Vegas Show

Medusa works quickly with her hands: Tweezers to trim thick eyebrows, blush to add definition to her cheeks, gloss for thicker lips, highlighters to draw a point to her chin which otherwise looks too square-ish. She used to move in double time, but the surgeons took off half of her limbs so that she appeared less bulky for tinted media pictures.

"Are you ready, dah-ling?"

Medusa drops the tweezers and curses. She ducks on her high heels and scrambles for the silver tongs underneath her dresser table.

"Dah-ling?"

The throaty voice calls out again from behind Medusa's closed dressing room door. Someone knocks, once, twice, but before Medusa can answer, Siren comes rolling through in her tank, awkward teenaged bellboy attached.

"Thank you, Hernandez," Siren says and waves her mermaid's tail flirtatiously. Water splashes over the rim of her tub and all over Medusa's rugged floor.

"Siren!"

The bellboy makes a gesture of extreme panic and apology, making sure to keep his eyes on the floor and off Medusa.

"I'm so sorry, Ms. Medusa. I'll get a vacuum!" He says and runs out of the dressing room.

"Sweetheart! Sweetheart!" Siren calls after her escorts and pouts. Siren calls all her escorts sweetheart; they still haven't fitted her with an automatic wheel tank she can work with her human arms, and without some homo sapien to help her, Siren's all but immobile on dry land. Medusa has heard Siren complain more than once about technologically slow land-dwellers and the cheapskate hotel-casino that's hired them.

Medusa hisses as she wipes what water she can from her legs with three of her arms and moves to sit in front of her mirror again.

Siren pulls on one thick coil of Medusa's hair. The braid opens its eyes and snaps at her with snake fangs. Siren laughs the appendage off and leans out of her tank as much as she can, another roll of water tumbling to the floor as she does so.

"Oh, you smell like Dior, Medussie!" Siren says, sniffing the air. "Do you have someone important today?"

Medusa's lips purse in frustration. She doesn't know how Siren even has a sense of smell. The mermaid's salty B.O. permeates the boudoir and Medusa's Dior evaporates like water on an arid day.

"A serial killer," Medusa sniffs haughtily.

"Oh, a murderer! I wish they gave me murderers. I'd convince them to plunge the execution blade into their own middles." Siren makes a jabbing motion with her human hands, her unusually long nails flashing like a poisonous blowfish's spikes.

"This one's a deaf serial murder."

"Oh, fiddlefins! I suppose my sweet hypnotic song wouldn't work on him then."

"Yes, well, excuse me, but the curtain's about to come up. I have to get going, Siren."

Medusa quickly primps her hair one more time, the snakes bumping against her palms affectionately as she races out of her room and down the empty hotel corridor for the lobby. The conference room is curtained and before she steps through the entrance she rings a corded bell. From behind the fabric, Medusa hears a crowd stirring.

"Ladies and gentlemen, your sunglasses please!" A male voice from behind the curtain yells. It's not a voice Medusa recognizes, perhaps a new casino employee. Medusa considers the host as a romantic prospect for a moment as the humans put on their eyewear, then shakes her head. "And now, here we have the deadly beautiful, Medusa!"

As Medusa steps through the red velvet, crowds of blinded people applaud her. Medusa makes a grand flourish and bows. When she looks up, the man tied up in a chair onstage with naked eyes recoils in fear and opens his mouth to scream, but already the beginnings of petrification has rendered him mute.

Medusa slinks through the audience aisles and approaches the dais to meet her victim.

"And how long will Mr. Wilkenson last against our lovely Medusa?" The host says as lighted boards begin to wink on behind Medusa and the serial killer.

"Twenty seconds!"

"Twenty-nine!"

The audience talks excitedly, shouting out bets as Medusa steps up to her partner for tonight's show. She caresses the increasingly stone pallor of the man's cheek as numbers roll on screen, and stares at him with all the adoration and pinpoint intensity of an attentive lover. The man tries vainly again to scream, but his throat is paralyzed. The last thing he is aware of is Medusa's warm lips covering his and the putrid smell of Dior over rotting fish.