I walked down the moonlit streets hand in hand with him. It felt amazing. To be in love with someone. To have someone you cared about more than yourself, entwined within your fingers. Even when they knew what these hands had done...
The vast black night sky gave the moon it's familiar shape; full, ghostly, eerie white.
I knew very well what had happened. We all did. ' The Ripper' had struck but as usual, only the rumours gave everyone's imagination a spark of fear. To me it was just the same, a full moon just casting enough white to aid the flame of the street lamp. The chill in the air was the only thing scaring me. No home to go to. Any place I called home seemed to vanish.
I had seen it once, a tiny glimpse of hope. We were so close.
Let's tell you about him. 'The Ripper'. Although unknown we know him all too well. You've probably heard of him as 'Jack The Ripper' but I like just 'The Ripper' better. Jack is a family name so I don't like to use it in a bad way, you know?
People in this town have to find something to give that adrenaline rush, no one can have fun, no one can do anything. Work, work, work, and no play. I can't complain, you can't fight back cause they'll always have some preplanned way to silence you. Rumour has it, that's how he first came about, police, each rumour giving way to more truth. After all he's picking them off dead, dead, dead... What is it? A body once every week around here, long gone, you see? No one cares for us - we just get left. But thankfully I'm not dead yet so there has to be a way to stop this.
Like I said no one knows about me but to be clear, they do but like all others, I'm just scrum at the sidewalk, the mud in the bottom of the puddle, pollution in the air and the ambush at night.
A girl of 17, I'll be 18 next month, Jack. My father had no sons and I kept the family name - it was the workhouse that changed me. Some say for the worst but I say for the better. I'll be telling this story as it's mine.
I was four when it happened, young, but old enough to remember. They came and forced my whole family into the workhouse. That hell pit that ruined us and tore us apart. After a week they took my Dad away and I never saw him, even to say goodbye. We didn't know if he was alive or dead. But whilst my mum and I were in this living hell, we found a way to see each other. It was never enough and I could tell she was scared. Even though she'd put on that brave mum face.
She was young only nineteen and small enough from the lack of food and brutal work to fit through the holes in the wall. the ones big enough for a giant to notice, the ones that let the cold and the storm in at night and bite away at my fears. We had to escape. It was simple we had everything covered.
Don't go back in after the break we just had to hideout until anyone noticed. But they won't, they never do. They know you'll soon starve or come back in on your own will. All that was left was to get over to the real world. All we had to do was scale the fence. Simple. Or so we had thought...
We waited until full moon, the beadle went to bed 15 minutes earlier for fear of bad luck. It was cold and dark and the night sky gave me a spark of fear, that I liked. That was fun. The fence was taller than we had expected but we could still make it. Mum lifted me up and over, I remember vividly, my skirt caught on the spikes at the top. Why didn't I tell her? It had been no problem to free my self. Then it was mum's turn.
I had realized no one was there to help her as she did for me. But she was skilful, and she'd have never let me go out there by myself. The fence was old and rusty; she got her feet in the dents and started climbing. That's when they came, the police, at first I didn't think. I had always seen them leave from the small window only I could see out of. But then I occurred to me. They weren't just leaving they were coming towards us, and quickly.
A whisper as a shout, 'Mum!' It was too late. They were below her, I was this side, she was the other. And then it just all happened so quickly...
She was so high up all she had to do was climb over at the top. Her head was clear. I could see her face. She turned to look at me. And muttered something. I couldn't hear. A tear ran down her face as if she knew what was about to happen. But she couldn't have. They pulled at her ankles with serpent hands and she slipped. I screamed one long scream and fell to the floor as I watched the spike pierced her neck. Her body hung. Blood raced in one long teardrop down her neck and dripped on to my hand. I knew then. This made it all real. I had lost her. And she was gone.
She had said 'remember'. I was sure of that. But she was also gone. I was sure of that, too. My scream rang throughout the streets. Down every alleyway, every drainpipe, everybody in this whole bloody city that night. I ran...I had lost her and she was gone. I was sure of that. At four years old I watched my mother die; a victim of murder. Killed because of those, those monsters.
That was his first kill.
My teeth grind each other I push the memory back like the frog in my throat and weakness from my eyes. The wood beneath me creaks as I shift my weight, looking around at Phillip, Penny draped across his lap, as usual, laughing as he balances his knife on the tip of her nose, Robin in the other corner on an empty barrel with one knee to his chest and the other hanging down. He's carving something.
These people surrounding me now took me in shortly after - I taught them how to go around unnoticed and slyly as I had with mum. I was as valid a member as anyone. We had slit out fingers with a pocket knife and squeezed the blood out onto a paper sheet torn into 10. One for each of us. It was my new life. We had to have at least a few wallets in so that we could feed ourselves, the rest went missing. I blamed it on No. 8, we all voted that he would have to die. That was my first real taste for blood because of a lie and adrenaline, fuel for a kill.
I asked Penny if I could use the money, we'd found under his sleeping place to buy a set of guns for each of us we had planned secretly. She agreed. The shopkeeper had other ideas. He said I was a small young girl that didn't understand what I was buying. As you can guess this upset me a... bit, to say the least. I'd taken my knife and thrown it in line with his ear to hit the wall with a loud thud. He'd lost his breath shocked. Then I screamed, allowing for a couple of seconds until people outside started to notice before I stopped. People had begun to come in and see what had happened so he shoved the guns I'd carefully chosen out in my hands along with a frail rope and knife to mean no hard feelings and begged me to shush, he took the money from the counter and as I remember had begun to explain to people that I was fine and he hadn't done anything.
I don't remember much after I left that shop. Vague glimpses from the past two years. Phillip had killed 8 whilst Penny laughed her sickly laugh that spilt like syrup in my ears. Some ran and never came back, others left in the months that had followed. Then routine was all that remained. Steal. Live. Survive.
Some nights I let a tear poor down this face of mine I bearly recognised. Crime, outlaw, and friends, that was all I had. That's all. All I could ever want.
My eyelids flickered open like a candle nearly burnt out. I turned over. Cold.
I get up, without waking Robbin, as usual, and set off. Where? I don't know. Hell, do I ever know! But that never stopped me before. As I picked up my cloak I saw his face; eyes closed, unstressed and lacking in adventure which would change as soon as he woke, his hair falling across his brow so gently that his usual energy ceased even from my memories. Phillip and Penny lay across each other on the floor; whatever this was I was sure it wasn't love, maybe lust they both shared. As I slipped my arms through the sleeves and turned to leave, the sun painted my face through a tear in the curtain and I began walking to greet it in the street. As I reached the door I froze, Robbin stirred before rolling back.
Looking at him, asleep, vulnerable, I let my mind wander thinking of planting a kiss on his cheek. This was dangerous, sharper than a knife it cut me. Never could I let that happen again. Never. I turned and left. I always come back after my morning walk but I feel guilty. I'd be back by the time they woke up, I always was. The same cobbled streets that met what was left of my shoes made the familiar click this morning as anyone's did, my cheeks filled with colour as the cold morning breeze ran its fingers down them. This was a pleasure, to feel normal to be like anybody else - maybe that's why I do this each morning, to remind myself of what people's reality is.
I turned the corner, teeth on my lip and a weird feeling in my head. I needed something to do to distract me from whatever this feeling was. Something with motive, it was boring doing morning pickpocketing and I had my fair share of stashed wallets I could say to them I ha-
Then I heard it, a name. Unmistakeable. Clear on the wind. My father.