Last weekend I was making my way home. I'd had a couple of pints but nothing too serious and wasn't really paying attention to where I was going. Soon enough, I found the buildings closing in behind me, herding me forward, walling off my escape. And then I heard him.
He came around a corner tall and terrible, a bestial behemoth of pure hate. I nearly retched at the wet dog smell of London after a rain, the unwashed aroma of human bodies and decaying feces and urine. He growled, his voice the sum total of every muttering homeless person, act of defiance and oppression against and by authority, screeching sirens and blasting jackhammers.
"I knew I'd find you eventually," he says. Without warning, his massive fist connects to my mouth and I fall against the ground spitting out the pieces of my front teeth. Every nightmare of losing my teeth comes back, and more as his hoof lands on my shoulder. I hear bones cracking and try futilely to raise my arm.
"Stand and fight me," he says, this living symbol. His legs are made of pound coins mortared by blood and tears, his hands are the muddy Thames sludge built up over thousands of years. A Roman statue and even a piece of my own hair make up his right arm. His rippling body is covered with a vagrant's rags.
"No need to make it worse," the minotaur growls. I nod assent, stand, and his fist flies at me again. I catch it in my hand, and realize I've formed a fist of my own. A token show of self-defense.
It connects with the mirror, glass shatters and I'm left cradling my jaw in the darkness.