For this week’s theme Sidey has given us the beginning below, and asked us to finish the story…
We reached the centre of the maze, somewhat disappointed that it appeared little different from the rest of the maze. Just a small wooden post with a bronze plaque stating “this is the centre, you now have two choices”. But the was no explanation of what the choices were. Find our way out, stay and starve to death? Maybe those were them, but the lack of skeletons indicated no-one else seemed to have taken the second one.
I looked down, that shoelace had come undone again. These were the most obnoxious laces, always coming undone, even from a double knot. Anyone would think they were alive and seeking freedom.
As I was tying the lace I noticed an odd shape in the ground, a portion of a circle. I kicked at it and the friable soil moved away, disclosing a brass ring, attached by another ring to the round. Some more kicking away of the soil disclosed a wooden trapdoor.
We looked at each other. I said “do you suppose this is the second choice?”…..
“Could be,” she said. “Lift the lid and let’s look.”
I took hold of the ring and pulled. Nothing happened.
“It’s locked,” I said.
She pushed me aside and pulled at the ring herself. The trapdoor creaked open. She looked at me in mock (I think) contempt.
“Well, I can open my own jars,” I retorted.
We both stared into the square blackness. I shouted”hello” down into the hole. A number of people shouted “hello” back, each person from slightly further away than the one before them. Or else it was an echo.
As we knelt there she pulled off my shoe.
“What did you do that for?” I said.
“We need to find out how deep it is, and your lace was open,” she said, and tossed the shoe into the darkness. We listened for a long time to the silence.
“Guess that’s not choice two,” she said eventually.
“No,” I said, “but I know what might be.”
The hedges of the maze were thick and impenetrable, but now that we were at ground level I could see that there were gaps between the branches at the bottom. We began to wriggle our way to freedom.
It took a couple of hours, at the end of which we did not look our best. I wore a Caesar-like assemblage of leaves in my hair, and the quills of a startled hedgehog in my cheek. She looked like she’d been dragged through a hedge backwards, which in fairness she had. Finally, though, we emerged onto the front lawn of the country estate which to which we had come for a nice Sunday outing. We ran to the car-park and got into our car. I slammed my foot down hard on the accelerator, which is surprisingly painful when you’re only wearing one shoe, and we headed off down the long driveway by which we had entered the estate.
The driveway was not as long this time. After a few hundred yards it was blocked by a hedge. Two little lanes headed off to the left and right, and a bronze plaque fixed to the hedge said “this is a T-junction, you now have two choices”.
“No, we don’t,” I said, and drove straight through the hedge. A few hundred yards further along we reached the front entrance. The wooden barrier beside the admission booth was down, but as we approached it lifted. I have to admit that I was slightly disappointed, by that stage I was willing to crash through it, scatter a line of machine-gun-carrying guards and clear the moat by driving up the drawbridge just as it was raising, but there were no further obstacles as we found our way out onto the main road and towards home.
We said little as we drove home, brooding about our afternoon. When we got home she went to the bathroom to unleaf her hair. Suddenly I had an idea.
When she looked more human she came down and went into the kitchen. I heard the kettle boiling, heard a door open, heard a shriek.
When she’d opened the cupboard door she’d found that across the tea and coffee jars was a Post-it that said “this is a cupboard, you now have two choices”.
She’s still not speaking to me.