No one had successfully managed to circumnavigate the bone maze before. Theoretically, if you followed the clearest path, you could get through it in an hour at most. But no one ever did. At best, they came back out the entrance, starving and half-mad. At worst, well, no one knew how bad “worst” could be if no one came back.
Jill figured the trick was to avoid the clear path. If no one came out except back through the entrance, the conventional wisdom was wrong. Upon entering the bone maze, the path forked. One side was beaten by footprints. The other was overgrown, with bone shards sprinkled everywhere. Jill took the latter road. The splintered spears of bone threatened to tear through her boots, even when she was cautious to avoid them. She had to push away the arms and legs bristling from the bone walls, sometimes snapping them off with a sickening noise like twisting apart a sapling.
With every turn, the bone walls grew tighter, the brambles and brush along the path grew denser. She lost her laces long ago, pulled apart and unthreaded as though by magic. Her boots were loose against her ankles, and they peeled open when clutched by thorns and bone spears, but they held fast to her nimble feet.
Scratched and clawed and raked by bone and brush, Jill pressed on, turning side-face to fit through the closing walls. She began to doubt herself–mazes usually had dead ends, not tapered points. But then, the whole maze was dead, and the end for many. She wondered how many skulls and teeth snapping under her feet were lost travelers like her. Why did she come here again?
At last, she reached a dead end. The walls tapered to a sharp white point, dense with countless skeletal remains. She sighed, and began to turn back, wondering where she made a wrong turn (thus far she always picked the paths of most resistance), when something caught her eye at the tip of the tapered point. Something inside it moved slower than the surrounding area when she shifted her vision. Yes–there was a slit in the taper, masked by the bone wall immediately behind it–but not so immediately that she couldn’t squeeze through.
Splintered bone penetrated her clothes and flesh, drawing blood and making her snarl in pain as she pressed herself through the iron maiden of clenching teeth. She snaked her arm through–this was definitely not a dead end. Slowly, carefully, she inched her skin through the crack. Blood ran into her eyes, but her arms were too tangled to be able to wipe the blindness away.
Free. She was through. She didn’t know how long she had spent tangled in that tapered point, but her arms were free. She wiped away the blood that reddened her vision, only to find that her vision remained red.
She had made it through the bone maze. Now she was in the blood maze.
Day 340’s three random writing prompt categories were, “Stay on the path,” “A maze,” and, “Too many bones.”
Kind of a macabre Jules Verne story. Yuck.