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Horror in the Whitechapel Quarter
Chapter One: The Trap
Under a muddy reflection of London's low moon, hovering between a place of filth and fortune, stooped the Whitechapel Bagnio Room. Its walls seemed to cave in, exposing the beamed ribs and cracking foundation beneath. An iron sign branded with tawdry golden letters swung above the windowless building. The shining letters coiled themselves around the poles of the sign, hanging on for dear life. The wind was harsh and tore at the dirty puddles underfoot.
Soot and wads of wet newspaper were scattered around the stairs of the entrance, hiding even more faults in construction. However, luxury was not what attracted the customers of Madame Clemence. Men visited her with upturned collars and hushed voices, led by their lust yet hindered by their humanity. However, after a heavy mug of ale and Madame’s superficial promise to ‘take care of them’, their belts loosened and another room was filled. Vacancies were an anomaly to the Bagnio.
Suddenly the rare clatter of two pairs of expensive shoes echoed through the narrow alley. Their inebriated whispers shouted luridly across the cobblestones. A dying oil lamp threw the struggling couple’s twisted silhouette across the caving alley walls. With a quick stumble the pair emerged into the dim light under the Bagnio sign. As the golden letters danced above their heads, the two bodies revealed their tired features. The larger of the two, a rather husky man with beady eyes and two permanently flared nostrils, was gripping a young woman by the wrist.
His expression was pained and weary and his clothes seemed to choke him at every seam. His frilly collar was bound right ‘cross his bulging neck and his sleeves were close to bursting. Despite his delicate albeit tight attire, he was a poor man at heart. His eyes, reflecting his pessimism, were pitch black and his brow in a perpetual frown. At the crook of his nose perched a miniature set of spectacles. They looked ridiculous on his bulking figure and only made him squint harder.
“Bloody Hell, let go of me!” shouted the frail woman, her amber eyes darting around anxiously. She was searching for a sense of safety.
“I would hush that tone with me, missus,” swallowed the husky man drunkenly. His voice was coated with a thick Irish accent.
“Now Madame Clemence won’t care for any excuses so there’s no use in trying. Catherine, you aren’t the first I’ve delivered,” he continued through gritted teeth.
“Sir, you are drunk! I-I won’t walk with you another step!” protested the young Catherine.
“Yes Catherine, and you are ugly. But I shall be sober tomorrow,” barked the gruff man.
The man was wrong. He would not sober up the following day and Catherine was not ugly. Although Catherine Eddowes was a scullery maid from the local pub, The Manticore Inn, her features were that of a queen. Airy, curled locks spilled down her uniform in spouts of shining auburn. Her cheeks were pink and high against her eyes which shone in even the dimmest light. Her figure itself was flattered in any apparel and put others to shame or jealousy.
“I said let go of me!” cried the beautiful Catherine.
“Not ‘till we’re inside, you slag!” he hiccuped, clenching down on her wrist.
Abruptly, with a violent twist of the man’s enormous hand, Catherine was thrust through the tight doorway. As she was flung inside, her uniform betrayed her, sprawling her across the splintering floor.
“Whore,” smirked the man from the shutting door.
Catherine squinted and swallowed harshly, then clenched her slender jaw, narrowed her brow and stood up indignantly. As she stood she became aware of where she had been dragged. The strange man had gripped her by her waist and salaciously danced with her at the Inn. She had treated him with customary respect ‘till midnight, closing time. Threrafter she took him by his drunken collar, choking the stream of filthy requests, and threw him out onto the street. However after the tankards had been rung out and the stove wiped clean, his shadow loomed ‘cross her path again.
But now, from Catherine’s rigid stance away from her pursuer, she saw the Whitechapel Bagnio Room as it truly was; a cesspool. The room was choked with layers of cigarette smoke. It coated the stage and dressed the coquettes atop it. The stench was overwhelming; a mix of urine and sweat and tobacco. It twisted at Catherine’s gut and gave her considerable qualms.
“I’ve got another,” whispered the gruff voice.
As though in response, a chill settled upon the crowd. Next the stage lights shut off with a resounding boom. For a moment, the room died with silence. Then, footsteps began reverberating from backstage. They vibrated across the stained carpets and shook frenzied whispers out of awed mouths.
“Who turned out the blasted lights?” boomed a deep feminine voice from the right.
No one responded for as she spoke, a light appeared. The spotlight shone upon a dark veiled woman of considerable years. Her voluptuous body was draped in layers of sheer black chiffon and around her bosom was a miniscule pendant that sparkled in the harsh light.
