Waking up in the abandoned building was a bit disorientating as I had forgotten where we were.
One would think, by now, I would be accustomed to waking up in strange places.
Jack was sitting a few feet from me on the floor, a novel still in hand. In fact, he was in the same spot I left him in last night when I fell asleep.
Had he even slept?
"Good morning," I said abruptly in the silence.
"John," he greeted with a quick glance at me.
"What's happening? What are we doing?"
"Don't worry, you didn't have a freak reaction or anything," he took a swig of what looked like schnapps in a bottle.
I looked outside, realizing the sun was peeking up over the horizon. I looked at Jack, "It's not even sunrise and you're drinking?"
Glancing up from his novel, "Are you judging me?"
I snickered, "Considering the circumstances, I'm surprised we're both still sober."
"I've been up all night thinking," he said, shutting his novel.
"Oh dear, that's not good," I tried to joke but he clearly wasn't having it. "What is it?"
He sighed as he looked into my eyes with his empty eyes. "Nothing too important."
I could see the disconnect in his head, he was trying to tell me something but he stopped himself. Quickly, he stood up. "I have something I need to do before we leave for France."
"What exactly is that?" I stood up, directly behind him, staring at the back of his well-groomed head.
He turned to me. "Nothing you need to worry about," again with the fighting in his eyes. I wanted to question him on it but I couldn't.
"Okay," I merely said.
"Our ship leaves in less than two hours," he said, flipping through his little notebook. "Meet me by the docks when the time comes, I'll be waiting for you." He started to walk off but I caught him.
"Jack," I plead, "What is happening?"
"Nothing," he said again, "Stop worrying." He stared at me for a long time before spinning around and walking towards the door. Stopping at the threshold, he turned around and said, "Words are never enough, are they?"
He looked down at the dusty ground, "Goodbye John...I'll see you later." Then he left me there with a sense of confusion and dread.
What was he up to? Perhaps he had some unfinished business to attend to.
I, took had some unfinished business.
Seeing my mother in a casket has to be the worst image I could ever concoct. She was cold and blue, just like my victims; just like Jack's.
I wanted to bury her before I left England. She needed to be put to rest by her own flesh and blood.
Yet again, I found myself in a grave yard staring at the stone of a lost loved one. My mother was the only light in my life and I would give anything to hear her voice now.
Her words were so calming to me, especially as a child. I had much more foolish fears then, of course, ones that were easily brushed off by the sound of my mother's singing and the feel of her safe embrace. I wish I could feel it just one last time.
So many last times.
But they would never be enough to stop the turmoil inside me now.
After the very small funeral I had for my mother, I made my way to the docks where Jack and I planned to meet.
I was on the lookout for police officers, obviously, fearing that they would be lurking behind every corner.
When I finally reached the docks, the evening was coming to a close and I was freezing. Jack wasn't there yet which surprised me because I was right on time.
I shrugged it off and sat on a bench waiting for my friend.
I would wait there for three hours.
As it crept into night, I feared that something had happened to Jack. What if the police caught him? What if something bad happened in the midst of his unfinished business?
I stood up and looked around. There was a part of me that wanted to stay and wait but I also wanted to look for him. Night had settled but there weren't any ships.
Had I gotten the time mixed up and I'm just really early?
I didn't know so I decided to search for him near the docks. I checked pubs and hospitals, I even went all the way back to the abandoned building but he was nowhere to be found.
The last place I didn't look was Scotland Yard but I certainly wasn't going to get within feet of that place.
I decided to return back to the docks and when I did I found something peculiar.
On the bench that I was sitting just hours before, there was a tall black top hat. It frankly looked like the one Jack wore. Perhaps he was here.
I quickly hurried over to the bench to find it empty, apart from the hat. Jack wasn't here.
I noticed that there was paper beneath the hat so I lifted it up. There was an envelope with my name scribbled on the front. Sitting down, I peeled open the letter to reveal a very flamboyant and familiar calligraphy.
In Jack's handwriting:
To the one with curly hair,
I don't take my hat off for most but I do for you. I offer my respect and admiration in this motion, for you have taught me how to love again. You're a friend, a soul mate, a brother and now a memory. We are more similar than you could ever imagine. I also have a voice in my head that eats at the inner workings of my brain. Right and wrong have become blurred. It was not always like this, but life has weathered me and I don't wish that on you.
This toxicity must be stopped. You are sick, you need help and it is help I could never give you. We are diseases to each other and I would only exasperate yours. Killers will kill together. I must kill on my own, for the clearing of my own conscious. You have the choice that I never had.
I have cleared you of your crimes, confessing to them as my own. Abelian will never hunt you again. I have won. May this evil John rest in peace for he will be obliterated. You may hate me after this but just know that I am in tears as I write this letter, for you are asleep next to me and I wanted you to always be next to me but we can only be beside each other between oceans and time.
I bid you adieu, my dearest and most intimate friend
Dear Old Jack
I dropped the letter and it fell at my feet, looking up I found a ship in the distance.
My friend was gone.
"John Wilkinson," I heard a voice behind me. I stood up to find uniformed officers, Abelian and a horse-drawn carriage with doctors beside it.
I was holding tight to Jack's hat. "Wha-." I couldn't even speak.
"Come on, son," Abelian looked sad, "It's time to go."
I looked again into the ocean only to find the ship was gone. I questioned if I had even saw it to begin with.
The uniformed officers carefully led me into the carriage which had a small window with bars. They locked me inside and I was being taken away.
I was heading to an asylum.
I held Jack's hat in hand as everything settled in. This hat which sat upon his perfect head held so many memories.
Jack the Ripper. His infamous silhouette held this hat on his head. But that's not what I remember.
As I close my tired eyes, I can see him now walking into the pub for the very first time.
"It's Jack." Those eyes...forever burned into my memories.
He was so much more than just Jack.
I gripped my hands around the bars of the window staring out into the ocean, over the horizon, far out and I wondered if he was doing the same.
"I'll see you later, Jack."
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