Disclaimer (of sorts): This is a work of fiction (if it only were true.) All the characters within belong to those people who created Beauty and the Beast for us back in the good ole 1980's, except for those that I created (which include Janice and Sammie.) You can use these characters if you must (if you really want to) but please ask me first at firstname.lastname@example.org. I appreciate all feedback, please mail it to that address. The poem "And Death Shall Have No Dominion" is by Dylan Thomas. This is a classical style story of sorts, but I warn you, Diana does exist.
Chapter One: Oh Savior, Why Hast Thou Stolen Away My Childhood?
And death shall have no dominion.
Dead mean naked they shall be one
With the man in the wind and the west moon;
When their bones are picked clean and the clean bones gone,
They shall have stars at elbow and foot;
Though they go mad they shall be sane,
Though they sink through the sea they shall rise again;
Though lovers be lost love shall not;
And death shall have no dominion.
And death shall have no dominion.
Under the windings of the sea
They lying long shall not die windily;
Twisting on racks when sinews give way,
Strapped to a wheel, yet they shall not break;
Faith in their hands shall snap in two,
And the unicorn evils run them through;
Split all ends up they shan't crack;
And death shall have no dominion.
And death shall have no dominion.
No more may gulls cry at their ears
Or waves break loud on the seashores;
Where blew a flower may a flower no more
Lift its head to the blows of the rain;
Through they be mad and dead as nails,
Heads of the characters hammer through daisies;
Break in the sun till the sun breaks down,
And death shall have no dominion.
Sammie closed the book and stared into the fire blankly. It all meant something to her, something called her to help. She twisted a strand of long hair around her finger again and again. The message she had received from Cathy was strange, and she felt it was what her father had been searching for. At the same time, the promise of another like her made her not want to give it to him. If this other still survived she wanted to know him. And then there was Chandler--if she gave away her secret to father he would kill her, she was just a pawn in his game, much as Sammie was.
Entrance--in the park. In the drain by the tree where the popcorn vendor is always during the day. There you can find entrance to his world.
"What have you got yourself into?" She whispered softly.
There was a knock on her door, it was her friend Janice. She let her in without saying anything. Janice sat down on her couch and stared her in the eye "She told you didn't she?"
"None of it makes any sense. I have a poem and directions I can't possibly follow. I'm not giving it to father though."
"Sammie, I'm behind you no matter what you do, but why? Father will kill you too!"
"He might, but he can't. At least I don't think he can. I can survive a battle that he couldn't, he's mortal and normal."
"And you're not mortal as well?"
"I don't know what I am. I have a tail and claws and fangs. I have to hide my tail and keep my emotions under check all the time. But I could let it all loose on him. I don't want Cath--Chandler to die. You do understand that?"
"There is another. Another person like me. I want to meet him, he'd be my brother. Chandler supposedly loved him. If I return her to him, I can meet him. I wouldn't be alone any more."
"Sammie, you are a fool, but you are a damn courageous fool."
"Just, please keep my secret Jannie. Please? I need to find this man she searches for, and I need to keep Chandler alive. She's my friend, and there's nothing more I desire in this entire world than for her to simply be okay. Everything else after that is just extra. All right?"
"Alright. Be peaceful my friend."
Such a strange world it is that often brings us full circle again and again. A scientist that had been playing with genes and genetic engineering had once succeeded in combining a wild ferocious cat with a man years and years before. He became terrified and abandoned the child, not knowing what became of it. His fears abated, and he continued hisresearch. He had many failures after that, the children all died in the womb. Then came Sammie.
She was brilliant. She had a tail, and retractable claws, and fangs that she filed down as she got older. He designed her special clothes to hide her tail and imagined her to be the perfect killing machine. Of course she was not, she was gentle and kind, and often took care of his other projects. She believed herself to be a better scientist than he at times, and worked for him, making more of his projects a success for she could not bear the failures and loss of life that some would have caused without her. Sammie was nearly twenty now, and had lived with him and his work her entire life.
