Part 2 of the Oblivion Trilogy
‘Was this death then?’
*** *** ***
Kogler could not tell. Could one hear the sound of one’s breath in death?
It was painful to open his eyelids, and when he tried to put a hand to his face, no contact was made. Again and again, he moved his right arm, but it did not seem to respond. There was no pain, just a dull ache in the shoulder. He wondered if it might be broken. Yet how? Had he fallen? Kogler did not seem to remember the attack of the beast upon him, his mind had shut it out, so when he used his left arm to feel with, he was horrified when he found he had no arm at all on the right side of him. ‘What on earth!’ his mind reeled in horror, then calmed somewhat at the thought, ‘then it must be a nightmare I am having’, but it seemed so real. His side was sticky where his arm should be, and he still found it impossible to raise his eyelids. Using the only arm available to him, he raised his fingers to his face, to see why his eyelids did not open and was aghast to find not only were there no lids, but his eye sockets were empty also!
Running his fingers across his face, he found some of his cheek missing and was able to put his fingers directly inside his mouth, through where the cheek had once covered. Incredible as it was, still he felt no fear, no pain, just an awareness of unreality, and a dreamlike state of believing he would soon wake up, and all would be well.
Moving his feet, he was glad when he heard each foot in turn grate a sound on the rock floor, at least his legs were intact.
He had no idea where his disconnected arm may lay, or how it had come to be so, nor his eyes or what had happened to him. Somewhere at the back of his mind, he could hear Reidel saying, Han’s you read too much science fiction, and he thought perhaps that was it, his mind was making him have a dream where his body was being used for experimentation by aliens.
If this was a dream then, he could change it, for he felt suddenly in control. Pushing his body forward with his legs, he doubled himself over, and pushed up with his one arm, until he was in the standing position, then on wobbly legs, felt for the wall, and stepped one foot slowly at a time, forward, in the total darkness, to who knew where?
Catherine was finding it an immense strain to help Vincent home via the Bond, and when Peter popped his head around the door several hours later, she beckoned him inside, relieved. Keeping contact with Vincent, she smiled a greeting, “Oh Peter, thank goodness you are here. Through our Bond I have made contact with Vincent but he is delirious, and I am having to lead him home through the Bond, Peter, please contact Father and have him send someone to meet Vincent. He is just approaching the crystal cavern. If I have him enter it, and wait there, perhaps someone could go to him with some supplies. He is very disoriented Peter, please do this immediately, and come back when you have.”
Nodding, without a word, Peter closed the door, and was gone. He returned, it seemed moments later, “I’ve done that Cathy, Jacob is going to send a troop out immediately, though it is quite a journey to the crystal cavern, at least two days, can you not draw Vincent further?”
“Perhaps but not today, I am mentally exhausted. Though I do feel that if I were closer to the situation, I would not find it such a strain.” She smiled impishly at him.
“Okay, Catherine, young lady, I’ll see about getting you Below within the next few hours. You can go in through the basement of your apartment building, and no buts, I insist that you are carried all the way on a stretcher.”
Catherine thought about arguing but one look at Peter’s stern face, told her not to.
*** *** ***
Vincent was indeed disorientated. He knew who he was, but he felt different. He knew what he had just undergone, and he had not forgotten any of his past. Almost afraid to know he raised a hand beneath his gaze, and examining it, was almost relieved to see nothing had changed. The same hairy clawed hand was held in front of him, so too the other hand. Opening his mouth, he slid inside a finger and felt the same unmistakable fangs. Upon his face, the same cleft lip, the same feline nose, and the same facial hair. Outwardly nothing had altered, but he felt different. Analysing the feeling, he realised that he no longer felt pulled in two different directions. He felt wholly a man, for the first time in his entire life, and the realisation of that thought hit home like an electric shock! No longer did the dark one mock him, no longer did he feel any pressure from the dark one to be loosed from bondage. And it wasn’t just that the dark one had known his freedom and was satisfied, it was more than that, almost, almost as if the dark one no longer existed.
Nervously Vincent tried to summon the dark one before him, but there was nothing. Not even a ripple of his presence. Still Vincent refused to believe that the dark one had left him for good, because he knew the Bond to be still in tact, and the Bond belonged to the dark one did it not, it was not a human thing, for Gerry and Marie possessed it too. Unable to fathom it, Vincent allowed his mind and body to rest. He knew Catherine was sleeping, knew that again she had saved his life by the power of her love, but did not know the extent of why she had felt compelled to do so.
For just as Kogler’s mind had shut off the attack of the beast, so Vincent’s mind had shut it out, unable to accept the loathsome fact that he had partly eaten a human being!
*** *** ***
“What do you think Sir, it’s been two days and nothing. Perhaps he escaped before we closed everywhere off do you think?”
The President looked at the man gravely, “No, I believe he is still down there someplace. Otherwise there would have been more killings by now. He’s got to come up eventually, but all this waiting is costing money. Virtually all of New York has stopped running. I think its time we went in.”
“Go in, what you mean in after him?”
“Precisely, and to show that I don’t just give orders, I intend to make up the team, we’ll leave in three days.”
*** *** ***
Geraldine had been talking to Narcissa at length, and time was growing old.
“You must go now.” Narcissa told her, “I sense changes. There is fighting. Death maybe, maybe not. Someone is beckoning. Haid’es is going down into the pit. Go my child, Vincent needs help.”
Geraldine made her way stealthily Below. Wondering about Narcissa’s strange message. Throughout their conversation, Narcissa had made repeated reference to Haid’es being the name of Vincent’s dark side. The name made Geraldine shudder. Narcissa had given her detailed information regarding two possible ways, and Geraldine decided not to go by way of the crystal cavern lest its beauty hindered her progress. Vincent had told her it was one of his special places, and one-day he would take her there. She did not want to deprive him of the joy he would find in having her see it, and so she went another way around, by-passing the cavern altogether.
Geraldine did not want to think about what she had to do. Though Vincent had attempted it, she did not know if it had worked, or at what stage he was up to. She only knew that it could take some time, and she also knew that one had to be undergoing some terrible stress, to actually be able to undergo the radical changes. Geraldine had no such stresses, nor was she angered in any way, and she doubted that she could accomplish it. Yet everybody depended upon her, and she did not want to let them down, nor did she want to deny Vincent this chance of survival.
Looking back on her life, was the only way she could attempt to see her own dark side again. Living in the cell on Sonn Alp, Geraldine had repeatedly seen the dark one of her other self, and she had not enjoyed the experience. It had been all consuming, terrifying, and though she wished with all her might to be loosed from this terrible side to her personality, she knew that in time its spirit would give out anyway and she would be free of it. Yet to wait for that time, would mean that she would never ever get another chance of being totally human again.
Since knowing Devin, Geraldine had known only joy; there had been no reason to summon the dark one.
Putting her head into her hands, Geraldine sighed, ‘What shall I do?’ she asked herself. She knew that there was also the risk of Devin coming to look for her, and she also knew that when fully altered, Vincent as a lion, would see her as a possible mate, though totally different animals, and that frightened her, or they would fight, possibly to the death.
She wondered about that. The Siberian Tiger is the world’s largest cat, and with youth being on her side against the age of Vincent’s dark side, she would no doubt be the victor. Could she ever live with herself, to know she had killed her brother? And what of Devin, Catherine, Father..... Mama, as she thought about her mother, she knew that she couldn’t, just couldn’t do this thing; the risks to others were too great. So she would have to go down there, to look for this beast, and hope that somehow, she could help Vincent just as she was.
It was a long way, but she enjoyed the walk. Since coming to live in America, she had been surrounded by people, not that she minded this, but now alone, she realised a lot of meditating could be accomplished by solitude. Living on Sonn Alp, she had been denied her freedom, unless she was set free for the purpose of killing someone that Ignatz Strasser wanted dead. She wasn’t sorry that she had killed him, but realised that she should have made certain that she had killed the other two scientists also, though most especially Kogler, for her mother always had respect for Reidel. Now it would seem the two scientists had followed them across to America, and she knew that Kogler would stop at nothing until he had avenged Strasser’s death by taking her life.
