Wednesday, May 13, 2009

A most frustrating game

This short story is a follow up to the original story, The Most Dangerous Game. If you haven't read that, read it here (

Without further a do:

A most frustrating game

Rainsford sat, waiting patiently for the sun to rise over the tropic canopy. Rest took him dreamily, the morning afterwards finding him in front of a lazy breakfast with the General. It seemed Zaroff was in an ecstatic mood, having finally met his match in wits and cunning. Rainsford and Zaroff sat across from each other in a well adorned and varnished table, clearly of old age and sentiment, contributing to the old fashion of the place. Slowly, Zaroff’s other varied servants and cooks brought in delicate foods of exotic value and some ever more familiar to an American appetite. As they set in, Zaroff began to speak, in a friendly manner, “My dear, Rainsford, it seems I have come to an impasse. You have beaten me in our game, but it seems it’s been itching at me for another go. Shall we?” he asks curiously, a toothy grin flashing across his face. In answer, Rainsford merely shrugged, looking over his breakfast concerned that if he would continue the conversation he’d never get to finish. Gulping a second helping of crepes, Rainsford answers back, small chunks of food blowing out of his mouth, “Ah, bu’ this time I ge’ to choose.” Zaroff nods, smiling, “Very well, it is your choice now, what would you choose?” Rainsford smiles and then gulps his food down, “Chess.”

After a few hours, Rainsford and Zaroff sat at the same table, at about mid-noon, a chess board laid out in front of them. Rainsford looks Zaroff in the eye and grins, Zaroff returning the look, though a bit less confident. With a few quick movements, the chess board is set and all the pieces are ready, Zaroff as black, Rainsford as white. Zaroff fingers a knight piece, deciding his first move, murmuring, “So, ah, what are your rules, Rainsford?” Rainsford smiles, “Just that I can continue to live here and that none who are shipwrecked will be harmed. You may challenge me as much as you want, but the game will always be chess, sir.” Zaroff raises an eyebrow, then shrugs, moving to place the piece as his first move, smirking mischieviously about his plan.
Ten moves later, Zaroff stares in disbelief at the board, almost not moving, barely even breathing as he takes his defeat. Not only had Rainsford beaten him once, but now it was twice. Rainsford grins and snickers almost incontrollably, gripping his sides and then standing to wink at Zaroff, “Ah, then, Zaroff, you’ve been beaten again. I’ll let you challenge me once more, if you wish.” And Zaroff, filled with disbelief, agreed to a new round, viciously placing his pieces back.
In another fifteen moves, Zaroff was left wanting, his king captured again. Rainsford merely chuckles, then steps off to find something else to do, “I’ll be off, then, challenge me any time, General Zaroff, I swear anytime you win I’ll appraise you.” Rainsford chuckles and then walks out of the room, leaving Zaroff flustered and red-faced. With a cry of anger and anguish, Zaroff knocks over the table, standing up in a furious rage, screaming, “Damn you, Rainsford! Curse you!” he wails.
There wasn’t another game of chess played in that house ever again.