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  1. Checkmate

    We decided to meet in New York City on New Year’s Eve. I enjoyed the sights and sounds of the city and had some of my best memories there. It was a rather chilly evening, so I had to remember to take extra items to keep myself as warm as possible. I was not from New York, actually quite a bit further south, so it always felt colder to me than it would for the locals. We had no plans on going to Times Square to watch another year pass. If you’ve seen one ball drop on New Year’s Eve, you have kind of seen them all.

    This particular day on the calendar is of upmost importance to me and the organization I headed up. This was the day that plans for the upcoming year were to be made. Unfortunately, the plans we had worked on for a number of months had to be negotiated, so nothing was carved in stone until these negotiations were complete. To make things worse, they always sent their top negotiator. My reputation for negotiations, much of it historical, was very well documented by the media.

    After walking a number of blocks, I finally arrived at my destination. It was a hotel and as I entered through the front doors, two men noticed me and quickly made their way to where I was standing. They were very familiar to me as I had met them for these negotiations on several previous occasions. I preferred to negotiate alone, but they always had a number of people assisting their top negotiator. They escorted me to the elevators and when the first door opened we stepped inside. One of the men inserted a key and pressed the button for the penthouse suite. As I recall, they always used the top floor for every negotiations that had taken place in the past. They always hosted the negotiations.

    As we arrived at a door just off the elevator, one of the men opened the door for me and waved his hand as an indication that I should proceed. As I entered the large room, there were many other members of their negotiating team. One younger man asked if he could take my coat. Despite there being many people in the suite, the room was cool, so I kept my coat.

    I was offered a refreshment of my choosing. I chose to have my usual. I was shown to a table and decided to sit facing the windows of the penthouse suite. The table was not an ordinary meeting table, but rather one with just two chairs facing one another. I was handed my drink and took a small sip before resting it down on the table.

    A few minutes passed with a number of people rushing around taking care of last minute details. Finally, their top negotiator appeared. As he sat down, we exchanged pleasantries, yet the tension in the room made such pleasantries hollow. He was an elderly man with not much hair and a white beard. Before negotiations began, we always started our annual meeting with a best of seven series of chess. It was not necessary to have a coin flip to determine which of us would go first. As was customary, I always played the black pieces, meaning he would play the white pieces and thus would go first in all seven matches.

    As the room suddenly went silent, most of the people got a bit closer and began to watch. He put down his glacier fresh glass of water and picked up the first white pawn, the one in front of the Queen, moving it two squares towards me. A few watching had placed a hand upon their jaw, a gesture that would most be associated with the act of thinking. I quickly countered by moving a pawn one square forward to the G3 position of the board.

    As the evening progressed there were some close matches, but I had taken the fifth match, so I found myself up 3 matches to 2, with only one more win required to take the series. Feeling confident, I ordered a 2nd refill of my usual drink, a bloody mary. With the tension mounting, match six began. He had played a similar strategy all evening, but his first few moves of this match were not in-line with his previous patterns. I began to lose some confidence as I was unable to detect the strategy he was employing.

    With a number my key chess pieces lost, I suddenly saw an opportunity develop. Within minutes I had him in check, but he scrambled to avoid checkmate. However, he was showing the look of panic as we both realized that the win for me was inevitable. He could dodge the inevitability for a few more turns, but rather resigned. My smirk turned to a smile, which was quickly followed by a deep, sinister laugh that made my opponent get up from his chair and start consulting with his advisors.

    The chess board was removed and additional chairs were placed behind their top negotiator in two rows of five. As I basked in the glory of winning the series 4 matches to 2, he and his advisors each slowly took their seats. Due to winning the chess series, the negotiations were most definitely in my favour. I, in fact, had doubled my negotiating power. A slim, short man with glasses sat down between us and opened his laptop. He was the official recorder of the negotiations.

    Their top negotiator began by noting this was the annual negotiations for the upcoming year. With that he asked me what I wanted as my first step of the negotiations. I leaned back in my chair giving it some thought before announcing that I wanted a catastrophic event to take place for the upcoming year. He reminded me of the wars that were continuing into the upcoming year. I couldn’t disagree, but this wasn’t about what I had successfully negotiated in previous years, it was about new items for the upcoming year. He also reminded me that mother nature, with the help of climate change, generally took care of the catastrophic events. I agreed that she had been doing very well the last few years, but I reminded him that neither of us had any influence over her. There wasn’t a negotiation process with her, every decision she made was unilateral.

    I continued by requesting that a research lab technician would “accidently” create a new uncontrolled strain of the plague. That caught the attention of their top negotiator and caused quite a stir with his advisors. He asked how many, where and the duration. I replied by saying one billion, worldwide and at least five years. He responded swiftly by noting that I was out of my mind and wouldn’t agree to such senseless devastation of human life. After some heated negotiations, I begrudgingly agreed to ½ a billion, limited to two continents of my choice and completed in two years. I reminded him that my annual record chess series victory streak had now reached 78.

    And with another deep, sinister laugh, I reminded them all of just who I was.
  2. I very much enjoy writing, but haven't done much creative writing. Most of the writing I've done in the last 17 years has been with government and is often bureaucratic.

    I have about 5 potentially good ideas, in various conditions. i.e. some I've written outlines and complete chapters. Others are just ideas and not developed.

    I am new to blogs and creative fictional writing, thus I am looking for constructive feedback.

    The central character is male in 4 of the 5 ideas and they generally have at least a few characteristics of me. It seems a bit easier to start this way rather trying to develop a character that I can't relate much to.