Chess City - A New Novel By Ayaan Chettiar

Chess City – Chapter 5

“Physical stamina is as important as chess intellect, Martin.” barked Coach Noam, with a fierce stare. “And there is no better way to say this: You… lack… it.”

Martin knew there were quite a few better ways to put it, but didn’t complain. He had learnt very well how strict Coach Noam was.

“Because of this, today’s training will focus on a more physical aspect.” said Coach Noam. Martin knew he didn’t like the sound of that.

“I have marked out a 14.7-mile track for you to cover today. I understand that long distance running may be grueling, tiring, and wounding on all levels, and I have only one word for this: Be ready to fight the pain.”

Martin gulped, as Coach Noam continued.

“You might be demotivated. Perhaps seconds away from throwing in the towel. But giving in is not an option. Either way, I will be sending with you a training partner to motivate you… AND MAKE SURE YOU DON’T SLACK OFF!!!”

Martin, taken seriously aback by this thunderous outburst, slipped on a wet spot on the floor, and tumbled back into a pile of musical instruments, landing flat on the couch.

Noam shook his head, as the door opened and his training partner walked in.

“How’re you doing, Martin?” asked Fabian, in a cheerful mood.

If only you knew, thought Martin. Then, he realized that Fabian was his partner.

Before he could blurt out a word, Coach Noam silenced him. “I understand Fat-Man Fabian isn’t in the best shape, thus he will be equipped with a bicycle. You, on the other hand, WILL NOT!!”

Martin gulped twice, and vigorously nodded his head. A satisfied Noam blew his whistle, as Martin and Fabian made their way to the running track. The track was a long dirt road, going out into the middle of nowhere. The starting line was marked by a piece of chalk.

Coach Noam blew his whistle again, and the marathon began.

Fabian, with all the luxuries of a bicycle, enjoyed a few tricks, before losing control and crashing into a mound. This was not even two minutes in.

A determined Martin continued on, his jogs filled with sheer perseverance. But as he completed the first mile, he found himself under the wrath of the scorching sun, and shrugged the sweat off his forehead. Fabian, on his right, was just as tired.

They slowly dragged their way through the next mile, where they were greeted, much to their delight, with a few bottles of water. They chugged it down and continued.

Martin’s legs soon began to tremble, as night set in. Both he and Fabian had no clue how far they had gone, and the dirt track had disappeared. As the duo stopped to look around, they could not see anything.

Martin’s knees gave way, and he tripped on a rock, stumbling into a deep ditch to the bottom.

“Martin!” shouted Fabian. “You okay?”

Martin gave a grunt, and tried to get back on his feet. He wobbled slightly, then looked up, and realized that the steep ditch was unclimbable. He was stuck.

“I need a rope!” he shouted, but Fabian was not able to hear.

“A soap?” he cried incredulously. “This is no time for hygiene, Martin. Get serious!”

“No! I need a rope!” shouted Martin.

At which point, Fabian, who tried to lean forward and catch what Martin was saying, also tripped on a rock, and fell headfirst into the ditch.

Now that they were both well and truly stuck, Martin started scanning for an exit. He could see a tunnel nearby, and gestured to Fabian to follow.

How long they spent in the pitch dark neither knew, but when they came out of the other side, they were met by a waterfall.

“Look down there, something’s in it.” said Martin, pointing to the water.

Indeed, there was. Something was illuminating from the depths of the icy cold water.

Fabian took one touch of the water, and shivered. “We’ll have to continue our adventure later, Martin. I don’t fancy a swim in cold ice. Especially in these circumstances.”

Martin knew what he was talking about. They had more important things to worry about. He could see light from behind the waterfall, and slowly jumped onto a rock that led to the waterfall.

Martin made it across, but Fabian wasn’t so lucky. It seemed that fate directed him towards a swim anyway, because he slipped on the wet patch, and fell backwards towards the water.

With a scream, Fabian disappeared beneath. Martin reacted quickly and dived into the lake. He pulled the trembling Fabian out, but before swimming away, he caught sight of a very bright light from a corner.

No time now. thought Martin. I need to get out of here.

Martin and Fabian reappeared outside the water, as Martin slowly began to pull the gap open. After a few minutes of pulling, he heard a crack, as a few rocks fell away, revealing a passage for escape.

As the duo escaped the cave, they were suddenly hit by the blinding flash of headlights, as a car appeared. Martin was hit by the car’s front end, and fell backwards. Coach Noam exited the car.

“I’ve been looking for you two misfits for the last three hours, you blundering buffoon!” shouted a clearly exasperated Noam. “I marked the track to follow!” But Martin was alright. After all, it had been an adventure. But in the midst of all this, the illuminating light completely slipped his mind.

Ayaan Chettiar

Read Chapter 6

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