Yes, I am,” he replied. Sandwich in hand he
looked at Number 2, “You realize I’m twice the man he is. Its just that
he doesn’t know it yet.” Number 2 glanced at Number 66 and smiled
slightly, then back to the screen.

He walked across the stage hurriedly “No, no, Number 201.
With emotion yes, but not over the top.” He smiled kindly at the elderly
man. Sugar catches more fly’s than vinegar. “More like this … ” And
Number 6 proceeded to demonstrate. Number 2, watching the screen, made a
mental note. “No wonder he so often gets the best of us. He is a
consummate actor.” The Supervisor sighed, “Ah, Number 6. ‘Forgive, O
Lord, my little jokes on Thee and I’ll forgive Thy great big one on
me.'” Number 2 looked up, his nose crinkled, ” Blake?” he
asked incredulously. “Hardly,” the Supervisor look at him with a frown,
“Robert Frost.” “Ah, American,” Number 2 said with obvious
disappointment. “He wouldn’t want us to know it of course, but for all
his talent as an actor, used to show us only what he wants us to see,
he’s obviously enjoying this. Good, good. Get Number 66 please.” “Yes.”

“I want you to volunteer to help with the play. Offer to
do so in any capacity but be sure to mention that you’d enjoy running,
literally, errands. Good exercise for Kosho.” Number 2 looked at Number
66 with a question mark drawn across his face. “Yes,’ said Number 66,
“That should work admirably.” “Be seeing you at the theater, Number 66.”
“Be seeing you, Number 2.”

“So, my job is to keep tabs on him and, as in a Kosho
match, steer him to a specific spot where he’ll be vulnerable.”
“Exactly, Number 66!” Pointing to a chart of the theater he explained,
“He must be precisely here,” he tapped the chart with force, “when
Oliver says ‘O, that your highness knew my heart in this! I never loved
my brother in my life!’ in act three, scene two. The shot will be fired
from here. We will have staged the first public execution, oh, excuse
me, assassination in the Village. Its not the play folks will be
expecting, but it will provide a lesson to all. And we’ll spread plenty
of rumors. Was it an execution? Was it an assassination? People will
have much to ponder. People will be much easier to control. And Number 6
will be safely tucked away, the tissue undamaged. He’ll be much easier
to handle, locked away in a ward. Something like this should have been
done months ago. Being unmutual isn’t your ticket to freedom. Not here
in the Village.” “And then?” “Oh, Number 6, a bit stunned from the
impact of the drugged dart and of course the drug itself, will be
revived in hospital. And after THAT,” Number 2 rubbed his hands
together, “well, he’ll never be seen again. He will have a nice funeral.
I’ll be there. So will you. He’ll never be seen again by anyone other
than the personnel in Unit One Mind Manipulation. They can have their
way with him daily. So long as they don’t damage the tissue, of course.”
“Of course.” Number 66 drew in a deep breath, “And the assassin?” “Oh,
never be caught. Something else to hold over their heads. I mean,
they’ll always wonder if it was one of us or one of them, won’t they?
Always wonder if we suspect them. Always wonder if its the one sitting
next to them.” He smiled broadly to himself at his supposed
victory.”I’ll go find Number 6.” And Number 66 went looking.

“That would actually be a great help,'” Number 6 looked at
Number 66 thankfully. “Then its settled. I’ll be your number two man,
your runner.” Number 6 couldn’t help but like Number 66. He didn’t trust
him, but he did like him up to a point. Beyond that point he trusted,
he liked no one. He, himself, like it or not, was the only one he could
count on. Some things never change.

The play was going rather well for an amateur production.
The audience was enjoying it immensely, anyone could see that. Number 6
was rather proud of the whole thing. The second act was nearly over.
Number 66 stood close by, just in case Number 6 needed anything. He had
gone to great pains in making himself indispensable. Number 6 folded his
arms, seemingly very satisfied. The ulterior motive. There had to be
one, there always was one. It had become a sort of game. Of course he
had his own agenda, his own motive. His motive? Well, he must always be
on guard, always watching for his chance. Boiled done to its simplest
component, his motive, not so ulterior but hidden in plain sight to
some, was to look out for number one.

Number 66 moved closer to Number 6. “Excuse me, I can’t see
well from there.” Number 6 obligingly moved over, directly onto the
imaginary X, the exact spot designated by Number 2. Oliver was saying, ”
… your highness knew my heart … ” From just behind Number 66 there
was a crash. He turned quickly. Only a portion of the next set. It had
fallen over. He turned back and … Number 6? Where was Number 6?! ” …
I never loved my brother … ”

Number 2 waited. He looked to the balcony. Number 79 wasn’t
there! What had happened? What went wrong? Worse, how would he explain
this to … It had been all Number 2s idea. It was all on his shoulders.
He was so sure of it all he’d taken certain details upon himself
without asking. It was all … There would be fall out over this. Insane
fall out. He shrunk down, down into his seat. The audience was

A man stood slightly to the side, at the back of the
theater. His lapel was askew so that you couldn’t see his numbered badge
or even tell if there was one. His face was hidden in the shadows. The
way he slouched it was impossible to guess his height and hard to judge
his weight. He was, among all those others, a non-entity. One among many
he was hidden in plain view. He was watching intently. The stage may as
well have been vacant as far as he was concerned. His eyes were trained
on the front row, on Number 2. “He’s an idiot! I can’t wait to hear the
excuse,” he thought, “In the morning, when I replace him, I think I’ll
give him to Number 31. He’d be pleased with a new guinea pig, I’m sure.”
He turned and walked away. “As You Like It! I’ll be directing his
attention to the door in the morning and then we’ll see how HE likes

Be seeing you. And remember, no one looks out for number one but you.

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


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(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.