You see, he decided to give me a little boost. He didn't want me slacking when I should be out and about looking for his cure. He wanted me back in the library, back in the chair. He probably thought I'd be more fired up if he reminded me of Sarah
and everything I'd lost. His message was that my Ariadne was pining for me, desperate for me to kill the beast and escape the Labyrinth. Not even I was so
dense as to miss his joke.
My extra sense popped up and flagged a room I was about to pass. I was at the time searching for the rabbit who had mysteriously disappeared a few nights past. My situation was not too desperate: I knew enough by now to eke out an existence. I don't suppose I needed the rabbit, but to tell the truth I missed him. And so I was searching: if I couldn't find Cahill, then I was going to have to find the library. Hal
was engineering again.
But a room in use was not to be missed. I stepped in cautiously and nearly jumped
out of my skin as the spade and rake and brush clattered to the floor of the potting shed. I was forever knocking them over though somehow Sarah always managed to slide in and out without ever disturbing them. I picked them up, propped them in
the corner. Something clingy touched my face and I shuddered. It was a cobweb. I
am not fond of spiders. The huge beast that occupied the centre of the web scuttled off as I clawed the threads out of my hair. Just above the door was a cluttered shelf, full of nooks, full of crannies and the spider made tracks into the darkness of it. And there it was: a large ball of green garden twine. Careless of the spider's current location I reached up and claimed the prize as my own.
“What a weapon it could be!” I cried.
I do get carried away sometimes.
Then I thought: But this is Sarah's potting shed! Through the window I recognized
the cloches she'd put at the bottom of the garden: at the bottom of our garden! I charged back through the door I'd closed behind me so fast a whole stack of garden tools and plant pots hit the deck and.....and I was back in the corridor again. The corridor again. The corridor! AGAIN!!!!…
And weeping uncontrollably.
Have you any idea how devastated I was? It was summer in that garden, late afternoon. Sarah would be there: deckchair, book, glass of chilled Soave, sunshade.
I should have smashed through the window, but you can’t help it, can you: we’re so conditioned to use fucking doors. For God’s sakes!. I’d made the wrong choice and as soon as I left the room he moved it, all of it: the shed, the garden, Sarah. The bastard wouldn't even let me see her. Not even for a minute. God but I hate him.
I wandered around the empty room for a while.
So anyway, I had this ball of twine still. When I'd recovered, some hours later, I
picked myself up, dusted myself down and prepared to start all over again. Rabbit-less, locating the library was not an easy task, though I was better at it by now than I had been at first. Mapping out the Ministry was impossible but at least now I had a tool. Sarah's twine would help me locate the library much more quickly from now
I had a cheerful (read manic) hour paying it out, letting it lie, green on grey. I even managed a song as I marched:
Ball of yarn,
Ball of yarn,
She was winding up her little ball of yarn,
And the blackbird and the thrush
They sang out of every bush:
Keep your hand upon your little ball of yarn.
Oh no kind sir said she
You're a stranger unto me
And la la, la la la any harm,
I will sit here in the shade
And I'll live my life a maid
With my hand upon my little ball of yarn.
BALL OF YARN! BALL OF YARN!....
I wasn't sure of the words so I made them up or if I couldn't think of a rhyme lah-lahd instead. It's been a long time since I’d last been to a folk club. I was singing when
the string ran out. And I had still not found the library. Irritated but not defeated I drew-in the line, grateful that the highly polished floor offered little friction, wound
it into a ball, and started again. It was on the third unraveling that I reached the
library door and with a great sense of achievement tied the end of the string to the handle.
My plan was simple: I would leave the line where it was so that whenever I ran
across it I would only have to follow in one direction or the other and voila! A small victory but a victory nonetheless. Worrying only in the sense that it was Hal's joke
that provided the opportunity.
His intention, I'm sure, was to remind me of the tale of Theseus and the Minotaur. The Athenian king was thrown into the Labyrinth on Knossos, home to that horrible, virgin eating, half man - half bull. Naturally it was Theseus' task to kill the Minotaur and he was aided in his task by the lovely virgin (yes, next in line to be eat) Ariadne. All she did, as far as I remember, was give him a ball of twine to help him escape the maze when he'd done the deed.
Here Sarah was my Ariadne and I Theseus. Who then was the Daedalus, maker of the labyrinth? And what Minotaur must I face before I can be free of it? I'll leave the answers to you.
So there you are: you've had 'Frankenstein: A Modern Prometheus', how about 'The Ministry Rat: A Modern Theseus'?
It is a touch laughable, I know, for me to make out that I'm anything like Theseus. He was a HERO. Frightened of nothing: not the Persians at Marathon, nor the hordes of the underworld after the abduction of Persephone, not the Centaurs and certainly
not the Minotaur.
Oh, I've been there. I've had adventure till I'm sick of it, been to all sorts of
dangerous places, but the fact is: being there does not make you a hero. Neither
does the fact that I’ve a Minotaur to face: everyone has sooner or later. Things have changed anyway. Heroes used to believe in themselves: it was part of the job. Nowadays our heroes are concerned individuals who want to know what's right and what's wrong. You wouldn't catch Theseus bothering about that; you wouldn't catch him trying to offer the Minotaur psychiatric help instead of a cold blade. You
wouldn't find him anxious that euthanasia, even in the case of severe deformity,
was morally indefensible. Our heroes suffer from angst: Vietnam, Korea, Cambodia have destroyed the old fashioned notion of hero. We prosecute today those berserkers we would in the past have feted. Killing people, and things, is no longer the noble act it once was.
The Ministry Rat is, I suppose, a typical Modern Theseus: the modern hero is
someone that things just happen to; their heroism consists in coping with the trauma. The heroes of the past actually sought out dire deeds and glory...
Rats, rats, rats!
Just when you think you're onto a good line.. Let's be honest, my theory does not
hold water. What about good old Odysseus? I certainly have something in common with him alright: fellow making his way home after some business or other and what happens? Fate comes out and grabs him by the balls, that's what. The Gods in their wisdom toss him from one bloody awful situation to the next, to the next - just for a laugh, I suppose - and all he wants is house and home and his faithful Penelope.
So, what are my motives? Depends on whether you think I was kidnapped or
seduced? Seduction works only upon desire: where there is no desire one cannot be seduced. So, was I actually seeking out adventure? What was I: Theseus or
21/02/2012 wkj fantasy