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  • Felix opened his eyes, realizing with some satisfaction that it was the first time he’d ever woken up on a private jet.

    “Coffee?” asked Ellison, thrusting a mug in front of his face.

    “Ugh,” said Felix, “I just woke up.”

    “Right?” laughed Ellison. “I call it ‘Instant Coffee.’ Used it on an ambassador once.”

    “And?”

    “Still didn’t get the contract. Didn’t matter though. Got another one right after that. You want this coffee or not?”

    Felix accepted the mug. He was never one to turn down coffee —


  • during his adolescence in Singapore, he’d developed an affinity for it, spending much of his loose change in the vending machine at the foot of his building.

    “Wait, did you sit there, watching me sleep, continuously brewing coffee?”

    “Sure,” said Ellison, “but I got you on the first brew. Your eyelids were twitching, so I knew you’d gone into REM sleep and would stay there, for, what, maybe 35 minutes? Unless we got some turbulence. So I got the French press ready.”

    Ellison was only a year older than Felix, but there was nothing about him that looked 19. Between his impec-


  • cably tailored suit, sharp features, and the peppering of silver in his black hair, he could easily be mistaken for a boyish 30.

    Felix looked over at Lindsay; she was still sleeping, sweatshirt hood over her head.

    “You watching her?” Felix asked.

    “She’s due in 20 minutes or so,” said Ellison. “Going through her fifth REM cycle. So deep, and so quiet.”

    Felix glared at him.

    “How do I sleep, Ellison? You keep notes on that?”

    Ellison matched his gaze.

    “You snore. And your REM cycles are longer than most people’s. But you were always a vivid dreamer, weren’t


  • you?”

    Lindsay stirred, and Ellison poured a second mug.

    “You want to do Instant Coffee on her?” he asked Felix.

    “No!”

    “Fine,” said Ellison, “I’ll do it, then. Jeez. It’s such a good move.”

    “You and your moves. I can’t believe you’re still doing those.”

    “Moves themselves may get old, Felix, but ‘moves’ as a concept never will. You just make up new ones.”

    “What are moves?” asked Bollard, yawning.

    “None of your business, stowaway!” said Ellison.

    Bollard tried to fix the mass of


  • curly brown hair matted to one side of his head. It did not markedly improve his overall appearance — he glistened with sweat, and wrinkled shirt tails spilled from the bottom of his sweater vest.

    “What did you mean before,” he asked, “about going to an academy?”

    “This tournament’s being held at one,” said Ellison, “I told you.”

    “They wouldn’t do that,” said Bollard. “It’s the biggest Go tournament of the year; they wouldn’t just have it at some school.”

    “Except they are,” said Ellison. “Next topic.”

    “But it doesn’t make sense,” said Bollard. “They use convention centres


  • for these things, or hotels. Can I borrow your laptop?”

    “Not a chance,” said Ellison. “Now look. Maybe I’m mistaken. We’ll find out when we land.”

    “When do we land?” asked Lindsay, awake now. A glint in her eyes warned everyone present that she was not a morning person. She undid her seatbelt and adjusted her pre-ripped jeans.

    “Couple more hours,” said Ellison, handing her the mug. “Coffee?”

    “Oh. Thanks.”

    “Wasn’t instant enough,” Ellison said to Felix.

    “Or the move is getting old,” said Felix.


  • “Can I have coffee?” asked Bollard.

    “No,” said Ellison, “definitely not.”

    Bollard scowled and got up, inadequately stretched his legs, and made his way over to the kitchenette.

    “I said ‘no!’”

    “If we’re not landing for hours, I need some coffee,” said Bollard.

    “Let him have coffee, Ellison,” said Felix.

    “He sneaks onto my plane and I’m supposed to give him all my coffee.”

    “Not all your coffee, just –”

    “Fine! Have coffee! You want a hot towelette as well? Maybe some champagne?”

    “Do you have cream?” asked


  • Bollard.

    “Felix,” asked Ellison, “would you be terribly upset if I murdered your friend Bollard?”

    “Calm down, Ellison,” said Felix. “Did you get any sleep?”

