I had only just completed my first year at the Edmonton Museum of Ancient History when we received what appeared to be a normal shipment of artifacts from an expedition site in northern Greece. Most of it was honestly not well preserved; fragments of broken marble statues and tools that had disintegrated from centuries of rust. Still, we diligently sorted and categorized the pieces just as any other day.
The unusual part of the shipment was the inclusion of a desiccated, leathery human head. It perplexed me at first; given the age of the remains, there should've been nothing left but a bare cranium. It didn't seem like there were any steps taken to mummify or otherwise preserve the specimen, so naturally my curiosity was piqued. I instructed the crew to bring the head to my examination room.
As soon as two white-gloved men lowered a tray containing the specimen onto the table in the center of the room, I began my investigation. I could tell from the bone structure that the subject had been female, and I determined that the cause of death was almost certainly a single blow with a sharp instrument that cleaved the head from her body. The hair was decorated with small animal vertebrae... no... The bones were somehow fused to the skull as if they were growing from the top of her head.
While I stared confusedly at the specimen, I happened to glance out the window to notice that night had fallen. The museum patrons and my co-workers had already left. I stepped into the adjacent room and placed a cigarette on my lips. I gazed at the luminous full moon through the glass ceiling as I enjoyed my smoke break, doubtlessly thinking only of things that would benefit myself.
When I returned to the examination room, I opened the door, and my body instantly convulsed and involuntarily let out a sharp yelp. I jumped back away from what I had glimpsed on the table: glistening in the bright moonlight where I expected to see a dried, shriveled head sat what seemed like a writhing ball of snakes of different colors and shapes. Upon hearing my clumsy noise, the snakes seemed to react by slithering in a single direction, slowly rotating their mass. I stood behind the door frame like a coward, unable to take my eyes away from the horror before me. As the snakes rotated, I finally saw what was on the opposite side of the snakes. I caught a glimpse of the profile of a woman's face.
Immediately, I broke my gaze and slammed the door shut. It was all coming together. This was no ordinary human head. I slowly cracked the door open to try to get a peek at it once more. My heart skipped a beat when I accidentally gazed into her shining green eyes. I shouted again and fell backward, shielding my eyes with my arm. When I was at a safe distance, I frantically waved my hands around and wiggled my toes, feeling them for any sudden changes. I fully expected my extremities to slowly petrify and turn to stone, but somehow, they never did.
After I had calmed down, I slowly reentered the room to find the pale face of a beautiful woman watching me in silence. The only sound was a faint rustling of serpents coiling around each other. As I cautiously approached the creature, I didn't detect malice in her expression. She seemed sad and listless as she gazed up at me from the table. My eyes remained locked to hers. I was curiously drawn to move closer until I knelt down next to the table and brought my face even with hers. I touched the back of my hand to her cheek. Her skin was flawless and smooth, but cool to the touch. She closed her eyes and leaned toward my hand.
"Medusa?" She opened her eyes and raised her brow, as if in recognition. "Is that you?" I knew she wouldn't be able to understand English, but my Greek was lacking. She opened her mouth as if to speak, but said nothing. She lacked the proper physiology. As I was intoxicated by the beauty of this creature, I couldn't help but to feel sympathetic. What kind of life is this, a head without a body? As I thought this, a pair of serpents slowly coiled around my hand in a firm embrace. A single tear fell from one of her shimmering green eyes.
At that point, deciding what to do was easy, I found a shipping crate and made it up to be nice and comfortable before gently laying Medusa's head inside. I carefully closed it up and used the utmost caution to carry the crate to the front door. I was stopped by the night guard behind the desk. "Whatcha got in that box, doc?"
More annoyed than nervous, I replied, "Oh, just some homework for tonight. Nothing special."
The guard wasn't convinced in the slightest. He sternly replied, "No artifacts can be taken off the premises for ANY reason. You're gonna have to leave that here, doc."
I let out a sigh of frustration and quickly unsealed the crate. I lifted Medusa's head out and pointed her face in the guard's direction.
The guard's face scrunched up as if he'd just bitten into a lemon. He stammered, "Jesus, what the hell is--" Suddenly, a blinding green light erupted from Medusa's eyes that enveloped the guard. I had to shield my eyes from it even though it wasn't directed at me.
When I could finally see again, I observed an exquisitely detailed marble statue in front of me that looked exactly like the troublesome night guard. I packed Medusa back into the crate and slipped behind the guard's counter, pressing the button to open the door. I carefully loaded the crate into my car and never looked back at the museum as it disappeared in my rear-view mirror.
Written by Glisario