A LIFE LESS ORDINARY
Author's Note - This is the entire story of Catherine and Vincent told through Vincent's Journals, interwoven with a modern story, rated G.
Summary – As the end of his life approaches, Vincent gives his most treasured possession to his granddaughter…his journals, with one condition, that she read them to him first.
Art by Chandler (Tunnelbrat) – who was so very gracious to allow me to use her drawing, many thanksJ.
Poem 'Recompense' by Robert E Howard
'I have not seen the horsemen fall before a hurtling host.
But I have paced a silent hall where each step waked a ghost.
I have not kissed the tiger-feet of a strange eyed golden god,
But I have walked a city's streets where no man else had trod.
Cate was brought out of a deep sleep when she felt a hand on her shoulder, shaking her.
"Father wants to talk to you." Her father Jacob said, his face drawn and his eyes worried.
"Is he worse?"
"He is … asking to see you." Jacob said softly.
Cate threw on her robe and slipped into her boots and followed her father to Grandfather Vincent's chamber.
Vincent was sitting up in bed with thick pillows behind him. He looked very ill indeed.
"Grandfather …" Cate whispered.
"Catherine, come sit." He patted the quilt beside him; and she sat, taking his large hand.
"What is it Grandfather?"
Vincent had begun to experience fevers and weakness again and had been ordered to bed by the tunnel doctor a week ago. However, the uncontrollable rages he had suffered with these episodes many years ago were not in evidence. Thanks to Catherine's love. He was now white haired but he still appeared strong and vibrant. The tunnel doctor could find no reason for this illness, and everyone in the tunnels was worried.
"Little Catherine. You are so like my Catherine," he murmured, lifting the hand, now covered with white hair, and cupping her cheek; she had heard it all her life. She smiled tolerantly. She preferred to be called Cate, but her grandfather always called her by her full name. It was something he did with everyone. "You've told me that all my life, Grandfather."
"Yes," he whispered, with a far-away look in his eyes.
She had grown up in the tunnels with Vincent as leader, teacher, advisor and beloved father figure; and any thought of losing him was terrifying.
She knew him well enough, however, to realize that Vincent understood much more than anyone suspected about his condition; but she was desperate to keep the illusion. "Every moment I spend with you is precious, Grandfather. That you wanted to see me was cause enough for haste. But why did you call for me?"
"I have something to ask you Catherine, and something to give you." He lifted a hand as he spoke. "In that trunk, there is a wooden box. I want you to bring it to me."
With a curious look, Cate saw the knowledge of his mortality in Vincent's eyes – and the determination she knew so well. He had made up his mind, and nothing would sway him. He would do what he planned regardless of what others thought. She went to the old wooden chest that had been in this chamber for as long as she could remember. It represented a treasure trove to the many children who had come here in the past. To be permitted to open Grandfather Vincent's chest was a rare and special occasion. So with great reverence, Cate opened the lid and looked down at the dark wooden box she had seen only a few times before, and reverently lifted it out. It was lacquered rosewood and looked Chinese. She had often wondered if one of the helpers from Chinatown had given it to him at some time. It was heavier than she expected. "What's in here?" she asked with awe.
"My journals." He said simply
"Your journals?" she couldn't believe his words.
"Yes. I want you to have them. They are from the beginning, when Catherine and I first met – and loved."
"You want me to have them?"
"Yes, because you of all people will know what to do with them. Our love story must not be forgotten, Catherine."
"What do you want me to do with them?"
"Firstly, I want you to read them to me … and then they are yours to do with as you wish."
"But … these are your private thoughts I can't…" Cate protested again. She knew that this was the final act of a dying man, and she felt her eyes begin to tear.
A gentle smile touched his lips, and he cupped her cheek with his hand. "Catherine, I have nothing to hide. I have lived a long and blessed life. Those I have loved have gone before me, and soon it will be my time. I am ready. These journals, like you, are our legacy. I am not afraid, and Catherine would be pleased."
The tears fell, and she knew he saw them; but now she didn't try to hide them. She placed the box on the floor beside Vincent's bed and knelt, opening the lid. It was filled to the top with books in two piles. Some were simple but well kept, others leather-bound and beautiful.
She looked down at the books. She had often read to Vincent when she was young. He had once said how much she read like Catherine before her, and Cate had been flattered. Now she was completely overwhelmed that he would ask her to do this. "Grandfather?" she asked.
"Read to me Catherine, the good and the bad. Remind me of how it was with my Catherine," he murmured. "Please read to me of the most precious days of my life."
She opened the oldest of the journals, a small black, hard covered tome, and noticed that at first the entries were brief. There would be a few words on a page, a gap, and then another entry, which was no doubt another day, or perhaps the first opportunity or desire Vincent had had to write. At first the handwriting was clearly that of an adolescent, but neatly written; and then over time the writing improved and became the smooth script that she had come to know so well as that of her grandfather. None of the entries were dated, but it was clear by what was written that some time had passed between each one.
As she began to read this first book, Cate felt very close to first the boy and then the man who had written each word, and after a few words she could even hear his voice speaking instead of her own. She read the first entry and was touched by what had been written there. It seemed at first as though Vincent would only write in the journal when something touched him deeply or he was concerned for a particular person, but in time the entries became more frequent and more detailed
For Vincent the memories flooded back, and he listened to his own words spoken in Catherine's voice; and for the first time in many years he allowed himself to dream…
I find it hard to write this first entry. Father says that I should place my thoughts here and that in time it will become easier, but what do I write? This journal is to help me whenever I find something bothering me, something confusing or hard to understand or simply to express my feelings in words for myself alone. I hope Father is right. I have so much within me that I have no name for, about myself …and Lisa. I miss Devin so much. His memorial was difficult for all of us, but I think Father most of all. It was always to Devin that I could tell all my secrets and feelings. He would understand; or if not, then he would tease me lightheartedly and my fears would soon pass. Now there is only me.
She is gone, and I know it is because of me! Father denies it, but I know the truth. I hurt her; and he sent her away, to protect her from ME! No matter what Father says, I will always know that I am responsible for Lisa leaving the tunnels.
