Directions to the End

Submitted into Contest #12 in response to: Write a story that features an ensemble cast of characters.... view prompt

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Amy opens her eyes and has no idea where she is. She sees the sky. She sits up to see she is sitting in an empty field, nothing but weeds for miles. She doesn’t remember where she was earlier that day. She certainly doesn’t remember how she got here. This has to be a dream. From behind her, an older gentleman approaches her. He is wearing an old, tattered robe wrapped around his slender figure. His dark skin wrinkled from the sun. He holds a gnarled walking stick.

“Are you feeling okay, honey?” he says. 

Amy turns around to face him. 

“Yeah, I’m okay.” Amy answers. 

“All right, if you say so.” he says. 

“Who are you?” asks Amy. 

“I’m the Nomad.” he answers. 

“Could you tell me how I can get out of here?”

“That’s far from here.” says the Nomad. “You have quite a journey ahead of you.” “Could you point me in the right direction?”

“You will just have to start walking. There really is no direction here, I’m afraid.” replies the Nomad. 

Amy crosses her arms and shivers. 

“Are you sure you’re all right?” asks the Nomad. 

“I feel cold.” she answers. 

“You better be on your way then.”

Amy walks through the field. Her arms are crossed in front of her for warmth. She is becoming tired and sits down on the ground. She closes her eyes. When she opens them again, she finds herself sitting in a bathtub full of soapy water while still wearing her clothes. Across from her, also in the tub is an older man, wearing a suit. 

“Feeling warmer now, honey?” he says. 

“I am, thank you.” answers Amy.

“That’s good, I made the water extra warm.” he adds. 

“Who are you?”

“I’m the Bathroom Attendant.” he answers. 

“Could you tell me how I can get out of here?” Amy asks.

“Oh, I’m terrible with directions.” he answers. “The only good I can do is attend you in this bathroom. I’m guessing it’s outside that door. But, do stay for a bit and warm up.” 

“If you don’t mind sir, I have to get going. But, thank you for the warm water.”

“You’re welcome.” replies the Bathroom Attendant.

Amy steps out of the bathtub, a sheet of water running off her clothes, soaking the floor. She walks for the door, exits the bathroom and walks into a restaurant kitchen. At the stove, stirring a large pot of stew is a man dressed in a white cook’s uniform. 

“Are you all right, honey?” he asks. 

“Yes, I’m all right.” answers Amy. 

“Your lips are blue.”

“They are?” Amy puts her fingers to her blue lips, it looks like she is freezing. “Who are you?”

“I’m the Chef.”

“Do you know how to get out of here. No one seems to know.”

“You’re getting very close, it’s only a matter of time now.” answers the Chef as he adds herbs and spices to his stew. “How did you get here?”

“I don’t know. I must be dreaming.” Amy answers.

“But you had choices.”

“What choices?” asks Amy. 

The Chef points to the mark on her elbow from a needle injection. 

“I’m not an addict. I only do it sometimes.” says Amy. 

“I’m afraid these choices have cost you a lot of time.” says the Chef. 

He puts down his wooden spoon and begins to walk out of the kitchen. 

“Wait, where are you going?” she says as she follows him. 

Amy steps into a yard. The Chef has disappeared. There is a long table set up with teacups and teapots. The table is far too short and the chairs are tiny, meant for the size of a child. On the chairs are stuffed toy animals. At the head of the table sits a morbidly obese man. The tiny chair, impossibly holding up his weight. He wears a tuxedo and top hat, smoking from a pipe.

“Are you all right, honey? You don’t look so good.” he says. 

“Who are you?” asks Amy. 

“I’m the Maggot.” 

He takes a long drag from his pipe and blows a plume of smoke from his mouth.

“Could you tell me how I can get out of here?” says Amy.

“You’re nearly there now. Have a seat.” says the Maggot.

Amy sits at the opposite end of the table from him. Her knees almost to her chin as her shins are up against the toy table.

“Have some tea.” says the Maggot.

Amy looks into the teacup.

“There’s nothing in this.” she says. 

“You have to pretend.” he answers. 

“How can I get out of here?” 

“What do you value most, Amy?” asks the Maggot. 

“I don’t know.”

“Think hard.”

“I don’t feel well.” Amy says as she presses her hand into her stomach.

“What do you value most?” repeats the Maggot.

“What does this have to do with anything? I just want to wake up.” she feels her head swim with dizziness.

She stands up from the table where she sees she is covered in water and becomes freezing cold. She closes her eyes. She opens them again to see a paramedic hovering over her. Blue and red lights flash against the brick walls of an alleyway. It’s pouring rain, soaking Amy as she is lying on the ground. 

“You’re going to be all right, honey.” says the paramedic. His tone seems confident. 

Amy tries to listen to the voices around her, but it seems like a far away echo. Something about consciousness and a drug overdose. She tries to speak, but words won’t come from her mouth. The puncture in her elbow is burning, sending fire up her arm. 

Amy opens her eyes again where she is standing over the table in the yard. She looks at the Maggot. 

“I value my life.” she says.

She collapses and falls onto the table. The empty teacups and saucers fall to the ground. A heart rate monitor flat lines in the distance. A panic of voices mixed with a siren becomes a soft echo.

“Goodnight, honey.” says the Maggot.

October 24, 2019 16:12

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1 comment

Thaine Chase
01:03 Oct 31, 2019

Your story kept me engaged Steph. I find writing in the present tense so challenging, so kudos to you on that. I try not to critique other writers, because art is so subjective, but I would've liked some description of Amy when she was introduced, only because I wanted to connect to her more while she was going through her ordeal. Her age, look, etc. Very cool tone and story concept. Well done.


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