There was something about the cave that wasn't right.
Though I wasn't sure what it was, it nagged at me like a fly might bother a blind cat.
I took a quick inventory of the back wall. Everything seemed to be in place, the cheeses on their drying racks, the sheep and their kids in the appropriate pens. Nothing was out of order. Nothing that I could see anyway.
Still, the fly hounded its blind cat.
No matter. I'll figure it out soon enough.
I turned to leave again, to retrieve the sheep from outside. They bleated happily at me as I shooed the rams to one side and herded the ewes in through the gaping hole in the rocky hillside.
One look over my shoulder insured that the rams were content in their grassy yard, no pens to restrain them. They were too stupid to venture off the cliff by themselves. They would only fall to their deaths, bashed against the sea-side rocks more than two hundred feet below.
If they weren't smart enough to know not too, it was their loss. And mine as well, for they were my livelihood—my only friends, though I cared little for them. It was they who needed me. I was their shepherd, of sorts.
I didn't much care for the ewes either. But they listened to me when I spoke to them and I listened to their meaningless bleating. For all I knew, they were trying to tell me things. Having dealt with them for so many years had surely turned my brain to mush, I knew.
Having successfully grouped the ewes into the cave, I stepped inside behind them and heaved the door (a hilltop I had torn from above the cave and fashioned into a large ball that I could roll) in front of the yawning entrance.
I hurried about my evening chores. They consisted of milking the sheep, then gave them to their respective young.
The milk was another shore entirely. I thickened it into curds and whey and then sifted the curds through a basket that was weaved like mesh of a chicken fence. The whey, I left to cool in several bowls for dinner.
The fire was beginning to dim, so I grabbed the kindling that I had brought in earlier and threw them recklessly on the fire.
It was then that I, the blind cat, found the fly.
There were several men staring at me from the far end of the cave. They were all no taller than my ankle. And they each had a pair of eyes.
Two eyes! Humans, then.
As a Cyclops, it was unusual for anyone to have more than one eye. A mutation, some called it. I rather preferred 'abomination.'
They were staring at me with those huge unnatural eyes. My heart nearly stopped.
Where have they come from?
To them, it must seem rather odd for a creature so large to be afraid of them—they were no larger than the ewes' lambs.
So I mustered my courage and spoke. "Who are you, strangers? Where are you from? Are you wandering—come to steal my wages?" My voice rang uncertainly, I thought, but they trembled before me as the words rumbled from within my throat.
One of the little men spoke. "We are from Troy and were blown off course." He motioned to the rest of them. "We are homeward bound, you see, and we are taking routes uncommon, for we are Greeks."
Then, as if to brag, he said, "All of us have served under Agamemnon, son of Atreus—the whole world, knows what city he laid waste, what armies he has destroyed. It is our luck that we stand here, beholden for your help or any gifts you give. We would entreat you, great Sir, have a care for the god's courtesy for Zeus will avenge the offending guest."
He spoke with the odd authority of one above me, his voice condescending.
It was odd. For such a small creature, he spoke with his nose in the air as though he were ruler of worlds.
Anger began to build in my chest. Who was this tiny man to think that he should better me?
The other men nodded at their speaker's words, all agreeing with what he said.
"Telling me to mind the gods, are you? Bah!" I snorted at this. "Cyclopes care not one bit for your thundering Zeus or all the gods in bliss. We have far more force by far! I would not let you or your friends go for fear of Zeus."
The speaker, I shall call him Speck, for he was tiny in my eye, looked surprised at this but did not reply.
It occurred to me that people do not just fall out of the sky. They would have some means of travel. And there had to be more of them . . . didn't there?
"Tell me, now. Where was it that you left your ship? Around the point, or down the shore?"
This time, Speck glances back at his men. He was nervous, perhaps. But he answered quickly enough.
"My ship? Poseidon Lord broke it upon the rocks at your land's end. A wind from seaward served him, drove us there. We are survivors, these good men and I." He motioned to the others.
So he is the leader, then.
His words spoke in anger to my heart—how dare he lie—and I had the sudden urge to smash him. But instead, I went for two of the others.
The men scattered before me and I caught the slowest two in one hand. They cried out and beat my hand with their tiny fists. But before they could do any harm, I bashed them against the cave floor, their brains spattering about.
Speck and his friends had gathered against the far wall and were huddled together, out of my reach.
At this point, I wasn't sure what to do. I had just killed two of Speck's men, after all. What, then, was I to do? Kill the others as well?
I saw no reasoning to this. Why kill them when they could be put to use?
But I saw no use for them, as they were too small to do anything.
Food . . . ?
Maybe. I had never eaten a human before. But there's a first for everything.
So I tore them apart, these two dead men.
It wasn't good. Certainly not. But it were food, none the less. I ate them quickly, not leaving a single bite, or I knew they would rot and stink up the cave.
To wash down the meal, I gulped whey that I had set to cool earlier.
Nasty stuff, those humans.
Feeling sick and nauseous, I stumbled to the other side of the cave, where I collapsed among the sheep.
I was asleep soon after, my stomach aching.