The Amazing Adventures of Julie, Petra and The Incredible Petrifying Ring Thing

by CMQ

[These parts 1-9 of the story were originally posted on the message boards of Medusa Realm, Hall of Statuary, and Mannequin Lovers.  They have been brought together here, and the tale continues with parts 10 onward.   Ed.]

Author’s Note:

For those of you who came upon this late, and to keep the flow of the story more the way I intended, here's part 1-9 again...

Inspired by Thorne Smith's 'Night Life of the Gods', here's my homage:

--The Ring's the Thing--
"Eureka!" Julie exclaimed! She looked at the alabaster colored beaker full of what was formerly liquid water. It, as well as the solution within had been transformed into smooth, yet solid-as-a rock, stone! She fingered the rim of the beaker, amazed at the detail captured in its transformation from glass to stone. Absolutely amazing! She thought. Transformation on the molecular level! She looked at the emerald ring on her right hand's ring finger. It was a rather plain gold band with a green stone set on a gilded base. Rather unspectacular in looks, but in ability something else entirely! She had spent long months of research since college experimenting with the esoteric probabilities and applications of her idea and now it had come to fruition. The petrified liquid was an identically matching color and substance as the container. Only now it was as solid and hard as if it had been frozen into ice and melded into the same substance as the container it had been enclosed in. Julie lifted the beaker up. It was heavier than before, and seeing as how it taken on the properties of stone, that was expected. OK, it works one way, but how about the other? Julie pondered. This was the real test. She looked at the matching ring on her left hand, identical to the one on her right hand except in the crimson coloring of the centerpiece stone. She clenched her left fist and aimed the red bauble at the petrified beaker. A brief squeeze and a ruby beam bathed the stone beaker, restoring it to transparent glass and the liquid within to clear water! She put her finger into the water. It was wet and cold. Apparantly all its normal properties had been restored with no problem whatsoever.

Julie aimed the green ring on her right hand at a piece of paper in her lab for a second test. She squeezed the miniscule trigger on the inside of the ringband and an emerald beam emerged and turned the paper to stone. Attempting to lift it up, Julie was surprised to have the fragile piece snap in two at her fingertips. It was as brittle as if it had been dipped into liquid nitrogen. She made a mental note to be much more careful when dealing with future petrified matter. What else to test it on? A pen? Solid rock! A metal test tube rack? Equally petrifiable! Even the tabletop was not immune, it just needed an extended wave from the petrifying green ray to calcify it totally. "Omigosh, the applications of this invention," Julie said aloud as she brushed some of her blonde hair away from her lab goggles. She was so engrossed in her new discovery that she practically leapt out of her skin when the lab door flung open.

"Hello auntie!" said a cheerful young brunette dressed in shorts and a tank top as she opened the door to Julie's lab. It was Julie's niece, Petra, all of nineteen years old, the eldest daughter of Julie's older sibling Jackie. Petra was the firstborn of the oldest of Julie's brothers and sisters, which led to the two being only a mere eight years apart in age. Though technically Julie's niece, the two had actually grown up quite a bit together and were more like close sisters than aunt and niece. That didn't, however, stop Petra from ribbing Julie at the University. Petra was a freshman student, while Julie had used a combination of her brains and family fortune influence to gain a rather secure, if not spectacular, position as one of the University's independent science advisors and museum trustees. And as long as the family continued to fund the University with grants and endowments, she was pretty much free to continue her research without outside interference. "What are you cooking up this time, Madame Frankenstein, hmmm?" Petra greeted Mr. Fuzzy, Julie's pet calico cat. The friendly feline jumped in her arms and purred contently.

Julie was slightly annoyed at the 'auntie' line as always, but waved her hand to Petra to come over anyway. "Look at this!" she pointed at the stone table.

"New marble countertop?" Petra said, unimpressed when she glanced over Julie's shoulder.

"No, no, no! Look again!" Julie said excitedly as she pointed at the drawers, the handles, the test tube holder and all the other petrified paraphernalia on the desk.

Petra leaned closer and looked more carefully. "Wow, the whole desk is made of stone! Is this a custom piece you bought with Grandfather's allowance?" She put Mr. Fuzzy down on the marble tabletop and ran her fingertips across the pure snow-white marble.

"No, no, no!" Julie said, eager to show off her latest discovery. "I turned this table and everything on it to stone with this!" She held up the green ring on her right hand.

"That little ring turned this whole table into stone?" Petra said disbelievingly. "How?"

"Like this!" Julie boasted as she turned around and grabbed a microscope off the table behind her. She set it on top of the table next to Mr. Fuzzy. "Watch!" she said as she pointed her right fist at the microscope.

The green beam bathed the black microscope, altering its molecules and transforming it into a whitened, marble-like stone. "That's incredible, Julie!" Petra leaned closer and stroked Mr. Fuzzy's back. The cat stretched out, sticking its tail into the green beam. The cat yelped as its tail was turned into a petrified stick. "Omigosh Julie! Mr. Fuzzy!"

"Oh no!" Julie unsqueezed her hand as Petra picked up the cat with the stoney tail. The frightened feline waved it's stone tail back and forth in front of Petra's face like a baton. She had to flinch and move her face as the hardened tail waved around like a spiked club.

"Poor Mr. Fuzzy!" Petra tried to soothe the frightened kitty. "Change it back!" she pleaded.

