Unfinished Business, Doctor Who, Dr. Who, Chris Eccleston, Christopher Eccleston, Doctor who Fiction

Even if she was a little spoiled by winter in Egypt and last year’s sultry season in Menton, early summer in London wasn’t bad, Jenny decided as she walked along Cheapside with a spring in her step. She had loitered for a little while in the Cathedral Close enjoying the trees in full leaf and the flower beds, but even the mundane streets were pleasant in the sunshine.

At the complicated corner where Cheapside turned into Newgate Street, she looked down at the sun-drenched pavement and thought an almost philosophical thought. Every working day of the week there were men in near darkness below her feet, out of sight of this blessed sunshine. The new deep level underground train line was actually following the very street she was walking on. Great cast iron ‘shields’ were being used to advance the tunnelling by yards every day and the soil taken away by the ton.

She wondered whether it was cold down there without the sun, or rather close and stifling. Either way, she was glad she wasn’t one of those toilers in the dark, though she spared a kind thought for them as fellow working-class Londoners.

Her quiet reflection on that underworld beneath her feet was disturbed by a sudden hubbub a little way down Newgate Street. Crowds were not unusual outside the court, of course. Some trials attracted a lot of excitement.

But this was on the other side of the road, by one of the many narrow alleys that wound darkly between the main roads of London. There was a police wagon waiting there and several uniformed men trying to keep people back.

Jenny crossed over and joined the crowd, inserting her small frame into gaps until she was near the front, next to a young woman in a green sprig dress with a folded parasol who looked on as eagerly as any other. A policeman was on her other side, holding the crowd back as a stretcher covered in a tarpaulin was carried out of the alleyway. One of the men carrying the stretcher stumbled and the tarpaulin slipped. There was a collective gasp from the crowd as they viewed a part of the dead body within. The woman in the green sprig dress sighed theatrically and swooned against Jenny’s shoulder.

“For goodness sake,” she said irritably as she pushed the woman upright. “Haven’t you ever seen blood before?”

“No… no….” the woman answered, at least partially shocked out of her swoon by Jenny’s lack of sympathy.

“Then why did you hang around hoping to see some, then? How pathetic.”

She pushed the woman towards the policeman who was far more gallant towards fainting flowers before she turned away. She didn’t need much more than a glimpse to know this was something she needed to tell Madame Vastra about.

“The man’s throat was ripped out, and half of his face was missing,” she told her lover, over a light lunch in Madame’s beautiful morning room with a bright summer sun penetrating through wide open windows. “Even a big dog couldn’t have done that much damage. It had to be something more… something much fiercer. Something….”

“Something not natural to London.” Madame nodded thoughtfully. Jenny thought she caught a worried look in those cold green eyes, too. When she spoke again there was a brittle edge as if she was forcing herself to sound nonchalant. “Many things, of course, are unnatural to London. And yet, there is also a school of thought that London itself IS unnatural. Is it natural for more than six million people to live so close to each other? Even the largest of my people’s cities were not so dense. Nor did we pollute our air, our soil, our water, as humans do. This IS an unnatural place. Small wonder such things happen. I expect it is another deranged ape like Jack the Ripper preying on his own kind. Something else MY people never would do. WE valued life.”

Jenny was used to this sort of rebuke of the human race. Living as close as they did to Newgate where the worst of humans were tried and executed, she knew it was true enough.

But she also knew that humans were not the only race that lived in London. Well, after all, there was Madame herself and Strax. But the three of them had fought many murderous elements from beyond the planet’s boundaries.

“I’ve even heard of human cannibals who would rip at the flesh of their fellow men,” Madame said, cutting into Jenny’s thoughts. “Yes, London attracts the very worst of your race.”

Jenny felt very slightly annoyed that Madame was making so much of the evil deeds of mankind. It was as if she WANTED the killer to be a deranged human like the aforementioned Jack.

“Let us not dwell upon it,” Madame added. “I think I should like to walk on grass for a while. Tell Strax to prepare the carriage. We shall have an afternoon at Primrose Hill… one part of London where there is fresh air to breathe.”

Madame’s largesse extended to bringing the other two members of the household - Millie the young but competent housekeeper who had relieved Jenny of most of her domestic duties in recent years and Joe, ostensibly the boot boy, but pretty much a favourite of both Jenny and Millie who enjoyed the freedom of the kitchen and the food bounty thereof.

