Chapter 12

 
-1-

 

Wednesday, February 28, 1990

 

Diana awoke to the softly clanging music of the pipes. She lay warm under the weight of several thick quilts and strained to understand what was being said as layers of messages reverberated in her ears. She soon gave up. The signals were too fast, and her own deciphering skills were still rudimentary.

 

She stretched every muscle in her body before sitting up, pulling the covers with her. The chamber was chilly, but not uncomfortably so. Sometime that morning while she slept, someone had entered the room and left a lit candle, a steaming teapot and a cup and saucer on the small table next to her bed. Diana marveled at the fact that someone had been able to breathe, let alone move, in a room where she was asleep without waking her. It could only happen down here...the one place where I don’t have to be on constant guard.

 

She pulled her feet up and rested her chin on her knees, examining the chamber that would be her home for as long as she stayed Below. There wasn’t much to see in the small room. Besides the bed and table, the other furnishings consisted of a desk, a chair and an antique wardrobe finished in tiger oak. She knew enough about antiques to discern that the wardrobe would fetch a startling price on the open market. Down here, it simply was valued for its usefulness.

 

Practical people. My kind of people. She plucked at one of the tattered quilts that had kept her warm all night. But I couldn’t live here. She decided it was both a good thing to know and to admit.

 

With reluctance at leaving the cozy bed behind, she pushed aside the covers and stood. After dressing and drinking a cup of tea, she ambled out into the hall, seeking the bathroom. Fortunately it was right where Mary had shown her the night before. Her usually keen sense of direction sometimes became muddled Below. It was unlikely that her stay here would be long enough for that fact to change...or so she hoped.

 

She left the bathroom and immediately flattened herself against the tunnel wall at the sound of rapidly approaching footsteps. A split second later Mouse zoomed around a corner, running at top speed with an armload of magazines. He streaked past Diana, then stopped so quickly that he almost crashed into a wall. Somehow he wound up facing Diana, managing to stay on his feet and maintain his grip on the magazines.

 

“Diana,” he began, pausing to gulp down some air.

 

“Mouse,” she said.

 

“Had breakfast?” he gasped.

 

“Nope.”

 

“Seen Catherine and Vincent?”

 

“Huh-uh.”

 

The blond young man leaned forward, his voice dropping to a conspiratorial whisper. “Know anything about plants?”

 

”Yes...”

 

Mouse clutched his load of magazines to his chest as if protecting valuables. “Follow me,” he said. He turned and hurried down the passage.

 

Diana, her curiosity thoroughly piqued, followed as fast as she could.

 

Diana followed Mouse into the dining hall and straight to the table where Vincent, Catherine and little Jake were eating breakfast. A pang of concern hit Diana at the sight of Catherine, who was terribly pale and appeared exhausted. But before she could speak, Mouse launched into an excited and mostly garbled tirade.

 

“Catherine, Vincent! Look!” Mouse spread the magazines across the table, ignoring the fact that one of the magazines covered part of Vincent’s plate as well.    ”Plants...vegetables...everything in the dark! Mouse can…”

 

“Mouse, please.”  Vincent’s gentle voice held a touch of exasperation. “Couldn’t this wait until…”

 

“Can’t wait.” Mouse was emphatic.

 

“Good morning,” Diana said. She sat across the table from Vincent and Catherine.

 

“Good morning,” Catherine replied in a weary voice. “How did you sleep?”

 

“Just fine.” Diana turned to Mouse, who was huffing with impatience. “Spit it out, Mouse, before you explode.”

 

“Magazines I found up top,” Mouse said. He flipped through three of the five magazines, spreading them open on the table so that the others could read. “Look!” He pointed, his trembling finger encompassing three separate articles.

 

Vincent craned his neck to get a better look. He read aloud the title of each article: Hydroponic gardening. Growing houseplants without soil. Gardening in your basement.” He gave Mouse a perplexed look. “Mouse...what is this all...about…”  He drew in a sharp breath, his eyebrows lifting. “Could it be…”

 

Mouse aimed his pointing finger at Catherine. “Ask Catherine. She knows.”

