"Well, I hope it's worth thirty dollars. That's a lot of money to spend on a maze, monkey!" I knew then that dad was going to give in. I had been nagging for months to get him to take me to a maze, and I found one, on the internet, that really was not too far.
It was up in the hills in the grounds of an old mansion, and it was made of really tall shrubs. The pictures made it look a little spooky, but I didn't care, I'd always wanted to go in a maze.
"Oh, it's worth it" I told him. "You get entry to the maze, a tour of the gardens (I knew he'd like this) and lunch for two with a glass of wine each. You can have my wine"
Dad laughed. "Well, that's very generous of you. Okay, I give in. Go have your shower, we'll have to leave fairly early in the morning, it's about two hours away. You wanna go through the maze in time for lunch"
"Oh, thank you daddy! Thank you!"
I had my shower, and went to bed, but it took ages to go to sleep, I was so excited!
The drive to the maze was a lot of fun. Dad put on a CD of the Beatles and we sang pretty much the whole way. When we weren't singing I told him all about school, and my friends, and dad told me all about his work and the guys there. It was great.
The mansion was at the end of a long dirt road, and dad pulled up at the large black gates at the front. They were open, and he took a picture of them with his phone. I have to say it looked kind of creepy, there was this huge mansion, it must have been four or five stories tall, it looked like a castle.
There were clouds behind the mansion that blocked the sun a little, and I swear to you it looked like something from a scary movie. Dad thought the same thing, but then he pointed ahead to where the road led, there were flower gardens, fountains, everything that made it not look like something from a horror movie.
I don't know why, but when dad drove through the gates I swear I felt a shiver go down my spine.
Just being silly, I guess.
Anyway, we drove around to the back of the mansion, following signs that said "Maze this way" and "Café now open".
Dad parked in the car park beside about a dozen other cars, the area was surrounded by pretty tall rose bushes that had so many flowers they looked like cotton candy balls on long sticks.
I told dad that and he laughed.
We walked along the crunchy gravel path towards the door that said "Reception" and dad talked to the guy that was selling tickets.
Talk about weird. He had these googly eyes and was missing a tooth at the front that made him whistle every time he said anything with an 's' in it.
I was giggling and dad kept waving his hand at me to get me to stop, but as soon as he got the tickets and we walked away dad started to laugh, too!
Along with the tickets we had a bag that dad said had drinks and snacks from the ticket guy.
There was other families going into the maze, and we stopped out the front to read the instructions.
I was reading the board, it had all the usual stuff, no leaving rubbish in there, damage will result in charges being laid, you know the kind of stuff I mean.
We looked up at the opening, and just for a minute I think I got the shiver again. The shrubs were really, really tall, and as we looked up the huge clouds in the sky made t all look a bit frightening.
"Mmmmm, creepy" dad said in a scary voice. He looked down at me and laughed. "Just kidding, Petunia. You ready?"
I wasn't sure. "What if we get lost?"
Dad showed me a yellow envelope Mr. Googly Gap tooth had given him. "In here is a map" he explained. "If we can make it out without opening the envelope we get this great big certificate and a trophy. If we bust the envelope open to get the map, we get a little certificate. So, let's try this without the map, okay?"
"Yes! Okay, daddy"
Well as we walked through the entrance I swear dad got a shiver down his spine this time, too. And you know, it was really weird, even though there was all these clouds in the sky it was still sunny and bright, birds singing and all that.
As soon as we passed the entrance, no birds, no singing, no sunlight shining on our heads.
It was dark, gloomy and I really felt more than a bit scared. I took dad's hand and he gave it a squeeze.
"Where did the sun go?" I asked.
Dad squeezed my hand again. "It's the maze. The shrubs are so tall they block out most of the light. Makes it all look a bit weird and creepy. C'mon, this'll be fun!" he assured me.
"Yeah. Fun" I was not so sure.
We walked in, and the first thing to do was to choose left or right. Dad looked at me and shrugged.
I looked left. It was really dark, gloomy, just like a horror movie.
I hate horror movies.
To the right was not a lot better. But the fact that it was a little better, only a little, was enough for me. I pointed that way and we went, dad holding my hand just tight enough for me not to feel totally scared.
We wandered for a while, each time dad asked me which way to go, and each time I chose the way that wasn't as dark.
The maze was really cool, it had little bits cut into it here and there that had statues, really old ones like the ones in museums with arms missing and stuff, and some there were not so old.
Some that were really scary, that looked like scarecrows, or evil clowns.
Even dad walked fast passed these ones.
We came to a cut out that had a seat made of the same stuff the statutes were made from. Dad told me it was marble, it was expensive and heavy.