These days, the man was cloning humans. He was quite good at it, and secretly worked away at bringing people back to life. He had made amazing discoveries that went unpublished and were kept away from the human eye. He was going on seventy and was seeking immortality, however, most of his projects would not be applicable to such. However, his discoveries were important nonetheless. The most amazing was about the state of the human soul.
While most people believe that if a human were cloned after death they would start as a child, knowing nothing, as animals often do, he found this simply not to be the case. A human cloned after they die often does not know they have died at all. Some information may be missing, such as the memories leading up to their death, but for the most part who they are is fully intact. Armed with this knowledge, the man Sammie knew as father set out to find his first success.
There had been stories in New York City of a man that was a true beast. He seemed to be like Sammie, only stronger and less like a man. Attacks of Sammie's nature had been tied to a woman named Catherine Chandler, of whom there was sample DNA still in the hospital in which she had been affirmed pregnant. And so, Cathy Chandler was reincarnated in his small new lab in New York.
Sammie fell in love with the city, where she could get lost and hide in crowds and no one ever seemed to notice she was any different. She and her father hired Jannie, who she quickly became friends with. Chandler had wonderful stories and was very sweet really, but Sammie knew it was coming time when her father would want answers. She hated to think what would happen to Cathy if he got them.
Her mind was set; she had to find the man Cathy referred to as Vincent. If he was like her he could aid her in rescuing Cathy. If he was just a man, but a man who still loved her, he could give her a safe place to stay. And if he was her brother, she could finally find someone who would understand the meaning of life as it applied to her. She could finally belong somewhere, with someone, and be free.
The park was dark at night, but Sammie searched out the entrance to the tunnels underneath the city that Catherine had described until she was positive that she had found it. "Vincent? Mouse? Father?" she gulped, "Anybody?" There was no answer, and Sammie was on her own, "No, you couldn't make this easy, I guess I'll just find my own way." Suddenly images of her lost in the tunnels forever, falling down a chasm, and never being seen again flashed through her mind, but that was ridiculous. She had excellent vision, and night vision at that, and made herself positive that she would be fine and set off into the darkness guided only by a small flashlight packed at the last moment.
She walked into the tunnels for what seemed like hours but what really was only about fifteen minutes when suddenly someone came at her from around a corner with a lantern, "Stop! Wait! Don't move!"
She froze, "Hi," she said timidly.
"Hi. I don't know you. You have to leave." Mouse seemed resolute.
"No, I'm here to talk to Vincent."
"Mouse doesn't know you."
"I know Catherine."
"Catherine? She's been gone a long time." Mouse looked said.
"Yes I know, but I know her. I need to talk to Vincent. I've been told I can do so here."
"Yes good, yes fine, but how can I trust?"
Sammie sighed, and reached behind her and pulled out her tail, "I think Vincent will want to meet me. I'm like he is."
Mouse's eyes grew wide, "Yes, take you to Vincent. I am Mouse," he stuck out his hand and shook hers vigorously. Sammie followed him through the twisted tunnels choosing to leave her tail out for it seemed to make these people trust her more. Even so, she got many strange looks from the tunnel dwellers as she walked past behind this man everyone knew as Mouse. Oddly enough, she felt it was not her tail that they all found so fascinating, nor her slightly feline looks. Rather, they just seemed interested in the newcomer who was being led to the chambers that Vincent called home.
"Vincent is in there. I'll tell him you are here."
Sammie leaned against the wall outside the cave. She wondered what she could ever say to this man. He was her brother, she hoped he could be her friend, and she knew where the woman he once loved now was. There were so many things she needed to tell him and so many more he probably needed explained to him--and there was so little time.
A soft deep voice that made her shudder, "Come in."
She rounded the corner with more than a little trepidation. Vincent had his back to her, and all she could really see to distinguish him from any other man was the large amount of hair he had, and she supposed in other decades of the past century even that would not have set him apart.
