If I were allowed a favourite of the stories I’ve written this would be it. It turned out really well. I love it. It’s an alternate version to the BatB Episode ‘Though Lover’s Be Lost’ and was originally written for a BatB UK Convention Fund Raiser, year 2000.
Beneath The Moonlight’s Star
How sweet the answer Echo makes
To music at night
When roused by lute or horn, she wakes
And far away o'er lawns and lakes
Goes answering light!
Yet love hath echos truer far
And far more sweet
Than e'er beneath the moonlight's star
Of horn or lute or soft guitar
The songs repeat.
'Tis when the sigh...in youth sincere
And only then -
The sigh that's breathed for one to hear,
Is by that one, that only Dear
Breathed back again.
Echoes by Thomas Moore
How it was
Catherine let herself in to her apartment, and after dropping her bag and keys onto the table, went straight across to fling open the balcony doors, to stand gazing out at the city below. It was dusk, the early evening sky ablaze with colours, gold, mauve, pink and indigo. Catherine barely saw it, her mind was filled with so many thoughts, racing thoughts, that tumbled one upon the other, in a bid to establish some kind of pattern, some kind of reason, that would help her to grasp the logic that she needed to endure.
As a cloak of darkness descended over the city and one by one the lights from other apartments were flicked on, Catherine reached a decision. There was nothing else she could do, she simply had to tell Vincent that she was pregnant. She was carrying his child.
Walking through the familiar tunnels, towards his chamber, her heart wrestled with the words she must tell him. It would be so difficult, for he did not remember many things, the most important of all at this stage, was the fact that they had become intimate that day when the rages of the beast had possessed him deep within that cavern.
Catherine’s thoughts drifted back to that day. When her heart had thumped hard within her chest, and her breath had almost stopped as she had walked towards the horrifying sound of his roaring, the anguish that was tearing him apart. Father had warned her, that such self-infliction would be too much for his heart, simply, if he could not be stopped his heart would give out under so much strain and pressure. Catherine had to help him, he was her life, without him there was nothing.
Entering the cavern, her eyes became accustomed to what little light shone from within, and she saw him there, his claws ripping into himself, thrashing his arms against the rocky walls, his ear splitting, savage roars filling and echoing around the chamber.
Then the beast’s flagitious eyes glinted in the half-light, and seemed to notice her for the first time. His body did not hesitate, with arms high and claws outstretched, he lunged for her, intent on tearing her body apart. Catherine screamed his name “VINCENT!” and within a hair’s breath from striking her, he stopped, his arms falling to his sides, his body plunging to the sandy floor, taking her down with him.
Catherine knew she would never forget that moment for all of her life. The agony, the pain, to have seen him like that, the spilt second fear as he had come at her, the knowledge that their love was so deep that it had stopped, even the beast inside from striking her.
And then to see his lifeless form lying beside her finding no trace of a heartbeat, no rising of his chest to show that he lived!
*** *** ***
Catherine had been beside herself with dread and terror.
Deep within her memories of that day, Catherine could still feel the horrifying sickness that had knotted her stomach to the realisation that his heart had given out under the great pressure the bestial side of him had placed upon it.
Yet she could not let him die! Not without her!
She did the only thing she could do.
Clasping her lips to his, passionately she kissed him, becoming more frenzied as he failed to respond. Simply she would not let him die her kiss had to bring him life, there was nothing else. Nothing else.
The sentries tapped a message on the pipes, telling that Catherine was walking towards the home chambers, and as she walked deeper into his world, she smiled briefly at them, her thoughts still playing havoc with her mind. That day, that fearful, fantastic day, when she had clasped her lips against Vincent’s, at first she felt nothing. No response to give her hope, and her heart had almost stopped beneath her breast. And then, some feeling, some tiny, tiny feeling, and a sigh, oh! the softest of sighs had broken from his lips beneath hers, and his eyelids had fluttered so gently like the wings of a butterfly. Hope had flared within her heart, but she did not relent of her kissing. She continued, harder now, breathing life into the slightly open lips beneath her own, until she felt upon them a slight response, a movement so tiny she thought she may have imagined it. And as she held her breath to listen intently she heard a slow rumble deep within Vincent’s chest, up and up it came to break from his lips in a soft and sensuous moan.
Catherine could remember whispering his name, rocking him gently, feeling the movement of his body beneath her hands, as he gathered himself to stand. She held him back, “No, Vincent don’t try to move. Be still, let me help you.”
For a moment he stared at her, noticing her for the first time, and then shook his mighty head, as if trying to clear a fog from his mind. Opening his eyes, she was pleased to see that the feral glint had gone to be replaced by mistiness beyond which shone love. He swallowed hard, and lifted a hand to his mouth, to trace a line along the length of his lips with his fingers. A sigh escaped him, as he remembered the pressure of her lips against his, and his blue eyes softened as he looked into her own. Catherine held her breath, the way he was looking at her, she had seen this look before, but this time there was something different, the tilt of his head, the way his lips parted. Catherine waited, mesmerised as he inclined his head to bring it within inches of her own and then oh, the bliss! The feel of his lips on hers!
Together, their arms stole around each other, and Catherine could not breathe from the intensity of his mouth on hers, the pressure of his lips against her own.
A soft sigh escaped her mouth, and the breath tantalised Vincent’s own, so that his tongue stole between her lips to enter her mouth. Catherine had not known such indescribable ecstasy in all her life, and she moaned, as desire ran its gentle fingers from the pit of her femininity to course through her veins in surging waves, that swept over her entire being.
Gathering her close to him, Vincent’s body hardened and she aided him when he tried to roll her body beneath his own. The feel of his desire pRobg against her, made her body arch towards him of its own accord, and Vincent groaned deep within his soul.
There were no words, for all the words had long since been said, all the pleading and all the denials were now firmly in the past, nothing mattered anymore, and Catherine had felt her heart overflow with joy as it told her that now was the time.
Vincent’s hands caressed every part of her body that he could reach, still with his lips fastened to hers, as if he was taking life sustaining air from within her, and to let go he would surely die.
Wriggling beneath him, Catherine ground her hips into the sandy floor, in an attempt to free herself from her clothing, as Vincent’s hands, loosened and pushed away his own.
At last free from the restraints that had separated them, Catherine was able to lock her legs around his hips, and gasp with pleasure as she felt him penetrate her warmth. A short sharp roar of triumph, escaped Vincent’s lips as he entered, and fleetingly, Catherine wondered which side of Vincent was actually making love to her. Though his blue eyes shone with love and passion, there was also an arrogance that was hard to grasp, and as his mouth left her own, to fasten with gentle teeth upon her shoulder, she wondered about that even more.
Still, whichever Vincent now made love to her, it didn’t matter, for it was more than she dreamed, and she loved both sides of this man as a whole. It was her own beloved whose body rocked exquisitely within her, her own beloved whose seed emptied inside of her, and as great gasping sobs left his body, he collapsed with exhaustion upon her body although still deeply embedded within her.
In all of her life Catherine would never forget that wondrous time, and it was a source of great sadness to her that Vincent could remember none of it, so as she made her way towards his chamber to tell him of her pregnancy her heart weighed heavy.
She had hoped that one day he would remember, and she had been prepared to wait for that day without pressurising him in any way, now she would have no choice, and she was fearful of what that may do to him.
When Catherine finally reached the soft amber glow of the home chambers, her feet seemed to slow down and hesitate of their own accord. She was filled with a great sense of unrest, and had to collect herself before she could purposefully step forwards to her destination.
*** *** ***
Entering Vincent’s chamber, a smile of greeting upon her lips, she stopped suddenly. He did not look up at her approach, but kept his head bowed low as he sat upon a chair. He looked far away.
Her heart froze, was he ill?
“Vincent, what is it? Are you all right?” her breath caught in her throat as she waited for his answer.
“Yes.” finally he spoke, very softly.
“I need to talk to you.” swallowing hard, she waited, wondering how best to continue, it was going to be hard no matter how she decided to tell him, but his words caused her thoughts to change direction.
“ I can see that you do. There was a time when I would have come to you.”
Drawing her brows together Catherine asked, “What do you mean. I don’t expect you to do.”
And as he continued to speak her heart cried out for his anguish, “Catherine, I look in your face, I can see your unrest.” He rose from his chair to walk behind it to face and tell her, “there was a time when I could feel it here.” He told her agonised as he placed a hand over the region of his heart and went on, “feel what you were feeling...Everything. Across a city... Across a continent, now I have to wait for you to tell me...” He sighed and with his heart broken told her, “there was a time when I could feel you coming to me...feel you near in the tunnels.... There was a source of great joy radiating from you...filling me with great joy. Tonight I waited...till the sentry sent me a message that you were here.”
Catherine felt her heart constrict in her chest, his pain was wretched, and it hurt her terribly, she tried to console him, “But its, different now.”
Yet Vincent didn’t seem to hear her, as he went on, “It’s gone.”
Not grasping his turn of thoughts she could only ask, “What’s gone?”
“The connection, our connection. Our Bond.”
But Catherine was not convinced, “It will return.” she hoped he would believe that, but he didn’t.
“No I don’t think so.” he told her, his eyes filled with great sadness.
“Have faith,” she told him, “that it will.”
Vincent shook his head, “No, its lost to me, I know.”
“How do you know? Why do you say that?”
Catherine’s heart went out to him, as he replied, “Because it is the price...the price I must pay for this new peace. This contentment, but Catherine...what have I lost!”
Catherine felt the tears rising within her eyes, and she told him gently, “I don’t think that it is lost, and even if it is Vincent, it was a gift. That power was a gift, it came to you in a life when it was needed and… you used it and... perhaps it is no longer needed.” She hoped her words would convince him, but his reply showed that they hadn’t.
“More than once it saved your life.” he told her sadly, and this may have been one of the main reasons for his anguish at having lost it, for he could not tell anymore when she needed him, and that was frightening in itself. If he was to lose her he would surely die.
Catherine thought about the baby, she had to make him understand that the Bond was no longer important without telling him yet of her news, “Perhaps the gift will return to you in another form...something you never even dreamed of,” she smiled warmly at him, “Vincent, your power was extraordinary, but it has nothing to do with what we are together, what we feel for each other...that is our connection...and if one gift is lost...there are other gifts waiting to be found. Believe me Vincent, there are so many gifts waiting for you…all you have to do is just open your arms and receive them.”
Vincent took a deep breath, resigning himself to her words, “I believe you.” he told her.
Catherine looked at him, standing there so vulnerable, she just wanted to hold him, “Just open your arms.” she repeated, softly.
Vincent sighed, and lifted his arms up and open to her, inviting her to step within, which she did without hesitation, to lay her head upon his shoulder. His cheek caressed the top of her head, he loved her so much, and it was true, though the loss of their Bond was still important to him, and he would miss it, they did still have one another, and nothing was more important than that.
Yet he did not need the connection to know that something still grieved her, and he asked, “Now tell me... tell me what’s troubling you?”
There were so many ways Catherine could have answered. The opportunity had arisen to tell him about the baby and it would have given emphasis to the words she had spoken. Yet she could sense that he was fragile, and may not have been able to cope with what she had to say. So as much as it grieved her to do so, she sighed deeply, telling him instead, “Another time... Don’t worry.” though her heart was breaking at having to keep it from him a while longer.
How it should have been
Peter Alcott sifted through his mail, pulling out from among the bundle those marked urgent. Opening them, he dealt with them swiftly, before embarking upon the rest. Those from the hospital, he had put into a second pile, it was these that he reached for now. Sliding the brass tail of a peacock letter opener beneath the seal, he slid open the envelope, and unfolded the memo within.
A gasp escaped his lips, as the name Catherine Chandler jumped out at him. He hadn’t known Catherine had been in hospital. Frowning, he read on, he hadn’t sent her had he? No, he shook his head, he might be under a lot of pressure from over work, but he would have remembered if Catherine had needed to see a specialist, she was like a daughter to him.
Reaching for his coffee cup, his hand froze in mid air, as his eyes scanned the notes with the intention of reading them thoroughly afterwards. Three words jumped out at him, Blood Test and Pregnant!
Bringing back his hand he reached for the telephone, at the same time thoroughly reading the notes before him. Catherine had given blood at the hospital and tests upon it had revealed that she was pregnant, the hospital had told her they would send the report to her own GP.
Dialling the familiar number Peter waited, relieved when Catherine answered the telephone, “Catherine Chandler.”
“Cathy, hi, its Peter here.”
“Peter, how nice to hear from you.” then a sudden thought passed her mind, “Is anything wrong, Vincent!” she whispered the name, lest anyone overheard, John Moreno was hovering nearby, a pile of files in his arms.
“No, Vincent is fine, at least as far as I know. No, Cathy its you that I need to speak to, the hospital sent me your test results.”
Catherine drew her brows together, “My test results, what test results?”
“Well, not so much test results, Cathy. Apparently you gave blood recently, and the scanner revelled more about you than you were prepared for, I take it?”
He didn’t need to finish, her answer cut him short, “Peter, you know?” Catherine asked incredulous.
“Yes, and I think you should make an appointment to come and see me. Does Vincent know?”
“No, not yet.”