"Okay, okay," Julie said nervously. "I-I haven't tested it out on a living organism yet, but hold him steady…" She aimed her left fist at the petrified tail and squeezed her fist. The red light restored the kitty's frozen extremity into its formerly furry state. Mr. Fuzzy leapt out of Petra's grasp and cowered in the corner. "Okay, see, he's perfectly fine! I think…"

"How did you do that?" queried the fascinated Petra.

"You see the green ring on my right hand? It can turn anything its aimed at into stone, like this microscope," Julie pointed at the petrified instrument. "Every detail, every part of this has been changed from its base metal and plastic and glass components into one unified substance, stone." She aimed the red ring at the microscope as she continued. "And with this ring on my left hand, I can restore whatever I have petrified back to its original state!" The stone device was magically transmuted back into its previous appearance upon Julie's demonstration.

"And why did you create this?" Petra asked.

"Well, it's a long story. Suffice it to say I've always been intrigued by alchemy and I've studied a lot of ancient theories and lore about alchemists and I've used modern science, chemistry, etc to apply the root concepts of transmuting molecules. With some recent scientific breakthroughs and added some research on my part with the discovery of the…" One glance at Petra and Julie could already tell she had lost her niece's attention. "Uhm, anyway, it was a fantastic breakthrough…"

Petra had stooped down and looked across the tabletop so that it was at her eye level. "And those rings can turn anything to stone and back? Even a person?"

"Well I haven't tested it on a person yet. I wasn't even ready to try it out on a living creature until Mr. Fuzzy got into the act." Julie responded with a raised eyebrow. "He seems no worse for wear though, come here Fuzzy…" Julie held her hands out for the cat to come to her. Mr. Fuzzy stayed in the corner.

"Why don't you try it out on these!" Petra pointed at the lab mice in the wire cage.

"I was going to get around to it after I took down some notes," Julie said.

"Notes, schmotes!" Petra countered. "You've tested it both ways and it works! Not only on tables and stuff but on your cat's tail. Now's your chance to see if it works on mice too!"

"I'm sure it works on mice," Julie said drily.

"Prove it auntie!" Petra placed the emphasis on the last word.

"Okay, okay," Julie gave in. "Bring the cage over here…"

Petra lifted the cage up and placed it on the marbelized counter.

"Okay, lift one of the mice out…" Julie said.

"Ewww!" Petra squeeked. "Do I have to?"

"Look, you're the one who wanted to see a petrified mouse, right? Take one out. They're not going to bite you! Chicken!" Julie teased as she turned the tables on Petra.

"Fine!" Petra opened the door on the top of the cage, hesitated a moment and plunged her hand in. She grabbed one of the tiny white mice and lifted it up by its tail, holding it away from her like it was a pair of dirty diapers. The mouse twisted around as it dangled from Petra's grasp.

"Okay, now hold it steady," Julie crouched down so that she was at eye level to the mouse. She raised the green ring and pointed it at the mouse. "Wait a minute, you'd better hold onto him," she realized.

"What? Why?" Petra asked.

"Trust me," Julie said, remembering her shattered stone paper exercise earlier. It just wouldn't do to have a petrified tail snap off. "Now hold him in your palm, yes that's it…hold onto his tail so he doesn't move…" She aimed the ring and squeezed.

The mouse turned to solid rock. "Wow!" Petra yelped as she wiggled the petrified paperweight in her palm. "Change him back!" Julie complied and bathed the stoney critter in the red beam. The mouse was restored to life and moved around in Petra's palm. "Again!" Petra giggled, like a little child amazed by a new toy or a magic trick.

Julie smiled and aimed the ring at the mouse again. The little creature stopped moving under the green beam and stiffened into a statue. Julie and Petra were so transfixed by the change that they didn't notice that Petra's fingers had been in the beam. "Whoa!" Julie stopped squeezing the trigger as she realized she had petrified Petra's entire hand through prolonged exposure.

"OH," Petra held her frozen appendage up to her face. It was marble white now, flawless in color and had immortalized all the details of her hand as if it were a life-cast sculpture. "This is so cool!" She touched her petrified hand with her normal limb. It felt cool and hard like the stone it had become.

"What do you feel like?" Julie asked, equally interested in the petrifying effect. "What does it feel like? What did it feel like?" Her questions started to come fast and furious as if shot from a machine gun.

"I-I didn't even feel it changing…" Petra said as she admired her frozen hand. "It's like my hand has gone entirely numb, I can't even feel it!" Petra looked at the worried expression on Julie's face. "I'm fine, really! I just have a stone hand!"

"That's interesting…" Julie was wondering what kept the blood circulating in Petra's veins when it reached the petrified matter on the end of her wrist. Apparently she didn't know everything there was to know about this creation yet. "Hold still, I'm going to change it back. Ready?" She waited for the girl's nod and then proceeded to bathe Petra's hand, the petrified mouse and all, with the red beam. A few seconds later it had restored them to flesh.

Petra put the mouse back into the cage and flexed her fingers.

"How does it feel?" Julie asked again.

"I feel fine, everythings working," Petra wiggled her fingers. "Can you do it again?"

"Oh I don't know," Julie said. "I've got to test this further…"

"Test it on me!" Petra held out her arm. "Come on, it's as safe as it could be!"