"I'm a friend of Catherine's."
"Catherine?" his voice was even softer.
"Yes Catherine. She sent me to find you. We--I, I need your help."
"Catherine is dead."
"Oh Vincent I know you believe that but I have reasons you simply must believe me if you wish to help her," she crossed the room and stood behind him and put her hand on his wide expansive shoulder, "You can turn, I know what you look like and I'm not afraid."
Slowly he turned to face her and looked at her, "You are too young to have known Catherine." And he turned his face away sadly.
"No I'm not. Vincent, many of the things I've come here to tell you you should have known long ago. I also should have much more time to tell them, but I'll tell you quickly because I've no other choice. Time is running out, and if you believe me, all is not lost. If not, well, I'll be on my own, and me and Cathy both may die."
"Being on one's own is not so bad, it just takes getting used to."
"Vincent," she grabbed his chin and looked into his eyes, "Look at me. Can't you tell what I am?" She tickled his nose with her tail and he suddenly was stunned, stepping four feet back and sitting down on his bed.
"Who are you?"
"I'm Sammie, your--" she tried to find a word but could not, "For all intents and purposes I am your sister. I was born from the same man's work, an evil man, who right now is working on cloning human DNA, cloning people, so that he can give himself immortality. It won't work though, it can't. I won't let it. He has had a lot of success and can bring people back, but only at the age at which they died. Once you advance the body that far the soul finds it again and goes on as if it never died, was sick, or had anything bad happen to it. If it died of old age, it will die again.
"Because of his success with me, his fear about earlier failures and even successes went away. He no longer gives away the people he creates, he keeps them and uses them and then kills them. And because he is no longer afraid he is looking for you.
"He found a swatch of DNA from years ago, from a woman that he believed was connected to a man beast let loose in this city. And she sent me to find you."
"No, no it can't be, it can't be true."
"Vincent I know the stories of your own origins may come as a shock, but look, you were supposed to be a killing machine, and instead you're a beautiful man. And I, I was supposed to be the same and I don't hurt people, I help them. God created us, whether he thinks so or not. Catherine is in grave danger and as strong as I am, I need help."
He was crying and Sammie was simply at a loss about what to do. She sensed someone behind her and turned to meet a pair of eyes nearly identical to Vincent's, but in a very normal body. She pulled her tail in close to her and cocked her head at him.
He entered the room and put his arms around Vincent, "What did you do to my Father?"
"Nothing, I didn't do anything but tell him the truth."
"Just get out of here! Can't you tell that you're upsetting him? Get out!"
She backed out of the room and nearly ran into Mouse again in the doorway, "Tell Vincent?"
"Yeah, I did."
"Mouse who is this?" Father seemed to appear out of nowhere.
"I don't know."
"I'm Sammie," she shook his hand bravely and waved her tail up in the air behind her, "I'm like Vincent."
"How did you get here?"
"I was given directions by a friend, she sent me to tell Vincent the truth, about everything."
"Yeah well sometimes the truth does more harm than good." The younger man came out of the chamber again, "He's resting now and I'd like you to leave him alone. Thank you." And he left.
"Excuse me asking, but what exactly happened here?"
"Can we please go somewhere private and where he doesn't have to hear again?"
"Certainly, come this way."
Once in Father's library Sammie explained her story to him, going into scientific detail where necessary, but kept on stressing the necessity of rescuing Catherine now.
"And this upset Vincent?"
"It must have been a shock, but she told me to."
"Well this is definitely Catherine's handwriting, I have no reason to doubt your story, and I guess I cannot afford to. You must excuse Jacob, he's a very angry young man."
"He has every right to be, at me."
"No he doesn't, he's always like that, nothing has ever happened to change it either."
"So now what?"
"Well, I don't want my son going Above anymore. But, he must hear you out and understand that if your story is true, Catherine and you may be joining us here."
"Is that an invitation?"
