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Child’s Play

In a brightly lit room with far too many toys, a little boy named John whined, “What do you mean you took the last plague? I called dibs on that days ago. Now how am I supposed to explain all the death?”

Abigail, the friend for hire, simply smiled. In a frightfully calm voice she intoned, “Well if you had the mind for math, you wouldn’t have lost your people yesterday. And, if you understood the finer points of our colorful game, they would have died from old age anyways. Cancer comes in so many forms. Some are really relatively minor.”

Between the two sat a colorful board, with dozens of playing pieces, and areas titled “Mars” and “Earth” and so on. Using material sourced from the creatures they represented, the pieces were vibrantly colored. And, what John didn’t realize, is that built into the game was a method of cheating the system. That was the true source of Abigail’s smile. The better-offs always thought they were smarter, and even better was when the child didn’t realize that he was playing with his own fate every time he moved his wealthy man back and forth.

An early death today, a long life tomorrow. A victorious ending, a lonely life. Abigail had cheated from the beginning, taking her own representation and quickly playing it through the board to a long, successful life, then taking it out of the game.

Only a fool would allow another fool to manipulate their life.

“You know,” Abigail pointed out, “You may yet be able to save that species. You did destroy their planet, but you have a natural disaster sitting to the side there that could reset your world back a few hundred years.”

John sighed, irritated and wishing, not for the first time, that his father had bought him a horse instead of giving him the family heirloom. It might be a one-of-a-kind strategy game, but on a horse he would be more likely to beat Abigail at least once.

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