(** The title of this fic has nothing to do with Faith's relationship with the Mayor, it refers to the infamous 'Dear Boss' letters supposedly sent by Jack The Ripper to Scotland Yard. And I think it would be way too obvious to make Giles the Ripper. Just thought I'd mention that now **)
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The fraying stockings rolled along Buffy's thighs snagging on the splintering bristles of hair that her blunted razor could not wrest free of her pale skin. Her burning tears had remained shallow for now but as she gazed down with sullen damnation to the soiled cotton bloomers in her hand she wished once more for the nimble fingers of her docile ladies maid whose darning needle could heal any rent of fabric, for Buffy had but this one pair now. As the coarse material hugged her virginal intimacies she shivered for the last week had been a wretched purgatory for her, the judge's verdict ringing over and over in her mind like a tolling of bleak misery.
"Mrs Joyce Summers, how dare you besmirch the name of your husband! For all society knows that Major Henry Summers was fine and true man, for was it not he who served with distinction in the Afghan war? Did he not win the King's Medal after the Battle of Ali Masjid? And yet you sully his good name by claiming 'twas he who raised such debts? Shame on you, Madam", growled the judge with a whiskey laced rasp as he stared down on the woman whose face was pallid and wan.
"Please Sir, my husband did flee to Italy with another woman and left us to settle his extravagances. It is not of my choosing to be….", cried Joyce as she stood in the dock wearing her dress of dulling blue, its petticoats no longer fluffing for its hem had been soiled with the grime and foulness of the gaol where she had been held 'til her hearing. Her bustle leaning to one side from her frame which had lost such weight these days past since the Bailiffs and constabulary appeared on her doorstep.
"If he is truly in Italy then he is well out of the reach of the Crown, so it be up to you to settle such debts. I see here it is written that the law has taken your home, your clothes and all your personal possessions in order to make amends but still you fall short. Mrs Summers, you owe the sum of forty six pounds, nine shillings and thruppence."
"But Sir, I have not such a ransom. I have but nothing left…I have naught but my children, how shall I provide for them if…",
"Nay, Mrs Summers, your pleas mean little to me for I find you to be a most wretched sinner. You foul your husband's fine name and have lived a life beyond your measures for years, such decadence vexes me so. 'Tis the verdict of this court that you be taken to Newgate Gaol until your debts have been repaid", blustered the judge as his gavel did strike down with merciless thunder.
"B-but my children!", wailed Joyce as she sobbed tepid tears to run down her ashen face to patter silently against the cold stone floor of the dock. The iron manacles on her wrists clanking madly as she pulled against the brutish hands of the constables holding her firm as she reached out to Buffy and Dawn who wept in anguish mere feet away.
"Ah yes, your youngest Dawn is but only thirteen so she will be taken to the workhouse where she will remain until she is of age, or until your debts are settled", said the judge with callous decree, his words ringing out across the chilly room where vagabonds and pickpockets alike awaited their dour future.
"No Sir, I beg of you", yelled Joyce as she watched Dawn's meek innocence about to be pluck'd free from her solemn frame.
"Hold thy tongue in my court, Madam!", bellowed the topered man whose white curled wig shifted slightly as his waning sight skimmed the parchment before him, "I see here that your oldest daughter Elizabeth has turned eighteen, she be a woman of the world and is free to go"
"B-but I am Lady, good Sir. W-what would I do? Where would I go?", squawked Buffy through her tears as her skin chilled cold as lead.
"That is not my problem. Guards, take them away", said the judge as his battered wooden gavel struck his well-notched desk sealing the Summers women's sentences.
"P-please….Buffy….Dawn…", sobbed Joyce as she was hauled away from the court down the narrow stone passageway to the cells. Unable to hold her children one last time, unable to lay tender kiss 'pon their brows afore she was dragged unto her new life of drudgery and woe.
"No, Sir. I beg of you!", called Buffy as her grip loosened from Dawn's calico sleeve as two women clad in the grey uniforms of Hampstead Workhouse hauled the sobbing girl away, dragging her behind locked doors to ready her for her life at the treadwheel amongst the light fingered malnourished orphans whose young lives would be little more than pained existence.
