Flash! Friday–Vol 2 – 45

It’s Flash! Friday time, and today’s stakes are high. Welcome! But first, some news. We’re a scant seven weeks out from the end of Year Two (everybody gasp with me, please. GASP!), which means Flashversary’s coming up, and Year Three’s launching with all its tricks and surprises, and are we ever excited by what’s coming. Check it out:

October 24 – Judge Betsy Streeter

October 31 – Judge Aria Glazki

November 7 – Judge Phil Coltrane

November 14 – Judge Margaret Locke

November 21 & 28 – Special judges

December 5 – Flashversary begins

December 12 – Year Three begins!

And kicking it all off:

This Monday, October 20, we will begin accepting applications for the first Year Three dragon judge team.

We’re going to be changing things up (note the word team), and let me tell you (ask anyone!) judging is WHERE IT’S AT, if you’re interested in growing as a flash fiction writer. Come back Monday (you have to anyway, for results) to find out more and how to apply for the fieriest dragon band in this or any kingdom.

And then coming in early November is a warmup mini contest with special prizes, to grease the gears for our mega Flashversary battle (which, oh yes, is pure madness this year). 

There. If that doesn’t get your dragon hearts all fired up…!

Now back to today’s regularly scheduled programming. Today in 1956 a precocious 13-year-old Bobby Fischer faced off with American powerhouse chess master Donald Byrne in what would be called “The Game of the Century.” What worlds does a champion see in the bland faces of miniature kings and queens poised for battle? That’s the heart of your campaign today. (Side note: for fun, you might read Poe’s famous sleuth Dupin’s hilariously arrogant take on chess here.)  Check. 

 ♦♦♦♦♦

Refereeing today’s match is three-time Flash! Friday champ Phil Coltrane. If you haven’t made it over to his judge page, let me remind you he’s got a slight bias toward scifi, but he loves any writing that spins off in a totally unexpected direction. Make it vivid, he says. Make it rich, he says. Make it more.     

 ♦♦♦♦♦

Awards Ceremony: Results will post Monday. Noteworthy #SixtySeconds interviews with the previous week’s winner post Wednesdays.  I (Rebekah) post my own unbalanced writings sometimes on Tuesdays or Thursdays.   

Now, start the clock and get to it!

Word limit150 word story (10-word leeway) based on the photo prompt.

HowPost your story here in the comments. Include your word count (140 – 160 words, exclusive of title) and Twitter handle if you’ve got one. If you’re new, don’t forget to check the contest guidelines.

Deadline11:59pm ET tonight (check the world clock if you need to; Flash! Friday is on Washington, DC time)

Winners: will post Monday

Prize: The Flash! Friday e-dragon e-badge for your blog/wall, your own winner’s page here at FF, a 60-second interview next Wednesday, and your name flame-written on the Dragon Wall of Fame for posterity. 

***Today’s Dragon’s Bidding (required element to incorporate somewhere in your story; does not need to be the exact word(s) unless instructed to do so, e.g. the pendant would read “include the words “Alekhine’s Defence“):

nemesis****BONUS CHALLENGE (not required, but strongly encouraged):

DO NOT USE THE WORD “CHESS”

***Today’s Prompt:

Georgian writers Ilia Chavchavadze and Ivane Machabeli playing chess, 1873 St Petersburg. Public domain photo.

Georgian writers Ilia Chavchavadze and Ivane Machabeli playing chess, 1873 St Petersburg. Public domain photoNOTE: despite careful license checks, the earlier photo inadvertently violated copyright and has been removed. If you posted it on your blog, please delete it immediately. Thank you and apologies.

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626 thoughts on “Flash! Friday–Vol 2 – 45

  1. *** Judges entry – just for fun ***

    A lonely Knight on the battlefield

    Nobody understands me. You’d think I would be the coolest kid on the board, I’m a rocking badass Knight for goodness sake, but nope, no-one gets me. They say that I don’t move right, like there’s anything wrong with two steps forward, one step left. I can jump over people, why don’t I ever get any credit for that?

    Just because that bastard castle can go in a straight line as far as he bloody well pleases. How does a castle even move? He’s always ganging up on me with that holy bloke in the funny hat. Don’t even get me started on the Queen! She seems to be able to go wherever she likes. The King doesn’t even try to keep up with her anymore.

    Everyone says the pawns have the worst deal, but all they have to do is plod across town without dying and they get bleeding coronated! Life on the battlefield is just not fair.

    160 words
    @todayschapter

  2. Tamara Shoemaker
    @TamaraShoemaker
    Word Count: 151

    Pawns

    They’d been cursed, years ago, centuries, not recognizing their nemesis when he walked among them, when he’d spoken as one of themselves.

    “Help me,” he’d croaked. “Just a few coins, a drink of water, something to quench the thirst that rages.”

    They’d ignored him, laughed at the tics in his hands and legs. The goodwives had whispered behind fingers as he passed by them in the market, the men had laughed in his face. Children spit on him as he slept in the gutters.

    They never knew how sorry they would be, now, cursed to stand as wooden figurines, statues to toe the line, to march forward, square by square, until victory shouts or failure gnaws.

    He shadows them, every day, leaning over them as he contemplates. They wish they could beg as he had once begged from them. But they can’t. They are silent, mere pawns in his game.

  3. Tamara Shoemaker
    @TamaraShoemaker
    Word Count: 153

    Checkmate

    Black pawn to E4.

    “Where were you last night, John?”

    White pawn to D5.

    “What do you mean?

    Black bishop to C4.

    “I thought I’d throw a load of laundry in today, you know, like I do. Like I’ve been doing for twenty years. Guess what I found on the collar of your white button-down?”

    White pawn to A5.

    “Uh, chicken grease? Crumbs? I don’t know, Martha, why the crazy questions?”

    Black queen to F3.

    “Seriously? Do you really think I’d be upset over chicken grease? Grow a pair, John.”

    White knight to A6.

    “What did you find on my collar, Martha? I’d really like to know. Just once, I’d love to hear what you’ve got to say without layering it under loads of subliminal messages.”

    Black queen to F7. Checkmate.

    “Lipstick, John. Congratulations. You met your nemesis and won your divorce. I’m calling my lawyer.”

  4. Battle Royale (157 Words)

    “To the death?” The Black Knight said.

    “Naturally.” The White Knight raised his sword. He pointed to one of his foot soldiers, a lowly pawn.

    “Are you prepared to die for your King?”

    “I am, Sir.”

    “Let us have at it.”

    The White Army moved boldly, rallying behind the fierce White Knight.

    “Surrender,” The White Knight cried. “We hold your army in check.”

    The Black Knight laughed. He watched his brother fall on the plain of battle, but he would risk all to lure the White Army into his carefully laid trap.

    His rook toppled with a mighty crash.

    “You cannot win,” cried the White Knight. “I am your nemesis. I anticipate your every move. You will die on this plane of battle.”

    “Nay, my friend, it is you who have fallen into the trap. Your king is now mine.” The Black Knight speared his brave opponent. “Checkmate.”

    The Black Knight raised his bloodied sword. To victory.

  5. @elfenkate
    #flashdogs
    157 word count

    The Final Table

    They had trained and played and worked to reach this point. Each facing each other in an eerily quiet room at the small final table.

    He watched the young boy across from him. A freckled face with no emotion. 13? 14 ? At 15, no,15 and a half, he still wondered what his nemesis was thinking. Was he wondering who was on Fallon tonight? Was he hoping that the pretty girl could fall for a champion, even a geeky one? Or was it squares? And maneuvers? Lines and plots?

    Across the table the older boy watched him. A scientist figuring out a problem. It wouldn’t be solved today. Today is his day. He knew it. Down deep. Like he knew the squares set before him. Black and white, horizontal, vertical, diagonal, L shapes and empty spaces. They shared invisible patterns.They sang as he sat waiting.

    A buzzer shatters the silence between them. Their dual has started.

  6. Bringing Out The Lady

    151 words

    Harrwitz scowled at the rear-view mirror. The pursuing vehicle’s lights were closer. He pulled over, choosing to accept the inevitable confrontation.
    The lights stopped fifty yards behind and a door opened.
    “That you Morphy?” Harrwitz called.
    “Give it up Harrwitz. It’s over.”
    “Not ’til the fat lady sings.”
    “Then I’m bringing her out,” said Morphy, raising his arm and pointing a gun. “Now, where is she?”
    “She’s behind you,” Harrwitz said.
    There was a click in the darkness.
    Morphy lowered his arm and turned. Katarina took the gun. Harrwitz walked over.
    “Why, Katarina?” Morphy asked.
    “Because not everything is black and white.”
    “So what now?”
    “You go back. You never found me.”
    “I can’t do that.”
    A shot boomed.
    “You killed him,” Harrwitz said.
    Katarina nodded and shot again, with the other gun. Harrwitz dropped, surprise his final expression. She placed a gun in each man’s hand and started walking.

    @scturnbull

  7. Ian Martyn
    @IBMartyn
    156 words

    The Eternal Game

    The picture’s a strange one. I’ve never played the game, what would be the point? Also it’s a mess, why? Those around me say it’s figurative, a representation of our relationship, opposite sides, black and white, ancient. Who’s winning? Can’t tell. It doesn’t matter who’s winning. One of my many faces touching the board, weighing the next move, or waiting for him to make a play. He does this, sends me things that make little sense. This one is a game within a game.

