The Death of Medusa
Author's Note: This was written for a school project! Please forgive any formatting issues. This piece has been through hell getting here.
The day Perseus came was a day Medusa remembered well. It was the day of her death, after all. She pondered this, and many other events in her life, quite often here in the afterlife. Not the underworld, of course. Medusa wasn’t given the courtesy of a proper funeral. She, in her shadely form, was left to rot on the windy cliffs of her isolated mountain home.
Medusa can also remember the day she was cursed. Unfairly, she might add, and today she mused over it bitterly. She was younger then, more lovely and carefree. More beautiful, too. She’d been no older than 17, and neither had her lover. The both of them were just a pair of foolish children at heart, still learning to be adults. It’s funny, she supposed, in a horrid sort of way that Medusa had to learn the hard way.
The egregious act that called forth Athena’s wrath had been proposed by her lover sometime in the afternoon. Medusa had nearly choked on her lunch when he’d said it.
“In the temple of Athena?!” She’d cried, a bit too loud, and her lover shushed her.
With a quick glance around, he responded “Yes.” with his voice in a low whisper. “It’ll be quite the adventure, don’t you think? C’mon, you like adventure, don’t you?”
Medusa had quirked an exasperated brow at him. She whispered back “And what if we get caught?”
“We will do it at night! Who will catch us then? Athena?”
That made Medusa laugh, restrained and covered by her hand. “What if someone comes in to worship? People do that at night too, you know!”
The boy smirked a bit. “Don’t tell me you’re scared, Dusa.” He teased.
That’s where he got her, Medusa thought. She’d always been a head strong young girl, too much so for her own good. She never liked being left out, or worse, thought of as a fearful blight who stayed out on purpose. Maybe he knew this. Maybe he knew that she wouldn’t back down if he posed it as a challenge like that. Maybe, she thought, maybe.
But maybe doesn’t change what happened next. Medusa, overcome with her characteristic bullheaded stubbornness, had reeled back as his words for a moment. Then she’d leaned in, with a playfully devious smirk on her face, and said the worst thing she’d ever say.
Medusa remembered when the goddess found them later that night, entangled together like knots on rope or seaweed. She remembers the goddess’s enraged face. It looked nothing like the faces on her statues, she mused. So beautiful and stoic and wise. No, the face Medusa saw that day was twisted, contorted, and made only of sharp edges that promised endless torment.
Her mouth had pulled into a vicious snarl, one that resembled an angered bear, and her brow had furrowed so deeply Medusa would’ve sworn she saw wrinkles forming. Her eyes were shadowed, hidden from torch light, as she ducked her head to look down at the two of them. Anger and disgust and contempt swam through her glittering grey eyes, and Medusa recalls the feeling she most clearly remembers from that night. Fear. Cold, swift, and sharp. Like Phobos himself had stabbed her in the heart. Next came dread, which pooled in her stomach and formed a dark, slimy home there.
Her lover went to beg. “Goddess! Oh, Goddess!” He cried, but in a moment they were cut short.
The goddess glared at him, and his body slumped over Medusa suddenly. It took the young woman a moment to realize he was dead. Once it set in, she screeched in terror, and pushed the dead body of the boy off of her as quickly as she could. She scrambled back, away from Athena and the now cold body of the boy, and began to weep.
“Goddess, Lady Athena, I’m so sorry!” She hiccuped through broken sobs. “I didn’t-”
“ENOUGH!” The goddess yelled, evidently done with Medusa’s groveling. “YOU HAVE DISGRACED MY TEMPLE! YOU HAVE DEFILED IT! WHAT HAVE YOU TO SAY FOR YOURSELF!?”
Medusa, shaking with terror, could only continue crying pitifully in response. “I’m sorry! It was only once, my lady!”
Athena turned her nose up at her. “And never again.”
That was all the warning Medusa had gotten before a horrible pain had racked her entire body. Apparently, being turned into a snake-like abomination was neither fun nor comfortable. Her ebony skin suddenly felt like it was being stabbed with hundreds of thousands of tiny little needles as scales began to grow from it. The wind was knocked out of her chest and her ribs felt like they were breaking as she unsuccessfully tried to suck in air. Her eyes rolled back in her head, allowing her to only see darkness, and jaw felt like it was being separated from her head entirely. Her tongue tasted like metal and the smell of blood permeated throughout the room.
Medusa couldn’t tell you when she’d blacked out, or why. Though she assumed part of it was from the incredible pain, the entire thing was a blur of fear and suffering to her after that point. When she came to, however, she realized she had been transformed. The goddess was gone, and all over her body there were patches of greenish-blue scales. She saw in the puddle of tears she had cried, though she doesn’t remember when that happened, that her eyes had changed too.
Now, instead of the earthy brown they once were, they more closely resembled the freakish yellow eyes of a reptile. Her hair, though, was the biggest change. Dozens of greenish-blue snakes replaced her dark brown braids, all hissing and snapping at her reflection. All tangled around each other in horrible, dreadful clumps and knots on her head. All sharing her new eyes. Freakishly, unnaturally, yellow.
Medusa remembered when she learned of her new abilities. It’d happened so quickly, and completely by accident. She’d screamed after seeing her own reflection, so loudly in fact that a random passerby had burst into the temple at the sound of it.
“Ma’am-” He’d begun, but he never got to finish.
As soon as Medusa had turned to look up at this boy, he froze where he stood and turned to stone. A look of horror, one matching Medusa’s own, was stuck on his face forever. Nowadays, Medusa thought something comical about it, but she can’t say it was very funny when it happened. At the time she’d stared at the statue for a full minute, unblinking and unmoving, with only one thought running through her mind.
Did I just do that?
Something deep in the back of her mind gave her the answer.
Yes, yes you did.
That was when she’d decided to flee.
Medusa ran, far far away. Up into the mountains where, she hoped, no one would ever find her. There she found a dank, dark cave to crawl into and rot away in sorrow. People from her little village came to look for their poor little Medusa, of course, though anyone who did find her never returned home. Just looking upon her ugly visage turned them all to stone.
Medusa could remember a time where she used to cry over the stone statues of her friends, and she wondered idly when that stopped. Was it when the faces peering through the mouth of her cave became less and less familiar as generations passed? Maybe it was when hero after hero, with blessed swords and glowing arrows, started coming to slay her in the name of the gods that had forsaken her?
Perhaps it was the first time a young boy found her, and begged for his life?
She was sure that moment would stay in her mind forever. The horrid cruelty she’d shown that day would never leave her. She wasn’t sure if she’d want it too.
She doesn’t know how the boy had ended up there in her lair, but she does remember how she cornered him against a wall. Fearfully, he shielded his eyes and shook with terror like a freezing man in winter. Medusa laughed.
“Open your eyes, my dear, let me get a good look at them!” She rasped. When her voice took on such a gravelly quality, she couldn’t tell you. She sounded like an evil witch.
“My Lady Medusa, please, don’t hurt me!” He cried. Medusa could only laugh more, a low and horrible sound.
“My lady?” She giggled. “Why, I quite like the sound of that.” Medusa had grabbed ahold of his hands and pried them off of his face while he screamed. She could only laugh more.
“Look me in the eyes while you say it!”
Medusa shook her head. It couldn’t have been a sharp change like that, she decided. It must’ve been gradual. With each passing year of isolation, each horror story about her that managed to reach her ears, each person turned statue that she used to decorate her ugly lair served to feed the growing darkness inside of her. A bitterness in the back of her mind, festering and fermenting and turning the heart in her chest to ice. Like Midas’ touch turning his daughter to gold. It rotted her thoughts and turned them against her.
You’re not worthy of love, Medusa, They whispered. You deserve to rot away here.
Maybe that’s why, when she saw death standing over her, Medusa didn’t fight. She simply averted her eyes.
Yes, the day Perseus came was a day Medusa remembered well. It was the day of her death, afterall. His face, she thinks, she’ll never forget.
As Medusa woke up and blinked sleep’s haziness out of her eyes, her eyes darted up to the figure casting its shadow over her. He was a handsome looking young man, Medusa will admit in hindsight. He was tall, tan, and broad shouldered. His jawline, sharp and set, with mussied black hair as though he’d been flying moments prior. Piercing green eyes stared not at her, but instead at her reflection in his shiny golden shield.
He stood over her with his sword poised for action, and as she woke up fully and realized what was happening she swore she saw his eyes widen a fraction in shock. For a moment, there was stillness. A moment where Perseus’ sword did not move and all noise was halted. A moment where Medusa’s gaze turned to her reflection and she stared at her own ugly visage. A moment where Medusa smiled, truly, for the first time in a long, long.
You get what you deserve.
Then, just like that, it was over.
Medusa wondered often if Perseus felt remorse for what he did. Maybe he thought himself a hero. Maybe he thought himself a necessary evil of some kind, like what he’d done was for the greater good. Maybe even thought of himself like a monster, like her! She doubted it. Most heroes sent by the gods were as conceited as the gods themselves. She would know, she’s seen a few. Still, the thought made her smile.
Either way, it was done, and all Medusa had left in this ghastly afterlife was her thoughts and her memories. Though recently, she’d found a friend. A rather talkative little spider...
Carry On Countdown - Day 20
Notes: While looking at some Greek Myths/Ovid, I read the stories of Perseus and Medusa. I decided to change it up a little. Bear in mind, I’ve taken A LOT of liberties with this story. I also want to turn this into a long-form fic, but we’ll see (I have many ideas… it’s a problem). Title and lyrics are adapted (had to add words because Greek is funny like that) /translated from the song “Den Eho Matia Gi’Alli” by Thanos Petrelis.
Final note, happy birthday to my husband, who’s been encouraging me to write again and who helped me with the song’s translation.
I gotta go now and do my annual Christmas cookie baking (10 different kinds of cookies, Morgana help me).
Thank you to @carryonsimoncarryonbaz for the continued writing support and beta-reads and for listening to my wild plots and ideas. I value your input and friendship immensely.
TW: Involuntary movement, depictions of pain.
Day 20 Prompt: FairyTale/Myth Retelling
Title: Den Eho Matia Gi’Allo - I have Eyes for No Other Boy
I have eyes for no other [boy], I’ve told you. The beginning, the middle, the end: You are [my] all. [My] ocean; [My] earth and [my] heaven to.
It is a long walk to get to the Holy Temple of Athena. It is on the outskirts of the city. I do not mind the walk, for it is an honour to serve the goddess, as my mother had, and as many of my ancestors had before her.
It is said that the Pitch family had been blessed by Athena generations ago. One of my ancestors once offered the goddess shelter during a great storm, while the goddess was disguised. The story was that she had been turned away at every corner, except at the home of Vasilios Pitch (whom I was named for). Because of his wisdom and generosity, Athena decreed that every first born from his line would be blessed with wisdom. A sure sign of this gift lay in our famous grey eyes; Athena’s grey eyes of wisdom. Vasilios had been given these eyes as a token of the goddess’ favor, and all of his descendants possessed them as well, including my mother, and myself.
I slowly make my way down the paved road, satchel in hand. The satchel is full of offerings, as well as texts that I wish to read while in the temple. I had been chosen, almost a year ago, to resume the duties of caring for the Temple as well as maintaining the cultural festivities associated with the goddess of wisdom. Today’s duties include sweeping the floors, cleaning the altar of any offerings, and lighting the lanterns that grace the corridors of the Temple.
I adjust my heavy chiton (I am always freezing, despite the warm climate of my island) and hurry closer to the Temple. I am eager to begin my duties. I am ashamed to admit that I had not been inside the Temple for a few days. This was on an account of my drive to pursue philosophical knowledge. My family is blessed with wisdom, so why shouldn’t I try to obtain as much as I can? I do feel guilty about neglecting my duties, but I will make it up to the goddess. I shall remain within the Temple for the following week. My dear friend, Simon, is planning on visiting me in order to bring me some light nourishment to last the week. He is always concerned for me, and whether I ate enough. I had convinced him to spend some time with me during his visits. I always cherish the time we spend together. Almost as much as I cherish Simon, himself.
I know something terrible has happened as I arrive at the Temple’s entrance. The lanterns are shattered on the ground, the offerings to Athena are strewn all over the floor. Mud has been thrown upon her sacred altar. Worse of all, the sacred statue of Athena is completely desecrated. It is imperative that the Holy goddess remain clothed at all times, but this statue is completely naked.
I drop my satchel in shock and fall to my knees. Who could have done such a thing!? Why would anyone risk the goddess’ wrath?
I run my fingers through my hair in despair. I should have been here! I should have prevented this from happening! I had one duty that stood above all others. Protect the Temple. Protect the goddess’ dignity. I had failed. I failed and I know exactly what is about to happen. The stormy-eyed goddess does not take personal insults lightly.
