A Mother's Diary
By Thomas Mc
Additions: Due to popular requests a few additional chapters have been added to this story (starting with Chapter 5)
. . .
Authors Note: Catherine and Vincent have finally achieved their happy life together, including a home and children, when eight pages torn from an old diary shows up and turns their life and family upside down again. (As always reviews and comments are welcome.)
Note: The diary section of this chapter is based on the story 'Conquerer' by Orianna-2000 and is used with her permission (I have spoken to her about it). I took a segment from the beginning of that story and told it from the perspective of the young girl in question, adding a few extra details here and there to fit the story I wanted to tell. This is not an official sequel to Orianna's story (I added too many details that don't match her original concept eg. name and age of the girl, method of escape etc.). If you haven't read 'Conquerer' I would definitely recommend it to you.
Part 1 - Eight Little Pages
It was a warm Friday morning and Catherine was adjusting some of the decorations in the new nursery. After two long grueling weeks, the first round of court wrangling in the Geonelly case had finally ended successfully. As a reward for all their hard work, Joe had given everyone involved the case Friday off to celebrate. She didn't get that many days off so she was just enjoying goofing off around the house with Vincent and being lazy. She was currently setting up a new cartoon character lamp that Joe had given her for the children's nursery.
She still marveled at how well Joe had accepted it when he had finally figured out about Vincent and the tunnel community. She also knew that Joe's acceptance had come after a very long night of very serious soul searching on his part. He had talked about the spirit of the law versus the letter of the law but the end result was that he was okay with Vincent and the things he had done to protect her. She suspected that part of that acceptance was based on the fact that he was very fond of the person Vincent had been protecting at the time. It also didn't hurt that Joe was head over heels in love with a girl that had been born and raised in the tunnels and was very close to Vincent.
Catherine was thinking about how lucky she was in her friendships when the phone rang.
"Hi Cathy, it's Jenny." . . .
Catherine smiled at the sound of her close friend's voice. "Hello Jenny, it's good to hear from you." . . .
"How are my two godchildren doing? And how's Vincent handling fatherhood so far?" . . .
Catherine chuckled. "The twins are right now with Father doing what six-month-olds usually do when they're with their grandfather; Being spoiled rotten. Vincent is down stairs in the kitchen, cooking something for lunch. I think its grilled cheese with bacon and tomatoes." She paused. "And what is this about godchildren? You do know you're Jewish, don't you?" . . .
There was a longer than normal pause at the other end, then, "Cathy," another momentary pause, "I need to see Vincent, Father, and you together as soon as possible. Can you arrange it?" . . .
Catherine realized now that Jenny's voice definitely sounded a bit shaken up. This surprised her because Jenny had always been so unflappable. Now that she had recognized it she was beginning to worry. "Jenny, is something wrong?" . . .
"I wouldn't necessarily say wrong," Jenny paused. "but it is very important and it concerns all of you. I believe that it is important that the three of you be together when you hear what I have to tell you." . . .
"Hold on." . . .
Catherine set down the phone and hollered down the stairwell, "Vincent, can you come up here?"
Vincent had already started up as soon as he had felt that sharp twinge of alarm through the bond that they shared. "I'm here love, what is the matter?"
Catherine felt her heart leap as she drank in his powerful build and lion like features. Four years and two children together yet he could still take her breath away just by walking into the room. "Can you get Father to come up for dinner tonight? Jenny says she has something urgent to tell us and she thinks we should all hear it together."
Vincent thought for a few moments, "Yes, I think I can manage it, especially if I tell him it's at Jenny's request. You know Father has always thought very highly of her and he trusts Jenny's judgment implicitly ever since the time he first met her when she brought Rosa and her children to us." He reached out to caress Catherine's cheek. "He is also very aware of how much we all owe her since that time she was able to lead Detective Bennett and myself to you when Gabriel kidnapped you." He nodded. "I'll go down right after lunch. We should be back well before dinner."
"OK." Catherine picked up the phone.
"Jenny, can you come over for dinner around six?" . . .
"Sure Cath, I'll be over as soon as I get out of work. Bye." . . .
"Until six then. Bye." . . .
Catherine slowly hung up the phone, looking at Vincent with a hint of concern in her eyes. In answer to the question she knew Vincent was about to ask, she replied, "I don't know what that was about. She just said it was important. I could tell by the sound of her voice that whatever it was it had her pretty worked up. I've known her a long time and I don't think I've heard her sound like that more that a couple of times." She took Vincent's hand. "She said that there wasn't anything wrong but that it was very important."
Lunch was a little more solemn than usual as they both mulled over the implications of Jenny's call. After lunch they were no wiser as Vincent left to fetch Father and the twins, while Catherine went out to get provisions for a dinner for four. All the time she was shopping her mind was racing around in circles, trying to make some kind of sense out of Jenny's call. The more she thought about it the less sense it made. By the time she started home she had given up trying to figure it out. What could be that important yet not be considered anything necessarily wrong.
