Vincent dives in to save Catheine's life when a
tidal wave hits Manhattan.
A shorter version of this story first appeared in the 1999 edition of 'A Moment In Time Conzine' pages 1 to 34.
Back at the main hub people were still anxious. Reports had it that the tide had receded though much of the city was still flooded. The problem that the tunnel dwellers now faced was the fact that a helper had sent down word that the TV channels had been reporting that the water wasn’t going down as fast as it should, and that there was some concern of debris blocking the drains.
*** *** ***
Agitated, the tunnel dwellers were relieved when Father, Devin and their guests finally returned. Mary as ever efficient, whisked Nicole and the baby off to the hospital chamber where it was the warmest, before settling Darren and Debra into the kitchen for William to fuss over. Then she returned to see what she could do back at Father’s chamber.
She found him just as she’d supposed. Leaning over a table with maps spread before him and anxiously discussing with the community what was best to do in the circumstances. Mary listened at the back of the group ready to make any suggestions that Father may miss.
“We shall have to remove the sandbags Father it is the only way.” Winslow had inspected the drains, and sure enough it was the sandbags that prevented the flood from being extracted from the city. “If we don’t then our world could be discovered. And then more lives would be at risk than they are now.”
Father rubbed his chin thoughtfully, “Yes I know you are right, but what of Vincent and Catherine? If they are still in the lower levels, allowing the water through could sweep them away again.” He sat down and leaned back in his chair, “If only we knew where they were and if they are injured or not.”
“We’ve had the search parties out all the time you’ve been gone Father, and there has been an all clear out on the pipes. But there has been nothing. No sight or sound of them.” The implication was clear and chilling, but no news was good news and until they heard anything to the contrary hope remained in the heart of each tunnel dweller.
“Vincent’s an exceptional swimmer.” Devin pointed out after a spell of silence. “I’ve seen him stay under water almost as long as a hippopotamus. I can’t see how anything could have happened to him in that way.”
“Devin’s right.” Pascal picked up the conversation, “Besides I feel it in my bones that Vincent’s well.” He fell silent then as everyone’s attention turned to Catherine but what of Catherine? If anything should happen to Catherine, then Vincent would not be all right. It was a very worrying thought. And one that simply would not go away.
“Then where are they?” Father rephrased his earlier remark. “Devin is there any way of following that shaft where they went down? Perhaps a few people could climb down it if only to establish where it actually leads?” Father looked at his son hopefully.
“Too much time has lapsed. They could have been swept for miles on the bulk of that water Pops.” Devin replied, “However should they have found somewhere to hold on, they might still be close to the upper level. Who will volunteer with me to take a look?”
Winslow raised his hand without hesitation, Cullen too. “That should be enough.” Devin thanked them, “Can you be ready in ten minutes?” The two men agreed and hurried away to collect together the things that they would need.
“Thank you Devin.” Father reached toward and grasped his son’s hand, “Make sure the three of you are harnessed together at all times, and…” Devin grinned and butted in, “Pops I’ve climbed up and down more shafts than you’ve had hot dinners, and I don’t just mean in these tunnels. Don’t worry I won’t get careless. I know what to do.”
Father nodded, saying nothing. Had he of opened his mouth again, he would have found all kinds of things to say highlighting all kinds of problems they may face. But he well knew that to say it all would delay the three men, and they would probably not listen to him anyway. So he said nothing, but he thought a lot. In fact his mind was filled with all manner of do’s and don’ts, until he thought if they didn’t hurry up and go he would burst and let them have it.
They left. The three of them, they left within the ten minutes not knowing if they could accomplish anything at all, but happy in knowing that they could at least try.
Consumed by the inky darkness, Catherine and Vincent walked at a steady pace. Always careful to face forward and never make a ninety-degree turn. The blast of air that they had been following had petered out long ago and the floor of the tunnel they now followed was uneven and littered with small stones. Catherine never said so but she got the distinct impression by Vincent’s steadfast concentration that the tunnel they followed was uncharted territory.*** *** ***
Meanwhile back at the home chambers Father was going through the maps with the remainder of the community and establishing where and when they should remove the sand bags. “Hopefully the channelled shafts will take the bulk of the floods and prevent the main hub from collecting water. At least there won’t be the force behind the water as there was when the wave hit. I understand the hurricane has died down now and we have to get on to this before the maintenance men are sent to check on the drains. There’s quite a lot of ground to cover, can I leave you to organise yourself into pairs and do whatever needs doing?”
At length Catherine had to ask; “Do you know where we are Vincent?”
He stopped walking and Catherine having become used to the slack indicating that he was standing still didn’t continue on and bump into him anymore. “Why do you ask?”
“Vincent this is your world. You probably know it like the back of your hand and I trust you to get us out of here, but something tells me these last few minutes, at least a half hour anyway that you are a little uncertain of the way ahead.”
Vincent laughed, “That’s the nicest way anyone has ever told me that they thought I was lost.” He replied.
Catherine grimaced, “So are you lost?”
“I’m sorry to shatter your trust in me, but yes Catherine I think I am. That is to say I know where we are, but if memory serves me correctly this way has never been charted and I have a feeling it comes to a dead end.”
“How can you know that if its never been charted?” Catherine had sidled up to Vincent now, and his arms were around her holding her close. Walking made them warmer while stopping brought on the chills. They were grateful for the body heat of the other even though it meant holding one another close in the inky darkness. So many liberties could be taken in the darkness and passed off as accidents. Both were aware of this, and both pushed the thought resolutely away.
“Because Devin and I have been this way before.” There was a catch to his voice. A little humour.
“And you wasn’t supposed to be down this far?” Catherine understood at once. She smiled imagining the antics of the two young explorers, wishing for the umpteenth time that she could have been an active member in their many adventures.
Vincent chuckled, “Yes counsellor you sussed the truth again.”
Gaily Catherine giggled. Vincent loved the sound. It reminded him of water running over pebbles and knew every time from then on when he saw such a sight he would think of Catherine’s laughter.
“So what should we do Vincent?”
“Well I think the only thing we can do is to backtrack.”
“Backtrack? How far backtrack?”
Vincent could imagine Catherine’s eyes open wide in horror, “Not far. Don’t worry Catherine, just as far back as where we felt that blast of air above us rather than in front of us.”
“You’re not telling me we should have climbed upwards?”
Vincent was silent.
“Oh Lord you are aren’t you? So tell me, what do we have to climb and how far will we likely have to go…up?”
“It isn’t as bad as it sounds Catherine. You can go in front, and I will help push you up. You can even stand on my shoulders. There is a method to climbing up and down shafts, and they aren’t always very long.”
“Aren’t always? How long exactly?”
“Twenty…” Vincent whispered the next few words, “thirty maybe fifty feet.”
“FIFTY FEET! VINCENT!” Catherine hissed. “I can’t climb fifty feet.”
“Oh yes you can Catherine. Do the words ‘I won’t fall’ mean anything to you?” He laughed.
“Yes but that’s a tree! And in the daylight I might add. I would never try to climb one blindfolded and that’s exactly what you are asking here isn’t it? To climb as much as fifty odd feet in this inky darkness, Vincent I don’t think I can do it.”
“Well that’s an improvement at any rate. Before you were adamant that you couldn’t do it, now you only don’t think you could do it.” Catherine detected the humour in his tone but was too worried to rise to it.
“I don’t know why you are so worried Catherine. Climbing fifty feet is the easy part…” he paused and she caught his drift and waited expectantly.
“It’s the thought of falling fifty feet that should worry you.”
“I knew you were going to say that!” Catherine sought desperately to flatten his merriment and then grinning from ear to ear she thought of something. “You’ll be behind me you say?”
“All the way.” Vincent sensed something outrageous was coming. He was cautious, wary Catherine was using the conversation to her advantage he was certain of it. He didn’t like to think what could possibly be coming next.
“So if a stumble you will too?”
“But there’s a possibility that you could fall?”
“No. I wouldn’t fall I never do. My claws are useful some times.”
“Hmm!” Vincent detected the exasperation in Catherine’s tone and grinned. “Why was you hopeful that I would?”
“Yes. Though I cannot for the life of me see why you would want me to fall. I might injure myself and then where would we be?” Vincent was learning that the way Catherine’s devious mind worked was becoming to him as clear as glass.
Catherine didn’t answer. Her mind was racing. He was right, and it wasn’t that she wanted him to fall, not exactly. It just seemed like the perfect opportunity to have taken her down with him, and for her to have landed on top of him. That was what had seemed so appealing.
Vincent wasn’t certain, but he had a feeling he could follow her train of thought. He decided to relate to her a true experience. “Devin fell once.”
“He did? Was he injured?”
“No I was behind him. He fell back on to me. Actually he fell face down onto me. We were both winded, but my body cramming the shaft saved his fall, and once we had both regained our breath, we struggled to untangle ourselves and begin the climb again.”
“Oh.” Nothing significant there. That was nothing she could use to her advantage if the same should happen in this case.
But Vincent wasn’t finished toying with her; “I seem to remember Devin remarking that we had never been so close. I was held suspended you see, there wasn’t much I could do in the way of movement. If I had bent an arm or a leg Devin may have slipped in between the limb and the shaft wall. I had to position myself immobile while Devin searched for hand and foot holes and as I remember he wasn’t exactly careful where he searched either.” A touch of humour tinged his voice.
Catherine’s mouth dropped open. From Vincent that was a very suggestive remark. Was he saying what she thought he was saying? She wasn’t certain, but the uncanny silence that followed made her quite restless to know.
Nonetheless she decided not to rise to the bait, the barbed conversation was making her uneasy not to mention rather warm.
