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|The Terror Of Whitechapel; Contains violence/gore and mild sexual themes; do NOT read if this offends you.|
|Topic Started: Oct 6 2010, 08:42 AM (143 Views)|
|Miranda||Oct 6 2010, 08:42 AM Post #1|
(Note: Putting this in fiction cuz altho it's based on fact, the charactisation is all mine and there are two original characters. The character of Jenny Lyons belongs to me. The character of Johnny Wingraver belongs to Queenie.)
Whitechapel in the year 1888 is a very different place to how it is today. Flooded with immigrants, mostly from Poland and Ireland, it is cramped and poor. Refuse lies in the street, and a yellow smog hangs about the tops of the lampposts, accentuating the hopelessness of life in the quarter. Poverty can be seen everywhere a person looks, from the piles of human waste in the gutters, to the garishly dressed women who sell their bodies on the street for the price of a few glasses of gin and a doss-house bed. Most of these women have been driven to prostitution from sheer desperation to survive on the grim streets; some have their own homes, poor as they are; yet others live hand to mouth and go from doss-house to doss-house. There are a few priests who may venture forth into the mean streets, but the majority of the better classes turn up their noses at the Whitechapel women, saying that they're no better than they should be and that there are other options beside the one they have chosen. The women know better. There is very little work available to the poor woman, and the only alternative is to either starve, or to enter the dreaded workhouse. To many of the inhabitants of the East End, this is akin to a living death and must be avoided at all costs. The atmosphere around the East End is mainly fear, despair and desperation; the people try to prevail against this by visiting the gin houses that are dotted around the place for a glass or two of cheap gin, or by huddling together to attempt to raise each other's spirits. It's a dirty, nasty place to live, but there is some comradery among the people; after all, that's all that they have to get themselves through their rotten, stinking lives.
Polly Nichols shivered as she walked down the road, desperately trying to wrap herself up against the bitter wind in her old motheaten shawl. Polly was cold, hungry and in need of sleep, but still she walked the streets, looking for a man to spend the night with for a few pence. Polly had spent what little money she had on a few glasses of gin, and now all she wanted was a bed for the night. The estranged wife of a printer, Polly had borne five children before her beloved husband William eloped with one of her friends in 1877. Shrouded in misery at her situation, Polly had turned to the comforting embrace of gin to try and get herself through the days of despair and want. Polly soon became trapped in the downward spiral of drink and prostitution, each day much the same; days spent living in the squalid conditions of the "White House" doss-house on Flower and Dean Street. Polly tended mostly to keep herself to herself, not trusting anyone. On a few occasions, she was locked up for the night in the cells after a night getting drunk on gin. Polly's main fault is the fact that she has a bit of a temper, and this is exarbated by alcohol. Ginsodden, she thought nothing of shouting abuse at the better people, or of drunkenly taking a swing at a policeman. She had no hope of her days ever getting better, and tended to live day to day, wanting only to be able to get herself enough gin to see herself through the night, and a bed to sleep the liquor off.
The East End was a grim place; there were many women like herself roaming the streets, and several men looking to take their services; gentlemen and rogues alike. Men had their needs, after all, and it was a lot easier to buy the services of a prostitute than it was to take the time to wine and dine a lady, who might decide that she had no intention of trading her honour after all, and preferred to wait until an offer of marriage was made. The danger didn't matter, it was the chance a girl took when she walked the streets of Whitechapel, searching for men who'd pay her for the use of her body. Polly's life had been a hard one, moving from workhouse to doss-house, from street corner to alleyway. She was completely destitute, with only a few pence in her pocket, and only a few pitiful possessions to carry with her. Polly drifted day by day, living on the streets, and constantly craving the alcohol that brought a short relief from her miserable existance with its promise of sweet oblivion. She had no inkling of the nightmare that awaited her that night... the evil that lurked in the shadows and watched her from a darkened alleyway. The lamp was out and shadows enclosed the alley; concealing within them a man with malevolence in his heart; a man who watched Polly as she passed by, morosely fingering the few pennies in her pocket and knowing that she would have to turn a trick in order to get together the money for gin and bed.
