And So It Begins...
Peter held fast to the file that Catherine had handed him and checked his orders a final rime before leaving the tunnels, “So I’m to hand this to Joe Maxwell in person and if he is not available I’m to keep returning until he is. I mustn’t give the folder to anyone else, however well meaning they appear, is that correct?”
From her chair, Catherine smiled, “That’s correct, Peter. Only Joe can be trusted with this, and remember if he asks where I am, you can tell him I’m in the process of purchasing a brownstone, which incidentally you could help me with too, if you’re available?”
“Like I haven’t enough to do?” Peter smiled good-naturedly and bent to kiss Catherine goodbye. “I’ll see Joe gets this don’t worry. Do you really think he’ll be able to help Elliot?”
“There’s no one else I can ask, he has to do, Peter. Otherwise Elliot and Jenny become permanent fixtures down here, and I can’t see either of them or Father taking that in their stride, nor Vincent when he returns.”
Peter smiled, “That’s the spirit, Cathy.”
“What do you mean?”
“You said, when Vincent returns. For the last week you’ve been saying, if Vincent returns. You are becoming optimistic and its great to see it.”
“Well the search parties have been gone for four days now, and though they haven’t reported back, they well know that until there is anything worth reporting, their intention is to remain down there for as long as it takes. They’ve a lot of ground to cover I know, but I feel certain that they won’t return empty handed.”
Peter frowned, “Being a little pessimistic won’t hurt, Catherine, and it might be a protection, especially if Jacob is building up his hopes too.” Catherine disagreed and adamantly shook her head, “Vincent’s alive Peter, and we’ll find him. Narcissa died telling us that, her death mustn’t go in vain. This time next week, you’ll see, Vincent will be home.”
“I hope so, dear.” Drawing himself up to his full height Peter sighed, “Oh well back to the grindstone. I’ll visit when I get a free hour or two, and of course, if Joe needs me to run an errand.”
“Thanks Peter, be well.”
“Be well, Cathy. Be well, little Vincent.” Peter touched the babe’s cheek with one finger, “He’s so beautiful Cathy, and so like Vincent at that age, its truly incredible.”
Proudly Catherine gazed down at her son, “I loved all the stories Father told of Vincent as a babe, felt I’d been there they became so real, but nothing prepared me for how beautiful he must have been. I’m so happy Peter, and when Vincent returns everything will be perfect.” Peter said nothing, he had his reservations and Catherine detected them, “I know you have doubts Peter, but how can Vincent not accept his own son?”
“You’re probably right, Catherine. I’ve just been a doctor too long. Whatever is keeping Vincent from you, I don’t seriously think it’s by choice. Call me as soon as you hear anything, promise?” Again Peter kissed her cheek.
“I promise.” Catherine nodded wholeheartedly. It was difficult letting Peter go, but Elliot was anxious for his help, and Catherine knew Peter would return as soon as he could, “I’ll say goodbye then.”
“Yes, be well Catherine.” Peter waved the folder at her, showing he would not forget and Catherine watched him walk out of the chamber. She’d never be alone, she knew that but sometimes just having someone from her world made all the difference and with Jenny preparing to leave, as needs must, it left only Elliot in the tunnels as her connection to the outside world and as much as Catherine appreciated his company, she also realised that Vincent would not. So the sooner Peter left and saw Joe, the sooner they would get that particular ball rolling, even so Catherine felt quite alone when Peter had finally gone, but then her attention was soon whisked away by the beauty of her son and she smiled down at him, loving him so much. Strange, how before his birth she had insisted that he would be denied nothing no matter his looks, for now all she wanted to do was protect him from everything life might attempt to throw at him. Wrap him in cotton wool and keep him safe eternally. For the thousandth time, she wondered what Vincent would think to their babe, and for the millionth since he had disappeared from her life she wished he were home. “Soon, soon, Cathy.” She told herself, “Soon he will be here, and you will have your happy life.” Bright blue eyes stared back at her, trusting her, loving her, blue eyes so reminiscent of his father’s that Catherine’s heart ached. “Oh little one, I love you so and I miss your daddy so much.”
The baby cooed in his cot, little milky bubbles coming from between his lips, as though he was speaking to her and in his own way he was, and suddenly Catherine made a startling discovery, eyes wide and incredulous she exclaimed, “The Bond! Of course, how could I have forgotten the bond? You can feel him can’t you darling? You’d know where he is!” Elated Catherine began to weave all kinds of fantasies, if her son were connected to his father, then his father was connected to the child…so…”Bring him home, darling…bring him home…” Catherine begged her son as any qualms she might have reserved deep down were obliterated forever. Now she knew without a doubt that Vincent would return, for their son would call him home.