Back on Sonn Alp, life had been dull and painful. Ignatz Strasser’s plan had been to cross a human with a large cat in the hope that he could produce a lion or a tiger with vocal cords. One that could speak as a human, that he could set free in the jungle, and get an animal’s view of life on a polluted earth and to see how the changes to the climate effected the breeding pattern of living things. Yet each time Strasser used the sperm from a lion or a tiger, he had in fact never achieved his dream, he only kept creating a human being cross that bore the features of the large cat. Finally admitting defeat, he had another plan, so as not to waste fifty years of experimenting. He was making a deal with the government to produce a human with no conscience, one who could be put on the battlefield and fight for his country to death. And one that on the front lines. By his features alone would instil terror in the eyes and minds of the enemy. Fortunately he had never revealed details of his plans to the governments, so no one but those on Sonn Alp knew about the experiments. Geraldine had hoped that in killing Strasser she would be able to put a stop to those plans.
As Geraldine remembered these things, she wondered what her life would have been like had Devin and Catherine not come to whisk her away. Strasser had been furious, when time after time she had not conceived, and her mother was past the age of conception. She knew that Strasser was getting frustrated in the attempt to continue with the experiment, for now the governments had offered him large sums of money for the soldiers he had promised he could create. In fact various governmental officials were falling over themselves in an attempt to outbid one another to offer him the highest tender. Power was going to Strasser’s head, and Geraldine often bore the brunt of his anger, when month by month, she still was not pregnant. Reidel had said that he felt if she had been granted more freedom, she may re-produce, because an animal in captivity rarely did. Geraldine had hated hearing those references made toward herself, she considered herself to be a woman, not an animal. Still as Strasser had summoned the dark side of her on many occasions, perhaps his naming of her so was justified. Still it did not give him the right to assume that her sole purpose in life was animalistic, to eat, sleep and re-produce.
Shaking the thoughts from her mind, Geraldine pressed on, into the lower tunnels. She had no need of light, for her vision was such that it was six times better than human vision. A mirror-like layer at the back of each eye that reflected extra light aided her eyes. And her hearing was the tiger’s sharpest sense. In many ways Geraldine used her other side to the fullest extent possible without conjuring up her other self. She guessed that Vincent did the same. She had heard how he had used it on many occasion to save Catherine’s life, and how through the Bond which came with this existence, he had been able to tell when Catherine was happy, sad or in danger. Geraldine marvelled on this Bond, that she had also used since she had come to know Devin. It was a wonderful instrument for contacting him, or infusing him with her courage when he doubted or feared for her. Thinking about this, she decided to use it there and then to see what he was doing.
She smiled. He was as usual thinking about her. A tingling spread through her limbs as she recognised the passion of his thinking. His mind was on the time they had spent recently on the island along with Vincent and Catherine. He was reminiscing on their daily chase around the boat with the fish, and the day she had climbed the tree to throw coconuts down to him. She could sense that he wanted nothing more than to be back there with her right now. Deciding to let him know she knew his thoughts, she infused her love through the Bond, and delighted in the instant reaction her love gave his body. Laughing gaily at this hold she had over him, she whispered through the Bond, ‘I love you Devin’, and she read his answering thoughts, “I love you too Gerry. I am pleased you contacted me, there is no need for you to go below now. Vincent is on his way back and Catherine is coming Below. Meet me back at Narcissa’s chamber.” Geraldine smiled, what a wonderful stroke of luck, relieved she turned to go back when suddenly she heard a sound. Her acute hearing picked up a muffled cry of anguish, quite far away, and Geraldine turned towards the sound to investigate.
Padding silently, Geraldine made her way through the darkness, toward the sound. She could hear it clearly now. Something or someone was dragging themselves forward, going away from her. Curling back her lips into a grimace to heighten her sense of smell, just as tiger would, Geraldine knew the unmistakable smell of blood.
She stopped suddenly, not wanting this. She should go back. The scent of fresh blood would most certainly, summon her dark side, already she felt a ripple run through her as it started to awaken. Yet, what if the injured one was a child, and needed her help. Could she help them? Mustering all the strength she had to resist the drive of her other self, Geraldine stepped forward. This would be the greatest test. If the injured one were one of the tunnel people, she would have to help them, not eat them. As the scent of blood tantalised her nose, Geraldine had to keep shaking away the red mists from her mind. They threatened to claim her, and the dark one tried to get through. Sweating profusely, Geraldine held onto her sanity, struggling against herself. This was the one thing she was afraid of. Fresh blood always brought about this reaction, especially when she was hungry as she was now.
Walking slowly, keeping tight hold of her senses, Geraldine fought against the dark side of herself, like someone concentrating on walking a high wire without a safety net. She filled her mind with human things, poetry that Vincent had taught her, books that she had read, music that Devin had played for her, dancing and singing, human things, that bore no resemblance to her other side.
Gaining the upper hand, Geraldine found confidence in her ability to keep the dark one at bay, though its attempt to come through weakened her resistance, and pushed its voice into her head.
Always the scent of the blood grew stronger, and the battle became intense.
At last she saw the injured person. Just a little way ahead, shuffling on both feet, she could see it was in fact a man. He swayed this way and that, and she could see the glistening of blood running down one side, plopping into the dust, where it settled momentarily, then vanished in the depths.
Drawing a deep breath, Geraldine called to him, “ Hello, can I help you?” She did not dare go any closer.
The man turned. Geraldine thought she recognised him, but his face was injured so badly, and she couldn’t be sure.
He spoke to her, “Who, who are you?”
The voice was cracked and muffled, but Geraldine thought she knew it.
“My name is Geraldine.” she told him.
His sharp intake of breath and instant withdrawal baffled her. “No” He cried sharply, “Leave me alone.”
“Do you know me?” She asked him puzzled.
“Am I so unrecognisable?” He questioned her back.
“You are badly injured. How did this happen to you?” She asked him, “ I don’t think I know you.”
He laughed then; a cruel sadistic laugh that sent Geraldine’s senses reeling back thousands of miles. She would know that laughter anywhere. “Kogler!” She screamed.
“Yes.” he replied, “So are you going to finish me off then?”Hhe taunted her. “Finish what you started?”
“I did not start this, I haven’t seen you before today since I left Sonn Alp.”
“Liar. I may not have been able to see through the darkness, and now never again, but now I remember plainly, you attacked me earlier, don’t deny it.”
“I do deny it. If you were attacked Kogler, then I fear my brother did that to you.”
“Your brother, you have no brother.”
“The son of my mother, the one Strasser took from her and sent to America thirty years ago.”
“He is here?”
“Yes. He is married to Catherine.”
“Yes, as she was. And I married Devin Wells.” Geraldine started to enjoy taunting him in this way. Though having no eyes to see into, she could tell by his body language that the news irritated him.
“What is his name?”
“The one that attacked me.
Geraldine thought about that before answering. Vincent would not eat human flesh. It was abhorrent, neither would she come to that, nor Marie, but their dark sides’ would.
“Haid’es” she replied.
Kogler shuddered. He may not be religious, but he knew enough to know that the English translation for the word Haid’es was ‘Hell’.
“I... I... Saw him, in the alley one night. How could Catherine Chandler marry that beast?”
“You saw his other self, the self that Strasser created in us.”
“You mean you can alter?”
“Yes, to my shame yes. You assisted Strasser to create me, surely you knew this?”
“No, I did not.”
“Because, had you of known this, you may not have attempted to bring out the animal in me so often. I am after all part human. In fact more human than beast.”
“I cannot believe this. Look at how you killed Ignatz.”
“He deserved it.”
“He created you!”
“And do you think I should have thanked him for that? Neither he nor you, or Reidel knew I could speak, read, write, or took the time to wonder. I have the yearnings of a woman, the rights of a human being, yet you denied me all those rights. You experimented on me, externally and internally, with and without sedation, you left me writhing in pain, without medication, used, abused and misused me, and you think I should be grateful for that!”
Geraldine felt her temper rising, thus letting go of the restraints that held the dark one at bay.
“I did not know. You should have given us indication of your knowledge.”
“What no apology, in your ignorance?”
“Why? I do not regret anything we did to you, it was after all in the name of science.”
“Then science has a lot to answer for.”
“For in its attempt to create unintelligent life, it only serves to destroy intelligent life.”
“Do you mean that literally or metaphorically speaking?”
“Both. In which category do you consider yourself Kogler?”
“Not intelligent enough.”
