The iron stairs rattle as the boys spiral down.
(They are so very cute with their dark brown hair and eyes like chocolate. Their movements remind me of dancers and tai chi practitioners. Appearances aside, I’m not sure leaving the safety of the world in their hands is the best idea.
Logan still hasn’t found the book of instructions I left in his pocket.
I just want to reach through the fire and smack him in the face.
I need him here, in my sanctum, not fumbling through the passages risking injury and worse.
So I wait for them to reach the bottom and look both ways. For this staircase only leads to the first level of the labyrinth.)
They pause, look at each other and back down the tunnel.
(There is unnatural light. A light I leave glowing all the time. The lights are the last to go in an intrusion. Make enough mistakes and darkness falls on the intruder until I decide to find him.)
The boys walk down to the first junction. It is full of shadows, the light from the tunnels barely brush through it.
Logan pulls his knife.
(Ok. Maybe there is some hope for them as Logan follows his instincts and doesn’t race into the opening.)
He looks around and pulls a loose brick from the wall. He tosses it to the center of the crossroad.
Spikes rise up and fall down crashing together like angry teeth, echoing down the halls of my maze.
Had they been careless enough to step there, their blood would have soaked the skeletons already caught in the cage.
They back up from the junction and look to the one behind them.
(I know what they are thinking. They are wondering if it is safe for them to go anywhere down here.
I dim the lights.)
The boys swivel on their heels and crouch. Nick pulls his gun.
The glowing girl that helped Nick before skips into view.
Nick’s footsteps echo as he races to her. She smiles and disappears down a turn in the tunnel.
They reach the other branch. There is no sign of her, but a book lies at their feet.
(I turn the lights back up.)
Logan picks it up. It’s one of my favorites: Tolkien’s The Hobbit. He flips through it and a piece of paper falls to the ground.
On it is a list of riddles.
(You know the riddles, the riddles tossed between the Golem and Bilbo Baggins. Riddles of mountains, teeth, and time. If you don’t remember, I can pause for a moment, let you look them up. Stop at the last one, the one that seems a cheat, the one that enrages the Golem.
Logan reads the riddles. All of them have the answers. All but one, the last one.
What is in my pocket?
“What the hell?” Logan hisses more to himself than Nick. “Ok, wait. Why do we think she’s down here in the bowels of the school?”
“Garrett said it would be hard to find her. It’s not like she has an address.”
(Yeah, I kinda do. I have a few of them.
However, the boys are on a quest and true Quests don’t come with Google© maps…usually.)
“So we’re just going to ignore the vamp hanging out in a high school, ignore the teenage girl who says Chloe volunteers upstairs and slide down the rabbit hole to explore a labyrinth with death traps?”
“I know it’s strange, but did you see that little girl? The ghostly girl?” Nick asks.
“Yeah, so? Only makes me wanna stay far away from the maze of death. What in our lives makes you think that following a ghost is a good idea?”
“When I keep thinking I know her.”
“From where? When?”
Nick shakes his head and grabs it as if to fend off pain. “Aggghh,” he growls, “I can’t remember!”
“So let me get this straight, we don’t stake the vamp or listen to the living girl. We do listen to the dead girl and follow the unholy brick road.” Logan paces a few steps back towards the spiral staircase. Then, he returns, staring at his brother. “Fine. Your way. Check your pockets.”
They both rummage through the pockets of their jeans, patting themselves, checking hidden places, reassuring that their weapons are still present.
Nick pulls out a phone, a lighter, a few receipts, the keys to the truck, his wallet, paperclips.
Logan slides out a phone, another phone, a lighter, his wallet, a small lock pick set, a couple of receipts and…something he’s not seen before. It’s a book, small enough to fit in the palm of his hand.
Inside the book are simple directions and a few pages of riddles that don’t immediately make sense.
Logan reads, Nick counts steps and they make their way through tunnels made of brick, lit without candles or electricity. In dark corners, they catch glimpses of skeletons. Logan peers at one that looks like it may have been a deer. But it’s hooves have fingers and toes armed with black claws.
“Yeah,” he says to himself, “unless it moves, just don’t freakin’ look.”
(Oh my God, finally. You would think people as intuitive as these boys would know when they were carrying something they hadn’t before. I shake my head and wave a hand over my fire changing the scene.
They should be fine now, I’ll check back with them in a few.)