The Trials of the Cursed

It was not easy being the ugliest woman in the world.

Sometimes, she thought it was the snakes that bothered her the most. Feeding them was a problem, and if she failed to find them adequate nourishment, they tended to bite her, which was annoying. Fortunately, Athena had at least had the sense to make them non-venomous. Still, detaching snake teeth from her fingers was not the most fun activity in the world, and Medusa resented the task.

Another downside of her position was the lack of company. It was difficult to make friends when the sight of your face was enough to turn any would-be companions into instant granite. Sure, there were the snakes, who liked to talk, but their conversations grew monotonous after awhile. All they could think about was food, sleep, and mating, (and the latter was rather difficult, seeing as how they were all attached to her head by the tail). Not exactly scintillating conversation.

Of course, there were benefits as well. Protection against thieves, for one thing. But walking around the cluttered caves and dusting the statues that littered the floor became something of a chore after awhile.

Stupid chauvinistic gods, who burst in on everyone's lives and left a tiresome mess in their wake. Stupid Athena, who should have known better than to blame her for her uncle's libido.

It was only much later, after one such rant to the snakes, that Medusa wondered, Why has no one done something about this before now?

And even later: If I looked a god in the face, would I turn him to stone?

As her first target, she chose Hephaestus, the god of the forge. Being less than handsome himself, she thought he might be mildly sympathetic to her plight and at least agree to let her inside his smithy.

She knocked on the door to his forge. After a few minutes, a muffled, "Who's there?" reached her snake-covered ears.

"It is I, Medusa," she intoned, stepping inside.

"Oh, hullo. I'm a bit busy, but make yourself comf-"

He caught her eye and dropped like a stone.

The next god she sought out was Poseidon. He had gotten her into this mess in the first place, and it was only proper, she thought self-righteously, that she get a little revenge.

She found him battling with a sea-serpent. He did not look up as she drew near. "Oy!" she shouted across the water, waving her arms to catch his attention.

"What do you want, Medusa?"

"I could think of plenty of ways to answer that question, but I'll take your humiliation for starters. Look at me, Poseidon."'

The god looked, froze, and sank to the bottom of the ocean, leaving one very baffled sea-serpent in his wake.

Medusa chuckled. "Two down, the rest of Olympus to go."

"Hey, have you heard the news?" Ascalaphus, Hades' gardener, remarked to his charge. "Medusa's starting a one-person women's rights movement."

"Good for her. It's time someone did something to rectify matters," Persephone grumbled. "I hope she attacks Hades next. Got any more of those pomegranate seeds? I'm starving."

On Mount Olympus, the gods were in an uproar.

"Something must be done to stop this outrage!" Zeus exclaimed, pounding his fist against the table.

"What's the big deal? It's not as though you couldn't revive them with your superpowers, if you ever spared a moment from chasing skirt," Athena said, rolling her eyes.

"Nobody must find out about this!" Zeus cried, ignoring her earlier comment. "If the humans discovered that the gods could be turned to stone, I'd be a laughingstock!"

Hera sighed, wondering if her husband even suspected some of the things his minions already called him behind his back. "This matter will be quite easy to resolve," she said firmly. "Athena got everyone into this mess. Make her fix it."

"But I'm on sabbatical for the next month," Athena protested.

"Tough," said Zeus. "Rectify this disaster, or I'm turning Arachne back into a human and nominating her for first place in the Annual Athens Craft Competition."

Athena stared at her father, horrified. "You wouldn't."

"She was very pretty."

"I'm your daughter!"

"She also had nice legs."

"If you bring back that arrogant little hussy after everything she's done, no one will ever respect the gods again. You wouldn't do that -" Athena paused. "- I don't think."

"For someone who is supposed to be the goddess of wisdom, you really can be quite stupid at times. Now, get to work!"

"Why are you sending ME to sort out your problems?" Perseus complained, dragging his feet as Athena led him toward the caves.

Not for the first time, Athena was annoyed by how much the brat had inherited from his father. The kid had a tendency to whine like a mosquito. "For the love of me," she snapped, "it's very simple. All you have to do is go in there and chop off her head, without looking her in the face. It's not rocket science."

"Rocket wha?"

"Never mind. Just put on these winged sandals and get going."

Back in her grotto, Medusa frowned as she caught sight of her face reflected in the shiny surface of Perseus' shield. Did she really have so many wrinkles? No wonder she turned people to stone. Maybe it was time to get a Botox. She moved closer to get a better look...

And Perseus burst around the corner and sliced her head clean off.

"Damn!" said Persephone despondently, frowning at the sight that had just appeared in her scrying bowl. She eyed one of the Fates who had approached her as she was watching the drama in Medusa's cave. "Don't suppose you'd be up to cutting Hades' thread of life as a prank?"

The Fate said nothing.

"Guess not," Persephone muttered. "I wonder if anyone in the underworld has a mask with snake hair they'd let me borrow..."

A/N: To be honest, I'm not entirely sure where this came from. Apologies if any of the mythology is incorrect - it's been awhile since elementary school. Corrections and constructive criticism always welcome!