The town of Winchester is filled with many quirks and oddities. Between authors who played at crime scenes and undertakers who wished they were alive, D. I. Knighton is never short of things to investigate. A pall is cast over the town, however, when a sudden rash of killings spread throughout. Will the detective be able to solve the mystery before one of her loved ones becomes the next target?

(Comments, constructive criticism, and theories are welcome and appreciated!)


2. I.

     “Another foreigner,” D. I. Knighton sighed. She was the only female employed by the Law, and she knew the men under her were waiting for her to make a mistake and prove themselves right. That rarely happened when it came to Violet. She took her job very seriously, and she dared any man to question her right to stand at a crime scene.

     Unlike the officer next her, Violet didn't wear the normal Law uniform. As D. I., she wasn't required to. Instead, she wore a no-nonsense charcoal gray dress that stopped just above her calves with matching thigh-high boots that brought her up to five-foot-seven. Her silver hair was pulled away from her heart-shaped face into a stern bun, and her lilac eyes took in everything at once.

     “She's young, probably mid-twenties. It seems like his type,” Officer Johnson stated as he jotted his findings in his thin notebook. Violet gave him a droll stare.

     “If it were him, she'd be missing her uterus and be mutilated beyond repair. We were only ever able to find out that the women were foreigners due to the impressive work of the undertaker here in Winchester.”

     If the officer was offended, Violet couldn't be bothered to care as she continued to inspect the scene. The dead woman looked American and middle-class. She didn't wear a wedding ring, nor did her hand look like there ever had been. She looked as if she had just fainted on the street and cracked her head open on the stone, except for the few missing mementos that stuck out. For one, her eyes were missing. Whoever removed them did so with the precision of a surgeon, and Violet would have been impressed if she hadn't realized that it had been done antemortem. Her tongue, ears, nose, and the tips of her fingers were also missing, but not nearly to the level of their most recent serial killer. She said this out loud, and Johnson seemed relieved. She glared at him.

     “You do realize this isn't a good thing?”

     “But it means that the Ripper isn't running about here in Winchester.”

     “No, but it does mean that there is a copy-cat out there who is attacking women in Winchester. And that isn't , sir,” the detective snapped.

     “Bell? Bell, where are you? Bellamy!”

     If she weren't naturally pale, Violet would have turned white at the newcomer's voice. She looked around for the source, but all she saw were officers.

     Maybe she's just passing through, Violet hoped. Her hopes were crushed when she saw the tiny black rabbit that she recognized as Josephine's Bellamy. He hopped carefully around the shuffling feet of the Yard, pausing occasionally to sniff the air before continuing toward her. When he made it to her, he plopped down and scratched one of his fuzzy ears with his back foot. Violet sighed and picked him up.

     Bellamy was a black pygmy rabbit with a single white spot on his belly shaped like a broken heart. His eyes were a dark brown, though Violet knew them to be unseeing. The poor little rabbit had been born blind. That hadn't stopped his master from choosing him over the other larger creatures in the pet store.

     “Oh, you found him!” Violet looked up from the bunny in her hands to see Professor Josephine Adderdale.

     Josephine was shorter than Violet and more plump. She had a round, inviting face and kind brown eyes that were framed by thick black lashes. Her hair was cut in a stylish bob that made her look younger than her twenty-five years. She wore a bright red dress that stopped at her knees, and black boots that disappeared under the hem. She carried a matching red handbag in which she normally transported her pet.

     “This is a crime scene, Jo. What are you doing here?” Violet asked as she handed over Bellamy. Josephine gave her an innocent smile.

     “To find my darling Bell of course.”

     Violet gave her a look that said that she wasn't buying what Josephine was selling. Josephine gave her a bright smile.

     “And maybe to see if you'd let me see what I could get from the crime scene for my new novel.”

     Violet glared at her.

     “You're disturbing the crime scene and desecrating the memory of the dead. Now take your blind rabbit and leave before I have you removed. This isn't one of your little books, Jo.”

     “Well, detective, that really hurts. I'm not desecrating the memory of the dead, I'm preserving it. In fiction no less! Far more interesting than Dr. Hartford’s boring drivel about cadavers. My little books have plot, and I would kindly appreciate it if you respected that.”

     Johnson had been listening to the women's conversation, and he wore a disgusted frown. Violet gave him an arched stare that was matched only by Josephine's. It was Violet who spoke first.

     “Go give your report to the commissioner,” she stated firmly so that there could be no questioning. Or so she thought, at least.

     “That sounds like a dismissal,” he replied with a hint of anger in his voice. It was no secret that none of the men enjoyed taking orders from a petite female, but they usually hid it for the sake of their job.