*** *** ***
Jamie, ever watchful and knowing now to keep quite, hoped she had fooled Dominic and Vincent enough while she waited for an opportunity to escape. The way through the rock face was blocked, but she knew that she was not dead for what person could menstruate even during living death? It had been that as much as her staunch belief that had convinced her of Dominic’s lies, and Vincent’s quiet acceptance of them only served to infuriate her further. Even so she let them believe that she was beginning to trust in all that they said, even down to the fine art of asking bold questions amazing herself at her ability to act so well. “So, I remain here, what, until Mouse joins me?” She asked Dominic one afternoon. Vincent was, she could see, discreetly preparing a pack, and she tried not to look too interested as she wondered if he might be intending a visit to the hub.
“If that’s what you want.” Dominic told her. He was no fool usually, but Jamie was a fine actress, and he was beginning to accept that the drug was working on her as well as it had his brother. Forgetting that his brother’s fever beforehand had been a contributing factor to that, and also his brother’s state of mind had not been at its best when he’d found him, Dominic assumed that Jamie had accepted that she had died too.
“I do think a lot of Mouse, but I don’t love him or anything. If I decided to pass on through you’d let me go would you?” Dominic nodded and Jamie was struck all over again by those blue eyes and how he resembled Vincent, even with the normal human face.
“Still, Mouse might be happy to find me here. That’s if he doesn’t die by blowing himself to smithereens.” Vincent overheard the remark and laughed, “Now that would be a possibility, except that he’d probably bring half the occupants of the hub with him if he did, and where would we put every body?”
Dominic chuckled too, but Jamie detected the wary glances that he gave her, a question had arisen out of Vincent’s innocent remark, would Jamie see and act upon it? Jamie wondered about that too, and decided to ask anyway, “That’s an interesting concept Vincent and leads me to ask you Dominic, if we are as you say, the living dead by means of the protein your father produced, why are we here? That is, how come you get to play God?”
From his packing Vincent paused, he had thought of something similar many times over the last six and a half months but had never voiced the question. He was eager to know how Dominic might answer.
“Let me show you something.” Surprisingly, Dominic left the chamber only to return soon after with a bible in his hands. There, re-sitting back in his place before the desk that Vincent deemed as his, since they were in Vincent’s chamber, Dominic opened the bible and began to read…”The day will come when all those in memorial tombs will come out.” Dominic looked up and to Vincent and Jamie in turn, neither commented on the scripture awaiting Dominic’s explanation.
“My father presumed that since people did not come out of memorial tombs then the scripture was pre written for such a time when someone would produce some medication that would make this possible. All scripture is inspired of God, but God is also well aware that there is a time for everything, as King Solomon rightly said. It would not do if cave men were giving the insight to produce motor cars would it, nor rockets to the moon. Their advancement was not such that it would have been permissible to expect their intelligence to have reached those significant goals in time. Therefore such things as the dead coming out of their memorial tombs were reserved for the day when something would be made available for it to occur.”
“Great words,” Jamie told Dominic, “But misconstrued. True, what you say regarding technical advancement, but as to the scripture regarding memorial tombs you have missed something.”
“I have?” Shrewdly, Dominic challenged Jamie to dare say what. Unafraid she told him, “Yes, you missed the part that says, all those in memorial tombs will hear his voice and come out. Who’s voice? Your father’s? Did God think so highly of your father that he had it pre written that great things would be founded by him that all mankind would benefit from? Or did God mean his son that is Jesus? Will there come a time somewhat yet future when Jesus will call upon those that have died and through his father restore them to everlasting life?”
“There are many roads…” Dominic began and Jamie blurted, “And not all lead to God, nor do they lead to the truth and I think you are deluding yourself and whatever this medication is that you use to preserve life, I don’t think it has God’s backing, nor do I believe that you have the right to conserve life as you do. Dead is dead, life is life and there is no in between, Dominic. What does the bible also say? That those in memorial tombs have no remembrance or wages and they are asleep awaiting his promise. What promise might that be, Dominic? A quick jab in the arm with a syringe?” Jamie knew she had gone too far, but couldn’t help herself, she was on a roll, “No! Jesus said I am the way and the life and everyone believing in me will have everlasting life or words to that effect. In essence only those believing in Jesus and his Father will inherit life after death, life I might add reminiscent of what you are trying to achieve here, but not the same. Life back to life, not a state of somewhere between, no sitting on the fence there, Dominic, its either one or the other, life or death.”
“You are speaking in riddles, Jamie.” Dominic sounded furious but he did not move, rather flicked through the pages of his bible eager to present his truth. He didn’t like the way Vincent was hovering in the background, saying little to dispute Jamie’s reasoning, in fact, if truth be told, he appeared a little perturbed by the things she had brought up.
