Wrote a short thing after a browse of a Charles Addams collection and seeing just how much Wank was doing (which made me feeling inadequate).
I was five when I saw it.
Minotaur. Ignore the talk about philosophical abstracts, taking the indescribable in terms we can understand, and bullshit about psychic filters. It's the Minotaur.
I believe that. I have to believe it. Because the Minotaur can be killed. Just a monster. The alternative is making it a god.
Not while I'm breathing.
And I won't stop while it's breathing. One of us is going to die. Soon.
As I said, I was five. Getting my first library card with my mom. I guess it was still a rumor then. Something for the newspaper tabloids. I didn't know anything.
Would be cute to say I was trying to find a book on greek myth. But that would be a lie, and wouldn't do me any good. I think I was trying to find Clifford or something stupid like that, and I got lost.
It's not good to get lost. I mean, that's the first thing we teach kids these days. Carry a map. Know where you are, and if you don't, get to a door or out in the open sky as soon as you can. But back then, we only worried about kidnappers. Feels naive now, almost. Something that almost never happened, but it was best to be safe. But if you got lost somewhere you knew, surrounded by people you could trust, it was fine.
I was in a library. Mom wasn't far away. I wasn't worried. I was safe. The last time I really felt safe.
The head poked around a corner. Bull's head.
I was terrified. Most people who live were. Hell, most of us still are. You get a few people who say it was the most beautiful thing they'd ever seen, but most of them get the receiving end of natural selection. Of course, most people who met the thing at all died in the first days. Lucky me.
I ran for the door, screaming. Might have peed in my pants. Seemed an insignificant detail at the time.
Mom saw me crying outside. I told her I saw a bullhead man. She said I had an active imagination. When we got home, she told dad about it. He laughed, and got me a book on Theseus. Read about the minotaur. Read about the maze. I got string and refused to go anywhere without a map. It was funny then. Of course, I didn't think it was funny. I got everything on the minotaur in tabloids. Mom said it was morbid, of course, but dad, good old dad, supported me. He said it was good to see me interested in some of the classics instead of Power Rangers or some junk like that. (He was careful about saying junk. My first word was apparently "BULLSHIT", which I insisted on repeating for hours at a time. Ever since, they were careful about what words they used around me.)
Mom wasn't wrong. It was morbid. Not long after, the Minotaur Murders started being a thing. Bodies, weird stories, horrible mutilation. All tabloid at first. Then the police said there were copycats or something. Searches with maps and teams never turned up anything. Just bodies.
Rates went up, years went by, and I still never went anywhere without a map. I stopped being "insane and paranoid", and started being "a prepared citizen". Public safety warnings were issued about going into places alone without an exit route.
Other than that, I tried to just... live. Finally started thinking I wasn't going to see it again, and for a long time, I didn't. They finally figured out something concrete when I was in high school. For a given value of concrete. Something lived in unmapped places. No-one knew how. We didn't know why (still don't), but it killed people. Simple problem, though. All you'd need was a map, and this was the age of the GPS and the cell phone. I took the knowledge.
I bought a phone, got the complimentary mapping programs, and felt closer to safe than I had for a long time. Went off to college, did my papers. Dated some girls. Went to parties. Got drunk.
Got too drunk. Woke up in a maze. Full on labrynth. Dim lighting. I was buck naked.
I screamed like I was five again. Not ashamed to admit it. I'd had nightmares about being a place like that ever since I saw the Minotaur. I kept screaming for a little while. Then I saw a blinking light on the ground.
My phone. My not-broken, map displayed phone. I wept and prayed and everything. Saved from the jaws of hell. I even laughed. I'd been so scared, and now it was for nothing.
Then a battery indicator blinked in the corner.
Five minutes. At most. And I was right near the center.
I still remembered the pictures from the papers. What happened to people who got caught. I knew what should happen to me. My only chance was running.
Look at the screen. Run. Look. Run. Ignore the blinking light. Ignore the pain from the jagged ground. Run.
I was a couple turns from the exit when I fell. Jagged ground. Full speed run. Not a complicated equation. I still have some of the scars. But none of that mattered to me then.
I'd dropped the phone. And it broke. A little pain now meant nothing. What was coming was everything.
Obviously, it didn't end there. The police found me beaten and bloody at the exit to the caves. Disciplinary charges pressed against the perpetrators of the "prank". A little time in the hospital and people telling me how lucky I was that it didn't end like it could have.
And that's my story.
I know. There's nothing much out of the ordinary. Nothing to explain why most people have moved on and kept their phones close, while I spend all my money on bullets and balls of twine. Hell, I didn't even lose family. I know, other people have more right to revenge. I know that I've lived a good life and could keep it up by just forgetting everything. But I won't, and I can't.
The maze in college? Everyone just assumed I got lucky. That the thing in the dark didn't come. They were wrong. I saw it. Looked it in the eye. Said my prayers and wept.
Then it snorted and turned around. I wasn't worth killing.
That's what I can't forgive.
It spared me twice. Twice I’ve been less than a threat, less than a hero, less than human. I thought I could live with it for a long time. But I keep seeing headlines. Kept seeing others judged my better.
I can't live with that again.
Two weeks ago, I turned in my resignation at work. Sold my phone, my maps, my security. Bought a gun.
Tonight, I’ll vanish into the sewers. I’ll find my enemy. And one of us will die.
God or monster, I will be worthy.