Part 3 of the Oblivion Trilogy
Less than a week after Catherine and Mouse returned to America, Father, Mary and Timmy came home. It was a grand re-union, tinged with a little sorrow at having to leave Devin and Mich’ael in Austria.
*** *** ***
“There was nothing more we could do, and they are in good hands. As soon as either of them can be moved they will be flown back here.” Father told everybody who had crowded into his chamber within minutes of his arriving home. “I must say it is good to be back with you all, and Devin and Mich’ael send their love, and especially to Gerry and Marie.”
Gerry and Timmy were overjoyed to see one another again, and very soon those who remained in Father’s chamber was Vincent and Catherine as all made their way back to their own assignments. Even Mary had gone to unpack and tidy herself up.
“Well Catherine,” Father spoke to her as she passed him a cup of herb tea, “I expect you were pleased to be home.”
Father looked at her sharply. “Have I missed something?”
Looking up at him, Catherine found her eyes filled up with tears, and quickly brushed them away. “Whatever’s wrong?” he asked her.
Catherine glanced across at Vincent, and unable to say another word, hurried from the chamber.
“Vincent?” Father enquired. “What is wrong with Catherine. In fact with the two of you, am I mistaken or is their a strained atmosphere between you both?”
“No Father you do not imagine it. I am afraid that Catherine and I do not see eye to eye on a matter, and it is causing a battle of wills.”
“Care to tell me about it Vincent?” Father asked kindly, “Of course if you prefer not to.”
Vincent lowered his weary frame into an armchair, sighing deeply, “I would like to speak to you about it, because I am unable to resolve it with Catherine.” Slowly he told Father about Catherine’s wish to return to Austria to help Devin and Mich’ael find some more people like himself.
“I had no idea, Devin did not say anything about it.” Father told him surprised.
“Now that you know, what do you think about this?”
“Obviously Vincent you will miss one another, but once a woman gets something into her head, and is denied it, trouble will loom. Women have to be allowed to make their own mistakes I’m afraid, especially a woman like Catherine, who is used to taking risks and solving cases. I’m afraid that in preventing her to do what she is best at, will be clipping her wings unnecessarily, and she is going to be rebellious. Feel trapped even. I understand your reasoning Vincent, but they are purely selfish ones, and that you blackmailed her into submission can only go against you. I think if you have any chance of recovery you have to let her go with your blessing, or you may drive her away, if not physically, then certainly mentally. No woman wants to feel so owed by a man, that she feels oppressed and has no room to move. And no doubt the terrible incident with Scott only heightens the fact to her that you do don’t trust her judgement. Not all men are going to want to run off with her. And Vincent you have to remember what a life Catherine has given up to be here with you, that she has done so willingly at all deserves praise, but to force her into being here, now that is another thing entirely. I’m sorry Vincent, but obviously the ultimatum you gave her is going to bring irreparable damage to your relationship unless you give in to her needs.”
“But Father, how can I let her go, to be without her, to know she is taking untold risks?” Vincent spread his large hands outwards in a gesture of despair.
“You must Vincent. Catherine is not a pet dog that you can train to suit your own standards, she has a life. Had a better life once than the one she has chosen to live now, don’t make her regret having chosen this path Vincent. Believe me, if you do not try to hold her down, your relationship will be all the better for it. Remember she is your light. She carries your dream. But you have always known that your life has to be hidden away from society, and Catherine needs that society from time to time. As much as she loves you, she needs to be a part of what she willingly left behind occasionally, nonetheless.”
Vincent sat thoughtfully, he hadn’t seen things this way, only how much he missed Catherine when she was away, he did not realise how important her work was to her, helping others, she
needed to be needed, and Father was right she had given up much to be with him, to give him a life more than he had ever dreamed, a family he would never have even imagined.
Father scrutinised him over the rim of his spectacles, watching the thoughts chase around his head, by the many expressions that crossed his leonine face. Finally he nodded, “Thank you for your council Father, I have been wrong. I can see now how important Catherine’s other life is to her, to us both, but I will miss and worry about her so much while she is away.”
“That is only natural Vincent. Does not Marie and Gerry miss Devin and Mich’ael? And they may have many more months yet to wait, before they are all re-united. At least you have been spared that, and in the time that Catherine is here with you I should make sure, if I were you, that you spend the time together wisely. So that you build some special memories to help you both through the lonely times. For it will be both of you that suffer the separation. And Catherine has to be admired, for she suffers the same, knowing full well that she feels compelled to help perfect strangers, who at this moment in time, do not even know that she exists, but whose very lives likely depend upon her help. I am proud of her Vincent, of her and Devin and Mich’ael to even think of pursuing it. So make sure that when she goes it is with your blessing, and then she will be strengthened by your love.”
“Yes Father, though she does not intend to go for some weeks yet.”
“There is no time like the present Vincent. I saw her pain here today, the healing of that pain is in your hands. Would you have her suffer anymore than she needs to do?”
“No. I will go to her now, and see you at supper.” Planting a kiss on the old man’s brow, Vincent left the chamber and went in search of Catherine.
Devin and Mich’ael made rapid progress, heightened by their desire to return home, but also by the excitement of a letter Mich’ael had received from Fabian Francis, showing that he lived in Germany and explaining that he desperately needed to speak with him.
“Should we go before returning to America do you think Devin, it would after all make more sense.”
“Yes, but what about Cathy. She wanted to be included in this.”
“That’s no problem she could meet us in Munich, and the three of us can plot together before we go to see Fabian. Should we tell him that Ignatz is also dead do you think?”
“I was wondering about that. If he does have any people like Vincent, Marie and Gerry there, it may be better for us to have him release them if he knew of the danger that exists. I mean, if he were to know that both Ignatz and Hans were killed by one, we could use it to free the others. Tell him we have a place in America where they could go.”
“Perhaps, and what do you think about that, do you think it would be right to take them there?”
“No, I don’t actually. Not unless these people are as well educated as Vincent, Gerry and Marie. I fear that they won’t be, if Strasser was anything to go b, this guy Francis might be the same. And there is little room for beasts Below.”
“Then what are we to do with them?”
“I can only think of one solution, Mich’ael.”
“And that is?”
“We have to take them to the institute in the Appalachian mountains, and just hope that you are able to purchase it before then.”
“And how am I supposed to do that from here?”
“The same way as the present owners there would in acquiring an institute over here, by letter of course. You have already heard from the agents saying that the asking price was not reached, and that it is still up for sale, so go through the agent, and no matter what it takes make sure that you buy it. Its the only place I know of that these people can go to, and if possible they could be set free in the mountains.”
Mich’ael nodded, “All right I’ll get on to it straight away, and as soon as the hospital say we can leave, we’ll go to see Fabian Francis. I’ll write to him in the meantime, tell him to expect the three of us. I expect you will be Deryl Weston again.”
