The alarm clock brakes the silence of the room. With his dreams of withered and gone due to the bothersome noise, Russell reluctantly opens one lazy eye. The first thing he sees is the familiar half-naked super model above him, her eyes green and desirable, her body containing not a drop of fat, if only Russell could forever dream about the groupie like her. But sadly that was all you could ever expect from a poster.

“Hey love.” He yawns and stirs in his ceremonial wake up regiment. But no matter how much he turned, the cruel alarm clock was always there, preventing him from returning him to his peaceful slumber. “Bugger off.” He pleads to his merciless master, the almighty symbol of time and lateness. In the cold and dank reaches of his room a battle took place between the nasty clock and Russell’s desire for ten minutes of rest, it is a confrontation that had been fought for countless mornings, and it was always a losing battle.

After a massive and defeated sigh Russell surrendered to the clock.

His room as always was a reflection of him; messy, smelling of sweat and things that could make a sniffer dog want to retire, and yet there was style it. A vibe of an eighties rock god that was born too late in the century.

A thought of urgency washes over Russell as dreams of rest receded. “The concert.” He immediately goes to his draws and pulls out the two tickets, he had worked double shifts at the construction yard to pay for the two strips of precious pieces paper he was now holding.

A startling hiss attracts the young aspiring artist’s attention and he smiles while settling his heart, “Morning Shelia.

The python boa was awake and alert as her master, something had clearly agitated her, it could perhaps be that the light of her container was not in working condition.

“Hmm.” Russell flicks the light switch expecting to see a change but it failed to switch states. He turns to the room again and sure enough he finds evidence of the culprit. The neon lights of his DVD were none existent and his computer was dead. “Shit, somebody must have hit a pole.” He shakes it off as an inconvenience and grabs his phone to navigate his way through the maze of CD cases and memorabilia. “Now what am I going to wear?” He asks himself sorting through the mess of cloths in the closet.

He spends moments deciding his wardrobe using his adjusted vision till finally decides to go for a classic look. A long biker jacket with chains, skeleton shirt, Jeans with the knees shredded, and nice pair of leather boots. A classic heavy metal artist look. In a brief absence of mind, he nearly forgets his newest addition. A pair of tactical glasses with the mirrored attachment. He knew they weren’t particularly fashionable, but like all rockers, he believed he could pull anything off.

Fashionably blind, he opens the door. “Whoa.” Russell misjudges his step and lands on an alien obsidian floor. There, he groans before he picks himself up. “What the?”

He groans as he gets back onto his feet, cursing till he finally observes his surroundings. “Jesus.” He breaths as the darkness of a mountainous cave greets him. Thoughts that he is dreaming are the first to enter but quickly vanish as pain shoots up from his skinned knees and hands. He asks the words so many people would ask in his situation. “Am I high?” Russell does a mental check and can’t recall digesting or inhaling any thing narcotic last night or the night before.

He turns to see something that questions this assumption. “Christ.” His room is for the most part physically intact, but there is no sign of any other structure. Only a cube of wood and plaster stares back at him. Alone and out of place within the world. “Okay okay. Don’t freak out Russell. You can do that after the concert.” Thoughts that he could miss out on the event never cross his mind. “Holy hell I better be dreaming.” He goes back into his room and does everything he can think of to wake himself up. He even goes back to the door and repeats opening and closing it to get something other than a dark, menacing cave scenery. “Oh come on.”

He sits on his bed and thinks. He got home in the morning. He gave his house mates the usual morning greeting of “I’m going to bed.” he got undressed, and he slept with the head phones blaring. That was it. He had to get answers. Was he dreaming, high, drunk, or possibly in a coma? He had the strangest recollection that one of his room mates discussed building something science related in their room, had this been the result?

Russell goes to his phone and curses. “No signal.” He checks the torch he used for work and almost blinds himself. “Well that at lest works.” Scavenging through his room he begins to check of his equipment. “Wallet. Check. Phone. Check. Torch. Check. MP3. Wait…” He grabs his aluminium baseball bat that he had lying in the cardboard. He wasn’t much of an athlete in school, the bat was more used in self-defence and crowed control in mosh pits. He also goes to his ex-girlfriend’s Taser, a memento of their break up. He still had the scorch marks of when she had drained the battery and threw the device at him in frustration.

