The Maze. Short Story.

Gwen leaned against the wall, her breath coming in short gasps, she had been running for what felt like hours and she was still trapped in this damn maze. She raised her head and looked around, “I’m done, seriously. I quit. I want out of here.” There was no response. Part of her knew this wasn’t the game she had been told it was, but she still clung to the hope that someone would step out from behind the wall and tell her it was all just a joke. Behind her she could hear the gentle scuffle of someone approaching, Gwen stood up from the wall, her feet were aching, but she had to continue forward. She started walking at a slow pace, it was better than nothing. Her mouth was dry and her tongue stuck to the roof of her mouth. The thin cut on her arm still burned but she was able to ignore it for the most part. Her t-shirt and shorts, a clean white when she began, were already dirty and stained. She didn’t know where the others were, they had started off in a group of ten and they’d been separated one by one. She didn’t even know if they were still alive. The walls of the maze were smooth and grey, they stretched up into the sky, at least twenty feet tall, they were cold to the touch and far too smooth to climb. The ground of the maze was made of the same grey rock as the walls, but it wasn’t smooth, it was filled with cracks and dips, each one just waiting to snag an unwary foot. Gwen wiped her hair out of her face, the sweat sticking it to her scalp in clumps, when she got out of this she was going to kill Charlotte, her and her whole adventure sports kick. It was supposed to be like a haunted house maze where you had to escape, but it wasn’t supposed to be this crazy, it wasn’t supposed to be real. She had seen the maze from the outside and remembered thinking it wouldn’t be that difficult. Then they’d blindfolded everyone and brought them in. Gwen didn’t remember much of that part, hands had spun her around a few times before they started guiding her. It hadn’t seemed like they had been brought that far into the maze itself, but she had been here for hours and was no closer to finding an exit. She had thought it was all just a game, right up until one of the “actors” had attacked her with a knife. If Gwen hadn’t ducked away at the last second the cut would have been much, much deeper. A screamed echoed through the maze, Gwen stumbled to a stop, she was panting heavily, there was no sound behind her. Who had screamed? She leaned against the wall, almost sliding down it, this maze was impossible, she hadn’t even come to any dead ends yet, it just kept sprawling on and on. How was she supposed to get out if she couldn’t even find a dead end? Her breathing began to slow and steady, her dry throat was maddening, she looked up at the deep blue sky, what she wouldn’t give for a quick burst of rain, it wouldn’t be much but the drops she could catch on her tongue might ease the awful dryness in her throat. That gentle shuffling noise came from behind her again, now that she wasn’t breathing as heavily she noticed the other sound, it sounded like someone dragging the tip of a knife along a stone wall. She shuddered, the cut in her arm giving a sullen pang of pain. With a groan Gwen stood, her feet were throbbing steadily now and she began to walk as fast as she could, running was beyond her a this point.

Gwen took a left, then a right, the sound kept getting closer and closer all the time, pushing her on. She had finally accepted this wasn’t a game anymore, she had known the moment the knife had cut into her flesh and the man wielding it had raised it for another stab. She had tried to convince herself that the struggle between the man and Tom hadn’t been real, it was just acting, a fake out. She didn’t know how the struggle ended, she had already started running before she knew what she was doing, but she could guess. There had been more screams, three or four, she wasn’t sure anymore. She turned the next corner and stopped. Ahead of her was a smooth wall, she had finally found a dead end. She turned, the sound of the shuffling was close, so close it sounded like they were almost on top of her. She could try going back the way she came, but there had been no turns for a long time before this, it had just been smooth wall. She moved back until her back was pressed against the wall, maybe whoever it was was just as lost as she was, after all they couldn’t possibly be following her all this time.

The man holding the knife stepped around the corner, her grinned at her and raised the knife, he broke into a shuffling run and dove at her, Gwen screamed as the knife pierced her body, the pain was white hot and all consuming. He lashed out viciously, the blade finding it’s target again and again. When he finally stop Gwen lay in a bloody heap on the ground, her breath came in thin, reedy gasps, the man bent over and pressed the now warm blade of the knife against her throat, he winked at her, then pulled it across, her throat opening in a wide, toothless grin.

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About Alan James Keogh

I am a 26 year old writer who somehow tricked U.C.D. into giving me not only a degree in English and Classical studies, but an Hons Masters in Creative Writing too. Visit my blog where I post short stories twice a week (Monday and Wednesday) and an installment of a serialised novel on Fridays. I did consider writing this in the third person, as though it was written by someone else, but Alan is not comfortable writing in the third person as it seems kinda creepy and unbalanced so Alan decided it was probably best to write in the first person. He hopes it went well for him.
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