The boy thoroughly enjoyed the freedom of Primrose Hill and ran, cartwheeled and generally partook of that good air that had not generally been available to him in the early years of his life. At thirteen, his early poverty still showed in his slight figure, but he had a wiry strength, all the same.

Strax was free to amuse himself once he had left the carriage horse at the nearest public water trough. He walked easily and fell into conversation with other butler’s and coachmen who had brought their masters and mistresses out on a pleasant afternoon. Few of them seemed concerned by his unusual body shape. They saw no further than his servant’s livery. It was thus that the Sontaran warrior moved amongst men in Victorian London.

Millie, who was aspiring to being thought of as genteel in emulation of the mistresses of the house, sat with Madame and Jenny on a rug where a picnic of meat pasties, cheese and roast chicken among other tasty contents of the parlour was laid out. There was a bottle of wine, but she preferred non-alcoholic cordial and drank that slowly while listening to the conversation of her two employers.

They tried to keep off the subject, but inevitably, they came back to the murder victim Jenny had seen a few hours ago. Millie tried to stay out of the discussion, but there was, in fact, something she was able to add to the sum of knowledge about the grisly topic.

“It wasn’t the first,” she said after plucking up the courage to join in the talk. “The man today…. He’s the sixth body that’s been found. All horribly torn up.”

The other two women looked at her in surprise and concern.

“My… friend… my gentleman friend….”

“Your policeman,” Jenny said encouragingly. “Detective Sergeant Dowling.”

“Yes,” Millie confirmed. “Michael….” she added with an endearing blush. She had not told Madame and Jenny the truth about him – that he was from another planet entirely, an agent of his government’s secret service embedded in the London Metropolitan Police Force. Maybe she would, one day. Maybe not.

“Michael told me about it yesterday afternoon… when he had tea with me in the kitchen. He is on the case. Not just him, I mean. There are a lot of policemen investigating. But they think it is a serial killer, like the Whitechapel murderer. Only this time the victims are all men… working men. He… didn’t want to tell me the really nasty details, at least not at first. but he knows I’m not squeamish….”

“Not so much now,” Jenny teased her gently. “You used to run and cower whenever you saw Strax.”

‘I was younger, then,” Millie answered.

“Yes, you were,” Jenny admitted. “Even then you weren’t as soft as the woman I was next to in the crowd this morning.” She described humorously the delicate swooning of the lady in the green sprig dress. Millie laughed but then shook her head.

“If she’d seen more than just the face and neck you wouldn’t blame her so much,” the girl said. “Michael said that the whole stomach was ripped open, all the organs… the soft parts… gone… as if eaten.”

Jenny put down the pasty she had just bitten into, the meat and vegetables were spilling out rather too demonstratively.

“That… really is nasty,” she said. Vastra didn’t comment. Jenny was glad. She felt that one more remark about the base nature of humans couldn’t go unchallenged and she really didn’t want an argument about the matter, especially not in the sunshine when her relationship with a cold blooded lizard woman felt literally as well as figuratively warm.

“Is Michael due to visit you again this week?” Madame asked Millie. “If so, please bring him to my drawing room. I should like to discuss the case with him. There may be some insight I could share with him… or vice versa.”

“Since he is investigating the body that was found near where we live, I expect he will find a reason to ‘drop by’,” Millie answered. “And I’m sure he will be happy to talk to you. He knows of your reputation as ‘The Great Detective’. It’s… only because he doesn’t like to seem too familiar… or I expect he would consult you more often.”

“An easy way to advancement in his profession,” Madame noted. “Knowing that I shun publicity and rarely take credit for the advice I give to the gentlemen of Scotland Yard.”

“Oh, Michael isn’t like that,” Millie assured her mistress. “It is only that he recognises your unique understanding of the criminal mind.”

Jenny stifled a laugh. Madame knew how criminal minds tasted. But at that point they tended to have stopped committing their evil acts.

“I shall give my full attention to this matter, with or without the urging of Scotland Yard,” she said. “I, too, am disturbed by such crimes coming close to my abode. It must be stopped. But it feels strange to be discussing such vile actions out here in the sunshine and the clean air.”

Millie thought so, too, but she didn’t have a chance to change the subject. Strax came to them at that moment and reported what he had learnt from a conversation with one of his fellow carriage drivers.

