Relating to the events of February and March 1838
“At a quarter to nine, on the evening of Tuesday, 20th February, Spring-heeled Jack struck again, on the outskirts of the village of Old Ford. Jane Alsop, a girl of eighteen, answered the repeated ringing of the bell at Bearbinder Cottage, Bearbinder Lane. The caped man in the shadows identified himself as a policeman and asked for a light, claiming that he had caught Spring-heeled Jack in the lane.
“When she handed him a candle, the man threw off his outer garment, and raising the light to his face revealed a hideous and frightful appearance. Vomiting forth blue and white flames from his mouth, he stunned her long enough to catch the girl in his claws by her dress and the back of her neck. He pulled her out of the house over the half-door and dragged her away tearing her gown to shreds. She screamed out as loud as she could and somehow managed to get away from him and race for the door. But he caught up to her, again inflicting wounds on her arms and neck. Her sisters and father finally answered her screams and rescued her. The assailant scampered off across the fields.
“There was absolutely no connection between the Alsops and the businessmen or Wilshire. But more than the unexpected change in target, the fact that this attack occurred within walking distance of our headquarters at Ashworth’s house, was deeply disturbing. The Lambeth-Street police investigation by James Lea filled in the rest of the details. The man’s eyes were described as glowing balls of fire. He appeared to be wearing a helmet and a tight fitting white oil-skin garment. And the Alsops were sure he had not been alone, for his cast off cloak had disappeared. This was the only reliable information to be obtained. The rest was a muddle of confusion.
“The police thought at first it had been a drunken prank, and then that it had been an unknown prowler that had been reported in the neighborhood for nearly a month past. Such a man had been seen walking about the lanes and lonely places, enveloped in a large Spanish cloak, sometimes carrying a small lantern with him. That man had been pursued on one occasion by men in the employ of coach-master Giles at Bow, but the man escaped, exhibiting an extraordinary agility.
“Three men who had been at the John Bull public house the night of the attack testified that they had heard the cries coming from the Alsop house. Setting out in that direction they ran across a tall person wrapped up in a large cloak, who told them a policeman was needed at Alsop’s house. They went on without suspecting that the man could have been the perpetrator, and saw no one else.
“At the same time a coach-wheelwright called James Smith reported he had been walking up Bearbinder Lane when he heard screams coming from Bearbinder Cottage. Hurrying on, the only people he met were two men, named Payne and Millbank, walking away from the house. The second had been wearing a white hat and a white fustian shooting jacket, which Jane Alsop may have mistaken for the white oil-skin garment. Smith’s testimony was even more damning because he claimed to have later come across the two men again in the Coborn road and heard them boasting about the attack by Spring Jack. Upon seeing Smith, Millbank supposedly threatened him; a charge Millbank denied.
“However, a shoemaker named Richardson, who had also been in Bearbinder Lane shortly before nine, said that he had met not only Millbank and Payne, but also a boy and a young man in a large cloak who jokingly said something about Spring-heeled Jack being in the lane. A man named Fox was later found who admitted to being in the lane at that time with a boy but he had not been wearing a cloak.
“All witnesses were adamant on the details of their contradictory testimony. We followed the police investigators and had Lady Masveh interview each witness and suspect. The result bothered her as much as us. No one was lying. Everyone was telling exactly what they remembered; and all their minds showed traces of the noise that so unnerved the fey woman.
“One of our men found a cloak stuffed into a pile of rubbish, two streets over from the Alsop house. Lady Masveh reacted with aversion at its touch. The master recognized the pungent smell on the edges of the collar. ‘The phosphorescent flame! This is too much like Diderici.’
“Masveh took the cloak from him, held her breath, and pressed it to the side of her head. A moment later she cast it off with a snarl. ‘Scales family, two sisters, in Limehouse, Green Dragon Alley… he has been watching them.’
“‘You can read his mind?’
“‘The residue of his thoughts – If Wilshire is this Spring-Heeled Jack, there is something different about his aura. It is so loud I can hear its echoes through the noise.’
“The look in her eyes said there was more. ‘What else do you hear?’
“‘I see a house, copper wire everywhere outside, large electrical instruments inside.’
“‘No. We eradicated every trace of Ikal from his land. They are somewhere else.’
“The master sent a squad of men to find the architects and engineers that had accompanied the businessmen to Crosse’s estate. If a copy of Crosse’s house and equipment had been constructed somewhere, we would find it. On the fifth day after the attack at the Alsop’s we had six contingents of agents watching every street around Green Dragon Alley. Instead, Spring-heeled Jack knocked at the door of 2 Turner Street.
“When the servant-boy answered, the cloaked figure asked for Mr. Ashworth. As the boy turned, the man moved into the light and presented a horrendous appearance. The glowing eyes and clawed hands sent the boy screaming into the house. One more detail was added to the creature that night: on his chest was engraved a coat of arms with a golden W picked out in gold. The man fled into the night.
“We knew we were being taunted. The master considered sending Ashworth and his whole family out of the country but decided that the surest way to protect them was to station guards at their house. So he kept only a handful of men in the field with him. Every one was outfitted with guns and rifles and a full supply of cast iron ammunition. After a long private conference between Lady Masveh and Elias they left us.
