jack ripAnother creepy Ripper tale…

The day after the murder, everyone was talking about Jack the Ripper. For a brief few months, a keen sense of anticipation crept into the conversations of people traversing the East End, lending a renewed appreciation of the small, brutal shortness of life. There’s nothing so diverting as rumors of a mad man with a concealed weapon lurking in Whitechapel’s dark corners to take minds off the potent stench of the great unwashed, and the fetid bouquet of two-part garbage and three parts despair. We never cease to be surprised by humans, who, despite the grimmest of circumstances, merrily assemble and display exuberance unmatched by any other species. If only your race displayed more magnificence—a genuine empathy for those more wretched than yourselves, if only you displayed more gumption—inner splendor. If only those women allegedly murdered by a press created Jack the Ripper had displayed a vitality of spirit and divineness of soul—their story might have had a different ending. This is not their story—it was ours–until he appeared.

East of the crumbled remnants of medieval walls that once defined Londinium, dusty vestiges of what had once been Roman soldiers, destitute immigrants, pink cheeked lasses, fuzzy faced youths, and countless plague and cholera victims mixed with clay soil, human wastes, traces of worked flint, and centuries of rubble. This is where we dwelt, savoring the tang of death and the ecstasy of eternity. Eons ago, we who were shaped from formless primordial reverberations, cosmic gases, fluid fire, star dust and celestial inspiration, willed ourselves into being. We are timeless and of infinite patience; our names and numbers incalculable, though we are but three, ever present as the coursing Himalayan waters bearing our name. We are maiden, matron, and chrona, detached from the fatality of time, possessing limitless vigor and veracity. We waited for the one who could release us from the bargain we made 1,500 years ago when they brought us here.

The legend of the fiend called Jack the Ripper, and the spawning of more than six score years of notoriety, eclipses the coarse celebrity of 20th century royals, politicians, international artists, and equally infamous mass murderers—whose body count grossly surpasses Jack’s—surpasses even ours—if you exclude the multi-realm aberrations we’ve annihilated. Jack was the embodiment of what was wrong with modern Londinium, with Victorian bigotries. He was deemed a psychopath—a pestilence; his actions were called heinous—depraved butcheries. Certainly, Mary Jane Kelly’s frenzied carving up was vulgar, and carelessly executed—so much waste. But what of your brutish cruelty, slaughter and workhouses, and the sweatshops enslaving the young—the senseless barbarism you inflict on each other? Your numbers swell beyond six billion, yet you do not evolve.

Her murderer sought to challenge us, she being a Kelly, descended from the holy whore Kelle priestesses of Eire named in our honor. Jack knew neighbors wouldn’t stir despite her cries and grunts, and the pervasive sweet iron tang of blood and reek of disembowelment. Banding together to hunt a killer was a positive step for your kind, though some devolved into false accusers, liars, or evidenced mob mentalities. You have epitomized us as vampiric predators, and accused us of frenzied killings. We do not kill for pleasure; we simply must complete our task. You must admit, the rubbish and refugees of the East End was spilling over its borders—something needed to be done. It is unfortunate our work was considered collaborative. We did not dispatch some of the others—not in 1888.

Humans have personified us—created vivid myths of our origins. Around crackling hearth fires, in low, solemn voices, they described us as incomprehensibly hideous demons that roamed and ruled earth, ousting the godlings. They described how from dense clouds and jagged crags of the Himalayas, there emerged another terror to behold—a multi-armed, multi-legged indigo wrath in womanly form, with thousands of gnashing razor sharp fangs, and a long, venom-spitting tongue. Armed with whirling scythes, curved swords, rapier sharp blades, and hissing arrows, which unerringly flew into the densest demon hides, igniting them—we destroyed your monsters. Through our cavernous mouth, we pulverized and digested the fiends in our path, and spit out their ribs like tiny, inconsequential splinters from a leviathan’s carcass. How unreasonable that today we are forced to linger in dwindling alleyways, amid the meager dust and diluted firmament, ever watchful for the one who can free us.

Over the centuries, reminders of our nearness were conveyed, though in the early winter months of 1888 few suspected what portent the total moon eclipse revealed. There were ample warnings the godlings were displeasured. In the Americas, a blizzard raged along the east coast in March. In India, the following month, floods and hailstones killed nearly a thousand. Off the Cape of Good Hope, an inky black rain fell, while in the Mediterranean, twice blood hued rain fell, reeking of animal matter, polluting town and country alike. England experienced extremes of weather—snow in the summer, insect plagues and failed crops, and an unduly warm October, rift with catastrophes of all manner. This we remember. You succumbed in record numbers to diseases and disasters, waged war with the Zulu in West Africa, and with America Indian tribes on prairies and plains. You killed to obtain petty spoils, and inhumanely slew each other for sport.

