The minotaurs walked into the room, feeling very self-conscious.
'Bill?' said one to the other.
'Yes, Norris?' said the other.
'The room's all full of humans.'
'Don't worry about it,' said Bill. 'They can't actually see us.'
'Can't they?' said Norris.
'Not according to "The Specifics of Human-Minotaur Interactions, by Dr. F. Bledge, in the January '05 issue of The British Journal of Mythical Beasties.'
'I didn't read that one,' said Norris.
'You should've,' said Bill. 'It was a fine and enlightening piece of research.'
The eight-foot tall creatures, with huge rippling muscles, horns and suchlike, attempted to mingle amongst the small, pale, fleshy humans. This was no easy task. The humans, although they were unaware of the presence of minotaurs in the room, were nevertheless aware of the presence of two people who took up more room than they should have done. According to "The Specifics of Human-Minotaur Interactions...
Due to a neurologically programmed inability to believe that such mythical beasties could possibly exist, Homo sapiens prefer to create the illusion of an innocuous-looking fellow human standing before them than to bear witness to anything that could shake their genetically predetermined presumptions about what is possible or not possible to exist. This does of course create the psycho-perceptual dichotomy that any minotaurs with whom humans come into social contact will, in the minds of the humans, seem inexplicably to occupy a volume of space which is somewhat larger than that which their senses perceive.
'Ow!' said a young male human whose left foot had just been crushed by Norris's size twenty-three hoof.
'Sorry,' said Norris.
'Ya great lumbering oaf!' said the human. 'Why doncha look where you're going?'
'Sorry,' said Norris again, stepping back and knocking a five-foot-two woman to the ground.
'Yahh!' said the woman, as he spun around, elbowing a middle-aged gentleman in the back of the head.
'That's it, I'm off,' said Norris, as he headed for the exit, scattering humans as he went.
'Wait!' said Bill, chasing after Norris, amidst yelps, groans, oofs and yahhs.
'We're not meant to be here,' said Norris. 'We never were. We don't belong.'
'We have just as much right to be here as anyone else!' said Bill.
'But we're minotaurs!' said Norris. 'Who's gonna listen to minotaurs? We're supposed to terrorise Greek heroes, hide in mazes and suchlike.'
'We're minotaurs with a vision!' said Bill, as he grasped the shoulder of his good friend Norris. 'A vision we need to share with the world! Now let's get back in there and show them who we are...'
Norris looked at Bill.
Bill gave Norris an encouraging nod of the horn.
'Aw flippin' eck,' said Norris, as he reluctantly (and somewhat more carefully and slowly) followed Bill back into the room.
* * *
An impossibly thin, impossibly tall (for a human) woman, in an impossibly low-cut, impossibly clingy red dress, walked up to the rostrum and smiled (with impossibly bright white teeth).
'Good evening, fellow creatives!' she said into the microphone, at which there was cheering and clapping and whooping and things of that nature. 'May I first of all introduce you to two up-and-coming artists, who like simply to be called... Bill and Norris!'
More cheering and clapping and whooping, as Bill and Norris walked up to the rostrum. Norris walked several feet behind Bill. They both trod very slowly and carefully, keeping their limbs and horns as close to their bodies as possible, for fear of causing another mini-riot amongst the cheerers and clappers and whoopers. Bill ascended the steps, followed by Norris, and the woman in the red dress indicated where they should stand. They stopped, stood and looked at all the expectant faces before them. Silence descended. Bill grasped the microphone, which was three feet lower than was convenient for a minotaur, and pulled it up to his mouth. There was a buzzing, a crackling, then a loud explosion, as he pulled the microphone entirely free of its casing.
'Oops,' said Bill. 'I don't know my own strength sometimes!' - he reached out and grabbed Norris, who was once again attempting to escape.
A small human (who Bill and Norris were sure was actually a hobbit) scootled onto the rostrum, gave Bill another microphone and scootled off again.
Bill tapped the microphone, which emitted an ear-piercing scream of feedback, to numerous groans from the crowd. 'Testing,' he then said (like you do), as Norris wiped sweat from his furry, be-horned brow.
'Good evening, fellow... erm... humans!' Bill finally said. 'My name's Bill and this is my good friend, Norris!'
'No need to shout!' said someone in the back.
Bill was unaware that he was shouting, but then he remembered he was a minotaur and reduced his voice to a barely perceptible whisper...
'In the info pack before you,' continued Bill, 'is a prototype comic book, which was drawn by myself and coloured in by Norris' - he indicated Norris, who nervously smiled out of one side of his mouth. 'The Adventures,' said Bill, 'of Bilge and Norbet!'
There was much shuffling and rustling, as the item in question was flicked through and the contents observed.
'As you can see,' said Bill, 'it is an allegorical tale, which...'
'Wait a minute!' said the same voice at the back as before. 'They're not humans!' - Bill and Norris looked at each other - 'They're minotaurs!'
'What you on about?' said a voice at the front.
'Look at 'em!' said the voice at the back. 'They've got horns and hooves and they're about eight foot tall!'
'Now wait a m--' said Bill.
'O-o-o-h yeah,' said a voice somewhere in the centre-left. 'He's bloomin' right an'all...'
'Who let a couple of great big hoofy minotaurs into the room?' said a fourth voice.
'Now wait just a m--' said Bill.
'No wonder my foot hurts so much!' said a fifth voice.
'And the back of my head!' said a sixth.
'That explains why I was unconscious for six minutes!' said a seventh.
And on it went... with a 'What are they--?' this and a 'Why don't they--?' that and a 'What do they think they're--?' the other... until finally Norris took hold of the microphone, held it right up to his mouth and shouted at the top of his voice...
'For Thor's sake, what's wrong with you all?!' continued Norris.
'Well...' said voice number six, as he rubbed the back of his head.
'SHUT UP!!' said Norris. 'YOU PUNY, IGNORANT HUMAN!!'
A gasp radiated throughout the room.
'Yes, we are minotaurs!' said Norris (a little quieter now). 'But first and foremost we are artists!'
('You go, Nor!' said Bill)
'Why,' said Norris, 'can't you put aside your prejudices and see the beauty inside us, rather than the horns and the hooves and the thick, matted fur on the outside?'
'Hmm...' said yet another voice...
...which, although only a small voice, uttering but a single three letter word, caused Bill to widen his eyes, withdraw his head into his shoulders and emit a plume of hot steam from his nostrils.
'Calm down now, Norris...' said Bill.
But Bill was not to be heard, as Norris grasped the lectern, opened his mouth and let out a tremendous, horrifying, bowel-loosening roar, which culminated in the crushing of the lectern between his monstrous hands, another loud explosion and a silence made all the more complete by the ringing in the ears of all who beheld it.
The same small human as before scootled onto the rostrum, handed Bill another microphone and scootled off again.
'Wait a minute!' said the voice at the back. 'That's not a human! It's a hobbit!'
* * *
Later in the pub...
'That went rather well,' said Bill.
'Exceedingly so, I thought,' said Norris.
'Do you think anyone will buy our comic?' said Bill.
'If they know what's good for them,' said Norris.
'Pint?' said Bill.
'Make it two,' said Norris.
Bill got them in.
[ the end ]