Act 3


Blair flipped open his cell phone and pressed speed call. "Simon? Jim and I are going home. We'll be working this case from there."

"What the hell? You can't just fold before lunch and disappear...."

Blair stood tall. "I am on retainer as Special Consultant to Major Crime for a reason, Captain Banks," Dr. Sandburg said frostily. "I am consulting with my partner. We'll work this case from my base of operations at home, and report in the morning."

There was a moment of gargling, and the crack of a cigar being halved.

"You can't keep doing this, Sandburg, and neither can Ellison. If you're not going to be around to work the field, I'm going to have to put together a task force so that there are at least some people I can count on investigating the scenes of these crimes!"

"Do what you have to do," Blair replied firmly, before Jim tore the phone from his hand.

"I don't know what he's talking about, Simon. I'm still here," he reassured his boss tautly.

Blair grabbed the phone back, hitting Jim's right forearm with his left fist to ensure he'd succeed, and ducked away. "We're going home. It's a Sentinel matter. You know?"

"Oh, shit. No, I don't know. I don't want to know, do I?" was asked in a weary tone.

"I'm not going home!" and "That's right, Captain Banks." issued forth at the same time.

"Ellison, go home; that's an order. Dr. Sandburg," an icy voice changed target, "if you don't have a very good reason for doing this, I'm gonna kill you myself and the Police Chief and the Commissioner will help me bury the body. Do we understand each other?"

"Yes." Blair closed the phone over Jim's indignant protests.

"Get in the truck, Jim," Blair ordered evenly.

Jim tried to stare him down.

Blair was not backing off. "What part of 'Get in the truck, Jim' don't you understand?

Jim threw his hands up in disgust. "Most stubborn s.o.b. in the world," he muttered.

"Don't insult my mother," Blair answered him. "Just get in the truck and drive home."

Jim did just that.


They didn't exchange a word during the commute. Blair was evidently too furious to talk, and Jim had no idea what had set him off. It wasn't often that Blair Sandburg, the guru of processing, lost his temper, but when he did, the sparks flew. Blair was burning up. Jim bit his tongue on more than one occasion as the road signs went by.

Once back at Blair's lair, Libby took a sniff at them, and ran for the bedroom. Naomi wasn't home, and the Volvo had been gone from the parking lot, so presumably she was shopping and they had the place to themselves. At last, Blair spoke.

"What exactly does 'I've done this before' mean, Jim?" Blair asked dulcetly.

"Huh? What are you talking about, Chief?" Jim was clueless. He ambled over to the fridge to get a beer.

"Don't drink that," Blair ordered. "It's avoidance behavior. We'll have lunch later; drink it then. Now: you said, and I quote, 'I saw it, Chief, as it happened. I've done this before.' So, what exactly does 'I've done this before' mean?" Blair was clenching his jaw in an almost exact duplicate of Jim's tic-producing mannerism.

Jim saw the light. He cringed. "Um, see, I've had visions before, you know, Chief."

Blair backed him up against the red couch; Jim bumped into it. "Give me the beer, Jim."

Jim gave him the beer. Blair set it aside.

"You told me it wasn't that kind of vision. No jag. No Incacha. You said you saw the actual murder of someone who died over a century ago. You do remember saying that, right?" He was speaking far too softly.

Jim nodded weakly, edging around the couch.

"Well, just when was it that you had that kind of vision before? I fricking need to know, I fricking need the details. I'm the Guide, and you've been holding out on me. If you can touch something and get an accurate fricking vision of the past, don't you think I OUGHT TO KNOW?" He pounded Jim in the chest with a very hard finger.

"Oh," Jim said, falling against the cushions. "When you put it that way...."

"I'm putting it that way," Blair informed him. "Now give!" He folded his arms.

Every muscle in Jim's best friend's body was tense. The normally Mediterranean blue eyes were black with rage. Jim wondered how he could have been idiot enough to think he could get away without ever telling Blair about that experience.

"It was, uh, well, it was," Jim sputtered. Blair glared at him, so he tried again. "It was afterwards, when you were in the hospital," he said to his partner, obliquely.

Blair sucked in a couple of good lungfuls of oxygen. "Is this related to...?"

"Yeah, Blair, it is." Jim's line of sight was trained on his shoes.

"Oh," Blair said faintly.

Jim looked up again, and his friend's face was white. He jumped up and grasped Blair by the elbows, guiding him to sit on the cushion next to Jim's own, and then sat down again. "It's okay, Chief. It's okay," he said, patting Blair's upper arms.

