This manuscript was found in the remains of building hidden deep in the woods after a mysterious blue fire destroyed most of it.

The intricately carved, white harpie lay in Bruce Sinclair's hand while he compared it with its black twin, another delicately chiseled harpie queen with distinctive eagle body and feminine torso.

Spread out on a table before him, were similarly carved, black and white, three headed bishop chimeras and a pair of dark and light reptilian winged gargoyle knights. Setting on either side of these were ebony hued and humanoid ghouls and eight sculptured pawns.

Placing the queen next to its mate, Bruce experienced the same foreboding yet satisfied sensation he always felt whenever he had managed to obtain another piece of the unique chess set. Despite the fact that he was not particularly adept at playing the game, he had, nonetheless, been strangely drawn to each individual piece of the nearly complete set he was now admiring.

It had taken him several years and a small fortune to find the unorthodox players he had accumulated. Being an avid collector, the excitement of the quest had been well worth his time, effort and money; the latter had not been a problem, since he had been left a large legacy by his grandfather which he had learned to invest wisely and spend enthusiastically.

During his hunt for the set, he had travel through Asia, spending hours searching through curios shops and seeking out those who were knowledgeable about its existence.

As he traveled and searched, eventually matching figures were purchased, but not before his methods for procuring them became widely known. If money could not persuade its possessor to relinquish a piece, its owner might conveniently disappear or meet with a fatal accident.

As a result of his devious behaviors, Bruce became known as "The Chessman", a man who was possessed by his hobby.

During a sojourn to Iraq, while observing a game of Shatrany, which is an offshoot of chess, originally introduced as Chaturganga in India, he had learned that the remaining figures he sought, as well as those he owned, were structured from human bones.

Intrigued by this discovery, he had not hesitated when it was suggested that he journey to Spain where chess had been a favorite game since its introduction by the Arabs in the early 7th century. A reliable source had informed him that figures from the set had been seen there.

It was not long after his arrival in Spain, before he located a beautiful, young woman who had inherited a black chimera and gargoyle from her father's estate. Being a man of unusual handsomeness and masculine charm, he quickly employed these attributes to win her over. But when it became apparent that her interests lay elsewhere, he concocted a more deadly scheme to obtain what he wanted.

Shortly afterward, the woman mysteriously fell beneath the wheels of an autobus, much to the dismay of her friends. Before her estate was settled, Bruce had departed from Spain with the gargoyle and the chimera.

A vast sum of money then exchanged hands before he was able to locate an informer who was familiar with another collector of his own ilk who resided in Argentina.

After arriving there, the collector, introduced to Brice as Alaomai, insisted on remaining masked throughout their meeting. Still, he agreed to discuss a possible deal.

Finally, following heated and threatening exchanges, Alaomai was persuaded to sell the figures he possessed for an enormous price.

It was acknowledged that, except for the kings, Bruce owned the complete set. An accordance was reached between the collectors that a game with the set would be played where the winner would take all.

While discussing the possible location of the kings, Brice had inquired of his adversary if he knew when the set had been made. His competitor divulged that it had been carved for the Nazis during World War II. It's original owner had been an active member of the SS, who had been responsible for the majority of the practices carried out at the death camps.

Inquiring further, Bruce had asked Alaomai about the board on which the pieces were originally played, and was told that since he now owned the figures, information could be given to him as to its whereabouts.

After learning its location, Bruce had traveled to Germany, where it was discovered hanging from the wall of a small tobacco shop. The shop's proprietor had readily agreed to sell it for a generous amount of marks, surprised that it brought such a handsome price.

The ruthless methods used in acquiring the chess set had finally hardened Bruce into an unprincipled, conscienceless man. Now as he set the queen beside her companion piece on the board, he once again studied the boards odd pentagram shape that lent itself so well to the other unorthodox forms which would play out upon it.

Its black and white squares were unevenly spaced, as in a regular chess board, yet they spiraled into the center. It appeared obvious that the two missing kings were destined to be placed back to back.

As he thought about the kings, which Alaomai assured him existed, he remembered the conversation that had transpired between them concerning the rumor about bones. Bruce, suggesting that the figures were probably ivory, had been immediately corrected and assured that human bones were indeed the material used fort hem. Alaomai had deftly demonstrated another facet of the black pieces unknown to Bruce. As he rotated them slowly beneath a lamp, he pointed out a pronounced red hue that could be seen reflected in their ebony tones. This, he explained, was due to their having been soaked in human blood.

Bruce could still feel the tremor of excitement intermingled with a strange sense of foreboding that had swept over him at the sight. Now running his finger tips over each figure resting on the board it delighted, yet disturbed him when he saw the debauchery and vileness that was carved in each face.

As the late night stretched into early morning, Bruce sat totally mesmerized, scrutinizing each figure painstakingly, only diverting his attention away from them long enough to mix another drink. Finally, rubbing his cramped neck, it dawned on him that he was completely exhausted.