"Pray silence I say! You, Elizabeth Summers are free to do as you please. Though your home and furnishings have been confiscated to help pay off your mothers debts, you may keep your more personal possessions for I am not one for unjust cruelty ", said the powdered wig judge whose liver still burned with the brandy he had supped for breakfast to avoid facing the harsh reality of his wife's deformity.
"B-but Sir….I have nothing save the clothes on my back and what little coin I have in my purse….w-what will I do?", cried Buffy as she flung herself to her knees and begged for mercy from the totted man.
"Young lady, calm yourself. Such difficulties are not my concern. Now Constable, remove her from this court", he said dismissively as he stared down from his pulpit of little mercy.
"Mother…Dawn….I- I will raise the monies and free you both! I swear it!", cried Buffy as the sight of her beloved family disappeared behind heavy oaken doors as she was hauled from the opulence of the courtroom and cast without care nor comfort into the morose streets of olde London towne.
As Buffy's mind ceased her pained recall she fastened the chipped pearl buttons on her dress and rouged her cheeks a little for though it had been but a week since her world turned to angered chaos around her, she now had little choice but to set foot out into the hostile and gloomy world which held little but fraught for her.
The nausea crashed around Buffy's hungered stomach as she loosely tied the creased ribbons of her bonnet under her chin and felt the pained judder in her chest as she recalled the sight of her family being torn asunder by the whim of a merciless judge.
Buffy's shallow breath lay jagged in her throat as she cast her sorrowed gaze around the dismal room in the boarding house in which she now lay her head, no curtains of finest damask to hide away the grey smoke of an uncaring town, her only companions were now but the greasy vermin who gnawed at the splintering skirting boards. She had drained what little coin she had in her purse to have meagre room to herself in these slums as usually, in such harsh times of economy, at least eight other fallen and bedraggled women would have shared such a space out of the chill night air for thr'ppence a night, a shilling if you wished for a bed. In her naivety the previous eve Buffy had befriended a sweet young filly and took pity on such a wretch as Harmony, and had allowed her to share her room, but once Buffy awoke come the next dawn she discovered that Harmony was little but a villainous cad who had pilfered the last coins in her purse and any remaining possessions she had save for the clothes she wore and the locket around her thin neck holding photographs of her, her sister and her mother. Now Buffy's coffers were empty she had no choice but to face the stark and terrible brute that was life on her own.
Once her mother and sister were gaoled, all of polite London society had shunned the Summers' family, the kinship of many a year burned away leaving Buffy alone and destitute with nary a farthing to call her own. With her few remaining possessions now decorating the filthy windows of unscrupulous pawn shops in Westerhill Market, Buffy's sworn pledge to free her family from debtors gaol rang around in her heart, though she had so little coin that she had not felt the taste of food in near two days.
The cracked mirror spat back a gaunt and desperate reflection of a girl who had her whole world turn to ash in barely the passing of a week, as she offered a sad smile unto the fractured glass Buffy supped one last breath to steady her mettle and summoned the gall to step forth from her room and into a world she knew not. A world she feared to witness and a vocation so shameful she could not bring herself to utter its name. But for the sake of her mother and sister, Buffy was adamant her pride would not halt her in her stride.
She slid the bolt across the peeling door frame and stepped out down the stairs hearing the drunken ribaldry spewing from every corner of the boarding house where opium fiends and scarred harlots fought and thieved in equal damnable measures.
"Oi, Miss 'igh an' mighty. Where's yer doss money?", came the gin sodden smoky drawl of Mrs Post, the owner of the filth strewn boarding house who had grown impatient for Buffy to cross her palm with coin.
"I-I….have not monies with me, I was just g-going to fetch them, Ma'rm", said Buffy politely in the way her expensive private education had taught her, but here in the spittle of the slums of London such refinery meant for naught.
"Don't you gimme that ol' la-di-da talk wi' me. You still owe me f'r last night, come on then Missy…. where's yer fuckin' money?", yelled Mrs Post slamming down her dented pewter cup of grog which was fast robbing her of her eyesight.
