Fog and Mirrors
Photo by Scott Rodgerson on Unsplash
It was like a bad dream. Kayla watched helplessly as Matt scraped at the glass barrier, the looming shadow in the approaching fog lumbered closer as his desperate scratching turned frantic, deranged.
He beat at the glass, sending the droplets scattering, he was begging, pleading.
But she could do nothing.
The creature grabbed him by the head and tore him into the airy depths. His hand print in the condensation faded with his screams, the flecks of blood did not.
It was still there, watching her. The creature leered from its constant shroud.
With a shaky breath she sniffled and tried to calm herself. It couldn’t get to her, the fog was not in her corridor yet. It couldn’t. Not yet.
She turned from the hulking menace and inched down the transparent hallway. Cautious, timid, every step certain to break through the glass flooring. Like it had for the others, like for Matt before they were separated in this cruel, sadistic maze.
The labyrinth stretched into the astral infinity, out here in the void between stars, corridors upon corridors of glass. A mix of translucent, reflective and two-way mirrors which refracted and scattered the celestial expanse in perpetuity. They crossed over head, below, shifted constantly with impossible mechanisms and lay with deadly trap doors and spring walls.
The enormity of the labyrinth was matched only by the claustrophobia of the corridor she now tread. It pressed in on all sides, leaving streaks of sweat and grease and condensation in her wake.
Reflections upon refractions upon shifting upon madness, this was a sinister playhouse for the deranged.
A hiss, a hint of moisture, she paled and turned as the glass wall slid open and the fog billowed into her compartment.
“No,” she sprinted, throwing caution to the wind as the glass pane flooring rattled with the presence of the beast.
It was inside, it was close.
Panic consumed reason, out of everyone that she had encountered by chance up until now, none had survived. Some were left as puddles of red slush, others torn and splattered across the moist walls. It had got them all, and she was next.
A click, the hallway rotated ninety degrees under her feet, she fell sideways, slamming into the wall which was now the floor and desperately rolled and scrambled into a sprint again. The beast roared in frustration. Ahead the hallway forked, one path heading up and the other down, she sprinted into a skid and slid down the glass ramp, the foundations cracked behind her as the beast slammed into the junction.
The groaning wail of her flesh against glass was interrupted by another click, and the ramp swung down on a hinge. She fell through the vast emptiness between the corridors in the dark, slammed through the ceiling of a below corridor which shattered into thousands of shards and hit the floor with a crack. Kayla was too winded to scream, her blood poured from a dozen cuts.
She groaned as she crawled onto her hands and feet, the glass grating beneath her. Before her, the central hall waited, open and inviting, another cruel ploy. That was how Linda died, they rotated the labyrinth when she was halfway through the junction and sliced her with transparent walls. The voice at the beginning had said that the button within that hall would end the game.
And then the killing began.
The fog drifted from above and the ceiling behind her shattered as the beast fell through it, through the floor and into the next corridor below. The glass cracked beneath her and she realised she had no choice, she had to brave the mechanisms of the labyrinth.
The beast roared and leaped from the lower corridor, its claws raked against the floor and cracked her corridor more. With a cry she up and bolted to the centre, to apparent salvation.
A click, the hallway rotated but she was ready for it, cart wheeling onto the wall and then the ceiling as it became the floor. The hallway before her snapped, opening up like a drawbridge, she sprinted up the sudden incline, leaped and slid down the decline before a sliding pane barred her path.
She was a few paces from the central hall. The wall that got Linda slid down to trap her and she grit her teeth to the task, knowing that it all it took to shatter the ceiling was her body’s complete committal to slamming into it.
She felt the wisps of fog at her heels, the braying grunt of the beast, and slammed through the pane into the centre.
There was another explosion of crystalline shards and with a scream she tore through the razor debris towards the dais where the end button was.
The fog encircled her thigh and gripped tightly, claws raking at her flesh and she screamed again, but she hit the button.
The beast roared as the open space whirred to life with the sound of… fans? The fog was siphoned away through vents in the mirrored floor, like the seeping of water, and the writhing beast relinquished her flesh.
It sprawled on the reflective surface, desiccating, a monstrous several horned behemoth which withered and shrivelled into a weeping husk before her.
“Very good.” A platform hovered down into her view from the dark recesses of the great hall, a mirrored box with the impression of vague figures within. “Very good indeed, put the beast out of its misery and you can enjoy home.”
The button retracted into the ground and a strange looking weapon was raised in its place. It looked like a jet turbine, elongated and sleek with a shoulder butt and trigger. She grabbed it, put it to the creature’s head, and pressed the trigger.
Nothing happened, but slowly, the turbine started to whir.
“Not a moment’s hesitation, you are a fierce one. I suppose that’s how you broke through our little mouse trap.”
She butted the barrel against the beast’s head, swearing in frustration, the beast that had stalked her for days, that had killed her friends and many others. The whirring intensified.
“Once the turbine has built up enough speed the rivet will fire, little human, do not worry. We had wondered which of your species would rise to the task, we found fighters, soldiers, gymnasts, traceurs, runners, climbers, puzzle masters… but only you survived.”
The beast looked up into her eyes, they were dry, the veins peeling from its hideous sockets as it whimpered, shaking its head in pain.
“What are you?” The spectators asked.
The fans clicked and reversed, Kayla felt the wisps of fog encircle her ankles, seep into her flesh and she knew exactly what her fate would entail. Home would become this labyrinth, she would become a new beast to stalk other hapless prisoners in this cruel, sadistic game.
As the turbine weapon reached its crescendo she aimed at the platform.
“I’m someone you shouldn’t have fucked with.”
The rivet flew from the weapon and shattered the platform, the bizarre creatures within wailed as they plummeted to their deaths and the entire glass labyrinth shattered in their wake, the winds and moisture rushed out into the void, and Kayla, accepted the win.
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