A few streets away, Mary Kelly walked arm in arm with her only good friend, a fellow prostitute named Jenny Lyons. The girls were luckier than Polly; they shared a house together down the road. The house was draughty and the rent was high, but together they could just about pay their way. Neither girl was too keen on housekeeping, so the house was generally in a state of chaos, with messy floors and a dirty kitchen and outhouse. Mary's gentleman caller, Joseph, sometimes helped out with the rent at times when the girls couldn't quite afford it, and both of them were grateful to him for doing so. Mary was in quite a good mood, despite the biting cold of the wind that cut at their faces like a knife. She and Jenny had had a few tots of gin at the local gin house, and were now on their way to see if they could perhaps find a couple of men who'd be willing to pay them for a trick or two. The girls had a system that worked extremely well in ensuring their mutual safety. The system was as follows; unless both girls were picked up for the night, they'd stick together and protect each other, and so far the system was working well. It was needed in the world that the girls lived in; danger lurked in the streets, and police were as a general rule scarce. In any case, the street walkers had learned that very few of the better sort cared too much about their lives and the danger that followed them. Therefore, the only choice they had was whether to protect themselves, or to leave their fate to chance. Mary and Jenny had taken the first choice; others, whether through choice or just cuz they didn't much care about their fate, took the second.
Jenny walked closely next to her friend as they walked rather unsteadily down the street, occasionally having to step around a pile of refuse. She smiled when Mary took her arm, and helped support her friend; both of them were slightly the worse for wear after an afternoon spent at the gin house. Gin was cheap, it warmed a person up, and it made everything seem just that much better. Jenny certainly needed that feeling; she shot a look at Mary, and sighed heavily as she did so; Jenny felt that she wasn't nearly as pretty as Mary was, what with that long blonde hair and china blue eyes. Never the less, Jenny did what she could with what she had, and there were a fair few men who preferred red hair in any case. The girls walked on down the streets that both of them knew extremely well, and eventually, they passed a woman who neither of them knew at all well, just by sight and nickname. The woman had wispy brown hair and stooped slightly; she was one of the many poor destitutes who scraped a living on the streets; the name Jenny knew her by was Pretty Polly. This was probably not her real name, but Jenny knew about that; her real name was Kate, after all. They passed the woman by, staggering slightly as they walked, arm in arm, down the filthy pavement. A priest stood nearby, his rosary in one hand, a walking stick in the other. He alone among his ilk did not judge these women how they lived; to him, despite their wretched lives, they were still God's children. He raised his rosary to the girls as they passed; Jenny raised a hand to the priest, but did not stop. She had forsaken God long before.
A man hung around nearby; he was an artist, though his work sold but little. His name was Johnny Wingraver, and he'd known no other place other than Whitechapel, though he sometimes longed for more; to visit other places, perhaps even his native France. Johnny had never once set eyes on his native land, but still the yearning remained within his heart. His parents had moved to England from France while he was still but an infant in the womb, and they'd eventually settled in London. Whitechapel was where they had ended up; the place was cheap enough for a small family like theirs to settle down. Johnny admired the work of the impressionist artists greatly, and wished more than anything to achieve such status, though he doubted that he ever would, seeing as he lacked the money behind him. As a child, growing up was rough, but as Johnny had known nothing else to compare it with, he was able to survive well enough. Once, a dog bit his hand when he was a lad of five years of age, and he lost his right little finger. Since Johnny's parents were too poor to engage the services of a doctor, he was lucky to live through it without infection. A while later, at the age of fifteen, Johnny's parents died of cholera, and he was left to his own devices. He scraped up what money he could to become an artist and lived in a mean garret nearby. Johnny was wandering about the streets, looking for something to catch his eyes, whether that something be inanimate or living he didn't care. Johnny had an eye for beauty; he had seen beauty even here, in the wreckage of Whitechapel. He was just about to give up and go buy himself a drink when he saw two young women who were obviously prostitutes, and both of them quite beautiful, tho in different ways; one a blonde, the other a redhead.
Bold by nature, Johnny walked right up to the pair and said, "What're a couple'a gals like you doin' walkin' 'bout on a night like this?"