"B-but Ma'rm, I beg of you", said Buffy with a lowered head and a slight bob of a curtsy for such manners were as second nature, no matter how uncouth and topered the recipient, "Take pity on a young girl fallen on hard times for …."
"Blah, blah, blah", scoffed Mrs Post as she wiped her hands on her torn pinafore which held the remnants of mashed turnip and gruel, "You come back 'ere tonight wi' no money an' you ain't getting' a floor nor a bed. All these bastards 'ere have fallen on 'ard times m'girl, we're all bein' fucked over royal by those who can. You 'ear me Missy, gets yer doss money or it's the streets f'r yer", Mrs Post spat through her remaining teeth.
"B-but Ma'rm …I…", replied Buffy in meek whispers of panic and fear but her pleas would not fall 'pon kindly ears as she was pushed out of the door and into the grey smog billowing 'gainst the sad silhouette of the city.
Buffy's lips curled into a purse of sorrow as she willed back the tears for the choking lumbering behemoth that was London was not as she always believed. For she was far from her Georgian home in Richmond awash with affluence and gentile folk, here in the East End of the capital of the Empire lay the ruins of society, a forgotten realm in the civilized world whose inhabitants had been raped of hope long ago.
Pulling her listless bustle into place Buffy set out into the murky gloom of Whitechapel where the only flickering rays of light came from the rusting oil lamps sparked into life but an hour earlier by haggard men on stilts.
Her blistered feet carried her along in her scuffed shoes as if she were but a mere marionette to causes she wished not to obey, as she walked with gaze swung low Buffy felt like a simple pariah in a haven of sin and devilry, her eyes snaring on every facet of this world she knew not existed. A world bathed in the dark of a pitiless night, a world she now reluctantly called home.
Dimly lit cobbled streets where gin sodden Protestant woman, stout lipped and plump of rear, rolled up their filthy sleeves and brawled amongst the moth eaten long johns hanging in lines across the streets as the wails as disease ridden, hungered and neglected urchins wisped around with boxed ears and ashen faces.
Buffy's eyes tried not to flick up for she greatly feared being awash with the heckles and foul mouthed calls from these forgotten wretches, the ignored dregs of society. But they saw her not as a fallen Lady but simply another wench of light fingers purloining her clothing from a laundry basket of one the stately homes across the river far from the cacophony of the docks and factories. Thick black grime hung on every crumbling wall, the air stodgy and cruel, despair and anger lingering on the narrow breaths of all imprisoned in such a lair.
Her arms tightened around her waspish waist and shivered as she tried to avoid the mentally unstable mumbling to themselves, shoo'd away by burly slaughterhouse workers finishing their bloody toil who praised the Lord for a day of honest work and meagre pay. For with so many without work the roads of Whitechapel drowned in the despair of hundreds whose hunger was ne'er to be sated, their smiles ne'er to be seen this side of the pearly gates.
For Buffy it was truly a circle which Dante had omitted from his tome, where the downtrodden lower classes rumbled with discontent and prayed for a day when they would no longer have to sup such feculent air.
Her mind cast back to the pounds, shillings and pence she had wasted on frivolities. The rattle of coins which had passed through her small hands with nary a thought of those who scraped for meagre crumbs to stave off the gallop of death for another morn. How she wished for such a purse once more.
Buffy watched as beggars, blinded and maimed from the war, pleaded for alms as sooty children slumped their way home from the red brick chimneys which billowed thick grey plumes of smoke choking the precious glare of the rising moon.
The angered retching bile rose in Buffy's throat as she slipped past a couple with four young children fresh returned from a paupers cemetery having recently interred their youngest, lost to tuberculosis afore even a year of his life had passed.
Before she knew it, Buffy had slid into the silent labyrinth of manure strewn cobbles where flies and carousing letches flitted around her in menace. Her stomach gurgled in hateful hungered pangs as she stood alone, the night air somewhat bitter as it pecked at her face but Buffy no longer had a choice. Her disgust clawed and stabbed at her soul but if her mother and sister were e'er to be freed then her shameful descent into such debauchery was her only option left in such harsh and pitiless times.
