He will be left in the dark as soon as he can wobble on two legs, a boyish body toppling forward on a massive animal head. He will scrape his small horns along tunnels that smell of sage. His eyes will grow bulbous and pale, and he will begin to see things in the darkness that shouldn’t be seen. He will build the royal chamber in the center of the labyrinth, with mosaics of insect eyes.
The first one to stumble in will be a young woman with parched lips. At the entrance she will drop her parasol, her lace shawl and stiff shoes, and she will glide her knuckles along the passage. His sudden longing will confuse him. He will take her softly to his bed, and won’t notice that he has eaten her entire body until it’s too late. He will keep her long hair, because its coppery shine will remind him of things lost.
The second one will arrive full of laughter. He will have broken his camera, and his skin will be salty and hard. This one will put up a fight, and both of them will revel at the sight of blood. He will play with him until he accidentally breaks him. He will weep, and then he will eat.
The third one doesn’t arrive by chance. She will come looking for him, and call him by names long forgotten. She will measure him, record his grunts and growls, and she will touch the inside of his hands. She will smile; and he will want to show her the way back, into the light. But he will become suddenly terrified on the path, and will retreat. She will talk sweetly and run her fingers over his ears. He will try to tell her to go. He will open his mouth, and all he can do is eat.
He will be alone again. The ground will eventually thin above him, the rock will crack. The world will collapse and he will crawl out into the mute wasteland, and he will marvel at its beauty. He will fill his hands with the new, dim wonders. And he will eat, eat.
Clio Velentza lives in Athens, Greece. She is a winner of ‘Best Small Fictions 2016’ and a Pushcart nominee. Her work has appeared in several literary journals, such as Wigleaf, Lost Balloon, Jellyfish Review, Hypertrophic Literary, Moonpark Review and People Holding. Find her on Twitter at @clio_v.