Polly wrapped her dirty shawl about her thin shoulders as her eyes searched the surrounding area desperately for a gentleman who she could ply her wares to. She sighed in despair as she saw nothing evident. Nothing nearby but a man of the cloth and a young handsome man, who clearly wouldn't be interested in someone like her. This was proven when the man immediately approached two young girls she only knew slightly. She had encountered both in a gin house; they had been kind to her, but she could not remember their names. Then again, Polly could barely remember anything much any more, and preferred not to. Forgetfulness was a lot better than the agony of memories of a former life, a life which had been much better than this. She stood where she was, occasionally looking around to see if an opportunity would provide itself.
Mary giggled and tossed her long golden mane of hair over her shoulder. She looked appraisingly at Johnny. "Looking for business. You interested?"
She smiled at him, sure that he liked her best. After all, she was the prettiest of the pair. Jenny on the other hand contented herself with just a smile. She was used to being constantly outshadowed by her friend. If Jenny was sure of anything in this world, it was of the fact that she could never hope to compete with her friend's glowing golden beauty, visible even in the hellhole that they lived. She wound her fingers in her tangled red hair. Jenny was not jealous; she simply took this as something that she could never change, and at least Mary was her friend. That was most important, in this life of theirs, where very little else could be relied on.
"Well, yes." Johnny said, grinning. He felt certain that he had found a pair of models that might even inspire the painting that would sell for a great deal of money, more than any other painting he'd sold in the past. He looked straight at both Jenny and Mary with an appraising air. "How would you girls like to be in a painting?" Johnny asked, sure that the girls would agree.
Nearby, the priest approached Polly as she stood there in the street, a lonely figure. "Are you well, my child?" he said to her, patting her arm to comfort her from whatever problems worried her. He often wished he could do more to help these poor unfortunate souls, but he had limited funds and even more limited support from others.
Polly sighed heavily. "I'm fine," she replied; not that she was, but she felt too worn out by life to even try to explain. Recently, she had felt as tho she was tired of life; tired of the relentless grind of her life as it was, of moving from place to place, reliant on men to pay her a few miserable shillings for the use of her poor, worn out body in order that she should be able to afford a bed, and maybe a drop of gin. She felt no comfort in the thought of the Almighty; to Polly, if there was a God, then he was blind, deaf and dumb. There was no help there to be had.
"Remember, child, god is with you." The priest made the sign of the cross and gave Polly a few coins. He looked at her with concern. "Now take care of yourself. It's a cold night and the devil waits in the darkness." Polly took the money and managed a smile; she felt oddly moved as she walked away and vanished into the shadows.
Mary nudged Jenny with excitement. "Sounds fine to me, what do you think? It'll be better than trudging the streets trying to find a man to be with, and a lot safer." Jenny nodded shyly; she agreed with her friend. There seemed to be no danger in choosing to be a model, and there was bound to be money in it, too. Mary turned back to Johnny. "How much?"
Johnny put a hand into his pocket and searched, then pulled out a few shillings. "Will this do?"
Mary's eyes gleamed at the sight of the money; it would buy a few tots of gin for the next night. "Certainly will. When do you want us to start?"
"Now, if that's fine with you." Johnny said. "I just need to find a good spot..." He searched his mind, thinking on this problem.
Mary winked at Johnny. "Any time, any place, sweetheart."
Johnny laughed. "Then follow me, both of you," he said, indicating to the girls that they should follow him. Mary took the lead, with Jenny clutching at her arm. Jenny looked longingly at Johnny as she did so. She thought him very handsome, but thought that he would never be interested in her; she was the least prettiest, of course, and then there was the life she led.
