Jack the Ripper, Savior of Humanity
I’m writing this miles above you. I’m staring out thick observation windows that keep the vacuum from sucking away my oxygen. I’m watching continents and countries grow smaller. I’m thinking about Statute 457a. I’m looking at the dirt and grime and blood under my nails, thinking of how to word this…
Jack The Ripper wasn’t even my real name, as you’re damn well aware, and while I found the pseudonym flattering, it wasn’t at all accurate. That’s my quarrel. I’m not talking about the obvious — certainly, I never made reservations at a restaurant and awaited the call for a ‘The Ripper’ — I’m talking about the perceived purpose behind it.
Yes, yes, I know, the letters. Let me stop you there. I didn’t write the things. Really, I didn’t. My hand never scrawled any ‘Dear Boss’ or ‘Saucy Jacky’ or ‘From Hell’ script. Christ, the grammar and spelling errors in those linguistic abominations should have tipped you off that they were not penned by a smart person like moi.
Ego ego ego. I’ve got it. I’m proud. A deadly sin, perhaps, especially in my hands, but I have reason. And if it’s pride that’s making me write now, so be it.
Also, I wasn’t ripping. I operated more surgically. But anyway…
A more precise nom de guerre — and I do mean guerre — would have been Jack The Assassin. Maybe Jack The Warrior, or Warrior Jack.
If you insist on ‘Jack the ____,’ make it Jack The Savior. I like that. It has a nice ring to it.
Put it in the history books.
Of course, you wouldn’t know why I’d rather be remembered as a savior. Oh, dear me, no. You wouldn’t know that I’m writing this miles above the atmosphere either (except that I’ve just told you, obviously), readying this note to be fired toward London, where it may or may not be found. Although I feel fairly certain that it will be so long as the projectile casing doesn’t burn up in the atmosphere.
I hope it’s discovered. I hope it doesn’t all go up in a flash. I at least want to try to set the record straight. That ego again — I hate the idea that I’m being misrepresented.
See, I’m headed home for some rest. I’ve earned my combat pay (in spades). I’ll be back (the bosses keep me busy, and Earth has an absolutely astounding way of attracting trouble), but I don’t know when, and I’d like to get a word in edgewise. I’m sick of the media’s garbage. I’m sick of all the insane things they write. I’m sick of the way the British depict me in unflattering ‘Punch’ cartoons.
I deserve a little respect for my efforts.
You were this close to obliteration.
And I’m not even from here.
Or, rather, I’m not from now.
I did you a favor.
And nobody I killed was human anymore.
I know, I know, each of the five (there were only five of the things, the poor people killed afterwards by loons and copycats, I had nothing to do with those) looked like any average street-walker. All the bits and pieces were in the right places. No doctor — no medical professional of any kind — would ever have noticed that they weren’t human. Anymore.
There are questions you must be asking now, since I am presenting myself as a Noble Killer: what of the obscene conditions of the bodies? Why leave the corpses to be found in such horrible ways? Why such brutality? Such hacking and flaying?
The short answer is: there are reasons.
The slightly longer answer is: they served as warnings to something else.
And before I fully explain, ask yourself why the five ended up as sex workers.
Don’t think ‘obvious.’ I didn’t assassinate them because they had sex for money — there were plenty of people who had no choice but to sell their bodies for scratch. They couldn’t eat otherwise. I didn’t terminate the five for anything as porous or muddled as ‘morality’. Please! Whitechapel was home to thousands who were victims of the environment — econoslaves; the East End was a writhing pit of misery, pregnant (hah!) and overburdened with immigrants, crime, and racism far before I came along. Don’t scapegoat me.
Think think think.
Ponder ponder ponder.
And before anyone jumps to conclusions: it’s not because they were women, either.
Let’s get this thing going, shall we?
My original reason for coming to London (in 1879, nine years before all of this; the same year the war between the British and the Zulu began; the same year Doc Holliday made his first kill; the same year Madison Square Garden opened; the same year Thomas Edison showed off incandescent lighting to the public), was to hunt. Someone let a particularly nasty experiment loose in London’s sewers.
And that, friends, is a major violation of Statute 457a, a law passed long ago by The Collective, which explicitly prohibits the willful infection of a populace for the purposes of experimentation. Especially across the temporal void. There’s a hazy area that gets hazier when planets or civilizations are at war (this should come as no surprise, bureaucracy never dies) — but the general point is: you can’t screw around with a population just because you want to see what happens.
Anyway, this experiment was a disaster waiting to happen. In point of fact, it was an effort to monkey with human genes — and such things never go well. The antagonist in this instance was a scientist named Samuel Zloy. His origins are unknown. And technically speaking, those origins could have been anywhere and anywhen. He just popped up on our radar one day (we don’t use anything as primitive as radar, but you get my drift) and starting mucking up the works. We knew Zloy wasn’t human, but he did have a curious interest in how humanity would react to having its DNA spliced with the genetic workings of his pets.