"My dear you leave me no choice. Your physical ability could prove useful in training Jacob, not to mention your scientific skills could put you well as a teacher. As much as I want to, I cannot turn you away. Please excuse me."
He turned away and poured a cup of tea for himself, "Would you like some?"
"Yes, thank you," Sammie took the cup gratefully and sipped at it gingerly at first, "I may need Vincent's help in getting her out, I don't know. That's not why I came here."
"Then why did you come here?" Father sat back down.
"I honestly don't know. I wish I did." She looked down. "This is very good."
There was a long pause, Father had no intention of letting the girl get away without telling him all that he wanted to know.
"I wanted to see if it was real. I wanted to see why my father, my creator, whatever, why he wants to know this place so badly. Why Vincent is so important. Why Catherine loves this all so much. I needed to know that this wasn't some fantasy of hers. If it was, and I took her out, I'd have nowhere to go. My apartment is not safe. They know everywhere I go, everyone I know, I'm losing everything."
"All who have joined us here have lost a lot. But, eventually, they gain a family too. Sometimes you need to sacrifice."
"Between us, I have a home, a car, but none of it's really mine. It's all his. The only thing I have is in my heart and my mind, and that can come with."
"I don't grant people entrance here this easily so often Sammie. We are trusting you with our dearest secrets."
"I know your dearest secrets Father."
"Not all of them. You did not know about Jacob."
"No, I guess that's true."
"He would be valuable too, to this man that created you."
"Yes, he would."
"You must prevent him from finding us at all costs."
"I will, Father. I could love this place, it could be home. I'm just--"
"I'm worried about how Vincent and Jacob will react to Catherine and I. From what I just saw, I don't even know if we can stay here. It will break Catherine's heart, and it will break mine."
"Sammie, let me speak to Vincent. Do what you must. Bring your things here first, as many as you can, and then bring Catherine to us. I miss her dearly, she became a daughter to me in those years."
"Thank you, I will."
"I'll have Mouse lead you home out of the tunnels, we hope to see you soon. I'll have Mary prepare a chamber for you."
"You're letting her stay here! How dare you!"
"Jacob I had no choice."
"Like Hell you had no choice. You codgering old interfering man! You have no idea what this is going to do to Vincent and me."
"It will do to Vincent as Vincent chooses, and it will do to you as you choose. I really have no control over it. I have made my choice, and the board, including your Father, agrees. It is out of your hands Jacob and that is where I wish it to stay. Sammie will be one of us. She is a worthy addition to our society and she needs our help. Who would we be if we did not help people in her position? Who would we be if we were not there for her?"
"You're just trying to destroy us. Catherine is dead."
"Your mother may be alive again, do you not even want to meet her?"
Jacob laughed and turned away, "My mother should have never loved my father. My father should have never loved my mother. I should have never been here. I'm not a freak outside just one inside. All this is their fault and now here they'll be together again. Just freaking great. That's all I need. And when she leaves again then what will he do?"
Father had long ago given up crying over this boy, this lost soul, whose anger and hate knew no bounds. Convincing Vincent to let Sammie come down and prove herself correct with an intact Catherine had been easy. Convincing Jacob not to hurt or undermine Sammie in any way was difficult, however, if not impossible.
Sammie returned to her apartment hurriedly, throwing open bags and drawers, and filling them with her clothes and belongings. She packed all the extra money she had stored away. The research facility had provided her with food, clothing, and a home. She had not needed her additional salary. She could have spent it on trifling belongings, but had chosen not to. She figured the Underground community could use her money now for better things, maybe they could buy food or medical supplies. She had no idea how they had existed before. Catherine had hinted at a network of "Helpers," but Sammie doubted that they could possibly completely support the community on their own. She looked around at the ransacked apartment and checked her watch &endash; she would have just enough time to drop off her stuff in one of the tunnels and make it to work on time. They had pointed her to a tunnel closer to her home, and so she began the arduous task of moving her things there. She would not return here, she knew that. Her entire life seemed imprinted into the very walls, ceiling, and furniture. As a last measure, she took her blankets, pillows, and a few soap and shampoo items that she was sure she could live without &endash; but would also go a long way to making her feel at home.
