Fighting my way to consciousness felt like swimming through quicksand. I tried to bring my hands up to keep my head from flying apart, but my arms were pinned down. It took a minute for the fog to clear and for me to realize I was tied to a damn chair! I struggled to get my eyes open so I could look around, the snakes that hid within my hair hissing weakly.
I wasn’t sure what had happened, the last thing I remembered was Luke yelling at me to watch out, then nothing.
Luke! I forced my eyes open and tried to look around. Unfortunately, turning made my head swim and I slumped back into the chair. I wasn’t sure where I was, but I was alone.
The Gorgon tried to surge to the surface as I fought against the ropes. Pain slammed into my head with the movement and I stopped trying to get free, struggling just to stay conscious.
I sat still for a minute, waiting for my heart to stop racing so I could attempt to bring the Gorgon out. Still nothing. I tried to teleport out, but the pain in my head almost made me pass out again.
My mind raced as I tried to figure out why I was here. I hadn’t been back long enough to make enemies. Although, I still didn’t know how I was back. Or why. Or even who was responsible. I was just so happy to be given another chance, I didn’t ask any questions. Maybe that had been a mistake. This didn’t seem like something a God would do, though.
I couldn’t believe this was happening. Some goddess I was, tied to a chair in a warehouse as weak as a mortal. I still had my head, so I had that going for me at least.
I closed my eyes and waited for the worst of the pain to pass, then tried to get a better look around. Another warehouse, or was it the same warehouse? I couldn’t tell. I hoped Luke was ok. I knew once my head stopped pounding I’d be able to teleport out, then I’d look for him.
I must have lost consciousness again, because the next time I opened my eyes, I could see the sun shining through the broken windows. It was hard to tell how much time had passed, but at least my head wasn’t pounding anymore.
Voices caught my attention, I couldn’t make out any words so I just listened as they came closer. I felt better, but curiosity got the best of me so, instead of teleporting out, I sat still and waited.
“Hey, Jackson, I think she’s awake.”
“I bet we’re going to get a shit ton of money for her.”
“Yeah, we really scored with this one, Colt.”
“Maybe the boss will finally be happy.”
“Do you think she has any sisters or friends? If they all look like her, then we hit the jackpot.” He grabbed me by the chin and turned my face up so he could look at me, his fingers digging into my skin.
I could feel my snakes coiling and sent a silent plea for them to stay hidden. I wanted to play this out a little longer and find out what I could…but I couldn’t keep my mouth shut. I clenched my jaw and said, “You’ve got to be kidding me. Untie me, you morons, and I won’t kill you.” Seriously, this was embarrassing. I was totally going to kill them, though.
Colt laughed, showing yellowed teeth. He kicked at the side of the chair, then leaned down and said, “Maybe we’ll have some fun with you first. I like ’em mouthy.”
His hair hung in greasy clumps around his head, and his breath smelled like the inside of a dumpster. I shuddered and tried to pull away from him.
“Oh no, not this time. I called dibs,” Jackson said as he crossed his arms over his chest, clearly annoyed with his friend.
They squared off against each other, yelling insults back and forth while they fought over me. I ignored them while the reality of what they were doing sunk in. They had to be taking women and selling them. I wondered if there were any others tied up, scared, and alone somewhere.
The small amount of control I had fell away as anger washed over me and the gorgon tore free. The chair I was tied to broke apart as I surged to my feet. Jackson screamed, and Colt stumbled back, tripping over their feet in their attempts to get away from me. I looked from one terrified face to the other and in the blink of an eye, they were stone.
It was over so fast, I wished I’d had more control. I knew, with practice, I could slow down the transformation.
I stomped out of the warehouse, my snakes were coiling wildly around my head and my skin had hardened and turned grey as ash. I looked for someone else to turn, it felt good to be free. I wanted to help mortals, but were they really worth it? Some might be, but the ones here sure weren’t.
Outside, there were people scattered around the parking lot of the warehouse. No one noticed me at first, so I stalked over to the two closest men. They turned towards me at the same time, twin looks of shock and horror forever frozen on their face.
I heard a scream and spun, catching a new man in my gaze. I watched with satisfaction as he turned to granite, his mouth opened in a silent scream. I looked around and watched as everyone that was left either ran to get away, or became stone where they stood.
My mind drifted back to right after I was cursed, to all of the people I’d turned to stone because I couldn’t control the gorgon part of me, and I wondered if I really wanted to go back to that. I looked back at the statues scattered around and tried to decide if I should dust them or not…I could keep hiding, or I could embrace who I was.
That really was the question, though. Who was I? Was I the monster everyone feared or was I something else? Someone else. I wasn’t sure.
My snakes were going wild, hissing their encouragement, urging me to find more mortals. It felt like the two halves of me were constantly fighting each other. The gorgon part of me felt free and never wanted to be locked away again.
My snakes were coiling and lifting wildly around my head. I reached up and tried to calm them, smoothing my hair back down and returning to my human form.
“Medusa, are you ok?” Luke yelled.
I looked over to see Luke, with his hand over his eyes, running full out towards me. “Luke! My Goddess, I was so worried! Are you okay?” I said as I ran to him. “You’re going to break your neck running like that.”
“I heard screaming, I wasn’t taking any chances. Do you have the cat back in the bag yet?” he asked, coming to a stop. He still had one hand over his eyes and was waving his other arm blindly out in front of him.
“Sometimes I forget that you’re one of those people, the brave kind, that runs towards the screaming.” I wasn’t sure if that was a good thing or a bad thing. I filed that away to think about another day. Seeing Luke helped calm me, and reminded me that some mortals were worth helping.
“I was looking for you,” he said as he waved his arm again, and I jumped out the way. “Well, can I look now? You don’t sound like you’re in monster mode.”
I scowled at him for the monster comment, but he wasn’t wrong. “Yeah, I’m good now.” I said as I smoothed my hair down. Turning serious, I asked, “Are you ok?”
He looked around at the statues before responding, “Yeah, just a nasty lump on the side of my head. How’d they knock you out? You went down like a sack of stones, don’t you have superpowers?”
“I’m not invincible. Just because I don’t age, that doesn’t mean I can’t get hurt.” Then softly I added, “Or killed.”
After an uncomfortable silence he gestured towards the statues and asked, “Do you want to take care of these?”
I tapped my lip while I thought about it. “Nope. I think they were all part of a human trafficking ring. They definitely deserve this.” Turning to Luke, I said, “Maybe it’s time for me to stop worrying so much about what everyone thinks.”
Luke smiled and swung his arm around my shoulders as we started walking. “I think that’s a great idea.”
Smiling, I said, “I guess I’m just scared of losing control.”
“As long as you don’t get too carried away with it, I don’t think you have anything to worry about. So, it’s still early, you up for getting something to eat?”
“Sure, as long as it’s pizza.”
He laughed, and said, “It’s always pizza.”