PAPERBACK BOOKS
BEYOND THE LABYRINTH

beyond the labyrinth cover

This work of fiction is an exciting and intriguing read from start to finish. 

The story follows Normie, a Vietnam veteran, now an itinerant drunk who makes his home in a hidden cave. When exploring his new home, Normie uncovers a labyrinth of caves, and in  doing so makes a grizzly discovery of human remains.  

Normie explores deeper and makes another surprising discovery, which opens up devastating and frightening consequences.

 

As the story unfolds, the author explores a thought-provoking scenario when a child born in seclusion is suddenly thrust into the outside world of technology and human conflict.

 

With violence and bloodshed and plenty of twists and turns, the story draws to an unexpected conclusion. 

In Store Price: $28.95 
Online Price:   $27.95

ISBN: 978-1-921731-25-9    
Format: Paperback
Number of pages:319
Genre: Fiction


Buy as a pdf  Ebook version - $AUD9.00
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Author: Robert Menzies
Publisher: Zeus Publications
Date Published: 2010
Language: English

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About Robert Menzies 

Robert Menzies is a retired primary school principal who lives at Hope Island on the Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia. He and his wife Merilyn have been married for thirty years and they have  two grown up children, Benjamin and Jacqueline, who both live and work in Sydney. 

During his childhood, Robert came in contact with a large range of dysfunctional characters – usually itinerants or seasonal workers passing through the fringe-dwelling community in which he lived. These characters were often on the run from deserted wives or the law – or both, and all of them had their stories to tell. It is from these contacts that the inspiration for many of Robert’s characters is drawn.

Robert travelled extensively in Europe and America before he finally returned to Australia and settled down to a teaching career. As a teacher, he spent most of his career in state and private schools in Sydney. His first position as a primary school principal was in a non-denominational school in Sydney. He then moved to Queensland where he became principal of both church and non-church schools on the outskirts of Brisbane, Queensland. 

Although all the characters in ‘Beyond the Labyrinth’ are fictional, many of the settings and scenarios depicted in this book were inspired by his relentless search for hidden caves whilst growing up on the family property in Dorrigo, NSW. 

Beyond the Labyrinth is Robert’s fourth novel. He has published three novels previous to this: ‘Culture Shock’, ‘Glimpses of Purgatory’ and ‘Webs of Deception’.

Chapter 1 

He took a good long slug of his bottle of rum, and then chose the passageway which was easiest to enter. It started off okay and he had to bend over slightly to prevent hitting his head on the roof. But as it lengthened, it also became smaller, and soon Normie was crawling on his hands and knees, wishing ruefully he had been able to bring his rum with him.

The walls of the passage were dry, devoid of any rivulets of water or moss. The floor was also dry, not damp and muddy as many caves are and this aided his progress considerably. He shone his torch onto the roof of the passageway and found it to be in a similar state. Small stalactites were beginning to form telling him that, geographically this was a fairly young cave, maybe a hundred thousand years old. He had spent some time hiding out in similar caves in Vietnam, and he knew from these experiences that in dry caves, stalactites formed much more slowly than in their wet counterparts, so it was difficult to tell from this just how old the cave really was. He persevered with his crawling and before long, the passageway began to open out. Soon he was able to walk again, albeit in the manner of the hunchback of Notre Dam.

Suddenly the passageway opened out into another cave. He shone his torch furtively around the walls, only to see more ancient-looking Aboriginal paintings and a large pool of jet-black water in the centre. There was also another circle of blackened rocks nearby which had been used as a campfire. He shone his torch up onto the ceiling expecting to see more bats, but none could be seen. The passageways were probably too small for bats to fly through; at least he hoped that was the case. In the fetid darkness, the air reeked of the water’s coldness as it dripped incessantly from the cave walls and of fresh bat shit recently added to the hundreds of layers of guano after thousands of years of habitation by these evil-smelling, cat-eyed little creatures of the underworld.

Then he saw something that made his blood run cold.

In the corner were the rotted remains of a human body. They were lying on the floor of the cave and had been there for some time. The flesh and most of the clothes had rotted away leaving only a white, bony skeleton. But every bone was in place and it was obvious that it was the skeleton of a human being – man or woman – Normie couldn’t tell. He broke out into a cold sweat, despite the permeating coldness of the cave. He swung his torch around to see if he could see anything else, but to no avail.

Moving closer, he took another look at the skeleton in the freezing air. In order to get a better view he brushed a greasy knot of hair from his face and took a wary step towards the grizzly sight before him. As he came closer, his nostrils dilated with the rancid odour of decay. Whilst the body’s flesh had rotted away, some of its clothing was still intact, hanging off the bones and lying in rotting pieces on the rocky floor. He stood staring at it for quite some time, unable to drag himself away. How had this person got here? Had he or she come here to die or had the body been brought here for concealment? He shone his torch carefully around the mossy walls and rocky floors to see if he could find any clue as to the reason for the body being here. There didn’t appear to be anything that would give him even the slightest clue. He wandered a little farther away and began exploring the rest of the cave. It was very similar in nature to his own, except it had no light source as his did. It was larger than his abode, and had a number of thin, narrow passages leading off in different directions.

Suddenly the ray of his torch caught something shiny as he swung it around the walls of the cave. An object had glinted in the feeble ray of the torch as it passed over it. Normie retraced the path of the light ray – and there it was again. He crawled carefully over to the source on his hands and knees, dragging himself slowly across the rocky floor. Concentrating the ray of his torch on exactly the same spot, he was able to make out a rusty and tarnished object with only enough shine left on it to provide a feeble glint. He picked it up and examined it – it was an old bracelet. He placed it in his pocket, knowing there was no point in trying to examine it under torchlight. He reckoned that once he got it into the sunlight he would be able examine it more carefully. It may provide him with a clue as to the identity of its owner.

Normie had seen enough. He turned back into his passageway and made the arduous trek, crawling on hands and knees back to his own cave, where his half-full bottle of rum was still waiting patiently for him, beckoning him to take a hearty swig. He downed the whole bottle in a couple of gulps to calm his nerves, then grabbed his sawn-off shotgun, checked that it was loaded, and placed it carefully on top of his swag. Moving to the cave entrance, he gazed down at the scene before him. In contrast to the coldness deep within the cave, the air was hot and smelled like fresh cow manure and wet hay. In the distance, he could see the sharply punctuated shape of the Blue Mountains as they emerged out of the bushy horizon like a camel’s hump. He gazed at the sparkling little mountain stream that bubbled away below him, separating and insulating his cave from the rest of the world. It meandered gently through the tall gum trees, their leaves fluttering in the morning sunlight like millions of moths around an open flame.

He retraced his steps to the inside of his cave and lay down on his rough old moth-eaten mattress, still clutching his beloved shotgun.

He didn’t sleep very well that night.

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