"Well…" Julie couldn't resist the willingness of a potential test subject, and thus far all the transformations had been achieved with no visible ill effects. "Okay, but let's be careful…"

"I'm always careful!" Petra slipped her backpack off and leapt onto the stool. She crossed her bare legs and held out her arm. "Okay, let's go!"

Ah, the enthusiasm of youth, Julie thought. Suddenly feeling decades older than her niece. "Okay here we go…" She aimed the green ring at Petra's arm and turned it to immovable stone. "How's that feel?"

"Whoah…" Petra touched the smooth outstretched arm and turned it as best as she could. Her arm was white from the elbow to her fingertips. "Can you do more?" she pointed at her legs with the cast-like appendage.

Julie aimed the ring at Petra's tennis shoes and slowly brought the ray up the girl's sock-clad ankles, her calves, knees and finally mid thigh. Every part of the seated girl turned to pure stone. Her shoes, laces and all, drooping socks and bare legs all recreated in marble. Julie couldn't resist touching her petrified subject's knee. "Geez…That's amazing…and you feel nothing out of the usual?"

Petra was holding her marble arm out to her side as she touched her crossed marble legs with her only mobile limb. "No, I feel fine…" she said as she touched the almost silky-smooth marble skin she now possessed and admired the marble sheen her legs now posessed. "Go a little higher…"

"Oh I don't…" Julie protested.

"Come-on…" Petra whined. "I'm okay, really! I want to see how far you can go…dare you!"

Julie turned the green beam onto Petra's lap, moving it up her whitened thighs and turned the blue cutoff shorts and Petra's hips into rock hard stone.

"Whooo," Petra said, twisting at the waist as best she could as she felt the lower body become numb.

"What?" Julie stopped progressing. "Is anything wrong?"

"NO, keep going!" Petra prodded as Julie continued up Petra's pink tank top clad midriff to her firm bosom. The pink fabric transformed as it lost its hue and became pristine white. Two small indentations beneath Petra's petrified bra poked through the stoned garment slightly. "Higher…higher…" Petra prodded as Julie stopped at Petra's shoulderblades. "Do all of me!" Petra sneaked a glance and looked down at her marble body. It was so much like an artist's sculpture now.

Julie hesitated only a moment and brought the beam to bear on Petra's shoulder, moving down her remaining fleshy arm. It too turned to stone as Julie brought the beam back to just below Petra's neck. "Are you sure you're feeling okay?"

"Just keep going," Petra held her neck up as best she could. Like she was holding her head above rising water as Julie moved the beam up her neck. "I feel-" her voice stopped as Julie petrified her lips, moved up her cheeks and swept the beam across her eyes and forehead. The last thing Petra saw was the green glow of the ring in her face as everything went black. Her brown hair stiffened into a mass of brittle marble threads.

"Petra? Petra can you hear me?" Julie asked. She was staring straight into the face of what appeared to be a statue of a young ponytailed girl wearing shorts and a sleeveless top. Julie was dumbstruck at the details preserved in Petra's state of petrification. Every hair, every minute aspect of Petra's body had been turned to stone. She touched the stone cheek of the statue before her. Petra's bright and cheery face was now a cold and hardened mask with no warmth whatsoever. She touched the strap of the tank top Petra was wearing. It was equally hard and stoney and looked almost fused to the girl's body as if was a part of her. A few minutes of examination of Petra's marbelized body passed before Julie got a little nervous. She aimed the red beam at Petra's face and bathed the statue entirely with the ruby beam, moving down the motionless figure's torso and legs.

"Whoooooaah!" Petra said as she regained the ability to think and speak. She moved around on the stool and took a tentative step down onto the ground. Standing up on both legs, a little woozy and disoriented, she looked down at her fleshy legs and asked Julie "H-how long was I turned to stone?"

"About twenty minutes total, give or take a few minutes, " Julie said, rolling up the sleeve of her lab coat and making notations on her clipboard.

"Wow I didn't even feel any time passing at all after you stoned my face," Petra gushed. "What did I look like, all stoney and all? Was I pretty?"

"You looked just like a statue," Julie said. "In fact you WERE a statue. A fantastically life-like sculpture. It was incredible. I'm going to run a few more tests on…"

"Hate to interrupt your research, but have you forgotten about dinner tonight?" Petra asked.

"Oh, that's right!" Julie smacked her forehead as she noticed it was near five o'clock.. "Okay, let me wrap things up here and then we'll be off." She aimed the red ring at her petrified lab table and restored it and everything else to its normal state. She grabbed a handful of folders stuffed with research papers and took off her safety goggles. She gestured to Mr. Fuzzy to come along, but the spooked feline stayed stuck in his corner.

Julie and Petra left the lab. Julie locked the door and walked with Petra across the campus'cobblestoned path, passing numerous University buildings on their way to Julie's office. It was located in the University Museum. As a member of the University Museum Trustees, as well as being from an important donor family, Julie had not only a private lab and personal office.

As she approached the parking lot she noticed a couple coming towards them. A tall husky young man, student no doubt, and a striking redhead dressed in a breezy dress. Oh no, thought Julie. It's Daphne…her longtime rival since as long as she could remember.

--Distracting Daphne--
"Why hello, Juliette," Daphne greeted them coldly. She was clinging to the arm of a well over six foot tall, thick necked, husky athletic type of guy. She spoke to the two women in a haughty, snippish manner. "And…Patricia, isn't it?"

"Petra," Julie's niece answered, almost as icily.

