Chapter 1 – Vincent’s Chamber
Catherine enters Vincent’s chamber; Father sits next to Vincent as he lies upon his bed. Father looks tired, haggard: Catherine makes an obvious effort to conceal her own fears.
Catherine: Has their been any change? Any improvement?
Father: None; if anything, he’s slightly weaker.
Catherine: No more nightmares?
Father: No; but I’m not sure if that means he’s resting more peacefully, or his body has grown too weak to sustain them.
Catherine: It’s still better than having him roaring about finding my body on a rooftop.
Father: It might have happened, if your friend Dianna hadn’t helped…
Catherine: Get some rest, Father. I’ll stay with him again tonight.
Father: Are you sure, Catherine? I hate to leave you alone…
Catherine: We’ve been over this Father. You need to rest if you are to care for Vincent, and the rest of those Below.
Father: I know, but it’s so hard. To watch my son wither away…
Catherine: I refuse to give up, Father. He’ll come back – to all of us.
Father: (Father stands, checks Vincent’s IV, then gives Catherine a Hug) Your faith and love give me strength. Goodnight Catherine.
Catherine: Goodnight Father
After Father leaves, Catherine’s demeanor changes. Giving into the pain, she places her head on Vincent’s lap and quietly weeps. Suddenly, a comforting hand falls on her shoulder.
Narcissa: You mustn’t give up hope, child.
Catherine: (Startled) Narcissa? You surprised me. You heard about Vincent? You usually stay below the level of the pipes…
Narcissa: I knew child. I’m very worried for him. I love him dearly – almost as much as you do.
Catherine: (Smiling) Everyone loves Vincent. How could they not?
Narcissa: Many are put off by his differences. Few appreciate them– or yearn to explore them as you do.
Catherine (Turning a Bright pink) Narcissa! I…
Narcissa: (Smiling) Don’t, Child. I was young once. (Turning serious) But our Vincent, he be very sick, sink into dark place.
Catherine: Neither Father nor Peter know enough about Vincent’s biochemistry…
Narcissa: That’s where they are wrong. They think dis is just because Vincent looks different. But dis is his fear of hurting others, his anger about how different he his. All men feel that way. His ‘chemistry’ makes it worse – but not by much. De dark places are in all of us – Vincent’s time alone has made him more vulnerable, that’s all.
Catherine: (Sounding skeptical) Even if that’s true, how does it help us?
Narcissa: As his sameness has endangered him, maybe his differences can save him
Catherine: (Touching Vincent’s face) But how can we reach him?
Narcissa: We can’t child – but you can.
Catherine: (Turning towards Narcissa) Me? But how?
Narcissa: Through your special link, your ‘bond’.
Catherine: But all day and night I think about how much I love and need him, how special he is…
Narcissa: He not listen child. He inside, in dark place. He heeds you not. He can’t hear you. You have to go to him.
Catherine: Go…to him?
Narcissa: Yes. Go inside, like he is. Find that link, that special place where you are connected, and bring our Vincent back to de light. I go inside a lot – my strength is there, and de dark places no longer frighten me; I made peace with them long ago. But only you are connected to Vincent, only you can reach him.
Catherine: But…I don’t know how to – meditate, if that’s what you mean.
Narcissa: And there is no time to teach you. Maybe someday. But I bring you a cheat. (Narcissa reaches inside her cloak and brings out a small bottle). This herb potion I used for years, before I realized I could do it myself. It put you into a deep sleep, and you dream – but you will know you are dreaming, and remain aware of why you are there.
Catherine: Yes, my friend Jenny does that a lot – she calls it ‘lucid dreaming’
Narcissa: Yes, that’s what they call it now. It let you explore your dreams, and the places inside. Sometimes it frighten if you don’t understand what is happening. But you must not waste time exploring your world. You must find the way into Vincent’s, and draw him out. You must convince him we all have dark places, not just him.
Catherine: How will I know the way?
Narcissa: That I don’t know. I have peeked into others dreams, but never entered them. Only your bond will let you do that. I cannot tell you what you will find.
Narcissa: But I must warn you: Going into de dark places is very dangerous. If Vincent goes deeper, he could drag you down with him. You might never wake up. The rest of your life - long or short – would be dark pain.
Catherine: (Glancing at Vincent) What must I do?
Narcissa directs Catherine to lie next to Vincent. Catherine feels slightly embarrassed, but complies. Narcissa raises the bottle to her lips. Catherine drinks. She suddenly felt very lightheaded.
Narcissa: I had to mix it strong, as we have so little time. Most who dream like this wake up when they wish to. You will not be able to for many hours; if you not succeed, then maybe not at all. Remember child, you must find your way to Vincent, and bring him away from de dark places.
Catherine: (With great effort) How long…?
