In the building was abandoned, the rooms upstairs were still warm but the electricity still didn’t work. The elevator that would not open and the buttons that would not light up was proof enough of no electricity. Because of this, they all had to climb up many flights of stairs despite the fact that they knew that their feet would eventually get tired of climbing.
Cecylja and Filipina had to go in front of Jiling Miyu by the threat of being blown to pieces by his glimmering, golden bazooka even though their Asian captor was fully aware that if he blew them to pieces on the spot, he would get killed himself by the collapsing of the building.
At that moment, Cecylja took off her glasses and saw that one of her lenses fell off. She looked back to see if the lenses were anywhere but she didn’t see them.
“Sir,” she asked Miyu “I think one of my lenses fell off. Can we go back?”
“No.” he answered sternly.
She sadly put her glasses into her front pocket.
I am probably going to die here anyway so I won’t be needed them where I am going she thought to herself.
The stairs were made of cement but the railings and the walls were painted red; as the three of them walked up higher the colors of the railings and walls grew darker and darker until they reached the top story of the building where everything was black. Such change of colors gave Cecylja and Filipina the impression that they were being swallowed by a monstrous creature and fueled even more fear into them of what their unknown trial was going to be.
“God, help us; I am afraid.” prayed Filipina in a low voice.
“Pray all you want Filipina Pajdak,” scoffed Miyu “angels, Jesus Christ, stories of the Bible, Allah, Yahweh, God, the afterlife - they are all characters and stories that are meant to give false hope. If there is a God or angel to rescue you then why didn’t they come earlier to stop me from luring you both into this building? Why did they let this happen? Why did they let me release the Hatchmen and spray poisonous gas upon everyone?”
“Because it’s our fault,” Cecylja replied “all our fault.”
The man’s footsteps then silenced and the stairs behind them stopped creaking. The two cousins realized this so they stopped as well and looked back at him.. He looked at both of them with a confused glare. Cecylja was expecting him to lash out on Filipina or worse, immediately blast them with the bazooka. He didn’t do anything to them but just stood there.
“What do you mean that it’s all our fault?” he questioned “Who are you talking about?”
“By all of us, I mean all of us humans,” answered Cecylja “when Adam and Eve disobeyed God and listened to the devil by eating the fruit of good and evil, they sinned and carried sin and evil into the world. By doing this, we all inherited the original sin and started to sin. The fault is ours, not just Adam and Eve’s, we choose to do evil deeds despite the fact that we know those deeds are morally wrong. We humans declare wars, choose to steal another country’s territory by force, and inflict unspeakable acts upon people. We choose to lay off people from their jobs, take the money that is left from the company to satisfy our greed, move the company elsewhere with much lower wages, and leave the jobless people on their own in the streets. We choose to make a profit yet pay little to our workers therefore making them poor. We choose to insert drugs into our bodies while carelessly letting them damage our organs. This also means that you can choose to torture and murder us Mr. Miyu.”
“Then why doesn’t your god stop these things from happening?” he questioned skeptically as they exited the stairway and entered a dark hallway; he took out his smart phone and brighten the pitch-black hallway. The hallway had many wooden doors with white signs nailed into the top of them; although Cecylja was wearing her glasses, she couldn’t decipher the printed, black words on the white signs. The end of the hallway was a door with a darker, rectangular spot on where a white sign should have been. “He could just stop all these things you know. Does he want humanity to suffer?”
Jiling Miyu walked to where the exit to the staircase was, put down his golden bazooka, and pulled out a metal gate; the gates clanged as he shut them. He then hoisted up his weapon on his shoulders but this time it was backwards; he turned around and went in front of the young adults. The cousins didn’t want to walk anymore because their feet and legs were already sore from walking; they would complain to Miyu but they knew the consequences of complaining.
“No sir, God does not want us to suffer” answered Filipina as she and her cousin followed Miyu straight towards the door at the end of the corridor “God lets all these things happen but he does not like such evil deeds being committed. He gave us free will which means that we could be able to do anything without control; however, the purpose of free will was to help others, do good deeds, and love and serve God as well as others in a genuine way. Yet if we are free to do good things we can also be capable of using that free will to commit sin as well. He gave us free will out of love.”