She arrived at work slightly late, to a stern reprimand from her immediate superior Clarence. Clarence was one of those individuals who was constantly punctual. Sammie was sure he actually slept at the facility. He never had any problems with her, this place was her life. She couldn't understand his insistence now about being mean towards her.
"And why are you late?" He glared at her down his long, long nose. The thought nearly made her snicker.
"I had to pick up some groceries."
"You know his rules about being late. You know he wants you here on time. Why couldn't you do your grocery shopping on the way home?"
"It's usually not open, and I was hungry besides," she looked at him sternly, positive that her eyes were flashing feline at the moment, as they usually did when she got angry.
"And don't go pulling any of that cat bullshit on me Sam, I know you're not human, you don't have to remind me."
Sammie restrained the urge to growl at him. She knew if she actually went after him, or so much as let her claws hang out he would be running his skinny little ass as fast as he could out of there. Everyone secretly feared her, which bothered her to some extent. She was the gentlest with all the patients &endash; couldn't they see that? Or were they simply blind?
"And even if you aren't human Samantha, you still have to be here on time like the rest of the humans. I expect you to be on time tomorrow, do you hear me?" He raised his voice and stood on tiptoe, assumbably to intimidate her. Having never been intimidated in her life she smiled sweetly.
"Yes Sir," letting the "sir" purr more than usual, turned, and walked away.
She shook her head and threw off her coat onto a chair in the hall outside the rooms of the current patients. Catherine was the only one awake so far, as indicated by a green light on above her door. Some of the others were not sentient yet, and one was scheduled for execution later in the day. She also discovered that some of the animals were to be killed at the same time. Now that human cloning research was nearly complete they obviously weren't necessary anymore. She put on her lab coat and sighed. She only wished she could save them all. As it was, she would be lucky to save one. A dog ran by her, whom she called Maverick, barking happily. She checked the chart again, and to be sure, he was scheduled to be put to sleep in a few days. Poor Maverick was practically normal, except he had a cat's tail. She supposed she felt a certain attachment to him because of that, and picked him up. He licked her face and she laughed.
"Yeah, you'll be okay Mavi, I'll see to that too."
She entered Catherine's room and dumped Mavi on the bed next to Cathy.
"How are you today?"
"I'm okay, feeling a little stronger."
"That's good," Sammie shut the door to the room and sat down, "Strong enough for a rather long walk?"
"They let us take walks?"
"Well no, not usually. This is a special case."
Cathy looked at her strangely but remained quiet.
"See that window over there? It opens. Nearly out on to the parking lot. At ten tonight, that window is going to be unlocked, and the cameras will all be turned off. Come here."
Cathy followed her to the window, "The silver Continental is mine, do you think you can remember that?" She paused, and Cathy nodded. "I'll be waiting there after I take care of the security stuff, and Maverick will be with me, won't you boy?"
Maverick tilted his head and whined.
"You'll be fine, both of you will."
"Are you saying what I think you are?"
"Saying what?" Sammie smiled.
"Did you find them?"
"Yes, I did. After I get you to an entrance I need to go ditch my car someplace far from any entrances, where they'll never think to look. Then I'll go to the one near my apartment, that's where I stored all my stuff. Do you remember the way from the drainpipe?"
Cathy nodded and crossed her arms, still looking out the window. "You shouldn't risk this on me."
"Risk what? I'm gaining a lot more than I'm losing, trust me."
Never in her life had Sammie ever desired so much to eat her own words. After work she scooped up Maverick and bolted for her car. She grabbed a few files, under the pretense of looking over them at home, and got into her car. She tried to still her heart as she drove away.
A few short hours later she pulled back up in front of the security desk.
