CLEAN MEAT FOR THE MINOTAUR

Reads: 49  | Likes: 0  | Shelves: 0  | Comments: 0

More Details
Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic

Chapter 1 (v.1) - Chapter 1

Submitted: June 11, 2019

Reads: 49

A A A | A A A

Submitted: June 11, 2019

A A A

A A A

CHAPTER 1

 

Emaciated shadows writhed on the paving stones. Flint looked up at the sky, where birds blotted out the sun. He smelled ozone and blood-wet slate.

It's beginning to look a lot like Doomsday, he thought to himself--and then laughed. The Profit grabbed him by the wrist, reminding him that she was listening in. He played along, listening too. 

Letting his mind go blank, he sought out the radio waves of the Profit’s thoughts. There. She was communicating with someone outside the wall, someone with the same telepathic abilities.

For a moment they exchanged information in English, and then other languages crossed each other in staticky signals. Flint understood that the military was there. They were throwing ropes over the edge of the wall and preparing to scale. Feeling another mind moving inside his, he tried to scrub his brain of all thought. 

“I can still hear you.” The Profit spoke in an unctuous tone; the kind that was followed by nails digging into skin.

“And please know that if you try anything, they will slaughter everyone in here. Ruby will be last, of course.” She smiled. 

“It’s not a threat when you’re planning it anyway.” Flint pulled his hand back. Raising her eyebrows, the Profit smiled another unkind smile. He glowered at her.

You can manipulate me down to my last second alive, but you can’t have my thoughts. They belong to me and they stay with me until I die.  

Really? Her voice sounded inside his mind.

Get out of my head.  

Aware that his attempt at repression had failed, Flint actively tried to think of something else.

Like pink fluffy unicorns and pink fuzzy bunnies. Yeah, that works. Pink-- 

“Stop it.” The Profit yanked him once more by his wrist.

“Show me the way to the center. Start with the first turn, please.” Occult-blue eyes stared into Flint's as she tried to read the map inside his mind.

Pink fluffy—yes—unicorns—wait...no! Somehow, she had slipped between the cracks and extracted the information.

“Good.” 

Flint flared his nostrils, taking in the rotting-flesh stink of the maze.

“Come on.” Another pull at his wrist, the fingernails millibars away from a puncture wound. His skin held its tensile strength as the cells screamed.

  Lightning seared the sky. The Profit tensed. “Let’s go.” 

  They took a step toward the lair. Every muscle begged Flint to go in the opposite direction. The Profit eyed him suspiciously.

“Which way now?”

Flint hesitated. Instantly, he felt her trying to shove aside his deflective thoughts.

“This way,” Flint said before she could push any further. He focused on listening for signs of life. There it was—faintly, like the nails of a dog scrabbling over a tile floor. He pressed on, taking left turns—the surest way to get to the center. With every turn, the Profit sunk her nails in deeper, until the fragile skin opened to reveal the blood beneath. He tried not to think about it, or about the chance that he wouldn’t be walking away this time.

He glanced at the Profit, who didn't seem to hear the other creature drawing near. Blood streamed from his wrist, and suddenly he realized it was an easy thing to focus on—something she would be expecting. He intentionally concentrated on the now-searing pain, letting it form a red screen inside his mind as he trained his ears on the sound of the dog's nails. When they came to the next corner, he leaned against the wall.

“What?”

“I need a rest. Everyone knows that women have more stamina than men. Gimme a minute.”

He took a deep breath. The Profit stared him down. 

“Okay, ready. Let’s go.” He gestured for the Profit to lead the way.

“You first,” she said, giving Flint a new opportunity to focus on his pain.

Flint willed himself not to glance back, where blood marked the wall. Several more times along the way he repeated the same process, feigning fatigue and a need for rest. The Profit grew tired of the stalling and yanked him along.

They rounded a corner and the reek of soiled straw permeated the air. Flint listened closely for the sound of keratin on slate. 

A pool of nightmare black moved towards them.

“Walk in front of me. Now.”

A pair of red eyes opened, glinting in the sun's anemic rays.

The Minotaur rose to its full height, horns back-cast on the far wall. Shadows fed on shadows as the creature studied its hand-delivered meal. With a liquid smile, the Profit eyed the mandala around its neck.

“Go ahead. Approach it.”

Flint forced himself not to run—for to run was to designate oneself as prey.

The Minotaur crept towards him, ropes of foam unspooling from its mouth. He closed his eyes and tried to send a goodbye message to Ruby.

Demon-breath seared his neck. He heard laughter in the Profit’s mind. Then that laughter turned to panic as heavy hooves began to run.