“Its better than speaking in tongues, Dominic. The native tongue that you speak goes contrary to mine. You have created nothing but a mini Babylon here, Dominic and your beliefs are in direct opposition to God, had you of been alive at the time of the building of Babel you would have been among those whom God confused the language. Until that time everyone spoke the same truth, it was only when Nimrod made himself King that things changed. Nimrod wanted to rule all the people and have them serve only him, and in direct opposition to God he had the people build a city with the intention of building a tower so high that it would reach into the heavens. Those people listened to Nimrod, Dominic, because he had made them believe in him and they wanted to be famous and have honour for themselves. But God put a stop to their glory by confusing their language so that they did not understand one another and the tower was never built. People went their separate ways, each with another that they could understand, and so languages came into existence.”
“And your point is what exactly?” Dominic sneered.
“One you’ve obviously missed!” Jamie flared, “Vincent do you understand?”
With a look that clearly said, ‘leave me out of it’ Vincent said nothing, and Jamie turned back to Dominic, though she had never completely taken her eyes off him, he was too devious for that. “My point is this, Dominic, that city, the one called Babel came to be known as Babylon, which means confusion. Now do you get my point?”
Dominic stared at her, he had no answers, but one, get rid of her. She was too clever by far, but the damage was done, he could see the growing doubts in Vincent’s eyes.
“I too have wondered…” Vincent began and for the first time since he had met his brother Vincent suddenly feared him. In his eyes, there was a certain look, one he had seen before with one other - the look of the crazed man Paracelsus shone out of Dominic’s eyes.
“Jamie, come!” Jamie needed no second bidding, she was up and at Vincent’s side, taking his hand and running with him away from Dominic who followed at speed. They knew not where they were going, but Jamie trusted that Vincent might know a way out, and he did, only Dominic had prepared for that in advance and had had the way barred. Reaching the only exit Vincent had known and finding it blocked he turned whisking Jamie around and dragging her blindly through tunnels he had never been, yet strangely even as they ran with Dominic in crazed pursuit, Vincent felt no alarm, it was almost as if someone were calling to him from somewhere deep inside and without question he gladly allowed that one to guide him.
*** *** **
“Where are we going?” Jamie collided with an outcrop of rock, stumbled and fell, Vincent picked her up and dragged her along never letting up until he paused for breath listened and ran onward again. They seemed to be going around in circles, and through tunnels he had never seen before, but always Dominic remained behind them in hot pursuit, comforting though fearful, because Vincent knew by it that his brother knew no other way to head them off. “Not sure, just keep running.” Vincent huffed, “We must find somewhere to hide and think.”
“Here,” Jamie exclaimed, “There!” She pointed upward, where in a vertical shaft in the ceiling above them hung a rope, too far off for her to reach but on Vincent’s shoulder’s a possibility.
“Climb up my arm,” Vincent told her bending so she could manage it. Jamie needed no second bidding, and Vincent hoisted her high enough to reach the dangling rope, stepping away only when he felt certain that she had tight hold. “Go, don’t wait for me!” He called after her as he heard Dominic’s approach, “And be quiet!” He hissed. Understanding at once Jamie swung on the rope not daring to start her climb lest the rock sides crumbled beneath her feet and highlighted her presence in the shaft. Heart in mouth she listened as below her Vincent ran onward and not many seconds passed before Dominic flew by underneath her, his clattering boots against stone revealing his speed of pursuit. Only when the sound of his boots receded into the distance did Jamie begin her climb, holding on to the rope for dear life she meticulously made her way to the top, almost falling when someone above her started to tug on the rope thus helping her up. Too far to fall now, Jamie had no choice, hoping against hope that it was Vincent that helped her and not Dominic, she screamed when a lantern was held to her face as she could not see who it was, and then equally as sudden she almost fainted with relief to hear a dear and familiar voice shouting with joy, “Its Jamie, I’ve found Jamie!” And knew it to be Mouse!
*** *** ***
“So there were two of them?” Father shook his head with wonder. “It all makes sense now Paracelsus just never gave up trying to take Vincent back but then who would? His true son, a man would go to any lengths to have him back, I almost pity the stress John would have endured by it.” Father was genuinely sorry, “If only I had known the whole story.”
He’d been giving Jamie a health check and straightened, “There seems to be no lasting ill affects young lady, and you don’t need me to tell you that you are lucky to be alive, and alive you most certainly are.”
“No, thanks Father.” Jamie told him rolling down her sleeve. All that was left of her trauma were the endless pinpricks where Dominic had administered the drug and whatever her nightmares would reveal, “But it was all so frustrating. Dominic was very believable, well…”
“To some. But you know Jamie, the drug, such as it is, has no real power. The traces of it left in your blood, Peter has told me would have done little but delude you. That’s why it was so difficult to comprehend how Vincent was mislead by it all, and you weren’t until Peter made me realise that Vincent likely wanted to believe it and you did not. But why? That’s the big question here, why does Vincent want to be deluded in that way, why has he allowed it to happen?”