"Getting in some late night work?" The guard asked her.
"Yeah, I am. I took home some files to look over and I spotted something. I want to run it under the microscope and get a real good look."
"You have a good night then Sam."
She hated lying to people that were actually nice. She shook her head and entered the main doors. The main security panel was directly to her left. She sat down and pulled a floppy and CD--ROM out of the file she was carrying. It was empty besides. Inserting the two into the computer terminal, the CD began spinning. The floppy opened the windows in Catherine's room, a spare unguarded gate used to bring in large lab equipment on semis, and started the video on the CD as a loop. The camera that was normally trained on Catherine's room just showed her as sleeping. The camera in the parking lot would show a completely normal night, except her car would be there. Who would ever know?
It was 9:55, time to get moving.
"Nothing to it, right?" Sammie felt her hands shaking as she hurried back out to her car to wait. By 10:05 the program would be back to usual, the gate and windows would lock, and their opportunity for escape would be over. When the CD and floppy were discovered she would really be over. There would be no more working here, or having a life above ground. If she wasn't careful, there would be no more being alive at all. It all depended on Catherine. She tried to still her heart, positive anybody outside the car could hear it too. She had to go to the bathroom, her palms were sweating, and she did not dare to even look in the direction of Catherine's room. She was simply too nervous. She closed her eyes and leaned her head back.
The knock on her car window made her jump and move so quickly it hurt her neck. When she saw it was Catherine she unlocked the doors. As soon as she was in, they were moving, out of the parking lot, onto the street, toward the park
"Hello," Catherine said softly.
"Hi," Sammie glanced over at her, "Sorry, I'm really nervous. Never did anything like this before."
Catherine nodded, "It is a little different from when Vincent used to rescue me."
Sammie grinned, "Yeah I imagine it is. Can't imagine him using a computer to get your out."
"No. Did you see him?"
"Yeah I did. He's amazing. Absolutely amazing."
"Yes, he is."
"You really love him don't you?"
"I wish the best for you two, no matter what else happens."
They were silent for most of the rest of the trip. When they arrived at the tunnel entrance at the drainage pipe Sammie slowed, unlocked the doors, and let Catherine out.
"I'll catch up with you soon. They are expecting your arrival. Good luck."
"Good luck to you too."
Catherine shut the door and Sammie drove away into the night.
Catherine closed her eyes. She had not expected to be nervous at this point in her journey, and yet, she was. So many years had passed since she last had been here, and had not aged a day. Vincent would be nearly 20 years older, of course, Father had expected that Vincent would not age completely normally. This would be a good thing now, although it would have been a problem otherwise. And Father, would Father be alive? The children would be adults. Everything felt the same and different all at once.
"Halt, who goes there?"
She jumped, and looked into the gloom, "It's Catherine."
"Catherine? Catherine?" The stranger stepped forward and pulled out a flashlight which he shone directly into her eyes. "Catherine!" He jumped at her and hugged her. It took her a few moments to realize that the overenthusiastic man was Mouse.
"Oh Mouse, hi! I've missed you so much." She gave Mouse a hug in return.
"Father said Catherine return. This way." He scampered off, just as quickly as ever. She followed him down the maze of tunnels.
Some of the turns had changed along the way, although many remained the same. She saw extra chambers with children busy playing inside, and a very distinct school area. Many of the people carried flashlights rather than torches, and it just seemed the people had more. She could not decide whether she liked this change or not, but she figured that all things must eventually change, and also that the extra things showed that they had extra money.
She was led to Father's library, where he was waiting expectantly for her. He extended his arms and gave her a warm hug and gestured for her to sit down across from him.
"My dear Catherine, I extend my warmest welcome home to you. Would you like some tea?"
"Yes, thank you."
