Ugh, my head and body were aching like I had fallen from a great height, but that was impossible because I should be at work or home right now.
I fought against my eyelids and finally forced them open, but what I saw was not the building that I had worked in for nearly twenty years nor the unit I had rented for the last five years.
No, I was gazing up at some odd-looking trees and what appeared to be a purple sky. I sat up, and the world spun; I grabbed my head and held it until the spinning stopped.
Was this one of those alcohol-induced dreams? Or perhaps I ate some funky mushrooms? Either way you look at it, this had to be a dream, so I just had to wait until I woke up. Only I did not seem to be waking up, and this dream was incredibly vivid.
I could hear strange noises, smell foreign scents, and feel a warm breeze blowing around me; plus, everything I saw was crystal clear.
What the hell was going on? Think, Vida, think. What was the last thing you remember?
I know that I worked my regular nine to five as an office manager at Rayna Enterprises, then I walked home and… wait, I don’t remember making it home, so what happened?
Come on, brain; you need to fill in the gaps for me. I remember leaving after saying goodbye to my colleagues. They had invited me to drink with them since it was a Friday night, but I declined because I’m a forty-year-old introvert who preferred books to social interaction.
I started to walk the same route I had taken the last five years, but when I got to the footpath along the forest edge, something happened… ugh, what was it? Come on, Vida, you know it’s there. It has to be. Think, damn it, think.
That’s right, a strange light appeared in what looked like a tear in the footpath, but that’s impossible, footpaths don’t tear… c***k, yes, but not tear.
However, I swear that is what it looked like, it honestly looked like the footpath was ripped open right in front of me, and I guess I somehow fell through it, and then I woke up here. Wherever here is.
I unsteadily stand and look around, but all I can see is the forest in every direction.
I have no idea which direction to even start walking, but I guess I need to pick a direction and get moving. I can’t just sit around here all day.
I have no idea what time it is, and I don’t appear to have my bag with me; I must have dropped it as I fell through the tear. Yeah, that still sounds wrong.
I pull myself together and head off in the direction of the sun; I figure that way, I will have the most light if I need to walk for ages.
It was actually quite beautiful walking through this strange landscape. I could hear unique bird calls and scampering critters in the undergrowth, though I had yet to see anything of substantial size and certainly no other people.
I have no idea how long I walked, but I was starting to get really tired, not to mention the fact that I was getting weak from thirst and hunger.
A short while later, I thought I could hear the sound of what I hoped was a water source somewhere not too far away.
I continued trudging along and finally saw what looked like a small running creek ahead. I rushed towards what turned out to be a creek and fell to my knees beside it.
The water looked like crystal; it was so clear. I took a minute to examine my reflection, and I had definitely seen better days.
My dyed blonde hair had come loose from the bun I wore to work, and I had smears of dirt on my round face; the plus side to being a little chubby was that I at least didn’t look forty. My pale grey-blue eyes seemed slightly sunken thanks to the fatigue and lack of water and food.
I cupped a little water from the creek in my hands and brought it to my nose to make sure it didn’t smell funky, it smelt fine, so I took a small sip.
It was really refreshing, so I started to gulp down handful after handful of the clear fresh liquid. It soothed my parched throat and helped to cool me down.
Once I had had my fill, I stood and looked around. I wondered if it would be wise to follow the creek; surely, I would be more likely to find people near a waterway than just stumbling through a forest for who knows how long.
Making up my mind that was the best course of action, I headed off down the creek, continuing mostly in the direction of the sun.
I walked and walked and seemed to get nowhere. How big was this place? Finally, I had to rest; I couldn’t keep roaming aimlessly without food.
I sat down near the creek’s edge and drank more water; at least I wouldn’t be dehydrated.
I leaned back against a large tree growing near the creek’s edge and closed my eyes, intending to only rest for a minute.
I woke with a start, having heard a noise. It was beginning to get dark when I opened my eyes, and it had cooled significantly. I rubbed my arms in an attempt to get warm.
“What are you?” I heard a small voice say. I looked around for the owner of the voice but saw no one. Was I hearing things?
“Is someone there?” I asked, feeling a little stupid.
“Yes, I am here, but I would like to know what species you are and why are you here?” I continued to scan the fading light and still saw nothing.
“I am right here in front of you,” the little voice said as an odd-looking butterfly flew in front of my face. I shooed the butterfly away.
“I don’t see anyone,” I said to the voice.
“Well, if you didn’t shoo me away, you would be able to see me quite easily.” I gasped. Was that butterfly talking to me?
“I really must be dreaming after all; now I think butterflies are talking to me.” I heard a giggle that sounded like windchimes tinkling.
“I do not know what a butterfly is, but I can assure you I am not one,” the flying creature said, returning to my eye level. “I am a Fairy.”
I focused really hard on the creature before me, and to my shock, there was a tiny person with wings like a butterfly smiling at me.
“What the…” I jumped to my feet and away from the so-called Fairy. “What the hell is wrong with me? Fairies are from fairy-tales. They aren’t real and certainly aren’t living in Australia.”
The fairy creature fluttered up to eye level again. “What are you?” she asked.
“What do you mean, what am I? I’m a human, of course,” I stated. This time the butterfly, I mean Fairy, gasped.
“But how did you get here, human? There haven’t been any of your kind in this realm in centuries,” the Fairy said.
“This realm? What do you mean?”
“This is Mythica, the realm of many creatures that you humans call mythical creatures; in fact, our realm’s name is where you got that term from, but we are all very much real species. Come, you cannot remain here when it gets dark; it will be too dangerous,” the Fairy said.
My mind was spinning with the information she had just given me. “Wait, I don’t even know your name,” I said as the little creature started to fly away.
“Oh, of course, how rude of me. I am Elida,” she said, and I could just make out her bowing.
“Oh well, nice to meet you, Elida; I’m Vida,” I said, nodding. I couldn’t help chuckling to myself as I thought about the saying ‘I’m a poet, and I didn’t even know it’ as Elida and Vida rhyme.
“Lovely to meet you, but please follow me; I must get you somewhere safe.” I followed the Fairy for quite some time, and we finally arrived at a run-down building that looked like a disused wood cabin.
“I am sorry it isn’t much, human; oh, I’m sorry, I mean Vida, but we do not have any places for humans anymore, so this will have to do until tomorrow. I will go and find you some food.” Elida said and disappeared into the ever-darkening night.
I walked up the overgrown path and stepped carefully onto the well-worn veranda. I tried the door handle, and to my surprise, it was unlocked.
I had to use a bit of force to make the wooden door open, but it eventually allowed me inside. I was unsure what to expect, but besides a lot of dust and fading, the place wasn’t in too bad shape.
There were candles around the room; I quickly located a flint and steel on the fireplace's hearth. Thankfully, I had been a girl guide when I was younger and was able to get a piece of paper lit in the large open fireplace, which I could use to light a candle.
Once I lit several candles, I took another closer look around my surroundings.
Something caught my eye on one of the walls. I walked over and found four deep grooves that looked to be scratch marks, but by the distance between each groove and the depth they went into the wooden wall, they were created by something large and powerful.
I shuddered at the thought just as I heard what I could only assume was a pack of wolves howling in the distance.
Shit, I’m going to die here, aren’t I?