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Chapter 6: Labyrinth

April 6, 2013

“Come on,” Daisy said. “It’s dead creepy.”
She wanted to go up to the Oak Wood Circle.
“There’s a labyrinth. You totally have to go after dark.”

Mark had been well up for it. “Fred? You’re not scared, are you?”
“No. Actually I was gonna go drumming.”
“You don’t have to come if you’re scared.”

So Fred found himself going uphill into the deepening twilight, with his annoying brother and a girl he didn’t even know, just to prove he wasn’t scared of the dark. He wasn’t either. Not much.

The night crept up on them as they climbed. Daisy and Mark were holding hands and forging ahead. Fred got his torch out from his backpack and followed more cautiously, watching for thistles and cow-pats. They were heading up and away from the main festival, and the going was uneven. There wasn’t even a real path.

The ground levelled off at the top, and Fred saw the Circle. Stone trees like giant fossils were lit by tea lights, casting unsteady shadows. Getting closer, he saw strange figures carved into them – goblins, witches. Blank, terrified faces screamed out at him from the gnarled trunks. Nervy.

Gold streamers hung between the twelve statues, roping off the circle. There was a single gap – the entrance to the labyrinth.

He’d expected it to be a proper maze, something you could get lost in. Instead, there was a winding path, marked out with dead branches, white like bones. You followed the path: no choices, you just followed.

At the centre was something like an altar. Not a church altar, more like black magic. It was a massive rock, it reminded him of ancient standing stones, like Stonehenge. Maybe it was ancient.

He thought of Satanic rites. The flat top of the alter-rock looked just the right size for human sacrifice.

It was decorated with all kinds of trash, though. Plants in pots that were wrapped in gold paper. More tea-lights – there were tea-lights bloody everywhere. And there were all these weird little deformed people, freaky little monsters made of sticks and clay. The rock itself was strung about with more streamers, and hung with ghostly paper birds, and black stones that glinted in the flickering light. Like something out of Pirates of the Caribbean.

If you looked at them closely, you could see that the stones were carved into gruesome shapes – skulls, twisted faces, coiled-up snakes. Daisy was right. It was creepy.

“Alright, bro?”
“Scary enough for you?”
“Lame,” he said. “Crap from the Halloween shop.”

He followed the path back out of the labyrinth. Part of him wanted to just get out of there, straight over to the exit, stride out and away. But something made him keep to the path. This business of walking around and around, back and forth, it reminded him of being a kid and trying not to step on the cracks in the pavement.

Mark and Daisy stayed at the centre. They were talking, but too quiet for Fred to catch much of it.
This one’s a symbol of…. you see where this… cycles of life and death… connection with the….

He wanted to go back into the festival, but he didn’t want to walk back alone. He sat on the grass. He could see the whole thing spread out down there, bright and alive.

Now and then Daisy giggled. He didn’t look, but he could see anyway that she would be standing too close to Mark, warming herself on him, throwing herself at him. He’d been tagging around after Mark long enough to know how it would be. And then there was a silence from inside the labyrinth and that was worse than the giggling because he knew it meant they were snogging.

He lay back, flat out on the ground, and looked up. He could see stars. Hundreds of them. Thousands. He could feel the damp of the earth. He could make out the sounds of the Hare Krishnas, singing and shaking their tambourines. Fred could picture them, dancing through the night. They always seemed so happy. It must be simple to be a Krishna. He could feel their lentil stew like lead in his belly.

It was cold.

He wished he’d gone drumming.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. April 6, 2013 11:33 pm

    Wordcount – 714
    Prompt – (1) Oak Wood Circle (TOMW) and (2) Gold (SBF)

    Please suggest prompts for Chapter 7 in the comments!
    (Check the sidebar for a link to more info about this interactive project!)

  2. April 7, 2013 1:36 am


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