Yet what is remembered is not nature’s wrath or our handiwork, but Jack’s poor work.  Our rites have been neglected, our shrines abandoned. Only the astrologers, Magi, and Romani understood—it was most unfortunate their warnings, foretold in stars and cards, were ignored. Humans do not look skyward in reverence, or beyond the sea’s horizon, nor do they look within. You neglect to remove the wishbone, to trickle the first drops of animal milk onto the soil, or properly scatter the midsummer ashes. You have forgotten to honor earth with a blood tribute from the beasts you eat.

The city dwellers, the East Enders, were often covered in mud and their own filth. They did not remove dust from the bottoms of their feet, and anoint their loved ones and newly born. They forgot their promises, or only partly observed them when they threw a handful of cemetery dirt atop a coffin. In your Scottish highlands, a few clans still remember to pour milk from the house on the ground following a death, but not here in Londinium. And so the indiscriminate killings have continued, though few are as remembered as those that occurred in 1888. Those killings fuel the minds of them that come to the East End seeking clues. It is most unfortunate they find, then discard what they do not understand.

However, in this twinkling of time in your 21st century, we are encouraged of an imminent event. At a gravesite, buried underneath a derelict East End building scheduled for demolition, traces of numerous bodies remain—all female—slain by our fine blades. Their bones have long since disintegrated. Not even your best forensic anthropologist could determine cause of death, or that some of the women surrendered an organ. Our blades still bear traces of their blood, and that of pigs, deer, wolves, and rodents—killed in our quest to find the one and escape our confines. It is here we brought the implements, honed from deep earth metals—sharpened upon our lodestone-lined chamber. Here we brought the blades we used to kill many over the millennium, including the women who hailed us in 1888, but would not free us. Here you can find the proof, preserved for the one who will free us.

In our amber encrusted abode, we linger and suffer, for when our strength diminishes, we cannot adequately wield our natural weapons. We observed the sharpened blade was the perfect weapon in intimate surroundings—the instrument of choice for sacrifices and magical rites. In the beginning, we fashioned implements of flint and alabaster, then discovered copper, bronze, ivory, and steel blades, knapped and refined in foundries near the shipyards. We learned what the metal masters knew, and greatly improved upon their techniques. Into these simple weapons, we instilled our intent, to cut clean and swift, and free the blood from its casings. It did as it was taught until it was released, and returned to the earth.

We remember 1888. Shabby East End streets resounded with guttural Russian, German, and Slav voices, assorted brogues, and the occasionally musical lilt of over 1,000 inebriated hookers. Sounds bounced off grimy pavements, and blended with the clop and plop of workhorses, and the shrill cries of vendors hawking fish, flowers, fruit, matches, notions, leather goods, sweets. We saw all manners of dress, and those with ebony, caramel, and pale, fair skin. Cats, rats, dogs, and fowls roamed freely. Church bells and clocks chimed the hour, though not in unison.

Beneath the pressing weight of nominally eking out a miserable living, East Enders did not perceive our presence, or our purpose. It was small wonder they reported the Ripper as being five foot three and five foot ten, with brown or black unkempt or slicked back hair, wearing everything from a massive oilcloth great coat to a plain navy pea coat. His occupation was guessed as sailor, boot maker, doctor, midwife, constable, or prince. Nor was it surprising that everyone got the numbers wrong. We did not kill five, seven, or nine women in 1888—only the three that summoned us. He that challenged us killed six of them. Their names were Emma, Martha, Liz, Mary Jane, Rose, and Callie, whose torso was buried beneath New Scotland Yard in a misguided attempt to appease Pictish godlings, but that is another tale for another time.

There were ample motives suggested for the killings that are still puzzled over today—from petty thievery to diabolical dark art sacrifices. They thought he fled northwest across the sea, and onward to Canada’s tundra region, knowing us to be land bound, never guessing the extent of our reach—if not of our grasp. Slowly, we drew him back, and demonstrated our cosmic distaste of his wasteful acts when he thought himself protected by a gilting of Yukon gold. Those three women, with diseased lungs and organs, intoned the ancient octaves and danced serpentine, with arms raised to waning or waxing moons. They summoned us, and though we vowed to fulfill their wishes, they denied our simple request.

We killed them for a different reason than his—we killed for the blood, more precisely the plasma—a most excellent transporter. Your blood comprises less than 10% of human body weight, and has a fine alkaline consistency. This liquid tissue infuses you with nutrients and defenses, and carries oxygen, carbon dioxide, and heat to the far reaches of the human form.