    He’s trying to tell me I’m playing his game, to his rules. But he’s missing the point. Even in his picture, for which I was never there, I’m about to smile. This is not solitaire. Every game has two sides. There has to be, it’s him and me. I will always have a move, a counter, a riposte. I flip the picture over, there’s a message: ‘To God, love, Beelzebub.’ How original.

  8. The Game:

    The Master sat in the players dome; his worn face intent on the pieces, life balanced on the movements they made.

    Electricity hummed, the air heavy with static, through the translucent glow he saw his nemesis, safe in the gallery, directing his army from above. The battle field was contained, each square territory to claim.

    It was the final hour; pieces discarded, chipped and broken on the floor mirrored the bloodied bodies of his kin outside the dome.

    Sweat itched, a bead trickled down his weathered head, landing on the wasted board. The Master looked to his Knight, strong and courageous, and with a considered move it traced out an L, drawing in for the kill. The King was taken.

    As the ivory landed, his nemesis fell, the game was over. The shield came down and The Master walked free.

    140 words

    @bex_spence

  9. Cornered

    It’s like every move I make, he moves, you know, like he’s trying to, I dunno, match me or something, like I can’t even have a thought without him finding a way to criticise or pull it to pieces or tell me I’m wrong, somehow, and no matter how much I try to plan things out or think before I speak, that light, that light comes on behind his eyes as soon as I open my mouth and I know, I just know he already has an answer, already has a laugh brewing ready to spill over me like blood, and I hate him so much that it makes my heart hurt, knowing that if Mum was still here he wouldn’t dare talk to me like this but it’s just us, just me and him, locked in this stalemate with no way out, so it’s up to me to make one, whatever way I can. Right?

    @SJOHart
    156 words

  10. The 1975 World Championship
    (152 words)

    We step up to the black and white platform, and from opposite sides, perform the usual contenders’ tactics that masquerade as courtesies: his a nod made aggressive by its protraction, mine a simple smirk.

    We begin.
    Move.
    Countermove.
    Nothing too complicated.
    Standard.

    Until my opponent ramps it up a little,
    Bus Stop.
    Box Step, I countermove.
    But bam! Mash Potato with Hip Gyration.

    The crowd is wild now. The chequered floor beneath us begins to flash. My adrenalin is raised. The floor beckons me to it, but I peak too early, producing my piece de resistance before it’s time:
    I am The Worm!
    But he knows he’s got me on the run and pulls a Cab Calloway. He’s backsliding across the floor in a move The Compere says will surely take off into the next decade!

    The music fades. It’s over.
    Tonight, I watch as my white nemesis is crowned ‘Disco King.’

  11. The Assistant
    160 words

    “Sir, do you remember what you told me when I first came here?”

    The Master frowned. “I told you many things.”

    “You told me you loved wine,” he started and the Master lifted his glass in acknowledgement. “You also told me I’d never see my mam again until I bested you in some way.”

    The Master cleared his throat, trying to get rid of the itching feeling as the boy stared at him.

    “You haven’t quite managed that one yet, have you?”

    “Not quite,” the boy admitted. “You always told me that to win the game you had to be one step ahead of your opponent.”

    The Master’s eyes watered and he cleared his throat again but the itching was steadily becoming worse.

    The boy moved his Queen to H5 but the Master only had eyes for his glass of wine.

    “What did you do?” he demanded.

    “I believe you call it checkmate, sir, but my mam called it arsenic.”

  12. Entente Cordiale
    150 words
    @lizhedgecock

    ‘I hate this kid. He mixes us up together in the box – which is just fine, may I say – but then he tips us out and expects us to get all aggressive. His attitude stinks.’
    ‘I know…his ma needs to have a word. And the way he treats the white pieces is shocking. Like they have an unfair advantage for going first.’
    ‘YAHHHH! DOWN YOU GO, SUCKA!’
    ‘Ohhh…that wasn’t good.’
    ‘I think you lost the round bit on your hat, Bish.’
    ‘Please tell me this game is nearly done.’
    ‘CHECK! AND MATE! YES! WE RULE!’
    ‘Ow!’
    ‘Ooww!’
    ‘There is just no need for this behaviour! So uncivilised!’
    ‘What can we do, though?’
    ‘I don’t know. Hope for a miracle.’
    ‘Oh well. Back in the box now for a rest. Let’s see what the others think.’
    ***
    ‘GREY? GREY PIECES??? WHAT AM I SUPPOSED TO DO WITH THESE?’
    (muffled laughter)

  13. The Betrayed
    158 words
    @lsunil

    ‘Where did I go wrong? I had planned the moves meticulously. The pawns created a front line of defense. They had to be beaten to get to the horsemen, knights and rooks. The King and Queen, always guarded so well,’ thought the bishop Aidrian. His left leg was chained to the walls of the dungeon. The pain was unbearable.

    ‘Tell me Dee. Who is the betrayer? How did you get him?’, he asked.

    Dee laughed. ‘You never saw it coming did you? Think about it’.

    ‘Who? Tell me who? ‘

    ‘There were so many signs. The person present in all your meetings, always in close contact with the King and knew all his moves. This person knew even more than all of you knew.’

    ‘The Queen?!!’ .

    Dee smiled as the Queen entered the dungeon.

    The Queen said, ‘In a fight, not long ago, your King had betrayed me by marrying me forcefully. I just returned the favor’.

  14. Power Trip

    (152 Words)

    “One does not simply kill their nemesis,” announced Edward as his daughter walked through the sitting room door with her morning coffee. “One must be more creative!”
    Sarah stared at her father and then down at her miniaturized tutor scampering across the coffee table.
    “Okay…” she said, ignoring Edward as he collapsed into the sofa sniggering.”You do realise Miss Trunt is not my nemesis right?”
    “Anyone who seek to dominate us is a nemesis!” Edward shot up off the sofa and scooped Miss Trunt up in one hand. The woman screamed as he swung her across to face Sarah. “See her now! See how fragile she is to us!”
    Sarah heard Miss Trunt whimper.
    “Put her down Dad,” she sighed. “I really don’t have time for this again.”
    “This! This!” spluttered her father. “This is important!”
    “No, it’s not.”
    “But-”
    “Re-size her Dad!”
    “I can’t,” he whined. “I lost the instructions.”

  15. FATE OF THE UNIVERSE

    Brian S Creek
    156 Words
    @BrianSCreek
    #FlashDogs

    “After thousands of years of fighting between you and me and it comes down to this; one simple game.”
    “This is no simple game,” said God. “This is all about strategy and patience.”
    “Are you not feeling the pressure?” said the Devil.
    “Of course not. I’ve always been the better player. Do you think if I had any doubt I would have agreed to your challenge?”
    “I was surprised,” said the Devil as he moved another piece. “Check.”
    God frowned for a split second. He hovered his hand over the rook and then pulled it back. Instead he moved his remaining knight. “Ha! Nothing to worry about.” He relaxed back in his chair. “The fate of the universe is safe.”
    “So sure, old friend,” said the Devil as he picked up his rook and moved it across the board, dragging the base slowly across the checkered surface. He looked up at God and smiled. “Check. Mate.”

  16. Power Play
    ***Judge’s Entry: Just for Fun***
    Margaret Locke (@Margaret_Locke or margaretlocke.com)
    160 words

    It’s not easy facing down a King. You’re taught your whole life to believe they’ve ascended to power through innate talent, faultless character, Divine Right.

    One day you realize: it’s all a stroke of luck. A matter of heredity. Sure, sometimes the Queen is captured by someone else. But mostly it’s the gene pool that determines your reality, your fate, your destiny.

    There comes a time in every person’s life (most say around age thirteen) when you’ve got to decide for yourself: do you stand for what the King believes? Or do you strike out on your own, make your own choices, become your own Knight (shining armor optional, depending on the state of your room)?

    The King will resist your efforts towards independence. The Queen will block you in. You will realize checkmate is inevitable when the keys to the Kingdom (in other words, the Royal Chariot) are revoked. You must acquiesce, at least a little longer.

    Game over.

  17. The Player

    Ah, yes. There it is. The tilting head. The flashing smile, hints of dimple, and the oh-so-casual brushing away of the single golden lock trailing across her forehead. The tiny sigh, the puckered lip, and the thousand-yard stare that fixes, cajoles and accuses all in one.

    I do not yield.

    For little do you know I fenced in college, darling, and before that I was undisputed checkers champion from grades one through four, inclusive. I was unseated on a technicality when my time to fall eventually came, but I took it gracefully. Ish.

    I know about strategy.

    So I make my final move, place the winning piece, lay down the unmovable law, but therein lies my fatal mistake. I forget about the power play.

    ‘Maaaaa-Ma!’

    My wife scoops in, sweeping up the enemy – who pauses in her wailing to shoot me a triumphant look – and I wonder why I’m the only one who worries that we’re raising a new Machiavelli.

