Thursday, June 02, 2011

The Legend of The Maze Part II: The Dance and The Accident


As the long shadows of sunset stretched across the town,
The dancers took position around the bonfire.
They swirled and leapt at the shouts and whistles of onlookers,
the whine of the fiddle spiraling around their ears.
Jessica held tight to Jack's arms as they whirled around the fire,
spinning like dervishes.
He pulled Jessica closer and began whirling faster.
Overcome by glee, they found themselves laughing.
At the edge of the carousing
Thom emerged from the crowd.
Unseen, he rolled a pumpkin into the dancers
directly at Jack's feet.
Jack toppled over and away from the dance, his arms flailing.
He landed firmly on a pile of pumpkins.
They were crushed under his weight
covering him in their slimy innards.
He tried quickly to stand,
but slipped in the orange muck and fell to his knees.
Jessica moved towards him to help,
But Thom intercepted, blocking her.
Thom's voice boomed in the silence that followed,
"I think 'tis time you were going stranger."
Jack slowly stood, wary of this sudden turn.
"It isn't right to be dancing with another man's betrothed."
Suddenly the fire seemed to hot, the crowd too close.
Jack looked at Thom,
the weight of this revelation apparent on his face.
"You're right...It is time I was going."
Jack turned and walked away.
Jessica pushed Thom away, tears welling up in her eyes.
She rushed away from the bonfire and into the night.

Jack kicked at the dusty road while he walked,
his heart heavy as he moved towards the edge of town.
A slender shadow emerged from behind a row of trees
And timidly approached him.
"I'm sorry."
Jack stopped walking, but did not turn to face Jessica.
"Were you going to tell me?"
"I-My father arranged the marriage," Jessica stammered,
 "Thom is a fine farmer,
 and ANY girl in Valleydown would want to be married to him, but-"
"-But you don't love him do you."
 Jack turned to face Jessica, her head hung low now,
shameful of her heart's desires.
"No, I do not Love him."
Jack moved closer and gently lifted her head,
Gazing deeply into her eyes.
He wiped the tears from her cheeks.
"It's okay." he whispered
and leaning in, kissed her tenderly.
"I will return tomorrow with a proper dowry
to sway your father and make you mine." he smiled.
He kissed her again.
"However tonight, we must part, so that stinging tempers may cool
and this newfound love might blossom,
far from the reach of any angry bonfires."
Jessica pulled him close and kissed him once again,
then reluctantly she released him,
and they parted ways.
She returned to the bonfire,
and he disappeared into the moonless night
on the road leading from town.
Three  figures appeared then,
barely a carriage length from where the lovers stood.
They paused briefly and followed Jack into the Darkness.
As he walked, Jack smiled at the thought of his return.
Tomorrow, in the light of day,
he would pledge himself to Jessica and win her hand.
Just then, from behind him he heard a wolf-like howl,
then laughter.
He glanced back briefly and picked up his pace.
A tree limb shot out of the darkness,
Hitting him squarely in the chest and knocking him to the ground.
He sat up on his elbows and cleared the dust from his eyes.
Above him stood Thom, glaring.
The figures behind Thom were grinning and laughing.
"I told you Stranger, but ye could na' leave well enough alone.
Thoms face was contorted with rage.
He kicked Jack in the side several times and spat on him.
Jack coughed up blood as Thom's associates laughed.
He began to crawl away, trying to get to his feet,
but Thom grabbed him by the hair and dragged him backwards.
Thom pulled him over to a wagon parked near the town's entrance.
He yanked Jack up and leaned him against the wagon,
punching him in the stomach and face.
"I don't understand why you didn't get it the first time!"
He punched Jack again.
Jack slumped against the wagon as Thom paced in front of him.
"Harold, HOLD HIM UP!"
Thom looked about, eager for some final punctuation.
Jessica's words still echoing through his mind,
"No I do not love him."
He spied a pile of pumpkins,
stacked for decoration near the wagon.
"RICHARD! Bring me one of the those Pumpkins!"
Richard brought the orange gourd to Thom,
fearful of his friends frenetic rage.
Jack could barely see Thom through the blood in his eyes
as the angry farmer leaned in and glared at him.
His head bobbed to one side,
a thick smear of blood pouring from his busted lip.
"This is yer final warning stranger.
Thom grabbed the pumpkin from Richard's shaking hands
and heaving it high,
slammed it down onto Jack's head.

