DREAMS OF THEE
This story tells of the events leading up to and after the carousel.

Southofoz

"Look at that Vincent! Now our names will be there forever," Devin said, brushing his hand over the deeply carved grooves that spelled out his and Vincentís names.

Vincent laughed, his voice deep even at his young age. "Really, Devin? Forever?" he asked excitedly.

Ruffling his little brotherís tousled hair, Devin said, "Well, as long as this old wall stands, anyway. Whenever anyone comes through this gate theyíll see that Vincent and Devin were here. Now come on, weíve got chores to do."

The two boys hurried back down to their underground home to light the torches in the north well, laughing and happy.

That night, as was often the case, the two boys lay in their bed talking about the day or dreaming of the future.

"Devin, tell me about the world Above," Vincent asked, as he lay staring up at the fan-shaped window. It was a nightly ritual lately, just before they slept Ėlike one of the adventure stories they often read. But this was different. This was real.

Devin rolled over onto his back and stared up at the high ceiling. "There are mountains, oceans Ė amazing places everywhere south of Oz and north of Shangri La."

Devin knew that for his little brother these tunnels and chambers would be all he ever knew.

"And you want to go and see it, donít you? The world Above, and leave the tunnels," Vincent murmured quietly.

"Have you had that dream again?"

Vincent didnít answer.

"Now, I told you. It was only a dream. I am not going to go away and never come back, Vincent, this is my home."

Vincent shook his head and spoke softly. "One day you will leave."

Devin knew there was no arguing with Vincent when he was like this, and stayed silent.

"Like Huck and Jim on a raft, with the whole world to explore. I would like to go around the world," Vincent said as though he hadnít said anything about Devin leaving.

Devin sighed sadly. "Yeah, you and me, Huck and Jim on the Mississippi, every day a new adventure." Both boys knew their old dream would never happen. Not for Vincent.

When Vincent said no more and his breathing slowed, Devin knew that he had fallen asleep. "Dream, little brother. Dream of far away places, and amazing adventures," he said before he turned over and went to sleep.

*****

Devin was very pleased with himself. Heíd gotten the knife from the war surplus store.

Vincent, Winslow, Pascal, Mitch and Molly met him just as he entered the tunnels.

"Did ya get it, Dev?" Pascal asked.

"Sure, I got it." Devin said, proudly pulling his knife out of his pocket to the sound of oohs and ahs.

"Give us a hold?" Mitch asked.

Aware of Mitchís tendency to steal things that he wanted, Devin shook his head. "No way. Itís not a toy. I gotta look after it and keep it away from kids like you." He laughed, taking the sting out of his words, but as the other children laughed, Mitchís dark eyes stayed flat and angry.

Vincent, always the serious thinker, said, "But Devin, didnít Father say you were not to have a knife? That it was too dangerous?"

Devin got angry at Vincentís mention of Fatherís unreasonable command that he was not to have a knife. His arm shot out and he grabbed Vincent by the front of his shirt. "I can do what I want, and no old man is gonna tell me what to do. And donít you tell him, do you understand?" His dark eyes roamed from Vincent to the other kids. "No one tell him."

"We wonít tell," Molly said, and all the rest echoed her words. But it was Vincent who stayed silent. Devin turned to him.

"No telling, Vincent. Okay?"

Vincent looked away, regretful, but he shook his head and said, "I will not tell."

"Good. Now letís go swimming."

*****

The next day Devin was helping in the pipe chamber when a message came through, calling him to Fatherís study.

When he arrived Vincent was leaving, and as they passed, Vincent could not look at Devin. His expression was solemn.

"What did you tell him?" Devin asked the smaller boy, stopping him with a hand on his arm.

Vincentís troubled blue eyes turned to his brother, and he took a breath to speak, but before he could answer they heard Fatherís voice.

"Devin! Come in here!"

Devin pointed a finger at Vincentís nose and snarled "Iíll get you later, little squealer."