"E-excuse me S-Sir", stammered Buffy as she stepped from under the halo of flickering gas lamp, plucked her courage and approached a man whose silver tipped cane stopped cracking on the cobblestone streets.
"Yes my dear?", said the man as she doffed his top hat well, dangerous clothing to wear in this part of the city after nightfall.
"W-would y-y-you like t-t-to...", blurted out Buffy as she lifted the tattered hem of her dress to show a sliver of shin, her low heeled shoes now dull and worn for she no longer had her housemaid to bring them to a high shine for her. Her revulsion growing as her petticoats rose in what she assumed was the common action of a harlot.
"I see, what a pretty thing you are. Tell me, what would you do for a farthing?", he asked stepping closer and eyeing her innocence, her bustle near flattened by its inferior support, but the glint of copper in his hands made her gulp heavily seeing the tall man's monocle glint in the dull flames of the street lamps overhead.
"I…I…", she stammered out as she took in his bulbous nose and his pockmarked skin. Buffy tried to swallow down her bile at the thought of lavishing her attentions on this man whose thick slimy tongue ran over his cracked lips surrounded by ugly fierce red pimples which oozed with viscous substance.
"Oi, you bitch!", came a woman's angered cry as, before Buffy could inquire as to her offence, her head was snapped back by the scarred knuckles slamming into her face. She stumbled back to hit the crumbling brick wall as another fist struck her in the stomach before her skull was thudded twice more by a sharp bludgeon of welting knuckles.
"S-stop please!", cried Buffy as her skin and bones felt the angered thuds slamming down on her.
"You little shit comin' round 'ere to….oi, come back!", shouted the woman to the smartly dressed man who, his muster plumed with panic, fled into the narrow shadows and across into the dark alleyways which crossed Whitechapel like a maze of hopelessness.
"I….please….", whimpered Buffy as she saw a pair of well-worn booted heels spin round and clomp back towards her as her mouth filled with the bitter tang of copper.
"You slivy fuckster, you owe me fourpence 'cos he was mine", came the angered growl as Buffy was hauled to her feet and slammed back into the wall again as she wept in pain, "Come on then Princess, cough up. Where's yer fuckin' money?"
"I…I..I have none M-Miss", squawked Buffy in dread seeing the woman's fist line up with her eyes once more.
"What d'ya mean? Someone dressed like this 'as always got some coin", said the fiery brunette who searched frantically for Buffy's coin purse only to find it as empty as her own.
"I…sorry Miss, p-please leave me be", begged Buffy as terror and pain swept through her seeing the rage despoil the doe eyed woman's shapely face.
"Did Glory send ya?", snorted the brunette woman grabbing Buffy roughly round the slender neck and squeezing 'til her knuckles whitened.
"W-who?", replied the Lady who felt the warmth of blood fill her mouth and smear o'er her ivory white teeth as the roughened grip pushed deep into her skin,
"I said did Glory send ya down from 'er brothel? Are you one of 'er new fantails? How dare ya come down 'ere t'my fuckin' patch and steal my johns, this is my street an' there's no way in 'ell I'm ever going back to 'er. I may be a pinchprick but my moneys my own. So you go tell Glory that Faith ain't her bitch no more", came the vitriol seething 'tween smoke stained teeth.
"Don't play dumb, so what was ya plan? Undercut me or somethin'? How much were ya chargin' for a fuck or a fiddle?", grunted the brunette in the faint wisp of an Irish accent who hauled her tattered mauve shawl back across her tattooed shoulders.
"Come on Princess, 'ow much were ya chargin' to suck 'im off?", asked Faith once more, whose tired eyes sparkled with mistrust and anger, as she drew her arm back again and formed a knuckle cracking fist.
"A..a..a…a pound?", said Buffy as the twin trails of blood ran from her battered nose and along her rosy lips.
"A pound? Are ya fuckin' mental? No-one's gonna pay that, not even I would charge f'r that and I do some real weird shit", said the dark haired woman with a sneering rasp who, even in the murky alleyway lit only by the shimmer of a gaslight, bore a beauty Buffy had rarely seen.
