08 July 2005

Jack the Ripper - 2

I am not aware of any contemporary account of these foul deeds but the sequence of events can be pieced together from police reports, newspaper cuttings, coroners reports and eye-witness testimony. Enough detail has survived 117 years to lift a corner of the veil of mystery.

In flickering amber gaslight she leaned back against the outer wall of Bishopsgate Police Station, feeling the London bricks cold and hard. She was still drunk and tired in her bones despite a long evening in the cells. Fingering her petticoat pocket she remembered the ‘Old Bill’ had at least returned her money. But two small coins wouldn’t stand a drink at the “Three Bells.”

Cheap lodging-house beds had bent Kate’s back and summers spent doubled over in hop fields had creased her face, yet still she turned heads in Whitechapel. Tanned street traders saw a slender frame and soft hazel eyes, and thought of their fat, unwashed wives. They noticed her auburn hair, washed daily in hand soap and spilling from under her faded pink bonnet. In a city of ugliness she stood out.

Black boots clicked on clean cobbles behind her. The cool night breeze revived her senses. Death lurked in these alleys, death by steel. The long shadows of Mitre Square ahead offered an opportunity to hide and draw breath. Five minutes from now her eyes would stare blankly at the night sky. Her soft entrails, warm and pink would glisten on the dirt, giving off tiny tendrils of steam.

Kate hitched her skirt and ran into the dark of the square. She crouched and watched her pursuer. He would hear her stifled panting for sure. She gulped back a sob and pressed her slim frame into the angle of two walls. His heels clicked louder as he headed straight for her hiding place. She threw back her head and screamed in silent terror as the flashing blade sliced through her throat. Virtually decapitated by the single ferocious swing, she sucked and blew though the gaping wound until blood loss brought blessed unconsciousness.

Working swiftly he hoisted her tattered skirts and plunged his blade deep. Intestines slipped out in grey coils, he swept them to one side and slashed open her entire abdomen. Briefly he looked away over his shoulder, retching at the hot stink. He hacked spleen, pancreas and stomach from the poor woman and tossed them behind him. A black pool spread around her in a fearful halo.

Frantically he drove his fists into the cavity and withdrew a plum coloured kidney. He thrust the organ into his pocket and rose to his feet, gasping lungfuls of cold London smog. Laughter echoed from the street beyond and he knew his time was short. Stepping over the lifeless remains he stooped to recover a long pin from her hair. He rammed it through the back of his own left hand and growled in agony. Grimacing in the dark he reminded himself the penalty for delivering pain was to receive it.

By the quiet he judged the hour to be around 1 am. Suspicious eyes glinted from every window so, walking just below a trot he put distance between himself and his savagery. Doubling back towards the East he reached the darkest lanes of all then ran hard and fast. His heart thumped loudly as he dropped to his knees in the blackness. Nausea welled in his throat and he vomitted hot bile into the gutter. With the floodgates opened, he spewed the contents of his guts in short, lurching grunts until his muscles were on fire with pain.

He blew long rattling strands from his dry lips and tasted the bitterness of gin. At midday he had poured half a pint down his neck and more into the Eddowes woman. Next time he would do unspeakable things to her, whoever she may be...


RuKsaK said...

Wow! The word 'graphic' is a pale imposter of a word which should describe this.

Thrilling, disturbing, rivetting, compelling, dirty, menacing, even beautiful - all rolled into a liquid prose and injected into my skull.


finnegan said...

Yes, that anomalous adjective "beautiful" in Ruksak's string is the what gives this scene capsule such horrific potency. In a city of ugliness she stood out. This is the perfect ironic metaphor for what what precedes and what follows.

You've outdone yourself here Virgo. I'd seriously think about a literary career if I had your mind-branding skills. Phew!

superflywebpimp said...

a perfect read with the morning coffee, now i'm ready to tackle the world. or at the very least, mow the grass.

*side note to author*
dipping into each rushing bend, eyes watering and ears ringing from the incredible roar of the wind, as if mother nature herself is whispering into your ear, "ease off that throttle boy...for i am bigger than you." with squinting eyes and grinding teeth, you ignore her roar and slip into fifth and hiss pass the speed barriers reserved for the gods. safe riding pv.

Perfect Virgo said...

Ruk - my pleasure to distil a concentrate of horror for your mind. Students of the Whitechapel Murders will think I am treating them in reverse order but the fates of numbers 5 and 4 surfaced first because I feel sorriest for them.