“But of course, who else?”
*** *** ***
Catherine nodded her head wearily. Sleep evaded her, and she could still hardly take it in, that she was making the trip overseas, yet again. Already after only eight hours apart she missed Vincent dreadfully, but at least she had left with his blessing which had been far more than she had expected when she had first told him of her intentions to go back a few weeks before. Whatever Father had said to him, she did not know, but she was grateful that the old man had altered Vincent’s thinking about things, and they had been able to recapture all their old charm.
Since she had received Devon’s letter to meet him and Mich’ael in Munich, she had been in two minds whether or not to go. The children she knew needed her, especially young Jacob, and it was with tremendous effort that she tore herself away. It seemed a lifetime ago, that she had willingly left him and Vincent that first time.
At least she consoled herself that Vincent had much to do. With the organisation of Father and Mary’s forthcoming marriage, that waited only for the return of Devin and Mich’ael, and now herself, she hoped that once this latest quest was completed, they could all settle down to a normal happy life. Whatever that was.
The plane came into land, and Catherine collected her hand luggage, making her way up the aisle to the arrivals lounge. Going through she was met by a long and loud wolf whistle, and turning to the sound saw Devin grinning all over his face, pushing through the crowds towards her. Dropping her bags at her sides, she hugged him tightly, “Oh Devin,” she told him, “I have missed you so much.” Then catching sight of Mich’ael she embraced them both together, “And you Mich’ael, how well you both look. What I would give for three months rest with someone waiting on me all the time, I could do with a good long lie down.”
“What! Don’t tell me that Cathy, with Vincent around, I should think you are hardly ever off your back.” Mich’ael burst into laughter, and Catherine too laughed out loud, “Devin anybody but you would not have got away with that.” she smacked him playfully.
“I know aren’t I cheeky.” His little boy lost look dissolved any embarrassment she had from his remark, and she hugged him again, “Come on dope, fill me in then, what dreadful deed have you in store for me this time?”
The three of them laughed together, making their way out of the busy airport and into the waiting taxi.
*** *** ***
Fabian Francis met them at the door of his laboratory, his face wreathed in smiles. “I am so pleased you could come to see me.” he told them, as he showed them in. “Please come inside, I’ll fetch you some coffee, or would you prefer tea?”
“Coffee would be lovely.” Mich’ael told him, and watched as Fabian hurried across to switch on the kettle, pour milk into four mugs and put the mugs into the microwave. Once the milk was hot, he added the hot water, and coffee, frothed it up with a fork, and handed them each a steaming mug, and the sugar bowl. He did not speak throughout, but kept glancing and smiling in their direction, as they sat each alongside a desk supporting a sink and Bunsen burners, almost like being back at school again.
Sipping his own coffee, he put down the mug, and began speaking to them all, “I cannot believe that you are here at last. Though I do not know you Mr. Reidel, Ignatz spoke highly of you, also the last time I heard from him, he also spoke highly of you too Mr. Weston.”
“He did?” Devin replied, that came as a bit of a shock, not just that Strasser felt that way about him, but that Fabian had heard from him so recent. Fabian went on speaking quickly, “I could not believe it when James Burton a friend of Ignatz’s in America told me that Ignatz had moved away leaving no forwarding address, that is so unlike him. Ignatz and I have been keeping in touch for years. Save for the fact that neither of us spoke about the experiment, I think each of us suspected that the other was working on it. Still he did not know how far I had gone with it. And neither did I know anything from him. Other than knowing the one he named Marie, had been born. But then I was present at that birth so he could hardly have denied her existence. Though I’m sure had he thought he could have got away with it, he would still have tried. Are you quite sure he left no forwarding address?”
Mich’ael shifted uncomfortably, and looked at Devin, his questioning eyes asking the forbidden question. Devin nodded, they would have to tell the truth.
“What is it?” Fabian asked, seeing their discomfort.
“I’m afraid to tell you Fabian, that Ignatz didn’t actually move away. He was killed by one of the creatures he created.”
Fabian gasped, dropping hot coffee over his lap, not seeming to notice as the hot liquid burned through his trousers to his skin. “Ignatz dead! But that is terrible, how did it happen?”
“We don’t exactly know. He was found decapitated, and mauled. Not only that but the creature had escaped. However, Devin and Catherine here managed to subdue, and dispose of her .”
“I should think so too. What made her turn like that, or was she always wild?”
“She was wild. Ignatz had made plans to terminate his creations, as he realised that after a lifetime of work he was no nearer his dream.”
“So what of Han’s Kogler, how did he die.”
“Same way, he too was killed by one as well.”
Fabian sucked in a breath, “So they really are deadly. I wondered about that. How many did Ignatz produce?”
“Just the two, three with the one that was lost in America. There were others but they were stillborn or died within days of birth, I’m afraid this idea is a lost cause Fabian, and a waste of many good years.”
“I have to disagree. I would have thought so a year ago, but now, well come with me, I have something to show you, you may be amazed.”
Unlocking a door at the other end of the room, that Catherine had assumed to be a large cupboard, Fabian led them into a long corridor, and switched on some lights. Through glass panelling they found themselves looking into a cell, in which a naked creature a little like Geraldine and a lot like Vincent, looked back at them, her body swollen by pregnancy.
“This is number Three. I am very hopeful this time. Come let me show you the photographs from the scans I have performed on her.” He extracted them from a drawer, “You see the unmistakable image of the lion. This one is carrying a cub.”
“When is she due, she looks quite large?”
“That was the urgency, I had hoped Ignatz would be here to share the birth with me, but now if you can stay that honour will belong to you.”
“You call her number three”, Catherine spoke for the first time, “Are the others still here.”
“Yes, but they are unimportant. I need to get shot of them really, they have had their day. That was another reason I wanted to see you, I had hoped there would be a place for them on Sonn Alp, but now...?”
“Can we see them?” Devin asked, knowing it was what Catherine wanted more than anything.
“Of course. Step this way.” Just a few yards further on, Fabian flicked on more lights, and they found themselves looking into another two cells, inside one sat a huge naked male crouched menacingly inside a corner and in the other an older, also naked female, in much the same position. Catherine and Devin stared at the large male. His face was so human, like Marie’s, but his eyes were wild, and his face shielded by a huge mane of tawny hair. He was well over six feet, and very heavily built, but not fat. They noticed his furry hands, and his upper lips raised in a part growl as he saw them watching him.
“Can he talk?” Mich’ael asked.
Fabian laughed, “Talk, no, of course not. Could Ignatz’s?”
“Well yes, as good as you or I.”
“Really, well number one does mimic words, but hold a conversation, no, just guttural sounds more than anything. And the other female the same.”
Devin looked at her, she resembled Vincent, except she being female was lighter set, without the mane, and she eyed him disdainfully.