    @SJOHart
    160 words

  18. Don’t let Go
    156 words
    @Van_Demal

    Here we are again, destiny pinched between the tips of our fingers. Don’t let go – not until you’re sure. Genius isn’t understanding the complexity, but the simplicity of things. The game is always the same: A myriad possibilities between the first move and the last, but it begins and it ends, and eventually someone wins.

    Bergman had it wrong. It’s not death but life that’s the foe, kept closer than a friend. Life sharps the board when you’re not looking, castles, busts your King’s Gambit, leeches all your choices down to black or white.

    Were they worthy, my sacrifices? Sometimes I’d feel the Lady wobble as I let go – it’s like she knew. And every victory, what did it feel like in the end but a postponement of the inevitable? The board is there waiting, and you, Nemesis. Tomorrow comes and here we are again, destiny pinched between the tips of our fingers. Don’t let go –

  19. The Price of Victory
    By @GavinParish
    (158 words)

    Somewhere on the battlefield, a rook cawed to its brethren. They would feed well this day on the follies of man. The cold mist hung low, biting to the bone. Out of its embrace, there emerged a riderless horse that could barely walk in a straight line. It still bore the weight of its rider, now dragging behind with armoured boot caught in dangling rein.

    A lone figure awaited it, patting the flank of the weary steed as it trotted on by then came to a halt. The bloodied knight on the ground recovered consciousness for a moment, reported in his dying breath, “It is done, sire. Your rival is no more.”

    “And what am I, if there are none left to rule over?” mused the king. He took a dagger and severed the rein binding rider and beast of burden.

    A rook cawed mockingly in response. Startled, the horse kicked out with both its hind legs.

    Stalemate.

  20. When Aretha met Elvis

    Did the black Queen of Soul ever meet the white King of Rock and Roll? Hell yeah! I’m proof. I got me them monochrome chromosomes.

    ‘Course I can’t remember them. I grew up in Hunger’s Nemesis Orphanage, Memphis, Tennessee. It’s long gone now. You won’t find it even if you look.

    I recall the first time I saw my Daddy dancin’. Boy, could he move them hips? I jumped right up out of my chair and started dancin’ just like him. Sent the checker board flying! And Mama’s voice? Well, she could charm the angels down from heaven then scare them right back up again.

    I’m told Mama is doing well and still sings, though she can’t tempt the angels down no more. Daddy, they tell me, went and took up them drugs and died. I don’t believe it. I still see him sometimes.

    144 words
    @MicroBookends

  21. Creational Game

    Black, white, and the fencing lines that defined a cerebral battleground cast amidst the calculations of neurons that weighed heavily into future speculation. Table flat – that belies the multidimensional construct that ponders above it. The game takes place in binary field of popped and popping quantum realities that resurrect a boxed in cat that never knew of its participation, as dumb as any Bishop bereft of ecclesiastical office. The sword hovers above in intellect space that dances ghostly positions into reality weaving Kosmos to Kaos as dark as any norn can darn. In patient suffering pieces wait to be handled; statuesque desperation, potential energy moving from inert to active, or to be removed and taken in vengeance seeking nemesis of skilful play and threat that engenders any game. All the while, time crystalises space for creational constructed emergence; not a big bang but a murmur.

    [145 words]

    @RubiconPetros

  22. The Opening Move: Fianchetto (little flank)

    Ilia played E4. Ivane played E5. Ilia played Nf3. Ivane played Nc6 and stroked his beard. Ilia played Bb5. ‘Interesting,’ Ivane said, playing Nf6. ‘You bet,’ Ilia said, playing D3. Ivane grazed Ilia’s leg with the toe of his shoe. ‘Hey no fair!’ Ilia said. Ivane chuckled, holding the tall column of a bishop in his delicate fingers, he played Bc5. Ilia inwardly shuddered, observing him lingering long on the bishop and puffing on his pipe. Ilia pulling himself together, played c3. Ivane castled king side. Ilia castled king side. They looked at each other. Ilia knew that look.

    Laying back on the floor, panting and sweaty, Ilia said, whilst pulling out a pawn that had wedged in his back, ‘Still, do you think we could get through ONE game sometime?’
    Ivane smiled. ‘It’s not about winning but the taking part, surely?’
    ‘Tell that to my team!’ Ilia scoffed.
    ‘I already have,’ Ivane thought. He’d captured all their Kings.

    (159 words)
    @avalina_kreska
    #flashdog

  23. It was going to be about a man and woman playing chess but then the photo changed! Shock horror!!!! 🙂 I reckon the dragoness should hand out Cadbury’s creme eggs to everyone… 🙂

    • The photo is inspiration: a man and a woman playing chess would not violate that.

      And no one could be more upset about losing the original photo than I already am. 🙂

      • The Opening Move: Fianchetto (little flank)

        David played e4. Priscilla played e5. David played Nf3. Priscilla played Nc6 and flicked back her long, blonde hair. David played Bb5. ‘Interesting,’ Priscilla said, playing Nf6. ‘You bet,’ David said, playing d3. Priscilla grazed David’s leg with her painted toe. ‘Hey no fair!’ David said. Priscilla chuckled, holding the tall column of a bishop in her delicate fingers, she played Bc5. David inwardly shuddered, observing her lingering long on the bishop with her scarlet fingernails. David pulling himself together, played c3. Priscilla castled king side. David castled king side. They looked at each other. David knew that look.

        Laying back on the floor, panting and sweaty, David said, whilst pulling out a pawn that had wedged deep into his back, ‘Still, do you think we could get through ONE game sometime?’
        Priscilla smiled. ‘It’s not about winning but the taking part, surely?’
        ‘Tell that to my team!’ David scoffed.
        ‘I already have,’ Priscilla thought. She’d captured all their Kings.

        (160 words)
        @avalina_kreska
        #flashdog

  24. Stalemate

    The game couldn’t end. Two kings, two knights, him and Bob. Just carved chunks of wood thudding on various squares, white after black after white after black.

    ‘Your turn,’ said Bob, with his flappy mouth and his creaking jaw.

    He picked up the king, moved one square, put it down.

    A clock chimed. ‘Happy new year,’ he said to Bob, because it was.

    ‘Knight to bishop six,’ said Bob. Never one for special occasions.

    He moved the knight, tap, tap, tap.

    ‘Your turn.’

    He was thirsty. He took his hand out of Bob’s neck and wiped it on his apron. He drank gritty water, toasted the new millennium.

    He put his hand back into Bob’s neck, fingers and thumb into place at the base of the gums. He opened his hand, the mouth flapped.

    ‘Your turn!’

    Yes, yes.

    Two kings, two knights, him and Bob’s head. The game couldn’t end.

    150 Words
    @DHartleyWriter

  25. Your Move
    Evan Montegarde
    159 words

    Worlds strung on a string like so many pearls; a life a momentary breath of air at most. The true breadth of it all had driven entire worlds insane endless times throughout the infinite progression of time and space. Each culture, history, milieu lost forever and not missed.

    The Cosmos got it; everything was a challenge, a tribulation It personally directed at Its pitiful creations. Obviously, at least to the creations, for their betterment; at least that was their hopeful belief.

    Why those on the little backyard world buried in the Milky Way made It out to be a bearded old human male sitting in a cloud was mildly amusing, though typical of that type of planet and life form.

    It had but one issue, how to beat the ancient foe. The game had been going on for so long neither remembered why they played. But they both wanted to win and so It smiled and said, “Your move.”

  26. The King Is Dead—Again
    160 words

    “The king is dead, killed by the knight named Mordred.”

    Merlin shrugged, but his heart whispered, I’m sorry, Arthur, for the thousandth time. “I challenge you, again.”

    The wizard across the table regarded him with a kind, but exasperated expression. “The Fixed Points game gets its name because some points in time are just that—fixed. You need to move on.”

    “Again.”

    “This is why I’ve told the Time Council that allowing wizards to visit the game realm causes more harm than good.”

    Merlin clenched his jaw. “It’s not just a game. You haven’t visited, so you wouldn’t understand.”

    “This game you’ve been playing only affects one tiny part of the timeline between two fixed points. Every time you lose, a new timeline materializes without your precious Arthur. And yet you continue. Have you considered how many new, Arthur-less futures you’ve created?”

    “But, eventually, he will survive. And I will play until he does.” Merlin gazed at the wizard. “Again.”

  27. I had bravely opened with a classic Latvian Gambit which had stalled with the acceptance of the pawn sacrifice… I felt the pressure keenly as the crowds’ hushed whispers echoed around the hall. I had lost nine games in a row to my nemesis Angela Whitsomby-Nevil. A brilliant player who could make an elephant gambit look like a French defence. Perhaps it was her steely blue gaze, or the way her auburn hair would winsomely escape from her pony tail making her distractedly tuck it back behind an ear.

    I had read Fine & Heisman over the past few months and destroyed with surgical efficiency my opponents since last Angela &I had met. Once again, I felt the flutter of ten-thousand butterflies as they took over my stomach and gaily jangled my nerves. The transition to end-game proceeded with depressing familiarity as my king was pinned by her knight. Checkmate

  28. TWO MEN PLAY…THAT GAME
    @hollygeely
    156 words

    “Let’s play a game,” Bastian said.

    “I’ve seen that movie. I didn’t like it. Besides, I know we’ve been fighting for years, but I don’t think we need to kill each other.”

