I sat at my desk and went through the reports about the Minotaur that had come in over the last several days. The creature, who possessed Eleni, had made several forays into the mortal population to kill and feast. People were in stark terror and, in no time at all, everyone was hiding inside behind locked doors and bolted shutters. The most frustrating thing was the speed at which the monster would strike and then disappear.
I stood and went to my personal quarters on the same floor as the security offices. Once there, I sifted through the bookshelves until I found what I was looking for. It was an ancient text, History and Mythology of the Mediterranean. I opened it, scanned the table of contents, then turned to the page I needed. It was a short synopsis on the original Minotaur. Kept by King Minos, it lived in a labyrinth built by Daedulus in ancient times. It feasted on slaves and other prisoners who were forced into the maze. It hunted, killed, and ate them.
I had an idea. It might be a hard sell, but still, I had to try. Otherwise, I was at a loss for how to find this creature. Book in hand I teleported out of my office and directly to the edge of the River Styx. In just a few minutes Charon glided into view. Another moment or two later and I had paid him his fare and headed into the Underworld proper. Once on the other side, I went straight for Uncle Hades’ office. His assistant, Alex, greeted me and was kind enough to get me a coffee while I waited.
“Thank you,” I said as she handed me the cup.
“Of course, Sir,” she replied, “your uncle should be here soon.” I nodded in acknowledgment, sipped my bean-juice, and waited.
It wasn’t long before Uncle Hades swirled into the room, nodded to me and said, “Dinlas. I hope all is well. You didn’t lose any more keys did you?”
“No Uncle, nothing like that,” I replied as I stood up to join him in his office. We walked in and I continued, “I have a problem and I need to speak to a dead soul.”
Uncle Hades raised an eyebrow at me as he sat down in his desk chair and motioned me to one of the other chairs. I sat down as he spoke.
“I don’t really do that, Dinlas. Otherwise, everyone and their Aunt Marta will be down here clamoring for a few words about who knows what. Here he began to mock, “Where did you hide the money? Which child was your favorite? What is the secret ingredient in your baklava?” He paused for a moment, then resumed, “It would be a total mess and the lines would be so long they would be wrapped around the palace.”
“I understand, Uncle, but this is important. Eleni, my assistant, has been possessed by the spirit of what I believe to be the original minotaur. I need to speak to Daedalus about how to find the creature.”
“Daedalus? Father of Icarus?”
“Yes, he built the original labyrinth for King Minos, and I think he may have some insight.”
Hades drummed his fingers on his desk for a few moments then simply replied, “No,” then started shuffling through some papers.
“No?” I echoed. “This thing is killing people left and right and feasting on them in the streets of the city. We have to do something to stop it.”
“No, we don’t. I am sorry about your assistant but let’s be honest here; I am in the soul business. Things happen. The Morai do their work, and we collect the souls. You know this is how it works. Besides, this thing will eventually screw up, get cornered, then killed, and it will all be over.”
“Well,” I replied softly, “that may be a problem. See, the minotaur is probably immortal. So, no one is going to kill it.”
Uncle Hades glanced up from his work and looked at me. “Say that again. How did this creature become immortal?”
“Well because Eleni is immortal. I got her some ambrosia from Aunt Hestia after she saved my life last Samhain.”
Uncle Hades gave me a dead even stare for about ten seconds then replied, “So the monster is immortal?”
“Yes, I assume so.”
Hades sighed and pressed a button on his desk, “Send me Daedalus please.” Moments later there was a knock on the door, it opened, and dead Daedalus walked in.
I looked him up and down. I spent a fair amount of time on Crete when I was young and ran into Daedalus more than once. “Hey, Daed, you look good. How have you been?”
Daedalus glanced at me as he sat down and said, “I’ve uh, been dead, Dinlas. I’ve been dead for a long time and that really doesn’t ever change.”
“Right,” I replied then continued, “well, I asked Uncle to call you because we seem to have a problem with a raging minotaur on the loose.”
“By, Zeus,” replied Daedalus as he glanced between Hades and me, “Did the queen screw another bull?”
“No, no, nothing like that,” I said hastily, “the spirit of the original Minotaur has possessed someone and we are having trouble finding it. Since you built the original labyrinth for it, I thought you might have some suggestions.”
