the smuggler’s bible

Parvum

A door opens downstairs, and footsteps start up the flights. One, two, three—a break, probably to sweat and curse the madness—four, five. Parvum listens close as the stranger makes his way through the hall. He thinks he hears them pause, just for an instant, in front of his apartment.

Parvum’s hands tighten on the edge of the table, flex and release as the steps continue around the corner.

“Was that you?”

“Don’t be paranoid.”

“That barely counts as an answer.”

Across the chessboard, the man in the suit smiles and slides a pawn forward.

“Your move,” he says.