REQUIEM (a story of hope)

by Southofoz

Vincent lay on a stone bier, his long hair, now white, lying over his shoulders, still thick and wild. His once vibrant eyes were closed, and his unique and beautiful features pale and still. 

This could not be!

This could not have happened!

The one man who had meant so much to this world, could not be gone!

Jacob had refused to allow his father’s body to be cremated and his ashes sprinkled in the mirror pool, as was the custom. He could not accept that his father was gone. Destroying his remains was out of the question. Vincent had fallen into a deathlike state before and then returned to life there was no reason why this could not happen again. 

The entire community stood by, mourning the man who had been the driving force of this world for over a century. His descendants gathered around him, forming a large semi-circle of honor. Behind them the entire community waited, heartsore and yet hopeful. 

They were in the catacombs, far below the city streets, where in earlier times loved ones had been placed. Here a large chamber had been carved out of the rock, and an alter set in its center, where Vincent’s body now lay. He wore his ever-present cloak, draped around his still ample shoulders, his hands resting on his broad chest, his long fingers clutching the pouch that still held Catherine’s rose. 

Nearby lay a hollow stone casket where Catherine’s remains rested, exhumed from Saint Cleo’s graveyard many years ago, leaving an empty grave and a solitary tombstone behind to mark where it had been.

Jacob, now the patriarch of the unusual and gifted Wells family, walked to the head of his father’s last resting place and stood, tall and strong, even now in his eighties, his own hair a reflection of his father’s.

“My father is not dead. He is not gone.” he said with a voice that was reminiscent of his father’s. “And he never shall be. As long as we, who loved him, think of him, speak of him, and remember him. He lies here asleep only. For as long as we keep him alive in our thoughts and hearts, he will be with us... Always. All here know of his accomplishments, his great wisdom, and his enormous capacity to love. For we were all touched by it daily. He will never leave us, and may one day even return to be with us again.” His expression changed to one of hope and a smile touched his lips. “Like King Arthur. Never gone, merely waiting, to one day return. And I will wait for that day. We will wait for that day.”

He bent then, and kissed Vincent’s cold forehead, then without another word, turned and walked through the doorway – an entrance that would never be sealed, to allow any who wished to come and pay homage. Or a portal through which Vincent might again return to those who loved him.

Each of those who were related to him came and kissed Vincent’s alabaster cheeks, and then slowly, they followed Jacob out of the vault.

In the years that followed, many of the tunnel dwellers and Helpers reported strange sightings of a dark cloaked figure with a totally white mane wandering through the corridors Below and the streets Above. Some said they spoke to him, and he answered in a soft purred voice.

When the first of these were reported to him, Jacob made his way down to the dark catacombs to see for himself if these tales could be true.

With a torch held high, he walked into the dark vault, his booted feet making echoes on the dusty floor, until he stood before his father’s bier. 

It was empty!

Jacob then had these words carved upon it – 

“Vincent, Guard and Protector – 

We will always remember 

There has never been one so true, nor one so brave 

Who would return with swift vengeance

Even from the very grave!”

In the city Above, a tale began to be told of a shadowed figure, his cloak and white hair flying behind him as he ran through the streets, coming swiftly to the aid of the weak and unprotected. And hope was kindled in the hearts of all those who had thought it lost... 

“In this city of night – I search to find, what all men seek to find – My destiny –.”