“For as I said, science attempts to create unintelligent life. That was how you and Strasser saw me. In turn that unintelligent life turns around and destroys intelligent life. Do you hear what I am saying? Do you understand me?” She taunted him further. She could feel the hair rising upon her back, her claws flexing, her lip curled back in a snarl and saliva dripped from her fangs, as the red mists engulfed her mind.
Kogler reasoned on her words, “Yes I understand now. You are going to finish me off aren’t you?” He asked nervously.
Trembling he waited. No sound came from her. The silence was as death dealing as a blow.
Geraldine’s alter ego stepped from her.
There was no fun in a kill. The pattern of stalking a victim came into play. In its mind’s eye it was back in the jungle. Hidden in the long grass, creeping up on its victim. Stalking downwind, thus going undetected. A few feet away and it charges. Realising the danger the victim starts to flee, only to be brought down in a crushing embrace, as the tiger uses its powerful hind legs to spring, clasping the victim with its strong claws. The victim’s neck cracks beneath the onslaught of the tiger’s weight, and dies as the tiger sinks its canines into the throat!
Kogler groaned one last time, words that may have saved him tumbling too late from his lips, “I’m sorry, I’m so sorry.”
*** *** ***
“And I saw another wild beast ascending out of the earth...
(Revelation 13 v 11)
“Vincent!” Overjoyed Catherine slipped from the bed to run to her husband, and hug him tightly to her. “Oh Vincent, it is so good to have you back.”
Holding her at arms length he looked down tenderly into her tear filled eyes.
“I owe you my life, yet again, my love,” He told her, “But for you, I don’t know what would have become of me. I don’t like to think about it.”
Catherine searched his eyes, his face. He looked the same, but somehow he was different.
“What is it Catherine?” He asked her, sensing her mood through the Bond.
“You’ve changed Vincent?”
“Yes. Not externally, nothing you can see, but I know I that I have, I feel it in here.” He patted his heart, “I feel complete, as if all my life I have searched for my other self and have only now found it.”
Catherine nodded; it was like Geraldine had said then.
“Hearing her unspoken words through the Bond, Vincent prompted her, “What did Geraldine say?”
“That if you allowed the beast to reign you yourself would undergo a state of metamorphosis and from it would emerge totally as a human. She said the beast would die, and you would be free of him.”
Vincent shook his head, this was hard to believe.” ”I do know that the beast died. I felt his life ebb away from him. Can this be true? I must speak to Gerry, how does she know this?”
“Gerry has not yet returned. She, Devin and Marie went in search of you, and Gerry has not yet returned. It is feared she may be lost.”
“What! How did she come to be by herself?”
Catherine related to Vincent all that had been told to her, concluding, “Devin and Pascal have gone below in the hope of finding her.”
“Can he not reach her through the Bond?”
“Devin is not as expert as I at using the Bond the other way on, and Gerry has made no contact to him in days.”
“Then I have to go too, Catherine, I cannot leave them to search for her alone.”
“Vincent No! Call me selfish, but I too need you, and you have just returned from a very wearisome experience. You must rest.”
Vincent looked at her with a twinkle of mischief in his eye; “You have contradicted yourself Catherine. How can I rest when I am with you?”
“Oh Vincent,” She said, crumbling back against him, “ I have missed you so much. Can you remember all that I told you?”
“No, only that without you I would never have made the journey. Your coaxing led me home. So what is your news?”
“Give me your hand Vincent.” Taking it she laid it upon her stomach, “Here Vincent beneath my heart lies life. Peter was wrong, you and I have created life again.”
“Catherine, this is wonderful. Oh but had I of known, I should never have left. When is the baby due?”
“Babies” Catherine grinned.
“Babies Vincent, there is more than one.” She told him, gleefully, watching the expression on his face.
“No. More than two Vincent.”
“More than two!” His face was a picture. “Three?” He asked hopefully.
Gaily Catherine laughed, “Yes Vincent three, but do you know what?”
“There were five.”
Vincent’s mouth dropped open, “Five” He croaked in disbelief.
Catherine was over their deaths now, living only for the survivors. “Yes my love, I was expecting a litter, but unfortunately we lost some, still three is good don’t you think?”
Playacting, Vincent groaned, “Of course Catherine whatever you say,” then seeing her plaintive expression, he pulled her into his arms, “Oh Catherine, three is marvellous. How I love you, little mother.”
*** *** ***
Father was reading the latest newspaper. “Ho, ho,” He laughed, “Well fancy that, the President’s men have been unable to find any beast. I expect they will give up now.” He read on, “Oh no!”
“What is it Jacob?” Mary asked him concerned.
“That isn’t the end of it,” he told her, “they intend to actually come inside the tunnels and search for him. Even the President himself is going along with the team. We cannot allow this, we have to do something and quickly.”
“Jacob, if you would permit me to make a suggestion?” Mary tentatively enquired. With troubled eyes, Father looked into her kind face, and nodded weakly.
“Elizabeth and I were talking about this problem just this morning, we came up with an idea.”
“Yes Mary, anything, please help me if you can. Help us all.”
“We have to make the President believe that the whole thing was a hoax. But for that, he will stop at nothing until he finds the beast.”
“This I am well aware of. What is the idea?”
Elizabeth has an old costume. One left over from Halloween, that she had intended mending but never got around to. It is tattered and torn, and very hairy. In fact on a dark night one could mistake it for a very old lion, we believe anyway. We thought if we take some of the synthetic hair and place it strategically in the tunnels just off the basement leading into Dead Men’s Alley, and then a bit further along leave the costume lying in the dirt. Perhaps, just perhaps we could convince the President that the whole thing was indeed a hoax. What do you think?”
“Think? Mary, it’s marvellous. Come show me this evil looking monster, and lets get cracking on the dirty deed shall we?” Overjoyed, Father hobbled behind Mary towards Elizabeth’s chamber.
As soon as he saw it, Father knew it would work. “I can just see their faces now.” He laughed, “I wonder if it will make the front page spread?”
“Who is going to take it down there Jacob?” Mary asked him.
“Now that’s a point, isn’t it. Who is actually available? Vincent is indisposed, Catherine too, Devin is down with Narcissa awaiting Gerry’s return, though they are taking their time, newlyweds, huh! And I can hardly ask the team that have just brought Vincent back can I? They are exhausted. Who do you think could do this?”
“Yes it is a difficult one, I think it should be put before the council, though there is no time to gather everyone together. Apparently the President and his team set off before the day is out and everything needs to be in place before then. I don’t know what we can do.”
“There is something else we must do too. After planting the costume, we must close off that entrance, so that no one is tempted to explore. We have to stage a cave-in, one that looks as if it happened a long time ago. How to do it that’s the problem.”
“What problem Father?”
“Arh Vincent, come in, Catherine too, good, maybe you two can throw some light on this problem we have.”
Father outlined the idea, and finished with, “So who can we send?”
Vincent looked at Catherine knowingly.
“Oh no, Vincent.” She began, but the look in his eyes stilled her.
“I will go Father,” he stated flatly, “Our world is at stake here, and it is because of me, again, that the problem exists. There is no one else, for I can travel so much faster than most, I can be there and back by tomorrow. I may even find Devin somewhere so he can help me.”
Reluctantly Father nodded. “All right Vincent, but we won’t just assume you may meet with Devin, I will put word out on the pipes that he is to meet you, and you can do the deed together, only Vincent, do take care, if you were spotted....”
“I know Father. Try not to worry, I’ll be back.”
“Famous last words”, Catherine commented dryly.
*** *** ***
Catherine could not believe that Vincent was leaving again so soon. “Oh my darling,” she told him, hugging him close, rubbing her cheek against his chest, “there is so much we haven’t yet done.” She looked up into his face, with the unmistakable look of desire in her eyes.
“I think Catherine we have done too much of that already.” He said, patting her stomach affectionately, and smiling down at her.
“Oh Vincent, we will never have done it too much, every time is as the first, just beautiful, and I need you so. Hurry back my darling, I miss you already.” Reaching up she kissed him, a deep kiss full of promise. A kiss that lingered on and on.