“Whom do I have to welcome today, Delwyn?” spoke the sultry voice.
Delwyn was a name Catherine had heard before; a name whispered across the streets of Whitechapel and beyond. Catherine knew exactly why she was there. She craned her neck around to see the dancing coquettes. She needed to see them closer up. However with another thrust she was facing the floor again. Catherine winced with the pain of the collision. Her knees were brittle and her wrist was darkly bruised.
“Another broad from Fashion Street.”
“Another low class whore? Why don’t you ever supply me with a Kensington girl or a Chelsea wench? What is it with the Whitechapel ones?” protested the gritty voice, loosing its charm.
“They’re just easier to catch, Madame,” whined Delwyn.
With a mutter of disapproval Madame lifted her plunging gown and extended a spiked boot. With a gentle jab, she lifted Catherine’s face with her black toes.
“Well, she looks like a Kensington gal,” smirked the voice, sliding its black boot down her face like an eel.
From Catherine’s kneeling posture, she could see, through the glint of the spotlight, the faces of half a dozen young girls. Their hair was done up with flowers to reveal their youthful features. Their bodies were hung by their bones and fitted into tight, frilly lingerie. On their wrists and thighs were the claw marks of greedy customers. Although physically beautiful, when Catherine gazed into their eyes she saw even deeper bruises that could not heal. From the iris to the pupil, their eyes were blank and remote as though the life had just walked out. The girls were rotting from the inside out.
“I see you’ve met my daughters,” whispered the face behind the veil.
“Good thing you’re making pals so soon, they can teach you something,” sneered Madame Clemente.
Delwyn stretched out his hand, as did Madame and their hands met with the clink of various coins.
“Thank you Madame,” whimpered Delwyn.
“And one more to get you to Kensington tomorrow,” she said pressing another five pence into his beckoning hand.
“Oh thank you, bless you, Madame,” resumed Delwyn.
Yes. She was sure of it. Catherine knew who Delwyn was. She had overheard many hushed conversations in the Manticore Inn yet few stuck with her as much as his name did.
“Get up and go talk to your sisters,” reprimanded Madame and with a swift kick to the jaw, Catherine was sent to a huddle of emaciated girls. The Whitechapel Bangio Room resumed its stifling lecherousness. The girls stared at her condescendingly and didn’t flinch a muscle.
“Hope you’re not a virgin,” leered a hoarse voice.
The crowd parted laughing, returning to their masters, and leaving Catherine and her new slatternly uniform to sob and wilt in the dust of the moldy carpet. However one girl remained. She was a pretty thing, much too young for the work she was doing yet probably much too dimwitted to do much of anything else.
“How’d he get ya?” she whispered in a thick c***ney accent.
“J-Jumped me,” Catherine stuttered.
“He took me from the streets. Gave me a better life, ya know... It ain’t all that bad,” the girl admitted.
“As long as ya got this!” she said, brightening up.
Catherine peered down at her open hands.
“It’ll keep ya sane, trust me, it ain’t that bad,” repeated the girl, convincing herself more than Catherine. Catherine lowered her brow and took the bottle from the girl’s small hands.
“Thank you,” she whispered, yet before she could finish, the girl had already vanished.
The night droned on and Catherine experienced her first customer; an old man with grimy hands and a forceful spirit. The second patron was the same, and the third. The bottle was downed before Catherine could stop herself. She didn’t want to remember this night, nor any that came after. Hours passed like months. The night was a drunken blur of movement, from one bed to the next until her bleary vision returned.
Catherine’s blank eyes stared up at Room 17’s heavy tin roof; the sound of plinking rain soothing her tense body. The ceiling was arched with heavy oak beams across the center and curtained windows.
Catherine’s melting mind sparked an idea.
“Number 17, got another for ya! Have fun with this one love,” wrangled the voice from downstairs.
Chapter Two: The Station
“Will you stop looking at her?!”
“Why, it’s hilarious! Why shouldn’t I look?”
Murmurs and laughter shook the walls of 29 Aldgate High Street.
“It’s embarrassing and nothing else!”
“Oh lighten up!”
A crowd was beginning to form around the peculiar street artist.
“And look what she’s wearing! It’s disdainful,”
“Well, her impression is spot on that’s for certain!”
Standing in the center of the square, at precisely 11:55 am, stood Miss Catherine Eddowes entertaining a delighted a crowd of onlookers with a spontaneous imitation of a fire engine.