With a very uneasy heart, and desperate to get to the concert, Russell ventures back into the cave. “Hello.” The size and silence of the cave causes the echo to magnify his voice and he winches as the sound wave hits and startles a family of bats. “Okay. Don’t do that again.” He advises himself, fearing rabies would be one look he might not be able pull off.

The young would-be rock god steps forward but instantly stops as an echo from another part of the cave comes back, the sound is too inaudible for him to make out but he could guess where it originated.

Kicking himself for not putting sneakers on, Russell makes his way to the noise as his boots make enough thunderous noise to wake the dead. Deep into the darkness, he hears it. The sound of a reptilian hiss at his back.

Russell stops in his tracks dreading what he will find. “Oh shit. Shelia. If that’s you getting out of your cage and following me. Tell me now.” Sensing movement, Russell darts his flash light radically to find the source of the hiss. What he finds is a statue.

The statue of a beautiful naked woman stares down at him. Her face locked in a terrifying snarl, her viper like hair frozen in mid strike. After the moment of shock wears off and Russell appreciate the horrific beauty of the piece. “Beautiful.” Thoughts of using this symbol as inspiration for his band pops into the young artist’s head. He shines the torch lower and admires the bust the sculptor envisioned. “Getting better.” The woman has no legs as far as Russell can make out, but instead just under the navel the hips transform into a snake’s long elegant tail. Inside the mass of stone scales a man is trying to break out. “Now that is a work of art.”

Raising a finger Russell points and waves his finger at the statue, his mind racking through his knowledge and what was left of his brain cells. “Medusa.” His knowledge of the woman only goes so far as B grade movies but he can clearly give the statue a name. Russell had never been a fan of the Greek Gods franchise, but looking at the statue was making him rethink this. “Now here’s a chick that deserves an album cover. Too bad your eyes are closed.” He backs away and examines the ten ton lawn ornament in deep reflection. “Now how in the hell am I going to get you in the garage?”

Halt.” Came a voice in an alien tonuge.

Russell makes the mistake of turning too fast and is rewarded with a punch to the gut, winding him. Knees bent and hands on his wounded gut, the half blind man sees only feet in sandals. Unable to talk of concentrate on what his attackers are saying, he is hauled up to his feet. “What the…” Russell doesn’t have time to finish as he comes face to face with a number of sharp, highly polished bronze swords. “Police brutality.” Russell cries, automatically thinking that he was being arrested for trespassing and attempting to pocket a ten tone statue.

Nearly three dozen Greek soldiers around him look at their captive in confusion. “What’s he saying?” The men spoke in a foreign language which Russell couldn’t understand, making him nervous and silent.

He’s trying to cast a spell.

One of the soldier’s grabs Russell’s glasses. “He wears strange things on his eyes.” Russell tries to object but is pushed against the statue for moving without permission. “Bah, The thing just makes it darker.” The man drops them to the ground and stomps on them.

One man in robes examines Russell over, touching his clothes and flash light. “Looks to be another foreign hero after the gorgon’s head.”

Russell, unable to understand anything of what the Greeks are talking about tries to talk his way out of the mess he somehow stumbled into. “Listen guys. I’m a British citizen. If you wouldn’t mind pointing to the way out, I’ll let you just continue being insane.” This time it was the Greeks who were confused with the lack of Russell’s communication skills, their answer to this is to punch him again in the attempt to make him talk sense.

A solider shakes his head as he realises what they are dealing with. “Foreigners. Can’t bother to learn the common language.

Russell, tries his best to think about the current circumstances. He quickly calculates the twenty two soldiers around him, each are armed, built like pro wrestlers, and all of them are dressed in ancient armour. Was he in a movie? This seemed improbable as he was unable to see a camera or anyone asking if he wanted a coffee. He gives up on the idea and tries going through the processes only to come to the opinion that they were a pack of wackos.

