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Without A Trace - Third Free Sample

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“What have we this time, Doctor?” Reid asked as he came into the garden.

“Female, mid-forties.”

“What’s the cause of death?” Reid asked. He then stepped behind the doctor and saw for himself. “Ah,” he said simply.

“That is exactly what I said,” the doctor muttered. “From the look and size of these wounds, I think this is the same killer who got Ms Nichols.”

“Hmm,” Reid mused. “That is indeed worrying news.”

“There are two strange things about this body though, Sir,” the doctor said. He indicated the scarf tightened around the woman’s neck and explained, “The first is that this wasn’t put here after the neck was cut.”

“Do you mean they cut through the scarf?”

“It’s completely undamaged,” the doctor noted, shaking his head. He then gently pulled the scarf upwards and showed Reid what was underneath. Reid gagged and looked away instantly. The throat had been severed almost in two, the cut reaching nearly all the way round the neck. Reid looked back, keeping his hand to his stomach.

“What is the other strange thing?” he asked.

“Look at her,” the doctor ordered. “Her head and neck are both swollen, as is her tongue. It protrudes beyond her teeth but not beyond her lips.”

“What could have caused it?” Reid asked, more comfortable now he couldn’t see the bloody throat.

“I don’t know.” The doctor shook his head again. “Perhaps some kind of poison but none that I know of.”

“Would you be able to find out more in a laboratory?”

“Perhaps.”

“Get it done,” Reid ordered. He looked around and saw blood on the fence. He could imagine the killer standing above the woman and drawing the knife over her throat. The blood fitted. It was caused by the action. “Smith!” he shouted. “Get out here.”

A police officer ran out of the building and said, “Yes, Inspector?”

“Get this cleaned up,” Reid ordered, pointing at the blood. “Then get this body to the morgue. I’ll start trying to find someone who saw her before she died.”

After Smith had disappeared to get a bucket, the doctor turned to Reid and asked, “Are you going to inform everyone that this was Nichols’ killer?”

“I will tell my superiors,” Reid said. “Everyone else will find out by themselves eventually.”

 

***

 

15th September 1888

 

Jacob washed his face one last time and then looked in the mirror. He had been having the strangest dream.

He had been sitting outside, on a bench, just looking at the stars. It had been completely silent and no one else had been around. It had just been very peaceful. He had sat there until the sun was starting to rise and then had got up and walked down the road, whistling. Still no one appeared, even as the sun came up. Still it was deathly quiet. It had frightened him a little. Whitechapel was a busy place with a lot of people. Surely someone had to be awake past dawn. He’d turned around as he walked up the road to see if anyone was behind him. No one. When he had spun back around again, his cousin was standing in front of him.

That had been enough to wake Jacob up. As he now stared into the mirror, he looked at his blood-shot eyes.

“What is wrong?” Sarah asked, appearing behind him.

“Nothing,” he told her. “I was dreaming about Joseph.”

“Really?” she asked. “Was it a bad dream?”

“No. Only…odd. He appeared from nowhere, which is why I woke up.”

Sarah walked around him and looked into his eyes for a second.

“You look tired,” she told him. “Come back to bed.”

“I may look it but I’m not,” Jacob replied, staring into the mirror. “I feel very restless. I may go for a walk.”

“Jacob, it is barely dawn,” Sarah complained. “You cannot go walking around with a killer on the loose.”

News of the killer had spread quickly. Two women had died in eight days and the newspapers had said many times that it could have been the same person who had done it. The police were staying very quiet on the case, unable to find any evidence of who the killer, or killers, might be.

Jacob sighed and kissed Sarah on the head.

“I will come back to bed presently,” he said quietly.

“Good.” She paused and then slowly added, “Joseph may still talk to you again one day.”

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