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“How to Get Through a Fantastical Maze (without going *that* insane)” – Isla McCullough

First, patience. You’ll need a lot of it because you won’t be able to get a bird’s eye view to see where you are (at least at first). Understand that moving will get you farther than sitting and contemplating every fork in the road. Ignore the secret passages. They are dark, damp, and scary, and do not have your best interest at heart. The doors though might be useful. Like, go through them, wandering around is useless.

Fail with the patience thing. No one has that much patience. Talk to people, you’re not alone here. But don’t trust them, they also don’t have your best interest at heart. Get frustrated, since you know you’ve already been here. It’s okay to rage a little. Get misled by someone. It happens, and will definitely happen again. Keep going through the doors, and ignore anyone or anything that doesn’t look human. Please. It’s really in your best interest.

You ended up in a secret passage, didn’t you? 

Well, now that you’re here, take a look around. Dark and scary? Yep. Keep moving. Aaand there’s that person you falsely trusted. Run. Okay, now you’re back at the surface and have absolutely no clue where you are. Get some sleep already! See that door there? It’s trustworthy. Probably. Sleep on the bed in there.

Start to really run out of patience. You’ve been here longer than you thought you would be. Learn a life lesson here, namely to be flexible and stop having expectations. When morning comes, leave that room fast, it might combust, who knows. Go into that door, no, not that one, that one. You’re technically not supposed to be in here, but while you are, grab that bottle from the shelf to your left. The tiny glass one with the purple liquid. Leave the room and run because someone will probably be trying to get that bottle back or they’ll simply be angry you were in there. Drink the liquid before it’s too late. No, stop hesitating and drink it. Seriously, there’s only a ten percent chance it will kill you and at least you’ll be out of there!

See? Told you it wouldn’t kill you. Oh and by the way, think of the word “bird” in your mind.

You’re a bird now! Find a skylight and fly through it. Remember the bird’s eye view? You have it now. And don’t get caught! 

You got caught in bird form and the container is too small to change back into human form. Well, no one said this was going to be easy. Hope you got a good look to know where you’re going once you get free. Anyway, a bird isn’t your only option. Keep that in mind, but your captors will want you as a human so they’ll let you out at some point. Once they’ve let you out and told you to shift into a human, do that. This is what you get for going into weird potion rooms, but it was a necessary price. No idea what they plan to do to you so shift into a bug when they get distracted. A small bug that doesn’t make a lot of noise and can fly fast.

Fly through that tiny door in front of you! Now shift back into a human, quickly! You also shouldn’t be in this library so be stealthy and don’t poke your nose into even more fantastical business. You’re only human. 

Fail at that because being nosy is your worst flaw. There’s a reason you’re in the maze in the first place. Do you have any idea where you are or where you’re going? Fine, get a hint from that girl over there. She needs payment so give it to her unless it involves you dying or going completely insane (the title has to be fulfilled). Again, did you think this was going to be easy?

Realize that you can’t trust her or the one other you were thinking maybe you could trust. Be paranoid and this is the part where you go a little insane but you’re almost halfway out, don’t worry, you’ll be fine.

Find the center. If you don’t know how, use that hint you got or just figure it out.

You should have successfully gotten through the maze if you find the center. If you actually have to find your way out to the other side, repeat these instructions. 

Except don’t. Because everything’s different now. Instead of fighting an uphill battle, you’re fighting a downhill one. And you can’t come out where you started. You have to come out on the other side. 

Maybe this advice has been…questionable. You might appreciate getting free rein from here, or not. But you should’ve stopped listening to these directions a long time ago! The most important part of getting out of the maze is trusting yourself, not some wacky directions!

But if you absolutely need the advice, then here it is: go through those doors and just continue to move. And maybe you could take advice from humans and *some* non-humans, but don’t lose yourself among them. Stay patient (or not) and remember, if you have to keep one thing in mind, keep some shred of sanity (or else the title would have lied).

About the Author:

Isla McCullough is an 11th grader from Clinton, NY. In her free time, she likes to read and write, but she never seems to have any free time because she has too many other interests. In the past she has been published in the Analogies and Allegories lit mag, but she hopes to continue to get her work into the world.

This piece is a part of Issue One: Lost & Found. Read more like this piece here!

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