As if on cue, I hear the distinct “hoot-hoot” of an owl behind me. I take a deep breath and stand up gracefully. With a bowed head, I turn to face the owl; to face my punishment. The owl screeches at me and dives towards me, talons outstretched. I throw myself to the floor, to avoid being hurt, as the owl lands on the goddess’ statue. I watch in wonder and horror as the owl begins to glow and melt onto the marble. A white-hot blaze envelopes the statue, so hot that I have to shield my eyes. From the flames steps Athena herself, fully clothed, with the owl perched on her shoulder. She has a sword in her hand, and a shield on her back. I stare at her in admiration and awe. Athena shoots out a hand towards me, her voice, while calm, sends a boom throughout the Temple.
“You will stand and show respect to Pallas Athena!”
Compelled by the supernatural force of the furious deity, my body shoots straight up. My head involuntarily strains to match my grey eyes with those of the goddess. I can feel the force tugging at my heart, coercing me towards Athena. She grips my face in her celestial hand. I can feel the heat radiating off of her. I feel tears beginning to well in my eyes.
“You betrayed me.” She speaks in such a calm voice. I feel my stomach freezing over. Athena keeps an iron-hard grip on my face. Even if I could move away from her, I do not want to for I am at fault for this.
Instead, I whisper, “I am sorry.”
“You have destroyed my Temple.” Her eyes start to peer down at me. They bear into my own eyes, and I can swear she is staring right into my soul.
“No… no I-”
“SILENCE! By giving into your hubris, Basil, you’ve neglected your duties! My Temple is destroyed! My image defiled!” Athena gives me a look of disgust. It is enough for me to fall further into remorse. I can no longer prevent the soft tears from falling down my face.
“Forgive me, goddess.” I beg her. Athena simply shakes her head. She releases me from her grip and I crumple onto the floor. Athena kneels down in front of me and places her hand on top of my head.
“You will have to be punished. I have given your family the great gift of my wisdom and you have spat on it.” A bright light erupts from the palm of her hand. It completely engulfs me. As the light surrounds me, I begin to feel an icy-cold sensation spreading over my body. I begin to convulse, pain shooting across all my limbs. I start gasping for air, squeezing my hands shut.
Athena holds still and proceeds.
“You are hereby banished from this island. Your new form will live amongst others like your kind.” I start to scream as I feel my body beginning its metamorphosis. My hair, once long, soft, and raven-black becomes a tangled mess of hissing, slithering snakes. They begin to bite and nab at each other, tugging painfully at my skull. My skin, normally a beautiful, shimmering reddish-copper tone, loses all its colour and lustre. I become pallid and grey, patches of tiny charcoal-coloured scales spread over my body. My teeth begin to sharpen and elongate, filling my mouth. The pain is agonizing, and I pray for it to stop, but the ill-tempered goddess is not yet finished.
“You will no longer be able to cast your eyes upon another human. To gaze at you will be their undoing.” Athena places her hand over my eyes and my vision began to cloud. All colours escape me, replaced by greys and blacks. My eyes, once a mesmerizing sea-grey colour, now turn a sickly yellow, mimicking those of a basilisk. With the energy of my transformation still vibrating over my body, I start to heave, clutching at my chest. Athena moves her hand to my chin and holds it tight, forcing me to look at her. She finishes off the remainder of her curse.
”Many will try to kill you, they shall not succeed, until the very last one. The one you love the most. He shall kill you or he shall save you. This is my punishment for you, Tyrannus Basilton Grimm-Pitch.” A searing white-hot pain consumes me and I feel myself slipping into darkness. Athena’s livid grey eyes are the last thing I see before I let go.
FIVE YEARS LATER
“I have accomplished every task you have asked of me. You owe me your sacred sword!” I point an accusing finger at the aging king before me. I feel my curly hair shake with every movement.
I have been endlessly travelling across practically every Hellenic island. My travels have brought me to the island of Seriphos and to the court of King Polydectes. I’ve come here in order to obtain a sacred sword crafted by father Zeus himself. It is unlike any other sword in existence. It is crafted out of unbreakable material, adamantine. If I have the sword, it will be the final piece to my armour. I need that sword if I want to find my friend, the friend I’ve dreamt about every night.