The three of them all reached the end of the corridor but before Miyu could turn the knob and open the door, he faced the cousins while making perfect eye contact. Cecylja and Filipina both looked away; they did not like eye contact because they were grew up talking to people without making eye contact. Also, having someone stare straight at them in the eyes made them uncomfortable; it reminded them of a gazing at a snake that was gazing back while posing for a strike.
“I still have some unanswered questions but right now we don’t have time for that because I have a game that I want to play with you.” he said. He turned the door knob, opened the door, and made a hand gesture to the door “Ladies first.”
As they entered the room, Cecylja and Filipina both wondered what horrors Miyu might inflict upon them. The entire room was very small and filled with lit, white, wax candles that brightened most of the room. The floor was covered with a green carpet; there was a turned off television sitting on a wooden drawer and a bed with puffy covers across the television; near the boarded window was a plastic table with a board game that Cecylja couldn’t make out. When Cecylja turned to her left, there was a dark room that presumable led to the restroom. It was a hotel room.
“Now let me go over about is going to happen,” said Miyu as he walked over to the table. He gestured the two young women to follow him; they hesitatedat first but then they obeyed him. On the plastic table was a three-way chessboard with the pieces already in their places. “we are going to play a game of three-way chess. Do I need to explain to you the rules?”
“Yeah,” Cecylja and Filipina both answered in unison.
Exactly what is this weird man trying to do? thought Filipina to herself. Is he trying to waste our time so that we cannot save people who are being killed by poisonous gas?
“Have you girls ever played chess with only two sides?” asked their Asian captor.
“I forgot the rules,” replied Filipina “I haven’t played chess in a long time.”
“All right,” he said. He pointed to the piece that was a crown with a cross on top “This is a king; the king can move anywhere he wants to but he can only take one step at a time. The only way to win chess is to take out your opponent’s king but at the same time you have to defend your king. You can use your pieces to destroy the adversary’s army and take out the king but you can also use your pieces to defend your king and your army. If I am about to use a move that will take out your king on my next turn, I have to warn you by saying ‘check’.
This piece that is a crown with pointed, triangular edges, is a queen; she can move wherever she wants to and take unlimited amount of steps but she cannot jump over any pieces until she takes them out one at a time. The horses can move in an ‘L’ shape; it must take three steps straight and one step up, down, left or right. The pieces that look like towers or fortresses (called bishops), can only move straight, horizontally or vertically; they can also take as many steps as they want. The rooks can only move diagonally but they can take an unlimited amount of steps.
Finally, the pawns can only move one step at a time. Pay attention because this is where it can be complicated; pawns are complicated pieces. At the beginning of the game, the player who plays first can move two steps forward but only at his first turn. The piece can only move forward but when it is about to take out a piece, it can only attack it diagonally. To rephrase this, move forward but don’t attack forward and attack diagonally but don’t move diagonally. Three-way chess has the same rules as two player chess except that you will have to take out two kings instead of one.”
“All right I understand and um…not to talk back… sir but what is exactly the point of this game that you want to play with us?” asked Filipina.
“I was just about to tell you that,” answered Miyu. He gestured the two young ladies to sit down and they did but reluctantly “If you, Filipina Pajdak, win this game, you, your cousin, and your cousins, Lilka and Brunon, will go free and I will spare your lives. You can never report me to the police because I know someone who can find you easily and kill you; he wears a Lil’ Wayne Hood and he is one of my superiors. You two remember him right?”
Shock came over them and made them snap to their senses like cold water splashed on someone’s face.
“Y-yeah,” Filipina said with a shudder.
“Cecylja Pajdak,” he continued with his Chinese accent deepening “if you win, I will spare your life, Filipina’s life, Lilka’s life, and Brunon’s life however you will be sent to my boss so he can turn you into his Hatchmen and make you work for him.”
“Hatchemen sir?” asked Cecylja confused.
“Those men and women in suits that are spraying poisonous gas outside.” he answered as he smoothed his pencil moustache with his fingers “But if I win, I will blast both Lilka and Brunon on the spot with this baby bazooka and I will force you to sleep with me whether you like it or not. Do we have a deal…well actually of course we do since you two don’t have a say in this.”
“What if we say no…sir?” questioned Cecylja as she crossed her arms “I don’t want to play this game and I want my cousins back now.”