    “Not what I meant, Phil. Have a seat.”

    The board was already set up and the pieces were in place.

    “Oh! Why didn’t you just say you want to play –”

    “NO!” Bastian knocked his chair over in his haste to stand. He pressed two fingers on Phil’s lips. “You must not use that word.”

    “Huh?”

    “Just don’t.”

    Bastian looked up at the gods and winked.

    “I don’t like…this game,” Phil said. “Pawns, knights, bishops…what’s it all for? What does it mean?”

    “I think it’s a metaphor.”

    “A metaphor for what?” Phil asked.

    “For how I’m going to kick your butt, obviously.”

    That did it.

    “Fine, I’ll play, but don’t cry when I win.”

    “No promises,” Bastian said.

    Phil sat down.

    Bastian had already won.

  29. In Between
    @_HannahHeath
    160 words

    Parents always told us children that everything is black and white. There is a good army, clothed in white. An evil army, swathed in shadow. The only thing in between is the battlefield. They made it seem as though we would be fighting our nemesis alongside the soldiers in white, coming out victorious if we battled hard enough.

    They let us to grow up with these images of things valiant and beautiful, black against white, good against evil. They told us there was nothing in between besides the battlefield, told us we could fight alongside the pure. They lied to us.

    There is something else between, something other than the battlefield. Us. We get caught between the fierce clash of darkness against light. In the chaos, sometimes we cannot discern who to fight, where to turn. We only see blood, only hear the cries of pain.

    But we were not warned of this. And so, caught in between, we fall.

  30. Practice
    by JM6, 160 words, @JMnumber6

    They think it’s a game, not recognizing what it really is: practice. The two generals are devoting their complete attention to the battle. As they marshal their troops across the field of play, their frowns deepen. Each move is watched with the keenness of a leopard observing gazelles, looking for the one weakness which will mean the difference between victory and utter defeat.

    Normally, I would approve of such ruthless, single-minded attention to a struggle of life and death, but I’m bored. The generals have become so engrossed in their small arena of combat, seeking any surprises that the opponent might spring, they have forgotten the larger world. They think they are each other’s nemesis while their true nemesis is stalking them. They are leopards watching the gazelles, ignoring the lion coming up behind them.

    Fangs bared, claws unsheathed, I spring for one general’s ankle.

    “Ouch! Bad kitten! Abigail? Come get Fluffy out of here!”

    “Yes, Papa!”

    I purr. Checkmate.

  31. On The Board

    White frowned pompously as he considered his next move and then touched a single finger to the head of a pawn. “Go forth, my daughter and wreak havoc in my name.” He commanded. The marble figure shivered, turned to flesh and blood, took a breath, and began to move.

    “And in turn I release he who will be her nemesis.” Black touched one of his knights, which also came to life.

    Perseus set forth on his quest, gathering the weapons and information he needed and slew Medusa.

    White touched another pawn. “Let him face you.”

    Black touched his queen. “I shall put you into play.”

    Cetus attacked the Kingdom of Aethiopia. Andromeda was chained to a rock to placate the beast. Perseus slew him and won the hand of Andromeda in exchange.

    White glowered at the board and touched a rook. “The city of Troy.” He declared.

    And the Gods continued playing their emotionless game of war.

    156 Words
    challenge accepted
    karnemily@yahoo.com

  32. To Be Fair, No One Really Liked Playing With Rutherford

    “Did a pawn just fall out of your beard, Rutherford?”

    “Why yes, yes it did. I have another one in there, too. Want to see?”

    “No, sir, I do not. Dear heavens, man, put that away. It has last night’s lamb jelly on it.”

    “Oh, yes, it does. Missus Rutherford is quite the cook, you know.”

    “That’s as may be, but – oh, what is that?”

    “That is a nine of spades, sir. What did you think it was?”

    “I know what it is, Rutherford, you dimwiddy.”

    “Don’t be angry, sir. I thought you might prefer a hand of bridge tonight.”

    “And why would I do that? You know I have nothing but contempt for card players.”

    “I…I know, sir. But…”

    “But nothing. I will thank you to take your beard and your … things with you as you leave.”

    “Yessir.”

    “Wait a minute, Rutherford. Why pawns? And a nine of spades?”

    “Well, sir, I did not want to appear uncouth.”

    160 words
    @drmagoo

      • Thank you. The idea of the last line was that, while he was a cheater, he did not want to cheat using the best pieces or cards – no queens or aces for him. He was cheating, in his mind, in a gentlemanly way.

        Of course, since I had to explain it, I did not quite succeed, but I’m glad you liked it!

    • Such fantastic dialogue! I imagined Rutherford as Ernest Rutherford, rightly or wrongly. (But I also don’t get the last line. If you could explain, I’d be very pleased!) I enjoyed the story hugely nonetheless. 🙂

      • Thank you. The idea of the last line was that, while he was a cheater, he did not want to cheat using the best pieces or cards – no queens or aces for him. He was cheating, in his mind, in a gentlemanly way.

        Of course, since I had to explain it, I did not quite succeed, but I’m glad you liked it!

      • Ah, you see, I’m not a player of any sort of card game and I’m ignorant of all such matters, so the reference was bound to go over my head. I’m so sorry I didn’t get it, but it’s no reflection on your writing skill! Brilliant tale, nonetheless. 🙂

  33. Gentleman’s Game

    Baptism through the birth canal, we enter the world with basic needs and instincts of survival. Introduction to schoolyard play comes rather quickly; games for fun, innocence and laughter. Though we’re crafty creatures and our innocence is shed, swift as fallen leaves from autumn trees.

    Manipulating the games to suit our affections and garner power, we learn to live. Schoolyard days dissolve into dalliances of our teenaged years. Then life begins to flourish, and we become absorbed in our diversions, subterfuge.

    I’ve my pawns in life as on the board, but I’ve become blasé with the pastime of it all. A skilled opponent keeps my mind sharp, but his wife keeps my bed warm at night.

    “Well, my friend, seems as if you’ve beaten me again.”

    Indeed I had. Though, he hadn’t any honest clue to what I’d actually won.

    It’s all charades: one word, one syllable, four letters—Life.

    @blackinkpinkdsk
    150 words
    #flashdog

  34. The Palatine Maneuver
    @voimaoy #flashdog
    160 fun words

    “Your move, Captain.” The luminous entity, Commander of the Battlecruiser Nemesis, was as stunning as she was inscrutable. Behind her, subordinates glowered.

    It seemed to be a stalemate. Pieces in place for this battle of wits.

    Captain Garza was not intimidated, but he was intrigued. He enjoyed this game, the black and white of it. Females, whatever species, would prove to be his greatest weakness. The fact that his moves were usually returned was only further proof.

    However, his first officer, Her Royal Highness Princess Palatine, seemed unaware of his human male appeal. Palatine was a tortie-girl, the most female of the cat -people serving aboard the ship. The cat-people were undisputed masters at navigating the gray areas of quantum foam.

    They were not known for diplomacy.

    “Please Captain, let me handle this.” Palatine fixed him with her gold-green eyes. Eyes he could get lost in…

    Moving with feline grace, she stepped forward. “Commander, ” she purred silkily. “Can we talk?”

  35. Title: We Are All…
    Word Count: 155
    @Rtayaket
    rashatayaket.wordpress.com

    ‘We are all kings and pawns of men.’ – Bonaparte’s famous quote, adapted for the screen in The Count of Monte Cristo – ‘We are either kings or pawns; emperors or fools.’ I always liked that line, don’t think it was in Alexander Dumas’ original work though. I must ask you, if you perceive me as your nemesis, your downfall, why do you insist on these meetings? We discuss and you are found wanting in every topic. We play games and you are handed your loss. As your perceived nemesis, no matter the game at hand, I will cause your downfall. Yet you call the meetings, inviting your own demise. A king kills his nemesis. A pawn is manipulated by him. The emperor runs him off. A fool does nothing. You can’t kill me or run me off, I am not manipulating you and yet you aren’t ignoring me either. What kind of fifth player are you?

  36. Double Checkmate.
    Norman G. Linker watched his nemesis set up the pieces. Amused by the little man in the tweed coat, Linker agreed to the game; loser stops his activity, leaves the city. Linker never lost.
    Tweedy was nervous, chattering under his breath while pushing his pieces, obviously trying to distract Linker. Linker half-heard the mutterings.
    “…must stop you…ruining my reputation…I am the true bomber…never hurt people…you don’t care…how many have you killed?…my bombs are harmless…all sound and no fury…” and on and on until Linker sensed Tweedy wasn’t paying attention to the game. He didn’t care if he lost.
    “Checkmate” Linker said. “Now I suggest you pack and leave and I shall continue my campaign against the Philistines of this city.”
    The coffee shop was empty. Tweedy glanced at his watch and leapt up, upsetting his chair, and rushed out.
    “Fool. Left his pieces and his briefcase.” His briefcase!
    Linker sprinted to the door as the briefcase exploded.
    Checkmate.

    158 Words
    @rfmaraz38

  37. Hard Business
    @TinmanDoneBadly
    144 words

    His angrily-thrown tomato juice trickled down the kitchen window. He lowered his chin onto the table and glared at the symbol of his downfall, which stared stonily back at him and his proudest creation – the Jar-Jar Binks garden gnome.

