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Dance with Darkness

A Serial Killer’s Descent into Madness

By 𝐑𝐌 𝐒𝐭𝐨𝐜𝐤𝐭𝐨𝐧Published 10 months ago Updated 7 months ago 20 min read
Image created with Fotor AI (Edits by author)

“Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?” – Matthew 23:33¹

DANCE WITH DARKNESS

Darkness stalked me, a foul, ungodly haunting from each morn to waking ‘morrow.

‘Til at last the darkness caught me, consumed my mind, possessed my body, feasting fast upon my sullen sorrow.

Any sense of peace forgotten, extinguished by this plague of rotten darkness that devoured my stain’d soul.

The me I knew soon was lost in this dance with darkness, a cruel and wanton madness that in measures seized control.

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Mindful of my rightful prize, this path was of my own demise, a malefic course for me that had been destined.

“I’m one with darkness,” I soliloquized, surrendering to my soulless guide, and felt sad, scornful eyes peer down from heaven.

I journeyed to the depths of hell, and there the devil did foretell of dark and heinous acts of my desire,

That deep within my black heart dwell, an evil and accurs’ed spell, forged upon my soul by hellish fire.

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A forlorn lady whom I had met had a happy date with death; she surrendered to my blade without a scream².

I found myself aroused by death as I purloined her final breath, and ne’er a soul had come to intervene.

I left her where her blood had flowed along the footpath unpatrolled³, the victim of my sharp, exacting knife;

A work of art that I bestowed upon my master far below – the corrupted soul of a lost, tormented life⁴.

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Day to day I tried to hide this beast that simmered deep inside the chambers of my black and wicked heart,

These urges that within arise, unable to be exorcized, that kept me on this path that I’d embarked.

I found my next lamb wandering the early-morning streets unseen, in darkened corners shadows kept concealed;

She struggled unsuccessfully to wrest her kerchiefed airway free before succumbing to my deadly steel⁵.

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My sweet addiction beckoned me from the Hollow Abyss of insanity⁶, with an insatiable thirst to prey upon the lost,

foul, wretched souls of these cruel streets, mired in abject poverty⁷, a squalidness birthed here by my dear boss⁸.

I reigned these streets at witching time, beyond the last bell tower chime⁹, with a veil of terror¹⁰, I robbed them of their faith

and innocence of humankind with the grandeur of my crimes sublime, emerging from the darkness as a wraith.

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I left my next task incomplete; her deadly fate she would not cheat, but I was robbed the work I long mid-stride¹¹.

Undeterred by my retreat, I stalked another on a diff’rent beat; my fiendish urges would not be denied.

I whispered secrets in her ear, attempting to assuage her fear – to calm her soul and ease her bitter fright;

My specious words, most insincere, a lurid trap to draw her near and claim a second soul in but one night¹².

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A harbinger of mortality, I beguiled with sagacity to lure souls into fate’s noble snare¹³.

No ears should hear, no eyes should see, this desecration of humanity, the depravity of mankind here laid bare¹⁴.

This cobblestone we tread upon, of broken homes and dreams foregone¹⁵, so bitter’s life, that “death is little more”¹⁶.

I traveled as an eidolon, an usher to that dark beyond, a ferryman¹⁷ to fiery brimstone shores¹⁸.

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My Magnum Opus, I saved for last¹⁹, and staged a grisly den aghast, the mise en scène beyond her “chamber door”²⁰.

Untangled there from life’s morass, eternally “to sleep, perchance to dream”²¹ enchanted dreams forevermore.

My victims, I immortalized, made profound their tragic lives, delivered them from streets of filth and pain²².

And with that final Carriage ride²³, cleverly their deaths disguised to achieve for them an everlasting fame.

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They prayed to God their souls be saved²⁴, refuged from my anointed blade, to reap the wages of their own dark sins²⁵.

But these stygian streets are crimson stain’d, a haunting vestige of the lives I claimed, an enduring legacy of their souls condemned.

With flesh and blood, they paid the toll to darken the path of my vacant soul, ‘fore into darkness I vanished like a whisper.

My identity remains unknown, the shrouded mystery of Whitechapel²⁶, the legend known forever as “Jack the Ripper”!

