An uncle, his wife, their son, and I walked through an unknowable space. I didn't know these people, yet I never questioned who they were. In any case, I had a feeling it was wiser not to travel alone.
The unknowable space existed for the sake of existing as a space for us to occupy. There was nothing to describe, but it wasn't like there was nothing at all. Just as a newborn doesn't think to question the space it is brought into... it was like that. After wandering on an invisible path, we stopped in front of a house we had never seen before. The cracked, peeling white paint and stillness of the house convinced us that we were the only ones there. We opened the front door.
The interior was just as old and neglected, and the only furniture in the living room was a table in the middle. Just as we thought, no one had been here for a very long time. There was nothing for us to see here. Somehow we, or at least I, knew that what we were looking for was in the basement. Nearby was a staircase leading down to a door, and so we went.
It was dark, so the uncle switched on the light.
A square room with 8 tables neatly lined up in 2 rows, and a sliding closet on one wall. On each table lay a human body covered in a mix of dry and wet blood. Rather than there being evidence..... there was a feeling of certainty that, beyond being burned and mutilated, they had been experimented on. The pain from having your insides burned and pulled apart was the only thing recognizable- nothing left could be used to identify each corpse. A rotten smell should have welcomed us as a warning, but the perpetrators must have been thorough with that too.
Oh. One of the bodies trembled. It was a young boy. He was alive.
Uncertainty and panic erupted within me and snapped. We were not safe here. I yelled at the uncle and aunt to help me carry the body to safety. No matter what... no matter what, we'd save at least one person. Even after all the suffering they've been through, surely there was a way to save them!
Just as we carried the boy to the basement door, we heard footsteps approaching. Hide! the uncle quickly told me. As they closed the door and put the boy back on the bed, I ran into the closet and hid behind some old clothes that had been left there. I closed the closet as quickly and quietly as I could.
Someone walked in. They spoke. A man.
He asked what the family was doing in there. They responded in small talk that would surely get them killed. And after they were killed... I would be killed. I tried to hold my breath but by then I was too panicked.
Tap tap. The footsteps wandered the room. Tap tap. They stopped at the closet. The door slid open.
My brain stopped. The blood in my legs froze and felt like sand weighing me down. I jumped out, out of the basement, out the front door, and struggled to run. It was so frustrating, struggling to trudge through nothing away from the house. There was nothing stopping me from running. What was stopping me? Why can't I run? If you don't run faster, they'll catch you and kill you!!! A few yards ahead of me was a big geometric building that seemed to hide a cave of labyrinths. Finally I reached the entrance of the building and hid behind a wall.
I poked my head outside just enough to see an army of men running towards the white house. I looked behind me at the dark path that would likely lead me deeper into the building into an impossible maze. No matter what, I couldn't escape. Shouldn't I have stayed back at the house, then, and saved who I could? What about that boy who had been experimented on for God knows how long... how long had he been waiting to be discovered and saved?
My mind raced with guilt and the instinct to escape. Either way, I will die. Either way, those people will probably die. Why wasn't I there to help them? Even if I failed, at least I'd have tried. I yelled at the family that we needed to save that boy no matter what, didn't I? I should have bit my stupid tongue and bled to death there.
No matter how you looked at it, I was a pathetic little animal frozen in its little rabbit hole- can a rabbit decide which is better: to starve in a maze, to be eaten alive, or to let indecision decide? Eventually, though, it would have to decide.
I wandered deeper into the cave of labyrinths.