“You cannot back out,” he said as he grinned sinisterly and further highlighted his accent. “If you were to refuse to play my game, I would make you play the game the painful, heart-wrenching, hard way. Also, you may not lose on purpose Cecylja; if I find out that you will put an effort into this game of chess, I will execute you on the spot with my handy Colt M1911 pistol that I have in my pocket. I am a very clever man and I have studied human behavior before both from college courses, from training, and from experience so I will know when you will be helping your cousin and when you will try to win. Don’t you forget that.”
Cecylja looked at Filipina, hoping that she knew a way out of this charade but she didn’t seem to have a plan. Cecylja exhaled a deep breath. There was no way out.
“All right let’s play chess.” said Cecylja.
“Good, good,” the man said as he pushed the already set up board game in the middle of the table and leaned forward. “I am the brown pieces, you are the white pieces, and Filipina Pajdak will be the black pieces.”
The cousins both leaned forward and put their hands on the table. Filipina had exhaled a deep breath. Jiling Miyu straightened his red tie and fedora. Cecylja made the sign of the cross and a short prayer. They all put their hands on the pieces. Jiling Miyu moved the brown pawn that was in front of the king two steps forward to E4.
The game had begun.
Everyone was silent and still. They all had leaned toward the chessboard, calculating their moves on the keyboard. As Cecylja chewed her fingernails, Filipina had looked at all her pieces and pondered carefully; she moved her left horse three steps forward and one step to the right. Now it was Cecylja’s turn. Her nerves were clouding her concentration; she didn’t want to play this game but she knew that this way the only way to save her cousins. She moved the pawn in front of the bishop one space forward.
Miyu almost looked excited; perhaps he was arrogant and had many years of experience in chess or because he had already mapped out a winning chess game that was foolproof. Jiling Miyu dropped his smile but he did not frown. Neither Filipina nor Cecylja could tell what plans were under their captor’s fedora. Jiling Miyu then moved his pawn that was in front of the rook one step forward. He folded his hands together with his fingers intertwining each other, and laid his chin on them.
Exactly what plan does Miyu have in mind? Filipina thought in frustration. Filipina examined the man’s pieces that were set up on the chessboard but she couldn’t quite determine what plan he had. Perhaps it is part of our captor’s plan to make both of us nervous so that we could lose the game? I already know that we are not going to win this game but who knows? I might win. Hmm...I will just move the pawn in front of the queen and release the queen in my next move.
Minutes slugged by painfully slow and had felt like hours. Filipina’s nerves were burning holes inside her brain slowly becoming one big hole; she knew she had to keep calm before her focus short circuited and blacked out. No, she was not going to lose; she was going to win. She exhaled and moved to the pawn to make way for the queen.
Only confidence and faith can fan out my worries from my head she reminded herself I shall not lose Lilka.
It wasn’t long before pieces were being knocked out of the chessboard and set aside on the table. Cecylja had already lost six pieces in just a few minutes. She was barely an adequate player in chess but she never gave up in any of her games. She loved the game because it was an exercise of wits; though it was always her goal to win games in chess, she was not a sore loser. She had always accepted her losses and politely shook hands with her opponent at the end of the game as a sign of congratulation. Because she was good at losing, she had leaned on the optimistic thought that her cousin might defeat their opponent.
Filipina quickly moved her queen and knocked out Miyu’s horse! The piece rolled pathetically on the checkered board and she picked it up, setting it aside on the plastic table. Miyu did not seem to show a hint of shock or anger instead he kept his poker face.
Cecylja then found out what Miyu was trying to do - he was using the techniques of Fool’s Mate and Scholar’s mate! Such techniques were always used by chess masters to quickly and efficiently win chess games. She wanted to warn Filipina about this but she knew that if she cheated or helped her cousin she would be shot before she could even finish her sentence. In just a fe moves, she eliminated the pieces needed to achieve Fool’s Mate and Scholar’s Mate. Cecylja would rather lose to Filipina than to Miyu but at the same time she tried her best to win.
As the game progressed, Filipina and Cecylja were advancing but so was Jiling Miyu. Pieces kept shifting across the board and getting knocked out from all sides. Piece after piece, both of the cousins closed in on Jiling Miyu’s king. His pieces were reducing in numbers. Miyu was close to losing and was surrounded. Filipina had said the words in confidence, “Check. Move your feet or lose your seat.” but after that Cecylja corrected with a snarky smile “Not seat, Filipina, he will lose his throne.”