“WEEOH! WEEOH! WEEOH! Why look! How terrible, how awful! It’s a house fire!” screamed Catherine.
“Won’t anyone help me smother this horrid fire?”
Catherine beckoned to the crowd yet her request was met empty handed.
“Well,” hiccuped Catherine, “Suppose I must do it alone then!”
However before Catherine could save the day, she tripped over her feet and landed on the cobblestones. The crowd belched with laughter and threw coins in front of her.
“Why thank you,” Catherine blubbered after taking a messy bow. Before the crowd could throw another penny however, she had laid down on the pavement and drifted asleep.
The crowd slowly melted away yet was halted by a surly man in gold buttoned uniform. It was PC Robinson of the City Police.
“Stop, all of you! Who is this woman? Does anyone know her whereabouts?”
The crowd grew silent.
“No one?” Robinson sighed as he shuffled toward Catherine.
Robinson dragged her to her feet and lent her against a wall. Much to the crowd’s amusement, Catherine slid right back down. A rebellious roar came from the gathering yet ended abruptly with a glance from PC Robinson.
“George! Come help me with this broad! She’s pissed,” shouted Robinson.
The two officers hauled Catherine past the snickering crowd, manhandling her roughly, ‘till she entered the doors of the Bishopsgate Police Station.
“Now, what’s your name, love?” asked PC George Simmons.
Catherine took a long look around the station, gazed up at the ceiling, down at the floor, at the officers, then to the table and answered, “Nothing,”
PC Robinson clenched his teeth and threw Catherine into a cell.
“Now you sober up!” they yelled at her frustratedly.
Catherine’s eyes closed the moment her naked body hit the cell floor and she fell into a comatose sleep with a dopey smile plastered across her face.
An uneventful hour passed in which Catherine tossed and turned, remembering where she had ran from, and the two officers hid their faces in their hats. PC George Hutt, the City gaoler, came on duty at 12:30 am, taking over for the two. George Hutt was a rather anxious man and tended to check on the prisoners every few minutes. Catherine remained asleep.
Hutt was especially nervous tonight for he had taken over the two officers’ posts in a rather alarming circumstance. In fact PC George Hutt was clutching his keys and heading out of the room at the very moment an emergency bell was rung. Robinson and Simmons were torn from their slumber yet Catherine was not.
“Good lord what is it?” shouted PC Robinson over the dull clang of the emergency bell.
“I-I don’t kno-” began a groggy Mr. Simons, removing his hat.
Promptly three additional police officers poured into the holding room. Spouts of coughing, wheezing, and gasping erupted from each individual. Robinson and Simons sprung to their feet, blinking away sleep, and rushed to the officers.
“Dutfield’s Yard,” panted a portly officer.
“What is it?” asked PC Simmons tentatively.
“Is it anothe-” interrupted Robinson.
“Can’t assume anything yet, carriage is out front,” spoke another officer.
The five officers sprinted out front leaving Catherine alone in her cell slowly gaining her wits. PC George Hutt had locked himself in his office for the rest of the night till his shift began at 1:00 am. However by some miraculous chance, a rather loud whinnying awoke him from his dream. Hutt peeled his eyes open, frowned, and decided to start his shift early.
That was when Hutt realized that he, apart from the dozen prisoners locked in their cells, was alone. A creak of hardwood and his own slow footsteps were all that broke the heavy air. Yet suddenly, his footsteps stopped with the addition of a third ominous sound. He heard it again. It was a high pitched noise, pretty. The song guided him along the barred walls till he stopped in front of cell 16. But suddenly Hutt’s muscles relaxed and the song ended.
“‘Scuse me sir, when am I allowed to leave this place?” blurted a shadow behind the bars.
“W-what did you say?” stammered Hutt.
“I asked when can I leave here?” Catherine repeated, stepping into the light.
“Were you singing, Ms?” he asked.
“Why yes, did you like it?”
Mr. Hutt smiled and clenched his jaw yet did not respond. He hated the station. There was always something to fear or to be anxious about; always something around the corner or in the shadows. It was too dark during his shift, he hated that too. But the ends never met for the Hutt family so the 1:00 shift it had to be.
“Mister with the hat!”
Mr. Hutt snapped from his daydream.
“We all wear hats,” he responded with a clever smile.
“But there’s only one of you here now isn’t there!” Catherine shouted across the hall.
“What do you want?” asked Mr. Hutt, not so cleverly.
“When can I leave this cell?” she asked saccharinely.