Polly soon encountered a gentleman. "Fancy a good time for a few shillings, darling?" she said, rogueously winking at him. He inclined his head in a nod, and indicated that she follow him. Polly did so, already planning on getting a few tots of gin after she'd paid for her bed. She didn't think that this transaction would take too long; it never did. There would be plenty of time left to seek out a gin house. Polly led the stranger away from the main street, towards one of the many alleyways that entwined Whitechapel. Some she rejected; they already contained women conducting similar transactions with men, or had huddled up shapes which were people sleeping. Polly herself had done that many a time when she was unable to earn enough money to pay for a bed, and felt a feeling of thankfulness towards the gentleman who had prevented this happening to her this night at least. She glanced curiously at the man; he seemed to her to be too well bred to be delving into the Whitechapel underworld in search of a woman. Still, men had their needs, and it wasn't unheard of for a gentleman to prefer to pay a working girl few shillings for intercourse rather than go through the tiresome social cycle with a well bred lady. Ladies as a general rule were unlikely to want to yield up their body's treasures without the comfort of a ring on their finger. Not for anything would they wish to be lined up against the dross of the streets, and labeled as fallen women.
Polly, who had no such thoughts about her situation, eventually found an alleyway that suited her. It was dark and apart from a couple of bags of rotting refuse, was completely empty. She held out her hand, palm first, and the gentleman counted in the shillings one by one. Polly put the precious money into her pocket, then prepared to fufil her side of the bargain. She turned her back on the gentleman as was necessary, and started to lift her dress. Since she had her back turned, she did not see the faint flash of the knife as it was pulled from the gentleman's pocket, nor the expression of fiendish glee that spread accross his face. Polly was unprepared for the speed in which the blade cut into her throat. She screamed a shrill scream of pain and horror; the throat tearing scream of the woman in mortal danger. There was no-one nearby to care, however; and the blade cut her throat from ear to ear. Polly fell against the man's legs as she fell to the ground, blood spurting out of the frightful wound in her neck. She was already dead by the time that the gentleman knelt besides her body, pulling out another knife to begin his dreadful work of mutilating her corpse. Once done with this, he melted into the night, leaving his poor victim lying in the dirt of the alley, her poor pitiful possessions laid out neatly.
The priest had been right. The devil did indeed wait in the darkness; and this was a devil who would wreak many nights of terror for the working women of Whitechapel.
|Miranda||Oct 11 2010, 05:18 PM Post #2|
The Demon In The Shadows.
Jenny followed along behind Johnny, her arm linked with Mary's as he led them to his home. Jenny was relieved that he hadn't asked to go to her and Mary's home instead; their house was in a bit of a mess at the moment. She never liked to clear up and the sink was full of dirty crockery and the floors and windowsills were dust covered. Neither she or her friend were very houseproud but in any case, there wasn't really much point in being so at this point in their lives. Jenny felt somewhat better about things when she and Mary finally arrived at Johnny's place. It was small, dirty and with several objects scattered around; a randomly placed easel, paintings, sculptures, and random items everywhere. One had to practically climb their way through. "I, uh, have one room that's tidy at the moment; let's go there." Johnny said to the girls. They nodded and carefully made their way through the piles of junk to where Johnny was leading them. This was a small bedroom, which was very plain, though Johnny had hung some of his own paintings up on the walls. "Sorry it's so plain; I don't really make a lot." he said. He patted the bed. "Please sit down while I get the proper supplies."
Mary sat down at once; she motioned for Jenny to sit next to her. "This is perfect," she whispered. "We're going to make money, and no need to go out and find danger." Johnny soon returned with his easel and painting supplies. He'd stretched a canvas accross the board, in preparation for the fantastic painting that he could already visualise as he looked at the two girls. "Sorry about the mess," he said with a smile. Jenny spoke for the first time since they'd arrived at Johnny's house. "Doesn't matter; ours is worse. I never can find the time for tidying up, it's terrible of me, I know." She blushed slightly as she spoke. "I clean up the house, sometimes," said Mary, trying to control the situation once more. She felt it was impossible that the young artist could possibly prefer Jenny over her. Mary already had a young man caller, however she felt established as the prettier one in the pair, and wanted the status quo to remain the same. Not out of any bad feelings towards her friend, more to do to keep her own self esteem up.
