By Adam Dixon
The streets of Whitechapel were deathly quiet that night. The street lamps were sparse and their feeble glow barely penetrated the November mist. There were shadows on every corner, and in one of them lurked a solitary, patient woman. Jackie stood motionless, her eyes on the small lodgings across the street. Standing on street corners had become a familiar occupation of hers of late, but she was not there for her trade. A fellow night-worker was completing a transaction with a client, and they had entered the small house less than half an hour ago. She stood calmly, her gaze boring into the wooden door just yards in front of her.
Soon, a man staggered outside, cursing loudly as he caught his foot on the door frame. He almost tripped, but somehow managed to remain upright and wobbled off into the night, belching out a bawdy song and chuckling to himself. After a few minutes the street was silent once again, and Jackie slowly approached the house. It was in a state of disrepair, with the door a little off its hinges and one of the panes of glass broken in the window next to it. Raising a gloved hand, Jackie knocked softly on the door.
No response. Jackie glanced up the street in both directions. Satisfied that there was not another soul nearby, she knocked again, more firmly this time.
“Mary, let me in!” She called, her voice just above a whisper. She hesitated when she heard no movement from within.
“Come on, Ginger, let me in.” ’Ginger’ was the pet name affectionately given to the house’s occupant by the other working women, so Jackie was fairly confident that using it would help. Sure enough, soft footsteps approached the door and the coat draped across the broken window pane twitched. A moment later the door was opened, and Mary stood peering out uncertainly, dressed in her nightclothes. Mary blinked in surprise as she registered who it was.
“Oh, it’s you, Jackie! My, what a surprise you gave me! I though you was that drunk fella comin’ back! What brings you here at this time? Come in, come in.” She stepped to one side, allowing Jackie to stride past the threshold. It was dark inside, as there was only one candle lit. Once inside, Jackie turned to face Mary, who was bolting the door. The bolt was on the outside of the house, and Mary was reaching through the broken window pane to draw it. Jackie took a moment to study her. Also known as “Fair Emma” by her clients, Mary was young, attractive and buxom. She had fallen into poverty and then onto the streets for a living because life was cruel and uncaring. Jackie certainly didn’t care; it was like that for everybody, and it was only work, after all.
“Don’t mind me, love. Can’t be too careful these days, can we?” Mary offered, fiddling with the bolt. “Not after those poor girls have been done over, God have mercy on ‘em.”
“No, we certainly can’t.” Jackie replied, and casually removed the long knife from inside her cloak. She held it loose in her right hand, her intense stare fixed at the back of Mary’s head. The woman chattered on in her charming Irish way as she struggled with the rusty bolt, but Jackie just let the noise wash over her in a muffled haze. She could see a good section of Mary’s neck exposed as she leaned over with her head cocked to one side. The pale, recently-cleaned skin seemed to call to her, and she could almost smell the blood rushing through the veins and arteries within. Her breathing became shallower and her eyes glazed over. Her knife hand twitched, and she began to creep forwards.
“Oh, this bleedin’ thing!” Mary huffed, quite frustrated with her lack of success. “I’ll have the landlord’s guts for this! How’s a woman ‘sposed to feel safe in her own home, I ask you?”
Jackie didn’t answer, but took another step towards her. Her free hand reached out and hovered just behind Mary’s left ear. So close, thought Jackie, her excitement reaching almost painful heights. She edged closer still…
“There!” Mary declared triumphantly, standing up straight as she slammed the bolt home. She planted her hands on her hips, a satisfied grin on her face.
“Nice and safe now! No wrong-un’s gettin’ in ‘ere tonight, eh, Jackie?” She chuckled at the joke and turned around. Her eyes widened as Jackie’s hand clamped around her mouth and the raised knife fell.
Two hours later, Jackie staggered through the dark streets of London, her rapture so intense that it made her unsteady. She leaned against a brick wall in an alley for a moment, trying to collect her dazed thoughts. She was dimly aware that the clothes she was wearing were not her own. That’s right, she thought dreamily, these are Mary’s clothes…I burned mine as fuel for the grate; there wasn’t enough light…. Just as well, considering all the blood. Oh, but she had been brutal! She didn’t know why she had gone so far this time, as Mary was no different from the previous women. Perhaps it was because this time it had been private, with no chance of a witness and no chance of being disturbed? Or perhaps it was simply because Mary was young and attractive, and life had not yet succeeded in dampening her good spirits. Possibly. It didn’t matter, regardless, Mary was dead and the beast within Jackie was slumbering once again, satisfied with another active night.
Jackie wondered what the newspapers would make of the attack once Mary was discovered. It would be one hell of a story, and the press would undoubtedly link it to the string of recent murders around London. Jackie giggled as she thought of how close they had come with their headlines before, but that their misconception would ensure her safety. As far as London was concerned, the monstrous Jack the Ripper will have claimed another life and was still at large. Jackie straightened and walked briskly through the morning mist. Oh yes, the Ripper had indeed been hunting that night, and she had loved every second of it.