They settle into a crouch about a foot away. Sunlight reflects eerily off the silver eyes of the closest, who lay a possessive hand on the girl. The Gorgon’s skin is the most shockingly white thing I’ve ever seen.
As we stare at each other, I try to determine its sex. My brain wants to default “male” because of how it’s dressed – black trousers with dusty, torn cuffs and an oversized, navy button-down shirt. On the Gorgon’s head rests a pointy, wide-brim straw hat, like the kind that the-farmer-who-turns-out-to-be-a-kung-fu-m
I can’t really focus much on the other two, as they’re rarely still. They circle around me, keeping low-to-the ground. The way they move reminds me of primates in the zoo. One dof them wears a loose robe, while the other a pair of plaid pajamas.
It seems fairly clear that “straw hat” is the leader. So I offer my bag. “Take it,” I say, with a thrust of my shaking hand. “There’s protein bars in there, about a half dozen.”
One of the monkey-goons snatches it out of my hand and tosses it to straw hat. The languid grace with which straw hat nabs it out of air cements “female” in my mind, for some reason. Straw hat never takes her eyes off me, but hands the pack to the little girl. “Oh,” the child squeals in delight, and pulls out fistfuls of the foil wrapped bars. “Candy!”
The two monkey-goons break their back-and-forth pattern to huddle around the goodies. The second they’re in front of straw hat’s line of sight, I bolt.
I leap for the nearest railing and haul myself over. The incline is steep. I struggle to keep my footing as I run. Dust kicks up behind me. When I instinctively check to see if there is pursuit, I trip. I tumble into a crazy roll. I stop when my face hits an abandoned car.
Using the side mirror, I pull myself to my feet. I try the door. Miraculously, it’s open. I fling myself inside. The interior is oppressively hot, reminiscent of an oven, but I slam the door shut behind me and quickly press the locks down manually.
Having scooched low in the seat, I peep carefully out the window. The Gorgons must be content with all my food and water, as they are nowhere in sight. My shoulders relax, despite the beads of sweat on my brow.
Then I hear a soft sigh behind me.