He wasn’t the kind of fellow you wanted at a party, let’s say.
Zloy took a few of his worm-things and launched from his Lunar office (it was empty when we raided it) into Earth orbit. Most of them, thankfully, burned up. But five survived. And those five found their way into the London sewers.
The creatures were essentially enormous viruses. Crawling viruses. Squirming viruses. Shrieking viruses. Their heads were like lamprey heads — eyes tossed off to the sides, five or six rows of circular teeth. Ye gods, the things didn’t even have heads to speak of. They were just mouths with tooth after tooth after hungry tooth. Purpose and motive and sharpness affixed to a writhing, gelatinous, stretched body.
When one latched on, it shot its genes into you and later fell off, empty. It was a carrier, a putrid sack of desire, wanting to spread. The remnants of the thing would decompose so rapidly that it seemed to evaporate. Self-cleaning critter!
Its DNA mixed with our DNA and then took over. It turned people into monsters. I personally saw the final result of such a combination in my own headquarters (if the infection inside the five I killed had gone on long enough, London would have seen it, too, but a different game was afoot) back when we first started chasing this scientist of unknown origin.
Picture a mewling human torso with tentacles bursting from the neck. It has no head. It has teeth. Tentacles with eyes. Ichor falls freely. It looks for the next living creature to infect.
Good, old-fashioned nightmare fuel.
But, for Earth, the scientist had refined his little experiment — and this refinement was the reason I came.
What happens when a spliced human breeds?
We had a working hypothesis. We ran simulations. The results were terrifying: If the five carrier women weren’t killed, if they were allowed to mix further, the whole planet would be infected in six months.
So it began.
Mary Ann ‘Polly’ Nichols, the first, was not an attractive gene machine. Not before they took her over (she was a flaky alcoholic) and certainly not after (still a flaky alcoholic). Before it got into her, she’d married and had five kids. That marriage fell apart, some say, because of her drinking — others say it was because her husband cheated on her.
Regardless, it was after she deserted her hubby that it happened.
She had been wandering the street one night and, through chance or design, was attacked by one of the worms. It shot her full of itself. From that point on, she was just a fleshy missile obeying the orders of her modified genes.
The order was to breed.
Find a man to put his (worm) thing inside you.
Mix it up inside yourself.
Breed breed breed.
Spread spread spread.
I tracked her along Hanbury Street after she left her Whitechapel lodging house. I walked behind her, and when I had my chance, practically breathing down her neck, I gave her a sharp right hook to the jaw. I caught her with my left hand to muffle any screams, squeezing her mouth shut.
I put my knee against her lower back and pushed her to the ground while holding her head up. I pulled my long-bladed knife from a holster hidden in my waistcoat with my free hand and, as any butcher might, slit her throat from left to right.
I pulled her head back severely drain her faster. I grimaced as things in her neck ripped and tore — the sounds of the slay always make me a little sick.
When she stopped thrashing, I flipped her over and commenced my examination to see (a) how far along the infection was and (b) if she’d become pregnant.
Checking for the worms is, unfortunately, messy business. The vast majority of the violence done to the bodies was a result of it. Significant damage to the abdomen, for example, must be done to observe whether or not any breeding had even been attempted (it always was). I had to cut in, through layer after layer of tissue …
But you get the idea.
‘Polly’ had been infected, all right, but the worm hadn’t gotten very far. Better yet, there was no pregnancy. No fetal, humanoid, tentacle-thing mewling and crying inside her. (They creep me out. I won’t lie. Just thinking about them, worrying about what could grow inside any of us.)
I left that first body there on the street to be found (like all the others), hoping Zloy would see it and start to understand that his days were numbered — now we were on his case. That was the point of the bodies: I wanted that bastard to know that I would find him.
Annie Chapman had a similar story. And like ‘Polly,’ I bled her out and checked her.
See also: Elizabeth ‘Long Liz’ Stride, the third kill.
I didn’t have much trouble until Catherine Eddowes. I had reason to believe she’d been a carrier for a lot longer than the other women. That made her a priority. The longer the alien horror is in you, the more you change.
And unfortunately, I suspected that she might also be pregnant.
As previously stated (seriously, guys, just look up a couple lines), the longer it’s in you, the more you change. So, since Eddowes had been infected for longer than the first three had, she was more likely to be pregnant. You following? Also, 2+2 = 4. And I was right.
The spawn were what my bosses and I were concerned with. A regularly-infected human became a violent monster within a month of gene insertion. We weren’t sure what would happen if a ‘naturally’ occurring chimera was born. We couldn’t risk it.
