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April 15, 2024

If These Walls Could Talk

By Lydia Manx

You wander through the maze and wonder at the scent of roses because there are no flowers or petals to be seen. Instead, you continued to follow the faint trails of blue-green grass underfoot, and you see that some of the bends in the blades are pointed in the direction of the walls of foliage blocking every other twist and turn. You're confused how the maze is able to swallow any signs of others. There are others -- because you can hear the voices bouncing in the distance. The echoes of words reverberate around you and you can't figure out what is being said. Confused, you shake your head and focus.

Slowly turning back around, you take a few paces to where the blades of grass are even more confusing. Something is off and you know it. Your eyes try to pick out what the difference is between this patch of grass and the others you'd already dismissed. Going to your knees, you lean down. Carefully you put your face to the edge of the plants that line the walls of the maze. You are desperate to escape, but know that rational thoughts need to be fueled by calm feelings and decisiveness, not fears and trauma. Because you have had enough trauma for the decade: you decided that after the last go-round of fire. The scorch marks on your cape attest to it. No amount of cleaning was going to ever rid the fabric of that burnt fiber smell. You shrug.

How could you have known that pulling the fire alarm switch would result in a giant bolt of fire to strike you? You were happy that your cape was flame retardant as you huddled in the corner of the pathway that led to nowhere. It took you a while to stop shaking and a few beats longer for the fire to die down. It was a lesson well learned. Even if it was going to cost you dear to replace the cape, at least your skin was unmarred.

A puff of air flows over your face as you huddle on the ground trying to find the gap. Visually it is solid to your eyes. You know eyes lie and you relax and try to ignore the tension riding your spine. Being locked in a maze wasn't high on your list of fun activities. Another burst of a floral scent wafts over your face. It comes from the other side of the edge. It defies the logic of the greenery, but confirms something you had figured out. You carefully stand upright with your staff now firmly in your hand. The wood warms to your touch and empowers you. Unhesitatingly facing the wall of green you tilt your head slightly and concentrate.

"Ubi Ruby -- Sensing on!" Your voice is strong while your hand trembles ever so slightly. The blaze of red runs off the tip of your staff and strikes to the middle of the lush appearing greenery. The ivy-like mess in front of your face shimmers.

A spark of light dances in the middle of the leaves at eye level. They remind you of the brambles you used to cut away from your grandparents cottage. The red burst flashes once again and then everything turns blue. There's an opening. Cautiously, you walk through the gap and find that you have actually escaped the maze. A few tendrils of hooked barbs clung to your cloak in a sorry attempt to keep you inside the hellish maze. They had to give in as you cleared the magic threshold your spell unveiled. You have a queasy feeling in your stomach, but make it to the other side.

The sky is bluer than before and there are now two moons on the horizon. The maze has disappeared behind you as if it'd never been there. It dawns on you that maybe it hadn't. Finally you are free of the maze and outside. Unfortunately, it's not somewhere you'd ever been. Sighing you consult your handbook. The screen was dark until you touched the top right corner. A purple glow comes into view and the screen is lit up with various options. You tap the voice button.

"Where I am?" You ask softly, still looking disbelievingly for the missing maze. The day had been far too full of surprises. You see a thicket of rose-like bushes. The flowers are pink and fragrant. That explained the scent that had been haunting you.

"Welcome to Paradise." The handbook was pure upper crust British snob. The handbook wasn't controllable but it was something that had saved your life more than once. You'd tried more than once to switch the voice to a different timber or tone to no avail. You were stuck with Snooty.

"Paradise?" Your voice was dry and harsh. You made a mental note to get some liquids in soon or you'd be mute. That was never good for a spell caster. "Of course. Paradise, Yurnia. A subplanet created after the Rift Wars. Is there another?"

Looking around you shrugged and said, "I guess not."

Staff in hand, you set out with the handbook to see this new world. Yurnia is inhabited, you observe. The rustling of plants and the whispering of voices just out of range were irritating, but didn't strike you as dangerous. It was a pretty subplanet from what you see. The plants are amazingly familiar and most of them would have fit right into your grandmother's neighborhood.

Then you stumble into a blue tree. Totally blue with dark sapphire blue bark and cerulean leaves. Something catches in your throat as you gaze at the tree that must be well over twenty feet tall. The tree is off the pathway you'd been following. Your mind had somehow missed the coloring until you were nearly on top of it. A haze of fog dances in and out of the area, but that wasn't why you missed the large blue tree.

The tree speaks, "What are you?"

Okay, that's a new one. "A spell caster."

Nothing to see here. You wonder if that Jedi mind trick can work on a tree. Magic has its own mind, but still you figure it's worth a try. A thin bead of sweat runs down your face as you push the mental enchantment. It isn't the hardest of your spells but seems empty in this odd world. You feel a strum of an echo and nothing dances back. Most spells dance to and from you. That is what a spell caster does.

The rustling of leaves sounds like shards of glass falling. You cringe and wonder if the leaves are made of something deadly or if your mind has finally snapped. The tree is impervious to the spell.

"A spell caster. Hmm, I haven't met one of your kind before. Are you here to do me harm?" Your mental pushes don't seem to register at all. It's a mildly disturbing fact, but you have become resigned to the oddities of this subplanet. Besides you've never tried to blend into the background with a blue talking tree interested in having some sort of dialogue. The closer you get to the tree the more your spider-senses tingle.

Once you are within touching distance of the tree you feel calm and relaxed. It dawns on you that the tree has some magic of its own. A step back and you look up to see prisms of blue darting between the leaves. The skip of light and otherly bits transfix you until you physically shake and turn away from the delightful array. The blue tree isn't just a stout and firm bit of this sub planet's nature you realize as you get your mind back. It's different.

"Spell caster. You were in the maze? How did you escape?" A trickle of bemused inquiry and you understand you did truly triumph and death was cheated again. A smile dances over your face and you feel warm and fuzzy. The tree is trying to suck you closer so you naturally step back. Your handbook begins to vibrate and you tug it out.

"Might you want to run now?" The British handbook somewhat questions but you know it for what it truly is. Sound advice. With a decisive twist and jerk you dash away from the tree. As your feet pound dirt you conclude many creatures have fed that bizarre abomination of nature on the unnatural world. You realize you escaped death yet again. Firmly you continue on your way to find why this subplanet wants you dead.

Smiling slightly, you decide that some days it doesn't pay to go offworld, but your staff warms in your palm and your handbook vibrates for your attention. At least you're never bored.

-- Lydia Manx

Article © Lydia Manx. All rights reserved.
Published on 2009-02-23
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