Excerpt The Watcher – A Jack the Ripper Tale (c) A. L. Butcher
There she was, that whore. Once more. There she was.
Beneath the flickering gas lamp at the corner of Dorset Street, Whitechapel, she strode, grinning a seductive smile at a passing sailor, just ashore and looking for company. He, as bad as the bitch whose breasts he felt and whose ear he nipped with yellowing teeth, the unseen Watcher thought. With eyes burning hatred and a menace previously unseen and misunderstood. It was, he thought, a righteous hatred, and they blaze all the brighter for it. The beast within told him so. For he was the beast and he was its creature, at once the same.
She could have been twenty or forty; the Watcher neither knew nor cared. She’d not see another year, another week, another night. The dim streets grew ever wickeder to those of her sort spreading around their sin, their poison. Defiling this town, this land, defiling HER. The Watcher shook his head; no more whores and this place would rise like the jewel it was. Not jaded and dull but glorious and fit for a queen. The beast within whispered in his head. “Cleanse this town, make it fit again.” And so he did. A knife in the darkness, once more.
Geneva liquor and poverty aged a person far better than mere passing of the years. In the greatest Empire on Earth, they blighted the land. Gin palaces, opium dens, and hash houses aplenty gave heaven and hell to those with money, and those without. Life was cheap, and oblivion cheaper. The Watcher knew these unfortunates dropped their drawers for a taste of it, panting and moaning beneath the bridges and in the alleys, with their grunting men, and their penny a tumble.
The sailor moved on. He’d had his pleasure with another of her kind and spent his last pennies in the tavern, and she was here to work. Nothing was free in her line of employment. Except for death.
So there she was, alone. Death walked these streets – and tonight it watched the red-haired whore, who sang and smiled and patted her new bonnet. There she was. The whore. Alone.
The minutes passed, creeping towards death; ebbing away from heaven and him ever closer to immortality. The whore did not know it. Of course, she’d heard the tales, everyone had. Screamed by newsboys on every corner “another ‘orrible murder” but rent still needed to be paid. And so she plied her trade. Afraid. Denying it would be her turn this night. A whore, alone.
Another night, another customer. Fear curled in her belly; these streets were streets of blood, four of her sisters slain in just a few weeks. But hunger was the greater force. Desperation made Mary-Jane brave – so she walked the streets, as she had often done. It wouldn’t be her, she thought. As they had. It couldn’t be her. Besides the police watched the alleys and the thoroughfares. The streets were largely empty, save the desperate and the foolhardy, and those too much in drink or lust to know or care.
The Watcher stood, beyond the pool of light from the gas lamp. This night was his. She would be his. This woman wasn’t as much a drab as some of her sisters-in-sin. Lust rose, entwined with his loathing. Two joined as one, desire and disgust, powerful and compelling. He’d never understood why they went together, but then he was a simple man, not one of the mind-doctors who had been so influential of late. The beast within did not care. Lust and hatred, pain and desire…bound so close he could experience little else when the darkness overtook him. Now, however, he watched.
The hunt was almost as enthralling as the kill; the knowledge of their fear, their desperation, and yet still they strutted themselves, offering a screw in the alleys and passages of the East End, and more if the customer had money and the taste for it. Filthy strumpets, he’d said to any who’d listen. Never did he consider the terrible choices they made. Never did he consider their choice was no real choice. What cared he for desperation and poverty? Respectable women did not sell their bodies. They kept sex for the marriage bed. SHE did – his icon, the woman he loved above all others.
The whores’ sins, the watcher thought, was what damned them. And they would pay, in this world and the next. He’d save London. He’d save it for HER. Blood would cleanse the streets.
The year is 1888, and the place is Whitechapel, in the very heart of London. But the heart is bleeding. A mysterious killer is stalking women of the streets – his true name is unknown, but his legend will go down in history. This is a short tale of Jack the Ripper.
18 rated for scenes of violence.