“So.” Vincent said at last, “Are you ready to go back?”
“I suppose I have to be. We can’t stay here can we?”
“No." He replied then she heard a catch of laughter in his voice as he questioned, "Catherine?”
“Don’t worry I won’t let you fall.”
His remark should have reassured her but for some reason it didn’t. In fact Catherine felt decidedly disappointed as they changed direction and she took up following him on her end of the rope once again..
There was affirmative nods all around, and Father watched with pride as people paired off and after making a final check on the map of their journey, they exited his chamber two by two.
Finally when it was just he and Mary left behind, Father poured out his anxiety, “I hope we are doing the right thing Mary. Devin’s team will remove the sandbags from that area when they are done in the shaft but there’s no telling where the water will run. Any one of those shafts could have Vincent and Catherine nearby. I just hope they will stay safe.”
Mary patted his hand. “This is the ultimate sacrifice Jacob. Every one can see that. We all know how much you love Vincent and Catherine, but we have also seen this day how much you love every body here. By removing the sandbags it lets in the water left on the streets and this could have a detrimental effect on those that are lost. But not to remove the sandbags- well then the city maintenance will discover the bags and will know they were deliberately placed from the inside. That will lead to only one conclusion, and this world of ours would be discovered. Father I well know you did the only thing that could be done, and I’m certain Vincent would understand and do no less in the circumstances believe me.”
Father’s eyes were haunted. Knowing Mary spoke logically was one thing, believing it to have been the best thing to have done was entirely different. His conscience pricked him. Had he of had more courage he would have sacrificed the many to have saved the few but the thought of the children and all those that depended on the world he had created there beneath the city streets had prevented him from even searching for that type of courage.
What Father didn’t know now was that everyone else’s conscience was pricked. For had Father of put the problem of the sandbags to the vote not one of them would have raised their hand in agreement to their removal.
Vincent was precious to one and all and every tunnel dweller would have been more than willing to pay with their own life to save his.
*** *** ***
Descending the shaft was easy. In less than a half-hour Devin, Winslow and Cullen had manoeuvred themselves down to the bottom of the shaft and then with torches had explored the way at great length before climbing back up again. They were satisfied that Vincent and Catherine had been swept down possibly as far as the nameless river, and hurried to return with their news just as soon as they had removed the sandbags blocking up the drains.
*** *** ***
“Its best that we remove just one or two, and let the water trickle if we don’t want to get washed back down the shaft.” Winslow reminded the others.
The bags were water logged and very heavy and it took all three of them to shunt one bag aside before they moved on to the next one, and then the next one. In all they had to remove five before the water even began to ooze through the gap. It came at a trickle and then got faster and faster as they opened their legs wide to let it pass. Devin watched it go, his eyes haunted and prayed that wherever it went it would do no further harm to either his brother or the woman that he loved so much he had risked his life to save her.
It seemed to take an age before Vincent and Catherine had backtracked far enough, but at last they felt a surge of wind blowing their hair once again. Catherine lifted her arms not quite sure what she was looking for, but knowing that the draught came down from above. “Should I be looking for something? I can’t feel anything above my head.” She told Vincent.
*** *** ***
He too was searching, being so much taller than she and knowing what to look for he had soon pinpointed the beginning of the shaft they would have to climb. “I’ve found it.” He told her. Catherine wasn’t certain whether it was good news or not. She had done a lot of serious thinking during the long walk back. Whether she climbed and slipped onto Vincent’s body, whether she could only right herself by groping against him in the dark until she found an appropriate hand hold again, whether this gave her the ideal opportunity to accidentally on purpose grope other parts of him that she might not get another chance to touch suddenly seemed stupid and childish in the face of their predicament.
Vincent could feel her unrest and he knew some of the reason behind it. He also knew that he was partly to blame, and if nothing else Catherine had one thing right, the inky darkness did afford them with chances that might never come again. He could speak without her seeing his face. Without her misreading expressions, or fathoming out unspoken questions held in his eyes. Taking a deep breath, Vincent tugged on the rope binding them together and brought her gently toward him. His arms went around her and Catherine thankfully lay her head against his chest. They stood like that for some time, with Catherine believing he was trying to calm and comfort her for the climb ahead and she was grateful for his consideration to her fear. Not many things frightened her. Certainly heights didn’t. Hadn’t climbing trees in the park proved that?
And she had undertaken some frightening experiences with her job, much of which she owed her life to Vincent over and over when he had rescued her time and again. But this moment, cold, wet and weary the last thing Catherine wanted to tackle was a proposed fifty-foot climb up a vertical shaft where she would have to stretch and bend in order to maintain her balance to actually get to the top. Let alone to prevent herself from slipping back down. Even if she could land upon Vincent, it was pretty selfish of her to have believed that she could turn this to her advantage, very selfish indeed. And both felt that they owed the other an apology and said so simultaneously.
“I’m sorry Vincent.”
“I’m sorry Catherine.”
They both laughed and began speaking together again. Vincent pulled back and let her finish first. “I owe you an apology. I was going to take advantage of the climb. The things you told me about you and Devin…”She paused, “Well let’s just say it gave me certain ideas that’s all. So what did you feel the need to apologise to me for?”
“For something along similar lines actually. And you have no need to apologise. I share the guilt for having put that thought into your mind. It was purposeful, and it didn’t make me feel any better knowing how quickly you picked up on the suggestion. I feel I put you at a disadvantage Catherine. I have felt how uneasy this has made you during the return trip and it was also stupid of me to put such a wild thought into your mind to be undertaken during such a dangerous climb.”
Both were silent for a few moments, then Catherine hugged him tightly, “Whatever comes of this Vincent I want to thank you for jumping into the water after me, for rescuing me and for this moment in time. I also want to thank you for kissing me, and I want you to know that I’d love for that to continue. But as to anything else, well then I’m prepared to leave that up to you. I won’t force you into any areas where you may feel uncomfortable.”
“Thank you Catherine.” He was silent for a long time though his fingers lightly traced soothing lines up and down her back, and then finally he told her, “I too should like to continue the kissing. As much as I tell myself otherwise, I think it would be very difficult to pretend that it never happened and I think we will both want it to continue too much for it to give us any peace. But I also want you to know that I too have been doing a lot of thinking since we spoke several hours ago…and…” Catherine’s heart beat faster in expectation.
“And?” She asked hopefully.
“And I feel now that I might be prepared to allow this between us.” Catherine knew what it had cost him to say that to her, but she wasn’t quite certain if he meant what she hoped he meant.
“How do you define ‘this’ Vincent?”
Vincent, ever grateful for the darkness drew another deep breath and then began to explain, “If you are sure Catherine, if you really think that we could have a relationship like any other couple, then I should…” He paused thinking ‘the darkness is my friend…this should be so easy… Quit thinking about the cold light of day…quit thinking about how things will stand when you can look into her eyes again and she can see you and all that you are.’
Catherine had waited long enough. She couldn’t hold her breath in expectation any longer, “Vincent what is it you are trying to say? You know that you can tell me anything?”
Drawing her closer still Vincent buried his face into her neck and kissed her just below the ear, “I love you Catherine.” He whispered causing a shiver of erotic pleasure to run up her spine. Never had he said this with such desperate longing before.
Catherine felt she should respond, say something, tell him she loved him too, but something bade her to keep silent or he would never say what he was so obviously trying to say to her.
“I want you.”
Catherine shuddered. So long she had waited to hear this from him. It was like a dream come true. Now she knew she should speak to make things plain between them. “I want you too.” Her voice was husky, low and sensuous. Vincent shivered.
Silence befell them again, and they stood each in the embrace of the other not wanting to break the spell. Catherine felt that she was glowing inside and out. Vincent felt as though for the first time ever he had come to life and happiness didn’t even come close.
Finally they knew that they had to make a move. It would have been nice to have remained standing there forever, but as warm as their love was, the events of the past few hours were taking their toll and the pair of them were beginning to notice the cold seeping through once again. “We must go.” Vincent stated the obvious. “I do not want to do, but we are in no fit state to loiter any longer. You need to get out of those wet clothes and have a hot bath before hypothermia sets in.”
The thought of a long hot lazy bath suddenly made Catherine feel very weary and she found it almost impossible to keep her eyes open. She readily agreed, “Yes we must go. If we don’t soon make tracks I fear I will be asleep on my feet.”
“Would you like to rest before we start, have a short nap?”
“No Vincent. Let’s get started shall we? I’m sure if I rest I shall wake to find bruises and grazes that I haven’t yet noticed and find it too painful to climb. I’d like to go besides I’ve a good reason for getting back home as quickly as possible now.”
Vincent detected the humour in her tone and couldn’t help replying, “Mmm now I wonder what that could be?” Causing Catherine to laugh out loud. She could quickly get used to this new Vincent…yes, very quickly indeed.
Returning to the home chambers Devin and the others listened with the same kind of foreboding as every one else. As the sandbags were removed enough to let the water drain away from the streets, each person was in agony at the thought of the suffering such a flood might bring to those that were lost. Many prayers were said in the hope that Vincent and Catherine wherever they may be, were together and were alive and on their way home. Teams had been sent to the subterranean pools in the hope of intercepting the pair, but it was very distressing that some ten hours since they had disappeared down the shaft there had not been word either from or of them.
“I wish there was something more we could do.” Devin sighed for the umpteenth time.
“You’ve already done as much as you can.” Father told him, “But I know what you mean. All this waiting is not good for any of us. It’s already said that no news is good news but the longer we have to wait the more my mind conjures up horrors untold. I don’t know for how much longer I can sit and do so little.”
