Whitechapel: 1888

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Horror  |  House: Booksie Classic
Set in Whitechapel, London: 1888. Short Story.
"Following tonight, words of him shall hang on every last citizen’s lips. He shall haunt the newspapers and bring fear to every man, woman and child at the mere thought of him. Tonight marks his beginning as 'Jack the Ripper...'"

Submitted: August 15, 2011

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Submitted: August 15, 2011

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The stale air seemed to hang about London these days, particularly in the district of Whitechapel. The cool September night air nearly blew the man’s top hat right off his head as he continued down Buck’s Row, off Whitechapel Road.

The alleyway was dark and damp. It gave him chills, almost as if the atmosphere had changed to better suit his purpose here in the slums of London. He clutched his knife where it was concealed in his sleeve, waiting to spring on his first victim.

The murderer’s eyes scanned the vicinity for a hiding place; not an easy feat in darkness as severe as tonight. The cold breezes did not help to brighten the environment. Not even the good Queen Victoria would find anything attractive in this insufferable weather, he thought, hugging his arms around himself for warmth. Apparently, these surroundings were commonplace in Whitechapel.

The cobblestone beneath his feet was covered in dirt that mixed with the rain London received earlier, creating a thick mud that now painted his shoes.  The bitter conditions made his skin crawl and bumps formed on his arms beneath his coat. The knife got harder and harder to hang onto as each finger on his hands became seemingly paralyzed from the cold.

Even in September, when the days were still long, they seem to be blackened with fog in this place. The darkness hangs over the whole area, poisoning the day and especially the nights, with a thick veil of obscurity. Nothing, not the moon nor the sun itself can thwart off the unvarying sense of night that shrouds the district of Whitechapel.

The smell is perhaps the most unpleasant of all. Excrement and vomit from the drunkards line the better parts of the alley, making it hard to breathe. The air reeks of alcohol and smoke. There is a distinct odour from the factories that makes its way through the city, drifting somehow into every corner and crevice. The smell covers the buildings in a stench that could make even the strongest man weak.

The silence in the streets makes it hard for him to hide his footsteps from police on their nightly patrol. Quiet steps are not an easy task when the silence is so shrill it can be cut right through with the drop of a pin.

The killer continues, but cannot withstand much more of the harsh climate and sickening aroma. He awaits his victim: the first lady of the night who is unfortunate enough to walk down Buck’s Row tonight, looking for her next client.  He knows someone will be here soon. In Whitechapel, it is a woman’s business to be in strange places at strange, late hours such as this one. He conceals himself behind a water barrel, careful not to disturb the rain water which fills it to the brim. He will wait here for his victim and spring on her in the same manner of a Jack-in-the-box, that insufferable child’s toy. Then he shall rip her to bits.

The walls he waits beside are thick with mud and some other substance that he cannot make out exactly what it is. The grey bricks unmistakeably old and most look as if they are about to crumble before the night is out.

Finally, the eerie glow of the moon outlines his prey; a woman who is most likely drunk and looking for her next customer. It is a sad business but it is necessary to survive here. She should consider herself lucky, the man thinks, moving slowly out from his hiding place, I am saving her from her regrettable existence. The lady stumbles towards him slowly, nearly slipping in the many puddles that cover the passageway. The bottom of her dress coats itself in water as she drags herself along.

The ice cold weather is making the man anxious to get his work over and done with so he can go home. He dreams of a warm fire and dry clothes, but pushes his thoughts aside quickly as he realizes he is not focusing on the task at hand.

This night is important and requires the highest levels of concentration. There is no time for things as trivial as a daydream. Following tonight, words of him shall hang on every last citizen’s lips. He shall haunt the newspapers and bring fear to every man, woman and child at the mere thought of him. Tonight marks his beginning as “Jack the Ripper.”


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