"The loss of blood was starting to make me feel woozy. It dripped down from my forehead into my eyes and flowed freely from my nose into my mouth. As quietly as I could, I spit some out and listened closely. No footsteps... that meant I had either outran him...or he was somewhere else, lying in wait. The quickly fading light made it hard to see."

The loss of blood was staring to make me feel woozy. It dripped down from my forehead into my eyes and flowed freely from my nose into my mouth. As quietly as I could, I spit some out and listened closely. No footsteps…that meant I had either outran him…or he was somewhere else, lying in wait. The quickly fading light made it hard to see.

Suddenly, I heard a clatter from a rooftop overhead. I cursed silently and ducked behind a dumpster. The air was foul, the stench making my eyes water. I was almost glad my nose wasn’t in working order, or I would have gotten the full effect of the acrid garbage.


But I didn’t move. Nothing else could have made the noise on the rooftop, because nothing else was here in this Godforsaken city. Except for him, of course…

My legs were starting to hurt from crouching, but I didn’t want to risk sitting down in case I needed a fast getaway. Ignoring the ache in my knees, I stood up slowly and scanned in a 360 degree circle all around me. I couldn’t see well ‘cause of the blood dripping in my eyes, and it was almost completely dark out. 

I had to think of something. I weighed my options: Wait for him to come and completely finish me off, or go after him myself. Well, if I died, I obviously wouldn’t be able to see anyone ever again. But if I found him and managed to kill him… I might, just might, be able to see Leah once more.

I felt my jacket pockets. My knives were gone. Probably fallen out on the ground somewhere where I ran. I didn’t have a gun on me. I looked around the filthy alley I hid in. there were some wooden stakes lying around, but it’s not like I was going after a vampire. Well, then again, I didn’t know what he was exactly. I picked up a stake, and something else caught my eye; shards of broken glass were scattered on the ground. Carefully, I picked up the biggest one and pulled my hockey tape out from my jeans pocket.

Some people like to insist that duct tape can fix anything, but in my family it was hockey tape. Everyone had a roll on them at all times.

I wrapped the tape around one end of the glass, making a sort of handle. There, now I could hold my makeshift knife without slicing my hand.

I gripped my stake in one hand and knife in the other. Tonight, whether it was me or him… somebody was going to die.

My feet pounded on the pavement, and the echoes, with no one to stand in their way, bounced off the dingy buildings and slammed into each other like invisible bumper cars.

My head throbbed.

I could barely see where I was going, but I knew I had to go up. Each building I passed I looked for a fire escape.

There was one. Should I use it? I didn’t know if I should risk injuring myself further; the ladder look rusty and leaned over like a rickety old man.

But I was wasting time! Without letting my brain second guess itself, I leapt over to the fire escape and tested my weight.

It groaned, and every muscle in my body groaned along with it, begging me to just leave and never come back. I ignored myself and made my way up.

I had never been terribly fond of heights, and the warm wind whistling past my ears made my palms start to sweat.

I repeated to myself: don’t look down, don’t look down, don’t look down…

Then I realized it didn’t really matter anyways because it was now dark, and I wouldn’t be able to see much anyways. Finally I reached the roof.

I swung my legs up and stood there. I could see the faint outlines of chimneys and buildings along the horizon. It was that point in time where the moon is just barely rising and you can see the dim twinkle of the first star.

So how was I going to find him? And more importantly, how was I going to find Leah?

It started to dawn on me that the noise he made was probably just to lure me up. He worked best in open spaces where he could leap and jump and slash his prey.

I gripped my knife like a security blanket. Well, better start looking. I walked around cautiously to look for clues; footprints, blood, anything. From what I could see, there was nothing on this rooftop than old boards and a rusted can of paint. Okay, how was I supposed to get to the next rooftop? I couldn’t keep climbing down buildings, then climbing up a different one; that would just waste precious times. Should I wait until morning to make a plan? It would be easier to see in daylight…

A shrill scream echoed from somewhere in front of me, answering my question. There wasn’t time to wait.

So how would I get across to the next building? My eyes landed on a pile of old boards. Maybe…maybe I could make a sort of plank and walk across. The boards were wide enough to. They seemed to be thick enough. Length wouldn’t be a problem either.

I grabbed the biggest one, and with some difficulty, dragged it over to the edge of the roof. I couldn’t help but think of how stupid it would be for me to die by falling off the board. Not heroically, fighting for my own or Leah’s life. Just slipping and falling; an accident.

