The money is obvious. To the left of the money is a smooth gray marbled slab. We could stand on one side or the other. The side with the money, or the side without. As we’ve learned from our journey, just because there was nothing there, doesn’t mean that nothing is actually there.
A game theory approach: There’s too many of us to split the money in any satisfactory way. So maybe the correct answer is to gamble on the side with nothing. However, the more people who do that, the happier are the people who chose to stand with the money.
What is the right answer? Only the monster knows. We don’t know for sure that it’s a monster. But we’ve all assumed based on the grisly trails which led us to this final room. Our routes before entering this place were innocuous enough. For some reason - it’s what happens when you follow random stones in the woods. Or try to take a shortcut through an ally on a city street. Judging from some of these bumpkins, they haven’t seen land which rose above their knees in decades so who knows how they ended up here. Searching for a toppled scarecrow? We’ve barely spoken to each other. Neighbors in combat and survival and the only thing we know about the other is how we hate the way they dress.
And I, for once, am tired of complaining about it. But tubby Overalls McGee over there has to ruin everything by speculating as to what awful circumstances the monster came upon such money.
“He couldn’t’a earned it,” he refrains. “Looks like child-whore money. The sex traffic-jam.”
We turn away. Those who stand by the money with him don’t want to hear this. But they want the money.
Some of us would rather have the adventure. But frankly, there’s no where else to go. All the paths in this maze have led to this room. I’m sure everyone came upon their fair share of skeletons in cages, corners stained with shit and vomit. Thankfully, not a single insect.
“Must’a’ sold glass powder to the stick-‘em-in-your-veins. He couldn’t’a earned it.”
Symbols carved into the walls, like those before us tried to mark and find their way back. Maybe some of us did that, but as I mentioned, we’re not exactly on speaking terms. Except for one of us.
Musta run an unliscenced plastic surgery location to turn people into animae cats.
The man who leaves Overalls McGee’s group has tied his necktie around his forehead like a bandana. It hangs behind him. Some kind of corporate Rambo. His shirt is unbuttoned and he left his jacket along the maze. The color of the stone walls, like his pants. Says he can’t take it anymore. He joins us on the side with nothing. He looks longingly at the corridor we came in from. He leaves. Turns out that’s just the type he is. Not really annoyed by everyone, just likes to make dramatic exits.
Musta blackmailed a politician trying to keep his occult poetry hidden.
The old librarian lady says she has an idea. She turns to the aging veteran. The man has one arm and uses a walker and is wearing a camo jacket so I assume he’s a veteran. “Let’s make jam.”
The veteran smiles, his face cracking, unused to the motion. An insulin kit hangs from his front pocket. “Honey, I thought you’d never ask.” He links his one arm through hers and they exit through another passageway. I don’t remember where that one came from. No one can hear them as soon as the dark swallows them, and frankly, no one wants to.
Musta sued some corporation for discrimination because his genetalia possesses opposite genetalia.
Like it or not, Corporate Rambo has started a trend. Who says the maze has to end here? The money is only useful if we can get out.
A jar of sex-jam shatters against the wall.
“Ooh, slippery,” mutters the librarian from the darkness.
A pair of wrinkly and sun-baked hands crawl out of the black passage - numbered-tattoos along the wrist - searching like a sightless mole for the shards of gummy, red glass. The callouses crumple the glass into piles of powder and slide the piles back into the darkness.
The football player in full gear nudges me. “Dude, let’s close that shit off.” He grabs the empty slab. For the first time, we notice it can move. I help him somewhat block the entrance of the offending passageway. Sounds of cheese-grater-on-chalkboard emanate and distant lighter flicks reveal more than any human should have to take in. They seem to be enjoying it though.
After moving the slab, the football player disappears. At least, that’s what it seems like to me. The dumb lummox probably saw another passage he could run down and just took off, like a wild horse. Head bashed into pure instinctual operation. What does he find down there?
The fast-food employee who was simply headed into the walk-in to grab another package of fries - but ended up in the grips of the maze - will finally get to live out her dreams. Her manga collection and streaming services her only respite from the indentured servitude to obesity.
Many of these stones are reflective, but poorly, and once her eyes adjust, she touches up her makeup. In fact, in these reflections, she’s not too far off. Using just what’s in her pocket, with the aid of bits of the maze, it won’t take but a moment.
