The Maze (Flash Fiction)

Bob snatched the map from Brian’s hands. “Do you even know what you’re looking at?” he said.

“Of course I do.” Brian gave Bob half a scowl. “I can read a map. I’m not an idiot.”

“Really?” Bob said. “Do you discern direction better from a upside-down map?”

“Yeah,” said Brian. The word came out instantly and with all the sound of confidence. “Don’t ya know, Bob? I’m a master at corn mazes. I’ve got a black belt in corn mazes.” Brian saw the twisted look on Bob’s face and smiled wide.

“Why don’t we just cut through the corn?” said Catherine. She was peering through the stalks and leaves. “I can see another path right there. It’s barely twenty feet away.”

Bob let out a small gasp. “Catherine, do tell, what’s the point of willfully entering a corn maze if you’re only going to cheat yourself out of the challenge?”

Brian snickered. “Jesus, Bob. It’s a corn maze, man. We’re not trying to meet Pocahontas so we can find the Oregon trail or something.”

Bob’s jaw fell open. “What the fuck kind of fucked up history were you taught?” A family with three children gave him a dirty look and hurried by. Bob looked to Catherine to find her stifling a laugh. “Fucking Pocahontas and the Oregon Trail? Were you raised on Disney and video games?”

Brian put his hands up. “Easy, Bobby-boy. This here is a family place. Don’t get all carried away on us.” Brian laughed to himself. “My god, how embarrassing would it be to get lost and then kicked out of a corn maze.”

“We’re not lost,” Bob said. “You’re just an idiot.” He held up the colorful map. Childish pictures of tractors and scarecrows and pumpkins covered most of the surface. “Jesus, this thing is useless.”

“What’s wrong, Bob?” asked Brian. “Don’tcha know how to read a map?”

Catherine stepped into the corn row. “I’m just going to cut across,” she said. “The other path is right there.”

“Susan you can’t cut the maze!” Bob shouted. “This is important!”

“I’m hungry,” she said, “and you’re annoying me.” She stopped and looked back through the dirty leaves. “Come on, Brian. Let’s go feed some of the animals at the petting zoo.”

“Hell yeah,” said Brian. He disappeared into the tall rows.

“You’re teaching the children how to quit!” Bob shouted. He sighed heavily and rotated the map. The scarecrow drawing on it gave him a mocking look. He crumpled the paper and dropped it to the ground and started walking. It took him about twenty minutes to find the proper exit.

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