Opening his eyes, Flint turned to see the Profit sprinting in the other direction. Her filthy lab coat fluttered in the sickly breeze, adding to the bouquet of urine, sweat and terror.

Flint flattened himself against the wall as the Minotaur gave chase. A three-throated growl told him that Kirby waited nearby, ready to buffer any onslaught. Flint took off on a loping trot, remembering to mark his path. Moments later, he heard the crunching of bones.

Kneeling against the wall, he waited for his stomach to stop churning and his thoughts to make sense. Aware that mid-meal was the best time to grab the key; he followed the blood-marks back to the carnage.

When he reached the scene, all the bunnies and unicorns in the world could not quell the bile that rose to his throat. The journey into death had unburdened the Profit’s bowels of their contents, and her broken body lay on the cobblestones like spoiled food tossed aside.

The Minotaur sat nearby, impervious to the stench while dining on an antipasto of entrails extracted from a Cohort guard. The creature plucked out the corpse’s eyes and paused in seeming contemplation. He brought them to his mouth but then revised his plan a second before ingesting them. Tossing one eyeball along the corridor, he sent the second rolling after it in a ghoulish game of pétanque.

Flint looked right and left as he recalled a singsong verse from his childhood. 

Can't go over it, can’t go around it, gotta go through it.  

And how he went through it could mean life or death. He tried to remember the things he’d learned at the “fancy horse camp,” as Ruby called it. In reality, it had been little more than a farm—and there had been a bull on that farm.

The campers had received a brief lesson—mainly for liability. There was something about peripheral vision versus binocular vision, and something about their flank being a weak spot that they were hardwired to check at the first sign of movement. Also, the part about their sensitivity to smell.

He studied the Minotaur as it played with its meal. Binocular vision, he thought to himself. Best to approach from the periphery. He edged himself forward along the wall and winced as his foot made contact with a congealing blood slick. Willing himself to bend down and coat his hands in it, he wiped them together in a macabre mockery of lotion.

Smelling of newly-minted death, he set his sights on the neck of the beast. The muscles contracted violently as it growled in time with the strange game it played.

Wishing he had half of Ruby’s courage, he came up alongside it. His knees felt like they would give out again at any moment. Ruby, in contrast, would’ve charged at the thing, yelling, dressing it down for having the gall to be alive.

That's it, he thought—get angry. It wasn't his fault he'd been dragged into this hellscape. On top of that, he'd served as a meal delivery boy--really, the creature should be tipping him. The thought created a delirious tickle in Flint’s brain, making him stifle any laughter.

Ungrateful, cheap-ass murdering little shit, Flint thought.

Good—it was working.

Reaching out from the side, he cringed as his hand made contact with the oily fur. Locating the chain, he sought out the clasp. Undoing it was the most elementary sleight-of-hand—until the Minotaur shifted.

Flint froze, waiting for it to turn on him—but it seemed immune to his presence. He knew that the moment wouldn’t last, and so he pushed down on the clasp—just like he’d always done for his mom.

To his relief, the leather thong loosened. Tucking the pendant into his pocket, he ran. For the first hundred meters, his feet left behind a trail of blood. When the trail faded, he marked the walls with his hands. He drew quick crosses with the residual blood, differentiating the marks from those he'd left before.

From somewhere along the perimeter Flint heard what sounded like heavy footfalls. Then came the sound of hooves on stone. Spent at its morbid play, the Minotaur was now tracking him through the blood he'd left behind.

Flint abandoned any idea of his plan being clever as he tore through the turns—right after right after right. He knew he'd reached the outer edge when he saw more soldiers sweeping the corridor with rifle-mounted flashlights.

“Freeze!” One of them called out. “Son, we just want to talk to you.” 

Flint pumped his legs, sucking in fetid air as he shot towards the passageway. 

Boots came thundering after. His lungs burned as the sound got louder.

“Son! Please--”

“Walker! Shoot it!” 

“But ma’am--” 

“That’s an order.” 

A noise seared the corridor, cauterizing the bleeding stones.

Kirby. Flint winced. He wanted to go back, but he knew it meant death for both of them. An awful, pain-laced whimpering followed him to the exit. He felt as if he were eating his own heart as he scanned the doorway shut, sealing Kirby--and everyone else--inside.

He leaned against the wall to catch his breath—and felt the material move beneath his palm. As it slipped away, he reached into his pocket and brought forth the mandala. The ground shook, catapulting the remaining piece of the sky in a parabolic arc towards the end of the tunnel.

Then the lightning began outside. 

 

 


© Copyright 2019 W.P. Voltz. All rights reserved.

Chapters

Add Your Comments: