An Update & a Reblog!

Good evening, all! Happy Hallowe’en and have fun with your ghoulish night of tricks, treats and stuffing yourself to the eyeballs with sweeties!

Now, some of you may have noticed that I have been a bit lax recently with my blog. Whilst my inactivity saddens me, it is mainly due to the fact that I have been gearing up to take part in this year’s National Novel Writing Month (Nanowrimo for short) and that has taken up a large portion of my writing time. Because of this, I have been unable to pen a horror story for this evening, but I will instead provide the link to a short story I wrote back in April, entitled “Unreal“. In fact, I wrote this piece as part of a different writing challenge, which was actually undertaken as a warm-up to Nanowrimo! I hope that it will suffice and that you enjoy reading it if you haven’t already.

I have a small pile of completed stories, both new and old, which I will be posting throughout November, as well as providing updates on my Nanowrimo progress as I slog through it. I apologise in advance for the lack of routine, and I will get straight back on to working on my ‘Fiction Fursday’ stories in December, which I am thrilled to say have been quite successful!

Enjoy your evening, one and all, and if any of you are getting involved in Nanowrimo , please get in touch!

 

UNREAL
By Adam Dixon

Jack could hardly believe the realism of the game. As soon as he pulled down the visor-screen he could almost swear that he was standing in a meadow during the height of summer, rather than sat in his ergonomic gaming chair in his draughty South-London flat. He could nearly feel the grass tickling his feet and taste the pollen in the air. The box containing the virtual reality system boasted “A gaming world so real, it’ll leave you drained!” It certainly was visually impressive.

“Wow,” he whistled in appreciation. “Pretty good start!” He glanced down at himself and marvelled at the physique of his chosen character. He gazed in wonder at a bare torso covered with rippling, solid muscle and saw equally strong legs supporting him. He almost whooped in delight. He was just like Conan the Barbarian!…

Click here to read on, if you dare…

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Sick Day

Hello, everyone. I’ve been slacking a bit lately with regards to my blog, but before you seize the boiling tar and feathers, I shall explain. I’ve been devoting a lot of time this month to preparing for National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo for short, as I realised with panic that November is nearly upon us. So I have been scribbling ideas for characters, plot and interviewing people in the know in order to get something which resembles an outline before I begin. As a result, I have not been concentrating on my short stories, and for that I apologise.

Today, I would like to share with you a story which I wrote quite recently. I wrote and submitted it to a competition and although it didn’t get anywhere with it I am still quite pleased with how it turned out. The prompt was the first line: “I took a deep breath and knocked on the door…”

I hope you enjoy it, and I will have finished my next story in time for next Thursday.  Thank you for you patience.

P.S. Are any of you lovely lot taking part in NaNoWriMo this year? If you are, please let me know. Maybe we could be writing buddies!

Sick-Day

“I took a deep breath and knocked on the door-”

“Hang on a sec, why did you do that?”

“Excuse me?”

“You knocked. You said you could hear your wife moaning, so why did you knock?”

“I…don’t know. I suppose…I didn’t want to see them…at it. It was bad enough hearing what they were doing, let alone witnessing it. I suppose I wanted them to…stop.”

“Okay, Mr Carling, please continue.”

“Well, they stopped. There was silence on the other side of the door, followed by panicked whispering. She’d have had no idea that I was home as I wasn’t due back until the evening.”

“Why were you home early, Mr Carling?”

“I’d been sent home. I hadn’t felt well that morning and I probably shouldn’t have gone in at all, to be honest. But I’m rather proud of my unblemished record, you see. I’d not taken a single sick day in four years until that morning.”

“Rather convenient, wouldn’t you say?”

“What do you mean?”

“Well, I just find it quite strange that the one day you come home early in four years just happens to be the day your wife is playing around.”

“What are you insinuating, detective?”

“Nothing yet, I’m just remarking on the facts as they appear.”

“Then would you kindly let me finish before you begin your accusations?”

“I’m not accusing you of anything, Mr Carling, please continue.”

“Hmph. Well, I stood outside the door with my hand raised above the handle, but I couldn’t go in. I knew that I’d caught her but I couldn’t will myself to enter that bedroom and face her. I suppose…I don’t know! I knew that if I saw her in that situation then our marriage was over! I didn’t want to have to admit that…”

“I see…then what did you do?”

“I turned around and I left the house.”

“Do you remember what time that was?”

“I left work just after nine-thirty and arrived home at about ten-fifteen. I left the house probably ten minutes later.”

“Where did you go?”

“I don’t really know, I just got into my car and drove around. There was too much going on in my mind, I barely remember any of the places I drove to.”

“Barely is not completely, so could you please tell me the places you remember?”

“Erm…I drove back towards my place of work. I suppose that was by force of habit. Then, erm, I carried on into the city. I remember passing Marble Arch…later on I drove past the Stoop in Twickenham. That’s all I remember.”

“Can anyone vouch for you? Anyone who may have seen you?”

“I don’t know! Umpteen thousands of tourists, maybe! Like I said, I didn’t know where I was going! Although…I did stop at service station and buy a sandwich…I think it was near Gatwick…then I just drove and drove until I ended up back at the house.”

“Okay, we can have our staff check into that, thank you. What time did you return home, Mr Carling?”

“It was nearly half-past three. I remember looking at my watch and wondering how the time had flown.”

“Alright, then what happened?”

“Well, I was still in a bit of a daze, although by that point it may have been because of my illness. I’d calmed down a great deal, though, and I felt ready to talk to Jacqueline.”

“Mhmm. What next?”

“I took out my keys and walked to the front door. I remember thinking that it was odd that it was ajar, but I put that down to my state of mind when I’d let in the morning. That was when I saw the footprints…the bloody footprints.”

“Go on, Mr Carling. Please.”

“I…stared at them…it was as if my mind wasn’t working. I followed the prints backwards, across the hallway and up the stairs. There were…smears…on the banister and on the walls. I followed them to my bedroom door and…and…”

“I know this must be difficult, Mr Carling, please take your time.”

“Thank you…I approached my bedroom, seeing bloody handprints on the opposite wall, and I felt cold. I was so frightened…I pushed open the door…that’s when I saw the body.”

“What did you see, Mr Carling? Your first thoughts, please.”

“I saw…golden hair matted with blood…a torso lying on the floor with legs still in the bed…I saw blue eyes staring out at me, accusing me…”

“Was there anything else you noticed about the crime scene? Anything at all, this is very important.”

“I…I saw the bat…”

“The bat?”

“Yes…I bought a baseball bat and kept it under the bed…for protection…it was lying on the carpet covered in…Christ, remembering it makes me want to vomit!”

“Thank you, Mr Carling, we’ll move on now. How long was it before you called the police?”

“Hmm? Oh, possibly five minutes, no more than ten. I just couldn’t take my eyes from the body…it sickened me but I couldn’t look away…that strong, athletic frame drenched in blood…”

“I see. Well, I believe that is all we require from you for now, Mr Carling. We will contact you if we need any further information. Unfortunately, your house is still a crime scene so I will ask that you do not return there for the time being. Is there a relative or a friend you can stay with?”

“Yes…my brother lives at the other side of town. About half an hour’s drive from here.”

“That’s good. Feel free to use our phone to contact him. We will-“

“Detective, what about Jacqueline? I…I can’t believe that she…”

“I have my best officers out there looking for her, Mr Carling, we’ll find her. In the meantime I’m going to have another officer escort you to your destination and remain nearby. We can’t be too careful at this stage.”

“I understand…thank you, detective.”

“You’re welcome, Mr Carling, and thank you for your cooperation.”

 

Fiction Fursday/Re-blog

I’m afraid to say that I have failed this week in my commitment to writing a new story. I’ve just started a new job and things are still up in the air from my recent move. These are terrible excuses and I am a hypocrite for citing them as they shouldn’t have stopped me from writing, so for that I apologise. I even had a great prompt from the lovely Esther Newton work with, but I still managed to slack off.

However, I still wanted to post something, so I have decided to give an older story a dusting off this week. Last year, I wrote a story which I was very pleased with called “Fair Emma“. Some of you may have read this story already, but those of you who are new to my blog may not have come across it. I enjoyed writing it immensely and got a positive response from those who read it. I will leave a link to the original post and the first two paragraphs below, if you are interested in reading it. I hope you enjoy if you do.

Again, apologies for the lack of fresh material. I will be back on form next Thursday, I promise!

 

Fair Emma

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.

Here is the link to the original post. Thanks for reading!

P.S. I just realised that I wrote this story in order to be featured on Esther’s blog! What a strange coincidence!

 

A – Z Challenge Day 10

It’s the tenth day of this April’s Blogging Challenge and sees the final prompt from Kate’s dazzling sequence! Thanks for all your help, Kate, you’ve suggested some wonderful and often taxing prompts and through them I’ve written stories which I am quite pleased with!