“You’ve already done as much as you can. And I don’t mean that in a detrimental way Pops so don’t take it as such. I know you feel guilty about having to let the water down here, but you know as well as I that we had no choice. It’s just been so long. I know how you feel.”
“It must be worse for you. You saw it happen?”
Devin nodded, “It replays over and over in my mind. The worst of it is, if I hadn’t of closed those damn doors at the threshold in the pathetic thought that they’d hold back a tidal wave, then they may not have been swept off their hinges and one may not have caught Catherine from behind.”
“I know, I know, and then she couldn’t have gone down the shaft and Vincent wouldn’t have had to jump in after her, and everything would be hunky dorey. If we are to apportion blame Devin, then I wish I had been able to prevent Vincent from falling in love with Catherine in the first instance.”
“Any moment now and you will wish they had never met.” Devin grinned despite himself.
“Funny thing, I don’t. You’d think I would wouldn’t you. That was the start of everything, but though Vincent has suffered greatly he has also changed for the better since he met Catherine. Reluctant though I am I have to admit that she has been good for him, and I do believe that she will do more good yet.”
“Do you think they will have a relationship?” Devin was sprawled out in an armchair, his long legs way out across the carpet. Father noticed these things unable to look his son in the eye. “I don’t know the answer to that.”
“It would alter everything.” Staring at his feet Devin said this as much to himself as to his parent.
“Yes it would.” Equally Father spoke to himself.
“Perhaps for the better?” Devin raised his eyebrow when he saw Father look up at him.
“Perhaps. It would be dependable on so much.”
“But it’s possible?”
“Yes its possible.” Father agreed reluctantly. It was hard to alter the ideas of a lifetime, but even he couldn’t deny that Catherine was good for Vincent.
“And how would you react to that?” Devin held his father’s gaze steadily.
Father sighed, “whatever they decide to do it will be up to them not up to me.”
“But would you give them your blessing?”
Father thought long and hard before replying, until finally he could answer truthfully, “Yes I’d give them both my blessing.”
Devin relaxed, the first time he had since he’d started this conversation with his father. He had wished a time or two that he was taking his questions too far, but he felt relieved now that he had kept on with it. Funnily enough he got the impression that his father was relieved too.
Now all they needed was the return of the two people in question, so that they might truly witness a happy ending to this fairy tale. And again for the umpteenth time Devin wondered where they were right at that moment.
*** *** ***
Several levels below right at that precise moment Vincent was establishing the way ahead from past experience while Catherine remained silent. Finally he spoke, “I think it would be best if I were to navigate the shaft first. It will only take me a few minutes to climb to the top and back, and that way I can give you a more definite answer as to the length of it.”
*** *** ***
“Okay.” Catherine replied.
“We’ll have to untie the rope from me. But don’t stand directly under the shaft. Should I fall I’d land on you and believe me you wouldn’t want my weight on top of you.” As soon as he had said it he wished he hadn’t. Catherine said nothing but through their bond he felt her heart race. He decided not to give voice to it any further just began untying the rope in silence.
“Wait here, that is don’t wander off.” Vincent told her as he prepared to climb up into the shaft. It was long and narrow like a chimney.
“I won’t. Besides I hate walking when I don’t have to do, right now at any rate. I think even when I do finally get a chance to sleep, the sound of my shoes squelching will stay with me.”
“I know my boots are full of water too and I also have mixed feelings for denim. It’s hard-wearing but holds the water so.”
“Oh don’t remind me.” Catherine had been aware of how uncomfortable soggy clothes were for the last few hours, but had tried desperately to ignore the feeling.
“Just think of that lovely hot bath you are going to have as soon as you get home.” Vincent told her. His voice sounded muffled, and Catherine knew he had hoisted himself up into the opening of the shaft. “Well here I go.” He called down to her and Catherine moved away from beneath him.
It was different when she stood alone. She missed his physical presence, even though he was near. The cold seemed to creep over her from every angle and she was feeling decidedly miserable.
In the dark and quiet Catherine could hear things that she hadn’t noticed while they had walked together. Vincent’s ascent above her, his boots grating against the shaft walls, his claws grinding against the rock. And there were other sounds. The gentle drip of water, lulling and soothing and there was a sound like that of crickets here and there around her.
She wished she could see. That was the worst of this experience. If she thought about it enough it frightened her. How did she know that the pitch dark was due to being underground in the absence of light, and not from blindness? How could she be certain that she hadn’t hit her head when the water had taken her, and that she had lost her sight. It was all she could do not to panic when she thought of these things. The only consolation was that Vincent had told her that he was unable to see as well. But then what if he had bumped his head too?
“Catherine?” Vincent called down to her.
“Yes. What is it?”
“I can feel that something is worrying you greatly. Can I help you with it?”
“No, its nothing. Just my mind working over time. How far up are you? Any idea?”
“Yes. I’ve covered in the region of thirty feet. The shaft is dry, and you will be surprised to find that it is pleasantly warm too, despite the cold wind you can feel coming through at the bottom.”
“Like hot water in a shower? Maybe it doesn’t apply below, but at the apartment if I am stood beneath the shower and the hot water is running it feels boiling when it touches my head, but by the time it reaches my toes it has cooled somewhat.”
Vincent chuckled, “Can’t say I’ve ever had that experience but it sounds logical.”
“You should take a shower at the apartment one day. I can tell you it is an experience you will greatly enjoy. But it might spoil you for what you have below. But I can never understand why Mouse has never thought of building a hot shower down there. I’m sure he could find a way to plumb one in.”
“No doubt Mouse is like me. What you have never had you won’t miss, or know about. Maybe you should take Mouse to your apartment and offer him a hot shower. Once he knows what’s available I’m certain it wouldn’t be long before we would all benefit below.”
“Maybe I’ll do that.” Catherine smiled. “Are you at the top yet?”
“How do you know?”
“From past experience. It’s difficult to explain. There is a difference in the feel of the shaft and the quality of air. See if you can spot it on your way up.”
“I’m here!” Vincent reached the top ledge and dragged himself up and over. He shuffled back to a sitting position on the sandy floor and called back down, “I would say there’s about forty feet separating you and I. Do you think you can do this?”
“With you beside me? Yes. I think so. Just take a rest before coming back down.”
“Can you see anything? Is there any light up there?”
“No everything is just the same. But the beauty is up here we should soon reach a network of pipes and at least we are going ever upward. There should be some lanterns positioned soon I know.”
“The water might have extinguished them.”
“If it had come this way that would be so, but this floor is quite dry as was the walls of the shaft. Obviously the sandbags are working well.”
Catherine heard the echo of his boots scuffling against the ledge again, “I’m coming back down now, stand clear just in case.”
Catherine moved back to the side and was surprised at how quickly he soon made it to the bottom. They embraced, “I missed you.” Catherine told him sincerely.
“I know. I missed you too. Well are you ready for the climb up?”
“As ready as I’ll ever be. Best tie ourselves together again.”
“Yes.” Vincent sought her lips then and kissed her long and hard, taking Catherine by surprise. “I missed that too.” He told her when he finally pulled back.
“Good. And don’t you go forgetting that you have three and a half years to catch up on when we get back.” Catherine laughed and Vincent joined her. “I won’t…I promise I won’t. Catherine I love you so much.”
“I love you too.”
They hugged one another tightly once more and then reluctantly started the climb up the long and narrow shaft.
Father was relieved to hear news from above that the water level in the streets was subsiding. At least that was one weight off of his mind that people wouldn’t come nosing around to see what was holding up the water. But as the hours ticked slowly by with still no word of Vincent and Catherine that worry on its own became paramount until he could think of little else.
*** *** ***
Devin had taken to pacing and what little thread remained in the carpet was quickly disintegrating before Father’s eyes.
“Do you have to do that Devin? You are worse than Vincent.”
“It helps me to keep balanced. All this waiting is driving me nuts. How can two people just disappear? I thought you knew every inch of this world, yet here you are telling me that there are uncharted tunnels that go down for miles.”
“You know very well that there are places yet to explore. As I remember those were the places that you and Vincent used to find the most exciting?”
“Yes, but that was years ago. Time enough for those same places to have been charted by now. If only with arrows.”
“There is always much to do. Chambers are always needed. Vincent and the rest of the men are always busy excavating new living quarters. Sometimes uncharted tunnels are overlooked. It is only at a time like this that the folly is brought home to us. But even so Vincent has travelled our world extensively. It is unbelievable that he may get lost. Only if that isn’t the answer then why hasn’t anyone discovered his whereabouts by now?”
“I don’t know dad, but if I don’t hear anything soon, I am going to take Winslow and Cullen, and maybe even Mouse and go back down that damn shaft and follow it further this time. I know that’s a dumb idea, Vincent and Catherine may be miles from there by now, but then again maybe they’re not.”
“Did you call out at all while you were down there?”
“Yes all the time. No one replied. Our voices would have carried for far enough, that’s one of the reasons we came back, it was obvious that no one could hear us.”
“But that could mean…”
“They’re not dead dad! I know this. I feel it in here.” Devin pointed to his heart, “but I don’t know where they are, and that’s what makes it all so frustrating. How can I feel so absolutely positive that they are uninjured yet not know of their whereabouts? It’s like a contradiction.” He paced faster, reaching the table and turning back to his chair, reaching it and turning back to the table a space of about six feet. Father watched the pattern on his carpet disappearing.
“Listen!” Devin stopped and held a hand to his ear. Father held his breath, someone was sending a message. “Its Mouse! Did you know he’d gone in search of them?”