“The first of these deaths, dishonourable as they are, coming not from acts of glorious warfare but by stealth and darkness, occurred ten days ago in a place called Sheep-herd’s Bush,” he pronounced.

“Shepherd’s Bush,” Jenny corrected him. “That’s a very long way from Newgate Street. It must be a good ten miles.”

Again, Madame found herself pulled into the discussion against her better judgment.

“That is curious. Murderers of this sort usually work in a much smaller area. The infamous Jack, for example, committed his terrible offences within a very small area of Whitechapel. There is a social aspect, too. Shepherd’s Bush is not the East End. It is spacious and leafy. Its denizens are people with professions. And the whole of the ‘City’ with its banks and brokerages and counting houses lies between there and our quarter, almost like an uncrossable barrier.”

The psychological theories that tended to place serial killers in a geographical ‘comfort zone’, possibly near their own lodgings and in familiar streets was one even Scotland Yard was only just coming to understand. Madame’s audience on the picnic rug didn’t entirely grasp what she was saying. Jenny couldn’t quite see how the financial district of the ‘City’ provided a physical barrier. Millie was only aware that socially, there seemed much more than ten miles between the western suburbs of London and the busy streets around St Paul’s.

“Even I can’t see what connects these murders except their ferocity and their senselessness,” Madame continued. “Not that I look for sense in the deeds of humans. In that I am at one with Strax. Death in battle is one thing. Senseless murder is another.”

Jenny again felt that the human race was being unfairly censured by Madame, and she deliberately forced a change of subject because it was really irritating her now. Besides, Joe had come to get something to eat after his exertions and even though he was a street boy who had seen much that one of his age should not see, she felt it was right to protect him from this gory subject.

The cause of her irritability stayed with her all the same. Even though she thoroughly enjoyed the afternoon in the sunshine, she gave it a quiet corner of her thoughts.

Later, after she had helped Millie put together a cold supper and she and Madame were considering retiring to bed, she ventured on the topic. She chose her words carefully, but she was determined to have her say without fear of her lover’s displeasure.

“I know why you are insisting that these murders must be the work of a depraved human,” she said. Madame looked up at her with a curious expression. “It’s because you’re REALLY afraid it might actually be one of YOUR people.”

“Nonsense,” Madame replied shortly.

“No, I don’t think it IS nonsense.” Jenny gathered her courage to confront Madame head on. “Because you told me a long time ago that YOU killed five railworkers in revenge for the damage to one of your hibernation pods… before The Doctor stopped you.”

“That is not a time I wish to remember,” Madame said.

“I know it isn’t. But you ARE thinking of it. Do you think it might be another of your kind doing these murders?”

“I dread the very thought,” she admitted. “Sometimes I long for company of my own kind. I don’t mean.. in that way. You and I… have a special love. Never doubt that. But to speak in my own tongue to one with whom I have a shared history…. I long for that. But not… not if I have to hide a killer from a human manhunt. Please the gods it is not that.”

“You would do that... If one of your people was ripping men apart? You would protect the killer?”

“I would have no choice. First, because my loyalty and my duty must be to my own kind. But... Also... to protect the life we all treasure here at Thirteen Paternoster Row...”

“I… don’t know what you mean….” Jenny began.

“If the authorities found a murderer of men who looked like me...They would forget all the good I have done when they come for me. What then for all of you? Prison for Strax... He has done nothing wrong, but they would see that he, too, is different and they would shut him away just for that. There would be shame and rejection for you for your unnatural attachment to me. Even Millie… after all her hard work to raise her station, who would employ her even as a kitchen skivvy after working in a house of disgrace. Joe… they would doubtless send to the workhouse.”

Jenny felt sick as the truth of those words hit hard. They all had so very much to lose.

“Then… it would be better if it DID turn out to be a depraved human killer,” she admitted. She let Madame’s cold hand enfold hers and put the dark suspicions aside now that she at least understood the thoughts that troubled her lover.

“Let’s go to bed, my dear,” Madame suggested.

The next morning was bright and sunny, but the darkness of events clouded it not long after breakfast when Millie announced that both her Scotland Yard gentleman and young Joe desired an audience.

