Part [B] to yesterday's part [A]. It all ends here
Zena stopped and sat down. The only good thing about her agonising foot was that her footprints told her which of the corridors she had already tried. Unfortunately, she seemed to have tried them all already. At least she couldn't be followed, even if they were certain to know she was here somewhere.
She supposed there was little point in sitting around though. They were sure to find her eventually. She struggled to her feet and staggered on, her foot and lip still stinging horribly.
She walked back and forth and around and around the labyrinth for what seemed like hours, until she eventually noted something very curious: a light switch. It seemed to be the only light switch around, and was curious because there were no electric lights; the corridors were lit with flaming torches.
Maybe it wasn't a light switch. Maybe it was a switch for an extractor fan. Zena remembered how she would use the extractor fan in her kitchen at home when she cooked for her parents. Golly! It all seemed so long ago! It would make sense, though, she reasoned. It did seem to be getting rather smoky and she was starting to feel quite drowsy. Perhaps even dreamy. Without her knowing it, her hand was already reaching forward.
"I'm sorries, I don't understands, Miss."
"Then whys did we...? Wouldn'ts it have been easiers to...?"
"No it wouldn't; this is the way I planned it, Collins, as well you know."
"I think I'd better put the kettle on," said the giant.
"Oh know you don't!" interjected The Woman In The Pretty Dress. "Not with your track record. Collins!"
"Yes, Miss," said Collins, moving as fast as his little legs would carry him.
It was as if the maze of corridors had unfolded and created an extremely long passageway, with an almost blindingly bright light at the end of it. Zena hesitated. She looked back to the pitch black that lay behind her. What if it was a trap? Maybe the least tempting option was the correct one. Maybe They knew she'd think that, and so the dark route led to certain doom. Maybe... oh, this could go on forever.
Zena trusted in the light. At least this way she could see where she was going.
And then the breathing started.
It was gentle at first, like a cat purring in its sleep. But it became sharper. Angrier. It was hissing at her. And it was behind, just beyond reach. Wincing and whimpering, Zena quickened her pace. Quicker and quicker, she broke into a run. Still the breathing followed her, closer and closer, louder and louder. Yet always out of sight.
Zena sprinted towards the light. Again she stubbed her toe. And the floor came up to meet her face.
"I told you to put up a Mind The Step sign, didn't I? Didn't I tell you? And now look what's happened. She'll probably sue. Oh, look, she's coming to. Are you alright, dear?"
The Woman In The Pretty Dress slowly took form in Zena's bleary eyes.
"Wh-where is it? It was chasing me!"
"Now, really! Calm down. What was chasing you?"
"The breathing! I could hear it breathing!"
"That damn echoing corridor!" She turned to the giant. "I told you to fix that too, didn't I?!"
"Yes dear," muttered the giant from behind his crossword.
"Echo? You mean it was my breathing?"
"Yes, I'm afraid so. Oh, it really it far too bright in her. We really should replace that light bulb with a lower wattage one."
"Yes dear," said the giant, taking a sip of tea as he mulled over fourteen down. "I'll get right to it."
Zena looked up at the giant properly for the first time. "Mr Jamin! What are you doing here?"
"Oh hello, Zena!" said Mr Jamin, lighting up and lowering his paper. "Sorry, I hadn't realised it was you. You don't know what 'small carnivorous armchair' is, do you? Seven letters, last letter Q?"
"Oh. Pity." An awkward pause. "So how are you doing? Sorry about transporting you here and all. Easy mistake to make, really. Have you met my wife?"
"Oh, you must. Emily, this is Zena. Zena, this is Emily."
"Er, hello," said Zena to The Woman In The Pretty Dress.
"Hello dear," replied Emily.
"Er, Mr Jamin? What's going on? What's this about my mortal enemy? And my being a 'Chosen One'?"
Mr Jamin spat out his tea all over his crossword, he laughed so hard. "Oh dear. I'll have to finished that later," he muttered to himself, wiping it gently with his sleeves. He turned to Zena, who looked horrified. "So they told you that too, did they?"
"Yes," said Zena. "Why is that funny?"
"It's not," said Emily sternly. "I've been trying to invade this place for years. It's needed a makeover so badly. That Bonathon fellow has such ghastly taste."
Mr Jamin jumped in again. "It's not quite like it sounds, Zena. Things work a little differently here. The others are being kept downstairs while the finishing touches are being applied. There's plenty down there ot entertain them. But oh my we've been so rude! Would you like some cake?"
"Er, yes please," said Zena, which knew it was rude to refuse a host's hospitality. "So, you'll let them out later?"
"Of course. We're nearly finished. And then you can go back home."
"Oh goody!" said Zena, as she hadn't realised she had missed it so much. "But... what about the Binglish?"
"Oh, that'll wear off soon enough," said Mr Jamin.
"Oh. I thought someone said it was irreversible."
"Oh yes, it is. We can't change it back for you. It just changes back of its own accord."
"Indeed. Ah, here's the cake. Thank you Collins."
Collins nodded, handed over the cake, and backed away respectfully. Before long the others who had been locked downstairs returned, and they all had a jolly party with hats and balloons and jelly and ice cream, and the decor wasn't garish at all.
Before she knew it, Zena was back home, and her parents were loving and kind, and her teacher Mrs Kate was considerate and fair, and everything turned out much better than anyone could possibly have expected, all in a slightly too easy and convenient kind of way.
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