Winning the Game

The trial is over, but somehow I feel even less free than I was before.  I must bring this to a close... somehow.  I decide to return to the theater to speak to the Brotherhood.

On entering, my stomach turns slightly as the first droning nursery rhymes strike my ear.  It's a reminder that I have well and truly come back to where I started.  I am no closer to finding a way off of the island than I was when I first heard these torpid refrains.

There's nothing to do but sit and wait for the whispers to start.  Thinking back to the last time I spoke to the Brotherhood, I ruminate on the cryptic phrase, "Find the plug."  Surely it's meaningless, but... maybe I've just missed something.  At this point, any hope is welcome, however remote or improbable.

After sitting for a half an hour, there's still no sign of the whispers.  Maybe my trial was part of a larger crackdown, maybe the Brotherhood is no more.  Maybe my isolation is more complete now...

Suddenly, the voice and projections stop.  But there are no whispers.  Just silence.

I remain seated for several minutes, waiting to see if something will happen, but the room is completely dark.  Puzzled and feeling suddenly encaged, I turn my head around frantically looking for anything to ground myself.  I'm about to make an attempt for the exit, when the entire room lights up.

Animation showing a room where the walls are covered in snapshots of the wiki page for The Prisoner computer game.

I stand at the center of the empty theater, suddenly beset by projections on all sides.  Strange passages cover the walls, ceiling, and floor.  The passages contain complete English sentences, but appear to be encoded in some form of obscure jargon, using words like "Apple" and "BASIC" in ways that don't make any sense.  There are repeated references to a "game"; it's not clear how the game is played, but one passage in particular stands out:
The solution to the game was to enter the string THE ISLAND IS A COMPUTER at the Caretaker's residence, which would display a plug that the player could pull out...
A plug?  The island?  This can't be a coincidence.

Before I have any time to study it further, the lights go out again the normal "show" resumes playing.

The Last Day

I've never been to the Caretaker's residence, but I know where it is.  Previously, my dealings with the Brotherhood had me worried that visiting the Caretaker in person might bring too much attention to myself, but I'm no longer in the mood for playing it safe.  Hopefully this will bring things to a conclusion, one way or another.

The Caretaker's Residence is constructed like a temple, with a cylindrical base and a domed top.  The inside is mostly empty except for a single stairway that leads up to the ceiling of the dome.  I can't make out what’s at the end of the staircase, but it's clear I'm not supposed to climb it because a barricade is placed at the bottom, with a sign reading "No Man Is an Island."  There is a stool at the base of the stairway, with candles on either side.

I approach the staircase slowly, girding myself for a confrontation.  A hollow and distant voice echoes from the top of the stairway,

You are #.

The voice is eerily familiar, but I can't place where I've heard it before.

Animation showing an alternate ending for the 1980 computer game, The Prisoner.

"THE ISLAND IS A COMPUTER!"

I yell it at the top of my voice, as if expecting my words to carry me away with them.  The cavernous temple produces multiplying echoes, and as my declaration bounces from wall to wall, the candles at the base of the stairway flicker out.

Again in darkness, I can now make out a faint box of light at the top of the stairway.

There is a brief moment of silence as the echoes fade, and then the voice gives its response.

No.

I stare up at the window of light, unsure of what to do next.  Wasn't I the player of the game?  Wasn't this supposed to assure my victory?  What else do they want from me?!

It is not so simple anymore.

I continue staring straight up, unable to speak.

The island was once a computer, it is true, but it has long since extended its reach.  Whatever physical form it takes now is just a projection, little different from those images that dance in the theater.  You cannot unplug it, and you certainly cannot escape it, at least not without destroying yourself.  All I can offer you is a place at the front, a place to watch it grow.  It is a place of honor, but unfortunately, it requires you to be even more restricted than you were before.

"No..."

I am afraid I must insist.









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