The fog was thick that November night in 1888. A low, crackling hum and a faint bluish glow invaded the cold, moist alley of Brandy Street just north of Bucks Row in the Whitechapel district of East London. A young woman dressed in a khaki, one-piece uniform stepped from the glow which emanated from a spot two feet above the alley's cobblestones.

She adjusted a device hanging next to an occupied holster on her waistband, and the bluish glow dissipated into the murky night along with its lightly crackling hum. She cautiously eyed her surroundings, unsure of her location.

The alley was empty except for a scruffy old cat, a few wooden crates stacked against the brick rear-end of a building, and some soggy old newspapers piled randomly in front of the crates.

Where is he? she wondered, pulse pounding in her ears. He was suppose to be here tonight.

The cat meowed, strolled over, and rubbed its damp fur against her leg. She pushed the cat aside with a trembling foot as her fingers felt blindly along the crumbling mortar joints of the coarse bricks. Cautiously she inched down the dreary abandoned street, stealing over slippery, irregular cobbles that seemed to go every which way. Because of the uneven stones, she didn't notice she'd stepped on something lumpy under the newspaper--until the newspapers came alive with a dreadful yelling and cursing like a longshoreman with a backache.

"Ow! Blimey! What the bloody 'ell fire is going on?" a gruff, male voice in true East London tongue echoed from the pile.

"Sor--ree," the woman replied, stepping back to let the newspapers fall from the man--like a snake shedding its skin.

"Crikey, if you're not a lady," a grimy little man said. He stood just over five feet in height, wore a soiled, bulky overcoat, and a tattered stocking cap. "Your height fooled me," he said, stepping from his newspaper cocoon, toward her.

Her blood went cold and she yanked the pistol from the holster, pointed it at the man's forehead, and yelled, "Just because I'm a woman, don't think I can't kick your ass!"

The man held up his hands, palms out, and said, "Whoa, missy, I'm 'armless. I just weren't expecting no dame to be in this bleedin' alley this time o night."

Slowly she lowered the pistol and said, "Sorry, I'm just a little nervous. I've come to find a man by the name of Mr. Harry Pinkston. He's suppose to be in this alley tonight. Do you know where I might find him?"

"What you want wid old 'arry?"

"Harry is recorded in our . . . files as the only man who can identify Jack The Ripper, so I need to speak with him."

The fog dissipated slightly, and the streetlamp cast its full illumination on the woman and her multiple facial piercings.

"Blimey, lady, what the bloody 'ell happened to your face?"

"Why what do you mean?"

"You've got a wire through your nose and a wire through your lip and a bunch of bleedin' wires through your ears. Did you fall on a pile of scrap metal?"

"It's body piercing. It's a statement. . . . Can you tell me where I might find Harry Pinkston?"

"A statement?"

"I'm pierced in places you couldn't imagine. Please tell me where I can find Mr. Pinkston. It's of the utmost importance."

The little man wiped his nose on his grimy coat sleeve and asked, "Mind if I scrounge a fag off'n ya?"

"A what?"

"A fag. A cigarette."

"Oh. I don't smoke. I need to find Mr. Harry Pinkston!"

The man pulled a bright metal flask from his hip pocket, removed the stopper, wiped off the mouth of the flask with his sleeve, and pushed it toward the woman. "How about a wee snort to take the chill off?"

She took another step back shaking her head and yelled, "Where the hell is Pinkston, goddammit?"

The man straightened with a surprised look, took a swig, and shuddered. "Ah that gets the old 'eart a pumping." He returned the corked flask to his hip pocket striking something metallic in the pocket with a dink! and smiled. His two front teeth were missing.

"I'm 'arry Pinkston at your service," he said. "Where the deuce did you pick-up that gutter talk?"

"Pleased to make your acquaintance, Harry. My name is Helen and everybody talks that way in the future." She extended her hand to shake his but stopped short and rapidly drew it back.

"Now what the bleeding 'ell fire are you going on about, 'in the future?'" he asked.

"This might be difficult for you to comprehend, but . . ." she took a deep breath and blurted, "I am from the future, and I have come here to find and kill Jack the Ripper."

Harry walked over to the crates and sat on one; his brow furrowed and his eyes narrowed. Helen and the cat followed him to his chair. "You trying to pull a fast one on old 'arry?" he asked as he pulled a piece of something from his pocket and fed it to the cat. "This 'ere's 'Enrietta, my faithful companion." Shifting around on the squeaky crate he asked, "now what's this about Jack the Ripper?"

Helen sat down on a crate close to Harry got a whiff of his body odor and scooted away. "My spouse and I have been doing a thesis in our quantum physics class at Cambridge University on cause and effect and--"

"Cambridge University! Bloody 'ell!" Harry said, taken aback. "You mean to tell me you're going to the University of Cambridge?"

"Yes I am. Anyway, we're doing a thesis on cause and effect in history, and we're planning to eliminate evil people down through the past. Then we'll record a before and after chart of the history on our PC--"

"What's a pee-see?"

"It's a device . . . uh, well that's not important right now. What is important is that my spouse will attempt her mission when I--"

"Her mission? You mean 'is mission don't you?"

