The Ripper: Redux by Byron Lester - HTML preview
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“Jack.”Jeff Speitzenberg looked on bemused. Kevin Stone walked around the desk and moved to the window. He looked out over the busy studio lot. Then he turned and looked at the Studio Boss. His voice was like a knife slicing, driven, obsessive, and brutal.“My pitch, in 1888 a psycho with an
appetite for death was on the loose.
London was the place, East End was
the ground, and Jack the Ripper was
the man. My pitch is to go back in
time and film the man with the knife
stroke for stroke…the legend
immortalized on 35 mm.” Jeff Speitzenberg slowly smiled at this most surprising and original pitch. He absolutely loved what he was hearing. “The check has already been signed,” Jeff Speitzenberg told him with a wide smile. Kevin Stone caught Mike’s eyes and they smiled. They both knew. “They had just signed the deal that would change cinema history, and spawn a whole new era of filmmaking.” CHAPTER 3 LONDON Kevin Stone and Mike Parson stood in the center of the temporal platform surrounded by their film crew and large cases of equipment at their feet. They were dressed in Nineteenth Century attire. The semi-trailer truck was sitting in the center of the platform. General Johnson was standing on the viewing platform. The General gestured strongly for his Lead Scientist at the panel to begin the charge up procedure for the temporal platform. The red lights began to flash around the perimeter of the hangar like chamber. The scientists intensely worked their stations. Kevin Stone looked so calm that he appeared as if he was about to take a simple trip down to the local shops. Mike Parson in comparison took in a long deep breath and steeled himself as if his guts were about to be sucked inside out. The halo like structure that hung above their heads began to make cracking and bending noises, as if it was about to snap. The film crew looked up nervously at the halo structure above their heads. The General looked on with a stoic expression from his elevated position on the viewing platform as he conducted proceedings. Then the halo structure let forth a large BOOM that caused the crew to shudder in fear. Mike Parson jumped slightly at the BOOM. Kevin Stone did not flinch. The hurricane of energy whipped up from the base of the silver platform and whirled around the crew. It pushed the cases of film equipment wildly across the platform, and blasted the faces of the crew as if they were standing in the eye of a hurricane. Kevin Stone began to loose sight of the General as the hurricane of energy rose in ferocity. The film crew looked up and could no longer see the halo structure above. The hurricane of energy exploded in violent cracking sound as if the halo was breaking in halves. The crew looked around frightened and fearful to what was happening. The hurricane winds of energy continued to wind around them at gale force power blocking their vision. Then there was a large CRACKING sound as if the halo structure had SNAPPED. The hurricane of energy slowly began to die down. The film crews eyes were fixed on the energy winds all around them. The energy winds were beginning to die and they were desperate to see what lay beyond. Slowly, the faint vision of the rusted iron walls, and shabby roof came into view. Mike Parson saw the energy disappear into the base of the platform. Mike’s eyes took in the rusted and shabby warehouse. The strongly built men dressed in Nineteenth Century clothing stood within the apparently derelict warehouse. They had watched as the energy had swirled down to reveal the film crew. They now began to move towards the silver platform. The film crew looked worried as they saw the Nineteenth Century and heavily muscle men approach. Kevin Stone wrapped his arms around his body simply as if he was cold, and said bluntly. “It’s chilly.” He stepped off the platform casually, as a tall, wide faced man in Nineteenth Century dress approached him. Mike Parson watched the director stop in front of the tall man. The film crew warily watched the strongly built men that stood around the platform. Kevin Stone eyes met Commander Benson, about 35, tall, disciplined, dressed in Nineteenth Century tweed jacket, and leader of the ‘film crew security team.’ “The perimeter is secure Sir. The warehouse is ready for your crew to begin setting up,” the Commander reported curtly. Kevin Stone shook his hand. “Good work Commander,” Kevin Stone told him. Then Kevin Stone frowned wryly and commented. “Even in the nineteenth century London has bloody awful weather.” Commander Benson laughed lightly. He commented as he pulled the twenty first century high powered rifle from his nineteenth century jacket. It was a subtle but strange sight. “And it doesn’t get any better.” Commander Benson moved away and began to instruct his soldiers. Mike Parson stepped off the platform and walked across to Kevin Stone. The Director was silent for a moment. The film crew began to move the film equipment off the back of the semi-trailer truck and lugged it from the silver platform. “The crew is setting up the gear,” Mike told him. Kevin Stone nodded. Then he gestured towards the large sliding front doors of the warehouse. They were closed shut. “Let’s go,” Kevin said simply. “Where?” asked Mike curiously. The two armored guards stood alertly on either side of the doors. Kevin Stone walked strongly towards the front doors. Mike Parson kept pace with the Director. “To survey the terrain,” Kevin Stone said sharply. The armored guard at the warehouse door watched the film director and producer