The Anglic Gene

An orphan girl unsure of who she is or why a man wants her dead carries a secret. She will experience humanity.

Are you ready?

Join Sophia in a heart thumping adventure across England set in the 1870’s, exploring faith, doubt, love and fear. A story, quoted by the editor as “really something special”, you’ll continue to contemplate long after the journey unfolds

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13. Jack

The grandfather clock chimed six times in the Whitechapel home. Each medium-pitch clang reverberated through Jack’s vertebrae as if they were part of the instrument making the sound. Time for him to leave the house and stalk his prey, something he acknowledged was wrong but did to sustain his life. That he had sold his soul to a devil in exchange for mortality was undeniable. Before each hunting expedition a haunting question echoed through his mind: Did I make a mistake? What happens when my mortality finally comes to an end? Everybody dies. What then?

He pushed the queries to the back of his mind as harrowing thoughts of Hell disturbed him to the point of mental collapse. The day he took his first life, he realized the gravity of the decision he had made. Catholics would spread tales of Heaven and Hell, at least to him they were nothing more than tales. He spent years convincing himself they were fables by gathering with others who did not believe. In the company of atheists, his anxieties waned and life was more comfortable. By mixing with those who shared his beliefs, he could sin without expecting ramifications or even taking responsibility for his actions. Yet at the same time, the taut strings of his conscience would tug on his heart. Strings he hardened to lessen the strain.

A typical English night awaited him outside: light drizzle, cold, damp, unforgiving for those who loitered in the elements. After slipping on his long dark gray overcoat and lifting the hood, he stepped over the threshold into the gathering darkness.

Distant coughs echoed down Whitechapel road. People walked through the depressed streets, some with umbrellas, others holding newspapers over their heads to shield themselves from the misty rain. No laughter, no smiles, only a sense of dread and fear in this place. Where is the love, children laughing and playing, families walking together? Locked away in their houses, the vile weather keeping them inside. Only laborers dared the elements on their journeys to and from their workplace, not for any thrill but out of necessity to put food on the table. Poverty was no stranger to Whitechapel.

His black leather shoes provided reasonable protection from the puddled cobblestone road as he trudged to his destination. A three-hour walk lay before him. His arm would tire holding his black doctor’s bag containing the instruments he required, not only to do the killing but also the dissecting. The walk would not be without pain. Constant pangs will shoot like sparks from his tumor into his nervous system reminding him why he would do what his conscience valiantly fought against.

Jack’s conscience was what bothered him the most—bothered him more than the pain of the tumor. Why did his inner voice deplore his actions so much? A moral law? A law he was bound to by some unseen force, by a doctrine, but not one that he had been taught but rather one he had been bound to from birth? While he accepted the fact that he could break the law’s rules, his conscience nagged him, without ceasing, never giving up, and only silenced through his deliberate efforts, pushing to the remote recesses of his mind the uncomfortable sensation of being held accountable to the laws written in his soul.

In the distance, he heard the familiar voice of preaching bellowing from Friends Burial Ground, a Christian Revival Society started by a fellow named William Booth. Jack had a disdain for Christians, a hatred he struggled to understand. It was as if something had infected him creating an angst for anything holy. To Jack, Jesus remained nothing more than a casual curse word he overheard people use. An invisible man long dead now nearly nineteen centuries and believed in by only the gullible. He couldn’t deny that he noticed a twinkle in the eyes of Christians, however, a sparkle of hope, even those deep in poverty, a glimmer he longed for.

Dorset Street. The lonesome road surrounded by warrens of small dark streets containing the greatest suffering, filth, and danger. His hunting ground for the night awaited him. His chosen prey: women of the night. He tried to convince himself that ridding the world of those involved in sin would somehow mitigate his own act of evil. But deep in the cellar of his soul he recognized that murder, regardless of the victim, breached a commandment of God the preachers shouted through the streets. Thou shalt not kill.

In the darkness of the shadows, he opened his bag and retrieved a white cloth stained with the saliva of past victims. He doused the cotton with chloroform. Time to wait for his opportunity. The hours ticked by, but Jack had learned to be patient. One time he had rushed in to ambush a victim only to have a passerby interrupt the act. That night he was almost caught. Since then he took his time and awaited the faultless opportunity, like a fisherman waiting for his line to pull. He watched the night, waiting to execute the perfect crime.

A woman with long red gorgeous hair and no doubt returning from a trick came into view. She was wearing a heavy full-length dress and applied scarlet lipstick with a small circular pocket mirror as she walked the street. Opportunity, meet Jack. Her vision obscured, her senses directed to her own actions, the last time she would ever apply lipstick.

Slithering out from the shadows, he crept behind the unsuspecting victim and slapped the chloroform-soaked rag over her nose and mouth while dragging her into his den of shadows. Her beautiful brown eyes would bulge, he knew this, as she struggled in vain to gasp for air. The muffled sounds, hardly audible, would eventually cease. Her body would go limp. She would then lose consciousness, never to awaken again. He whispered in her ear, “Shh, my darling. It will be over soon.” Those were the very words his mother used to say to him when his father, in a gin-fueled rage, would beat them.

The instructions Mephis gave him this night was to remove a heart. The task was relatively simple for Jack, a trained surgeon. He knew just where to slice and which bones to saw through to make retrieval of the sought-after organ as quick and effortless as possible. The prey would not feel any pain, a fact that in some ways comforted him. He did not want to torture his victims. Life was all he sought, and the price to be paid for his life was the life of another.

Job done, he wrapped the bestilled heart in a white cotton sheath and placed it in his bag. He closed the victim’s eyes and took one last look at her. He gritted his teeth, hating himself, and began the return journey to his dismal Whitechapel home.

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