Author : Brian Armitage

Murray grunted, straining against the bars of the cage, willing his arm to stretch further. Finally, his fingers closed on his prize. He plucked the knight from the board and dropped it carefully into place, one move away from Hjdarrrr’s bishop.

Hjdarrrr’s single eyestalk elongated, the pink photosensory bulb blinking at the white knight. “Oooom,” the alien said, its entire furry body vibrating as it spoke, “very good move.”

Murray grunted again, this time in disgust. “About time I made one.” His cage rocked slightly as he settled against one side. He was suspended above the chessboard, the steel cage mounted to an overhead track for easy storage.

Every hair on the rabbit-sized creature turned light blue, indicating sympathy. “Do not beat yourself up, Murray. You are the best chass player I have ever played chass with.”

“It’s chess, Dar. And I just taught you to play yesterday. I’m the only person you’ve ever played chess with.”

The alien’s color shifted to a hue Murray didn’t recognize, and its eyestalk straightened, pointed at him. “…my statement is true.” Then, it turned back to the chessboard. The black queen shimmered and lifted from the board. A point above Hjdarrrr’s eyestalk was glowing. The queen drifted across the board and landed, covering the white knight from a distance and effectively cutting off its offensive. With a shift to red-orange – self-confidence, or perhaps pride – Hdjarrrr nodded its eye at Murray. “You may go.”

Murray grumbled. “I can’t believe we lost the war to you.”

Hjdarrrr’s color remained the same. “We are smaller beings, but our tactics were superior.”

“Yeah, tactics.” Murray glared at the chessboard from above. “Doesn’t hurt that you’re all telekinetic.”

“Your statement is true.” The alien stared up at the human, awaiting his next move, but Murray sat motionless. “Do not be bitter, Murray. Someday, perhaps your race will develop mind skills of its own.” A tinge of patronizing yellow.

“Maybe.” Then, Murray pointed, eyes narrowed.

The white knight shimmered, scooted across the board, and tipped over Hjdarrrr’s bishop.

The color drained from Hjdarrrr’s body. The eyestalk froze, focused on the white knight. Slowly, after a long time, it rotated up to face Murray.

“Oh, doop.”

Murray pointed at the alien, gathering his focus. “You said it.”

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