“After that my love, how can I not.” Vincent told her when they eventually drew apart, “I love you Catherine, try not to worry, I will be home by this time tomorrow, and then we have all our lives.” His blue eyes twinkled brightly, tantalisingly, and Catherine laughed hugging him tightly. “Okay Vincent, be off with you then, for the sooner you are gone the sooner it will be this time tomorrow, and then I will hold you to your promise. Keep in touch Vincent, if not together at least we can keep contact through our Bond.”
Devin received Father’s message. He was still awaiting Gerry at Narcissa’s, worried at the length of time it was taking her to return.
“Where can she have got to Narcissa?” He asked the old woman.
Narcissa made up a concoction before him and prattled “Whatever has come to be, its name has already been pronounced, and it has become known what man is, and he is not able to plead his cause with one that is more powerful than he is.”
Devin knew she had quoted from the Bible, yet he could not understand what she was driving at.
It depended which way one looked at it. Which one of the two was more powerful? Gerry or her other self?
Sensing his anxiety Narcissa patted his arm. “You are right to be anxious,” she told him, “The-ri’on reigns now and you will have to tread carefully.”
“Theri what?” Devin asked her.
The-ri’on. It is Greek,” she told him.
“Greek for what? What does it mean Narcissa, do you know?”
Narcissa nodded, and muttered some words, that Devin did not understand.
“Can you repeat that please?” He asked her.
Narcissa turned misty far away eyes toward him. “Yes,” she replied. Then repeated, “ The-ri’on. It conveys a meaning that you would not wish to be told. Just know the name and shudder.”
“Narcissa I have to know, tell me, please.”
Narcissa nodded, speaking slowly, “ Cruel, destructive, frightful, ravenous...” She said and whispered the last word, “monster”.
Devin gasped, he did not believe her, could not believe that Gerry would have decided to alter, not after speaking with him. She was so against it anyway, and with Vincent now returned, there was no need. Yet what had she once said, ‘If it worked for Vincent, she may try it.’ Would she? Had she?
And what if she had, didn’t she tell him that he must not follow her, for she would not know him, and would cause him danger. Try as he might Devin wanted to make contact through the Bond, but he wasn’t quite sure how that operated yet via himself, and Gerry had made no further contact since the time he had taken Mich’ael to Marie. Filled with trepidation, Devin found he had no option but to seek her, but first he would wait for Vincent. If Narcissa were right, he would need Vincent’s help.
*** *** ***
While they waited, Father entertained Mich’ael Reidel. There was such a lot he wanted to know. Though Marie and Geraldine had answered many of his questions into Vincent’s creation there was such a lot more that Mich’ael knew. Father warmed to the man, he could see he was very kind hearted, and cared deeply for Marie.
“So what do you think then Mich’ael of the way Vincent and Gerry are able to alter into their other darker side?”
“To be honest Jacob, I can accept the possibility of this. Ignatz used to say that he had seen Geraldine do this, but I just thought it was another whim of his. I am afraid Ignatz and I rarely saw eye to eye, much the same with Han’s, he is so much like Ignatz, except for the ruthlessness. I am afraid that Ignatz bordered on perverted bloodlust. You know if the Roman Theatres were in existence today, I could see Ignatz creating people like Vincent to take part in them, he was that sort of man.”
“And what of this other fellow, Han’s Kogler, will he pose any threat to this community?”
“Perhaps. I really ought to go Above to his hotel, he will be wondering about me. I wouldn’t want him to stir up the authorities further and get search parties out for me down here. That’s the last thing you need isn’t it?”
“Lord yes, but if you want to stay I can get word to him through one of the helpers that you are well.”
“Would you? That would be most kind. I do want to stay. In fact if you would allow me Jacob, I should like to come here to live for always.”
“I thought you would ask that. Of course it is up to the council but I don’t think Marie would ever forgive me if I refused.” Thoughtfully he went on, “Sometimes I worry so much about Vincent. Not knowing his make up, that I wonder what to expect next, it will perhaps be an asset to have you here. Though, since Catherine has come into his life, he has accepted more fully his human side. You haven’t met their son have you?”
“They have a child? But I thought that they had only recently married.”
“Yes that is so, but they had a child before that. He is a year old now. They named him after me.”
“And does he look like his father?”
“No, actually he looks human. Of course we don’t know how he will develop. And we try to keep him Below, though recently he has been with Jamie to visit Catherine while she was in hospital.”
“Catherine was in hospital, whatever for?”
“Mich’ael you amaze me. Two days you have been here, and you hardly know anything. Whatever have you and Marie been doing, no don’t answer that, I thought she would have filled you in on everything by now.”
Mich’ael smiled, “Marie’s English is not good, and her German has become rusty, but this is true, we haven’t done a lot of talking. It took me some time to realise how I felt about her, and then when I did, I didn’t believe such a relationship was credible. It wasn’t until I spoke with Devin, and learned he had married Geraldine, and Catherine had married Vincent, that I began to realise such a relationship wasn’t impossible after all. You know, Jacob, though I have yet to ask Marie, I would be honoured if you would conduct our wedding ceremony, if she accepts my proposal.”
“And I would be honoured to accept. My, my, my, only three special people in the world, like Vincent, and I get to conduct the ceremony of all their marriages. That must be some kind of record, certainly it has been a great honour for me, one which I treasure dearly.”
“Going back to Catherine, Jacob, you didn’t say why she has been in hospital.”
“No, I didn’t did I, Catherine was expecting five babies, and had to have complete rest, she lost two of them, and has come Below now to continue resting where we can all keep an eye on her. The babies of course will be born Below.”
“This too is interesting. Five babies huh? One concedes that because she was having five, she was actually having a litter, yet this is not so. This multiple birth was not due to genetic defect, does Vincent and Catherine realise this?”
“I don’t even think I do, please go on?”
“Never, have I heard of a large cat, having so many babies. Humans yes, but big cats no, why even in a domestic cat it would be rare. Tell me, are the babies to be identical, or do you not yet know?”
“Yes, we do know, and no they are not. The babies were growing in the fallopian tube, and had to be transplanted. I remember distinctly Catherine’s GP telling me that they had to transplant five separate sacs, does that answer your question?”
“Yes, and its a wonder no-one has thought of it. Does it not tell you anything?”
Father shook his head, “No”.
“If they were five separate embryos, then they came from five separate eggs. Catherine is a human, her body would control how many eggs were released at any one time, so this is a human thing, Vincent’s genetic make-up would have nothing whatsoever to do with it, save fertilising all those eggs.”
Father sat stunned. He was a doctor, yet he had not even thought of that. Peter too, had not seemed to have worked this one out.
“Now, had it of been one egg, split five times, then obviously we could conclude that Vincent’s sperm had something to do with this, but as this is not the case, then...” Mich’ael shrugged his shoulders, “it will be interesting to see who the babies look like won’t it Jacob?”
“Is there a hidden meaning to that question, Mich’ael?”
“Yes and no. I was just thinking how strong the human factor really is. You tell me their son takes after Catherine, and one has to see how he matures to see if this remains the case. Ignatz produced Marie, and then by inseminating her with lion and then tiger sperm, she gave birth to Vincent and Geraldine, at least they were the only survivors, and....”
“You mean there were others!”
“Oh yes, six in all, I’ll come to that, later”.
But Father wasn’t listening. There had been six in all. “Tell me, Mich’ael, tell me about these others.”
“After Vincent, there were three more males and a girl, the three males in-between were from the sperm of a different lion, these were all stillborn. The girl had the same Father as Vincent, and she lived two weeks, she was very sickly from birth, and finally Ignatz used Siberian Tiger sperm and we got Geraldine.”
“Good God,” Father exclaimed, this Ignatz really was a madman; he’d stop at nothing would he? Father was thoughtful. To think that while Vincent was growing up, believing to be some kind of human mutation, his mother was busy giving birth to his brothers and sisters. What if they had all lived? At that time Ignatz had not any use for males, where would he have sent them?
“I know your thoughts Jacob, I have asked myself this so many times, since finding out Vincent is alive, what would have become of all those others after him? It doesn’t bear thinking about does it; they could have ended up anywhere in the world. Fortunately for them, let us see it that way, and not dwell on it Jacob, and fortunately for Marie this was not to be.”
“Yes, I’m sorry Mich’ael what was it you had been going to say earlier?”