 

At his comment Diana and Vincent turned to Catherine, their eyes widening in surprise. A few seconds ago she had been listless and dull, pecking away at her breakfast with little appetite. Now red spots of color blazed in her cheeks, and her eyes seemed to have absorbed the brilliance from every light source in the dining hall. She grabbed the magazines and scanned the first page of each article, her lips moving in rapid time with the words. Without looking up, she began snapping her fingers. “Paper. I need paper, a pen...” She looked at Vincent. “Do you realize…”

 

“Yes!” Vincent exclaimed. He scanned one of the articles. “The things...Catherine, the things we could grow!

 

“Oh, my God!” Diana exclaimed. She jumped from her chair and raced around the table to stand behind Vincent and read over his shoulder. She nodded, a slow smile spreading over her face. “Yes...this could work. This could definitely…”

 

“Come on,” Catherine said, standing. “Let’s go home so we can work this out. You too, Mouse,” she said as Vincent stood.

 

“There’s more,” Mouse said as he followed the three adults out of the room.

 

“Good!” Catherine said. “The more, the better.”

 

 

 

-2-

 

Something essential within Catherine’s soul had leapt in delight the moment she saw the magazines that Mouse slapped in front of her breakfast dishes. The implication of the articles in those magazines had had the same effect as if someone had pulled her from her chair and shook her, wrenching her out of the despair and depression that had threatened her sanity for the last few days.

 

The instant Catherine reached her chamber; she found a pen and some paper. She fell into a chair, barely aware that the others did the same. She looked at Diana. “You’re pretty good with plants.”

 

“I’ve resuscitated a few in my time. What do you have in mind?”

 

“Just a second.” Catherine flipped through the articles. “Where is the...there’s gotta be...light. We’ll need rocks, we have rocks, we can get seeds, we can build everything… Mouse, where the hell’s the light?

 

“Here!” Mouse slammed the other two magazines on the table. As before, he had opened them to specific articles. “Lights!”

 

Catherine felt a warm tingle in her face and hands as she flipped through the articles. At that moment she was convinced that her blood was flowing faster and hotter in her veins, waking her up, boiling energy throughout her body. Lights...

 

“Grow lights!” She flung her hands up in a gesture of triumph. “Yes! All we need is the lights!” She turned to the hyperkinetic Mouse and threw her arms around him. He responded in kind, and the two rocked back and forth, laughing and giggling.

 

“Grow lights?” Vincent asked, puzzled. He held his son on his lap, and the baby sat quietly as if taking in the conversation. Catherine released Mouse and spun the magazines around so that Vincent and Diana could read them. “Read this one part, here. The grow lights simulate sunshine.” She smiled. “Do you get it?”

 
“I…I think so.” Diana was absorbed in an article about growing flowers and vegetables...in rocks and water... “No soil required,’” she whispered. She looked at Catherine with huge eyes. “We could have a greenhouse. With the lights…” She grabbed another magazine and pored over the words.

 

“Grow lights.” Catherine clapped her hand to her forehead. “I can’t believe I never thought of this before! Last year I prosecuted a marijuana grower from Queens. He was growing the plants in the basement of his building, with grow lights.” She grabbed Diana’s arm. “We can do the same thing down here.”

 

“Not marijuana!” Mouse jumped up. “No, no, Catherine, no way!”

 

“Of course not, Mouse!” Catherine yanked him back into his chair. “O.K. Here’s what we need to do. Diana, you and I read the articles and make a list of everything we’ll need to buy. I still have some money...we can use that. We’ll send Jamie to the library to check out everything she can find on the subject. We’ll write to...which place is closest...” Her words fell out in a torrent as she rifled through the pages. “Here! Diana, can you write this place for information? It’s in Bristol, Pennsylvania, so it shouldn’t take long to get a reply.”

 

“Sure,” Diana said. She scribbled a note with Catherine’s pen.

 

“What can I do to help?” Vincent asked.

 

“You can read this article and take notes.” She handed him a magazine, then leaned over to whisper in his ear:  “And you can supervise Mouse later on.” They exchanged merry grins.