“No but then that doesn’t surprise me. Mouse and Vincent are like that.” Father crossed two fingers. Listen what’s that he is saying about a rope?”
Devin deciphered the message, speaking aloud, “Rope checked two days ago. Good then broken now. What on earth does that mean?”
“To us very little, but to Mouse quite a lot I should say by the speed he is tapping out the message. He is very excited about something. Ask him to come back and explain it to us.”
Devin did as asked waiting for Mouse’s reply ‘okay good – okay fine’ and then returned to his seat. Their eyes were full of questions…and a little hope at last.
“The best way to hold your balance is to keep your back against one side and climb bit by bit like a spider.” Vincent told Catherine after she had paused for something like the seventh time in as many minutes. The progress was slow and that Catherine found it difficult was plain to see.
*** *** ***
“An upside down spider with a lot less legs.” Catherine retorted breathlessly. “Vincent I think you should have gone up first and towed me. I can’t find another hand-hold to pull on, and my knuckles are bleeding. Can you give me a bunk up?”
Vincent had almost suggested this earlier but had refrained from doing so, now he agreed. Another blessing of the dark, he couldn’t see where he might be touching when he helped to push her. Raising a hand he met cold denim and following the contours beneath guessed that he had caught hold of her bottom. Vincent tried not to think about it as she nestled into the palm of his hand and he pushed her up higher.
They made quicker progress now, but then Catherine called down, “I thought you said it was dry in here?”
“It isn’t. My hand keeps finding wet spots.”
Vincent frowned, “How wet?”
“Quite a bit, slippery too. In fact…”
“I can feel water trickling over my fingers now.”
Vincent grew worried. He knew for a fact that the entire shaft had been dry when he had climbed it, he had made a thorough search for that very reason, so that Catherine wouldn’t find the way slippery as well as difficult.
“Just stop climbing a moment will you Catherine? And stay quiet.”
Catherine stopped and held her breath. Vincent listened intently. His heart sank. “Oh no.”
“What? What is it? What have you heard? Vincent tell me?” Catherine’s voice rose hysterically.
“Water. I can hear the rumble of water. Don’t ask me how or why but any moment now you are going to get that shower you’ve looked forward to but it won’t be hot.” No sooner had he finished speaking, then did his words prove true. Water cascaded over Catherine’s head in a torrent. She spluttered holding on to the rock for dear life, while knowing that it was in vain. Her fingers slipped free and she made a grab for the wall with hand over hand, all the time aware that her feet were also slipping from where she had them positioned either side of the shaft wall. “Look out Vincent I’m coming down!” She cried the warning seconds before she felt herself plunging through a mass of water for the second time that day.
Bracing himself against the walls of the shaft the breath was knocked out of Vincent as Catherine landed on him. But he took the impact well and managed to stay put even though the deluge of freezing water that fell with her gushed over him and made his hands and feet slip.
Lying twisted and flat against Vincent Catherine had the unfortunate experience of ice cold water sting her back making it difficult to draw breath. She could only press her face into Vincent’s neck and pray that he might be able to withstand the onslaught of the gush until it had passed, if it passed. With no way of knowing whether this water had broken through the sand bags or whether it was another tidal wave Catherine wasn’t sure what to expect this time round.
After what seemed an age the water petered out and ran at a trickle over the ledge above splashing the walls of the shaft as it came down and spraying the two of them as it passed on by.
“Are… you all right …Catherine?” Vincent spoke at last.
“I think so. And you?”
“I can’t hold… this position much… longer.” With his legs splayed out wide, his feet and back against opposite walls and his arms outstretched wall to wall too, and with Catherine’s soggy weight planted upon him Vincent was slipping bit by bit. “I have to let my feet down, can you cling round my neck?”
Without answering Catherine did as he asked, and then waited as he braced himself. “I’m going to let us drop. Keep your finger tucked well in so they don’t graze as we fall. Ready? On the count of three?”
“One… two… three!” The pair plummeted the moment Vincent moved his feet away from the wall. He tried to steady their descent by trailing his feet down the shaft but that meant his upper body was tilting to a head first position. “Its no good Catherine… I have to let go. Brace yourself.”
Clinging tightly round his neck Catherine closed her eyes tightly. A split second later every bone in her body was jarred as they hit the ground from some twenty five feet drop and Catherine felt Vincent wince as he made to speak.
“What is it? What have you done?” Catherine cried releasing her hold on him.
“Its nothing… I’m just not as… agile as I thought… I was.” He tried to laugh it off but it didn’t quite ring true.
Catherine wasn’t convinced. He was hurt she knew it, but in this damn darkness she couldn’t do anything but believe him. She certainly couldn’t see if he was holding himself any differently. She said nothing but her concern was apparent.
“Ready for… another attempt?”
“Are you sure? Wouldn’t you like to rest a while?”
“No. I want to… get out… of here as… soon as… possible.”
That too worried Catherine. He was injured! But what he had done only he knew and he wasn’t about to tell her.
“Will that be the last of the water?” Catherine knew it to be a dumb question but she hoped to stall him, make him rest a little. Perhaps tell her what he had done. She was surprised when he answered gruffly; “I don’t know… Catherine. If you are ready… we’ll start… climbing again.”
It was his tone that worried her. Each word seemed to be dragged out of him he was breathless that she could tell. Suddenly the thought of climbing up the shaft brought back all the old fears and more besides and Catherine really didn’t want to do this. “Are you sure there is no other way out?”
“I’m sure.” There was a catch to his voice. Catherine detected the pain. She couldn’t stand not knowing any more.
Anxiously she begged, “Tell me. Vincent you have hurt yourself? Tell me I might be able to help.”
“Its… nothing…don’t… worry. Father…can…fix…it…”
“Are you bleeding?” Like a dog with a bone Catherine wasn’t going to let this go.
Vincent sighed deeply, “Yes.”
Bringing her hands up to his shoulders Catherine began running them over his body searching for a wet patch upon a wet patch. It was almost nigh impossible, until she felt heat rising where every other place was icy cold. “You’ve cut your back! Vincent it’s bleeding - a lot!”
“I can try.” Frantically Catherine wondered what she could tear to place over the spot, she thought of her tee shirt. “Just a minute.”
The zipper on her jacket was stuck, it wouldn’t go completely down. Catherine pulled it so far and had to wiggle out of it until her upper body was free and the jacket hung around her hips. Her sweater was almost as difficult. Water logged the wool hung from her arms and Catherine wrung as much water from it before she could even lift it over her head. Next she tugged at her tee shirt, wishing she could have used some outerwear but knowing that her tee shirt was the softest material that she wore. It twisted and got caught half way up her back “Can you help me Vincent? I’m stuck.”
Reaching out a hand Vincent gasped as he encountered bare flesh, he pulled back at once and Catherine searched for his hand, finding and pulling it back against her. “Here unravel the cloth at the back of me, its rolled up.” Fighting to ignore the feel of her bare flesh against his hand Vincent gently but speedily loosened the garment until Catherine was able to pull it over her head. “Turn around Vincent.” Catherine told him feeling around him for the spot once more. “Can you loosen your vest?”
Catherine heard him untying the laces. She felt the fine spray of water touch her skin as the laces were pulled in and out from their knots, and finally when she was satisfied that she could administer to his needs satisfactory she folded the tee shirt into a tight square and placed it over the wound. The bleeding seemed to have subsided thank goodness, but Catherine could tell that it would need stitching. It was quite a gash and climbing was not going to do it any favours. “You are going to have to be careful Vincent or it will start bleeding again. How did you do it do you know?”
“That’s all right tell me later, save your breath. If you retie your vest it should hold the bandage in place. I’ll just get dressed while you do that.”
They worked in silence, and Catherine found that putting on wet clothes was worse than taking them off. They seemed to have grown colder, and it was difficult getting her arms into the wet fabric. Her jacket stuck every inch back up, and the zipper would go neither way. Exasperated Catherine told herself, ‘that will have to do, we can’t waste anymore time’ but to Vincent she said, “Right I’m ready…how about you?”
Concerned further Catherine asked, “What is it Vincent?”
“I think…it best…if I…went…first.”
Fortunately he didn’t have to explain why - Catherine understood at once. With an injured back he was unable to lean heavily against it to climb up behind her and help her along. But to go first would mean an added anxiety. If she should slip and the rope should break as he had first supposed then…well she didn’t like to think beyond that…but certainly they would have more problems if that should happen. If she thought the climb was risky before, it was nothing to the risk they faced now, but she said nothing. Vincent was injured, he needed medical attention probably more than he was letting on and what she had heard was bad enough. She would think no more about slipping, would think no more about ropes snapping under the tension between them, and think only of getting him home. Of getting them both home. It had been too long a day already.
“Show me where the rope was hanging.” Mouse had returned and Devin was holding a length of frayed rope in his hand.
*** *** ***
“Long way down.” Mouse told him.
Wide-eyed those assembled looked to one another. When they had heard that Mouse had found something they had collected in Father’s chamber one by one, until it was quite full.
“Can you take me there?”
Mouse nodded enthusiastically.
“I’ll come with you. You may need help.” Winslow told him.
“Take some supplies with you. More rope, a first aid pack, some food and hot soup. Would you have room for some blankets?”
“We’ll take whatever won’t be a hindrance Father, ands whatever is most important.”
“It’s all important.” He turned to Mouse, “Now you’re certain that the rope was intact two days ago?”
“Saw it myself. Hanging down the shaft. Not now. Been cut see?”
That was the very thing of course. It hadn’t been cut, but it had been snapped and with some physical force by the looks of it. There was only one person that could break a rope in two like that. Convinced Father told them, “You’d best hurry, take some flashlights or wear those helmets with the lights on them.”