Today’s word is “JACKASS”. Now, this one really gave me a hard time! I just couldn’t think of anything that I liked the sound of, or anything that didn’t sound obvious or cheesy. However, I’m not one to throw in the towel so I put several thinking caps on and came out with something I’ve deemed worthy of this Challenge. I hope you enjoy it. Thanks again, Kate, you rock!

JACKASS

By Adam Dixon

Lawrence sat in his cell, lost in his thoughts. Introspection was all he had to while away the long hours of his imprisonment, but thankfully he was an expert at it. He sat on the edge of his bed in his orange overalls, caressing his broad, scarred knuckles with his huge hand as he stared into space. He wasn’t feeling sorry for himself, he knew why he was in prison; it was to be expected when you killed a man, after all. No, Lawrence was reflecting on the events that had led up to the man’s death and wondering where it could have been prevented. A few moments stood out, and Lawrence saw with the clarity of hindsight what an emotional fool he had been.

Lawrence had always been emotional, ever since he could remember. It came with growing up as a large male in a backwards, masculine society. He was often cajoled and ridiculed for his size when he was a child, with the other children and their parents sniggering and calling him “Bigfoot” and “Ape-boy”. He thought that it would end when he grew up and became a man, as his size offered him prodigious strength and intimidation. To his dismay he found that it had had the opposite effect as the men around him felt the need to prove themselves against him, usually with their fists. They would seek to provoke him wherever he went, attempting to find a weak chink in his armour. Because of his size they thought he was stupid and that he could be riled up with ease, but Lawrence rarely gave them the satisfaction. He knew how to control his emotions, especially his rage. Rage was an emotion he knew well, they were almost like old friends and he found its fiery presence strangely comforting whenever it welled up inside him. It made him remember that he was human, despite what the idiots threatening him would insist. But that night, he couldn’t control it.

There you are! C’mon, you big fucker, you! Fight me!”

The man’s voice echoed in Lawrence’s ears as he replayed the events of that night in his mind. It was one of the thugs he had thrown out for being too drunk at the bar, and by the looks of things he was still angry and wanted to settle a score. He’d stood in front of Lawrence’s car, an already beaten-up Ford which was now sporting two flat tyres and a smashed windscreen. The man wore an idiotic sneer, his eyes bloodshot and daring him to make a move. He wasn’t small, but he wasn’t as big as Lawrence either. Exactly the kind of man Lawrence was forced to tangle with on an almost daily occurrence. He had stared at the drunk for a moment before turning around and walking off. The guy wasn’t worth it, he’d walk home.

You deaf and stoopid? Fight me!

The man had staggered after him, yelling abuse and waving his fists. He’d had a small group of buddies with him who were jeering and shouting encouragement. Lawrence had kept walking, doing his best to shut out the man’s voice by concentrating on the sound of his footsteps on the gravel. He breathed in the humid air of the summer evening and pushed on.

Fight me, you big ape! Or are ya scared?

The man’s friends had howled with laughter at that one, praising their friend for his bravery. It was an oldie but goodie, Lawrence supposed. It rarely bothered him though, he actually found it funny too. As if he’d be afraid of a lowlife like that? The man probably couldn’t string a coherent sentence together without injecting a curse word! Lawrence strode on, feeling rage’s familiar fingers snaking up his chest. He had it under control.

C’mon you fuckin’ oversized jackass!

Lawrence didn’t know why that word had made him snap. Perhaps it was because his father, also a big man, had often called him that as a child. Perhaps it was simply the final straw laid upon his back following his resistance to everything before it. Or perhaps it was the breath-taking lack of imagination the man had displayed in choosing it, who knew? All Lawrence did know was that because of that word a man was dead and it was his fault.

Lawrence grimaced and looked down at his hands. Those large, strong hands which served drinks at a cocktail bar and had carefully turned the pages of countless books. The same hands which were always gentle when shaking another hand or touching a woman. The same hands which had gripped the thick neck of a grown man and lifted him from his feet as he struggled and choked…those same hands had crushed the life from another human being…

All it had taken was one word. Two syllables had cost Lawrence his liberty and in a few short hours also his life. Lawrence wondered whether or not he should have accepted the man’s invitation for a fight back in the bar, or even in the first instance outside. He would have easily bested him, and his lick-spittle cronies wouldn’t have had the gall to get involved. He could even have called the police and had them move the man on, rather than having him hang around until closing time. So many ways he could have avoided this outcome…

When the time came, Lawrence stood and walked out of his cell and down the hallway in dignified silence. He was flanked by a large group of prison guards, all of them on high alert should the ape-man decided to make a run for it. Lawrence would show them. He wasn’t an ape, he was a man, a good man. He’d just had enough one day, that’s all…

A – Z Challenge Day 8

 

Today sees the end of the first full week of this April’s blogging challenge. Writing six stories in six days has been quite difficult, but so far I have found it to be very rewarding. Let’s hope I can keep up the pace and the optimism!