“When you can take care of yourself,” Mr. Hutt said with a smirk.
A minute of silence passed in which Mr. Hutt looked out upon the Whitechapel neighborhood. It was darker than usual, as were the bags under his eyes.
“I can do that now," came her reply.
Another minute passed in which Mr. Hutt felt a certain wave of benevolence and fetched the keys. A rugged man in the next cell looked up wearily yet remained seating. Mr. Hutt was thankful.
“Name and address?” he questioned.
“What for?” she shouted in protest.
“Release papers,” he answered.
“For you to get out, Miss,” he finished.
“Then my name is Mary Ann Kelly of 6 Fashion Street,” she answered reluctantly.
"This way, Missus," Hutt continued, finally discharging her from his custody.
As Catherine pushed open the swing door and stumbled along the passage to the outer door, she asked “What time is it?”
"Too late for you to get anymore drink," observed Hutt.
"I shall get a Damned fine hiding when I get home," she laughed.
Mr. Hutt was not in the least bit sympathetic.
"And serve you right," he replied, "you have no right to get drunk."
As Catherine left the station, Hutt asked her to shut the door behind her.
"All right," she chirped, "Good Night Old C***,"
Mr. George Hutt frowned and turned back towards the station, leaving Catherine to walk the streets of Whitechapel alone yet again. He decided to await his fellow officers arrival. It can’t have been such an awful emergency as not to return on time, thought the officer. Mr. Hutt despised waiting.
Catherine resumed her melodious tune again.
“Ring-a-ring o' roses,
A pocket full of posies,
We all fall down!”
It was an awful rhyme; echoing across the alleys in sharp zigzags and filling the air with its heavy lyrics.
“Cows in the meadows
We all jump up,”
Catherine had heard these lyrics in school, before she was expelled.
“Ringel ringel reihen,
Wir sind der Kinder dreien,
sitzen unter'm Hollerbusch
Und machen alle Husch husch husch!”
German class was her favorite. These tunes weren’t the cause of a spontaneous drunken spell. No, Catherine sang to calm her nerves. In fact, in addition to the things she learned at the academy, she taught herself how to survive after being thrown out. Men like weak girls. It was a fact. And Catherine used this fact to her advantage numerous times.
Indeed her inebriated foolishness that night was all a hoax. Although the lingering effects of the night’s previous liquor were a factor, she knew that public disturbance was a cell-worthy grievance. The cell was not a prison to Catherine after she’d escaped from the Whitechapel Bagnio Room. It was a glimmer of hope, of escape.
“Ringel, Ringel, Rosen,
Veilchen blau, Vergissmeinnicht,
Alle Kinder setzen sich!” she whispered, giggling at the silly lyrics.
“Something funny?” breathed a voice.
Catherine stepped back. An eddy of wind surged through a nearby window, fluttering its curtains. The street was dead silent, lit only by the small splinters of moonlight reaching out from behind their nebulous prison. Catherine took another step back, turning her head over and over. Each click from her heel erupted from the ground with a rumbling clatter. The steps and the sound increased as Catherine began rushing. She wasn’t giggling anymore.
“I asked you a question Miss,” came the mutter again, guttural and forceful.
Catherine didn’t respond but increased her pace, turning corner after corner, trying to escape the sound.
“A stubborn girl, aren’t you? A… weak girl,” hissed the strange voice, multiplying itself to encapsulate her. Catherine squinted her eyes in frustration and could see a strange light coming from Mitre Square. Her feet flew toward the light, sprinting from the evil voice. Yet once Catherine reached the light, it disappeared. Her eyes had deceived her. It was but a reflection of the moon that was now hidden between clouds. Darker than before, she was now in an enclosed square. Three warehouse buildings, three abandoned townhouses, and a shop towered above her.
The sparse crowd of Aldgate High Street now seemed a luxury to Catherine. She could feel the cool September air gnaw at her exposed body and could hear her heart pounding in her ears. The sporadic pulse churning in her veins made her sick to her stomach; the fear was feeding off of her. The sharp taste of bile began to rise from her gut into her throat when, suddenly, she felt something grip her waist. It was a hand, and before she could scream or bite or release her pent up bile, another hand was over her mouth.
Chapter Three: The Discovery
At 1:44am, as PC Watkins was making his nightly rounds, the moon escaped from its clouded sheath.
