He was docile, unlike anything else that comes from the sea, but no one doubted the story of how one evening the king was standing on the beach when the great bull emerged from the waves, wreathed in foam. His skin of pure white, his pink eyes, his grey hooves, his ivory horns, his whiteness produced a disturbing sense of peace in them. After months of seclusion at the palace, where no one but the king and queen could see him, they were finally taking him to the sacrificial altar.
The queen ordered a carriage, but all they could find to fit him was a large silver cage where there lived the king’s favorite slaves. The slaves themselves were the ones in charge of hoisting the cage into a large wheeled cart, and they themselves had to drag this newly made carriage from the palace to the sea. One of the slaves was crushed by the cage during the first attempt at lifting it, and the blood and the insides that had burst out of her mouth made the bull whimper and retreat into the farthest corner, as far away from that ruined woman. The queen ran up to him, and through the golden bars caressed his horn gently, just the way he liked it. The queen told him to hush.
Then they set out, a great caravan of hundreds, marching down the narrow streets around the palace, while more and more people kept joining them, storming out of their homes to follow the fabled bull, who was leaving, they were taking him away, and I saw a child with whole blue for eyes, staring at me as his mother carried him on her shoulder and I wondered in what color he saw the bull. A proper carriage rolled ahead of the cage, where the king and queen sat, and behind them, staring straight into the cage, was a painter the queen had hired to give her a portrait of the bull. He would’ve prefered to see the bull in motion, he wanted to see the blood pumping madly, the sweat steaming off his hide, the muscles contorting and pulsating, but this, he knew, was not a bull for such action. He focused on his face, his serene and almost human-like face. He had a hard time looking into his eyes. The bull seemed at peace with himself, and at the same time the painter felt that he knew they were going to offer his blood to the gods. An animal should not be so willing to die, he thought. Hard to sketch a white bull. He rehearsed one bull, then another, a third, until the tenth bull looked somewhat right. He would give all ten sketches to the queen, he thought strangely. She would look back at the painter from time to time, or so he assumed.
As the city streets gave way to dirt roads, they realized the caravan had expanded monstrously. Thousands of people, the entire city abandoned, left in charge of who knows who, all to see the bull with the kind face. Soldiers tried to keep the people away, knowing the bull would be scared by such a crowd around the cage, blocking out the light, feeling hemmed in. Towards noon they stopped to rest. The followers at the very end of that long dragon’s tail that was the caravan didn’t know why the ones on the front had stopped, they sent mini-caravans within the larger caravan to investigate, they were worried that something might have happened to the bull. The mini-caravan was taking too long to come back, not because of any problem, not because they were slow, but because the caravan itself was so large, so vast and populous, that moving a few meters was an almost cyclopean task, not to mention the natural anxiety of the people who waited at the back, waiting for news of the bull, the natural anxiety of someone who fears for their loved ones. They began to set out, all of a sudden they wanted to see the bull themselves, and no one wanted to be at the end of the caravan. Everyone started to rush to the front, not realizing that several kilometers separated them from the golden cage, that they were effecting what one could call a human avalanche, a wave of flesh where the one being pushed by someone behind them being pushed and so on feels the need to push the one ahead of them, and the one ahead of them needs to push the one ahead, and so on until the friction creates heat, and heat becomes fire at the first spark.
Fortunately, the avalanche was cut short by something unforeseen; an elephant that had just escaped a nearby circus blazed her way through the caravan, cutting through it and stomping on a dozen people. One of the soldiers handed a few shovels to the pilgrims and told them to dig. Not wanting to be left behind, everyone kept marching while a few diggers would take care of the graves for a few minutes, then hand the shovel to someone else who was walking past, and these would do the same, and so on until the graves, by a kind of anxious collaboration, were ready for the minced meat that was once gentlemen and ladies. And speaking of minced meat, it was around this time that everyone realized they were hungry. Driven by the desire to see the bull, they had forgotten to bring any food. And now, driven not by a desire but by an unquestionable need, they set out across the fields in search for anything that would relieve their stomachs. A group of pilgrims saw a horse in the distance and carefully approached him, this mere horse, not white, nor a gift from Poseidon, a simple horse fresh and tasty, still raw, still alive, but as the serpent’s egg contains the threat of death, this horse’s flesh already called to them, its firm flesh inviting them, saying kill me, I’m yours, you gave me these weeds of miserable flesh, please strip them off from me again. With clubs and knives the people nourished their fevered hunger.
Speaking of inviting flesh, it’s time to head back to the front of the caravan, where the queen had seemed to lose her mind. She was clawing at the bars of the bull’s cage, demanding to be let in, to comfort her bull one last time, though it was clear to everyone around that the bull seemed perfectly fine, not a bead of sweat on his perfect brow. The king called for his two favorite bodyguards, and they eventually managed to pasiphy her. They were near the sea now, not too near, but at their pace, slowed down by the great plumed serpent that marched behind them, the king thought they would get there before nightfall, around the time he’d first seen the bull emerge from the water, defiant, scared, defiant because he was scared.
But now it came to pass that some men who had slowly gotten ahead and near the cage began to exclaim in loud voices that the bull was not to die. Why gives this bull to the gods when it was the gods themselves who gave him to us, it is ours now, this bull is our blessing and I tell you that if we allow this bull to die, if we dare break that immaculate skin, a shower of pestilence will rain on us, brought down by Apollo himself. The rotten counselors of the king know nothing. What savages are we to kill an innocent bull, as if we could simply murder one of our loved ones, our father, our mother, our lover. And the queen rose up and began to howl and shriek. The soldiers, who didn’t know where these sounds came from, took it as a sign from the gods and ran towards the rebels who, armed with clubs and arrows, were ready for a fight before the sacred bull. The men from the front wielded their clubs, and the ones behind them in line had their bows ready when the king’s soldiers opened fire, the bullets tearing them apart, the continuous racket of machine-guns hiding the queens incessant screaming, the bull crying like a human child. The bodies lay on the floor and the people behind that red line didn’t dare cross it. Thousands of men and women stopped dead in their tracks, some staring at the soldiers’ weapons, others looking at the bull, for the first time in his life there were people looking at him with spite, with disdain, with hatred. This idiot child now crying in his golden prison had caused the death of fathers, of sons, of human beings who fought for him. The queen was now silent, gently convulsing in her seat. The slaves who had stopped and were able to rest, while feeling the need to look sad and grieved, but beaming inside their spirits, thinking of that bestial cunt screaming and crying next to her cuckold king, and the king’s virulent cock that spilled forth scorpions and spiders, they were the only ones who knew about the queen and her bull, the privileged slaves in the golden cage that now belonged to this white abhorrence.
And with a heart full of grief, the king ordered the caravan to drive on, to the beach, where he would offer the sacred bull to the gods.