Songbird Trilogy Book 1: The Maze Girl (complete)
Author: Julia R. West

Chapter 30
The Maze Girl

With all my strength, I smash the post into the glass where I estimate number one was compared to where I am. Instantly, I'm showered in shattered glass. Blood begins to flow from where a few shards scratched me.

But the pain isn't bad enough to block out my complete awe. Against the glass at the far end of the hall, bound to the crystal by vines and ivy, there's a girl. Soren's sister.

She has the same black, straight hair, framing her pale face. Head drooping down lifelessly, she doesn't appear to be even alive. Her body is frail and covered in cuts that appear to have been her own doing.

"Hello?" I call. Her head snaps up at the sound, alert as a pointer sniffing a trail.

She closes her eyes tight. "Don't come closer! You're one of them!" she screams, averting her eyes.

"I--I'm not....I'm not here to hurt you. Your brother sent me."

She manages a glance at me quizzically. "I don't have family. You killed them!" she's clearly angry with me.

"I didn't kill anybody," I insist, but she's still afraid.

"You liar," she spits, tears threatening her deep blue eyes.

I stoop to pick up a shard of the glass. "I'm going to cut you free," I tell her calmly. She winces as I approach but doesn't resist. She's obviously glad to be free. As I begin the task of freeing her from the ivy, I decide to venture further. "What's your name?" I ask.

There's a hesitation, almost like she's trying to remember. "Becca," she finally says. I nod.

"How old are you?"

She doesn't answer. I don't think she remembers. Once the ivy is severed she wobbily stands. Eventually, she can't anymore and sits down in the sodden grass, her black outfit soaking up the murky water.

She breaks the silence this time. "Who are you?" she asks me.

"I'm Ellery--call me Elle." Maybe if I can build up a sense of friendship and trust I can coaxe her to help me out of the maze. She looks up at me nervously.

"Why are you...why are you letting me out? You're just like them. Just like J-Julius and Dmitria...and the rest of them."

"Who are the rest of them?"

"The Maze Drawers. They locked me here," she says, lifting her arms to the extent she can to gesture to the hall we're in.

"The Maze Drawers?" I ask.

She nods. "They made this. They made this prison for me...and...and I don't remember why."

"I'm not like them," I reassure her. Then I go for the gold. "Do you trust me?"

There's a long pause, after which 'no' is most likely going to be the answer, but then, she softly decides, "Yes."

"Good," I begin. "So will you help me out of here? We'll work together?"

She nods. I help her up as gently as I can and I think she's getting used to being able to walk again.

 

 

I smash our way out of hallway two, then again out of the clearing. I'm humming Soren's little tune. B...E....C.....C....A....And then I realize. The note names spell 'becca.' Why didn't I see it before? This whole time, Soren was leading me in the right direction.

I'm sure to find the exact spot that I crossed over, assuring that we'll get where we want to go. I'm everything but sure this is the place, and I'm okay with that.

"We cut through here to get back to the main maze," I tell her. She doesn't question it and follows me through the lush, green wall. Upon emerging, I'm almost certain that this is where I entered. I glance up at the sky for the time. It's still dark--probably not much after one in the morning.

"I think it's that way," she says, pointing left at the intersection.

"We can try it."

"No, I know it's that way," she corrects herself.

"H-How?"

"Don't you see the arrows?" she asks, her gaze locked on a particular point in the dull, black sky. I can honestly say I don't.

I shake my head. "But...but if you can, lead the way." I gesture for her to pass me and I follow her much the same way as she did me.

Regardless of the fact that it's getting later in the morning, the sky seems to be getting darker. That's when I start to see them. "Becca," I ask, "Is it right there?" I point to the arrow. It's faint, but against the velvety midnight sky it's semi-clear, like a spotlight in the sky.

She nods. "And it's white."

"Mmm-Hmm."

"They're fading, though," she notes.

"Then we'd better hurry."

I break out into a steady jog, Becca following with some difficulty slightly behind me. But I don't care about that now. We need to get out. Now.

We make the decisions without hesitation. Rounding a corner, I see the silver, metal gate that signifies the exit. In a rush of excitement, I dash towards it, taking the hundred meter corridor as fast as possible. This is it. We've made it, and I've won.

Now, I'm sure I won't be getting a warm welcome and a trophy for what I've just done--interfering with matters I'm not even supposed to know about--but anything is better than being in this nightmare of a maze.

My hands secure around the shiny, freezing cold bars with great enthusiasm. I'm suspecting that, once it's clear I've finished, they will open and Becca and I--and Rory, of course--will be picked up on a train with a lot of food, a change of clothes, and a comfortable place to fall asleep.

But the metal is never whisked from my hands, we are never greeted by Dmitria and Julius, and there is definitely no train to pick us up. Because the gates don't open.

 

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