Your Magi have guarded secrets of the blood since they first communed with godlings that hinted of its magical uses. It is an integral part of your peculiar etymology. But consider the facts, Jews were prohibited from drinking animal blood. Contracts were once signed in blood, and rituals were held to sacrifice and resurrect the lord of the corn and king of the land. You are repelled and mesmerized by this vital fluid. A few of your kind imagine that by drinking a baby’s blood, innocence is restored, or by bathing in the blood of virgins or virile bulls, youth is returned. You prick your flesh and replace blood with ink, infuse your blood with opiates, and refilter your blood by passing it through machines. You drink wine and claim it is the blood of one long dead. Women have their own blood mysteries and a few women interpret this life essence correctly—that is what drew us to them.

These blood mysteries, in the hands of men, became the impoverished religions of tyrants. You slit throats and groins and other vital points and buried myriads of the sacrificed at crossroads, and under bridges, gates and building cornerstones throughout Londinium. Your brutality lies everywhere, ours is confined. We sought one who knows why blood flowed over altars, onto temple floors, and into the gullets of those sworn to secrecy. We sought one who comprehended it was not Jack that dispatched all those women, one who can understand why we kill, and will continue our task until we are freed.

Though humans think us grotesque now, long ago, you called us avatars. For five millennia, we slayed your monsters, asuras, gibborim—all manners of demons. We destroyed your enemies, and you sacrificed to us those you would not miss to give us what we needed. We have ably served you, we that know not anger, retribution, or conceit. And we have served the indigent, ignorant poor of the East Londinium, long ignored by affluent society. The attention paid to Jack enabled reformers to garner support, and usher in a modest revolution of improvements. For we are harbingers of change—swift, chaotic change, though here it has arrived slowly by your time measuring standards. We saw the wicked East End collapse, although its foul stench still leeches through and infests, keeping many pinned at the precipice inhabited by primordial beings.

How your ancients feared us, and sought to control or destroy us. With the monsters slain or banished, we grew restless; we knew you wanted to extinguish us too. Your feeble magic rituals, amulets, caustic salts, garlic, and mirrors had no effect. Unfortunately, there was a Persian Magi who wore an apotrope of lodestone round his neck and atop his staff. Using apotropaic magic, he trapped us in a chamber and abandoned us. Much later, Romans soldiers brought us here to slay the last remaining dragons on your isle. It is ironic that although we are the only beings impervious to earth’s elements, in fiery, liquid, gaseous, or solid form—lodestone is one element we can not endure. Ironically, it was your earth’s weak magnetic center and poles that attracted us here, then held us, and finally wrested our powers from us. More ironic still is your blood, which temporarily releases us, though it contains trace magnetic properties.

Though you discovered magnetic materials thousand’s of years ago, you did not grasp its power and potential. Greeks invented stories about ships lost at sea because they were irresistibly drawn to imaginary lodestone islands. Some thought naturally magnetic materials contained living creatures trapped in the core. Gradually, you found the material useful—to navigate, extract nails, store data. You learned that birds, butterflies, sharks, and certain insects had magnetic senses of direction, and discovered how to use electro magnets to elevate trains, lift heavy objects, and do your biding.

Magnetism affects humans also. The aurora borealis, formed by earth’s magnetic field and its interaction with ionized particles, mesmerizes you. Sunspots on the sun’s surface create storms that disrupt communications and power supplies, and throw aircraft and ships off course. Magnets wipe data from your media devices, and redirect your bodily energy to effect healing. You build holy stone cairns and shrines along routes where magnetic fields run; you rely on the earth’s poles to orient your navigators. We share an attraction to that which draws us, though magnetic fields do not harm you. We that have served you, culling your ranks, dispatching your wretched, and improving bloodlines, must be freed.

We leave this message for the one who will release us—we who once manifested in any form, in any place, and bestowed countless wishes. Our Magi wrought prison has weakened us—it must be destroyed. It is with dire urgency we beseech you to follow the precious clues we have strewn over years, the leather scrap and bit of fabric adorned with their blood essence, items taken from their pockets–Annie’s brass ring… We who see time, in threefold fashion, know the one is near, though it has been 52 years since we last received a portent. The time is now; a partial moon eclipse nears, and your sun aligns with the dark path illuminated by the Milky Way. Do not betray us—we are not without resources, as Mary Ann, Annie, and Catherine discovered—and him that killed the others in 1888. He did not see the New Year dawn in 1891. We made certain.