"We've all missed you very much. I've set up one of the chambers for you, Mary found some of the clothes you used to wear, and there are some bathing chambers not far from there either--"
He went on but slowly Catherine zoned out. Father began walking around the room talking to her. She looked around for Vincent, positive that any moment he would enter and crush her to his chest and everything would be okay again. But he did not appear. She could not feel him. It was as if he were gone. Yet, Sammie had said he was still here, somewhere.
She felt Father's hand on her shoulder, "He's not going to come."
"Why?" she felt tears forming.
Father sighed and sat back down across from her, "Catherine, this has been a long time. The tunnels are different, the people are different, and Vincent is different. He remembers carrying you to your apartment when you died. He recalls meeting Joe, your funeral, fighting the people that killed you, meeting Diana, and finally, moving on."
"She was the person that investigated your case. She and Vincent got, close."
"Oh." Catherine began to find the floor extremely interesting.
"They were never like the two of you, and only are friends now, but it is confusing Vincent. He is afraid of hurting her, afraid of what you are, and afraid of hurting you, all at the same time. And then there is Jacob."
"Catherine, you remember being pregnant don't you? Your son is here."
She looked at him, directly in the eyes, questioning.
"He is normal, he lives here because his father lives here. However, he is very angry. Those things that Vincent carries on the outside of him he carries within, I am afraid. There are many things that make Vincent want to hold back, and Jacob not approving is one.
"I welcome you here, and I am not alone. It will just take some getting used to again."
"For all that I accepted Vincent for what he is, why cannot he accept me?"
"Give him time, he will."
Catherine was sure she would cry at any moment. The reunion she had so longed for was not to come.
Sammie dragged a bag behind her, lugging along the last armful of stuff to what was rapidly becoming a very cluttered cavern, but what would hopefully soon be her home. Maverick followed behind her happily, barking and waving his tail at anybody they happened to see. The tunnel dwellers had been made aware of her joining them, so no one asked her any questions about her being there. She simply wished that they might have asked her name, or perhaps introduced themselves, but she supposed all that would come later. Maverick bounded up onto her bed, which she had intentionally left uncluttered, and barked at her.
"Yeah it probably is time to sleep. I wonder how Catherine is doing," she petted his head absently and he laid down. Mavi whined and she looked down at him, "I could go check on her," she paused and sat down, "But she's probably with Vincent already. Then again, I don't know. Everything has changed here a lot since she was here I think, you agree Maverick?" He whined again, which was about as noncommittal an answer as a dog can probably give, "Yeah, I think things are really different. At least we have someplace to be, you should consider yourself lucky you little dog--cat."
"Yes, you are lucky." The deep voice resonated off the walls and she looked up startled, finding herself to be looking directly upon Vincent, "I came to apologize for my son's behavior. I was shocked by your words, but he had no right to behave as he did."
"It's okay," she sat down next to Maverick, "I understand. Most people don't like me that much if they meet me without really getting to know me. Happens when you have a tail."
"Yes, I understand this," he stepped forward into the chamber. He saw Maverick, "Who's this?"
"Oh this is Maverick. He's a dog, but he has a cat tail, which is how we named him that, he's a little bit unusual. I couldn't leave him behind, they were getting ready to put him to sleep."
Vincent petted Maverick, "Why is that necessary?"
"Like all of Christopher, our creator's, 'creations,' he destroys them when they are no longer needed. He is scared of his own power yet he revels in it. I am lucky to be alive, you are luckier to be alive. I could not let him hurt Catherine or Maverick--"
She saw him turn his face away, "What? What did I say?"
"I do not know what to think about Catherine being here. It has been a very long time for me, and a very short time for her. I do not know how to approach her. Many things have changed."
"Take it slow?" Sammie tilted her head.
"I do not know if there is a pace slow enough. Since Catherine left there was someone else."
"I did not love her as I loved Catherine, and I never lost my love for Catherine, but I never expected her to return. People do not come back from death often."
"Or at all."
"Not that it matters, she is here now. And Diana is still here as well. We are close friends, and seeing me involved with Catherine again will hurt her. Yet, not being involved with Catherine will hurt Catherine. I do not know what to do."