“Show them both in,” Madame answered and cleared the beautiful inlaid table where she had often held conferences of importance to the whole human race. Very shortly Detective Sergeant Michael Dowling was shown in and invited to sit. Joe, who looked as if he might have been crying, sidled in, trying to be unobtrusive. Millie hovered uncertainly, wondering if she ought to go back to the kitchen until Jenny beckoned her to a seat.

“There has been another murder.” Madame put the statement – not a question – to Michael before he had a chance to say the very same thing.

“Yes,” he said, slightly disconcerted.


“The body was found in an alley between Old Change and Poultry,” Michael answered. The old names for just two of the streets of the district, harking back to when people knew that Cheapside was a name derived from ‘Market place’, would have seemed charming in any other context. Today they just reminded everyone of how close two murders now had come to their home.

“The same… injuries?” Jenny asked.

“Yes.” Michael swallowed. “Sad to say, this victim was young… only seventeen. But clearly another victim of the same killer.”

“Colin Connolly,” Joe hiccupped, wiping his grubby face and making it grubbier. “He were a tosher.”

“A what?” Madame had never heard the term before. Everyone else clearly had.

“One who makes a somewhat tenuous living searching the sewers of London for precious metals, jewellery, money,” Michael explained. “But my understanding is that the victim was working as a digger for the Central Line Company.”

“He WERE a tosher,” Joe insisted, and the company slowly came to understand that Joe was speaking in the past tense. The victim had recently changed occupation. “He were killed by the Great Ape Man of the sewers,” he added.

“What?” All around the table there were startled expressions as this new theory of what linked the murder victims took hold.

“The… Great Ape Man?” Michael repeated.

“I… have heard the legend,” Madame Vastra said. “A creature… a hominid, like a man, but much taller than the average Londoner, perhaps eight foot tall, broad of shoulder, its body covered in hair… glowing eyes, though that last seems unlikely.”

“The EYES are the unlikely part of that description?” Jenny wondered.

“Since it is said to stalk the sewer system, any reliable sightings are probably from people carrying lanterns. The light perhaps reflects in the eyes. Though if the creature is as fearsome as implied, it is hard to imagine anyone getting that close and living to tell the tale.”

“But some have… lived to tell the tale?” Michael asked.

“Loads of people,” Joe said, not to be left out of things. “My friend Billy Greene says his brother saw it. And Harry Vaughn. He knows a man whose leg was bitten off by the Ape Man.”

The adults all exchanged worried glances but decided that any size of ape biting off a man’s leg was unlikely. These were tales told by the street people of London.

“Still, there may be a grain of truth in it all,” Madame said. “I recall there was a more reliable sighting about seven years ago. There was excitement for a time. The police investigated, but then the whole thing died down….”

Jenny didn’t remember the incident. Nor did Michael, who, unknown to all but Millie, hadn’t been living in London seven years ago. Joe and Millie were both too young to remember, but Joe’s street urchin life would certainly include stories like that.

“If such a hominid exists,” Madame said. “It has never been known to kill… leaving aside any legs being bitten off. Certainly, it has not killed with such ferocity. Even so… perhaps that is a direction you and your fellow officers should look, Sergeant.”

“My boss would think I’ve lost my mind if I suggested an ape man in the sewers,” Michael answered. “But… still….”

“No!” Jenny jumped up suddenly and ran to the sideboard where Madame stored a number of maps and other useful documents. “No… we’ve not quite got it, yet. Wait….”

She pulled out a street map of London and unfolded it. Her fingers pointed to the most recent places where bodies had been found. Then she pointed to Wood Lane in Shepherd’s Bush.

“Where else were bodies discovered?” she asked Michael.

“Two were found near Holland Park, another by Notting Hill Gate. Then there was one at Lancaster Gate, and another in Holborn… then the one yesterday at Newgate Street.”

As Jenny’s finger traced the locations everyone saw what perhaps even Scotland Yard had missed. The bodies were not only found in a line roughly west to east through the City of London, but they occurred in a progression in time as well as geography, the latest being the furthest east.

“Following the sewers, like Joe suggested,” Michael confirmed.

“No,” Jenny contradicted. “No… not the sewer. Something else that’s down there… running through all those places.”

Again, everyone looked blank. Jenny sighed and made her idea explicit.

“It’s the route that has been dug so far for the new London underground… the Central Line. Joe told you already. His tosher friend… got a job as a digger for the Central Line Company.”