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Thank you for taking the time to read my dark poem!

I truly appreciate your support and encouragement! I am constantly seeking to improve as a writer. To that end, your feedback, both positive and constructive, is always welcomed.

I have included definitions as well as some context for a number of terms below.

Many hours of research went into this project to try to ensure that the historical details are presented accurately and in the proper timeline. I have, however, obviously taken great poetic license with my portrayal of “Jack the Ripper” and his ill motives. It is my intent neither to glorify the atrocities of the killer nor to trivialize the victims’ heartbreaking deaths at his sinister hands; it is important to keep in perspective that these women were very real and had their lives tragically and horrifically snatched from them.

Within this Poem, I have hidden several clues and surprises (“Easter Eggs”), both from history as well as from literature. I have noted them within the endnotes below. (If you would prefer not to spoil those surprises, you may wish to skip the following entries and, instead, go back for a second reading, paying special attention to the endnoted text.)

Endnotes:

¹ (“Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?”) Matthew 23:33, Holy Bible, King James Version (KJV)

² (“she surrendered to my blade without a scream.”) In the early morning hours of August 31, 1888, the horribly mutilated body of Mary Ann “Polly” Nichols, was discovered along the poorly-lit footpath at Buck’s Row, in the Whitechapel District in the East End of London. She was the first of five women (the “Canonical Five”) savagely murdered by a killer who would soon become known to the world as “Jack the Ripper”. She was viciously murdered and her body discarded along the footpath, yet none of the nearby tenants heard a single scream.

³ (“along the footpath unpatrolled”) At 3:15 AM, PC John Thain passed down Buck’s Row on his beat. He reported nothing unusual. At approximately the same time, Sgt. Kerby passed down Buck’s Row and observed the same. Sometime before their next patrols, Polly Nichols had the sad misfortune of encountering “Jack the Ripper”.

⁴ (“a work of art that I bestowed upon my master far below”) “Jack the Ripper” staged (almost theatrically) many of the murder scenes, carving his victims up like jack-o-lanterns, and then leaving ghastly displays in the open. I believe this was performative art for him. My verses here are not specifically about acts of Satanism. Rather, this is about the depraved mind of a diabolical serial killer.

⁵ (“She struggled unsuccessfully to wrest her kerchiefed airway free”) The mutilated body of Annie Chapman was discovered in the early morning hours of September 8, 1888, lying on the ground between the steps and the wooden fence in a passageway to the back yard of a home on Hanbury Street. The handkerchief she had been wearing was tied around her deeply slashed throat. It appeared that Annie had struggled and fought to save her throat from the Ripper’s deadly blade. She was the second of five canonical victims of the notorious serial killer “Jack the Ripper”. The grisly murder of Annie Chapman created a state of panic in the East End of London, which put increased pressure on the police to apprehend the dark culprit.

⁶ (“from the Hollow Abyss of insanity”) Here, I compare the Ripper’s lonely decay of madness to a descent into Hell using a reference from John Milton’s “Paradise Lost”, wherein he describes Hell as a vast, empty cavern: and when Satan called out, all of the “Hollow Abyss” of Hell resounded in echo, and when Sin “cry’d out ‘Death’; Hell trembl’d at the hideous Name.” (“Paradise Lost”, 1667, by John Milton.)

⁷ (“mired in abject poverty”) The conditions in Victorian London were dire for many. The term “abject poverty” I use is specifically drawn from Jack London, who stayed in London’s East End, and penned the book “The People of the Abyss”, describing the horrible conditions there. “Nowhere in the streets of London may one escape the sight of abject poverty.” (“The People of the Abyss”, 1903, by Jack London.) Wealth and poverty lived side-by-side. An investigative journalist wrote, “the condition of a class of people whose misery, ignorance, and vice, amidst all the immense wealth and great knowledge of ‘the first city in the world’, is, to say the very least, a national disgrace to us.” (“London Labour and the London Poor”, 1849, by Henry Mayhew.) Charles Dickens knew all too well the conditions of poverty-stricken London. It was a common theme in his novels. “Many thousands are in want of common necessaries; hundreds of thousands are in want of common comforts.” (“A Christmas Carol”, 1843, by Charles Dickens.)

