Five years later, Tara ceased to exist. Her all consuming hatred had slowly destroyed her mind. She was literally a petrified woman of self awareness and hatred... nothing more. The stronger her anger had grown, the more powerful the effect she had on people touching her stone body. It seemed that maybe once a month another youthful woman would fall prey to Tara's petrifying effect. The last person to be turned to stone didn't even have to touch her... she merely studied Tara's figure closely. The last thing Tara was conscious of was that young woman looking into Tara's cold eyes. For days Tara's gaze were locked onto the other woman's gaze, reflecting lifeless, cold stone back at her. Tara's mind finally snapped, her condition forever irreversible.
Tara's friends had not forgotten her. In fact, Karen, her best friend, had tried for 2 years following Tara's departure to see how she was doing. Tara's letters to Karen ceased a few days before thefateful test. Tara had written about it, about what she believed the ultimate secret one had to know in order to pass it, and of her confidence in her ability to pass that test. Karen waited for weeks after the test for some word from Tara, but none ever came. After a couple of months passed, Karen began calling the school. They refused to answer her questions... to protect Tara's privacy, they said. After almost two years had passed, Karen decided on a bold plan... she would apply for the school. Tara had always encouraged her to apply and this seemed to be the only way to learn what had happened. After another few years of biding her time, Karen was finally accepted into the school.
A month into her 'studies', Karen began asking the other models if they knew Tara, or had heard anything about her. The newer students knew nothing of her... but Michelle and Kim, two other models, had heard of her. Kim and Michelle were also trying to find out what had happened to their close friends that had not been heard from in years. All they could offer Karen was that Tara did indeed pass the mysterious 'Medusa test', as had their friends. The three women became fast friends and decided to work together as a team. They continued their 'studies' for several more months before deciding to take the next step... to observe someone taking the test. Unknown to Karen and her friends, the petrified body of Tara was returned to the island home of the modeling school. Tara had been placed in a new hall built to honor those who had passed the immobilization test.
The hall was shrouded in some secrecy until its official opening to the models some months away. Each night, Karen,. Kim and Michelle would meet secretly to observe the activities around the new hall. In the darkness they could see ritualistic fires burning and hear chants spoken in an unknown tongue that Michelle believed to be Greek, but a dialect that she had never heard before. Each day, the three would meet during their common breaks. They helped each other mentally prepare for the immobilization test, should they have to undergo it themselves.
It was now a full 6 years since Tara had last been heard from. Karen, Michelle and Kim decided to take a chance and observe someone taking the 'Medusa' test, which had been moved to the newly constructed hall which had not yet opened to the other models. They would have to be careful. Should they be caught they would most certainly be expelled from the island. The three friends followed an anxious model to the entrance of the new hall. She proceeded to the far south end of the complex and entered the testing room. Karen, Michelle and Kim slipped into the entrance unobserved and headed for the testing room. As soon as the entrance closed behind them the hall suddenly lit up to an almost daytime brilliance. They had been betrayed by the hidden motion detectors. They hears footsteps running towards them. They ran to the north end of the complex, hoping against hope that they could get out before someone caught up to them. Several yards into their mad dash, they duckedinto a dark, cavernous room. They began to run across the room when suddenly the lights came on. They had finally been caught. "Welcome to the great hall, sisters!", came a voice that they had heard maybe two or three times in their entire stay on the island. "Why have you violated the sanctity of this holy place?" Michelle and Kim were standing on opposite sides of Karen, scared into silence. Karen assumed a look of determination. She would not be stopped from learning what had happened to her friend now, she felt that she was very close to finding the answers she had been seeking for years. Karen replied, "I am here to find out what happened to my friend, Tara." "And what of you two? Did you come seeking friends also?" Michelle and Kim looked back at her, the fear showing in their eyes. Neither could respond due to the shear panic they each felt. "Well, if you're not going to answer my questions, then I have only one use for you." The woman fingered a pendant that was resting against her chest. A beam of light shot out from it and struck Kim. Kim was engulfed in the light. A puff of smoke rose from the place where Kim was standing and the light faded. Kim was still standing in place, but was now naked. Two more beams of light shot out from the pendant and Karen and Michelle were its next victims. Now all three were standing fully exposed in front of this strange woman. "Since you have chosen to show some courage in speaking to me, Karen, I will allow you to observe the final fate of our models who fail the 'Medusa' test." Two more beams of light shot out from the pendant, striking Kim and Michelle. Again they were engulfed in a brilliant light. Karen could hear a strange crackling noise on either side or her. When the light subsided, two perfectly polished golden images of Kim and Michelle were standing on either side of her.
Karen was almost in a panic. "What have you done to them!?", she shrieked. She touched the figure of Kim. Her body was cold and rigid. Michelle was no different. "They have become static objects of beauty. They will be placed on display for our new models to see. They will be told to aspire to the perfection and tranquility that they see when they look upon your two friends." The strange woman made a motion with her hands. Karen was suddenly grabbed by each arm by the transformedfigures of her friends. Their cold hands held onto Karen like clamps and forced to lay down on an alter that Karen had not previously noticed. On a raised platform beside the altar was a cloth covered figure. "Wait!", Karen exclaimed, "What are you going to do to me?" "You will be allowed to learn the answers you have sought for these many years. You are about to meet your friend, Tara." The cloth was withdrawn from the figure by the altar. "Tara?", Karen asked in disbelief. "Yes, this is your friend, or at least her petrified body. About a year ago, her mind died, leaving only this hardened, stone shell you see before you. But it is more than that. Tara's anger at having been transformed manifested itself by turning those around her into stone. When this power peaked, she was brought back to this island where she was further prepared to receive the soul of our Goddess, the Gorgon Medusa. Soon, this petrified body will be flesh again. It was prophesized long ago that when this day comes, our immortal goddess will walk among us again. That is the true purpose of this 'school', to provide the conduit of petrified souls for her to return to us. Tara's body will be the vessel that our goddess will be reborn into." The stranger let out an almost maniacal laugh then stepped up to the frozen form that was once Karen's friend. She placed her pendant around the stone neck of Tara. When the pendant came to a rest on the cold stone of Tara's chest, it glowed. A white light shot from the pendant, engulfing Karen. The light felt warm and soothing. Karen felt her body succumb to Tara's fearsome power. It grew stiff and rigid. The golden hands of her captures let go. Karen wasn't unable to move her limbs. They had become heavy. She felt the effect spread through her body. Her skin grew white and shiny. A moment later it was cold to the touch. Karen had been turned to stone. Like those transformed before her, she was aware. Somehow, she could see her surroundings within the limits that her eyes were now locked into. If she could have, she would have gasped at what she saw next. Tara's body was changing. She was becoming flesh again. Tara stepped down from her pedestal and knelt over the stone form of her old friend. Tara ran her hands over Karen's marble body, "Tara would thank you in person, but as you now know, that can never happen. I however, do thank you for setting me free from the oblivion I was trapped in for centuries." Tara looked into Karen's cold, white eyes. Tara's eyes had changed. Anyone else looking into them was in for a real surprise. Tara stepped away from Karen and the room went silent. Michelle and Kim were on either side of the altar by Karen, the golden glow from their bodies washing over Karen's. They had at least finished what they started together.
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