Catherine had already started on dinner by the time Vincent got back with Jacob and the twins. She couldn't resist going up and looking on over his shoulder as Jacob settled the babies into the two cribs that Cullen had made for them. The cribs were identical except one had a Winterfest candle carved into the headboard and the other had a rose. They were even equipped with rather ingenious automatic self rockers that Mouse had designed.
Little Jacob, like his father Vincent, looked like a cross between a human and a lion. In fact Father had said he was the spitting image of Vincent at that age, except that he had more reddish brown in his fur and his eyes were Catherine's emerald green. Little Jennifer looked just like Catherine's mother, except that her hair was a thick rich golden blonde like Vincent and her eyes reflected his rich sapphire blue.
Catherine remembered how Doctor Peter Alcott had talked a lot about genetics and X and Y chromosomes, but basically his theory was that all of Catherine and Vincent's male offspring would inherit their father's unique physical traits and the female offspring would take after their mother. He also believed that only the males would carry the genes that could produce someone like Vincent. Only time and more offspring would tell. That concept, in particular, brought a shy smile out in her. She found it amazing that she now was thinking in terms of additional children and even, possibly, grandchildren.
Finally the twins fell asleep and everyone moved downstairs. There was more speculation about what Jenny might want to talk to them about but no one could come up with a rational explanation for her rather mysterious hints.
Jenny showed up just as the food was ready to be served. She refused to say what this gathering was about until after dinner. "I'm hungry and I just think it would be better to talk about this after we've all eaten." She looked over at her purse then back at them. "This could be a very long night."
The meal was filled with standard mealtime topics, but the undercurrent was incredible. Everyone could feel the tension that was so thick you could cut it with a chainsaw and they all noticed that Jenny kept glancing at Vincent with an almost unreadable expression on her face, as though trying to decide what to say or do. - Catherine noticed that Jenny seemed to be having difficulty concentrating and often seemed to lose the thread of whatever topic they were discussing. She also noticed that Jenny several times glanced over at her purse and that she was drinking a little more of the wine than her normal rate of consumption. - Vincent could sense that her emotions were in great turmoil but concern, uncertainty, hopefulness, and amazement seemed to dominate with a bit of worry creeping in. He also felt an occasional flash of sympathy whenever he saw her glancing at her purse. - Jacob noticed that Jenny kept looking over at Vincent with a speculative expression. He also noticed that she seemed unusually fidgety.
The three of them were being overwhelmed with curiosity but until she was ready to enlighten them, they could only speculate. Vincent suspected that the it must have something to do with the tunnels or the tunnel community. Catherine had decided that Jenny must have found out something important about one of the denizens from Below; Possibly Naomi, since all three of them had become very attached to her. Jacob had just about concluded that the big mystery had something to with Vincent. He was a little afraid that maybe someone important had seen Vincent during one of his excursions Above.
When the dinner was over Jenny suggested they move into the living room and get comfortable. After they were seated, Jenny began pacing back and forth in front of them for several seconds, trying to organize her thoughts. She stopped and took a deep breath. "Ok. Here goes. I've been going over this all day trying to decide exactly how to tell you about this . . . development. When I first found out about it I couldn't decide which of you I should tell first. Finally I decided that the only thing was to tell all three of you together. I just hope I can tell this right."
Jenny paused considering her words, took a sip of her wine then, with another deep breath, she plunged in. "We have a young co-worker that has been with us for a little over three years. His name is Dennis McCormick and he works in my department as a proofreader, specializing in fantasy and science fiction. Dennis is twenty-four years old, has no siblings, and this last year his father died in a car crash. He was hit head on by a drunk driver. His mother didn't like living alone so he invited her to come to New York to stay with him. He told me that it took a lot of convincing to get her to come to New York but he finally talked her into it. She had been living in Arizona for the last thirty-four years."
Jenny paused to take a sip of her wine. "This morning he told me that while helping to unpack his mother's belongings he came across what at first looked like some pages, written in his mother's handwriting, that had been torn out of a diary. When he looked more closely it turned out to be part of a story she had written. He wanted to know if we could find a ghost writer that could flesh it out and turn it into a sci-fi thriller story that we could publish for her."
At that point Jenny reached into her handbag and pulled out some very old, hand-written, pages that appeared to have been torn from a book. She glanced down at them for a second then continued. "After I read this I knew that I had to bring it to you. I think after you hear what's written on these you will understand why. There are only eight pages and the beginning is missing so it starts somewhere in the middle of the story." As the three leaned towards her in rapt attention they could see the neat faded handwriting on the loose and torn pages as Jenny cleared her throat and began to read.
. . .