I cannot sleep. I am afraid of …the dreams… but I can't tell Father. I'm restless, and I have such terrible thoughts. I feel as though I am being torn apart from within. There are two voices in my mind, and they are contradicting each other. At one moment I'm sure of who I am and at peace. And then suddenly, I have so much doubt and confusion whirling within me that I can hardly bear it; and I want to scream my frustration to the very walls until they shatter. What am I to do? I wish Devin were here…
Cate looked up from the page. Vincent was lying with his eyes closed. When the silence grew between them he turned his head and his blue eyes opened.
"I am not asleep. Please keep reading."
"But Grandfather, this must be painful for you to hear."
"It was a long time ago, Catherine, and I wish to be reminded. Please go on."
But before she continued, he added, "And Catherine, if you have any comments or questions, please feel free to voice them."
"Yes Grandfather." Cate repeated as she began to read again.
It's over. Father says I am well again. But to know that I was so ill that I appeared to die, before mysteriously reviving… frightens me. What was it? What happened to me? Father does not know and that frightens me even more. Father looks so pale, but he says I must not worry. I pray that he is right, and such a time will never come again. I know that this was something brought by that other part of me, the part everyone sees but does not mention.
I remember very little of that time. I try to sleep, but I remember the dreams – those terrifying dreams. I'm still fearful of sleeping. The sound of Father's voice reading to me was a light in the darkness; and if I try very hard, I can still hear him and it helps me to fall asleep.
Winterfest has always been a special time for our community, but I will remember this year as the most special of all. All my life I have watched with awe as the strongest men in the tunnels lifted the heavy bar from the huge doors and then pushed them open. And I have dreamed that perhaps one day I might be a part of this very special task.
Tonight, as I stood in the crowd waiting for the chosen to come forward and Father called my name, a feeling came over me that I cannot describe. Father's words thrilled me as he declared that from this year forward I, and I alone, would be the one, the only one, to open the doors to the Great Hall to mark the beginning of Winterfest.
I was at first overjoyed and then terrified. Was I strong enough? But with the applause of those gathered around me to urge me on, I stepped forward and took the beam in my hands. At first I felt its weight; and then, to my surprise, it lifted and I placed it aside. I am sure that, even above the howl of the wind, everyone could hear the frantic beating of my heart as I turned and pushed those great doors open.
My heart was so full; I could barely speak as I was congratulated and enveloped in the love of my family. I will always cherish the part that I will now play in each Winterfest.
Tonight I felt a part of the night and the city for the first time. Father is not happy, but I must go there again. My heart yearns for something I have no name for. This restlessness that I have felt since my illness is relieved only when I am Above, and by the memories it evokes of Devin and happier times. Sometimes it's as though I am searching for something, but I'm not sure what it might be. But Above is the only place that eases my aloneness. Its sounds, its smells, and the many lights call to me in ways I never thought possible; and with my new cloak to shroud me from curious eyes, I can travel in safety.
When I heard Beethoven's 'Moonlight Sonata' drifting through the grate just over my head, played by a full orchestra, it was magical. The music engulfed me; and I let the sound of the many instruments flow over me, and I was carried away. My spirit seemed to soar with the strains of the music, and it gave me more joy than I have ever known. It was as though I was in the first row of the outdoor amphitheater. The voices of those above me, the snatches of conversations, made me feel a part of their world. Then when all was quiet and I was alone, I was reminded of Jack London's vision of Buck's freedom 'the mysterious something that called and called'. I look forward to returning there again, when there have not been heavy rains and the junction that is prone to flooding is dry again, to search for that freedom … much like the call to the wild in Buck. It is something that whispers to me, an unnamed call of something yet to be.
"Was it Catherine you were looking for?"
"I have asked that same question. Sometimes I am sure that it was, and at others I wonder whether it was something else. My young heart was seeking … something … was it freedom or love? I may never know. Please go on."
Rollie is an intense and lonely boy, but his gift is so immense; he gives us all so much joy when he plays the piano. I am sure our praise gives him some happiness, which has been sadly lacking in his young life; and he needs our love so desperately. Miss Kendric will help him come into his full potential, and we will pour our love on him and watch him soak it up. He deserves so much happiness.
To have lost Miss Kendric in such a terrible way was a great tragedy, but Rollie … Oh, where has he gone? For him to leave the love and safety of our world is something she would never have wished. I have searched and can find no sign of him. He must have run to parts of the city that he knows I do not frequent. I fear he is lost to us, but I will never stop looking for him.
A child, alone and afraid in the park - what a terrible thing to have experienced – and it appears she is also deaf. It was fortunate that Anthony found her on his way home tonight. Her wide brown eyes searching faces, full of frightened tears, as everyone gathered about her. I wished I could have comforted her, but for now I must wait. She has had enough for one day. There is so much sadness and pain within her. I could feel it even from the shadows. It seemed to fill the room like a strong odor. Our love will soften her pain in time.
Laura. She has spoken that one word, but she is still so very withdrawn and afraid. How must it be to be left by those you love, and then to find yourself in a strange place, among strange people, and unable to understand them? Father is searching for a book on the silent language of the deaf. It will be taught to Laura to expand her silent world.
Laura, huddled in a darkened corner of the lower tunnels was heart-breaking. I was so relieved that she allowed me to pick her up and carry her to safety. She must have been very frightened to have run off, and glad to have someone solid to cling to, as her small hands clung to me so tightly, burying her small face in my cloak. As she was taken from my arms by Mary, she looked up at me and smiled her thanks; and I knew that there was no more need for me to hide.
Another Winterfest has passed, and we have had many Helpers to thank this year .... Mr. Wong, whose granddaughter, Lin, has only recently arrived from China. She is a sweet child, and her grandfather has been a great help to our world over the years. Mr. Wong has helped Father with his constant pain for some years now, with little interest in payment. We have some new members to our world also. Jamie, who simply arrived one day at one of our tunnel entrances, Mouse the boy who had been such a problem for William. Michael, who has been so deeply hurt by the losses he has suffered (The death of his mother and the rejection of his father). Why he begged us not to contact him we do not know. How could the man not want him? How can any father reject his son after his wife's death, especially a boy of eleven years old? He has lost all hope, but perhaps we can give it back to him. With our help, these wounded souls will mend here in this world.
"Another Winterfest, you didn't seem to write often, why?" she asked, puzzled.
Vincent smiled, "I was young and there was much to explore. I found very little comfort in writing in those early days. There was little I thought of as important then."
