Note: this is not a story for the squeamish. There's violence, language, and disturbing content. If you don't like those things, then this isn't for you at all. This story definitely falls into my horror stories. It, like a few others, is a story set in an insane asylum. I think you'll like the unique twists.
My blood boils when I think of the white pieces. They've got us all in check, they've got us all pinned, they've got us all one bad move away from agony. They've got me stuck. And they stick me with fluids I can't name. They make me swallow poisons I don't know. I'm out of moves, I'm out of plays. That's how it was before. That's when it was all just a game. Just a damn, stupid game. We played and I was the only one who couldn't see the pieces. But I played. When I spoke, we moved. It was a losing game.
The only way I could win is with a miracle. In games, miracles don't happen. That's what I thought. One day, the white pieces were just gone. Just like that. There were no more.
I woke up thinking it was a normal day. I woke up at the regular time expecting one of the White Pawns to come to my door and lead me off to breakfast. I was hungry that morning. Some bread would have been nice, but not the black, stale scraps they give us. I sat there for two hours thinking that anything would be nice. There came a time where I thought that even stale milk would have been just a little nice. But then the miracle happened.
My door opened. It's not a like a normal door. It's an electronic door. They had to make the switch. See, a two months before the miracle, I learned how to get through the lock on a regular door. I used parts from a pen and managed to trick the lock into thinking I had a key. When they found me roaming at night, they took me to the happy house and beat the shit out of me. We call it the happy house because it's not happy. We want to think it is. We want to think a lot of things. But it's not happy. Nothing is happy.
At first I just sat on my bed. If I get up too soon, then the White Pawn will hammer me with his stupid stick. We call it a stupid stick because it's what hits us if we do stupid stuff. I didn't want that to happen. After the night in the happy house, I was afraid of the stupid sticks. I remember how much they hurt. They slam into you and make you bruise, make you bleed, and then make you scream. I screamed. Nobody heard me. Or maybe they did. Maybe they did and they just didn't care. I don't think I would care either. That's the worst part.
But soon I got up and went to the door. I poked my head out and saw that every door was open and I was the last to go outside. Not everyone is smart enough to be afraid of the stupid sticks. In fact, just about all of us are dumb as fish. Most just swim with the current. I couldn't do that. I can't stand the current, especially when the current destroys me and my mind. Everything was fuzzy before them, but it was dark and fuzzy when I came to this place. That night when I went into the happy house, everything cleared up again. It was still a little dark and still a little hazy, but I could see something. I could see that I had to play, that I had to beat these people at their own game. I'm crazy, but after that night, you'd have to be crazy to pick on me.
Down the hall was a dead end. The other way had the door leading to the other areas of the board. It was a perfect board too. The place was lined with tiles white and green, laid down like a playing board. It helped keep me focused. It helped me remember to think, to stay ahead. One of the important parts to any game is to know the pieces. They let me have a pencil and some paper because why the hell not. I started making a list of who is who. Most of the men and women, the nurses, I called the pawns. They're more important than you might think. I called the “doctors” the rooks, knights, and bishops. The queen was a the head doctor. Lastly, the man in charge was the White King. He was the one who ordered my beating. He's the one I had to kill.
The door to the common areas was wide open like my room. Good thing, I guess, but then again, I don't think I cared. I didn't really feel anything. When they give me the poisons, I stop feeling anything. I guess the poisons from the night before were still having an effect because I didn't even feel angry. After the happy house night, anger is all I ever felt. I'd spend some nights forgetting about it because of the poison. Other nights, they wouldn't give me the poison and there was nothing but anger. It took me a while before I came up with my plan. I focused and soon, even when I wasn't angry, I still had my purpose. I had to kill the White King.
The others, my Black Pawns, looked to me for what to do. I was their leader. When I walked through the door to the common rooms, they followed. They wouldn't do it without me. They have to be led. If I'm not leading them, then the White Pawns are. There were no White Pawns around, so I had them. Becoming their leader was easy. I just had to figure out what they wanted. There was one of them who liked painting, but they wouldn't give him paints. I got a pen and took all the ink out and put it in a pillbox. It was just like paint except it was only black. It made the guy happy and he promised to do whatever I wanted him to do. I did things like this for every single one of the others. Pretty soon, I had a lot of Black Pawns.