“Well, Ignatz had been so desperately trying to create a lion that could talk, stupid really when you come to think about it, isn’t it? So each time he created one being, and it wasn’t quite right he mixed in more big cat sperm, in the hope that eventually down the line, the big cat side of things would get stronger and stronger, and eventually he would create what he had longed for. In actual fact what seems to have occurred here, is that the human element is so much stronger than that of animals, and drowns out their genetic makeup, so much so, that the offspring is more human than cat. Baby Jacob seems to prove this theory, and hopefully so too will these new babies. The only problem I can foresee therefore is into the future, someone may give birth to a throwback, and this could prove disastrous, could it not. Try explaining to your husband why you have just given birth to a lion cub. Reminds me of a family I know of. The husband and wife were both white, and four of their five children were white. Yet the fourth to be born was half-caste with frizzy hair. Boy, did that woman have a lot of explaining to do. Finally her husband believed her, and together they went looking for their roots. It turned out that hundreds of years ago, one of his great-great-grandmother’s had been a Negro slave. This sharpens my point, someday, someone will, I fear, have this misfortune from Vincent and Catherine’s pro-creation. Really it would have been better if they had remained childless.”
“Yes, Mich’ael, I too have wondered about this. When I was a boy my grandfather bred white rabbits for meat. He had generations upon generations of rabbits, you know how they breed, and he had always had white rabbits, imagine his surprise when in one litter there appeared one jet black baby rabbit. He tried breeding from this rabbit to see what he would get, and it always produced blue-grey, never white and never black, it was amazing. So I too have wondered about Vincent’s descendants in this way. However, will you promise me something Mich’ael, that you never tell any of this to Vincent, Gerry or Marie, unless you deem it absolutely necessary, for I think they have been hurt enough. And as to the future, hopefully we will be around long enough to instil the risks firmly into the young ones minds.”
“Yes, have no fear Jacob, I will not tell them these things. As you say, they have already suffered more than enough.”
*** *** ***
When Vincent and Devin finally set out to the lower tunnels to seek Geraldine, they were optimistic, despite the fact that Devin had not heard from her.
“It is impossible to use the Bond, when in transition”, Vincent had told him, after they had hugged in greeting, and Devin had told him of his concern for her. “We have to tread carefully Devin, believe me what Narcissa has told you is right. The beast is a monster.”
“How much do you remember, Vincent?”
“At first I allowed him to reign over me, and then I tried to fight him. Alas he was too much for me, I had no choice but to lie back and accept it. For a time I could see exactly what he was on with, but I was powerless to stop him, and then I seemed to drift into a great slumber, which was difficult to awaken from. Without Catherine using the Bond as she did, I wouldn’t be here telling you this. Devin, without Catherine I could still be as the beast.”
“If we find that Geraldine has altered, what am I to do. I cannot speak to her through the Bond, why I don’t even know how to try.”
“Catherine used to be that way. Of course she has had years to perfect it, but it is no different to using telepathy. I suggest that you find yourself a quiet place and meditate, flooding all your senses with the love you have for Geraldine, and forcing it out of yourself to infuse her. When you have accomplished it, you literally feel your feelings rushing out of you, and in that moment you know that the recipient has received your message.”
“I have to try it, don’t I Vin, without it, I fear for Gerry.”
“It could be that she is fighting against the beast herself, and if so, you have already won half the battle. It is strange however, that she hasn’t made contact with you when she gains the upper hand.”
“Perhaps she is injured, or, or dead.” He whispered the last.
“Do you feel that she is?”
“Then she lives, and is well. Believe me, if she were injured, you would feel her pain, and you would know if she had died.”
They walked on through the final chambers, and on into dark and eerie tunnels. “It is such a long time, since I went down so far, yet I remember being here with you. You know Vincent, in my dreams whenever I am running from something, as dreams can be, I always turn into a tunnel for safety, and I always run straight into you. You are my stronghold Vincent, someone to come to for strength when the going gets tough.”
“I feel honoured that you should feel this way, if only in your dreams, Devin.”
Devin playfully thumped Vincent in the arm, “Not only in my dreams, Vincent.” He told him seriously.
“Do you think you will stay living here Devin? But for your commitment, by now you would have had itchy feet and long gone.”
“I have to stay for Gerry. Sometimes I do yearn for the life I left, and I would love to see Charles more often. I have wondered about taking Gerry up into the mountains to live. But it is one thing taking a disfigured human being, and another taking along someone who has the features of a large cat, you know what I mean Vincent, I don’t mean to offend.”
“Yes, I know what you mean.”
“Would you seriously have undergone the full transition, had it not been for Catherine pulling you back?”
“I did not know of these things. It is something I would like to speak to Gerry about. Had I of known, well, it goes without saying. All my life I have longed to be free of this, and these.” he said touching his face and hands, “had I of known then yes, I would most certainly have taken the chance.”
“Yet you were altered for some time, several weeks in fact, did it not change you any in that time?”
“Oh yes, it did. I do feel different. I felt the beast’s life ebb away from me, I do not know how or why, but I do know that he is no longer a part of me, and though I still bear his make-up externally, internally I am wholly a man. I can only be grateful for this, for unless I look at my hands or my face in a mirror, I feel no different to you or Father.”
“So that is good is it not, yet you seem unsure?”
“It is good, yet I can’t help thinking it could be a risk to me. Before I knew I was different and would hide in the shadows, now I feel I am a man, it could be dangerous if I should ever temporarily forget how I look on the outside and linger too long Above.”
“That reminds me of something I once read in the Bible, let me see now. ‘For anyone who is a hearer of the word, and not a doer.’ Arh, it is the next piece that applies, listen Vincent. ‘This one is like a man looking at his natural face in the mirror. For he looks at himself, and off he goes and immediately forgets what sort of man he is.’ That could be applied in your case, huh, Vincent?”
(James Ch. 1 v 23 & 24)
“It could have been written for me Devin. That is what I fear.”
“Vincent all your life you have lived in fear, fear of being seen. I have seen terrible deformities Vincent that some people have had to bear. Fire victims, cancer victims, I have even seen leprosy in some people, and that Vincent is the worst thing of all, for there is a stench with it, that never goes away, yet these people are members of a society that has learnt to accept them. I know Father meant well when he cut you off from the outside world, but I can’t help wondering how things would have turned out for you, if he had made you known, so that people did not bat an eyelid when they saw you pass by. Some will always stare of course, but it is ignorance that makes them that way. Look at all the people who have come to accept you and love you. The world is full of badness Vincent, but there are an awful lot of good people living among that badness, and you are such a good person, I feel in many respects, that those people have been deprived from knowing you.”
“Thank you Devin, but what is done is done, and Father had my best interests at heart.”
“I’m not saying he didn’t Vincent, I’m just saying there was more he could have done. I think if we are honest with ourselves, and though Father may not even be aware of it, or refuses to be aware of it, his main reason for keeping you a secret from the world, was for purely selfish reasons, he wanted to keep you for himself.”
“NO! I do not believe this, Father would never, never act so selfishly.”
“Not intentionally Vincent. You have to look at it from different standpoints, look, I am his son, his own flesh and blood, yet did he tell me he was my father? No, not until I was grown, and did he treat me the way he treated you? No, to an onlooker it would have appeared that you were his son, his own flesh and blood. And I, well I, who spent my entire life trying to please him, to hear him say I love you the way he told it to you, I could have been the one with the differences, for Father shunned me when he took you in. I’m not jealous of you Vincent, I love you, but sometimes just sometimes, I believe you got my share that’s all as well as your own.”
“Yet you still see me as your stronghold, Devin, what can I say?” Vincent drew Devin to his side and hugged him as they walked along; “That you can still love me is all I ask for.”
“I will always love you Vincent, to me you are wholly a man, inside as well as out, when I look at you I do not see the beast.”
“Yet the mirror tells me otherwise.”
“Mirrors can lie Vincent. Those made from glass are not the real mirrors. To see ourselves truly we must look into the eyes of those that love us, and then we see what we really are. I quote, ‘For at present we see in a hazy outline by means of a metal mirror, but then it will be face to face. At present I know partially, but then I shall know accurately even as I am accurately known. Now however, there remain faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love’. (1st Corinthians Ch. 13 v 12 & 13).
“From the Bible again huh?”