I’ve been on this quest for almost five years. Ever since I arrived to the Temple of Athena on the outskirts of my village to find the Temple destroyed and Basil missing. The only clue that indicated that Basil had even been to the Temple was his disturbed satchel on the ground. It’s the very same satchel that I now carry with me wherever I go. It’s my only connection to Basil, until I find him and bring him home.
The king rubs his long snowy-white beard and furrows his eyebrows. He snaps his fingers at one of his attendants. “Bring me my sacred harpe sword”. He then looks directly at me.
“You may be a mighty fine warrior and hero Mister Snow, but your arrogance will be the death of you. You may have my sword, but after completing one final task.”
I growl. I’m tired of being constantly tested! Have I not proven myself time and time again that I am a worthy warrior? I’m tired of wasting time. I may know that Basil is still alive, but the more time I waste completing these ridiculous tasks, the more time Basil is left on his own. I take a deep breath and pull my shoulders back.
“Fine. what task would you have me complete this time?” I demand. The old king gives me a sly smile. It sends a shiver down my spine. Whatever task Polydectes has for me, it won’t be an easy one. The king places his hands together and explains his problem.
“As you know, Mister Snow, my city has been engaged in a small war with the neighbouring island for quite some time. My people are tired of the blood and the loss of life. They want this war over, and they want it over quickly.”
“What does this have to do with me?” I ask, arms crossed over my chest.
“Legend has it, that a creature exists in one of the caves at the far end of the island. The sailors who frequent the island call it the Cave of the Gorgons.”
My mouth gapes open. The old man was finally starting to go batty. The Gorgons were legendary monsters. They were nearly impossible to kill, being that they were demi-gods. The king was about to send me on a suicide mission.
“Gorgons? You want me to kill a Gorgon? That’s impossible!”
I decide, at that moment, that I am through with Polydectes and his nonsense. I would find some other way to find Basil. I turn on my heels and am about to walk out of the throne room when I hear the calm, arrogant voice of the king behind me.
“Not if one is mortal.”
I stop dead in my tracks. I slowly turn back to the king. I stare at him in confusion. I have never heard of a mortal Gorgon before. I wonder what unfortunate turn of events caused that anomaly to occur. Now, this is interesting.
The king raises an eyebrow at me, and I hate it. It reminds me too much of Basil. Polydectes rises from his throne and steps towards me.
“Legends say that one of the Gorgons is mortal. This one in particular supposedly has the power to turn whole armies into stone with a glance. I have sent warrior after warrior to fetch me the head of the beast, but none have returned.”
And there it is. So it is a suicide mission after all.
“And you expect me to be able to accomplish what others more skilled than myself have been unable to do?”
Polydectes shakes his head and laughs. I shudder as the king speaks. “You do have an edge over the others before you, Mister Snow.”
A long crooked finger points at the items on my person. Aside from Basil’s satchel, I have also obtained other divine items. Items that have aided me throughout my many trials and tribulations.
The first is the shield I carry on my back. It’s the only other item I found within the Temple. I don’t know where it came from, nor who it belonged to, but it was made of a perfectly polished steel. To look upon it was akin to looking at your reflection in a mirror.
When I began my quest, I first needed to know if Basil was still alive, or if he had crossed over into the Underworld. In order to do this, I needed to find the Underworld’s entrance. To do that, I required the help of Hermes, messenger to the gods of Olympus. He was the only one who could travel freely between Mount Olympus, Earth, and the Underworld.
It was not easy to get the lively god to pay attention to me. I had spent two years chasing the trickster god. Hermes would not help me at first, stating that to help me would be go against one much more powerful and vengeful. As Hermes took flight, I had grabbed onto one of his winged shoes. As much as Hermes tried to shake me off, I was relentless. Eventually, the winged-god surrendered. He told me that he’d admired my tenacity. So he offered me his Winged Sandals, as well as directions on how to enter the land of the dead. I would have to ask Hades himself if Basil was there.
It took me almost another full year to reach the River Styx, even with the aid of the Winged Sandals. From there, I made my way to the court of Lord Hades and Lady Persephone. It had not been easy, and I still have the scars I obtained from my fight with Cerberus. But I made it. Frustratingly, Hades had no time for me and refused to even listen to my story. Persephone, on the other hand, had been more gentle. She told me that she would help me find my lost love.
I had tried to argue with the Queen of the Underworld. Basil was my best friend. He was like a brother to me. We had grown up together, we protected each other, and we would always be there for one another, through anything and everything. But I didn’t love him. And besides, even if I did, Basil was far above in status to me. He would never be interested in me.
