The Story so Far:
For the past few days, Inspector Prescott has pursued a killer. The killer has struck twice; both victims were women. Their bodies were left in plain sight, and both showed the same mysterious cause of death: a hole through the head that seemed too perfect for any known machine to make.
Now, the night reveals its terrors as Tommy Harper (the chief suspect) sees something very unexpected during his nocturnal constitutional.
Late Monday Night
The streets were empty and dark, save for the ghostly glow given off by the gas lamps. Tommy Harper wandered the streets; since McKay improved him sixteen years ago, Tommy found that sleep was hard to come by. Laying in bed at night held few pleasures for Tommy; his consciousness would ramble through the dreams of others sleeping in the apartments above and below his own.
Some nights, he could feel his mind wandering far a-field, past the outskirts of the city and to the strange dreams of the farmhands that toiled through the day. In dreams, he would find deep seeded terrors and forbidden pleasures; the constant barrage of images made it too difficult to find rest. So, he walked at night in the silence, focusing his mind, keeping his consciousness from its nocturnal ambulation.
Occasionally he would read the thoughts of one of the homeless that slept in alleys and parks, discovering who they were before life brought them low. Sometimes he pitied them, but others, he believed deserved their fate. He had considered using his gifts to free them from their lot, but knew that their lives were a just punishment. His gifts were reserved for those he felt were the most terrible members of humanity: women who would use their sexuality to control men.
His mother was such a woman; she used her sex to trick a man into marriage. When Tommy was born too early for his mother‘s ruse to work, he was given away to the orphanage. He never knew the details of his birth until McKay transformed him. After the first operation, Tommy found that he could remember every moment of his life in excruciating detail. The second operation allowed him to peer into the minds of others, and the third blessed him with his greatest gift. With the fourth operation, Tommy’s consciousness began to wander outside of his body. If McKay hadn‘t been captured, the final operation would have allowed Tommy to live without a body.
Instead, Tommy was left incomplete, but nearly perfect.
He walked by Powers’ Pies and saw that Constance had a lantern casting a ghostly glow in the kitchen. There was no doubt that she was up early, preparing the filling for her pies in time for the morning patrons. Tommy closed his eyes and raised his fingers to his temples. His eyes rolled in his head as he attempted to project his mind into Constance’s. As his mind sailed forth on an invisible tide, a panorama of impressions assaulted his senses. The loudest of these came from behind him.
It was a thought; it was intense and repetitive.
“Sex for money, sex for money, sex for money,” it repeated ad nauseam. His mind rushed back into his body and Tommy turned to see a woman emerging from the alley between Gregg’s Green Grocer and Humboldt’s Fine Cheeses. She looked willowy and frail in a ratty dress that was barely clinging to her body. It was dark, so he couldn’t see her face, but he knew what she looked like: a slightly upturned nose, pouting lips, and doe eyes. He knew she must look like his mother, and she would pay. He heard the thoughts, and it was enough for Tommy to pass judgment.
“Hey Alphonse!” said the girl; she sounded worn and horse. Her voice nearly cracking as she cried out. “You need Elizabeth to land on Mars and Venus?”
“No,” said Tommy as he narrowed his eyes, preparing to use his gift.
“Are you a bit yellow?” asked the girl, drawing closer.
Tommy felt his stomach churn slightly, and a cold, sharp pain rose from his intestines. His gift was nearly ready to be given. He felt the pain shoot into his head, and focus on the center of his forehead.
“Are you okay?” asked the girl, her voice suddenly deeper. She was close enough for Tommy to see that she had a light coat of fuzz on her cheeks, and an Adam’s Apple in her skinny throat.
“No!” said Tommy as he felt the force of his gift pointing against the inside of his skull. He couldn’t let a man have his gift; that would be wrong. The freedom he granted was for women only. However, the power surged inside of him, and Tommy was unable to stop it. He moved his head just slightly and let the invisible projectile fly. It shot past the cross dresser and blew a hole in the side of Gregg’s Green Grocer that was the same size in diameter as the one in Molly Cobble’s head.
The cross dresser lunged forward, grabbing at Tommy’s lapels. Before Tommy could get his bearings, he was on his stomach with his arms restrained.
“What the bloody Hell!” exclaimed Tommy as he tried to throw the cross dresser off.
“Who do you think you are! Unhand me now.” demanded Tommy.
“No, you prozzy killin’ twat. I’m Officer Carlton Stuart of Queensborough Yard, and you are under arrest.”