To refuse Mitch sanctuary was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do. His friendship meant a great deal to me after Devin disappeared, even though he could be cruel at times. But Father was right. We could not have a criminal hiding in our world. The danger would be too great,; and Mitch broke not only our laws, but those Above as well. I am glad that he needed no further words from me to make him stay away. He was well aware that I was no longer the child he had bullied. When I would not defend myself against him then – afraid of hurting him as I did Devin – he believed that I was afraid of him, and I let him believe it. But I am no longer that child. I had to stand for all those who live in these tunnels, and I think he was well aware of it. He is gone now, but I wonder what will happen to him in the world Above and if he will return someday full of hate."
Cate closed the first journal, remembering all that she had been told of those people named in its pages – Rollie, who had returned and become the tunnel's music teacher until his death – Laura who had been a helper all her life, Michael who became a highly respected man in the world Above. Mouse, and Jamie and of course Mitch, who had almost destroyed Vincent and Catherine with his hatred.
When she looked over to where he lay, she noticed that Vincent was almost asleep "Rest now, Grandfather," and she bent and kissed his forehead. "Sleep. I will be here when you wake."
Two hours later he woke and asked her to read to him again, and she lifted the nextjournal and opened the first page. She knew that every word was part of a story she had known all her life; and as before, she could hear each word in her grandfather's voice.
It is strange that this, the first entry in this new journal, should be on the night that I find a young woman, battered and bleeding, in the park.
To be drawn to her by a sense I didn't realise I had was very strange indeed. The faint call from nearby, or was it the whisper within me, that led me to her. All I know is that I was drawn to where she lay on the damp grass, like a discarded rag doll – and I was almost too late. I could feel the life seeping from her with each drop of blood she shed – and that not only her life, but her will to live was also fading. There was a bright essence in her that was slipping away, and I wanted her to live. No one should die alone, unseen and untended. With all that was within me I cried out for her not to die – not to give up – to not allow those who had done this terrible thing to win. Then I felt something. Was it an answer, a tiny unspoken spark of a response? When I lifted her into my arms, she weighed almost nothing; and I held her close like a child, to bring warmth back into her chilled body. With all that was within me – all of my heart, I tried to convey to her that she was safe now, that no one would harm her again. She sighed and took in a slow breath, and my heart soared. It was as though she had heard me, as though I had connected with her on some deep level, and I knew that she would live.
She sleeps, and something strange is happening to me. I can hear distant echoes of fear and pain within me that I know are not mine. This – phenomenon – has been growing in me since I carried her here last night, and perhaps even before then, when I silently called out to her. The faint whisper I heard then still echoes in my mind. Even though it is coming from a place of torment within her, it is strangely comforting to me.
Father says our guest will recover physically, but how does one truly recover from such an event? Father is still very angry with me for bringing her here, but I knew I must break our most important rule. I love my father dearly, but there is much that he does not understand – about me – and why I had to bring her here. The thought of Father's anger, for the first time in my life did not turn me from my course. I felt it strongly in him as he tended her wounds. I know he was concerned that she would see our world and our secret would be discovered. My suggestion to keep her eyes covered and keep her here in my chamber seemed to calm his fears.
The fear in her voice when she awoke a few moments ago was heartbreaking. I tried to calm her with words of safety and assurance, but she is still very frightened. Her terror, when she suddenly remembered and touched her slashed and swollen face, sliced through me. She is very weak, and so very vulnerable, but all I could think to do was let her know that no one else would ever hurt her again. She looks so small and helpless, and I was deeply touched by her trust in me. I felt her relax as I spoke. I sit beside her and watch her sleep, feeling roiling emotions that are not my own; and I wonder what is happening to me.
She moans in her sleep, and I can feel her fear and pain. Father would say it's only my empathy for the pain in others, but I don't know. It seems –somehow stronger and very different. There is something happening that I do not understand. I feel her fear. I know her thoughts.
She was still very frightened when she awoke for the second time, and when she asked who I was and … spoke my name. My heart leapt almost painfully in my chest. When she mentioned the pain in her face, I was at a loss, still shaken; but I tried to think of something that would turn her mind from her pain and asked her name. Catherine... Her name is Catherine… a beautiful name for such a beautiful soul. I tried to calm her fears, but even now I feel them within me – as though I stand on the steps of the Chamber of Winds, my chest bare to the wind's full force.
Catherine had a nightmare as I sat beside her, watching her sleep. I spoke to her, and she calmed; and I read to her until she fell back to sleep. I find, wherever I am in the tunnels, I can feel her – the gentle hum of her sleeping mind and the cry of her troubled heart. What does this mean? I have never known these feelings before and I – I'm unsure how to proceed. Should I tell Father? No it may only be temporary. I will wait.
Catherine went back to her world today, and I am both bereft and overjoyed by our parting moments. That she would embrace me as she did – in the face of her fear of me earlier today – was overwhelming. When I ran from the chamber, my own feelings were in such turmoil. I was still painfully aware of Catherine, alone in my chamber weeping, awash with feelings of remorse and guilt; but there was also sorrow for my circumstance flowing in waves within her. My own hurt suddenly became secondary, and I knew I must comfort her. Those moments in my chamber afterward I will treasure for the rest of my life. But now she is gone from my life, and I expect never to see her again. Nevertheless, I can feel that she is in great distress at this moment; and I want to go to her, as I did when she would wake in the night from a nightmare, but I cannot. I must endure this strange connection until it fades; but it is mixed blessing, with joy and pain, to feel so connected to another soul, and as Juliet expressed –'It is a sweet sorrow'
Catherine is in physical pain. I can feel it almost like the memory of some great hurt, and for weeks now I have felt her nightmares. I cannot go to her as I did then. How will I live without her?"
Hardly able to bear to read more of her grandfather's pain and his longing for her grandmother or subject him to it now, Cate stopped reading. Again Vincent turned to her, his vibrant eyes questioning. "Why did you stop?"
"Grandfather, you were in such pain."
Vincent smiled tolerantly. "Yes, but then Catherine came back into my life and gave me such joy."
Cate took a deep breath, preparing herself to enter the world of two star crossed lovers and their complicated, yet uncontrollable need for each other.
Catherine – I cannot stop thinking of you. I have tried, but it is impossible, and deep within me I don't wish to let this wonderful connection go. Father says it's to be expected and warned me that you could only bring me unhappiness, but I know now that we are connected in ways I never thought possible. This year's Winterfest has come and gone, and I found myself unable to enjoy it as I once did. This connection is part of me now; and if it is pain and unhappiness that you bring me, then so be it. I will endure it with joy.