They made catty small talk over the course of the next minute or so. It was pretty obvious to Petra that Daphne clearly thought of herself as superior to Julie in every way. She was from an equally (if not more) well-to-do family which had also become a major (almost rival) donor to the University. Daphne was on one of the more visible University Boards, a nepotistic appointment for the most part as she rarely attended any meetings and more or less hung onto the title for its prestige as well as being able to look down on Julie.

Daphne took a look at Julie's labcoat and simple hairstyle. "Why Juliette, you must simply do something about your looks, otherwise you'll never get a man like, Butch?" Daphne cooed as she stroked the muscled bicep of her beau.

"Brad," the man responded in a deep tone which made it seem like he wasn't entirely sure as well.

"Well Brad here is on the football team, he could go pro any time now…" Daphne bragged.

"He's a little…young for you isn't he?" Julie interrupted.

"Brad is twenty six years old," Daphne sneered.

"He must have been held back a couple of grades," Petra peeped. Daphne's face turned almost as red as her hair.

"Hmmph, Brad get the car," Daphne stamped her foot impatiently as her boyfriend left the three girls. "You know Patricia," Daphne put an emphasis on the name. "You'll do well to take notice that following poor Juliette around all the time won't endear you to any of the male population on campus. I'm afraid you'll get the same dull bookworm image she's carried with her ever since grade school." Daphne continued with her disparaging remarks over the course of the next couple of minutes or so as she continuously put down Julie's accomplishments and social placement.

"You know Daphne," Julie steamed, trying not to let her snobby rival get to her (and what supreme discipline it took) as she clenched her right fist and unwittingly triggered her petrifying green ring. She unconsciously curled her fist towards Daphne, bathing the woman in the green glow. "Sometimes I wish you would just shut…"

"And another thing, Juli-" Daphne began before being abruptly cut off. She had been turned entirely into stone by Julie's green ray!

"Geez Julie! You turned her to stone!" Petra realized, as she was only half-paying attention to Daphne before turning back in confustion at the cessation of insults spouting from Daphne.

"O-omigosh, I didn't mean to," Julie looked flustered as she unclenched her fist. "I-I'll turn her back," she started to say as she began to raise her left hand.

"Hold it!" Petra shoved Julie's hand down as Brad pulled up in a fiery red convertible. How a student could afford a machine like that was anyone's guess. Petra suspected some under-the-table money changing hands. The two women straighted up and tried to look natural. As natural as it could look standing next to an extremely realistic statue standing in a parking lot.

Brad got out of the car and walked over to Julie and Petra. "Where'd Daphne go?" he asked. Though it sounded more like a demand the way he said it.

"Uhm," Julie stammered. She was standing right next to the marble white statue of Daphne, frozen in her clingy spring dress, head slightly cocked to one side with hands on her hips. Her mouth was slightly open, paralyzed in midspeech. Daphne's luxurious curly red hair was now represented only in snow white marble. Her dress was now made of what must have been the thinnest marble garment ever worn by a sculpture, frozen in delicate folds plastered against Daphne's firm and large bosomed body. Daphne's kneecaps peeked out from under the windblown dress and her whitened legs flowed down into marbled three inch pumps. She was quite a vision. Truly defining the word statuesque.

"She went that a way," Petra offered, pointing towards the buildings she and Julie had come from.

"Well what the hell did she do that for if she asked me to bring the car around?" Brad fumed as he stalked off in pursuit of her.

Julie and Petra waited till he was out of sight. "Did I say only a couple of grades?" Petra asked incredulously. "What a mental midget!! She's standing right here! I can't believe he didn't recognize her!" She poked at the motionless statue's shoulder with her curled knuckles and was rewarded with a stoney tone.

Julie aimed the red ring at Daphne and activated the de-petrifying ring. Daphne's marble white skin retained its tanned former state as did her flowery blue dress which fluttered in the breeze once again.

"-e, you'll never get to…" Daphne continued, oblivious to the fact that she had been turned to stone for the past couple of minutes.

"Uh I really have to go now," Julie said as she cut her rival off in mid sentence and dragged Petra by the arm to the Museum.

"Wow! She didn't even know you turned her to stone!" Petra said gleefully.

"It must have been so rapid that she didn't even notice it…" Julie surmised. "I didn't even notice that I was squeezing the trigger. I'll have to make it less sensitive."

"Or avoid Daphne more!" Petra giggled as they entered the Museum, a high-ceilinged building with all sorts of antiquities scattered among the layout. It had hardwood floors, stained dark brown and had a rather well worn aura. Julie went to her office, one of many scattered throughout the building among the displays. Petra waited on a marble bench outside the office door as Julie looked for the necessary papers she needed. Julie's office was more like a large closet, considering how many research papers, books and miscellania she had crammed inside. After a few minutes of digging through the clutter Julie was ready to go. They walked to the parking lot and noticed Daphne still waiting for her boyfriend. Discreetly avoiding her line of sight, they slipped into Julie's car and drove back to the family mansion.

--French Frieze--
About twenty minutes later, Julie and Petra arrived at the Covington mansion, located just a few miles from the University. Fifi, the young French maid employed by the Covingtons, greeted the two women when they entered the foyer.

"'Allo, Miss Julie, Miss Petra," Fifi said, as she dusted the expensive vases on the foyer table. She was wearing a stereotypical French Maid outfit, namely a black mini dress with white lace trim and fishnet stockings. One of her father's eccentricities, Julie had long observed, though Fifi carried it off spectacularly. Over five foot ten in height, she had the long legs which made the skirt seem even shorter than it really was. "Dinner ees about to be zerved."