    “Maybe I’d have had that luxury if

    I hadn’t needed to forge legal documents for him by hand. These took seven hours!” He withdrew papers from inside his suit jacket.

    “Let me see!” said Bollard.

    “Creating an identity even less interesting than your real one was the most challenging part,” said Ellison, handing the documents to Bollard. “Your name is Seamus now. After the shame you must feel for existing.”


  • “Easy,” said Lindsay.

    “Wow, this is good!” said Bollard, admiring his new passport. “I’ve been to Argentina!”

    “So, Lindsay,” said Ellison, taking the seat beside her, “we’ve got enough time for a game before we arrive.”

    “What makes you think I want to play you?” asked Lindsay, pushing back her hood. The messiness of her red hair was stylish in a way that Bollard’s was not.

    “I think you want to beat me,” said Ellison, “and put me in my place.”

    Lindsay sipped her coffee.

    “Why not a game with me?” asked Felix.

    “Because I’ve played you,” said


  • Ellison.

    “Not for six years. Come on – for old times’ sake!”

    “Have I ever been a sentimental person?” asked Ellison. “Maybe it slipped your mind, but your girlfriend became a Go genius overnight.”

    “It was in the morning,” corrected Lindsay, “and can everyone stop calling me a genius?”

    “And she’s not my girlfriend,” said Felix.

    “Whatever,” said Ellison. “I want to see what you’ve got, Lindsay.”

    “Holy!” exclaimed Bollard, who had just found the champagne cupboard.

    “Cream is in the fridge, Seamus.”


  • “Okay,” said Lindsay, “one game. But you’re going to want some handicap stones.”

    “Oh yeah?” said Ellison. “How many, do you think?”

    “How good is he, Felix?” asked Lindsay.

    “Don’t know. Last time we played, though, he was better than me.”

    “Still am,” said Ellison. “Why don’t we play it even, just to see?”

    “All right,” said Lindsay, and Ellison smiled, producing a faded wooden board from beside his seat.

    “Get out your tray table,” he said.

    “Use your own,” she said.

    “Technically, both are mine, because I own the plane.”


  • Lindsay sighed and clicked hers into place from inside the wide armrest. Ellison laid down the board and pulled two polished bowls from underneath his seat.

    “That’s the board you had in Singapore!” said Felix. “There’s the stain where I –”

    “–spilled your strawberry milk on it at the airport. So disgusting.”

    “You take black,” said Lindsay,

    taking the bowl of white stones.

    “Black always wins,” said Ellison, and played his first move.


  • Snapback board1

    Tengen.


  • “Still doing that, huh,” said Felix.

    “It’s the best move,” said Ellison. “Whatever size board. Always take the centre. Didn’t you learn anything from me?”

    “This game’s been played for over 4000 years,” said Felix, “studied professionally, analyzed mathe- matically – and no one plays tengen on the first move. Corners are just better.”

    “In Chess, the best strategy is to control the centre,” offered Bollard.

    “No one plays Chess!” snapped Ellison.

    Lindsay took a sip of coffee and played a loose corner, and Ellison slapped down an immediate approach.


  • “Tell me what happened that morning you first played Go,” he said.

    “You saw my bio,” said Lindsay.

    “Yes, but,” said Ellison, “what actually happened?”

    Lindsay remained silent.

    “Suit yourself,” said Ellison, “but your stones will tell me anyway.”


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    Download the eBook below!

Studying the ancient game of Go does not make Felix the most popular guy at his rural high school. But when an old friend from the past comes into town with fantastical stories of a secret Go academy, Felix and his classmates are swept away on an international adventure. But it's more dangerous than they bargained for... The first novella in the Snapback series. Illustrations by Dawn Davis. 63 pages.

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Studying the ancient game of Go does not make Felix the most popular guy at his rural high school. But when an old friend from the past comes into town with fantastical stories of a secret Go academy, Felix and his classmates are swept away on an international adventure. But it's more dangerous than they bargained for... The first novella in the Snapback series. Illustrations by Dawn Davis. 63 pages.

PDF / ePub
Free on sign-up!

Purchase access to all DRM-free formats.

Paperback
$10.00

Price does not include tax or shipping.



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