With the Urban Nightmare chosen for June’s Write…Edit…Publish…challenge, I had a few different ideas. Before realizing I could alter the un-submitted piece from February’s challenge, to fit the current theme. Deriving inspiration out of fiction and reality alike. Employing a fictional version of a notorious late 19th century serial killer, Jack the Ripper. Combining that with elements of Gothic fiction, and a hodge-podge mix of mythology to craft a monster that stalks the cobblestone streets and alleys of Whitechapel. Inadvertently giving rise an age old question, which inspired the title for this entry. I humbly present, Man or Monster?
The sudden creak of the door behind being pushed open revealed my guest had surprisingly agreed to this unusual evening meeting. In silence, I waited for him to take the seat to my left. While I waited, I took advantage of the opportunity to pour two glasses of whiskey from a nearby bottle. I let him seize one of the pewter glasses, allowing him a moment to gather the doubts and questions that filled his mind since my letter was delivered.
Watching him swallow some liquor before commenting, “I most admit your letter gave me a start if your claim of identity isn’t a falsehood. Your chosen spot for this meeting is a strange, perplexing, curiosity.”
I remarked, “You speak true, on both accounts, Cheif Constable Redding. I am indeed the man the newspapers have dubbed Jack the Ripper. Yet, I would not be so quick to summon your fellow officers that lurk inside this bordello,” taking a moment to alter my mask to partake a subtle sip of this spirituous liquid. “I have studied your history enough to know that you pursue the truth, even if that answer is impossible. That inquisitive nature has bequeathed you a peculiar air, given your impressive rank. I press upon a startling revelation that those I have butchered carry a deadly gift besides possessing potent feminine charms and striking beauty. A troublesome and dangerous gift that burdens them with an insatiable lust for blood.”
Constable Redding commented, “The mortician did find some abnormalities that were left undocumented. Despite the focus the papers have on your murders, there have been additional deaths of an even more unusual nature. Oddly enough, they have decreased some since the demise of Mary Nichlos. Supposes I believe that your killings have some unforeseen benefits to the citizenry at large, proving that to others would be troublesome, neigh impossible affair. I should place you in shackles, to ensure that the murders of alley girls cease. Yet, I will grant you one to chance to offer proof of something paranormal stalking the cobblestone streets.”
I had to repress a manic grin at the constable’s expected response. “Then let us meet again at the catacombs of St. Mary’s church just before sunset,” emptying my cup and placing it beside the bottle. “I would suggest you come prepared with the blade you carried in your youth while serving the empire. What the two of us will hunt is an entity born without mercy. Till then, Constable Redding,” parting myself from the lawmen’s company, to finish the necessary preparations.
Dusk had barely past over this sacred place by the time Constable Redding arrived alone. The pale glow was emitting from a lantern casting out a soft orange hue, revealing the handle of a sheathed saber at his left hip. Suppressing a smile, I lit a second lantern with a swift strike of a matchhead. I placed the aflame torch on a weathered tombstone to reveal an almost undetectable trail of dried blood speckled amongst the dirt and stone. The stone path leads to a broad set of doors decorated with religious symbols, rust, and additional dried blood. A pungent stench of decay and ammonia poured out from within the narrow crack between the two doors. Using my right hand, I adjusted my temporary facial covering to mask the rancid odor.
I commented, “You’re auspiciously late constable. However, fortune smiles upon us as this monstrosity remains inside its crypt,” hearing a sudden, short, inhuman growl fill the air. “Prepare yourself without delay. It has awakened,” quickly unsheathing the pair of kukris resting at my hips.
Observing something burst forth from inside, nearly removing the doors from their hinges. This entity refused to spare me a glance, charging immediately at the constable. By divine grace, the lawman managed to raise his blade to parry the creatures menacing black talons. I took advantage of the monster’s distraction to sprint forward. Observing how fluidly this abomination moved, it’s pale skin somehow reflecting the moonlight. Close enough to strike at the creature, I sliced horizontally at the demon’s left thigh. In response, it howled out, ignoring the viscous black substance that was flowing down its leg. Constable Redding took swift advantage of its exposed chest, cutting a large, horizontal wound across its lower abdomen. The monster swatted the lawmen with the back of its left hand, forcing him off his feet. The beast altered its focus to me and began to stare at with hollow, burning red eyes. It was opening its jaw to reveal two rows of sharpened teeth before running towards me. Somehow oblivious of the blackened blood escaping the large wound on his chest. Bracing to defend myself, I raised my curved daggers, hoping my crusade would not end here.
Suddenly a deafening cracking sound brought the creature to a complete stop. Only then did I smell the distinctive odor of gunpowder hanging in the air. The loud noise repeated itself in quick succession, enhancing the scent of powder that clung to the atmosphere. I approached the creature keeping an attentive gaze for any sudden moves, taking note of the three circular wounds on the creature’s left breast. One, or perhaps all of the bullets must have pierced the monster’s heart. In its final moment, the beast released a thunderous roar, before falling to the ground.
Stepping around the fallen demon, I walked towards the constable. Taking immediate notice of the smoking revolver clutched in both hands.
Constable Redding asked, “Is that paranormal monstrosity the end of the strange deaths, and your killings?”
I replied, “Perhaps lawmen. Have the mortician burn the body, before rumors of its appearance can spread further. Only time will tell if this nightmare is truly over, or if its the beginning of something far more horrifying,” departing the constable’s company. Hoping that this was indeed the end, for I have more than quenched my thirst for death.
Word Count: 987 Critique level: Full