Calypso peered around the stone wall and down the narrow hallway. The labyrinth echoed with the faded voices of the lost souls that perished trying to free themselves of its clutches. “I can’t believe I let you talk me into this,” he mumbles.
The scythe peers around, long blade dipping over Calypso’s shoulder for a better view. He waves a hand, shooing it off his shoulder. “I know, I know. This may be the only way to fix what was broken between the boundaries of death and life. So I can get back to my life.” He sighs. “You’re like a broken record.” Calypso takes careful steps down the hallway. “How am I supposed to find anything down here? This is just one of thirteen labyrinths linked together … underground. What if I can’t get back to the top? I am not a person equipped with the ability to live underground.”
The scythe does a little spin and twists its blade to the right. “I know. If this works, then all will be as it should and I - the grim reaper - will fulfill my place among the natural order of reapers. Or I can do what I want and put my life back to normal.” The scythe takes a swipe at him. “Seriously? Can’t you say anything else?” The scythe flips and taps his arm - hard - with the end of its staff. “That’s just rude.”
Just a few weeks ago, his biggest problem was trying to convince his mother to like his best friend who he was secretly dating. Then he broke his mother’s one rule to never enter a cemetery. It took some adjusting to the idea of being dead and being surrounded by the ghosts that haunted the cemetery where he died. His sister didn’t seem to recall any inkling of his existence which was an even bigger mystery. It had been hard to process but reuniting with Kennet and Icolet made things easier. It’d be even easier if they were in the labyrinth with him but the scythe insisted that this was a journey to be taken alone. “How do I know if you have a sense of direction?”
The scythe bobbed in place before hovering in front of him. Calypso came to understand the gesture as being the scythe equivalent to a huff. “I trust you. If that helps!” The scythe charges ahead. He chases after the scythe as it rounds the next corner. Narrow hall after narrow hall was exactly the same. Stone walls and floors were all decorated in cobwebs and dust. The labyrinths on the island were suspected to be over 3,000 years old and held the belief that they bridged the gap between this world and the underworld. The scythe seemed to agree with the sentiment.
“We aren’t going to run into anything down here, are we? Like a minotaur? That’s the bull thing, right?” The scythe pauses long enough to twist its blade in Calypso’s direction. “I think that’s a fair question. You’re a sentient scythe and I’m a reaper of death. Maybe there’s some truth in Greek mythology too.”
Another huff from the scythe. “You don’t have to put it like that. I get it. The labyrinths are abandoned.” He quickened his pace to keep up with the scythe. They came to a fork in the hall that led straight ahead and splintered off to the right and to the light. “Which way?”
The scythe hovers toward the right then darts to the left. Calypso follows it down the hall. A few minutes later, he’s following it back the way they came, heading to the right. “I’m starting to think you don’t really know where you’re going.”
Calypso wasn’t sure how long they’d journeyed down hall after hall but it felt like an eternity. By the time they reached yet another turn, he was certain that what killed the people that got stuck in the labyrinth was the boredom and madness that came from the endless array of halls. “I know that you don’t get tired being an animated object and all, but some of us have legs that need a break.” Calypso leaned against a wall and slid down to sit on the floor. The stone felt cool against his back and his movement stirred up the dust that coated the wall.
Maniacal laughter echoed around him, bouncing off the stone of the walls. “Scythe? What was that?” The clunking noise grew closer before fading into silence. Calypso eased up onto his feet. His eyes frantically searched his dim surroundings until landing on a pair of blinking dark eyes in the far corner by the ceiling. He eased back a few steps. A blink later and several other sets of eyes emerged in the darkness. “Scythe…”
A chorus of maniacal laughter surrounded him. He barely jumped out of the way when a figure burst through the dim lighting with arms outstretched with fingers webbed together and tipped in claws. The creature landed behind him on the stone floor. A row of sharp teeth and jutted-out fangs grew into a grin as it cocked its head around to look at him. It twisted its body around in an unnatural capacity that reminded Calypso of a contortionist. The face of the creature and its body were human-like in appearance but warped with the features of a bat. Wings protruded from its back with claw-like points tipping the ends. The creature moved closer, its body twisting around before it leaped forward at him. The scythe emerged suddenly and sliced its blade through the creature’s body with a sickening swish sound before twisting around to land with its staff in Calypso’s hand. The laughter stopped into an eerie silence before a sudden outcry of shrieking came before the convergence of several creatures.
“You said the labyrinth was empty!” Calypso bolted back the way they came. He rounded a corner and ducked down the next hall. The scythe tilted its blade to peer around the corner and turned back to Calypso. “What do you mean you thought they were extinct? What are they?” The scythe twists around in his hand. “What’s a skrzak?”
Ever since that moment in the cemetery when his surroundings shifted into a grotesque Wonderland of death and decay, he’s constantly waiting for the next horrific creature to emerge. Today seemed to be that day. He wasn’t unfamiliar with the idea of imps, but he had hoped that he never had to see one. That appeared to be a false hope. “What now?” he whispers.
The scythe bobbed its blade toward the left then with a sudden flair of a twist, it flew out of his hand and down the way they came. Calypso heard several shrieks of laughter and angry hisses as it sliced its way through the hoard of skrzak. Silence followed and the scythe emerged with its blade coated in black-purple blood. “If you can do all that, why do you need me?”
The scythe hits him in the shin with its staff. “Ow,” he says. “Okay, I get it. That’s barely the tip of the iceberg of what we could do. Though I would appreciate a heads up before we run into more of those things.” He rubs at his leg. “Are any more secrets hidden down here that I should be aware of?” The scythe bobbed ahead. Calypso followed it into the darkness.