I could help myself no longer. I went to see Catherine tonight. To hear her voice again; and to know that she too had changed, as I have changed, is beyond words. Even though there are no longer scars on her face, there are still many within her. It was nearly dawn before she would let me leave her. I now know that for me she will always be with me – her heartbeat I will always hear.
That part of myself that I have fought so hard to suppress all my life has saved Catherine. The blast of fear I felt from her forced that "unnamed" part of me to the surface with such speed that I was unable – and unwilling – to stop it. Before I regained control, three men were dead, and Catherine was staring at me in shock. I was too ashamed to feel her emotions change, until she touched me. She took my blood-covered hands in hers, and at her touch I was filled with such acceptance and concern that I was overwhelmed. I will never forget her parting words, nor her gratitude.
When Kipper told us of the place called Ridley Hall and that children were being hurt there, Catherine became our only hope of helping them. I knew she was not home when I left the note and the rose – and she came … Oh how my heart ached when I saw her, and her words filled me with both pain and joy. At the sight of her how could I be anything but well. But the knowledge of the impossibility of our situation was so painful, and I could feel it reflected in her. When she confirmed her own pain and asked me what we should do, I knew I must comfort her with words of hope. We must endure the pain and savor every moment of the joy. To work together in a mutual cause was fulfilling beyond anything I could have imagined.
The two new members of our family are now settling in well. Ellie and Eric have had such a sad life, and yet they have such love for each other and the rest of us as well. Thanks to Catherine. It is truly better than a dream.
Tonight began with the unexpected and beautiful strains of Beethoven; but it quickly turned into the sadness of helpless people, terrorized by those who would drive them from their homes for profit. Then when I felt the very moment that Catherine's heart began to soften toward another man, for the first time I regretted this connection we share. It was a knife twisting in my heart, and I began to feel poisonous emotions that I have never felt before.
I know I should have stayed away and let her find happiness with this man in the world Above. It is her world, a world apart from mine, and I should be happy for her. But Micha and his friends need Catherine's help. They are besieged by this developer, and my own pain is nothing compared to what they must suffer daily.
I felt as though I was an intruder on Catherine's balcony, but before I could steal away unnoticed, she emerged from her apartment; and I was gladdened by her joy to see me. The sight of her, as always, struck at my heart and I could hardly breathe; but I held myself apart, angry with myself for daring to still hope. It was a reflex action that I could not stop. But I could feel all the new and exciting emotions swirling within her concerning this man, and it hurt so deeply. To follow the heart is the right of all beings, and my most fervent wish is for Catherine to find happiness. If she is to have a normal life that is what she must do.
Father's words today, although true, did nothing to ease my pain. He is right – for me there can be no normal life. To follow my heart will lead only to more suffering, but I cannot help myself. This connection, as painful as it is, is a gift that I will cherish always, whatever happens.
I stood by the park entrance tonight, torturing myself as I felt Catherine near, blissfully happy in the presence of this man; and I felt more alone than I have ever felt in my life. 'When I stood forlorn, knowing my hearts best treasure was no more …'
I tried to ease Catherine's pain. She feels that she has caused me to suffer by her growing attachment to this man. We always knew that this Bond we share was only a dream and that someday someone would come, and she would live another life and dream another dream; but I felt her mixed emotions. She is torn; but no matter how much pain it causes me, I must let her find her own way.
Catherine's heart is broken. I felt it so deeply today. This man has hurt her; and I could not go to her, although every fiber of my being urged me to. She feels that she has caused me injury, and I knew I must let her know how I feel. Shakespeare knew the ways of the heart. Perhaps his Twenty-ninth Sonnet will ease the hurt and give her some small measure of peace.
Cate hoped that this might be the end of the pain for her grandparents, but she was wrong. It seemed that life itself conspired to keep them at odds.
I felt Catherine's fear today, but it was fear of me… I heard her call on the pipes some hours later; and although I wanted to go to her, I fought the impulse. I could not face her, not knowing what she was thinking. I know she is in great distress, but why would Catherine fear me? Who can this 'terrible savior' be?
Catherine had a dream. I felt first her joy to see me and then her sudden fear. I can feel it even now, and surrounding it is a deep sadness; and it tears at my heart. How can I convince her that she has no need to fear me, even though I can understand why?
That Catherine would risk coming Below without a guide proclaims in no small measure her desperation. I had tried to dampen my sense of her because of my own pain, and in doing so I allowed her to be put in danger. She could have been lost in the tunnels and passageways that make up our world, or fallen in the dark. She said that I had taught her to face her fears; but if so, why did she pull away from me? The hand that holds this pen like a man… is not a man's hand. I have always been painfully aware of this; but these same hands have killed to save Catherine, and would do so again if the need arises. But what assurance can I offer her that I would never harm her? How can I regain her trust? what other words can I give her, when she has seen what these hands can do – I can find none, other than what I have already given. When I guided her home, there was a chasm between us which I could not cross; and I could find no words of comfort to offer her, nor did she embrace me as she has in the past. I am at a loss. I fear that this… mistrust that has grown between us may be impossible to overcome.
The Whispering Gallery has always been one of my favorite places, but today it only showed me the futility of trying to escape Catherine's fear; and even Father could not bring me any comfort. The whispers all around me reminded me that Catherine's fears cannot be avoided. They whisper to me wherever I stand. This safe place – this secret place, beyond the madness of the world Above – is only secret and safe as long as it is undiscovered. Will this vigilante who preys on evil in order to do good be the one responsible for this world being put at risk? And am I any different? I have killed by releasing that darker part of myself. Are he and I so very different? When I was a boy playing in that Gallery, I was always found in the end. Will that be my fate now?
Catherine's greeting tonight lightened my heart. Her words of apology were unnecessary, but they were nevertheless welcome. Her world is full of evil and pain; I could not bring her more. I have been bereft without our easy closeness and have wondered whether it would ever return. That she would think I could stay away for any reason saddened me. It is something I could never do. I know that we have known each other for such a short time, but I think I would never be whole again without Catherine in my life. It is still a very real possibility that this man, who kills to protect the innocent, could lead those in the world Above to our world, and I am greatly concerned. Catherine's assurance has calmed many of my fears; but until this man is caught, our world will not be safe.
