A top hat, they say he wears, and a black opera cape, and at his side he bears a cane, which clunk, clunks as it hits the pavement. But his footsteps, they are silent, for evil travels not by ground, but floats as a fog, carrying the stench of hell and the tantalizing aroma of liberation -- what but evil knows no bounds? He carries himself like a gentleman, and buys the richest of things to entice the poorest of creatures. Grapes, he brings, they say. Grapes, to satiate and distract before his victim knows naught but his knife.
In the day, I think of him and wonder if any of it is true. The murders, yes, there is no denying the murders. But what everyone says of him -- perhaps he is old and fat, not young and appealing. Perhaps he wears the clothes of a beggar, despite the rumors. Is a beggar any less capable of such atrocities? Many would say he is more capable, yet Sir Jack is called refined, a true member of the respectable class.
They say he must be an aristocrat because of the way it is done -- the killing. At first, the papers named him a butcher, but after the last, it is said he must be a doctor, a surgeon, in order to cut so efficiently. An officer was assigned to guard the block where the latest victim was discovered; it took him not fifteen minutes to circle the area. He went past the street with the dim, flickering light, and when he returned, she was there, dead, but she looked nothing like herself, nothing like a person. The Ripper had come and gone, done his work in the little time he'd had.
He is a thing of nightmares, of spooky tales, and yet somehow he has seeped into the solid world like a plague to reign and terrify. No one will go out at night, except those who must. And as long as there are those who must, Jack the Ripper will rule the darkness, he will be the shadow around every corner, he will be the mist that creeps beneath your door when you have locked it tight. He is the horror that lurks behind your eyes, on the insides of your lids, omnipresent but impossible to see... until it is too late.
These are my thoughts as I climb into the carriage, hoisting my skirts to make the step up easier. I have no choice but to make a living, and this gentleman has shown me a pouch full of coins, enough for all of next week's suppers. Though my fear and suspicion are irrepressible, I must take the risk. I am faced with the possibility of death whether I take his offer or remain on the street, the only difference between the options being that, with the latter, dying is a certainty.
I am shaking as the driver snaps the reins and the horses begin their trot down the murky, deserted London street. I do not speak. I am afraid, but trying to remember what awaits me when this is over. Money. A warm room. Food. Temporary happiness. I swallow and look at the man beside me. His face is shrouded by shadow, but he is indeed wearing a top hat and an opera cape. No matter. It is the current fashion among all male aristocrats. It means nothing.
He turns his head my way, lending light to his dark, attractive features. His eyes are like black holes against his pale, angelic skin, the corruption of the innocent. He reaches inside his black velvet cape to a hidden pocket and retrieves something, which he holds out to me with nary a word.