You want to tell me what you’re doing?” A young man, maybe sixteen makes his way through the group of men. The soldiers part for this new comer, which Russell counts as odd as the boy is a decade their junior. The boy stands in front of Russell and the two examine each other. Russell takes note of the strange equipment on the leader of the group. A mirrored shield, sandals with bird wings sewn on, a black helmet, and a steel sword. Nothing on the idiot matched. He looked as mismatched as a bag lady.

Perseus.” Says the man next to him. Instantly Russell identified with the name. Perseus was another character Russell only knew about thanks to his flat mates hosting a movie night ever so often. Russell had never liked even the actor who played him, as he preferred to route for the sea monster in the final act.

Perseus looks up at Russell who towers above him, “Who are you?” he asks in Greek. Unable to answer, Russell receives a punch to the gut and is asked again.

The man who punched him earlier hands Perseus the metal bat, while the priest shows the flash light. “He was carrying these.

Perseus examines the bat. “What manner of metal is this?” Perseus had never experienced a metal weapon that was this light before.

Russell winches as he witnesses the legendary hero use a vertical swing, hitting the stone floor.

He pushes the bat to Russell’s throat in a menacing manner, “What god gave you…” the demigod is interrupted as a loud echoing hiss causes all men to freeze.

Russell was never good at school. Artists are never required to learn anything beyond the rudimentary English language, but even with his grades he could start connecting the dots. Perseus, the men with swords, a statue of Medusa, and the unusual heat from the rock he was leaning against. All added up to one thing. Missing the concert was the lest of his problems.

In a flash everything changes as the statue opens her eyes. Ten men who had noticed the change open their moths in surprised horror and their bodies quickly transforms, the frightened Russell becomes hypnotised by the cancer like stone spreading over the warrior’s bodies.

Perseus reacts. He raises his shield to guard against the gorgan’s eyes, dropping the metal bat in the process.

Seeing enough monster movies for one life time Russell runs, but trips immediately over the bat. As the men put themselves into formation, an insignificant speck reflecting the light of the flaming torches gets Russell’s attention. There, glimmering off the limited light are his glasses. Perhaps he was slightly dim, or perhaps he had spent to much on the blasted things to immediately run screaming for the hills, but he reaches out and took both of his belongings. “If I’m dying, I’m dying cool.” Lucky Russell had grown up with a few rough housing brothers and so brought items and clothing that could take a hit. Besides some scuff marks, the mirrored lens looked okay.

Perseus swipes at the gorgon trying to perform a fatal wound, Medusa dives off the statue with blinding speed. She thinks that they will retreat with their numbers cut in half. “Just leave me alone. Have I not suffered enough?

Perseus does not listen. He does not care for his men or her troubles, only the trophy and glory matter in his belief. He attempts to run after her but is halted by an arrow, “Who fired at me?

The priest answers by pointing the stolen flash light at the dark, his eyes lock onto something glittering in the darkness. “Remember Perseus. Medusa is only one of the three sisters. You take the younger sister’s head. We’ll buy you t…” He is turned to stone as he uncovers Medusa’s elder sister, in this fight light is the enemy.

Russell, with no idea what is happening knows a distraction when he sees it. He runs to the direction of his room, hoping that hiding under his bed would somehow cure all of this madness. “Oh shit, oh shit.” He cries as he dodges an arrow. Through the darkness, Russell uses the light from his mobile phone to navigate through the empty void.

Medusa.” Perseus yells from behind. “Show yourself you snake.” Russell, believing that he is the target of this shouting runs faster. Hope fills his heart as he reaches his lonely room.

Russell slams the door behind him, locking it before stepping back. His lungs scream for air but there is no time to listen, he needs to barricade the thin piece of wood that is his only defence against the maniacs and snake lady. “Okay. I want to go home now.” Being chased by an army of macho Greek soldiers and almost being turned to stone was not the way he wanted to go. At least if he was going to be turned in a statue he wanted to be given the chance to pose first.