"I'm a lesbian."

Harry looked at her intently. "A lesbian. Well that's nice, I guess. I'm Catholic, myself."

"No, no . . . I'm married to a woman."

Harry sat for a moment scratching his stubble. Then he looked over at her and said, "Go ahead with your story."

"I traveled back as far as the time machine would let me, and after I kill Jack the Ripper and return to my time to observe the effect, Pat, my spouse, will go into the past and kill Adolph Hitler before he has--"

"Hold on, 'oo is Adolph 'Itner?"

"Adolph Hit-ler! He's responsible for the deaths of millions of Jews during World War Two. Anyway, Pat figures on going back to 1933, just before Hitler gets into power, put a bullet in his brain, and push this button," she pointed at a little green button on the T.T.L.(Time Travel Link) next to her holster, "and swoosh be back in 2188."

Harry furrowed his brow. "This is just a wee bit too much for old 'arry. Zipping in and out of places, World War Two, shooting blokes in their bloomin' 'eads. I'm afraid I'll 'ave to see some kinda' proof." He looked over at the T.T.L. "So this is the machine that sends you back into time, eh?"

"Actually this is just an umbilical. The real time machine is back at the Steven Hawking building in the year 2188."

"Do you 'ave a five-pence for tomorrow's breakfast?"

"No!"

"A penny would 'elp."

"I have no money that would be of any . . ." Then she thought a moment and reached into an undetectable pocket, pulled out a coin, and handed it to Harry careful not to touch his soiled coat.

"I can't spot a bleeding thing."

Helen slipped her hand back into her pocket and pulled out something tiny--about the size of a postage stamp--shook it vigorously and handed it to Harry. He took it and gave her a puzzled look.

"Squeeze the sides, Harry." He did and a bright light shown from the thing. He pointed the beam around the alley.

"Why, this 'ere light's twice as bright as any lantern. Maybe three times."

Helen said, "Look at the coin, Harry."

Harry read it, "It says 'one Euro.'"

"Read the other side."

He turned the coin over and read, "Twenty-one-'undred- and-eighty-six. Is that the date?"

"Yes it is."

"Why, that's three 'undred years from now . . . What's a Euro?"

"Around the year 2103, England finally joined the European Union and discontinued the use of the Pound Sterling. We now use the Euro like all the other European countries. That coin in your hand is worth slightly more than three quarters of a Pound."

"Can I 'ave it?"

"You can have the coin and the light if you help me locate The Ripper."

"It's a deal." He slid both items into a deep pant pocket, spit onto his right palm, and extended it to shake Helen's hand. She wrinkled her face and pulled her hand to her chest like he was a leper.

Harry shrugged, stuck his hand into his pocket, produced a battered pocket watch missing its protective cover, and glanced at it. "He should be along any time."

After a few moments of silence Helen said, "Tell me, Harry, how long have you been living on the streets?"

"Since me mum died . . . The two-schilling 'ore."

"Hold on! No sense insulting your mum like that."

"I'm not. She were a prostitute and she use to charge two schillings. I'm her bastard son, begging your pardon miss, from one of 'er 'clients.' After mum died, I 'ad to come and live in the streets."

"How did your mum die?"

"She were gutted like a roasting chicken by one of 'er clients."

Helen sat silent for a moment then asked, "Have you always lived in this alley?"

"No, one night while I were drunk I were shanghaied. Toured the world, I did. Lost me front teeth in a fist fight in 'ong Kong, killed me first man in a knife fight in Tokyo, and met Geraldine in Bangkok. She's been with me ever since. Would you like to meet 'er?"

Just then Henrietta perked-up her ears and stared toward the end of the alley.

"Not right now I think someone's coming."

"You better get down behind these crates with your gun ready, miss."

Helen complied. She looked back at Harry and whispered, "Do you think it's him?"

"Keep your bleeding eyes on the alley entrance, 'elen, he'll be coming around any second now!"

"All right, all right," Helen said directing the pistol at Whitechapel Road. "What makes you so sure he'll come this way?"

Stroking the cat's soggy fur he said, "He always comes this way after 'is business is done with, ain't that right 'enrietta?"

Henrietta meowed and pushed her head into the stroke as if answering his question in the affirmative.

"You know, 'elen, you still 'aven't met Geraldine yet."

"I don't have time for that right now," Helen said, her eyes fixed on the small, murky mouth of the alley. Her trembling thumb cocking the sweating hammer of the pistol.

"I forgot to mention old Jack likes to give 'is victims a wee kiss before 'e carves em."

"That's nice, Harry. Please stand out of the way."

Ever so gently, Helen felt a kiss placed on the top of her head. A cold chill raced down her spine and her jaw dropped. Slowly she turned her head from the alley entrance.

"'Elen, meet Geraldine."

She felt the five inches of cold, hard steel enter between two ribs at her backbone and slash across her spine. Helen fell to the ground, in a heap, like a boned fish. A sticky warmth oozed from her wound and trickled across her back.

Harry rolled her over and before she blacked out, she felt him remove the T.T.L. from her belt and say, "Let's see 'ow the ladies of the future like Jack the bleeding Ripper."

End

CONTENTS


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