“Would you like to see them eating?”
“Pardon me?” Mich’ael replied.
Fabian looked at his watch. “Its almost feeding time. Stay there, and watch this.”
He crossed the room and went out through a side door, they could see him as he walked the length of the room along which one wall had the fitted cells. Going across to a large refrigerator, he extracted three sides of beef, and put each upon a pronged fork.
“I don’t believe I am seeing this.” Devin spoke softly, “Its no different to feeding the lions at the zoo. Its barbaric.”
“Inhuman”. Catherine added.
Fabian, oblivious to their feelings, opened a small door, and pushed the meat inside each cell in turn. Then walked quickly back to the exit. Opening the door, he told Devin, Mich’ael and Catherine, “Listen to this. They won’t touch it, until I say.”
Hesitating, he watched them, as their bodies half rose in expectation, then the moment his mouth uttered the word “Eat”, they raced across to the meat tearing it into shreds and stuffing it into their mouths, as if they were ravenous.
“When did you last feed them?” Mich’ael wanted to know.
“A couple of days ago, no maybe three or four. I’ve been busy, and there is no-one else who knows of them but me.”
“That’s terrible.” Catherine cried, unable to help herself, “And what about going to the toilet?”
Fabian grimaced. “Hence the reason for standing behind this glass panel. They stink. I can’t do everything.”
“But these are people, and you wouldn’t treat a dog this way.” Devin told him.
Fabian spluttered, “Pardon me! People you say? Hey take a long hard look, you ever seen people look like that? These are animals, wild ferocious animals, nothing more and nothing less.”
“So what makes you sure the new-born will be anything more?”
“I don’t expect anything more in temperament. Lions are ferocious, it will only be what’s expected, with the difference it could speak like a man.”
“Yet if number one only makes guttural sounds, and looks more human, what chance has one that looks like a lion.” Catherine asked him, her eyes averted from the scene of the bloodied faces of the creatures before her, as they licked the last of the carcass from off their fingers, and chewed on the bones.
“Only a very slim chance, but that’s science, what are we if we don’t at least try.”
“What I don’t understand, is why its all so damn important. Man can talk, man kills animals, makes them extinct, pollutes the earth, and then expects to find out what animals think about all of it. I would think, if sensible intellectual people can see the answer to that, then what animals would feel would be only too obvious, seeing how they are more on the receiving end so to speak.” Devin told Fabian, the tone of his voice sounding as if he were speaking to person who didn’t understand.
Fabian caught the insinuation, “I know what I am doing Mr. Weston, why this could be the breakthrough we have needed, its going to be so exciting.”
“Yet you will not be able to share it. If you did then people would have to know about these three, and those of Professor Strasser’s, so what then will you do?”
“That’s the reason I needed help. I have to get rid of these three. I had hoped they could live on Sonn Alp, I thought that Ignatz could use them. Now that won’t be so, and I doubt you would take them to America, eh? So then there is only one option?”
“And that is?” Mich’ael asked him.
“I’ll need your help?”
“And that is?” Mich’ael questioned him again.
To destroy them.”
“Yes, but not until number three has given birth. I will need your help to dispose of the bodies.”
Mich’ael looked at Devin and Catherine, “What do you two think?”
Catherine and Devin stared at the beasts. They could have no life anywhere. The oblivion of death would be welcomed by all three of that they were certain, still to actually make that decision was not an easy one. Finally, both Catherine and Devin knew the answer by thinking of Vincent and Gerry and what they had suffered and others besides them at the hands of Hades and The’ri-on. They had no choice, and reluctantly they nodded, simultaneously, Devin speaking for them both, “Yes, they have to be destroyed, it would be the kindest thing.” nonetheless, his eyes filled with tears.
During dinner that evening, at the hotel, the conversation was light and strained, and the meal only partly tackled. “Are we doing the right thing?” Mich’ael wanted to know. Catherine toyed with her fork sliding a potato around some vegetables, as if manoeuvring it for an obstacle race, almost as if it were the most important thing in the world, so deep was her concentration. Mich’ael didn’t think she had heard him, until she put down the fork, and looked at him, tears welling in her eyes. “To think, that was Vincent’s half brother and sisters in there, what he would give for a real brother, no offence Devin, and here we are contemplating his death. It doesn’t seem right to take it.”
“I know what you mean Cath, but you saw them, what life have they had, what could they have, do you seriously believe they could be any less animal if given their freedom?” Devin told her, taking her hand in his. “And there is something else.”
Raising her pain filled eyes to his, they asked him what?
“For Vincent, Gerry or Marie, but especially Vincent to see these creatures, would only heighten his fear for the animal makeup of himself. To know how he could have turned out but for the love of people, could do irreparable damage to him, and I wouldn’t want to do that not to Vincent, and know it could have been avoided.”
Catherine nodded slowly. “Yet all this could be in vain. We can’t keep coming back and forth wiping out what others create, can we, whose to say the whole thing won’t start up again. And this unborn cub, what’s to say that a human won’t be thrown in the future to a litter of lions, its terrible to even contemplate.”
“That’s what I am most afraid of.” Mich’ael told her. “You know as loath as I am to say it, even to do it, somehow we must destroy everything that is there, and I mean everything.”
“You mean all three of them, even the unborn?”
“I mean, all three, the unborn, the files, the records and even the man.”
Devin and Catherine gasped, “You can’t be serious, not him too.”
“We have to do. It is imperative that every last vestige is destroyed, only then can we rest assured that it will never be repeated.”
“But what about James Burton?”
“Him too, if need be, I will check him out myself when we get back to New York. Though his letter is very explicate, he only has minimal interest in all of this, and we could write and tell him that it was futile, a waste of time. But he is the least of our worries right now. Would you both be willing to help me do what has to be done here in Germany?”
“I’ll help with the creatures.” Devin told him, “But the man is yours.”
“That goes for me too.” Catherine told him and shuddered, hardly believing she was saying the words, as she helped seal the fate of those that looked like Vincent.
The following day, the three of them, arrived back at the laboratory with heavy hearts. Fabian was waiting for them. “I was almost afraid you wouldn’t return.” he told them honestly. “I thought you may have changed your mind.”
“No, we haven’t but we have had other ideas.” Mich’ael told him. “When we got rid of Marie and Geraldine on Sonn Alp, we also realised the need to destroy all files on them, and we feel that you should undertake this also.”
“Destroy the files, but why?”
“Because having spent years doing this, and destroying the evidence, you don’t want someone coming along and stealing the idea, and saying they thought of it first do you?”
Fabian nodded, “Okay then, but I will just keep some information on disks and lock them in the vault. Perhaps you two men would help me to chose which to keep and come down to the vault with me. You can wait here for us Catherine if you like, and then we will terminate the creatures. I intend to give them a morphine overdose. I have already dug their graves. Actually I have had this done for some time, I’ve been doing a bit a day for weeks, just in case it came to this.”