The true danger is past and the man responsible for so much distrust and fear is gone. I was hesitant to go to Catherine's balcony tonight, but she welcomed me with unreserved affection; and as dawn broke over the city, we held each other. Catherine is no longer fearful of me, and for that I am truly grateful. That this man had the chance to kill me, and yet chose not to, showed that, at the last, he regained some quality of mercy, that he had perhaps misplaced; and I am truly sorry for his death. The shadow he had cast over Catherine has been washed away, and another step has been taken toward a greater understanding between us. To many, this man had become a fabled hero, much like King Arthur, a symbol of good overcoming evil. And as Catherine rested her head on my chest and the sky turned crimson, I knew that I must soon leave her and return to my world. But now it is no longer a place where I must flee to when daylight threatens. It's a place where I wait for the moments when we can be together.
Three nights ago, I saw the two sides of man, how cruel some men can be and how generous and caring are the hearts of others. Unable to see, and in great pain, I have never been so frightened in my life when there was 'no way down' for me. Yet through the kindness of a gentle man, and a woman who had no reason to help me, I was saved. Howie gave his life for me, and that is something I will never forget; Lucy risked her life to help me, and Catherine would never give up until she found me. I have been truly blessed.
Cate remembered this terrible story about when her Grandfather was trapped Above. Just the thought of how frightened he must have been was enough to give her chills. But Grandmother Catherine had found him in the end and brought him home. It had been a story that gave Cate nightmares as a child.
Brigit O'Donnell's words have touched me so deeply, and her life mirrors my own in so many ways. Reading her book has changed me. I know that she could understand how I feel, and to speak with her would be so wonderful. She is coming to this city. I wish I could tell her what her words have meant to me.
The report in the newspapers of a masqued ball in Brigit's honor on Halloween night has caused me to hope. When I told Father of my intention to go, he was fearful for my safety and tried to dissuade me. But I must see Brigit and thank her - to let her know how much her words have meant to me. Tomorrow is Halloween, and I intend to go Above. But surely on this night of all nights, I of all people should be able to move about in safety. I will tell Catherine nothing of my plans. She will only worry.
Brigit gave Catherine and me hope tonight. Amid her own pain, she accepted me and gave me reason to hope. She understood how our lives are connected and the secrets that keep us apart. A night of beauty and love, and Catherine and I parted with the knowledge that our dream is not so impossible.
Cate looked up from the page, "Did you ever see Brigit again?"
Vincent stared into the shadows of the chamber, revealed by the candle's light, and smiled. "Yes. After your father was born, she became a very good friend."
Another untold story Cate thought, turning her attention back to the journal.
Mitch has returned, and I fear that he is more dangerous now than before. His memories of our childhood are so different from my own, filled with pain and hatred; and again I was forced to deny him entry to our world.
Catherine doesn't know what Mitch is capable of, and she would not listen to my warnings. I am amazed that the things I admire the most in her, her courage and determination, are what may cause her to be put in danger's path.
How can a childhood friend become so evil? Was the evil there from the beginning, or did it grow from some seed planted by others to become the 'beast within' the man I once knew? And how could I allow that evil to endanger the one person who means everything to me. Catherine is out of danger, but I worry that one day I will not be there in time. I could not bear to live without her. I would gladly follow her into death.
To love someone so completely that you would truly die if they did was a concept Cate could not fathom, but then her grandparents' love was unfathomable.
Catherine is leaving – the city, her position – and me… I can understand why she must go, but my heart is breaking. I cannot rest. I have been pacing my chamber for hours since we spoke. I know I must learn to live without her, but I am struggling; and I feel that I am fighting a losing battle. How will I live without her?
Father and Mary have been very attentive since Catherine brought me home. When I think of my imprisonment in that cage, I am reminded of the quote by Lovelace … 'Stone walls do not a prison make, nor iron bars a cage', but for me they did. I can remember very little until the moment when I saw Catherine, and then the warmth of her touch awoke in me the will to live again. She too has stayed near. I seem always to be causing those I love pain, and I know of no way to avoid it in the future.
Grandfather, you were not responsible for what happened to you. It was the men who took you who were to blame." Cate said with anger.
Vincent smiled tolerantly. "If I had not been so preoccupied with my own suffering, I would not have been captured."
"It was not your fault. You didn't know those men were after you."
"I should have known, Catherine. That is the point. I should never have let them get so close, nor walked into their trap. I learned a valuable lesson that night which almost cost me my life. But I was young and inexperienced then."
Cate knew that there were many times after this that had taught him more of the cruelty and cunning of men.
Father has always been here for guidance in such times as this, and now it is he who must need help. I am worried. Where did he go? I wish he had given me an address or the name of a helper so I could know that he is well. I will go to Catherine with this problem. I don't like involving her, but I have no choice. I am at a loss to know what else to do. Father has always been here.
It seemed strange to go to Father's rooms today and find only his absence … the hollowness that declares loudly how much a part of this world and our lives he truly is. And how much we take his voice of wisdom and his comforting presence for granted. As I went through his possessions today, I felt like a thief rifling through his privacy; but even then I found little to go on. A photo, a letter and a security pass for the Chittenden Research Institute with his photo on it. I am to meet Catherine tonight at the library. Perhaps she can find something in the old records stored there.
Jacob Wells. Doctor Jacob Wells. To acquaint that name to the man I have only ever called Father is somewhat difficult to do. But now I know why he left the world Above, and I now understand his fierce rejection of that world – a world that would abandon and ostracize a man only because he was trying to help others.
When Catherine read Father's letter that told of his wife, Margaret, leaving him because of it, I could barely believe the pain Father must have been in for all these years. Like the 'Song of Orpheus'
Why does man persist with his self generated cacophony?
In the face of the music of the spheres,
As if a child banging a toy drum,
At the sermon on the mount.
Catherine has again proved invaluable; she has found him – but it is a mixed blessing. That he would be in jail for committing a crime, any crime, is unfathomable; but that Father would kill anyone is something I will not believe. Catherine has assured me that she will do all she can to find out the truth. And to salvage 'the wreck of his memories'.
Father is home, and Margaret was waiting for him. The moment Catherine brought her here and she saw me, I was touched. When she embraced me, her floral fragrance was intoxicating. When she laid her head on my shoulder and said, "Hello Vincent," with such genuine feeling and in such a loving way, it was reminiscent of Father's. She is truly a match for Father; and when he first saw her, I don't think I have ever seen him so happy. They are like two young lovers. It is beautiful to watch.
