Labyrinth

Image licensed by Shutterstock.

A thick fog surrounded Gerald, billowing like smoke. The world beyond the Labyrinth lay bare before him, pale and insubstantial, faded like an old photograph. He’d navigated the Labyrinth’s perilous depths for centuries, a towering ancient structure of stone, iron, and magic. All the while he’d labored under the promise that someday, when he’d reached the end, he would be released.

Now he knew the truth.

He could see the world outside, only it was a mute shadow of the place he’d known before he was captured. It would be forever out of reach.

His conquerors had said the Labyrinth was a Purgatory, that at the end he would find pardon and peace. But the Labyrinth was not a Purgatory, it was a Hell. Its purpose had not been to redeem him but to break him.

Head hung low, shoulders hunched in defeat, he turned to go back the way he’d come.

Enter your email address and click "Submit" to subscribe and receive The Sign.

Last Man Standing

Image licensed by Shutterstock.

Amos sat in front of a plate of sizzling sisig. He gazed out the window of a tiny hole-in-the-wall resto, watched the erratic traffic patterns of the Philippines that were still so foreign to him even after all these years.

He sighed. It was a heavy, dusty sigh. A sigh of resignation. A sigh of loss.

Forced into hiding by a life-long enemy, he’d fled all the way to the other side of the world. He was all that was left of his line; the rest of his family was dead. A decade ago, he’d spent what was left of his life’s savings on a plane ticket, entered the country on a tourist visa and hadn’t been able to afford an extension. Now he was an illegal alien. If he tried to leave the country for some place new, the BI would detain him, fine him and deport him back to the States, where his life would be endangered again.

A shadow passed over his table, and he looked up. A figure stood at the entrance, a silhouette against the bloated late-afternoon sun. A man. Something about him tickled the periphery of Amos’s memory, but he couldn’t have said why. The man walked in, ordered the tapsilog and sat down at an empty table across from him.

Every now and then, Amos saw him casting furtive glances in his direction. It wasn’t unusual for foreigners in small towns to draw attention, so why did the man’s looks cause him so much anxiety?

As if replying to the unspoken question, a thought that was not his own hit him in the head like a dart.

He’s coming.

The man looked up once, peered into Amos’s eyes, held his gaze. Amos caught sight of the tattoo on his right upper arm, a coiled snake with its mouth open, baring two sharp fangs. The insignia of his enemy’s inner circle. He was certain the man had meant for him to see it.

Amos’s pulse quickened.

So, he’d been found. Amos wasn’t surprised. In fact, he’d never truly expected to get away, only to buy himself some extra time. He had nowhere to go, nowhere else to hide. It would be a showdown, then. Would he be the last man standing? He didn’t know, but he had nothing left to lose. What kind of life had he managed to enjoy, so far from home with none of his kith or kin, anyway?

Amos finished his sisig, pushed the metal plate aside and walked out into the humid afternoon.

It was time to prepare.

Enter your email address and click "Submit" to subscribe and receive The Sign.