I Am the Barefoot Man in the Labyrinth.
Haven’t I been here before? I thought. Everything looked so familiar but it always looked so familiar. It’s like I had been doing this every day of my life. Running in a straight line can be boring and I had been doing it for ages so I could be anywhere. A turn here and a turn there led me to this straight-a-way but there were others, this I knew. From there I kept running and running and running. I didn’t know where this path was taking me but I never do. It didn’t seem like it was natural, but none of this has been natural in the slightest bit. As soon as I thought I understood this place it would change and then it would change again. My own demons used against me. All my fears and feelings of lack used against me. Now I stand at a choice and just as before a choice needs to be made…
“Who is out there?” I tried to shout but my vocal cords where caught. Oh no I thought Am I paralyzed? A tall man in black with a cowboy like hat was standing outside looming over head. The man cast a shadow down from the dark sky over head. The shadow loomed out over head filling the car. A yellow beeping light caught my eye and I turned to see it. The light was coming from outside the flashing yellow lights of my hazards. Then with a heavy click with-in me my hearing caught back into focus and I heard the car alarm sounding. When I turned back to the man he was gone.
I took a few deep breathes to calm myself and remembered my meditation practice. In and out I thought slow deep breathes, shh. Quietly I breathed in and out slowly and I soon remembered the now and to be here. I am aware of the car, I aware of the cool air, I am aware of the pain of my shoulder. I thought over and over and I slowly breathed and attempted to be here now. The pain in my shoulder, a dull ache, was a normal thing and helped provide me something to focus on. Slowly my nerves calmed and I was back here now for a moment.
Okay, I thought, time to get out of here. With that thought released my stomach clenched hard as I heard a huge howl in the distance. It was so loud and strong that it quivered my whole spine. Maybe I should just wait. Another voice in my heard chuckled in disguise.
Stepping out of the car I stood at a cross roads. Here I stood as I slowly took in my surroundings. There before me stood a huge statue. “Bah” I scoffed. “You was justa statue all along? Hahahaha,” I laughed. “I can’t believe I was so scared.” The statue stood a gunslinger with two revolvers on either hips, bullets lined up all over his vest. He wore a huge trench coat and cowboy hat. He stood there looking down at you, hat nearly covering his eyes, arms held out as if saying “whatcha got?”
I turned around and saw the car had disappeared. “Holy shit where did the car go?” I said. I stood there before four choices and this cowboy stood in the center of the crossroads for all four. Each pathway looked the same and all where lined with hedges on either side. They all ran straight into a deep canyon looking wall. Taller than the cowboy the wall stood reaching toward the sky all around. Each were deep, dark and scary. Each time I would peer down one too long I would get a chill down my spin.
Standing in the center the cowboy stood facing one direction but I had the sense that it too would change which direction it was facing. Just as the car had inexplicable disappeared. At the base of the cowboy there stood four benches and each of the benches faced a direction of the cross-roads.
Wavering back and forth I lost balance. In a daze I collapsed to the ground. A deep laugh sounded in the distance though it sounded like it was coming from all directions. The shock of not knowing where I was, how I got here, why I was here, or how the car just disappeared was just too much.
“Okay, time to get up. I don’t know what to do but I know that we will figure it out.” I said to myself. Yes I talk to myself and some think that is weird but I believe it is the sign of genius because you take yourself away from ego. Instead you stay in the realm of yourself, the here and now.
Standing I walked towards the statue and inspected it closer. The benches were built into the statue and each bench had inscriptions on them in some weird language. A name stood underneath the cowboy “Skauegye” it read. “Whatever that means” I said.
“Thank you Skauegye, thank you for bringing me here” I said to the cowboy. “Please help show me the way.” Yes I also talk to statues. I truly have many stories for you but alas now is not the time. I sat down facing one of the directions and stopped to breathe again.
