Thursday, December 26, 2019

Friday Night Frights Presents: Scene One, Take Two

Perhaps it's fortunate that there is no such thing as time travel. After all, a slight change in history has awfully big repercussions. Take the example of Perseus: long before the Romans knew his nemesis as Medusa, the Greeks knew her as Magera. Suppose our enterprising young hero decides not to do the will of the gods, but opts instead for a mutually beneficial business arrangement. It's a decision that will long outlive him.

Six elite warriors crept through the lair of the gorgon, instructed to keep their eyes down. They were already unnerved by an echoing hiss and mocking laughter. An arrow from nowhere claimed its first mark.

Perseus leaped to the fore and dropped his sword. "Hear me, Magera! There is no need for anyone else to die here today, including you!" The laughter went silent, and Perseus could practically feel the arrow winging its way toward him. "How would you like to get even with Athena who betrayed you?--to outlive all the gods of Olympus?"

The words came from everywhere and nowhere. "Face me, Perseus."

He kept his gaze down, seeing her lower coils slither into view.

"You may safely look upon me, mortal. I will know the truth in your eyes, for if it is not there, my face is the last thing you will ever see."

Perseus forced himself to slowly track his gaze up her body, struck by what the legends had said about her beauty--it was unmatched. As long as she wanted it that way, and if you could get past the undulating black serpents. "If the kraken destroys Thyatra, the world of men falls. Hades will bring his minions into the light, and all will be a charnel house. Not even you can stand against them. The gods will withdraw to Olympus, safe from both Hades and the men who will one day reckon with their capricious cruelty."

"Speak further," she commanded.

Perseus watched for any forward thrust of the serpents, signal that she was about to unleash the petrify curse. "We can transport you there. . .your safety is guaranteed."

More mocking laughter. "I need none of your charity, as I will go there by sea. But I cannot face the kraken beneath the waters, as he will destroy me before I draw near. I shall await him ashore, where you will keep your people away from the old temple of Artemis."

In planning to get this far, Perseus hadn't considered the aftermath. "And when the kraken is destroyed?"

"We shall see, for in making your offer, you have freed me from these confines." She slithered out of sight.

Lysander, the expedition captain, ventured forth to take an arm. "Perseus, you may have just made things worse."

"I think not," he said. "We can't be sure we'd have succeeded in taking her head. Besides, I'm counting on her sense of adventure. She's taken hundreds of men--where's the sport in that? Let her test her limits, and be avenged on the gods."

Off the coast of Greece, present day.

Max led Jenny, his fiancee, onto a snow-covered causeway. At the end sat a squat lighthouse about three stories tall. Frigid waves slapped at snow-capped stones littering the waters, wafting steam to obscure the morning sun. Max followed the hand rail, struggling not to slip on the ice. A panorama of distant rocky isles almost compensated for the arduous trip from the U.S.

The wind snatched away Jenny's misted breath. "Okay, tell me why we're not in Hawaii?"

"I wanted to see the ruins of Thyatra. See that big formation out there? It's called the kraken rock, supposedly because it resembles a monster head."

Jenny squinted at gulls wheeling about the barnacle and seaweed coated mass. "If that's a mouth, it's a dangerous place for gulls to nest."

"How the mighty have fallen," Max quoted. "Souvenir hunters long ago chiseled out all the teeth."

"You're in a funny mood today." Or was he? He wasn't smiling.

Max took her hands. "Jen--I want you to know what you're getting into. My dad just passed the baton, claims he's descended from Perseus."

"The guy who teamed up with a gorgon?"

"Yep. The most recent bad guys to go down were on an enemy sub. That's one petrified crew that will never be found."

Jenny still believed he was kidding. "I guess that makes you heir to the family secret."

Max assumed a look of dread at something behind her. "Looks that way. The gods of Olympus are gone, but magic remains."

Forcing herself to turn, Jenny beheld the snaky-haired apparition arising from the mists.

"The family secret," Max announced. "Let's take it slow, and try not to get the day off to a bad start."

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