“Yes, you should make a habit of studying it Vincent, for I can assure you, you will find a great treasure within its pages, and it will bring such a person as yourself great comfort. Note that scripture alone, it tells us so much about ourselves that a metal mirror belies what we are, in comparison to how others see us, and with love others see us as beautiful. Whereas we, when we see ourselves, we tend to rake ourselves over the hot coals dissatisfied with the way we look. Too fat, too thin, too ugly, too old, too spotty. The list is endless. As the scripture says, we can only come to know ourselves accurately, by the mirror of the eyes of those that look upon us with love.”
“Then I would do well to discard the mirror I have in my chamber, and never have to look upon this face again.”
“Yes, but I doubt Cathy would approve, I expect she likes to preen herself before a mirror, I have never yet met a woman who doesn’t.”
“Not until now.”
Devin smiled, a cheeky smile, “Do you know what you are saying Vincent?”
“I thought I did. Why?”
“You have just admitted to being a woman.”
Vincent stopped in his tracks, to stare down at Devin “I did not!”
“Yes you did, think about it.”
Vincent briefly went over their past few words, and burst out laughing, “I didn’t mean myself, you crackpot, I was referring to Gerry.”
“I know, but I couldn’t resist pulling your leg.”
“I meant Gerry would be the first woman you had met that didn’t like looking in the mirror.”
Vincent tilted his head to one side, in his unique way, “Why?” He asked Devin.
“Gerry is like all the others, I have to drag her away from the mirror, she adores looking into it.”
“She does!” Vincent found the news incredulous.
“You bet, she stands this way and that, turning herself around for front view, side view, as much back view as she can see. And then says seductively, ‘see how beautiful I am my love, surely you cannot bear to go to work today and leave me’ just like that.” Devin mimicked.
Vincent burst out laughing; he could just visualise this. He had seen much of Gerry’s art of seduction toward Devin while on holiday on the boat.
Serious again, Vincent looked at Devin for a long time.
“What? Have I got soot on my nose or something Vincent? Why are you staring at me like that?”
Vincent’s mouth twitched, belying a hidden humour, and his blue eyes twinkled with mischief. “It is one thing to believe that my sister finds herself externally beautiful, and it is quite another to believe that she finds you attractive also.”
“ What? I’ll get you for that, Vincent.”
“You’ll have to catch me first.” And with that he was gone, leaving Devin stood laughing his head of, at Vincent’s mimicry of his and Gerry’s daily chase around the boat.
*** *** ***
“Go away, leave me in peace.” Gerry stamped around the dusty floor, shaking her head in frustration. Two days, two long days she had been tormented by her other self.
“I am The-ri’on, I am your true self, you cannot deny me.”The cruel, whispering voice told her.
“I have seen enough of your hatred already. I do not want to give you your freedom. You disgust me.”
“Then you disgust yourself, for I am a part of you.”
“No, you and I are separate. You are the beast within, but you are not a part of me.”
“Yet I can make you do things that you do not wish to do.”
“Yes.” She spat, “I do not deny the hold you have over me, but for that I would be free. There are things you would do that I would never have dreamed of.”
“Yet you had this hatred for the man too, but for that I would never have been brought forth.”
“People hate, people love, it doesn’t automatically follow that they become split personalities from it. Not like you and I.”
“Does not the heart rule the head?”
“It is different.”
“Why Geraldine, do you know? Though the heart and the head are members of the one body, still they do not live in harmony, there is conflict.”
“The heart is more treacherous than anything else.”
“I too am treacherous.”
“Then you are my heart, and be it that I could tear you out from within myself.”
“Then you would die.”
“And so would you.”
“You hate me so much that you would be prepared to die along with me?”
The-ri’on was silent for a few moments, then tried another tactic, in a gentler, coaxing manner “I thought you wanted to do battle with me. On the way here, I could hear your reasoning. You were fighting against bringing me forth, this I know, but you also wanted to alter so much so that you were prepared to set me free, while you underwent the transition.”
“Nonetheless, I decided against it.”
“Yes, but your reasoning had already awoken me, and I was very near the surface.”
“I could have maintained control, if it had not been for the blood of the man.”
“Yes, and so it will always be. Every time the scent of fresh blood fills your nostrils, it will drift down deep inside you, and I will stir, always you will do battle with me for freedom.”
“And I suppose you have a suggestion.”
“But of course. Did not your brother recently make that decision? You could win as he did. All it takes is to try.” The-ri’on tempted her subtly, Geraldine had not known that Vincent had beaten Haid’es. Neither did she know how hard it would have been for Vincent to have awakened but for the Bond he shared with his wife and the love Catherine had poured through it to him.
“I see you are tempted?” The-ri’on asked her.
“Yes. To be free of you forever, perhaps you are right, perhaps I should set you free, so that we can do battle.”
The-ri’on smiled sadistically, thinking, ‘each one is tried by being drawn out and enticed by his own desire, then the desire when it has become fertile gives birth to sin, in turn sin, when it has been accomplished brings forth death.* Huh, humans are so gullible.’(*James Ch. 1 v 14 & 15)
“So what is it to be then?”
“I am still deciding.”
“You want to be a real woman do you not?”
“You know that I do.”
“Then what is the problem?”
“It is this. You are ruled by evil. You do not want what is best for me, if you did you would lie down and never re-surface. So I am wondering what it is that you intend to gain from this.”
“To be free if only temporary, would be enough.”Therion lied.
“I do not believe this. I spent my entire life behind bars, and now I am free. It is never enough. Do you think I would humbly allow myself to go back to that life, would you?”
“Then you yourself said it. Once I set you free, you would not willingly go back to captivity, and I do not think I have the strength to fight you for freedom, you would surely win.”
“Then you must draw on the strength of those that love you. Would they wish for you to deny yourself this change of being wholly human, just because you are afraid of your inner self?”
“Do not try to trip me up The-ri’on, with your smooth talking. Besides those that love me, love me for what I am, they would not love me any more if I looked normal. I already have more than I ever dreamed would be possible for me, and it is enough, more than enough.”
“No, you are wrong. You could still have more.”
“I do not think so.”
“So, you would have me take you by force, the outcome of this will be worse for you.”
“Why? Or do you mean for yourself?”
The-ri’on grew silent, this other self was indeed very much to be reckoned with, they knew one another too well.
“Surely,” went on Gerry, walking around the chamber, “Surely, if I lay down and submitted freedom to you, I would go into a deep sleep, from which it would be hard to prevail over you, yet if I am awake when the battle commences, surely then I will withstand it.”
In reply a terrifying roar issued from her mouth, and Geraldine said, “ That you utter this way, tells me I am right, am I not?” She taunted.
The-ri’on roared in agitation, and replied apocalypticly, “Then may the battle commence.”
Suddenly the breath was knocked from her lungs, and Geraldine fought to overcome the great weight that forced her to the earth, struggling against being sucked down into an abyss so deep that it would be impossible to rise from. The-ri’on had her throat in a tight grasp, and Geraldine’s eyes rolled in death throes. It had all happened so swiftly, and Geraldine had not had time to realise how to respond. She fought against The-ri’on with all her might, but the beast was too strong for her.
From deep within her mind, the only place The-ri’on had no hold over, Geraldine did the only thing open to her, she needed the strength of another, and as an all consuming pain hit her, she screamed out Devin’s name.
*** *** ***
...Clothe yourselves with love, for it is the perfect bond of union...
(Colossians 3 v 14)
“Hey Vincent, do you think this costume looks anything like you?” Devin asked laughing his head off.
“Let me see, Devin,” Vincent unfolded the grotesque costume, “Ugh, do I really look like this, poor Catherine.”
Devin laughed some more, “Maybe the mane is about right, but the face, I don’t know, really, I reckon its better looking than the real thing.” He said smiling wickedly.
“DEVIN!” Vincent roared, “If you were anyone else I wouldn’t let you get away with that.”
“No, but as its me, I get the chance to muck around a little, seriously Vincent your face, is like the rest of you, inside and out, beautiful.”
Vincent was thoughtful before asking, “What did you mean when you said the mane is about right, it is black and mine is golden, there is no comparison.”
“When you turned into the beast, your mane was ebony, Vincent.”
“How do you know this, in fact this is something I have been meaning to ask everyone. Certain people have made references to the beast, yet how did they know unless they were there?” Too late Devin realised he had put his foot in it again, he could hear Father’s words now, ‘ We must never let Vincent see these newspaper photographs, or the report about him, it could destroy him.’
