Author's Note: Hi again! Welcome to my first multi-chapter. I was researching serial killers the other day (I find them fascinating) and got the idea for this fic, which just wouldn't leave me alone. So, I have decided to give it a try! I am very excited about it, since it combines various different topics that I love- history, serial killers and, of course, The Mentalist. I hope you enjoy it as well!
Disclaimer: I do not own The Mentalist or any of its characters. I also do not own Jack the Ripper, whose authentic letter I included here as well. The poem featured in this chapter is William Blake's, and the excerpt at the beginning is from Dante's The Divine Comedy.
Warnings: This story will contain violence (after all, how can you write a story about serial killers without it?) and I'm pretty sure the letter I mentioned contains a few crass words (nothing too bad, though).
The Red Tyger
"I am a creature of the Holiest Power, of Wisdom in the Highest and of Primal Love. Nothing till I was made was made, only eternal beings. And I endure eternally. Abandon all hope — Ye Who Enter Here"
The Divine Comedy
26 December, 1887 - London
It was dark outside and an eerie, thick fog surrounded the city. A man, wearing black robes, could be seen walking quickly through the narrow alleys of Commercial Road. It was Boxing Night, which meant that not too many people were on the streets. The man moved with purpose, not hesitating or stopping to check were he was going.
Suddenly, he stopped, seemingly having reached his intended destination. Moving into the shadows close to the Mitre Square pub, the man waited.
Eventually, a blond woman walked out, alone, hurrying towards the alley the shadowed man was hiding in. He leered. Or was it a smile?
If anyone had been in the vicinity, they would have heard a sickening crunch right after the woman was consumed by shadows. The man gently laid her down on the floor, simultaneously reaching for his newly acquired knife in his left coat pocket.
The sharpened blade tore through the woman's neck, spurting blood on the killer's face and clothes. He didn't flinch, but his smile widened and his eyes glinted.
Moving quickly, the man put his knife back inside his coat and wiped a white handkerchief, monogrammed with the initials FT, over his face. Looking down at his victim, he smiled once more and fled the scene, arriving at his humble apartment in minutes.
Without bothering to change from his bloodstained clothes, the killer lighted the lamp on his desk, sat down, and opened his weathered copy of William Blake's works, Songs of Innocence and Experience. Easily finding his favorite poem, he began copying it onto the crisp pages of his red notebook.
"Tyger Tyger, burning bright,
In the forests of the night;
What immortal hand or eye,
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?"
Satisfied, Francis Tumblety closed his book and moved the chair to face the window, eagerly awaiting the screams that would surely come once her body was discovered.
27 September, 1888 – London
About nine months had gone by since that fateful night in Francis Tumblety's life. He had tried to contain his sick urges, but nothing seemed to work, nothing could distract him. All he thought about was how it had felt to cut her open and watch her bleed. All he seemed to be able to smell was her blood; metallic and red, her life source, which he had greedily taken.
Last month, he had killed another. Mary, he thought her name had been. He hadn't meant to, he really hadn't. But she had been alone, and the night had been so similar to that one half a year ago…he stopped those traitorous thoughts. He was in too deep now.
Besides, the incompetent police just made it even more amusing. That was why he had decided to send them this letter – he wanted to see their reaction, how they would proceed after being taunted so brazenly by the "Leather Apron". He scoffed. What a ridiculous name for a killer such as himself. He was powerful. He was The Tyger.
I keep on hearing the police have caught me but they won't fix me just yet. I have laughed when they look so clever and talk about being on the right track. That joke about Leather Apron gave me real fits. I am down on whores and I shan't quit ripping them till I do get buckled. Grand work the last job was. I gave the lady no time to squeal. How can they catch me now. I love my work and want to start again. You will soon hear of me with my funny little games. I saved some of the proper red stuff in a ginger beer bottle over the last job to write with but it went thick like glue and I can't use it. Red ink is fit enough I hope haha. The next job I do I shall clip the lady's ears off and send to the police officers just for jolly wouldn't you. Keep this letter back till I do a bit more work, then give it out straight. My knife's so nice and sharp I want to get to work right away if I get a chance. Good Luck.
Jack the Ripper
Don't mind me giving the trade name
PS Wasn't good enough to post this before I got all the red ink off my hands curse it. No luck yet. They say I'm a doctor now. Haha.
After postmarking it and setting the letter aside, Francis looked around for his red notebook. It had become a diary, of sorts. This was where he wrote everything related to his art- descriptions of his victims, of how they had been killed.
And, of course, the first page featured his favorite poem and inspiration – The Tyger.
11 January, 1980 – New York City
Jack Hughes ran outside as soon as his mother relented and told him he could. Finally, he was free. Granted, his backyard was nothing remarkable, but it was definitely much better than his stuffy room or the even stuffier attic where he kept his findings.
At 13 years of age, Jack was no ordinary child. He was smarter than average, and he wasn't interested in any of the juvenile jokes or games his classmates were always so excited about. No, Jack preferred more mature pastimes, such as excavating his backyard for old relics.
