There’s a Minotaur at the Door! (flash fiction)
The knocking at the front door was so loud, it caused the house to shake and all three occupants to leap from two sofas and an easy chair.
— There’s a minotaur at the door! cried one occupant after spying through the eyehole in the front door.
— I don’t believe it! cried another occupant as he entered the room. Let me see. Goodness gracious, you’re right. There’s a half bull, half man out there!
— Whatever will we do? asked the third occupant, joining his two comrades.
— How would I know? I’ve never met one before!
— Let’s pretend we’re not here. It’ll figure nobody’s home, and it’ll go away.
— But the lights are on. And the TVs, too.
— All three of them.
— True, true.
— Maybe it can hear us talking!
As if to confirm this, a grunt came from the other side of the door. Followed by more thunderous knocking, making the three occupants leap again. The banging was much louder, now that the three of them stood just behind the front door.
— Quick! one of them whispered in a rush. Let’s go to the kitchen!
— Good idea, another said once they were in the kitchen at the back of the house.
— Now what do we do? the third occupant asked.
— What if it’s hungry?
— I have no idea what minotaurs eat. I mean, it would be so much easier it it was a centaur. There’s a man on the top half, so they eat what men eat.
— But don’t you think they have horse-eating tendencies? At least some of the time?
— Maybe for Sunday brunch, they add a bit of hay.
— Makes sense. That delectable meal combining breakfast and lunch. A bit of hay, and perhaps an apple for dessert.
— Or a tasty carrot.
— Would you two stop? That’s not helping our predicament!
— True. It’s not a centaur. What do we know about minotaurs?
— I only know that they live in Spain.
— No, those are regular bulls.
— Isn’t the minotaur the god of war?
— No, that’s Mars.
— No, that’s a planet. The red one.
— It’s named after the Greek god of war.
— No, that’s the Roman equivalent. Ares is the Greek god of war.
— It’s all so confusing.
Nothing was confusing about the new bout of hammering from the front door. The three occupants shivered and stared at each other, wide eyed.
— We have to learn more about this beast, one occupant said. Do we appeal to his bullish side or his mannish side? Quick! Get Bulfinch’s Mythology from the den!
— What? You don’t know the Roman god of war, but you remember that Bulfinch wrote a book on myths?
— Gray had anatomy, Jane had fighting ships and assorted weaponry, and Bulfinch had mythology.
— Wonderfully said. Was Bulfinch a minotaur?
— Of course not. Bulfinch is spelled with only one “l.”
— Well, it sounds like some odd combination of a bull and a bird. A finch, I mean. They’re yellow, right?
— I believe they can be. But not all of them are yellow. It’s not a prerequisite.
— Would you two stop? I agree that we need to learn more about this creature. Go get the book, since you know so much about it.
— I only know that it’s under “B” on the bookshelf.
— In the non-fiction section, I take it.
— No, fiction and non-fiction are mixed together. Alphabetical by title.
— That’s confusing. But this book would be fiction if the categories were separated. All those myths can’t be real.
— Says you. That beast certainly looked real to me!
— Are you sure it’s a minotaur? It’s awfully dark out there. Maybe it’s Uncle Frank, mistakenly thinking it’s Thanksgiving.
— But it’s not Thanksgiving. And even if it was, we always go to Grandma’s house. Uncle Frank knows that fully well.
— But he makes mistakes.
— Everyone does.
— Would you two stop? I’m going to get the book myself.
The occupant rushed off amid more house-trembling knocking. The two occupants in the kitchen were silent until their roommate returned with Bulfinch’s Mythology. He opened the book toward the back, looked in the index, thumbed through the pages, found the appropriate one, and read the text there.
— Okay, he said. It says here that the minotaur was in a maze in Crete. The bad news is that he was fed people every year. Sacrifices. Seven men and seven women every year.
— So he has a taste for human flesh. Great. Just great.
— But the good news is that Theseus killed the minotaur.
— Did he write the thesaurus?
— Who cares? He killed the monster!
— But the monster out there is very much alive!
— Maybe he’s a relative of the one in the maze. Like Uncle Frank.
— Would you stop it! It’s not Uncle Frank! Forget it, I’m going to see what he wants.
— Don’t you dare open the door! It’s our only protection against the beast!
— I’ll talk to him through the door. And don’t forget, these walls are also protection.
— Thank goodness we have brick walls. They’re not made of straw, like in the story about the big, bad wolf.
— But that’s not a wolf out there, so it’s not going to blow the house down.
— If it was a centaur, maybe it would eat our house if it was made of straw.
— Neither of those is correct, so you don’t have to worry about them. Okay, I’m going.
The occupant stomped off, followed on his heels by the other two. The leader stopped just behind the front door, and all three could hear the stranger’s loud huffing.
— What do you want? the leader called out.
— Finally! the minotaur called back.
The occupants were surprised to find that his voice was normal, and not the deep, booming voice they imagined him to have.
— What do you want? an occupant said in a voice gruffer than his usual one, trying to sound tough.
— I thought you’d never come to the door, the minotaur said.
— Well, here we are. What do you want? We’re not letting you in!
— Why not? the minotaur asked.
— We don’t trust you!
— Do you take me for a common thief, sir?
— No, I take you for a human-eating minotaur!
— Human-eating? the minotaur repeated. You must be joking! I’ve been on the Mediterranean diet for years, and believe me: it includes absolutely no human meat. I do enjoy a fine prosciutto, I must admit. That and some olives with fresh bread and a nice Italian red wine, then you’re talking.
— Personally, one occupant replied, I prefer a heavier red, say a shiraz from Australia.
The other two occupants glared at him and jabbed him with their elbows.
— To each their own, I always say, the minotaur said.
— But I don’t trust you! another occupant said. So say your piece and move along!
The minotaur hefted a heavy sigh and said, Okay, fine. We’ll just converse through the door, uncivilized as that is. I stopped to ask for directions, if you could please indulge me.
— I will give you directions, but I will certainly not indulge you, one occupant said. Wait, why don’t you have a GPS on your car’s dashboard or on your smartphone?
— Call me old fashioned. I prefer to sniff out my way to where I’m going. But these suburban streets are utterly confusing. Leafy lanes and meadow drives. Such nonsense. All of them look the same. How can you stand it around here? It’s all so monotonous.
— Monstrous?! one occupant cried out. How dare you call our neighborhood monstrous!
— I didn’t say monstrous, the minotaur replied. I said monotonous.
— It didn’t sound that way.
— But that’s what I said, the minotaur replied.
— Some of us prefer monotony, one of the occupants answered. It’s comforting.
— That’s all fine and good, the minotaur said, but could you direct me to the intersection of Glendale Avenue and Voris Street?
— What’s your business there? an occupant blared.
— If you must know, I’m looking for Dr. Cahokia.
— I’ve never heard of him.
— He’s an old friend of mine, the minotaur said. Invaluable to my research in the astronomical practices of ancient peoples. He’s invited me here for the weekend, for a field study.
— Sounds boring, one occupant said.
— Who cares? another occupant asked. Let’s give him directions and send him off.
— A great idea, the third occupant said. All you have to do is head out on your right and go three or four blocks. That’ll end in Glendale. Turn right, and you’ll eventually hit Voris.
— So we’re actually pretty close to it, the minotaur said.
— Yes. Now, will you please leave?
— Yes, the minotaur said. Thank you for the directions. Good riddance gentlemen, and enjoy the rest of your evening.
copyright Dave Williams