Margaret's passing today has left Father heartbroken. He had been so happy in the last seven days and now ... I want to share his pain and ease his grief, but I don't know what to do. Again I am reminded of how many times HE has been there for me. He seems to be comforted when I am near, so I have stayed with him until he fell asleep and then left him to his rest. I will go to Catherine soon, but only for a short time. For as long as Father needs me to I will be here.
Cate found it interesting to read about her great grandfather. She had never met him, but this insight into who he really was was very sweet. The sadness of his life and then his reunion with the woman he loved was very touching and sad.
I cannot sleep… The vision of Catherine lying in a coffin haunts my dreams. I will not accept it …what does this mean?
Catherine's sudden terror this evening drew me to her balcony almost before the sun set – the caricature on the wall drawn in blood was very disturbing. Its resemblance to me was unmistakable; and although Catherine had been very frightened, the fear was beginning to ebb when she saw me. I was greatly comforted knowing my presence had eased her concerns.
I have searched Father's library for anything I can find on these cults, and Father's words did not help. I have a deep foreboding of some unknown evil. Father is a practical man who sees only facts and discounts the mysteries of the world. My journey to see Narcissa after so many years was full of memories of a boy's misadventures and the search for the unknown.
I had never been there alone before, and my memory almost failed me; but the marking on the floor of the Chamber of the Winds put me back on the right path. My childhood forays into the lower catacombs where Narcissa lives were filled with excitement; but this trip was even more frightening, and only increased my fears for Catherine's safety. But I refuse to accept Narcissa's words of doom. I will not allow anything to happen to Catherine.
There was a strange shadow within Catherine's terror tonight, and I was sure it had something to do with the shell. My visit only distressed Catherine further. The woman I saw then was not Catherine, and I could not allow it to continue. When she almost threw herself from the balcony, I have never been more frightened in my life. To see her in such a state forced me to retreat; I was only making her worse. I will not allow this evil to take her from me. Even now I can feel her torment. Narcissa had told me there is nothing I can do, that she was lost; but I refused to accept this. Catherine is my life, and I will do everything I can to help her through this terrible time.
Dark spirit of the Desert rude,
That o'er this awful solitude.
Each tangled and untrodden wood,
Where sunlight's gleaming never glows.
Catherine is finally free. How someone can do such a thing to another being is beyond me. Catherine's faith has been shaken, and she is deeply wounded. All I can feel from her are the remnants of fear and sorrow. I wish I could be with her constantly, but I cannot. Tonight I felt her remorse at the things she had said to me on her balcony that night, and all I could do was let her know how much I cared. The shell was the last remnant of what the evil represented to her, and it had to be destroyed so she could overcome its influence completely. I stayed with her as long as I could, but in the end I had to leave her with the knowledge that I am with her wherever she may be.
"You never gave up." Cate said with pleasure.
"Catherine was my life. I could not give up. To do so would mean losing her, and that I would not believe." And his blue eyes turned to her " to live as fully as we can, we must never give up."
Cate was touched by his determination and her understanding of him grew as she continued.
Laura has become a valued and dearly loved member of our world; and even though she was very frightened by the real murderer, she has a brave heart to be willing to come forward. It reflects not only her integrity, but what she has learned from being with people who love her. Catherine will help her, I know it - even though she was surprised that the man they had in custody was not the killer. I hope she will not receive too much censure from her colleagues. Killing a policeman is a grave crime indeed.
Father wishes to protect Laura, and I understand that; but she must make her own decisions and take her own steps into adulthood. Our talk with Laura today was difficult. She can be very headstrong, but she is also very uncertain and fearful of the world Above. She is much stronger than she can possibly imagine, yet she lives with a 'terrible silence'.
It is of great concern to me that I was too late to stop Catherine being attacked last night. It was so unexpected. How can she not be safe even in her own home? I followed her through our bond, as I do each day, just to satisfy myself that she was safely home. She was filled with sadness as well as weariness as she made her way into her home…and then the sudden shock and pain.
Could it have been merely a warning in reprisal for Catherine's doubts about this new evidence, or something else? These men who threatened and beat her had either been sent by the real killer or by someone connected to the police. How can it be that their own protectors could be so cruel? Surely they wish to find the truth.
She was in such pain, and filled with fear. I should have insisted Catherine call a doctor or the police. She may have had internal injuries. But she would not. It was strange to be in her apartment, first searching in her bathing room for a cloth to dampen and then sitting beside her, tending to her. When I began to retreat and she called out for me not to go, saying that she needed me close, my heart was filled with such love I could barely control its beating. Again I was able to watch over her while she slept, a task I found utterly fulfilling. As the dawn approached, she woke suddenly, fearful for my safety; and told me that I must leave her. I wanted to stay. Every fiber of my being cried out to do so, but Catherine would not allow it. Her fear for me was strong, and so I relented.
Taking Laura to Catherine's apartment was difficult. She was so determined, and I have known for almost a year that this time would come. I have felt it in her. This must be how a father feels when his child goes out into the world. Pain mixed with joy. It was both heartbreaking and exciting, but I knew that Catherine would do everything in her power to help Laura. Our parting was one I will always remember. I will miss Laura more than I will ever be able to express.
Catherine was devastated when Laura was missing, but now all is well. Laura is safe now, and the men responsible will be punished. Laura is still determined to go Above. Her courage and strength is remarkable, but she is also so vulnerable. I worry for her, but again Catherine's assurance has calmed my fears for this beautiful sweet soul.
Laura left us today, and Father is greatly saddened; but the young must find their own path.
Father's injuries from the cave-in are not severe, and I think at last he has accepted Catherine's place in my life. Again I am amazed by Catherine's bravery and compassion. To come into the tunnels alone took great courage. That she found the fastest route to Mouse's chamber was no less than a miracle as Father and I were surrounded by 'shades of grey'. Then to go to Elliot Burch for the materials needed to rescue us was an act of true desperation. Catherine told me it was love that drove her to help Father and me. Love, the word that had not been spoken between us, and now I can deny it no longer. I love many people, but what I feel for Catherine is deeper; and it fulfills a part of me I never thought existed. Yet have I the right to say the words to her, when there may be a chance for her to have a normal life with another man? This Bond we share astounds me at every turn. Where will it lead us?