 

Mouse started sketching, and the other three read in silence, a companionable peace that soon was breached in Catherine’s head by the unwelcome words of a song. She tried to concentrate on her research but the song broke through, the words insisting on her attention: “The moon and the stars and leaves in the trees pull the wind the right through me…”

 

No!! She shoved the song out of the way. Not now, please, not now. This is too important. It’s winter, there aren’t any leaves on the damn trees! She focused all her breath and strength on the words dancing before her eyes, but her brain was rocketing off on a forbidden tangent. No leaves, but the moon and the stars are still there, they’ll pull the wild wind through your hair, you’ll dance in the freedom in the night, awaken in the soft moonlight, the light, the light, the light…

“Light.” She forced the word through her teeth.

 

“What?” Vincent looked up from his reading.

 

“We need more light.” Catherine rose to fetch another candle. She almost singed herself with the match held in her shaking fingers. Stay with me, Vincent. I need you. You’re my freedom, my moonlight, my soft breeze on a starry night...oh, God, help me! Don’t let me lose it all now!

 

Vincent, his son in his arms, watched Catherine with growing apprehension. A strange, sudden foreboding hovered out of his sight, just beyond the reach of his empathic abilities, lingering in the air around him like a soft breeze in the moonlight…

 

The sensation hit him hard, in the throat, between the shoulder blades. His eyes flew wide and he lowered his head as if intent on the magazine he was reading. Did I feel...was it...no.  It’s impossible.

 

Then he saw Catherine look at him and smile. Her eyes had become so dark they had lost their color. “This is going to be great,” she said in a bright voice. The smile stretched her lips in a painful line. When she returned her attention to her reading, he felt his blood run cold.

 

He sat in his chair, suddenly feeling removed from the room and its inhabitants. He looked down, saw that Jacob was watching the scene before him, and followed his son’s gaze. Jamie, whom they had summoned on the pipes, ran into the room and out again, carrying a piece of paper. Diana and Catherine alternately read and argued, the candlelight playing over their features. Mouse sketched and drew, the tip of his tongue poking between his lips in a portrait of rapt concentration.

 

But what Vincent felt the strongest was the one thing he could not see: it was the blood of their unborn child, calling to him from Catherine’s womb, fighting something unknowable to the father who sat across the room, holding fast to an older child and waiting for a first sign of disaster.

 

 

 

-3-

 

Vincent had no chance to speak to Catherine alone for the rest of that afternoon. She was behaving like a woman possessed. Radiating control and determination, she charged throughout the tunnels, rallying everyone to her wonderful cause: a hydroponic garden, maybe even a conventional greenhouse, built here in the tunnels. It was a miraculous idea and one that gained immediate acceptance.  The community depended on their helpers Above to provide them with fresh fruits and vegetables. If Catherine’s plan worked, the gardens would provide not only fruits and vegetables but plants and flowers on a year round basis.

 

Vincent stayed to himself in his chambers for the rest of the day, bringing himself and the baby out of their rooms only long enough to eat meals. Little Jacob seemed quiet and reflective for a baby his age. His father, who was himself in an agony of confusion and apprehension, could only wonder how much the tiny child understood of what was happening around him.

 

While the baby napped after dinner, Vincent sat in his chair and stared at a blank wall.    His mind was filled with pictures of Catherine as she had looked the first time he saw her. The memories were not happy ones. He remembered the cold night, the moisture on the grass, the empty park nearly hidden beneath a thick tumbling mist that parted as he carried Catherine’s half-dead body into the tunnels. Over Father’s protests he had kept her there, nursing her back to health, helping her find the strength and courage she didn’t know she possessed but desperately needed in order to return to and survive in her world.

 

Now she was a part of his world, and to the people surrounding her today, caught up in the contagious excitement she projected, this woman - his Catherine - appeared strong and capable of anything.

 

Look at her eyes! he cried to himself. Can no one else see it? Are they all blind?

 

It was ridiculous to think such thoughts. They saw what they wanted to see and were not encumbered by the pleading energy he felt rushing into him from his unborn child. This was what truly terrified him. The last time he had felt this way, Catherine’s life was in peril and his son was close to being born. Catherine was only two months pregnant; it was too soon. He didn’t know what it meant; he wasn’t even sure if what he felt emanated from the child or from Catherine herself. The return of their bond? No, it couldn’t be. Not like this, not with such anxiety and resolute misgiving.

