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Reminiscences (Part 3)

[Part 1] [Part 2]

Extracts from the memoirs of Chief Superintendent Drake Verdier, (1848-13/09/1927).

(Chapter 40)

Meeting The Terrors Of The Night, In One’s Own Home

A Visit From A Lady

It is now more than three years since Alice Howard disappeared and just less than that since I last put pen to paper to record, the major events of, my life. Now I unfortunately find that I must add a short note, after the end of the previous chapter. The reason I find that I must add this note is that, three months ago, I received a letter – signed J. Fitzjames Bart — it arrived the week after my grandson was married, to Roberta Fletcher, who is Helena Fletcher nee Fitzjames’s daughter. The letter’s writer claimed, that he had been the Horror and that he had finally taken Alice, once the twins no longer needed her. At first, I took it for a bad joke and was about to bin it, until something made me read more than the opening paragraph. Whomso had written it knew the case at least as well as I did — maybe better than I did. Several days later I read it for a second time. There were some passages, in the letter, that referred to things I had never even put in any of my reports, these included exactly what I had said, in my first meeting with John Fitzjames, about how I had cut my arm. I eventually had, Gus, my grandson, check out the other details, in the letter; they all proved to be true, even the date Roberta arrived in London, from the colonies, which was the Sixth of August 1882. So it seems that there were two Horrors or more correctly two Gifham Rippers, Roberta and John. By some mischance, I had been out smarted by a murderous little boy, who had feigned illness and frailty, to escape suspicion. It is still hard to believe that John Fitzjames was the Horror, even if, as I believe, the letter was most likely from him, despite that everyone thinks that he is dead.

I feel that it would be wrong, to rewrite what I have written about the Horror, as the letter’s insights, into the case, would only colour the way I portray John Fitzjames. Because of the letter, I have removed all details of the injuries that the victims had suffered and what lead me to concluded that the Horror was responsible for the burglaries. I feel that if the reasons for him killing, Ben Hunt, were as he claims, in the letter, then that was the only death that the Horror, or Horrors, can be forgiven. For all her faults, Alice did not deserve what Ben had planned, to do to her. The wild claims the writer made might account for some, if not all, of the more unusual aspects of the case, but those claims are most likely just the creative imaginings, of a writer, — out to exploit the case, yet again, for profit. For that reason and to protect Gus’s mother-in-law from even more sorrow, Gus and I have sworn to never to reveal the full contents, of the letter. We have instead requested that the archivist, at Bellham University, keep my manuscript there and only release it, once they are sure that certain possible authors — of the letter — are dead, most likely from drink.

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Filed under Annals Of Bellhamshire, Bellham University, Detective Fiction, Short Story, Vampires, Vampyres, Werewolves

Reminiscences (Part 2)

[Part 1]

Extracts from the memoirs of Chief Superintendent Drake Verdier, (1848-13/09/1927).

(Chapter 30)

Gifham Horrors

Gifham Jack

Jack Rips Through Bellhamshire

For much of 1898 and 99 the villagers of Gifham feared for their lives, for night-time was a terror, that regularly brought death to one or more villagers. At first it was thought that a feral dog — or dogs — was responsible for the deaths, as all the bodies showed signs of being bitten and the victim’s had had some of their flesh eaten. On the Thursday after Christmas 1898 was when I was called in, a body was found in the fields near Gifham — it was that of the pregnant wife, of a wealth, local land owner. On this occasion things were different, the woman’s body showed none of the usual signs of an animal attack — the previous ones had all shown such signs — despite which there were far too many similarities with the earlier bodies, for them not have been killed by the same killer. All the bodies had suffered massive blood-loss and there was no signs of a struggle, also there was far too little blood found, at all of the scenes of the crimes. The lack of the animal bites on the body — that had concealed the evidence, of the true nature, of the attacks, on the earlier bodies — revealed that some kind of blade had slit one of her wrists.

By the place, where we entered the field, where the body was found, there was a wrecked trap — it had lost a wheel, the previous evening. Both people who had occupied the trap, when it had been wrecked, were severely injured in the accident — John, the youngest son of George Fitzjames baronet, was nearly killed in the accident. That morning, he was abed, in what was expected to be his deathbed. The trap’s other occupant, a Miss Roberta Fitzjames, a distant cousin of Sir George’s, had died in the early hours of that morning, after heroically, despite her terrible injuries, carrying the mortally wounded, unconscious John Fitzjames the several miles, across fields, to the Fitzjamess’ home.

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Filed under Annals Of Bellhamshire, Detective Fiction, Short Story