“Good lord, finally,” muttered Watkins, who had spent the past half an hour avoiding the darkest alleyways. He strolled along Mitre Street, then veered directly into Mitre Square. His eyes, still adjusting to the sudden wave of light melting upon the city, squinted to focus on something in the center of the enclosed, cobbled drive. The milky light hugged the blurry figure on the road. There was another shape near a corner connecting a factory enclosure to a rough wooden fence.
Watkin’s blinking eyes suddenly centered and focused. Without so much as another blink, Watkins pulled himself back in horror. He could feel his body turning to ash from the inside, out. Boiling and whirling acid churned in his stomach. Tearing his watering eyes away from the messy sight, he raced toward Kearly and Tonge’s warehouse, a supply-catering company located in the East end of London.
Prior to the discovery, Watkins had decided to wander off of his normal midnight trail to visit his retired friend from the fuzz, George Morris. Morris, according to a drunken conversation they had shared at the Manticore Inn, had taken a job working for the tea warehouse as a watchman to keep him away from his “nagging wife.” Watkins couldn’t thank Mrs. Morris enough for her badgering when he burst into the warehouse and saw his old friend leaning sleepily against a packing machine.
"For God’s sake mate," cried Watkins "come to my assistance…here is another woman cut to pieces."
Morris grabbed his lamp and, with one glance at the square's south west corner and the body that inhabited it, jumped three feet and raced towards Aldgate, blowing his whistle furiously.
As only the Illustrated Police News would report later, Morris “could hear the footsteps of the policeman as he passed on his beat every quarter of an hour, so that it appeared impossible that the woman could have uttered any sound without his detecting it. It was only on the night that he remarked to some policeman that he wished the "butcher" would come round Mitre Square and he would give him a doing; yet the "butcher" had come and he was perfectly ignorant of it.”
Watkins was left alone with what he could only guess to be a woman’s body lying ten feet from his muddied boots. He paced around the other three empty corners of the courtyard passing the two warehouses as dark as ever and listening to the death in the air. PC Watkins, looking for anything to avert his eyes, searched for the killer’s escape root. He let his eyes climb the steep walls enclosing the square but there was no answer.
Then, almost by some external force, his eyes plunged to the ground, to the body, to her. Her limbs, swimming before Watkin’s eyes were sprawled across the stones like a dead spider. His eyes were seeing double, then triple.
“Right here in the square,” panted a voice. Six boots clattered among the cobbles. Morris had brought PC James Harvey and PC Holland from Aldgate.
“Someone get a doctor,” whispered Watkins without turning his head from the body. The boots didn’t move; they were in awe of the terrible sight.
“Go!” shouted Watkins shaking his head uncontrollably.
As the younger officer, PC Holland, departed to notify Dr. George William Sequeira of Jewry Street about his new autopsy, PC James Harvey took a closer look at the body.
“Looks like the broad had it coming,” he smirked.
“What the hell do you mean?” asked Morris aghast.
“Just look at her clothes, I bet she works the street more than once a day,” PC Harvey explained.
“A woman has just died here, no matter who she was we must respect it,” spat Watkins, his voice betraying him.
The silence was deafening in that moment. It was like Watkins and Morris could hear the woman screaming at them in disgust. They could both see her inner beauty although it was spattered across the cobbles now. Why couldn’t Harvey?
“It must’ve been the darkest place of the square, where it happened,” explained an approaching PC Holland. A rather bushy-eyebrowed man followed close at his heels.
“I bet there isn’t much you can tell us,” Harvey said, pointing to the body.
“Never assume anything Sir, I am certa-” he stopped short.
Dr. George William Sequeira, an immigrant from Portugal, had always despised the British for their intrusive exploits in his home country. They had taken his land and separated him from his family by shipping him to London. He hated the East and he hated the people even more. It was just how he was raised and how he would raise his children. Yet, even he felt a slight break in his heart for the crushed creature in the road.
“He can’t tell us anything what did I sa-” began Harvey.
“I can tell you one thing,” interrupted Dr. Sequeira.
“Do tell,” smirked Harvey.
“Death would have been instantaneous once the murderer had cut the windpipe and the blood vessels reached the air,”
“Is that it?” asked Harvey gleefully.
There was a pause in which Dr. Sequeira glanced at the other officers distractedly.
“PC James Harvey, you are disturbing the case. You may return to the Bishopsgate Police Station,” spoke Watkins demandingly.
With a huff and heavy feet, Harvey left. He was happy to leave for he had no sympathy for the event and wanted to return to his post outside the Rock Rooster Pub.
“He possessed no great anatomical skill,” muttered the doctor under his breath, walking around the mass.