 

This project of Catherine’s...it seemed to be the fulfillment of Maggie’s prediction that something would happen to help Catherine stretch her abilities. Vincent wanted to believe that, needed to convince himself that everything was going to be all right. If only he could get Catherine alone…

 

At that moment she entered their chambers, and the sight of her glowing face shattered the glacial fear surrounding his heart. Once again her eyes were soft and gentle; the tender smile she gave him was genuine; her open arms promised the beginning of safety and the end of doubt.

 

He pulled her onto his lap and held her, unable to speak. Finally he felt he could trust his voice: “I missed you, Catherine.”

 

“I’ve had an incredible day.” She smiled at him. “You wouldn’t believe it, Vincent. Everyone is so excited about this garden!”

 

He couldn’t resist her smile. Enthusiasm poured from her in waves, driving away all his negative thoughts. “They believe in you.”

 

“Oh, Vincent!” She jumped up, hugging herself and spinning in a quick circle. “I feel so...so alive! I haven’t felt this good in ages! I guess I needed this.”

 

“You’ll be very busy.” He watched her as she lifted Jacob from his quilt. The baby was wide awake and smiling at his mother. “Are you sure you will have the time--”

 

“Don’t worry, Vincent.” She sat down and began rocking Jacob. “I have lots of help. I’ll take care of myself. My first priority is the baby...babies, I guess I should say.” She glanced at Jacob, then gave Vincent a grin. “Can you imagine what our lives are going to be like in a few months, with two babies and all this work to do?”

 

“Very full, Catherine.” He smiled as relief and happiness flowed over him. “Full and rich...and blessed.”

 

 

 

 

-4-

 

Diana spent the hours after dinner absorbed in one of the books Jamie had picked up at the library. There was so much to learn, so much research to do. God knows, the time was available and so was she.  From the moment she understood what Catherine meant to accomplish, she had decided to devote all her energies and as much time as she had to spend down here to making the gardening project work. It was a great idea. She wondered what Joe would think...

 

Joe. He was supposed to come tonight. She checked her watch: ten-thirty. Maybe he had hit pay dirt with Arthur Melton at NYU the night before. He was due for some good luck with this case.

 

Diana closed her eyes, letting the magazine fall out of her hands as she leaned back into the soft pillows on her bed. The thought of Joe had displaced every other thought, and now all she wanted was a chance to touch him, look at him, hear his voice. She smiled at herself. Here she was, hiding out in a secret place beneath New York City, leaving an important case on hold, and all she could think about was this man, a man she might love...ah, there was that word. That fatal syllable, the one she never could say to Mark because she didn’t want a lie or a half-truth to back it up. But with Joe...maybe it would be different. Maybe there was a chance for her after all...

 

“Jeez, that’s the goofiest look I’ve ever seen on your face.”

 

The voice brought Diana straight up from the bed. She grabbed at ths magazines that slid off her legs and onto the floor. “Sybil! Don’t sneak up on me like that!”

 

“That’s funny.” Sybil walked into the room and glanced around before sitting on the edge of the bed.  “I didn’t think it was possible to sneak up on you.”

 

“It didn’t used to be,” Diana said. She began picking up the magazines off the floor.

 

“Need some help?” Sybil asked as Diana finished.

 

“No, I don’t need your help!” Diana sat beside Sybil and looked her friend over. ”You look great.”

 

“I went to my doctor today. She said I’m in perfect health. Only three months to go.”

“When will Don be home?”

 

Sybil shrugged and made a face. “I’m just his wife. Why should they tell me anything?” She stared at the quilt covering the bed and absently picked at a loose thread.

 

“Stop that.” Diana’s voice was gentle. Sybil stopped. “What are you doing down here anyway?”

 

“I don’t know.”

 

“What do you mean, you don’t…”

 

“Like I said, I don’t know!” Sybil looked at Diana. “You’re the one who’s supposed to be psychic…”

 

Diana snorted.

 

“O.K., so you’re not really. But you know me. I have good instincts and all that, but I never have premonitions about anything.”

 

“But tonight?” Diana studied her friend’s troubled expression.

 

“All day long I’ve had this feeling that something bad was going to happen. So I came down here, because I always feel good when I come down here. I wanted to see you and Catherine and Vincent...and now I hear Catherine has some big greenhouse idea going, and everything sounds great...”