Today’s word comes from the wonderful Kate again, and the word is
image

“HESSIAN”. I had to look this one up, because I initially convinced myself that it was something to do with an unpleasant old crone. I was quite wrong about that!

Anyway, here’s what I was able to come up with. It’s slightly darker than the previous two stories, just as a heads-up.

(P.S. The word I was confusing “hessian” with was “harridan”, in case you’re interested!”

 

HESSIAN

By Adam Dixon

My breathing comes out in harsh gasps as I struggle to remain calm. My hands and ankles are tied securely and my left side is numb. It’s so hot in the boot that my damp hair sticks to my head and it hurts to breathe; the digital thermometer on the dashboard had read thirty-two degrees outside when I had seen it last. That had been in the morning, long before the hottest point of the day. I am hyperventilating, my is body stiff with fear and my jeans are soaked with piss. The car rocks me to and fro as it cruises along to God-knows-where. I’ve long since given up crying out as the stereo system in the back drowns out any attempts I make with embarrassing ease. I am cursing it with all my might and regretting the day I installed it. All I can do is wait.

After what seems like hours, the car stops. I lay still, praying that a policeman has halted the car, or that the road I’m being driven down is impassable, or even that the driver has had a fucking heart attack at the wheel! I’m so desperate for something to happen that I can’t help but yelp with fright when the boot is yanked open. Sunlight greets me like a slap in the face, its rays barely filtered by the thick hessian sack covering my head. Gruff laughter from those outside rubs salt in my wounds as six strong, rough hands seize me and drag me out. I land heavily on the ground, jarring my numb hip. The ground is strewn with coarse, hot sand and the air seems clearer than back in the city. All I can smell is mouldy coffee; the sack must have been used to transport beans at some point before it was repurposed. I am forced onto my knees with my head hanging low. I am blubbering, begging these strangers not to hurt me. I am pleading with them, offering money I don’t have and promising to change whatever aspect of my life so offends them. No words are spoken, but I hear muted conversation and the cocking of a gun…

***

I sat bolt-upright in my bed, sweat covering my face and torso. I slowly took stock of my surroundings, panting and listening to my heart pounding in my chest. She stirred beside me and when I finally looked around she was watching me with concern.

“Did you have that dream again, babe?” she asked, her dark eyes glittering like orbs in the night.

“Yeah…” I answer. There’s nothing else to say, we’ve already said it before. The same nightmare has come once or twice every week since that afternoon five years ago. That was the day that I realised just how dangerous being a political journalist in the heart of the capital could be. That was the day I realised that I would never be safe, no matter what my employers promised. That was the day I stopped being a journalist.

I groaned as I got out of bed and stood up. The pain in my left shoulder was always worse after the nightmare, almost as if I were actually reliving the experience. In a way, I was, because the dream replayed the entire ordeal back to me in crystal-clear detail. But I always woke up before the bullet hit me these times. Thank God for small favours, eh? Christ…

I staggered out of our bedroom and into the bathroom. I didn’t turn on the light because I knew where my pills were kept. I also couldn’t bear to see the angry scar on my shoulder after the nightmare anymore. I seized the medicine bottle and shook out two of my pills. After a brief moment of doubt I shook out two more. What the hell, right? Tilting my head back I swallowed them dry, feeling them scratch my throat on the way down, threatening to catch and make me gag. I managed to coax them down my oesophagus as I stood staring at my reflection in the mirror. It was too dark to see anything, but I knew how haggard I was looking those days. Bags under the eyes, wrinkles appearing weekly and even locks of grey hair spreading across my head like a fucking forest fire. The hair which wasn’t falling out, anyway. Those men had messed me up big-time.

I wandered back into the bedroom and saw that she was still watching me. We stared at each other in a silence which was borne of desperation: her desperate need to know what I was thinking and my desperate need to forget what I had seen. She broke eye contact first, she always did. I don’t know why that always made me feel good, but it fucking did. She wouldn’t understand, anyway, so there was no point in trying to explain. I grabbed the half-empty bottle of whiskey from the bed-side table and poured out a glass, perching on the edge of the bed. She laid back down and turned away from me. That was fine; no sense both of us losing sleep. So I sat on my bed and swallowed my first slug of that particular morning. I held the glass to my nose and inhaled deeply for several seconds before every subsequent mouthful. I needed to get the stench of mouldy coffee out of my nostrils somehow, didn’t I?

