It's 4 am, but I'm not going back to bed. Here's why:


The perspective character, we'll call him Jeremy, went to a supermarket and climbed down a long ladder through various levels of underground strata until he reached the level where the Opponent was. The game was played on a mechanical chessboard, and was similar to chess but slightly different.

Jeremy's perspective switches to that of a chess piece.

Jeremy, like the other pieces, is pyramidal. He is one of the smallest pieces on the board. A pawn. His mother is encouraging him to take the king.

Instead, Jeremy is taken. But the Opponent seems to be secretly helping him out, and due to an obscure rule, he is brought back into the game.

The Jeremy piece is now the tallest piece on the board; this makes him something like a bishop.

Jeremy is afraid he will be instantly taken again. It is not his turn to move, and he feels helpless. But a flurry of action surrounds him, and suddenly the action has moved away, downhill and in front of him. Pieces flicker in and out of existence, being taken and duplicated in rapid succession.

Suddenly, it's Jeremy's turn. He's confused, and looks with trepidation at the field. Again, the Opponent helps him: he points to a spot. Yes! This is the way!

The Jeremy piece runs to the square pointed out. Lights flash. Photographers hurry to take pictures of the wonderful scenario before the computer resets the chessboard.

The game ended in a tie. The press seems to be amazed. Ties must be very rare in this game.

The Opponent and Jeremy shake off the paparazzi and climb down another ladder alone together to lower levels. The Opponent is talking about the chessboard computer's superintelligence.

"We told it the police had taken one of its pieces. Within the hour, every station in the city had been brought to its knees."

They have reached the lowest level. The impression of the place is that it is being painted by the computer.

There are uneven swaths of black paint along the dimly lit tunnel wall, intermittently covering a black-and-white checkerboard pattern. The Opponent walks him down the tunnel, talking more to him about the computer's history, and tracing out patterns on the wall.

An invisible tension builds. They reach a section of wall still unpainted. On the level of the floor someone has written:

nO,

noT YOu

Jeremy sees the inscription, and on inspection sees that it wasn't written in paint. It is, of course, blood. He looks again. The whole checker pattern has been painted in the same material.

The Opponent pulls out a knife.

And that's the last thing Jeremy ever saw.