I take a deep breath. Be calm. Panicking will do nothing good.

I test my weight with one foot. It seems to be fine. Like something in a movie, I have a flashback to my childhood, to the time my older cousins made me walk across the top of our swing set.

Back in the present, I think to myself, if I could do it when I was six, then I can do it now.

I take another breath and put my other foot on the board. It creaks a little, but nothing happens. I slip my knife in my pocket and stretch my hands out on either side of me. I can feel my palms get clammy as my heart hammers in my chest, so hard I can feel it in my throat. I shuffle forward. So far so good.

My arms start to shake. I keep inching forward, slowly, nervously. I picture Leah standing at the end of the board, beckoning me with open arms. Even though my heart feels like it’s going to explode, it aches for her. My chest, stomach, and whole body aches for her. I shuffle forward faster.

Finally, I reach the other building. I practically throw myself down to lay on solid ground. I sit there for a second, breathing heavily. A loud clatter sounds behind me. I know what happened even before I turned around. Looking confirms my suspicions; my plank was knocked into the street. But there’s no way it could have fallen by itself…

A dark shape leaps from the other building and lands lightly, cat-like, a few feet away from me.


Or more specifically, Jack of the Night. The Devil’s Jack. Jack from Below. Jack the Demon, the Woman-Stealer, the Shadow, and the Wrath. Wherever you come from, he has a name. I, however, call him Jack. To give him a title would be giving him power.

“Evening, Jack,” I say casually. He cocks his head to one side.

“Good evening, Chase.” His voice is the complete opposite of what you’d expect. His physical appearance suggests a raspy, demonic growl. It’s actually clear and concise, strangely lacking an accent of any type.

“How are you tonight?” I can see his wide forehead crease into a frown.

“I’m doing quite well, thank you,” is his response. “And you?” He hasn’t let his guard down just yet.

“Well, I’ve been better. By the way, have you seen a red-headed girl anywhere around here?”

Jack snarls. I guess that was the wrong thing to say.

“What is it to you whether or not a girl is around here?” Jack spat the words out like poison. In his anger, he stands up straighter. His wide-set eyes narrow.

I clear my throat. “Well, her parents are awfully worried…”

“They should be.”

I sit up and look at him. “Why?”

He twists his marred face into something resembling a smile.

“You know how I feel about women, Chase.”

The hellish smile is gone in an instant and replaced by bared teeth and wild eyes.

“I HATE THEM!” he screams, and his shriek echoes across the rooftops.

“Especially,” he says softly, “ones with red hair.”

“But…why?” I’m genuinely curious.

Jack says calmly, “Why don’t you sit for a while and I’ll tell you. If you try anything, I’ll rip your throat out before you can blink.”

I nod and lean back, extending my legs out in front of me and crossing my ankles. If he’s put off by my seeming lack of fear, he doesn’t show it. Truth to be told, I’m scared out of my mind but I won’t give him that satisfaction.

Jack doesn’t move but takes a deep breath.

 A moment of silence, then, “Her name was Mary.”

I can tell this is painful for him to talk about.

“We were both fourteen. We would sneak out at night and go to the lake. One night, she decided she didn’t want to. I asked her and asked until she finally gave in. so, we snuck out like usual. I ended up falling asleep, and when I woke up hours later, there she was, floating face-down in the water. Dead.”

I stare at this ruined creature in front of me.

He continues, “Do you know what I did, Chase?  I didn’t go to the police. I didn’t even pull her out of the water. I ran away, like a coward.”

On the last word, his voice breaks. He looks up the sky and whispers something too quiet to hear. Then he continues, “I went to a different town. Then another, then another. I was seventeen, and so was Louise. We we’re going to get married. Anne left me for another man. Susan was unfaithful. Lucy—“

“Wait, hold on…” I start, confused.

He interrupts, “They all died because of me.” His voice is a harsh whisper. “I convinced Mary to sneak out, and she died. I bought Louise a ring, she got mugged for it and was shot in the process. I shouted at Anne, she left me for another man who turned out to be a drunk and beat her to death.” His breath becomes heavier.

“Susan slept around, so I told everyone and she hung herself. I bought Lucy a new car and she died in an accident.”