"Thank you, Fifi," Julie replied. "Who's home right now?"

"Only your father, Mister Covington," Fifi answered.

"Come on, Petra," Julie walked to the dining room with Petra.

The entire table was set with the family china and silverware. A little overkill, since it was rare that more than a few members of the extended Covington family ever dined together at once. But Julie's father insisted on the tradition. It was a reminder to enjoy the deserved benefits of a long hard working life. Namely his.

Julie showed off her new invention during dinner. Petra continued to get excited at each demonstration of the petrifying ring, whether it be on some appetizing roast or the vased roses decorating the table. Julie's rather senile father, however, didn't think there was much application for such a device.

"Just what exactly can you do with a machine which turns things to stone?" he asked directly. "What's the market for this…ring thing?"

"W-well," Julie began before she realized that while it was a great breakthrough, there were apparantly very few practical applications for such a petrification machine. She had been so engrossed in creating such a device that she had given very little thought to any practical uses. "J-just look what it can do to people!" She aimed the ring at her left elbow and turned it to stone. Petra offered up her hands for petrification too. Instant marble gloves. "It-it can even petrify an entire person!" Julie said excitedly as she saw Fifi coming into the dining room with her feather duster.

"Fifi, come over here!" Petra said excitedly, waving her stone hands like she was directing traffic. Fifi stared at the strange sight of Petra's marble white hands.

"Yes Miss Petra?" the maid said quizzically.

"Fifi, stand right here, hands at your sides. No you don't have to put down the duster," Julie directed. "Don't worry, this is perfectly safe…" She aimed the petrifying ring at Fifi, squeezed the trigger and quickly turned the pretty French maid, all decked out in the short black and white uniform and fishnet stockings into stone instantly.

Instantly rooted to the spot as a statue, Fifi looked like she had been dipped into pure white plaster. She had one hand bent forward slightly, holding her trusty feather duster and was looking straight ahead when she was fully petrified. Fifi's slim yet curvy body looked like an elegant work of art. Delicate lace carvings accented the sculptured hem of her skirt and cleavage. Fifi's face had a slight expression of surprise right before she was rendered in marble and her delicate lips were pursed in a futile attempt to protest. She looked fabulous as a living statue.

Julie carefully broke off one of the petrified feathers off the similarly petrified duster handle and showed it around the table. "And every square inch of her is now solid stone just like this piece of feather." It was extremely brittle as she held out the fragment and crushed a few delicate folicles. "Look at the way her stockings blend into her leg in form, but the textures of the pantyhose are all still there," she said as she ran her fingers along the petrified maid's thigh. The marbled hosiery criss-crossed across Fifi's marble thighs like a waffle pattern. "Even her hair is preserved," Julie sounded desperate as she pointed to the delicate curled marble strands on Fifi's frozen head. "Just look at her father! She's beautiful! An elegant work of art!"

"So it's a great timesaver in making sculpture," her father grunted. He was impressed with the statued maid as a piece of sculpture, but continued to downplay the potential benefits of having such a device in the first place. Petra was supportive throughout the whole 'selling' process as usual. Julie had more than a few off the wall inventions, but this one certainly took the cake. Even when Julie turned Fifi the maid back to a complete living, breathing person he was nonplussed. Frustrated by the lack of enthusiasm, Julie changed Petra's hands back to normal and stormed out of the room almost in tears.

--Museum Antics--
Finally after some private pouting about the lack of respect her inventions, Julie decided to return to the campus. Petra tagged along, now dressed in a purple athletic support bra top and black tight fitting biking shorts and sneakers. On their way back, Julie and Petra discussed the applications of the petrifying ring. After some thought, Julie was under the impression that it could be used as a way to suspend terminally ill patients until a cure could be found if the petrification effect could be focused more specifically on organic beings. Petra was thinking it had more show-biz applications. Or art school modeling potential. At the University, Petra jogged off to the campus gymnasium while Julie returned to her private lab for more research. Hours later, Julie was startled at Petra's arrival.

"Hiya, Julie, ready to go home?" Petra asked, brushing some of her hair, which had popped out of her headband.

"Is it almost eight already?" Julie was amazed at how fast the time flew when she was in the lab. "Okay, let me gather some stuff up and drop it off at the office and then we'll go."

They entered the museum and Julie said hi to one of the security guards as they walked down the halls. The museum was due to close to the public at eight, so Julie hurried down the exhibits of armor suits, ancient pottery and hanging tapestries. Petra waited as Julie searched around in her tiny office. "Oh no!" Julie exclaimed as she pushed aside some papers to reveal her daily calendar.

"What's wrong?" Petra asked.

"With all the excitement of the rings I totally forgot about the Museum Trustees meeting tonight!" Julie answered from inside. It's in the meeting hall here at eight thirty and I absolutely have to attend! Can you catch the bus or get a ride from someone on campus?"

"Sure, no problem," Petra answered at first before she was struck with a wild idea. She looked around down the rather dimly lit halls to her left and right. No sign of anyone at all. She pulled the white headband off her head and shook her brown ponytailed locks. Go for it she decided, as she peeled off her athletic top, revealing a pair of perky shaped breasts. Petra, giddy with adrenaline at stripping inside a public place, untied her shoes as quick as she could, slid off her socks and rolled her biker shorts down her legs as she disrobed.