⁸ (“a squalidness birthed here by my dear boss.”) The “Dear Boss” letter was written September 25, 1888, addressed to the Central News Agency of London. It was purportedly written by the killer himself, and it introduced the moniker “Jack the Ripper”. It was penned in red ink because the blood he saved from his victim “went thick like glue”.

⁹ (“beyond the last bell tower chime”) Did you know that Big Ben (the nickname for the Great Bell of the majestic Clock Tower at the Palace of Westminster) was created at the Whitechapel Bell Foundry? The dulcet tones of Whitechapel’s melodic son would have echoed through the streets terrorized by “Jack the Ripper”. The mellifluous melody sounded by the bells of the tower is known as the “Westminster Quarters”. A prayer is associated with the melody: “All through this hour / Lord be my guide / That by Thy power / No foot shall slide.”

¹⁰ (“with a ‘veil of terror’, I robbed them of their faith, and innocence of humankind”) “Jack the Ripper” was one of the first, and perhaps the most notorious of all serial killers. Many serial killers have been far more prolific, but, arguably, none has “achieved” his level of “fame” and “notoriety”. The Ripper’s reign terrorized London’s impoverished East End during the Autumn of 1888. The media’s frenzied coverage, the grotesque brutality of the murders, and the failure to identify and apprehend the Ripper led to widespread panic, casting a “veil of terror” over the City. (There are many theories concerning what prompted “Jack the Ripper” to mysteriously cease his reign as abruptly as he had begun. Some believe it was due to the Ripper’s sudden death or incarceration, or perhaps even his admittance to an insane asylum. Others feel his brief killing spree had been carefully scripted.)

¹¹ (“but I was robbed the work I long mid-stride) The still-warm body of Elizabeth “Long Liz” Stride, was found at around 1:00 AM on September 30, 1888, along Berner Street in Dutfield’s Yard. The coroner reported that Stride’s throat was deeply gashed, but this was the extent of her injuries. Some believe that since her body was not mutilated, she was not a victim of the notorious “Jack the Ripper”; however, it is generally believed that the killer was interrupted and had to make a hasty retreat, leaving his work unfinished. This theory was believed by investigators, especially given what would happen an hour later, within walking distance of Elizabeth’s murder - the brutal slaying and mutilation of Catherine Eddowes. Elizabeth Stride is considered the third victim of five grisly canonical murders by “Jack the Ripper”, and the first of two victims in a single night.

¹² (“a lurid trap to draw her near and claim a second soul in but one night”) Catherine Eddowes was brutally murdered and disemboweled in the early hours of Sunday, September 30, 1888, the fourth of five murders committed by “Jack the Ripper”, and the second within an hour. These two murders in a single night are commonly referred to as the “Double Event”, a term which originates from a postcard from “Saucy Jack”, received at the Central News Agency on October 1, 1888.

¹³ (“to lure souls into fate’s noble snare”) The Bible warns that, “upon the wicked he shall rain snares, fire and brimstone, and an horrible tempest: this shall be the portion of their cup.” Psalm 11:6, Holy Bible, King James Version (KJV). Also, the evil “are snared by their own sin.” Proverbs 29:6, Holy Bible, New International Version (NIV).

¹⁴ (“the depravity of mankind here laid bare”) In the Bible, it speaks of the depravity of mankind. “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked.” Jeremiah 17:9, Holy Bible, King James Version (KJV). (See also Romans 1-3.) Total depravity (or pervasive depravity) is the theological doctrine that says that as a consequence of man’s fall (orginal sin), we are enslaved to the service of sin. There are also many references from literature of man’s depraved condition: “Loathsomeness waits and dreams in the deep, and decay spreads over the tottering cities of men.” (“The Call of Cthulhu”, 1926, H.P. Lovecraft.) In his 1881 deeply philosophical novel, “The Brothers Karamazov,” Fyodor Dostoyevsky tackles the difficult questions about the role of God and society in human suffering. Ivan explains to his brother, Alyosha, “I think if the devil doesn’t exist, but man has created him, he has created him in his own image and likeness.” (“The Brothers Karamazov”, 1881, Fyodor Dostoyevsky.) Perhaps, however, Thomas Hobbes summed up the depravity of man’s heart best when he described mankind as “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short.” (“Leviathan”, 1660, Thomas Hobbes.)

