The alarm clock was about to announce that it was six in the morning with a jarring blare.  My hand swiftly pressed the button to silence it as the glowing numbers switched from 5:59 to 6:00.  I had been sitting awake on my dorm bed for a while, praying quietly.  Now it was time to get up.  I stretched, flexing my taut muscles, and then ran my fingers over my short-cropped hair, a layer of fuzz on my head.  I dressed efficiently and went jogging before class.

            A lot had changed in a year.  I had survived a few rare encounters with my dark foes over the summer, and had come to the conclusion that they did not like facing me on my home turf.  My hometown was too small for them to move in and conceal themselves, so they had to try the occasional ambush.  Here, in Toronto, I was on their hunting grounds.  I expected our little chess game to get a lot more intense now that I was back at university.

            I wasn’t wrong. 

            After my first week of classes, I stopped at my mailbox on the first floor of the residence building on a whim.  While I didn’t expect any real mail, there were often notices from the school or student clubs, and I preferred to clean them out before they built up.  I turned the key and opened the little capsule to see a fair-sized box in the slot.

            I pulled it out.  There was no return address on the cardboard box, just my name and room number.  I took it up to my room, and locked the door before opening the box.  A cellular phone fell out, and I caught it swiftly.

            It started to ring.

            “Hello?”

            “Are you ready?”  A familiar voice said.

            “How was your summer?  I found mine very productive,” I said, keeping my voice very conversational.  After all, cell phones weren’t known for being the most secure form of communication in the world.

            “It’s time to see how productive.  Remember the presents we gave you?”

            “How could I forget?  I collected a few more this summer, from visitors.”

            “Bring what you can on Monday.  Listen carefully…”

            I received cleverly coded directions from Dorothy, memorizing the details.  I thought again of chess, and realized, I was far from being the master of this game.  I wondered where I ranked:  was I a mere pawn, or a more important piece?

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