"Devin I Ö" Vincent tried to speak, but Devin pushed past him and went into face Father.

*****

Father held out his hand. "Give it to me, Devin."

Devin knew what he meant and reluctantly took his knife out of his back pocket and handed it over.

"What did I tell you about this?"

"Knives arenít toys," Devin said, looking down at his feet guiltily. He could never seem to find words in the face of Fatherís constant disapproval.

Father put the knife in his desk drawer, obviously ready to dispose of later.

"You will no longer go and play with your friends, Devin. You are old enough now to start doing more for this community. The men in the lower tunnels will need a strong back. So from tomorrow you will join the work crews digging out new chambers."

Devin said nothing. There was no arguing with Father. It was just not done. His word was law, and once made up, his mind could not be changed.

"Have you nothing to say, Devin?"

Devin shook his head.

"Very well, you may go," Father said, and he turned away, dismissing the boy.

Devin stormed out of Fatherís study, so angry that he wanted to hurt someone, and that someone was waiting for him down the tunnel.

"I donít want to talk to you," Devin told Vincent as he passed.

"Devin Ö" Vincent called, hurrying to keep up with the taller boy.

Devin just wanted to get as far away from Father and Vincent as he could. He began to run, knowing that he could outrun the smaller boy, but that in the end Vincent would find him. He was uncanny where Devin was concerned, as though he had a sixth sense. Even when the children played hide and seek it was always Vincent who found Devin first.

He ran to the darkened steps of the Chamber of the Winds and sat at the bottom of the first flight, staring at the rough rock wallĖallowing the wind to buffet him. No one could stay here long before becoming chilled to the bone. The children sometimes had competitions to see who could last the longest, but Devin had enough rage burning in him to keep him warm.

He had sat there for a very long time when he felt a hand on his shoulder. He jumped to his feet and turned to face the person he had known and loved all his life as a brother.

Vincentís betrayal hurt like hell.

"Go away!" he said, and began to climb back up the stairs as Vincent stayed at the bottom. Devinís anger rose to the boiling point, and he turned and yelled. "You told, didnít you? Goody, goody squealer. You told Father that I had the knife!" He began to walk back down the steps.

"No, Devin, I did not tell Father," Vincent said, and it seemed that the wind and Devinís anger matched each other as they swirled around both boys.

"Yes, you did!" Devin yelled.

"I did not!" Vincentís deep voice broke as he tried to defend himself, without success.

"You did so!" Devinís voice cracked on the last word, which he saw as another betrayal of his adolescence, his youth, and something else he couldnít change. He was angrier than he had even been in his lifeĖwith Father, with Vincent, and with this world heíd grown up in. He felt trapped and suffocated.

"I did not! It wasnít me!" Vincent cried, tears in his voice.

"Liar! It was you! Itís always you!" All the times that Father had favored Vincent over him came crashing down on Devinís head. "I hate you! I hate you! I hate you!" As he reached the bottom step he threw caution to the wind and raised his hand to Vincent for the first time in his life, pushing the smaller boy hard.

Vincent fell back against the wall, and something changed in him. He retaliated with a corresponding push with more power than Devin had thought the smaller boy was capable of. Quiet, tolerant, gentle Vincent had suddenly become someone else, and Devin found himself lying on the steps looking up at a surprised Vincent.

Devin was stunned at the strength in the smaller boy, but it only made him angrier. He jumped to his feet, and acting without thought he punched Vincent in the nose.

Vincentís head snapped around with the force of the blow, and when he turned back to Devin there was blood flowing from his nose. When Vincent touched it and saw the blood he retaliated instantly.

Devin knew heíd made a huge mistake, but it was too late. Vincent growled and swiped him across the face with his right hand so hard that the larger boy found himself back on the steps looking up at Vincent.

The snarl on Vincentís face turned to a look of horror as he saw what heíd done.

He came to his knees before Devin. "Oh, Devin. Iím so sorry," Vincent said with tears in his eyes Ė his own bloody nose forgotten.