 

A – Z Challenge Day 5

Day 5 is here! With it comes my next prompt from Kate, and once again it is a brilliant one. Today’s word is “EFFERVESCENT”. You probably reacted the same way I did: a raised eyebrow accompanied by an appreciative nod. An excellent suggestion which stumped me for a little while. An idea formed once I decided to think slightly outside the proverbial box, and a sinister little narrative formed in my head.

So, consider that a brief disclaimer. THIS ONE IS DARK! Based on true events, too.

Here’s what I came up with.

EFFERVESCENT

By Adam Dixon

It’s just like the fizz from a glass of champagne, that’s all. John tried to fix that thought into his head as he continued pouring and the hissing filled his ears. Yes, just like champagne. The lovely, crisp bubbles that make it such a wonderful drink. What’s that word that fellow from the golf club used to describe it? That’s right, ‘effervescent’. Capital word, that one. I must use it more often! Beastly chap, though. Must avoid him in the future…

John continued holding the image in his mind as the noise from the within the oil drum intensified. It served the dual purpose of distracting him from what he was doing as well as motivating him to keep going. Think of the bubbly, John old boy, that’s the ticket! He also daydreamed of the next few meetings at Cheltenham and Ascot, and he noted that it wouldn’t be long until the Derby came around again, either. He could almost smell the cigarette smoke in the stalls, almost hear the excited babbling of the commentator and the thundering of hooves…

Eventually, the smell became unbearable and John was forced to vacate his workshop. The putrid odour of burning flesh had crept past the barrier of his gas mask, stinging his nostrils and making him heave. At least he’d finished pouring the acid this time; he was certainly becoming very efficient with his tasks. This time it had all been so easy! Well, practice makes perfect, Haigh old boy! John smirked behind the mask and moved away from the drum, scooping up the valuables he had liberated from the corpse. Mrs Durand-Deacon had certainly been a decadent old crone; he held in his hands three jewel-encrusted gold rings, a beautiful pearl necklace and a Persian lamb fur coat. He had, of course, relieved her purse of its contents as well and to the merry tune of several pound notes and a handful of shillings. A fine haul, indeed!

John placed his hoard into his attaché case before straightening up and steeling himself for his final task. He marched back to the drum and picked up its heavy lid. He paused for a moment, taking a final look upon the old widow. With her ludicrous hair style and claw-like false nails, Olive Durand-Deacon looked as ridiculous in death as she had done in life as far as John was concerned. He was aware of the strange new fashion trends which had sprung up once the war was over, but he couldn’t see that particular one catching on. People had better things to spend their money on, what with rationing still in place! Better things, like champagne…

John curled his lip contemptuously before slamming the lid down. He dusted his hands off, enjoying the squeak his rubber gloves made as he did so. He’d return in two days and poor, dotty Olive would be just a drum of sludge, waiting to be poured onto the adjoining patch of ground outside his workshop. The rains would then come and wash away every last trace of her. He’d try to make the money last a bit longer this time; he had gotten rather reckless with the capital he’d gained from the deaths of the Hendersons…

John unlocked the doors to his workshop and strode out into the street, pulling his mask off and breathing in deep lung-fulls of the chilly February air. The air cooled the sweat on his brow and the damp patches under his arms; moving the old crone had been hard work despite her short stature. Moving the dead weights was always the most strenuous part. He stood for a moment, ridding the smell of the burning woman from his nostrils and methodically removing his gloves and apron. As he did this he thought about all the places he would be visiting shortly with Durand-Deacon’s money in his pocket. First and foremost, he would be paying his pawnbroker a call. The rings alone ought to fetch a fine price! John thought gleefully. He’d checked them once he was out in the light to make sure that he hadn’t damaged them; he had been forced to pry them from the dead woman’s swollen fingers with his teeth. They were perfectly alright, sparkling gaily in the meagre winter sun. John smiled and walked to his car, whistling a merry tune as he did so. My thanks to you, dear departed Olive! John thought as he started the engine. I’ll raise a toast to your memory very soon! With that, John stepped on the accelerator and drove back in the direction of London, feeling very pleased with his afternoon’s work.

 

Fair Emma

Fair Emma

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.