Thick fog rises from the Thames, mixing with the ever-increasing smoke of the factories. It spreads an unnatural cold into the cobblestones, making the streets of Whitechapel even more slippery and treacherous. Only the truly drunk, truly lost or truly desperate brave these streets. And you.
Scarce illumination, obscuring more than revealing, comes from some gaslights. Another one of the inventions Jean and Vapula are scattering over the planet, changing it forever. Yet the most important thing is constant. The War of Souls.
The air is filled with the scent of a predator, mixed with faeces, garbage and rotten fishguts. Half of Scotland Yard is chasing him, but you have three advantages. The first is a hint, a tell, a fact from the past to which you have been clinging for days. Secondly, you are a celestial: an angel or a demon, far stronger, better informed and with songs and resonances in your toolkit. Finally, for them it is a job. For you it is much more than that.
Your senses are clouded by dissonance, choices you made in the hunt. It makes you doubt your purpose, your self. You must find him before it overtakes you.
Then you hear a scream, a thump, the type only you can hear. Someone murdered. You rush left and right, only to find others have beaten you to it. Several bobbies are examining the corpse and covering it; the sidestreets and shadows hold others like you. Other hunters.
An ethereal laughter fills your ear, directed only at you. He is gone. You have failed.
New York, 2017
Mist rose from the harbour, but stopped at the hot rock-desert of glass and concrete. The hotels, shops and embassies remind you of victorian London: trappings of a mighty empire. In your mind you can see the War up there: angels drafting international treaties and demons corrupting heads of state.
Two blocks later you walk among beggars, thriftshops, churches, crackhouses, the homeless scattered in the alleys. Victorian London indeed, you reminisce. But by now you have learned to focus on doing your thing, to choose your battles.
Your phone beeps a message, and you meet your helper holding a brown envelope with pictures.
“Happened last night. Not on the news yet. It’s ugly.”, he notes, glad to be rid of the contents.
Your heart races, your stomach clenches, your hand squeezes the cup of coffee close to breaking as the distant voice of your memory says: it is him.
This time, you will face him.
(image from The-east-end.co.uk)
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