Chapter 1: Naiad

I packed my bags and ran out of my apartment as fast as I could. I could see the clock tower at the distance mark 5:50pm. I only had 10 minutes to make the train to leave this twisted town. I was ready for a new beginning. I was ready to start fresh in a place no one knew me. I had to make that train! I ran as fast as I could, bouncing my bag off anything that was on my way. When I got to the train station, I shoved myself into the first train I saw. I didn’t care where it was going; I just knew anything was better than this place.

When the train started moving, and I was certain we were out of the city boundaries, I started looking for a place to sit. After walking down the aisle for a couple of minuted looking for an empty seat, I saw a young man siting alone in a cabin. I asked if I could join him. He looked up at me, smiled and moved his suitcase to let me sit. I walked in the cabin, placed my bag under the seat and threw myself in the chair. I felt exhausted! I didn’t know it until I sat down. All the rush of leaving, all the emotions just took over me and without reacting, my body fell asleep.

A light tap on my left shoulder and a gentle voice eventually woke me up. When I opened my eyes, I say the same young man staring at me with a weird face. “Lady, where are going? Are you ok?” I wasn’t sure what he was really saying. The tap on my shoulder started to get a little harder but I still wasn’t really responding. I felt like if I was still half as sleep. Then, I felt like if someone had just put me under a shower! I jump off my seat, to find this young man with an empty open water bottle. “Did you just throw that at me?” I asked. His face changed to relief and said he was glad I was alive. He asked me again where was I going. I replied what does it matter. He looked at me funny and laughed looking out the window. I wasn’t sure what he was laughing at. Then I realized the train wasn’t moving. I looked around and saw that the train was basically empty. I looked back at him and asked where were we. The young man, looked at me with calm eyes and said we were at the end of the trip. “Welcome to Naiad”.

I grabbed my bags and walked out of the cabin. The train was completely empty. It was only this man and me. I jumped off the train as fast as I could. Not scared, but didn’t want to go back. The man jumped off behind me and asked if I needed any assistance. He started talking about how he had grown up in this town and decided to come back after 10 years. His mom had passed away and that brought him back. I looked at him with surprised eyes. Confused about all the personal information he was giving me, a random stranger.

-“I am sorry to hear about your loss, but why are you telling me this, you don’t even know me.”

-“No real reason,; but you look as lost as I once was, like if you were running away from something.”

I didn’t reply, just looked at him. He was a tall handsome man with black hair and honey eyes. I smiled at him and apologized for my rudeness. I told him I was just traveling for a couple of months and wanted to explore this side of the country. That I had heard a lot about its beauty and mystery. He smiled back and gave me a card, told me if I needed anything to just stop by and he could give me a tour or something. Then he grabbed his bags and walked away.

As he was walking away, I realized the train behind me started moving. When I turned around back and the train was gone. No way of me going back now! I grabbed my bag and started running to the man yelling to wait. He turned around and waited for me. “Do you know of any hotel around here?” He smiled at me and told me to follow him. When we left the train station I realized how beautiful the town was. The houses were all painted in different bright colors, the roads were made of rock like the old days. People were in the street singing and dancing. Everyone looked so happy! Where was I?

“Whats your name?” I asked the man. “I thought you were never going to ask. My name is Paul, nice to meet you”, “Mine name is Mara, nice to meet you too. This town looks beautiful” I said. ” Yes it is, it’s even prettier than what I remember. But don’t be fooled, everyone knows it’s cursed. All this beauty comes with a price, so be careful with the mermaids.” Paul said. I looked at him funny when he said mermaids, but I figured it was probably just some town joke to keep tourism away. We walked past a park and then he showed me the hotel. “This is a great friendly place, just show my card and they will give you a discount. If you need anything don’t hesitate to find me. I love traveling alone and every time I find someone I like to help. Only advice I can give you about this place, is don’t go to the woods. There is where they live and you don’t want the curse! All locals know that.” Paul said; and with a very polite goodbye he walked away.

I walked into the hotel and got a room. I threw my stuff next to the bed and opened the window. The view was amazing! the sun was setting down over the mountains and the woods looked like dancing dragons. Large colorful trees kept moving with the wind. I had never seen something so pretty. I kept looking out the window thinking about what Paul had said. How can something so beautiful be cursed? It had to be a local story to keep tourists away. As I looked out the window, the moon took the sky and the colorful dragons became glowing stars. When the last ray of sun was taken by the moon, strange melodies started to come from the forest. It sounded like singing or something. I closed the window and headed to bed. It had been a very long day. I had finally left my old me. I had finally decided to live the life I had in my dreams! I knew tomorrow was going to to be a big day. Tomorrow a new life awaited me. And with those songs coming from a far, I fell a sleep and started dreaming of future me.

The sun was coming in through the window, heating up the room. I opened my eyes and saw the trees at the far glaring at me. You could heard the people walking down the street and venders selling their things. I rolled to my side and the only thing I could think of was that this was my new life. A new place to make a new me!

I crawled out of bed, took a long shower and went off to explore the town. I had some cash I had saved up, so I knew I didn’t have to find a job right away, but it wasn’t a bad idea to start looking what was out there. Walked down the streets, people kept doing their regular routine, barely noticing I was knew to town. I was running from a past I didn’t want so being semi invisible felt good for a change. As I explored one alley that had a crooked water fountain at the end, a strong smell caught my attention. I started following it, trying to find where it was coming from. It smelled like warm coco with strawberries all combined in some old memory of mine. As I turn the corner next to the fountain, I crashed into someone. It was so hard I slipped and fell down to the floor splashing myself with the fountain. Some man yelled at me to watch where I was going, but I was still disoriented and wet! I looked up for a second when I found two ocean blue eyes staring at me. I couldn’t move. They were calm and nurturing. They radiated warmth but at the same time uncertainty. I was lost. The more I looked into them the more I was sucked inside. A soft voice pulled me out of the water. Grabbed my hand and and next thing I know I am standing in front of this beautiful blond woman. She was tall, thin, pail skin and had a small smile on her mouth. She looked at me like if she knew me. I wasn’t surprised, many people knew me from the past I was trying to escape. She put her hand on my head, smiled, and then with a dazzling calm voice told me I was fine. Her eyes were looking straight at mine. I was gone again in a pool of light.