I sat at my desk, twirling a pen while I thought about the sand I’d found. The more I thought about it, the more it bothered me. When I started hearing rumors about Medusa statues popping up everywhere, my first thought was that it was probably bored kids. I discarded that theory pretty quickly, though. I could see kids setting up one area, maybe even two, but I’d tracked down several suspicious piles of crumbled statues and found talk online of several more spread all over the state.
I spun the pen a little too hard, and it flew off the table. “Damn,” I yelled, letting out some of the anger I’d been holding onto. Leaning forward, I dropped my head onto my desk with a thump. I was frustrated. I hadn’t been able to track down the origin of any of the rumors. It was always the same. I heard it from a friend who heard it from his brother…
“Medusa, is everything okay?” my assistant, Missy, asked as she rushed in.
My voice muffled, I answered, “Yeah. I just don’t know where to look next.” I groaned. “Maybe I should listen to Luke and just hire a private investigator.”
Missy tsked and said, “As much as I’d prefer you did just that, we both know you’d never leave it for someone else to do. You are going to have to do something, though.”
“You’re right.” I sat up and calmed my snakes. They mirrored my agitation, and hissing snakes made everyone uncomfortable.
Clearing her throat nervously, Missy added, “I hate to bring this up, but you’ve missed two appointments this week. Our suppliers won’t reschedule again, and we can’t afford to lose them.” She shuffled her feet, edging closer to the door.
Groaning, I asked, “And they won’t meet with anyone else?” I hated everything that went with running a business. Well, except for the money, I did like the money. While I spoke, I flipped through the notes I’d made on the new Medusa.
“No, I’m sorry, ma’am, they’re insisting.”
“Alright. When is the next appointment?” I said, reaching for my planner. I looked at Missy, waiting for an answer, then narrowed my eyes when I noticed she had inched halfway out the door.
“It was five minutes ago.”
“Shit!” I jumped up and headed for the conference room.
After the meeting, and after promising Missy there’d be no more missed appointments, I headed home.
I decided a little undercover work was needed. I wanted to hear firsthand about this new Medusa.
I grabbed a baseball cap and tucked my hair into it, trying to blend in. Then I pulled on an expensive pair of very worn designer jeans and a loose blue tank top. After putting on my running shoes to complete the outfit, I teleported to the location of the most recent sighting.
Once there, I wasn’t sure what to do. My hand went to the phone in my back pocket before I even realized what I was doing. I stopped myself. I wasn’t going to ask for help yet.
Spotting a crowded little coffee shop, I wandered over and ordered the sweetest coffee on the menu. It was good, not as good as Dark Sparks, but it still gave me the caffeine kick I wanted. I lingered as long as I could, trying to pick up on the conversations around me.
After the coffee shop, I walked around pretending to window shop. I was ready to call Luke for some help when I heard my name. I followed behind the group of twentysomethings, listening.
“I heard she has huge snakes that hang down to her knees, and if you get too close, they squeeze the life out of you.”
“That’s stupid. They aren’t constrictors. They’re poisonous.”
“Shows what you know, dumbass, you’d have to bite them!”
“What are you talking about? That’s gross. They bite you, and you die instantly.”
“Then they’re venomous, genius.”
I bit my cheek, trying not to laugh. If they only knew. “Hey, have you guys seen her?” I called out.
“Medusa? I wish.” He stopped walking, holding his hand out. “I’m Steve.”
I shook his hand. “Hi, I’m…” I froze, almost saying my real name. “Uh, Matty. I’m Matty.”
His friends joined us and took turns introducing themselves.
“John.” He waved instead of offering his hand.
“Eliot.” He offered a smile.
“Hey, Luca.” He gave me a smile and a cheesy wink.
I smiled at them all in turn. “So, you guys were talking about Medusa, huh? I didn’t mean to eavesdrop.”
“No worries. We heard she was going to be at a party this weekend, but these losers are too scared to go,” Luca replied. “Maybe you want to go with me?”
I smiled, feeling happy that my disguise had worked and they were treating me like an average person. My snakes, picking up on my emotions, shifted slowly under my hat. “I just might do that, Luca.”
“We are not scared. We were just wondering how safe it was to be around someone who turns everyone she looks at to stone,” Steve said.
“And if she doesn’t, her snakes will eat you,” Eliot said, nodding like he was letting me in on a secret.
I laughed. Loud. I couldn’t help it. When they all looked at me with surprise and confusion, I said, “Sorry. I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to laugh.” I was still laughing. “I just always heard she was really nice.”
“Yeah, well, I don’t know where you heard that, but she’s not. If you even look at her wrong, or if she thinks you aren’t showing her enough respect—bam! You’re stone.”
“Or she feeds you to her snakes.”
I laughed again, then choked when I tried to hold it in.
“You better hope you never meet her,” Steve retorted, giving me a dirty look.
Luca stepped next to me and turned to his friends. “Lay off, guys. We’ll let you know after the party.” Then, facing me again, he asked, “If you’ll still come with me?”
Before I could answer, John grabbed Luca’s arm and pulled him a few feet away, whispering, “You’re not going without us. We all want one!”
That seemed like a weird thing to say, but since most of what the guys said was ridiculous, I didn’t give it much thought.
“Relax. If you guys don’t wuss out, I’m sure there’s enough for everyone.” Luca pulled his arm free and shot John a dirty look. “So?” he asked hopefully.
“Um, sure? I mean, yes. Sure, let’s go party with Medusa.”