“You must tell him.”
“I know, I’ve tried, but Peter, he has been so ill, I don’t know what this will do to him, he doesn’t even remember when it occurred.”
“Yes, Peter, his total memory loss includes that too.”
“Oh Cathy. I’m so sorry, look I know this is going to be hard on you, but simply you have to tell him.”
“I know, I know, but it’s going to be so difficult.”
“Yes I can see that it will be, but Cathy he must know, it’s not something you should linger on.”
“Why, is there something you’re not telling me? Is there a problem?”
“With the baby?”
“No not that I am aware of, but Cathy, surely you realise with the very differences of this pregnancy there could be complications, and Vincent would not want you to shoulder this alone. You simply have to tell him and Jacob.”
“Yes.” she hesitated briefly, imagining this, before continuing, “ So when should I see you?”
“Can you make it this evening after surgery, I will wait here for you, after the rest of the staff have gone home. Or did you want to speak to Vincent first.”
Catherine thought about that, “No, I’ll come to you straight after I finish work, about seven p.m., will that be all right?”
“Yes, seven is fine, I’ll see you later. Bye now.”
Catherine’s mind was in a whirl. It gave her a little relief that someone knew, with Peter at least she could talk, there was so much she wanted to know, so much she needed to ask. She checked her diary, perhaps if she could manage to straighten up here, she could get to see Vincent first, he might want to be included in the trip to see Peter. Quickly she scribbled a note to Vincent asking him to meet her at the threshold. John Moreno came to speak with her about the case involving the ledger at that moment, so she quickly folded the note to have it sent Below, via a helper.
As Catherine worked through the afternoon she thought about the basement at the bottom of the office block. It connected to a building where a tunnel had been opened up, and she had used it before, when she had stayed Below, and gone to work straight from there on a Monday morning. Checking her watch, Catherine wondered if she would find time to take that route and intercept Vincent. It was an unfamiliar journey, but she thought perhaps she could remember the way to take, and there would be sentries to help her if she got lost. Making up her mind, she decided to take her car to the lower level that wouldn’t be locked at night, leave it there and then make the journey to see Vincent, she could collect the car later.
However, although the rest of the day became impossible to concentrate on, she found she was busier than she had expected, and couldn’t leave early as she would have liked. On top of that, from time to time, she thought she caught John Moreno looking at her strangely, yet when she looked up with the words upon her lips to ask ‘what?’ he looked away. His manner un-nerved her, ‘Had he overheard some of her conversation she’d had with Peter?’
She was still having problems with the case that had put Joe in hospital, recovering from an explosion that should have killed him, and Elliott was still working on the ledger. Finally, Catherine’s head could take no more, and she picked up her bags to leave. Vincent would be waiting for her at the threshold by the time she got home, and though it never left her much time to tell him the most important issue of their lives, she could manage to do so, and still see Peter by seven, if she hurried.
Walking towards her car, she thought she heard corresponding footsteps. Yet every time she hesitated, they did so too. She had been a lawyer long enough to know when she was being followed, and hurried to her car. Telling herself she was being paranoid, she smiled, and noticing a man standing beside the car, she unwound the window, to see what he wanted, but as he drew a gun on her, she stamped her foot onto the accelerator and reversed away from him. Another man jumped upon the car, and Catherine swerved, changed gear, and put her foot down to drive forwards and away from them. Driving down to the lower bays, she drove faster and faster as another car sped out from behind her, and opened fire on her. The windows shattered all around her, and Catherine in fear of her life drove at breakneck speed.
There were not many things that Catherine could have done. Driving away in her car she could have been safe, but maybe at the bottom level there could have been a barrier and to open it, she would have had to insert a card, and that would have been too dangerous. With her life and that of the baby at risk she had to think safety and she had to think fast. She could not afford to be forced into crashing her car that could harm or kill the baby, least of all herself.
It had been a long time since Catherine had needed to fight her own battles, and with the absence of the Bond, she needed to make her own connection with Vincent, and there was only one way to do that. She had to get a message to him and fast. By now he would be in the tunnels on his way to the threshold to meet her. If only she could get to the basement, she could tap out an urgent message and he would come to rescue her, not only that, but if she could find that other way into the tunnels, she would be safe.
Leaving her car Catherine ran across to the elevator. It took a long time in coming, the seconds sped away, bringing the gunmen closer and closer to her, finally the doors reached her level, and she jumped in seconds after hearing the gunmen’s vehicle crash into her own stationary car.
Thoughts raced through Catherine’s mind, all she needed to do was get to the basement, but someone had called the elevator to stop on the way down. Catherine searched her bag for her gun, and held it out in front of her, lowering it with relief when she saw John Moreno stood there, “Oh John!” she sighed with relief. A short lived relief as two men stepped from either side of him, with guns, and John turned his back and melted away, to leave her totally in their hands.
Waiting at the threshold Vincent knew something was wrong. If Catherine knew she would be late she would have sent him another message. Fear knotted in his stomach, and beads of sweat broke out on his brow as the fear intensified. Finally unable to bear the waiting any longer he went up to her balcony. All night he waited for her, pacing, up and down, knowing for a certainty something was dreadfully wrong. “Catherine!” His mind screamed, “Where are you?”
Yet as the first streaks of dawn heralded another new day, Vincent was forced to take a last look through the balcony doors into the apartment and make his way back to his own home beneath the city streets, with a heavy and wretched heart.
Peter too had waited. He’d rung the office when by eight Catherine still had not turned up. And when he got no reply, he had rung her apartment. Finally he conceded that she must have gone to see Vincent after all, and had forgotten the time, or forgot the appointment. Still that was most unlike Catherine. Oh well he told himself, she has got rather a lot on her mind, I guess she’ll ring me tomorrow. Picking up his bag and coat, he opened the door to his office, switched off the lights, closed and locked the door and headed for home.
A whole day passed. There was no sight or sound of Catherine. Vincent was beside himself. “Father, something is dreadfully wrong. We may have lost our connection, but I feel it here.” He gestured to his heart.
Father nodded, “Yes, I fear you may be right Vincent. Wasn’t Catherine working on a dangerous assignment?”
“Yes. One that killed one man and put another in hospital. I fear for her, Father, and without our Bond, I have no way of knowing where she is.”
“Perhaps our helpers will do something. In the meantime I will put out an all clear on the pipes. If Catherine can contact us, I know she will, yet she may be held far away from here, the message could be weak.”
“Thank you, Father. In the meantime I will continue to search for her. I will find her Father, I will.”
“I know you will, Vincent, and I shall pray for you both.”
Without their Bond, Vincent was tormented. He knew Catherine needed him, and his mind would not allow him the possibility that she was dead. Besides though their connection had gone, he would know for a certainty if that were the case.
All he could do was search and listen as he searched, in the hope that something inside him might trigger a response through her to him, and he would know where to look.
Yet as the one day, grew into two his heart grew heavy and lack of sleep impaired his senses, leaving him solely reliant upon the network of pipes now silent in anticipation for Catherine to get a message through.
Pacing his chamber, Father could only despair, his own heart heavy as he watched his son’s movements. That these two were apart like this served only to remind him of their great love, and of how he had on many occasions tried to thwart that love. He did not like to think about what would become of Vincent if Catherine were not to be found, or if she were to be found...No! He would not let his mind feed on such things.
She lived! Vincent had convinced him of that, still Father found the waiting unbearable, where was she?
Finally when the urgent tapping came upon the pipes, both of them froze. The message loud and clear, someone was calling for Vincent urgently, it could only be Catherine. Listening once to the directions, Vincent grabbed his cloak and was gone, leaving Father only to wait and pray, like he had never prayed before.
Running along the pavements, his cloak flying behind, Vincent paused only once, as he arrived at the building from where the message had come. He broke through the walls swiftly, killing some guards, yet even as he staggered blindly searching for clues of Catherine’s whereabouts a sound in the street below, took him to the window to see some men bundling Catherine into a car. Pulling the bars from the window, he threw himself through the glass, to land upon the roof of the vehicle, and smash the window to reach to a passenger inside. Yet the driver accelerated and reversed fast, too fast, Vincent was flung from the roof to the ground, and winded, could not get to his feet fast enough to chase the car. All he could do was stand and scream in his anguish, after the disappearing car, the name of Catherine, far into the night.
From then on night after night Vincent walked the streets, waiting, listening, looking, for something, anything that would bring him close to where she was. Though helpers kept a constant vigil around the area where she had been held, nothing came to light, Catherine, it seemed had simply vanished, whisked away to a secret location to which there were no leads.
Father fretted over his son the lack of sleep the loss of food heightening only his fear for his son’s health. Already he had experienced more than enough in such a short space of time. If Vincent was to have a relapse who would rescue him then? Without Catherine who could reach him? Yet Father had to marvel at Vincent’s incredible power to keep going. For as the days became a week and then ten days, and still no knowledge of her had come to light, Vincent continued without letup to leave the safety of his chamber each evening to search through the night for her.
*** *** ***
Walking steadily through the deserted streets, Vincent called out to Catherine, his despair tearing him apart, the worst was that he could be walking right past the place she was held, and wouldn’t know it. Beseeching her his heart cried out, “I can no longer feel you.... Why can I no longer feel your warmth reaching toward me? All I feel now is the emptiness, the cold emptiness.... As if my heart has been ripped from my chest and I am doomed to wander, searching to find it.” He sighed wretchedly.
“Yet I know you are alive...that I know...” His footsteps soft upon the pavement halted and he lay down while a car passed by, other people lay there, but they did not notice him, and he was not afraid of them, he had other, deeper, fears now, fears that stole into his head as he tried to fortify himself with sleep, the nightmares that raced through his mind, with cutting hooves that tore his soul to shreds. He was tired, oh so tired, yet he could not give up, he had to find her, he had to.
Continuing onwards, he called out deep in his heart to her, trying to re-awaken their Bond, “Call out to me Catherine...call out to me, so that I may hear you. Scream my name....But do not lose hope...do not lose faith that I will find you.” Unable to walk through the streets much more, Vincent pulled himself up onto the roof of a building, to sit and stare out over the city below. Somewhere in that city his true love lay, he would not give up until he found her. Telling her so, deep within his heart he went on, “I will find you. I will find you! I will not stop...I will search until I find you.... Or until I am dust!”
When Peter first received the message from a helper that Catherine was missing, he didn’t worry. Being the only one that knew of the main thing upon her mind, he had concluded that she had gone away to give herself thinking space, but as time went on, and helpers kept coming to him to see if he had heard anything, he thought it most strange. Then to top it all, he found a photograph of her face staring out at him in the morning paper, even her office had no idea of her whereabouts. Thinking it a little strange that they should do that he telephoned Joe Maxwell at his office who was now back at work.
As soon as Joe explained that Cathy had been working on the assignment that had left one man dead and himself in hospital, Peter froze he knew at once he had to go to see Vincent.
With the pipes announcing his arrival, Peter made his way steadily towards Jacob Wells’ chamber. This was going to be the hardest thing to do of his life. Being a doctor he was bound to keep a confidence, but there were times when he wished he could be more lenient about that, and this was one of those times. He tried to visualise how Catherine might feel about it. If he could be sure that she had gone away, and would be back, he would have no need to question his values, but that looked more and more unlikely, still he told himself what good would it do to tell Vincent about the baby. How could knowing bring Catherine home any faster? So he thought he would go along there, and play things by ear, and make his decisions along the way.
Father was overjoyed to see him, “Peter! Oh, how happy I am to have you come to see us. You’ve heard about Cathy I suppose?”
“Yes, it is a dreadful thing. I couldn’t believe it until I read it in the paper. I’ve brought you a copy.”
Father frowned. “Didn’t you get my messages? I sent one to you the moment Catherine went missing, and then another after Vincent saw her being abducted in that car.”
“He saw what!”
“Didn’t I tell you that?”
“No, only that she was still missing.”
“Oh I’m sorry Peter, I guess I didn’t want to worry you. I thought Vincent would have found her by now. I guess even I have trouble in accepting the loss of their connection.”
“They’ve lost their connection?”
“It would seem you and I have a lot of catching up to do. I’m sorry, Peter, I thought Catherine would have told you, about that.”
“No, I haven’t seen her in weeks. Well not since after Vincent was recovering after that day in the catacombs.”
At that moment Vincent strode into the chamber, “Ah, Peter, I heard you were here.” Peter frowned, the lines around Vincent’s eyes troubled him, “You look terrible.” He blurted without taking time to think, and as Vincent frowned he apologised profusely. “Oh Vincent, I’m so sorry, I didn’t mean... Hell, look I know how worried you must be. I guess had I of known all of this, I would look the same as you. But I thought she had gone away to stay with friends.”
“Don’t you think we would never have worried you if that had been the case?”
“No, unless you didn’t know.”
Vincent frowned, something definitely was amiss here.
“Peter, I don’t understand, how could you assume Catherine was visiting friends, and would not tell me, for what reason would she want to put me through this kind of anguish.”
Peter frowned it did sound ridiculous. Catherine would never do that to Vincent. Even if she had gone off to think things through she would have told him she would be away for a while. Shaking his head, Peter could only re-think his reason for coming, he had to tell them, it was the only way any of this would make sense and it was obvious Catherine hadn’t said anything.
