The Maryville Amazing Maize Maze by tygacat

The Maryville Amazing Maize Maze

A simple little story I wrote up quick for halloween. Enjoy. Contains a bit of spookiness.

The MaryVille Amazing Maize Maze

Quin walked the labyrinth that was the Maryville Amazing Maize Maze, along with two friends she had met in the walkway between the stalks. She had not seen anything of the people who had entered before her. But she really hadn't expected to. After all, she had heard the devious candor in the ticket taker's tone as they threatened to sue her for false advertisement. The taker had let the family go in free of charge, and they were oblivious to the cackling afterward. They had just threatened to leave a bad review online at that and headed into the halls of corn. Quin thought about setting up a pool on if or when they would be seen from again.

The family's complaint had been from when the ticketseller had told them that the Amazing Maize Maze was actually a labyrinth in the true sense, not a maze. A maze is a puzzle to get lost in, wandering the halls attempting to learn the corridors that would lead to the exit. But a labyrinth was just a single winding and twisting path. Often they were just painted on floors of monasteries or abbeys or the foyers of annoying people smug in their knowledge of the difference between a maze and a labyrinth. The path would be followed as a form of meditation.

Quin had bought a ticket in spite of the obvious trap nature of the corn. She had no fear of the supernatural, being a part of it herself. More than anything she was curious about the exact mystical nature of the labyrinth, if for no other reason than to critique it. It obviously had a temporal distortion quality to it. She didn't know how long she had been walking or how far. The sun seemed to be in exactly the same place in the sky as when she had entered. And she had just happened to 'catch up' to her other two traveling companions within the winding ranks. They were members of the supernatural as well.

The first was Midnight, a black cat. Not a black cat anthro furry, a regular cat that was black. And who could talk. "I'm just saying," the first thing any of the party had said after a literally immeasurable period of time, "that it gets tiresome. Half the world thinks I'm bad luck. The other half thinks I'm an adorable and poor creature for being thought of as bad luck. And the other half tries to constantly justify their apathy on the position. And I know that was three halves shut up you know what I mean."

Midnight had much to say on the nature of stereotypes regarding her species. More-so even than the actual black cat anthros that had to live with it day in and day out. Quin always had to hold her tongue around them; most of the witches and other occult practitioners she knew were black cats. Quin had always assumed it was simply hereditary. But then, she'd never exactly done a census, so who was to say that her own observances were representative of the population as a whole.

Brimstone chimed back, "And I think you need to embrace it. Make it part of your culture. You aren't to be pitied because of your nature. You should be respected! Feared! Worshiped!" The salamander who rode on Midnight's back had his own opinions about the supernatural's role in society.

"I don't want all of that, though. I just want to live my life as a normal cat. I want to be able to get head scritches and saucers of milk without any presumptions attached to them."

"Aren't actual cats lactose intolerant?" Quin questioned.

"Diarrhea will never be as bad as cream tastes."

"EW!" "Thank you for that mental image," Brimstone and Quin responded.

"You asked," Midnight had a sulking tone to her voice. "What about you, you haven't said anything about what you think."

Quin's held claim to the supernatural nature of 'werewolf.' And a true werewolf, not one of these annoying new-thinking werewolves that those who romanced the species came up with. 'Oh, they can actually change shape whenever,' 'oh, they aren't really affected by silver', 'oh, they actually...' No, she was the real deal. A human most of the month, a giant out of control ravenous wolf monster should the light of the full moon fall on her. Having her heart pierced by something silver would be the only way to slay her.

"I generally just let things be what they are."

"Easy for you to say when you're just an normal person most of the time," Midnight shot back. "Ooh, one night a month you have to sit in your basement and play Splatcraft online or whatever the game is called."

"Yes, that does make it simpler for me," Quin conceded.

"Bah," Brimstone began, "You should be out on full moon nights ripping the townsfolk to shreds! Make them cower in their shelters futilely hoping the thin wood will save them!"

"That sounds like a good way to get every piece of silver cutlery in a hundred mile radius imbedded in my skin."

"Bah, you are just like her." He nodded to the cat beneath his claws.

Quin chose to not respond. There was a reason most of the supernatural world hid themselves from the populace. It went back to the old saw about hammers and nails. The supernatural were born with their hammers. And often a specific type of hammer. So they saw all the problems as nails, specific kinds of them, and acted accordingly. But the regulars people, they had to make their own tools. And they did. They could think their way around any problem, and they would. If the problem was a giant wolf monster tearing up their loved ones once a month, one of them would figure out what kind of metal they needed to stick where.

She had almost been killed a few times that way. Sure, it was theoretically easy to just lock herself in a cellar until the moon set, and she had for most of her existence done just that. But there was always that ancient compulsion imbedded deep in her psyche, that told her 'a small look won't hurt.' Nowadays it was easier, for exactly the reason Midnight had suggested. 'I'll look at the moon after the next match,' she told herself and by the time she actually did the moon was a waning crescent.

But, yeah, in the old days there had been a few villages terrorized by her presence. A long series of months of mysteriously slain livestock becoming mysteriously slain townsfolk culminating in someone shooting her with a silver arrow or bullet or, once, fountain pen. But in each case they had missed her heart. And even though not hitting her heart didn't kill her it still knocked her for a loop. Long enough for the moon to set and her would be slayer to think they had broken her curse. She'd slip off some night, wander through the woods to a new village, and the process would start again.

"Um, guys," Midnight spoke up. Quin stopped walking and looked back at the cat whose eyes had filled with terror. "I, uh, don't know how to point this out. But, um, very slowly look down."

