The Storm

by Jennifer Thompson


Catherine walked into her apartment and dropped her keys on the nightstand. Turning on the heater she walked into her bedroom and changed into a nightshirt, robe and slippers. It had been an exhausting day at work.

As she walked into the kitchen to fix some tea she heard the sound of rolling thunder. A flash of lightening passed by the glass doors in her apartment. Rain suddenly began pounding against the windows loudly. It must be unusually windy," Catherine thought to herself as she poured hot water into a cup. Placing a tea bag inside the cup she walking into her bedroom to make sure the water hadn’t leaked inside.

"Vincent!" She screamed as she looked out the door. Opening it she grabbed his hand and pulled him inside. "Your cloak is drenched! Let me take it and set it in the bathroom."

Standing in the entryway to Catherine’s bedroom Vincent looked a bit bewildered. The rain had caught him off guard. He didn’t want to mess up Catherine’s apartment because he was wet. He should have just gone back home when the rain began to fall.

"How long had you been standing there?" Catherine asked as she walked back in the bedroom. The sight of her took his breath away. She was wearing a long silky nightgown with a matching robe and slippers.

"I was only standing there for a minute." Vincent said quietly. "I didn’t realize it was going to rain tonight."

"Would you like to come in and sit down for a while until the rain passes?" Catherine asked expectantly.

"I can stay for awhile." Vincent said reaching for her hand. Walking into the living room they sat down on the couch. Catherine snuggled up close as Vincent put his arm around her.

"This is very nice…" she started to say as a large boom sounded. Suddenly al the lights turned out. Grabbing Vincent’s hand Catherine felt her heart pounding. "There’s a flashlight in here somewhere."

"It’s just as nice sitting here like this." Vincent said pulling Catherine closer to him.

"Mmm. I agree." Catherine said drawing his hand to her lips and kissing it. As Vincent kissed her hair he marveled at how wonderful it smelled. Snuggling closer Catherine closed her eyes. Soon they both fell asleep.

* * * * *

Walking into work the next morning Catherine walked into Joe’s office to see if he had any new cases for her.

"How’d you like that blackout?" Joe asked wrapping and unwrapping a rubber band around his hands.

"Umm. I slept through most of it." Catherine said quietly. She didn’t want to say anything about the night she spent with Vincent. Just the memory of it brought a smile to her lips.

"Well there were 5 murders last nigh. The MO indicates it was the same person taking advantage of the power outage. According to early reports they all occurred one hour apart." Joe said solemnly.

"What was the MO?" Catherine asked.

"That hasn’t been made very clear yet. According to the information I’ve received all the murders were the same. The PD has an investigator working on it already. I want you to team up with her and get this guy ASAP. This weekend we are supposed to have a storm just as strong as last nights. I don’t want to give him an opportunity to kill again."

"Who is the other investigator?" Catherine asked looking at the stack of files on Joe’s desk. It seemed like an awful lot of information for one night.

"A woman named Diana Bennett. She works in a special unit. Here is the address of the first murder. She said she would meet you there at 10:00." Joe said handing her a card. She looked quickly at the address.

"This is the building next to mine." Catherine said with a nervous look on her face. Picking up the stack of folders she put them in her bag and headed back out the door.

Arriving at the apartment building she looked at the address again. 719 Central Park West. "At least it wasn’t the same floor as mine." She said to herself grabbing an elevator.

"Hold the door please!" A voice cried running to the elevator. She had long red hair pulled back in a loose ponytail. Wisps and tendrils that escaped were flying wildly around her face. "Thank you." She said as she walked in the door. Pushing 7 she leaned back on a handrail.

"Are you Diana?" Catherine asked as the elevator climbed.

"Yes, you must be Catherine. Sorry about that entrance. This has been one hectic morning."

"I understand completely. At least the lights are back on." Catherine said smiling. "What division do you work for?"

"The 210. I usually get to choose my cases but they insisted I go on this one. I guess we will learn the gory details at 1:00. They hadn’t given me anything yet. I really hate that." Diana said stepping out of the elevator.

