When Normal Becomes Odd

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Flash Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

A flash fiction inspired by the crimes of Jack the Ripper, exploring one of the possibilities of the Ripper's identity in a modern day setting as if the Ripper had returned or had been copycatted.

When “Normal” Becomes Odd.


Charlie Toombes glanced up from her studies at the grandfather clock at the end of a bookcase in her father’s library. Nearly half past 9. Tick. Tock. Tick. Ten more minutes. Ten more minutes then I’m free. Charlie hated being schooled from home. Charlie glanced over at Madame Sylvia, an old crone of a woman who was so stuck in the old ways of teaching young women that it couldn’t be necessary for her to even try discussing sciences and histories of other countries. Charlie had the books in her father’s library for that, anyway. Wap! Charlie jumped, the measuring stick hitting the desk, startling her.

“Somewhere you need to be, Charlotte?” Sylvia asked, a Scottish English accent heavy in her old, raspy voice. The old, gray haired Scottish woman was a homeschool teacher and tutor, but acted like she was a Victorian governess. It was 2019, not 1840.

“It’s Charlie…” It was the seventeenth time this month she had to correct Sylvia. Maybe I should just give up already? “And no, I’ve just read this chapter for about the tenth time.” She had been reading A Little Princess, and as much as she enjoyed believing in the Indian world that Sara was discussing, this was a children’s novel. Charlie may have been 17, but this was a little young for her.

“Then perhaps you should look for another chapter.”

“I don’t-”

“I don’t care what you don’t want to do, Charlotte. I’m paid to teach you so that’s what I do.”

“Then can’t we take a break? Go for a walk? Do anything but sit in this place?”

Sylvia gave a wearied look. “...fine, I suppose that’s enough for today.” Charlie smiled, standing, fixing her clothes. The red and black blazer embellished with the blue crest of a knight did get a bit crumpled after sitting for so long. “But-” Charlie looked at Sylvia, “I expect you to actually finish your studies this time.”

“Yes, Madame Sylvia.” Charlie waited until Sylvia left the room, before darting out the library, shoving her feet into her black ballet flats, before darting to the Underground. Her father had texted her that a murder had occured on Durward Street, a few blocks away from their city home, and that Scotland Yard might get involved. He had known because he was a viscount and had heard about it from the queen, but also had a business running a funeral home and was getting the body.

One pound and fifty pence and three minutes later because of traffic, Charlie was walking up to a group of people surrounding something on Durward Street. Oh, there’s the body!

“Such a shame, she was only 43…”

As Charlie walked over, a shiver ran down her spine. Laying on the ground in a mass of congealed blood was a woman with two slits on her throat and had severe abdominal injuries, wearing a raised burgundy skirt that had been hastily pulled back down on one side and a buttoned up blouse. “Like Mary Ann Nichols…” Charlie whispered, catching the attention of one of the younger detectives.

“You’re suggesting this is a copycat of Jack the Ripper?” he asked. He was a tall fellow, probably about a head taller than Charlie who was 5’2”, with fiery red hair and peridot eyes.

“I’m just commenting on the similarities.”

An older constable glanced over, looked at the crest on Charlie’s blazer, and groaned. “Sylvain, step away from Miss Toombes. She shouldn’t even be here anyway.”


“Out of the crime scene, little girl.” the constable said.

“...fine,” Charlie said, as a smirk grew on her face. “But I’ll let you know… I know who did it.”

“You do?” Sylvain asked.

Charlie nodded. “See the incision marks on the neck?” she asked, pointing to the woman’s neck. “That only could have been made with a blade specifically made for cutting through flesh. Narrowing down options after looking at the cuts themselves, we could deduce that the cut was either created from either a surgeon or a butcher, because the cut is so neat, albeit hasty.” She looked at the woman herself. “The woman was a prostitute, not only because her skirt had been pulled up, but why else would someone be out at night?”

“How do you know that she died at night?” Sylvain asked.

“The congealed blood,” Charlie answered. “Blood doesn’t get that way in minutes like normal when it’s pooled like this, and at 59 degrees Celsius, might take at least twice as long with the amount. Also the stage of mortis that she’s in: it’s clear that she’s not in Pallor Mortis because she’s stiff. It’s not Algor Mortis because she’s stiff. So, my deductions lead me to believe that she is in the process of Rigor Mortis. Because of this, I’m led to believe she died before 4 A.M.”

Charlie looked around at the scene for any clues. There was graffiti on the wall. “The Jews are the ones who will be not be blamed for anything.” After looking at the message, Charlie nodded. “I see…” Charlie said. “The killer is most likely Jewish, not only because of this message, but recent persecutions as well.”

“You mean those shootings?” a constable asked.

Charlie nodded. “Exactly,” she said. “And if they’re saying that the Jewish won’t be blamed, then a member of their community must be the one that did this. The culprit must also be part of this neighborhood. Now… what profession they are is truly important. Do any of you know a Jewish butcher?”

The constables looked at each other in silence, thinking. “Not in this immediate area,” Sylvain said.

“Now, is there a surgeon?” Charlie asked.

“Yeah,” Sylvain said. “He works in London, but…” He paused to think, running his hand through his shaggy red hair. “He lives in this area, right?”

One constable pulled up records on his phone. “Yeah,” he said. “It does show that he lives in this area.”

“Then there’s your culprit: Dr. Arthur Carrol,” Charlie said.

“How’d you solve it so quickly?” Sylvain asked. “You’re, what…. 14?”

“I’m 17!” Charlie exclaimed. She took a breath to calm down. “It’s elementary, dear ‘Watson.’ I’ve read the cases countless times and...while the graffiti is totally in the wrong place at the wrong time, and you lot are late discovering the body, it’s clear that the changes were necessary for solving it. If it were someone truly copy-catting this case, that graffiti wouldn’t be there, making it far more difficult.”

“I see…” Sylvain said, nodding. “Well, we’ll take care of this from here.”

Charlie smiled, satisfied that she helped. I guess reading up on crimes does help after all. She turned to walk back home, stopping on the way to buy herself a chocolate croissant for a job-well-done.

Submitted: February 05, 2021

© Copyright 2021 SeaChell13. All rights reserved.

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