Persephone was not convinced, but she still offered her help. She had confirmed that Basil was indeed still alive, but that he was balancing on a dangerous thread between his humanity and the demons that plagued him. When I asked her what she meant, Persephone refused to clarify, saying that I needed to figure that out for myself. Before I left, Persephone offered her husband’s Helm of Invisibility, as well as the recommendation that I seek out King Polydectes on the island of Seriphos. There, I could find a blade that would help me rescue Basil. She also left me a warning: “Everything is not what it seems Simon. Remember to look before you strike.”
I didn’t think much of it as I left the Realm of the Dead. While I am typically the type of warrior to dive into a fight without a second thought, I always make sure my swings are powerful and sure. Besides, I had to focus on my next destination; The island of Seriphos.
It was on this island where I remained for the next two years, fulfilling task after task in order to obtain this blasted sword. It was the final piece I was missing. If all it took was to kill one mortal Gorgon, I would do it. Deep down I know that even if I have to kill a million Gorgons, I would do it for Basil. No questions or reservations about it.
I look back to the wrinkled king before me. I stick out my chin, determination apparent over my face. I hold out my hand to the king, ready to shake on the deal. Polydectes smiles at me and grabs my hand.
“Excellent.” The servant arrives right on time. They are carrying what looks like a sword, but it has a small hook-like protrusion at around the midpoint of the blade. The material was unlike any other that I have seen. Polydectes takes the sword from the servant and offers it to me.
The sword feels so light in my hands. It’s perfectly balanced and fits perfectly in my grasp. It’s as if the hilt of the sword shifts to match its yielder. The blade gleams in the light of the palace. It’s mesmerizing to say the least.
“This sword, as you know, was crafted by Hephaestus himself for Zeus. Father Zeus bequeathed this sword to my grandfather, and it has remained in my family since then. Bring me the head of the Gorgon, and the sword shall be yours.”
I remove my own sword from its sheath. It has served me well over the last five years, but I need to offer it up as some sort of collateral. I offer it to Polydectes. He nods as the servant takes the sword. I sheath my brand new weapon and back away from the king.
The Gorgons’ cave lay on the Southwestern part of the island. I do not feel the need to pack many provisions, considering the short distance to the caves. I pack enough food for a few days and set off on yet another journey.
The entrance to the cave is wide and intimidating. I peer inside, but there isn’t much to behold, save for a rows of torches on either side. Before stepping inside, I remember to take off my shield. If the Gorgon’s eyes could turn a man into stone, I would have to be extra prudent while exploring. I strap the shield to my forearm, and proceed forward, eyes glued to the reflection.
As I wander deeper, I find myself completely surrounded by perfect stone statues. Each statue created with a look or horror and agony. My heart nearly stops as I think about the final moments of these unfortunate men. I think about the fear and possible agony these heroes must have felt. That is enough to convince that I may be in way over my head.
I carry on. Grey eyes, and a sparkling smile fill my thoughts. For Basil. I have to do this for Basil.
Before proceeding further, I extract the Helm of Invisibility from the satchel. A cold shiver travels down my spine as I place it on my head and disappear. I don’t want this monster sneaking up on me.
Closer and closer, I know the beast is near-at-hand. I can feel it. There is a light thrum in the air, as if I was meant to be here. I write it off as the work of whatever supernatural deity was responsible for creating the Gorgon.
Finally, I see it. In the corner of the reflection of my shield, I notice a pair of long sickly grey legs. They are covered in dark scaly patches.
Finally, this was it.
I creep closer and closer. The legs lead up to a torso, slowly rising and falling. He’s asleep. Good. This should be easy.
Closer and closer. The torso transitions to a long graceful neck.
The creature’s face is more grotesque than I could ever imagine. While his mouth was closed, I can see a few sharp, long teeth sticking out. The grey scales nearly cover his face in patches, but it was the Gorgon’s hair that causes me to tightly grip the hilt of my sword. Dozens of sleeping snakes cover the beast’s head.
I pull out my sword and raise it high above my head. One strike and I’ll be that much closer to Basil. Before bringing the blade down, I hear a loud voice in my head:
Look before you strike, Simon! Everything is not what it seems!
I stop just as the blade is about to behead the sleeping monster. I pull my sword back and take another closer look at the peaceful figure.