I caught her right outside Whitechapel, in Mitre Square — technically London proper.
I had no time, no time. It showed a bit in my work, I admit. I was sloppier than usual.
But, hey, as long as the job gets done, right?
She had just been released from jail after being held for public intoxication. I knew when she’d be getting out thanks to the loose lips of bobbies after they’ve seen the sheen of a couple pounds. As if my convenience was her priority, she took the long way home. The problem was that there were cops, oy, cops all over the place. Ones I didn’t have time to bribe or avoid. And one of them might have seen me. In hindsight, I guess it doesn’t really matter.
Five minutes later, I’d slit Eddowes open and taken the part of her uterus that I was after.
I had also mistakenly removed one of her kidneys — but in my defense, I was rushed, it was dark, and everything looks similar and squishy once you’re up to your elbows in people bits.
Back in my room, I had a chance to get a good look at the worrisome womb. Or at least the part I’d taken. Opening it up, unfolding it under a hot lamp, I saw six or seven ill-formed human-pet chimeras wriggling around. I incinerated all but one, which I cryo-froze and placed inside an evidence bag for my team back home.
Now, it gets a little gross.
The last carrier was Mary ‘Fair Emma’ Jane Kelly. And she — by simple stupid virtue of being the last — had had the infection for the longest.
I tracked her to her apartment at 13 Dorset Street. She lived below one couple and shared a wall with other neighbors. This arrangement could have been worse, but it still concerned me. I didn’t want anyone nearby to see or hear me (before I left, I did read in the papers that a jackass named George Hutchinson supposedly identified me as some ‘corpulent … Jewish-looking man to know’ — really? Really? I mean, right, whatever, my dad was non-religiously Jewish and I’ve got the nose, but my mom was Brazilian and I take after her in a serious way. Corpulent? Are you calling me fat?).
That’s all beside the point, I know, I know. Ego, as I said.
A little before four in the morning, I rapped gently on Kelly’s door. She opened it slightly to check who I was. I slammed the door with my palm so that it hit her hard in the cheek and knocked her back but didn’t make much noise. She fell onto the bed, and shouted, I think, ‘murder!’ — but it didn’t matter. Neighbors in big cities have a habit of ignoring what might frighten or inconvenience them.
I took full advantage of that.
I jumped with my knife out so that it landed before I did. The blade cut her larynx in twain and I hoped as she gurgled that no more noise would spew forth.
I was wrong.
As I pinned her with my knees at the center of the bed, she exploded. Her face peeled back. It slid like over-sized clothing on a child. Back, down, slooping and drooping. Wiry tentacles pulsed through her cheek bones and jittered at me.
I fell backwards, catching my balance at the last moment.
She was the infection. There was no more ‘Fair Emma’ — this was just a writhing mass of organic machinery. And it meant to do me in.
Knife-in-hand, I lunged.
Tentacles and feelers erupted from her.
I hacked and sliced. Something wrapped around my neck and bit in. I could feel it chewing through my skin, looking for the warm flow of blood. Another lamprey mouth went between my legs, seeking the warmth there. Even then, as I drove my blade into it, carved away at it, tore hunks out of it and threw them across the room, it looked for a way to spread.
I have no idea what the neighbors thought. Their very Britishness may have saved me from over-explanation. ‘Hush, dear,’ a husband must have said to a wife. ‘It’s certainly none of our business,’ one may have said to another.
Thank you for that, I suppose. Your overwhelming need to be polite saved us all a big spot of trouble.
I don’t know how long I fought the Mary Monster. Until there was nothing dangerous left, obviously, and the alien pieces evaporated — but time has a funny way of being totally unreliable when action is taking place. A fight that seems to go forever lasts mere minutes.
Time dilation. One gets the same feeling when there’s too much caffeine or too much alcohol or too much tetrahydrocannibol in the bloodstream.
I know I left around a quarter to six in the morning. I know I was exhausted. I know I wanted to go home. And I know I took her womb with me.
I slept afterwards. I slept with those horrible, wriggling things next to me. Evidence. Evidence of an experiment gone weird and dangerous.
When I woke up, they were still in stasis. Everything was OK. I had done my job. The human race was safe. Payday was coming. I just wanted to leave — and never see London again.
So here I am, hurtling toward one of the jump gates, punching coordinates into the navigational system.
I’m not looking forward to having my uterus checked.
And I can’t shake the feeling that I’m forgetting something.
For the record, my name is Catarina Schrieber.
And you’re welcome.
William Vitka is a New York City-based journalist and author. He’s written for CBSNews.com, NYPost.com, GameSpy.com, Necrotic Tissue and Everyday Weirdness among others. He lives with his wife in Brooklyn.
© 2010 All rights reserved William Vitka