Left to her own devices for few minutes Catherine made her way straight to the cells. She didn’t like the thought of these creatures having to die, not before she’d had a chance to speak with them. Shutting down hard on the Bond, lest Vincent saw through her eyes, and felt her distress, she opened the door. Putting out a hand to flick on the lights, then pulling it back again equally as fast, as the stench hit her, she used her hand to cover her nose.
Stepping inside she pulled her jersey up over her mouth and nose, and made her way slowly towards the first cell.
Careful to stay well back. The big male looked hard at her, his eyes glinting. Timidly, she lowered her jersey enough to ask him in German, “Hello, can you speak?”
Inclining his head, to listen to the soft voice, Catherine’s heart somersaulted, the action so like Vincent. “My name is Catherine” she told him, “And I want to help you.”
Shuffling forward through the faeces on the floor, making Catherine’s stomach churn, the big male came right up to the bars. “You do understand me, don’t you?”
He nodded. Catherine gasped, then steadying her voice she asked him, “If you had one wish,” she asked him, “what would it be?” Looking along the corridor, she noticed that the two females had also come up to the bars to listen.
“To die.” His velvety voice, so softly spoken, so like Vincent’s broke her heart.
“Then today your wish will come true. Because we cannot bear to see the three of you this way, and we want to terminate your existence.”
“Thank you.” The youngest female told her.
“You are not afraid of us?” the big male asked.
“No. I am married to one such as you, and we have children.”
Something close to a smile crossed his lips. “And these men with you?”
“They are both married to women such as these." Catherine nodded toward to the two women with him, "We live in a secret place, far from society, in America it is safe there. Would you like to live there too? You could you know, if you wanted we could take you there with us?” She asked hopefully.
The three of them looked one to the other, and shook their heads, “No. Once perhaps but not now, the human side of us fights against the animal side you see, and always the animal side wins. It is the animal side that would wish for this freedom, but as for the human side, the side which speaks with you now, this side says no, only the oblivion of death that brings its own freedom is what we wish for.”
Catherine nodded, “Yes, I can understand this. My husband would agree wholeheartedly with that.”
“What is his name?”
“It is Vincent. He has had to fight his animal side for years. Though it has left him now. It dies away you see, being that the life-span of the cat is shorter than the human.”
“But still the cat’s features stay with him?”
“Yes, and he can never be accepted as human. Always these rights are denied him, he has to live in the secret place, away from prying eyes. But you could have this opportunity too, if you wished for it. We could take you away from here.”
Again they shook their heads. “This would be only partial freedom, not much more than we have now, though no doubt we would have dignity. To be forced to live this way, in this filth, is less than human, less than animal. Because we are neither we are less than both. To be free, really free that is all we desire, and this kind of freedom comes only from the oblivion of death.”
“Do you have names?”
“No. We were not even granted this much respect, just one, two and three, and now four is on the way.”
“If you wish it, number four could have the same freedom you wish for.”
“You can do this for us?”
“Then so be it.”
“I wish there was some other way.” Catherine told him, “You have missed so much. You could have so much more than this.”
Shaking their heads, they reached out to her, through the bars, and Catherine a little afraid stepped backwards. “Don’t be afraid, I won’t hurt you.” The big male told her.” She smiled, “That was what your half brother told me the first time he spoke to me.” He smiled, showing broken and yellowed fangs, while Catherine stepped towards him holding out her hand. Their hands met, and he clasped hers in his, “Thank you,” he told her sincerely, “Please don’t fret so, that our lives will be taken, only know that you have made our dreams come true this day, know that without you, this is all we had to look forward to.”
“No, it doesn’t have to be this way. You could live in the mountains, walk in the sunshine, swim in the rivers, you could be free.”
Catherine begged him, holding out her other hand to the older female in the connecting cell. Who took it tenderly, sniffing at her hand, and told Catherine, “No please, if you have the means to take our lives then please, don’t let us live another day like this. We are human beings trapped within bodies that deny us that right, always we will be in prison, even while we had freedom. Please, I beg of you, don’t deny us this chance no matter how much better off you feel we would be living in the sunshine.” She told Catherine, her eyes be-dimming with tears.
Catherine slid her hands out of theirs, and went along to the younger female, whose eyes were also filled with tears. “To think.” she told Catherine pitifully, “That here beneath my heart an animal grows, maybe with the mind of a human, maybe the ability to speak as a human, imagine that kind of prison. Please if you have the chance to put an end to all this, then please, please take it.” Catherine grasped her hand, “I love you.” Catherine told them choking back the tears, “I love you all. And I will never ever forget you, or your courage.”
“If there is a God,” the big male told her, grabbing her hand again, as she made to leave, “then may he bless you for helping us this way. Have courage, Catherine, for our life begins this day.”
Catherine raised the big clawed hand to her lips and kissed it tenderly, “I shall miss you always. And I should like to give you each a name. It would give you all a little dignity at least”
The three creatures looked at her, the big male telling her, “the man leaves the radio on for us, and we have heard names upon it, this is how we learned language, for the man does not know we can speak. If we had any choice at all, we should like to have been known as Dominic, Daniella and Dinah.” He indicated who was who as he spoke.
Catherine nodded, unable to speak lest she broke down in front of them all, and slipped out of the door into the corridor outside where she cried as if she would never stop.
*** *** ***
When Catherine was able to whisper to Devin and Mich’ael what had taken place, they were horrified. “Cathy you could have been killed, or maimed at the very least, what were you thinking of?”
“But they are not like that.” she told them, “Come see for yourselves.” While Fabian set light to his files outside, he no longer needed them anyway, and thought it best they were destroyed, Devin and Mich’ael followed her along to the cells, the stench hitting them so badly that they retched.
Going along the row of cells, Catherine spoke to each in turn, “I have brought my friends, please tell them what you told me.”
In response, the three creatures growled menacingly. Catherine swayed with shock, “No,” she told them, “Don’t do this, these men are my friends, they wish only to speak with you, please it is hurting them as much as me to terminate your lives like this.”
The big male lunged at the bars, snarling ferociously, making Devin grab Catherine’s hand to drag her wordlessly towards the door. “No!” Catherine cried, shaking herself free, and running back towards the cell, “I won’t let you pretend.”
Still the three growled, their eyes glinting with malice. A sob caught in Catherine’s throat, “I tell you Devin, Mich’ael they are playacting, they can talk, they can.” Sobbing afresh, she reluctantly allowed herself to be led outside.
She knew why they had done it of course, but it didn’t lessen the pain that she felt.