Musta written a children’s book about some Space-Satanist who becomes the Ball-Hole champion.
Charging around a corner, the football player nearly knocks her over. Today she is getting all her wishes.
He stops and rests his hands on the wall, convinced that the view through his helmet is distorting things. He shakes his head clear and wipes the sweat from his face and beholds: the cooing kitten who has discarded her pants in favor of using her shirt as a skirt. Her fingers tangled in her hair to such an extent that lowering her arms is impossible. She purses her lips to nothing, as if they’ve been burned off. Her makeup is runny, only it’s not makeup. Around her eyes, where the dark blotches would be from lack of sleep, from working double shifts only to have to take care of her drunken parents once she gets home, those dark blotches are replaced by the whitest bone. Unless she tries to blink. Then the juice starts to flow, dripping from tiny tendrils peeking out from under the flaps. Cartoon worms saying hi. She kicks each heel from side to side, like an 8-bit cheerleader.
Back at home base, the construction worker sits on the slab and addresses us. The money remains untouched. “My fellow Americans,” he begins, “in these troubled times it is imperative that we work together to understand one another.” And it actually starts to sound pretty good until he switches gears and espouses in rhyming couplets the upcoming resurrection of the Great Feathered Wallabye and what that means for us as Trans-Migratory Souls in this collection of Bubble-Verses.
He sought to organize us, which I thought wasn’t a bad idea. But instead, we’re more fractured than ever. Has this happened to other groups? I certainly didn’t meet anyone on my way in. In fact, we all seemed to arrive in this room within minutes of each other. Are other entrants to this maze going to run into us? Oh, I forgot, the skeletons.
Musta turned a web-camera on himself performing automobile-erotic-existermination.
One of the future skeletons may turn a corner, following a sound and see a tax auditor in a green visor carving marks into a wall. Next to her is a pile of severed penises, carefully carved vulvas, upon which she has rested the loose testicles in piles triangularly stacked according to Kepler’s Conjecture.
“Look at all these genitals,” she exclaims to the future skeleton. "This is an HR nightmare. I’m going to go ahead and say it. No one should have this many genitals. Get out of here!” And the future skeleton wanders off into the darkest corner possible. Perhaps finds an empty hanging cage, and prays for no further visitations.
However, it’s quite easy to ignore your surroundings when in the grip of an enthralling storyteller. The elementary-school was on a field-trip to the zoo. (Or so I speculate based on the random tiny shirts I found.) Despite the heat of the summer, they went to visit the polar bear who of course, was not outside, but lying down in a metal room out of the sun. The class never made it that far because they ended up here. Maybe it wasn’t even the whole class, but just a portion. Their leader seemed so young. Anyways, she kept them marching in line and enraptured by the tale of a child, just like them, dedicated to the worship of Our Great Unholy Goat-Lord of Infernal Majesty, who reigned His Luciferian Blessings from Hell upon our hero, Intergalactic Champion of Ball-Hole. "Any child who sheds sufficient blood in the name of of our Master of Burning Depravity, can be just like our hero." Thus spake . . . she marched them into the darkness. We’ve only found bits and pieces and frankly, no one cares.
No one actually cares about how three of us worked together to build a conveyance. Pieces of cages, bone, rock. We could take turns getting some traveling done, three of us. One getting pulled on the conveyance, two of us pulling. We could take turns so that it would never be necessary to stop moving. Although, our inability to work together is likely what led us to this maze in the first place. I realize that’s a disgustingly literary sentence, but the sentiment has been echoed before. Those who consent to slavery invite the existence of tyrants.
Whosoever has the conveyance, can run off with the goods. But the maze being what it is, that person will perish rather quickly. Usually some oiled car geek who just wants to tinker with something in the dark, if you get my meaning. It’s not my fault if it falls on him, although please allow me to assist in any way.
Others are learning how to build the conveyances, but we are quickly running short of materials. I’ve forgotten some very important aspects of being alive. Like eating and using the bathroom. With no advertising I’m not sure what I’m hungry for. The uniform of Animae Cat-Girl isn’t exactly appetizing in its current state.
But thinking along these lines is much more painful than my initial ignorance. Thankfully, there is plenty of conveyance-building and exploration to be done. And somewhere out there, the monster will make the reason for all of this abundantly clear. That’s a disgustingly literary sentence so allow me to restate: No one cares about the monster. Only the money is obvious.