“Vincent, Jacob, sit down both of you, there is something I think that you should know.”
“Do you know where Catherine is?” Vincent spoke in a hushed whisper.
“No. It’s not that. But I think I know the reason why have gone away without telling you. I believed she needed time to think things through. I should have realised she would never have gone anywhere without at least telling you she would be doing so first.” He paused, leaving Father and Vincent to glance from one to the other and then back to him. The man wasn’t making any sense.
“Vincent, do you remember anything of your relationship with Catherine before that day you became ill?”
Not knowing where this was leading, Vincent did not like to reply, did not want to answer any questions like this least of all to Peter, neither did he want to dwell on his memory loss, already it had caused him enough grief. Staring at the doctor, he could only shake his head, slowly.
Taking a deep breath, Peter went on as gently and as boldly as he could, “Vincent, Catherine told me you did not remember.” He faltered, leaving Vincent to wonder what he was going to say, “ could not remember,” he repeated, biting his lip, and paused again. It was so hard to put into words and with Vincent’s piercing blue eyes looking at him so intently that did nothing to lessen the difficulty.
“Could not remember what?” Father asked gently, “Peter, what is it you are trying to tell us?” Both his and Vincent’s face showed their uneasiness and confusion.
Peter decided to try a different tactic, one he was more relaxed with. “Do you remember the day when Joe Maxwell was involved in that explosion?” Both nodded, “Well Catherine went along to the hospital, and gave some blood.” This part was easy to tell, “the doctor told her it was the only thing she could do, as Joe needed blood. Well while the blood was being scanned to see if it might match, it was also scanned for other things. Because if it wasn’t suitable for Joe, maybe someone else could use it...” He paused again this was it, he thought to himself, and taking another deep breath he went on as Father and Vincent scrutinised him, and Vincent was looking decidedly anxious. Peter heard him whisper, “What did they find?”
Peter gulped, thinking, ‘Lord, what will this do to Vincent? I wish I didn’t have to tell him, but I’ve come too far now.’ Looking at Vincent’s anxious expression told him he had to close his eyes tightly, draw on the strength from deep within, and speak the words and soon. “She was, she was,” he hesitated, he didn’t think in all his life such a joyous word had been so hard to utter.
“She was what?” The sharpness of Vincent’s voice startled him, “Peter she was what! Tell me!” Leaning forward to grasp Peter’s arm, Vincent’s claws dug in, and though Peter watched as the gripping claws brought blood to ooze upon his skin, he was unaware of the pain, as in a voice barely audible he whispered, “pregnant.”
Vincent dared not believe he had heard him correctly. Shaking his head in disbelief he could only sit and stare it was Father who jumped to his feet and shouted “Pregnant! Cathy was pregnant!”
“Jacob keep your voice down!” Peter hissed, “We don’t want everyone to know do we?”
Father flopped back into his seat, his eyes wide, “No” he gasped, shaking his head, “We don’t.” And looked around wildly to see if anyone may have overheard.
Peter and Father then looked at Vincent, who hadn’t spoken a word, though his mind was filled with them. “Catherine, Pregnant! But how! Suddenly anger rippled through his body. She’d had relations with someone else! No!” His mind dismissed it before it took root, she wouldn’t, wouldn’t do that, not to him, not to them... But then if she thought she would get away with it... without the Bond, he would never know would he? And she wouldn’t have expected to become pregnant.
Still he refused to allow the thought to plant within his mind. He shook his great head from side to side as Peter reached across to him, “Don’t torture yourself, Vincent. This was why Catherine had to speak with you. She dreaded doing so she said you wouldn’t remember, because of your memory loss, and she was afraid the news would hinder its recovery. The night that she disappeared she was meant to be coming to see me. I needed to see her you must understand why. Any child conceived between the two of you could obviously prove to be a problem in more ways than one.”
“You mean it’s Vincent’s child!” Father jumped to his feet again. His face twisted with disbelief as he stared first at Peter then accusingly at his son.
“Father please!” Vincent whose own thoughts had gone down that roadway only moments before, yet had come to the conclusion that it was a dead end, was now disgusted that his father could think along the same lines, “Catherine would never, never be unfaithful to me. How can you think it is not mine?”
“I’m sorry Vincent, but you always said.... You were so adamant, I had no idea that your relationship had reached that stage.”
“Look let’s stop going round and round in circles shall we? The child is Vincent’s that I do know. Cathy said as much herself and don’t forget, she was worried because she knew Vincent would not remember the time of its conception, so that more than proves it does it not? Then if we can all just stop and accept this, maybe we can make some progress here?” Turning to Vincent he told him, “Vincent, the Bond you shared with Catherine, I believe I know the reason for your inability to grasp it right now. The child will be blocking the connection, but once it is born the Bond should return, however, we simply cannot hope to wait that long. Why that will be months.”
“Or weeks?” Father’s words cut in.
Peter and Vincent stared at him.
“Weeks?” Peter asked.
“This will be no ordinary pregnancy Peter, no ordinary child, the gestation period could favour one or either of their genetic makeup.”
Peter nodded, “Well for the time being let’s just opt for some time between the two. Whatever, the length of gestation is not the essence here, what is, is the fact that we cannot hope to wait until after the birth of the child for Vincent to resume his connection with Catherine. What I am saying is, it changes things rather, and complicates things too. Wherever Catherine is, she will not do anything that will cause a risk to Vincent’s child and we do not know if whoever is holding her knows of her pregnancy. If they do, and if that is the reason they are holding her, then... Do you get my drift?”
“Then they know about Vincent and want the child!” Father whispered, “But that’s terrible.
” “But for what other reason would they hold her, unless she is already, already...”
Peter was unable to finish, besides Vincent was on his feet and roaring, “No! Catherine lives! She lives!” And with that, unable to listen to anymore he swept from the chamber towards his own.
Laying upon his bed Vincent reached back into the recesses of his mind trying to remember. Catherine was pregnant! With his child! Oh if only he could find the key to unlock that memory. Some of it had returned along with it his ability to know his convictions against an intimacy between the two of them.
In his mind, he went over the last conversation he’d had with Catherine, the day she had told him she needed to talk to him, he knew then something was troubling her, but she would not say. And there was something else, she had told him that there were so many gifts awaiting him, things he had never dreamed of. That’s what she had meant of course, the child, their child, his and hers. And something else, her words telling him that the gift would return to him in another form. Vincent closed his eyes, delighting in the sound of the words whispering through his mind. Catherine, his Catherine was carrying his child. He felt such joy that he wanted to weep. He lay there emotionally drained, yet overjoyed to the point of being filled with life, when suddenly he jumped to his feet, to go dashing back into Father’s chamber, catching Peter as he was about to leave. “Peter, do we know how long? I mean how much time, since... since.” He was unable to go on, as the strange words would not form.
Peter crossed the room to stand at his side. “I’ve brought the hospital report with me, see for yourself.” He extracted it from his pocket, and flattening out the creases handed it to Vincent. “Here, this is the date she gave blood and this is the date they presumed for conception, does it mean anything to you?”
Vincent nodded the date would stay in his mind forever, though he wished he could bury it for as long. It was the same date that he had gone way down beneath the catacombs, when Catherine had come to him, and saved his life. Now he knew why he had felt such inner peace and contentment ever since that day. None of his rages in the past had left him feeling that way. He had wondered why that time had been so different.
“Thank you Peter, now I understand.”
“Have you remembered?”
“Not exactly, but it is all making sense to me now. Please excuse me, I have a lot to dwell on right now.” He made to leave, but Peter caught his arm, “Vincent, if you could give me a few more minutes of your time, I should like to talk with you some more.”
Vincent nodded. He desperately wanted space to think things through, but by Peter’s expression he could see he had to sit back down to listen. Easing his great frame into his usual chair in Father’s study, he waited.
“Vincent this connection, the one you have lost with Catherine,” Peter began.
“Without stating the obvious Peter, is there any other?” Vincent grinned at him, and Peter felt his lips twitch, glad at least to see Vincent in a better frame of mind to how he had looked upon his arrival.
Father remained quietly seated listening without interruption now.
“I don’t know how the connection works Vincent, it is a great gift, but from what Jacob has told me in the past you were able to hear Cathy’s heart beating alongside your own?”
“Vincent, the child, its heart will be beating, oh so quietly, you will have to still yourself to listen, but it may be possible. Perhaps you will need to work on it. But Vincent, whatever Cathy is feeling, whatever her emotions are, the child will pick them up. Its heart acceleration will adjust to her moods and from that, you might, just might attain a link with them.”
Vincent exhaled a deep breath “Is there anything else you can tell me Peter?”
“Yes, maybe, I don’t know, I’m clutching at straws here, I don’t know the depth of the connection, but maybe, you will in time be able to feel the child’s movements, that too will help you to establish a pattern. The child will be more active while Cathy is resting maybe it will be quiet when she is anxious, or jumpy when she is fearful. At least by maintaining the contact, you will know whether Cathy is well or not. Above all Vincent what you must try to grasp here, is a new connection, maybe unlike the one you had with Cathy, this time the connection to her will be via the child. The child is your connection, wherever Cathy is, she has part of you within her. Reach out to that part Vincent, and see if you can grasp and repair the link that now lies broken.”
Vincent nodded, Peter’s words made sense but he would need to be by himself somewhere quiet, to establish this kind of connection, somewhere he could meditate without distraction.
“Thank you Peter, I shall endeavour to do this.”
“I will come out in a day or two and see how you are doing. In the meantime if you need me just call.”
The two shook hands and Vincent resumed his footsteps towards his chamber.
Lying upon his bed once again, Vincent’s mind was in a whirl. So many things to think about and to top it all for the first time in many weeks he felt truly alive, wonderfully, happily alive. Catherine was carrying his child! Yet he could not remember, and knew that before he could do anything else he simply had to unlock that memory, and there was only one place he could do it. Back beneath the catacombs.
“Are you mad?” Father wanted to know when Vincent told him of his planned trip.
“If I am it is the sweetest madness, Father. Simply I have to start there, don’t you see that the day beneath the catacombs when Catherine came to save my life is a memory I have searched my mind for and yet it remains elusive. Before I can go forward, I have to establish the beginning, Father. There is no other way.”*** *** ***
“But why, Vincent? Why is that day so important?”
Vincent felt his cheeks burn, of course Father would not know the importance of this trip! Casting his eyes downwards, unable to meet the old man’s gaze, Vincent spoke very quietly, “Because that was the day the child was conceived.”
Father’s mouth dropped open, “That day! In that cavern? What, when Cathy went in there, you and she.... My God, no wonder she was gone so long!”
Vincent looked up, not knowing what he would see, unprepared to find Father’s body quietly shaking with suppressed laughter.
“What? Why do you laugh, Father?”
“Oh, Vincent, I’ve heard of the kiss of life, but isn’t that taking it a bit too far?”
Vincent grinned at him, “Catherine showed great courage, Father, in the frame of mind I was in then, anything could have happened, it was hardly the time for first events.”
“You mean, never before...” Father’s voice trailed away to a whisper, with disbelief.
Vincent shook his head “I was always against it, fearful that I would harm Catherine. So you see Father, I have to go down there. I cannot remember a single thing and I hope that with being there again something might jog my memory.”
Father nodded, “Yes. I understand now. And I shall pray for you, Vincent, because I can see how not remembering something as important as this, would drive you, anyone, insane. How long do you expect to be gone?”
“Not long, Father, two days at the most, I cannot spare any time that will take me away from searching for Catherine, but this too is important, and down there in the peace and solitude I might make contact with the child.”
Father clasped Vincent’s hands in his own, and drew them to his lips to kiss him tenderly, “Then may it go just as you have wished it, Vincent, and go with great care.”
As Vincent made the journey deep within the bowels of the earth, he allowed his mind to recollect everything from that day that he could already remember.
That day, that awful, awful day when the rages and fever had gripped him, he had left his family, in fear that he could no longer control his madness from those he loved. Walking along he could hear echoes in his head the ferocious roars that had ripped through the tunnels. The slavering saliva that had dripped from his fangs the way his body had torn into the rocky outcrop of the walls, without feeling the pain. Though he could well remember the warm blood seeping against his feverish skin.
If there had been any other way, Vincent would have allowed nothing to make him go this way again, and dredge up such horrific memories, yet he had to, he just had to.
He could remember how heavy his heart had felt, the grief that had torn through him in the belief that he would never see Catherine again. That was the root of his pain, that he loved her so much, yet he could not trust himself not to injure her. And just lately, her warmth had reached out to him even more, making him desire things that could never be. Frustration had kindled a spark deep within his gut that burned into an unquenchable flame, and there simply was no way to stop the tongues of fire that licked their way through his emotions, no way at all.
Reaching the cavern at last, Vincent was tempted to light another lamp, other than the solitary one that burned there, but he knew he had to keep everything just as it had been then.
The atmosphere had to be totally the same.
