An essay by Stheno the Gorgon, as provided by Marnie Azzarelli
Art by Luke Spooner

“Brave soul, walking by herself in this neighborhood at night,” the passenger in a gray mini-van commented to her driving friend as I crossed the intersection in front of them. They are more afraid of me than I am of them. I smiled, holding my hands within the confines of the dark, hooded sweatshirt I always wore, shivering a little to show how cold I was. It only mattered if they perceived I was cold, even if my breath didn’t come out from under my hood in a puff of body heat.

I tried to walk too quickly for anyone to truly notice. But I needed someone to see. That lady driving home with her friend noticed. She was concerned, and a little disappointed that I would think walking around the South Side at night was a sound idea. Her worry and inevitable twinge of envy were unfounded on me. I have seen so many women like her, all the same, all scared of the endless dark sky that created shadows where the streetlights ended, hiding what needed to be hid from view. It is their enemy, and like all evil, there was an irresistible draw that tried to hide away.

I do not blame them. I was just the same once, but time has a habit of forgetting stories like mine. I walked farther down cracked sidewalks where weeds found new life in every split. The convenience store on Mulberry was open, its fluorescent lights cutting out a rectangular shape so cleanly against the night that the inside of the store looked like a living picture framed in black. The man behind the counter was surrounded by a Plexiglas cage, while more people in sweatshirts and thick coats picked up snacks and cigarettes. I crossed the street before I got too close to the glare, and made my way down the block.

Those women were right to rapidly drive away. The South Side functioned only as a part of town to pass quickly through, especially if you didn’t belong on its streets. Most of the small shops that dotted the road I traveled down were either abandoned or fronts for many illicit practices, and “shady” didn’t truly capture the characters that walked around at night. It is dangerous for even the ones used to the place, but the disappearance of many girls had been its most recent issue. They were always out walking at night, when it was too cold and too dark for any act of bravery. They would be followed as they traversed the block and stolen at the corner, or chased until they were found somewhere else.

Art for "Stheno"

The face I wear is not real. I peeled it off piece by piece. The full pink lips, a well-shaped nose, round supple cheeks, large doe eyes, all fake. I shook it all off so he could see me.

To read the rest of this story, check out the Mad Scientist Journal: Spring 2017 collection.

Stheno was born in the caverns of Mount Olympus and is the eldest sister to Eurayle and Medusa. She was transformed into an immortal Gorgon when Medusa was assaulted by the sea God Poseidon in the Temple of Athena. After Medusa was beheaded by Perseus, Stheno fled from Greece to travel the world. At some unknown time, she finally settled in the south side of a small Pennsylvania city where she resides in a rundown hotel and protects it from any threat that crosses her path.

Marnie Azzarelli’s short work has appeared in Clever Girl magazine and Marywood University’s literary publication, The Bayleaf. She has co-authored a book entitled Labor Unrest in Scranton, which was published in 2016, and writes plays for local theater productions. She holds a B.A. in English from Marywood University, writes scary stories that only scare herself, and reviews TV shows that keep getting cancelled. Azzarelli currently lives with two cats, two parents, and one dog in Scranton, Pennsylvania.

Luke Spooner, a.k.a. ‘Carrion House,’ currently lives and works in the South of England. Having recently graduated from the University of Portsmouth with a first class degree, he is now a full time illustrator for just about any project that piques his interest. Despite regular forays into children’s books and fairy tales, his true love lies in anything macabre, melancholy, or dark in nature and essence. He believes that the job of putting someone else’s words into a visual form, to accompany and support their text, is a massive responsibility, as well as being something he truly treasures. You can visit his web site at

“Stheno” is © 2017 Marnie Azzarelli
Art accompanying story is © 2017 Luke Spooner

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