Monday, January 26, 2015

The Maze

Within the dungeon there was darkness; darkness and the maze.

There were no chains to bind, no doors to lock, and no guards to police the prisoners. In fact, those held within its walls were free to leave the dungeon, if they were to ever find their way out of the maze. None ever had.

Uclin felt his way along the rough stones of the maze's wall as he stumble through the seemingly endless passages that led to dead-ends, spiked pits, and deadly booby-traps. Though mostly, each corridor only led to another extensive corridor.

Wandering maze's passageways for what seemed like days; he had woken up in the midst of a pile of rotting old bones with no knowledge of how he had gotten there and started out abruptly in the direction away from the horrid noises coming from one of the doorways that he had been faced with in the circular room.

Though now it seemed that the strange, inhuman shrieks and shouts were always in the corridor just behind him. Edging him onward through exhaustion, for fear that they would overtake him.

The fear of what was chasing him in the dark was greater than that of what awaited him around the next corner so he pushed on, fatigued and famished, fighting to stay awake; fighting to stay alive long enough to find out why he had been trapped in this nightmare.

For a moment the screeching had lulled behind him and he paused to lean against the cold, damp stone wall and closed his eyes to rest despite the terror behind him. He tried to recall where had been before the maze, yet try as he might; his mind could only show him the eternal darkness of the labyrinth's walls.

A terrifying roar close behind him jolted him out of his respite and he dashed haphazardly forward, his weak legs threatening to give out from under him at any moment.

His bare foot struck against a fallen stone on the ground and he stumbled to his knees, scraping them as he fell hard on the dirty pathway. Rolling over quickly to look see the creature that was chasing him, Uclin only saw the darkness of the corridor he had come from.

Breathing heavily, he relaxed and chuckled to himself for being so frightened; jumping at shadows.  Then a huge, monstrous shape lunged out of the doorway and bore down on him.

In the dimness, his panicked mind made momentary sense of the beast's shape and Uclin only had a moment of recognition before the giant ant was upon him; before it was too late.

The acid-slobbering ant tore his frail body to shreds as his screams of pain gurgled into silence.

Only taking a few moments, the ant's rampage left Uclin's mutilated body in a heap on the ground as it scuttled on down the corridor; another victim in dark of the dungeon.

Another victim of the maze.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Max Mittens

Max paced the rain-slicked pavement, deep in concentration, oblivious to the others hurriedly going about their duties, all while keeping a wary eye on him.

The grizzly scene before him posed an intriguing tableau of events that had played out only what could have been a few hours earlier; an incident of carnage and horror in the dark hours of the night.

Two mangled victims, their bodies torn apart, were barely recognizable as having been living, breathing beings a short while ago. Entrails and body parts lay heaped in a dark pool of blood that Max now circled around; taking in all the information laid bare for anyone who knew what to look for could read and interpret.

A gruff grunt beside him broke is concentration as he realized he had almost trod upon the Constable.

"Well?" Constable Bruno grumbled. "Your 'sharp eyes' see anything of use, detective?"

Barely taking his eyes from the victims on the ground, Max looked sideways at the bulldog and scratched behind his ear.

"There is plenty 'of use', Constable." He answered in his plain, matter-of-fact tone. "Even with your hounds trampling through the scene like boorish oafs, I can still differentiate them from whatever creature has perpetrated this heinous affair."

The other officers around them growled and snarled at his insult, some even lunged at Max as he deftly leapt out of their range.

Constable Bruno barked deeply as he moved between his officers and Max to quell their aggression.

"Now listen here, you mangy fop." Bruno advised with controlled rage in his voice, "I only allowed you to come down here as a courtesy, seeing as this has effected both our peoples. But I won't think twice about chomping you in two if you keep up that smarmy attitude of yours and insulting my boys."

Max looked at his front claws nonchalantly, ignoring the jostling pack behind the bulldog police constable.

"My apologies, old chap." Max said cheerily, "no offence intended. Sorry, boys; doing a bang up job." He managed not to roll his eyes as he said the last.

The rest of the police dogs snorted and started to go back to sweeping the scene at Bruno's nod.

"Alright," Bruno turned his attention back to Max. "You said a 'creature' did this? You don't think it was someone from either your camp or ours?"

Max regarded the stocky constable with slightly less disparagement than he had before, "You are quicker than I gave you credit for, Constable."

Hopping around the piles of butchery on the ground of the alleyway, Max knelt down to take a closer inspection.

"Let me ask you, Constable Bruno," he quarried as he looked over the bloody mess. "You have heard of the phrase, 'Occam's Razor', have you not? The simplest solution to a problem, however seemingly improbable, must be the correct one?"

"Yes of course." Bruno replied indignantly, adjusting his bowler hat so it sat slightly askew atop his massive head.

"Well then," Max continued. "I have followed these cases of mysterious mutilations around the city for the past few months. The different victims from both of our respective communities, the locations, all seemingly unconnected save for the manner in which they were killed.

"And now, seeing an actual display of the crime first hand, I have to conclude that, though they do suggest a certain, how would you say, method, not dissimilar to that of either community, I do not believe either cat, or dog were involved. Indeed, I might go further to suggest that all the victims found so far, were attacked by a felis lupus."

Bruno pushed back his hat and rumpled his already wrinkly brow in confusion,

"A what?"

Max straighten up and looked around at the other officers who had gathered around once again, but this time very intent with curiosity at what Max was saying; a lone cat amongst a pack of dogs.

He cleared his throat,

"A felis lupus; half-cat, half-wolf." He paused for a moment then finished their thought.

"In other words, a werecat."