This isn’t a monster.
It certainly looks like a monster, but something about the way he sleeps, soft eyelashes cascading past his gentle lids, tells me that this beast is more than what he seems. The shape of his face; the sharp edges that I never thought I’d see again. This was the same face that I could not stop dreaming about, and wishing I could feel again. I think back to those beautiful grey eyes, and the wide sparkling smile.
Can it… can it be? It… it can’t be... No...
The realization hits me with a force of thousand bricks. Finally, I’ve found him! I drop the sword and gasp out.
I hear something clattering that rouses me from my sleep. My eyes burst open and I leap to my feet. Another warrior sent to kill me? Honestly, I cannot find it in myself to care anymore. At this point I am about to offer up my head willingly.
I am tired. Five years of colourless, hopeless existence, is enough to drive me to near madness. I have begun to wish that someone would take me out of my misery. I have even stopped trying to fight the warriors that came to defeat me. But bloody hell, were they ever so useless and thick! I have been able to petrify them without even trying or meaning to. The more innocent men I killed, the more I felt like a monster.
I started to sleep more. If I was sleeping, and my eyes were closed, I couldn’t kill anyone. But not even that worked! These warriors were so brutish and clumsy, that I often woke just before they killed me. So I’ve hidden myself deeper and deeper in my cave, hoping that someone would relieve me of my miserable life.
The goddess’ curse has been a cruel one, but one that I felt I deserved. I have had five years to think about the mistakes I made in my short life, and the regrets that I still carried with me. Only one thought gave me a tiny morsel of hope. A tiny morsel of hope that I clung onto when the days grew darker and colder.
The one you love the most. He shall kill you or he shall save you.
Amidst my world of grey and black, I held onto the image of blue eyes and bronze curls. The blue eyes and bronze curls of my childhood friend. My companion during my life. The person that I am convinced I love dearly. The one I love the most.
Simon will be the one to kill me and I will love him from beyond this mortal coil, from wherever my soul should end up; Whether it be Tartarus or The Underworld. All I hoped for, was to be able to see him one more time before I meet my doom. Hopefully from a distance, so that I could not harm him. Then, after seeing Simon one last time, I will shut my eyes and approach him, with a bowed head.
For now, I have to deal with yet another idiot who could not even kill a sleeping monster. I look around, but see no man in my midst. I sigh heavily and slowly carry myself towards my hall of fallen heroes (it’s what I call the petrified statues inside my cave). I call out in a bored, lethargic voice.
“If I were you, I would leave while you are still alive. As you can see, no one has managed to kill me yet. Save yourself. Whatever prize is being offered to you is simply not worth it.”
I hear the sound of someone clearing their throat to my right. I close my eyes and turn my head. The person who had cleared their throat begins to talk.
“I have blindfolded myself. My sword is on the ground. I wish to talk to you. I’m stepping out.”
I cautiously open my eyes to see a young man stepping out from behind one of the frozen soldiers. As promised, he was blindfolded and unarmed. I furrow my brows and cross my arms. “I do not wish to talk. I wish for you to leave me be.”
“Just answer me one question. One question and I’ll leave you alone.” I choke out a half-laugh and a half sigh. But, I relent. I have nothing else better to do today.
“Do you remember me, Basil?” I feel the blood in my veins stop cold. No one has referred to me by my real name in years. The sudden change in my emotions causes the snakes to become unsettled. A few already have begun to pull at my skull.
“What?” I ask, I am unsure if I truly want the answer.
“Do you remember how we played as children? How you would relentlessly insult me?” The young man starts to step closer to me. The snakes in my hair continue to hiss and thrash wildly. I try to calm them down, but they sometimes have a mind of their own, and my feelings are linked to theirs. I want to back away, but I am frozen in place. The young man reaches blindly for my hand, I tentatively move my hand out and gently touch his. It’s warm. So very warm. And rough, he’s done a lot of fighting it seems. He asks another question.
“Do you remember how I would bring you food whenever you spent too much time in the library?” I start to lose my breath as the man gently cups my cheek in his hand. A shiver runs down my spine and I feel goosebumps on my scaled arms. It’s been too long since I felt another gentle touch. Too long since I have felt him.
Is it really him?
The snakes have started to calm down. They know he is supposed to be here. I lean into his touch, tears brimming my eyes. I nod slightly. He continues. He speaks softly, almost whispering.