approach. He lifted the com-link attached to the top of his armored jacket. “Alley status!?” armored guard questioned into the com-link. The hoarse-voice came back over the com-link. “Not a sole.” The armored guard nodded firmly to his fellow guard. Kevin Stone and Mike Parson had almost reached the large sliding doors. The armored guards grabbed the sliding doors on either side and pulled them open strongly. The rusty and creaking sound emanated from the rusted doors. The black night filled their vision as the sliding doors were pulled part. Kevin Stone and Mike Parson walked from the warehouse filled with twenty first century film gear and into the cold alleyway of Nineteenth Century London. The warehouse doors slid closed behind Kevin Stone and Mike Parson. They stood in the cold, dank, and narrow alleyway. They were soaking up the magnitude of the history making steps they had just undertaken. Then they heard a light cough. They turned to see the grubby man lying on the ground with his back against the warehouse wall. He was clearly drunk. His nineteenth century style pants and jacket looked as if they had not been washed for months. There was a half-empty bottle of alcohol in his hand. It was difficult in his current state to tell whether he was conscious or not. The eye of the man drunkenly opened. He stared apparently dazed at Kevin and Mike. He slowly pulled aside his jacket to reveal a twenty-first century high powered rifle. He gave a quick wink. Kevin Stone gave a quick smile. The alleyway guard pulled his jacket over the rifle again and closed his eyes to descend into a fake apparent state of drunken semi-consciousness again. Kevin Stone and Mike Parson walked along the narrow alleyway towards the street that was filled with Londoners of every description who were carrying on their business on a normal night in London’s East End. Kevin Stone stood on the vantage point overlooking Nineteenth Century London's East End. Mike Parson stood by his side. Stretched out below them were the houses of the East End crammed together, with the smoke, darkness, and scattered light, sailing ships in the distance, and the light sounds of thousands of people filtering up from below. It was an amazing visual scene. Kevin Stone and Mike Parson paused as if soaking up history. It was a reverent moment between director and producer. Kevin Stone observed the historic landscape that lay out before them. “The autumn of 1888, London’s East End, described by American novelist Jack London as a social abyss where men live worse than the beasts, and have less to eat and wear and protect them from the elements than savages.” The director looked slowly over the East End. “Some 150,000 men, women, and children homeless, another 130,000 are in work houses, and the foggy streets, alleyways, courts and yards are prowled by more than 80,000 prostitutes,” detailed Kevin Stone. He breathed deeply to soak it all up before commenting. “Amazing, fucking brutal, but amazing.” He frowned, and added dryly. “It’s not difficult to understand why Jack the Ripper chose this place to commit his vicious attacks.” He smiled as he gazed over the East End again. He turned to Mike. “The greatest set you could ever imagine. Let’s go make a movie.” They turned and walked down the stairs towards the busy and narrow street below. CHAPTER 4 MARTHA TURNER Mike Parson moved to the door of the warehouse’s converted briefing room. It had been clearly attired by the military with the tactical like display screen on the wall, with simple, no fuss chairs, and podium. The crew was talking energetically obviously still excited at the prospect of being back in time. Kevin Stone stood behind the podium and nodded at Mike Parson who dimmed the rooms lighting. The tactical display came to life with the sketch of a middle age woman. The crew went quiet. The glow of the tactical display screen hit the back of Kevin Stone and spread out giving him a dark, and dominating appearance. The room was deathly quiet. Kevin Stone glanced backward at the sketch of the woman on the tactical display. “Martha Turner, prostitute, 35,” detailed Kevin Stone simply. The tone of Kevin Stone’s words and his dark appearance from the effect of the light hitting him from behind served to pervade the room with a menacing atmosphere. The tactical display changed to a sketch of London’s East End. Kevin Stone began to detail sharply. “It is August the sixth, 1888, Monday, the Bank Holiday.” The tactical display changed to a century old sketch of a pub in a bustling street. “Monday evening. Martha had been drinking in one of many of the drinking holes in the East End...her company…soldiers along the Riverside in Limehouse.” Mike Parson stood quietly as the crew listened to the director’s words intently and watched the screen. The display changed to that of a sketch of an accommodation house. There was a lack of emotion in Kevin Stone’s voice. It was cold, and analytical. “As with most prostitutes, they lived day to day…and this night Martha needed a customer for money for a bed.” The display changed to a centuries old picture of the mutilated corpse of a woman. It was gruesome sight. It seemed so cold, unmerciful and lonely an end. Kevin Stone’s voice continued to reveal no hint of emotion. He was focused to an almost obsessive level. “Her body was found with thirty nine knife wounds in it.” The light, repulsed, and horrified sounds of the crew lofted through the dark room’s air. “Jack the Ripper had made his debut,” Kevin Stone said sounding almost excited. The tactical display changed to a sketch of a medical examiners room. The sketch of