¹⁵ (“This cobblestone we tread upon of broken homes and dreams foregone”) The streets of London’s East End were paved with suffering and heartbreak. There is a common theme among the victims claimed by “Jack the Ripper”: they all shared a sad brokenness, their lives blighted by poverty, broken families, shattered homes, alcoholism, prostitution, and living in dire conditions. Sadly, these desperate conditions would have been endured by many of the residents of Victorian London’s poverty-stricken East End. There was no reliable welfare system in place, and many of the residents of London’s East End were among a class commonly referred to as “the unfortunate”. Alcoholism led Polly Nichols to be separated from her husband and children. Her life spiraled downward. She turned to casual prostitution just to raise the funds for food, alcohol and lodging. Like Nichols, Annie Chapman suffered from alcoholism, and she had left her husband and children. Elizabeth Stride too had separated from her husband and saw her life spiral downward with alcoholism. Catherine Eddowes had a fiery temper and a love for the bottle. She endured bouts of domestic violence, until she ultimately separated from her husband. She spent part of her final night sobering up in a jail cell, before being released onto the streets. Mary Jane Kelly drank heavily and relied on prostitution to raise the money for her food, alcohol and lodging. (See “The Five: The Untold Lives of the Women Killed by Jack the Ripper”, 2019, by Hallie Rubenhold.)

¹⁶ (“so bitter’s life, that “death is little more”) This is based on a line from “The Divine Comedy: Inferno”, by Dante Alighieri; Dante tells of his journey through the realms of the dead. He opines that his journey through the forest is so harsh, that even to speak of it conjures up fear almost as bad as death itself. (“What was this forest savage, rough, and stern, / Which in the very thought renews the fear. / So bitter is it, death is little more.”) (“The Divine Comedy: Inferno, Canto I”, 1321, by Dante Alighieri.)

¹⁷ In Greek Mythology, Charon is the “ferryman” who guided the dead to the underworld. It was a funeral ritual to place an obol (coin) over the eye or under the tongue of the deceased, so that they could pay Charon the toll to ferry them across the river. (from Wikipedia) “Charon is here, The guardian of these mingling waters, Charon, . . . He poles a boat, tends to the sail, unaided, Ferrying bodies in his rust-hued vessel.” (The Aeneid, Book 6, 29-19 BC, by Virgil.)

¹⁸ (“a ferryman to fiery brimstone shores”) The Bible warns that the vile and sexually immoral will find their fate “in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone.” Revelation 21:8, Holy Bible, King James Version (KJV)

¹⁹ (“My Magnum Opus, I saved for last, and staged a grisly den aghast”) On the morning of November 9, 1888, a rent collector discovered the horribly-mutilated and eviscerated body of Mary Jane Kelly in her small, nearly-empty, tenebrous room. It was a ghastly scene. Her body lied in the middle of the bed, along with a partially-removed arm. Her abdominal cavity was ripped opened, and her organs had been removed, her breasts and facial features had been flayed (stripped off), and her neck was severed clear down to her spine. The dismembered organs and body parts were displayed around the room, but her heart was never recovered. Mary Jane Kelly’s murder was the final and most grisly of the five carried out by “Jack the Ripper”. Unlike the other murders which took place in the open, here, the Ripper was able to take his time, undisturbed, in the privacy of Kelly’s room.

²⁰ (“the mise en scène beyond her chamber door”) In a tribute to Edgar Allan Poe’s 1845 macabre poem, “The Raven”, I have made reference to Mary Jane Kelly’s “chamber door”: (“Tis some visitor,” I muttered, “tapping at my chamber door. Only this and nothing more.”) Sadly, Mary Jane Kelly was seen “Nevermore” after a haunting behind her chamber door from this foul visitor (and, coincidentally, the Ripper was heard from Nevermore!). There was “Darkness there and nothing more.” (Did you know that in some cultures, ravens were seen as harbingers of death? Witches and sorcerers were believed to have the ability to transform themselves into ravens and fly away, thus enabling them to evade capture. Kinda like “Jack the Ripper”, huh?) In “The Raven”, the chamber door represents a barrier between reality and some magical world. Here, a similar contrast exists between the outside world and the “Haunted Palace” the Ripper staged inside.

