A Mazing End

PART IV the final chapter Continued from Maze Escape

Like a swimmer breaching the water’s surface after copious time spent searching for treasure, a spontaneous gasp forces her lungs to expand. Eyes closed, fingers extended she reaches to feel any recognizable object.

She lies comfortably, a firm cottony pillow supports the weight of her head. She’s aware of ambient sounds, a pendulum ticks, a diesel engine grumbles, and a gentle breeze moves the blinds tapping the edges of the window frames. She grasps something malleable like an old hacky sack. Gradually she musters courage to open her eyes.

Blinking in the bright light she realizes she is in a bedroom.

Centered on a Damask bulletin board, a single sign reads, “Fresh Paint. Do not touch the walls for one hour.”

fresh paint1

Stick Chick contemplates her immediate surroundings.

“It must have been a dream,” she thinks.

*** THE END ***


Maze Escape


Unlike the paths she has traveled, the widening one before her becomes smooth beneath her feet. The ivy thins, choked by an invisible entity that exposes the stone walls. While she remains cautious, her pace quickens. Her leg continues to ache as she picks up speed. The sound of her breathing swells nearly drowning the footfalls on the dirt beneath her feet.

She hears a humming. Glancing back over her left shoulder a drone approaches, a glowing red display shows a countdown. A robotic voice echoes, sound bouncing off the uneven face of the rocky walls: “Three minutes until detonation.”

A whirring and a breeze overtake her and the drone like a flash of lighting against a dark sky disappears as a blinding sun obscures her forward view. Brighter and brighter into the light she runs, agonizing over each step but terrified to stop.

Without warning, the ground beneath her vaporizes. She hears a disembodied, deafening scream and realizes it is her own. But like a voice encapsulated inside a steel vault, no audible noise emits into the atmosphere.

She falls, appendages flailing at first until she resigns herself to imminent death, and surrenders to the air that forces bits of hair away from her face. She stretches out her arms, abandoning any attempt to stop the inevitable until, unexpectedly, she slows. Time seems to stop.

jelloIn slow-motion she passes into an unfamiliar gelatinous realm, neither air nor water. She can barely breathe, the cold blueness in her lungs.


Maze Enigma


Each uneven step causes a painful hobble, her ankle swollen. Unlike the beginning of this maze with its dead ends and sharp angled turns, after the first 50 yards, it curves to the right so abruptly that Stick Chick cannot see more than 10 feet ahead.

The walls twist and turn in spirals and arcs making it difficult even with the sun now higher in the sky to gauge her direction. She cannot afford to look upward and continue moving at the same time. Being careful, she avoids touching the walls.

“What was that awful alien sound I heard before?,” she wonders.

Mid-curve a fork appears. She chooses the left path and disappears from sight around an arc.

She thinks about the sign again. One hour. Ignoring the stinging feeling that moves upward to her calf, Stick Chick runs fast passing small outcroppings and moving through portals that lead her onward. Tenor grumbling sounds and odd twitters frighten her. Jittery, she is almost breathless when she stops cold, shocked to find a dead-end.

GHill 2013
IrelandInRuins Photo Courtesy:         G Hill 2013

Frustrated, she tries to guess how much time has passed and what will happen when time runs out. The passage of time feels warped. Has it been one minute? Five? Fifty? Why does her brain feel muddled? Her legs feel rubbery and heavy.

Anxious, Stick Chick turns heading back the way she came, but realizes immediately that the path looks nothing like the one she just ran through. It is long and straight. Is it the same one? How could it not be?

Ahead, a crumbling wall covered in green ivy beckons. Perhaps an escape lies just beyond.



Out of the Maze

Prompt#2: You wake up one morning and find that you aren’t in your bed; you aren’t even in your room. You are in the middle of a giant maze. A sign is hanging from the ivy: “You have one hour. Don’t touch the walls.” What’s next?

To her left, a high stone wall draped in morning glories burst open announcing a new day, and a root-covered pathway suggests decades passed since another traversed here.

Stick Chick contemplates her immediate surroundings. Scrabbling to her feet, she wipes the sleep from her eyes. She reads the sign again. One hour.


For the moment she envisions a pursuer. Wishing to avoid confrontation, she scurries to her right about 30 feet where the path abruptly turns right. Ahead, perhaps 100 yards, a courtyard beckons.

Wasting no time, Stick Chick moves forward until a gnarled root bends her ankle, sending her a touch off balance. Domino-like and only one footfall away from entering the courtyard, her left shoulder ever-so-slightly brushes the wall, causing a deafening, screeching bellow akin to an animal yet somehow alien. Startled, and with a final step, she reaches its center.

Like spokes of a wheel, eight arches extend outward from the courtyard. Another bellow leaves her no time to choose a direction. With no idea which will lead her out of the maze, a new question forms. “Where will I end up?”

The sun glints laser-sharp above the walls over her right shoulder. Without hesitation of conscious choice, Stick Chick embarks on the pathway leading southwestward. As she steps through the portico, a winnowy shadow passes in her periphery. Sensing a watchful voyeur, she bolts. Behind her the remaining archways into the courtyard collapse obscuring all paths not chosen.