Icarus and the Minotaur

The stone was a breathing thing, a perspiring thing, the dew that was so often attracted to such stone rolling like a storm down the cold walls of these passageways, pooling like moths to light in puddles on the floor. The windowless corridors had a heartbeat, the hammer fall of hoof beats, some macabre monster unto himself, man and beast. His unhinged screams rebounded from wall to stone wall, echoing in the Labyrinth like the myth, Narcissus in the flowers, Echo in the canyons. His madness was complete in his fierce isolation.

The wind like hands stole over a new figure, pouring down the stairs in the darkness like ink, silent in his footfalls, but heart beating far into his ears, creating maddening discord. His nerves rang in him like bells, announcing his fear like a public wedding. The cantering in the shadows balanced his anxiety on a wire, netless below. Icarus reached the bottom of the stairwell, sandal touching beaten stone. The Minotaur had finally fallen into his own lunacy, a desperate insanity fueled by his loneliness and his guilt. A candle clattered gently in Icarus's unsteady hands, the smooth metal luminaire reflecting the shaking flame, throwing gold onto the walls.

The entranceway to the Labyrinth was draped in dehydrated ivy, slowly descending from its hold on the wall, a volte face to the dead ground. The leaves brushed Icarus's brow as he passed inside, and with his first step in the first corridor, the candle dimmed to a nearly imperceptible glow, the light saturated by the absolute darkness. The young man halted, chilled, and was taken in by his failing light, a fascinating paucity, watching closely as the wick burned slowly and dully. Hooves beat not three feet away from him. He jumped, panicked, spinning about himself, trying to find the source of the thunder on the stone.

He was alone. The Minotaur was moving opposite the wall, rattling the bones of the long dead in his halls. Icarus breathed again, his candle flame flying, heart beating still faster in his ears. He knew this place as another home, built in his childhood by his inattentive father, but here in the dark it loomed about him like a beast in itself, so much more terrible than that which lurked close by. He wished for some portentous thread, some tether to the world that still welcomed him. Here, he had once been loved. In these hallways, with their prisoner, he had found happiness in a friend, and in their youth Icarus and the Minotaur were inseparable.

Now, the Minotaur screamed with a hate for all men in his voice, a sound that curdled the blood in Icarus's veins and collapsed his chest like a faulted bridge. Adolescence had come to raze the memories of their childhood, to raise the sickness in the Minotaur's mind. He had always been alone but for Icarus, and even in the comfort that another soul can give, the Minotaur was still a monster to himself, a saturnine killer, and he gave himself over to madness. He sloughed away the final link to humankind and barred Icarus from the Labyrinth.

Here now Icarus walked on, in spite of his banishment. A warning was in him, burning his tongue, and he made no delay. The Minotaur was here, racing somewhere in the maze, no longer given to an emotional range, motivated by insanity alone, and it was to be a challenge to pacify the mad beast, to calm him enough even to save him. And here, as an inventory of his mistakes ran uninterrupted in the corners of his mind, young Icarus charged onward in the shivering halls of the Labyrinth, throwing himself to run, anxious to prevent a further fault on his heart.