Devin put his hand to his cheek as he felt something wet running down his face and the sting began. The hand came away covered with blood.

Vincent said softy, "Come, we need to go to Father." Helping Devin to his feet, their argument forgotten, they made their way back up to stairs.

His anger evaporated at the concern in his brotherís eyes. Numbly, Devin let Vincent guide him.

*****

"What on Earth!" Father said as the two boys came into his study.

Vincent took control of the situation. "Iím sorry, Father. I lost my temper. I didnít mean to hurt Devin."

Vincentís nose had stopped bleeding almost immediately, and he had wiped the blood away. But Devinís face was still bleeding, the gashes deep and gaping open.

As Father guided Devin over to his chair he spoke to both boys, "What happened to make you lose your temper, Vincent?"

Vincent looked down at Devin. "I just got angry and struck Devin. I am very sorry, Devin. I couldnít help myself."

Devin didnít think it would work, but Vincent being who he was, there were certain things that didnít need explanations, and Father asked no more. Nevertheless, Devin knew that Vincent would be punished for attacking someone, good reason or not, different or not. He knew now that Vincent was not responsible for telling Father, but it was too late.

And when Vincent was given a weekís punishment of the Silence, Devin made up his mind to do something special for him.

******

Vincent was feeling very lonely since the beginning of his punishment, and he spent most of his time in his chamber. The rejection of the other children and adults was almost physically painful, so he stayed away from them, occupying himself with reading his favorite books. But his latest Winterfest gift gave him the most joy. It was a toy carousel that Devin had given him. It played a tinkling melody, and Devin had said it worked just like the real thing.

Vincent would place it on the small table in their chamber and watch the tiny horses rise and fall as the music played, day dreaming.

He was so engrossed in the toy that he didnít sense Devin standing behind him in the doorway.

Devin had just found out that it wasnít Vincent who told Father, but Mitch, and he had come to apologize to his little brother. But as he watched Vincent, a better idea came to him, and a plan began to take root in his mind.

*****

"No, Devin Father will not allow it," Vincent said with disappointment.

"You know, little brother, you are just too goody, goody sometimes. Thereís no fun in always doing the right thing."

"Thereís no fun in the Silence, either. And we will both find ourselves experiencing it this time if weíre caught," Vincent said.

"Why should we get caught? I worked there last summer, remember? I know it works, and I can get us in. Now are you coming? Or are you chicken?"

Devin had made his plans, and as an apology had told Vincent. This tactic had worked with the other kids, but Vincent was a different matter. He watched his little brother frown, knowing that he desperately wanted to take the chance.

"Look, all the other kids are going. Are you gonna miss out just because youíre afraid?" Devin goaded.

Vincentís chin firmed, and his eyes glowed, and Devin knew heíd won.

"I will come."

*****

Vincent had never had so much fun in his life. The music, the motion, and the sheer joy of riding a carousel horse were exhilarating. He could not help laughing, caught up with the other children. He was Above, and doing something that every child in that world could experience whenever he or she wished.

He glided past Devin, who was standing in the center hub. He had a hand on the lever to keep the carousel going, and Vincent waved to him.

His every sense was so focused on the enjoyment and the experience that even with his exceptional hearing and sense of smell he didnít hear nor smell the approach of a horse and rider.

Suddenly, a voice echoed throughout the building Ö

******

"How could you!" Father demanded furiously. "You seem to take a perverse pleasure from defying me. What if something had happened? What if heíd been caught up there?"

Devin was getting angry as Father chastised him. Everything had gone so well until the cop came. How did Father find out they had gone? At least he didnít know about the cop and Vincent almost being caught. He had told Father only what he needed to knowĖthat they had gone up Above to ride a carousel.

But everything had gone terribly wrong, and Father just kept on yelling, half of which Devin wasnít hearing.

When the end of Fatherís cane was pointed at his nose, Devin could take no more. "You risked his life for a ride on a carousel? You wanted him to get caught. Was that it?"

