Monsters are real. Don’t believe me ‘eh? Think I’m just some crackpot that should be stuffed in a loony bin as soon as possible? You can say what you want but I know what I saw. I wasn’t under the influence of booze or recreational drugs. I saw it and nothing you can say will change that fact!
Two months ago I was driving home after a late night at the slaughter house. My crappy old Ford Taurus had blown a tire in the worst possible spot for a breakdown, county road 233. That late at night nobody would drive by. I cursed as I put the car in park popped the trunk. Out across the fields of mint, potatoes, and wheat crickets chirped.
The gravel crunched beneath my shoes as I made my way to the back of my rusty white car. Oh how I longed for a better car, but my pocket book was a bit too thin to afford anything better. I kicked the flat tire as I made my way to the back of the vehicle. I fished around in the trunk for the jack in the dim light provided by the moon and the discolored trunk bulb.
The gravel crunched behind me and I turned, was someone actually on the road this late? I peered into the darkness my eyes adjusting to the light reflected off the crushed rocks. A shadow draped figure approached. I dropped the jack and wielded the tire iron like a club to fend off the fiend that was coming my way.
As the jack hit the dirt the figure startled and dashed across the road away from me. I fished an old Mag-light out of the trunk and lit up a pair of hooves. I laughed, “Chris, you idiot, scared by a stray cow.” There must have been a break in a fence nearby.
It mooed and continued on its way down the lane. I turned back to the task at hand, it was time to get out of here, I had to get the stupid car mobile again.
I cranked on the lug nuts with my “weapon” the damn things were rusty. The first lug nut gave way nearly pitching me face first into the gravel. By the time all five were off I was sweating despite the cool night air coming from a nearby creek.
I picked up the jack from its impromptu resting place by the rear bumper and began working it to lift the car. The cheap scissor jack that came with the car was a spindly lump of metal that creaked every time the handle rotated. At this rate it would be three in the morning before I’d make it home.
I pulled the tire off and leaned it up against the rear fender, it fell hitting the hubcap, scattering the lug nuts around the road.
“Devil take me!” I yelled at the moon and shined my light around looking for the missing nuts.
I found two of them nearby, two wasn’t enough to keep the tire securely on the car. I looked at the other tires and didn’t look forward to pulling another rusty nut off another tire. I bent down and looked underneath the now useless pile of metal that I called my car. The yellow beam from my light caused something to shine underneath the middle of the Taurus, beneath the oil pan.
I crawled toward the lug nut, just out of reach, I stretched out my arm as far as I could but I needed three more inches. I sighed and grabbed my flashlight and started knocking the nut further away from my reach.
I heard the gravel crunch again and shined my light toward the back of the car. I caught a glimpse of another hoof. How many cows had gotten out tonight? The gravel crunched behind me this time, was the steak on legs curious about me.
“Get out of here!” I yelled and the beast stepped back. I expected it to run off when I started yelling but it just stood there. I twisted my body so I could look back over my shoulder. All I could see from my comfortable spot beneath my crippled car was a hoof and a bit of a harry leg.
“I mean it fat cow get before I turn you into hamburger!” I yelled again.
The cow didn’t run off, it pawed the loose gravel with its hooves and snorted. I grabbed the lug nut and squirmed my way out from under the car and stood face to face with a very large bull. His horns curved down from his head pointing my way. It snorted again, covering me with its sticky snot.
I waved the flashlight above my head and screamed an unintelligible curse at the beast! It jerked its head back and I celebrated victory as it took a couple of steps back. It snorted again and I lowered my flashlight.
I froze; this was no normal piece of beef. It had the head and legs of a bull, but the body of a hairy human, in its hands it held a sledgehammer. It was wearing some ragged jean shorts and some of the hair on its head was braided and fixed with beads.
It spoke, a voice deeper than I thought possible. “Hamburger? Are you going to turn ME into HAMBURGER?”
I couldn’t breathe, I couldn’t move. I couldn’t believe I was looking at a real live Minotaur. They were just legends, myths, and monsters!
“Well are you?” It asked again this time anger was replaced with malice. “Get started then!”
When I didn’t move the beast charged forward grabbing me by the throat lifting me off the ground. “You smell of death! You’ve come from that house of horrors haven’t you? How many of my brethren did you kill today? Murderer.”
I grabbed his thick furry fingers desperately trying to keep them from crushing my throat. It laughed a deep throaty laugh sending shivers up my spine. I was already dead if he wanted it. He pulled me in close I could feel the sickly warmth of his breath. “How many? How many did you shoot in the head with your stunner? How many did you gut and dump their entrails out?”
