I stand under the gas lamp, pulling the scarlet shawl tighter to keep the early November cold out, failing miserably.

Business has been slow tonight due to the bad weather. It had rained earlier and I took shelter in the Ten Bells pub, where I had a couple of glasses of gin to help numb me.

All the street girls have been pretty jumpy these past three months as there’s an awful killer about. Four murders so far and poor Annie who lived just around the corner was his second victim.

They call him “Jack the Ripper,” a gross name but accurate. All but one of his victims has been brutally mutilated and all have had their throats slashed, mercifully ending their lives before the Ripper went to work.

I can hear drunken laughter and shouting from old Four Penny Polly and the rest of her drunken friends, no doubt drinking away their doss money.

I’m lucky I have a place of my own, only a room mind you, but it’s home. I don’t have to share it with anyone else, which is a godsend. Most people around here rent a space nightly after getting enough doss money to pay for that cramped filthy spot.

As long as I pay my rent, then the landlord leaves me alone. I’m struggling with my rent this week; that’s why I’m out here at this late hour, trying to get one final customer.

I’m young and quite attractive, even if I say so myself, so I don’t have much trouble getting punters, but due to this damn weather, custom is sparse.

I hear someone coming and I turn to face them. A figure is approaching through the recently fallen fog; he’s wearing a long black coat, trimmed with astrakhan and clutching a small leather bag in his black gloved hands. As he gets nearer, I can see his lower face, which is broad and a bit puffy. The stranger wears a moustache under his snub nose, but I can’t see his eyes or the upper part of his face, which is in shadow due to the hat he’s wearing. Alright, time for work. I put on my best smile; this always gets them going.

“Good evening,” he says, his voice well-educated but quiet.

“Good evening, sir. Are you looking for some company?” I reply.

He smiles as he reaches me in the light of the gas lamp. He pulls off a glove and places a hand gently upon my chilled, fair skin. It feels warm and I sigh closing my eyes, enjoying the warmth from it. He leans in and kisses my cheek and whispers something in my ear. I laugh girlishly and he seems to like this. I feel him breathing in my scent and I know I’ve hooked him.

“Do you want to go somewhere?” I ask looking up at him with my large blue eyes, playing with his high white collar.

He nods. I can hear his laboured breath as he looks me up and down, appraising me.

In the distance, the bells of Christ Church ring out in the foggy night.

“I have a room just up the road, in Millers Court. Want to come in and get out of this cold?” I say.

“Yes,” he chokes and we begin to walk up Dorsett Street.

I reach out for his hand and he takes it; got you.

We only have to go a little way up the street. The densely populated houses on either side loom over us before we reach the dark, bricked archway, between two cramped houses, which leads to Miller’s Court.

Across the road in Itchy Park, vagabonds are fighting, a glass smashes, and a yell echoes around the church yard as I lead the stranger down the narrow alley way.

We exit the alleyway and my front door is facing us, number 13. The wind is picking up and it seems it is going to rain again. Quickly I unlock the door and step inside, the stranger following.

“What’s your name, missy?” the man asks in a low gruff voice.

“Mary,” I turn to face him, “Mary Kell…” the name dies on my lips as I finally look into the stranger’s eyes. They are black and dead. He closes the door slowly and pulls out a scalpel from his bag. Flickers of fire light from the small heath, dance in the blade; I can see dried blood on it. He smiles and there’s no need asking for his name, as I already know it.