Shore Leave

By Annie 

TIMESTAMP:  Lower New Amsterdam, Winter, 2158

The tiny, glowing end of a cigarette sizzled as it landed onto the sodden cobblestone street. She’d had a quiet night. The rain had driven away most of the opportunistic clients she might have otherwise entertained. Her drooped shoulders foretold her inability to fight against the inevitable, as she leaned against the stone wall, waiting.

Flickering lights reflected in pools of water. Hong Kong drizzled on Cuban heels as Jack straightened, keeping his profile hidden in the darkened entrance to an alleyway beyond the forlorn creature.  His eyes glittered as they set upon his target for the night.

The pools of waters rippled as a Shimmer hovered suddenly past them, stopping abruptly beside the lone figure. She stood, unwillingly painting a smile across her face. A soft whisper echoed as one of the back windows slid down. She thrust a hip forward and flicked her hair over her shoulders. An almost inaudible click sounded as the hydraulic doors lifted, opening a darkened maw into the vehicle.  Almost immediately, it was followed by a metallic clunk as credits were thrown onto the pavement.

The figure furtively glanced up and down the street and scooped up the coins. She thrust a leg inside the Shimmer, following with her body and disappeared into the hungry mouth. With a hiss, the door closed and his prey disappeared into the wet evening.

Jack extracted himself from the alleyway and flicked the long fringe out from his eyes, silently cursing the apparent randomness of the girl’s appointment. It had taken him over a week to find her. He ran his hand over the roughened edges of the wall and smiled as he felt a familiar texture at his fingertips. In the dim streetlight he found more along the pavement.

There were traces of blood, dried between the cracks – something no streetsweeper, regardless of the technology available, could ever scour out. Throughout the ages, blood stained, and nothing could free its staying power.

A screen on Jack’s wrist  discretely pipped, signalling a warning.

“Damn it. She’s getting better at this.”

He re-calibrated his augmenter, tapping in a Time Zone further into the future, but stopped before setting it off. He’d spent over a month in this Time Zone, seeking out suitable partners for his purposes. It was a puritan time within human history, his girls degraded to the darkest streets.  Perhaps he’d let Cate win today. He was tired of the chase in any case. She’d spent the better part of a century tracking him through time in order to convince him to return to his post in Mayan America. The worst she could do was kill his body in this Time Zone. He’d no wish to return to this Time Zone in any case and had begun to feel sorry for the Time Warden tracker.

Even if she’d had enough evidence of his failure to his post to send him to a Prison in time, it didn’t concern him greatly. He would not be lonely for long. Every Time Zone had them. His Girls. History’s longest-serving profession. Revered in some cultures, demonised in others, ignored, abused or glamourised, it amused him to see the same girls treated so differently throughout human history. He treated them all the same. Delicately. Tenderly, as he stripped away their skin, exploring every crevice, understanding their pain, living their fear.

Regardless of where or when they sent him; he’d still worship his girls.

Jack felt the energy fields around him zap in anticipation. Electric sparks highlighted the dank street momentarily as two figures shimmered and appeared beyond the street lamp.

It was so dramatic, so Cate. The darkened figures stood against the bright light so that he couldn’t see their faces.  Not that he needed to.


He crossed his arms but secretly kept his fingers on his augmenter. “Two this time. I must be important. ”

He felt his energetic repel-field rebound  and quiver as they stepped forward into it. He fought against the compression in his chest. “Can’t get too close girls. Sorry!”

He grinned lopsidedly as he brushed the hair away from his eyes. He decided to make a run for it; let her work for her post.

“Once again, lovely Cate, you’re too late to catch The Ripper.”

Jack depressed the button on his augmenter. “Till next time, Cate.”

Instead of the darkness and his lungs being sucked inward as the augmenter activated to send him into a Time Jump, the lights flickered and snapped out.  All too soon, he realised that the women were in Judgment Ritual formation. As he felt the strong hands of the hidden third on his back, his powers were rescinded and he fell backward through time.

Three women stood facing one another as tiny traces of electric energy escaped like snakes along the ground.  Cate’s voice rang out sharply in the wake, “Where did you send him?”

Selene dropped her hands and inspected her augmenter. “I sent it on random. Looks like he went to Whitechapel in London, 1888. As far as I recall, it’s a dreary, boring time where nothing of substance happens.  It’s set on loop, so he’ll live out 5 or 6 years around that time zone for a few centuries and perhaps we will let him out after that.”

Cate smiled. “Best we get back to our posts. That will be the last anyone will ever hear of Jack the Ripper.”


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