I stood and looked down at the work of art I had created.
I had murdered before. It is part of who I am now and what makes me feel whole. The scent of death envelops me wherever I go. I can tell that others notice it too which only drives me further. When people get close to me in a crowded space, I can smell their fear of the unknown. When I am hunting, if their eyes lock with mine, I can see a flash of panic. What they see in mine, I don’t care.
Right now, I am here with Chloe. I look down at my hands and see her blood dripping from between my fingers. She had needed to die. She had wanted to die. After the second day, she had begged to die.
I look down. She is staked out like a star in the middle of her living room floor. Her eyes are open in death as they had been since we first met. I had told her to shut them. She had refused. I had screamed at her to close them, but she had still refused me. So I changed the plan. I blindfolded her. I hated changing the plan. Why did she have to be different from the others? Even with the blindfold on, I had felt her eyes following me everywhere.
Next time it would be simpler, I will just gouge the eyes out.
I wipe my hands on the paper towels I have brought for the task. I remove the bloodied rubber gloves and stuff the sullied items into a plastic carrier bag. As in the past, my hands are still encased in rubber. At the beginning of each ritual, I put on five pairs of gloves. How many pairs I am still wearing at the end would depend on how well they behave. Lastly, I removed the bin bags that I used to cover my shoes.
I take one last look and then leave her with everything arranged in its required order. Her front door closes silently behind me. I like that. Chloe would be remembered as one of my favorites. I would forgive her the eyes because everything else had been perfect. She had been released.
Arriving in the street I feel the sharp chill of winter. I pull up the zipper on my parker jacket to its highest point as I make my way down the street. Winter was coming and London would again be a slave to shorter days and longer nights.
It had been a few days since the “Christmas Terrorist Campaign” briefing. Cain had been going through his staff rosters working out how his department would support the surveillance operation. He knew that since July 7th2005, London’s worst day at the hands of fundamentalist terrorists, that life would never be the same again. That day four men had detonated three bombs on London’s underground network on the Circle and Piccadilly Lines and the fourth bomb on a London double-decker bus in Tavistock Square. Fifty-two innocent civilians lost their lives plus over seven hundred were injured. It was not if it would happen again, but when. Homegrown terrorism was something that they all had to learn to live with now.
He looked down at the updated staff rosters and hoped that he had achieved a fair distribution of the additional coverage required. He had in fact put himself on more shifts than the rest of his team which suited his lifestyle at the moment and gave him more opportunity to bury himself in work. He walked over and pinned them to the staff notice board.
It was early evening as the wind whips its way across Tower Bridge and whistled through the buildings that made up St Catherine’s Dock.
This is my world. I listen. I observe. I plan. I execute.
High above the manmade harbor I move silently around the beautifully furnished apartment. I pause every couple of steps to observe my new surroundings. I like to gently inhale the air to mark the place in my memory. My life is all about memories and creating new ones. I am in a penthouse apartment atop one of London’s most prestigious apartment buildings overlooking the Thames. The fabric of the building is made mostly of tempered glass and steel. I observe that the building designer has perfected a way of maximizing space while allowing boundless light into every room.
It’s not my apartment and never will be. In fact, I have never met its owner in person. But I know that over the next few weeks I will start to get to know her very well until it was time for her to tell me her darkest secrets and her passions. What she fears and loves most and what depravity she was willing to perform to protect those closest to her just to extend her own pathetic life. I enjoy watching. It is key to what I had to do in the future. I can leave nothing to chance.
I first spotted my next offering in one of the numerous bars that festooned the city a few months ago. She had been drinking heavily with friends and allowed herself to be groped and petted by a male friend. Then, she had given me the sign. I had been so thankful to her for coming to me in this way and showing that she could be added to the list without me having to hunt her down. I hated searching for trash like her. In fact, I hated a lot of things in this cesspit they called London. It always amused me when they asked me why I had chosen them. When I told them, they realised their life was over. Most pleaded with me to change my decision. In hindsight, their begging is irrelevant because I know that my reasoning each and every time is correct.
After that night in the bar, I had followed her home. I memorised every detail about her as she walked back to her apartment. She had taken the groping man home with her that evening to carry out her own ritual and quench her physical thirst. Soon she would be part of my ritual and I would make her regret the sexual depravity she had sought outside the sanctity of marriage.
It hadn’t been long since I had released Chloe, but again the passion to continue my chosen path was burning inside me.
