The chessboard
The chessboard short story stories
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A young man finds a mysterious chessboard set in his grandfather's attic, one he remembers seeing when he was but a kid. He soon discovers there is far more to it than meets the eye.

The chessboard

My grampa had passed away a few weeks prior.

Being his only living relative, I had no other choice but to be the one to go through his stuff and make the difficult decision of choosing what was to be kept and what sold or thrown away.

My grandfather and I had always shared a strenuous, complicated relationship. As my parents had passed away when I was a kid, I was forced to live with him from an early age.

It wasn't that he was a bad man... he was just complicated and set in his ways. Having a kid rushing around the house he kept so immaculate ruined his daily life.

Still, going through his things and sorting out what I wanted to keep was emotional, so I decided not to rush the process.

I took a few days off work and began speaking with a realtor to potentially sell the house soon.

The attic was my first stop, and I was surprised by how cluttered it was. My grandfather's house was immaculate, always pristine and tidy, but the attic was another story altogether.

Sighing, I began moving stuff around, trying to make sense of everything he stored up there.

That was when I saw it: Covered with a glass box, the old chessboard set I hadn't seen since I first moved into grandpa's house, over 30 years ago.

He had stored it away in a huff about a month after my arrival, due in no small part due to my fascination with it.

The pieces were so intrinsically carved, and I wanted so badly to learn to play the game, but he refused to let me put a finger on it.

One day, as he discovered me trying to grab one of the towers, he snapped violently at me and I never saw the set again. I figured he had just thrown it away.

And yet there it was: Set neatly when everything around it was in a state of disarray.

I figured it was as good a time as any to do what my childhood self had wanted to do so badly, and removed the glass box, carefully setting it on the floor.

I grabbed a pawn and moved it forward, setting it on the square right in front of it.

The pawn felt surprisingly icy under my fingers, even if it was almost 30° C outside.

I tried to move another piece... but it wouldn't bulk.

No matter how many I tried to move, they were stuck. I figured my grandfather had glued them all in place and forgotten about that one pawn.

Shrugging to myself, I covered the chessboard once more and thought what a waste of a perfectly good set doing that was.

I kept working all through the day and slept in my old bed that night.

The following morning, as I stepped up into the attic, something immediately caught my eye: The chessboard was no longer covered, and a pawn from the other side of the board had been moved.

I thought about calling the cops, but after making sure nothing else was missing and that all the doors and windows were locked,

I figured they'd call me a nutjob if I tried to explain what happened. So I returned to the chessboard, my hand trembling as I tried to move another pawn forward.

Much to my surprise, I was able to do so with no further issue.

Only once I set it down, it became impossible to move any other pieces.

You can imagine how slow the rest of the day dragged on for me.

It was dawn when I rushed into the living room the next morning, where I had set the chessboard after much deliberation.

Lo and behold, another piece had been moved.

I don't know if I should keep playing... I'm not sure what'll happen if I lose.

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