He paced the cavern, his mind still hearing the echoes in his head of his anguish that day. He wanted to shake them away his head throbbed from the bitter memory. Lowering down to his haunches, he sat opposite the entrance to the cavern, and in his minds eye, the first flicker came to him. “What? What was it?” Resuming his pacing once again, he came back to the place and squatted again, this time the flicker was brighter, he was able to maintain a hold over it, just long enough to see Catherine’s face appear before his, as his mind recollected her entrance into the cavern that day.
Hope flared within Vincent’s heart. In all the weeks that had followed he had never been able to recapture this much. All he knew of that day, was from what had been told to him, now he could not only picture Catherine walking into the cavern but could see the anxiety on her face also. Yet he was getting two different emotions here. For in being joyous at the returning memory, he was shutting out the feelings he had that day and he had to let it be. Had to allow it to come back to him the way it had been and not let any other emotion he may be feeling now stand in the way of it.
He also fought against having the daydream of believing that Catherine was coming back for real and he would really have liked to have spent the time doing so.
Rising to his feet again he paced the cavern, allowing thoughts of that day to penetrate his mind. Regaining the thoughts that chased through his head, the anger, the hurt, humiliation, stress, the fear allowing his dark side to dominate. It was difficult now to allow himself to do this without going so far as to bring it all back for real. What if digging into this most dreadful memory brought the dark one to the surface again, what then? Where then would he be, what hope would Catherine have, if the dark one possessed him again?
The echoes in his head threatened to engulf him, he could feel the tide rising up within him, trying to suck him back down into oblivion, his heart hammered in his chest, and he fought against the pull of his alter ego to go asunder. Reciting poetry, he was able to stay intact, poetry was the farthest from the dark one’s mind, it helped him to maintain a grip on his sanity, while he fought within himself to regain the memory without the motion.
"When, in disgrace with fortune and men’s eyes, I all alone be’weep my outcast state."
His words rippled through the cavern as he spoke them aloud.
"And trouble deaf heaven with my bootless cries and look upon myself and curse my fate. Wishing me like to one more rich in hope, Featured like him, like him with friends possessed..."
His voice trailed away as he made his way back to the wall again, sliding down to his haunches. The vision of Catherine within the frame of the entrance was now fixed, he had no more need to search for that part, and as it became firmly established within his mind, the next part came rushing up to meet it.
He could see her as she had been then, entering the cavern and he could feel the anger that had risen within him, the hatred and the ferocity of the beast. Catherine had said she was not afraid of the beast on many occasions, he could see now that this was not true for the fear in her eyes told him otherwise. Yet again her courage at facing the beast overwhelmed him and contradicted that belief.
Shaking his head again, for a fresh tide of savagery swept over him, Vincent hurried to continue with the poetry.
"Desiring this man’s art and that man’s scope, With what I most enjoy contented least: Yet in these thoughts myself almost despising, Haply I think on thee," Vincent smiled, "and then my state, Like to the lark at the break of day arising..."
A gasp escaped him as suddenly the memory came to him like a bolt from the blue. He could see it oh so clearly and in so doing was able to re-enact the whole thing with the absence of Catherine. His body lunged forward his arms raised and ready to strike as he heard the cry leave her lips. A shout of denial as she screamed his name and he had stopped, stopped dead, his arms falling at his sides, the sickening realisation that he had been capable of striking the one he loved, too colossal to bear and he had collapsed as lifeless at her feet.
This was the bit then Vincent told himself, as he now lay winded on the ground. At that time he would have lain there, seemingly dead and she would have been so afraid. Vincent could almost feel her fear. The love that they shared gave him the ability to know her thoughts at that time and now it caused him much pain.
. Closing his eyes, he re-enacted the part, trying to establish what must have come next.
For himself he could feel nothing. Had he died? Or had he come so close to death that his mind had simply switched off. There was a void, an emptiness now where nothing seemed to happen. He could not even feel his body upon the sandy earth there was no sensation of life within him at all. Vincent could remember all of this, yet knew that at that time he had not felt it. For simply there was nothing to be felt, his life had left him, slipped so far away, that only something miraculous could bring him back and even as he thought this through it was then that he felt it!
A soft breath upon his lips, warm, moist, a pressure, a movement and a rapturous sense of well-being flooding through his limbs. A tingling that started in his toes, creeping along his body, intensifying as it gathered in momentum. He could feel himself spiralling upwards, leaving behind a deep fog that had enveloped him, up and up, faster and faster, a feeling so beautiful that his head was filled with a bright dazzling light. And then as the emotion had gathered up its wings it had soared through the great void that had threatened to engulf him. To burst forth in a sigh of bliss so deep, so pure, while his heart had pounded to a crescendo of a dynamic force that had exploded all around him. A million tiny rainbow coloured stars had filled his mind, as his brain had shattered and his eyes had flown open to see the angel that had given him back his life!
Yet it was no angel, for Vincent could see it now so clearly “Oh Catherine.” His voice tight with emotion sighed her name as the key turned in his memory and unlocked the secrets he had thought lost to him. Now he knew, as the memories tumbled through his mind and Vincent had no more need of lying flat to grasp the memory. It flooded through his mind, every kiss every touch every sensation his body covering hers, penetration into her velvety softness her sigh of satisfaction her cries of joy, the feel of her arms around him holding him tight.
A warmth spread through Vincent as he remembered, her courage had brought them to this, yet she had given herself so willingly, that he loved her more in that moment than he had in all the time he’d known her.
Vincent stood now, he felt complete, and made to leave, taking one more look around him, and as he did so, his eyes were drawn to something sparkling upon the sandy floor. Bending to pick it up, Vincent gasped! It was Catherine’s pendant, the one he had given her that first anniversary of his finding her in the park, his symbol of his love for her. He caressed the gemstone, watching as the dancing lights cast mini rainbows across his fingers and then he gently opened the pouch that contained the rose she had given him and he laid the crystal inside. Later he would find a safer place, lest the rubbing against each other would do them some damage.
Finally, Vincent left the underground cavern behind, of lighter footstep than the one he had gone down there with, in fact he felt almost ten feet tall! He had no desire to linger any longer in that cavern where the dark one had tried to reclaim him. Any possible connection he could establish with his child could be done as he sat beside the waterfall or the mirror pool. And so as Vincent walked back towards the home chambers, he found himself uttering the final lines of the poetry he had been reciting and knew that at no other time had the words fitted so perfectly than now.
"From sullen earth sings hymns at heavens gate; For thy sweet love remembered such wealth brings, That then I scorn to change my state with kings."
*** *** ***Chapter Two
Catherine leaned her face against the cool glass of the window overlooking the city below, and sighed, ‘How much longer? How much longer would they continue to hold her? Five and a half months already. Would they wait until the baby was born and then start torturing her all over again?’ How her heart ached, she needed Vincent so much, to feel his strong arms around her. This should have been a joyous time for them both. As their child began to move beneath her heart, it should have been his hands that laid upon the bulk that was his future, not the hands of some strange doctor, who had made her life a misery. What did they want of her? She could never tell them she had left the ledger with Elliott, oh not from some misguided loyalty to protect him, but simply because to do so, would mean they had no further use of her, simply she would die, and possibly her child with her. Vincent’s child, even now the words sounded strange in her head. Would he ever know? Had Peter told him? Perhaps he had. She hoped he had yet the bitter-sweet knowledge that would bring to Vincent could destroy him. Especially if she were to disappear without a trace and she never saw him again. He must be frantic with worry by now. Her heart ached to think of it.
As the fifth month went into the sixth bit by bit Catherine began to notice things. Outside and parallel with her window were two chains. Catherine recognised them as belonging to the apparatus that aided the window cleaner to work so high up. The chains trembled, and she knew that the windows above were being cleaned, but just to enforce the point some soapy water cascaded down and out of sight, blotching the glass she was looking through on its way down. It wasn’t much, but it was something.
No one knew she was there, but if they were looking for her, it would do no harm to let someone see her. And it might be her only chance of being found.
She stood back from the window waiting. Surely she should have thought of it before. The windows were always so sparkling clean, yet she had never noticed the window cleaner at other times. She thought about that. A time or two she had been led away from the room, could it be those times that the windows were being cleaned. If so, she needed to pretend she was sleeping to foil their plan.
The camera’s, she knew, were always transmitting her every movement back to the security room, there was simply nothing she could do that wasn’t seen. Not even going to the toilet or having a shower, though there were no cameras in the bathroom, a nurse accompanied her the whole while. Catherine never got a single second to be alone.
Folding back the covers of the bed, she slipped beneath the sheets, and closed her eyes. It would have been easy to fall asleep she was so tired, though not from exertion. It was her eyes and her mind that was most tired from all the thinking she had done, trying to establish a method of escape. Simply there was none, but it didn’t hurt to hope, to make plans.
Listening as the chains outside caught in the wind and rattled, Catherine held her breath. Her eyes were closed, and she faced the camera, she had to make her face as serene as possible to be able to fool them. Hearing the key in the lock, she waited the sound of voices drifted over to her.
“She’s sleeping, doctor, should we leave her be?” A moment’s hesitation and Catherine’s heart was in her mouth. Footsteps sounded, as someone was coming around the bed to face her. She knew when someone stood looking down at her. Desperately she willed herself to act normal, to breath the way of someone asleep, it was difficult, but Catherine almost sighed with relief when the doctor’s footsteps trailed away again, “Yes, she seems to be sleeping soundly enough, we’ll not disturb her this time.”
No sooner had the lock turned in the door when Catherine heard the apparatus slide down to her level, the sound of an instrument softly tapping against the glass. It had to be now, she didn’t know how efficient the cleaners were, or if the doctor may change his mind. Quickly she threw back the covers, noticing the moment she did so, a red warning light flickered above her door, whoever had been watching the monitors had anticipated this move, and was working against her!
Catherine ran to the window, pulled back the blinds, and waved frantically to the two men outside. At first they did not notice her, and the thought hit her that perhaps the windows were tinted on the outside. She pressed her face against the glass, and banged against it wildly. One of the two men stopped, and peered closer, he could see her, but not clearly enough, so he pressed his face to the glass, with his hands on either side of his eyes to shield the glare of daylight. Then he saw her better, this heavily pregnant woman who looked vaguely familiar. She was shouting something, but he could not hear her, and he was no good at lip reading, nonetheless by her actions she was obviously very distressed, and he knew she needed his help. “Sam, come here, look, see this woman, she is trying to get my attention to tell me something. Can you help?”
“Probably wants you to go in there and make mad passionate love to her, Rob. Half your luck.”
“No, it’s not that, besides she’s pregnant.”
“One window cleaner too many then.” Sam laughed crudely.
“Sam, be serious. I think she needs our help.”
Sam pulled on the chains to swing the apparatus closer to the window and grasped the sill, “Where, let me see.” He peered through the glass, but just at that moment the far side door of the room opened, and a man in a white coat entered, quickly followed by a nurse, carrying a cloth covered tray. The nurse pulled Catherine away from the window as at the same time the doctor, closed the blinds, turned to Catherine, and putting his hand beneath the cloth lifted a syringe from the tray. “No!” Catherine struggled to back away, “No, please, no!”
“This is what happens to bad girls, Miss Chandler, bad girls who act deceitfully.” The doctor told her pushing the needle into her arm, “You wanted sleep, well now you’ve got it. And when you wake up, you will have learned to forget all about this little plan of yours, believe me. But just in case you have already attracted enough attention to yourself, we shall have to do something about that window cleaner also. Sweet dreams Miss Chandler.”
Catherine struggled harder, fighting for all she was worth, yet knowing it was fruitless, she could not get away, and they would not listen to anything she that begged of them.
Beyond the window, the cleaner continued to peek through a tiny crack in the blinds. He could see all that was taking place as the light from the doorway served to enhance the scene, and he saw them insert the needle, hold her until she became unconscious and lay her down upon the bed. Something was not right here. It seemed they had deliberately prevented her from making contact with him. Even if the woman were insane or something, he still didn’t think it was the right way to treat a pregnant woman, besides, something kept pricking at the back of his mind, just where had he seen her before?
Sam was still laughing about the incident when at last they finished for the day, and set about clearing away their equipment.
*** *** ***
“You coming inside for your pay, or you gonna hang around looking up at the building all day?” Sam asked when everything was stowed away inside their van. Rob shook his head a sixth sense told him it would be unwise to enter the building.
“Nope, I think I’ll wait till tomorrow. We still have half the building to finish.”
Sam stared at him, “Hell, you going mental now or what, you know rain is forecast for tomorrow, chances of us getting back here until we are scheduled for next week is very remote. Well I’m going in to get mine. You coming?”
Rob shook his head, “No, I’ll get it tomorrow, say, if they want to send it to me, don’t tell them where I live, tell them I’ll come for it tomorrow.”
Sam shrugged, “As you wish, sounds pretty darn stupid to me. I think that woman has frazzled your brain or something. You going to be at the bar tonight?”
“Maybe, if so, I’ll see you there.”
“Yeah, tell you what if you arrive there first chalk a cross on the floor will ya? And if I arrive there first I’ll rub it out.” he laughed at his little joke, “Get it, get it?” he prodded Rob in the ribs, still laughing.
Rob smiled wryly he’d heard it before. “Yeah.”