"I-I-I mean a…a penny?", backtracked Buffy blindingly naïve to the prices of harlotry.
"What? I charge at least a shillin' dependin' on how well they're dressed. Hang on, you got no fuckin' idea 'ave ya? You ain't one of us"
"I…y-yes I am…..I-I am an unfortunate", coughed Buffy as her throat was released from the firm grasp.
"An unfortunate? Only those rich bastards across the river calls us that so they don't 'ave to use the word 'whore'. Ooh, 'ow posh are you?", laughed the woman callously, "You ain't a fantail at all are ya? Go 'ome Princess, this is a dangerous place for the likes o' you"
"I said go, or d'you want me to make ya?", said Faith in barrelling tones as she turned away from the sobbing blonde woman whose bonnet lay crumpled by her feet.
Before Faith could slam her bones into Buffy's flesh once more her ears pricked up as the whirr and clatter of horse cart on the cobbles rang out with a harsh flinty echo as, with harsh yanking of the reins, the carriage stopped beside the brunette who quickly pushed her hair back and plumped her low slung cleavage a touch more.
"Ah Faith, I have been looking for you all night", called a man from the oxblood leather seats of his carriage as he opened the door.
"Well ya found me, m'Lord", called back Faith before turning to Buffy one last time with an embittered sincerity casting from her weary eyes, "Take it from me Princess, get off the streets before you gets yer throat torn out….'cos this ain't your world. Save yourself while you still can"
Faith took the well-dressed man's outstretched hand and hauled herself in to the rocking carriage as he tapped on the roof signalling the carman to crack his whip and buck the horses to draw them away from the whimpering young Lady whose blemished skin and burning tears would be all the comfort she would know this night. Buffy slumped down 'gainst the wall daubed with the common words of anti-Royalist ideals, her soul much splintered, her lip split and spilling its crimson.
"So my dear, now you are here I wish for my usual. A shilling, right?", asked the bespectacled man who looked dashing in his formal evening wear, most suitable for his night at the opera followed by a fine cigar at the gentleman's club while he sent his wife home for the night. Once his carriage had returned he tipped his young carman, Xander, tuppence for he wanted to sate his burgeoning lust and his wife was most prudent when it came to sins of the flesh.
"Two shillin's that'll be m'Lord", grinned Faith as she ran her fingers along his firm and masculine jawline pressing tender kisses along his neck until she, with a haul of her tobacco stained teeth, pulled his white bow tie into flailing strands of finely tailored cotton.
"T-that's rather pricey", he gasped as his britches felt a rushing of the blood.
"Well Lord Whyndham-Pryce, not all of us have gots the priviliges like you do. It's fourpence doss money, tuppence o' gin an' a penny for tobacco. The rest is for later", she smirked as she unbuttoned his trousers and slipped a hand between the flaps of black until her hands clasped around his throbbing manhood.
"A-alright, deal", agreed as handed the two silvered coins which she slipped into her leather ankle boot for safety.
She hauled her dress up and pulled her tattered petticoats to one side baring her smooth buttocks giving a wink of her shaven slit, her lack of underwear was indeed a boon for a lady of her profession as she slid backwards onto his rigid flesh, riding up and down as his white monogrammed gloves held her each side, her split corsetry in his hands as he groaned in pleasure.
Her oft plundered nook wept with feminine dew as her body writhed and bucked, supping his seeds as if by will. Wesley gasped and rolled his eyes as he felt his soul purr and skin moisten whilst his favoured whore breathed her gin sodden gasps in the theatrical manner her johns delighted in.
"Call me….Sir", he wheezed as she rode him if he were but a stallion unquenched of loin.
"Yes Sir…..oh Sir, yer so hot…..so manly, Sir", groaned Faith obeying his request for he was a man she knew how to pleasure as she oft had done before
Her drawstrings plucked and her breasts swung free, Wesley's hands squeezing them lustfully as she threw her hair back like flailing tendrils of sweated silk. Her hidden lips gnawing on his taut skin which flinched as Wesley's fingers grasped her ribs well whilst his masculine broth of lust spilled forth into her heated chasm. As ever, 'twas barely the passing of two minutes afore he reached his climax.