"Yes! I wanted him to get caught! I hate him! Heís a little freak and I hate him!"

The look on Fatherís face was one of shock, and Devin took the opportunity to run from the room.

*****

He ran through the tunnels and down the staircase where he and Vincent had had their fight. He sat on the bottom step.

His mind ran through every time Father had blamed him for some misdemeanor. Always him, never VincentĖeven though Vincent very rarely did anything wrong. Even when he had been punished by the Silence for losing control and slicing Devinís cheek, Devin knew it was only a token punishment. Vincent felt bad enough about it. There was really no need to punish him.

Vincent would be the only person Devin would miss from this place.

His mind came to a screeching halt. He hadnít realized until that moment that he had already been planning to leaveĖand had for some time. Vincent was right, but until this moment Devin hadnít realized it. All of his life since first hearing about all the wonderful places out there in the world Above, heíd been dreaming of leaving.

Devin was tough, but the thought of leaving his brother behind broke his heart. He knew he had no choice. Staying down here would slowly drive him mad or kill him. He wept silently for the things he couldnít change.

Sometime later, he didnít know how long, he felt Vincent approaching from behind.

"Devin?" There was an uncertain catch in Vincentís voice.

Devin wiped the tears away roughly. "Yeah?"

"Did you mean what you said?"

Sniffing, Devin said. "What do you mean, Ďwhat I saidí?" Heíd forgotten what heíd said. Heíd been so angry he just wanted to say anything that would hurt Father.

"That you h Ė hated me Ö" The pain in Vincentís voice affected Devin more than the blow that had sliced open his cheek.

Devin was appalled that Vincent had heard his argument with Father. More so now that he recalled what heíd said. He turned to see Vincent standing a few steps above him. By the look on his face Devin knew that those words spoken in anger to an old man, only to shock, had hurt this gentle soul more than anything else ever had. He stood and hurried towards his little brother and hugged him. "No, Vincent I donít hate you. I just said that Ö"

"Why would you say it if you didnít mean it? You said it before as well, when we fought." Vincentís blue eyes were full of tears. A young boy deeply hurt.

Vincentís simple logic struck Devin as usual. To his little brother, lying was difficult to do, and being spiteful was a concept he couldnít understand.

Hugging Vincent again, Devin spoke into his thick mass of hair. "People say a lot of things they donít mean, Vincent, and they do things that hurt, too. The sooner you learn that the better."

The words I love you little brother were never spoken, nor did Vincent express his own feelings. Sometimes the words belittled the feelings, and knowing was a stronger affirmation than mere words could express.

The next morning, Devin was gone Ö

*****

Vincent stood at the top of the windy steps, his heart breaking and his cheeks wet with tears, afraid that he would never see his beloved brother again.

For months afterward as the tunnel community searched for him Vincent would wake in the night, listening for the sound of Devinís breathing, and during the days he thought heíd seen him. But Devin wasnít there. The deep emptiness within Vincent increased and he would often cry himself to sleep.

I arise from dreams of thee
In the first sweet sleep of night,
When the winds are breathing low
And the stars are shining bright

As the years passed, he wondered if he would ever have that empty place within him filled again.

One night on a chilly April evening, everything changed, and Vincent found that life was filled with many kinds of love. And for the first time in twenty years he began to dream a different dream.

*****

Vincent felt Catherineís confusionĖand something else he hadnít felt for twenty years. He hurried to meet her.

She told him of a new man in her office named Jeff Radler, and that he had gone to the tunnel entrance and uncovered two names.

Vincent knew who it must be, but he didnít dare to hope. The next night he felt it againĖa familiar sense like a long forgotten dream resurfacing. He hurried to the iron gate, almost afraid it was a mistake or a dream.

When he flicked the switch and the door slid back, a strange man was crouched before him. But in the man, Vincent saw a boy of fourteen.

Devin had come home.

******* .