He tossed me against the car I bounced and fell to the gravel gasping for air. “I asked you a question human? How many today? Yesterday? This year?”
I must have fallen asleep; this had to be some kind of sick nightmare. The pain in my back told me otherwise.
The Minotaur took a step forward stomping his hoof inches from my face pelting me with gravel. “How many?”
I didn’t keep track anymore but on a regular shift I killed around forty cows. “I… I… don’t know.” I managed to croak out.
“You don’t know? Come now murderer you must keep track of all your best kills. How many did you have to ‘stun’ more than once?”
“Two… two… or three.”
He leaned down putting his horn in front of my eye, “Well was it two or three?”
“Three!” I yelled.
“Get up cow killer.”
I struggled to my feet using the car for balance.
“I unlike you enjoy sport, I don’t like running my prey up a ramp and blocking them in before I kill them, so I’m going to give you a head start before I kill you.”
Oh how I wished for a rifle about now, but I was still five miles from home.
I turned and ran toward the front of the Taurus, it probably expected me to follow the road where he would easily run me down and crush me to death. I rounded the front of the car and opened the passenger’s side door.
“What?” It bellowed.
I leapt across the seats and cranked the key the engine roaring to life. The Minotaur reached for the door handle but I hit the lock an instant before. He tore the handle off the door but it stayed shut. With shaking hands I wrenched the shifter to drive and mashed the gas. The window shattered as she smashed his hammer into the glass.
The car lurched forward knocking the jack over. On three tires the Ford careened wildly down the country lane toward my home. Maybe if I could make it home I would have enough time to get my thirty-ought-six and have a fighting chance.
The car slid wildly as the rear axle dug a trench through the road. I wasn’t moving fast enough! I looked in the rear view mirror the beast was chasing the car gaining on me!
It ran along side the Taurus and yelled, “Stop the car weakling!”
I swerved the car around a bend as another window shattered. Escape was impossible, he would tear my car apart until it stopped then he’d crush my skull like an overripe melon. I stomped the brakes and brought the car to halt. It overshot the front of the car.
In the headlights his grin told me he was enjoying this. I didn’t enjoy killing cattle, it was just a job. This sick monster was going to dance on my broken body.
“Any last words?” It asked as it adjusted its grip on the maul.
“Cheeseburger.” I whispered.
“Triple bacon Cheeseburger!” I yelled as I smashed the gas pedal to the floor. I flipped on the brights blinding the horned menace.
He stumbled away trying to get out of the path of the car. The V-6 engine redlined tires spun and the crippled car launched toward the demon.
The next thing I knew I had a face full of airbag and the car had stopped. Had I fallen asleep and run off the road. No! I had hit a Minotaur, was it dead? The engine wasn’t running, I turned the key but it wouldn’t start. I opened the door and stumbled out. I looked back there was nothing but ruts. I made my way around the front of the car, the driver’s side headlight was out, and the hood had buckled.
As I rounded the front of the car I saw the beast lying on the ground pinned beneath the car. It wasn’t moving. His massive sledgehammer lay in a pool of headlight. I picked it up it was carved with ornate symbols on both the head and hickory handle.
The beast grunted and stirred. Would it pick up the car, toss it and finish what it had started?
I walked toward it, the heavy hammer held high. Its eyes opened and it stared at me.
“No… please.” Its voice was weak.
I was having a hard time keeping my breath. “Why… why shouldn’t I kill you?”
“I… I wasn’t gonna kill you.”
“Bullshit!” The irony of saying that word to a Minotaur was lost on me during the heat of the moment.
“Just… make… it quick.”
I raised the massive hammer above my head hands trembling. He stared at me, no longer the beast from a nightmare, but a wounded animal.
“Please… I have a family.” It said.
“So do I! Do you think I enjoy killing cattle for a living? It’s just a job, a real shitty one that I was planning on leaving at the end of this season.”
“You do not relish killing?” It asked.
“No.” I said poised to strike. I couldn’t hit him with those eyes watching me. “Don’t look at me damn it!”
He was just another piece of beef that I needed to stun, it shouldn’t be hard. The beast closed his eyes and waited for his deathblow.
I dropped the hammer.
It struck the gravel road, “I’ve had my share of killing today.”
He breathed heavily, “Thank you.”
“So what do we do now?”
“Can you get the car off me the engine’s hot.”
I spat blood and rock chips out of my mouth, “How do I know you won’t snap my neck as soon as you’re free.”
“I swear on the blood of my fathers, and my fathers fathers I will not harm you.” Toro said as he reached a hand out.
