Todd sat cross-leggedly before the slightly not-square board displaying the tell-tale grain of a well-watered Kaya tree, with its three hundred and sixty one individual points mapped out in a grid on its ceiling-facing surface. The ceiling was of no import, thought Todd at this very moment we’ve joined him, as he struggled to focus on the game. Across from him but clearly getting a little annoyed was his old friend George Glass, or at least that’s what Todd imagined. He hadn’t looked up for quite some time.
Instead Todd fingered a squashed semi-spherical black stone, passing it along between his four forward-facing fingers while anchored along the way and back by his trustworthy thumb. He always liked his thumb. He appreciated all that it allowed him to do. George Glass had taught him to do that, appreciate. How much would the world be different without them, George was known to say, as if it weren’t a rhetorical question but one whose answer could be found. All the answers are out there, floating like thoughts in the ether, concealed beneath stones laid deep in the deepest jungles, unlocked by the fires of the most powerful secret foundries. Answers written in blood, he’d say, as he packed his machete and set his alarm so as not to be late for his trip to Mesoamerica where he’d begin his search.
The stone in Todd’s hand was obsidian, as were its one hundred and eighty counterparts. George had sent them to Todd from a post office in South America, all packed inside an also-obsidian demon skull. Todd cherished the demon skull and used it to keep in place only his most valued and final unpaid bill reminders. The stones he used as intended for the game. George would use the white ones, made from the finest Hunan antimony alloy. They gleamed a perfect white that reflected on the ceiling Todd refused to look up to see.
George hadn’t played in ages as it was still Todd’s move. Todd’s eyes wandered the board. They saw the three hundred and sixty one points and they saw the grains of wood describing the areas between. They saw the obsidian and they saw the antimony alloy. The Greek antimonos means against loneliness. Todd’s eyes saw where his old friend George Glass was, hacking his way deeper and deeper into the Mesoamerican forests, closing in on the answers, putting his thumbs to work.
There were four quadrants to the grid, not naturally but as imaged and projected by man. Todd was not so sure he believed in the quadrants. He had trouble remembering where one ended and another began. He couldn’t see past the fact that the three hundred and sixty one Kaya tree points were all, in fact, part of one arrangement.
The stones, however. The stones as they passed through his fingers came to look like what he thought a really cool spaceship might look like. He desperately wanted a spaceship, particularly one that he could rightfully call a flying saucer. And that’s a lot like what the obsidian stones looked like. He’d fly his flying saucer far into space, way past the stupid unseen ceiling, where the entire Mesoamerican forest would look like a distant speck, shrinking away as he zoomed across the galaxy. His old friend George Glass would take a break from his hacking and searching and, wiping the sweat from his brow, look up at the sky and wonder just how far up there Todd was by now. George would think to send Todd an obsidian demon skull filled with obsidian stones just as soon as he found them.
Todd made his move.