²¹ (“Untangled there from life’s morass, eternally “to sleep, perchance to dream” enchanted dreams forevermore”) I have borrowed this line from “Hamlet”, Act 3 Scene 1, by William Shakespeare (“To sleep, perchance to dream—ay, there’s the rub / For in that sleep of death what dreams may come”). It would have been remiss of me to not include a reference to perhaps the greatest soliloquy on the subject of death from the master himself. In this famous scene, Hamlet is comparing death to sleep, and he wonders if dying is like falling asleep, and then perhaps (‘perchance’) we will dream after death. In my verse above, I make the reference because “Jack the Ripper’s” victim was murdered lying in her bed, “eternally to sleep” (and perchance to dream forevermore).

²² (“delivered them from streets of filth and pain”) The streets of Victorian London were incredibly filthy, and the stench would have been nearly intolerable. Death stalked the streets in many forms. London was enveloped by choking, sooty fogs from the noxious pollution of burning coal; the Thames River was thick with human sewage; the streets were covered with a foul layer of horse dung and urine; household rubbish often went uncollected; cesspools brimmed with “night soil”; and graveyards teemed with rotting corpses. (See “Dirty Old London: The Victorian Fight Against Filth”, 2014, by Lee Jackson.) Charles Dickens observed that, “London is shabby by daylight, and shabbier by gaslight.” (“The Uncommercial Traveller”, 1859, Charles Dickens.) He wrote of the awful conditions, “The ground was covered, nearly ankle-deep, with filth and mire; a thick steam, perpetually rising from the reeking bodies of the cattle, and mingling with the fog, which seemed to rest upon the chimney-tops, hung heavily above.” (“Oliver Twist”, 1839, Charles Dickens.) The Museum of London notes that, “The skin, clothes, and nostrils of Londoners were filled with a compound of powdered granite, soot, and still more nauseous substances. The biggest cause of death in London remained consumption or tuberculosis and lung disease.”

²³ (“And with that final Carriage ride”) This is a reference to Emily Dickinson’s hauntingly beautiful 1890 poem “Because I could not stop for Death”, in which she portrays Death as a Coachman on a journey toward immortality: “Because I could not stop for Death – He kindly stopped for me – The Carriage held but just Ourselves – And Immortality.” Similarly, there is a Latin Proverb, “Mors Ultima Ratio”, which means, “Death has the last word”. Such was the case with the victims of “Jack the Ripper”. As with Dickinson’s portrayal of Death, the Ripper’s victims were being ushered off by Death toward immortality. (In a letter written by a young, melancholic Dickinson, she pondered whether we might be better if there was no eternity: “To think that we must forever live and never cease to be. It seems as if Death . . . would be a relief to so endless a state of existence.”)

²⁴ (“They prayed to God their souls be saved”) Taken loosely from the Bedtime Prayer, which first appeared in George Wheler’s 1698 book “The Protestant Monastery”, which reads: “Here I lay me down to sleep / To thee, O Lord, I give my Soul to keep, / Wake I ever, Or, Wake I never; / To thee O Lord, I give my Soul to keep for ever.”

²⁵ (“to reap the wages of their own dark sins”) The Bible issues this stark warning: “For the wages of sin is death.” Romans 6:23a, Holy Bible, King James Version (KJV). Here, the “Ripper” muses that his victims would be lost to history but for meeting their fates at the merciful edge of his famous blade, yet they are ungrateful, preferring instead to face a far less glorious death for their own evil sins.

²⁶ The Whitechapel District of 1888 was an impoverished region on the East End of London. Filthy workhouses and businesses such as slaughterhouses, tanneries, breweries, and foundries were placed in this area, as these types of places tended to be dirty and polluted. The squalid Whitechapel and Spitalfields districts in the East End of London were the sites of the macabre “Jack the Ripper” murders.