Johnny chuckled. "I guess I never make the time for it," he said. "Now, if you ladies would please undress and pose...?" Mary smiled; this was where she felt she would be able to show herself off to great effect, especially beside Jenny. She removed her clothes. Jenny always thought of herself as a poor relation next to her friend; this thought was with her, even as she disrobed and joined her friend in a pose on the bed. Johnny considered them a moment. "Uh, it's unbalanced," he said. Johnny walked over to the bed, hand to his chin as he though of a better pose, one that would be better for him to paint. He eventually shook his head. "Both of you are so different, the only way around this difficulty is to paint you separately," he said. "Of course, I'd pay a bit more." Mary nodded confidently; it suited her far more to be painted solo. Jenny just sighed with relief; she knew she'd look better as a solo than in comparison with Mary. Johnny smiled and picked up a coin. "This will decide which one of you I paint first," he said. "Heads I paint a blonde first, tails I paint a redhead. By the way, what are your names? It would be easier for me to work with you if I knew what to call you by."
"I'm Marie Jeanette Kelly," replied Mary; she affected this name cuz of a visit to Paris. "And this is my friend Jenny Lyons." The coin was flipped and the result was heads, meaning that Mary would go first. "A pleasure." Johnny said. "I'm Johnathan Gaston DuBois." He smirked. "But you may call me Johnny." He looked over at Jenny. "Jenny, you may do as you wish until I finish painting Mary." Johnny, much like the ladies who worked the streets, used a false name when doing business. In some ways, it was a lot safer than using a real name, even when dealing with models. Jenny smiled politely, then quickly put her clothes back on. She went to sit in the other room while Johnny took his time painting her friend. Jenny wondered what was happening in the bedroom as she read a small book that she carried with her. She was sure Johnny was as entranced by Mary as every other man was. Actually, Johnny had painted many confident blondes like Mary; Jenny would be his first with such vivid red hair. At the moment, however, he focused on the task at hand and painted Mary as she was; a raw, beautiful figure in the night. In fact, it was nearing dawn soon as he finished with Mary. "you're done, Mary." Jonny said politely. "you can do as you wish now as I go get Jenny."
Mary smiled serenely. "Thank you," she said as she put her clothes back on. "Don't forget the money you promised us." Johnny sighed, then searched until he found a small bag and winced at how close to empty it was. He paid Mary. "Will you tell Jenny to come in now? I will give Jenny her share of the money after I finish the painting." Mary left the room to fetch Jenny, who willingly went into the bedroom. Mary sat down on the chair where Jenny had sat and prepared herself for a long wait. Inside the bedroom, Johnny took the painting of Mary off of the easel and got a new canvas. He decided to paint Jenny with watercolor rather than the usual oil paints. "Whenever you're ready." Johnny said. Jenny got undressed, blushing faintly as she did so. She could never be as confident as Mary, who now was sitting outside nonchalantly brushing her hair. By now, it really was dawn. as Jenny got onto the bed, the light of the rising sun hit her just so that she seemed to glow, especially her vermillion hair, which had a sort of halo of reflected light. Johnny couldn't help but gasp; she looked like an angel. A celestial angel, such as which hung on a hundred walls, with a knowing smile that differentuated her from all the others. Johnny chose his paints and began; he knew that he was going to enjoy this painting especially.
Johnny soon finished the painting. "Alright, you're done," he said. He reached into his bag to get the money he'd promised to pay her. "You can see the painting, too, if you want." The painting was gorgeous. Jenny was portrayed as an angel with wings with soft feathers, but with pointed ears. It really did look like her, he didn't alter her in any way with the exception of the wings and ears. She was a small person, but that looked just right with the pose, the glow about her, and the wings. The feathers of the wings were red-gold in color to play up her hair. In truth, this was, and from then on always would be, Johnny's favorite painting and the best that he felt he'd ever done. It was as though this particular girl had touched upon a hidden stroke of genius within him, that was waiting to be released by the girl that sat in front of him. Jenny gazed at the canvas in wonder as she dressed. She could hardly believe that such a beautiful being could be her. Johnny pressed the money into her hand and said, "I'd love for you to come and pose for me again. To paint you even just once more would be an honour." Jenny replied, "I would love to. We should be going now; Mary will be tired of waiting for me."
