From 2015 when I published the August Proposal, I have made it a habit to publish an August-themed short story every August which saw me publish the August Meeting in 2016 and the August Lover in 2017. This is August 2018, I present you with the The August Visitor.
Knocks on his door annoy him. He hates knocks because it means he has to leave the coziness of his bed or the delight of music videos or the thrill of online chess to meet with a human being. The fact that this human might want something from him is an added twig to his pyre of annoyance. He hates interruptions, he hates visitors, he hates talking, he hates standing; heck, he hates himself a little.
When Bulus left the bed, he looked at his boxers and didn’t like the faint mound in the middle. Is the visitor the kind that won’t mind or the one he won’t care whether they minded or not? He hissed as he made for his three-quarters trousers. Another reason he dislike visitors is the uncertainty. He picked up the trouser on the pile of clothes he was to wash. He hates washing. As he wore the trouser, he hissed. He hates wearing anything longer than shorts. Why do humans even wear clothes and not remain naked like other animals? The conceit. And clothes cost a lot and many clothes salespeople are patronizing.
The knock landed on his door again.
“I am coming jare.”
He opened the door. The first thing he saw on the door was tallness. The fellow was somewhere around six feet three. Close second was the lack of flesh. The fellow was lanky with tiny hands, tiny legs and a small body frame that looked like a fixture on two sticks that served as legs. The third thing he noticed was ugliness. The man possessed large eyes with heavy eyebrows, a pair of thick angry lips that struggled to remain closed, flat cheeks and a forehead that gave the impression of the bowl with which Fulani people serve fura da nunu.
“This nigger is ugly,” Bulus said in his mind.
“I know,” the man said. Rash voice, loud, uncultured.
“You know what?”
“You said I am ugly.”
“I didn’t say such.”
“Don’t deny it. I can read your mind.”
“Whatever. What do you want?”
“May I come in?” the man said,
“You may not. Say what you want and get lost.”
And the man began to laugh. Hohohohohohohoho. Very loud, sounding like a faulty grinding machine and revealing a large set of yellow shovel of teeth. Bulus just stood watching the man, half-amused by his stupidity and half-mad with having to interrupt his pleasure in bed to watch this mad man pollute the neighbourhood with his presence.
“Say what you want oga.”
“I must come in and you can’t stop me.” The man moved forward and Bulus stood his way. For one second. Bulus was average heighted and was a little higher than a midget before the fellow. He stood no chance with this giant of sticks, bones and foulness. The man stunk a little. Bulus gave way. The man sat before the only table in the room and crossed his leg with the arrogance of a rich man in a family meeting of poor men. Oh, how I hate this man.
“I know,” the man said. “Everyone hates me.”
This idiot can truly read my mind.
“I can. Give me Heineken,” the man said.
“I don’t have Heineken.”
“Don’t lie. I can see the entire contents in your fridge. You have a half-eaten loaf of bread, three eggs, two bottles of Pepsi, three cokes, one sprite, one stout, two Heinekens, tomatoes, four—”
“Enough!” Bulus gave him the beer. He felt so small and powerless before this man. Like a lance corporal before a major general. Bulus sat down on his bed. “What do you want?”
“I am the angel of death. Your time is up.”
Bulus heart stopped beating for a moment then began to pound on his heart as everything in the room began to dissolve into one giant whole of senselessness which began to close in on him, cutting his breath and forcing him to labor for air and begin to sweat. The man was laughing but Bulus couldn’t hear him, couldn’t see him clearly, just a shadowy figure jerking its head in fake hilarity. The nuts in his belly seemed to give way and he rose to his feet with giddy legs and make for the toilet.
Bulus remained in the toilet for minutes which panned out like hours. “Oh God, not yet. No, no,” he kept saying with a voice he didn’t recognize while searching the toilet for a weapon of sort. “Oh let this cruel joke pass, Lord.” A knock landed on the door. “Come out.” He opened the door immediately. It was the kind of voice that compelled obedience.
“I don’t want to die,” he pleaded.
“Well, it depends. I am considerate,” the man said as he led Bulus back to the main room. His grip on Bulus’ shoulder was unbearable and crushing. How can someone this skinny be so strong?
“I will give you a chance to keep your life. The last person I took was a housewife so I challenged her to a cooking competition. The one I took before then was a jobless youth with six packs so I challenged him to a weightlifting contest. Before then I took a boy after I won a rapping contest…”
“What will be my contest?”
“Chess. We will play chess. If I win, you die. If you win you keep your life.”
“If it is a draw?”
“You die because you will be playing white. So you have to win.”
This guy is nuts, Bulus thought as he made for his chess set. The man laughed. “I might be nuts I might not be. I strongly advise you don’t lose to find out.”
Bulus set the table in the centre of the room with shaky and sweaty hands. He set his two chairs so the men sat in either side. The man looked at the wall clock, quarter past eleven. “Ten minutes game. Your first move.”
What kind of game do you play to save your life? Bulus is an enthusiastic player and have played online nearly every day for the past one year and half and rated 1348 on chess.com and 1207 on Lichess blitz, far from a grandmaster’s level of above 2500 Elo rating. For all there is to know, this ugly bastard might be a grandmaster in real life which is far stronger than an online grandmaster.
“Be strong,” Bulus braved himself and moved a pawn two squares. C4, the English Opening. This was not an opening Bulus was crazy about but it was one that he had studied and analyzed so much and knew so many variations and loopholes and refutations. The mad fellow responded with e5.
Bulus sighed. Pawns are like men, their lives worth very little. And like men, they usually ended up dead or used as shield for stronger causes. Only one in ten pawns usually makes it to the end of the other rank to become a queen. Bulus played knight to c3. All his life, from primary school to date his little progress had been similar to that of a knight’s L move. Never perfect, always tinting at the end to failure. The man went with bishop to b4 attacking the knight threatening to capture the knight and double Bulus pawns. Bulus ignored this and went g3, preparing to introduce his light square bishop.
The man captured Bulus’ knight. Bulus forego recapturing and played bishop g2. A pause. The man looked at him with incredibility. In a way, this described Bulus’ relationship with most humans who take advantage of him when they are sure he was unable to retaliate. Bulus didn’t blink. Chess is a game of psychology. By shocking the man he had won strong physiological points and foxed the man about his true intentions. In chess, they say you have to see so many moves ahead. The man could read his mind so Bulus would only play the best move at a time, nay, the craziest move. I won’t lose this game.
“Don’t bet on it.” the man said as he withdrew his bishop to b5. Bulus played the other knight to f3. The man attacked the centre with his queen’s pawn. Bulus ignored it and castled. The man took his C pawn. The game continued. Brilliancy after brilliancy after crazy brilliancy and Bulus built a net around the visitor’s king utilizing the dark square weaknesses around the king.
Bulus won by checkmate after 49 moves.
“Hehe.” Relief like a surge of a broken dam hit Bulus and shook his body. He reached for the fridge and grabbed a stout. I survived!
“No, you didn’t.” He turned to see the man behind him with an evil looking fist knife in his hand.
“But I won,” Bulus stammered.
“Life is not fair,” the man said. As Bulus opened his mouth to scream, the man stabbed.
If you can play chess, I am oke4chukwu on chess.com. Send me a challenge and let us die there.