“I’m waiting?” Vincent asked again, tapping his foot impatiently, as he watched the various expressions chase across Devin’s face.
How could he answer? Devin was uncertain, he didn’t want to tell Vincent what he had been forbade not to. Suddenly, a pain coursed right through him, like nothing he had ever experienced before, cutting him to the core, and stumbling forward he crashed to the earth, writhing on the ground. Vincent thought he was mucking about, “You aren’t getting out of it Devin, so you can quit acting the fool.”
“I...I’m not”, Devin panted between shots of pain, “I.. have...a...terri..ble..pain.”
Unconvinced, Vincent looked down at his brother. Then he noticed the sweat on Devin’s brow, and dropping to his knees, turned him over to look into his eyes. He wasn’t playacting. This was for real! “Where does it hurt, Devin?” He cried anxiously.
“Here.and here...and ooooh” Devin pointed to his head and his heart and then passed out. Frantically, Vincent searched around for the packs. Water! He needed water. Flinging everything out of the packs, until he found the container, he rushed back to Devin’s side, and sprinkled some upon his face, until slowly Devin began to respond. As he came to, another bolt of pain cut through him, and he slumped back against Vincent’s arm about his shoulders.
Calm overtaking his mind, Vincent loosened Devin’s clothing, thus aiding his laboured breathing, and held him firmly feeling the bolts of pain stab through Devin again and again. Slowly they subsided, and Devin groaned.
“Can you talk yet, here take a sip of water?” Vincent asked holding the flask to Devin’s lips.
Devin drank just a little, enough to moisten his dry mouth, “Thank you Vincent, yes, just. This pain, it didn’t seem to come from me, it was really weird.”
Understanding at once, Vincent replied, “Then it must have come from Gerry.”
Struggling to sit up, though his head still spun, Devin cried, “ I hope not Vincent, if the second-hand pain was so bad, imagine how it feels to her firsthand. We must find her.”
“There is no second-hand pain Devin, the way you felt it is the way it was for her, through the Bond you become an extension of that other person, not separate. Look you have to try to reach her. She will be unable to speak to you if she is hurting, so it is up to you now, you must meditate and call her name over and over.”
Devin needed no second bidding. Anxious now to locate his wife, he put his head into his hands and tried with all his might to reach through the Bond. Vincent watched him, this was like trying to crash down an oak door with a feather, now where had he heard that before? Of course, Catherine!
Devin was shaking his head, “Its no use Vincent, I can’t do it, I don’t even know how to start.” Devin turned pain filled eyes toward Vincent, and Vincent felt his heart breaking at the hopelessness he detected therein.
“You may be trying too hard, or not enough. Look let me lead you. Close your eyes and listen to what I say, and as I say it try to put yourself there, do not give up, stay with it, and you will do this thing. Now close your eyes and concentrate. I want you to imagine you are in the countryside. The sun is warm on your shoulders, and you settle beneath the dappled shade of a large tree. You feel sleepy, yet there is so much to keep your eyes open for. The sun glistening on a pool of water, dragonflies winging their way over lily pads, a kingfisher, which if you remain motionless for long enough will dart into the liquid blue and draw out a fish.” Devin almost giggled at the word fish, and Vincent reprimanded him, “Concentrate!” Smiling Vincent continued, “The sweet fragrance of honeysuckle is in the air, and bees are buzzing among the golden flowers, taking pollen back to their hive. There is birdsong in the tree above, and a gentle breeze caresses your bare skin with its soft fingertips.” Devin, trying not to laugh, feigned a yawn, and started to snore.
“DEVIN! Concentrate!” Vincent was getting annoyed now; “You really have to concentrate.”
“Vincent, I’m sorry, but you are sending me to sleep.” Devin told him seriously, “Where is all this leading anyway?”
“If you’d only concentrate, you’d find out. Now come on we are wasting time, Gerry needs you.” At the mention of her name, Devin groaned, “Okay Vincent, get back to it, I’m listening now.”
“Let’s try something else. Let me think.” Vincent tugging at his lower lip with his front teeth tried to think of some other way he could help Devin. His brother was such a clown he’d turn hard work into fun. “I’ve got it! Now concentrate. We are back on the boat, moored alongside that idyllic island.”
“Mmm, now that sounds more like it, Vincent.” Devin butted in, softly.
Vincent held back the desire to clonk him. “As I was saying,” he continued, “We are back on the boat moored off the island, and you and Gerry are pursuing your daily chase around the boat.” he heard Devin chuckle, and Vincent shaking his head in dismay, wondered if they were ever going to do this. “You have caught the fish, hence, it is Gerry’s turn to go overboard, and darting between the chairs, you actually capture her. She turns those beautiful seductive eyes to you, and purrs her surrender, and you feel your desire mounting.” Devin moaned, and shaking his head and smiling, Vincent continued, “ Just as you relent to throwing her overboard she sees her chance, and wriggles out of your arms, and is away. Stunned, for a few moments you stand there, and then chase after her. But she is hiding. Where? It is only the two of you on the boat; there is no one to ask if they saw where she went. You have to find her all by yourself. And finding her is important to you, for this has been the first time you have won the game, and you look forward to the exquisite delight of tossing her overboard for a change. She teases you. Finding a spot where her voice can carry via a copper pipe that runs the length and breadth of the boat, she calls your name. You can hear her, but you don’t know where the voice is coming from. Can you hear her Devin?”
In a trance-like state Devin replied, “Yes, I hear her, she is calling my name, it is only soft, and I have to strain my ears to hear her.”
‘Good’, thought Vincent, ‘now we may be getting somewhere’.
“You have been looking all over the boat, but cannot find her, and the sun is getting hot on your back. You feel weary now, and want to rest, but still the desire to find her is strong. Begging her to give herself up and promising not to carry out the retribution, you call to her. Can you do that Devin, in your heart and mind, can you call out to her?” Vincent waited.
With all that he could, Devin reached down inside himself and concentrating fully now, visualised Geraldine in some hidey-hole waiting for him to find her. He called softly to her. At first she heard but did not want to co-operate, Devin wondered where she could be, then as he thought it, he saw little pictures flashing through his mind. Grasping hold of each image, he sought through them. They were places he knew but had not seen in a long time. Candlelight flickered, and shadows were cast onto walls. This was not the boat; there was no need for candlelight with the sunshine! Slowly Devin began to realise. Holding on now for fear the pictures would drift away, he concentrated more fully. He could see Gerry lay upon a dusty cavern floor. She was bleeding, and she was broken, tossed about by a benumbed storm, her voice a mere whisper. His heart went out to her, tentative fingers wiped away the pain from her face, and comforting words healed her. Gerry responded. Opening her pain filled eyes, her lips formed a word, De.v..in.”
“She heard me...” Devin muttered, unaware he had spoken. Vincent smiled, did not speak, did not want to break this tender transmission, allowing Devin to make firmer contact. The-ri’on heard him also. Incensed at this intrusion, The-ri’on tried to close down the Bond. Geraldine was down, and The-ri’on wanted her to stay that way. It was only a question of time now, before slumber took hold of Geraldine, giving The-ri’on the freedom she had so long been denied. No-body was going to prevent that!
With her failing strength, Geraldine held on to the Bond, knowing that to lose it would be to lose altogether. Yet The-ri’on was too mighty, and Geraldine knew she could not do battle by herself, she needed Devin’s help, and if he could not be with her in body, then in spirit she would draw the strength she needed from him. He had never reached her through the Bond before, and his signal was weak, she knew how much of a strain it would be on him, this first time. Battling against The-ri’on’s pull, Geraldine held onto the Bond, calling Devin anxiously now, and he in turn related her wishes back to Vincent.
“She is weak Vincent, and she needs my strength, I am going to give her all that I have, but I fear it will not be enough. Keeping this Bond open is taking all I have as it is.”
“Then she shall have my strength also. Here take my hand, and draw from me all that you need, and pass it through to Gerry.”
Devin found it remarkable, not only that Vincent had suggested it, but that it was becoming easier and easier to actually do. Perhaps Vincent was helping, forcing his own strength into Devin, he did not know, but whatever was taking place, he could see in his mind’s eye, Geraldine was receiving the strength and using it against her other self. He saw her alter ego in split seconds as the battle commenced. Saw first Gerry, then The-ri’on, then Gerry again. The battle was draining his wife. More was needed. “She can’t hold on, Vincent, we need more strength.”