“Okay then see ya later.” Rob watched as Sam went in through the swing doors, then feeling as though all eyes were upon him, he hurried away.
Back in her room, Catherine continued to sleep. The drug would keep her that way for at least twelve hours. But it wasn’t a peaceful sleep, working against her present condition the drug beat her senseless. She was walking through the park, in the dead of night, the moon shrouded by ominous clouds, filtering here and there to light up her pathway. Her footsteps made no sound, yet behind her was the distinct padding of other footsteps. Looking around wildly, there was nowhere to hide, the tunnel entrance had vanished, and everything looked unfamiliar. She tried to call out, with Vincent’s name on her lips, but no sound would come, and the footsteps came ever closer. Suddenly a grubby hand fastened against her mouth, another around her throat, while elbows upon her shoulders forced her to the earth. Kicking out wildly, Catherine struggled against her assailant, to no avail, feeling herself falling to the earth, and being pinned against it. Rough hands pushed at her skirt, sliding it upwards then voices, “This one is pregnant.” A hushed whisper, one she could not decipher, then, “No matter, I like ‘em that way you’ll like it too, there will be a lot more blood.”
Catherine thrashed against the hands that held her down. And as the moon filtered through the clouds again, its brightness picked out a shaft of gleaming metal, not a knife, but something else, something thicker, rounder, more like a piece of pipe.
Laughter now, horrible, evil laughter, the feel of the metal against her inner thighs, the horror as the realisation manifested itself, they intended to force the pipe up inside her, to rip her open. Catherine tried to scream, but no sound would come, she prayed for Vincent but he could not hear her, the Bond was broken. No one could hear her, no one could help her. No one.
The screams exploded inside her head and her body thrashed from side to side. Still she could not escape from these people, neither would the drug allow her to awaken. Trapped within her nightmare, Catherine could only re-live it, over and over and over again.
*** *** ***
The hush of deepest night hung heavily over the underground world. The tunnel dwellers were soundly sleeping, the pipes silent. And with the entranceway to the chambers covered, even the wind could not whistle inside. Totally quiet Vincent’s chamber was akin to the grave, dark and soundless, nothing moved.
Lying back upon his bed, Vincent’s eyes stared upwards towards the ceiling. Even his heartbeat was shallow, peaceable. He meditated, listening intently to any faint stirring from within, as he had done night after night, month after month, since his visit to the cavern beneath the catacombs. So far there had been nothing. Nothing that could tell him that any contact with the child had been possible, but this night there was something. It was only faint, but it was there, just a flutter, no more noticeable than a touch of wind yet he knew it was not that. His mind seemed to grasp hold of the feeling, and concentrating upon it with all his might as he did so there came the gentle pluck of ethereal fingers deep within his chest.
Hardly daring to breathe, Vincent dwelt deep inside himself, he had to make contact, and hold onto that contact. His mind cried out to the child, “Come to me” he called softly, “Come to me, and let me join with you.”
And then there it was, this tiny beat of a heart manifesting itself alongside his own, and Vincent wanted to weep with joy, but knew he must remain silent. His heart leapt nonetheless and he was grateful to find that the tiny heart-beat had remained alongside his own when he searched for it again.
Now that he had contact, Vincent’s joy was immeasurable, he whispered to his child, infusing it with his love, his face wet with tears, and his heart full to overflowing.
The tiny heart whispered back to him. Something was disturbing the child Vincent could feel it. There was certainly distress there. Rising from his bed Vincent donned his boots and cloak and left the chamber. While the tiny heart called out to him, he simply had to follow, wherever it may lead him.
Across the city Rob twiddled the glass in his hand, watching the amber liquid slopping back and forth within. “You ain’t still thinking about that woman are ya?” Sam sighed, “What is it with her. Fancy her do ya?”
*** *** ***
Rob frowned, “No, it’s not that. I just can’t remember where I’ve seen her. And I know I have. Funny, when I think about it hard enough I keep seeing her face within a frame, like I’ve seen a photograph of her some place, but I don’t remember anyone showing me any photographs in years.”
“What colour’s the frame?”
Rob drew his brows together, Sam was humouring him he knew, the silly grin he wore told him so, yet it gave him something else to dwell on. The frame, what colour was it, “Yellow.” He replied.
“Don’t you mean gold?”
“No, its yellow, I can see it now. Her face, it’s looking out at me from a yellow screen.” He had not realised what he’d said.
“Screen now is it, I thought you said it was a frame.”
“You said screen not frame, which was it, a yellow screen or a yellow frame?”
Rob drew his brows in tighter, trying to remember, yes, it was a yellow screen, slowly he looked up, “There!” he pointed, “Up there, the set, the TV set, its yellow.”
“Well whadayaknow.” Sam took a swig of his beer, “So it is.”
Slowly the memory came back to Rob, and Sam noticed as his face brightened that his work mate had remembered something, “What is it?”
“I think I know who it was. And if I’m right, why there is a reward out for that woman.”
“A reward huh? Well that’s a bonus for ya, no wonder you didn’t need your wages.”
But Rob didn’t hear him, pushing back his chair, he stood up, “I must go, someone must be told, I have to go, I have to go now.”
As he left the bar, Sam remembered something and called out to him, “They insisted I gave them our addresses Rob, said they’d send us our wages, hey, Rob, do ya hear me?” But Rob had gone and hadn’t heard a thing.
His first thought was to go to the police, but he’d never liked the police. His second, as the news bulletin came back clearer to his mind was to call the number that was given out at the time, but he could not grasp that much of it from his memory. What was the story now? His mind thought back to that night in the bar. Had anyone said anything at the time? Walking along with his hands deep in his pockets, he thought hard. Sam had been there, but he couldn’t remember anything he’d said, he tried not to listen to him half the time anyway, he was too coarse for his liking, but there was someone that had said something he was sure of it. The name Gunther, sprang to mind. Was that it, yes Gunther, Tom Gunther. Rob stopped dead, of course, Tom Gunther! Three years ago the same woman had been engaged to Tom Gunther and she had gone missing at that time too. She was a lawyer, then working for her father, of course he remembered that story, he used to clean those windows too, maybe that’s where he had seen her before as well. Now what was the name of that place?
Allowing his thoughts to collect, Rob nodded as they came back into focus, Chandler, Charles Chandler, and his daughter Catherine Chandler, yes! That was the name, Catherine, and now she worked for the D.A.’s office. Rob looked around him, he needed a telephone, and fast. Checking his pocket for loose change, he pulled out two small coins as he approached a pay phone outside a closed bar, and beneath the light of a neon lamp, he thumbed through the directory chained to its side.
There would be no one there now of course, but he could leave a message and call again in the morning in person.
Listening to the purr of the connection, he waited as the ringing of the telephone halted, and heard the familiar click of the answer machine. A guy called John Moreno was telling him to leave a message, with his name and number as a contact.
Holding the receiver tightly, Rob spoke as clearly, yet as quietly as he could. He didn’t want anyone else getting a chance of that reward. “ Hello. My name is Rob Stevens. I have news of that missing woman, Catherine Chandler. She is being held against her will in a building located in Sixth Avenue. I’m a window cleaner and saw her today. She tried to get my attention to help her. I’ll call in to see you tomorrow.” Then leaving his address, for he had no telephone, he hung up and head for home.
Following the beat of that tiny heart Vincent hid in the shadows, as a man a short distant away used a pay phone alongside a bar. He could not hear what he was saying, and only wished he would hurry up and go. As soon as he saw the fellow finish the call and leave, Vincent continued to walk on his way. This was a part of the city that was unfamiliar to him, and he had to take extra care. There wasn’t the usual ally ways for him to duck into and the grids that led to the tunnel world were situated upon the very streets themselves. With fear knotting his stomach, Vincent could only follow the whispering heart as it led him slowly towards Sixth Avenue.
*** *** ***
Father lifted up his head as Vincent came in to breakfast the following morning. He smiled there was something different about Vincent now that pleased him. Since that day when Vincent had gone looking for memories beneath the catacombs, he had come back a new man. Yet this morning, a vibrant light seemed to emanate from his son, and Father could only question why.
*** *** ***
“You look well this morning Vincent, has something happened that I should know about?”
Vincent put down his bowl of porridge, and took up a seat opposite Father, “Yes, I have made contact with the child, and not only that but its tiny heartbeat led me to a part of the city I rarely go and don’t know very well. Yet I believe Catherine is being held somewhere in that region.”
“Well that’s marvellous! But couldn’t you get to her?”
“No, there are many buildings all around, it was difficult knowing from where the child was calling. I think I shall need help, have you any suggestions Father?”
Father rubbed his chin thoughtfully, “Only one.”
“And that is?”
“As loath as I am to bring a stranger into this, that is a stranger to us, I think the best person to ask for help would be Joe Maxwell, he would have the connections to check the various buildings out, and the power to enter any one of them.”
Vincent nodded, “Yes. Can you arrange a meeting?”
“With whom? You?”
“No not necessarily me, unless it became obvious there was no other way. I was thinking more in line of yourself.”
“Yes I could do it, I’ll go Above after breakfast.”
“Thank you Father.”
“Think nothing of it my boy, the sooner we get on to this, the sooner we’ll have Catherine home.”
Vincent nodded, he hoped so he really did.
Unlocking his office door, John Moreno stepped within, and flung down his papers, briefcase and keys and yawned. What was it with him just lately, he just didn’t seem to get the sleep he once did, spending half the night awake, his conscience pricking. Glancing through the glass panelling, his eyes told him the answer to his unvoiced question, the empty desk of Catherine Chandler, seemed to mock him.
It was a great shame that, she had been one of his best lawyers, had there been any other way? He shrugged, she was most probably dead now anyway. A great pity, her loyalty had impressed him. Right to the end, she had refused to say where she had left the ledger and that waves were still being made, enforced his feeling that whomever she had left it with had a certain amount of power. He could only regret that he had lost a very remarkable woman.
Switching on the coffee jug, Moreno heaped two spoonfuls of granules inside, and waited. Black coffee that was what he needed, failing that two matchsticks to prop his eyelids open. As he waited, he rewound the answer machine, “Let’s see what delights you hold for me today” he told the machine, as the tape came back to its beginning, and he switched it on to play.
There was a sharp ping and the first message came on, “Hi John, it’s Tim here, when are you going to meet me for lunch? You said last Thursday, its now a week later, can you call me, perhaps we can get together tomorrow.” Ping! “John, I simply have to see you, there is some new evidence. Meet me tomorrow at 9.30, in the bar, don’t be late, its life or death.” John frowned and stopped the machine to look at his watch. It was ten past nine. He knew that voice, and knew he had to go. The percolator whistled, signalling the coffee was ready, Moreno poured some into a mug, gulped it down, and headed out the door, he’d listen to the other messages later.
When Joe Maxwell arrived at his desk some half-hour later, he too felt weary. Though he had been suspended for a time, he had still not given up on the Catherine Chandler case, secretly spending every spare moment he could on it, and the strain of holding down his job as well was beginning to tell. To top it all, he was due in court that day, and would probably be there all day too. Checking his diary, he saw a note he had written, “Archie to call today.” blast, he told himself, I’d forgotten about that. He needed to take that call, it was to prove important and he knew Archie would not attempt to call again, if he found him out.
Pondering on what he should do, he thought of the answer machine at his desk. He rarely used it people didn’t like to leave incriminating messages. Perhaps Archie would be the same, but he didn’t have to leave his name and probably wouldn’t at least the opportunity to leave a message would be there. Flicking open the tape compartment, to turn over the tape he found it empty. “Well, I know there was a tape in there.” He told himself, he distinctly remembered putting it in himself only the previous day. “Damn thief” he mumbled, getting up and heading straight for John Moreno’s office, “Does it every time. I’ll show him what it’s like.”
Pushing open the door, he marched in, snatched up the answer machine, flicked open the tape compartment and ejected the tape.
“Let’s see how you like it Moreno.” He spoke to the air, as a grin spread across his face.
He didn’t doubt that the moment John found his own machine empty he wouldn’t march straight back and extract it from Joe’s machine, so Joe needed to plan for this. Removing the cables from his desk, he filtered them through the back of the desk through a tiny gap, just large enough, and put the answer machine inside the cabinet, fixing the cables back into place. Ensuring everything was set up to work, he put the tape, unused side up, inside and closed the cabinet locking it behind him. “Like to see how you’ll get out of that one John.” He grinned to himself as he gathered his papers together to get ready for the court case and headed for the door.
He was waiting for the elevator, when a tall fellow with the whitest hair he’d ever seen stepped from it as it reached his floor, whom Joe had seen a time or two with John Moreno, but had never been introduced. The guy nodded in Joe’s direction, and headed for the office, when Joe called back, “Hey, you looking for Moreno?”
The fellow nodded.
“He ain’t in.”
The fellow frowned, “You know how long he’ll be?”
“Nope, don’t even know where he’s gone.”
“Did he leave any messages?”
“Not that I am aware of.” Joe checked his watch, he might still make it on time, “Come back with me, we’ll see if he left anything.”
The two walked back through the main office, towards the cubical that served as an inner office for John Moreno, District Attorney. Joe searched through the papers and memo’s on his desk while the fellow waited at the door, “Nothing here, not even anything written on the telephone message book.”
