Laughing in the Labyrinth by Josh Luft

I love the sound of the plucked thread.

Plong-ong-ong-ong-ong-ong-ong…

I lose hours in the nooks of this Labyrinth just laughing at that silly sound.

Plong-ong-ong-ong-ong-ong-ong…

I am Theseus, a hero on a hazardous quest. It is not my first—that was lifting up a giant stone to retrieve my father’s golden coin—but it may be my best—if it can top lopping off the bed bandit’s head. On this quest I am searching for Jennifer’s brother. I love Jennifer and I would do absolutely anything for her.

Jennifer has eyes as blue as the summer sky.

Jennifer has skin as fine as Greek porcelain.

Jennifer has hair as dark as a midnight mare.

I recite these lines because I have not seen Jennifer in some time. I have to remind myself of Jennifer’s benefits while on my quest through the Labyrinth.

Or does she have eyes as green as a springtime dream?

Plong-ong-ong-ong-ong-ong-ong…

Jennifer’s brother is a baby. He has features like a baby.

A baby has eyes as blue as the morning dew.

A baby has skin as fine as a fresh silk vine.

A baby has hair as dark as cinnamon bark.

I journey through the maze each day, plucking at the skein, looking for the babe.

Plong-ong-ong-ong-ong-ong-ong…

I am hunting down The Goblin King.

The Goblin King sees only black and blue.

The Goblin King speaks to his Goblin Crew.

The Goblin King sings a song of voodoo.

The Goblin King has taken Jennifer’s baby. He’s going to feed him to the Minotaur.

The Minotaur is a Muppet who came from Nantucket—

Wait.

The Minotaur is a Taurine villain who loves the tender flesh of children.

The Minotaur is a bovine savage with a tattoo reading “I RAVAGE!”

The Minotaur is a Holstein cretin who even dislikes Diane Keaton.

I will find the Minotaur in this maze and slay him before he can graze on Jennifer’s baby. I love Jennifer’s baby and I would do absolutely anything for her.

Jennifer’s baby may be my baby.

Plong-ong-ong-ong-ong-ong-ong…

I trample over The Goblin Crew’s Muppet bones. They are plush and of the brightest tones. Nearby are the rotting guts of Greeks. When I compare the plush to the mighty marrow of my fellow Greeks, I wonder how such “Heroes” could be bested.

Plong-ong-ong-ong-ong-ong-ong…

I have been in the Labyrinth for months—

Years?

“Heart of the Labyrinth” (image via Flickr user practicalowl)

Each wall of thorn-covered brush looks so much like the last, like a family of identical siblings surrounding the path. Am I with the father? Mother? Sister? Brother? And what about the baby?

Plong-ong-ong-ong-ong-ong-ong…

Ariadne is the daughter of The Goblin King. Her desire is to get me through this thing.

Ariadne guides me through the Labyrinth with silken thread.

Ariadne tied it up to show me just where I should tread.

Ariadne wants to marry me in the Minotaur’s stead.

Plong-ong-ong-ong-ong-ong-ong…

I track the Minotaur by his ravings. I’ve collected shed fur, hoof and horn shavings, made a suit to play a brother riled by his cravings.

Plong-ong-ong-ong-ong-ong-ong…

Plong-ong-ong-ong-ong-ong-ong… is Ariadne’s favorite sound. She asks me to play it when her drunken husband’s not around.

Plong-ong-ong-ong-ong-ong-ong…

One night I had a dream about a girl locked in a mall. She had blue eyes, fine skin, dark hair—beauty that did enthrall. I thought that I knew her so I tracked her down in the sprawl. She gave me her name, one, once awake, I couldn’t recall.

Plong-ong-ong-ong-ong-ong-ong…

The Goblin King’s name is Daedalus.

Daedalus is a jean genie playing with androgyny.

Daedalus is an alien confused by all the TVs.

Daedalus wants to get some water for his wife and kiddies.

I met him in a crystal ball tucked into a Labyrinth wall. Daedalus had a song to play, a musical phrase to accompany me in the maze. His song is like Plong-ong-ong-ong-ong-ong-ong… So much like mine that I think I’ve had him wrong this whole time. With a song so fine he must be quite kind!

And what did he say to me, in the moonlight, seriously?

“You remind me of the babe.”

Which reminds me of something…

Oh yes! I am searching for my grandchild!

Plong-ong-ong-ong-ong-ong-ong…

Theseus.

Who is Theseus?

Am I Theseus?

Plong-ong-ong-ong-ong-ong-ong…

“I am Jorge Luis Borges. I made this Labyrinth. I stand at its center and devise the paths for all those who enter.”

That is how I will begin my tale about the Labyrinth. Then I will eat my own tale. Because, you see, that is what it is to write. Ariadne’s sister told me that one night.

Ariadne’s sister has eyes as blue as the summer sky.

Ariadne’s sister has skin as fine as Greek porcelain.

Ariadne’s sister has hair as dark as a midnight mare.

Ariadne’s sister’s name is Jennifer.

That name sounds familiar…

Plong-ong-ong-ong-ong-ong-ong…

I laugh away so many thoughts at the sound of the plucked thread.

Plong-ong-ong-ong-ong-ong-ong…

I have reached the center of the Labyrinth!

The Minotaur is in the corner decaying in a heap. With his claws below his horns, it almost looks like he’s just asleep.

A young man sits upon a bench. He doesn’t seem to mind the stench.

“Hello Theseus,” he says to me.

I guess I am Theseus.

His eyes are as gray as a baby cast away.

“Jennifer left. She couldn’t wait any longer.”

“Jennifer?”

“Yes, Jennifer.”

Jennifer…

Jennifer has a black and blue bull’s eye.

No.

Jennifer is a cast away sky.

Huh?

Jennifer has a porcelain TV.

Hmm…

Jennifer is a springtime genie.

Mmm…

Oh!

“Jennifer, a voodoo mare, loves to feast on cinnamon hair.”

The young man leaves.

I see the end of the thread. I head to the leg of the bench where it is tied. I stop, think there’s something bereft about my quest, but remember how the song always gets me to go on.

I pluck the thread.

Plong-ong-ong-ong-PLACK!

The thread drops to the ground with the strangest of sounds.

I laugh and laugh and laugh and laugh.

Josh Luft was born in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, a land of airplanes and overalls. He writes fiction and assorted weirdness on What a Fool Believes. He has contributed work to The Awl, Dark Sky Magazine, and Storychord. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.