Figure of Mystery

Richard Hamilton-Veal

Dawlish, United Kingdom

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Artist's Description

I took this shot in the Victorian Village at Flambards, Helston, Cornwall, UK.

Soft edge added in Picassa3.

It inspired me to write the accompanying short story which I hope you enjoy and adds to your viewing pleasure.

I hope you like it.
Thank you for looking and reading.

Best Viewed Large.

The Rippers Ghost?
The winter sun is setting on a cold Victorian London. Smoke from the coal fires mixes with the fog, making it hard to breathe.

The Lamplighter is patrolling the streets doing his duty and people are scurrying around, wanting to get home and away from the dark alleyways before nightfall.

It is the year 1895, and four years since ‘The Ripper’ had last struck, but fear still grips the residents of this part of East London.

Some people say he is dead, others say alive, but some say that a Spirit from a bygone age haunts the streets, striking terror to all who walk the dark streets at night, deadly silent apart from the echoes of horseshoes thumping on the cobblestones, amplified in the fog, adding to the tension and the terror that fills everyone.

It will be another hour till I finish my work and set foot once more into the cold smokey foreboding darkness of Whitechapel, and as I put some more coal on the fire in my office, I cannot help thinking about smoke that it is now producing, I will soon be breathing, and adding to the density of the fog, which is getting thicker by the minute, making it dark, even though the sun has not set yet.

As the last embers glow in the grate, from my small office window on the second floor, I cannot see the street below, and my breath is turning to ice as it touches the window.
A cold night indeed, filled with dense smokey fog as well, some of which I am guilty of.

My day is finishing, and I put my hat, coat, scarf and gloves on, ready to brave the dark world waiting for me outside the warm comfort of my office.
I open the door and enter the foggy darkness from the fire escape, tasting the coal as I breathe, which I then put the scarf over my mouth so as to try and filter some of the filthy air before it enters my lungs. From my position, I cannot see the ground, and start to descend slowly and carefully down the now icy stairs, my footsteps reverberating on every step.
I hear a distant whistle, and the muffled sounds of people shouting, and as I get lower, I recognise the sound as Policeman’s whistles heading in my direction.

My breathing gets faster and my pulse starts to race, wondering what was coming towards me.
I reach the first floor landing of the fire escape and can see the pavement through the gaslights, and I then stand transfixed, too scared to move, as something appears in the corner of my eye.

What is it? Is it the Ripper himself, or the Rippers ghost?
It passed in front of me and disappeared into the foggy darkness as quickly as it came.
The whistles had stopped also. What happened to them? Was that a ghostly experience as well?
I will never know.

© Richard Veal. July 2009.

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