The girls went to the library after school. As they entered, Rebecca's eyes were drawn to the newspaper rack that stood right next to the door, just before Mr Starkweather's desk. She didn't usually read newspapers, but this one just caught her eyes. The headline was: Strange Death in Soho. She picked it up and read as she moved to the librarian's desk:
The body of Sean Arthur Bradford, aged 29, a trader at Charles Stanley Ltd., was found dead in a hotel room in Soho this morning, of unknown cause. Mr Bradford did not suffer any health issue, and his body bore no sign of attack, poisoning, or drugs. According to preliminary reports, the body was described as "unusually cold" and "as if all of his energy had been sucked away from him". If the first lead the police are considering is natural cause, his body being found in what is considered the hottest part of London's red-light district may suggest that Mr Bradford was seeing a prostitute at the time of his death. No potential suspect has however been identified.
"How are you doing, Rebecca?"
She startled at the voice and looked up to the librarian. "Oh, Mr Starkweather," she smiled nervously, "I'm sorry, I was lost in this... article..."
"Oh, that murder story," he said after casting a quick glance. "Weird, isn't it?"
"Yeah, especially the life sucked away thing, and the prostitutes, that's just seedy, would be perfect for a horror story! You know, actually, this reminds me of something I've seen in series, like demon women who seduce men and drain their life..."
"Succubus," the librarian said.
"Suck a bus?" she repeated, puzzled.
He smiled warmly, amused. "A succubus, my fair lass, is a mythological creature who takes the form of an attractive woman to prey on men and feed on their lifeforce through intercourse."
"To put it bluntly, they have sex with men to kill them."
"Eww... so maybe that's what happened, then?"
He laughed. "Of course, not! These creatures don't exist, young lass. I think you're reading too much."
She wanted to slap herself. Stupid stupid stupid! He's just the librarian, he has no idea such creatures exist! So she laughed like a silly girl, pretended she was just joking, and returned the books she had borrowed. All books on historical European martial arts and the art of ancient swordsmanship. He had raised an eyebrow when she borrowed these, and she had pretended it was for a presentation for history class. As she was on her way to meet Sally at a table, she ran into Raj. He didn't answer her greeting, and barely even looked at her.
"Raj! What's wrong?"
"I don't know, you tell me. Here's a clue: it has something to do with the fact that you ran away without an explanation at my birthday, and we've hardly spoken to each others since."
"Oh, Raj, I'm sorry, I..."
"I don't recognize you, Rebecca! You used to be my friend, we used to do stuff together... and since my birthday, everytime I offered to go somewhere, the swimming pool, the mall, all the places we used to hang out, you always came up with some excuse, I just stopped trying after a while. If I did or said something wrong, and if you don't want to see me anymore, just tell me now, cause I'm not taking this any longer."
She felt horrible. Her training. She had been so focused in her training for the past few weeks, that she didn't even pay attention to how her friend felt. "No," she said, "I still want to be your friend! And I'm sorry I let you down, it's just... my life's been too complicated, lately, I'm kind of lost..."
"Then talk to me! If you're in trouble, I wanna help!"
"No, Raj, I don't want to drag you in this, that wouldn't be cool of me."
"What if I wanted to be dragged in this, whatever this is?"
She sighed. "Listen, maybe... when the time is right, I'll tell you. But in the meantime, I don't want to lose you as a friend, okay? I know we haven't been seeing each others for a while, but you still matter to me."
"Yeah, whatever," he sighed as he walked away.
How could she be so selfish? She thought as she watched him leave. She was disgusted in herself. But she had to keep stronger. There was something she had to do, and she had to talk to Sally. She would think she was crazy, for sure.