The line was dead.
Jordan stared at her screen in disbelief. The growl returned somewhere above, but now Jordan could hear heavy footsteps accompanying it.
She covered her mouth and hid her phone, imagining being invisible in her hidey-hole. Heavy breathing and an animalistic whimper veered towards her; clouds of ghostly steam erupted against black background. It sniffed the air and Jordan heard it drop on all fours. Now it sniffed the ground scenting her fear in her footsteps. Eyes shut she hoped the nightmare would go away. It fully sensed her now, Jordan knew, because its stench filled her nostrils and the sound of its nails clicking on the marble was at her feet. Click-drag-click-drag. Jordan opened her eyes, finding the outline of the beast before her. She couldn’t stifle a whimper herself as it shook its horned head and looked at her, frightened eyes meeting glimmering, red ones. The scream died in her throat, because there was no point for it. The beast was going to grind her bones between its teeth.
An intrusive spot of light interrupted her death and Jordan squinted against the flashlight shone at her face.
‘I warned you not to wander too much, didn’t I?’
The guard’s oval face swam out from obscurity and he walked over to the creature.
“Isn’t he something spectacular?” Steve directed his flashlight at the creature, gliding it slowly so Jordan can see it all. And she saw it was no creature but a man. He had a pair of bull’s horns implanted on his receding head. His teeth were sharp and sun depraved eyes were so bloodshot they appeared entirely red; his face was overgrown with thick, dark hair. The same covered his chest and arms, and the pubic hair around his shrunken penis. Steve lingered the light on the man’s limbs. From the knees down his legs were replaced with metal stilts; his feet were swapped for metal hooves, and his nails with which he scrapped the marble were also pointy metal pieces. Where his exposed flesh merged with metal, the skin had acquired an unhealthy purple color. Now Steve attracted Jordan’s attention towards the beast’s bent over frame. He had a steel installation hooked onto his back. The skin around the pointy hangers was tight, pulled viciously from the strain. Steve and Jordan both followed the flashlight as it showed her the strings extending from the ‘wings’ up to the ceiling where a rail, installed into the roof, enabled the man to ‘fly’ chasing her through the hallways.
‘This is the Minotaur,’ Steve whispered, ‘He is mine. But you shouldn’t have seen him. He should have been locked. Did you break the lock again?’ He slapped the man across the face and he whimpered.
‘You’re sick.’ Jordan spat it at the guard.
‘I’m an artist. I create life. I form it from the rubble, from the ruin and astound with its existence. Can you not behold what he is, what he means? I furnished the weakling, transforming him into a legend. I took him into my embrace and gave him purpose. Look at you, vague stare, wobbling chin, snot and tears, aren’t you a sight. I tell you all this, but you don’t listen. I make this real, so people like you can know fear again in their last living moments. You’ve forgotten what it is.’
Jordan picked herself up, back glued to the wall. She leveled with the guard, the Minotaur like a loyal pet at his feet. She pointed at it without looking down. ‘That is a monster. You have made a monster out of a man. You tortured another human being only to induce unrealistic fear and intensify it on other innocent people!’’
‘I’ve experimented and took my chances, yes, but I’ve also sped up evolution, progress. Isn’t he’s a miracle, a solution for a modification that would survive past you and the likes of you? My surveys have suffered incoherent participants true, like that old lady he fed on last week, but once the world sees it, wouldn’t they understand the value and might of it?’
‘The world will murder your creation and you.”
Steve grabbed at Jordan and pulled her by the lapels of her jacket.
‘We’ll see about that. A year hiding in the attic space, modifying, bettering, perfecting is enough. It’s time to test my Minotaur in the open. No one really comes here anymore, and my pet has been hungry. Aren’t you my mighty fable?’
The Minotaur made smacking sounds.
Steve pushed Jordan stumbling in the dark and shut off his flashlight.
Jordan ran, though where to she didn’t know. The Minotaur howled in anticipation and embraced the hunting chase, his metal hooves and nails ringing on the marble.
Steve’s voice caught up with her. ‘I forgot to tell you. The heating in the library was cut off yesterday. The book event is moved for next week. I guess they just forgot to tell you.’
Jordan tried various doors but none budged. No matter how fast she ran, slipping and bumping in the dark she could hear the incoming monstrosity, the stale breath from its sopping snarl prickling her neck.
As she turned a corner she knew it was a dead end. She could make out the opposite wall, paler than the rest of the hallway.
The Minotaur’s claw caught her scarf and choked her back into his metallic embrace. He tore at her clothes and left bruises and bleeding scratches when she fought and cried to the empty building. The sharp fingers probed at her neck and she felt warmth spill in the base of her mouth. She was dead in that instant, dead when her teeth chipped away as the palm split her, dead when it detached the top part of her head and her tongue flopped to one side of her ruined grin.
The guard caught up with his child and put a soft hand on its head as it fed.
‘I did warn you not to wander.’