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“Here it is,” said Marshal as he set down an exquisite glass chess set.

Tim whistled. “Whew. That’s nice.” He leaned down for a closer look at it.

The board, while having the usual checkered pattern on it, was made of gleaming glass. The pieces were glass as well, one side’s pieces were transparent, the other’s were more translucent.

Marshal sat down on the side of the board opposite Tim. “Yeah, it apparently cost a whole bunch. Terri got it for me, actually, for Christmas, the year before she…” He trailed off and looked at the picture of his sister sitting on the mantle.

Tim smiled sympathetically. “I played chess with her too, you know. She was very good.”

Marshal shook himself. “Anyway, let’s get started, shall we? What do you wanna be, the clear side or the foggy side?”    

Tim shrugged. “I dunno… I guess I’ll be the translucents. I’ve never played with a set like this before, which side goes first?”

Marshal threw up his hands. “You know what, I never figured out which was supposed to. I always did clear first, but foggy can go first if you want.”

Tim shook his head. “No, no, you go first. I insist.”

“Okey-dokey,” said Marshal, making his move.

Tim then made a move of his own, and the game commenced. Two experts of strategy went at it with all their might. Pawns, knights, rooks, bit by bit, danced around each other in competition.

Minutes later they’d both acquired their fair share of their opponent’s pieces. Tim looked over the board. “Hmm, looks like I’m in the lead.” He grinned.

Marshal shrugged. “Ah, well, the night is young yet.”

“Don’t suppose you’d like to forfeit now and save us both some time and effort?” Tim teased.

Marshal smirked and made another move. “Not a chance. I’ve still got some fight left in me.”

“Well then,” said Tim, making his move, “you’d better start letting some of it out.”

“Ho ho, chess trash-talking!”

“I guess so.”

The game continued. More moves, executed with all the precision and strategy of a military general. Clearly, this was a game between masters.

After a particularly fruitful move, Marshal chuckled. “Like I said, still got some fight left. Looks like your queen is out of commission. I’ll take that.” He theatrically reached over and took Tim’s queen off the board.

Tim shook his head. “Well done, sir, well done. Hats off to you.” He raised his fedora in salute. Setting it back down on his head, he remarked “You know, this reminds me… you know, I meet all sorts of people with my job, right? Well, one time I met this lady, her name was… I dunno, Susan something or other… anyway, she was totally convinced that she was the queen of some country, I forget which it was, it might not’ve been real. Nobody could change her mind, she just strode around regally, giving everyone orders. It was kind of funny and sad at the same time, you know?”

Marshal thought about that as he moved his rook. “Yeah, I get what you mean.”

Gradually, more and more of Tim’s pieces left the board at the hands of Marshal. The tide was turning. Tim seemed a little bit surprised and rather amused at this. Eventually, it all came to a head.

“Check,” Marshal said with a smile. Tim smiled back and moved his king away from Marshal’s knight. Marshal moved his bishop. “Check again.”

Tim moved his king again. He was temporarily out of danger, but Marshal’s pieces were close, ready to gang up on him. Soon his king would be surrounded, nowhere to go, and the game would be over. Marshal would win.

Marshal moved. Tim moved. Marshal moved. Tim moved. They were struggling neck and neck in the final moments until- 


But it was not Marshal that said this. It was Tim.

Marshal looked at his king. While he’d been gathering his pieces to finish Tim off, Tim had moved a rook down the side of the board into a crucial position. Now Marshal’s king was cornered, and had nowhere to go. The game was over. Tim had won.

Marshal sighed in a tired sort of way and smiled at his opponent. “Well, that’s that. Good game, Tim, good game.”

Tim replied, “You too. You almost had me beat there. And you’re a very good loser, too. Some people would yell and protest and beg me for another chance. Not you.” They shook hands.

Standing up, Marshal put away the chess set. As he did so, he said, “You know, I never would’ve thought that your name was Tim.”

Tim snorted, “Join the club. Usually no one ever thinks to ask. But, what can I say? Picked it out myself. I just like the sound of it.”

Marshal put up the chess box and turned to face Tim. Tim smiled at him. “Are you ready to go?”

Marshal put on his coat. “You know, I think I am. Anyway, even if I’d won, it’d only be putting off the inevitable. I’ve had a good run. Did everything I needed to.”

Tim nodded approvingly. “That’s a good way to look at it. Say, before we take off, do you mind if I change back into the, shall we say, official uniform? Just for ceremonial purposes, and all.”

“Go right ahead.”

Tim’s form rippled and molded, shifting from a man in a jacket with a fedora to a tall, hooded figure in dark robes. Turning back to Marshal, he said “Shall we?”

Marshal gestured out the door. “After you.”

And so, Marshal and Tim Reaper walked into the light together.

Written by CaptainColdCutCliche
Content is available under CC BY-SA