The Minotaur

Think of Blake’s illustration of the Commedia. Think of Borges’ Book of Imaginary Beasts. In short, think of the minotaur as inversion: man above, bull below, human head on taurine body. The poor, near-sighted creature! Think of other questions: such a large babe ne’er grew in woman’s womb. Question Poseidon’s gift: a bull? or cow? If cow, whither the father? Minos, then? or love-struck numinous creator? Whose seed germed in that forbidden garden?

But, so. Let us consider clothing. Or, rather, the lack therof — for if there is one thing constant about poor Asterion it is the lack of cover his several parents have provided for to cover up his shame. (Saving the labyrinth; a cold stone cloak throne upon an impudent figling.) How he swells in his maleness! See now the sad ghosts of past crimes rubbing down to nothing on a convenient cornice! These little deaths whicker in his ears.

What can he do when they have broken under his thwarted love? What other food is there? Outcast, untutored, unfed; without family, without language, without all the needed gentle ties of his human head, what is there for him? What, but turn cannibal? Poor omophage, he turns corner after corner, wears stone to earth with heavy hoofs, but never finds the door his key would fit.

Born of the Sea

Poseidon cracked open the sea bed and pulled a bull red as the sun from the hot rock within. No finer animal had even been seen — no more shining coat, no broader back, no prouder head, no heavier horn. The sealord looked upon his creation and fingered his weighty trident and was glad. “It’s a fine wan ye are,” quotha.

“Pchoo, you,” said the bull, and blew bubbles from his nose. “I bet you say that to all the beeves.”

When he came stamping out of the water, with his back all thickgrown with seaweed and barnacles and mussels, it was a week’s labor and more to get the bull clean again. The king and the queen came down to watch the work, not without some trepidation.

“He’s a big fellow but he reeks of fish,” remarked the queen.

“I’m just as the god made me, ma’am,” said the bull. “I can’t be any better or worse than I am.”

The king frowned. “It’s an impudent thing ye are, for all that it’s your own death that’s waiting for ye.”

“Ah, well, now. As to that,” said the bull, and smiled a secret bullish smile. “I know something you don’t know.”

The Doors of Daedalus

The plaque on the door says SINergy which she thinks is kind of pretentious but then she supposes you can have any two of effectiveness, originality and taste and it looks as though SINergy has not opted for taste which is fine because really she’s had enough of taste to last her a lifetime and is in the mood for some trashy brilliance.

The door opens and a deep male voice starts to lecture her on the wonders of the SINergy system but she’s already tuned it out. Either she’ll figure out what the wonders are or she won’t and in either case being told about them won’t make a bit of difference so what’s even the point?

Inside there’s a lounge breathtaking in its tackiness: shag carpeting, a recessed seating area full of couches and fur rugs, soft music, a bunch of serious nude people sitting around talking about Serious Nude People Issues. There’s no way out of the room that she can see, but if there’s one thing she knows, it’s that mazes always lead deeper into themselves. She takes a tight hold on her clew, and goes down into the party.

Asterion

On the stairway he is buffeted by ghosts. Their dry hands stroke his hide, their twittering fills his ears. For an instant he thinks he understands them: he hears his name, and then they are gone.

He has been climbing these stairs for months. Every thirty steps there is a landing; every hundred there is a door. Inside he sees poisoner’s banquets, masquerades, long rows of books and strange creature floating in formaldehyde. He passes by, driven by some unformed instinct, searching for some truer life. The voices within fall silent, stilled by the echo of his hooves.

Once he finds a garden in a solarium, citrus trees and pepper trees bathed in golden light. He shoulders his rude way through the lianas to the glass walls and looks down and down through the clouds to the sands below. His eyes are weak like his mother’s, and the sun drives him back into the cool depths of the stairwell.

But for weeks he dreams of that sunset light and the scent of peppers, curled in uneasy sleep upon the landings.

The Clew of Ariadne

The walls were moving all around her. The floor rose and fell and dazzled her eyes. Several times she caught herself staring at it, thinking of nothing, wanting nothing, motionless, unafraid. A soft music seemed to come from somewhere ahead of her. It pulled at her arms and her legs. She walked as through mud toward the melody.

The air was cold on her naked skin. Her hands were wide and empty, slick and oily feeling. She shouted: “Hi! Hi!”

The echoes chased the music further away. She laughed, and clawed at her body. Long red scratches covered her belly and arms. An animal bellowed far in the distance. The music was the bellow.

She was staring at the floor again.

Hours. She came to the center, where the music stopped pulling at her. The creature was crouched in the middle of the floor, naked and enormous, slobbering and tumescent. It bellowed. It saw her. She stared at it. Her eyes wouldn’t focus. It drooled at her, and she drooled back. She giggled naturally.

It rushed toward her. She ran to meet it. There was a great shock of contact; the sound of flesh smacking together. The music began again.