70: The Maze

At the bottom of the steep hill lay what might once have been an old hedge maze. It twisted and wound inside itself, while any challenge it may once have held had long since vanished; The hedges themselves, even from this distance, looked weak and perforated. The entrance was a large gap in the hedge, flanked by two skeletal statues, one resting a flute against it’s marble teeth, the other leaning its head on a violin, bow poised to play.


Image: Uncredited, redberryfarm.co.za

It would have been an imposing image for anyone entering the maze, had not three other large holes into the maze been visible, making the hedge look more like the ancient ruins of a castle than a twisting labyrinth. Edmund shrugged his shoulders against the wind, and plunged forwards into the gray maze.

The dark mist made the way harder to find than Edmund had thought it would. The holes in the hedge provided almost no guidance or direction to his wandering, and his concern became not finding his way out again, but rather finding anything at all in the twisted hodgepodge of branches and leaves. Even walking in a straight line proved difficult with the mists and greenery obscuring his way.

Thankfully, Moulde Hall proved a compass point for Edmund. When he could manage to peer through the mists, the two tall towers of the mansion rose over the hedges, and he could usually keep his bearings. It served him little, though, as he had no idea where he was going or even if there was anywhere to go.

He was considering turning back when a large shape loomed out of the mists in to his right. Edmund gave a cry and jumped away only to bruise himself on a large hard surface that appeared to his left. Edmund staggered, bracing himself to run, when he realized he was jumping at statues. It was a statue of a large grandfather clock, similar to the one that sat in the foyer, except this one was covered with a large group of ravens. Edmund he turned to see that he had hurt himself on another statue, this one of a man with his head in his hands. Looking through the mist, Edmund could see another statue next to it, and another after that. Edmund walked down the path and counted almost thirty statues of various shape and size.

There were statues of men and women, probably lords of the manor, and a few animals. One was a snake, coiled around a sword sticking straight into the ground like a cross, while another one was a sundial that appeared to be made entirely of stones shaped like human and animal bones. Strange and abstract geometric shapes piled on top of each other, creating impossible angles. A thin man was playing chess against an empty chair. A small cat sat on a large plush pillow. A child screamed as she held a balloon, while across the path an old man grinned with a sinister rictus. The statues stretched off into the sooty fog, and seemed to reach out from the mists towards Edmund as he walked along the path.

The last statue was that of a short man, only a head taller than Edmund, holding an umbrella. The statue startled Edmund fiercely when it took a small step forward and spoke to him.

“Master Edmund,” Mr. Shobbinton smiled slowly. “How nice to find you outside, alone.”


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