I Beat Myself at Chess (revised)

There we sat, myself and I, at a small folding table in the  middle of the lab beside the main, l-shaped workbench. The lab was empty – always was – except  for the two of us. My life’s work was scattered across every table. The  computers hummed and the fluorescent lights buzzed. It wasn’t as organized as I  usually kept it, but my focus was centered on the rooks, queens, and kings in  front of me. It was my move. I moved my black rook over three spaces. Then my  life’s work spoke.

“You know, what you’ve done is highly controversial?” I  asked from across the board. I  made a move — white pawn up two spaces.

I peered around the empty lab, taking stock of all the  investments — the technology, the supplies, the freezer; it all cost so much.  Then I looked at the outcome. I looked at myself sitting there, planning my  next move, my index finger and thumb scratching my cheek. “It was worth it,” I  said.

“What’s it like outside?” I asked.

“Not sure,” I said, “I haven’t left the lab in a few months.  I have almost everything I need to survive down here.” I made a move — black  bishop across four spaces.

“So why’d you do it?” I asked. “Cure cancer? Paralysis? MS?”

Again, I peered around the room, filled with its machines  and computers and microscopes, and chemicals. The fluorescent lights did half  their job; there were a lot of dark, cold spaces. Magazines, journals, and  notebooks were stacked fifty and sixty issues high, creating moveable and  immoveable walls. In all of that stuff, that rubbish – the records of my life –  there was not one instance of a personal life, an outside life. I noticed this  myself, and I know I noticed it from across the table.

“No family? I asked and moved the white King.

“Mom passed away two years ago and dad passed when I was a  teenager,” I said. “How about you?” I moved my black pawn up a space.

I laughed as I moved one of my white knights and picked up a  black pawn. “I’ve got what you’ve got, just none of the experiences. “

“You’re beating me though,” I said. I had only captured four  of his white pieces; he had nine of my black pieces. I moved one of my pawns  forward a space.

“You gave me life. You haven’t helped me live. So, why’d you  really do it?” I asked again and moved a white queen to the right one space.

“Like I said, I have almost everything I need to survive  here. I need someone to play chess with,” I said. I moved my black knight over  two and up one, and then I watched myself make a move — white knight, up and  over to the left.

“Checkmate,” I said. “I win.”

“I guess we do,” I replied. “Let’s play again.”

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About mattdevir

I live with my wife – and inspiration – in Point Pleasant, New Jersey. I have written and produced television shows for The Discovery Channel, TLC, HGTV, and Baby First Television. In addition to reading my work here, you can also find it on Fictionaut.com, Istanbul Literary Review, and Pure Slush. I have many nicknames – Benny, Baber, and Beaver being the most popular. Every now and then someone calls me Faber. Feel free to use any of those. I understand my last name is a bit tough.
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