The fellow’s eyes surveyed the room, “Anything on that answer machine?”
Joe hesitated, “Maybe, but there’s no tape in there now, but I know where it is.” The fellow frowned, and Joe felt his face redden, he could almost see the word incompetence flash across the fellow’s face, or was it his guilty conscience. Hell, why did he have to be made to feel guilty, hadn’t John left his machine without a tape all night? So what if he’d left his machine without one now?
“Look, wait here will you, I’ll just check back on his messages, to see if it throws any light on where he’s gone.”
The fellow nodded, and waited.
On his knees, Joe unlocked the cabinet and fumbled inside for the machine, turning over the tape, and re-winding it to listen to Moreno’s messages. It didn’t feel right doing so, these messages were confidential. He hoped he wouldn’t hear anything he ought not. The first message was inconsequential, the second told him what he needed to know, and as it came to an end, Joe made a mental note of how long John may be away. He couldn’t of course tell the other fellow whom John was meeting, but he could establish a time that might help. He switched off the machine. Unless he thought as he straightened unless the next message would delay him. Perhaps he would be out all day. Vaguely aware that the fellow had walked across to his desk, Joe sank back to his knees, and he switched on the machine again to listen!
Ping! “Hello. My name is Rob Stevens, I have news of that missing woman Catherine Chandler.!” Joe froze, his heart hammering, “She is being held against her will in a building in Sixth Avenue. I’m a window cleaner and I saw her today, she tried to get my attention to help her. I’ll call in to see you tomorrow.” He left his address, and Joe grabbed a piece of paper to make a note of it, then had second thoughts, and snatched the tape, stuffing it into his pocket. He looked up, “John may be out for some time...” The words trailed away to nothing as the office was empty. The fellow had gone. Joe shook his head, strange fellow, he thought, then forgetting everything else he had planned for that day he almost ran from the room, leaving the cabinet door swinging.
As luck would have it, the moment Joe stepped out into the sunshine, a grubby looking fellow, stuffed a piece of paper into his hand. Joe knew the score, the man had melted into the shadows, and Joe, unfolded the piece of paper in the palm of his hand, close to his face, the message inside said simply, “Meet me in the park now, its about Cathy.”
Joe could hardly believe it. Nothing for months, and then two messages at once. His heart sank. Of course the reward! It had been the same when the news was first aired, all those false leads, all that time spent on chasing them up, for nothing. Still what did he have to lose? He had nothing at all to go on, he may as well check them out. The park was closest, and the chap was waiting, Joe hailed a taxi, and gave instructions to be taken to Central Park.
Joe walked up and down, the autumn leaves crunching underfoot, not knowing whether he was wasting his time or not. Checking his watch, he fiddled with the tape in his pocket, wondering about that message and if it too were a hoax, when a voice behind him called his name.
Joe spun round, to see an elderly fellow walking towards him, he didn’t think he had ever seen him before and his suit was old, fashioned somewhere he guessed, out of the forties.
“Who wants to know?” He replied.
“Thank you for coming so promptly Mr. Maxwell. I need to speak with you urgently, come let us sit on that bench over there and talk.”
Joe glanced around him, “You sure you want to be that open?”
Father glanced too, perhaps he was right, “Where would you suggest?”
“A bar maybe, somewhere with plenty of people.”
Father shook his head, “No, somewhere else, follow me.”
Joe took up step alongside Father, his mind racing, as the old man led him down towards a storm drain, and then disappeared inside it. Joe hesitated, what was this?
“You coming?” He heard the old man call, Joe shrugged, and stepped into the semi darkness.
“We will be safe in here, Mr. Maxwell.”
“You said it was about Cathy?”
“Yes, I believe I know where she is.”
“Yeah you and everyone else who could do with the reward money. I got another call earlier today saying the same.”
“You did?” Father frowned, “That is most odd.”
“Why, not to me it isn’t, you would not believe the amount of calls we have had since the reward was offered. Anyway, you haven’t introduced yourself, were you going to do?”
“I’m sorry how rude of me, my name is Jacob Wells, and Catherine is like a daughter to me.”
“She is?” Wells, Wells, Joe repeated, had Cathy ever mentioned the name?
“Yes, look, let’s get down to business Mr. Maxwell. I am right in assuming you can help Catherine?”
“Hell yes, Cathy is a good friend, I’d do anything for her, tell me what you know.”
“I believe she is being held somewhere in Sixth Avenue. Well, not so much believe this, I am certain of it.”
Joe sucked in a breath. “Do you know a guy called Rob Stevens?”
Father shook his head, “No, should I?”
“Only he left a message on the answer phone last night, he said Cathy was being held at Sixth Avenue too. He’s a window cleaner. Seems she tried to attract his attention, just yesterday.”
“He saw her! How is she?”
“Now that I don’t know. The message was brief, but he left his address. I was on my way over there, when I received your message.”
“Can we go there together?”
“Yes, I would like to speak with him too.” Father’s eyes shone with excitement.
Joe shook his head, “No, too dangerous, and I don’t know you well enough, though you look as if I can trust you. Anyway, what makes you so certain that Cathy is in Sixth Avenue?”
“My son assured me of this.”
“My adoptive son. He and Catherine are in love.”
Joe frowned, deep furrows appeared on his brow, “What’s his name?”
“That’s not important.”
“It is to me. Look I know Cathy was seeing a guy, but she was very evasive about it, wouldn’t tell me anything about him.”
“That is because she couldn’t, she had made a promise to say nothing.”
“I don’t like this, Look you’re gonna have to give me more to go on, if I’m to believe you. I have to meet this guy.”
“Then there’s no deal.” Joe made to move away. Father grabbed his sleeve. “You’d walk away, and ignore this information, what I tell you is the truth, and Cathy needs your help.”
“Why can’t your son do it?”
Father sighed, “Look, okay I can see you will have to meet him, but Joe?”
“My son is not like other men, and what you will see must remain a secret, you must tell no-body. Do I have your word.”
Joe nodded with reservation, and Father went on, “Cathy said you were a good man, I hope she was right, and for Cathy’s sake you mustn’t reveal anything of what I am going to show you.”
Joe nodded some more.
Taking a deep breath, Father picked up a stone and tapped on some piping. Joe thought it sounded like some kind of Morse code. “What are you doing?”
“We have to wait here, my son will come.”
“Yes, but we have to go inside, come follow me.”
Reaching inside a crevice in the tunnel wall, Father pressed a knob, and Joe gasped as the great metal door sealing off the storm drain slid open, and he beckoned for Joe to step through, closing it firmly behind them. Joe had never seen anything like it in his life!
“Do you live in here?”
“Yes. Though my home is far deeper inside the earth than this. If we wait, my son will be here shortly.”
Joe felt the time ticking away in his head, wondering how long he’d have to wait. Lanterns flickered on the tunnel walls, and it would be difficult to ascertain which one led where, suddenly a long shadow appeared on the floor of one of them, and Joe felt his stomach jolt by the sombre reflection the lanterns cast as the figure’s shadow loomed towards him. It stopped before coming into view, and a soft voice called out, “Father?”
“Yes, I am here. Joe Maxwell is with me. He wishes to meet you, will you agree to this?”
There was a moment’s silence and Joe shifted uncomfortably. What the hell was he doing, with a stranger, beneath the park inside a storm drain, and this ominous apparition approaching him! It was creepy.
Vincent felt his fear, “Don’t be afraid Mr. Maxwell.” Instantly Joe relaxed, that voice was so beautiful it had that effect on his nerves.
“Come into the light.”
“I don’t want to cause you any distress.”
“Are you deformed?”
“Deformed? No. But I am not like other men.”
Hell thought Joe, what was with this guy? “You say Cathy loves you?”
“Yes, and she is expecting my child.”
Joe sucked in a breath, “Wow” He could not stop the exclamation passing his lips, “She’s pregnant, Cathy’s pregnant?”
“Yes. Mr. Maxwell, Catherine spoke highly of you, I feel I can trust you, and I need your help. For obvious reasons I cannot go out into the daylight, and I do not have the connections needed to establish Catherine’s exact location, I need your help.”
“You’ve got it. If what you say is true, I want to help you. Cathy means a lot to me too.”
“Yes, I know.”
“I’d sure like to see your face.”
“That isn’t important right now. Will you help me?”
“Of course. Tell me all you know.”
“Some of it may be hard to understand Mr. Maxwell, a lot of it will depend on your trust.”
“Catherine and I met three years ago, in this very park, she had been attacked, and I took her to my home beneath the park and cared for her until she was well enough to leave.”
“She was here?” So that’s where she was!
“Yes. After she had gone back to her home, I realised that we were still connected. We shared a Bond, a remarkable gift, whereby I was able to feel everything she was feeling, her joys her sorrows. I could even feel her own heart beating alongside my own.”
‘Weird.’ Thought Joe.
“We grew closer and fell in love. I would gladly lay down my life for her, Mr. Maxwell.”
“Call me Joe.”
“Joe. Then when Catherine became pregnant, this connection was lost to me for a while but has since manifested itself between myself and the child. Last evening, I followed the sound of the child’s heart beat to Sixth Avenue, and I know for a certainty that Catherine is being held somewhere in that region.”
“Yes, I have had another message saying as much only today.”
“You have?” Vincent’s heart leapt.
“Yes, and I am going along there to check it out as soon as I leave here. The guy who saw her left his address, though he also promised to call at the office sometime today.”
Vincent paused, “He saw her? You don’t know how wonderful it is to hear that, Joe.”
“Oh yes I do.”
Vincent knew the truth of those words, Joe would do anything for Catherine also, however he couldn’t do it alone. “I think that whoever has Catherine may be a force stronger than yourself, you will need help.”
“I know just the person, don’t worry. Look how can I get in touch with you when I have checked this out?”
“Just come here, tap any indiscriminate message on those pipes outside, and someone will come.”
“Right then, can I go now?”
“Yes. And thank you, Mr. Maxwell.”
“Think nothing of it though I’d sure as hell be a lot happier though if I knew who I was talking to.”
Vincent hesitated, years of withholding his secret flooded his mind, and he saw Father shake his head, “Not until we know you better, Mr. Maxwell.” Vincent told him. “Then we shall see.”
Joe nodded, “Okay, but let me tell you, if what you say is true and Cathy and you really are lovers, then any friend of Cathy’s is a friend of mine, even though he may be a rival for her affections. Cathy means a lot to me and I’ll do everything in my power to help her. To help you both.”
“Thank you, Mr. Maxwell.”
Joe watched as the ominous shape receded and the light from the lantern filled the whole cavity of the tunnel once more. Father patted his shoulder as he slid open the door, “Tell no one.”
“Yeah, I promise, besides who would believe me?” He laughed weakly.
Hailing another taxi, Joe felt a shiver run through him, ‘hell’ he thought, ‘someone just walked over my grave’ then smiled and gave himself a shake, “Maxwell,” he told himself out loud, “Stop being paranoid.”
Taking out the piece of paper he had scribbled on he gave the cab driver the next location.
“Looks like we won’t be able to get through Sir.” The cab driver leaned back in his seat to tell Joe.*** *** ***
Joe looked ahead, the whole of the narrow street was filled with police cars, and a section of the road had been cordoned off. “What’s going on, can you see?”
“No, did you want to walk from here?”
“Yeah, may as well do. Its not much further is it?”
Joe paid the driver and alighted from the vehicle, watching as it did a three-point turn and disappeared back up the street. Joe walked forward the address firmly tucked in his hand.
Checking the numbers as he walked along the row of brownstones, he calculated that the very number he needed was in the exact same place as all the excitement. He blew a sigh, ‘Now What?’
“What’s going on?” He asked a burly policeman, as he threaded red and white markers onto props to seal off the area.
“You can’t go up there.” The policeman told Joe.
“I’m from the D.A.’s office. The name’s Joe Maxwell.”
“So soon. I didn’t think you guys had been notified yet.”
“No, that’s true. I was on my way here anyway to see a guy that left me a message. A Rob Stevens of this address.” He held out the sheet of paper.
“You’d better come with me.”
Joe followed the policeman, and was asked to wait while he approached a blonde haired fellow in a navy suit who looked up and scrutinised Joe, leaving off from what he was doing to come across to speak with him.
“My colleague tells me you were coming to see Mr. Stevens. I’m sorry to have to tell you that he has been murdered.”
Joe gasped. “Murdered, but when?”
“Not long since. Seems he was just coming out of his house when two men in a limo emptied their firearms into him. Shot in broad daylight in cold blood.”
“Anyone catch a glimpse of the driver?”
“No, the windows were tinted, but one of the neighbours reckons she saw a strange guy hanging around last night. Mind you, in a place like this, there must be a lot of strange guys lurking about. The thing is, this particular guy was also seen two blocks from here, outside the other guy’s house, and he’s dead too.”
“What other guy?”
“Sam Meadows. He mean anything to you?”
Joe shook his head. “No, I don’t even know Rob Steven’s, he left a message on the machine and I was coming to check out his story.”
“You still got that tape?”
“As it happens I have. Who were these two guys, were they related?”