“We’ll take both. Try not to worry Pops.” Devin spoke gently squeezing his father’s shoulder in passing, “We’ll find them. At least it’s good to be doing something and at least we know they are well.”
“Vincent at least.” Father pointed out indicating the rope with a nod in its direction.
“Well let’s just hope that they are together.” Devin called back as he left the chamber.
Father watched him go his eyes deeply troubled. ‘I’ll do more than hope.’ He told himself, ‘I’ll pray for them like I’ve never prayed before.’
There was one thing nobody down in the tunnels knew. And only those outside of New York were informed since all electricity was out in the city and no news bulletins could be heard.
*** *** ***
The hurricane had changed course again.
The lull in the storm was now attributed to the fact that the eye of the hurricane covered all of New York, and most of the surrounding areas, but it would soon pass over bringing a sting in its tail.
Already way out in the Atlantic ferocious waves were galloping. Turning over and over ever forward toward Manhattan Island. The tail of the hurricane was gathering for its grand finale, and no one beneath the city could be warned!
Hand over hand Vincent made steady progress. Clamping down on the bond took a lot of his metal strength but his physical well being was also drained. He was cold too. Cold right down to the bone, and he well knew that Catherine must be feeling as bad, perhaps even worse but she never complained. In fact she had been awfully quiet since they had begun climbing again and Vincent was well aware that she was giving her full concentration to the task before her.
*** *** ***
To cap it all the walls were now very slippery and the water had loosened many rocks that before could have been considered reasonable good hand holds. Now these crumbled at the slightest pull and both Vincent and Catherine had to painstakingly search for new hand holds quick smart.
Positioning their feet as best they could and with Catherine endeavouring not to put too much tension on the rope, they pushed and hauled themselves slowly upward in the best and easiest way that they could.
Catherine tried not to think of the fall beneath her, only of how much further they had to go up.
Rather than thinking ten feet, fifteen feet, twenty feet, twenty-five feet up, Catherine preferred to think of it the other way around. Her spirits lifted when she was able to say to herself ‘just five more feet, just five more blessed feet to go.’
Her heart in her mouth Catherine’s elation rose as Vincent spoke for the first time since they had started climbing, “almost there Catherine.” The relief in his tone spoke volumes.
They were almost safe when it happened. Why does that always have to happen? Why when you think you are safe do things have to go wrong?
Catherine began to feel wet again. She definitely felt the splash of something on her hands, but it wasn’t cold like before.
Momentarily she paused trying to listen. Vincent had said nothing. Before he had heard the water coming, this time he didn’t seem to have noticed. Catherine thought that was strange “Vincent?” She called timidly.
“Is the water coming back again?”
Vincent stopped climbing. By her tone Vincent detected her belief that it had. He listened intently. There was no sound to worry him. “No Catherine. The water isn’t coming again.”
He heard her expel a breath that told him of her disbelief and he asked, “Why?”
“Because something is trickling over my hands, and it’s getting faster.”
Vincent frowned. It was unlikely that water would be passing over the ledge and he wouldn’t know of it. He listened more intently, more to the point he listen below himself to the area where Catherine climbed several feet beneath him. And there was a sound. Yes a definite intermittent drip that signified moisture. Vincent sniffed maybe it wasn’t water, maybe it was some mineral some trace elements left behind by the water that was now oozing our of the rock. But as Vincent drew in a deep breath to analyse the scent, he suddenly felt dizzy. He faltered, his hands loosened from their hold, and his feet slipped causing tiny little stones to crumble and fall upon Catherine’s head.
“Vincent! What is it? What’s wrong?” Panic filled Catherine’s heart.
Vincent was silent, and Catherine knew that he needed help. A sudden surge of energy catapulted Catherine forward. She climbed the shaft as fast as she could, not even bothering to worry whether the walls could take her weight or not. For no sooner had she made contact did she let go and reach for another hand and foot hold again. In what seemed like seconds Catherine had reached Vincent, and was hoisting his body upward with her shoulders.
He was heavy, far heavier than she would have imagined despite his size. But then water logged and sapped of his usual strength his entire weight bore down on her. Catherine closed her eyes tightly and with all her might summoned up every ounce of strength to push him up, but it seemed in vain.
“Vincent?” There was no reply.
Catherine felt the rising panic. “VINCENT!”
With a sinking feeling Catherine knew then that he had been rendered unconscious.
She shook his legs, shouting his name all the while, and when there was still no response she pinched hard on the calves of his legs in an attempt to wake him. It seemed an age but her efforts paid off and she was elated when she heard him respond. “Catherine?”
“Vincent try to climb. I can’t hold you much longer, Its not far now, just reach up to the ledge.”
Hearing the anxiety in her voice Vincent’s senses returned slowly and in a daze he reached above his head to find a hand hold and pulled himself up another foot.
“That’s good, that’s good. Keep going.” Such a relief the lifting of his weight felt to Catherine, but it was short lived. Ever determined she met his pace and encountered his bottom with her shoulders again and pushed hard. “Keep going, don’t stop.” She called to him fearful that he would lapse back into unconsciousness at any moment.
It seemed like a lifetime. In the pitch dark and the biting rocks at her back, Catherine was left with the impression of how Vincent had injured his back. But on and on she went just climbing and pushing. Moving Vincent harder and harder although her shoulders felt as though they would break at any moment beneath his colossal weight.
Finally when she thought that she could take no more, and when her hands were becoming slippery with sweat and something else Catherine felt the blessed relief of Vincent’s entire weight lifted off of her and knew that he had made it to the top. She sighed and hurried up as fast as she were able to get there herself, and literally threw herself over the ledge to lie winded with her feet and legs trailing into the shaft until she could crawl the few feet needed to bring them out from there.
Her breathing was ragged, her heart pounded in her ears and Catherine felt as weak as a lamb. But her panic was slowly rising once again. Vincent was quiet deathly quiet, and Catherine scrambled to a kneeling position and sought for him with her hands. The first thing her hands encountered was warmth. Warmth against the ice cold water logged garments that he wore. Catherine frowned and pulled at the material covering the spot. It came away in her hands, and in that instance she realised. She realised everything!
That sound, that dripping, that feeling of something wet upon her hands, it hadn’t of been water…it was blood! His blood!
The tee shirt she had placed into the wound was saturated and the wound was open and throbbing pulsing blood into her hands. Fear assailed her senses. Vincent was again unconscious, and she realised that loss of blood would have rendered him so. Catherine tried not to panic further. She had to think and think fast or he would bleed to death right there beneath her hands.
Carefully standing, testing the height above her first with arms raised high Catherine next placed her hands under Vincent’s side and rolled him onto his stomach. She knew that she needed to stem the bleeding but his weight and unconsciousness prevented this. The only thing she could do was pad him up again with whatever was available to her.
Her jacket was made of leather so she dismissed this. Her sweater made of wool would absorb the blood like blotting paper so that would be useless. The only thing she could think of was her jeans. If she took them off it was possible that she could tie the legs around his middle and the upper half could lie over the wound. It was a silly idea perhaps but it was all she had to work with. There was absolutely no way that she could take off any of Vincent’s garments until he was awake to help her.
Her trainers slid off easily. Getting the wet denim down was another matter entirely especially in the speed that she wished it. She had to slide them down to her feet, then with one foot pushing the material off of one leg, and then using the other to do likewise, she finally tugged them off. They were inside out, but that didn’t matter, in fact it was probably better since the inside would be cleaner than the out. In socked feet Catherine next spread the trousers onto the floor positioning the upper part where she felt the wound would be, and then rolled Vincent back until she was able to gather up the two legs and tie them as tightly around him as she could. That done, she sat catching her breath a few moments while frantically wondering, ‘now what?’
Fortunately Mouse knew of a much quicker way. So much so that Devin began to wish that Mouse had been in the tunnels when he and Vincent were boys. Mouse could have got them from A to B so much faster and Father might never have found out about more of their exploits than he had needed to do.
*** *** ***
It didn’t seem to take more than a half-hour to reach the shaft where the rope had been hung. Mind you they ran all the way. They had to do or Mouse would have scampered out of sight. He didn’t even seem to have need of torch light knowing the way like the back of his hand.
When they finally reached the spot Devin teetered over the edge as Mouse pulled him back with the caution ‘careful not so close’ to which Devin grimaced wryly. “I wasn’t intending to” Devin told the young lad, “I just didn’t realise we were here so soon.”
“Mouse knows shortcut.” Mouse told him holding his torch up to his face. Devin wanted to laugh out loud, Mouse’s face looked like some enormous glowing monster’s head with the pitch darkness all around him. It was very creepy and Devin could see right up his nose.
“Put the torch down Mouse. I can see you well enough if you hold it at your side.”
Mouse compiled, and then shone the beam down the shaft, “See? That’s where Mouse hung the rope two days ago.”
Devin checked the remaining rope in Mouse’s hand. “Where did you tie it?”
“Here.” Mouse motioned to an outcrop of rock rooted firmly into the floor.
“Why did you tie it?” Winslow asked.
“Just did.” Mouse shrugged. “Found it, wanted to tie it. This is a good place as any. Thought I’d tie it here.”
“Its as well you did in the circumstances Mouse, it could have been the very thing that saved Vincent’s life.” Devin told him.
“Catherine’s too.” Mouse replied.
“Mouse...we don’t know that...yet.” Devin whispered as tears gathered in his eyes.
“Mouse knows. Come see.” Holding the torch to where he had tied the rope, Mouse steadied the beam to the dusty floor. “See two sets of footprints. One Vincent’s one Catherine’s.”
