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by Toby
Rated: ASR · Chapter · Horror/Scary · #1915729
This short descriptive piece is the beginning of a new twist on Jack the Ripper.
         At ten o’clock, by the clock tower’s bell, Jackie Boy leaves his London apartment for his nightly constitutional. Any ordinary night, he would normally travel past the trimmed gardens, bright doorways, wrought iron fences of his socialite contemporaries and through the quiet park of his neighborhood, but tonight something pulls him in another direction. A shadow in the fog? A deeper, ancestral hunger? Just a gut feeling perhaps. “Gut,” he thinks to himself with a smile. He takes a right at the park instead of the usual left. “A turn in the right direction,” he smirks. In a matter of a few blocks he is out of the residential villas and approaches the open air market where he shops on Thursdays.
         As he enters the deserted marketplace, the fog swirls around him. During the day the marketplace serves as a buffer, the place between the two worlds of London. The uptown and the down. The working class and the ruling one. The enchanted and the spellbound. This is where the peddlers peddle their wares and where the elite come to buy, but tonight it stands empty of life. It is empty of the gaiety and vigor of merchants hawking their wares. It is empty of the ladies in their immaculate costumes, parading around in their way. Tonight it is filled only with the fog of the night, the shadows of the street lamps, and the echoes of his mind.
         Jackie Boy pauses for a moment, surveying the cobblestone marketplace littered with crumpled flyers and crushed flowers. The shutters are closed on the windows of the store fronts. A faint glow of candlelight can be seen through the fog in an upstairs apartment. Beneath, only the shadows of hanging meat can be seen in the darkened windows of the butcher shop. In one corner of the market, a fruit cart rests on a broken axle, its wares wilting in the night air. Jackie Boy approaches the cart quizzically. The discarded cart he can understand, but why had the merchant let his harvest go to waste? Where had the merchant gone? He looks down at the pile of discarded apples, pears, and grapes. He takes a few grapes in his gloved hand and places one into his mouth. He closes his eyes, savoring the flavor as the grape bursts in his mouth.
“Ah, my delicious vino!” he says aloud.  Barely a whisper and yet his voice booms through the vacant street.  Startled by the sound of his own voice, his eyes wretch open and when they do, he sees an alley he has never seen before.  An alley that is normally hidden by the hustle and bustle of the living market, but tonight the market is is dead and Jackie Boy can see everything more clearly.  More clearly than he has in a while.  He takes another grape from his hand, pops it into his mouth and approaches the corner without hesitation.  He pauses but a moment to look back at the empty market before he walks through the darkened portal.
The alley takes Jackie Boy between the bookshop and clothier, towards the darkened heart of London.  He lets his hand trail across the uneven masonry as he moves through the dark; he feels the rough texture through his soft leather glove.  The cobblestones beneath his feet are weathered worse than any he has ever traversed.  The empty sockets in the road become more abundant as he moves downhill towards the dim light at the far end of the alley.  He takes another grape into his mouth as he reaches the end of the dark alley.
         As the portal opens onto the unfortunate part of London, a cold, evil wind hits Jackie Boy with the dank, heavy smell of the river and sewage as he stands at the edge of the road. In the dirty buildings, the windows are covered with butcher paper curtains, because every bit of cloth was necessary for the poor to keep warm on the damp, foggy nights. Missing shutters burn in the fireplaces for warmth, the smoke mixing with the fog. Graffiti scrit across the uneven brick says terrible things. The lighting here is poor and spaced far apart and what lamps are lit leave pools of light scattered throughout the fog. “Why waste the gas lights on the wretch that live here?” Jackie Boy thinks.
         He continues down the cobblestone streets, shiny from a recent rain as the road leads him downward. He passes puddles, uncertain if they are from the rain or from dishwater careless flung into the streets. The streets are paved with crumbled bits of wet parchment and unidentifiable refuse and the houses aren’t much better. Window boxes are filled with withering flowers and else. Rooftops are missing shingles; most of which are lying in the street below but some are altogether missing. A pile of wet clothing lies in front of a brothel. Jackie Boy turns his head in disgust. “So this,” he thinks, “this is where the working men live and the working girls work. This place is desperate.”
         Up to his left, he sees a bridge. Perhaps that if he should cross it, it might lead him to a better part of London and a better part of himself. Then again, it might lead him deeper into the opium nightmares and the unending boredom that he has been a part of his life for far too long. Jackie Boy turns his back on the bridge and follows the dimly lit street as it curves alongside the river and away from those lingering thoughts….
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