It was a bland day. Unremarkable, he thought, as he sat in thecar. The traffic was lighter than usual, with few of the fast-movingprey that would help him towards his quota. So far, he had onlygiven five tickets today, all of which were within 10Mph over thelimit. His quota was a concern, but it was a small concern, and hewas generally enjoying the calm of his day from his spot on thehighway. He had been too involved in his work recently; that andsome worries about his mortgage had made him worry too much recently.He relaxed for awhile in the unnoticable weather, feeling the coolbreeze gently blow through the car windows as he leaned back in hisseat. Time seemed to pass by, in that special semiconsciousdull way.Eventually a nagging oddity brought him back out of it. There wereno more cars on the highway. Birds chirped, and the wind stillcaressed the trees, but the empty highway felt deeply wrong. Hesquinted his eyes, and waited for a moment, on the hunch that thiswas just a temporary oddity. After a few minutes, he remembered hisradio, and turned it on. It was oddly quiet, not even making the staticthat comprised that world's equivilent of silence. Curious and nervous,he started up his car, and began to pick up speed, intent on heading tothe nearest exit to put down nagging doubts. As he drove, he felt yetmore doubts -- shouldn't he have been at exit 105 by now? He glancedoff the sides of the highway -- they certainly looked like he wouldexpect, but to a large degree it all looked the same. He continued todrive. Several minutes later, while decending into a low area that hewasn't sure he remembered, he saw something sitting in the road on thecorrisponding rise ahead. He began to slow down, and as he came closer,he corrected his thought -- someONE. Apprehension, nervousness, anda trace of anger filled him as he slowly moved the car to a stop to theleft of the person. For a moment, he considered speeding off, buthe quickly banished his doubts, opened the door, and stepped out. As hewalked around the car, he was surprised to see that the person.. thewoman, had turned to face him. He didn't recall seeing her get up. Shewas sitting, on her knees, on the cement, the tops of her feet restingagainst the road like he remembered the Japanese did in the movies.She wasn't Japanese though.. she looked European. She had an old,intense, intelligent face, her hair in short, brown/grey curls. Herclothing was a bulky, smooth grey hooded cloak, the hood lying backagainst her back. He was surprised to see that the apparent age in herface was not matched by her hands, which although wiry, had skin thatlooked like that of a teenager. With a slight gesture of her head, shebade him sit in front of her, and to his surprise, he did, about a footfrom her, and, like her, in the middle of the road. One of her handsreached behind her and pulled out an expensive-looking chessboard. Asmall part of him questioned its origin, a question ignored by the rest.His skill at chess was poor, but he felt strangely compelled to play.The board was on the highway, its pieces facing neither of them, as shestared at him. In an attempt to convince himself that he was not tense,he gave an exaggerated shrug, and rotated the board, moving the whitetowards himself, and made his first move. The game began. He played anagressive game, occasionally glancing up at her emotionless stare as shemoved her pieces. 8 moves into the game, he got the impression that shewas much better than him. After about 15 moves, most of his attackingpieces were taken or trapped. He tipped his king on the 17th move, andreached across the board to shake her hand. Chastized by her stare, hemoved his hand back, and waited. The long moments grew uncomfortable ashe looked around, looked anywhere but at her. Eventually he turned hisattention to her clothing. He spotted a pulled thread in the otherwiseperfect clothing, the string hanging out and blowing in the breeze. Heraised his hand to point at it, but she already was moving towards it.She slowly pulled the thread further out from her garment, examining itcarefully. She then pulled a large pair of scissors.. shiny metal with blackplastic handles, from her cloak, and snipped the thread, holding it up withher other hand. She then reached across the space seperating them with herhand, offering it, and her hand, to him. He took her hand, the threadbetween their palms, and they both rose from the rough pavement, slowly walkingdown the highway away from the chess board and the car.