“‘On 28 February, Spring-heeled Jack kept his appointment in Green Dragon alley. It was a new Moon, barely waxing towards first quarter. The darkness was on his side. Lucy Scales and her sister were on their way home from their brother’s house when the cloaked figure appeared behind them. He felled Lucy with a flash of blue flame but, before he could strike again, a rifle shot struck the ground between his feet. He glanced in the direction of the shot, dismissed it with a shrug and reached for the girl. The second shot struck him in the chest.
“He took to the rooftops, jumped across the alley and perched for a moment like a gargoyle against a chimney, intent on returning to his victim. But we had placed our men up there too. Another rifle was fired and he decided to flee. The master and I raced along the narrow streets and winding alleys, following the report of the guns, and catching glimpses of the escaping creature along Commercial road. At first he had turned toward Whitechapel but then he doubled back toward the Limehouse basin.
“He dropped back to street level by the Regents canal. We would have lost him there but for a scream that led us to the water, in time to see a woman running across the covered bridge, the Jack in pursuit. The master tossed me his two rifles and ran for the bridge with guns drawn. My first shot ricocheted off a bridge strut but it made the Jack stop for a moment, long enough for me to take aim again with the second rifle and hit him square in the chest. The impact pushed him back. But he just burst into his infernal laughter and jumped on the woman.
“Neither of us is quite sure of what we saw then. The woman slid like a shadow cast across the crossbraces of the bridge, swinging up behind the Jack, and striking him in mid air. I clearly heard the singing of metal on metal. Spring-heeled Jack fell, rolled and staggered up against the side of the bridge. When the master reached the bridge the shadow woman had folded herself around the cloaked man again, and struck again. Spring-heeled Jack returned the blow; this time faster than the shadow. A clawed hand dug into her arm and yanked her forward into a blast of blue flame. Lady Masveh fell back.
“Hearing the master cock the hammer of his gun, Spring-heeled Jack spun, snatched Masveh up, and held her as a shield before his body. His laugh lasted only seconds, for the limp form changed to something I can only describe as a black tiger. The beast broke out of the Jack’s grip and snapped at him, digging its jaws into his midsection, lifting him, and shaking him savagely, like a cat does its prey before throwing it down. Shining fragments of what must have been armor were shattered off, and scattered in all directions across the bridge, as he was slammed down.
“The tiger lunged again, this time for his throat. But the Jack skipped back and struck its side with such force that the cat crashed senseless against the bridge’s wall. The master, racing along that bridge, saw a clear shot between the dangling shards of the armor; he stopped and took it. This time it was a man’s cry, not laughter that rang out.
“Before the next shot could be fired, the Jack pounded his fist on the floor of the bridge, shattering its supports. With a ponderous kick he burst completely through and dove down into the canal, taking the tiger with him. He knew we would not fire for fear of hitting Masveh.
“When they resurfaced he was strangling her with one claw and beating her mercilessly with the other. The master jumped down on him, catching the Jack’s head in his arms, and twisting violently as he crashed into the water. Had that thing been a man he would have torn his head off. But all he did was shear off his mask as the Jack turned in mid air and landed upright on the bank of the canal. It was Wilshire.
“I fired at his face, but its claws deflected my two shots. In that momnetary respite, the master reached down for Masveh, tried to get her out of the water. But the Jack fell on them both, driving them under. His claws and body were as hard as iron. Memories of Diderici flooded the master’s mind, and an anger pent up for twenty years sent fire through his veins. He managed to shove himself and his enemy to the surface, and then he pummeled his head and face again and again, until the skin of his knuckles was abraded away, and pieces of the man’s face fell off to reveal a crystalline skull.
“The Jack shook itself, and roared a burst of blue flame that engulfed the master. I raced along the bank of the canal as the flame’s haze dissipated. His claws were clutching my master’s head, twisting against the strength of his neck. I couldn’t have saved him. Something else did.
“With a shriek like a banshee, a silvery creature erupted out of the water behind the Jack, and drove its own claws deep into his ribcage. The Jack dropped the master, and the creature vanished into the water to instantly reappear between them. Swifter than a cobra, it coiled its tail around the master and unfurled it, delivering him to the bank, while on the other side it wrapped its arms under the arms of the Jack, swung them above his shoulders, and brough them together under his mangled chin.
“A cry like a thousand eagles filled the night as the creature stood up on the water on long sinewy legs, taller than a man, and pressed the Jack against its jagged breast, continuing to fold him backwards to break him in half. The man convulsed, screamed; but before his back snapped he vanished in what sounded like a muffled explosion.
“The silver creature stumbled forward, shook its head from side to side, and then shrieked again in anger. I was but five yards from it. Its skin was covered with silver scales; razor-like fins adorned its arms, breast, and the sides of its lower back, and an iridescent aquamarine mane flowed from the top of its forehead to the small of its back. It spun around. Its frightening eyes, glowing like emeralds, fixed on mine for a second and then, with a glance at the master, it disappeared into the water.
“I crossed the Canal and dragged my master onto the street and then turned to look for Masveh. She was standing in the middle of the street, her garments swirling about her like fog. And though her face was buried in the shadow of a hood, I could see the glistening of her red lips, and feel the fire in her eyes. ‘Lady Masveh,’ I rose toward her, ‘are you alright?’
“‘Do not call us that name,’ she stepped back. ‘I am Memeth.’ And turning aside she vanished.