*** *** ***
Later in the day, when everything was ready for the termination, Fabian brought the tranquilliser darts from out of the fridge, placing one in each gun. “I propose we dart them first then put them onto trolleys and wheel them to the medical room. We can belt them down, and inject a massive dose of morphine into each one. Then bury them. We will do the caesarean before the last female receives the morphine.”
Mich’ael and Devin nodded. “You won’t need me, will you.” Catherine asked, “I don’t think I can bear to watch.”
“No, we can manage without you, but perhaps you would keep a watch on the young female, see that she doesn’t come around and injure herself fighting against the restraints. If she does then run to fetch me.” Fabian told her.
Watching momentarily through the glass panel, Catherine stiffened, as Fabian turned on a hose through which huge jets of water covered the three beasts, in order to wash some of the fifth from their bodies. Unable to watch any more Catherine turned away and waited as one by one, Fabian, Mich’ael and Devin pushed the unconscious bodies of the creatures out of their cells and into the medical room.
Devin found himself hovering with the syringe full of morphine over the body of the big male, and Mich’ael over the body of the older female. Both took pity upon the lifeless, still dirty bodies, the stench making them want to retch, “How could you let them get in this state Fabian.” Mich’ael turned to him angrily, “This is disgusting.”
Fabian shrugged “They are just beasts. So what.”
Mich’ael looked at him long and hard. Something irritated him about the man, and when Fabian went out to check the pulse of the young female in another room with Catherine, Mich’ael spoke as much to Devin. “There’s something not right here Devin, he seems to have changed his tune since yesterday. Let me have a look at what’s in that syringe.”
Devin handed it to him, and Mich’ael squirted some out, as he did his own. He frowned, “This isn’t morphine. What on earth is the guy up to?”
“I’ll tell you shall I?” Fabian’s voice coming from the doorway, challenged him, “After you have injected it.”
“No”. Mich’ael cried, “Tell us, what is going on...” He stopped as Fabian brought out Catherine through the doorway, a gun held to her head. “Inject them”, he shouted, “or she gets it in the head.”
“Not until you tell us what’s in it.” Devin cried, his voice frantic.
“It makes them wild. After a few moments, they will tear you to shreds. Then I will dart them, return them to their cells, bury the three of you in graves meant for Ignatz, Han’s and yourself Mich’ael, and then the greatest scientific breakthrough, will be mine. All mine and no-one else will ever know."
“You’re mad.” Devin told him.
“Inject them.” Fabian shouted, pulling back the trigger. “I mean it. She’s going to die anyway. This way you get to watch. Before you get your own turn that is.”
Devin hesitated, the syringe in his hand, what could he do, whatever he did the outcome would be the same, they were going to die.
“Inject it!” He screamed, throwing Catherine forward so that she slid to the floor, and continuing to aim the gun at her told them, “Do it now, or perhaps you’d prefer a slow death for your friend here.”
The thought of Catherine being shot again, the agony that brought the last time, made Devon’s hands shake, as slowly he put the needle into the big males arm, and squeezed downwards watching as the drug disappeared inside his body. Fabian’s sinister laugh rang out, “Now you Mich’ael.” Continuing to aim the gun at Catherine, until Mich’ael complied. This done, Fabian stepped back, with the intention of leaving them alone with the creatures, when suddenly a clawed hand from behind flung the gun up and away from him, while another swift blow, knocked him off balance, his body sprawling forwards into the room. Catherine lunged for the gun, before rolling out of Fabian’s way, and darting across to Devin’s side.
The young female, hovered over Fabian, each time he made to get up, she caught him with a blow, that sent him reeling. Blood oozed from the wounds she inflicted, and as he finally managed to get to his knees the young female lunged at him, her claws raking his throat. Fabian staggered, the blood spurting from his jugular vein, and fell to the floor, guttural sounds coming from his blood soaked mouth.
“Did he inject her?” Devin shouted at Catherine, then when she made no reply, he shook her, “Cathy! when you were in the other room, did he inject her?”
Catherine’s eyes wide with horror stared at the advancing female, stunned by the menacing growls coming from the young female’s throat.
“Cathy!” Devin shouted, “Tell me.”
“Yes, yes with a sedative.”
“No it wasn’t sedative Cath, it was a drug that makes them wild, come on we have to get out of here.”
“But we can’t just leave them.” She cried distraught.
“We have to do, in a few minutes they are going to tear us to shreds.” Mich’ael told her as the young female, circled slowly towards them. “Here give me that gun.” Snatching the weapon from her, Mich’ael aimed it at the young female, “Now the two of you get behind me, and walk slowly towards the door.”
Edging along the wall, the three walked hesitantly, while the young female, paced in front of them, her green eyes dark with malice, Catherine could not believe the transformation. The administered drug, brought out the dark one, and she knew there would be no reasoning with the beast. Just as when Vincent had set free Haides and Gerry had battled with The’ri-on, the three of them were now in terrible danger, caught as it were in the lions den. And as the big male and older female slowly came round, and broke free of their restraints, joining the younger female to circle them, they knew that without a doubt, that death was imminent.
“I have to shoot them.” Mich’ael told Devin and Catherine, checking that the gun was loaded, “There is no other way.”
Catherine shook her head, remembering the conversation she’d had with them earlier. Knowing only it was the drug that made them as wild animals. It wasn’t right to kill them. They had so much to live for, and she was certain that in time, having freedom they would thank her for sparing their lives.
“Cathy!, we have to do this. This is no time for sentimentality there is nothing else we can do.” Mich’ael shouted at her, pulling her round from behind him, and shoving her towards the door, “Get out, now.”
Tugging at Devin’s arm, and pushing him after Cathy, Mich’ael continued to aim the gun at the beasts, as he walked backwards towards the door himself. The gun shook in his hand, as he stared at the beasts, who advanced slowly, and Mich’ael pulled back the trigger.
Suddenly the young female crouched down to springing position, quickly followed by the other two, and the three of them roared. Mich’ael knew full well that lion’s roared only prior to a kill, and hesitant no more, he fired at them, one, two, three carefully aimed shots towards the head. Catherine screamed, burying her face into Devon’s chest as his arms came up around her, his own tears falling through tightly closed lids onto her hair, before pulling away to look around the door at Mich’ael.
The beasts staggered and fell, hitting the floor simultaneously. And as Mich’ael lowered the gun to his side, and dropped onto his knees at the side of the bodies, he saw the big male smile, and heard him speak in German, “Thank you.” He told Mich’ael slowly closing his eyes. “Now we will have freedom.” And as the last breath faded from his body, his clawed hand reached out and grasped Mich’ael’s hand and squeezed it affectionately, before the life ebbed away and the hand slid to the floor.
Tears coursed down Mich’ael’s cheeks, “What have I done.” He sobbed looking at the three lifeless bodies. Devin placed a hand upon his shoulder, “No more than any of us could have done. Don’t torment yourself Mich’ael, only know that you have set them free.”
