Lost Souls

Jack the Ripper

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Jack the Ripper

by Danny Mowinski

A steel blade catches a glimmer of moonlight in the shadows. The sound of creasing fabric, as someone stalks the wall of the alleyway; the muffled footsteps of a trespasser, dimly resound in the drizzling night air. But there is nobody to hear these sounds, and even if there was, would they hear the cat-whispers of a killer moving in on his prey?

The terraces of London are dead. The windows like closed eyes, once bright with golden light, alive with the faces of people, and the bleary reflections of television screens, as a man, attired elegantly in black coat, face hidden beneath a hat and scarf, observed. Observed like a slaughter-man observes fresh piglets, and takes his pick of the pack.

He moves deftly, enfolded in the thick night-shadows. He broods over his choice, the reek of buttoned silk strong in his nostrils, the black bow tie straining his neck, his evening suite elegantly about him. If you’re going to kill, might as well do it in style. He really has made a good choice this year, a superb choice. Brandishing his weapon, feeling the sleek curve of the handle, the familiar curve, he nears the house.

The shadows of the privet hedges along the path to the doorway flicker as he passes them. And moving towards the front door, he fails to notice the light flickering in the upstairs window.

The scratch of the pen on paper is the only sound in the study. Alice’s eyes are focused on her writing, trails of spidery letters pressed above the lines. Across the hall, her husband and child are sleeping, but not she, paperwork needed doing.

Downstairs in the hallway, the front door handle slowly turns, before the silent opening. A figure, faint as a penumbra, darts through the gap and gently closes the door behind himself. And then, begins to pace, careful not to make a noise, towards, and up, the stairs.

Alice continues to write, unwary of the butcher and his glistening steel, making their way up the hallway, towards the study.

The phantom figure glances in at the sleeping child. Moves further along the hallway, pushes the door of the master bedroom open and peers in at the sleeping husband. Then, he turns towards the door of the study.

If Alice hadn’t been concentrating so intently on her work, she would have heard the door behind her, stressing on its hinges, and mutely squeaking open. And the figure – hideous features in full view in the light of the room – creeping up to her.

She does turn, though. Rising, turning, to go to the toilet and stopping dead in her tracks. She sees the monster in its full glory –

the eyes aren’t real eyes, bloody orbs wallowing in their sockets behind the skin of the eyelids, which are closed but eaten away, as though the eyes were behind prison bars; the flared nose, long and mucronating; and the mouth, whose lips had been peeled away, as though by a knife, and he is wearing a dinner suite, a crisp silk shirt, black bow tie –

and as a scream forms on her mouth, the Ripper, the Butcher, the Killer, shoots out his blade, it slices through the Adam’s apple perfectly, like a knife through butter.

He begins about his work immediately. First the eyes: with the skill of a master craftsman, he removes them, whole. And pops each one into his mouth, and, a connoisseur of the vile, savours the squishing, juicy sensation they bring. Next the interior organs: slicing open the stomach he extracts each one individually, all to be eaten in a different way.

Later, as Big Ben tolls towards midnight, Jack the Ripper moves towards his crypt licking his fingers in his lipless mouth, and settling back in his rightful place, goes to sleep for another year.

One more mystery added to his brilliant collection.

Copyright Danny Mowinski  2006

Danny Mowinski has had a few short stories published im magazines elsewhere.

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