Quin did as instructed. She gazed down into the a blue ocean far beneath her, a bright yellow orb at an off angle shown up at them. Damn, they had gotten daydreaming and now the sky was below them. She looked up at the ground, and around at the corn. She wasn't falling away from the... roof. It made little sense. 'Down' was by definition the way the ground was, but her mind told her that down was now in the opposite direction. She looked back the way she came and saw the field with its single winding path take a giant helical twist around to the correct orientation. "Mmm..." she nodded. She pulled the scrunchie from her hair and let it go, it fell down, up, into the sapphire abyss. Her hair started to pull in that direction. The leaves of the corn plants seemed to bounce lightly as they didn't know which way they were supposed to be falling.

"We should probably just keep walking. It'll probably clear itself up." After all, this was just another trick of temporal something-or-other, the maze, er, labyrinth’s only trick. They started walking, the worst that was likely to happen from this situation was nausea.

"Do you think we broke one of the rules?"

"What rules?" Quin asked the cat.

"The lady at the front said the labyrinth had three rules, and then made a point of not telling me what they are."

"Ah, yes, I had forgotten about that. I never did figure out what the third one is."

"What do you mean, third one?" Midnight asked.

"One of them is don't pick the corn," Brimstone interjected.

"How do you figure?" Quin asked.

"I came in here with my old mistress. She brought me here. Ah, yes, I never mentioned her. She was a proper witch. A true bla..." Brimstone somehow managed to take a cue from the violently shuddering black carpet beneath... er, above him not to finish that sentence that way. "I mean, she was a person of interest in the occult, physically a, um, feline whose fur, uh, doesn't reflect much light. But shortly after we had entered the labyrinth she decided a couple of the varieties were what she needed for a spell. I looked away, not because I knew something would happen, but, um, something caught my eye. When I looked back, she was gone. Also I was on the ground, but didn't remember being dropped. I walked on for a bit and then Midnight caught up to me, and we argured for a while and then you came along.

"Don't pick the corn. Makes sense." Quin said succinctly.

"Why? What are the other two?" Midnight asked.

"Well, it is a labyrinth of corn. Obviously 'don't go back the way you came', and 'don't try to walk through the walls of corn.'"

"Yeah, that makes sense." Midnight said.

"So, your mistress," Quin asked to make conversation, a bit unusual for herself. "What sorts of magic did she dabble in."

"Oh, this and that. Mostly potions. Usually whatever floated her fancy. Something to enamor the pizza delivery guy, an elixir to de-mold the shower, a revenge potion to melt the tires on the car that almost ran her over once. She mainly kept me around for my tail. Lots of uses salamander tails. We are the workhorse of the potion world." He said with pride. "The ticket to get into this labyrinth cost one salamander tail. She paid with mine."

"Ah," Quin said, looking at the creature's full length tail.

"It grows back. That's the best part of it."

"Of course." Growing the tail back would take time. Did the fact that it had betray some reality of how time was passing in the real world, how the labyrinth attempted to mask it? Or was Quin just reading more into it than there was. She looked down at the sky again. What was this thing's end game? Did it have one?

"It cost you your tail to enter? The sign told me 'one dead bird' when I stepped into the parking lot." Midnight said. "I happened to have one. I figured I shouldn't trade my dinner, but so few people do business in that currency I figured I'd patronize them."

"What did you have to pay, Quin?" Brimstone asked.

"Five dollars."

"One of those, whatever we have on us places, then?" Brimstone remarked.

"Seems like it."

They walked on in silence some more. Midnight again was the first to break it. "Do you think, do you think this is actually going somewhere? That it's taking us to the end?"

"It is probably leading us to an end," Quin darkly remarked.

Midnight stopped walking. Quin stopped a bit in front of her and looked back. The cat was looking back the way they had come. They were still in topsy-turvy land, but in the distance they could still see the maze wrap around right-side-up.

"I think we already determined that going backward is a bad idea." Quin usually wasn't one to care what other people did. But Midnight and Brimstone, well, they weren't exactly friends as she'd only known them for... since she ran into them here. But it brought to mind how few friends she'd actually had in her life.

"But we don't know if staying to the path will actually get us anywhere."

Quin knew that. "What do you think, Brimstone?"

"I, I kind of am thinking the same as Midnight. I know, for once. But, we don't... I don't know. We don't know for sure that is the rule either. It could be a trick."

It could be. But was it. Quin knew it wasn't. "It's up to you two." She knew what it was like to be compelled to do something, even knowing full well it was wrong. She didn't want to leave them. She didn't want them to leave her. But she had told them about the not going back thing. She had opened the possibility to them. And she could not stop them.

She looked down at the cat, but the cat was not there. Quin looked along the path in both directions, they were nowhere. A single step would have been all it would have taken, and apparently Midnight had taken it. One step back. The rule broken. Quin turned and walked forward through the labyrinth.

She walked, alone with her thoughts. The path righted itself at some point. The sun set, the moon rose. Quin hadn't noticed. When she finally did, she looked up into the full, silver orb. She looked down at herself, still her human form. Her usual rules didn't apply here, apparently. Not surprising, but still she was surprised. What phase was the moon in the day she had come in here? She looked back, and forward along the path. Her friends weren't there. The people who entered before her were not there. There was only the corn.

What was the price for breaking the rules? Snuffed out of existence? Taken to some other place even more lost than this? Magically evicted from the maze without refund?

Quin looked at the corn. Her friends had broken one rule, the witch another. The people before her broke an even more basic rule; 'don't try to one up a creepy old shopkeep.' There was only one rule left to be broken. She could continue down the path. She should. See where it leads. The next bend could be the end. But she knew that's what she wasn't going to do. She put her hands between the stalks and pushed them aside. She stepped through the wall of the corn.

The Maryville Amazing Maize Maze

tygacat

31 October 2015 at 15:07:25 MDT

Halloween story involving a corn maze (actually a labyrinth, not a maze.)

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