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THE LABYRINTH It is easy to imagine that the great labyrinth, winding round an entire island in the northern ocean, is the reason behind the fleeting, solitary existence of those who live in it, but this does not explain why they built it in the first place. Perhaps they really did want to lose themselves. Without plan or conference, the early settlers constructed mazes alongside the first houses and roads as if, for them, the unexpected was as essential to life as food or sleep. Maybe the labyrinths were never separate from the houses at all but began as unusually shaped rooms, which were extended into the gardens and across the streets, so that neighbours could meet each other accidentally in their own homes. Before long, there were no ordinary houses left and the scattered villages were connected by a warren of meandering walkways and dead ends. The living spaces became part of the walls until the only way to build a new room was to brick off a section of the maze and add a door on either side, so that pedestrians could still pass through unhindered. Eventually, the walls became a continuous structure. The labyrinth did not enter the world’s history books until it was discovered accidentally by a band of fugitive sailors. By then, it was already well established in its current form but for how long and why, no one can say. The islanders do not keep records of their past. As far as they are concerned, they have none. Those who came before and those who will follow, have lived and will live as they do. The court transcripts from the trial, which the crew faced 1

L is for Labyrinth  
L is for Labyrinth  

L is for Labyrinth is a short story which is part of the book an a-z of possible worlds