Jack inhaled the meat and seeds of the pumpkin.
Suffocating, he flailed about,
pushing Richard and Harold away
and knocking Thom down.
His panic rising, he twisted around,
seeking purchase against the wagon.
He hit the back of the wagon.
Bent half over,
his hands clasped what felt like a club.
Grabbing it tightly, he swung behind him.
He raised it higher and continued swinging.
Richard and Harold ducked,
trying to avoid the scythe
as Jack swung it about.
Jack caught Richard in one swing,
hitting him in the belly
with the crook of the blades dull backside.
Richard fell back gasping,
the wind knocked out of him.
Thom leapt to his feet and rushed at Jack,
slamming him against the wagon
and knocking the scythe free of his hands.
Still unable to breathe,
Jack pushed at Thom,
punching his face.
Harold rushed over,
and the two wrestled Jack to the ground.
He wriggled in their grasp
and they could hear his screams within the pumpkin.
The stranger suddenly went limp in their grasp.
They released him,
realizing that their hands were wet.
The stranger lay on the ground beside the wagon
His back arched at an odd angle,
the scythe, shiny even in the darkness,
protruded from his chest.
Harold fell to his knees, looking at his hands.
Thom stood over the body,
the rage of his expression fading into a vacant stare.
Richard walked up to him then, his breathing labored.
His face went pale when he saw the body.
"Oh my god...OH MY GOD!!!"
Thom Grabbed Richard and covered him mouth.
"SSSst!"  He glared at Richard, "Keep Quiet!"
Richard nodded in understanding.
"What are we gonna do Thom?" Harold whimpered,
still staring at his hands.
Thom looked down at the body and then away,
"I don't know."
Thom released Richard and looked back towards town.
Richard walked away, collapsing near the pile of pumpkins.
Thom looked out across the darkness, his eyes wide.
Richard spoke then, his voice shaky and fearful,
"wu-We've got to bury the body...
or th--throw it in the river..."
Thom watched the bonfire in the distance,
it's light played across the sides of the houses.
He could see the dancers still twirling about the fire
and he could hear the faint music of the revelry.
From this distance, the fiddle sounded like a tiny fly
buzzing around his head.
"No." Thom said,
"If we bury it, someone might dig it up.
If we throw it in the river, it'll just wash up down stream.
What we need..." he paused, still staring at the distant fire,
"What we need is for the body to go away forever."
He faced the town,
his behemoth silhouette towering over the tiny flames of the distant bonfire.
A thin smile played across Thom's lips.
He turned back to his friends with a look of concern and intent.
He knelt beside them and pulled them closer to him.
"Tomorrow, before the sun has risen,
We three shall offer our youthful strength
to gather wood for that night's bonfire.
And while we are stacking logs and kindling,
underneath that wooden mountain
our secret shall be buried.
And when the sun is set once more,
and the blaze rises higher and hotter than any night previous,
our secret will be as dust and ashes."
Richard and Harold nodded,
mesmerized by Thom's plan.
Richard looked fearfully to the body,
"But what of the scythe?  It's wood is stained with the blood of death."
Thom stood then and rolled the body over,
Pulling the scythe free and wiping the blade on the corpse.
"The spine of this fine tool will join its woody brethren in the blaze."
He turned the blade examining it,
"And this pointy dagger will find a home where no man would think to look.
Hidden in dirt and under murky waters,
a crook in the river, where the currents run deep.
The children of Valleydown claim it haunted,
yet I will go there now, swimming low,
and brave whatever haunt guards that spot.
There to lodge this heavy blade,
between rocks and underneath,
so that never again will it see light nor day."
He faced the town again, the scythe still in his grip.
"...and that, gentlemen, is how this secret shall be kept,
hidden from prying eyes and minds.
We three shall then go about,
and play the festivities as if a stranger
had never passed this way."
Thom flipped the scythe over
and pressed his foot against its shaft.
The blade broke free with a crack, leaving the shaft splintered and spiny.
He moved over to the body and thrust the pole
beneath each armpit, hoisting it up to carry.
Harold grabbed the feet and Richard picked up the blade.
Moving slowly towards the woods,
these three solemn pall bearers shuffled off into the darkness
with their pumpkin headed secret.

To Be Continued...

These are several of the cards that go with the Murder in the Maze Box from my previous post: The Second Murderer.  I had thought all of these pieces lost, but I found an old portfolio with some physical copies of the cards within.  These are not the final versions.  There were several changes to final set...There were also several other cards not present here: several other victim cards as well as the second murderer.

The first card is the first murderer.  That butcher knife belongs to my previous roommate Billy.  I was worried initially about photographing it, but I ended up just laying it on the scanner and scanning it and many wonderful surprises followed.  The strangely colored Halo that the blade has came from the light of the scanner refracting.  I felt like it gave the blade a strange magickal aura, so it stayed.  The background is a photo that my friend Don took of the black plastic we used to create the maze.  I believe that one stayed almost as is in the final version.
{digital images manipulated in Photoshop}

The second card is one of the victim cards.  The woman in the card is my friend Shannon.  She was nice enough to let me xerox here face and use it in the card.  I think in the final version the V's became white so they could be more readable in dim lighting.  Once again, black plastic by Don.

{digital images manipulated in Photoshop}

And speaking of Don, that is him in the second Victim card,  banging his head, well...against his head.  Xerox process here as well.  Black plastic by Don.

{digital images manipulated in Photoshop}

The last image is the back of the set of cards.  I clipped the skull out from its previous background and had it floating before the black plastic. I gave it a nice spooky halo, and tweaked the color to give it a stronger indication of blood.

{digital images manipulated in Photoshop}

More Maze History and Art:

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