A wave of police officers from stations across the city was slowly forming a perimeter around the square. Inspector Edward Collard arrived alongside seven other black capped officers and immediately ordered a neighborhood wide search.
“Not a door unopened my men!” he shouted over the growing turmoil.
The officers converged over the cobblestones, squirming around each other and trying to find something to do other than stare at the dead girl.
“What is the news?” commanded Inspector Collard rushing to Dr. Sequeira’s side.
“I can’t pronounce anything yet,” he sighed.
Despite the forming throng of officers and civilians craning their necks for a view, a five meter ring of fire seemed to protect the body.
“Why the hell not?” shouted the Inspector over the swelling mob.
“We must await the arrival of the City Police Divisional Surgeon, Dr Frederick Gordon Brown,” Sequeira answered mechanically.
“You heard him, get the man!” ordered the Inspector to Watkins who was still staring at the body.
“You’re dismissed,” he muttered to the doctor.
At that moment Superintendent James McWilliam, head of the City Police Detective Department, arrived with a swarm of detectives.
“Search the Spitalfield streets and lodging houses” demanded McWilliam, “and don’t come back to me ‘till you’ve questioned every man on the streets!” he finished.
“Hello Inspector,” he said condescendingly.
“Hello,” answered Inspector Collard.
“Have your officers found anything yet?” he asked genuinely.
“Not yet, but it was nice of you to join us,” Collard said, turning his back to the Superintendent.
A whirlpool of sorts had taken shape around the handful of officers in the center of the square. Shouts of laughter and lurid comments spilled from the crowd.
“This is a closed investigation, civilians please leave the premises or expect force from the London police force,” bawled Superintendent James McWilliam over the sea of onlookers. The crowd dissipated slightly and the officers and detectives began to fan out into the streets of the Whitechapel District.
Next on the scene was Dr Frederick Gordon Brown, the surgeon. He was an excitable man who grew ecstatic upon seeing the dissected creature on display. He treated the autopsy like an art.
“Someone record this. I speak quickly,” he warned.
“Head thrown to the left shoulder, arms by her side. She’s lying on her back, meaning an unexpected attack from behind. Both her forearms face upward as if they’d fallen there. No… Her fall was at a crooked angle before he flipped her over,” he spurted out. Then he took a second to think, tapping his metal heel to the ground in a nervous manner. “Her clothes are drawn up to the abdomen, thighs naked. No sign of trauma at the inner legs however. Right leg bent, left leg extended… Pull back her bonnet,” he asked.
There was hesitation.
“Pull it back, I said,”
With a forced flourish of the hand, Superintendent McWilliam uncovered her face.
“Thank you-” Dr. Frederick paused. He stared at the girl’s face... or what was left of it. Her jaw was like a rusted hinge that someone tried to oil with blood. It hung with tags of muscle and skin from her skull. Her hair was pulled back exposing her drying skull. Her eyes however, her eyes were clear. Staring with their percipient, green glow, Dr. Frederick stared into the pit of her pupils and as deep into the iris as he could manage without falling in. He was floored by their beauty.
“G-great disfigurement to the face,” he mentioned absentmindedly. “And,” he continued, tearing himself away from her gradually muting eyes and towards her neckerchiefed throat. “‘Cross her right shoulder are drawn out most of her intestines, smeared with some… feculent matter. A piece lies further off in the corner with a mound of clotted blood as well. The lobe and outer ear are cut through aslant. The pavement is soaked in a fluid, blood-coloured serum sloping in her direction,” he spoke in a softer, less enthusiastic tone.
“I must touch the body now, avert your eyes if you must,” Dr. Frederick said looking at PC Holland who seemed to be inches from releasing something between a scream and a cry. Dr. Frederick knelt to the wet ground and ran the blood through his thin hands.
“It is warm, as is the body,” he murmured as he laid a hand atop her exposed thigh. “No stiffness of the muscle, no spurting of blood on the bricks, no puddling of internal wounds: she must’ve been dead within the half hour,” Frederick confirmed. “I must transfer her to the mortuary now,” he said, waving a hand over her eyes to close them.
The Doctor narrowed his brow, furrowing his eyebrows. I missed something. His eyes darted back to the soaked body.
“Lift the skirt,” he muttered, forming a horrible idea.
“Sir… what do you want us to do?” an officer asked hesitantly.
“Nothing,” he continued reaching his hand up her cold thigh.
