Short Story: THE PSYCHIC’S RIDDLE

   ‘Why would a psychic send me here?’

   I scratched my head, my face scrunched at the stench of a muddy trail at the border of Romeo’s Labyrinth, a piece of paper flapping in my hand.

   ‘And give me this riddle? I wanted answers about my wife, not some treasure hunt.’

   I deciphered her messy handwriting once more.

   ‘Follow a path as thick as honey and a scent she holds dear.’

    I trudged through the mud, my feet dipping into the thick sludge, like a spoon into a jar of honey. A delicate perfume wafted on amongst the breeze.

    ‘Nancy’s favourite perfume.’

    Was she here? I observed the viscous mud and saw someone had visited the track not long before me.

      I revisited the piece of paper in my hand, my clammy fingertips smudging some of the ink. My chest tightened as I read further.

      ‘To the valley where the sun shines in many places.’

       I fought the heaviness in my legs and powered on towards a clearing. A golden glow hit my eyes. Sunflowers, silent and still, populated the clearing.

      ‘Nancy’s favourite flower.’

       She was here. I knew it. Why? Lone hikers did not come to this place, especially after the backpacker murders that occurred a few years ago.

       The sunlight had turned the track amongst the flowers soft and doughy, and there was no evidence of footprints farther on. A shiny object sparkled in the sunlight, blinding me momentarily. Nancy’s wedding ring! Why had she removed it? What had happened to her? Was she ok? I turned my attention to the psychic’s riddle.

       ‘And weave through the labyrinth to where a symbol of love reveals hidden truths.’

        The scent of her perfume grew stronger as I reached a section where the path became steep, its surfaced peppered with razor-sharp rock. Every step was calculated, yet the soles of my shoes could not prevent the sharp pain that made my feet throb.  

       A labyrinth of rock formations greeted met at the bottom of the hill. Her voice! Muffled. Cut off. My heart skipped a beat as it echoed amongst the rock-infested mazed. Further on, another clue. Her jacket. I rushed towards it, picked it up, and smothered it against my face. My arms and legs shook. My heart thumped furiously against my chest.

        My eyes searched farther up the path. Her shirt, followed further on by her favourite pair of tight jeans. Another voice. My skin tingled, the muscles in my chest tightened, horror paralysing me. My worst fear was coming to pass.

       Silently I crept, picking up item after item of clothing until there was nothing more to collect. Laughter. Loud, playful, flirtatious. A splash of water followed. Two pairs of wet footprints fading on the rock. Breathing deeply, I peered into a secluded rock cave. Naked and romantically interlocked in the arms of another, in a heart-shaped spring of water carved amongst the rocks, was Nancy. 

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