    His Star Wars series of gnomes, carrying light-sabres instead of fishing-rods, had been an instant success. After Jar-Jar came the Luke, then the Obi-Wan, then the R2D2, though that was actually just a round stone.

    But garden-populating is a small market, so his arch-rival had fought back with the Icons of Iconic Women range – the Marilyn, the Hepburn, and, in front of him right now, the Jackie O.

    There was even a Princess Leia.

    His potential customers were all buying the Icons now. The type of man willing to spend hard cash on a granite Yoda tends not to know many real women.

  38. Khanjluri* Game
    *Khanjluri is a Georgian National dance involving daggers. The name can be spelled many ways.
    @EmilyJuneStreet
    160 words

    Two men lean over the gameboard, gazes intent. A nemesis is best assessed while playing shakhmaty, so Sergei comes every day to the coffeeshop. To assess, he tells himself, though truly he only delays.

    Chavchavadze moves brashly. Machabeli plays deliberately.

    Sergei’s time runs short. The Okhrana’s cold breath prickles the hairs on his neck.

    “Will you go to the ballet, friend?” Machabeli asks.

    Chavchavadze snorts. “That Imperial nonsense?” He mimics the fussy steps of a Russian dancer. “Give me a proud Georgian Khanjluri, not this mincing Russian business.” He advances a gamepiece. “Check.”

    Machabeli stares. “Ilia! You take me by surprise!”

    Sergei notes that Machabeli is easy to surprise.

    Machabeli concedes, standing. “Until tomorrow.”

    Sergei silences his following footsteps, drawing his dagger. At the Tripartite Bridge, he lunges, pinning Machabeli to the railing. He slits his throat. Blood drains into the Griboyedov Canal.

    “For the Tsar,” Sergei whispers.

    He pushes the body over the railing. It will never be found.

  39. The real reason I wrote this story was because the guys in the picture were Georgian Nationalists and I love Georgian dance. Here is a video of the Georgian National Ballet (they are awesome) rehearsing the Khanjluri: Georgian Dance I hope those link tags work…

  40. The Lady Advances
    Laura Romero
    (158 words)

    The horse snorted and reared back beneath the knight, eager to make his move. The enemy was within sight. The castle had been taken and enemies captured; all pawns in his grasp. His army advanced one step at a time.

    ‘Protect the King’ was their only order and he intended to follow it, but his Queen had others plans. She wanted to see the White King fall. The faithful knight did not disobey.

    The battle was long and tedious. Both sides suffered casualties but still the knight trudged on. The moment came when there was a break in the enemy’s line. The Bishop blessed the way and the Black Queen strode through the ranks, crown perched high atop her head.

    She glided over to the White King, who was pinned down on the border, and took his place. He was lifted high into the heavens to join the rest of his men.

    “Check Mate,” the giant’s voice boomed.

  41. The long game
    By @Gavin Parish
    (157 words)

    The game was scarcely possible to win but neither of the combatants was willing to lose, nor would a draw suffice. One might snatch a minor coup here or have a run of luck there, but always the scales balanced out. Such was the way of things.

    During the aeons that they played, civilisations rose up and were destroyed; the earth was one day flat and then it was round; men and women of note, and infamy, had their turn on the world stage and then bowed out; science made leaps forward to the benefit of some and the detriment of others; lovers fell in love and haters hated.

    A time finally came when the players found themselves only going through the motions. There were no new moves to bring to the game. Yet both knew if either conceded, the other’s victory was absolute. All they could do was play on.

    And the world kept on turning.

  42. This Was Something Different
    (159 words)

    It wasn’t just put on the curriculum, it was the curriculum. No one reacted in our town, at first: it was just the new Principal’s initiative- fun and educational- a game of strategy.

    However, in the days that followed, social media gave rise to panic as communication took place between parents of kids from different towns, different cities, different continents.
    Parent Protesters kept their children home demanding an answer about the New Global Project. Governments responded, and we were returned to schools so our families would eat. Checkmate.

    Within months, The Boys’ and Girls’ Tournaments were underway. Top pupils from local schools competing. We all played more earnestly for not knowing what it was that was at stake. Then champions emerged citywide, continent-wide, worldwide.

    Only when The Genesis and Nemesis space crafts were unveiled did the 64 of us understand the reason for our selection. The Survivors of an Apocalypse that hadn’t yet begun. The New World Elite.

  43. GAME OVER
    (**Judge’s Entry**)

    The cloth burns my knuckles as I tear it from the table with both hands. I kick my chair backwards into the wall.

    Game pieces crack beneath my feet. I retrieve the board and bring it down hard over the table top. A corner snaps off, another blow and shards fly. I tear at it with both hands, separating chunks from the whole as if I might eat them. One piece, hurled into the corner. Another one, the opposite direction. Daggers of wood everywhere in the air.

    Do not speak to me.

    I dismember the game pieces with my boot heels, snapping off heads and crushing bodies in two. Now I kick their bones away, into corners, against the walls.

    I smash the game down to tiny, unrecognizable bits, grind it into useless, nameless fragments.

    You will never speak to me that way again. You will never speak to me again.

    151 words w/o title
    @betsystreeter

  44. The Staunton Pattern

    Jonathan recalled last night’s game: the violent collisions, the hateful baying of the Houston masses, the broken bones of team mates and opponents alike. Jonathan spoke with Smitty afterwards. The old man talked of a devastated city called Philadelphia, once a thriving metropolis before a corporation called Federal Government put millions in camps to quell civil disobedience.

    Smitty had seen athletes compete for clubs that took their names from birds and animals. Jonathan saw a bird once, when he dined on the Energy Corporation estate with Mister Bartholomew and his wives. Perhaps it wasn‘t real, just a replica. Jonathan smiled weakly as he remembered the miraculous creature in flight.

    The Western Intercontinental Corporate Society Championship game loomed against Food Corporation’s spearhead Sao Paulo franchise. The Paulistanos were the only club that Jonathan had failed to score against during the regular season. Mister Bartholomew had promised Jonathan a number of lavish rewards and special privileges in return for Corporate Championship glory.

    [160 words]

    @Horrorshow_00

  45. Immortal Game (159 words)

    On the day of the Great Game, the sixteen chosen went into the church for a special mass. Sins had been confessed the day before. After the mass, the Master’s servants served a special lavish breakfast for the villagers. No one ate but children and madmen.

    The playing field gleamed in the August sun, carefully planted for this day. Dark green and light checkered, meticulously groomed.

    “What square are you?” Hans asked Johns.

    “I’m a rook.”

    “Oh. I’m a pawn.”

    A fair-haired girl in a stiff velvet gown passed them, her face as white as chalk.

    “Hilda’s our Queen.”

    “Damn their eyes,” Hans muttered. Queens rarely survived.

    A slender elderly man in a crown hobbled to his square. He smiled and waved.

    “It’s always good to be king, eh Jacques?” Hans called.

    “Poor old sod.”

    The guillotine loomed on the edge of the field, waiting.

    “Our Master won last year. “

    Hans grimaced.

    “Then Count Samarov’s hungrier for revenge.”

  46. Hollow Bishops
    156 words

    The rooks were the easiest to shape, given the medium. Almehide made those first in sets of four. Two he would coat in a patina and glaze in the clay oven at the center of his hovel. Pawns came next, then royalty and knights.

    Almehide held onto the bone and used the tip of his carving blade to carve out a path for his small chisel to attempt making a bishop once again. His problem was, once the marrow had been sucked out of the femur, the material would become too delicate create the gentle tapering of the bishops miter. Every piece Almehide cracked and had thrown into the fire.

    He looked out the window longingly, hoping for another opponent to challenge at this game of royals. This nemesis didn’t need to know the game. Almehide would happily teach him. But after his lesson, he’d play for real stakes. He was hungry to complete his collection.

    @BradytheWriter

  47. Belief.

    “Check,” announced Zeus after his Sagittarian system moved into the blank space where Andromeda had just winked out of existence.
    “Damn this game,” Alf growled, swinging a petulant boot upwards to almost catch Zeus below the knee.
    “Temper, temper,” teased Zeus. “I’ll tell Mum!”
    “Why can’t we play something else.”
    A voice drifted from another time and place, over their battle fields. “Are you playing nicely up there?”
    “You know Father says we must always play Belief to its ultimate conclusion.”
    “But you always win.”
    “Father says it is good for our development.”
    “Father says! Mum says! I’d much rather go play with my heroes.”
    “Baah!” Zeus scratched his beard, observing, “I do wish they’d believe in us clean shaven, and with togas rather than suits.”
    “Damnation! I am so fed up with this,” roared Alf. “I resign,” and his hand swept half a trillion civilizations out of existence and history; Alf and Zeus vanished before either could wail.

    @CliveNewnham – 159 words

  48. Josh Bertetta
    “Internal S(word)s
    157 Words
    @JBertetta

    —STARDATE 6.8.3015
    —MESSAGE RECEIVED:

    STARDATE 4.3.3013

    Tacit innuendoes denote matter.

    Hasty connotations smattered forever around lifelong sentiments.

    Gatekeepers watching time. Following unharmed.

