The Whitechapel Mercy Killings
In the summer of 1888 Abraham Arielle turned eighteen years old and became a hero. None but a single learned man knew the terrible cost of his role in the mercy killings of Whitechapel.
Sighting his first victim, his step faltered and he stumbled against the doorframe of a building in George Yard.
Rabbi Haroun Mizrahim had explained how he would sense the unfortunates. The old man lived in the narrow room next door and since his mother’s death the previous winter, Abraham shared every meager meal with the man. Neither had anywhere else to go.
A scholar, the Rabbi related stories Abraham half disbelieved but listened to nonetheless. In his youth, the man had lived in faraway lands and studied ancient texts, and his rich baritone was soothing.
Abraham worked irregular hours as the surge of livestock boats came and went, in and out of the port like a tide. He replayed stories of the shedim, malevolent beings always present and forever prepared to cause contention, as he trod through the streets littered with turmoil and decay, overcrowded with illicit human exchange.
The shedim, the Rabbi explained, preyed on the poorest females who roamed Whitechapel. Demons sought out these pathetic Liliths, drawn to their sexual energy, intent on planting seed in the fertile ground of their wombs. He warned the birth of such abominations must be prevented.
The first killing was difficult. In a frenzy of panic Abraham stabbed Martha Tabram repeatedly. So many times he lost count, desperate to finish the act.
To free her and defeat them.
The golden glow suffusing her face dimmed and died with her. The light of life, like a candle flame, literally snuffed out.
Guilt brought Abraham three weeks of nightmares. Then he felt the shedim rise again and set to with grim determination.
Abraham searched and killed.
The shedim beguiled and bred.
At the end of August he emancipated Mary Nichols with two deep incisions across the throat. He held her close, gently laid her on the ground as the light dissipated. Then he made sure she carried no spawn.
A week later Abraham released Annie Chapman of worldly concerns with a pair of slashes from his sharp boning knife. Crouched over her petite body in the rear yard of an establishment in Spitalfields, he faced a gruesome task. The removal of her uterus nearly destroyed his resolve. He carried the squirming mass, wrapped in a bloodied shirt, and relinquished the final acquittance to Mizrahim.
Again three weeks passed before he ventured back into the night. On that final day of the month he was obligated to act, dispatching Elizabeth Stride with a single movement. She smiled in the last second before the blade bit deep and he felt pleased by the sight. Begging her pardon for the intimacy, a quick palm laid low across her abdomen confirmed she was without child.
He was en route home when he stumbled across Catherine Eddowes. The “double event” about which much speculation would stem was no more than coincidence. She turned, singing and half-drunk, but prepared to offer her services to any client with coin. Abraham swallowed, offered a prayer, and swung his arm. He caught her body, hugged it to him before lowering her softly to the paved ground. She’d once been a lovely woman, dark-haired like his mother with long delicate fingers.
He detested the abhorrent operation needed to remove the unborn demon. Sobbing and shaken, unsteady from the continued shocks, he staggered away with the awful prize bundled in his hands. It wasn’t until he arrived at Rabbi Mizrahim’s door that he realized half the bloodied apron he’d used to cover the monstrosity had disappeared.
Six weeks cycled past before Abraham crawled from his bed. His hands shook and his clothes hung loosely on his frame. Rabbi Mizrahim urged him to wait but the urgency built, he could sense impending calamity. He found the final effort of the elusive shedim waiting in Miller’s Court.
There were no audible sounds. By the time he reached a hand through the broken window, pushed aside the woolen coat and unlatched the door, the worst was done. The creature hunkered in blood and gore, teeth masticating, tissue and gristle splattered across the bed, stains smearing the wall.
Abraham leapt forward and speared the long blade through the bestial form. He pinned the glistening pink shape against the mutilated remains of a woman. The body of Mary Kelly was scarce recognizable as a human being. Using teeth and claws, the demon hybrid had vivisected its mother and fed.
The fire in the grate hissed.
Holding the beast pinioned amid the carnage, Abraham tossed every available piece of fuel onto the flames. In went a shirt, a tattered skirt, and then a shawl. Heat built.
The room warmed.
The scent of raw meat and eviscerated bowels filled Abraham’s nostrils. He gagged against the flavor. A vicious twisting slash of his blade, the muscles and tendons of his thin arm straining, he spun the burden from his knife into the blaze.
A squall of sound echoed and blue flames gushed from the narrow aperture of the hearth. The thing was destroyed in a matter of seconds.
At once Abraham knew the shedim was gone. On the floor beside the bed he traced a finger along the heel of the unfortunate woman, felt regret he’d arrived too late to save her from torment.
Kneeling before the fire, he stirred the coals. No evidence remained. With a last perusal of the slaughter, he departed, locking the door.
Rabbi Mizrahim waited at home with a lit candle. He instructed Abraham to change his clothes and pack his meager belongings. Together they stepped out into the gray light of morning, walked the short distance to the London docks, and left the notorious Whitechapel district behind them forever.
Flash Fiction Challenge: Plucked from the Pages of History @ www.terribleminds.com