Pablo | Prologue
Translation to English: Theofilos Tourzaridis
Editing and Proofreading: Cleopatra Strati
The small village at the foot of the mountain, somewhere in Transylvania, was not full of life as used to be. The 300 villagers worked hard to live. The mines had closed years ago and the miners had now turned to the timber that the forest provided and the livestock that gave them at least a cup of milk and some eggs every day.
Most of the inhabitants, today, are old people and their hobbies are either embroidery or television. For the bravest ones – bravest from their youth – could be a walk in the forest. A forest where old stories used to talk about a witch who was – once – one of them, but after giving birth to a child without having married first, that was the reason for banishing her from the village. Being cut off from all her co-villagers, she hid in the forest, up to the mountains. She was about to starve to death until she met the Beast.
Popular beliefs speak of the Beast as being a form of the Devil who fed himself out of the fear and despair of the inhabitants. It is said that the Beast and the Woman made a deal. She was going to live forever, to take her revenge in exchange for her baby’s soul. Some people say that she refused, but most of the villagers believe that she accepted. Some believe that since then she has been lurking in the shadows bewitching men who trespass on her boundaries; some have heard her voice through the rustling of tree leaves.
The village’s only contact with the world is the train. No one but the Stationmaster, a fat man with a mustache, knows when the train will come. Sometimes once a month, sometimes once every 10 days. It depends; but no one – even the Stationmaster – knows on what. Its railway is old and the train is even older. When it stops immediately the strong men of the village load the timber destined for the cities.
There were years before any visitor arrived in their village. Years ago, dozens of people came from other villages to work in the mines for a piece of bread. The inns of the village were not enough to accommodate the people who woke up early in the morning to work and returned when it was already dark. The food was cold, the water was of dubious quality, but – most importantly – the accommodation was cheap. The permanent residents, those who are still alive, speak of “the golden era”. When their village had, as they used to say, 1000 inhabitants and many workers. Their grandchildren look at them astonished, as the older ones describe their strength and endurance at work; how they smashed stones with their bare hands.
But today, they will have a visitor. There would be someone that comes from far away. This visitor comes with a purpose. A purpose that will change the history of the village forever. Some villagers, after this story, will praise him as a hero clinking their glasses to Pablo’s name.