His heart hammered well and his spectacles misted over as Wesley slumped back into the comfort of the leather covered seats of his carriage, his needs sated once more as Faith hauled herself free of his shrinking tool.
"This'll do. Lemme outn 'ere", she yelled to the carman who pulled the reins firm and the horses clattered to a stop.
After a lingering kiss on his glistening lips Faith pulled on the strings of her corsetry sealing her well-fondled breasts back under the canvas of cheap and frayed cotton, stepping from the carriage into the smog filled night mere yards from her home away from home.
"Thanks m'Lord, see yer again soon", she said casting a deceitful smile back to the be-suited gentleman who struggled to button his well-starched collar once more.
"I do hope so my dear, and please be safe. I worry so about this fiend who stalks these streets at night", said Wesley placing a hand on hers for though he was a man of secret decadence he was still of gentlemanly conduct.
"Y'mean ol' Jack? If he ever tried somethin'…well let's just say I can defend myself is all", she grinned back sliding her skirts up to show the thin blade concealed in her garters.
"I have no doubt of that, take care Faith. Please", said Wesley bearing a smile of sincerity before slamming his carriage door shut and tapping his silver tipped cane on its ceiling, "Xander, take me home"
"Yes m'Lord", said the young man who shivered in his dark cloak as he cracked his whip before the horses drew the carriage away in a loud whir of wood clattering across the cobblestones back across the river to more affluent climbs.
"Oi Faith, if you've finished pissin' about with yer man we're off t'the Queen's Head", came a woman's insistent shout further along the street by the boarded up tailors which still smouldered from the previous eve's blaze.
"Alright, I'm comin'", called Faith as her mask of false enthusiasm for Lord Whyndham-Pryce fell away and she wiped her mouth of his stinging aftershave and rooted around in her boot for her well-earned coins.
Faith smiled seeing her shabbily dressed friends, Drusilla and Anya, as they walked with brisk pace towards the little known tavern hidden away in a dark corner of Whitechapel. 'Twas a refuge of many in these desperate times, especially for those who, if their true desires were discovered, would be up before the beak by morn. For the iron hand which governed this jewel of the Empire would clench tight to those whose homosexuality was unimpaired by the morals of society.
"Oi, watch it", snapped Faith as her arm ricocheted back from the stumbling form crashing into her from the pub, "Oh Kennedy, it's you. Where ya goin', its drinkin' time"
"Gotta earn me doss money", slurred back the woman of Iberian birth who walked strange as one shoe had its heel snapped off during her pleasuring of two petty officers of the Royal Navy two nights before.
"I thought you got it earlier with that copper?", said Drusilla pulling the well-chewed cigar from what remained of her teeth.
"Yeah, but I only charges a shilling for a spankin' like that, besides I spent it on all on gin", drawled Kennedy as she walked with a ginger step for her buttocks indeed still felt the warming of the constables firm hand.
"You idiot Ken, when you gonna learn?"
"Fuck you Faith", said Kennedy with a playful punch to Faith's shoulder, "I ain't gonna be long. Hey Anya, make sures that ol' hag don't lock up the boardin' house before I get there"
"Fine, bye Ken", said Anya as she jingled her full purse teasingly for the blonde whore had the fortune to stumble across Arch Deacon Giles and his lovely wife Jennifer after evensong. They were both of fine moral upstanding but behind the bolted cathedral doors they were as deviant as any who embraced the Lord. Her weeping cavity was testament to that.
Kennedy mumbled something in reply as she set off down Berner Street and slipped away from the bustle of drunkards and thieves to seek a gentleman of need, or a woman of unusual persuasions.
As her friends slipped away into the bawdy pub Kennedy mumbled something in her native tongue as she staggered alone along the filthy streets bouncing along the grey brick walls for her legs were betrayed by the seduction of cheap drink. Her stomach lurched and a wet slopping patter spilled across the cobbles as she wiped her reeking vomit away from her thin lips with her tattered bonnet.
"Are you alright m'darling?", came a low slung voice echoing around the long and empty row of houses.