The officers were stunned, their stomachs writhing and boiling. Then with sharp tear Dr. Frederick had torn the stained robes clear off of her distorted figure. Now PC Holland, and a barricade of other officers, released their screams and gags from behind their masculinity and trembled, wishing they had their mothers to shield them from the terrorizing yet enrapturing sight.
Not much unlike a dental cavity, decaying from abscess, there was a deep cave set into the woman’s lower stomach and another exposing her arching ribs.
“W-where is the rest, Doctor?” asked a timid voice from the corner.
“What’s missing?” prodded another.
A long breath stretched Dr. Frederick’s stiff lungs as he replied, “The most vulnerable parts, the most sacred,”
Whispers floated across the square as Dr. Frederick Gordon Brown’s head became more and more clogged. He had been the resident London Police surgeon for three decades, four? It wasn’t important. He had worked with cases far more gruesome than this one before and seen hundreds of prostitutes shot on the streets of London. However there was something unholy in this circumstance. Something that compelled him to reach to his breast and grip his cross. Something that, for the first time in 30 to 40 years, forced a sob from his dry lips.
“It is a womb and a kidney missing, gentlemen,”
Chapter Four: The Culmination
Dr. Frederick shut his eyes in embarrassment. Blood rushed to his head without him giving it permission, invading his pale complexion selfishly. He coughed then gasped for air yet felt none come to his choking relief. A weight was crushing him from all sides; crushing his ribs and his lungs and shredding him open seam from seam just like the poor girl he would deliver to the mortuary in the next hour.
“We’ll borrow a carriage from Kearly and Tonge’s shipping wing, they must have a horse or two ready to deliver,” promised Superintendent James McWilliam mournfully.
The next hour was encased in a fuzzy, blurry, fog of information and confusion. The limp, cold body of the later confirmed Catherine Eddowes was lugged onto a splintering cart, covered in a thin, white sheet and paraded across the narrow maze of Whitechapel, London.
With each bump in the pebble-paved streets, another limb seemed to fall slightly more. Dr. Frederick winced at the feeling of Catherine’s body sliding across the cart. Although the race to the Golden Lane Mortuary as fast as he could, the first splinters of the newly October sun beat him.
Men bent their necks and stopped in the street to catch a glimpse of the body. Women gaped at the ankles and bloody toenails peeking out under the crimson soaked blanket. The sheet was now doing the opposite of its intention.
Instead of hiding poor Catherine’s mutilated body, it attracted the eyes of children headed to school. They wondered what animal was hidden under the linen. It was true. Her concealed figure was not that of a human. Other than the chalky heels that dangled from the carriage, the blanket was a mess of contorted shapes.
“Look away,” cried a mother to her curious boy.
“Is it the plague again?” whispered a small girl.
“It’s Bloody Mary!” hissed an elderly woman.
No, they were all wrong. It was but the fourth victim of a man named Jack the Ripper. Catherine Eddowes was not the first, nor was she the last. In fact, minutes before she stepped out of her cell at the Bishopsgate Police Station, Elizabeth Stride, a Gothenburg-registered prostitute, was cut through the neck, carved of her life, and thrown to the ground like an ashen cigarette.
On the night of September 30th, 1888 the Golden Lane Mortuary and the City of London Cemetery gained two new inhabitants yet the Bishopsgate Penitentiary did not admit a new member. For, Jack the Ripper or “The Butcher” was never caught. One of the most notorious men to have ever absconded the grasp of the London Police Force was never convicted, never jailed, never even caught sight of.
However, fifteen days later there was a knock at the door of the Whitechapel Vigilance Committee. The knock was left unattended for till the sun and the city awoke at dawn. As George Lusk, the chairmen of the committee, stepped out of his house on the morning of October 15th, 1888, he could feel something burrowing into the side of his head, staring at him.
Mr. Lusk lowered his eyes to the odd mound at his feet. What he saw was strange. At first glance Mr. Lusk couldn’t tell what he was looking at. Other than a rather small shred of messy paper, there seemed to be an odd object hiding beneath. The folded paper waved desperately, greeting the tired-eyed Mr. Lusk enthusiastically. Bending over, he reached down, picking up the paper.
“What have we here-” began Mr. Lusk before very suddenly and very violently throwing the letter down, furrowing his eyebrows, and stepping back in horror.
The strange shape beneath the folded letter was an organ; a kidney to be more exact.