We sat down and dad opened the bag. There were two bottles of water and some crackers, fruit and cheese and some candy. We had a rest and a snack, and dad put his arm around my shoulders.
"Trouble with that cloud being up there, sweetie, is that we can't see which way the sun is. No way to tell if we're heading in the right direction or not"
I took a drink from my water bottle. "So, it's all right, isn't it? We're not lost, are we?"
Dad frowned at me. "I'm thinking we might be, but I could be wrong. If you're finished, we can pack up our snacks and keep walking"
We kept to our same idea of going in the lighter way, but it didn't seem to be working.
"We've been in here for two hours, maybe we should open up the envelope" dad suggested.
I really wanted to win the trophy. It would be great to show the kids at school. I also wanted to get out of the maze, it was starting to really get to me.
"Let's try just a bit longer without the map, okay?" I told dad, and he kissed the top of my head.
"Whatever you say" he told me.
We decided to try something different. We were going to take turns going left and right. First right, then left, every time we came to a part where we had to decide the way.
This seemed to work, we didn't go back passed anything we had already seen, and we seemed, I think, to be getting to the middle.
Something rustled under one of the shrubs, and I got a bit scared.
Dad said it was the wind.
That would have made me feel better, but there was no wind. The tall hedges blocked out any wind.
We came to a turn that had three choices. Go left, right, or straight ahead. It was the time we were going to choose left, but that looked like it went back the way we had just come, so we went straight.
It was a dead end.
And I swear I could hear something scurrying along under the hedges, making the shrubs rustle.
Dad said there was nothing there.
We walked further and this time I could hear something following us!
I think dad heard it, too, because he pulled me closer and we started to walk a lot faster.
We kept coming to bend after bend, turn after turn, we went right then left, but we still couldn't seem to get any closer to the exit.
It was dark, it almost looked like early night time, and it was getting cold. There was a weird little breeze that scattered the few leaves around in swirls on the gravel path, and no matter how fast we went, the scurrying rustling followed us.
I started to cry. I was so scared, and I know dad was worried, he was holding my hand so tight that it was hurting, but I didn't want him to let go.
We were nearly running.
The only other sound was whatever that thing was that followed us, there were no other people sounds, no birds, no nothing!
We ran around a bend and whump! My dad rans straight into a man, but when he turned, he had no face!
I screamed and screamed until dad picked me up and held me close, really tight, and finally I stopped screaming long enough for me to see it was just another one of those creepy statues, this one was on some kind of spinny pedestal thing.
Who makes statues without a face? Seriously, who does that?
"I've had enough of this" dad growled, he was angry because I had gotten such a fright. Dad gets very angry if anyone, or anything upsets me. He loves me so much!
He pulled the envelope out to tear it open when the rustling got louder.
"Let's just go!" I yelled. "We don't have time for that, daddy, please, let's just go!"
He agreed, I think, because he grabbed my arm and we ran as fast as we could. We didn't stop to pick any directions anymore, we just ran.
I thought my heart was going to burst right out of my chest it was beating so hard, both from being frightened and from running.
We came to a bend and went to run around but dad skidded in the loose gravel and we both kinda slipped over, dad on his bottom, me on top of him.
Right out of the maze.
That was the exit, and there were people all around, waiting for their lunch, as we fell in front of them.
Dad lifted me off him and this pretty lady held out her hand to help dad up. I could see he was really embarrassed.
"There was something chasing us" he said, I think he was trying to explain why we were running.
The lady started to laugh.
Then everyone started to laugh.
I could feel my cheeks going red, and I could see dad was getting a bit angry at everyone laughing at us, til the lady pointed behind us.
We turned around, and saw what had been following us through the maze.
"Oh, it's Mister Whiskas!" the ticket seller was there, and he picked up the biggest rabbit I had ever seen!
Dad started to laugh. "You telling me a rabbit was following us the whole way?"
The ticket man brought him closer for me to see. "Mister Whiskas is a Neanderthal Giant, they are the largest breed in the world. He loves the maze, he eats all the weeds in there, it's good for us because it means we never had to trim them!"
I scratched Mister Whiskas behind the ears, he tipped his head over to show he liked it. "I was so scared!" I told the ticket guy.
"Well, if you didn't see what was following you, I'm not surprised. But come on now everyone, lunch is served, Mister Whiskas will hang around to eat any of your bread rolls that you may wish to drop for him!" He saw the envelope unopened in daddy's hand. "I'll get your trophies and certificates, too"
Dad turned to me with a funny look on his face. "Well, monkey, was going through a maze all you thought it would be?"
I winked at him. "Yeah, dad, it was ah MAZE ing!"