Every nine years for as long as I can remember, the Minoans order the Athenians to send them seven boys and seven girls to be sacrificed. They aren't killed for a god, though. They're eaten by the Minotaur.
The Minotaur is half man, half bull. His fur is matted with filth and blood. He wields an axe, but he doesn't need it; his victims are defenseless against him. I am one of them.
My name is Kalista. I come from a long line of wealthy merchants. Out of all of the children of Athens, I seemed the least likely to be picked for sacrifice. But, nevertheless, I was first in line on the list. I wasn't the only unusual choice, though. Theseus, King Aegeus's son, was also picked.
We had to travel to Crete by boat. With its lush green forests and dramatic cliffs, one may be tricked into thinking that this is a happy, peaceful island, but it's filled with savages. I used to hear stories that the Minoans were cannibals and ate their own servants. That wasn't really a good omen for us.
We were kept in separate holding cells for a few days, then taken to the entrance of the Labyrinth.
The Labyrinth is a dark, dismal place. It echoes the complex twists and turns of the human mind. Blood of past sacrifices runs down the walls like rain and pools on the floor. The stench of decay and mold hangs in the humid air and makes you sick to your stomach. You soon become delusional with hunger and thirst; the only water here is your own sweat. The smooth walls seem to close in on you and there is no light. The more you wander, the more insane you become.
When we first entered this endless maze, we split up, since a large group of us would be an easy target for the Minotaur. So now my only companion is Echo. She tells me what has happened to some of the others by repeating their terrified screams and cries for help.
I know that I'm going to die soon but I can't help but having this strange hope that I might live. Maybe I am going insane...
"Stop that, Kalista," I hear myself say, "Having hope doesn't equal insanity."
"Yes it does!" I answer, "I'm going to die no matter what. We all are."
"Why do you have to be so negative?"
"Hmm.... Let's see.... I'm going to die!"
"You aren't getting my point, Kalista! What I'm trying to say is..."
I round the corner and see the Minotaur. He is leaning against a wall, devouring the remains of a girl named Calliope. I know that it's her because the seashell necklace she used to wear has been cast aside and now lies in a pool of blood alongside the Minotaur's axe. I slowly shrink back into the shadows, praying to the gods that he doesn't see me.
As I inch backwards, I slip on something round and slimy– I think it's a bone. I let out a little yelp of pain as my tailbone meets the stone floor. The Minotaur looks up, disturbed from his meal.
Oh, great, her again, he's probably thinking. We had crossed paths twice before, but he had always been to full to follow me. Calliope wasn't very plump, so she was probably only the appetizer tonight. And I think I know who's going to be the main course.
The Minotaur drags himself upright and grabs his axe. He begins to slowly move towards me, grunting and swinging his axe as he comes closer. He stops right above me and looks down. His warm breath hits me in the face. He reeks of rotten meat and sweat. I hide my face in my hands and whimper. For a girl of fifteen, I'm not very strong.
My family was devastated when I was picked. My mother cried and held me in her arms for what seemed like an hour. My father didn't show any emotions, but I knew he was sad. My little brother came and hugged my leg.
"You coming back soon, Kali?" he asked. Of course, I couldn't tell him, "No. I'm going to be eaten by some blood-thirsty creature", so I just nodded my head and smiled.
I'm not aware of the noises in the little chamber until I get on the boat to Crete. The memory vanishes from my head and is replaced by darkness. I wonder why the room is darker then it should be, until I remember that I had covered my eyes with my hands.
Many different noises bounce off the chamber walls: grunts, the clang of metal, scratching, and moans of pain. Then all is silent. A huge thud resonates through the room, as if the sun has fallen on to the Earth.
I slowly open my eyes. Theseus is standing over the dead body of the Minotaur. He holds a bloody sword and is gasping for breath.
"Is he dead?" I whisper.
"I think so," Theseus replies. He walks over to me and holds out his hand. I take it and he helps me up.
"So what good does that do? We're still stuck down here."
"I wouldn't be so sure." He holds out a bloody ball of string.
"What is that?"
"I tied one end to the door so that I could find my way back. A girl named Ariadne gave it to me. She also gave me this sword." He holds up the sword.
"But the door's locked shut and..."
"I know that! Just don't question the string!"
I follow him out of the chamber. We use the string to guide us through the Labyrinth. Two others, a girl named Ilyssa and a boy named Macarios, have found us and are following closely behind. It takes hours, but we finally reach the trapdoor.
"So now what?" I ask.
Theseus pushes on the door and, strangely, it's not locked. They must have thought that we were long dead. He climbs through the opening first and we follow, into the morning sunlight.