The detective shook his head, “Related no, they worked together in the window cleaning business. Obviously they were witnesses to something big and were taken out.”
“You know something?”
“Maybe. Hey is there a description on the guy that was seen loitering.”
The detective nodded, “Not much, it was dark, yet separate people say much the same. A tall fellow with blonde or white hair, very white.”
Joe frowned, “I think I know this guy?”
“Well not so much know him, this morning while I played back Rob Steven’s message, this guy was waiting to see my boss John Moreno, the D.A., and as soon as I looked up he’d gone. Vanished just like that.”
“What makes you think it was the same guy, obviously, he already knew the address if he were here last night.”
“It’s that description of his hair. I’ve never seen anything like it before. It was as white as snow. And he wore dark glasses. Maybe he is an albino or something.”
“Mr. Maxwell, if what you tell me is true, then your life could be in danger. You know about witness protection scheme’s can you put yourself on one?”
“You think that’s necessary?” Joe shivered.
“Yes I do. Can you tell me why Rob Stevens wanted to see you?”
“No, it’s confidential.”
“I thought as much. Well then if I were you I would find somewhere you can hide out, and don’t tell anyone, least of all your boss.”
“Moreno, why not him?”
“You say this white haired fellow was asking to see him, think about it? Could there be a connection? I tell you Mr Maxwell when the heavies get heavy you don’t want to let your left hand know what your right hand is doing. If I were you, I’d make myself pretty scarce.”
“But I’ll need someone to help me. How will I know who to trust?”
“Got a pen and paper?”
Joe handed him his notepad and pencil, the detective scribbled something down. “She’s the best there is. I’ll warn her you’ll be in touch. She’s your best bet give her a call.”
Joe looked down at the piece of paper, at the number scribbled thereon, and the name beneath, he gasped, “I know this woman, Diana Bennett, I had already planned to contact her.”
“About the other case?”
Joe grinned, “Yeah, about the other case.”
The detective grinned, “Well now you can kill two birds with one stone. Good luck.”
Joe grinned wryly, "Thanks, I’ll probably need it."
Father was more than surprised when a helper handed him a slip of paper to say that Joe Maxwell was waiting at the park entrance for him. He checked his watch, why it was less than two hours since they had parted and he had only just hung up his suit to made some tea.
*** *** ***
“Vincent” he called to his son, who had gone into his chamber to lie down, “Joe Maxwell is back.”
Vincent stood up, would he ever get to sleep that day? After being out all night he needed to rest.
“Back, so soon. Did you want me to go to him? The way is too much for you so soon.”
“Would you Vincent? But be careful, and if you must bring him down here, don’t forget the blindfold.”
Vincent stooped to kiss the old man’s brow, “Father as if I would.”
The journey was a long one and Vincent hoped that Joe had brought some good news. What could he possibly have found out that had brought him rushing back so soon?
Sliding back the door some time later Vincent sensed at once that something was wrong. Joe was decidedly jumpy.
“What is it?” Vincent asked at once.
“Thank God you’ve come. I need somewhere to hide. Can I stay here?”
“Here as in Below? Yes but why?”
“That fellow, you know the one that saw Cathy yesterday, he was murdered, not two hours since, and the police think I may be in danger now.”
Vincent froze “Did anyone follow you here?” He was sure he could hear the sound of running feet approaching.
“No, I don’t think so. Can I come in?”
Pulling the hood up and tighter around his face, Vincent stepped back into the deeper shadows, “Yes, and you must hurry.”
No sooner had the door closed behind Joe when Vincent detected the running of feet above the storm drain and he bade Joe to keep silent. Joe could hear them also. A scrambling of shoes against stone and then a swift thump, signalling that someone had dropped themselves down to the ground. Vincent kept his hand firmly on the door switch, holding it tight to prevent anyone from opening it from the other side, just in case they knew where to locate it, and both held their breaths as voices sounded outside.
“You sure he went in there?”
“Yep, I’m sure.”
“Is there any way out?”
“No it’s a dead end. He can’t escape.”
“Call out to him.”
“Mr Maxwell, we know you are in there, we’ll give you to the count of three or we’ll open fire.”
Joe froze and Vincent grabbed his arm, “Don’t look at me,” he warned, “Just call through that gap there, so they hear you.”
“I’m here.” Joe called nervously.
No sooner had he said it, than gun shots blasted into the storm drain rounds of them. Then came the words, “You still there, Mr. Maxwell?”
Seeing Vincent place a finger to his lips Joe remained silent.
Laughter erupted, “Seems he’s left us, what a shame.” More laughter and the sound of receding footsteps indicated that they were leaving.
Joe had taken all he could and his eyes took in the fact that the earth was coming up to meet him, or was he going down to meet it, it didn’t matter, he was only grateful for the body’s reaction to slip into unconsciousness.
“Can I come with you?” Joe was getting used to Vincent now, though he would never forget the first sight he had been allowed of the fellow. It was unreal.
*** *** ***
Vincent hesitated, “It could be dangerous, are you sure?”
“I have to make that call to Diana Bennett anyway. I need to go Above and with you I would sure as hell feel a lot safer.”
Father laughed, “Yes, Joe, my son is certainly a force to be reckoned with, what would you say?”
Joe shook his head, “ I don’t think I will ever want to stop looking at him. I can see why Cathy feels the way she does about him.”
Vincent chuckled, “Most people want to forget my face, Joe.”
“Maybe, but that depends on which side of you they tread I guess. As for me, to know you as a friend, well I kinda like that, you make me feel protected.”
Vincent sighed, “Then if you wish, I should be happy to have you come with me.”
Joe nodded. They had been talking about going along to Sixth Avenue, in the early hours. Joe was assumed to be dead and with the two window cleaners out of the way both of them felt that Catherine would still be held at the same location. But they had to be sure.
“I wish there was some way we could let Cathy know, we know, that she is in there.” Joe told him.
Vincent exhaled a deep breath, “This too I wish. It would give her such hope to know she will soon be free. Perhaps we can think of a way.”
“Perhaps we can get the council together Vincent, see if anyone can think of something, some of them may be able to help.” Father volunteered the information.
“I don’t think we should involve anyone else Jacob,” Joe was unsure, “These are dangerous people.”
“Joe is right, Father, the less people that get involved the better.”
“Nonetheless Vincent, there might be some ideas, and it would give us something to do. We all love Cathy, and we would all like to feel we are contributing our help in some way, there is so little we can do, we feel so helpless.”
Vincent hugged his father, “I know. I know. If it would make you feel happier, then I cannot see what harm it will do. As long as its just ideas, no direct meddling.”
Joe was troubled, walls had ears didn’t they, and that reward was substantial.
“I know what you are thinking Joe.” Vincent grinned at him.
“Is there no end of your talents?”
Vincent chuckled, “It’s written in your eyes. What are we if we can’t have trust amongst ourselves? Father is right everyone loves Catherine. No one would do anything that may hinder her rescue. Please have faith in that.”
Joe nodded, “If anyone else but you had said that I wouldn’t be able to find the trust, but somehow I believe you.”
“Thank you. Well then how about some supper and a short nap? I will wake you when it is time to leave.”
Since the day that Catherine had caught the window cleaner’s attention, she had not ventured near the window, lest anyone else saw her, and lost their lives too. It had grieved her deeply when the doctor had come to tell her the following day that the two men were dead, and something else, something she really found hard to believe. Joe Maxwell had also been murdered.
The hope that she had carried for months disintegrated at this bit of news. And as hard as it was to take it in, the doctor’s cool calculated look when he told her made her believe.
“But why?” She had sobbed, clutching a pillow against her chest, “What possible reason would you have for killing Joe?”
“So if I were you Miss Chandler, I would give up all hopes of ever being rescued, and just concentrate on getting that child born.”
“And then what?” Catherine wanted to know.
“Then you can join your friends Miss Chandler.”
Catherine knew what he meant, she had always known of course - they would kill her too.
“For what possible reason do you want this child?”
The doctor shrugged, “Seems the boss has taken a shine to being a father.” He didn’t really know the answer to that, as it happened. The boss had his own reasons.
“He could have any child. Why mine?”
“Why not. Would you prefer that the child died with you? Most mother’s would do anything to protect their offspring.”
Catherine nodded that much was true. Still she didn’t believe what he was telling her. “Can I meet your boss? No doubt he knows all about me, isn’t that his camera up in the corner?”
“Yes, and he listens to everything we are saying. Why don’t you request a meeting?”
Looking up at the black lens above her Catherine did just that, “If you are going to take my child from me, will you not show yourself?”
For the first time, a voice came into the room from speakers she did not even know where there. “Perhaps, Miss Chandler. If you are a good girl from now on we shall meet briefly when the baby is born.”
“Who are you? Why do you want my child?”
The doctor left the room, he knew enough not to be part of this conversation.
“Let’s just say, Miss Chandler that its father intrigues me?”
Catherine frowned, how did he know? Still she decided to divert his assumption, “Its father, but why, he is nothing out of the ordinary.”
For a moment the voice hesitated then calmly replied, “Tell me about him.”
Catherine shook her head, not in denial but as if she could think of nothing to tell. “He, I don’t know what to say. What can I tell you? He’s a lawyer the same as me.” Suddenly she had an idea, “or he was. Though thanks to you, he’s now dead.”
“Joe Maxwell?” The voice held a hint of disbelief. “Are you telling me Joe Maxwell is the father of your child?”
What had she done? Would it make matters better or worse for her? “He could be.” She decided.
She heard the speaker gasp. “That is most unfortunate, Miss Chandler, I had hoped for better things. So tell me, what is your connection to the beast?”
So he did know, but how? “The beast?” She frowned, “What beast?”
“Ah come now, Miss Chandler, the very beast that tried to rescue you from the warehouse when first we held you. Would you like to see the film I have of him? Perhaps that will jog your memory.”
Vincent had come for her! Catherine hadn’t known that.
Just then a screen opened up within the wall, actually slid open when it hadn’t been possible to detect it being there before. “You seem surprised, Miss Chandler, perhaps you would like to watch some television, eh, relieve the boredom maybe? If you tell me what I want to know I would consider this.”
A few minutes lapsed and then images of Vincent crashing through the warehouse came into view. Catherine nearly fainted for the sight of him, “Vincent,” her lips murmured.
“Your words elude me, Miss Chandler, though your eyes do not. You do know this man. Now tell me, is there any possibility that he could also be the father of your child?”
Now Catherine knew Vincent would never stop searching for her, she had never really doubted, but it had been so long. If she let them believe the child was Joe’s, they would kill her, and the child would die too. Whatever it took, whatever it came to, simply she had to play for time. Vincent would find her, she was certain of it. She nodded, “Yes, the child is his. I lied when I said it could be Joe’s.”
“Thank you, Miss Chandler. And I am not one to break a promise you may watch television. I expect you are fed up with reading magazines.”
“Yes, thank you.” Thanking him was the last thing she felt like doing, but humbly she accepted that whoever this man was he was important. And he was also sinister she would do well not to underestimate him.
“I’ll leave the images of your lover running shall I? I can see it comforts you.”
Catherine could only nod as a sob caught in her throat. Vincent’s image was torture to her more than everything they had done to her, for it brought it home just how much she ached for him, had missed him and needed to be with him.
*** *** ***
“Do you think the idea would work, Mr. Maxwell” Mary asked a few days later, after the council had got together to discuss ways in which it may be possible to notify Catherine about her rescue attempt.
*** *** ***
“It could well do though I’m a little jumpy about involving you all like this. What do you think Diana?”
Diana Bennett, took up the sheet of paper again, running a keen eye over the plans, “There are often Christian conventions and marches taking place, I don’t see why it wouldn’t work, but it doesn’t establish a firm enough plot to get word to Catherine. We’ll have to work on it.”
“But you think the idea is sound?” Vincent asked.
Diana looked up into those penetrating blue eyes, that amazing face that she still had dreams about, even after knowing him for several days now, and spending much time in his company. “Yes I think the idea is sound. Do you think you can all carry it off?” She dragged her eyes from Vincent’s face to look around at the group of people in the chamber.
“Well obviously I cannot be part of it, but everyone else is willing.” Vincent told her.
“Just imagine if you did?” Diana told him grinning.
Vincent laughed and Diana felt her heart miss a beat when she saw his face light up with laughter. In a strange kind of way he moved her made her desire something that was forbidden.
“We still have to add something to it though. With a plan this big, it’s got to work. You can’t risk lingering in Sixth Avenue longer than you need to do. The businessmen in that area are too powerful, they will only humour you all for so long, and then have you all arrested. So whatever way its played must have the greatest impact and we have to make certain that Catherine hears of it. We have established that she saw the window cleaners so we know she has access to a window our only hope is that she is looking out at the time. Now, I propose that we try to make this cover last three days, and in that time make certain that as much demonstrating that can be done is done. That will mean a lot of work for you all. How well do you know the scriptures, and what name will you give yourselves? If you are pretending to be some kind of religious movement, you must have a name, and you must have some scriptures to quote. Believe it or not, you will be asked questions, and… hey I’ve got it! I’ll run off hundreds of leaflets, something with a scripture on. Then groups of you can hand these out to people, passers by, and even go into the buildings themselves and ask to leave some leaflets in the recreation room for the staff. That could prove very important, for if we can establish which kind of people are where we might ascertain whereabouts Catherine is being held.”