Miyu broke his poker face and smiled cynically. He moved his chess piece away; it was safe from Filipina but in just one more move Cecylja would be able to say “check”. Miyu had said the word “check” and Cecylja had moved her king away into a safer place. Now it was Miyu’s turn, he moved his piece but not the king piece. Thud! Cecylja’s piece had fallen. She looked at her side of the board and stared in horror. Her king had fallen into a trap!
“There were other pieces that knocked out my king!” she exclaimed as he grabbed the roots of her hair. She kept staring at the pieces in disbelief. The rook had been taken out but the bishop had assassinated her king “Ohhhhh…no. How…did I not realize that?”
“Well, those are the rules of the game my sweetheart,” he explained with a hungry grin “there are no do-overs.”
Cecylja took a deep breath and accepted her loss. She took Miyu’s hand and shook it but she did not look at him or his hand. She had her eyes closed. She then propped up her forehead on her hand in disappointment. She had hoped Filipina would learn from her cousin’s mistake and take the win.
Filipina was left alone to fight off Jiling Miyu. She attempted not to reveal her fear through any facial expression but in vain. The lion was hiding in the bushes but the mouse was aware that it was preparing to pounce. Her confidence was fading and so was her concentration. Her nerves made her quiver and panic ran through her veins like rushing, lukewarm water. She couldn’t concentrate anymore. Her chess army was close to pouncing upon Miyu’s king but so was Miyu’s army to Filipina’s king. Her black king retreated from his position into a safer place on the chessboard. The mouse retreated before the lion could pounce.
As the game progressed, both of the duelists’ pieces split into different places on the chessboard; some went to defend their kings while the others moved to attack the enemy king. Thud! Thud! Thud! Brown pawns slayed black horses, black pawn fought against brown pawn, black rook against brown bishop. Enemies fell at their slayers’ feet. Their puppet masters stared into each other’s fiery eyes. Both showed no mercy to their adversary’s troops.
Their chess armies were collapsing. Their attackers and defenders were vanishing from the battlefield one by one. Hope and fear were clashing against each other in Filipina’s mind. Her cousin looked at both of the adversaries armies and then to Filipina. Her eyes were twinkling with hope and her smile spelt encouragement.
There are clear probabilities of me winning but my captor has a chance too thought Filipina to herself as she brushed off strands of her blonde hair off her cheek. Perspiration dripped from her palms and onto the checkered board. I hope that the chances are my side.
She moved her pawn across the board and toppled over the other pawn. He moved his pawn wiped out the same pawn that knocked out her other pawn; it was now two steps in front of the king. She moved a piece across the board and took out the pawn. Something unexpected happened! Both of the opponents stared at the arranged pieces in surprise; even Cecylja was stunned. There were two kings very close to each other but not close enough to knock one of the other out. Jiling Miyu and Filipina Pajdak were tied!
“I can’t believe it; it’s a draw!” exclaimed Cecylja.
Jiling Miyu then smiled but it was not a sinister smile; this time, it was genuine. He folded his arms together and looked at Filipina.
“Well,” he spoke “my beautiful, young nymph, I admit that I am impressed. No one had ever beaten me at chess before because I was too smart for them. But then again, no one had ever came to a tie with me.”
“So…now what?” asked Cecylja.
“Well, a draw won’t choose the outcome,” said Jiling Miyu as he clapped his hands together “so we will have to find a new way to settle this. Cecylja Pajdak, since you lost the chess game, this will only be between me and Filipina.”
“So then how shall will settle this…sir?” asked Filipina nervously.
“It will be brief but it will the one to settle it all,” he explained. “you will have to solve a riddle?”
“But I already burned out my brain with this game?” Filipina complained “Can we do something else?”
“Filipina Pajdak,” said Miyu coolly yet dangerously “remembered what we talked about with talking back to me?”
Filipina then realized this in shock and she clasped her hand to her forehead.
“Oh no!” she gasped “No, please don’t do this! Please I beg you!”
Miyu stood up from his table and approached Cecylja. His cold eyes stared into her eyes. Filipina ran to Cecylja to shield her but Miyu pushed her out of the way. He kneeled to Cecylja and lifted her chin. He gave her a smile that could make dogs run for their lives.