“I am giving you all that I have, there is no more.” Downhearted, Vincent gave Devin all of his strength, feeling himself weakened by it. “Wait, I have an idea.” Vincent told Devin who hardly seemed to hear him.
Using his own Bond, Vincent called out to Catherine. She responded at once, pleased to hear from him, her lilting voice alone, filled him with renewed vigour, which dissipated the moment it took root, drawn away by Devin’s greater need.
Quickly, Vincent told Catherine what was happening and Catherine remembering the recent battle between Vincent and Haid’es knew exactly what to do. As it happened, at the time of his calling to her, Catherine had been in the dining room with several others at the start of lunch. Quickly she told them what was happening, and they agreed to help if they could.
Never had anything so grand been borne along the Bond. Devin, reaching out to Geraldine, held tightly onto Vincent’s hand, Vincent through his Bond, reached out to Catherine, who in turn, eyes closed, held tightly onto Father’s large hand, in turn Father held onto Mary, and Mary held onto Marie. Marie onto Mich’ael, who although a newcomer, loved Marie so much he would have died for her he and had no trouble giving her all his strength and love if it helped her daughter. Holding onto Mich’ael’s other hand was Elizabeth, and to Elizabeth was Pascal who hadn’t long returned from being below with Devin until Vincent had arrived and sent him home, then William, Jamie and finally Mouse. These people who loved one another so dearly, closed their eyes, and allowed their strength to be drained from them, feeling it gently sucked away, giving it gladly to those far below that needed it so badly. Thus a human chain of love was formed, and Geraldine drew on all their strength.
Weakened now, The-ri’on stumbled, and fell, crashing to the earth, taking Geraldine with her, yet it was Geraldine who got up, and Geraldine’s face that Devin could see, standing victorious and strong.
“It worked.” he cried jubilant. “We did it, she is herself again!”
Thank goodness for that,” Vincent spoke at last, “Your vice like grip has almost broken my fingers.” he added good-naturedly.
Devin relaxed his hold, but they did not break the chain, and Vincent felt blood running through his fingers once again, they tingled, and he wriggled them, getting the feeling back. Suddenly, just as he was about to feel they belonged to him again, Devin grasped them hard once more, “Oh no Vincent!” he yelled, “the beast has thrown Gerry down again.”
Now what to do? There was no more strength. Catherine could see everything that was happening, through some kind of mist, and there was no one else in the dining room. To have someone break the link and fetch another would be impossible. For every last ounce of strength had to be maintained. “There is no-one else here”,
Catherine told Vincent through their Bond, “and we cannot leave off to find someone.”
The-ri’on stood up once again, roaring in agitation. Only just surpassing the strength that Geraldine had running through her, but nonetheless victorious, just.
Vincent spoke to Catherine begging her to whisper to everyone, to force every last bit of strength they had through her, and thus in turn through him and so on, and this she did, gladly. Devin saw the beast falter as the strength slapped her, but The-ri’on maintained her stand, and Geraldine could not predominate.
Everyone was weakened, and their hands ached, just as Vincent’s had done, it was physically as well as mentally draining, and more so in knowing that they had failed. Every eye, though tightly closed, squeezed tears through the lids down the cheeks. The helplessness of the situation filled their very core.
As The-ri’on roared with the victory of conquest, so loudly, that every person down the chain shuddered at its vibration, Vincent heard a slight shuffling in the tunnel behind, and glancing to see what had disturbed him, he saw Narcissa standing there.
Not needing to be told how to help. Narcissa quickly stepped to Devin’s side, then as Vincent relinquished his hold on two of Devin’s fingers; Narcissa took hold of them. Vincent drew away from Devin’s side, so that Narcissa could sit between them, then clasping Narcissa’s other hand, Vincent let go of Devin’s hand allowing Narcissa to take hold of it fully. Thus at no point did they ever break the chain.
Sitting now facing Devin and Narcissa, Vincent re-closed his eyes, as did they, and concentrated, telling Catherine that Narcissa had joined them, and that everyone should try one last time to enforce their strength through the Bond.
From the moment Narcissa joined forces, Geraldine began to feel different. A renewed strength rushed into her very being, and in an instant she was able to thwart The-ri’on’s plan and overturn the situation. With a strained roar, The-ri’on staggered, and fell hard to the floor, sending dust particles up into the air to dance and swirl in the light from the candles. Getting to her feet Geraldine jumped for pure joy, as she realised that she had at last beaten her other self and stood victorious, knowing without a doubt that from then on, as long as she had the love of all these dear people, then The-ri’on had left her forever.
“She did it, she did! We did it.” Devin opened his eyes and jumped up, the moment he knew everything was okay, he let go of Narcissa’s fingers to hug her tightly, “Thank you so much Narcissa, we couldn’t have done it without you.”
“Yes,” added Vincent, “You were the icing on the cake Narcissa, without you the cake would have been incomplete.”
“Oh go away with you,” Narcissa, embarrassed, slapped them both playfully, “Go to Geraldine, she needs you.”
“We don’t know yet where she is.” Devin told her.
Narcissa looked speechless. Then finding her voice, “What! Well I wondered why you weren’t with her. Come see, she is not far away.”
Following Narcissa, they could not believe how close they had been, no more than a hundred feet or so.
They walked into the cavern, where Geraldine stood motionless, catching her breath, then as soon as she saw him, she run into Devin’s waiting arms. “Oh Devin,” She cried, and would have continued, but Devin had brought his lips down to hers, and fastened them there as if he would never let them go.
“When you two are quite ready,” Vincent told them, laughing with happiness, “We will go and plant this costume.”
“We can let go of one another now.” Catherine told everyone, brightly, as she saw the re-union through Vincent’s eyes, “Gerry is safe.”
Father took back his hand, and rubbed the cramp from his fingers, he did not know which hand hurt the most. “Phew, I hope I don’t have to do that too often.” He told everyone, “I have never been so exhausted in all my life.”
“Me either,” Mary replied, “I feel as weak as a kitten.”
“Kitten my foot,” Father replied rubbing his hands still, “You’ve the strength of an ox, look at my poor fingers.” then turning around to Catherine, said, “ And as for you my dear, if someone told me you had the strength of ten elephants, I wouldn’t try to deny it.”
“Father please, surely you can liken me to something less lumpish than an elephant?”
“What in your condition, hardly?” He replied teasing her.
“Well, whose for lunch then,” William called out above the gay chatter, “After all you’ve got to keep your strength up, you never know when you may need it.”
*** *** ***
“Catherine, Vincent, look, come see, this is today’s newspaper, we did it, look!”
Father hobbled into the dining room where Catherine and Vincent were having a belated breakfast, having slept in, and looked up as Father handed them the newspaper.
The report was inconspicuous, and Father chuckled. “Ho ho, I can just see their faces when they found that costume. I bet the President was so embarrassed, to think he had been sucked in by a hoax, ho ho”.
“Read it out to us Father, I know you are dying to.” Catherine told him, gaily.
Clearing his throat and putting on a voice of graceful air, Father started reading “Confirming earlier announcements on TV and radio,” Father paused, “I wish we had a TV down here, I would have given anything to see the look on their faces.” he continued... “ Now where was I, oh yes, TV and radio, the President of the United States, was seen earlier today at the airport, where he was catching a flight to resume his interrupted holiday in the South of France. When approached and asked about the lion-man hoax, he covered his face with one hand and muttered something inaudible, which sounded very much like ‘no comment’. Ho ho ho, I must cut this out and keep it, it will give me much merriment for years to come.” Looking at them both he went on, “ Have either of you seen Devin today, I must read it to him?”
“No, Father we haven’t, but before you go bursting into his chamber, just remember he hasn’t seen Gerry for some time.”
Father stared at Vincent, “What do you mean? Oh yes, I see.” He realised slightly embarrassed, “Then I’ll have to wait until Gerry is finished with him.”
Catherine and Vincent exchanged knowing looks “Then be prepared to wait a long time Father.” Vincent chuckled, “ A very long time.”
*** *** ***
To be continued in Chapter Fifteen – click on ‘Next’ below:
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