I closed my eyes and breathed in and out, in and out, in and out. I felt a pulling motion into my back as if I was being pulled into the statue. When I opened my eyes I gasps as everything had changed. All of the sudden I fell to the ground again as the bench just disappeared too. A huge volcano roared in the distance spewing out hot lava up into the air. You could see the heat waves coming off the mountainous volcano and I began to sweat. I stood at the edge of a deep canyon with a river running below. You could see the heat of steam coming off the river. It was only a matter of time before the lava would reach here too. Behind me stretched a long walkway into a deep dark forest. It would be dangerous to stay and perhaps more dangerous to enter the forest. Especially with the lava coming forth in an unstoppable way. With no other choice but one I took the path before me and ran into the forest.
Entering the forest the path continued straight. Maybe this wont be so bad maybe I will escape this fire. I thought. I ran and ran not even looking at the trees as they streaked by me in a blur. Behind me I could see a faint glow in the distance and I knew the lava was on it way and the fire was too. Run and Run I did. The path started to climb in elevation as we went up a hill. Abruptly I ran into a tree as the path just disappeared.
I clamored to get up from the ground and stood in front of a huge redwood tree. It was so large that I could barely make out the curvature of the tree before it was swallowed by darkness. It was completely dark all around, all I could see was this one redwood tree. There was no glow in the distance. There was just this huge tree and darkness all around me. It was so dark that looking up I couldn’t see the leaves or pines of this redwood tree. I put my hand in front of my face and could barely see a faint outline.
“Holy shit, what the fuck is going on?” I shouted out loud.
I turned around and walked back the way I came. I didn’t walk more that 15 paces before I stood before another huge redwood tree. This time I didn’t run into it. I walked around the tree and somewhere on the other side I walked straight again. I didn’t walk more that 15 paces and I ran into another tree. I turned right and walked 15 paces and another tree. Over and over I did this. I walked and no matter which way I walked, I would walk into another redwood tree. Here a redwood tree and there a redwood tree. Again and again I did it and got the same results. Am I even going anywhere? I thought.
I took a closer look at the tree.The tree had weird inscriptions in a different language, just as the benches had by the cowboy. These inscriptions seemed to be growing within the tree as though they were a part of it. I ran my hands on the tree and it sent a jolt of energy all through me. I stepped backwards and my foot sunk into a deep well of mud. Being thrown off balance I threw my other foot around to stop myself from falling down again. It splashed down into the water of a swamp and sunk down to the bottom leaving me up to my knee in water. Standing in the water I looked behind me and was not surprised when I saw a deep forest on the edge of the swamp.
“Oh my God?” What is going on here?” I asked out loud to the air. The swamp smelled like rotten fish and skunk and I could see floating logs on the water. Are those really logs? I thought. In the distance across the water stood the other bank and it appeared the same as the one behind me. Back into the forest or across the swamp, or along the banks in either direction. Which way should I go?
”Well,” I said out loud “my food landed in mud and water. I think that means we should go through the swamp.” Not truly convinced it was the right decision I stepped into the water to wade across. Soon the water is up to my stomach and the logs are getting closer. Are those floating toward me? I thought, I continued to wade across seeing it as my only choice. I was soon slowed as the water became to deep for me to wade. I don’t know how to swim well, but started to dog paddle across the water. Soon a log floated up to me and I wrestled it away scared it was more than an a log. Away it floated with out any thought of me for it was just a log.
I continued to dog paddle to the other beach. Another log floated up to me but this one for sure was more than a log for I could see it’s white teeth and the slow wiggle of its tail. I wrestled with the log and it floated away just as the first; just a log. I stopped to take my bearings as I had wrested and wrestled with that log and had lost sight of the banks.
“Uh, where is the bank?”. I said as I hovered in a motionless sea surrounded with nothing but water. “Oh god. Oh god. Oh god. What is this place? Is this hell?” Am I dead? What is going on here? Please god, help me, help me, help me” I shouted.
With no time to gasp for air I was pulled deep underneath the water. Down and down I went scared out of all hell that I was going to drowned. I kept being pulled down and down through the water . All of the sudden I gasps for air as the water vanished like a popping bubble and air surrounded me. I dropped to the ground and before me stood the statue of the man in the cowboy hat.
“What am I doing here? Where is this place? How do I get out of here” I said out loud. And then shouted “HELP ME! PLEASE HELP ME! SOMEONE PLEASE HELP ME!!!”