Narcissa: (Sounding from a great distance) You are almost asleep now. Remember child: These things are not real – but can still hurt you…
* * *
Chapter 2 – Catherine’s Apartment
Catherine awoke on her couch; she stretched after a quick nap…
Suddenly, she remembered that she was asleep. As a test, she willed herself to fly. After a few moments, her feet floated off the floor. She started to giggle, but then remembered she desperately needed to find Vincent. She ran out to the balcony; although it was night (it had looked like noon inside her apt) he was not there. She checked all over her Apt, but there was no sign of him. Suddenly, the phone rang.
Catherine: (answering the phone) Hello?
Jenny: Cath? It’s me Jenny! Boy, I’ve been trying to reach you for weeks! Every night when I dream, I try to reach you – this is the first time it’s worked!
Catherine: Jenny, this is incredible, but I really can’t talk now…
Jenny: No way! I want to know all about this new boyfriend of yours you keep hiding from me. Being asleep is like being hypnotized Catherine Chandler – you can’t lie. So what’s his name?
Catherine: (Without thinking) Vincent – you rat! When I wake up, I’m going to be so mad at you – and so relieved that I finally told you…
Catherine suddenly becomes a 15-year-old schoolgirl, giggling with her best friend about her crush. Just as suddenly, she becomes an adult again and makes a dash for the front door. She knows how to get to Vincent’s world.
Reaching the basement climbs down into the sub-basement, and opens the door into the tunnels.
* * *
Chapter 3 – Above
Catherine stood still, the sight having taken her breath away. Instead of the familiar storm drains and tunnels, a lush valley opened up before her; roiling hills, a sparking stream, and a castle stood before her. It was very medieval, or maybe something out of Tolkien. Catherine steeped over the threshold…
And felt different. Catching her reflection in the stream, she saw that she was wearing the most incredible gown she had ever seen. It was yellow and white, with a bell-like bottom; on her head was a long pointed hat, like princesses once wore. Her hair and makeup were impeccable; even to her own critical eye, she looked beautiful.
Catherine: (Reaching for the reflection) This…is how Vincent sees me…I never realized…
Hearing a noise, Catherine spins around. Behind her, a carriage pulls up; the door opens and the thugs who disfigured her leap out, armed with knives.
Catherine: (Voice filled with terror) Oh God! Not again!
Picking up her dress, she ran towards the castle. She reaching the gate, she pounds on it, and screamed for someone to help her… Suddenly, it swung open. She ran inside, the gate closing behind her. She ran into the courtyard and collapsed. Distantly, she heard the thugs curse and leave.
After catching her breath, the princess walked around and marveled at the architecture and the wonderful roses. No one answered her calls; eventually she found an open door.
As she entered, part of her vaguely realized it was getting more difficult to remember that she was dreaming. She knew that she was the privileged daughter of a dotting father, that she had studied in a far away school and lived in a great tower in the sky, but could picture none of it. She was in the keep of some powerful lord, and it was not her place to contradict him in his own lands.
Putting aside all other thoughts, she continued to seek him out and thank him for the rescue. Finally, she finds a stairway going down.
* * *
Chapter 4 – Below
Catherine walked down rock-hewn corridors dimly lit by torches. It was no place for a Lady like herself, yet it seemed vaguely familiar. The area was like a labyrinth, and she was soon hopelessly lost.
Suddenly, a horrible stench, like a stable, assailed her nostrils, followed by a low growl. Turning, she could see something in the shadows.
Catherine: Who – whose there?
Then the Beast entered the light. It was 10 feet tall, monstrous looking, covered with hair, cloven hooves, matching legs, clawed hands and a terrible bestial face that was like an enraged lion. It wore the tattered remains of royal robes, and a cloak made of shadows.
Catherine was terrified beyond rational thought. She felt tiny and helpless.
Beast: WHY ARE YOU HERE!?! I WISH TO BE LEFT ALONE! ALONE!
Catherine: I…I…I just wanted to thank you for saving me…
Beast: DO YOU FEEL SAFE NOW?!? WHY DO YOU THINK I WISH TO BE ALONE?!? WHO ARE YOU TO ENTER UNBIDEN?!? WHAT IS YOUR NAME?!?
Catherine: My…My name…My name is Be…
Something was wrong. She knew she was supposed to say Belle…but that wasn’t right. It was the right answer…but it felt wrong…
Beast: WELL?!? WHAT IS YOUR NAME?!?
She was so terrified she couldn’t think…but Belle was wrong…but she couldn’t think…couldn’t remember…
Then, from far away, she heard a familiar voice ‘Cath…Catherine Chandler…’ It was her best friend Jenny. With that she could remember her other life…and that the man she loved was lost in pain and darkness. She knew that if she gave in, the fantasy would take over forever; she would be Belle, and her Vincent the Beast, lost in this dark place, their real lives forgotten. Even now, her fear made it so hard…
Catherine: She closed her eyes and tried to speak. But though she knew her old name, she could not say it. As far as Vincent/The Beast was concerned, she was Belle, and he bent all his will to make her conform to the nightmare. She felt his rage inside her, trying to force her to speak…
At last she understood. Vincent’s rage. She didn’t just see it, she felt it inside of her, like he did. Felt it blotting out every thought and memory, just forcing action. A tidal wave…
She concentrated on what Jenny had said: she had to tell the truth. As Isaac had taught her, she concentrated every once of will against the terrible rage that almost owned her. As she had defended the innocent in court, she fought to defend Jenny’s distant voice, to defend her very self. With an effort that made her dream body shake and left her physical body lying in a pool of sweat, both spoke: ‘I’m Catherine Chandler. You are Vincent, the man I love’.