"If you're not actively involved with this other person then why can't you go back to her?"
"It's not that easy, nothing in my heart and soul is that easy."
"It would be for me."
"Have you ever loved?"
Sammie sighed, "No."
"Then you cannot possibly know how difficult it can be."
"How often do you see this Diana?"
"Every few weeks she comes below and brings us supplies. She is a dear friend, one that the Tunnels cannot afford to lose." Vincent said.
"Before she returns see Catherine. Spend time with her. You will break her heart if you don't. And if you are together, and it cannot be, she will know that and be able to move on."
"It would break my heart to see her."
"Can you not feel her?"
"Yes, yes I can. And although there was a time when I could not imagine life without her love, and her heart beating here next to mine, that time has passed. I know that she is there and she loves. I do not know if I can actively participate in that love. She will find a new place here, or move on."
"And go where? There is no life for the reincarnated Above."
"Well then she must find a new place here. That is all there is."
"Try Vincent. At least think about trying."
He shook his head, "Not now. Father wishes to speak to you in the morning. Mary will come to wake you if you sleep too long."
"I will see you tomorrow Sammie." He left without saying anything else.
"Damn," Sammie murmured. She lay down and petted Maverick until they both fell into a restless sleep.
Catherine's dreams were troubled that night. There was Vincent, loving another. Hurting her, hating her, pushing her away. In one dream she had lived in the Tunnels for years and never seen him. In another, she left for the world Above again only to be killed almost immediately. Vincent did not come to her rescue. In others, Joe, her old boss, was sleeping with the same woman as Vincent, once even at the same time. She could not stop dreaming about Vincent not being in her life. When she was awake she could not help the empty void that his presence could have filled so easily. Why was she so alone?
She got up early even though it had been a very late night. She was exhausted, but dragged herself awake and to a nearby bathing chamber. She undressed slowly and gingerly sank into the relaxing warm water. It felt good, even after all the bad things that were beginning to happen here. She almost longed for her life Above, or what was left of it. Perhaps she could talk Joe into letting her visit him there, and do things with him.
She toweled herself off and put on a blouse and a skirt. She combed out her hair and slipped on some shoes. She started wandering around the tunnels, looking for someone to talk to. She ran into Mary, who was on her way to wake her and Sammie.
"Hello Catherine," she gave her a warm hug, "Welcome back."
"Hi, how've you been?"
"Oh wonderful, especially now that you are back with us."
"Thank you." Catherine wished she had more to say.
"Do you like your chamber?"
"Yes, very much, especially how close it is to that hot spring."
"We figured you would enjoy that," Mary smiled.
Catherine did not dare ask the older woman about Vincent, "Have you seen Sammie?"
"I am on my way to wake her now, would you like to come with me?"
"If she's not up yet I'll just talk to her later."
"Alright, have a good day!"
"You too Mary."
Vincent paced inside his chamber. As soon as he reached one wall, he would turn back around and go the other way. He could feel Catherine, stronger than ever, and she was very sad. It hurt him to hurt her so, yet he did not know what choice he had. He was not dating Diana, therefore, what was his difficulty in dealing with Catherine.
"Why haven't you seen her at least?" He had not heard Father enter.
"She is not Catherine Father!" He nearly roared at the poor old man, "Don't you see? It is a different body, a different person."
"Well she certainly seems to be Catherine. Are you not connected with her?"
"Yes, the connection is there. But she is not Catherine, my mind tells me so." Vincent spun and sat on his bed.
"She is, you must give her time."
"Father you know as well as I do that she is dead. How dare she come back to us?"
"Now you are being foolish Vincent. We all long for the return of the people we have lost."
"Without any hope of them really returning!" Vincent yelled, "She is nothing but a ghost to me!"
"I pity you Vincent. You've been given a great gift and you refuse to accept it," Father left.
Vincent let out a great roar of frustration and sunk to his knees and cried.