Although Mr. Lusk was far from knowing anything about the human anatomy, he knew it was a human kidney because of the smell. A muffled, rotten, coppery stench wafted up, affronting Mr. Lusk’s unexpecting olfactory. Tearing his eyes from the terrible stump, he stooped to retrieve and read the letter. The following words swam before his bleary eyes like a wishful hallucination.
I send you half the Kidne I took from one woman and prasarved it for you tother piece I fried and ate it was very nise. I may send you the bloody knif that took it out if you only wate a whil longer
Catch me when you can Mishter Lusk
Unbeknownst to Mr. Lusk, dozens of similar letters would infiltrate police stations and neighborhoods around the London metropolitan in the following months. They were written by frauds, mocking the deaths of the eight women who fell on the streets on the Whitechapel District.
August 7th, 1888: Martha Tabram, better known by her street name Pearly Poll, is discovered in a stairwell of George Yard, collapsed and bleeding. The body is shredded. Stabbed through the neck and body 39 times; nine in the throat, five in the left lung, two in the right lung, five in the liver, two in the spleen, six in the stomach, a few wounding her genitals and lower diaphragm, and one in the heart.
August 31th 1888: Mary Nichols, a mother working on the streets to help her children, is found by a cart driver sprawled in front of a Horse Butchery stable entrance in Buck’s Row. Although Dr. Henry Llewellyn concluded the blood was just "about enough to fill two large wine glasses, or half a pint at the most", the incisions were far harsher than expected. Deep, jagged wounds, from a knife of an estimated 6-8 inches, stretched from left to right twice across her gullet, several times across the abdomen, and one central violent gash severed into her stomach.
September 8th, 1888: Annie Chapman, also named Dark Annie after her complexion, was the mother of three and happily married till their firstborn Emily died of meningitis at 12 and Annie left for Whitechapel without her husband John. The night of her own death ended this torture. Her injuries resembled those of Mary Nichols including a knife of the same proportions.
September 30th, 1888: Elizabeth Stride, also known as Long Stride due to her tall posture, was a young widow. Her husband and two of her nine children had all drowned in the sinking of Princess Alice in the River Thames in 1878 which had left her awash in depression and caused an anxiety-induced stutter. She took pride in her elongated appearance and, on the night of her murder, wore a black jacket and skirt embroidered with a posy of a red rose.
Her hair sparkled with a spray of maidenhair fern and asparagus leaves completed with a black crêpe bonnet. A few hours later and they were flecked with blood. When discovered, the blood was still surging from Stride’s halved throat. Although it was her only wound, it was fatal.
September 30th, 1888: Catherine Eddowes. I have mentioned enough about her demise.
November 9th, 1888: Mary Kelly is an obscure, undocumented figure in Jack’s history. Some say it was her husband’s death in a coal mine explosion that drove her to prostitution, others think she was born into it. Kelly’s landlord sent his assistant up to her flat in the early morning of the annual Lord Mayor's Day celebrations to collect her six week overdue rent. Hers was the first murder requiring a more intimate skill due to her private setting yet was also the most gruesome. Spread nude across the bed, her body was contorted into a crippled, stiffened statue of a female.
Her slim face was hacked beyond recognition, her breasts severed off, the muscle of her neck removed down to the bone, liver at her right foot, intestines at her right waist, spleen by her left, viscera heaving from the gaping abdominal cavity, skin fascia removed as far as the knee, the heart wall was cut open without the heart remaining, and the stomach had been crushed and ridden of its contents of peas and potatoes. The bed was soaked, blood pooling and congealing beneath. The technical prowess of the kill was nothing short of a butcher.
July 17th, 1889: Alice Mckenzie was a stranger to all yet none the less appeared in Castle Alley, Whitechapel with her left carotid artery severed from left to right and multiple abdominal wounds. The blade was shorter yet the wounds just as detrimental. However Coroner Baxter acknowledged the fact that it could’ve been a result of “an imitation of the other cases.”
February 13th, 1891: Frances Coles was found under a railway arch on Friday 13th and was the last of the canonical Ripper victims. Minor bludgeons to the head suggest she was thrown to the ground before multiple cuts across the throat. There were no other mutilations.
There were of course copycat murders and letters to follow yet none of them were convincing enough. For the murders of these eight women were unprecedented in England’s industrializing capital. Although dead bodies were flung to the ground every night in London, these were new. They were different. They were deliberate. The Ripper used his slaughterhouse skills to tear at each of the women for some rural and barbaric pleasure. Yet his shadow vanished behind the towering, skinny townhouses of Whitechapel before as much as a shoe stepped onto the scene and he was never to be heard from again.