We shall lead you to our blades. We will tell you about him you call Jack, and show you where the bones of others that killed recklessly rest—the bones of those that gave us their blood. Jack is nearby, and all the proof you seek. You will become the one everyone talks about. You must hasten to Commercial Street, and follow the trail that starts where three red drops appear. Do not delay if you are the one with a warrior’s heart, a sleuth’s mind, and an abiding determination. Come alone; we shall only reveal our secrets to the one.

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The rookie Ripperologist carefully slipped the slim, elegantly bound brown leather notebook into the inside pocket of his jacket. His chair scraped the worn floor and creaked as he stood and took one more swig of dark ale. He placed the empty pint glass on the countertop and exited the pub. There had been so many Jack the Ripper diary and journal hoaxes, so many false clues and dead ends. He knew this book was genuine. Right after he’d acquired it, he had both the paper and ink tested at a prestigious lab in Manchester. It was authenticated to be approximately 130 years old. The thin book had been inserted behind a slit made in the leather interior lining of a Victorian traveling lap desk and wedged against the back. The lid of the box was hinged and slanted, which prevented one from seeing much at the back of the box. The slit had been glued shut, and a crude, dark stained walnut box frame—intended to hold ink bottles—he supposed, helped disguise the notebook’s hiding place. He’d bought the desk from a vendor on Portobello Road. Someone had intended for the book to stay hidden.

What a far fetched story, but what if a trail still existed? Though much of the 1888 East End was gone, original landmarks and buildings could still be found, especially if you knew where to look. He’d been on more than a dozen Ripper tours in recent years. He’d always suspected Jack had left proof of his crimes somewhere for someone to find. He rounded the corner and turned onto Commercial Street. This section looked older. His eyes scanned the sidewalk and he noted what looked to be a splat of black tar, and further on, a blob of lavender bubblegum, and green trickles of paint matching the glossy front of a door with a rusty padlock.

Then he saw it, three small, perfectly round crimson dribbles. About a dozen feet away, he found three more. The next three led him into an alley illuminated by the generous glow of a streetlight arching over the alley’s entrance. A hundred yards in, pungent odors from a rusty blue metal trash bin forced him to pinch his nose. A breeze stirred up discarded food wrappers and cigarette butts. The light wasn’t good here. He fumbled for his flashlight. The flickering light from a neon sign advertising Turkish Delight confections enabled him to spot the next cluster of red drops, which led from the alley’s worn cobblestones to cracked stone steps and a low door reinforced with layers of gray metal grillwork.

The door was slightly ajar and groaned when he opened it wider. It smelled much better here. He detected sandalwood and a musky scent. He waited for his eyes to adjust to the indigo darkness before venturing further into the room. He could make out the outline of a slender, pitted boulder that had been carved into an obelisk, about five foot tall. A dull glow emanated from somewhere within the obelisk. He took a few steps closer and could make out three perfectly round dots towards the top of the dark stone, an upside down pyramid.

“It’s you. We knew you were the one. Approach.”

The man checked that the notebook was where he’d placed it–in the pocket next to his heart. He then pulled an enormous stone wrapped in copper from its hiding place beneath his jacket. He nodded. “I’m the one you wrote about—warrior’s heart, sleuth’s mind, and an abiding determination. I brought you  something. It’s…”

“Wait, come no further; what is around your neck?”

The man took several steps forward and held the copper wrapped stone in the palm of his extended hand. A terrible high pitched shriek caused the stone walls and the obelisk to shake. “This is the Magi’s lodestone, with a flux density of 1.5 Tesla. Now you’re the one. Tell me–who was Jack? Where’s the blade bearing the blood proof? Tell me or I put the stone in its designated place, which the Magi knew would keep you at death’s threashold, powerless to sense or pull energy into your chamber.”

“Step back, step back, we will tell you.”

The answers caused the man to shake his head in wonderment. Of course, now it made sense. What didn’t make sense was that the stone round his neck began to glow and pull him towards the obelisk. The shrieking continued. Now the floor shook too. He tried to yank the chain off, but it had imbedded into his neck. Blood soaked the collar of his shirt and trickled down his back. The lodestone spun and burrowed its way through the obelisk. The man’s head was lacerated by splintered shards. Right before he lost consciousness, his last thought was blood will have blood and there always will be one.

A bright flash of light was followed by an implosion–a meeting and cancelling of matter and anti-matter. When the dust settled, there was no evidence the room had contained an obelisk, a lodestone, or a mortal man. Powdery dust danced  out the door, hitched a ride on a northly breeze, and rose until it was absorbed by clouds and distant stars.