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Pretender fans, I think you would like the Prisoner. It’s quirky and funny and serious all at once. The ending is frustrating and leaves you wondering what on earth happened, but hey, we Pretender fans are used to that, aren’t we?

This story completely ignores the last Prisoner episode “Fall Out,” because I, for one, don’t know what to do with it and would rather pretend it wasn’t there. Kind of like the last Pretender episode, but worse.

Jarod’s Pretend name, Jarod Patrick, is taken from Patrick McGoohan, who played Number Six. Dr. McKern’s last name is taken from Leo McKern, who played the Prisoner’s greatest Number Two.

The title of the first chapter is a common phrase used on The Prisoner. All the rest are episode titles.

1997, September

            “Good morning, Mr. Smith. I’m Dr. Jarod Patrick. I’m taking over Dr. McKern’s cases for a few weeks. How are you feeling this morning?”

            “I’m still alive,” the old man snapped, his words precise, with just a trace of an accent. “I don’t know how long that will hold true with the way you have me strapped down with needles and drugs in this bed.”

            Jarod smiled at the man in the hospital bed, and then slowly his smile disappeared. The man’s beard obscured his face, but Jarod felt he would know the strong bones anywhere, and the steely character behind the blue eyes, and the British accent hidden behind a creditable East Coast accent. He staggered back and fell, rather than sat, in the chair against the wall. It wasn’t every day you were faced with one of the people you had wronged and had an opportunity to atone for it.

            “Number Six?” he gasped.

            The man struggled into a nearly upright position, then fell back. “No!” he barked, and his East Coast accent was gone, replaced by perfect, crisp British. “I am not a number!”

            “I am a free man,” Jarod completed automatically. “So am I,” he murmured.

            The old man stared at him. “Who are you? What do you know about me?” He was old and weak, but the fire had not dimmed in his eyes nor the command in his voice.

            “I know you were once called Number Six and you escaped from a top-secret installation called the Village. As for me…I’m not even a number. I don’t exist. And I escaped from a top-secret installation called the Centre.”

            “Another Village?”

            “No, but just as evil. I’m sorry—I’m probably not making much sense, Number—er—”

            “Just call me Smith. Not Number Six.”

            “Is Smith your real name?”

            “No. Is Jarod Patrick yours?”

            “No. Jarod is; Patrick isn’t. I’m sorry. I’ve called you Number Six my whole life. I’ve never known another name to call you by.”

            “Your whole life?” the old man said sharply. “What have you had to do with me your whole life?”

            Jarod looked down at his hands and swallowed hard, looked back up at the man with his guilt and pain in his eyes. “I’m responsible for keeping you locked up in the Village.”

            You? Are you mad? You were a child when I was in the Village.”

            “I’m a Pretender, and my talents were used to keep you imprisoned.”

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