... of being tied to some kind of hard cold table and tormented by terrible pain inside my belly. Finally I snapped out of it. The pain was gone but I felt an odd wrongness around my middle.
I had no idea what Julian had done to me. All I knew was that I was now a prisoner of my employer and my life had become a constant nightmare. Every few days Julian and some of his goons would drag me into some kind of lab, strap me to a table and do all kinds of strange medical things to me.
For weeks all I thought about was escape. Several times I tried to get away but Julian had too many guards and the wall around the place was too high for me to climb. I never got very far and Julian always came up with horribly painful ways to punish me for trying.
I had been there a couple of months when I realized that I was pregnant. Several weeks later I found out that Julian only wanted the baby and I was to be eliminated after it was born. I was in real trouble and I couldn't figure any way out. I kept wishing that I had paid more attention to my gut feelings when I first answered that advertisement of his. I should have left that first day and never gone back, but I was seventeen and I had desperately needed a job.
Once I knew I was pregnant I quit trying to escape. I decided to lay low and I just watched everything that went on in that house waiting for my chance. A couple of times I was even able to cause some little disasters without anyone knowing I was involved. After each accident, people involved would disappear. I had overheard some of the people there say that if Julian was unhappy with you, he didn't fire you, he terminated you. Permanently. I felt guilty about this until I convinced myself that anyone who worked for that evil man deserved what they got. Besides the disasters made them all jumpy and I hoped that jumpy people would get careless.
After several months when I was getting close to my time I finally got a break. Most of the people at the house came down with the flu but they were all so terrified of Julian, they just showed up for work, sick or not. A few months earlier Julian had made it clear that being sick was not acceptable and would not be tolerated. I had even overheard one of them say that this flu was caused by something that Julian had done. Whatever the cause, It gave me the opening I had been hoping for.
So I watched and waited and prayed that I didn't get sick as well. Finally, after a couple of days, I got a moment when everyone in the area where I was being kept was ether dozing in a corner or in the toilet or puking in some trash can. I was ready. I used the oldest trick in the book. I stuffed everything I could find under the covers so it looked like I was still there. I just walked out with nothing but the clothes on my back, two thin robes and a light coat that someone had left on the coat hook by the side door. I was hoping that everyone would be tied up in their own misery for a while and I would get ten or twenty minutes before they thought to check up on me. I knew that anyone Julian decided was responsible for my escape would disappear like the rest. This gave me a momentary twinge of guilt. But if I stayed, I knew that I would be dead by tomorrow, because I was already starting to have contractions.
The cold hit me as soon as I got out of that house. I ran as fast as my pregnant belly would allow me. When I reached the wall I followed it to the gate. My luck continued to hold. The smaller side gate was unlocked and the guard was busy throwing up behind the guard house. Just beyond the gate were several apartments. When I reached them I didn't try to stop there for help. I had already made that mistake once before. I knew most of them worked for Julian so I just stole one of their cars. I had only lived in the city for a short time and I still didn't know my way around. I intended to drive straight through the city and just keep on going southwest till I found a safe place to stop. Unfortunately, things started to go wrong about the time I reached the middle of the city. First my water broke as I was passing Central Park. It wasn't my car so I just ignored the mess and kept on driving. Then I found myself on a traffic circle. I must have gone around it twice before I just picked a street that appeared to head away from the park. I thought if I just headed straight I would eventually reach the edge of the city. Then I ran out of gas right near a place that I think was Madison Square Garden. I was barely able to keep it running long enough to pull into some kind of loading dock. I left the car behind and continued south on foot sticking to what little cover I could find. The few people that noticed me tended to avoid me. They probably thought I was some kind of street person. I was unkempt, stumbling and soaked from the waist down, but I had to keep moving.
I finally wound up in some dark alley. By that time I had no idea where I was and I was too tired to think. Every time I breathed I made clouds in the cold air and my wet clothes only made the cold worse. By now I was so cold I was shivering violently, which didn't make the contractions any easier. I knew I shouldn't stop but I was cold and hungry and the contractions were coming faster and harder. If Julian's men weren't out looking for me, they soon would be and he had contacts all through the city. I saw headlights at the end of the alley so I hid in the shadows behind a dumpster. Just at that moment another contraction hit me. The pain was almost more than I could stand. I bit down hard on the sleeve of my coat to keep from screaming. The car passed the alley and was gone. I realized that I was now sitting on the ground next to a bunch of garbage bags but I was too tired to get up.
I knew I had to find shelter soon but I had no friends or family that I could go to for help. I had only been in New York for three months when Julian had imprisoned me. I had run away from an abusive step father two years ago and there was no way in hell I would ever go back there.
Julian had a lot of wealth and influence. I knew that he would be checking all the hospitals so I couldn't go there. I also couldn't go to the police because I knew he had several of them in his pocket. If I was found anywhere in the city, Julian would find out and I would be caught. I knew that I needed to keep moving but I was so tired and my whole body ached. I tried to get up but another contraction hit and all I could do was crumple to the pavement as the contractions just kept coming.
