Exit Staged Right
by Thomas Mc


Author's Notes: This story is a little bit different from anything else I have written before. It is a stand alone story and not part of the same timeline as all my other stories. The basic premise is not really new. I've seen it done with other TV shows but I haven't seen it done for this one, though I'm sure I'm not the only one to think of it. - - One important point: This is actually two closely related stories combined. The odd numbered Chapters make up one story and the even numbered chapters make up the other story. I hope you enjoy it and feel free to comment.


Part 1-A

Morning was rapidly approaching on what had been another long tiring, fruitless, night of searching. For months now he had relentlessly scoured the city for his beloved Catherine. He had been told that the police had downgraded her case and had stopped looking but he refused to give up. Now more than ever he mourned the loss of the special bond they had shared. Once he would have known exactly which direction and how far away she was – now all he could do was comb the city and hope he would stumble across her or a clue to her whereabouts.

Vincent leaned wearily against the solid rock tunnel wall, exhausted and dispirited. As he closed his eyes and was about to push himself away from the wall, he was distracted by a ringing in his ears that was rapidly getting louder. Suddenly a wave of dizziness swept over him, leaving him disoriented and weak. He started to slide down the wall as he felt his legs give way underneath him.

As the dizziness and confusion continued to plague him, he became aware of three things simultaneously: The rock wall he had been leaning against had shifted slightly beneath his weight; It was a lot brighter than it should be in these tunnels – bright enough to see light through his closed eyelids; And someone was shouting above the persistent ringing.

"Cut! ... That was perfect, Ron, just the right amount of emotion." There was a pause, then a low babble of many voices. "OK Kill the lights." The brightness went away as the shouter called out again. "OK everybody, take thirty, then lets get prepped for the scene twenty-three 'over the shoulder' pick-up with Linda and Ron right after lunch. Linda, honey, are you ready ..."

The shouter was interrupted by Catherine's worried voice. "Ron ... Ron, Are you alright?" He felt a touch on his shoulder and, opening his eyes in surprise, looked up to see Catherine standing over him her hand lightly touching his shoulder. "Robert, something's wrong with Ron." There was a hint of concern in her voice. Another wave of dizziness, ringing and confusion swept through him and he closed his eyes, trying to get his mind to focus. He had to be hallucinating. He felt his shoulder being shaken. He opened his eyes again and saw Catherine kneeling down beside him, concern growing in her eyes. "Ron, look at me, what's wrong?" He shook his head, still trying to clear the confusion that kept threatening to overwhelm him. Why was she calling him Ron? He saw her turn to the stranger standing on the other side of him. "Robert, help me get him to his trailer." For a moment he felt like he was being enveloped in a formless fog. He shook his head, trying to clear it to no avail.

The stranger barked out, "You two, come help us get Ron to his trailer!" Two other strangers came up and lifted him to his feet. "It'll be OK Linda, we've got him. Come on." With Catherine in the lead the strange men started half carrying him away from the incomplete tunnel wall. His head was swimming but he could sense no hostility or menace. In fact he was aware that everyone was definitely concerned for his welfare so he relaxed and let them help him. Though his rubbery legs were unable to support him unassisted, at least he was able to reduce the load on the two strangers that were trying to assist him.

As he began to take notice of his strange surroundings, he saw bits and pieces of his world scattered haphazardly around in what looked like a very large warehouse. They were leading him away from one side of a twenty foot section of the tunnels. Ahead and to the right was his chamber split in half and with many lights where the ceiling should be. To his left was Father's library chamber with one wall missing and, again, many lights in place of the missing ceiling. Nothing made sense and he was finding it difficult to think through the swirling incoherence of his mind.

Vincent was beginning to feel just a bit panicky. First the dizziness and weakness and now hallucinations. Was the sickness coming back? It couldn't – not now when Catherine needed him the most. He had to fight it, get control – otherwise, he would be unable to help her, or even search for her.

Nothing made any sense. He glanced ahead at Catherine's back as she glanced over her shoulder at him, worry plainly visible on her face. She looked real enough but how did she get here and where had she been?

He was taken through a door into some kind of parking lot. Above the mid-day sun was shining down and he felt the beginnings of real panic. This was wrong – he must never venture Above during the day. There was too much chance of being seen. He tried to struggle free, to turn back, but he was too weak and uncoordinated to be effective.

"It's alright, Ron, calm down." Catherine was admonishing him. "The scene can wait. We'll go back and shoot it when you're feeling better." There was no doubting the definite concern in her voice.

Catherine and the strangers were leading him to some kind of trailer. He was still having trouble concentrating. It felt like his mind was stuffed with cotton and the ringing in his ears would not go away.

He felt them helping him up the steps and through the door. The next thing he was conscious of was them lowering him onto a soft couch.

As he closed his eyes he heard Catherine's voice. "I'll stay with him. You go get the doctor."

There was a short conversation, too low to hear through the strange ringing in his ears, then he heard someone exit the trailer.

He heard Catherine's voice again and opened his eyes as his senses finally began to clear. He got a faint echo of her emotions, that grew rapidly stronger as he stared at her. The ringing and mental confusion were dwindling just as rapidly. He was shocked as he realized that Catherine was pregnant. Then he looked closer, as his sense of her grew sharper, and was shocked again. It was her face and her voice but this was not his Catherine.

Vincent rubbed at his face, trying to scrub away the last of the confusion that still continued to swirl around in his mind. The not-Catherine held out her hand in warning as she spoke. "Ron, don't ... " As he looked up in response to her words, she jumped backwards, her eyes becoming wide open in surprise and fear as she bumped against the opposite wall. "You're not Ron!" Her hand came up to her mouth, her eyes as round as saucers. "Oh my Lord, your real!"

Continued


'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.