     “Good,” Josephine added in the same tone she used with a particularly dense student. “She intended it to be.”

     “Aren't you a civilian?” he growled at the young professor. Josephine gave him a mischievous grin.

     “Aren't you dismissed?”

     Violet waited until Johnson had left before she returned to glaring at Josephine. “You really aren't allowed to be here, regardless of the reason.”

     “But I know her,” she added, returning Bellamy to her bag. He hopped in and made himself comfortable. Only his ears poked out at the top, twitching every so often to prove that he was listening. “She was one of my finer students. She was due back from her holiday to the States. I think she said she was visiting her cousin.”

     Violet's posture changed and she quickly looked around to make sure that they weren't overheard. When she was sure that they weren't attracting attention, she grabbed Josephine by her gloved hand and pulled her closer. When she spoke, it was in a low whisper. “Do not tell anyone that you knew her or her plans. It doesn't matter who asks you, do not tell a soul.”

     Josephine's eyes widened at the sudden intensity of her friend. She gave a low sigh and looked down to where Bellamy had disappeared.

     “But what about Adam? I tell him everything.”

     “You're mechanic? Why would you- no. Not even your mechanic.”

     Josephine looked like she didn't appreciate this.

     “Jo, we don't know who's behind this. If you tell the wrong person, you could be killed.”

     Josephine rolled her eyes at this. “Adam isn't the killer. If it isn't made of metal, he isn't concerned with it.”

     Violet didn't miss the slight bitter undertone of Josephine's words, but she chose to not tread there. Instead, she continued her warning.

     “Just because Adam isn't the killer, it doesn't mean that he wouldn't tell someone.”

     Josephine gave her a droll stare before turning her gaze back on the victim.

     “Adam wouldn't tell anyone if I asked him not to. Are you sure there's nothing extra you can tell me about Tabitha?”

     Violet didn't like the fact that Josephine knew more about the woman than she did, but she would play her game if it meant progressing in the case. “I assume you know quite a bit yourself. Care to fill me in on her personal life?”

     “Her name is Tabitha Bridge. She is- was eighteen, and she was studying abroad thanks to a study-visa and an impressive scholarship. It covered even my course.”

     Violet had often wondered what class Josephine taught, but was currently reminded, “You couldn't afford it if I told you.” She didn't care enough to investigate, though it was intriguing. Though she was referred to as Professor Adderdale, no one even knew what institution the writer was employed by. If she were someone else, Violet would have been certain that she was making it all up, but Josephine never lied. It was some weird vow of hers. Of course, the writer didn't see omission as a lie, so she still wasn't innocent.

     “She had to get special permission to go on holiday early. I think her aunt died and she was particularly close to her. She returned to the States for the funeral. She missed my class, so I figured maybe she'd decided to stay there with her cousin.”

     “Is there any chance her cousin returned with her?” Violet asked. Josephine shook her head.

     “Doubtful. They didn't have much money. Tabitha was one of those lucky cases you heard about.”

     Yeah. Real lucky, Violet thought. She looked down at the body and took in how young she actually was. Eighteen years on the Earth, only for everything she worked so hard for to be ripped away. She looked up at a pouty Josephine.


     “The story, Vi! This would make a great third crime scene for Detective Inspector Bellamy!”

     “Your book's main character is your rabbit?” Violet asked skeptically. Josephine shrugged very unladylike.

     “He asked to be put in, so I put him in.”

     “Sure. How about dinner tonight at my place and we'll talk about it? I can have a carriage come pick you up at your home.”

     Josephine smirked.

     “Afraid to let me walk alone?”

     “Aren't you?”

     “I have Bellamy to protect me!”

     “Your blind, miniature rabbit that constantly gets stolen or lost?”

     “But he makes up for all that in determination!” Josephine beamed and pulled him out of her bag. He was curled in a little ball, fast asleep in the palm of her hand. He looked anything but determined.

     “I'll have the carriage pick you up at seven.”

     “Oh, darling, no. Eight at the earliest.”

     “Why?” Violet asked, cocking a silver eyebrow.

“Because I fear a lady on time is a dreadful thing. It proves she has nothing better to do than attend to your command. I thought you knew of such things!”

     Instead of replying, Violet simply left. She'd gotten everything she was going to get out of the body without a coroner's report. She needed to go somewhere to eat lunch, and then check on Christian in his office. He so seldom remembered the time when he was working, and she hated it when he overworked himself. She didn't bother giving a goodbye to Josephine or the members of the Law who remained. At the most, they'd call her rude and Josephine not even that.

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