“Do you remember how I promised I would never abandon you? How you promised you would never abandon me either, even when you were chosen to serve Athena? Do you remember me, Basil?” His voice cracks a little at the end. But I breathe a sigh of relief. He’s here. After so long. I nod at him. He reaches with his other hand and gently holds my face in his hands. He presses his forehead to my own. I place my hands over his.
“Simon…” I breathe out.
I want to say more, but I feel soft lips on my own. I close my eyes and lean into his kiss. It feels so good, so right. I feel his warmth spreading all over my body and I sigh into him. I pray to the gods above that my teeth do not hurt him. I can feel the tears spilling down my face. I have missed him. His face, his hands, his smile, his eyes. Gods, have I missed him.
Simon keeps kissing me and caressing my face. My heart breaks for I know he has to kill me soon. For a few seconds more, I want to enjoy this. I want to remain here with Simon forever. I never want to let him go.
I love him. I’ve always loved him.
Simon breaks the kiss and gently rubs his thumbs over my eyelids. I am so scared to open my eyes. I don’t want to risk his blindfold falling, or for Simon to tempt fate and look at me. I reach up and run my fingers through his hair. It’s gotten so much longer, but it still feels so soft and bounces softly through my fingers. He takes my hands in his and plants a soft kiss on my knuckles. He rests his forehead on mine.
“I have you, Basil. I am never letting you go again.” He is holding so tightly to me, I almost believe him.
I am so entranced, that I do not notice that my snakes have stopped tugging wildly at my head. I do not notice that the teeth in my mouth have started to change. I still refuse to open my eyes. It can’t be real. It isn’t real. Simon reaches up and tempts fate. I feel the fabric of his blindfold fall away. I keep my eyes shut. I hear him gasp.
“I know… I know… Look away from me.” I violently bow my head down and try to turn away from him. I am so ashamed, I cannot bear to have him look at me like this. Like a monster. But Simon, bless the idiot, pulls me back and lifts my chin towards him.
“No… no Basil! Your skin. It’s not grey or scaly anymore! The snakes are gone! You look like yourself again. Basil, love, open your eyes. You’re alright.” I shake my head wildly. Simon is running his hand down my face, wiping the tears that will not stop falling.
“I’ll kill you. Simon, I’ll kill you if I open them. I’d rather die.” I croak out. I can handle years of solitude and loneliness. I can handle being responsible for the ruination of my city’s temple. I can even handle the shame I’ve brought upon my family. I can handle all of it, because I know that Simon is alive. Simon is alive. If he were to die... If he were to die, I would soon follow him.
Simon pulls my head closer to him. I feel kisses on both of my eyelids. His fingers are softly combing my hair back. His other hand has travelled to my hand and has gripped it. His thumb is running across my knuckles. He whispers to me.
“Basil… open your eyes. I’ve dreamt of seeing your stormy greys again for five years. Please, let me see them.”
“And if I kill you?”
“You won’t. I promise, you won’t”
I bow my head down and slowly open my eyes. I can see the dark ground. I think I see specks of browns and greens, but I must be imagining it. Simon is still holding my hand, still running his fingers through my hair.
“Keep going, love.” He murmurs. I take a deep breath and start to raise my head, I let out a small whimper, because I can see the browns and golds of Simon’s sandals. They also have tiny silver wings at the back. I refuse to believe that this is happening. It was not supposed to happen like this. He was supposed to kill me, not save me.
I take the risk and raise my head a little further. His tawny skin is shining among the many lit torches. Tiny brown freckles crowd his arms, and a constellation of moles dot his body. I place my hand on his chest.
My hand! It’s back to the copper colour it used to be! Simon starts to laugh with joy. He places his hand beneath my chin.
“Basil, may I?” I nod.
He lifts my face to meet his. After five long years, I see his blue eyes. Blue eyes that, to anyone else, would seem absolutely normal. But to me, to me, they’re the most beautiful shade of blue I have ever seen. I see them beginning to become cloudy. I start to panic, but see that they’re cloudy because tears started to fall. He starts to laugh. He looks at me adoringly.
“You’re beautiful”. He says as he kisses me again.
Aphrodite in heaven, I’m living a charmed life.
[You brought] Sound and picture, music and colour, in my black and white silence. It was my good luck that I found you [love]. That I met you in this life.