“Yes.” Mich’ael told him softly, “Freedom in death at the price of life.”
Turning he ushered them through the door, “ We have to bury them, then I think we should set fire to the place, no one must ever know what went on here, ever.”
Finding it impossible to walk, Catherine crumpled into a heap onto the floor, and Devin, despite his recent back injury scooped her up into his arms, carrying her out of the room, as Catherine buried her face into his neck and cried softly.
*** *** ***
The tapping on the pipes announced the arrival of the three weary travellers, as they walked slowly towards their chambers, each closing down firmly on the Bonds that they shared with those they loved, each wanting only to crawl away and hide.
*** *** ***
Walking dejectedly, their eyes full of sorrow, and their hearts heavy, they parted company, and went each to his own chamber, where one by one, they lowered themselves brokenly down onto the bed, burying their faces into the pillow.
This was the way Vincent found Catherine, his heart overjoyed at hearing her arrival announced, but his mind confused that she did not want him to know that she was home.
Turning her head as he came into the room, Catherine could not mask the pain in her eyes from him, did not really want to, needing only to seek solace in his arms, to find healing in his love. Crossing to the side of the bed, he looked down at her, tears forming in his eyes, whatever had happened to his beautiful wife, whatever tortures had fed into her mind, he could only guess at, for she had not allowed him any connection to her for many days.
Sitting beside her on the bed, he lifted her hand to his lips, “Catherine,” her name on his lips was achingly tender, “What grieves you so?”
The corners of her mouth twitched, as she fought back the desire to cry again, and Vincent could see from her swollen eyes that she had done a lot of that already. Pulling her against him, he cradled her, feeling tormented as she gave way to silent sobs that shook her, her small body, racked with pain. Vincent sat in silence, his mind full of thoughts, but none could prepare him for the truth of her agony, her pain, and distress.
He cradled her until, her body grew limp with sleep, then settling her back against the pillows, pulled the duvet up over her, brushed her brow with a kiss, and went in search of Devin.
Meeting Gerry and Marie in the tunnel, coming to meet him, his brows drew together at their combined expressions, “What is it?” He asked them.
“We were coming to see Catherine, to see if she can throw any light on whatever happened over there.”
“Catherine is unwell.” Vincent told them. “She is in deep pain.”
Devin too, and Mich’ael”, Gerry told him, her voice full of sorrow, “Vincent they just seem to look right through us, and their eyes... their eyes, its as if they are haunted.”
“Come we must seek Father, obviously they need his help, something is dreadfully wrong. Whatever happened has affected them all the same way, and I cannot begin to imagine what it could be.”
Father came at once, he had heard of their arrival, but thought he would welcome them when they had a chance to see their partners, imagining them all locked in a passionate embrace, and not wanting to be disturbed for some hours. When Vincent, Marie and Gerry stepped through into his chamber, he was surprised, and then as they related to him of the distress with which the three had returned, he grabbed his bag, and hurried towards their chambers.
Devin and Gerry’s was closest. He found his son, laid upon the bed, staring at the ceiling. Vincent drew in a breath, at the sight reminiscent to that of Catherine’s behaviour.
“Devin?” Father spoke softly, “Whatever is it?”
Devin turned away his head, ashamed to let them see his tears, but his body could not disguise it from them, as it shook with uncontrolled sobs.
“Devin, please try to tell us. We want to help you.” Father coaxed him.
Devin shook his head from side to side, slowly upon the pillow, his eyes tightly closed, more in a gesture of trying to rid his mind from some ghastly memory than as in refusal to the request.
Father stood up, “He is in shock. I would say from what you tell me, that Catherine and Mich’ael are too. This is a deep shock, and it will take immeasurable time for them to come out of it. All we can do is be there for them, not pressurise them to talk, and keep them warm.” Pulling up the duvet, around Devin, he told him, “We’re here for you Devin, whenever you can manage to speak of what ever grieves you so. I’m going to give you an injection which will calm you, and make you sleep. You will feel better, when you are well rested.”
Devin doubted he would ever feel better again, as he felt his father push the needle into his arm.
Finding Catherine and Mich’ael in the same sorry state, Father gave both of them the same treatment, then bade, Gerry, Marie and Vincent to return with him to his chamber, tapping on the pipes as they made their way there, for everybody to meet them.
“So what do you think happened Vincent?” Pascal asked, “Surely you know through your connection, surely you all know?”
Vincent shook his head, “For some reason the three of them closed down on our connection, there was something that they wanted none of us to see. Obviously it was so terrible that they were justified in doing this.”
“I agree with Vincent, whatever they prevented Vincent, Gerry and Marie from seeing they did it, for their benefit, for which I am grateful, for if it affected the three of them this badly, we can only imagine what it would have done to their loved ones.” Father told everybody.
“They were going to see if there were more of Vincent’s kind.” Mary told everyone, “They had received knowledge that this might be so. I hate to think what it was they found.”
Pascal nodded, “I can imagine that whatever they found will haunt them for the rest of their lives.”
“Exactly, and the only thing we can do is use compassion, patience and lots of love toward them until such time that they can talk about it. For only until they have, can they start to heal. Bottling it all up, will take the memory inward, causing great suffering.” Father told everyone, “I can only ask that all of you treat them with great affection, and let them do the talking in their own time, but be there for them, such memories may take years before they subside. We can only do whatever we can, and pray that they heal from these great wounds, and can speak about it in time. Remember though, that whatever ghosts haunt them, will likely cause the listener great distress when they finally let it out, so be prepared.”
Later that same day Peter came down and confirmed the status of shock, adding only that with all three sharing the same experience, it would lighten the load, than say if one person unable to voice his fears had to confront it alone. “they have each other, Jacob, let them talk it over between them, give them space to be together wherever they may chose to go.”
Vincent nodded, his heart was heavy, he wanted desperately to be the one to help his wife, but knew the wisdom of Peter’s words. The three of them did have each other.
Over the next few days, Gerry, Marie and Vincent kept a constant vigil over their own partners, as well as one other’s. Quietly reading to them in an effort to break them free of their torment. Feeding them broth, spooning it into their mouths, as if without this help, the three would not bother to seek food. Their actions reminiscent of someone having no feelings whatsoever.
From time to time other people would pop their heads around the door, would say hello, and then leave, while Timmy remained a constant visitor between all three, but especially to Devin.
As the days went into weeks, the three made some changes. No longer absorbed within themselves, they went about their work, almost as if nothing untoward had happened, and slowly began to unwind, yet caught unawares, and one would find them staring off into space, oblivious to anyone being there to see.
