The Maze by Julie Dron

The narrow grassy path was soft beneath his feet as he meandered with a sense of vague amusement. He wondered how many hours were spent keeping the tall privet hedges on either side neatly trimmed. The small, firm leaves rustled in the occasional breeze, and he could hear the sound of distant chatter and laughter. Perhaps others, too, were lost. It was a hot, sultry afternoon and he was annoyed with himself for not bringing water as he began to tire from heat and thirst. Pausing to wipe his forehead with his sleeve, he realized, having patted his pockets, that he had left his phone in the car and was unable to call for help. Then he remembered the advice he had been given in the scouts, to keep to the left. He began to take longer strides, feeling positive now that he had a plan, keeping his hand lightly touching the sharp privet branches on his left.

As he turned a corner, he noticed a plaster that lay on the ground between the daisies; he had walked this route before. The plaster, with the small red stain, had disgusted him when he first spotted it. He felt annoyance at another’s carelessness and focused on his irritation in an attempt to avoid the feelings of distress that were beginning to churn within his stomach. He quickened his pace, panicking now that the sun was lower in the sky. Aware that he could no longer hear the voices of others, he stopped to listen, but it was silent, apart from the murmuring of the leaves. He tried to burrow through the hedge, perhaps he could create a straight path, anxiety overcoming concern for any potential damage he may cause, but the hedge was too thick and the scratches on his hand were deep and painful. He attempted scaling the green wall but found it impossible to get a firm foothold, falling inwards, the needle-like twigs poking his eyes. Now it was approaching the time of day some described as ‘gloaming’. He always felt uncomfortable at this time for reasons he could never quite fathom. When he was young, he had been terrified by the long, sinister shadow that followed him everywhere, like a monster ready to pounce and swallow him up. He shivered despite the warmth of the evening.

With a feeling of relief, he found the path widening. He was certain he had not been here before, finding himself in a large square space he assumed was the center; a small lawn with only a table.Perhaps he would discover instructions, a guide to the exit. As he neared the table, his body became awash with an icy cold dread; he could see now that it was in fact a hospital bed, a white sheet covering the form of a body. Overcome with a brief flash of horror, he suddenly recalled the accident, the ambulance, the sirens, the antiseptic smell of hospital corridors. He did not pull back the sheet, as he knew who lay beneath, and within a timelessness that was merely seconds, the sun sank below the horizon and a complete and eternal darkness fell.

Picture of Julie Dron

Julie Dron

Julie Dron began writing in her sixties and has since been published in a number of online journals and anthologies including The Wild Word, Wordrunner eChapbooks, Syncopation Literary Journal, Synkroniciti, Shorts Magazine, Scottish Arts Trust, Flash Fiction Magazine, Blink Ink, Amaranth and Danse Macabre.

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