"I'm almost ready," Julie said from within her office, oblivious to what Petra was doing. "Just one more thing…"

Petra stuck her thumbs under the hipband on her panties and took a quick look around before sliding off her underwear. Dropping it in the pile of clothing on the ground, she leaped up onto the marble bench she was formerly sitting on and struck a pose. Facing Julie's office, Petra put her right hand on her stomach and her left hand behind her neck.

"Okay, Let's g-PETRA!" Julie turned and looked up to see Petra standing stark naked on the marble bench outside her office. "What are you doing?! Someone's going to see you!" she gasped.

"Turn me to stone Julie!" Petra said with a wide smile. "Make me into a museum piece till you get back from the meeting!"

"I will not!" Julie shook her head, completely flustered at what Petra was doing. "Now put your clothes back on be-" she heard footsteps clicking on the polished wood floor. "Someone's coming!" she said in an urgent whisper. "Get your clothes on now!"

"I'm not moving…" Petra upped the ante. The footsteps sounded closer.

Julie fumbled with the folders in her hands as she looked around wildly. The clicking sound of heels sounded like the person was just around the corner. Julie stared at the naked girl before her. "Petra!" she said wide-eyed and trying to keep her voice down.

Petra grinned and closed her eyes, tilting her head down and waited.

Julie turned Petra to stone.

The footsteps came around the corner. Julie jumped, startled by the arrival of the person behind her. "Miss Wintergreen!" she yelped, dropping her folders at the sight of the Head of the Museum Trustees and Head Curator.

"Miss Covington, the meeting is in fifteen minutes," the older woman said rather sternly. She looked at the pile of clothes on the floor.

"I-ah, I was at the gym and I was trying to lock my office door, it sticks a little you know," Julie rambled as she tried to explain. "And I just dropped everything on the floor and that's when you…"

"Just don't be late Miss Covington," Wintergreen said as she stepped around the pile of papers and clothing on the floor. She noticed the marble statue of Petra, in all her naked stoney glory. There was a thin stripe of petrified pubic hair near Petra's right hand, nicely trimmed and preserved in its petrified state. "Tsk, shameful…" she declared, mouth aghast as she walked off to the meeting hall.

Julie gathered up her folders and was about to turn Petra back to normal when a voice startled her from behind. "Hi Julie," Will Barrows was one of the assistant curators at the museum.

"Will!" Julie yelped as she dropped her folders. The papers scattered again. "I didn't hear you-"

"I'm sorry I startled you," Will smiled as he kneeled and helped Julie gather her papers. "Are these yours?" he asked as he held up Petra's top, shorts and…panties.

"Um, I ah, I was at the gym," Julie tried to explain as she snatched the garments from Will and threw them into her open office door.

"Well we'd better hurry. We don't want Wintergreen ticked off at us," Will smiled as he stood up and noticed the nude statue of Petra. "New piece?" he inquired.

"Uhm, yeah…" Julie responded. Petra was sure attracting a lot of attention as a statue. TOO much attention.

"It's nice," Will opined as he studied Petra's marble form from head to toe. Her curves and sinuous lines. Her spectacular nude body preserved in stone. "Very nice…"

"Let's go, Will," Julie tried to take his attention off of Petra's immobile figure. She shot a glare at Petra and mentally cursed her for making her life more difficult.

Petra merely stood motionless, as any other statue would, as the two walked away. Her slight smile seemed to acknowledge the hassle was well worth it.

Bob the security guard patrolled the halls of the museum. It was well after 9:00 now and all the doors were locked. The only other people in the building were the Museum Trustees, sequestered away in their meeting room. He walked slowly, flashlight in hand, down the silent, darkened halls. Stuffed Grizzly Bears on one side, ancient warrior helmets on the other. The University Museum was pretty much a mish-mash of different collections under one roof. Despite being on the job for over five years, Bob was always amazed at finding something new on his patrols. Like this statue of a young naked woman, exquisitely carved to be sure, that he had noticed tonight.

She was a lovely beauty, life-sized, about five foot six inches, and standing on a marble base which curiously resembled some of the benches throughout the museum. Bob stared at the work of art for more than a few minutes and wolf-whistled as he looked up and down the figure twice and then once more again. He shined his flashlight beam onto the statue's pretty marble face. It seemed to be smiling, a somewhat unusual feature compared to the other statues in the museum. She was a cutie to be sure. And something else Bob noticed was that this particular sculpture had an unusually high amount of detail, especially around her crotch as Bob shone his flashlight into the crevice between the statue's legs and saw fully sculpted genitalia. "Damn…" he muttered. It was clearly unlike any other Greek or Roman statue he had ever seen here before, not that he was a great expert on sculpture to begin with. This one was just…different. Like no nameplate or anything titling the work on the base. Bob wondered what the name of the piece was. Something like "The Marble Nymph" or "Beauty in Stone" or something.

