Tales From Earth:The Games We Play

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This is part of the compilation created for the book Tales From The Third Planet, created by the Cubehunters on Earth, and printed by Lulu. Anyone can buy it here, with proceeds to go to unfiction! :)

The Games We Play by duckiemonster

Whilst the Perplex City "Sentinal" has a section devoted to the most devilish of riddles and puzzles, the Earth papers have recently latched onto the "Su Doku", a puzzle originating in Japan. The aim is to fit the numbers 1 to 9 in each row and column of a grid that's made up of 9 9 by 9 boxes. Grades range from "Daily Mail Coffee Break" (complete in 15 seconds) to "The Times Fiendish" (If you're lucky, an hour...)

She’s unspeakably beautiful; I think that’s why I notice her first. Then I see the concentration on her face.

My coffee is getting cold. I’m pretending to look out of the window, but if I turn my eyes over to the left, I get a perfect view of her in a mirror attached to the wall; an attempt to make this hole of a café attractive.

She sits on her own, twisting a strand of her long, long hair around her fingers, gazing intensely at the paper in front of her. She’s tapping her pen gently on her bottom lip, she’s whispering something over and over again. I’m trying to lip read, but I keep getting distracted and I can’t make it out.

She’s writing something now. The way the pen moves, it looks like a single letter. If I just lean over a bit more, I might be able to see…

Oh crap, I think she’s noticed me staring. Her eyes flicked over just now, I think she smiled a little. I turn hastily to stare out of the window, apparently fascinated by the rare spectacle of a number 23 bus. God, my hands are shaking? I’m glaring at the bus so hard now that I’m starting to worry the passengers. I remain resolutely focused forwards. I can’t look again, what will she think?

Almost without my command, and definitely against my better judgement, my eyes slide to look in the mirror again. She’s twisted towards me more. She definitely saw me. She’s running her pen from side to side across her lower lip. I wonder if a woman has ever looked more attractive. I let my imagination run wild for a second, mentally thrusting my hands into her hair, kissing her pouting lips, smoothing her furrowed brow…

She’s looking again! This time there can be no doubt that she’s seen my staring… I risk a little wave from my reflection to hers. My reflection looks embarrassed, it’s rather flushed. Hers looks far too relaxed. This is unfair.

She’s getting up. Walking over.

“Excuse me?” she says, sitting on the stool next to mine.

“Yes?” My voice is trembling more than my hands. I wonder what she’s going to say… am I about to be wearing my cappuccino? Dragged off to a hotel room? Made to feel the size of a microbe?

She slides the paper in front of me. “Do you Su Doku?” she looks up, her eyes lock with mine. “I’m rather stuck.”

Outside, the bus starts to move.