March 2018

Back to Issue 3

A Labyrinthine Story

By Emerald Roe

Excerpt from Part 1: Theseus and Ariadne


Theseus has been slogging away killing the Minotaur

Gods! it stank down there!

dark as hell too

the floor all slippery with shit and blood

the creature dodging around

its hooves sliding in the mess

he never knew where it would be

horns sharp as two daggers

hooking and trying to gore him

in the end his sword got to its neck

at last its knees buckled

the monster sank down

death blood trickling from its nose

dripping onto the filthy floor

one last breath whooshing out

with a dark groan


What a dance!


Theseus leant against the wall

took a few shuddering great breaths

as he gazed at the beast lying there

the great roan head

with its two golden horns

big round eyes glazed in death

lifeless on the floor

Oh gods! now the bloody labyrinth

he’s got to get out of here

it’s a long hike

he grasps that silver cord

Thank God!

but it’s a long way up there

all those damn twists and turns

and uphill too

he stays leaning against the wall a while

getting more of the foetid air into his lungs

waiting till his tired muscles stop spasming

the cramp in his gut dissipates

the beast stays dead

he fumbles

his bloody sword clangs on the stone

picks it up again

wipes it on the creatures neck

sheaves it and then

grabs Ariadne’s silver cord

very tight in his right hand


thinks those seven

lovely girls and boys

locked in the cages upstairs

are going to be very happy

they are all going to be surprised to see him

only pretty Ariadne might have to feign

some surprise at his return


by the time he got back up to the top

the cord was a big ball

so before he pushed open the doors

he stuffed it deep in his tunic


(Daedalus’ maze was so good

no one ever bothered to lock them

nobody had ever made it back up)

the blinding bright sky

hurt his eyes

after so long in the gloom

he blinked out across the wide paving

no one about               only a few hens

and a dog stretched with laziness

lying on the warm stone

so he shouted Hoi!

and a servant came running

his jaw dropped to see the hero

return scatheless from doom

and he shouted Theseus is here!

and King Minos and Princess Ariadne

and all the court came running

gathered round him in a crowd

buzzing with astonishment

actually he thought Ariadne overdid it a bit

her eyes so very wide and her mouth open in shock


it was a legendary feast

the King the Princess and Theseus

all three seated at the high table

in front of them giddy with relief

the fourteen Athenians lined a long table

each gazing out across the assembly

of all the knights and nobles of Crete

there to honour them

and celebrate the hero’s feat

as great platters of roasted beef

still steaming from the sacrificial fires

were carried round the hall

and dishes piled high with sweetmeats

almonds grapes and dates from Africa

lads bore craters of dark red Cretan wine

to fill and refill the men’s dry throats

as they shouted and jostled with joy


a minstrel with his lyre began to sing

an extempore account of the tale

how Theseus had sailed across the sea

to slay the terrible Minotaur

to rescue the flower of Athenian youth

free Athens of its dreadful duty

bury forever the ancient reparations

exacted every seven years

by that cruel old treaty

and clear lovely Kriti of the …

he couldn’t get it quite right

but he knew by now they were all drunk

nobody listening to him

he’d fix it later

now just keep on singing anything

meanwhile sweet Ariadne

had moved a little closer to the hero

quite subtly     but he could feel her shift

a little closer to him

and he could feel her eyes on the side of his neck

he turns and smiles at her

a wicked grin which makes her blush

and sit up very straight indeed

she really is most beautiful

Theseus is very taken

earlier he had watched her lovely gestures

in the sacred dance

her pearly skin bare breasts

slim neck entwined with precious jewels

as her soft arms raised high

held aloft the writing pair of serpents

while her feet trod the holy maze

Ariadne Queen of the Labyrinth

quite exotic for an Athenian

even one who’d been around

as much as our hero had

these Cretans were wild