"So Grandmother could sense when you where in danger too?"
"I believe so. This was the first time that our Bond affected Catherine in such a way, and there were other times that it manifested itself in other ways as well. Even after all these years, I am still unable to fathom its nature."
"You had a truly unique relationship." Cate said smiling.
"Yes." Vincent murmured softly.
The sound of the Chinese New Year reminded me how much Lin has been a part of our hearts since she was a child, and to think that she is so unhappy because of an arranged marriage concerns me greatly. Catherine's words tonight only made me more aware of how impossible our love is.
That Lin would be forced into this marriage is very wrong. I am glad Father has joined me in championing her cause.
Again I have been able to use that part of myself that keeps me in these tunnels to protect those I love, Catherine among them. I felt empowered in a way I have never felt before in the role of protector of my family. I know now that, although Father will deny it, perhaps my purpose in life is defined in what happened tonight. That there would be intruders in the tunnels was concern enough; but that they would seek to destroy all we have, with vengeance in their hearts because of a young woman's love, was beyond me. Catherine's words to me as I went out gave me more strength than she could possibly know. To know that I had Catherine to come back to was all I needed to spur me on to do what needed to be done. The tunnels to the known section of Chinatown have been permanently sealed, and a wedding has been planned.
When I saw Catherine at Lin and Henry's wedding, I found myself dreaming. She looked so beautiful and … so hopeful as she gazed up at me. Oh that we could have a life like that of others. But her words gave me reason to hope. 'We will measure our lives in another way.'
Catherine has risked her life again, and I fear that she is trying to prove something to herself as well as others. Drugs have become such a problem for Catherine's world, and now they have touched this world as well. That someone from our world would wish to profit from the suffering of others astounds me, but it is a fact. Forty-nine people have died from the effects of this drug, and it cannot be aloud to continue.
Catherine is torn. I can feel it in her. She wants to stop this man, this 'Alchemist' who calls himself Paracelsus, but she cannot without revealing our world. I cannot find a solution to her turmoil,l and it tears at me. Again we are at either end of a chasm where morality and her need to do right, divides us…
Paracelsus – a name that will always mean pain and sorrow to me and to Catherine. I lost myself, and Catherine lost a treasured friend; and yet I still marvel at her bravery. She saw me as I was, full of rage and fear - and violence, my mind torn asunder by another man's evil - and she threw herself into my arms. I was surrounded by evil, and nothing I saw had any substance – until her touch. I am ashamed and appalled that Catherine would see me as I was, so full of rage, and without dignity; and yet she is even more a part of me now than ever.
Paracelsus is a deceptive and guileful, greedy man. His words to me were meant to make me doubt what I have always known was the truth, and I will try to ignore them. But once a seed of doubt has been planted, what does one do to stop it from growing? I know nothing of my origins, and the manner in which he spoke causes me to wonder. Evil or not, does he truly know something that I have not been told? He is gone now, burned in the fires of his own making; but I wonder … did he take with him the answers that I seek.
Cate knew that this was not the last they saw of the man known as Paracelsus and the pain he had caused to her grandparents, and she would like to ask what the last statement meant but was unwilling to pry.
Almost a year ago I found Catherine unconscious and bleeding in the park. Little did I know that she would change my life forever. I intend to find something from my world to give Catherine as a keepsake to help her remember not the pain of that night, but the beauty that she represents in my life. Narcissa has intrigued me with her talk of the Crystal Cavern. I hope that I will find something there for the appropriate gift.
When Mouse asked me what it was like 'to have a love' my heart leapt within my chest. Even Mouse understands how much Catherine means to me, and to hear Father's words concerning Catherine's place in my life touched me deeply. I could tell Mouse only what finding Catherine meant to me; it was the end of my aloneness.
On this very special anniversary I thought only to give Catherine something from my world that would show her what she means to me, even though I dare not say the words. But again she amazed me with her words and the way she had made her balcony a joyous place filled with dancing light. And our bond had shown itself in a mirrored action. I now have something of Catherine to hold close to my heart. This precious, delicate rose, so beautiful as the one who gave it to me, I will keep near my heart always, just as I hold my love for Catherine. Every moment since that night I am reminded of what a gift life is.
Cate knew that every year on April 12th Vincent still remembered the night he found his Catherine.
Devin… Can it be true that he has returned? I can scarcely believe it was him at the Iron Gate. Father thought he had died somewhere in the tunnels. Now, after twenty years, he has returned alive and unharmed. It is difficult for us to take in. So long without a word, and then to open the gate and find him there… I could barely believe my eyes. He had changed so much. Our closeness as boys has not diminished. We were carefree and happy then, until his gift to me – a simple ride on a carousel – was to change everything. Little did either of us know what that simple gift would bring.
When Catherine told me she had followed a man to the park entrance and described him, I wondered, but never dreamt it could truly be Devin. He was right, and I should not have forced him to come to see Father without preparing him. I had forgotten how much he and Father disagreed. Why must they argue so?
I had to tell Catherine who Devin was; I could not keep it from her. I know she must do her job, and that it is very important to her; but Devin would never endanger children or intentionally harm anyone. I wish I could convince her. But now I fear I have caused my brother more pain.
For the first time in my life I was truly angry with Father, but his revelation has rocked me to the core. Devin…is Father's son? How could he have kept the truth from Devin – from me? Father has been so much a part of so many children in our world, and he has been a true father to so many…but Devin. As the years come and go, I realize he is not the paragon of virtue I once thought him to be. It is sobering and somewhat disconcerting; but even though Father may deny it, I think it is liberating for him to at last be seen as a man who sometimes makes mistakes.
Devin is gone again; but now that he knows the truth, perhaps his heart will not be so troubled. He could not leave without knowing, and Father was also eager to begin to build a bridge between them. If he returns, he will know it will be to a Father who loves him; and we can look forward to 'promises of someday'.
"Are you tired Grandfather?"
"I think I will rest now. Please come back later and we will continue."
"Yes Grandfather." Cate kissed him and went to her father's chambers for a meal.
Vincent leaned back on his thick pillows and closed his eyes. His mind was filled with the memories that his journals had awakened, and he could see his Catherine as she was then; and he closed his eyes and dreamed of Devin and Laura and Rollie, and of course Father and Mouse …
The dream came again last night –I'm running through the trees to save Catherine – and the fear that grips me is so immense I can hardly breathe. What does it mean, and how can I save Catherine from something for which I have no name?