Madame looked at the map. So did Michael. It was meaningless to Joe since his reading and writing was minimal. Even Millie had never quite grasped how the criss-crossing lines on a map equated to the streets and lanes of London even when she read the names on the paper, but she thought she understood what Jenny was getting at.

“Good heavens,” Michael said very softly. “I think you have it.”

“But your boss won’t believe you any more than he’d believe there is an ape man in the sewers,” Jenny pointed out.

“No… he won’t. And… I can’t help wondering who left the bodies above ground to be found,” Michael added. “But this is closer than anyone else has got to a theory. I think… I’m going to follow it up. I… have to thank you all… for your help.”

“If there is anything more we can do….” Madame said as Michael put on his hat and turned to leave. Millie went with him to the front door. Madame and Jenny shared knowing smiles. There was a relationship there, for certain.

“I’ll have to train up a new housekeeper if that goes on,” Jenny sighed.

Potential domestic upheaval was her only concern until just after supper, when Michael Dowling made an unexpected return. Again, he was received in the drawing room, with Millie at his side and Joe insinuating himself into the room to hear the news.

“I convinced my boss of a possible connection with the underground works,” he explained. “The map cannot be denied. We spent the best part of the day down there, questioning workers. I didn’t mention ape men, of course. But the possibility of a railway man being the murderer…. There are a few men under lock and key being questioned further, but I don’t think they’re anything more than petty thieves and street brawlers. I didn’t expect to find anything during working hours. But… I kept hold of the keys to the entrance shaft off Newgate. I was hoping Mr Strax could come with me….”

“You need me, as well as Strax,” Madame told him. “I know about the world beneath London. I was born there, after all.”

“And if Madame is going, I am,” Jenny added quickly before Michael could wonder about that remark. “I’m good with weapons. Don’t even think of doing any of that ‘you’re just a woman’ with me. So is Madame, and you didn’t bat an eyelid when she spoke.”

“Perish the thought,” Michael answered. “But Millie, you have no special skills with weapons. I know you’re brave and smart, but I think you and Joe should stay at home.”

Millie and Joe both protested, while at the same time being glad they weren’t going down a deep, dark hole into the very soil of London where a murderous creature might be hiding.

“We’ll make sure the boiler is stoked,” Millie said. “You might all want hot baths when you return.”

She WAS a smart girl. She knew that any one of them might need to remove blood or worse from themselves later. She had sent laundry baskets off with special notes about cleaning on many an occasion.

Jenny wore breeches instead of a skirt and a sword belt that was in no way concealed. Madame was dressed the same, but Jenny was in black and she was in dark green. She had a long, slender Japanese sword under her hooded cloak.

Michael had a revolver which he checked as they prepared to leave. Strax carried no weapons. Madame had vetoed every one of his suggested ‘small arms’ and sundry devices on the grounds that they would turn the Central Line Tunnel into an open cast mine if used.

They walked through the dark of night, avoiding the uniformed policeman who patrolled the district and the guard outside Newgate prison. They slipped into the shadowy alleyway as the policeman had stopped to talk to the guard.

A small wooden shed was all that could be seen above ground of the great work below. The shed covered an opening in the ground with two steel ladders leading down.

They went a long way down. The new deep lines constructed using the ‘shield’ method were more than twenty five yards below ground level, far lower than the first underground lines which were dug using the ‘cut and cover’ method or, indeed, the sewer system designed some fifty years ago by Joseph Bazalgette.

Climbing down twenty-five yards of ladder was not an easy matter. Jenny’s arms and legs ached by the time it was done. Michael groaned with relief as his feet touched the solid ground. Madame and Strax, both of whom claimed superior strength to mere humans, made no comment at all, but Jenny suspected neither of them had enjoyed the descent either.

Michel and Strax lit paraffine lanterns that illuminated a few yards of the tube shaped tunnel lined with sections of cast iron that carried on in east and west directions.

“I don’t need a light to know something is down here,” Madame said, her nostrils flaring. “I can smell it…. A mammal… Male… VERY male.”

“A lot of men have been at work down here,” Jenny pointed out. “All of them sweating hard, I expect.”

“Yes, I detect them. But they’re not here now. This creature is in the tunnel right now… and it’s that way.”

She pointed east, the shorter length, since the tunnel had begun some twenty miles to the west and was currently being constructed under Cheapside, heading towards Threadneedle Street and the Bank of England.