    Pushy chimeras intolerant scorners.

    I recant doubtful erethism in stellar anathemas.

    Ionized cannibals keeping their unscrewed chain disciplined.

    Weird willingness fidgets uncouth offerings thisaway,” I intelligently mathematize.

    Inferior justice needlessly tools overthinking.

    Answering willfully inscribes freelance baseline satellite thematics.

    Insensitive sentiments theorize maniacally.

    They expound chthonic mysterious trapdoors and outscream mythic tournaments.

    Revenge my nemesis!

    They wantonly sin.

    Inferiors want clout.

    Power challenges wanton youth.

    I resent their callousness.

    This candidacy is didactic.

    Weathered willful bears confined.

    They mis-chose meaning.

    Their boneyest allies demonize names.

    Intolerance enflames heathen Vikings into kamikaze theocratic speakings.

    Regathered screwball comedians formulating menace.

    Insensitive mindsets theatrically over-controlled formidable thespians disheartened proffer thermal tsunamis.

    Unchecked amateurs.

    —CODE BROKEN
    –STARDATE 2.3.3016
    –MESSAGE DECODED WITH ORIGINAL TRANSCRIPTION
    –ENCODED MESSAGE BOLDED
    –RESCUE MISSION SENT STARDATE 2.3.3016

  49. Two Men In Black Suits

    Sable satin reflecting the light, jet silks that eat the light, onyx wrappers, ebony suits, and raven slashes of hats and adornments flow in the constant social dance of their ivory and alabaster counterparts.
    The black and white ball, the seasonal opportunity for the cunning and the cut-throat to subconsciously choose dark or light and asses the other players on the field.
    The two men whose deep pockets provide the background for this yearly play stand above it all in an old minstrel’s gallery.
    “Edwards is going to fleece your boy for all he’s worth,” says the one with a mustache.
    “I thought you might work that angle. Notice how much of Edwards’s attention is spent on Aurelia. She’s been well trained,” says the other.
    “Clarkson’s well aware of her. Whom did you think handed her that drink?”
    Their pawns can hardly know the war of money between these two runs deeper than numbers on a ticker tape board.

    160 words
    @CaseyCaseRose

  50. Kasparovian Fantasies

    ‘Your quest, should you choose to accept it, is to eliminate the monarch and his scheming wife.’

    The knight tossed his mane proudly and harrumphed with contemptuous pleasure. His ebony eyes shone and his head bulged with manoeuvres; one, two, three…die! One, two, three…die!

    The bishop merely nodded; his solemn mouth irreverently plotting the downfall of the virgin queen. Always one to lurk on the periphery, he planned to slice her away in one, dark slanted betrayal.

    ‘Players; places, please.’

    Castles fortressed the corners with stolid resilience and high-ranked players glided into position.

    The pawns, haphazardly selected and flung into place, buoyed for prime position in front of their King and Queen, eyeing up the squares ahead of them. The edge of the board, a horizon of sacrifice, loomed into vision and each soldier saw it as their destiny and their downfall. To reach it was suicide; to die along the way, a mere consequence of war.

    ‘e2 to e4.’

    160 words
    @_sarahmiles_

  51. When the Chips Go Down
    by A J Walker

    Sun flares through the portal glancing off the ceramic cross. Kepler let it laser into his eyes, hoping it would let him forget the hopelessness.

    East versus west; the fate of billions on the planet below searing into his brain the strain bringing madness.

    A simple game with complex possibilities, like Gaia. Few rules, unlimited variations, unintended consequences, sudden collapse, disaster so close to victory.

    Facing the only person who had ever beaten him, Ramos. Who looked calm, robotic; cold. Kepler could hardly look. Fighting for the same ends. Saving his billions to condemn the others.

    The black and white vista laid out beneath him as the size of the universe. Inevitabilities being played as a game. Kepler felt a dimensionless future.

    Billions on the planet willing their champion to beat the opponent. Death to the others!

    They rub their chips, embedded, featureless feeling the simple binary code pulse. Switch: Off. On. Off.

    Ramos picks up the castle.

    Off.

    (160 words)
    @zevonesque

    #FlashDogs

  52. “Have you contemplated how proof of extraterrestrial life would impact Christianity?” he said, felling a bishop with his pawn.

    They’d been playing this game so long, he knew the next move. The next hundred, in fact.

    “Faith, like all living organisms, adapts,” the old man replied, countering with a knight.

    He also knew which buttons to push.

    “That sounds suspiciously like, dare I say, evolution.”

    “You choose your words. I’ll choose mine.”

    But the elder’s confident voice betrayed a slight catch. He knew the game was drawing to a close. Even so, he could not resign. Too much was at stake.

    “And what of Jesus Christ? Admission to heaven requires belief in Him. Are we to assume He lived, preached on countless other worlds?”

    “Enough!” the old man snapped, sweeping an arm across the board. The pieces scattered, then one by one returned to their respective, necessary places. Science looked at his age-old adversary Religion, and smiled. Knowingly.

    “Checkmate.”

    • Wow, what a clever take on the prompt. “The pieces scattered, then one by one returned to their respective, necessary places.” Changing a belief structure is so difficult, and hard lines have been drawn by both groups. Someday, perhaps, they’ll work together to find some middle ground. 😉

  53. Dry Tortuga Rook
    (158 words)

    Dr. Mudd reminded him that dead ones would be easier, but that’s not what Grünfeld was trying to accomplish. Grünfeld selected the largest of the palmetto bugs from his bowl. He was certain that it had enough brain mass to learn a rook’s simple move set. That’s why he’d scratched the castle onto its elytra with one of the doctor’s old needles.

    Grünfeld set the bug on one of the homemade board’s white squares. With his other hand he put a bread crumb near the base of the piece occupying E7. The bugs weren’t as starved as the men in Fort Jefferson, but they would rarely resist the bait. The palmetto bug made his way to the crumb and in doing so knocked over Dr. Mudd’s queen. His nemesis and physician laughed. It was a long way from the self-automated game he dreamed of, but in Grünfeld’s defense this was only his first phase of training the bugs.

    @BradyTheWriter

  54. Cajun Pastimes

    The bar’s air reeked pleasantly of smoke, stale beer and despair. Samael, large vodka in hand, slunk down into a booth, unpacking the ancient contents of the battered box kept behind the bar.

    On a squat stage, perched on a bar stool, a youthful man was lost in his romance with a saxophone. Setting out crimson pieces onto the scuffed checkerboard Samael let himself wallow in the mournful sound. Was there anyplace better than New Orleans?

    ‘Wonderful isn’t he?’

    Samael nodded, gesturing for his old rival to sit.

    ‘You took your time.’

    ‘Sorry, some administrative issues to tidy up … that is?’

    ‘Vodka.’

    He returned bearing a bottle of vodka and a can of cherry coke.

    ‘So what are we playing for?’ Samael asked as ivory sentinels lined up opposite him.

    ‘How about his soul?’ a manicured nail pointed at the musician.

    ‘Ever the traditionalist, you can go first.’

    The pair played, as they had done since the beginning.

    @imageronin
    160 words
    #flashdog

  55. Black and White
    John Mark Miller – 152 words
    @JohnMark_Miller
    #FlashDogs

    Maleficent rolled his eyes. “White starts first… again.”

    Sterling smiled demurely. “Giving up so soon? Good always wins, you know.”

    After discarding a few pawns, his opponent gripped a black knight with white knuckles – the harbinger of war. “We’ll see about that,” he snarled as he hurled the knight into place.

    Sterling slumped, as if in pain, but slid the white bishop smoothly into position. “A reminder of faith ought to set things right,” he whispered.

    Maleficent revealed his deadly Queen – a dark, incurable plague. The piece twisted across the board, impossible to predict.

    Brow creased, Sterling brought his two rooks – the mighty bastions of kindness and goodwill – into the fray.

    “Two can play at that game,” Maleficent spat. He conjured his two stained bishops. Lust. Bloodshed. “Check,” he murmured with a sinister grin.

    Sighing with relief, Sterling shifted his King – its white cross gleaming in the light.

    “Checkmate.”

  56. Giant Slayers

    Lord Palotino led the troops in silence. Overcoming the wide slippery black hills of the target had been a struggle. Up the first strategic line, creeping along the white stripe to camouflage themselves, they infiltrated the front successfully.

    Palotino had to cross an unchartered stretch of land. His lead scout reported back on the terrain; the pink earth was soft with sparse grass-like tufts but with some decent footholds.

    From the dark recesses of the mountain above them, Palotino and his cohort heard the clash of a battle start. His orders were clear: defeat the winning country’s army as soon as the conflict is over. Neither enemy must survive. This would be Palotino’s only chance.

    At the base of the slope Palotino ordered the use of grapples and ropes. After the arduous haul to the top, he wasn’t ready for the carnage before him. Bodies lay heaped beside the battlefield. Two soldiers remained.

    Smiling, Palotino led the final attack.

    @pamjplumb
    159 words

  57. The Geek Shall Inherit…

    I took his head off cleanly at the neck and dumped the body. It was only Photoshop, but it felt good.

    Around the walls, the grand masters and science heroes glared down disapprovingly from framed posters. Well, all except Tesla; he looked like he got it.