She collapsed – into Vincent’s arms. Not the terrible Beast, but her Vincent.
* * *
Chapter 5 – The Truth
Vincent: How…how can this be? Catherine? It’s really you? This is all nightmare, but somehow, you’re real…
In a rush of memory, Catherine explained how she came to this place.
Vincent: You should not have come here. This is what I feared…that the Beast would hurt you…
Catherine: No Vincent! Don’t you see? This is what Narcissa meant. When you are alone is when you become ill. Like after you hurt Lisa, you withdrew, and the illness struck. It’s not mysterious, Vincent – it’s depression. A lot of people become physically ill from it, become withdrawn when they brood too much. You become ill because you’re human, not because you’re different. If anything, your bestial side is what lets you recover so quickly. Being alone is what sent you here; seeing the real me is what brought you back.
Vincent: (Looking away in shame) But you’ve seen – felt – my rage. You know how terrible it is. I’m an animal. I could never let myself love you, for I am only a beast.
Catherine: Come with me.
Catherine leads Vincent up into the sunlit courtyard. Across the meadow, back through the tunnel entrance (as they cross the threshold, their clothing becomes normal again). Finally, into her Apt.
Vincent: Why are we here?
Catherine: Because now you’re in my dream. Now you will feel what I feel. Vincent, there are things I can’t tell anyone. Even you. But in this place, to save you…
Catherine closed her eyes. She remembered the ones who assaulted her. She felt something she kept buried deep inside. Beyond the anger. She felt something dark. Deep inside, she wanted to hurt them. With her own hands. She wanted them to suffer. To hurt. To bleed. The emotions were raw and terrible. Vincent felt them wash over her. He could not believe how familiar it was. Tears streaked his face…
Catherine: (Opening her eyes: she spoke very quietly) You see Vincent? We all have those terrible thoughts. We all have the dark places. You think you’re different. You’re not.
Catherine took his hand. She led him to the bedroom. He looked inside.
On the bed, Catherine’s tiny form was pinned by Vincent’s powerful frame. With every thrust, she cried out with pleasure…
Vincent: (Turning away) This cannot be…
Catherine: You only let yourself see part of me. But this is part of me too. These desires are a part of me. I could never bring myself to talk to you about them; I should have. I let you think of me as some pure image. Your princess (Catherine spun around; she was suddenly wearing the Belle outfit). But I’m more than that Vincent. I’m as passionate as you are (again she spun around; this time, she was wearing a thin negligee). You like?
Vincent: (Taking Catherine into his arms) Very much…and I feel how much you want this. But, I’m still…different. What if something goes wrong?
Catherine: Vincent, we wouldn’t be the first couple to have problems in the bedroom! We’ll work it out. Just don’t run away – stay with me, with all those that love you. That’s what life is. If you feel like going off and brooding, I’ll pack a lunch and go with you – I love the tunnels!
Suddenly, Their world dissolved; Catherine was aware that she was in Vincent’s chamber, but her body was still asleep. But someone was shaking it…
Father: Catherine, wake up! You’re drenched with sweat! Are you alright?
Catherine: (Groggy) Yes, I think so…feel a bit hung over…
Father: I’m not surprised, letting Narcissa drug you! I can’t believe you fell for that…
Vincent: (Also groggy) I for one am very glad she did Father.
Father, for once, was utterly speechless as his son slowly sat up and took Catherine’s hand. Narcissa just smiled.
* * *
Epilogue I - Several days latter
Catherine stood on her balcony wearing a heavy terrycloth robe. It was a bit chill, but she didn’t seem to mind. Suddenly, she smiled and turned towards Vincent as he landed behind her. For once, she didn’t run into his arms.
Catherine: I felt you as you grew closer.
Vincent: Side effects of Narcissa’s drug…?
Catherine: Maybe. The link is as strong for me now as it is for you. I don’t know if it will last. I hope so.
Vincent: If you know what I’m feeling you know why I’m here.
Vincent: I sense no resistance from you.
Catherine lets her robe fall to the ground. Underneath, she was wearing the negligee from the dream.
Catherine: (In a silky voice) You made it very hard to make it through work today…
Seconds later, she was in his arms. Shortly after that, the bedroom…
Epilogue II – A Month Later
Narcissa puttered around her chamber. She hummed contentedly.
Then, Catherine entered.
Catherine: It’s good to see you again.
Narcissa: And you child. Vincent is well and happy?
Catherine: Yes, I think he is.
Narcissa: Good. Now lets get to work on today’s lesson. I have much to teach, and my time grows short – but I’m content that the old ways will not be forgotten. …