One afternoon, as Vincent, Father and Catherine made their way towards Father’s chamber, they met Devin and Mich’ael coming towards them talking quietly between themselves. Catherine let go of Vincent’s hand as she got even with them, and as Mich’ael and Devin held their arms open to her, their own eyes haunted and Catherine sank herself against them, while their arms gathered her close in an embrace. Father and Vincent were stunned, as the three held on to one another and quietly sobbed.
Tears in their own eyes, Father and Vincent gasped, “This can’t go on,” Father told the three, tears coursing down his cheeks, “Come, you must let us help you, please won’t you tell us what troubles you all so?”
Turning tear stained faces towards him, Catherine nodded slowly, “Perhaps, we can tell you Father, but not Vincent, nor Gerry nor Marie.”
Father tucked her arm in the crook of one of his own, and beckoned Mich’ael and Devin to follow, saying “Vincent, you go to see Gerry, and your mother, I will call for you, if and when they feel able to talk to the three of you.”
Vincent brushed a kiss over Catherine’s brow, “Know that I love you, and I am here for you.” he told her, as he turned and walked slowly away.
A little while later, as the three of them along with Father sat in his chamber, a cup of hot tea in each of their hands, Father waited for one of them to speak, not really knowing if he should direct the first question. Catherine looked as though she might take flight at any moment, and Devin found great interest in his feet, while Mich’ael looked straight ahead as if he were far away. Then suddenly he spoke, “You know Devin, Cathy, if we are going to do this thing, I for one, only want to have to tell it once. I don’t know about you two, but I should like to tell it, and leave it in the past, I don’t want to have to speak of it again.”
Devin nodded slowly, “Yes, I think that I would too, how about you Cath?”
“I don’t know that I want to speak about it at all.” The words so softly spoken seemed dragged from her, as her mind encased in the raw hurt tried to come to terms with hearing her mouth utter the things that had happened to them. “But if I have to do, then yes, I too want only to have to say it once. I never, ever want to think on it again let alone speak of it.” She broke down with the last words, sobbing into her hands that covered her face as the memory of Dominic flooded to her mind.
Father came round to hug her shoulders, “If it is that painful, Catherine perhaps you aren’t yet ready to speak of it at all?”
Catherine lifted her eyes to his, “No, perhaps we should, for the nightmares are getting to me now, whereas once it was only my waking hours that were tormented.”
“Same here.” Devin told her, “When we first got back, I found the turmoil of thinking about it all day, exhausted me so much that all I did at night was drift into a welcome deep sleep, void of all dreams. But these last few nights, I keep hearing him in my head, and dream about his freedom.”
Father wondered about that, “Who?” He asked tenderly.
Devin seemed to have forgotten he was there, he took a deep breath, ignoring his father for the moment, “Cathy, I should like Gerry to be here, and I think Mich’ael would like Marie here too, how do you feel about Vincent?”
Catherine nodded, “I need him.” She told them painfully, “I didn’t want him to know of it before, but now I don’t think I can get through this without him. And perhaps Mary should be here also.”
“How would you feel if everyone came.” Father asked them tenderly, “Oh don’t look at me like that, I don’t mean to make entertainment out of this, its just that if everyone were to hear it at once, it would never have to be brought up again. What do you say?”
Mich’ael, Devin and Cathy looked at one another, their eyes asking and answering questions that they seemed unable to voice, slowly nodding their agreement, as Devin replied for them all. “Okay, but can you get everyone here now, I don’t think I could come this far again?”
“I’ll try. Wait here, I’ll send a message.”
It took about three quarters of an hour, before everyone was assembled, each sat somewhere in Father’s chamber. Seeing Mich’ael sat beside Marie, Devin with Gerry on one side and Timmy on the other, and Vincent holding Catherine’s hand, while Jacob sat on his knee, their four babies cradled in other willing arms, everyone was left in little doubt as to why they had been summoned.
Father cleared his throat, “I’ve asked you all here, because as you know, Mich’ael, Devin and Catherine had a frightful experience when they were in Germany, one which they have been unable to speak of. Now they know that they must speak of it, before they can put it behind them for all time. They don’t want to be reminded of it after this meeting, or ever again. Neither do they expect any questions. We ask only that you sit and listen, and help them heal by the giving of your love.” He fell silent, not knowing what else to say, and looked hopefully in Mich’ael’s direction, but it was Devin who spoke first.
Drawing a deep breath he began slowly, “We went along to a laboratory in Germany, run by a man named Fabian Francis. He was a colleague of Ignatz Strasser, and together they had worked on the experiment that brought Marie into the world. Most of you know, the rest of that story, and what went on in Switzerland, and later on Sonn Alp. What we didn’t know, what neither Mich’ael, Ignatz or Hans Kogler knew, was that Fabian Francis, did not destroy the lioness that they had originally used for the purpose, as Ignatz had expected him to do. Instead he crossed her with some of his own sperm, and she brought forth offspring, a male.” Devin paused, trying to think of how to go on, when he was surprised to hear Catherine take up from there. “He was so beautiful,” she whispered. Then went on much louder, “Very much like Vincent, but with a human face, like Marie." A sob caught in her throat, and Devin picked up from there, “Catherine told Mich’ael and I that he could speak, but when she took us to see him, he growled. There was malice in his eyes, and though we wanted to believe her, we found it impossible to do so. We did not realise he wanted us to think that he could not speak, because...” Devin looked across at Mich’ael, at Cathy, pleading for their help. Catherine went on, “because he wanted to die. He felt that if he pretended to be wild and ferocious, then either Mich’ael or Devin would be able to kill him, to put him out of his misery.” Suddenly tears coursed down her cheeks, and she buried her face into Vincent’s shoulder, “Oh Vincent, you should have seen the way he was forced to live. It was pitiful.”
“It was disgusting!” Mich’ael spat, jumping to his feet, and speaking faster and faster he shouted, “they were in cells, naked, dirty and hungry. There was faeces all over the floor, they had nowhere to lie except in their own filth! Their bodies were caked in their own excrement and urine! The stench made us retch. We had to cover our faces to breath, to be able to stand the smell, and they were forced to live like that!” Mich’ael brushed the tears away from his face, he wasn’t ashamed to cry not even in front of all those people and hearing his words there wasn’t a dry eye in the room.
“Fabian asked us if we wanted to see them being fed. That was on the first day, before we knew much about them.” Devin went on, “He extracted three sides of beef from the fridge, and put it into each cell. He made them wait for a command, then when he said it, they lunged forward onto the meat and tore it into shreds, stuffing it into their mouths. He told us he hadn’t fed them in two or three days, then said maybe it was four. But I think it was far longer. The ate it all in minutes, and then licked the blood from their fingers, and gnawed on the bones. It was raw meat, and they were ravenous enough to gorge themselves on it.”
