Does a quirk of human memory make readers sympathize with labyrinth inhabitants?
A disaffected young woman sets out on the trail of a mysterious society, the keepers of a labyrinth somewhere in Honolulu. She’s about ninety percent certain this labyrinth is just a symbol with no special power over the pathways of time and space, but a gnawing uncertainty drives her to find out for sure.
“But I’m going to see those labyrinths, honey,” I said. Going to David’s softball games—I shuddered as I suppressed a yawn on behalf of the universe.
Saturday I called Renee, a friend once prettier than me who had, through an unfortunate haircut and more than twenty pounds, made herself comfortable on the less-attractive side of adult womanhood by way of cheese cakes, ice creams, plate lunches and flavored coffee drinks. While I grew my hair out and went jogging three times a week, Renee developed her body to better withstand another ice age, accumulating, along the way, the white gold rings and bracelets that would inevitably accompany her in her sarcophagus. But she still had an enthusiasm for adventure, most of which was reserved for popular fiction along the lines of the Knights Templar, Apocalypse conspiracy theories, and anything relating to the imagery of the The Da Vinci Code. No more skinny-dipping with mainland boys for her, no driving through the Wilson tunnel on acid, no growing pot in the closet. She now read bad novels and went to restaurants with her boyfriend.
Two demigods are trapped alone together in a cosmic penal colony, where their only hope for the future is to give birth to a new race. But don’t worry, nobody turns out to be named “Adam” or “Eve”; I’m not going to leave you hanging in suspense about that for the whole story. Just relax, reading is supposed to be fun!
“Do you know how long it will take this world to renew itself?” Taunting, malicious, he said it over and over, trying to break her open, to tempt her into throwing herself from the top of some concrete wreck and become another ghost to be swallowed. “Millions of years. Do you know how many lifetimes that is?” Then he would say it, over and over, and she would find it in herself to keep from trying to kill him.
Over eons their relationship changed. She knew what he had expected when he first arrived: A bleeding heart who would renounce her cause after a few thousand years of loneliness, watching the Ikisat swarm and feed on the remains of humanity and its fear until there were no ruins or traces left behind, no ghosts or lingering memory. The great worms, erasing existence, consumed all and left no sign of former presence, returning the world they infested to a wasteland of rock and iron.
He had expected her ideals to implode.
First published in French in 1984, this is a story about a ragtag clan of travelers with only a meat corridor separating them from starvation and madness.
Along the path of the slug the carpet was burnt. It was secreting, apparently, some kind of acid. The exposed concrete slowly boiled along the final centimeters of the path.
“Take it, Paul. Since it’s only a hallucination, you’re safe. Take it and throw it in the fire!” Eb screamed these last words.
Continuing to smile, Paul bent over and grabbed the beast. Then he went slowly over to the fireplace. He dropped the viscous mass in the flames. It squirmed around for a minute, then a greenish cloud exploded and a dreadful stench of mildew invaded the room. Paul turned around, still smiling. He took a few hesitant steps and then fell onto the ground, right in front of Eb.
His right hand was covered in blood.
A poem about dental damnation.
Rose Lemberg’s elegiac “maze poem” can be read in many ways.