Fiction: “The Modern Medusa” by Tom Garback

Photo of Medusa on wall
Photo by Tama66

I do not have a name because I no longer need one. Names are not for oneself. They’re for everyone else. And as I do not have anyone besides myself, I do not need a name.

I’ve been cursed since birth with a unique ability. It is not an ability I possess, but one that has been done to me. It is what barricades me from everyone else. On the day of my birth, my dear mother must have pushed herself out the hospital window, because it sure as hell couldn’t have been me. Like I said, the ability is not mine.

Other people stay away. They don’t “tend” to stay away, or “usuallystay away. They’re gone all the time, one hundred percent, without failure. Mostly. They must have a sixth sense. I could say that I don’t mind, but where would that get me? None of this is my choice.

The problem is that I have been manifested into a foe on the outskirts of the human definition. Because my close proximity to the human form, all humans instantly know where I stand. They blame it on my eyes.

It’s more of what lies behind them, I suspect. There’s no chance of expulsion. I’m not trying to make everything out to “woe is me” or anything. I’m fine. Don’t worry about me. But you want to know what’s going on, right? Okay.

When people look at my eyes, and if I’m looking right back, something hits them and changes them. They go bad. Batshit. However you want to put it. I could tell you stories. But I’ve got my own to tell first.

Everything could be fine and dandy. I wouldn’t need to even be telling you this. I had it handled. But something went wrong recently.

You see, I usually wear sunglasses. This stops people from being able to look me directly in the eyes. No corruption in such cases. But one day I wasn’t wearing them. I’ll tell you why.

It was Saturday morning on campus, when I was going to the showers at the gym. There was no one around. I’d expected there wouldn’t be. I put the water on the hottest setting and let the steam fill up the room. Fog up all the mirrors. This is one of my ways of protecting myself. From myself.

I thought I had my sunglasses in my bag. There weren’t there. I don’t know why. I know I told you I would tell you why. My guess is that they were stolen. I can tell you the why to that.

So I got out from under the water. I brushed my hair and all this and that. The mirrors in the showers weren’t the problem. I left. I walked to the park feeling fine. When I got back to my dorm, someone had wrecked the whole place. Believe it or not, this has happened before. People stay away, but they still hate me.

As you’ve probably realized, this time was different. I didn’t have my glasses. And there was something else amiss. Little mirrors. Pocket-sized, cheap and sturdy. Everywhere. Different shapes and sizes. Even on my desk. Even on the floor. I did not know who could have done this. Not the usual crowd.

I closed my eyes right away. I flailed around. I tripped, of course. I shattered glass everywhere. I was bleeding everywhere. I felt like I could pass out. I wailed around my arms. I looked up.

Mirrors on the ceiling. My eyes caught themselves. Everything went black.

When I wake up, if I ever do, I might be different. I might be corrupted. I have to be, right? You know how it works by now. Maybe I’ll never get back to my body. Perhaps that thing, that evil inhabitant

of the bodies I turn, is walking around with the bones and skin right now. It would be bad as hell, a thing like that inside a body with my eyes. Bad as the person who set up those mirrors. I’ve always been afraid of the people I turned. That they might come back for me.

If I’ve been turned, I don’t want to wake up. But then I’m back. I’m in the Wellness Center. A man is above me. He’s wearing a stethoscope. Now he’s meeting my glare. Now he’s convulsing on the ground. So it goes.

I can’t move my arms. Or my legs. Or anything. They’re moving without me. I step over the doctor and out the door, down the hall and onto the greenway, straight into crowds of students getting out of class.


If you would like to submit fiction to Slattery’s Magazine, please see the guidelines. I will endeavor to publish new material at 10:00 a.m. Central time on Fridays. However, I may choose another time if I feel it is more appropriate. I will try to maximize exposure for writers.

Photoshopped painting of the Mona Lisa by Leonardo Da Vinci wearing a medical face mask to prevent spreading COVID-19/Coronavirus
Prevent the spread of the Coronavirus/COVID-19.

Author: S.P. Staff

Slattery Publishing Staff.

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