Chapter Five: Tobias Rafael
Teri slowly walked to the central library the next morning, wearing her most comfortable jeans, and a faded black top. It was a beautiful day. The sun was shining brightly and not a single cloud tainted the clear, blue sky. The streets that Teri walked along were mostly deserted. Children were stuck in school and most adults were at work.
It was one of those days where Teri couldn't work up the energy to be bothered about anything. She had considered staying in bed all day, but Mark's family had come over to visit, and she had been forced to shower and change. Greeting them briefly, she had then walked out of the house and strolled down the road in the vague direction of the library, her mind running through the same thoughts like a broken record.
The vials of blood in her dad's briefcase disturbed her, she admitted now as she walked. She had taken the briefcase up into her bedroom and it lay hidden under her bed for now - not that anyone would have a need for it. For the life of her, she couldn't think of a reason why Dad would have those vials of blood. Teri had briefly wondered if they were blood samples from children, but she had dismissed the idea. That would make no sense. He worked for the council's education department. His job description did not even remotely include carrying blood samples around in his briefcase.
Her phone chimed. Pausing, she dug it out of her pocket. There was a text message from Tommy. It read "Berry, U skiving again?"
"Yup. Can't stand school right now," she texted back.
"Don't blame u."
"Are u in class?"
"History. Mrs Patrick's the substitute."
"Tell me about it." There was a pause, and then he sent another text. "So, I had a thought last night."
"Should I dare to ask what it was? ;)"
"I was thinking we should research the dog bite the medical report says killed your dad."
Teri frowned. "What's there to research?"
"Maybe it wasn't a dog. Maybe it was a different animal?"
"I don't know. A fox? A wolf?"
Teri was reminded of the sketches of wolves in her dad's briefcase. Uneasily, she texted back. "Wouldn't the medical experts have researched all that before writing the report?"
There was a pause. "I thought we were assuming everything they said is a lie?"
"I don't think they lied about anything. I just think that dad was involved in something that he didn't tell us about."
"What do you mean?"
"Will give you a full update later. I'm going to the library to kill some time now."
"Check out what else can cause a bite of those dimensions. Do you have the report on you?"
"No, but I remember the details."
"Ok. I better go Berry, Patrick's heading my way! x"
Teri slipped her phone back into her jeans, and entered the air-conditioned hallway of Mazenbire's central library a short while later. The familiar musty smell of books was reassuring on some deep, subconscious level and Teri inhaled deeply.
The central library was five storeys high. The top two floors were filled purely with reference books, and consisted of silent study areas. The ground floor was mainly for parents with children or toddlers. The remaining floors were dedicated to fiction.
Teri walked along the laminated floors, her footsteps echoing loudly. She passed a staff member who smiled at her warmly before returning to restocking some empty shelves. The library wasn't very busy. A middle-aged woman was encouraging her screaming kids to finish their drawings in the children's section. Teri walked past them to the elevator and ascended to the second floor.
A half hour later, she was feeling increasingly restless. The fiction areas were mostly empty at this time in the morning, but no book caught her attention and she found herself wandering through the aisles, her thoughts straying to what Tommy had said. For some reason, she felt reluctant to do as he suggested. She felt it would be a waste of time. So what if it was a fox or some other animal that bit her dad? He had still died as a result of it. What was important was that she figure out what he had been up to that night, and the nights leading up to his death. Why had he been in the forest? Why had he lied to them about where he was going? Why was he carrying vials of blood in the hidden compartment of his briefcase? It made no sense.
It wasn't as if she had any leads on all those things however, she acknowledged reluctantly after a while. And since she was here, within reach of the reference books that would answer Tommy's question, she guessed she might as well take a look.
Ascending to the deserted fourth floor, Teri headed towards the section on Animals and Wildlife. The books were mostly aiming at teaching people how to look after pets, or train to become a vet. Teri glanced through several promising books, but none revealed what she was looking for. There must be a faster way. Her gaze fell on to the computers section right at the back of the floor. It was empty.
A minute later, she groaned in frustration. The internet had proved to be useless too. Wikipedia itself stated that for the dimensions of the bite that she had provided, any number of animals could be responsible.
"Excuse me," a thin, tremulous voice said. Teri whirled around, startled. An elderly man dressed in dark trousers and a spotless white shirt stood there. He was perhaps 5'8, but his hunched back meant that he stood closer to 5'2. He had a short white beard, and white hair cropped short to his skull. "I do apologise," he added. "I didn't mean to startle you."
"It's okay, don't worry," Teri replied and looked at him expectantly, wondering what he wanted.
"I didn't mean to pry," the man said, sitting down on to the chair next to hers. He was slightly out of breath as he continued, "But I couldn't help but notice that you seem frustrated about something. Is there anything that I can help you with?"
