“Vincent, you will wear that piece of carpet out if you continue pacing!” Jacob exclaimed from his chair. The golden haired man kept up. He hadn’t spoken since he’d arrived back from Peter’s that morning nor been at any of the meals. Nor did he look up at Father’s words.
His mind was racing – thinking a thousand thoughts at once. His and Catherine’s. He could feel her sorrow and loss. Knew that he was the cause of such pain. The knowledge seared his soul and felt like a white-hot knife had been plunged deep into him. If he could tear his heart out, he would. What could he do? Where could he go to rid himself of this agony?
Suddenly, Vincent grabbed his pack from the chair and picked his cloak up from the bed. As Jacob watched this, he felt panic rising within him. “Where are you going?”
“Away, Father.” The words were just above a whisper.
“When will you return?” But there was no answer as Vincent hurried out of his chamber. Jacob did his best to follow, but the slow gait of his walk prevented him from going far. “Vincent!”
Several hours later, Vincent stopped. He was getting close. Close to the nameless river. Once there he would then decide how much further to go. He had to be as far as he could from the home tunnels in order to protect the inhabitants. He was afraid that in his anguish, a rage would build inside of him – a rage that if turned loose might destroy all that he held dear. He also realized that if Catherine should choose not to do as he asked and come Below, he had to be gone when she arrived.
The Bond. He could still feel her misery through her slumber. Her dreams were filled with images of light and darkness. In his heart he knew that she was the light and he was the darkness. That part of him that he tried to keep hidden – the evil side – was the darkness that she feared. He tried to block the pain he was feeling from her but was unable. He had to know that she would be well. How long, he wondered, would it take before Catherine found her way amongst her world again? How long before she forgot him?
“I’ll remember you,” Catherine cried in her sleep. “Always!” Her eyes flew open at the sound of her voice. ”Vincent, where are you?” Strength began returning to her. The room was in shadows. She knew that it was night but she had to go. Her legs were rubbery as she tried to stand. Slowly she moved to get her clothes.
Peter heard a door shut and went to investigate. “Cathy?” he asked the woman at the top of the stairs. “Are you feeling better?”
“I have to go to him,” she said.
He moved out to her and took her arm. He noticed that she was still unsteady. “Perhaps I should take you home first.”
“But I need to find him,” she pleaded.
“Cathy, you need some food and some real rest. Your sleep has been broken. Let me take you back to your apartment tonight. I’ll come and check on you first thing in the morning. If you are stronger, then you can go Below.”
Her old friend’s words did make sense so she nodded. “You’re the doctor.”
“Sit right there,” he told her. “Let me get dressed and then we’ll go.”
Ten minutes later, Peter appeared at the door to his room and then assisted her down the steps. The ride to her apartment building was spent in silence. He escorted her up to her door. Neither of them noticed the envelope on the floor as he made sure she was inside and okay.
Cathy decided on a quick shower after she put some soup to warm on the stove. The warm water woke her up enough for her to feel more human. That word startled her. She had never considered the dimensions that one word meant. She had never doubted Vincent’s humanity. Not even the first moment she saw his reflection over her shoulder after he had nursed her back to health. He was the most human of all those she had ever met or encountered. He had the best heart she could ever hope to find. He was the one she wanted to spend the rest of her life with. If only he could believe that. Through the Bond she tried to impress upon him just how much she really did love him.
She conjured up images of the two of them together in his chamber conversing, laughing, listening to music, reading to each other, and touching. Cathy knew that if she came on too strong through the Bond, Vincent would close it off. So her thoughts were gentle – a caress on the cheek, fingers through his hair, the meeting of their eyes, the brushing of her lips over his hands. Then she waited for a reaction to come back to her. She felt a shudder and then nothing. He had sealed his emotions off to her.
Remembering the soup she had began warming, she ladled some into a bowl. It was upon carrying the dish to the dining table that she saw it. The forgotten envelope. Frowning she set the bowl down & moved to pick up the paper. She saw the scripted handwriting of her name and recognized it came from Vincent. She wondered how long it had been there.
My Dearest Catherine,
I feel your unrest. I will meet you at the threshold tonight at 11.
She hoped that the letter was penned after she saw him earlier. With spirits soaring, she anticipated that he would tell her that he had been hasty with his words and that there was still a chance for them – a chance for their dream.
“Oh, please be so!” she cried.
The clock made her aware that it was 10:40. Only twenty minutes to get ready. What should she wear? Realizing there wasn’t any time for intense preparations, she hurriedly slipped on her jeans and a long sleeve sweater. It was only upon leaving her apartment that she realized the only undergarment she wore was a pair of delicate blue silk panties. Her breasts were bare under her sweater and she knew in the chill of the sub-basement, it would be quite obvious. “To hell with it!” she spoke aloud. “Let him see! Maybe he’ll come to his senses!”
The images assailing Vincent’s senses through the Bond caused him to shudder. How could he not disgust her – by his unhuman features? How could she really think she would be able to touch him as she had thought in her vision? Didn’t she realize that the beast would surface and harm her?
Then another thought came to him as he sealed himself off from her through the Bond. What if her words and desires were true? What if she really wanted to be with him – such as he was? Could he even hope to enjoy a life that he had believed would always be denied to him?
Suddenly he remembered the letter he had asked the Helper to deliver to her apartment. It was too late to try to retrieve it. Perhaps she’ll realize that it would be the last correspondence from him and had thrown it away.
