Black And White

Entry by: Alobear

4th May 2016
Black and White

The two kings surveyed their troops, each confident that his army was stronger than the other. The white king’s pawn gazed across the expanse of the battlefield, excited by the prospect of the forthcoming conflict. He examined the regiment on the other side, noticing with a little anxiety how organised and powerful they seemed. Then, he looked about him and, seeing how proudly his comrades stood, was reassured. Suddenly, a shout pierced the tense atmosphere; the battle had begun.

The head knights shouted orders to the front ranks of the infantry, who were ready and waiting. First, however, the king’s pawn advanced towards the black army. All at once, he was out in the middle of the battlefield. No longer were his comrades supporting him; he was completely alone. Proudly, he stood up straight, looking across at the opposing forces. They looked an awful lot bigger up close. The pawn trembled as one of the black infantry units approached him, stiff and unemotional. It stopped in front of and to the left of him, and he breathed a sigh of relief. These preliminary moves completed, the strategy began in earnest.

Soon, the pawn was surrounded by friend and enemy alike. He watched as unimportant soldiers were defeated easily by the powerful queens and bishops, knowing all the while that be might be next. Far behind him, he could hear his king being advised by the knight general to hide inside his castle until the battle was over. The pawn was astounded at this; his great leader was hiding while his men were being slaughtered? His thoughts were cut off as a black bishop glided slowly forwards to stand diagonally opposite him. The bishop glared down at him, his bushy eyebrows frowning from underneath his mitre. The pawn immediately recognised him as the same bishop who had killed one of his friends a moment earlier and was so frightened by the evil, black eyes boring into his skull, he didn’t even hear the knight general’s order to advance into combat. The third yell from the knight broke through and the pawn slowly walked forwards.

The bishop moved backwards slightly, bringing his wooden staff up in a defensive motion. Determination drowned fear as the pawn marched towards his enemy and began to fight. Wood met steel in a violent thrust from the pawn, splintering the bishop’s staff. A look of terror crossed the bishop’s face before the pawn mercilessly ran him through. The prelate fell to his knees and slid off the pawn’s sword to the floor. Black and white pieces carried on with their moves, ignoring the pawn completely as he stared down at the body at his feet. Suddenly, the enormity of what he had done hit him and, as though waking from a trance, the pawn stumbled backwards in horror.

“I’ve killed someone. I’ve killed someone.”

The phrase turned itself over and over in his mind, an eternal strain on his conscience. Now, he was no better than the rest and knew he would never be the same again. The battle raged around him as the pawn stared straight ahead, appalled at what he had done. He looked about him and saw many others doing exactly the same, seemingly without a second thought. The pawn blocked them all out of his mind and stood, consumed with misery and self-hatred.

A while later, the battlefield was considerably less crowded than it had been at the start. The pawn had not moved from the square in which he had killed the bishop and he watched as yet another piece was defeated. Finally, the only pieces left besides the white king’s pawn were the two kings and a single black pawn. The white pawn advanced to the square directly in front of his adversary and stopped. They stared at each other for quite some time, both examining the other for signs of the evil enemy who could be killed without remorse. The white pawn looked into the face of the black and, to his surprise, found that it was very much like his own. He saw the same fear of death, the same horror of the slaughter they had both witnessed, the same self-hatred for being a part of something so terrible. Suddenly, the white pawn realised that the other was simply a young, frightened infantry soldier just like himself. The black pawn was not an evil monster that needed to be exterminated, as the generals had made out. He was just an ordinary person.

The two kings cautiously moved towards each other, holding their hands up in peace. Then, their faces broke into broad grins and they shook hands warmly.

The white king said, “Good game, good game. Same time again tomorrow?”