Vocabulary: (A few terms and references)

Sullen /ˈsələn/ adj: “Bad-tempered and sulky; gloomy. If someone is dark, dour, glum, moody, morose, or sour, they’re also sullen.”

Wanton /ˈwäntən/ adj: “Merciless; inhumane; of a cruel or violent action; deliberate and unprovoked.”

Malefic /məˈle fik/ adj: “Causing or capable of causing harm or destruction, especially by supernatural means. Baneful.”

Soliloquize /səˈliləˌkwīz/ v: “To speak one’s thoughts aloud when alone or regardless of who is listening; often a speech given by a character in a play who is alone on stage. When an actor soliloquizes, they tell the audience what they are thinking. (Shakespeare’s characters often soliloquize.)”

Forlorn /fərˈlôrn/ adj: “Pitifully sad and abandoned or lonely; hopeless.”

Purloin /pərˈloin/ adj: “To steal, pilfer, or filch; to take from another without right or without detection, especially by breach of trust.”

Exorcize /ekˌsôrˌsīz,ˈeksərˌsīz/ v: “To drive out or attempt to drive out (an evil spirit) from a person or place.”

Wrest /rest/ v: “To gain by force, or to pull or move by violent wringing or twisting movements.”

Squalidness /ˈskwä-ləd nĭs/ n: “Marked by filthiness and degradation from neglect or poverty. Morally repulsive; sordid.”

Sublime /səˈblīm/ adj: “Of such excellence, grandeur, or beauty as to inspire great admiration or awe.”

Wraith /rāTH/ n: “A ghost or ghostlike image of someone, especially one seen shortly before or after death.

Specious /ˈspēSHəs/ adj: “Falsely appearing to be fair, just, or right. Misleading.

Fiendish /‘fēnd’iSH/ adj: “Perversely diabolical; extremely cruel or wicked.”

Assuage /əˈswāj/ v: “To ease or make unpleasant feelings less intense or painful.

Lurid /ˈlo͝orəd/ adj: “Gruesome; horrible; revolting: glaringly vivid or sensational; shocking.” Lurid adds the suggestion of shuddering fascination with violent death and especially with murder.

Harbinger /ˈhärbənjər/ n: “A person or thing that foreshadows a future event, especially something bad. An omen.”

Beguile /bəˈɡīl/ v: “To charm or enchant someone, especially in a deceptive way.”

Sagacity /səˈɡasədē/ n: “Acuteness of mental discernment and soundness of judgment. The use of wisdom or penetrating intelligence.”

Depravity /dəˈpravədē/ n: “Moral corruption; wickedness.”

Eidolon /īˈdōlən/ n: “A phantom, specter, or apparition. / The Greek word εἴδωλον (eidolon) refers to the manifestation of the spirit of a living or dead person.” (In Edgar Allan Poe’s 1844 poem “Dream-Land”, an Eidolon rules over a realm haunted by those who walk in shadows: “By a route obscure and lonely, / Haunted by ill angels only, / Where an Eidolon, named NIGHT, / On a black throne reigns upright.”)

Magnum Opus /maɡnəm ˈōpəs/ n: “A large and important work of art, music, or literature, especially one regarded as the most important work of an artist or writer.”

Den /den/ n: “A secluded room or hideout; a center of secret activity.”

Aghast /əˈɡast/ adj: “Struck with deep horror, terror or shock.”

Mise en scène /mēz ˌän ˈsen/ n: “The arrangement of scenery and stage properties in a play. / The setting or surroundings of an event or action.” (In French, “mise en scène” literally means “the action of putting onto the stage.”) (In earlier drafts, this verse read: “My Magnum Opus, I saved for last, and staged a grisly scene aghast, my masterpiece beyond her chamber door.” However, I felt this did not truly capture the essence of the Ripper’s actions; he staged the murder scene carefully. This was performative art for him; it was very theatrical, I believe. As my daughter Kalen pointed out, a “masterpiece” suggests more of a static work, whereas “mise en scène” suggests the Ripper’s interaction with his audience.)