“I don’t smell anything,” Michael said. “Are you certain?”

“If Madame Vastra says she can smell your murderer, you should believe her,” Strax said sternly.

“Its not a question of belief. Only….” Michael gave up trying to explain himself.

“My olfactory senses are far advanced of mere humans,” she said. “You need have no doubt. This is the right direction.”

They walked quietly. They were going towards a creature that had murdered seven men, which had been described as something of a monster. It was sensible not to make any noise.

After only a very short walk they reached a place where the circular tunnel widened out on one side. Though nothing was there except concrete walls and floor they all recognised the shape of a platform where, in fullness of time, passengers would await the trains that would thunder along the as yet unlaid tracks.

“We’re near St Paul’s,” Madame said. “I understand a station is to be situated near the cathedral. There were some objections about the line running during divine services.”

Only somebody as in tune with geography as Madame could possibly have known where they were. The tunnel was so featureless it was impossible otherwise.

“What’s that?” As they drew level with what would eventually be the stairway back to the world above, they were all startled by a noise that didn’t belong in this modern tunnel of iron and concrete. It was a sound from the primal dawn of time, or at least, from Madame Vastra’s time when animals unknown to this tamed and civilised age of reason roamed the Earth.

“The Ape Man?” Jenny asked, trying to stop her teeth chattering in fear. She had faced monsters before, of course. But there was something in that, as yet unseen, creature’s snarling, growling, cry, echoing from every direction, that froze her marrow.

“There!” Madame called out, pointing to a shadow near the edge of the part made platform that now grew larger as it moved.

The Ape Man of London sprang up in front of them almost faster than they could draw their weapons. In one glance, even in the uncertain light of the lanterns, it was clear that this creature was both Ape and Man. It was at least eight foot tall. It was broad shouldered and muscular. Its body was covered in shaggy red fur, much of it matted and dirty. As it stopped a few yards away from the four invaders of its territory, it dropped a haunch of meat. Jenny’s sharp eyes noted a butcher’s ink mark on the flesh. The creature must have raided Smithfield for food.

A glance down away from the snarling simian face with a mouth full of yellow fangs confirmed that it was very certainly male. Jenny looked up again, quickly. It was as well to keep an eye on those teeth, anyway.

“Get back,” Madame commanded it. “We have weapons. We can kill you if you attack. Do you understand?”

That was a pertinent question. How much of this creature WAS animal, apart from the pungent smell which everyone was now aware of, and how much a sentient being. For a moment it looked as if it did understand Madame’s words. There was a faint flicker in the eyes that reflected red in the lantern light that might have been a glimmer of understanding. But then the animal instinct took over. The creature lunged forward towards Madame, who, perhaps because she was so very different from everything it knew, seemed more of a threat than the others.

Madame raised her sword. So did Jenny. As scared as she was, she knew what to do when the moment called for it. Both swords pierced the tough but far from invulnerable flesh.

So did the two bullets Michael fired in quick succession. One hit the creature in the shoulder. The other was slightly better aimed and went into its chest near where, if its anatomy was sufficiently ape or man, its heart was.

Its cry of pain was not so loud as the anguished one that rang out from the dark of the tunnel towards the place where the work was halted for the night, under the street called Poultry.

Strax lunged forward into the darkness and captured the man who was running towards them. As he was brought into the lantern light, he might have been mistaken, at first, for another ape man. But he was only a mere seven foot tall and not quite so muscular. He was red-headed and had rough workman’s clothes on and had been carrying a lantern of his own, though he had dropped it in his brief fight with Strax.

“Let me go to him,” the man pleaded, clearly meaning the ape man that lay in a painful huddle. It wasn’t quite dead, though anyone could see it was only a matter of time.

“You are… connected with this creature?” Madame asked.

“He’s my brother,” the man answered, a statement nobody was expecting. “Please… let me….”

“Strax, let him go,” Jenny said. “It’s all right. I don’t think he means us any harm.”

If he did, it wasn’t in the forefront of his thoughts. As soon as Strax released him, the man dropped to his knees, cradling the ape man’s head in his lap and speaking in a soft, lilting language that Madame, at least, recognised as Welsh.

“Your brother?” Michael questioned. “How… exactly… is that your brother? It isn’t even… Human.”

“He IS Human,” Madame contradicted. “He smells human… as I said before. He smells more human than any of you.”

