An Ancient Evil: Short Story
An Ancient Evil
Adam had been driving for six hours and had six more to go. The car stereo blew a fuse, so with only his own thoughts for entertainment, he continued driving east into the darkness.
His head rolled forward. He jumped, which woke him up, and he downed another five hour energy drink. The road featured a small bump about every three-seconds. The thump — thump — thump — thump blended with the rumble of distant thunder, and the first raindrop hit the windshield.
This two lane highway was supposed to shave off a chunk of miles compared to the freeway route. It was flat and straight, so he drove well above the speed limit. The rain steadily picked up until he couldn’t see beyond the front of his car, so he pulled over and waited.
The rap on the window jarred him awake. He could make out the uniform of a State Policeman through the rain streaked glass, so he rolled the window down.
In the instant he turned to greet the officer, Adam saw a burly man wearing a uniform that didn’t fit and a fist the size of a mac truck homing in on his face. He woke up in the back of the patrol car with the unconscious body of a man in boxer shorts, presumably the previous wearer of the police uniform.
“Where are you taking us?” Adam touched the swollen side of his face.
Burly man raised his arm up and back. Adam was staring into the upside down barrel of the cop’s nine millimeter.
“Shut up.” Burly man meant it, and Adam got the point. He spent the next few minutes pulling the officer upright. The jostling was enough to bring him around.
“You know you’re in deep shit, right?” Adam thought the officer had things a little backward but let him go on. “You assaulted a law enforcement officer, stole his vehicle and held him at gunpoint. Felony, felony, felony.”
“You think I’m a bad man? In a few minutes I’m gonna show you somebody that’s bad — real bad.”
“Wait.” Adam leaned forward. “Are you saying you’re taking us to somebody else?”
“I sure don’t want nuthin’ to do with you. That bad dude wants two more people, and you was the first ones I run into.”
“Why does he want us?”
“Don’t know, but maybe he’ll let my little brother go if he has you. I could tell you more, but you wouldn’t believe me.”
The car pulled into a driveway. The two story, rundown house was dark. Burly let the men out. “What’s your names?”
“Trooper Willis Gann.”
“Adam, Trooper Gann, my name is Clay, and I truly am sorry.” Clay guided them toward the house at gunpoint. “He calls himself Animus. I think it has somethin’ to do with evil.
“Where is he?” said Gann.
“In the basement.”
“Listen to me Clay,” said Gann. “We can’t just walk in there and make this a four hostage situation instead of one.”
“I got no choice. He’s got my brother.” The big man was nearly in tears. He rubbed his eyes, and Gann was on him in instant. He shoved Clay’s gun arm up and stripped the weapon from his hand.
“Now give me back my clothes and get your own out of the cruiser.” When they had dressed, Gann continued. “You said earlier you could tell us more. So start talking.”
“I also said you wouldn’t believe me,” said Clay. “He’s bad. He is evil.”
Adam walked toward the house, leaving the other two behind. Gann caught up and put a hand on his shoulder.
“Where do you think you’re going.”
“I want to see exactly what we’re up against before I step one foot inside.” Adam proceeded to the side of the house where a basement window peeked up over the ground. When he was about ten feet away, he got down on his belly and crawled toward the window.
Gann and Clay did the same.
About three quarters of the room was visible. The stairway from the ground floor came down to their right and a small area beyond was blocked from their sight. A couch sat in the middle of the room facing a television on the wall opposite the three men. To the left of the TV, a hole large enough for a man on a motorcycle to easily pass through, came up from underground.
They crawled away from the house and hid behind some bushes.
“Where is Animus?” said Gann.
“Probably in the hole. He goes down there sometimes,” said Clay.
“And your brother?”
“At the other end of the room, out of our site.”
“What’s the hole for?” said Adam. “It looks like you’re building a tunnel.”
“That’s where Animus come from. Me and Jamie was watching television and we heard some noise. Then a fist come through the wall, and another fist. Then he just busted through. Head of a bull, huge curled horns, body of a man and a roar that makes you piss in your pants.
