The house stands alone, the other houses having abandoned it.
The roof tiles are slipping, the guttering cracked and broken. There are no windows and a porch, decayed to the point of non-existence. A solitary door resides in the middle of the houses front.
No one lives at the house. Many people walk past and ignore it. But every once in a while someone stands and stares. Something about the house intrigues them. Enticed, hypnotised they walk up the pathway. Hands rest on the door handle, pausing for a moment, then turning. The door opens into a corridor leading down to another door. Some bail here. Other go further, seeing whats behind the second door.
The house has them. A labyrinth of doors awaits the victim. Pitch blackness confronts the ensnared. Until the candles arrive. Serpentine, they crawl along the ground and hang from ceilings, packs of candles following each person around, their light revealing doors of wood, metal and everything else leading to other doors, some arranged as cross roads, some adorned with quotes and etchings, others blank. Infinite in sequence and variety each one provides the captive with the cursed gift of choice.
Yet the maze doesn’t hold people. It continually throws up a door, one that glimmers uniquely in the candle light, like a piece of obsidian. The ones who panic open it instantly, its reflected light a beacon to them. They arrive back on the front porch. They often never return to the house. Others reject the door at first convinced that the maze holds a secret and they dedicate their lives to uncovering it. The door keeps reappearing to them at regular and irregular intervals, a way out. Sometimes it is taken out of frustration, sometimes tiredness and other times sheer boredom.
That leaves those who reject the door constantly, continually slamming doors, followed by candles in search of something they aren’t quite sure of but which has consumed them. They occasionally cross paths, frail bearded persons chased by packs of candles, drifting like ships in the night from door to door. It is these who discover the skeletal remains of previous explorers, skeletal fingers clutching door handles, slumped against the doors, rib cages wrapped with serpent candles, eye sockets blazing. These sights do not deter them, each of them convinced they will figure out the labyrinth.
Perhaps there is one final door, an end to the sequence, a door that opens up to another dimension, or a paradise beyond mans imagination. Or not. In either case, finding this door has proven to be a fatal exercise.
Clouds hang low, the sun is descending and a slight breeze entwines fallen leaves. A girl has her hand on the door handle. Opening the door she looks inside. For a few seconds she leans forward foot hovering over the steps. Then(***)…she pulls herself back and leaves the house, abandoning it to the autumnal gusts.
Alternate ending (***) her foot falls forward, the door shutting behind her.