He touched the marble surface, intrigued by its smoothness, like silk, and resisted the urge to cop a feel of the marble breasts, just a little out of his reach. Tempting but not worth the trouble if he got up on the bench and ended up toppling the statue and smashing it into a billion little fragments. There's no way my salary can pay off a piece like this, he figured. Bob settled for having his fingers linger on the statue's thigh as he delicately stroked the motionless work and accidentally touched a piece of pubic hair. He caught himself before he actually fondled the statue's vagina. "Been too long…back to work," he said to himself as he continued his rounds. He looked back at the statue and forced himself to finish his rounds. He would stop by three more times during the night to ogle the exquisite piece. Each time lingering longer and longer to touch the statue's curvy ass or firm stomach. The piece kept invading his thoughts throughout the night and he found it difficult to concentrate on his job. At least wait till the Trustees are done and out of the building he kept telling himself as he felt the swelling in his pants grow.

The Museum Trustees meeting ran late. Finally breaking up at a little past eleven o'clock, Julie exhaled a sigh of relief at the termination of the tedious affair. For some reason Miss Wintergreen continually hounded Julie on all the decisions she had made over the past couple of weeks. Criticizing every little detail of what I had done for the museum, Julie thought to herself. She wondered if Daphne's influence was being felt here. Maybe she was a little paranoid, but she always thought Daphne and Wintergreen had been in cahoots with each other to make her life more difficult. On the other hand, Will constantly backed up everything that Julie had done. It felt good to have someone, a gallant white knight, defend her honor.

"Walk you to your car?" Will asked as he and Julie exited the meeting room.

"Oh, I really have to get back to my office…to ah, pick up my gym clothes," Julie tried to come up with an excuse to get back to Petra but was intrigued by this sudden attention she was getting from Will as well.

"It can wait till tomorrow morning, can't it?" Will asked with those piercing blue eyes of his.

Julie mulled over her options: Petra wasn't going anywhere, and the museum was now closed…so if I get back here first thing in the morning I can restore her and no one will know. "All right," Julie finally decided. She walked to the parking lot with Will. So Petra wanted to be a statue? Let her be a statue for the entire night! That will teach her to put me on the spot!

--Morning Surprise--
Julie slept late. She had a long discussion with Will the night before. Nothing too personal, but more in-depth than any other discussion they had ever had before not regarding work. They actually ended up going to a little late night coffee shop instead of straight to the parking lot after the meeting broke up and talked for a couple of hours. Now Julie was paying the price as she rolled over in her bed and looked at the alarm clock. "Eek!" she screamed. It was eleven o'clock already?

She jumped out of bed and showered. Throwing on the first set of clothes she could find Julie tore off in her car to the University…oboyoboyoboy…she kept mumbling to herself. She had intended to get there at seven before any other sane people did, de-petrify Petra and give her a mild scolding to boot. Now she would have to deal with people being up and around. It won't be too bad, she thought. My office is in a pretty isolated section of the museum and I can change Petra back and get her into the office so that she can put on some clothes in a couple of seconds and no one will ever notice…no one will ever know…

Julie pulled into her reserved parking space and half-ran to the Museum. She smiled and waved at the employees manning the front desk. She strode at a brisk pace to her office, checking behind her to see if anyone was following and turned the corner to see the empty marble bench outside her office door.

Petra was gone!

"What the-?" Julie said in amazement. A life-sized statue of a nude girl does not just up and walk away, even if she was formerly a living, breathing young woman just last night! She looked around her, no sign of Petra. Did the ray wear off? Did Petra awaken completely nude during the middle of the night? Did she get arrested? Julie spun around and started for the front desk again, wondering how to delicately phrase her inquiry about a statue-a naked girl-a statue being found inside the museum. She couldn't decide what she was going to say when a voice called out behind her.

"Julie! Hey! Wait!" Will's voice echoed in the museums cavern-like structure.

Julie turned around. "Good morning Will, I was just about to…"

"I really want to say I appreciate the little discussion we had last night," Will said. "I really hope that we can do it again sometime."

"Sure, sometime…" Julie said distractedly. "Say, Will…" How to phrase this nonchalantly? "Do you remember last night, the statue that was right here?"

"Oh I sure do," Will smiled. "Fantastically sculpted piece of work. I took a good hard look at it this morning when I came in."

"You did?!" Julie exclaimed and then suddenly realized she was going to look very silly being that excited over a simple statue. She tempered her tone a little. "Er, what happened to it? I kinda liked it…"

"Oh so did I, in fact I thought it was such a beautiful piece of work that I had it moved to the main rotunda," Will replied. "It is completely unreal, the details captured…"

"You moved her to the main rotunda?" Julie said, somewhat alarmed.

"Sure, a piece like that deserves to be seen in a prominent setting," Will offered. "I probably should have asked Wintergreen before I moved it, knowing how she is," he rolled his eyes. "But I think the new location will be a much better one."

--Petra On Display--
Julie thanked Will for the information and hurried off to the main rotunda. She hoped he didn't think she was dismissing him too abruptly as she turned a few corners and came to the circular dome in the center of the museum. There, behind velvet ropes, standing on a square marble base was Petra. Still in her marble statue form. Unchanged since last Julie saw her. Same pose, her fingers apparantly reaching across her thigh to her crotch, and head turned down as if looking over her petrified body. Julie stopped short and realized there were a lot of people here. Dozens of individuals and tour groups came through the rotunda at various intervals. It would be difficult to restore Petra here and get her nakedness out of sight easily. Julie sighed as she considered options…

Later tonight, when the crowds had slimmed and the museum was closed, she could change the foolhardy young statue back and then sneak Petra back to her office and get her dressed. It was just too risky to do it during daylight. The sunlight cast a warm glow to the entire setting. Petra was very well lit, the virtual centerpiece of this section of the museum. And apparantly attracting a lot of attention as well, as numerous visitors lingered in front of and behind her pale well-sculpted form. Julie walked up to the velvet ropes keeping the visitors away and stared at her impetuous niece. You just didn't know what you were getting yourself into, did you? And what about all the stress on my shoulders? Julie thought as she looked at the flawless white marble statue that seemed to knowingly smile back at her. Well, get used to being on display. You're going to be here for awhile.

