Maze of Mirrors
"This is called the Maze of Mirrors!" A voice shouted, using a show host exuberance that she saw through right away. She looked around for the 'maze' but saw only five elongated wall length mirrors facing her from across the room. Outside of those mirrors, the room was empty, no maze insight.
"You will have two hours to complete the maze. Two hours to make it through the many obstacles before the other contestants and return for your prize,"
At the word 'contestants' she finally noticed that she wasn't alone in the room; ordinary, like her, taken from their jobs and everyday routine to participate in this 'Maze of Mirrors, where life is the prize' whether they had come voluntarily or not. Outside of herself, there was only one other female in the group; a track star by the looks of her training uniform. If anyone was most likely to win this maze, it would be her.
"Contestants, take your place before a mirror!"
They did as instructed, she choosing the middle mirror noting that it really wasn't a mirror after all. There was no reflection; her face didn't stare back out at her. Instead, throughout the pane swirled a silvery substance. She couldn't help but be curious as to how it would feel if she were to reach out her hand and touch it.
"Now there is only one rule. One rule that must be obeyed or else drastic measures will be used to ensure that it be obeyed. You must never stop, but keep running, must never slow but keep moving. Remember, I will be watching,"
The contestants shifted nervously at this. She eyed the track star and thought once again that the woman wouldn't have a problem with this at all. What did she know of running? She was merely a secretary!
"Good luck Contestants and speed be with you!"
All was still as she and the other contestants gazed at their 'mirrors'. Was she really to jump through that?
"Go!" the voice thundered.
She jumped into the swirling liquid more to get away from the voice than in urgency to begin the maze. Expecting a splash as she hit the liquid, she was surprised to find that she sailed through and onto the other side with little issue. She landed on her feet on the other side of the mirror in one piece, though her 'landing' was more of a 'splashing' as the mud puddle quickly ate up her dress flats.
With the Announcer's words about not stopping still fresh in her mind, she took off at a sprint down a smooth and well-worn path. It didn't matter that she left her dress flats cocooned in mud; she would purchase another pair when she got home. Right now, she couldn't stop running.
Breathing heavily after only the first thirty seconds of running, she rationalized that her chances of winning this maze based solely on her running was close to nil. Against her own violation, after two minutes her legs began to bog down and slow. She dragged in huge amounts of air but found no relief. Finally, after four minutes and with black spots dancing before her eyes, she slowed to a stop.
Bending over to rest her hands on her knees and clear her vision, she finally noticed the scenery around her. Lush and thick plants, leaves several deep shades of green, sporadic colors of flowers, all lined the dirt path like an invisible and unsurpassable fence. It looked like a paradise only mentioned in books and or paintings. The trees were so big and so large and so round that she wouldn't have been surprised if it took more than eight men with their arms outstretched to encircle the tree in the hopes that their fingertips would touch their neighbors. In a word, it was beautiful.
A sudden 'beep' sounded through the jungle followed by another 'beep'.
A sense of foreboding filled her as intuition that she had best get moving urged her on. She had taken no more than fifteen steps when a series of 'beeps' quieted the jungle around her leaving her alone in silence. The hairs prickled on her neck and she turned around to survey the dirt path behind her.
"What the…?" she whispered, slowing to a stop to take in the sight behind her. That certainly had not been there before. Behind her a couple of feet back down the trail lay a large and obscene shadow that covered more than a twenty feet of path. Give or take a few feet that still meant that whatever was creating that shadow was quite large.
Heart hammering, she stumbled back a few feet and when nothing moved, took a few steps back; still, she was the only thing that moved. She laughed and called herself three types of fool. She was just being silly, she was merely finding herself a little skittish because of the maze and jungle and there was nothing really to worry about; nothing at all. But the hairs on her neck would not go down; instead, it seemed they stiffened even more.
She whirled around and screamed.
It was like a scene out of a Jurassic Park's movie! Only she didn't have a jeep and this wasn't a movie. What could only be described as a T-Rex was running up the trail to where she stood immobile, snapping its jaws and giving out another great big "Roooaar!"
Without thinking, her brain totally turned over to gut instinct; she turned and ran down the trail. Running as fast as her legs could go, the dirt vibrating from the dinosaur's stomps, she ran to get further away from what could only be her death if she lingered or even tripped.
The vibrations got quicker and sharper which could only mean that the dinosaur was gaining on her. She screamed again.
Something up the trail hit her line of vision and she pumped her legs faster. It was a mirror, like the one she had jumped through! She was almost safe, unless of course the dinosaur could go through as well!
Less than twenty feet to go.
The T-Rex roared again, sounding closer despite how fast she was running.
She screamed, and screamed and kept on screaming, her screams mingling with the continuous roar of the T-Rex.
With only a few feet left, she jumped.
Just before she sailed through the silver liquid, she felt a searing pain in her shoulder, but worried little of it as she landed on the other side, rolling to a stop on soft grass. She lay there panting, staring up at nothing, and slowly coming to the realization that the Announcer had sent the T-Rex after her because she had broken the only rule.
Moving to get up, the searing pain moved from her shoulder down to her finger tips and up to her temple and her gasp and clutch at her shoulder. Pulling her hand away, the blood covered hand served as both a reminder and warning. Don't stop, keep running, or the next time…she didn't want to think of a next time.
Gritting her teeth, she climbed to her feet and started a slow but steady jog down the trail. Same trail, different terrain, but what scared her even more, were the sounds coming from ahead. To her, they sounded much like sounds you would hear from a battle field. She continued to jog and finally reached a break in the trees, the dirt path continuing down and through a large but empty wheat field. The dirt path continued up a slope on the other side where another mirror waited.
This 'obstacle' looked deceptively easy, but it was the majority of the dirt path in the field that posed the biggest problem. The dirt path ran straight through a battle field, reds vs. blues. The challenge was obvious, run as fast as you could to get through the field, or get caught in the middle by the two opposing forces, and the forces were already moving.
She took off sprinting towards the battle field, praying that a stray bullet or cannon ball would not fall her before she reached the other side. Who thought of these things? This was no maze that she had ever heard of, at least no maze that was humanly possible to engineer.
Gut high in her throat, she entered the field and sped up, the two sides coming closer and closer as she got further and further into the field. Screams that weren't necessarily hers filled the air as well as cannon fire and the sounds of musket balls hitting their targets and the smell of burnt sulfur and smoke filling her nose so much so that her eyes filled with tears.
Run. Run. Don't stop. Keep running. Don't stop.
She wasn't going to make it…