Rising, he locked the chess set secretly away in a hidden safe that was unknown even to his staff, and left the den for his own room.

Sleep came swiftly. He dreamed that he had awakened and returned to the den where a fantastic sight greeted him. The room had been cleared of all furniture, and in its place, covering the center of the floor, was the chess board, only now enormously increased in size. Upon its surface stood the figures positioned to play, and as he felt himself being drawn onto the board, he could see they equaled his size.

Perplexed, yet challenged by the phenomenon, he searched their depraved expressions for sign of movement.

A deep voice rose suddenly from the center of the pentagram.

"I see you have finally agreed to play, my friend!" it said. He recalled the bargain that had been made with Alaomai and quickly moved towards the center of the board. As he reached, he saw, for the first time, two large black and white engraved thrones placed back to back.

The voice addressed him and he realized that it was coming from the black throne. "Take your place!"

As Bruce climbed onto the seat of the white throne, he momentarily felt an eneasy sense of familiarity.

"Shall we begin?" he was asked

Before he could finish nodding his head in agreement the game commenced. Despite further lack of dialogue, none was needed.

Instantly the white zombies were set upon and rapidly destroyed by the blacks, and as they twisted and groaned in torment, it occurred to Bruce that the players were no longer inanimate, but alive.

He could hear his white players' desperate wails in his mind and see their evil, repulsive faces convulse in despair, and he wished he had bothered to master the game in which he was now participating. It was evident that the inhabitant of the black throne was an expert who was maneuvering his subjects in precise moves, which destroyed their white counterparts.

Bruce watched helplessly, yet fervidly, as the chimera's three white skulls were crushed against each other. As it reacted in throes of agony, he felt himself nearly rise from the throne in a maddening frenzy of enjoyment.

He could feel his heartbeat quicken when his eyes shifted to the white wings of the gargoyles. He watched as they were torn apart and mutilated by the onrushing aggressors.

The excitement of the kills stimulated him beyond anything he had ever experienced before. He found himself slapping his knees in glee.

The depraved spectacle of the white harpies' twisted, eagle body, and her shrill screams cascaded into his ears much like the sounds of a beautiful sonata. As the black invaders continued to destroy his team, he knew that the game would soon be over. As each white collapsed, he could hear roars of laughter bellowing forth from the black throne and echo into his mind.

Eventually, the entire set of black creatures had finished their slaughter and stood before him. Then they advanced rapidly, lifted him up and threw him down in front of the black throne.

The darkness surrounding it was complete. He peered at its seat, but was unable to distinguish a shape or form, even when an arm reached out from its midst and encircled his.

A voice bellowed. "You have lost my friend! You have forfeited the set! You have also revealed what you really are!"

For a moment he understood the remark, but the meaning quickly vanished when he felt a sharp, excruciating pain as his wrist was twisted.

He awoke howling in pain. He realized instantly he had been dreaming but was unnerved by the reality of the nightmare. It left him tense and wide awake. He knew that additional sleep was impossible.

A glance at his watch told him it was nearly half past four and he had only slept an hour. Dressing hurriedly, he descended the stairs to the den.

Fresh in his memory, the dream, for a moment kept him from entering the room. The thought of horror was quickly dismissed when he saw his familiar furniture, including the table where his half empty glasses still set.

Removing them, he unlocked his hidden safe and took out the chess set which he placed on the table.

After opening the board, the pieces immediately shifted into playing position. Bruce trembled in anxiety when his eyes fastened on its center. As in his dream, two thrones dominated the middle, but now there was a king perched upon the black one.

The figure beckoned to him and as Bruce moved closer to it, he glanced at the white throne. He saw a skeleton, dressed in royal attire, wearing a crown encrusted with malevolent, white opals, standing next to it.

A familiar voice caught his ear. "You lost, my friend, and now you belong to us!"

Before reaching the black throne, he passed the white one and gazed into the skeleton's vicious, corrupted face as if searching into a mirror, for the features it possessed were his own. Starring at his likeness in horror, he recognized the voice of Alaomai coming from the black throne. As he diverted his eyes from himself, he watched as the black king removed his mask and exposed his familiar side swept hair and narrow mustache. Upon his shoulder a swastika reflected the red hue from his blood drenched, black figure.

Fear and horror clutched Bruce's very soul. Then the speaker confirmed the inevitable outcome, which he dreaded with every pore of his being.

"We are one and the same, my friend." The dark king chuckled, "And now our set is complete!"

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Jim Garrison's Bio -
Right here is where there should be a very fascinating, yet brief bio written by the talented Jim Garrison with an extraordinary sketch he did of himself. (My daughter, Cheryl is blaming the gremlins in my computer for eating it.) Jim not only wrote this masterpiece he also illustrated it. As well as many other fabulous stories pieces of art. He has been with us forever and we appreciate his talents.
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