Thunder rumbled and the rain started to fall upon the waking city once again; the full moon dipping below the skyline and out of sight.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Missing Piece

As he slid the last piece of the border into place, Sam nodded to himself with satisfaction. After all, he had done pretty well considering the puzzle's box was so faded and scuffed, he had no idea what it was a picture of.

He had found it on the shelf amongst the pile of old board games and children's books in one of the log cabin's back bedrooms. There was nothing else to do while he waited for the others to arrive so he had poured the pieces out on the kitchen table and began searching for all the edge parts.

Now that the border was done, the more arduous task of turning all the other pieces over and figuring out where they went began.

Surprisingly, with no radio, phone, or any other distractions to impede him, Sam was able to concentrate on the puzzle with feverish ease.

Only a few hours had passed and he had already finished a large chunk of the picture, which seemed to be the interior scene of an old, wooden cabin. Not unlike the very one he and his friends had rented for the weekend.

He had arrived early, but as he looked outside and saw the sun setting through the soot-covered windows he thought that they should have been there by now.

Checking his phone, he was once again ensured there was no reception and no messages had come through as to where they were.

Looking back at the puzzle he saw how much he had actually finished and was even more impressed with himself. Then he took a closer look and noticed the lantern on the wall shelf in the corner of the puzzle's cabin was very similar to the red one on the shelf in front of him.

Not just similar in fact, exactly the same.

The old gas stove in the kitchen was also very like the white one he had just pieced together in the puzzle.

Glancing from puzzle to actual cabin, it became apparent that everything was the exact same; same cabinets in the kitchen, same clock on the wall, same grimy windows; every detail the same.

Maybe it was one of those puzzles you could get made from a person picture or painting, Sam thought. However, the box, though old and worn, seemed store bought, with a specific picture once on the front cover.

Strange he thought, but now that he had realized it, it made finding the pieces much easier. He had the cabin itself as a reference now and it he started to put it together at an even quicker pace than before.

A few unnoticed hours went by as he worked away, until there were only a few pieces in the middle left to put in place.

There seemed to be someone sitting at the picnic table in the kitchen, the double of the one he was seated at. As he positioned a few more pieces into their spots he leaned back and regarded the figure in the chair.

They had their back to him it would seem, and had a red plaid shirt on, almost the exact colour as the one he himself was wearing. No, not almost. The exact some colour as his.

Sam furrowed his brow with unease as he looked down at the scene he had almost completed putting together.

A scene that was unnervingly similar to reality at the moment.

Taking his hand away, he saw that there was only one piece left, the one to complete the seated figure's hunched over body.

After a few moments of gazing at the hole in the middle of the puzzle, he looked around the table to find the completing piece, but there were none more to be found on the table.

Sam then ducked down to see if it had fallen under the table but the floor was bare.

He walked over to the counter where he had left the box and opened it only to find that too was devoid of any puzzle piece.

Scratching his head, Sam sat back down at the table and stared at the incomplete jigsaw. Every detail of the puzzle's scene exactly the same as when he looked at around the real room, the only detail missing was the last piece; the figure's missing piece.

Feeling an odd hollow sensation he looked down to see a puzzle piece shaped hole where his chest should have been.

Jolting to his feet he turned to see his reflection in the mirror that hung beside the cabin's front door.

The hole went all the way through so that he could see the hallway door behind him. The strength went out of his legs and he dropped heavily into the table's chair.

His vision started to blur and dim as he started to move a hand to touch the sides of the gaping hole in his chest, but his arm dropped back down limply and he slumped forward lifelessly onto the table.

The cuckoo clock on the wall and inside the puzzle chimed and went silent.

Friday, January 2, 2015

The Trap

Thick snow flakes fell gently down upon Jon's shoulders as he walked across the empty parking lot, a singular lamp post ahead of him lit the small area directly around it.

The fresh blanket of snow undisturbed, save for his own tracks as he made his way home in the muffled silence of the evening.

While he trudged along he looked up at the darkening sky and watched the flakes as they seemed to appear from the nothingness above and fall quietly down to earth.

When he looked back down, he noticed a solid black box sitting on the ground underneath the lamp's circle of amber light.

Had it been there before?

No snow covered it at all; in fact, as he drew nearer, the snow seemed to fall all about it, yet somehow did not land on its smooth, lacquered surface.

Jon came to a stop in front of the box and looked down at it with curiosity.

Was there a humming coming from within it?

Perhaps there was some motor or other machinery inside creating enough heat to cause the snow to melt before it could settle on the top.

Though, he could see the snow falling around it, never landing directly onto its lid; its lid. This close to it, he now noticed the tiny seam where the top separated from the bottom.

Tentatively, Jon reached down with his gloved hand and the humming he thought he heard grew louder in his ears.

No, not in his ears, the humming was in his head, as if it was some forgotten melody; a warm, inviting hum that filled him with a sense of delight and wonder.

However, underneath, there was a tinge of something else, almost a warning of something slightly askew.

But curiosity overwhelmed his underlying unease and he slipped his thumb under the lip of the lid and lifted it open easily on its hinges.

Inside he found no machinery or electronics; in fact there was nothing inside the rectangle box at all, just darkness.

Trying to adjust his eyes to see to the bottom of the box, he found he could only see darkness within.

Peering into the void of the box, Jon was not aware of the looming figure that has silently arrived behind him; a shadow-robed figure that towered over Jon like a hulking mass of malice.

What could only be described as the creature's feet, peeked out from the bottom of its shroud; scaly and claw-toed, they suggested a monstrous apparition hidden underneath.

As the creature stood above the tiny figure of Jon, chest raising and lowering steadily, its nightmarishly clawed hands clenched and unclenched with anticipation; an unnoticed dread in the peacefully falling snow.

Silently, it observed Jon as he knelt, entranced by the coffin-shaped box that would soon be his tomb.