"I….shit….fine", spat Kennedy as she pushed herself back up only to stagger on treacherous feet to collapse 'gainst the grates fixed to the wall.
"So how much will a penny get me?", asked the man with callous tone which chilled the skin of the young and pretty woman.
"A penny? You c'n fuck off if you think….oi…g-get off me", Kennedy snorted as she felt strong but small hands grip her arms well pushing her back into the gateway of Dutfield's Yard, her shoes crunching on the broken glass of a milk bottle.
"Shut up, whore", he grunted pushing his hand over her mouth as her head, still grogged mightily from drink, fought to regain rational thought.
"Are….are you alright Miss?", came a timid voice slicing through the night spilling from a young tailor's apprentice who, on his long journey home, happened upon the scene which was commonplace in these times.
"Lipski!", the man shouted thrusting a finger of accusation at the man who, baulking at the word of derision, meekly scampered away into the maze of alleys crisscrossing the foul slums of London. For such a term could see him floating face down in the Thames come low tide such was the brewing cauldron of anti-Semitism which reeked in these parts of London Towne.
Amongst the grey four storey houses where the put upon masses huddled for warmth they knew not how Kennedy struggled for breath, her legs kicking desperately and her fingers clawing at the hands around her throat silencing her pleas for mercy. Before the great black of eternal slumber could take her she felt the thin blade slice into her throat, as the warm crimson spilled forth soaking her dress she slumped back against the wall.
Her eyes glassed over and her last breath escaped past her thin and bitter lips as she shuffled free of this mortal coil. Life robbed of her by a fiend of the night.
A fiend known by all of London as Jack.
As her still warm blood steamed from her gaping wound the monster sliced further and further, the blade tearing her skin open with swift surgical precision 'til it struck the bones of her neck. Her head near severed lolling about as he lay her down for his joy had only just begun.
Tearing open her dress in a rasp of splitting cotton Jack's knife cut deep across her abdomen in a smooth arc, entirely laying open her torso. His leather gloves plunged deep into the warm entrails as he fought to contain his mirth, wrenching the intestines free of their God given nest he placed them with a chuckle by her shoulder.
With evil intent and malevolent skill the bloody blade sliced through the skin and muscle until his prize was found, with precise and severing action Jack cut her womb away and wrapped it in brown butcher's paper afore he placed it, with almost reverential care, into his leather bag along with the instruments of her death.
Smirking, the creature of despicable want took up his bag and hurried away into the curling smog of the city, his deed done.
His want satisfied.
As the fiend walked off into the night he kept to the shadows and the dark comfort he found therein, for his monstrous actions were of his own keeping. His light footsteps carried him swiftly past the Queens' Head where but thirty minutes earlier the poor wretch known as Kennedy did drink and carouse with her friends. He cast but a glance through the grim windows where a throng of drunkards and harlots did laugh away their misfortune in a blizzard of cheapened grog. But within its damp walls no unfortunate would ply their trade for this was their haven, their cove where no coin would pass for favours.
"Oi, Anya. You got me drink?", shouted Faith over the din seeing her friend stagger through the great unwashed mass.
"Aye, here ya go", she grunted handing her a chipped glass of gin, ignoring the flakes of ash spinning on its smooth surface.
"So Faithy, you gonna sing f'r us?", called Clem the bloated landlord of the pub as he ushered a bedraggled old man away from the piano, his excess of blubber jiggled well 'gainst his stained leather apron.
"Nah, mate. I'm just 'ere for a drink is all", replied Faith as she felt the flame of alcohol sear her throat, chasing away her ills and memories of another day.
"Ah come on m'darlin'. Tell yer what, I'll give you and yer friends a round on the 'ouse", pressed Clem, ever the good natured man. Though humble and God fearing, he was a gent to be relied on.
"Go on Fai, ya know you loves to sing", Dru smiled as she lit her clay pipe bellowing smoke across the dingy pub of whores and miscreants. For this pub was filled with women who kissed and pressed their lust without fear of judgment or law for no constable would dare step into such a nook of Whitechapel.
