As soon as Lisa stepped off of the bus, a woman with a scraggly, gray wig and dark, tattered clothes stuck her long, warty nose within inches of Lisa’s face and froggily greeted her, “Welcome to Melas! Explore my streets… if you dare!”
Once the witchy figure finished cackling, Lisa pointed out, “You know, they never caught any actual witches, don’t you? How dangerous could the streets be from innocent victims?”
“Boy, you’re a delight!” the witchy figure muttered in a slightly more masculine voice. “If you’re not into the festivities, why did you come here?”
“I live here now,” Lisa conveyed to them.
The witchy figure frowned considerably at this notion, and they dryly bade her, “See you around, neighbor!”
As Lisa walked away from that scene, she said to herself, “I’m off to a great start!”
While the witchy figure gave salutations to another person in their periphery, Lisa soaked in the scenery. She espied a blocky, gray building that had a silver-lettered sign with the words “Bayside Estates” etched on it, and while it certainly had a view of the ocean down a small hill, Lisa wondered why they put this institution by a bus depot rather than the water! She found it slightly odd, especially since it labeled itself as luxury condominiums! It gave off a cold vibe, and she questioned why well-off individuals would want to spend their money there! She suspected something off about this site, but when she recalled how her cousin described most of the citizens of this district as strange, she shrugged off any leeriness she had and determinedly aspired to prove both of their first impressions of Melas wrong!
Once she passed the obstruction of Bayside Estates, she beheld a long, cobblestone road with a variety of Colonial Tudor construction. The pictures she had previously viewed of Melas’ downtown area looked much more clean, but in reality, the avenue’s stones seemed slightly uneven and often unmatching. The structure of the edifices appeared slightly unbalanced as though a transcendental force kept them from toppling over, and Lisa would have guessed that they were condemned if it weren’t for the scores of patrons popping in and out of the various businesses there! She couldn’t comprehend it, but she realized that she would simply have to get used to her new surroundings!
The boulevard was fairly quiet, which sort of relieved Lisa but also disturbed her- why wouldn’t the community socialize with each other? Living in quarters close to the tourists’ zone usually meant dealing with a lot of clamor on the main arteries, but not in this case! Many denizens chose to keep to themselves, and a lot of passersby avoided eye contact with one another! The few who chose to congregate talked in whispers or hushed tones! Lisa got perplexed by this until she caught someone telling her friend, “Do you see that flashy outfit? Who does she think she is?” Lisa gazed down at her garments, and she didn’t esteem that her pick of attire was so egregious until she studied everyone else’s outfits. Most people wore neutral shades, and the handful who dared to sport a bit of color donned soft hues. Lisa’s bright fabrics definitely stood out! It disheartened her to perceive that she may need a totally new wardrobe, but with how little she possessed at the moment, she convinced herself that she would have had to do this anyways, so perhaps it was for the best.
She came to a fork in the road that stemmed from a town square, and an ancient architecture loomed over the entire plaza. It had a large plaque indicating that it was the old city hall! It left Lisa awestruck to envision the corrupt trials that led to the unjust executions of the Puritan era, and although she read that their sentences were carried out elsewhere, this epicenter’s shady wood radiated their pain and anguish! A glum mood began to overtake Lisa, but when she remembered the eerie phenomena that supposedly occurred within these borders, she purposefully cast that sentiment out of her mind and moved on!
The right path had a much more inviting appeal than its counterpart! Its bustling shops brimmed with cordial folks, and the sun radiated over the rooftops. A scarcity of stragglers trudged through the left, and shadows cascaded throughout the thoroughfare! Lisa would have loved to have sought the comfort the right path suggested it had, but her new home laid on the left, so she peeled her eyes off of the ulterior boundary and convinced herself the quiet darkness appealed to her!
The further down she went, the rarer it became to spot anybody milling about! She theorized that perhaps the influx of visitors ebbed and flowed like the salty brine. Speaking of the shore, Lisa discovered that this terrain edged by the sea! She could smell the salty mist and hear the crashing waves, and she couldn’t grasp why more Massachusetts tourists didn’t frequent this locale! She could see a tuft of grass next door to her destination, and she assumed it stemmed from an adjacent park. It baffled her as to why the region had been so readily abandoned, but she reckoned that it may prove advantageous to her to have this gem remain clandestine- she could keep this secret all to herself!
Lisa turned to Brigfell Library, and she could hardly believe that this place existed in real life! Its lofty height coupled with the outlandish layout of the trim gave it more of a cartoonish facade! It reminded her of a drawing she created in her childhood depicting a fairytale cottage, and a part of her felt positive that entering the facility would instigate the wrath of a wicked sorceress or something! She could only imagine Lydia seeing this establishment- she would have begged her not to set a single toe into a house that probably harbored a multitude of apparitions! With the defiant mindset of proving her viewpoint as incorrect, Lisa went inside!
Immediately, Lisa felt something brush past her legs! Fearing that she had accidentally released someone’s pet, she stuck her head out of the door and cried out, “Psst! Hey! Get over here!”
“Most people start with hello!” an unamused female from behind her chided Lisa.