Catherine began to speak again, “There were two females. One aged about twenty-two, twenty-three, the other about eleven or twelve. The younger one was heavily pregnant. Fabian Francis was excited about the coming birth. A scan had revealed that she was carrying a cub, rather than a human child.” Catherine felt Vincent stiffen beside her sucking in a breath. Taking his hand she squeezed it and went on, “The male was about thirty-six. We guessed that none of them were more than children when they had first been used for breeding. When I spoke with them, I asked them if they could have one wish, what would it be. I expected them to say, as did Gerry, to be free, instead, they told me that they wished for the oblivion of death, saying from this they would get the freedom they desired. I tried to change their minds, I told them about Vincent, Marie, Gerry, about my children, about this secret place. I told them they could go to live in the mountains, and be free, but they would not hear of it. Saying only that because they were neither human or animal they were less than both, and deserved to die. They told me that their dark sides often took over, and it was their dark sides that would wish for the kind of freedom I spoke of, while their human side, knew they could never be free unless they died first.”
“You couldn’t blame them Catherine, just imagine what it must have been to live like that. Animals would not expect such treatment, let alone a man, it was degrading. I think I’d want to die too.” Devin told her, quietly.
“But they knew of nothing else Devin!” Rising to her feet she flung the words at him, stunning him with her outburst. “They did not know what real freedom was. All they knew of life was from the radio that Fabian left blaring in there day in and day out. That was how they learned to speak. But they were intelligent. And they had a right to live.”
“Don’t make me feel any worse than I already do Cathy!” Mich’ael exploded, “When it came to the crunch it was either us or them. If I hadn’t of shot them we would not be here telling this now.”
Catherine’s voice softened, trying to make him understand, “But don’t you see, Mich’ael that’s what they wanted you to believe, they wouldn’t have hurt us, okay so that drug brought forth the dark ones, but I believe they could have controlled it more than they let us believe.
They challenged us, knowing you would have no choice but to defend the three of us. They made you do it.”
“Don’t you think I don’t know that!” Mich’ael shouted at her, his face contorted with fury. “When that young one killed Fabian, right there in front of us, I truly believed we were next. Yet when, when...” his voice grew ragged, the sorrow returning to his tone, “when they lay there after I had fired the gun, and that big male, spoke to me, I knew then, as you knew before, that they were playacting in order to get the freedom that they wanted. How do you think it feels to know that? To know I was wrong, to know I should have listened to you, but did not? We may have been able to set them free to life, instead...instead...” Unable to finish he sank back down into his seat rubbing his face with his hands as if doing so would erase the memory from his mind.
“He lay there,” Devin continued, his gaze far away, “and thanked Mich’ael for shooting him, his words were, Thank-you. Now we will have freedom.”
“Then he took my hand in his big clawed one, and squeezed it tenderly, as he took his final breath.” Mich’ael went on slowly. The sorrow visible in every word. He swallowed hard. “It was the first time I had heard him speak. The tone of his voice was just like Vincent’s, only in German. It broke my heart.”
“Yes. I think that’s why it hurt so much. There were these people. These lost and lonely souls, never having come into contact with another human being, save Fabian all their lives. Only a radio for company, and yet when Dominic spoke to me that day, it was as if he could have stepped out from here. He spoke about having courage, and despite what he’d had to endure, he was not bitter, only tired, longing only to die. He had no fear of death, none of them did, they saw it only as a gateway to real freedom. To them, the life I offered paled into comparison against the death they wished for. In all my days I don’t think I will ever forget courage like that.”
“Fabian Francis tricked us into believing that we were to help him terminate them by means of a massive overdose of morphine. He had three graves already dug. Instead he intended that we should die, though the graves were intentionally reserved for Ignatz, Han’s and myself. He wanted to take glory for the experiment, and hoped to kill off any rivals. Instead of the morphine, the syringe contained a drug which when administered brought out the dark one. Fabian’s intention was that the three of them would tear us to shreds. But I tested the drug and saw it was not morphine And when Fabian saw we had realised something was up, he held a gun to Cathy’s head. He said he would kill her if we didn’t inject it into the...the... oh, look I’m loath to say animals, creatures, or beasts, because of you three here, but I am lost for other words to describe them. I’ll call them people, but until I heard them speak, I did not associate them as such.” Mich’ael paused, “then when we hesitated, Fabian threw Catherine to the ground, and told us that she would die slowly, if we didn’t administer the drug. We had no choice, we had to do as he asked.
Shortly after that, the young female came up from behind him, got the gun away from him, and Cathy made her escape, while the young female killed Fabian, and then came towards us, just as the other two began to break their restraints and come at us also. I had no choice, I grabbed the gun from Cathy, and the three of us edged towards the door. When we were close enough to make a dash for it, the young one lunged at us and I opened fire on them, and it was then that Devin and I heard what Catherine had already told us. They could speak.” Mich’ael drew a deep breath. Suddenly he felt so much better. Living through it all again, bringing it out into the open, he began to heal.
Devin took up the narrative, “We had to bury them, and cover the graves with gravel. They had told Catherine some names that they would liked to have been known by, Dominic, Daniella and the youngest one, Dinah. They had only been given numbers by Fabian. And we said prayers for them. And then we made certain that all the files and disks on computer were erased, even those in the secret vault, before we went into the room where Fabian’s body still lay. We heaped a load of paper on to the floor and set fire to it, turning on the gas from the Bunsen burners as we left, closing the door firmly behind us.” Devin paused, looking towards Catherine.
Taking up from where Devin had left off Catherine went on, “We were back at our hotel when we heard the explosion and as we made our way to the airport, fire engines were heading up to the laboratory. It was built in a meadow with no mountains nearby to be damaged by the explosion. It was the only thing we could think of, to completely erase everything that had happened there off from the face of the earth.”
“Now all that remains of what took place there is locked firmly in our minds, and even that we hope to bury eventually, though I for one feel it will always haunt me.” Mich’ael told them, “After all I took away their lives.”
Father cleared his throat, “And you gave them their freedom. What you did, what you all did, deserves commendation. If none of you had gone out there they could still be suffering and you would never have known.”
“That’s much what Dominic told me, when he said, that without our help, this, and he gestured all around him, was all they had to look forward to. He told me not to fret that their lives were to be taken, and only that we should know that in doing so, we were setting them free.” Catherine took a deep breath, “I didn’t believe that then, neither when we first started to speak to you about it, but now I find that I do. Thank you, all of you, for listening, and for letting us speak without interruption, we needed this, truly we did.” Vincent placed his arm around her shoulders and drew her against him. He had no words, for there were none that could convey all he felt at that moment so instead he brushed his lips over her hair, whispering softly, “I love you my Catherine.” Yet for all the words in the world they were the only ones that Catherine, at that moment, desperately needed to hear.
*** *** ***
To be continued in Chapter Twelve - click on 'Next' below:
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