Bleached Labyrinths

He was an unassuming man. About six feet tall, he was slim with long, unkempt hair painted in various shades of dark night. The kind of man you’d pass on the street without a second thought.

He wandered. Austere stone walls enclosed him, overgrown with moss, grey dust powdering the air. Small chips of stone slowly fell from the wall, paving the ground below with a crackling attempt to exemplify the cold and lifeless. Though moss and lichen grew over the walls, coating them in a sea of bleached white and pale green, nothing lived underfoot except the scurrying denizens of the cracks in the walls. Tiny, scuttling overlords of their own lightless cities.

Day after day, the man wandered, turning down corridors only to find dead ends, back again only to find more cold, pale walls he hadn’t seen before. Brambles grew over the reaches of some dark passageways, as though whatever god had created this maze wanted to taunt the man with unreachable spaces in his own domain. Sometimes, the walls opened up, trees growing, grey and brittle, a space right out of a divine comedy that the man could never laugh at. At least they provided some meager shade.

There were days it rained, cold drops of sorrow from a sky that was so choked in clouds the man had never seen it. When it rained, the man was saddened, and something stirred in the dark reaches of his mind only to disappear again. Interestingly enough, his thirst was never quenched, no matter how much from the rain he drank. Passageways coated in thorns appeared more often then, as though a warning not to probe too far into deeper recesses. The man wandered more, restless, never finding a place to shelter from the horrid rain that dredged up feelings of loss and sorrow and hatred that he never could quite remember.

The sun rose other days, strangely artificial and blinding, but even when the morning was full of fluorescent white hope, the walls never disappeared, the man never got anywhere, and the past was still gone.

Truly, to the man, he had no past. No memory of life before the strange, austere maze, if ever there had truly been one, nobody to reminiscence about during his never ending journey. Feeling itself had left him except for brief flashes, nothing stirring in his mind but for simple impulses. Hunger and thirst, heat and cold, pain and longing battled within him. All of the most basic and brutal of the feelings that only bordered emotion.

The man subsisted. On occasion, once or twice or five times a day for all he knew, the man watched as a wall far ahead opened up and a small amount of food and drink entered the passage within his sight. He ate and drank like a wild animal, quickly and with great ferocity, and yet when he was done always felt emptier than before. It was a sinking feeling, he thought, as though all of the good things in the world crawled into his stomach and wrapped themselves into a ball of iron, twisted and pointed all over, never to be seen by him again.

It was on one of these days that the wall opened up right in front of him, food and drink pushed in as normal by a swift hand. This was the day that the man was faster than the wall, and sprinted his way towards the gap.

He was met there by pale and bulbous monsters in perfectly unstained milky coats, pushing him back and thwarting him, crushing any last reservoir left in his mind, and the wall closed again with a ringing, fatal and final as any deathblow.


“Push him back!” yelled the psych ward attendant, as the other shoved the man back into his cell, before slamming shut and locking the door himself.

The younger attendant wiped a bead of sweat from his brow.

“Well,” he asked, “what’s wrong with this guy? Patient 2b0…”

“2b0r7,” corrected the elder.

“Patient 2b0r7,” amended the younger attendant. “What’s wrong with him?”

“The same as everyone else in this ward. He’s delusional. Lost in his own mind and off in his own world, all the time.”

“Still,” asked the younger one. “Is there anything strange about that? After all, aren’t we all the same?”

“The same as what?”

“Simple,” the younger laughed, gesturing to the hundreds of cells. “Aren’t we all just like them?”

The elder thought for a second. “What do you mean?” he asked. “Living in our own reality that only we are the gods of, refusing to see anything outside of it for what it really is?”

Both laughed for a second, then the elder attendant shook his head, already condemning Patient 2b0r7 as violent and fast tracking his disposal.

It was just another day at the MacBride Facility For the Mentally Unstable.