The contractions suddenly stopped and I felt the need to push. The baby came out so soon it took me a second to realize it was over. I picked it up and held it close to my chest to try and shield it from the cold. Finally I looked down and I got my first good look at it. A shiver ran through me that had nothing to do with the cold and I cried out as I finally realized what that evil man had done to me. Its face was more cat like than human. It had claws where its fingernails ought to be. Its body was covered with a thick fur. It looked like a cross between a baby and a lion cub. It wasn't crying and it appeared to be having trouble breathing. It was getting weaker every second as I sat there and held it and I didn't think it would survive for very long. I was very afraid of being caught but in a way I felt drawn to this creature. It was a monster but it was also my child. I had carried it inside my body for months and given life to it. But now it looked like it was already dying and I could get away a lot easier if I didn't have it with me. I still needed to make it out of town. I started crying, both for the tiny monster as well as for myself. It was just so damned unfair.
I was scared, alone, and I had no idea what I was supposed to do. I remembered something about tying and cutting the cord so I found a piece of string and tied it around the umbilical cord and then I used a piece of broken glass to cut it. I was trying to figure out what to do next, then the afterbirth came. I picked it up and tossed it in the dumpster. I felt I had to hide the evidence. As I look back now, I don't believe I was thinking too clearly at that time.
I knew Julian would have his contacts looking for a pregnant woman, or else a woman with a newborn infant. If I was caught, I would die and the poor creature would be left to be poked and prodded and experimented on. Looking as carefully as I could through blurry eyes, I could barely detect any breathing. I wasn't willing to leave the poor thing exposed to the bitter cold. Even if it was dying, it was still my child. I looked around the dark alley. I could barely make out the word 'HOSPITAL' stenciled on the rusty and dirty side of the dumpster I had hidden behind. I thought maybe I could find an old hospital gown or maybe some sheets, but all I could find was some torn towels. I wrapped my baby in the towels. Then I checked him again and he was no longer breathing.
For a long time, I just sat there holding my dead baby in my arms and cried. I knew I had to get moving but I just couldn't bring myself to let go. I don't know how long I sat there crying over my poor dead child. Even today, a feeling of profound loss overcomes me whenever I think about that lost child of mine. After a while, I heard some voices coming from the far end of the alley and I knew I had run out of time. I quickly placed the little body where they wouldn't find it, in the pile of garbage stacked next to the dumpster. Better it should lie peacefully in some anonymous trash dump than be dissected and experimented on by the likes of Julian. I said a short prayer for the poor little creature's soul as I staggered away from there. Hugging the shadows against the wall, I adding a final request to my prayer that I would not be seen as I reached the corner of the building.
When I rounded the corner I stopped and looked back. I saw three street people approaching the alley. There were two men and a woman walking together. They passed under a light and I could see them very clearly. One man was very tall, the other man was shorter and was using an odd looking cane and had an obvious limp. The woman was pretty and was walking arm in arm with the tall man. They looked like they might be in their mid-twenties. They were dressed like street people but, the strange thing was, they appeared to be well groomed and too healthy to be homeless. I could just barely catch occasional snatches of their conversation and I did hear that the tall one was named John and the lame one was Jacob. I never did catch the woman's name.
I don't really know why I kept watching them for so long, but I just couldn't help myself. Even today I can still picture the three of them clearly. As they got closer I thought the woman may have heard me because she had stopped and was looking in my direction and listening intently. I decided to get out of there before I was discovered. I started crying again as I headed south through the city. My baby was gone, my whole body hurt, and I was cold and exhausted. I wasn't even sure where I was or if I was still going the right direction. I was crying so much that I could barely see where I was going. I was stumbling around like a drunk wino, and I knew I wouldn't last much longer.
After what seemed like an eternity of stumbling from one corner to another, I finally came to a bridge just as the sky was beginning to get light. The bridge looked to be over a hundred years old and vaguely familiar. All I knew was that I was finally headed out of the city as I started across. I had reached a spot somewhere near the middle of the bridge and I had begun thinking that I might just make it after all when the last of my strength finally gave out and I could go no further. Blinded by the sun in my eyes and weeping in anger, fear and despair, I sank to my knees. That's when ...
. . .
After a several seconds pause Jenny cleared her throat and continued, "That's ..." she sniffed once. "That's where it ends. The bottom of the last page is torn off." She sat down heavily in the chair opposite her stunned audience, completely drained emotionally.
Continued in part 2
'Beauty and the Beast' and its characters are owned by Witt-Thomas Productions and Republic Pictures. No infringement on copyrights is intended. This story is presented merely for the enjoyment of fans. Original concepts and story elements may be used by other authors as long as appropriate credit is given.