"Man look at her!" said an awestruck male museum patron. "I've never seen anything like her before! She's hot!"

"Hotter than me?" said his dismayed female date. She thrust out her chest, stretching the fabric of her tube top. "Just remember that these are a whole lot softer than hers…"

Julie rolled her eyes. Petra was certainly the topic of discussion amongst the people here. Definitely the scene stealer. Like she always was. Julie cast a last look at the petrified girl before leaving for her lab.
On the way out she passed a female docent leading a tour group.

"And here we have a new addition to the museum," the young docent explained. "A new find from the museum's archives. We don't even know what the name of this piece is, so we've been calling it 'Young Marble Nude Girl' for now." She pointed at the statue; "The elaborate sculpting of this particular piece has never been matched in any of the ancient Greek or Roman art styles before. If you look carefully, you can almost make out individual hairs sculpted on her head. A true masterpiece of the University's collection." A group of visitors snapped some pictures of Petra's stone body. "We think this particular piece dates back to somewhere around the height of the Roman…" the docent continued, bullshitting her way with the facts as she often did when confronted with a piece she knew nothing about.

--Musical Statues--
"Scandalous!" Miss Wintergreen gasped at the sight of the naked statue of Petra on full display in the rotunda. "This will simply not do!" she exclaimed as she ranted about the graphic sexual nature of Petra's petrified body. "She simply cannot be placed in an open setting like this in front of impressionable eyes!" There were a group of schoolchildren present in the rotunda when she had walked in and found the statue of Petra had been moved into a position of prominence. Miss Wintergreen had a somewhat puritanical attitude concerning nudity in the museum. Though she acknowledged the historical aspect of it, it seemed she picked the least attractive, most covered examples of nude artwork to be on display.

"Will, who is responsible for this?" Wintergreen fumed as she stormed the front desk where Will was talking to one of the docents.

"Responsible for what?" Will asked innocently, knowing pretty much what the old bat was ranting about.

"The piece of…pornography that is in the main rotunda! That nude female statue which I saw outside of Miss Covington's office last night! Who had it moved to the rotunda?"

"Well, I have to take the blame for that," Will apologized. "I took a close look at it last-" he started.

"I just bet you did!" Wintergreen countered. "I want it moved out of sight right now!"

"But it took us a couple of hours just to get it th-" Will tried to explain.

"NOW, Mister Barrows." Wintergreen said in the tone Will recognized as 'Don't mess with me or you'll regret it'.

"Okay, I'll have it moved." He capitulated. It was worth it anyway, both to get that lovely statue out where people could enjoy it and to see the red-faced reaction of Evelyn Wintergreen.

Will gathered up some of the museum staff as they gently lifted the statue of Petra off the marble stand she was upon. "Easy, easy…" Will directed as he and a couple other men held the statue's body straight and slid her onto a padded hydraulic lift on wheels. Lowering the statue gently so that it was now only a few inches off the floor level, they escorted the frozen Petra downstairs.

"It's a shame this piece can't be on display," one of the workers commented. "She looks so realistic. Almost like one of the students I've seen around here."

"Yeah, but you know how Wintergreen is," Will replied as he noticed the firm marble breasts and how the detailing of the erect nipples, the aureoles was unlike any other sculpture he had ever studied before. "Maybe we can attach a fig leaf or something and get her back on display sometime." Not the best solution to the problem, but such a stunning example of sculpture deserved to be seen by as many people as possible.

"Aw that would be a cryin' shame," commented another worker pushing the lift from behind. "She's got the finest little ass I've ever seen," he said as he leered at the marble tush.

"Her tits ain't bad either!" said the first worker as he rubbed his gloved palm against Petra's bosom.

"Hey stop it you sickos!" Will argued before finally admitting, "She is a piece of work, isn't she?"

"You said it Mr. Barrows," the worker agreed. "A real piece of work…"

Julie looked at the clock on her lab. It was five o'clock. She had been looking at the clock for pretty much every half-hour, worrying about her petrified niece. All I need is to have her damaged somehow she thought, before dismissing the image from her mind. She packed up her notes and slipped the two rings back onto her fingers. It had been a productive day, distractions about the petrified Petra notwithstanding. Julie had decreased the sensitivity of the trigger, thus negating any accidental petrification like what happened to Daphne the day before. And she had tinkered with the petrifying beam projector a little so that it now only petrified living matter. She figured it would be much simpler to operate it as such.

Julie arrived at the museum and waved to Bob the security guard. She walked directly to the rotunda, keeping an eye out for any people straggling around. It was near to closing time for the general public, so odds were the rotunda would be pretty deserted. She entered the rotunda and did a double take.

Petra was gone again!

[Stay tuned for the continuing adventures of Petra, the lovely wayward statue and  her resourceful friend Julie, along with Fifi, Daphne, and more!
Click here for Part 10 of 'The Adventures of Julie, Petra, and The Incredible Petrifying Ring Thing'...   Ed.]