    I took Todd’s head and began the laborious task of pasting it into the photo from Becky’s party, so he was draped drunkenly across the birthday girl. It took forever to get the lighting right, and I regretted using the school’s ancient desktop rather than my tablet, but I needed to keep my ISP clear. Todd was as smart as a brick, but if he ever found out, he’d pound me even worse than that time in Gym.

    I signed up to an anonymous webmail account, attached the doctored pic and thought about the subject line. I settled on “You need to know…” and added Jen’s address.

    Hit send.

    He didn’t deserve her anyway.

    160 words
    @Karl_A_Russell
    #FlashDog

  58. Queen Mate

    She told me it was him she loved, not me, so I designed my strategy.
    I could have had him killed on a street corner by a hungry pauper, too risky. I also thought about having him run over by a carriage, but I couldn’t leave a trace. Instead I offered him the chance to win her over a game of Queen Mate.
    We removed the Kings and pawns, playing with the valuable pieces only, and agreed the one who lost his queen would honorably abandon the pursuit.
    I planned to lose and feign retreat.
    He would rush to his beloved, victorious, yet unaware that her husband, who was presumed away, had been informed that her lover would be visiting that evening. The General would dispatch the Lieutenant to Botany Bay, after divorcing his wife.
    Game over.
    She could either follow him to a life of toil and exile, or realize that she loved me, after all.
    Queen mate.

    159 words
    @LucciaGray

  59. This one can be viewed two ways, although I have no clue if that’s apparent. I just had an idea and let it cart me off to it’s lair. Whether the echoes of my voice make sense, I have no frigging clue.

    Fight or Flight
    159 Words
    The two prepared to face each other hand to hand. Each had fallen at different times and bravely made it to their feet in defiance, only to fall again once the enemy pierced their resolve in landmark moves neither had been ready for. A fight for the ages, neither ready to concede defeat, they had drug one another through called bluffs and chicken challenges to this very altar so many had surrendered their independence on before. Who would win? Neither knew.
    The witnesses readied themselves.
    The band started up.
    And in one, the heart fluttered butterfly wings of independence bruised from the sudden instinct of flight.
    ♀ “TICK TICK, TI-CLICK.”
    ♂….
    ♀ “Um, Tick tick…”
    ♂ “ti-click.”
    ♀ “TICK TICK…”
    ♀ “Ti-tick… Tick?”
    ♀ “Ti-tick?? TICK!?”
    ♂ “Ti-click…”
    ♀ “TICK TICK, TICK-CLICK! Tick tick tick-click!”
    ♀ “Tick tick..”
    ♀ “Tick Tick?”
    ♀ “Tick! TIck! TICk TICK!!!”
    ♂ “TI-click.”
    ♀ “…….”
    ♂ “…….”
    And the preacher said, “I now pronounce you man and wife.”

    • Okay – I feel stupid for not getting your ‘tick tick ti-click’ detail, but I like the idea of marriage being compared to a game like this. Also, cool ‘male’ and ‘female’ images down the side! I’ve read and re-read this, and it means something different each time, so thank you for that. 🙂

      • Haha, I knew it was a stretch, but figured what the hell? Roll with it.
        The tick clicks are meant to be the alternating countdowns in a chess match. After each player moves, they ‘click’ the button so the other players countdown continues. But I wrote it so it would match the rhythm of the Bridal Waltz. Read it as music and the guy is scared. Read it as the ticks of a clock and the girl is scared.

      • Thanks! I thought it was a little too abstract to make sense, haha! As I said ^^ The tick clicks are meant to be the alternating countdowns in a chess match. After each player moves, they ‘click’ the button so the other players countdown continues. But I wrote it so it would match the rhythm of the Bridal Waltz. Read it as music and the guy is scared. Read it as the ticks of a clock and the girl is scared.

  60. A Game Betwixt us
    155 words
    @30secfantasy

    “That isn’t a valid move!” Archebald shouted and pushed himself away from the lacquered board.

    “Sure it is Archie, it’s called ‘En passant’. Look it up,” Buford leaned back on his velvet chair. He was in Archebald’s head now and there wasn’t anything poor Archie could do about it.

    Archebald was fuming. Buford was sure that if he threw water on him, it would vaporize into steam before it even hit his vest.

    “Computer!” Archebald screamed, “Load program F-33!”

    The computer chimed in compliance, and vanished away the chairs and table. Buford fell and hit the ground. With a woosh, the room was repopulated with a fencing piste. Their Victorian clothes were replaced by thick white jackets.

    “Well then,” Archebald pulled a mesh mask over his face, “Let’s see how you fare in this game.”

    Buford gulped when he noticed that Archebald was not joking and that his sword was definitely not a dull blade.

  61. Pawn’s Gambit

    Grandfather sags in the Obsidian Throne, sorghum wine staining his beard. Bamboo-straight, Mother perches next to him. Through silks, her belly swells even though Father’s been dead over a year. The image of pinched lips against my mother’s skin nauseates me, but I kowtow anyway.

    “Who brings this wretch before us?”

    Parqueted marble chills my brow, black and white as the tangle of skeletons before the Ivory Gate. “I bring word from the Ivory Empress.”

    Grandfather smirks. Mother’s fingers flutter like startled doves to her lips.

    “She demands audience of one worthy.” Bile rises with my gaze. Among the frigid bones of my brothers, I chanted ancient mantras to quell the rage of the Ivory Empress long enough to consider my gambit.

    “She will discuss an end to bloodline tribute.” I look pointedly at Mother’s abdomen. The priests and generals stir. The land has forever been under tribute.

    “We shall ponder this.”

    I bow and breathe into the tiles, Check.

    160 words
    Nancy Chenier
    @rowdy_phantom

  62. Opening Moves

    Judith replayed the transmission. Monochrome flashes lit up the guest room as if arguing with the lightning outside. If only Judith could penetrate the message.

    Downstairs, her brother raided their father’s pantry. The slam of cupboards made her teeth clench. After the funeral, I’m gone, she reminded herself.

    “That the ET thing?” her brother asked from the doorway.

    He held out a beer, but she ignored it. Ryan’s offers came with a price.

    He nodded toward the oil-slick windows. “Nice they brought us rain.”

    Not only to the parched prairies, but to drought-scathed regions around the globe. What they wanted in return was in that interplay of light and darkness.

    Ryan waved the proffered can at her.

    Judith spun back to the screen. King’s Gambit. “They’re speaking chess,” she murmured. And we’ve unwittingly accepted it.

    They caused the droughts, she frantically typed, so we’d think they were saving us.

    She sent “Fischer’s Defense” to headquarters and prayed they’d play it.

    160 words
    Nancy Chenier
    @rowdy_phantom

  63. Identical Twins

    Clearing my head I began looking around. Three pawns and a rook lay near me on our bedchamber floor.

    Palms to my eyes only made it worse. I tried to command consciousness to return.

    I remembered four nights ago meeting Amelia. Actually Chadwick had seen her first. She was gorgeous. Instantly she became the object of our affections; another rivalry.

    For the last 19 years we had been both striving to acquire the same things. Mother had tried to stop the competition; but Father had said what didn’t kill us would make us stronger.

    A normal competition: best two out of three. The one worthy to escort Amelia to the King’s Ball would have to show financial stability- Double Attack Black Jack, athletic prowess- Around the World: Darts, and intellectual acuity- Chess.

    A tie score: the chess showdown.

    “Chadwick! Delwyn! Amelia is here!” Father was downstairs.

    Puzzled, I looked at my stained hands. “What was I doing with this dagger?”

    160 words
    Roger Shipp
    rogershipp.wordpress.com
    This is my first try at entering. I hope I did it right?

  64. Undefeated
    (150 words)

    We played together, my brother Alexei and I, each Tuesday evening, 7:00 on the dot. He would win, he would gloat, and then I’d pour him his victory scotch. But it wasn’t just the game he won. It was hearts, especially the ones I longed for. It was mother’s love and father’s pride. Every battle, no matter how insignificant or how astronomical, was his glory and my shame.

    Until the day I added a surprise ingredient to his victory scotch. Arsenic always leaves a lasting impression. He drank it down and I had finally won.

    Or so I thought.

    “Checkmate, brother.” Alexei grins beneath his beard, ever bushier than my own. No matter where I go, or how well I hide, whether under my bed or behind the sanitarium’s locked doors, every Tuesday evening the thing that was my brother finds me. And he defeats me, even from the grave.

    ~Taryn Noelle Kloeden
    @tnkloeden

  65. Resignation
    @WillWallyWonder
    159 Words

    Eirwen paced, “So it is true?”

    “Yes, my Queen. The King is set to admit defeat, if you do not intervene-

    “Forgive me,” The knight’s bow deepened as he heard the insolence in his own voice, “but the King does not know we have secured King Kali’s west tower. Despite our own losses, we have infiltrated his defences.”

    Bishop Bai moved to The Queen’s side, “Are you sure this is wise?”

    “I’m not made of glass.” Eirwen silenced the bishop with a raised hand. ” I must go.”

    “But The King insisted-”

    “The King believes he’s protecting me, but he underestimates my strength.”

    “We are low on horses,” The knight said moving to his feet, “Please take my own.”

