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The Kafkaesque Labyrinth by Martin Hudec

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The AJ Writing Prize 2014: Entry


The following story was developed upon the reading of novel The Castle by Franz Kafka. Through K.’s eyes we see a place which is a product of my imagination and which I keep coming back to visit in my thoughts to refine it and to push it closer to my image of perfection.

K. does not pay any special attention to the structure which appears to be just another office building among the others of BBC Media Village. As many other common office buildings, emptiness of offices inside. But still, there is something different about this one. Although K. cannot know it yet, he is soon going to find out that inside, there is no buzz or no emptiness but something far more challenging.

K. is deceived by an underground tunnel which at first might appear to him as a tube entrance. Since he walks past the sign White City Underground Station on the ramp down into the tunnel, the tube entrance looks less and less like one as he goes further. Once the space begins its slow transformation into its true form, it is clear to K. that this is not what he expected to see.

At the very moment when K. realizes that he is a victim of his curiosity, there is no playful game of the glossy and colourful tiles on the wall anymore, there are no signs telling him where to go. The wall stands with the smooth tiles as ripped down to uncover the coarse, cold concrete wall waiting there to unveil the first pieces of a puzzle - the naked truth behind the bait. But his urge to satisfy the growing curiosity inside him pushes him deeper into the darkness and his sense of orientation is slowly fading as he proceeds further. A cold breeze washes away the echo of his footsteps into the emptiness. Both of them are telling him about the vastness of the world he ventures into. There, he finds himself lost in an alien world, still somewhere beneath the ground. His journey to reveal where he truly is begins.

The first room and the first window with the first view of the outside world familiar to K. are a great relief for him. It is the first piece of a puzzle which is trying to tell him where he is. The three doors leading out of the room urge him to look for the missing pieces.

After K. experiences numerous rooms and numerous windows, he might notice that the rooms are not completely identical. The windows are room by room getting gradually smaller. Thus if K. is able to read this hidden message, he might realize it is a sign of his progress.

To reach the end of his journey, K. must accept the fact that he is lost in a vertical maze composed of the rooms connected with staircases. The windows with their views in every room are the only hint he is left with. Keeping that in mind, he has to make a decision. Which one of the three doors out of the room is the right one?

The cold breeze grew into a howling wind and it is still growing stronger with every step which takes K. higher in the tower. The victim is about to be release. The demands of the curiosity will be satisfied in the end. But where is the end?

K. has to make the right decision in every room to get out of the maze at the very top of the tower. There in the end of his journey he finds a way leading outside the dim rooms and dark corridors. But before he walks the last flight of stairs, he has to stop for a moment. So intensive is the light that K. needs to wait until the blindness is over. The howling wind is gone and it is just the echo of his steps what suddenly comes back and tells him there is another vast space behind the blindfold.

In the end, in the pool of light, the sanctuary presents to K.

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