He lived in Greenwich Village, where a boarding house had previously stood in the late 1800s. At that time, hundreds of immigrants of different nationalities had flooded to New York City, and many had stayed at that same boarding house. It wasn't always that he was lucky enough to find something- but sometimes his luck was just enough.
Picking up his trusty shovel and kneeling on the ground, he started excavating a previously untouched area. His backyard wasn't that spacious, but he never seemed to have any time for himself anymore. Jack sighed. It wasn't as if he wasn't satisfied with his life- he was. There was something missing, though, he could feel it.
Clang. His eyes instantly looked to where his shovel had apparently come into contact with something; metal, from the sound of it. Jack had been so entranced by his musings that he hadn't paid much attention to his progress; the act of shoveling dirt out of the way was automatic by now, the tool an extension of his arm.
He had found something.
Dirtying his hands in his haste to uncover the mysterious object, Jack finally managed to grab a hold of it and pull. It was a locked box. Impatient, the young boy decided to smash the lock with his shovel, breaking it.
Inside, there was a red notebook.
"Jack! Get back inside, it's time for supper!"
The young boy sighed while hiding the little book in his pants pocket.
Later that night, once he had finally been able to find a suitable enough excuse to get away from his parents, Jack climbed the stairs to his attic hideaway.
He turned on the lamp and tried to get comfortable on the old wooden chair, pulling out the notebook he had found and eagerly opening it to the first page. There was no name on it and no title on the front cover.
The first page contained a poem, and Jack was suddenly discouraged. I found a poetry book? He started reading it, though, and realized it wasn't one of the boring poems he was forced to read at school. This one was interesting.
"Tyger Tyger, burning bright,
In the forests of the night;
What immortal hand or eye,
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?"
The next pages were very different from the first, as Jack soon realized. They held accounts of murders, letters sent to the police by someone named Jack the Ripper.
Suddenly scared, Jack turned off the light and quietly went down to his room. As he lay in bed that night, the images his imagination had conjured based on the gruesome descriptions haunted his dreams. He was terrified and at the same time determined to find out more about this mysterious killer, and that poem.
Jack knew he would not be able to stay away.
23 May, 1998 – California
"You really sure about this, Jack?" Orville Tanner asked his partner, for the hundredth time in the last ten minutes.
Jack Hughes sighed. He knew he should have picked someone smarter, someone who would be able to get away and continue his work, if it came to it. Tanner had just been so eager. Another sigh.
"Yes, Orville, I am sure. This is what I've been waiting for. Now if you could just be quiet, I'm sure she'll be arriving home anytime now."
His companion frowned and muttered something about getting caught, but Jack was not paying attention. His time had finally come.
After reading his ancestor's – as he had later learned, with his research- notebook enough times to memorize every single entry, he had known he was meant to follow in Francis Tumblety's footsteps. He was Jack the Ripper's descendant, and he would carry on his legacy. He was the Tyger.
His musings were suddenly interrupted by the car headlights coming their way. He smiled. Jack waited for the woman to enter her house and turned to his frightened and excited partner in crime.
"It's time. Don't disappoint me, Orville."
After some more muttering and a nod, Jack decided he was done stalling and crept up the driveway, soundlessly opening the back door, which he had left open from his previous break-in hours before.
He easily found the young woman's bedroom, since he had taken care to memorize the house plan the first time around. Jack didn't look at Tanner for confirmation that he was ready to attack- at this point, all he could do was hope that he would remember what to do and not turn around at the last second.
Seconds later, the bedroom door was knocked down and Tanner ran forward, putting his hands over the woman's mouth in order to stifle her screams.
Whipping out his knife, Jack moved forward quickly and delivered the first blow to her torso. The blood flew freely from the cut, dampening his gloves and sprinkling the floor.
More cuts soon followed, causing the woman to fall unconscious from the pain and brutality of the assault.
"Lay her on the bed, please."
Orville obeyed, mildly disgusted and fascinated at the same time.
Once Jack was satisfied and the woman dead, he dipped his fingers into her blood and drew a smiley face on the wall. Jack the Ripper had a signature- he sent letters to the police. Hughes hadn't wanted to do the same thing, however- he was no copycat.
So, he had decided to leave a calling card at the site of each of his murders. That way, there would be no doubt that the Tyger had returned in order to complete his predecessor's work.
He smiled again and deeply inhaled, sighing in pleasure at the metallic smell that permeated the room.
"We can go now, Orville. It is done."
And so it started. Red John was born.
Author's Note: How did you like the first chapter? I plan on finishing this story regardless of the support I receive (I just like the idea of it too much), but hearing your opinions would definitely help! So, if you enjoyed it, please spare me a few seconds and leave me your thoughts.
Oh! By the way, the rest of the story will definitely include Lisbon, Jane, and the team. This is just the prologue, but the next chapter will focus solely on them.