Teri looked at him, confused. He didn't look like an employee of the library.
"How rude of me!" he exclaimed suddenly, looking at her through wire-rimmed glasses. "My name is Tobias Rafael. I am a historian, working at the University," he added and extended a gnarled hand.
Teri shook it and replied, "I'm not sure you can help me, to be honest. What I'm looking for has nothing to do with history."
"Everything has a history behind it," he stated wisely. "But it is true that I may not be able to help you. The only reason I offer is because lately I seem to be spending more time in this library than I am outside it!"
"I'm trying to find out what animal can cause a bite of these dimensions," Teri said, passing Tobias a piece of paper with the details. After a moment, she added, "Someone I know was bit by an animal, and does not know what it was."
He studied the paper for a moment, before looking back at her. Looking was perhaps not the right word, for he seemed to study her too, seeming surprised about something.
"Do you know where I can find that information?" Teri asked feebly when a few moments passed and he said nothing.
Tobias considered, before returning the paper to her. He shook his head. "You will not find that information in this library, or perhaps any library in this country."
"What? Why?" Teri asked, confused.
"Because, my dear," he said with a sigh. "That bite is from a werewolf, and according to most reference books, werewolves do not exist."
Five minutes later, Teri was berating herself for asking the old man in the first place. He was still talking about the history of the werewolves and how they had evolved over time to become dangerous predators with the aid of a full moon. Most of this passed through one ear, and out the other. Eventually, Teri couldn't help but stand up, and rudely walk away.
Tobias didn't give up that easily though. He followed her to the elevator and stood in the doorway, preventing the doors from closing.
"What are you doing?" Teri asked, annoyed now.
"You do not understand," he said breathlessly. "Werewolves are one of the most dangerous creatures on this planet! It is a shame that people do not open their eyes to see the threat these animals hold to the rest of mankind-"
"Look sir," Teri interrupted. "If you don't move, I'm going to have to report you to the security staff. You can't go around, harassing people like this!"
He didn't seem to care, and continued to babble on.
Teri couldn't stand it any more. "Listen to me," she said, interrupting his tirade again. This time, he stopped and focused on her. "It wasn't a friend of mine that was bit. It was my dad, okay? He died from the bite. That was why I had to find out. So, enough of this werewolf crap, okay?"
All the blood drained from the old man's face as he looked at her with his tired, blue eyes. He swallowed before asking, "Was your father Justin Howards?"
"Yes," she replied, almost relieved. He must have read about them in the paper.
She expected an offer of condolence and that he would step back with an apology and let the elevator doors close, but instead, he started to look increasingly unwell.
"And your father was killed by this werewolf bite?"
"I told you, Tobias. It was a stray dog bite, not a werewolf."
"But you do not know that for certain!" he exclaimed. Then swallowing, he stuttered, "That must mean... you are then..."
"I'm what?" Teri frowned.
He didn't reply, looking like he was going to faint. Sighing, Teri grabbed his arm and guided him back to the seats.
"Are you okay?" she asked, peering at him. He was resting his head back on to the headrest, his eyes closed. "Shall I get you some water?"
"No. No, no, no," he muttered. Teri felt suddenly alarmed.
"Tobias? Should I call an ambulance?"
He opened his eyes and stared at her. "So young," he said softly. "You are, how old? Fifteen?"
"And you know nothing? Nothing about the werewolves or the ghosts?"
Teri barely stopped herself from rolling her eyes. Ignoring his question, she asked again, "Are you feeling okay? Do you need anything to drink?"
Tobias sat up then and grabbed her hand in his own. There was an edge of panic as he said to her, "You are Diya, girl! And you don't even know it!"
"What are you talking about?" Teri asked, exasperated. This old man was seriously off his rocker.
"What is your name?" he demanded.
"Okay Terrelyn, listen to me very carefully, okay? This world is not what it appears to be. Everyone you see is not always who you think they are! There are beings out there that can kill you within seconds. They can kill you without even touching you. Do you understand?"
"No," Teri said, snatching her hand back and standing up. "But I've had enough, old man. Okay? I'm sorry." With that, she walked away once again.
"It was not a dog bite that killed your father, Terrelyn!" Tobias called after her but this time, he did not follow. "It was a werewolf. And you, my girl, will come to that realization very soon!"
As she walked into the elevator, he added, "And I will be here when you have questions, girl. You will return."
"Not on your life," Teri muttered and then sighed, feeling very drained all of a sudden. The elevator doors closed and she couldn't help but think what a waste of time it had been to come to the library this morning.
But as she would find out later, she couldn't be more wrong.