"Alright", said Faith as she drained her glass and stepped through the mass of bodies covered in the remnants of soot or sin, for letting her dulcet voice fill the tavern filled her with more warmth than any grog or lovers embrace, it let slip away from her world and wallow in the hope she still clung to.
'Her eyes, they shone like the diamonds
You'd think she was queen o' the land
And her hair hung o'er her shoulder
Tied up in a black velvet band'
Faith's voice did curl and echo across the pub which fell into silence for when she sung it was like heaven's whisper to them. A glimpse of joy in an otherwise ungodly existence.
"Yah, feckin' luvverly", called Drusilla through a haze of gin for she truly loved the sweet sounds that Faith filled her heart with.
'Before judge and jury next morning
Both of us did appear
A gentleman claimed his jewellery
And the case…'
But before Faith's voice could convey the rest of the song the door to the pub slammed open as a gaunt and haggard looking man staggered in.
"Murder! Murder! T-the Ripper's struck again!", he bellowed chilling the souls of all who bore witness to his words.
"Fuckin' hell", said Anya breaking the claustrophobic silence.
"Police, I gotsta tell the police", he shouted before turning tail and running back into the night.
"C'mon Fai, let's go before the pigs comes a callin", seethed Drusilla hauling Faith to her side as the bustling crowd spilled into the cobbled streets in a tide of drunkenness and fear.
As Faith and Drusilla, arms entwined, shuffled away swiftly back to their wretched home they slipped along the outskirts of the park. For a moment Faith thought she could hear something being carried on the wind, for once not the baying of a mob, but more like the sniffling mewls of a whimpering child.
"C'mon Fai", urged Drusilla pulling her friend away from the rumbling of panic stretching across Whitechapel once more. Faith's eyes cast back across the park once last time but could see no figure from whom such a pained cry could spill.
But there, her body racking with the foul sobs of abject misery, Buffy lay curled up on a bench in the Park. A vast stretch of lush green where she had spent many the happy hour as a child playing with her family, but now it seemed little more than an open mausoleum where the last shreds of her former life were being wisped away with every bitingly cold breeze of foul intent. Her thin body shivered as she hugged her treasured locket tightly to her breast, her tears aching as they slipped along her wind bitten cheeks.
"Oi, you. Haven't we told you enough times that your sort ain't welcome 'ere", came a gruff voice wrenching Buffy from the thin sliver of sleep to bless her.
"I…what….I..", she stammered out as felt the hard rounded end of a wooden baton prod her harshly in the ribs, her reddened eyes staring up the granite face of a policeman.
"I said whores an' vagrants aren't meant to go further than Chultern Street, the likes o' you shouldn't be coming up this way. You knows the rules", said the man whose moustache was as rigid and firm as a finely trimmed privet hedge.
"I…I didn't know…sorry", said Buffy fearfully as she looked around to see no other soul.
"Don't gimme that, now you know what the price is"
"I….huh?", said Buffy in blank dry reply.
"Fer Christ's sake, I can either run you in or….y'know, pay yer dues", grinned the constable who tapped his fingers on the brightly polished buttons of his flies where his trousers tented viciously.
"You ain't got much choice darling'", the policeman growled back as he grabbed her by shoulders and hauled Buffy to her aching feet, his bristles scraping along her skin as his lips found hers.
"I…urgh…unhand me, Sir", Buffy squealed.
"Shut up, filthy fuckin' pinchpricks like you want this", he sneered in bitter retort as his callused hands reached for her buttons running down the back of her dress.
"P-please Sir…I…..stop….", wept Buffy as her skin ran cold and her throat constricted in terror as she felt his warm slobber run down her cheek to mingle with her tears.
"Murder! Murder!", came a panicked voice which rattled around the empty dank air of the London night. "Murder! The Ripper's struck again!"
"Dammit", snorted the policeman as he pushed Buffy away, "You just be waiting 'ere when I get back. You 'ear me"
Buffy fell back on the bench as her chest heaved with pained sobs, her heart trembling , her breath barbing within her throat making each wrenching breath tear at her soul like talons of an unmerciful beast.
For the Autumn of terror had truly begun.