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Mark Budman is a first-generation immigrant to the US. An engineer by training, he currently works as a medical interpreter. His fiction has appeared in Catapult, Witness, World Literature Today, Mississippi Review, The London Magazine (UK), McSweeney's, Painted Bride Quarterly, and elsewhere. He is the author of the novel My Life at First Try, published by Counterpoint, and co-editor of immigration-themed anthologies published by Ooligan Press, Persea, and University of Chester (UK). Visit him at markbudman.com.

Volo's house stands at the very end of a dead-end street. No one comes over except for the postwoman and Amazon delivery, but they leave as soon as they can. Even the neighborhood kids avoid the house.
And if someone does come, once or twice a year, no one sees them leaving.
Volo plays chess when he doesn't work, and he works rarely. The pieces and the board are Italian marble, and his thick finger caresses each piece before lowering it on the board. He hates winning because it would upset his opponent. He hates losing because it would upset him. So, he plays against himself, and it's always a draw.
He puts away the board after yet another aggressive but fruitless game. One day, he will play against someone called Non Volunt from a civilization in the galaxy far, far away. People over there are so psychologically and morally advanced, they understand it's not the results that matter, but interaction between the gamers that makes the game possible. He will learn to understand that as well.
That's how peace starts. With mutual understanding.
Once that happens, Volo'll stop killing visitors.
The End
This story was first published on Thursday, April 21st, 2022

Author Comments

Chess is an ancient game, and I thought it would be hard to write something original about it. So I accepted my own challenge.

- Mark Budman
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