Learning The Rules

There was a man who sat in a study. The walls were filled with books, ideas, thoughts he could go through, think about, discover, but instead he sat with his back to the shelves. He sat in a large, brown leather chair, looking over a game. The title on the box read 'Risk <tm>'. He wasn't devising strategies for playing, he hadn't even set up the board. He just ran his fingers over the game pieces a few times and glanced at the rules. In his mind he was deciding if it was worth the trouble of learning these new rules. The object of the game, like most, was winning. Whoever had the best strategies won. Whoever could figure out what their opponent was planning, and be one step ahead, 'owned' the board. The board was a picture of the world.
He looked over the world. Glanced at the rules again, never reading them, just glancing, and closed the box. "Too much trouble.", he thought.
Not that he was off to rummage through the house for a game of Trouble , more that he knew winning the game would take thought, planning and determination, and he didn't think he was ready for it.
He rose from his chair and walked out of the study. In the next room sat two people he knew. He glanced at them, deep in conversation with each other. He stood there a moment unnoticed and listened - laughter, then "Hmmm...could be....", he glanced back toward the study. They knew the rules, he was sure of it, but if he wanted to ask them to join him he would have to admit he hadn't learned the rules yet. He didn't want to admit that, so he walked on....

The man found himself in a large auditorium. On the stage was a peg. It was almost six foot tall, but a peg just the same. It was dressed in a cloak. Both the peg and the cloak were black. In front of the stage were other pegs. Blue and red pegs fitted into holes like tiny Playskool people fitted into their cars and chairs. None of them moved. None of them even stirred. They seemed completely lifeless, yet somehow he could tell the attention of the blue and red pegs was on the black peg that held the stage.
He tried to listen to what the black peg was saying, but all he heard was a droning sound. Though monotonous, it wasn't entirely unpleasant.
He moved closer to the stage to see if he could make out what the black peg was saying. The pegs had no features, and didn't seem aware of him, so he moved a bit closer.
The droning of the black peg had a soothing effect. It was like his mother singing him a lullabye, or someone telling him "Everything will be alright".
He moved closer.

One of the man's friends had walked past the open door of the auditorium.
They stopped for a second and almost called his name, but thought perhaps the lighting was playing tricks on their eyes. One minute they thought they saw him standing there, halfway down the aisle, the next, well.... it was just those useless pegs.

© J. Simon

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