Author : Roi R. Czechvala, Staff Writer

President James Jonathon Mathews spent the first evening of his administration alone staring out the window of the Oval Office. He contemplated the events that had led him to this moment. He considered the countless intertwined series of decisions and strategies, the deception and intrigue that had delivered him to this, the final pinnacle, the end of the game.

He turned and sat at his desk. Slowly, with great deliberation he reached out and pressed the intercom.

“Mrs. Rigby, please get me the joint chiefs.”

“Oh, and is Whitcomb out there,” he added.

“Yes Mr. President, of course,” came a matronly voice.

“When they arrive, send him in as well.”

“Yes Sir.”

The president leaned back in his overstuffed leather chair and carelessly exhaled a blue cloud of cigar smoke towards the ceiling. He took a deep swallow of bourbon, and pondered the outcome of the moves he would soon make.

Within fifteen minutes the office was filled with military uniforms and, aside from the president, a civilian in a neat blue suit and close cropped hair, handcuffed to a briefcase.

“Whitcomb, the football if you please,” the president said in a low even voice.

The assembled Generals and Admiral winced as Whitcomb emotionlessly uncuffed the briefcase, spun a pair of combination locks, opened the lid and deposited it on the desk before the president.

Inside the briefcase were a ten digit keypad, a palm print scanner and a single ominous black button. The assembled men had all assumed it would be red.

General of the Army Paul Bellows spoke up. “Mr. President, certainly there are other avenues to explore before…,” He was silenced with a slight wave of the president’s hand.

He picked up the handset of his telephone. “Mrs. Rigby? Get Dmitri on the line please.”

“Mr. President, please reconsider. At the very least, think of how history will remember you. Think of your legacy,” pleaded Admiral Kearney, desperation evident in his eyes. His pleas were ignored.

It was five in the morning Moscow time, the pink tint of false dawn was just beginning to outline St. Basil’s Cathedral, when Dmitri Ilyanov Sakharov, President of the Russian Federation picked up the phone. “Hello Ivan, I’ve been expecting your call.”

“Dmitri old friend, it’s finally over. It has been a long time.”

Over the president’s phone an audible sigh was heard, followed by a long pause. “Yes old friend, it has been a very long time.”

“Checkmate Dmitri. Das vidanya,” the president returned the phone to its cradle. He entered a series of numbers on the keypad, placed his hand on the scanner and crushed the button beneath his palm.

Across both of those two vast countries, indeed, across the world as a whole, people were told that this was not a test. They were told where to tune for further instruction. Many fell to their knees and prayed. Others turned weapons on themselves, hastening the inevitable. Most just hung their heads and wept.

Brilliant balls of orange fire rode columns of billowing white smoke across the skies of two great countries.

Those same skies suddenly turned a brilliant searing white.



Two creatures, men possibly, sat alone in a room. A room so vast there were no discernible boundaries. Perhaps there were none. On a table between the two, a chessboard sat. One pushed over his king.

“Good game Dmitri,” one said, as he reassembled the board. He turned it so that the white pieces faced his opponent, “this time… you go first.”

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