“I’m sorry, Catherine,” he whispered in the cavernous area. “You deserve so much more than I could ever give to you. All I have is my heart and that is not enough for one as beautiful and worthy as you.” Tears fell from his blue eyes as he realized that he would never look upon her face or be graced with her presence again. The comprehension of the enormity of the situation caused him to roar in frustration and sorrow.
“Where are you?” Catherine whispered into the darkness. Her watch indicated that 11 p.m. had come and gone. It was nearing midnight. She considered going on Below but wasn’t ready to face Father. The questions that he would have would require answers that she knew he wouldn’t approve of. What if Vincent hadn’t written the letter earlier? What if it was written the night she went to Peter’s? Had he actually meant everything he had told her that morning?
“You can’t push me away that easily!” she exclaimed with a new resolve. Come morning and a good night’s sleep, she would go Below and confront Vincent. It was time to face what both of them feared. He would have to listen to her. “He must!” Then with renewed determination, she went back up to her apartment.
Vincent woke with a start. His back was a little stiff from the rocks upon which he had made his bed. The river was still several hours away and with a sense of urgency, he quickly picked up the items he had used and re-packed everything. At least he had the intelligence to stop by the kitchen on the way out of the tunnels to gather some food. The sustenance had eased the hunger in his belly the night before. Soon he would be on his way further from the community. Further from Catherine.
Jacob had heard the messages on the pipes informing those Below that Catherine had arrived in the tunnels. He prepared himself to explain to her that she was no longer welcome in their world. It was something that was long overdue. As soon as she realized that he was right, Jacob would send Mouse to find Vincent. No woman, especially a topsider, would drive his son away from his home.
“How dare you!” Jacob exclaimed when she entered his study. He knew from the past and from chess strategy that to be on the offensive from the beginning was the only way to overcome an opponent.
“How dare I?” she calmly asked. “How dare you!”
Jacob was taken aback. This was not how he had rehearsed it in his mind. She was supposed to cower and back down. Agree that he was right and take her leave.
“Why have you convinced Vincent that he isn’t deserving of a relationship like any other man?”
“He’s not like other men,” Jacob responded.
“And that is all your doing as well,” she continued. “You gave him education and the thirst for knowledge. He has a great compassion for everyone. But love – you deny him that right?”
“It would only bring him grief.”
“How do you know that?”
“You are not capable of spending all of your days and nights Below.”
“That is not for you to decide, Father!”
“Isn’t it though? Vincent is my son. I know what is best for him. This relationship you have will destroy him.”
“It’s more than just a relationship,” Catherine stated. “We have a Bond stronger than friendship or love.”
“Yes.” Jacob paused. “My son has quite an empathic ability. It is a gift.” His eyes then set upon hers. “And because of his sense of you . . . of the danger you are in at times . . . he has put himself and this community at risk. Running to your defense. Doing God knows what to those who are hurting you. Surely there are questions about the state they are found in. Someday the authorities will follow the trail here or catch him or worse.”
“Father, I understand the danger and risk to Vincent.”
“Then why do you continue with this charade? If you really cared about him, loved him, you would do what is best for him. Leave him, Catherine. Let him live in peace.”
“The Bond . . . it’s not just Vincent that feels what I’m feeling.” Catherine swallowed. “I can also feel him.”
Jacob shook his head as if this was the last thing he wanted to hear or even consider. “You are wrong!” His voice was raised. “You want to believe that but it’s not true.”
“But it is,” she pleaded. “We have this connection. I can’t explain it. I just know that it’s been growing stronger.”
“Catherine, you are an intelligent woman.” Jacob took a different tactic. “Surely you understand that if anyone Above were to suspect that such a unique individual such as Vincent existed, they would stop at nothing until they found him. Perhaps trapped him, caged him. They would hook him up to all sorts of diagnostic equipment to monitor all of his physiological differences. They would take blood, tissue samples, cut into him. He would be subjected to psychological testing as well. Others from around the world would come to see this ‘creature’ that they’ve found. He would be on the front of every newspaper and tabloid. He would be humiliated and defiled. And when all the studies and tests were done, after all the medical doctors are through with him, if he’s still alive, he would be put on display. The rest of his life would be spent without dignity, without personal contact, without the people who care the most for him.” Jacob took a breath. “And in capturing Vincent, this community would also be exposed. People would lose their homes, the lives they’ve built here. Children would be torn from the only parents they’ve known by social services. The authorities would place them in foster homes – send them to inadequate public schools – interview them to find out if they’ve been abused in any way. People would traipse through these tunnels – our home – my home – Vincent’s home.” He paused. “Is that really what you want?”
Tears flowed from her eyes as she absorbed all of Father’s words. She knew that he was right. That what she wanted was a selfish dream. “I’m sorry,” she cried as she turned to leave. Just before she crossed into the tunnel from Father’s study, she turned a little. “Tell him . . . tell him that I . . . “
“That you what?”
No, she thought. If Father told Vincent that she said she loved him, he might believe their dream could become a reality and then everything Father prophesied would come true. She could never allow Vincent to be subjected to the horrors of experimentation and the tortures of degradation. So she turned back and left.
As she slowly walked back to the exit into the park, her heart was heavy and her tears ran freely. Just before she pushed the mechanism to open the gate, she took one last look behind her.
“Good-bye, my love.” Then she never looked back as she exited the tunnel.
All characters are the property of Ron Koslow, Republic Pictures, and CBS. No infringement is implied or intended. Story is purely for entertainment purposes only. "The Bond" copyright 2002 ® Wendy Littrell
"The Bond" copyright 2002 ® Wendy Littrell
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