Charlie’s story: ‘Death for Dinner’

Highly commended

I roar pitifully as a spiteful King Minos rotates the ring on my nose against my calloused countenance. Disloyal to my sinister master, I butt his chin. He cries out in pain, but seeing my red eyes staring ominously his shriek evolves into a cold, evil laugh. He walks me on a rattling chain to the furthest point in the labyrinth and ties me to the cold wall; then hastily releases me and bolts out of the labyrinth, screaming in the darkness. I laugh at his cowardice, mimicking his own mockery. A glimmer of hope creeps through me. The distant memory of my last snack imported from Athens makes me salivate, my scheming mind playing games. The thought of those ambrosial delicacies – noble boys and girls – their fragile limbs snapping one by one between my crushing jaws, releasing jets of rich, oozing blood and marrow. The very prospect rejuvenates my aching taste-buds, as I drool in anticipation of the next, long-awaited course. Nine, painful, protracted years – now deliverance at last!

As if in answer to my dreams, I hear tentative footsteps approaching. My excitement is a wild, untamed beast, escaped from its shackles, and I am its master, unable to restrain it. I punch at the roof of my dungeon, roaring with bloodthirsty laughter. Which young Athenian citizen is kindly offering himself as my dinner this time? A ravenous growl emits from my hoarse throat. My ears ring. My mouth waters. My nose trembles. Oh, the sweet smell of human flesh! Momentarily I forget my wicked master, and focus on my prey. Still fantasising, I retreat to the corner of the maze, ready to pounce. The only audible sound is the loud rattling of my own breath. My wait feels endless, but I remain patient. Still nothing. Finally sheer hunger and thrill at the prospect of another delicious human takes rein of my senses. I turn round. I lope down the dark passage… until I feel something heavy spring upon my back. I stagger, surprised. The weight is not that of a juvenile – but of a grown man!

Finally I return to my senses. I writhe, I yell, I struggle, I rave. But still that weight clings to my back. I roar with all the dignity I can muster. I struggle even more fiercely, but to no avail! Now I am tiring to the mortal’s advantage. I relax, succumbing to the inevitable. The cold, sharp surface chills my neck. I desperately continue to writhe, to yell, to struggle, to rave. But the metal pierces my flesh and gradually all strength drains from me. That wretched, treacherous Ariadne! No doubting who is behind the mortal’s victory. I sink to my knees, and my whole body slumbers. I inhale the dust on the stone floor. Its cold burns my cheeks like ice. A cruel face beams down at me, almost mischieviously. But soon, that terrible countenance is replaced by death’s eternal blackness, preferable to a tortured life of imprisonment.