I hesitated for a moment, I really should leave him to die, but this wasn’t a cow, this was an intelligent creature, “I’ll go find the jack.”
I walked back the way I had come; the insanity of the last few minutes was unreal. I was going to help this demon spawned creature live. What was I doing? I found the jack, and tire iron a few hundred yards down the road.
“Good hurry I burn.”
I began jacking up the car, all it took was a couple of inches and the monster was free. He crawled out from under the car and collapsed in a heap. “Thanks, you’re not so bad for a meat eater.”
“What… is your name?” It asked.
“Where did you come from?”
He shrugged, “My village isn’t too far from here.”
“No I mean before.”
He snorted, “You mean where did my people come from?”
“Are you from Crete?”
The man bull thing shook its head, “No, but I see you know your mythology. There is some truth to the legend of the labyrinth, but the trapped Minotaur wasn’t born there.”
“So the whole mating thing with Minos’ wife?”
He nodded, “Pasiphae, no that part of the story is false. No we are the sons of Ba’al.”
“Ba’al the pagan god from the bible?” I asked.
He nodded and tried to stand.
“So we have a whole village of Minotaurs in Texas.”
He groaned as he put weight on his leg, “Not many humans know.”
“I’m going to put the spare tire on now.” I said as I moved to the trunk of the car. I set the sledge down and picked up the donut tire. I put it on the ground and forgot about the jack.
“Allow me.” He limped over to the back of the car and lifted it up enough that I could put the tire on.
A few minutes later I tightened the three remaining lug nuts. I tried starting the car again, the starter cranked but the engine wouldn’t turn over.
“Sounds like a fuel problem to me.” Toro said.
“What? What would you know about…”
“Just because we’re creatures of legend doesn’t mean we don’t live in the twenty first century.”
Then I remembered the Taurus had an emergency fuel pump kill switch in the back. I found it and was able to start the car.
The man bull began walking away. I should have let him leave but I didn’t. “Hey.”
“Can I give you a lift?”
“Thank you but your wimpy car won’t make it up the road to my village; you need a serious four by to make it.”
What was I doing, I must have gone insane, he had tried to kill me. “Look, I can take you to my place, you can stay the night in the barn, and I can take you to your village in my truck.”
“Why would you do this for me? I tried to kill you.”
Images of the cattle I had killed flashed before my eyes. I groaned, I’d have to quit my job at the slaughter house but I wasn’t going to join PETA. “You’ve got a family, there are coyotes out there, you’re wounded, and bleeding.”
I pushed the passengers seat all the way back and the massive beast folded himself into the car. His knees pressed against his chest. He looked like a hairy linebacker sitting in a Geo Metro.
“Sorry about trying to kill you. That hamburger thing…”
I drove toward my parents home with one headlight. We sat in silence for a while until I couldn’t stand it, “Are there other…”
“Legendary creatures out there?” He finished the sentence for me. “Yes. Gob’s, Orc’s, Naga, Were beasts and Vampires.”
“Nasty little bastards. Some of the Minotaur hunt them.”
My world just got a lot stranger, “How come people don’t know about creatures like that?”
“Your governments hide them. My clan is on the Long Horn reservation, set aside to keep you humans out.”
A few minutes later I pulled up the drive to my empty house. My parents were gone on a trip to Europe and wouldn’t be back for a month. Mom had wanted to see castles and the Parthenon for years. Dad finally broke down and took her for their thirty fifth anniversary.
As I put the car in park the oil light came on and the engine died. Good timing.
“You have a farm?” He asked.
“Well sort of, we’ve got some goats, chickens, pigs, and a couple of milk cows.” I hoped that wouldn’t piss him off again.
He grunted slightly and tried to unfold himself from the seat. After some harsh language he managed to get his wounded leg out of the car.
As I approached the front door the porch light turned on. I waved Toro back and whispered, “Someone’s home hide!” He crouched down behind some rose bushes.
The front door opened and a sweet voice floated out. “Welcome home cowboy!”
“Hiya sis, what are you doing here?”
Kimberly stepped out onto the front porch in a pink nightgown, “I had some annual leave built up so I figured I’d ditch Alabama and crash here for a while.” Then she noticed my lovely car sitting in the driveway “What happened to your car?”
I looked back the damage did look pretty bad from here, “Oh, on the way home I hit a stray, min… bull.”
“Well come in, you live here too.” She saw my bloody lip. “Did you get beat up too?”
“Nah that was from the airbag.” I lied.
As I shut the door I caught a glimpse of Toro’s tail swishing behind the bushes. What a night.