The sound of a hiss does not sstop him from pushing object after object in the door’s path. “Not now Shelia. I’m b…” His voice trails off as he notices one odd thing. “I closed the door, so how was it open?” His question is answered as he turns. What he is looking at, is in Russell’s honest opinion is perhaps the most beautiful woman that he has ever seen. The fact that she is cuddling a giant boa between her breasts doesn’t hurt.

Russell stares deep into her yellow snake eyes and contemplates offering this girl a wedding ring. On the other hand, Medusa can’t believe this oddly dressed man is still flesh. “Are they gone?” Her voice is a cross between a songstress and a snake’s hiss.

I can’t understand you.”

Medusa listens intently to the snake she cradles in her clawed hands. She closes her eyes and attempts to speak English. “I.I’m Medusa.”

Russell blinks and holds out his hand. “Russell. Um. You speak English?”

Medusa kisses the python, “T.This won doos.” a hopeful smile crosses her face. She attempts to twirl one of her snake strands of hair around in an innocent matter, but it hisses angrily. “ arrr poo, s.stone?” It was clear that Sheila was either a very good or sucky teacher.

Russell taps his tactical glasses and thanks God that he didn’t cheap out on the mirrored attachment. “Sunglasses.” He looks down on her naked body and can’t look away. The fact that Medusa has venomous snakes for hair is lost to him. “Does that happen a lot?” He nods to the door.

Medusa sits on the bed and mopes. “Why does this happen to me? I didn’t do anything wrong.” Unknowing she pulls at the musician’s heartstrings. Russell does not see the monster of legend, instead he sees a scared girl who has been dealt a bad hand in life.

Medusa!” The couple is interrupted as Perseus sends his sword through the door nearly cutting it in two.

Medusa puts the snake down and gets ready to fight or flee depending on the situation. “Go away. I have done you no harm.

Perseus continues to hack at the door. “You blasphemed to the Gods.

I was punished for being raped. I spit on the gods for their mercy.

Seeing that the movies might have been a little wrong for choosing a homicidal, sandal wearing, nut case as their hero; Russell examines his room for some sort of weapon. “What have I got, got got got.” He uses his mobile phone to scour the room, but the nearest thing he can find is his guitar. Not much chance against a sword and somebody who knew how to use it.

The door splinters and tears apart. Perseus moves in using the reflective properties of the shield to see Medusa without fear of turning to stone. The maniac grins, his long task nearly completed. He imagines the look on king Polydectes’s face when he sees the gorgon’s head. “They said you deserved it, and they were right. No man could love something so hideous.” He ignores her hissing and moves in closer reading to strike.

Medusa screams fearing that this was the end, at some point she had prayed for death. For years she cried and cursed her beauty and for an instant she welcomes the blade, finding it a bitter sweet release.

Russell slams his guitar against Perseus’s leg, crippling him and breaking the neck of his most favourite instrument.

The demigod curses but his rant becomes short lived as Russell points his mobile at Medusa, but Perseus sees the attack and raises his shield. “You dare strike the son of Poseidon?” The Greek hero raises his sword against this odd sorcerer.

Time slows down for a moment and a thought comes fling, Russell is unsure if its desperation or genies but he is up for anything right about now. Taking out the ex’s taser Russell strikes out for the demigod’s sandals.

Electricity coarse through Perseus and his bronze equipment, the pain is intense and he is forced to lower his shield as his body spasms. Without his protective shield to cover his eyes Perseus has no choice but to stare at Medusa in all her unnatural, terrifying beauty. The stone like growth moves across his body like an infection until he is finally silent.

Russell stands perfectly still, panting like a dog after a run. He had just killed a man, sure it was self-defence but by his own hands and with the help of a myth he had killed a man, and a famous one at that.

As Russell gets back on his feet Medusa’s eyes open wide as she stares at the only man that had dared to help her when all others would have ran or allowed the son of a god to kill her, she barely feels Sheila’s touch and advise. “T.thank poo.”

The two stare at each other for a long time and Russell readjusts his glasses. In a strange reaction he puts his hand in his pocket and feels the tickets in his hand. “I don’t suppose you’re into heavy metal are you?”


One thought on “Snakebite.

  1. Pingback: Archive | Troy Neenan

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