 

“But?”

 

Sybil gazed at Diana and shook her head. “I still have this feeling.”

 

“Who’s it about?” Diana sat cross-legged on the bed. She pulled her legs in close to her body, wrapping her arms around herself against a sudden cold feeling. “Tell me.”

 

Sybil sat silent, once again plucking at the quilt.

 

“Come on, Syb, you’re starting to spook me!”

 

Sybil’s head jerked up, and she gave Diana a look of direct fear. “Catherine...her baby.”

 

“What…”

 

Sybil rose from the bed. “Come on.” She pulled Diana up.

 

“What is it?”

 

“I don’t know.” Sybil looked around the room, tears glistening in her eyes. “Do you know the way to Catherine’s chamber?”

 

Yes.”

 

“Let’s go.” They ran out of the chamber.

 

 

 

 

-5-

 

Don’t do it, Catherine. Please, come back, don’t go, stay warm, stay with ME...

 

Vincent ran through the tunnels, his long black cloak streaming behind him like a stormy wind. He willed his voice into Catherine’s ears, but he knew she couldn’t have heard him, even if he had shouted with all his might and fear. She was too far ahead of him; he had let her get away.

 

They had shared a wonderful evening, spending most of the time before bed playing with Jacob and thinking up names for the new baby. Catherine was luminous in the candlelight, so beautiful, so happy. They had fallen asleep in each other’s arms, and before he faded into unconsciousness, he had convinced himself that all his troubled thoughts were for naught.

 

For naught, indeed. Ten minutes ago he had awakened by himself, and when he placed a hand on Catherine’s side of the bed and found it cold, he threw on his clothing and raced after her. She’d left no indication of where she was going, but he knew where to find her as surely as he knew she wore nothing on her body but her nightgown.

 

He reached the secret entrance beneath the park and stopped dead still. She hadn’t bothered to close the door behind her. He hurtled through the opening, ignoring the tears raining down his face, praying that he wasn’t hearing what he thought he heard outside...

 

He burst out of the tunnel into a cold, drizzling storm of sleet. The sky was an icy blanket of dark grey clouds, and the pristine snow beneath his feet was rapidly turning into a freezing slush. Footprints...there! Small prints of bare feet, moving in an unsteady track toward a copse of trees less than thirty yards from the tunnel entrance. He flew across the open space, this time praying that the inclement weather would keep people away from the park so late at night.

 

He reached the trees in a few short seconds. Here amongst the shadowy branches and thick trunks, the slender illumination of the park lights was lost.  He stood still, waiting, listening for the sound of her breath, her voice, anything.

 

At once his senses were flayed by a soft cry coming from his left. He plunged through the trees and found her sitting beside a bush on one miraculously dry piece of ground. He rushed to her, and without realizing what he was doing or feeling, he knelt and grabbed her by the shoulders and began shaking her. “Catherine, have you gone mad? Are you trying to kill yourself? WHAT ARE YOU DOING?” He couldn’t stop himself. He shook her until the sound of her cries and the touch of her hand on his arm brought him back to himself.

 

“Vincent,” she moaned, her voice a low, mournful tide of pain and confusion. “Help me...what’s happening...” She fell into helpless weeping, sobbing as if her heart were being torn from her.

 

At once he was stricken by remorse. He lifted her into his arms and wrapped his cloak around her, brushing the sodden strands of cold wet hair from her eyes.  “Catherine, oh my love, what have I done? Come, we must get you back.”

 

He turned and ran out of the trees, his feet flying sure and swift across the treacherous ground. Once through the tunnel gate, he barely took time to close and lock the entrance before continuing his flight back to his chamber. He pounded through the corridors, his only thought to get her home, into warm dry clothes, close to a fire, no, close to his own body to fill her with the warmth of his love and protection.

 

He slowed down only when he was near home, barely glancing at the two women waiting outside the entry to his chambers. He brushed past them, knowing Sybil and Diana would follow him inside. He didn’t know why they were there, but he was glad to see them. Maybe they could help. Someone had to help, something had to be done...he was at the end of his understanding, but his dread and panic seemed to have just begun.

 

Chapter 13