Graffiti of Minotaur
The three men crawled back to the house and watched through the window. Minutes ticked by. The rain soaked them, but no one moved. Then Animus was standing in the tunnel opening. Clay had described him perfectly.
The beast walked to the end of the room not visible to the men and returned with the bound body of a teenage boy. Animus tossed him onto the couch and turned to face the window and three pairs of eyes. It roared, Its eyes glowed red and it attacked. The three men fled. The minotaur hit the wall. Concrete and glass flew in every direction as if a bomb had just exploded inside the house.
Adam, Officer Gann and Clay hid among the bushes and watched the half-man-half-bull scan the area. Its eyes settled on the bushes.
“Oh shit,” said Gann. They jumped up and ran toward the cruiser. The minotaur was fast. It didn’t run directly for them but kept them between itself and the house.
“Be careful,” said Gann, “Keep making for the cruiser.” They got to the patrol car and pulled the doors closed. Gann started the car.
“My brother,” yelled Clay. “We can’t leave him here.”
The minotaur lined up in front of the car about a hundred feet away.
“I’ve always wanted to try out the push bumper on this thing,” said Gann. He revved the engine and punched the accelerator. The man-bull lowered its head and sprinted forward.
It was like hitting a concrete wall. The minotaur rounded the front of the vehicle, punched out Gann’s window and dragged the policeman out of the car. It ripped the rear door open and grabbed Adam, then Clay. It carried all three to the house and down into the basement.
Theseus Slaying Asterion/Minotaur
They lay on the floor like three rag dolls. Adam went on the offensive, but in a way that surprised everyone.
“Minotaur, why have you returned to the world of men? You were banished to hell for your wickedness of feasting on human flesh.”
“Vengeance has brought me back. Four humans must die and here you are.”
“Four? Are you sure about that number, Animus? Or would you rather be called Asterion?” The bull recoiled at his Cretan name.
“You dare instruct me, puny human?”
“Well, it was a puny human that defeated you in the labyrinth. I’m sure you remember Theseus and his sword.”
The beast roared again. “Let the talking cease, and let the killing begin.” Animus moved toward the couch where Clay’s brother lay bound hand and foot.
“Are you sure there are only four to avenge?”
“Stop speaking in riddles. The number is four. Four human deaths to avenge my four defeats.”
“Yes, those of whom you speak are Minos, who imprisoned you in the labyrinth, Theseus who slew you after finding his way through that maze and Dante and Virgil who outwitted you as they made their way to the Seventh Circle of Hell which you were guarding.”
“These have brought humiliation on me and must be avenged.”
“There was a fifth humiliation, a fifth defeat.”
“No!” But the creature did not sound so confident.
“Have you ever wondered how Theseus was able to navigate the labyrinth when you could not?” Adam let the question hang in the air. “His secret was a ball of thread which he used to retrace his steps when needed. The thread was a gift to Theseus from the woman who loved him.”
“No, it is not true.”
“But it is true, minotaur. And the gift enabled Theseus to find his way through the maze and slay you. You know who gave him the ball of thread, don’t you?”
“No, I won’t hear such lies.”
“Who loved Theseus? What woman would have done anything for him?”
“Ariadne would not have done such a thing to me.” Animus turned back to the tunnel opening.
“Your half sister did do such a thing, Animus. Find her. Ask her if what I say is true. But if you are to avenge all of your enemies, you need five humans, for Ariadne was your enemy also and she helped Theseus defeat you. Here, you have but four humans.”
The beast roared again but it rang with pain, disappointment and mourning that came with realizing his half sister's treachery.
Animus stopped. He returned to the tunnel. “I will be back, and I will have my revenge.” The tunnel entrance closed and healed like a wound without a scar.
Minotaur Guarding the Seventh Circle of Hell
Clay ran to his brother.
Officer Gann approached Adam. “My God, what just happened?”
“I teach Greek mythology at a university back east,” said Adam.
“Well done. But I have one question.”
Adam looked up at Gann, his hands shaking after the confrontation.
“If and when Animus, Asterion or whatever, comes back to avenge his defeats with five human deaths, will he realize he now needs a sixth?