The Storm

by Jennifer Thompson

Catherine walked into her apartment and dropped her keys on thenightstand. Turning on the heater she walked into her bedroom andchanged into a nightshirt, robe and slippers. It had been anexhausting day at work.

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

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

Standing in the entryway to Catherine’s bedroom Vincentlooked a bit bewildered. The rain had caught him off guard. Hedidn’t want to mess up Catherine’s apartment because he waswet. He should have just gone back home when the rain began tofall.

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

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

"Would you like to come in and sit down for a while until the rainpasses?" 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. Catherinesnuggled up close as Vincent put his arm around her.

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

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

"Mmm. I agree." Catherine said drawing his hand to her lips andkissing it. As Vincent kissed her hair he marveled at how wonderfulit smelled. Snuggling closer Catherine closed her eyes. Soon theyboth fell asleep.

* * * * *

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

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

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

"Well there were 5 murders last nigh. The MO indicates it was thesame person taking advantage of the power outage. According to earlyreports 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 theinformation I’ve received all the murders were the same. The PDhas an investigator working on it already. I want you to team up withher and get this guy ASAP. This weekend we are supposed to have astorm just as strong as last nights. I don’t want to give him anopportunity to kill again."

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

"A woman named Diana Bennett. She works in a special unit. Here isthe address of the first murder. She said she would meet you there at10:00." Joe said handing her a card. She looked quickly at theaddress.

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

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

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

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

"Yes, you must be Catherine. Sorry about that entrance. This hasbeen 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 goon this one. I guess we will learn the gory details at 1:00. Theyhadn’t given me anything yet. I really hate that." Diana saidstepping out of the elevator.

Catherine looked down the hallway as they walked. Yellow tapedrawn across the door of one of the apartments indicated where thecrime had occurred. Walking into the apartment they showed theirbadges at the door.

Diana turned off the light. Turning on the stereo she heard a"love songs" station playing "Somewhere Out There." Walking furtherinto the apartment she looked around carefully taking in everythingaround her. There was a doll collection on a stand in the corner.Looking closer she realized they were of Lucy. Looking around therest 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 tookplace. A flashlight had been thrown across the room and shattered.The outline of the body was on the floor, next to an openrefrigerator.

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

"They should be in here." Catherine said pulling out a vanillaenvelope 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 lookedlike something that belonged in a garden. Looking through thepictures Catherine discovered that "Helen" was an older woman in her70’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 theDA’s office. Her and Diana were pouring over the files trying toget inkling into what happened.

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

Catherine didn’t answer her. She chose instead to lookthrough another file profiling the victims. "They are all womenbetween the ages of 65-80, all widowed." She silently wondered if anyof them could be helpers. The noise of Diana collecting her thingssnapped Catherine out of her reverie.

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

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

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

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

* * * * *

Walking down into her sub-basement she hoped Vincent knew she wascoming. Walking through the threshold she saw his face. That gloriousface 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 iswrong?"

Pulling away with her hands still around his waist she began toexplain the case she was working on. "I’m afraid that one of thevictims 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 hisown mind. As Catherine recalled the names Vincent began to feelrelieved. He recognized none of the names.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"I should be going home." Catherine said getting up. "In case thelights 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. Ijust 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 silentlyprayed that the lights would stay on for the 18 flights. Making it tothe top she quickly ran into her apartment. Shutting the door thelights 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 itburned her.

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

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

"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 whathappened. Lighting another match she lit a candle and waited. Lookingat the man with the deep slash marks in his stomach she realized hewas in his 30’s. He was around 5’11" and looked like he wasfrom a good home. She silently wondered what had led him to this kindof life.

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

After the questioning was over and the body was removed shestepped back onto to the terrace. Vincent stood there waiting forher.

"Thank you Vincent." She said hugging him close. She didn’twant to stay in her apartment that night.

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

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

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

"It’s okay Catherine. You’re safe now. You are here withme." Vincent said holding her tighter and kissing her on theforehead.

"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 youhadn’t?" They would’ve still been questioning you."

"I suppose you are right." Catherine said releasing him. "I guessI’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 gotthere. Then there was the matter of Diana. She wondered how he foundher apartment, but not Diana’s.

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

Smiling Catherine began to get ready to go bed. Whatever faced hertomorrow she would deal with then. For now she wanted to savor beingso close to Vincent.

The next morning she arrived to work by taxi. She didn’t feellike going back to get her car. She smiled as she got into theelevator thinking of her last moments with Vincent this morning. Hecalled her "my love" again. The thought of it made her body feelflush. 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 herbody ache.

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

"Why the hell didn’t you call me last night?" Joe askedsternly 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’tworry, I was fine."

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

"Sorry you had to be the one the jerk followed home." Diana saidstanding 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 andthe Beast since she was twelve years old. Thirteen years latershe still loves the show and is so happy that there are still fansout there. She is a preschool teacher, English major and also workingon her certificate for American Sign Language interpreting. When sheisn’t at work or school she enjoys writing, reading Christianromance novels, Irish Step dancing, and playing with her dog Molly.Look for her first fanzine (a short one) "May God Hold You in HisHands…" coming out this March.