The Church Street Harlot

The Method in the ***

The cold light of dawn saw Mary down by the river. The Thames rolled past, sluggish and grey, as Mary sat hunched, as though she had been frozen. Her face was drawn and purple shadows adorned her eyes. She was troubled.

The death of Annabelle was playing on her mind. Until now, whatever shadow that was stalking London has taken only a few, faceless, degraded women. But now, a girl that she had known, a perfectly innocent girl, had been butchered. In spite of the graceless life that Mary led, this shocked her profoundly.

She knew, in her cynical yet realistic way, that the authorities would do only the minimum to hunt down the killer of this handful of prostitutes. It was likely that the killer would never be caught. Yet suddenly, the case that she had blithely ignored only yesterday had taken hold of her mind and spurred her into action. Something, she resolved, had to be done.

All around her, in fitful bursts of consciousness, London was awakening. It was strange, but without her usual cover of darkness, Mary felt more afraid and exposed than ever. Before long, these streets would be teeming with people. Respectable people, or at least those who wore a countenance of respectability. Mary could not bear to be around such people. So she stole away, back to the only place that she could call home.

Avoiding breakfast, she went straight to her garret. She began to pace the room, muttering to herself, summoning every possible detail to mind. The facts were simple. The victims, all harlots, were plying their trade in the alleys of Whitechapel. Yet the method in the murder was unusual. It was not the clumsy strangulation inflicted by a rough drunkard. Rather, all of the bodies had been manipulated. Organs had been removed, limbs had been distorted. One might say they had been artfully butchered. This suggested careful planning and execution.

"The method in the murder..." Mary said aloud, to herself.

Then the answer came to her. She slammed a hand down upon the table. She had it. An idea that was so simple, yet brilliant. She would find this man, this monster, and put a stop to him herself. And how would she find him? She would become bait. It was perfect. She would not even need to act.

Mary went to bed that morning, no longer afraid, but exhilarated. A cold smile played on her lips as she gathered up her ragged blankets. It was reckless, true, but she was not a meek person. She now had a purpose. She was going to find the Whitechapel Killer. She would hunt him down.