Morass /məˈras/ n: “Anything that entraps (entombs) or makes progress difficult.”

Stygian /ˈstij(ē)ən/ adj: “Extremely dark, gloomy, or forbidding. / Of or relating to the river Styx.”

Refuged /ˈrefyo͞ojd/ v: “Saved from danger, trouble, or pursuit.”

Vestige /ˈvestij/ n: “A remnant or reminder of something that is disappearing or no longer exists.”

Dulcet /ˈdəlsət/ adj: “Sweet and soothing (especially of sound); pleasant to the ear; melodious.”

Mellifluous /məˈlifləwəs/ adj: “Having a smooth rich flow; flowing with honey. A mellifluous voice or piece of music is smooth and gentle and very pleasant to listen to.”

Blighted /blīt-təd/ v: “Having a severely detrimental effect on. In a badly damaged or deteriorated condition. Defeated or frustrated.”

Obol /ˈäb(ə)l/ n: “The obol was a form of ancient Greek currency and weight.”

Brimstone /ˈbrɪmˌstoʊn/ n: “The sulfur of Hell. Used chiefly in the phrases ‘fire and brimstone’ and ‘hellfire and brimstone’, regarding the torments of damnation to hell.”

Eviscerated /əˈvisəˌrā-təd/ v: “Disemboweled; to remove the entrails. To slash or tear the abdomen so that some or all of the internal organs protrude, or are removed.”

Tenebrous /ˈtenəbrəs/ adj: “Dark; shadowy or obscure.”

Flayed /flād/ v: “Peeling the skin from the body. Generally, an attempt is made to keep the removed portion of skin intact. It was done as a form of torture (“skinning alive”), or a person may be flayed after death, generally as a means of debasing the corpse.”

“Night Soil” was the name euphemistically given to human waste because it was removed from privies under the cloak of darkness so that a polite society would be spared the indignity of confronting its own feces. Carts brimming with “night soil” rattled through the nocturnal streets of London, leaving a trail of stench in its wake. Can you imagine having that job?!

Teemed /tēmd/ v: “To be full of or swarming/overflowing with.”

Consumption /kənˈsəm(p)SH(ə)n/ n: “A wasting disease, especially pulmonary tuberculosis. A progressive wasting away of the body.”

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Reader insights

Outstanding

Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!

Top insight

  1. Compelling and original writing

    Creative use of language & vocab

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Comments (8)

  • K. Stockton5 months ago

    This one is still my favorite.

  • Lana V Lynx6 months ago

    Oh wow, sorry much labor went into this! I appreciate the research notes and the vocabulary in particular. Great work!

  • Novel Allen9 months ago

    I read some, but not all. This is dark and stufff of nightmares, Dharrsheena stuff, but well written and scary.

  • Clever&WTF10 months ago

    Lyrical and haunting. Once you got to the second victim I realized it was about Jack the Ripper. I enjoyed all the Easter eggs. I caught a few but not all the first time through. Excellent writing!

  • Donna Renee10 months ago

    Oh my gosh, you put so much into this! It was fantastic and I loved the Easter egg explanations... I had already googled a couple of the words before I got to the end and saw that you had already supplied the meanings :) This is a work of art!

  • I love true crime and have always been fascinated with Jack the Ripper! This was so creative and you put so much of effort into this! I didn't notice all your Easter eggs but I had fun reading them! You are so brilliant! And thank you for adding the definition of the words as well!

  • Jay Kantor10 months ago

    Hi Rob - What an incredible piece of work and research spent within your busy life. So original among the 'creative' new ways to write (4) Letter word - (4) Line Poets. - I always look forward to what you have next for us - Pea Soup Me - Jay Jay Kantor, Chatsworth, California 'Senior' Vocal Author - Vocal Village Community

  • Real Poetic10 months ago

    I feel the darkness in the air! “this dance with darkness, a cruel and wanton madness that in measures seized control.” Well-done RM! 👏🏼🩵

𝐑𝐌 𝐒𝐭𝐨𝐜𝐤𝐭𝐨𝐧Written by 𝐑𝐌 𝐒𝐭𝐨𝐜𝐤𝐭𝐨𝐧

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