I continue walking around the apartment absorbing its contours and moods. I open her drawers and wardrobes and run my hands across her most intimate clothes. The word slut is whispered and falls from my lips. I draw in a long breath and allow her scent to fill my body. I feel myself starting to go hard. But I know that I have to control myself. I need to leave now before my urges become too strong to control. I have left a few presents for her around the apartment. Maybe she will notice them, maybe not.
After letting myself out, I walk through St Catherine’s Dock back towards Tower Hill tube station. I pick up a free copy of the Evening Standard newspaper. Nothing. It has been twelve days since I left my offering in Carter Lane and there has not been a single article in any newspaper. Surely someone must have discovered the gift I have laid out for them. If she is not discovered soon, things will need to change and I will have to start my quest again from the beginning and more women will have to die. It will be their laziness, not mine. It will not be my fault. These rules have been given to me by another many years ago. Therefore if nothing is reported in the next seven days I will start again. My master will expect it. In fact, she will demand it. I curse them for their incompetence.
The following morning Valerie Munsey finished her first mug of tea for the day and placed it in the sink. She filled it with water and left it to soak. It would be washed up later as she was already late. Since retiring at the age of sixty, she had built up a core group of loyal clients for her cleaning and ironing services. She was a fastidious woman and liked everything just so. Her late husband was testament to that. He said if he was ever lucky enough to die first, he was sure that she would polish his coffin before he was put inside it. He did then and she did as he had predicted. It just felt like the right thing to do. This morning she was heading towards one of her favourite and longest-held clients.
Valerie had returned from holiday the prior evening. It had been a long flight and this morning she was feeling the weight of the jet lag as she prepared to go to work. She stepped out her front door, the crisp morning air cut through her woolen overcoat. It was September and the cold weather shocked her back into the reality that her holiday was now well and truly over.
After taking the number 76 bus from Waterloo Station towards the city, Valerie alighted the bus at the top of Ludgate Hill by St Paul’s Cathedral. She made the short walk down Creed Lane and turned right towards the bottom end of Carter Lane. On the right side was an old 1920’s shop front. Above it now were a series of flats. Valerie let herself in through the main entrance and walked up to the second floor. Valerie loved this flat. The building used to be a set of accountants offices, styled at the time the building was opened. When the developer had bought the premises they had kept the old decor and layout. The building had then been split into four flats, one on each floor. Apart from the large open spaces at the end of each floor, which had been utilised as a lounge at the front and kitchen to the rear, the central section was still split into three large office size rooms. The developer had kept the original dividers which were constructed of teak wood panels built to waist height with framed frosted glass panels to the ceiling. These had now been made into two bedrooms with a bathroom in the center, which allowed light to pass through the glass panels from one end of the flat to the other.
As Valerie opened the door to the flat she was confronted with a bank of old metal filing cabinets. The present occupant had remained true to the original use of the building and had decorated the flat with industrial style furniture and matching light fittings. She had continued the theme with bold if not very masculine paintings and a collection of manual typewriters.
The first thing she noticed on entering was a rather putrid aroma. It was nothing she had ever smelt before. Her immediate thought was that she needed to take out the rubbish first before she did anything else.
’Hi morning, it’s Val your cleaner. Anyone home?’It was her usual call every time she entered a client’s residence. This morning as usual, no reply. She was happy. She preferred to do her job while her clients were at work.
On entering the kitchen she found the sink filled with rotting leeks. Odd she thought but realised it still was not the cause of the stench emanating from the flat. Before starting to clean she decided that she needed to open all the windows and get some fresh air into the place.
As Valerie walked towards the lounge she saw that the door was slightly ajar. Through the gap, she caught sight of a barefoot. Maybe her client had had a late night and was crashed out on the floor asleep. She knew that she could be a bit of a party animal sometimes. She called out again, but again no reply so she slowly poked her head around the corner and peered into the lounge.
Valerie stood transfixed. She felt the blood drain from her face. She collapsed to her knees and started to weep uncontrollably. She squeezed her eyes shut trying to block the image she had just seen out of her mind, but it would not go away. All she could see was the naked body of a mutilated woman.
She crawled on her hands and knees back towards the kitchen. She needed to find her bag and call someone, anyone, to come and help the poor girl. She hoped that person could sow her torn body back up, but she knew that would never happen. Her client was dead and she would never take another breath again.
Valerie finally reached her bag, grabbed her phone, and stumbled, half fell down the stairs until she reached the street. She sucked in the fresh air and vomited. One of many times that day.