Catherine looked down the hallway as they walked. Yellow tape drawn across the door of one of the apartments indicated where the crime had occurred. Walking into the apartment they showed their badges at the door.

Diana turned off the light. Turning on the stereo she heard a "love songs" station playing "Somewhere Out There." Walking further into the apartment she looked around carefully taking in everything around her. There was a doll collection on a stand in the corner. Looking closer she realized they were of Lucy. Looking around the rest of the room she noticed that the person must be a collector. Pictures and plates were hung all around the living room.

Walking further in they found the kitchen where the murder took place. A flashlight had been thrown across the room and shattered. The outline of the body was on the floor, next to an open refrigerator.

"Do you have the crime photos?" Diana asked Catherine nodding to the file she had in her purse.

"They should be in here." Catherine said pulling out a vanilla envelope full of pictures.

"We need to sit at the dining room table and go through these." Diana said sitting at the table. Made out of wrought iron it looked like something that belonged in a garden. Looking through the pictures Catherine discovered that "Helen" was an older woman in her 70’s or 80’s. She had been stabbed with a kitchen knife. Autopsy would give them the details that killed her.

A few hours later Catherine sat in the conference room of the DA’s office. Her and Diana were pouring over the files trying to get inkling into what happened.

"Every time this city has had a blackout that lasted at least 12 hours there have been similar murders, but none like there were last night." Diana said with a perplexed look on her face. "Why’d they decide to get so violent today?"

Catherine didn’t answer her. She chose instead to look through another file profiling the victims. "They are all women between the ages of 65-80, all widowed." She silently wondered if any of them could be helpers. The noise of Diana collecting her things snapped Catherine out of her reverie.

"Cathy I need to be going now. I’ll meet you back here tomorrow morning." Diana said as she walked out of the room. Catherine gathered her files and walked back to her desk. Sitting down she placed her hands in her chin. How could she break the news Below about these murders?

"Tough day at the office Radcliffe?" Joe asked sitting on the edge of her desk.

"Very. Diana and I are going to begin interviews tomorrow. There had to be something that ties these victims together besides their ages." Catherine said wishing she knew what it could be.

"Well I’m sure you will get to the bottom of it. You always have. I have faith in you." Joe said patting her hand before he walked off.

* * * * *

Walking down into her sub-basement she hoped Vincent knew she was coming. Walking through the threshold she saw his face. That glorious face that gave her so much comfort.

"Oh Vincent." She said embracing him. "I needed to see you."

"I felt that need." Vincent said quietly in her ear. "What is wrong?"

Pulling away with her hands still around his waist she began to explain the case she was working on. "I’m afraid that one of the victims could be a helper."

"Do you have the names of all the victims?" Vincent asked quietly. He didn’t want to hear the names, but he felt he had to ease his own mind. As Catherine recalled the names Vincent began to feel relieved. He recognized none of the names.

"Last night was so nice. It’s terrible to have it shattered by someone so evil." Catherine said. All of a sudden she heard a terrible cracking sound.

"What is going on?" Catherine asked holding Vincent tight.

"The electricity is going out again. Quickly we must find shelter from the threshold." Vincent said grabbing her hand. They ran into the passage just before the lights went out again.

"Where do we go now?" Catherine asked. Vincent could sense she was afraid.

"Don’t be afraid. You’re with me." Vincent said wrapping his arms around her. Resting her head against his shoulder they sat down together.

"It’s a bit chilly." Catherine said snuggling close.

Taking off his cloak he wrapped it around her. He then put his arms around her again. Suddenly the lights came back on again.

"I should be going home." Catherine said getting up. "In case the lights go out again."

"Why don’t you stay here tonight? So you won’t be alone. You can stay in the guest chambers." Vincent said quietly.

Thinking a moment Catherine turned to look at him. "Ok, I will. I just need to go get a few things from my apartment."

"Okay. I will be waiting right here."

Going up into the basement she got on the elevator. She silently prayed that the lights would stay on for the 18 flights. Making it to the top she quickly ran into her apartment. Shutting the door the lights flickered off again.

Gasping she felt her way to the kitchen to find the matches. Striking one she heard footsteps.

"Don’t bother, I’m already here."