Devin gasped, it was true! Mouse was right, there were two sets of footprints, deep impressions too and though they were relatively dry now, Devin could see by their shape that both had been very wet when placed there.
“Mouse you’re a genius!” Devin exclaimed.
“I am not.” Mouse retorted, then as an afterthought added, “What’s a genius?”
Devin laughed, Winslow too. “Oh Mouse, a genius is a person that does something very, very good, and you dear boy have just done that.”
Mouse beamed, his face was almost as bright as the torch light. “Should we tell Father?”
“As soon as we find somewhere to send a message...yes.” Devin told him happily.
“That’s easy.” Mouse bounded forward, “Follow me.”
Chilled to the bone, Catherine knew that she had to take drastic action. Vincent was still unconscious, and he could be for some time. She could either wrap herself alongside him under his voluminous though terribly wet cloak or she could tuck the garment around him while she went in search of help, or she could take the cloak and put it around herself while she did likewise. She dismissed this idea though, as much as she would have liked to have something draped around her bare legs, she knew that the cloak would swamp her and be more of a hindrance to her than a godsend.
*** *** ***
Catherine sat for several moments trying to awaken Vincent, but when his laboured breathing began to frighten her, she placed one quick kiss to his brow, tucked the cloak around his unconscious form and took off in a direction that she hoped would lead her home.
Devin and Winslow followed hot on Mouse’s tail but even so they had difficulty catching up with him.
*** *** ***
“Hey Mouse wait up.” Winslow called breathlessly.
Mouse slowed down but it was obvious to see that he was impatient to be off. “Where does that boy get his energy from.” Winslow puffed. “Either he’s lithe or I’m unfit.”
“You must be the fittest person I know save Vincent.” Devin ran alongside his friend, I just guess its because Mouse knows the way blindfolded around here. Certainly Father should let the boy charter these tunnels. I’m surprised no body else has.”
“There are some things that we keep meaning to do, and there are some things that get put off until another day, but even though we haven’t got maps for these tunnels they should have been marked with arrows. Its not the first time anyone has ventured this way, and you know Vincent he has probably been here before.”
“Well let’s just hope that he has, though it is so dark down here.”
“Even so with Vincent’s excellent vision that shouldn’t be a problem.”
“Ordinarily no, but after being submerged for so long under water, and salt water at that, it may have affected his sight.”
“What are you saying Devin?” Winslow sounded anxious.
“Not that he’s blind or anything like that, no just that his vision is probably impaired with the strain of being under water. You know how it is when you get water in your eyes. It’s bad enough with clear water without additives like salt. That could really sting.”
Winslow nodded, now he understood.
To their surprise they were finally able to keep pace with Mouse. “Either I’m finding my second wind or he’s slowing down.” Winslow laughed.
“Sorry to spoil the illusion but its neither. We are going downhill.” Devin told him.
“Downhill! Why downhill? Surely we want to keep going up?”
“Mouse seems to know where he is going.” Devin replied.
“That numb skull! Why he’s probably forgotten what we’re doing here, and has thought of something else to do.” Winslow exclaimed.
Devin didn’t think so. Mouse may seem as though he had a slate missing more often than not, but really he was the genius that he had made him to be earlier. The boy seemed to know ways where no one else had ventured before, and certainly he was leading them somewhere.
“Shouldn’t we have been following those footsteps?” Winslow asked. “We seem to have come an awful long way off track.”
No sooner had Winslow spoken then Mouse came to an abrupt halt before them and amazingly they saw a network of pipes. Mouse beamed “Now we can send Father a message.” He told them with a grin.
To say Father was relieved when the message from Devin came through was the understatement of the year, but his relief was short lived when he heard the remainder of the message, that they still hadn’t found Vincent or Catherine.
*** *** ***
Jake had been to see him about going back to his store. They needed items for the baby and Jake wanted to see what could be salvaged. Father wasn’t very happy about his going, but couldn’t stop him since he wasn’t a tunnel dweller. Not that he’d have much luck preventing an adult tunnel dweller doing anything that they wanted either for that matter, but Father liked to think that he had control of everyone.
Jake took a few of the men with him, he decided that as his store was probably going to be ransacked anyway, he may as well let the tunnel dwellers take whatever was salvageable for themselves. Besides he was well aware that he owed them his life and those of his family too.
They reached the store in good time. The tunnels were slimy and slippery but most of the water had receded to the lower levels. There was a grim thought in everyone’s mind that wherever Vincent and Catherine were they would have likely encountered all of that water.
Stepping into the store’s basement was predictable. Everything within reach of the water level was sopping wet and only those items in plastic covers without any holes in could possibly be salvaged for sale. Jake and the men with him worked efficiently and quietly putting waste to one side saved items to another. While the men worked Jake took a peek upstairs into his store. He didn’t want to look and wished that he hadn’t because there was nothing left on the shelves anymore. The items that hadn’t been washed away by water had been snatched off the shelves by people instead. Jake wished he’d had the insight to lock up before they had left, but then with a wry shrug he realised it wouldn’t have mattered. Anyone intent on stealing his stock would likely have come on it through the broken windows anyway.
He climbed the stairs to the flat above. This would be the worst sight to meet his eyes he was certain. But he was pleasantly surprised. It seemed to him that all those who had raided his store had concluded that he and his family were sheltering upstairs and had not risked entering there.
All the baby things were still intact, and what was more the water had only made it up to nine of the fourteen steps leading up to the flat. He felt for the door keys in his pocket. They were there and he vowed to lock up the flat door before he left this time. Perhaps with a bit of luck, when they returned home, he’d find the flat still intact.
Jake gathered as many suitcases as he could and put in as many clothes and other items that he thought they would need, as well as items of sentimental value that could not be replaced. He also added his family’s passports and legal documents and all the new baby things. The suitcases were stuffed to overflowing by the time he had finished, and he had to sit on some of the clothing filled cases before he could get them to close for locking.
Next he took as much food from the cupboards that he could find that would stand to be bumped about while travelling the tunnels and shoved it all into rucksacks, before swinging one onto his back and straightening from his labours to take a breather.
Jake stood facing the window. From there he got his first glimpse of the destruction the hurricane had brought to the city. He stood eyes wide for a very long time surveying the damage. Next to an earthquake Jake knew that he had never seen anything like it. It would take months to clean the streets and make the buildings safe for habitation again.
As he stared he noticed the sky in the fore and background. In the foreground it was light and wishy-washy like the usual calm after the storm sort of sky, but in the background something foreboding was brewing. Jake shuddered, he’d seen such a thing before and knew exactly what it was. The tail of the hurricane was whipping in and it wouldn’t be long before it created more havoc than its head.
Leaving the suitcases and other bags, Jake ran from the flat, down the stairs and into his store where the men that had come to help him were finishing tidying up. Quickly he related to them his suspicions and they glanced up but could see little from their lower vantage-point with so many buildings obstructing the view. They believed him at once though and raced up to the flat grabbed as many suitcases and rucksacks as each could carry and then charged back down the stairs, straight through to the basement and into the tunnels. Jake expelled a sigh of relief, as he checked his flat for the final time. He was just about to close the door when he remembered a music box that Nicole had bought for the new baby. Frantically he ran to their bedroom, snatched the box up from its place, and fled for the door, remembered to lock it and was gone in a flash just before the first spots of rain started to pound upon the roof.
After sending the message Devin was about to say; ‘what now?’ when Mouse took off again. “Guess we follow him.” Winslow remarked with a grin. “Talk about a hurricane.” He laughed.
*** *** ***
“Maybe we should refer to him as Hurricane Mouse in future?” Devin joined in the laughter as they both took to their heels in pursuit of Mouse.
“That reminds me.” Winslow puffed alongside his friend, “What name have they given this hurricane? Do you know?”
“No, and its unlikely we will know for a few days. With the power out and most of the city being evacuated us lot down here really are in a world of our own now. I expect the helpers that didn’t come below have left the city with their families. You can’t blame them. In a disaster like this who wouldn’t think of his own first?”
“Aye.” Winslow agreed and then changed the subject. “Seen anything of Mouse?”
“No. But he can only have gone this way. Perhaps we should shout him?”
“Good idea.” Winslow slowed to a halt and put his hands to his mouth before shouting, “MOUSE! MOUSE!”
“No need to shout!” Mouse stepped from the shadows holding his hands to his ears, “I’m not deaf.”
Devin and Winslow grinned, “Sorry Mouse.” Winslow told him, “We just thought you were miles ahead.”
“Was - came back see. Found something.” Mouse hopped from foot to foot with excitement. “Come see.”
He started forward but Winslow and Devin hung back a little concerned that Mouse may have forgotten their plight and was about to take them on some treasure seeking jaunt. Mouse looked back and waited. “You coming?” He asked bewildered.
“What did you find?” Winslow asked.
Mouse shrugged, “Might be Vincent...” The two men gasped and Mouse shrugged again, “And might not be Vincent. Who knows? Just saw something...could be Vincent though.”
“MOUSE!” Exasperated, Devin yelled at the boy making him flinch. “Show us at once!”
Leaving Vincent had been the last thing Catherine had wanted to do, and she had to keep reminding herself as she sought her way through the darkness as to why she had felt the necessity to do so.