“Sorry! I think I might’ve let an animal out!” Lisa apologized.
Upon facing the lady, Lisa raised her eyebrows in a slight shock! She sounded so nice over the phone, but this lady gave off the distinct perception of antagonistic venom! Her fierce frown made her round head appear almost sharp, and her glasses only magnified the contemptuous stare she emitted. Her rigid stance made her plump body look anything but soft, and her curly locks practically melded into her charcoal dress! Lisa speculated that her previous vision of trespassing onto a villainous chamber may not have strayed far from the truth, and she scolded herself for not giving her new boss more of a chance! The lady furrowed her brows at Lisa, and she stated, “I don’t have any animals! I’m actually allergic to cats!”
Lisa puzzled, “Really? I could have sworn…” She glanced out of the window, and she didn’t see any hints of furry creatures running around, so she pondered what else could have possibly manufactured that sensation…
“Ahem… You must be my new assistant!” She shifted her timbre to a more falsely sugary inflection and jovially extended her hand to Lisa. “I’m Miss Romero, but feel free to call me Melanie!”
“Nice to meet you… Melanie!” Lisa shook her hand, and she strove not to wince as she touched Melanie’s icy palms! Lisa had never handled a corpse before, but the clammy texture of Melanie’s skin was exactly how she would have thought it to feel!
Melanie smiled at her, which somehow rendered her more intimidating! “It’s a pleasure to meet you! Let me give you a tour!”
Lisa was so preoccupied by the non-existent critter escaping that she failed to notice the unusual arrangement of this space! The public’s sphere was circular, and a small maze contained shelves that were at least ten feet high! As Lisa marveled over this oddity, Melanie explained, “This is where we store most of our books! There isn’t square footage to expand out, so we went up! Don’t worry, we have ladders!” She tapped on an old but sturdy set of steps that attached to rollers and a rod that encompassed the entire labyrinth.
“Do customers ever fall off of those things?” Lisa inquired as she ogled its massive altitude.
“Actually, most of our clients prefer to have their titles delivered,” Melanie replied.
Lisa’s optimism deflated when she received this information. “Deliveries? Oh, um, I don’t have a car…”
Melanie assured her, “That’s fine! I have a bike for you to use. Your new coworker, Delron, has a car, but he prefers to use the bike ‘cause it’s easier to peddle through the alleyways than it is to fight through traffic!” Lisa felt a rush of relief, but this jubilation got subsided as her curiosity tried to forecast how maintained these alleys were. She sincerely hoped that they weren’t as daunting as the ones she watched in movies…
“Over here is our RAH section!” Melanie had gone on without Lisa knowing it! Lisa scurried to catch up to her as Melanie continued, “RAH stands for rare and historical. If you handle anything over fifty years old, it’s absolutely imperative that you wear gloves!”
“Alright,” Lisa acquiesced. She kept her internal interrogation of why she had such a high emphasis on that rule to herself- it seemed weird, but she didn’t want to enhance any bad opinions that Melanie may have gotten about her already by acting too nosily or something!
Melanie gestured to a region by this glass case, and she spelled out, “Here’s our reading lounge. It hardly ever gets used, so make sure to dust it every once in a while.”
Lisa got entranced by this setup! A couple of plush, leather couches and chairs gathered around an antique fireplace, and a large window gave this nook a breathtaking scope of a waving river, a lush field, and even a bit of the Atlantic! Lisa’s heart skipped at these accommodations, and she couldn’t wait until she could peruse through a pleasant novel over there! One aspect of this arrangement mystified her though… “How could anyone opt to get their books delivered when this cozy corner exists?”
“Well, because of the graveyard, of course!” Melanie responded in a fashion that attempted to hide her obvious condescension on the issue.
“Graveyard?” Lisa’s face contorted into an expression of confusion. She had not come across any graveyards, and yet Melanie had uttered that in a manner that indicated that it should have been plain for her to see! She didn’t want to further Melanie’s probable belief of Lisa not having as much sanity as she did during her interview, so she studied the scene outside to discover what she was referring to. It suddenly dawned on her that the acreage she hypothesized to be a park got utilized for another purpose entirely… “Oh, yeah! That!”
Melanie knowledgeably briefed her, “The Corigiles Cemetery is one of the oldest graveyards in the country! Some of the original inhabitants of Melas are buried there…” Lisa glanced at it with more profoundness. If that property dated back to the sixteen hundreds, then that meant the witchcraft victims were likely beneath those tombstones! The momentous event that birthed this municipality’s spooky reputation ended within feet of where she now stood! Melanie tentatively asked her, “Does… Does this scare you off?”
If her cousin was present, she would have most definitely advised her to run and never return! Lisa had no intention of adhering to that apprehension though! The concept of residing next to the catacombs and coffins was gloomy, but she was determined not to allow it to daunt her! She firmly answered, “Not at all!”
After breathing an exhale of alleviation, Melanie articulated, “Good! Then there’s one more piece of matter we gotta go over…” Melanie approached the fireplace and tugged on a decorative candlestick. Lisa found this action sort of bizarre until the wall opened up…