“Better still, Catherine may get presented with one of the leaflets, so we need a hidden message somehow, something that can alert her.” Joe added, fired with enthusiasm.
Diana nodded, “Great idea Joe. Anyone know any scriptures that would be appropriate?”
Some people shook their heads, others nodded and started reeling off some scriptures from memory, “There is one that might work” William amazed them, as he leafed through his own copy of the Holy Scriptures. “Here, listen to this, see what you think?” Carefully he flicked through the flimsy pages until he found the place he wanted. Then running his finger down the columns of print, he stopped when he came to the one he sought and he began to read out loud “For you yourselves know quite well that Jehovah’s day is coming exactly as a thief in the night. Whenever it is they are saying peace and security then sudden destruction is to be instantly upon them, just as the pang of distress upon a pregnant woman and they will by no means escape.”
William looked up at everyone as he finished, then added, “That was from 1st Thessalonians Chapter Five verses two and three. I was thinking if we substitute the name Jehovah for the word ‘his’ then if Catherine should get to read it, she might well guess that the ‘his’ stands for Vincent. If we put the word ‘his’ in brackets it shouldn’t offend anyone that reads it. We’ll simply tell them we did it because some people believe in the trinity and other people don’t and we hope to reach all sorts of people with the message. And also, think about it, Catherine knows that Vincent can only go out after dark, hence his likeness to coming as a thief in the night. The bit about peace and security could signify the feelings these men have that are holding her, thinking they are safe and the last bit about the pregnant woman should emphasise to Catherine that we mean her. What do you think?” William’s eyes sparkled with excitement.
“Well there’s an awful lot of ifs, but I think its perfect, it contains everything we need, I don’t think we’d find anything better. We just have to hope that Catherine sees the demo, sees a flyer and maybe recognises someone in the crowd from Below on the march. I think it’ll work.”
“There is just one thing, if it fits and can be added, I’d like a line from one of Dylan Thomas’ poems added at the bottom. Its a poem that bears considerable significance to Catherine and I.” Vincent told everyone.
“Go on, what is it?” Diana asked him, “Tell us.”
“Leave a few lines after the scripture and then add dot, dot, dot, and ‘Death Shall Have No Dominion’. As far as any other reader is concerned, it could link up with the scripture, but as far as Catherine is concerned, it’s a message from me. Can you do it, Diana?”
Diana nodded, “I don’t see why not. It would come in after, ‘ and they will by no means escape.’ Okay so it sounds a little bit off but it’ll certainly catch people’s attention. You never know we might start up a new cult following.”
“Just so long as they don’t follow us down here.” Father told her, chuckling, “And let’s hope that Vincent is right, that Cathy will notice.”
“Mouse make Catherine notice.” Mouse scurried forward, holding up some lighted candles. “Jesus was the light of the world, candles give light. Catherine knows we use candles down here. If we carry candles, she will notice, Catherine will know, she will.”
Vincent nodded, “Yes Mouse is right and with all these things together, I believe it will work.” For the first time in a long time hope flared in Vincent’s heart.
“So do I” Joe grinned.
“Then let’s get to it. I’ll run off the flyers today. Can everyone be ready by tomorrow? It’s going to be a traumatic experience and we have got to make it look real. Are you all ready?”
A unanimous yes sealed the answer to Diana’s question.
The television was a welcome distraction from the boredom and Catherine was happy to have something to take up her time, but in many respects it only emphasised her fate. Several series came to an end, and she had to listen to the announcer tell her that the series would return in the Spring, and know that she would not be alive then to see the continuation, if her captors had their way. It was very depressing, and she became dissatisfied with watching it. Even the news depressed her, and so she went back to reading magazines, but found that they no longer captivated her attention. Walking from wall to wall became her only exercise, and she longed for freedom. After five months of captivity she had begun pacing, and tried not to think this is how it must feel to be a caged animal, a lion in a zoo. She wondered often about Vincent when she had seen him pacing up and down, this must be where she had picked it up from, and that must be why he did it himself, the shackles that held her and deprived her of her freedom was almost driving her insane.
She had tried to keep away from the window since the window cleaner had died because of her, and dear Joe too. A sob caught in her throat whenever she thought of it, though she had been cheered to find that nothing had appeared on any of the news bulletins about it and a small spark of hope flared. This though was dashed to pieces when the doctor related to her that Joe’s body might not be discovered for some time.
So as she paced up and down, she caused some distress for her captors who watched from another room, via the TV monitors. “I don’t like it, Sir.” The doctor stood with his hands in the pockets of his white uniform telling his boss. “ The child is developing much faster than normal and with the woman doing all this pacing her anxiety will transfer itself to the child. We could have complications.”
“We need to find her something to occupy her time, but I don’t want her leaving the room.”
“Perhaps if she were allowed to look outside, it might give her something to do. She’s hardly likely to attract anyone’s attention this high up and through tinted windows too. Remember she had to press her face against the glass and the window cleaner likewise on the other side, before he could see her clearly, so I don’t think its a problem anymore.”
His boss nodded, “Perhaps and I understand there is some entertainment taking place in the street today? There’s some kind of religious movement going on. We’ll humour them for a day or so, before having them moved on, and it’ll give the woman something to look at. But I’ll be watching her closely so make sure she knows this. No, don’t bother, I’ll do it.”
The doctor left the room to finish his other duties, while three floors below as Catherine continued to pace up and down, the speaker in her room crackled, and she stopped knowing that someone was about to speak. She shivered as the same sinister voice came through. “Miss Chandler, it’s not good that you pace your room. I know pregnancy is a trying time, it’s a waiting game, and for you, no doubt it is a time of doubts. On the one hand you yearn to give birth and on the other you want to remain pregnant. The longer the latter applies, the more chance you have of being rescued, and the longer you stay alive. I know what you are thinking, Miss Chandler, even at this late stage you still haven’t given up in the hope that your lover will come for you. But I’m not here to dash your hopes, Miss Chandler, neither to tell your future, maybe he will come, but the chances of his getting to you in time, are very remote. However, that is not why I wanted to speak to you. I have decided to let you look out of the window it might be stimulating for you. There is a religious movement going on down in the street, you might find it interesting, as you are so close to going to heaven, or maybe the other place, who knows, but let me warn you, Miss Chandler, one false move and you will regret it. You see the doctor tells me your child is advancing faster than normal. In fact the child is as big now as a normal child would be at seven months and seventh month babies can, with sophisticated apparatus, survive quite well and as money is no object here, I can tell you we have everything we need to keep the child alive. What I am saying to you, Miss Chandler in case the lawyer in you hasn’t yet read between the lines is that should you attract attention to yourself, then I shall have you whisked away to the theatre. There I’ll have a caesarean performed, take the child and terminate your life. Do I make myself quite clear?”
Her eyes wide with fear, Catherine could only nod and he went on, “Good girl, now enjoy the view.”
The blinds which had been firmly closed by a mechanical device since the day she had attracted the attention of the window cleaner, now slid open and Catherine felt her whole body react to the sunlight that streamed into the room, bathing her in its glow. Already, her life took on a new dimension, it was amazing what sunlight could do, no wonder that Vincent felt the need of it so much.
Walking across to the window, she stood with her face as near as possible to look down at the street below. She could see the people that her captor had referred to, but for a time only looked without seeing. It was so wonderful to look out across the city skyline to watch the traffic, to see people hurrying everywhere and the feeling to join them was so strong, that tears pricked her eyelids. Lowering her gaze to dab at her eyes she heard the voice say, “If the scene is going to upset you, I will close the blinds.”
“No, please, don’t do that, I won’t cry anymore, I promise.” Holding back the tears, Catherine defiantly looked up at the monitor happy when he said no more though she knew he’d still be watching.
There were many people in the street below, children among them, they made Catherine think of the tunnel children, in fact they were dressed much the same way. And what was it they carried? Something long and slim difficult to see from her vantage point unless they lowered them almost flat. They were also giving out flyers, and entering the various buildings round about with them. Catherine had never really been much of a one for religion, but watching them passed the time and in a few days they would be gone, leaving her only the traffic to look at.
So far up it was difficult to see their faces but Catherine slowly became aware of the clothing they had on. It was definitely different, not the usual garb for a Christian movement. She had seen the Salvation Army in their uniforms had seen the Jehovah’s Witnesses in suits and dresses, though they did not hold movements in streets, only held conventions where thousands of them would congregate over three or four days. Then there was the Mormons, they also wore clothing that set them apart and the Church of England would be led by a priest dressed in black or mauve, maybe white, but it would be a long garment that reached the floor. None of these were like that. Catherine frowned, these people were something new and she had never noticed them anywhere on the streets before. But wait! She had seen them before! Pressing her face against the glass to see better immediately the voice filled the room, “Miss Chandler, come away from the window please.”
“I’m not trying to attract attention, I just want to see what religion it is. I’m not religious, but I have never seen these people before and I can’t see them clearly from up here.”
There was a few minutes silence, then, “We can’t risk taking you to a lower level, Miss Chandler, but if what you tell me is true, I can help you. Give me a few minutes and you’ll see what I mean.”
Catherine waited left only to wonder what he meant, when she heard the door being unlocked and a nurse walked in carrying a black case, which she put down on the bed and without a word went out again and locked the door.
The voice filled the room “There you are, Miss. Chandler my very own binoculars, now you can see even more of the city. Perhaps at night you can look at the stars, the magnification is a five thousand times normal eyesight, so you will have to adjust them, and not use them for close viewing, or your eyes will bulge. I’m certain you will find the constellations a pleasure to observe when it is dark enough, Miss Chandler.”
“Thank you.” Was all she could say, somehow touched by his only show of kindness, “Thank you very much.”
The voice went silent again and Catherine picked up the binoculars, extracted them from their case and took them over to the window to look out.
The people were now so close it was as if she could reach out and touch them. The powerful lens was more than she had ever experienced, they must be very expensive, she thought. Catherine adjusted the lens so that the people came through crystal clear, and then she was able to study in detail what it was they held in their hands. She could almost read the words on the flyers that they carried the magnification was that good, though the wind ruffled the paper so much, that it was hard to establish the content, but something did leap out at her. In bold print at the bottom of what appeared to be a verse, were some words that were familiar to her, though she couldn’t quite see what.*** *** ***
“What are you looking at so intently, Miss Chandler?” The voice filled the room.
“Something and nothing,” She told him, “These binoculars are excellent, I can almost read what it says on those flyers they are giving out. It’s become a personal vendetta to me, trying to read from way up here, a flyer that flutters in the wind, and the words are upside down.” She laughed and the voice laughed too, “I’m happy to see that you are enjoying yourself and to know that you can laugh. Its a pity things have to be this way, you are quite a remarkable woman, Miss Chandler, you and I could go places.”
Catherine frowned, and shook her head.
“As you wish, Miss Chandler, it was just a thought. Now let me see if I can satisfy your curiosity one more time.”
He fell silent, and Catherine lowered the binoculars to wait. After a while she heard the door being unlocked again and the same nurse brought in a slip of yellow paper and laid it upon the bed and then the voice once again filled the room as the nurse departed. “There you are, Miss. Chandler, I can’t promise that you will be converted, but if you should understand the scripture I’d be happy if you would let me know. For a certainty I cannot fathom it out.”
Catherine laid the binoculars carefully down upon the bed and picked up the leaflet, her eyes going first to the bottom line. The words jumped out at her and it was difficult to maintain a sombre expression that gave nothing away as her eyes ran over the words ‘...and death shall have no dominion!’
Catherine felt the room spinning and had to steady herself for support by fixing her knees firmly against the bed. It was a message from Vincent she was certain of it! Quickly, her gaze rose higher to read the scripture above. “For you yourselves know quite well that (his) day is coming, exactly as a thief in the night. Whenever it is they are saying Peace and Security then sudden destruction is to be instantly upon them, just as the pang of distress upon a pregnant woman, and they will by no means escape.” 1st Thessalonians Ch. 5 v 2 & 3.
“Place the flyer beneath your pillow. A strange action if I may say so. Only sentimental things stray beneath pillows, Miss Chandler. Tell me why did you do it?”
“No reason, I just wanted to study it later when I was in bed. It would be handy to reach there.”
“It would be handy to reach on your bedside cabinet too.”
“Yes, but it could flutter off from there and get thrown away.”
“No, I don’t believe that. I don’t think you are telling me the truth. I’ll have someone remove it from your room and the binoculars also. Until you tell me why you did it there will be no more favours, Miss Chandler.”
Catherine’s heart sank but before he had time to take back the binoculars she lifted them to her eyes and looked down to the street below. She could make out that the people carried candles that they wore tunnel style clothing and yes, just as the nurse came into the room and tried to take the binoculars away, Catherine saw him. There Father stood on a soap-box quoting from the Bible. Catherine drank in the sight of him and just as the binoculars were forced from her eyes she saw someone else, undercover of a wig but there nonetheless and she was certain that it was Joe!
To be continued in Chapter Four - click on 'Next' below:
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