*** *** ***
With a hand to the wall Catherine tried to ignore the biting cold against her bare legs and the rough sodden sweater against her body as she walked gingerly on. After a while she paused. This was no good her legs felt like ice. Soon she would be incapable of walking anywhere. If she could move faster it would have been better but she dare not. There was no way of knowing where shafts had been opened up. She could fall to her death at any moment. Having Vincent with her had been a godsend she had taken for granted on the journey thus far. With his uncanny senses he had been able to tell what lay ahead and around them all the way. Now she was alone, Catherine had to remind herself of the things Vincent would do. How he would step cautiously when something didn’t quite feel right, how he would beg her to stay behind until he had checked out an area ahead. Well now she had to do all of those things, and just hope that her disorientated senses would not let her down.
The zipper of her jacket still would not go one way or the other and was pretty useless for keeping the cold chill from off her chest. Catherine stopped and shrugged out of it. She had an idea. Turning it upside down she stepped into the garment and pulled it up to her waist. She had to wiggle her hips into it but once over them although it was loose around her waist it held in place. And thus she made for herself an upside down jacket skirt, that provided a merit of warmth that her legs so badly needed.
Catherine even found some humour left in her, she chuckled imaging turning up for one of her friends elite parties dressed as she was. She wondered if she could get away with her guise as the latest in fashion.
That done Catherine moved onward. Her strides were hampered now by the jacket but at least the leather kept the draught away and slowly the feeling returned to her legs.
Thinking of Vincent’s underground tactics Catherine suddenly remembered something he had spoken of long ago. She wondered why he had made no mention to it this time. Then concluded that he had obviously been aware of it but had said nothing in order not to raise false hopes in her.
The uncharted tunnels may not have maps but they would have been marked. The walls should have been grooved with arrows about three feet from the floor to aid a child if need be, and those arrows always pointed toward the main hub. A surge of joy filled Catherine. If only she had thought of that half an hour ago, or however much time had lapsed since she had left Vincent’s side. It could have been longer, there was no way of telling and Catherine almost felt too exhausted to think about unnecessary things like that. It was taking all of her brain power just to remember the things that Vincent had taught her about survival in the subterranean world.
Remembering about the arrows though filled her with fresh hope, and as she walked Catherine trailed her hand down by her hip and against the wall searching for any grooves that may have been cut into the rock.
Holding her breath and concentrating hard Catherine gasped when her fingers touched an indentation in the wall. She stopped dead and backtracked just a little. Yes there was certainly a straight line here! If she kept her finger in the groove she should soon encounter the arrow-head. She moved on slowly hardly daring to breath and traced the groove to its end. Stunned she stopped dead, there was no arrow head! But there had to be, surely this wasn’t a natural groove channelled into the rock? Surely not! It was too straight. What could have done it if not a chisel? And if a chisel had put it there why stop at a straight line, why not complete it with an arrow head?
With one hand against the groove Catherine turned to face the wall, then with hand over hand in its place Catherine turned right around. Whatever happened she mustn’t lose her bearings. Satisfied that she was going back the way she had come Catherine traced the groove back to its start. It was longer than she had remembered and she continued to hold her breath wondering if perhaps she should have left this groove and sought out another. Until at last it too came to a dead end!
No! Catherine would not believe it. No straight line could have been grooved there for no reason, it just couldn’t have been. She slide her hands up the wall hoping to find another arrow further up maybe, and it was then that she felt it! The arrow head was grooved out at this end of the straight line!
Catherine gasped expelling her breath with a sob...she had been going the wrong way!
Jake arrived back at the hub with the bad news of the hurricane’s grand finale just minutes before Pascal related good news that Vincent had been found!
Groping for his cane Father leaned heavily upon it before Jake grasped hold of him and helped to lower the elderly man into his favourite chair. “Thank you Jake.” He mumbled unsteadily. “I suppose I should be jumping for joy that my son has been found alive but I am afraid that too many other things have spoilt that news.”
Jake frowned, “I’m sorry for my bad timing with news of the hurricane Father. It couldn’t have come at a worse time. Certainly it has shadowed the joy of finding Vincent.”
“No, no.” Father hurried to reply, “It isn’t that Jake. Though of course that is bad enough, it’s just that no mention was made of Catherine and I’m almost too afraid to ask.” Father rubbed his aching brow firmly with one hand as if trying to smooth away the tense lines that had appeared upon it.
“I’ll go to meet them shall I? At least I will feel better doing something rather than waiting.” Jake made to step away, but Father caught his arm. “If you don’t mind would you stay with me?” Something in Father’s tone concerned Jake and he was back by his side immediately, “Are you all right Father?”
“I will be. Don’t worry about me. I just need to rest awhile but there are some things you could help with by staying at the hub. Besides Pascal has already arranged for a rescue party to help bring Vincent up. They’ll be back soon and there is much to do for Vincent’s arrival.”
“Just say the word Father and I’ll get on to it.”
“Mainly I shall need Nicole moved from the hospital chamber to a guest chamber. Vincent will be covered in all many of things and I don’t want the baby catching any germs off of him. If you could see to that and then tell Mary I will be along shortly that would be a great help.”
“Of course, consider it done.” Jake made to move away and then hesitated, “You’re sure that you will be all right on your own?”
“I’m sure. Thank you for your concern. I just need to close my eyes for a few moments. It’s been a long night.”
Jake nodded and moved away silently, Father had already closed his eyes, and Jake knew that in the few precious minutes before his son was brought back up to the hub Father would recuperate as much of his strength as possible to face whatever condition he would find Vincent in.
*** *** ***
Vincent was conscious, barely. Enough to notice that Mouse led the group a different way to the one he would have supposed. “Mouse, it’s the wrong way.” He told his friend.
*** *** ***
“Nope.” Mouse replied cheerily, “Right way. Mouse knows.”
“He sure does Vincent.” Winslow boomed, “I know how disconcerting it feels but believe me Mouse knows of shortcuts that you wouldn’t believe existed.”
Vincent said nothing. It grieved him to see that he needn’t have taken Catherine over so much rough terrain for so long, or that they needn’t have climbed the shaft that had caused his injury and he was still too disorientated and had not yet realised that Catherine wasn’t with them. He just assumed she was.
“Don’t worry Catherine, you’ll soon be warm again.”
Devin and Winslow exchanged worried glances they didn’t know what to say or if they should in fact say anything. It was difficult enough carrying Vincent between them, it would be worse if he suddenly started to struggle and insist they search for Catherine.
When she did not reply though Vincent stopped dead. The torch light enabled him to see clearly and he looked back and around them, “Catherine?” A rising panic began to fill him, “Catherine?” He looked to Devin and then Winslow, “Where’s Catherine?” He cried.
Devin was the first to respond, “We hoped that you would know that Vin. You know the Bond?”
“The Bond tells me that she is near by. So where is she?”
“She wasn’t with you Vincent. Has she been?”
“Yes, yes! I found her we have been together all the while!” He was shouting now really worried, pulling away roughly from the hands that aided him and holding on to the tunnel walls, his eyes wide with fear.
“I can feel her!” He exclaimed. “She is near, but where, where?” Spinning round he growled, and Devin grew fearful. He had seen this sort of behaviour from his brother before. Winslow knew it too. They exchanged troubled glances. It seemed to them that Vincent was on the brink of one of his fevers.
“Vincent, we must get you to the hub. Catherine is probably bringing up the rear. Look I’ll leave this torch for her. I’ll leave it switched on, here in a crevice. She’ll find it Vincent, she will and she’ll follow us home.”
Seeing the sense of that Vincent relaxed, and as he did so he succumbed to the exhaustion that gripped him. His full weight sagged against his brother and friend and it took all the strength they had to carry him home.
The smell of smoke was the last thing Catherine expected to encounter. In the darkness it seemed so much stronger than it probably was, but all the same she found it hard to find anywhere that brought in fresh air. Holding her face to any crevices that she found in the rock Catherine breathed deeply hoping to find air fresh enough to fill her lungs, but all she took in was the dust from lichen that caught her breath adding to her burden.
*** *** ***
It was no use wherever the smoke came from inhaling more and more of it would do her no favours. Catherine had no choice, she just had to go back the way she had come and hope that she could find another way out.
“Fire in the city! Fire in the city!” Pascal sounded the alarm. The tail of the hurricane had descended upon Manhattan and had brought more chaos in its wake. First water and now fire! How was it possible? How could fire spread through the streets sodden from so much water? How was it possible that there was any power left in the city to generate a spark?
*** *** ***
The answer was obvious. The fire had been man made and fanned into fury by the hurricane winds.
“We need to replace the sandbags!” Father yelled the orders. Vincent hadn’t yet been brought up, “Its all we can do. They should be wet and solid enough to minimise the smoke.”
“We need some gas masks!” Jamie cried, “Mouse has some in his chamber.” And she ran for its direction.
A fleeting thought went through Father’s mind, ‘Where had Mouse obtained gas masks?’ He shrugged, now was not the time to ponder such details, he was only glad that the boy had something they could use, as whomsoever went to replace the sandbags would be running toward the smoke.
At that moment Father caught sight of Devin and then Winslow with Vincent being half carried half dragged between the two of them. “Hurry help them.” Father shouted to no one in particular. Suddenly the area seemed full of people charging this way and that.
“What’s that smell?” Devin panted as he relinquished his hold on his brother to half a dozen men.
“Smoke!” Someone yelled.
“Down here?” Devin gasped.
“The city’s on fire.” Came the reply. Devin detected someone else had spoken. It wasn’t the same voice as before.
“So we heard. But it won’t come down this far surely?” He could have kicked himself as he said it. Was he dumb or what? Smoke would go anywhere water could, and they’d seen enough of that these past hours.
He didn’t need to hear his Father say, “Smoke can go anywhere Devin, and its coming down here. We need volunteers to wear Mouse’s gas masks and run to replace the sandbags.”
Despite himself Devin couldn’t help retorting, “What’s the volunteers for – wearing Mouse’s masks or for replacing the bags?”
