This week’s Microcosms took inspiration for their prompt elements from the 1997 movie Titanic – with a few odd prompts thrown in for good measure. I used the three elements they’d got on their first spin which were

character: millionaire, setting: England, genre: steam punk

Using these three I came up with my tale Checkmate. As you’ve probably already guessed chess does play a part. You’ll be able to read the story below, along with my thoughts about how I wrote the story.


I move my queen across the chessboard, a polished silver cog her crown. The only bright thing in Charles’ prison cell. “Check.”

My old friend doesn’t react. His attention on his own dull chess pieces. The only things left after the Queen took all his millions after his failed revolution. Giving him a view of Buckingham Palace was especially cruel. The Union Flag is bright today against the dull sky of London steam.

Eric moves his rook, carved from an old brass pipe, into the same square as my queen. “Checkmate.”

“Sorry old sport, you only took my queen…”

Our view of the palace becomes fire and dust.

Author’s Notes

Checkmate didn’t really exist until I came across the photo of the steam punk chess set above. With the idea of chess in my head I started to write even though my plot and setting changed a few times. My two characters always stayed the same though as they are based on Patrick Stewart‘s and Ian McKellen‘s performances as Professor Charles Xavier and Erik ‘Magneto’ Lensherr in the X-men films.

As you’ll notice however, Erik’s name got dropped from the story when I changed the point of view to first person. The plot itself was always about the Charles character turning the table at the last-minute to win. At first this was about him reclaiming his lost millions however that was too complicated a story to tell in so few words. When I started to think about how Charles has lost his money the idea of the failed revolution took hold and the story changed to him be him winning his revolution instead. Something much more suitable when most of the action is a chess match – even if only two moves are described.

What did you think of my story Checkmate? Tell me in the comments below