The maze was a never-ending compilation of twists and turns, small hills and dead-ends. Tests, challenges, and overcoming fear were requirements to master this maze, but this was no ordinary maze. For Billy, Sarah, and Adam, three college best friends, they would have to decide if their friendship was trustworthy enough.
"Endure till the end, find the secret key, and make it out before dawn, that's all you have to do," the instructor gave the orders. Teams were split into groups of three, of all ages and backgrounds. But the better you knew your teammates, the better your chances...
"Billy! Over here!" Sarah yelled at her friend, who was much more like her brother. Billy turned and ran over to join Sarah and Adam. "Look out!" Adam yelled, as some low-flying vultures dashed down flying just above Billy's head. Billy ducked, before he continued to run towards his sweaty, out of breath friends in a panic.
In the background, there was yelling and rustling of leaves, the sun would be setting soon, and they were already three, tiresome hours into the impossible competition. But despite the grueling heat, intense athletic competition, nature and its' creatures, hunger and exhaustion, the three friends pressed on. "Make it to the end, best of friends, win the win," they continued to remind each other.
A hefty prize pot called their name, if they could successfully complete the course. But all of their relationships would be tested, and out here in the middle of nowhere, who knew what loomed in the dark anyway?
"Good job, Billy. You got this!" Sarah high-fived an out of breath Billy. "Thanks...so did you guys find something?" He panted.
"Yeah, actually. Look at this," replied Adam. He pulled out a small piece of paper that he'd unfolded. "I think it's another clue."
"The gold is stacked high but for now you must go low...no...lower...low...lower still."
"What do you think it means?" asked Billy.
"It could mean we have to go backwards?" asked Sarah.
"No, I think it means we have to get low to the ground?" asked Adam.
"No guys, you're missing it." Billy's face lit up. "Low ground. I think we have to find the lowest ground here; that's probably where our next clue will be."
"OOOHHH!" Sarah and Adam said at the same time before playfully punching each other.
"Come on, the sun is going to set soon," said Billy. "When I was over there looking for clues, I think I found something too."
Sarah and Adam, both secretly liking each other, managed to continue to walk side-by-side as they followed Billy back towards a muddy, dark corner of the maze.
"Whoosh!" The tops of the trees began to blow violently through powerful gusts of wind that swept through, seemingly out of nowhere. It sent a chill down Sarah's spine.
"Over here." Billy pointed to the ground in the corner. There was a small hole that had been dug in the ground, barely noticeable and covered with a small rock. "I was just about to uncover this when you guys called me over." Bending down and removing the rock, Billy began to dig deeper, and deeper, and deeper.
When he was just about to give up, he felt something hard under his hands. "Here. I think I found something!" Digging his dirty nails under the squishy dirt, he removed a tiny chest.
"Oooooh!!! What could this be?" asked Adam.
"Maybe the key?" added Sarah excitedly.
Billy opened the tiny box to find a silver, small key. "A key!" Sarah and Adam scrambled closer to have a look, when all of a sudden, they heard loud howling in the background.
"Coyotes." Billy commented, "or maybe wolves." The sun will be down any second. We better hurry."
"But didn't the instructor say that the key would be golden?" asked Sarah.
"Yeah, strange," commented Adam.
Billy flipped the key over. "Look. There's something engraved on it. It says: 'A Copycat of the Main Cat, don't give up at that...You might just need silver before gold, both the new and the old.'"
"What does it mean?" asked Sarah.
"I think it could mean that we need both keys?" Adam suggested.
"Yeah, that sounds right...better hold on to it," remarked Billy.
The howling, or was it cackling, seemed to grow louder as the sun began to quickly vanish beneath the clouds.
"Soon it's going to be night, and we'll have a long night before us without any sleeping gear, light, water, safety, first-aid kits, or food. Are you guys ready for this?" Billy asked his friends.
"As ready as we'll ever be." Adam and Sarah said, looking at each other with slight fear in their eyes, again at the same time.
The path ahead of them was long, twisted, confusing, and dangerous. A long night with wild things (including their selfish competitors), hunger and craziness awaited them. "This competition is impossible." They had been told. "There is no way out of the maze, at least not in time. No one has ever won this."
These voices ran through Sarah's mind, as she laid down next to Adam to take a short nap before they got up to venture through the darkness, hoping for a miracle. It seemed they did in fact have a lot of problems before them: darkness, shifty weather patterns, wild animals, rivals, dead-ends, and hidden clues really hidden. Not to mention a tiny key, god knows where, hidden in this maze that was their only chance at survival, or rather freedom, or maybe victory?
Either way, Sarah took a deep breath and Adam reached over and patted her shoulder. "It's okay, Sarah. We got this. We're going to do this. All we have to do is trust our instincts. Listen to our gut. We've made it this far haven't we? We can't succumb to our fears or we'll never win. I'm right here. Let's get some rest and take home the prize money in just a few hours, okay?" He smiled. Sarah nodded, smiling back, "Okay." She really liked that guy. "OK!" Billy chipped in in the background playfully, and with that they fell asleep, not knowing what problems and obstacles would await them next...
But such is the story of life...