by Karen Morgia

It had been a hot, muggy day, but with the setting of the sun, a cool front had moved over the city creating a fog as think as pea soup. The fog had rolled over the sweltering city to blanket its streets and alleyways with a think, heavy covering of gray opaqueness.

Catherine gazed out of the French doors of her living room at the denseness covering the city and sighed a deep sigh of disappointment.

"Why is it that every time Vincent and I plan something together, it seems as if even Mother Nature is against us?" Catherine shook her head and sadly turned away from the sight of the grey blankness outside her balcony doors.

As she stepped through the doorway of the kitchen intent on preparing a relaxing cup of tea, Catherine’s daydreaming was interrupted by a familiar tap on the balcony windows. She turned with a smile brightening her forlorn mood to greet Vincent, but there was no one on the balcony, no large, familiar form in the gloomy murkiness.

"I must be hearing things," she mumbled, turning back toward the kitchen. Cathy filled her cup with bottled water and popped it into the microwave to heat. Just as the bell sounded to let her know the water was hot, there was another tap at her balcony windows.

"Vincent, I was so worried about…"" Again as she stepped from the kitchen, there was no beloved figure awaiting admittance to her apartment. "This is getting absolutely ridiculous," she mumbled, returning once again to the kitchen to finish her preparations.

Cup of tea in hand, Catherine sat down on her sofa, facing the balcony. If Vincent was playing some kind of prank, this time she would catch him in the act as he tapped on the window. But as she sat sipping her tea, she realized that it couldn’t be Vincent. His presence, through their bond, was clearly Below in the Tunnels. "What’s going on her?" she wondered aloud.

For the last three weeks, Catherine had been, not so much plagued, as bothered by some rather unusual events.

It had all started when her friend, Jenny Aaronson, had informed her that a certain Mr. Jonathan Smythe, owner of a small Greenwich Village book store, had died quite unexpectedly. Then a special delivery letter had been delivered to her office. Inside was a bill of lading and a claim ticket for a crate…origin unknown. After work Catherine drove to the warehouse named on the bill of lading and had the crate opened. Inside were a number of previously unknown paintings in a style with which she was very familiar. The paintings had been signed, "Kristofer Gentian."

Catherine’s first reaction upon seeing the artwork had been, "He’s doing it to me again!" But she and Jenny had arranged for another showing of Kristofer’s paintings anyway, and to make it more festive it was to be a costumed affair on Halloween. In that way, Vincent would be able to attend, and that was the reason she was so upset with the heavy fog. The city was so completely ‘socked in’ that many of the important people in the art community might be unable to get into the city for the opening, thereby causing its cancellation.

Catherine was contemplating her options for the evening, when there was another tap on the balcony windows.

"That does it!" she muttered angrily. She almost tossed her cup on the coffee table and strode to the dining room windows. Throwing the windows open, she strode resolutely out onto the balcony. "What is going on here? Who’s there?" Catherine called. She felt her way out to the balcony wall, the fog so think she knocked her shin against the white patio table setting against the wall. "Vincent?" With one arm extended out in front of her, the other feeling along the balcony wall, she slowly stepped from one end of the balcony to the other. There was no other presence on the balcony but herself. Feeling her way along the apartment wall toward the open dining room door, Catherine was almost certain she heard someone giggle.

"he! he! he!"

She spun around quickly. "Who’s there?" Listening intently and hearing no other sound, Catherine assumed she was just hearing things; sounds often come from any direction in a fog. Entering through the open doors of her dining room, she began to pull the doors shut when she felt a rustling in the air close by her ear and heard a faint "he! he! he! he! he!"

Shaking her head, she discounted it as her imagination and closed the doors. Turning from the balcony, Catherine returned to the sofa and her cup of tea to await Vincent’s arrival. She could feel his presence growing nearer and knew he was on his way. As she reached for her teacup, however, it slid down the table away from her, coming to a stop just out of reach. Her eyes widened with incredulous astonishment. "What is going on here?"

"he! he! he! he!"

Just then there was yet another tap on her window, and she jumped, startled.

