This month's Friday Fright theme is 'Movie Monster Fanfiction'. The characters used herein are not my own and remain the intellectual property of their creators. Said characters are used here briefly in the spirit of fun and admiration.
I step lively, the stride of a man in a hurry to get out of the fog. London is famous for its fog, but that doesn’t make it any easier for we who live here. We still get cold, we still get soggy, and we still tend to walk briskly to get out of the fog.
Or to escape something unpleasant.
I listen, focusing my attention, and I think I can hear it. Fighting its way through the thick mist that writhes through the London streets I believe I can hear a whistle blow. Then another. I slow, looking out over the Thames, enjoying my quiet surroundings as I imagine the scene back in Whitechapel as the police uncover what I’ve left behind.
As they admire my work.
It’s quite a stroll from Whitechapel to my Kensington flat; plenty of time to reminisce as I walk, running though my evening’s entertainment in my mind, searching for anything the police might call a clue. There is nothing.
Following the girl through all of Cheapside until she was finally alone. Approaching her, letting her think I was but another customer, one last ride against the alley wall before running off to get out of the cold. Her eyes widening when she sees the knife — and I must show her the knife; that’s part of the fun. I chuckle, remembering the way her expression changed from horrible false lasciviousness to round-eyed terror at the first flash of the blade … but my laughter dies as my ears detect something unexpected.
A scuffing somewhere close by in the fog. Distance can be deceiving in the thick white mist, but it seemed close by to me — right behind me, in fact. I stop, peering at the shadows in the white night, stepping almost unconsciously toward the gaslamp high on the street pole, much as I’ve seen the doxies do when I approach them from the dark.
That thought elicits another chuckle. The thought that I, just for a moment, felt as the prey feels. The skip of pulse, that flash of uncertainty that borders on fear. Understanding that flash, that feeling, should make me a better hunter, don’t you think?
Another sound, softer than the first: the hiss of a taken breath. Am I imagining it? I hold my own breath, listening for some sign of what I’ve heard. It could have been quite far away, I know. Fog does funny things to sound, as any Londoner can tell you. I listen and look, but there is nothing.
“So. You’re old Leather Apron.”
I whirl about, then back, looking this way and that for the source of the voice, but there is nothing but the dark and fog.
“You think you’re so smart, don’t you.”
A sharp slap to the back of my head; an open palm. I spin about again with a cry of surprise, hands up to defend myself, but there is nothing to defend against.
“You may be smarter than the constabulary. From all evidence it appears that you are.”
Behind me again. I spin to face him, leather-soled shoes slipping on the mist-slick cobblestones, nearly sending me tumbling. I feel clownish, silly, like a small dog being taunted into chasing its tail, but I can not help it. One hand thrusts, almost of its own volition, into my greatcoat to take hold of the long knife thrust into my waistcoat, and my confidence soars to see the gaslight glinting on its razor edge as I wave it threateningly about.
“Ha!” I offer a wide smile. “Shall we try that dance again, sir?”
Balanced on the balls of my feet I retreat a step, half-turning, then again, turning the other way, scanning for movement, determined to keep my elusive opponent in front of me. The soft scuff comes from my right, and I turn, lightning-fast, to face it.
Fast as I am, however, my enemy is faster. A slight swirl in the fog, a vague hint of motion, and the blade is dashed from my grip to skitter off across the stones as my throat is caught in a fierce grip, a hand of terrible strength taking hold of me, squeezing off my breath, though still there is no one there.
Terrified, eyes rolling, searching for my assailant but finding nothing, I flail my arms, my hands finding something in the fog that my eyes could not, though what they find makes no jot of sense: my work with the whore had so soaked my gloves with blood I’d removed them; thus it was my hands are bare, naked fingers finding… naked skin! The bare arms and powerful torso of a man slid beneath my fingers as I tried to grapple with my attacker, unable to gain any purchase on his fog-coated flesh.
“You may be better than them, but you’re not better than me.”
I feel his breath upon my face, he is so close, and for the barest instant I see him — or, rather, I see where he is. Just before my face, mere inches away, there is a… a… void in the fog. A space in the fog, where there is no fog.
Then I am rolling across the cobbles, cast aside like a child’s doll when playtime is done. I fetch up against the low safety wall separating the street from the Thames and rise swiftly to my feet — just in time to catch my own blade in the throat, guided out of the night by an unseen hand.
“You’re better than them, but I am an Uberman!”
I hear his laughter as I roll back over the low wall to splash into the river. My last thought as the water, shockingly cold, closes over my head, is that the newspapers won’t even know what became of their Jack the Ripper, won’t even know their monster was killed by something more monstrous.
That in their midst hides some sort of Invisible Man…