I am quite enjoying the bare beginnings of spring here and planning away on Evernost. Meanwhile, today I thought I’d share another writing exercise from my writing group!  The prompt here was something along the lines of the following: “You wake up in a maze of walls covered in leafy vines with a sign reading, ‘You have one hour. Don’t touch the walls.'”

I looked at the sign and felt sick, exhausted dread fill me. I could tell this was one of those nightmares where you always fail,  and I hadn’t even started, and more than anything I wanted to sleep.

“One hour to what?” I asked and got no reply but birdsong. The sky was dim purplish blue–it looked about dawn. It was too cold outside, too. I was already in fetal position–how I sleep–but I pulled my arms tighter around my knees. “To get out, I assume?” I said, looking at the corners. “Or what? The T-Rex eats me?”

I looked at my wrist, but there was no watch. My phone wasn’t on me either. I saw no sign of a timepiece anywhere. Shit.

For some reason–despair or the inexplicable self-destructiveness of dreams–I closed my eyes. I told myself I’d count to ten and then stand up, but ten seconds stretched to sixty stretched to pink streaks all across the sky the next time I opened my eyes.

I stood, frightened into that much action, at least, and started down one leafy corridor. My breath steamed out in white. I took random turns–or, rather, the turns that my instincts suggested–and when that brought me to a dead end, I screamed in frustration.

I couldn’t even remember which way I’d come, though if my brain had been working, I would have been, like, memorizing sequences of turns or looking for variations in the walls. I resolved to start doing so at once and started trying to take the path that felt least congenial instead of most, but brains are (ha-ha) labyrinthine, and identifying those turns grew harder with each effort.

My resolve lasted three left turns, a right, and then a bronze sun face set into the wall, partly obscured by ivy. I had to remind myself not to pull it aside (though why I was following the dictates of that sign was beyond me, I felt compelled to all the same).

I reached another dead end with almost no idea of how I’d gotten there and set out on a third path. At the third dead end, I grew so angry–at myself, the situation, or both–all I could do was the wrong thing. The anger was a strange, untrustworthy anger that felt like more dream compulsion.

Still, I ripped aside the ivy and put both my hands squarely on the wall. Nothing happened. “So they were just trying to trick me out of that thing where you put your hand on the wall and follow it,” I said. “I don’t know if that even–”

But at that moment the sun crept over the wall, and the sun was a flock of eagles, and the eagles fell on me and tore me to pieces. In my last moments I felt sure I would wake up at home, my heart pounding with terror, but I haven’t yet, and it’s felt like centuries getting myself even a voice enough to tell my story–I don’t know if the labyrinth is still there, because I still haven’t managed to make myself anything you’d call senses. But here, in the unlikely event you know enough to do anything for me, or even care, is my plea for help.

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