Chapter 3

And Number Six went to the garden and walked around whistling. The camera heads followed him around gazing at him out of the corners of their stone eyes. By this time, Six was quite used to it, though sometimes he had the urge to poke an eye or two out. But 78 was nowhere to be found. A woman in a red striped shirt was pruning flowers nearby.

"Have you seen Number 78?" he asked. She turned to look at him. She was a simple girl, brown hair, hazel green eyes.

"Who?"

"78"

"Ah." She uprooted another weed, tugging its roots from the ground. "He tol me he was taking a vacation."

Number Six scowled. "No one takes a vacation from the Village. You're lying!" He watched as the corners of her mouth twitched when she made a response. She didn't look him in the eye as she spoke.

"That's what he told me. That's what I'm telling you." And she went back to her flowers. Six knew he wouldn't get another response out of the woman even if he shook her silly. So here he was at a dead end.

Number Two looked at the Supervisor. "What did she mean, vacation?" If number 78 was nowhere to be found, they would need to change the plan. "Nobody takes a vacation here." Then horror dawned on him. "Quick. Get to number 78's quarters." A squad of officers ran from the makeshift police office to number 78's house.

Number Six heard the commotion and followed close behind. It seemed as though the procession of officers and civilians was heading in the same direction he was. The thought had occurred to him, maybe the only way to take a vacation in the Village was to hit a dead end. When he arrived at the house he realized that he had been right.

"What?" Number two looked at the screen. He couldn't believe what he was seeing. "You mean to say he hung himself?" The video snapped to an inside shot of the man's apartment. The evidence was there in plain view. A long rope attached to a ceiling fan. A fallen chair on the floor. It did make a sick sort of sense. America was a country of fierce individualists and Number 78 had been a particularly tough nut to crack, without any actual cracks of course. Difficult, but he hadn't seemed impossible. But now, Two had to change his plan. But perhaps this made it easier. There were no dead ends in the Village. Only detours.

He picked up his green phone and spoke. "Bring Number Six back in for questioning. There's been a change of plan."