The Assignation (Or: Why The Prisoner took so long to escape from The Village)

By Paul Gray

Number 6 finished his breakfast by hurling the remains of it down the plug-hole. He then dressed, and stalked about the lounge for a bit in customary caged-lion fashion before storming out through the self-opening door.

“What are you up to today?” he wondered, as his beady, distrustful eye scanned the picturesque spread of The Village Square below. But all seemed normal, i.e. robotic. The inhabitants were promenading in their striped jerseys, parasols up, twittering about what a lovely morning it was, whilst quaint taxis tootled past and the tannoy announced its blandishments for the day – weather details, mostly – for all the world as though the place were a holiday camp, instead of a –

“Lovely morning, number 6.” trilled a passing ancient, and he jerked, startled. Careful. Even the pensioners couldn’t be trusted. “Isn’t it,” he smirked. He set off angrily, and was soon striding through the human sheep to his destination.

In a clearing in the forest he had rigged up a sort of make-shift gymnasium. It was here that he performed his morning work-out. Perfectly aware that he was on camera, he pummelled the punch-bag that he’d slung from a branch, driving home his fists as though into the face of Number Two. So … that worthy wanted information did he? Information! Whack! Information! Whack! Information! Whack!

“You won’t get it!” he barked angrily, and the face of the General fell. “I merely asked for your co-operation,” whimpered the ancient, “in the matter of a chess-game.”
“Oh, sorry, General.” He had reached the cliffs. The plateau looked over the harbour, the beach, the stone-boat, and – the ocean. Somewhere out there, he thought wistfully, lay London, and home. The plateau provided a sort of recreation zone for fogies. Here, refreshments were served and chairs allowed one to absorb the view. At one of them the General sat, dressed as a Chelsea Pensioner, before him a trestle-table bearing his eternal chess-board. “No opponent,” he whined. Number 6 glanced at the board. Clack! Clack! Clack! Clack! Clack! Clack!
“Oh …” muttered the General. “Would you care for a re-match?”

“Be seeing you.”

All warm and tingling after his work-out, he glided into the bushes and onto the path that led down to the beach.

Bastards! He allowed the righteous fury to invade his body, tensing it up nicely. It added a zip to the steady athletic spring that bore him across the sand. If only they’d asked! If they’d simply asked why he’d resigned … why, he might even have told them. But this … this kidnapping, this shanghaiing of his person away, the third degree that stopped just short of the thumb-screw …. Dammit, it was downright discourteous! Well, he would show them how he repaid such behaviour, wouldn’t he just! He heard the jeep roar up. So, the red alert had gone out! He swung round in time to see the two grinning heavies alight and head in his direction.

The fight was not a very protracted affair and left supine on the sands two bully-boys who wished they had chosen some other occupation that day. He ran on, grinning darkly.

From its home deep beneath the waves it bubbled up, and no man knew what manner of thing it was, nor quite how it subdued would-be escapees. It resembled a weather balloon and this was the form it took now as it exploded to the surface and began racing across the waves, billowing and flolloping at it went. At sight of it, Number 6 slowed and gradually halted at the water’s edge, waiting. And now the thing must have recognised him, for it seemed to leap and bound, whilst releasing an eager bellow. Truly, no man knew what it was, but to Number 6 it was a giant, bouncing breast-implant miraculously freed from the constraints of the brassiere, all warm and yielding and soft. He shuddered. The thing was on him now. For the camera he made a show of defiance — punch! Whack! Then it was smothering him, knocking him flat and rolling over him again and again and yet again, roaring its lusty, metallic roar whilst he howled “Oh God! Oh God!”

And then it was over. The entity withdrew, and shot away across the waves as smoothly as it had come. Eventually he rose to one elbow, gasping, sighing.

“Same time tomorrow?” he called.