Being inspired, maybe – 49

A picture paints ... well, as many words as you like.  For instance:


And, then, the words:


"What do you mean, if I step through those columns, I'll step into another world?"

It looked to me to be just two poles signifying a gateway into a park behind, with a reputedly hard maza to escape from.

That was my thing, mazes.

Travelling the world, finding as many as I could, and, one day, publishing a book about the great mazes of the world.

But here, now, that didn't seem to be much of an idea.  I could feel the enthusiasm draining out of me, and, suddenly, I felt tired, and what was the word I was looking for, yes, jaded.

Perhaps it had nothing to do with the so-called adventure I was about to embark on, to find out what was on the other side of the gateway.

Maybe it had everything to do with what I had discovered about Louisa, the woman that was standing beside me, the woman I knew now, was simply pretending to be my companion, my friend.

I thought, when I first met her, it had been a coincidence, a lucky coincidence.

It was not.

It had been a well planned and executed operation.

I assumed I have been in the right place at the right time, a man who couldn't believe his luck.

I had not.

I had been manipulated by some very clever people.

People who were not what they seemed to be.  People who were very, very dangerous.

And who had, until this morning been very, very careful.

Louisa had played her part to the letter, and academy award performance, if one was to find a simile.  The only real question that mattered to me, from this point on, was why they, and she, had selected me.

What on earth did I have that they could want?

No doubt I would soon find out.

I gave her a second look, from her dark wavy hair, calm expression, conservative if not designer clothes and very expensive cross country trainers.  She came from a wealthy family or so she told me, she was well educated or so she told me, and had a boring but necessary job for a large legal practice or so she told me.

Now, I didn't believe a word of it.

"That's what the man at the counter said.  Step through the portal and you'll be in another world."

I found it hard to believe she still had a morsel of naivety.

"I seriously doubt that.  It's just another garden, another maze, and another day at the office, for me."

"How is that book coming along?"

At first, she found it interesting.  Four mazes along, she was finding it hard to maintain enthusiasm.

"It's not."  A decision I made this morning, after seeing the text on her cell phone.

That message, short and sharp.  'Kill him'.

Where was she going to do it?  In the maze.  It seemed the most logical place.  And if the degree of difficulty was as hard as they said, the body might not be found for some time, certainly long enough for her to get away.

"Pity," she said.  "The photographs alone would have made a book by themselves."

This banal banter was making me sick to my stomach.  There was no point delaying the inevitable any longer.

"Ready?" I asked.

"Of course."

There was something reviling about the wat she took my hand in hers, as we strolled towards the gate.  She was quite literally leading me to my death.

A slight hesitation at the entrance, then we crossed the threshold.

Nothing.

What had I been expecting?

A minute later, going down one of the maze's lanes, there was a momentary flash of light, and then nothing.

What might have been a second, a  minute, an hour, or a lifetime, I woke, as if from a deep sleep, and opened my eyes.

I was still in the maze, but I was alone.  I sat up, the slowly got to my feet.  Nothing had changed except for the fact Louisa was not there.

"Welcome," a voice from behind me said.  Male, that of an older man.

I turned.  A man in his sixties or seventies, in an immaculate suit, white hair and well-trimmed beard.  Authoritative, well spoken, like a judge.

"Where am I?"

"The maze of course.  All you have to do is find the way out, and, if you do, you get a second chance."

"At what?"

"Life."

"And if I don't find my way out?"

"Then you are dead forever."



© Charles Heath 2019




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