I’m appalled. It’s almost no wonder why he was driven insane; someone can hold only so much grief before it turns to guilt and weighs down on your soul. In Jack’s case, it turned him into a monster who could only find content when he slashed throats. But still…

“But why would that make you want to kill them? Wouldn’t it make you want to save them?” I ask.

“No, not at all. Now I cheat fate. I’m killing them before they can hurt me.”

“But…” I don’t even know what to say.

“I’m sorry, Chase, I can’t let you have Leah. She’ll only hurt you in the end.”

And with that, he leaps off the roof and disappearsI bolt upright, my head spinning.

I have to find Leah. I look around me frantically, my eyes scanning zig-zags across the night. I hear her scream to my left.

My stomach lurches but I look down over the sides of the building. There’s no fire escape, and my board was knocked down into the street below. Luckily, on my way to the back of the roof, I trip on a door in the floor that leads inside miraculously, it’s unlocked so I pull it open and slip inside.

The inside of the building is almost pitch black and already my childhood fear of the dark is returning. As carefully as I can, I try and hurry down the stairs.

I’m just waiting for the moment an undead hand grabs my neck, and I shiver. I can practically feel Jack’s hot breath behind me, urging me to try and stop him.

Finally I reach the ground level. I run outside into the street. Leah screams again and I shout back. “Leah!” my voice strained. I shout again, “Jack!” this time with searing anger. As I shout, I start sprinting towards the sound of her voice.

I run a block, then another. I stop.


The buildings on either side of the desolate street all look the same. I see a dark shape move quickly to my right. Before Jack is even done moving I’m flying towards him, full-force. I skid to a stop once I’m in the building. I jerk my head around in all directions.


“You shouldn’t have come,” says a placid voice from the darkness. “Just let me help you.”

“How about you let her go!” I thunder.

A weak voice sounds from my left.


Jack hisses like a demon and leaps like a cat into a room. I follow, and I see her.

She’s tied by her wrists so that she’s hanging from what looks like a meat hook (I guess we’re in a butcher’s shop—how ironic of you, Jack). Her feet are tied together. Her jeans are ripped and nasty looking cuts ooze out of them. She has a large gash on the left side of her jawline. Her red hair is matted and tangled. She has never looked more beautiful.

Ignoring Jack, I walk slowly to her, almost not believing it.


‘Oh, hey, Chase.” Somehow she manages a smile.

“What a happy reunion,” Jack snarls.

“Just let her go,” I plead.

“Why would I do that? I’m going to kill her. And I don’t usually like killing men—I’m just like you after all—but I might have to for interfering with my plans. Actually, I think I will,” he concludes, and unsheathes his claws like an animal.

“You don’t have to do this, Jack,” I say, and step protectively in front of Leah.

“Maybe I don’t, but I want to,” he says as his pupils dilate and focus directly on me. They’re slited, like a cat’s.

“Who should I kill first?” he muses to himself.

With a sweaty hand I reach into my pocket for my knife. I’m not trying to be sneaky; he probably knows what I’m doing before I do. I don’t expect to win this fight.

I expect to die trying.

“Put that away,” Jack sneers at my knife. Before I can even think of what to respond, he darts forward and cleanly slices off my fingers. There’s no pain yet, I just watch in horror as my knife, four fingers, and the top of my thumb fall to the floor.

I’m bleeding freely from the severed parts of my hand, but I reach down and pick up my knife with the other.

Leah sees my fingers on the floor and gags. “Oh my God.”

I attempt to attack Jack, but he dodges and with abnormal strength, smacks my hand so the knife falls again.

“Let her go,” I gasp, my hand throbbing. “You can kill me—but please let her go.”

“I can’t do that! I didn’t want to kill you in the first place, Chase,” is his reply.

“It’s okay,” says Leah quietly. “You can kill me. Go ahead, knock yourself out. Will you let Chase go, then?”

Jack says nothing.

Then he takes a big step forward, slits her throat, and cuts her bond from the meat hook in one fluid motion. Her body slumps to the floor.

Words choke up in my throat as I move towards her. Before I get there, Jack slashes my stomach. Immediately, warmth spreads across my abdomen. My blood is everywhere, and so is hers.

I sink down the floor and gently lift Leah’s body to my chest.

Jack doesn’t say anything, just walks out.

Leah, dead, and I, dying, lay there together on the floor of a butcher’s shop, just as the first rays of sunlight penetrated the grimy windows. 

Submitted: May 13, 2015

© Copyright 2023 WinstonEvans. All rights reserved.

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