I am tortured by the dream in the day now…as I was reading Kubla Khan to the children today. I know that it heralds some terrible danger for Catherine. This man she was once in love with…is it concerning him? I do not know, and I hesitate to tell her until I am sure.
Father believes this threat is fueled by my own jealousy; but I have searched my heart, and I find no ill feeling there for this man. Then why do I fear so for Catherine in connection with him?
Catherine was angry, and I don't blame her; but I could stay silent no longer. She needed to know. Perhaps she was right and it was unfair of me to tell her when I have so little to tell. It is getting stronger with each passing day, and now she will not heed my warnings. I have not seen her since, but I can feel that she is disturbed and determined to see this man. How can I protect her? I feel so helpless.
That any man would imprison and harm the woman he professes to love astounds me. For the first time since finding Catherine, I regret nothing of what I was forced to do to save her, only that I was almost too late. Catherine would be lost to me if I had not stopped this man, and I would do the same again. Catherine asked me how I knew, and I had no answers but to tell her that perhaps in some deep part of her she knew. The history she had with this man should have told her to beware; but her compassion for him, his illness and sadness, overshadowed her caution and caused her to ignore it…which I could not do.
This gift of dreams and visions had been passed down to Cate's father and to her. It wasn't always predicable; but over time, Vincent had learned to understand more of how it worked, as had Cate's father. The family Wells was renowned for it in the tunnels.
Catherine's generosity of spirit warms all our hearts. Her gifts and her thoughtfulness is truly boundless. That she would even buy items to give shows this so clearly.
I am still deeply troubled by what Cullen said at the meeting tonight; my heart was sorely wounded. That he would think I could harm him, or anyone in this community, for any reason has disturbed me deeply. The greed that has overtaken so many generous and loving people troubles me greatly.
What is it that makes a generous man obsessed with wealth? Is it a lifetime's lack of it in a world that is obsessed by gaining it? Is it the promise of better things?
Cullen came to us from the world Above, and he was the most generous of men, until the Gold Fever struck him; and it almost cost him and Mouse their lives. It is good that the chest Mouse found is no longer Below. I fear that others would have been tempted to climb down the abyss in search of it.
That a father or grandfather would disown his own child is a concept I cannot fathom. Tony Ramos was innocent of the deeds of his father, even if they were fact. Standing on Catherine's balcony as she read to Tony, I was reminded of my own childhood when Devin or Father would read those stories to me. And Catherine reads so beautifully.
Tony is now with his family, and he has touched our hearts with his determination.
Our world is in mourning now; and though it is painful, each of us must find meaning in what has come to pass, some hope in this time of great sorrow and sacrifice. We must never forget what has happened or why, so that the story will live always.
Catherine is safe from Paracelsus for now, but Winslow is lost to us forever. Father's words 'there is a truth beyond knowledge' have helped me immensely, and the knowledge of that truth – is Love.
Winslow knew it all along. He valued love enough to die for it, as something that was worth protecting at any cost. He knew it as the force that binds us together; and in the end, his death allowed our love to live.
I fear that we have not seen the last of Paracelsus. His quote was from Milton's 'Paradise Lost' preferring 'to reign in hell' rather than serve in heaven. This time has taught me much about Catherine and our Bond, and our love. It both terrifies and exhilarates me.
"Winslow's loss was an unacceptable sacrifice and another crime to be laid at an evil man's feet, but as you well know, Catherine, his story has become legend in our world." Vincent said causing her to pause in her reading.
"I can still remember the first time I heard you tell the story Grandfather."
Vincent turned to her with a smile. "Winslow was a good friend…"
Cate hurried on not wishing to allow old sorrows to linger.
The explosions are coming closer, and Elisabeth said it best 'This is our life.' No matter what happens, we are here and will stay. And for me there is nowhere else.
Catherine is going to marry Elliot Burch – and my heart is breaking. That she would make such a sacrifice for our world makes me love her more. But I cannot bear the thought of what the future will hold for her. My heart is torn between the pride I have in her to even make such a choice and the pain I am feeling at the thought of her with another man.
Our world is safe, and Elliot Burch has lost his building. He reminds me of a poem by Shelley.
I met a traveler from an antique land,
Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown
And wrinkled lip and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read,
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed;
And on the pedestal these words appear:
'My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings;
Look at my works, ye mighty, and despair!'
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,
The lone and level sands stretch far away.
I could not help but feel pity for Elliot Burch, for I had Catherine in my arms again. My heart is so full I cannot find the words…
Catherine is in such pain and I know it is more than the anniversary of her mother's death. And I know of no way to ease her suffering. How can I help her? The only thing I can think of would cause her pain, but is it better to have a little pain now to avoid more in the future?
Catherine, I could bear your pain no longer, knowing that I was the cause. I knew that our dream was too beautiful to last and as Edgar Allen Poe wrote.
Take this kiss upon the brow
And, in parting from you now,
Thus much let me avow-
You are not wrong, who deem
That my days have been a dream;
Yet if hope has flown away
In a night, or in a day,
In a vision, or in none,
Is it therefore the less gone?
All that we see or seem
Is but a dream within a dream.
Catherine's balcony only branded me with her absence as I bid her a final farewell. And as I did, I felt the threads of the bond between us unraveling as I said my good byes.
When I felt her sudden joy as I sat by the Falls thinking of her, I knew the moment she began coming back to me. Her words of love and apology as she came running into my arms made all the pain worth it. It is worth everything we must endure to be together…everything.
We stood in each others arms until dawn, and then lingered by the gate, our hands joined and our hearts entwined. No matter what the future holds for us, I know that we will face it together.
Cate came to the end of this book and closed it. Its pages were brown and some of the writing had faded, but was still legible. She turned to look at the sleeping face of her grandfather and could well see him as a young man in love.
He had been awake only moments before, and she knew he had heard the last line of the journal and the promise it carried. Knowing it was ending, he had stopped fighting to stay awake and had relaxed into sleep.
It was late. She would read the rest tomorrow. "Rest well, Grandfather, Good night."
As she lay in her chamber, going over in her mind what she had read that day, Cate felt akin to the two lovers whose dream had become a reality.