This is strange.
Doc took a break from his reminiscences. His pique at not being the boss in this cell hole had eased enough for him to see the strangeness. I’m in a prison that doesn’t look like a prison, held against my will by people who say they’re determined to help me do what I want to do. It doesn’t make sense. Then, remembering what little learning of chess he had, he came to a better line of thought: So what sense would it make if the moves were being played by someone who wasn’t crazy?
This helped. Maybe someone wanted the TM technology. Hell, there was no “maybe” about that possibility; anyone who knew about it seemed to want it. But is that why he was a prisoner? Who was moving the pieces? And maybe, like the man said, there was someone out to get him. But whom had he offended so badly that it could cost his life or require protection by someone he didn’t know? Who was greedy enough to risk a war with the goose that laid the golden tech? Or maybe someone wanted him out of the way so they could take over TLC? In that case the person behind the curtain could be Bozworth, or Steiner, or their old boss at TBC, or some even more ancient enemy.
No. It couldn’t be Eddie. Eddie Forest was his closest, oldest friend, and they had served together in the Army when Major Little was Captain Little.
Whoever his opponent was, Doc had no sure idea what his moves aimed at, which in chess is a really good sign that you are going to lose.
But he did have a plan.
He got up, stretched, ambled into the bathroom, and closed the door. He tried to do all of this while looking as much as possible like a man whose only plan was to go to the bathroom. He was not well practiced at faking things, and didn’t want to be, but it was his plan, and it seemed to be working: Mr. Raspy Voice had not made any noise.
Silently he took up the drinking glass. Noisily he lifted the lid of the necessary fixture. Then he held the open end of the glass against a wall and leaned with his ear hard against the bottom of the glass. It sort of worked. The glass amplified any sound that wanted to come through the walls. Quickly checking spots around the outer walls of the room he would stop only when he could make out any conversation. The first voice he heard wasn’t his raspy adversary. So probably there were several captors, unless there was only one, who had a camera in the bathroom, and was faking even the muffled conversation. He chose to dismiss that idea as paranoia. What else could he do?
“…marine sinecure Nemo,” Said one garbled voice. Doc pressed his ear more firmly against the glass and took his hand away.
“Snot working,” said a voice somewhat louder.
“He’s up,” said Mr. Raspy Voice. “Beeler.”
Doc didn’t press his luck. He replaced the glass exactly. Then he finished his business in square two and returned to the more comfortable seat in square one, thinking about what move Raspy might make next, and what other plans he himself would like to try.
When some time went by without a move from his opponent, he resumed his examination of the past....
A Literary historical science fiction mystery
Table of Chapters
Chapter 0. Problems
Chapter 1. Headaches
Chapter 2. Happy Holidays
Chapter 3. Mr. Nice Guy
Chapter 4. The Brainless One
Chapter 5. A Little Crazy
Chapter 6. Grave Consequences
Chapter 7. Core Directives
Chapter 8. Expect Difficulties
Chapter 9. Caveats
Chapter 10. Mister Machine
Chapter 11. Good News, Bad News, El Cheapo
Chapter 12. New Memories ------------------------>
Chapter 13. Little Problems
Chapter 14. Lasers, Language, and Happiness
Chapter 15. Chatterbots
Chapter 16. Ready Or Not
Chapter 17. Not a Turing Test
Chapter 18. Reality Test
Chapter 19. Chess, Anyone?
Chapter 20. FOM
Chapter 21. Chairman of the Board
Chapter 22. The Usual Suspects
Chapter 23. M. God
Chapter 24. Walkabout
Chapter 25. Why
Chapter 26. First Blood
Chapter 27. More Machines?
Chapter 28. POV
Chapter 29. ROI
Chapter 30. Last Blood
Chapter 31. Don’t Want to Talk About It
Chapter 32. Round Table
Chapter 33. A Change of Mind
Chapter 34. Threes
Chapter 35. Knight Moves
Chapter 36. Little Combinations
Chapter 37. Can We Talk?
Chapter 38. Pas de Deux
Chapter 39. The Jig Is Up
Chapter 40. Good, Bad, Ugly Chapter 41. Function Goes On