Father felt his lips twitch unaware that he could find favour with his eldest son’s humour at such a frightful time. He had to admit though that with all the stress going on around them, it was just what he needed right now – some light-hearted humour.
Devin’s question didn’t need an answer, and he carried on, “I’ll go Dad.”
“No Devin you are exhausted. You must rest. Now don’t argue. You won’t be at your fittest to tackle this job. We need runners and fast runners at that.”
“The fastest runner we have is incapacitated.” Kanin remarked, coming through the chamber entrance, “Vincent I mean. He’s in the hospital chamber Father, Mary is with him.”
“Oh Lord already!” Father grabbed his cane with one hand his black medical bag with the other, “If you want to help some more Devin maybe you can help me get to the hospital chamber on the wings of an eagle.”
Devin didn’t need asking twice. Exhausted he may be, but with one swift movement he had his father swung up over his shoulder and was running out of the chamber.
“I didn’t expect you to go to such extremes Devin.” Father didn’t know whether to be angry, frightened or happy.
“Its okay Pops, piece of cake, talking of which you should eat more, you’re as light as a feather.” Devin chuckled as he ran.
“Its all the worry you and Vincent bring to me.” Father retorted heartily. “Much more of it and I’ll be as thin as this cane.” He wondered how on earth he could rise to this cheerful banter at such an awful time. Still more was to come, at the mention of his stick and since he was hanging upside down over Devin’s shoulder Father used his cane to tap his son’s backside. “Gee up Neddy.” He laughed and Devin laughed too, grateful that in his own way he had at least eased the tension his father had been feeling.
Above in the city there was indeed fire. With the hurricane rushing in the flames were spreading and anything that hadn’t been saturated by the water was now catching alight. High rise buildings were in danger of being engulfed while low buildings smouldered in the intense heat. But all was not lost, a blessing in disguise was on its way. In the form of another wave a colossal amount of sea water was swept over the harbour and through the city streets thus putting out the flames in its wake before those same flames had ignited building material higher than the water level.*** *** ***
It sizzled as it died leaving trails of molten black plastic and charred remains to slither and gather in heaps along the sidewalks as the hurricane beat on relentlessly.
Catherine far below the city streets covered her face with her sodden sweater, wondering how much more she would have to endure before she reached safety, if ever she did. It seemed to her that it was days ago that she had rushed down to the tunnels with the warning about the hurricane.
Light years even since Vincent had kissed her and delighted her with words that their relationship could move forward.
Catherine wished she hadn’t of left his side now. There was no telling where that spot was now. She had so tried to keep in one direction but she had shied away into a new direction every time she had encountered smoke billowing through crevices along her path.
Catherine knew now that she was hopeless, hopelessly lost, and it had been an age since she had felt with her fingertips the reassuring groove in the rock of an arrow marking the way home.
Tears would not come. Catherine did feel sorry for herself, but she was too cold to cry. Her teeth chattered, and she knew that only a long spell somewhere warm would ever make the chill leave her again. Her legs were numb with cold despite the jacket. Leather grown cold was cold indeed.
All she could hope for was that Vincent would regain consciousness sooner rather than later and with the aid of the Bond he would be able to find her. For without his help Catherine knew that she was doomed. Already her senses had numbed and she was feeling too exhausted to journey much further.
Simply if help didn’t come soon Catherine knew for a fact that she would die from hypothermia before anyone found her.
For a few moments Father just stared down at the gash in Vincent’s back, wondering how on earth his son hadn’t of done extensive damage in that region. Mary was silent too, just dabbing away the blood with cotton wool dipped in warm water. She had seen many wounds on Vincent in the past, and many that had almost cost him his life, but this one could so easily have left him paralysed that it seemed worse than all the rest put together. To think of Vincent no longer with them was one unbearable grief, but to think of Vincent caged by immobility as well as his differences in the underground world was a deeper grief indeed. In fact it didn’t bare thinking about, they could only thank God that the sharp rock that had so nearly severed Vincent’s spinal cord had missed by a mere fraction.
*** *** ***
“How is he?” Devin whispered after many moments of silence. He had remained in the hospital chamber pinned to the spot, unable to avert his gaze as his eyes had met the unsightly gash on his brother’s back.
“In the circumstances better than he ought to be.” At his son’s question Father’s fingers started carefully to touch the place, feeling all around the network of nerves to establish the damage done. “Did he walk any of the way back or did you and Winslow carry him all the way?”
“We carried him mostly, but there was a time when he became disturbed about Catherine, that he took some steps away from us, and stood without aid. I know what you’re thinking dad, but he hasn’t lost the use of his legs.”
Father breathed a long sigh of relief. “We’ll get him stitched up, but when he regains consciousness he must rest. I know that will be difficult but we just have to hope that the search party can find Catherine. Vincent’s going nowhere.”
Both grimaced at that knowing how unlikely Vincent would listen when he came around. He would want to find Catherine himself. “There is something dad. When we carried Vincent home he maintained that he could feel Catherine close but none of us could see her. Winslow concluded that she was in a tunnel adjacent to the one we were in, but there was no telling whether she was level, above or below us. If the search party went in that general direction though, Mouse could show them, maybe they’d be able to find her.”
Father nodded but did not turn from the task in hand, “Can you organise that? I must finish up here.”
“Of course, I’ll get onto it right away.”
In the pitch darkness a sliver of light seemed like a beacon, and Catherine though cold, miserable, half conscious and disorientated could clearly see up ahead that the darkness was not quite so dark as where she stood. In fact she could see shadows. At first these frightened her. She was vulnerable in the condition she was in and she began to imagine that people seeking refuge from the city had entered the tunnels. She knew that she could encounter anyone at anytime that might be foe rather than friend.
*** *** ***
Walking slowly and holding her breath Catherine inched closer to the shadows. They did not flicker and dance so it was not a lantern or a candle that brought the images alive. But there was definitely a merit of light coming from somewhere. As she drew nearer Catherine began to discern colours. Greys, greens, browns variations of these. Her heart began to hammer painfully, her hope started to grow. Still she approached cautiously, and though she so badly wanted to call out she refrained from doing so.
Reaching the spot where the light seemed the brightest Catherine became disillusioned for a moment. It was very strange. Back there it was dark, right here there was light, forward it was dark again.
It was only here that the light filtered through the rock. The rock! Catherine gasped running her fingers over the tunnel wall and sure enough blotted out the light only to have it emerge again the second her fingers had passed over. It was strange to say the least but Catherine felt reluctant to move away from the area. At least here her eyes could become focused for the first time in hours, although a thumping headache was quickly developing as her strained eyes took in more of her surroundings.
Gingerly she looked down at herself. Her nails were broken and her knuckles grazed as were her legs. There were smears of blood on her hands. Catherine did not know if they were from her or from Vincent.
Between her fingers caked blood flaked away as she touched it. She was too wet to tell if she had any cuts on her body from where the blood may have come, though she could tell that she had many bruises.
Squatting against the tunnel wall Catherine allowed herself to rest, mind body and soul for as long as she dared. It was difficult getting her thoughts together, but slowly she was able to think clearer. The light so obviously came from another tunnel adjacent to the one she was in but it was difficult to tell the direction. Obviously the way it shone showed typically that she looked into the light but she could also tell that she was not in the direct beam. If so where she now sat would be brighter even though it came through crevices in the rock.
The worst was in not knowing what to do for the best. If she were to back track or go forward she would proceed into darkness again. There was no way she could tell if she was heading for the correct tunnel or not, even if she were lucky enough to find a fork where two tunnels met. She was tired, that she did know, and so very, very cold, but something told her that she should stay put. Here at least she found the first bout of hope she'd had since leaving Vincent’s side.
Pulled from unconsciousness by his true love’s dilemma Vincent stirred. Coming up from the bottom of the deepest Tsunamis it took all of Vincent’s strength to fight against the awesome phenomenon. With memories of giant waves flashing through his mind Vincent's arms and legs flayed in a manner of swimming against a powerful current. Up and up he came swirling in a whirlpool of surging water that pulled at his clothing intent on holding him back. His lungs were bursting for air but he could not give up the fight, he had to go on, Catherine needed him, he couldn’t let her down.
*** *** ***
Suddenly he broke water! His mouth gasping for much needed air, Father swung round on his heels as his son took his first shuddering breath, seeming to gulp oxygen into his starved lungs even though moments before he had been breathing normally. Startled Mary hurried to his side, “Vincent?” She spoke gently, her eyes searching from Vincent’s face to Father’s asking silent questions only Father had seen asked many times before over one patient or another.
“Its all right Mary, give him some space.” Mary stepped back anticipating sudden movements typical of Vincent awakening from a nightmare. One thrash of those powerful claws could rent her in two but she showed no fear, only concern.
His eyes snapped open, suddenly, instantly focused on something and nothing. Father knew the look. Vincent was seeing beyond what is normal as if with the farsightedness of an eagle. Both Father and Mary recognised the signs, and though they rushed to hold him still Vincent was up and away before their fingers even brushed his sleeves.
“After him!” Father cried to no one in particular. Though Mary was surer of foot than he, even she were no match for Vincent. He was gone even before she had turned to face the entrance.
“I don’t know how he could Father.” Mary shook her head, “I don’t even think he should, but…” She gave a deep sigh, “He’s going to Catherine isn’t he?”
Numbly Father nodded. He sunk to the bed that Vincent had just vacated not knowing whether to be anxious for his son’s recent injury or to rejoice that Catherine would soon be found.
To be continued in Chapter Thirteen - click on 'Next' below:
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