Daedalus nodded thoughtfully, then said, “Well, he would want to be in another labyrinth. So where are you keeping him now?”
“Well that’s the problem, he’s running loose and we are trying to track him down.”
“I see,” said Daedalus as he put his finger to his lips thoughtfully. “So cave complexes probably, or underground catacombs. He won’t like the wide-open sky. He would want to be underground. Any old temples with mausoleums or catacombs below them? Any large cave systems nearby?”
I shook my head. “No, nothing like that. Certainly not close enough that he could kill, feast, then disappear as quickly as has been happening.”
Daed shrugged and replied, “Well it’s something like that. The confined spaces appeal to him. They feel comfortable, they feel secure, and he will venture out from his lair only when hungry or threatened. Find the labyrinth and you will find the monster.”
“Thank you, Daedalus. I appreciate you coming to talk with me.”
He nodded to me and said, “Sure, Dinlas. It was nice seeing you again. It’s been a long, long time.”
The dead man got up and left the office. We sat in silence for a minute or two until Uncle shifted in his chair and cleared his throat. Before he could say anything I cut him off.
“Uncle, I am not giving up on Eleni. You know she saved me. She fought off the witch then stayed after and nursed me back to health.”
“Dinlas, I don’t have an answer for you right now.” When I started to speak again he held his hand up to stop me and continued, “I do, however, have a suggestion for you. Have you tried the Oracle?”
I started at his suggestion. Only several nights before, Nyx and I had been talking about her issues and her assistant, Luna, suggested trying to find the Oracle. Twice in three days had to mean something.
“I – I had not considered it for this issue, Uncle. That can be a quest in and of itself, and the answers aren’t always clear. In fact, they are purposely convoluted and rife with double meanings and nonsensical statements.”
Uncle Hades looked squarely at me. “Then you need to figure it out for yourself. Either way, it will be difficult.”
I stood up. “Thank you, Uncle, I appreciate you letting me talk to Daedalus.”
Uncle waved his hand, then said, “Wait, Dinlas.” When I paused and looked back he asked, “How is Nyx doing? Since everything happened, I haven’t seen her in Tartarus.”
I paused and thought about her keeping alone in my apartment, the scars she fretted over, and finally the fact that we just had a baby of unknown origin dumped in our laps from another deity. “She’s had a tough time, Uncle. But she’s getting through it.”
Uncle Hades nodded and looked back down at some papers on his desk, “Please tell her that it – it hasn’t been the same without her around.”
I flashed a quick smile. “Of course, I will let her know.”
I exited his office, and once back across the Styx I teleported back to the lobby of the OA building in the God Complex. As I was headed for the elevators I saw one of the large overhead TV’s interrupted with a special report, the Minotaur had struck again, just a short time ago and local police were tracking the creature as they reported.
I teleported to the scene and arrived with a pop.
I looked around as I got my bearings, police were everywhere, as well as news crews and throngs of onlookers. It appeared that the beast had killed a man in a side alley, was spotted running away, and almost immediately disappeared into a wooded area that was close to a small ravine. Police searched for hours and came up with nothing. It didn’t help that many of the cops were just as terrified of the monster as the general populace.
I waited until most of the news trucks left before exploring the woody area and sliding down the bank of the ravine to the creek bottom. The dogs lost the Minotaur there, and it made me wish my girls were with me, but as I examined the creek bed I realized there were still footprints in the muddy bottom. Heavy, hooved footprints that were deep and large. I splashed into the creek with my suit pants and my loafers and cringed, knowing the water and mud would ruin both. Still, I pressed on across the creek, following the hoofprints to the far side. There, I worked my way up the embankment, following a path of trampled grass and broken brush until I reached a street. The prints disappeared, the trail was lost again. I let out a frustrated growl as I stood in the middle of the street looking both ways. There was nothing in sight. Winter was coming to an end and I watched as the March winds blew a small knot of dead leaves along the curb. The leaves scurried along the ground and then disappeared without a trace into the storm drain. One second they were there, the next they disappeared from sight.
As I look back on it now, I was so wrapped up in everything going on that I missed the significance of those leaves blowing into the storm drain.
One second they were here, the next they disappeared from sight…