Johnny pressed some food on the girls before they left, though. Neither had eaten for hours, and all were hungry. Johnny didn't have much in the way of food in his house; just some watery porridge and hard bread. He apologised for the poorness of the fare, and Mary hastened to reassure him on that count. "It's eatable; and we don't really have anything back home," said Mary. "We hoped to earn some money today for food and maybe have some left over for rent." The girls began to eat. Johnny made sure that the lion's share of the food went to his guests. He then offered them a bed to sleep in, as they had been up all night. Jenny and Mary accepted, but insisted that they both would have to share the bed as per their pact. Johnny agreed, though with some regret. He felt that Jenny was the most divine woman he'd ever met, and that he would love to get to know her better. But he didn't know whether or not she would be interested in a poverty stricken artist. For all he knew, she could have a gentleman friend already. He bade them farewell and left to get his own rest on the untidy couch in the other room.
Just two hours later that day, a carter was walking to his workplace. It was bitterly cold, a frost over all and a light smog hung around the lamps. The carter shivered as he walked through a dark alleyway, thinking about what work he would likely have to do that day. As he walked down the alleyway, he almost stumbled over a bundle in the way. Cursing, he looked down to see what had nearly caused him to fall, and saw with horror the mutilated body of a woman. She had obviously been murdered horribly. Her throat was cut from ear to ear and her stomach was cut to ribbons. The carter backed away, as though the corpse could cause him harm. His nerve broke and he fled back down the alleyway, shouting "Murder!" as he went. Soon, a constable stopped him and asked him what the matter was. The carter indicated, with a shiver of pure fear, down the alleyway where the woman's dead body lay. The constable went cautiously down the alleyway and soon was able to verify the report given to him. Soon, the news flew around the back alleys and mean streets of Whitechapel; a woman had been murdered, and murdered most foully. Who she was though, was yet to be discovered. The woman was recognised as one of the poor drabs who peddled their bodies around the streets, but none knew her name.
When Johnny awoke, the sun was shining through the gap in the curtains where they didn't quite meet and on to his face. He cursed and sat up, pushing a hand through the awry spikes of hair on his head. Gentle breathing coming from the bedroom indicated that his guests were still asleep, and Johnny didn't wake them. Instead, he walked outside for a breath of air. Immediately he did so, he sensed that the mood outside was different. There were small knots of people, talking excitedly together. Curious about what might have happened, Johnny approached a man of his own age. "Oi, what's goin' on?" he asked. The man turned. "You won't believe this; one of the street whores was murdered last night, and not in the usual way, neither. Her neck was cut open and so was her stomach. The coppers are asking 'round now to see if anyone heard or saw anything last night. They don't know who the whore is yet; the coppers are checking around now. I don't know any more, the coppers aren't letting people near to see." He sighed in frustration. "They oughta, one of us might know. And whoever the killer is, he'll do it again, mark my words. It'll be another poor woman of the streets, and the gentry won't care because they think they're above that type." The man sighed again. "In any case, I'm off to see what else I can find out." He walked off.
Johnny went back inside. He felt that he should warn Mary and Jenny of the mystery killer, and did so as soon as they were awake. The girls were sorry for the poor victim, but adamant that they would not stop walking the streets during the night. They had to earn money to pay for their rent and food, and there was no other way round that. Since they still had their system, both the girls felt that they would be safe from the killer. Johnny then made an offer of help to the girls in time of need; this was accepted before they showed themselves out. Johnny still felt worried but he had done all that he could do to try and keep Jenny and Mary safe from the unknown murderer who lurked in the shadows of Whitechapel. Who could he be? This was something that everyone all over the district was wondering. The police also were wondering. Right now, they were trying hard to identify the victim by asking around the streets. There had of course been murders of prostitutes before; the constable who had first seen the body had seen dead whores several times but this one just sent shivers down his spine. The woman's throat had been viciously slashed, and her stomach cut open, with some organs removed. What kind of sick monster did that? Soon though, the police had a breakthrough as far as identification went. A man who had been a previous client of the dead prostitute identified her as Pretty Polly, a prostitute who had no fixed abode, but who was often to be seen at the White House. Even knowing who the victim was didn't help; there was nothing in her past to link with a man who would do such a thing. The police were completely in the dark, and were helpless to prevent the killer from striking again. Because, he would soon choose another victim... and there was nothing that anyone could do to stop him.
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