Monday, July 21, 2008

The Minotaur

Last Wednesday I stopped at Great Portland Street Tube Station, on the Circle Line, and waited for it to clear out. It was late and the trains were running with big gaps between them, so I had the station to myself for a while. I sat on the bench at the far end of the platform and stared into the black dusty void of the tunnel.

After several minutes I heard a growl from the darkness. I knew who it was, of course: the minotaur. You catch glimpses of him every now and then, but more often than not you can hear him growling from the darkness, or occasionally snorting and charging. This is his city after all, the manmade contraption meant to contain him and those sacrificed to him.

He emerged from the tunnel slowly, his horns slightly sooty from the filth in the air. He sat on the bench next to me, causing it to creak slightly under his immense weight. For a few moments neither of us said anything. Then he asked:

'You seem unhappy lately. Are you alright?'

'Of course,' I said. 'Although I certainly appreciate your concern.'

'It's easy to lose perspective here,' the minotaur sighed, leaning back, resting his head on the brick. 'It happens to me from time to time. But I need to be concerned. This is my city, and the people in it are under my care.'

'Is that why you’re trying to kill me?'

'That's just my day job. Night job. Well, job. I mean, do you think I want to? No. But the sacrifices, they’re always willing. It's not like anyone forces them to be here.'

'You don’t have to do kill them, do you? They just kind of... grind themselves down.'

'Yeah. It's just a job though. Pays the bills. Allows me to travel.'

I look over at him. His bovine snout snorts slightly each time he exhales, his coal-black eyes stare straight forward, ignoring me. His muscled and bare chest, human if not for the light coat of black fur and leathery skin, is crisscrossed with tiny scars from millions of battles. I remind myself that he’s older than time and will be around long after I'm gone.

After a few moments I ask: 'Is it time to fight now?'

'Might as well get to it,' he says.

We stand, and square off. The first blow is mine. The rest are his. In the end, it doesn't matter; this is his city, after all.

Photo credit: Minotaur a by Stephen Rees on Flickr.

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