Checkerboard

"The players take their seats, opposite each other, a table between them.
Black versus white.
Good versus evil. If you want to be melodramatic.
The game begins."

But, inevitably, the game must end.


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4. Theories

Bishop to E4

The players are weary. They are anxious for the came to conclude, but the pieces will not allow it.

The players are confused as how to proceed; there are many paths ahead of them.

Many paths leading to many places. Many desicions.

King to E5.

 

By the time I get to the spinney centre, it is one o'clock and I know Kelly is impatient. As I stroll through the gleaming automatic doors and am sucked into the mass of people within, I can picture her typical look of annoyance; eyebrows raised, lips pursed and eyes just daring me to ask for forgiveness.

You don't mess with Kelly Bishop.

Or, more precisely, I don't mess with Kelly Bishop.

She may be my best friend, but she scares me peeless.

Like the time she drove her dad's car into the duckpond because he wouldn't by her a pony. Like the time she 'accidently' blew up the chem labs on the day of our end-of-years. And, worst of all, the time she hacked into the local police data base and set up our gym teacher with 472 upaid parking tickets, because she didn't make Kelly hockey captain.

I think that sums her up pretty well.

I grin at the memories and push my way through the crowd until I reach a shabby shop with an even shabbier sign proclaiming 'Leopolds; finest coffee since 1988'. Well, I know for a fact that Leo Fisher opened the cafe in 2003, but their coffee is pretty legendary, and it's mine and Kelly's favourite hang out, so I creak the door open. Inside, the light is dimmer and the air is stuffy. I weave my way through the mismatched collection of rickety tables and three-legged chairs to the table in the far corner where, as expected, Kelly is waiting.

Oddly enough, she doesn't look angry. Or impatient. Or downright scary. Or any of the other looks I've come to associate with my friend.

She looks scared.

And a little excited. A lot excited in fact.

But still scared.

And the instant I sit down, I know why.

"What do you think?" she bursts out, before I've opened my mouth. "You know, about, well, everything. The disapeerances. I mean, I've heard a lot of theory's, but-"

"Hi Kels, it's good to see you too." I smile and her impulsiveness, trying not to let on that I too, am more than a little unerved.

"Oh shut up Tassy this is important. 'Cos Jessie May's saying they've been abducted by alien's and Colin Firthby swears that some evil scientists kidnapped them for experiments and stuff. And you know what Hayley Collinsby's saying? She heard that they've all been smuggled into Paraguy for a top secret mission for the CIA!!!! But you wanna know what I think?"

I roll my eyes and tell her, "it doesnt matter what I say, you gonna tell me anyway".

Kels just gives me a look and talks over me.

"I've got my own theory about, ya know, stuff, and I think you'll be pretty impressed, I mean, it's better than Colin's, much more realistic. You see -"

"Kelly, spit it out."

"Fine, I think, the people are being murdered."

And just like that, the atmosphere changes.

There is something about the word, murder, isn't there? Go on, say it, out loud, now; murder. Real slow. Muuuur-deeerrr. Roll it around your tongue. Enunciate it.

Feel the presence of death.

Sitting here in this cafe, Kelly and I feel it. It sends shivers down our backs, tightens our throats, and suddenly, the steaming mugs in front of us don't look bearly so appetising.

Murder.

Even Kelly has no wisecracks as she realises what I am realising; that she is most probably right. Unequivocably, irrevocably right. Horribly right.

And if she is, there is very little we can do about it.

We stare at each other's wide eyes for a few moments before I break the silence.

"Kels." The tone of the conversation has changed. "D'you get that feeling that, ya know, there's something more? I mean, you read about murders, hear about them, but you never expect them to happen to you. It's like it's a movie, and we're waiting for someone to give us our next line."

"Kel gives a rueful smile, and when she speaks, her usual spark is gone. "I know what you mean. It feels like someone is playing with us; I mean, therea all these rumours going round, and I get the feeling that someone's laughing at us all, waiting for us to figure everything out. Playing with us; except it's not a game."

No, I think. It's not a game. But whatever it is, it scares me. And from the look in Kelly's eyes, it scares her too.

It scares everyone.

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