Turning around she flashed the match on him. He held a knife. Lunging backward she was forced to shake out the match before it burned her.

Down in the sub-basement Vincent sensed her fear. Quickly he ran up the stairs and up to her apartment. Climbing up her landing her burst through her glass doors. Grabbing the man from behind he mauled him before the man knew what happened. Throwing him down on the ground he mauled him once more before rising back up.

"Go." Catherine said lifting him up. "I need to call the police."

"I’ll wait outside on the balcony."

"Okay." Reaching for the phone Catherine heard a dial tone. Relieved she dialed 911 quickly and explained to the operator what happened. Lighting another match she lit a candle and waited. Looking at the man with the deep slash marks in his stomach she realized he was in his 30’s. He was around 5’11" and looked like he was from a good home. She silently wondered what had led him to this kind of life.

Hearing a knock on the door Catherine grabbed the candle and walked over to it. Opening it up she saw several policemen and paramedics. Showing them where the body was she sat at the kitchen table. She knew she would have a lot of questions to answer.

After the questioning was over and the body was removed she stepped back onto to the terrace. Vincent stood there waiting for her.

"Thank you Vincent." She said hugging him close. She didn’t want to stay in her apartment that night.

"You can stay in the guest chamber tonight." Vincent said holding onto her tightly feeling her fear.

"Let me get a few things and I’ll meet you at the sub-basement." Catherine said grabbing a nightgown, clothes for tomorrow, and her personal items. Placing them in a small bag she grabbed her purse and briefcase and walked into the stairwell. Although the power had come back on shortly after the police left she didn’t want to take any chances.

Finding her footing on the ladder that lead to the sub-basement she felt herself being lifted by strong arms. Hugging Vincent tightly she felt herself dissolve into tears.

"It’s okay Catherine. You’re safe now. You are here with me." Vincent said holding her tighter and kissing her on the forehead.

"They asked me so many questions." Catherine said nearly sobbing. "I hope I answered them convincingly."

"Catherine, do you think they would have let you leave if you hadn’t?" They would’ve still been questioning you."

"I suppose you are right." Catherine said releasing him. "I guess I’m very tired."

Walking back to the guest chamber Catherine held his hand tightly. She wondered what was going to happen tomorrow when she got to work. She was sure Joe was going to interrogate her as soon as she got there. Then there was the matter of Diana. She wondered how he found her apartment, but not Diana’s.

"Goodnight my love." Vincent said once they arrived at the guest chamber. Leaning over he gave her a kiss on the cheek before he walked away.

Smiling Catherine began to get ready to go bed. Whatever faced her tomorrow she would deal with then. For now she wanted to savor being so close to Vincent.

The next morning she arrived to work by taxi. She didn’t feel like going back to get her car. She smiled as she got into the elevator thinking of her last moments with Vincent this morning. He called her "my love" again. The thought of it made her body feel flush. Then right before she left he gave her a kiss on the lips. Very soft like a whisper, yet full of so much passion it made her body ache.

Arriving on her floor she walked to her desk. Standing there waiting for her was Joe.

"Why the hell didn’t you call me last night?" Joe asked sternly getting off of her chair.

"I’m sorry Joe. I really didn’t think about it." Catherine said placing her bags on her desk.

"Also, where did you spend the night?"

"At a friends house." Catherine said sitting down. "Don’t worry, I was fine."

Looking down the hallway she saw Diana heading her way. She was looking very amused at Catherine.

"Sorry you had to be the one the jerk followed home." Diana said standing in front of her desk.

"So am I." Catherine said quietly.

"My only question is how did you make slash marks like that?" Diana asked sitting on the edge of her desk.

"I used a box-cutter." Catherine said smiling.

 

About the author: Jenn Thompson has been a fan of Beauty and the Beast since she was twelve years old. Thirteen years later she still loves the show and is so happy that there are still fans out there. She is a preschool teacher, English major and also working on her certificate for American Sign Language interpreting. When she isn’t at work or school she enjoys writing, reading Christian romance novels, Irish Step dancing, and playing with her dog Molly. Look for her first fanzine (a short one) "May God Hold You in His Hands…" coming out this March.