Maze by T. M. Obaid

The kids down the street feared it. It’s gothic architecture would scare the pants off anybody, and those kids were scared shitless. In fact, it was that fear that drove them to create their little twisted game.

There was little Johnny Parker. He was sitting on his little bike right outside the house with his two other nimrod friends, Danny and Casey. “My brother said he went inside once, and there was a crazy old man that almost attacked him!” Said little Casey, his eyes magnified by his glasses. “No way,” exclaimed Danny, “my sister says this house was owned by this rich guy who built it for his wife.” 
“What happened to his wife?”
“She died while she was riding her horse. Jumped of a cliff, that’s what it did!”
“Why’d he get all those statues then?”
“Because apparently they remind him of her.”
Casey stared in surprise. “That’s just a dumb old story!” exclaimed Johnny. The two boys turned to face him. “Oh yeah?” said Casey, “What do YOU know about that place? I dog dare you to go inside.” Johnny got off his bike. “Fine. I’ll prove to you guys there’s nothing inside but those statues. Give me ten minutes.” He climbed over the iron gates and began to walk inside, only looking back once to quickly wave goodbye.

He was in the front lawn, the stone pathway blanketed by weeds. The house stared down at him, guarded by an army of decaying marble and stone figures. He felt uneasy at first, but mustered up. He was dog-dared after all. He stepped on the front porch and pushed the rotting oak doors open. The foyer was massive. The windows weren’t boarded up, so there was just enough light to brighten the room, but only just. He looked around. Paintings covered every square inch of the walls, a grand staircase lay before him, curling up to the first floor. In the middle was a small, circular oak table with a dead potted plant and . . . a bust. It was definitely of Greco-Roman origin, but of who? Some obscure philosopher, remembered only by hipsters and aging historians? The world may never know, even Johnny. The bust was looking at him with an expression as if to say, ‘Who are you? Why are you in my house?’ But we all know statues aren’t alive, right?

He continued up the stairs, creaking and groaning under him like an old man getting up from an armchair. He looked all around him, there were so many of them! Made out of every material, copper, marble, ceramic, cement, even wooden statues. How can a man afford such a big house, let alone so many statues like that? He took a left down the hallway. The house seems so much bigger on the inside, like an entire universe of endless, labyrinthine hallways and statues fit inside one mansion. He took a left, and saw a door. It was polished, sparkling clean. ‘How strange,’ he thought as he came closer. Maybe this mansion had a squatter, or some methhead crazies down in the basement trying to play Breaking Bad. He grabbed hold of the golden knob, twisted, and threw the door open. The bedroom was dim, but he could see that there were, shockingly, no statues to be seen. He walked inside, and there before him, was a small journal. It was already opened, but caked in dust. Lifting it, he blew off the layers of dust enveloping it. He saw the scribblings of a madman. It was in cursive, so he couldn’t read it, but there were two words messily inked taking up a whole page. ‘They’re alive.’

He looked behind him, and dropped the book. The statues stood there, staring at him. The fear in his eyes grew and backed up against the wall. But they were just statues! It’s impossible! Yet still, he mustered up his strength, and fled. He ran down the hall, he heard the oak door slam and the grinding of rocks. He took right, hoping it would lead back into the foyer, but no. It was an intersection. Three separate halls. ‘This is impossible,’ he thought, ‘it’s just a house!’ He looked behind him, he could see the statues standing at the end. ‘Fuck it,’ he said swearing for the first time. He bolted towards the right corridor. Running, running, he saw that the figures in the paintings were staring at him with expressions of rage. He turned right, then another right, then a left, he was wandering aimlessly. This wasn’t a regular house. This was something much more. Something evil. He turned a corner and was met with a dead end. ‘But it’s just a house,’ he thought. ‘Just a house…’ He heard the grinding of rock, and slowly turned around.

He was surrounded. Marble, copper, and ceramic figures with experssions of horror, their bodies contorted in eternal agony. Is this it? Is this where poor little Johnny Parker fleeting life ended? It seemed so. So friends, heed this warning, if you find yourself driving down a shortcut even while your GPS desperately tells you to go back, or if you and a few friends decide to go urban exploring in the dead of night, you just might find yourself at the gates of The House of Statues.

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