Tale #82: Ariadne’s Web

There is, of course, the story of Ariadne and her ball of string. It’s always told as if that was her way of keeping Theseus from getting lost. But really it was to tie him in place.

Just as her brother was half bull, she was, as her name alludes, half spider. And with every adventurer she lured in with her tricks, with every length of twine she gave them, she slowly remade her brother’s labyrinth into her web.

And, despite what the stories say, no-one ever escaped.

How many entered that labyrinth? How many in good faith took with them her wool? Unspooling it behind them, each loop they left behind a comfort to their terrified hearts, a protection against disorientation, despair.

In reality all it did was lead her brother to them. He left no trail, yet his victim’s always did. In his fury he tore those poor men limb from limb, ate the hearts from their chests, sucked the marrow from their bones, watched in the dark with demented glee as the last lights of life left their dying eyes.

Ariadne lay her eggs in the bodies he left. When they hatched, her children feasted on the rotting flesh in which they had been born, before, eventually, they scuttled down the delicate trails of her web that stretched out around them.

Out from the dark, towards the light of the town.

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Notes:

1. Written in January 2016
2. One final thing
3. For that maze
4. Of ours

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Tale #81: How to escape from every maze in the world

I listen to my dad. Not always, but often. He’s my father and I don’t want to let him down.

He told me once how to escape from any maze in the world. You just hold out your left hand, let it touch the wall by your side, and then, no matter where in the maze you are, you just follow it until you escape.

It might take a while, he said, but it’ll never let you down. Try it. Put your hand here, and start walking. Trace your fingers along the wall and follow them to freedom.

And so I tried it. I held my left hand out and placed my palm against the wall, and then stepped forward, one step, then two. On and on.

In this way I followed my father’s advice. Followed the path my finger traced along this wall. Followed the path like he said I should.

I have followed and followed and followed his loop forever. Have, in all my years, never found my way to anywhere at all.

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Notes:

1. Written in January 2016
2. For that Maze
3. Again

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Tale #80: A Labyrinth Of Streets

The labyrinth was built over several generations, new pathways added every few years at the whims of each successive lord, until eventually the maze was so large and complex, so tightly woven and dense in self-referentiality, that the people of the town it encompassed (and embraced, and contained) could not only never find their way out, they could never reliably find their way home either.

Over time they settled in new houses, made new families, found new friends, and formed new communities to replace the ones they had lost in the ever-branching complexity of this prison in which they lived.

The lords grew ever angrier at this resistance. They built the maze ever larger, wove it ever tight, progressed, they imagined, ever closer to their dreams of complete control.

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Notes:

1. Written on July 3rd, 2019

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Tale #72: Our paths trace out behind us

There was a woman who lived in the woods. Every day after breakfast she went for a walk, carrying a tin of paint. She made a hole in the bottom with a nail and let the paint drip out where she walked. When the paint ran out she would stop, eat her lunch, and then follow the trail back home.

Every day with her paint she traced a new path. And every day her paint ran out before she found a way out of the woods. She wondered somedays whether she just needed a bigger tin, needed to take a longer route.

And other days she wondered if there was any way out at all. That even if she kept walking forever the woods would never end, she would never be free.

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Notes:

1. Written in August 2014
2. And re-written in Jaunary 2016
3. For use in a maze
4. Which was called “A Maze”
5. And existed briefly in Stroud

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