Finnegan - you latched onto a strong point there. The victims were mostly middle-aged prostitutes yet some had retained hints of their youthful beauty. Ironic indeed that he should have reserved his worst atrocities for some of the prettiest among them.

Writing for money would be my ultimate dream. You never know, you know!

Superfly - I trust the morning coffee went down well. I find it a useful lubricant when motivation to mow is required!

Your sidenote is a kaleidoscope of vivid prose. I too heard mother nature's whisper yesterday evening. A thin dark ribbon of empty blacktop snaked towards the blood-red setting sun. Midway I squeezed off speed, dropped 3 gears and cranked into a fast chicane. Left, right and left crackling loudly in second then full throttle through the gears all the way to a banshee howl. Safe riding sfwp.

transience said...

this chilled me, pv. death lurked in the alleys of london then like it still does now.

finnegan said...

Odd that we remember someone like Jack the Ripper as though he were a rock star.

Other killers have wrecked far worse havoc---witness the recent London bombings or any other of late. Yet Jack still rivets us.

What do you believe most contributes to this ongoing fascination in light of what we've witnessed since?

Perfect Virgo said...

Transience - I wrote it without even considering Thursday's events. 'Big city syndrome' attracts low life.

I have a shelf full of books on this subject, it fascinates me like no other serial murder sequence.

Finnegan - no face to put to the name. He's like a comic book anti-hero. Identification would relegate him to the status of a mere mortal and the myth and mystery would vanish like Thames mist.

He was of his time and forever locked in his time. He was never caught, he committed his crimes and stopped for reasons unknown. Today the serial killer will inevitably be caught, DNA, CCTV, mobile phone records etc...

Five definite victims but some authorities lay a further two on him. One could be anger, twenty is incomprehensible. Five is planned, plausible and just sufficiently out of control.

Just my thoughts...

The Flea said...

Brilliant! I'm so glad to return here and see you have given us another installment of our jolly friend Jack.

I love it Virgo. As I read my mind billows with so many ideas. And while I know it is your story and not mine I find myself seeing into the future.

I can't help but picture him reaching into his pocket later. The sexual excitement has worn off, for now. And the thought of touching her cold moist organ disgusts him. And yet, he must go through with it at some stage.

I don't know, but for some reason I see him as a very guilty man. A man whose muderous passion comes in fits and starts. And then vanishes, leaving him quite ashamed.

Bleh! Forget my rambling. Just keep doing what you're doing. Because, no shit, it's great! I just wonder what you have imagined when he isn't slaughtering whores, in those empty spaces that are wrapped completely in mystery.

Perfect Virgo said...

Flea - I'm so glad you like this, it's such a departure from my usual stuff I was half afraid it would bomb. I'm also pleased that even more comes out in the comments thread.

Oh yes, guilt, shame, remorse maybe. The one truly black area where no light shines is the hole he hid in between the killings. When I approach that I will have to use pure imagination. I'm looking forward to it myself actually.

The kidney is well-documented in the records. A week after the killing he posted it to the Chief of Police in a macabre taunt.

T said...

wow. i don't ususally go in for stuff like this--nightmares, you understand--but i couldn't help myself going all the way through to the end.

really, really well done, Virgo. seems i came back here at the perfect moment. hope to see you around some, as well.

Perfect Virgo said...

iFuego! - nice to see you back. This is the second in a series I am fiddling with. The inspiration is a vile series of unsolved London murders from 1888 in which I have a morbid interest, you might say.

It is a real departure for me as is the Sci-fi I tried last week. Doesn't hurt to flex the creative muscles a little I think. The "Ripper" sequences are chilling indeed, I may not pen another for a few weeks, or at least consider a different angle...

I am glad you liked it enough to persevere, and you will indeed see me around!

finnegan said...

I had to come back for a re-read, P.V.

Love it better the second time!

Perfect Virgo said...

Finnegan - Great!

I just slipped off my dusty leathers after a hard blast through forest roads. My eyes are bloodshot and my ears are ringing - guess I must have been doing something right!

Bought a second skid-lid yesterday and took my eldest son for a flight. He's a convert!

Jen said...

This is a side to you I've never seen!

Perfect Virgo said...

Jen - a guy's got to have some secrets up his sleeve! Just proving to myself that I can tackle other subjects and in different styles. Read closely though and I think you'll recognise my words. Hope I didn't scare you...