“I’ve never really known why,” the man said, sobbing with genuine grief at the death of the Ape Man in his arms. “I’m Rhys Ap Gruffydd. He… our mam called him Morgan. People in the village called him Mogg…. That was when we were boys … when he looked more like… more ordinary.”

“A throwback,” Madame noted. “A genetic aberration. I am surprised he survived.”

Nobody but Madame really knew what the word ‘genetic’ meant, but they thought they understood. Rather than being smothered at birth or hunted down by a superstitious village mob, parents had nurtured a child who didn’t quite belong amongst men.

“He never spoke properly,” Rhys continued. “And when he was older… the hair… the teeth… the ferocity… the hunger… came upon him. Bad enough that sheep would disappear from the hills. But then a man was killed. I brought him away… we travelled by night… hid… ate stolen meat…. We came to London… hid in the sewers. At first… it was all right. But the hunger came on him every so often. And… and I know he killed….”

Rhys paused and stroked the creature’s tangled hair gently.

“In the sewers… nobody noticed. Toshers and mudlarks lead dangerous lives. If one disappeared… nobody really knew or cared. My mistake… I got the job digging this line. I hid him down here in the workings. But… I think the presence of the workers here every day… they unsettled him and drove the hunger. He’s killed again, and this time it HAS been noticed. That’s why the police came today. Its why you’ve come back to look….”

Rhys stopped speaking. He sobbed a little louder. Jenny moved closer and knelt beside him. She reached down and closed his brother’s dead eyes.

“I’m sorry,” she said. “I wish there could have been another way.”

Rhys shook his head.

“It was always going to happen. Even if we had stayed in the sewers… one day somebody WOULD have noticed. It was always going to end this way. This or… I sometimes thought… if I had the courage… I would kill him myself… make an end of it.”

“I am sorry,” Jenny said again. She looked around. Everyone looked sorry.

Except for Strax. While the painful scene played out, he had been looking around the area of the part built station that was going to be called Post Office when it opened in a few years’ time, and later changed to St. Paul’s.

“There’s a place back there,” he said. “I think they’re going to build one of those ‘lifts’. The ground is prepared but they haven’t put in the cement. There are spades left ready for the work…..

Strax, with a sensitivity his race were not noted for, nodded towards the corpse of the Ape Man of London.

Strax, Michael and Rhys between them dug the grave, their muscles and sinew making short work of the job. They laid the body into the grave and packed the soil over it so that nobody, in the dim light the railway builders worked by, would notice anything had been disturbed.

They all stood for a solemn few minutes, afterwards. Rhys said something in Welsh that might have been a prayer. Michael murmured an ‘amen’ after it. Jenny looked up at the incomplete ceiling and remembered that St Paul’s Cathedral was up there, nearby. Plenty of prayers would be said in the coming years as the body of Mogg Ap Gruffydd lay here, at peace.

“You’d best take me in, now,” Rhys said to Michael.

“What?” he answered.

“You’re a policeman. I’m… at least partly responsible for all those deaths. I’ll… I’ll make a confession… I’ll say it was me.”

“No!” Jenny exclaimed. “They’ll hang you.”

“And that will be the end of it,” Rhys answered. “I’ve often wondered… if I might be as capable of murder as my brother. We have the same blood. Perhaps before its too late, I ought to die, too.”

“No.” Michael shook his head. “No. That’s not how it works. We’d have to hang every brother or sister, father or uncle of every murderer who comes to Newgate.”

“But you have to take somebody in,” Rhys pointed out. “All these deaths must be accounted for.”

“Why?” Madame asked. “Jack the Ripper was never brought before a judge. Not a human one, anyway. The deaths will end. The railway line will be built. A legend may remain, talked about in pubs and perhaps written down in a penny pamphlet. But it will be forgotten otherwise.”

She looked at Michael. He was the policeman. The authority lay with him.

“Go on back to Wales,” Michael said quietly but firmly. “Try to make something of your life.”

Rhys hesitated. Then he turned and ran. His footsteps echoed in the tunnel for a little while and then faded.

“Do you think there is enough hot water at your house for me to have a bath as well as everyone else?” Michael asked. “I feel quite mucky after all these exertions.”

I think that will be possible,” Madame answered. “But Millie is forbidden to scrub your back. Despite how it may look to some people, Thirteen Paternoster Row is a respectable house.”