Prescott walked into the police precinct in 48 Mason Street with his eyes forward and his back straight; he appeared like a man on a mission, and no one dared stand in his way. He walked along the worn wooden floors, making his way towards the stairs to the basement. It was there that he found Lily Fowler. She was pretty, cutting an appealing figure even in her uniform. She smiled broadly as Prescott approached her desk.
“G’morning Inspector,” she said, her voice high and thin. Her light perfume cut through the musty scent of the files that moldered behind her. “Is there something you’re needing, or did you just come to say hello?”
“I’m looking for the Drill Killer’s trephine device, as well as the files pertaining to its use.” Prescott maintained a businesslike air, folding his arms because he was never sure of where to put his hands. He sucked in his stomach a bit, feeling slightly self-conscious.
“That ghastly thing?” said Lily as she left her desk and walked down a row of bookcases filled with files. “I can’t imagine how those poor people felt. Thinking they were going to get help and winding up with their brains in a bunch.” She found a hefty box and pulled it from the shelf with a grunt. She carried the box with her elbows locked, leaning backward as she walked forward. With another grunt, she put it on the desk before Prescott.
“These are the files,“ she said, brushing the dust off her chest. “I need to go to the vault for the trephine device. I‘ll be back in a moment.” She forced a smile onto her flushed face and headed down to the vault.
Prescott opened the file box and examined some of the contents. Sketches of the false doctor’s office the Drill Killer lured his victims to, sketches of the dozen bodies he stored under the floor boards, and detailed notes about the trephine device that was used to kill the unfortunates. It was an elegant device; it bored a hole into the skull and was equipped with a suction apparatus that removed blood as the drill did its grisly work.
The dastardly part of the drill was hidden in the upper part of its bit: a series of small barbs and hooks made to catch on brain matter. Prescott shook his head, wondering what drove people to do such maleficent things.
His thoughts were interrupted with a loud bang as Lily placed the trephine device on the desk. Its steely carcass was swaddled in a thick cotton wrap.
“It is just as the report says. Hand cranked, the trephine pierces the skull and eventually bores into the brain. Used violently, it kills the victim in seconds. It is a nasty thing.” Lily grinned, seemingly proud of her encyclopedic knowledge of the precinct’s evidence room.
“Thank you, Miss. Fowler,” said Prescott, encouraging her with a nod. “You certainly know your inventory well.”
“What are you hoping to find with that thing?” asked Lily, sitting beside the inspector.
“I’m looking for insight. There’s been a murder that is at once similar and alien to the Drill Killer case. I wondered if the murderer might have some common ground with ’Doctor’ McKay. Looking at the files, I could interpret that they may have some common motivation, but they certainly did not use the same device. The hand crank would be all wrong. Not enough power.” Prescott’s moustache bristled as he furrowed his lips, thinking.
“Could the murderer have used something powered?” suggested Lily helpfully.
Prescott mulled it over. The killer could have used a clockwork version of the trephine, but it would have required much more substantial and smaller springs than were available to the public at large. Small, powerful springs were only available for experimental military devices. Something steam powered was possible, but the victim would have seen a smoke cloud and found it dubious.
“I think I will need to enquire down at Queensbourough Yard,” said Prescott. “Elias might have some insight on the power source such a device might use.”
“Is that all you’ll be needing then?” asked Lily, her head tilted inquisitively.
“If you would, prepare a brief of McKay’s interviews and a list of his acquaintances. It seems too convenient; one must have something to do with the other. While you are at it, I’d like a list of his victims,” requested Prescott. “Our victim may be related to one of them.”
“You know that I’m not supposed to do things like that. I’m just a file clerk,” said Lily coyly, “But for you, no problem.”
“Just keep it out of Murray’s view. I don’t want him involved, at least not until things develop more. I don’t need some over-assertive officers hounding suspects that aren’t under suspicion yet.”
“Yes, inspector. I’ll keep it quiet as a cat in socks.” said Lily.
As Prescott left the precinct, he took note of the growing cloud cover. The morning’s sun was giving way to clouds. By nightfall, rain was likely. The citizens of Knightsbridge didn’t seem to care; they all seemed happy enough to live in the moment. Prescott enjoyed a long walk; he had ten blocks ahead of him before he arrived at Queensbourough Yard, which afforded him time to think.
He hadn’t yet received the technical team’s report, so he knew that this trip was only marginally related to his investigation as a whole. However, Prescott couldn’t shake the notion that the murder of Molly Cobble had a connection to the Drill Killer case. He was still walking a beat when “Doctor” Thaddeus McKay was brought in fifteen years ago. It was early in the evening, just before he went on duty, when Murray brought in McKay. It was that feat which propelled Murray into the seat of Chief Constable five years later.