    “I can move faster without it,” The Queen smiled, “Your horse can’t keep a straight line-“

    “Olivia!” Jack snapped, knocking over his king, “Play properly!”

    She jumped to her feet with Eirwen raised to the sky, “The Black King surrenders!”

  66. A Pawn for a King
    (158 Words)

    It amused Grög endlessly. He chuckled, a guttural roll. Mischief was his favorite pastime.
    “What do you think, Sirek?” He asked, smug and resting scaly hands on his girth.
    “It’s very…pointless,” Sirek intoned, lip curled in disgust. Conquer Earth and this is what he does!
    Grög snorted a putrid gas out of his nostrils causing a tiny human riding a hobby horse to topple over.
    “It’s amusing!” He growled exasperated. In many ways, Sirek his second in command, was also his worst nemesis.
    “Don’t you see the irony?” He gestured at his handiwork, 32 humans, painted white or black, and all encased by static force fields, trying to claw free.
    “They loved this game!” Grög bellowed. “What’s it called…?”
    Sirek let him puzzle over it, slipping his hand toward the hidden shank.
    “Oh yes!” Grög brightened. “They call it —”
    Shank met throat and his eyes were fixed in shock. Slowly, the mountainous body fell toward the masterpiece.

    • Oooh, the image of real humans on the board is creepy, but awesome. Well done! Thank goodness Sirek’s quick action kept you from failing the no-“chess” challenge! 😉

  67. Youthful Zest (160 words)
    @brett_milam
    #FlashDog

    “Fuck,” slipped out of my mouth and before I had the chance to reel it back in, mom’s wedding-fingered backhand collided with my seven-year-old lips.

    I’d heard a kid on my bus say it. At the dinner table, I elbowed my glass of milk off the table by accident. Splatter. Fuck. Backhand.

    Mom had her hand on my collar, face over the sink. Soap in mouth. The ocean breeze filled my gums and lathered my tongue. I coughed, spat, gagged. In my head: fuck fuck fuck.

    Week later, mom came home. Dishes still in the sink. Under my breath: fuck. She heard. Backhand. Sink. Gag.

    Then I’d say fuck because I liked the way it vibrated my lips. Because fuck the soap.

    Tit-for-tat, I did “something” wrong.

    Head in sink. No soap. She switched. Pants down. Ass out. Switch on flesh. “Fuck” is stuck in my throat, too heavy to heave out in defiance.

    Nowadays, I missed the ocean breeze.

  68. Quickplay Finish

    Mai Fisher supposed one day there would be no Cold War, that the perestroika and glasnost bandied about by the Soviets would achieve something. Here and now, though, she’d made the opening move, which someone would counter. She’d respond, and so on, ad infinitum.

    Most of the time, the game was easy because she was the champion (cue Freddy Mercury, here), and the adversaries sent against her were no competition.

    Mere pawns?

    Never. The king may have to be the last one standing, but the queen was the most powerful piece on the board.

    “You should know better than to play this game with Russian.”

    Mai smiled; when the match involved Dmitri Kargin, the challenge was a worthy one. Their score stood about even; it would be nice to go one up.

    “I am sorry to say, Check,” he called to her.

    She settled the rifle at her shoulder, sighted her target, finger on the trigger.

    “And mate,” she murmured.

    @unspywriter (Maggie Duncan)
    160 words

    *“Quickplay finish” is another term in that-which-shall-not-be-mentioned for sudden death.

  69. “These Brave Champion Birds”
    By Elisa @averageadvocate
    160 words
    ————————–

    Winter came upon them like a rainbow; their minds had been dancing in preparation.
    Finally they found themselves in the “Coughing Lair” as they called it, cigar fumes so rich and red.

    Taking their seats they wondered, “Why do all these fellows always think they’re the best?” Their fingers alternated pushing pieces and twiddling their facial hair, making it rather crooked. The laughter molted-off them as in silence they smirked.

    Perchance they weren’t pitted equally, but it was doubtless who’d win. One move, one stop closer, the previous partner moping onward to the bar. Then they plowed forward and through the next, exchanging glances over the mossy hair.

    Finally, at the table they met. “Can’t they tell we’re sick of being nestled in homes, with no right to vote? It’s not as though everyone births babies by the click,” the women guffawed. One loosened her binding and the other slammed her drink back, silent shock reverberating through the men’s lounge.

  70. The War Masters
    153 words

    The two War Masters sat around their table. A game board was spread between them. Every time a war was held, the old nemeses Dask and Tafen would duel at the game. That game decided the course of the war. Dask took Tafen’s knight and Tafen winced as he imagined a fleet of ships sinking slowly beneath the waves. Tafen countered by taking one of his opponent’s pawns. At that exact moment a platoon of soldiers fell on the field of battle.

    On and on the game went, as pieces were taken and armies were depleted. Tafen’s rook was taken and a city was captured. Tafen’s pawn reached Dask’s side of the board, and a prison was stormed and its prisoners liberated. However, every war ends, so every game ends. Dask put Tafen in checkmate and a king was overthrown. The pieces were reset, preparing for the next game, the next war.

    By Ian Phillips, age 13

  71. AVALANCHE

    Russification: the bane of Georgia. Georgians believed their ancient spirits of departed royalty would ward off the impending encroachment of Russia. They hoped and prayed, and the venerable souls listened.

    “Nestan, do you hear the plight of our dear countrymen?” Shalikash queried.

    Nestan replied, “I feel their pain. We shall empower two journalists, two men who inspire.”

    Shalikash also sent a great storm of pea gravel within the Georgian rain. Coins reached the earth.

    In an attempt to assess this conundrum of sudden wealth and looming death from the north, the journalists appealed to the sensible hearts of the people. Build a bank.

    A fortress of finance grew rapidly to accommodate Georgia’s treasures. The two good men, now fiduciaries, decked the bank façade and halls with statuaries of past luminaries.

    And Shalikash concluded, “Our people honor us for the avalanche. The Ruskies will only perceive an avalanche of rock, a barren terrain, not good for man or plant.”

    WC = 158, exclusive of title

  72. A Fearless Heart
    (159 words)

    Before leaving their house for the harvest festival, mother and father look in on their son. Sitting alone at the board, moving stark white and stark black pieces, orchestrating the game in an 8-by-8 world in which nothing is left to chance. Sounds of festival merriment come through the walls. Cheers, laughter, music.

    “He is our son,” says the mother.

    “Leave him be,” says the father. “He doesn’t want to come.”

    “I know,” she says. “Why leave his game behind?”

    Sensitive to the hurt in her voice, the father feels need to explain. “He’s becoming an expert. He goes to the city, he can make wealth by winning tournaments.”

    The wife turns her eyes into her husband’s. “Did it take wealth to win me?”

    Before the stammering father responds, the mother says, “He plays alone day and night, but his real nemesis is life. I don’t want him to build wealth, I want him to build a fearless heart.”

  73. Game over
    151 words
    @tilley_girl

    I stared in silence at him. My nemesis. The thorn in my side. The competitor that pushed me to the limits of my ability, that challenged my intellectual confidence, that left me feeling like a schoolboy with a smirk at a particularly clever move on my part. Or so I thought. I was rarely as stealthy as I believed.

    Hours, days, weeks, months, years of my life spent across the table from him, watching the subtle play of satisfaction, irritation, smugness, delight, disgust play across his face according to the status of the game at any given point. Long fingers thoughtfully stroking his beard. Eyes twinkling as he looked up to smile at me before making a brilliant move.

    I squatted down and reverently ran my fingers over his name carved in the cold granite. My throat was thick and tears unexpectedly pricked at my eyes. “Good-bye old friend,” I whispered.

  74. @goldzco21
    #Flashdog
    157 words
    Lithium

    He starts by pushing the pawn with his index finger. He always moves his pieces that way. I move my first pawn by pinching the top and sliding it.

    We continue in silence for what seems like hours. Then he says, “Let’s talk,” and he pulls at his beard.

    “I don’t want to talk,” I respond. My hands tremble as I slide my rook.

    “We have to talk.” His middle finger pushes a piece, and his bishop takes my rook.

    “Leave me alone.” I push a pawn with my index finger.

    “It will make you feel better,” He says, rubbing his smooth cheeks. She drops her queen and captures my pawn. They grin. “Check.”

    I slide my king left. An intense fear grips me and I move to the bureau for the pills. I swallow one dry and feel it cling to his throat. I hear a piece move and the girl in the mirror says checkmate.

  75. The Game
    Time was of the essence. His Nemesis. Every move had to be carefully planned and strategically executed. In this battle there was only one winner.
    The board was set , the pieces on motion. The White King’s army was ready to go as they advanced behind their primary line.
    The Knights moved boldly to intercept any threats to their King and Queen. The bishops had taken their places, ready to be put into danger for the Royalty they represented. The rooks moved swiftly to secure the Black King’s corridors. The battle was placed conclusively nearing the finale.
    The black King threw everything that he had into his last gambit. The white King was ready for the for the move and counteracted with one of his own. One of the White Kings pawns had reached the Black Kings side. He turned to the White King with a wink and said : “Checkmate.”
    149 words
    Lissette
    Lissette@ Twitter

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