I knew where I wanted to go as soon as I was out of the sleeping places. I wanted to go to the kitchen because that's where they keep the knives. I wanted to find a big and sharp one. I wanted to find something better than my old weapons. When we started making our moves, we used whatever we could find. We managed to steal a razor once and used that to slit two the White Pawns' throats. They bled so much that they never got the tiles cleaned. There was another time that we stole a screwdriver and we drove that one through the one of the White Rook's bellies. We twisted up her insides; let her guts see the outside world. Every time we did it, someone different would kill. I never had to kill anyone, I got a Black Pawn to do it. By the time the miracle happened, we had killed fifteen of them.
All along as we moved, I suspected that this was some kind of trick so they could win the game. It happens a lot in games. It's a called a ruse. I did it a lot. I tried to convince the White King that the killing was random, that we weren't playing, just killing. And that there was no we, there just individuals with no organization. But he didn't fall for that for long. He started putting my Black Pawns in the happy house to make them talk. Six of them died from the torture. It just made us madder. But soon enough, one of them cracked. The White King knew everything. He put me in the happy house and had me tortured, but I fought back. After two days of on and off beatings, I figured out I was being stupid. I gave in. Or I acted like I did. But like I said, it was a ruse.
The kitchen door was open. I had never been in there. It was boring and I still didn't care about anything. I told all my Black Pawns behind me to find food though. If the Whites wouldn't give it to them, I would. I'm a good King. As they tore the place up in their angry madness, I found my knife. It was a long knife for cutting meat. It was a bit rusted and bent a little, but it could still cut. It was better for it to be a kind of dull. That way, it would hurt more when I gutted the White King. I looked down at my weapon and saw me, my reflection. I looked different than how I remembered.
Did you know I had hair? They took it.
Did you know I had a beard? They took it.
Did you know I had a house? They took it.
Did you know I had a job, money, a life? They took it.
Did you know I had a family? They- no. I took that part. When I said I've never killed before... I lied.
I went back to the common rooms. Everything was a mess. There were papers and poisons thrown all about the place. My Black Pawns stayed behind. That's where I wanted them. I wanted to do this alone. Before I was in this place, I was a champion. I was the greatest chess player in all of Russia. I won every tournament I competed in. I never lost. And then one day, it was a kid. He was still in the university when he came and took my crown. When my king fell, so did I.
The best of the miracle was finding the White King. He was sitting in front of the window, just looking out the snow-covered hills. Of him I demanded, “Why are you just sitting there? And what the hell is going on?”
“It's all over.”
“Everything,” the White King scoffed. “The Soviet Union is no more. All of the doctors, all of the nurses, all the people you call pawns, bishops, what have you, none of them came to work. I came in today to empty halls. This place is my life. You, my patients, are everything to me. My wife – she left because I poured so much of myself into running this place. I saw all of you, the worst cases of insanity in all of Russia. You were mine to heal. I love you all.”
“Love? You beat us. You killed us. We hate you.”
“Don't you see? I did it for your own good. I would go to any lengths to fix you, to clear your minds, to make you sane again. Don't you want that?”
“I see clear.”
“No, you don't! I can fix you. I can make you whole again.”
“I don't want to be whole.”
He finally looked me in the eye, “You're so far broken that you can't imagine being fixed. You're afraid of it.”
“I'm not afraid.”
“Then kill me.”
“I want to understand.”
“What is there to understand? You've won. Checkmate.”
“You broke us to fix us?” I asked.
“I never meant to- I never wanted to- I wanted to help you.”
“But you destroyed us,” I squeezed my fist around the knife. “People died because of you.”
“Aren't you going to beg for your life?”
“No,” he whispered as he turned back to the Russian landscape. “I deserve to die. There's a new world coming about and I don't deserve to live in it.”
“No, no you don't.”
“So kill me.”
“I killed too.”
“It's not your fault. You're insane.”
I looked down at my knife and then back to him. “So are you.”
He looked to me and only nodded.
“We both die,” I said as I took the rusted knife and slid it down my wrist. It hurt like all hell, but it felt good. It's as if the hole released my demons along with my blood. I found solace in that it would soon be all over.
“Yes,” I said weakly as he took the knife and in one stroke, plunged it into his chest. His eyes went wide in pain, but he said nothing. There was nothing to say, even if he could say it. The White King died. Checkmate.
I sat down on the floor as I bled out. I watched as the crimson ruined the gameboard tiles. Life began to fade away. I looked up to see all of my Black Pawns watching me die. They did nothing but stare. In my last seconds, I knew that they were just as glad to be free of me as they were of the White King. With both of us dead, they were no longer Pawns. They were free. Perhaps in their insanity, they could even find happiness. There is no King that could ever give them that.