the doctor stood over the mutilated body of Martha Turner that lay upon the medical table. The sketch of a Police Officer stood in the foreground. “After he examined her, the doctor said, ‘he knew how and where to cut,” Kevin Stone detailed. The tactical display switched back to the sketch of Martha Turner. Kevin Stone’s voice tightened like a knife-edge to emphasize the importance of his next words to his crew. It was clear he was determined to make them understand the importance of his next statement to the shooting of the film. “This is the moment where this killing went from a simple death, one of thousands familiar to the East End in its history…and into the territory of the Grand-daddy of all serial killer reigns,” detailed Kevin Stone as if slicing into his film crew psyches with a hunting knife. They were unnerved, while he was adrenaline fueled. There were low murmurs from the crew as if they had grasped the importance of Martha Turner’s death. Mike Parson moved to the wall and increased the lightning in the room again. Kevin Stone looked at a particular section of his film crew that was sitting at the back of the room. “‘He knew how and where to cut,’ for our audio people, the line is worth more than your organs…and check your contracts because if you miss that line, they become my property and I love my on shoot barbecues,” he warned them. The face of Kevin Stone was tense, and his eyes piercing. “His obsessive focus overpowers the personalities of all around him. He will not tolerate any deviation from his vision. The crew visibly respects but fears him.” The audio people looked subtly down at the floor. Kevin Stone glanced back at Mike. He moved backward from the podium. He glanced back at Mike. Mike took over the briefing and began to detail in a calm tone. “For the time being, at all times when in the streets of London you are never to utter the words Jack the Ripper. You will refer to him only as, ‘Leather Apron.” The crew seems puzzled by the producer’s statement. Then Kevin Stone spoke up firmly to strengthen this particular point. “The name Jack the Ripper did not exist until he was branded such in the, ‘Star,’ newspaper the day after he took his fourth and fifth victims in one night…the natives cannot hear those words uttered from your mouths outside of this warehouse until that time…I don’t care how drunk you are…we’re here to make a film…not fuck with history…” Mike informed the film crew. “Each department will be supplied briefing instructions for the set up, and filming of the first murder.” Kevin Stone gestured to his personal assistant, about 30, obedient, and with long blond hair, who was sitting in the front row. She had a pile of booklets in her hands. “The first crew will set up at the first location for the scene in an hour’s time at Commercial Street,” Mike instructed. The personal assistant handed out the briefing booklets to the film crew. “While second crew will carry out the prep work for filming tomorrow morning in the Police Headquarters morgue…specifically installation of the hidden camera,” Mike continued to instruct. The personal assistant finished handing out the briefing booklets and then sat back down again. Kevin Stone moved forward, and looked over the film crew. He told them piercingly. “My overriding vision is to film the murders of Jack the Ripper for the worlds first of a new genre of films, ‘Historical/Reality,’ movies.” A small smile came across Kevin Stone’s face as he savored on the exhilarating prospect. “In the first of a new lucrative genre of film making, ‘historical/reality,’ movies where any major event or mystery throughout history can be filmed in real time, and cut into the structure of a feature film, with characters, and events unfolding with raw historical reality.” The crew seemed to relax a little at his changing demeanor. Then Kevin Stone’s voice tightened up again. It was cutting as if a final warning. “And needless to say we cannot just cut during a scene and start again. Jack will be the one doing the cutting.” He looked over the crew as if he knew what they were thinking. He added. “We have all the booze here we need and we can send slabs back through time if we want so there’s no need to go into the pub, BUT, if you do, for god sake, don’t fuck the same prostitutes Jacks going to kill…or else you’ll never work in Hollywood again.” Mike Parson gave a small smile. “If any of you are entertaining thoughts of getting up close and personal with Jack for some holiday snaps…I’ll leave you with what feeds Jack…’an appetite for blood, a love of carnage for its own sake,’ so if you break the rule of non-contact with Jack under any circumstances…I will but have to clean up your corpse and send it home…because I won’t allow one of you to contaminate my vision by becoming Jack’s seventh victim,” Jack told the crew without a hint of emotion. Kevin Stone looked at Mike Parson as if sharing a private joke as he said aloud to the film crew. “You think the movie business is brutal? Well, just introduce yourself to Jack.” There was dead silence in the room. Kevin Stone turned back to the film crew. He said simply. “Good, now enjoy the sights for an hour or so. I recommend the Thames at this time of day…then we get to work.” CHAPTER 5 PREDATOR DRONE The predator drone coated in jet-black paint was near invisible as it hovered in the dark night high above the street. The thick clouds surrounded the drone as the faint figure walked along the street far below. The predator swung around as the cloud momentarily enveloped it. The silent predator’s nose fixed camera refocused on the street again. $XJWK