“He was happy to be with Dominic, after all they are brothers, “Jamie shrugged, “But yes I know what you mean. Vincent never hankered for going home, he accepted what he was told without question, like he was happy with his new life, yet it held more restrictions for him than he had known before and it was a life without Catherine.” Jamie looked sympathetically in the recipient’s direction, “I’m sorry Catherine, but though he spoke of visiting you, he never spoke of an intention to return for good. He seemed to be waiting for you to join him, and though he knew of the baby, he was happy for you to leave him behind. There is something though…it might be a fanciful idea, but first is it true that Elliot Burch is here?”
“Yes, he and my friend Jenny sought sanctuary here, and though Jenny has returned above and still visits, Elliot remains until it is deemed safe for him to return above. What is your objective?”
“Do you think that Vincent might believe that you and Elliot are a couple, and that Elliot is the baby’s father?” Catherine began to shake her head, but changed her mind. Jamie had a point. “He wouldn’t do that, would he?” Catherine looked to Father for assistance.
“It is possible, and you well know how he feels about Elliot. You told me yourself that he was always trying to palm you and Elliot off together. It would make perfect sense. The drug that Dominic used has no persuasive powers by itself, but with a heart inclined to accept an outlet that didn’t insist on facing one’s problems, then with something like that Vincent would gladly grasp hold of such a concept rather than face what appeared to be so. And it hasn’t helped to know that Elliot is in the tunnels either, something like that would draw the conclusion that the two of you, for whatever reason, have moved below, perhaps for sanctuary but at any rate together. I think we have to face the possibility my dear that this is why Vincent is staying away. He feels he has lost you to Elliot Burch and it is more than he can bear.”
“Oh poor Vincent.” Catherine exclaimed, “We have to find him, make him believe otherwise. Of course if he could only see his baby, he would know the truth of it, but how long will it be before he gives into the pull of the connection he shares with his son?”
“That’s great!” Jamie exclaimed, “What are you worried about? Vincent can’t ignore something like that, he never could.”
“In effect no, but such a connection would only bring him running if the recipient were in danger, what am I supposed to do, scare my son witless in order to have his father turn up here? I couldn’t do something like that and would forbid anyone else from trying.”
“Have you never heard, my dear, that curiosity killed the cat?” Father added his input. “I think it’s only a question of time now, and Vincent does have his doubts, about his brother at least, unless he ignores them regardless. You say he returned before Jamie, so we may have to face facts that he is in his brother’s clutches again. Do you think you could guide a group down there?” Father asked hopefully.
“Not a chance, we ran in circles, and only thanks to one of Mouse’s strategically placed ropes am I here now. I wouldn’t be able to guide anyone, and you say the way I got there is now blocked?”
“Yes, won’t move, Dominic obviously got to it first.” Father sighed deeply, “I don’t know any other way of getting through rock that thick, I really don’t.”
“I do.” Everyone looked up at the new speaker among them and found that Elliot had entered the chamber, “Forgive me I wasn’t eavesdropping, have no idea what you are discussing, but I heard the tail end of your conversation and I could help if you are needing to blow through solid rock, and I certainly owe you one.”
“Elliot!” Catherine exclaimed with a shake of her head, “Of course! Why didn’t I think of that?”
“The thing you are needing is always in the last place that you look.” Elliot stated with a chuckle, “when it was always right beneath your nose all the time.”
“But you can’t go above, how long will it be before you could arrange to bring us what we will need?” Father asked with dismay.
“How about tomorrow? That’s what I was coming to tell you Cathy, Joe came good, everything is okay again, I can return above.”
“Oh Elliot, that’s marvellous! But I will really miss you.”
Elliot laughed, “If I believe that, I’ll believe anything.” Raucous laughter followed him out, “Write down what you need Cathy, I’ll be packing my things. I’ll call in before I leave, and if there is anything I can do personally just say wouldn’t want the young Mouse man to blow you all to kingdom come.”
“Thanks Elliot, we owe you one.” Catherine told him sincerely, Elliot shook his head, “Oh no you don’t sweetheart, after this we are well and truly even and I cannot thank you enough believe me.”
Catherine watched him go with a song in her heart. She had greatly misjudged Elliot Burch, and one day she would tell him so, but not now. Now all she wanted to do was delay matters no longer, and with Father’s and Jamie’s help began to jot down on a notepad the things they would need to dig Vincent out of the hellhole where his so called brother, Dominic had placed him.
*** *** ***
To be continued in Chapter Thirteen.