"Now cut this out!" Catherine demanded as she rose from the sofa and stomped to the window. Throwing the windows upon forcefully, almost to the point of hitting the inside wall and breaking, Catherine marched across the balcony threshold right into a pair of familiar arms. "Vincent!"

"Catherine, what troubles you? I came early because I sensed your annoyance."

"Vincent, how long have you been there? Have you been playing some kind of joke on me?"

"Catherine, I only just arrived. What has you so upset?"

Just then all the lights in her apartment when out.

"What the…?"

"he! he! he! he! he!"

They turned as one to enter the apartment together, and as they crossed the threshold, the apartment lights came back on.

"What in the world is going on here?" she yelled, throwing her hands up into the air.

They stepped into the dining room, and Catherine pulled the doors closed as Vincent searched through the apartment; there was no one other than themselves there.

"This has been going on for the past hour, Vincent. It’s driving me batty."

"Did you hear that?" she insisted breathlessly. Shaking her head, Catherine returned to the kitchen to fix more tea and slowly tried to rationally explain what had been happening to her for the past three weeks, along with the events of the evening.

"The funny thing is, Vincent, I keep hearing this little giggle. As if some small child were pulling a prank.

"he! he! he! he! he!"

"There! Did you hear it that time?" she asked, turning around to scan the room.

Just then the lights in the living room went out, and the dishwasher in the kitchen turned on all by itself.

"he! he! he! he! he!"

"Vincent…what is happening here?’

"he! he!"

The dishwasher stopped, the lights came back on, and the louvered doors to her bedroom closed.

"he! he!"

Catherine spun toward her bedroom doors, and as they slowly opened by themselves, the lights went out.

"he! he! he! he! he!"

Then there was a knock on the front door.

Vincent stood in the center of the living room, his hands on his hips. It seemed the safest place to be at the moment.

Catherine moved carefully through the darkened room toward the door and just as she opened it, the lights came on again.

"he! he!"

Needless to say, there was no one at the front door.

"Vincent, I can’t take much more of this," she admitted, as she slammed and relocked the front door.

"Catherine," said the soft soothing voice from the center of the living room, "I sense no evil intent in the presence here. I sense only mischievousness, nothing malicious," he said calmly.

"Why is this happening to me?" she screamed.

The expression on her face and her feelings of extreme futility coupled with the ever present… "he! he! he! he! he!" Vincent began to laugh and this only added to Catherine’s frustration.

"Vincent!" she pleaded.

"Catherine, I believe I know what has been happening this evening." Even as he spoke, the pillows from the sofa piled themselves into a stack on the floor in front of the stereo.

"he! he! he!"

"Please, tell me. This is absolutely impossible; this can’t be happening." The shower in Catherine’s bathroom turned itself on.

"he! he! he! he!"

"Catherine, have you forgotten what day this is?" The stereo came on and the lights went out.

"he! he! he!"

Catherine carefully made her way across the living room to where Vincent stood in the center of the room to become enfolded in his comforting embrace. He softly kissed the top of her head to calm her as she buried her face into his chest. Then, as they heard the water in the bathroom shut off, every candle in the living room burst into flame, bathing the room in a soft flickering glow.

"Catherine, it is Halloween, All Hallow’s Eve, Samain -When the walls between the worlds grow thin, and’…"*

"Vincent, are you saying I’m being haunted?" she interrupted, incredulous.

All of a sudden, the candles went out’ the lights came on’ the stereo became silent; and the sofa cushions returned to their rightful places. Catherine and Vincent watched in amazement as the French doors opened slightly and just before they closed again, Catherine was certain she heard a small voice say "bye, bye."

"I believe it is now midnight, Catherine. It is no longer Halloween."

Catherine ran to the kitchen to check the clock on the wall. It read 12:01.

"You’re right, Vincent. It’s just past midnight."

"It would seem that you have been visited by a small, mischievous spirit, Catherine. It was only pulling a few harmless Halloween pranks."

"Vincent," she pleaded anxiously, "you don’t think it will be back, do you?"

He chuckled at the frazzled tone of her voice. "Not this year, Catherine. Not this year."

"No! Oh, no!" Shaking her head, Catherine buried her face in her hands.
  Submitted/published in "Chamber Cameos", Vol 1, Issue 6, Oct. 1990.