"Just what did you see?" Blair whispered.

Jim knew he didn't mean that day's vision. "Ah, Chief, don't take this so hard! It only happened once. I went to Alex's place, and picked through the rubble. We didn't have any idea what to do next, you know? I was looking for, I don't know, a miracle, and I got one." He searched Blair's face for an answer, but there was no response.

Jim went on. "I picked up some things, and got images, impressions, visuals. Of what she'd done, and where she was. It's why I pressured Simon to track her to Sierra Verde. We were pretty much running on fumes. Don't you understand?" Jim was defeated. "I thought you'd understand, Blair," he said finally. "I wanted to get her for killing you."

Jim sank back. Blair was as stiff as a board, hardly breathing. 'Am I failing you, Jim?' Blair had asked; now, it must look to him as if his doubts were more than justified. Jim wished he could take back his words, take back his vision, take back the whole package of sentinel senses, if only it would release Blair from his despair. "I wasn't trying to hide it or anything," he said hopelessly. "I kinda forgot."

"You kinda FORGOT?" Blair swung around, up in Jim's face. "You FORGOT?"

"Uh, well, yeah," Jim confessed. "I forgot."

Blair was gritting his teeth, his cheeks on fire. "You forgot. You have the psychic skill of psychometry, and you just happened to forget about it. Jim Ellison forgot he psychometrizes things. The Sentinel of Cascade is a psychometrist, but forgets to tell his GUIDE." Suddenly, the fire went out of him. Blair peered closely at Jim, as if to memorize every square inch of his face.

Jim held back, uncertain of what he should do, what Blair needed from him.

Blair began nodding, and didn't stop. He stood up, nodding. "I'm going to take Libby for a walk," he said tonelessly. "Get some lunch and have the beer if you want to. Go back to work if you want to. I don't know when I'll be back."

Jim panicked. "What do you mean? You don't know when you'll be back? Go to work without you? Blair, what are you saying? For God's sake, Chief, tell me what's wrong!"

Blair was still nodding. He rambled around his quarters, finding Libby's leash, and on into his bedroom. When he reappeared, Libby in tow, he was nodding.

Jim was terrified. "Chief? Blair? What's wrong? Please tell me what's wrong!"

Blair looked at him. "You forgot to tell me that you psychometrize things, Jim." His words were gentle. "If I'd been the Guide you want and the Shaman you need, you'd have told me. It doesn't matter that it happened only once, or that it was because of Alex Barnes. If you'd trusted me, you'd have told me; you know you'd have told Incacha. We're not supposed to have secrets like that between us.

"Now, I have to think about what to do. I have to think about whether you're the Sentinel I should be guiding. Whether I'm the right partner for you, and you're the right partner for me. It's not just about you, or about me, any longer. It's about Cascade, and what we're doing here together. Or what I thought we were doing together. Whatever." He leaned down and patted his dog. "Come on, girl. I need to think this all through. Do as you like, Jim. Tell Simon anything. I don't care." With that, he was gone.

Jim sat on the red couch, thinking, Blair doesn't care. A rush of bile flooded his mouth. He ran for the bathroom, and was violently ill.


There was a rattling at the door of the loft. Jim heard it clearly from the floor below. Naomi Sandburg was letting herself in. Jim forced himself up from where he'd been sitting on Blair's red couch, waiting fruitlessly for him to return, for the prior hour and a half. He took the spiral staircase, and pasted on a smile of greeting.

"Hello, Naomi. Let me help you with those," he said, taking some bags from her arms.

"Thank you, Jim!" she said, pleased surprise in her voice and face. "I didn't expect you to be home now. Is Blair home too? Aren't you working a hot case?"

They'd gained Jim's kitchen, and Jim managed to keep his guest from seeing his expression for a good five minutes, opening and closing cupboards. He thought he might get away with the charade, but he'd forgotten who he was dealing with. The original Sandburg, and a Jewish mother.

"What's wrong, Jim?" Naomi asked, putting a hand on his arm as he closed the refrigerator door on the last tomato. "The negative energy in this place is fearsome." She shivered delicately. "Something's gone really bad, hasn't it?

He saw the honest worry in her eyes and sighed. "Yeah, Naomi, it has. I screwed up big time, and I didn't even know I was doing it."

Naomi coaxed him over onto his couch, and even swept the afghan off the back to lay it across his lap. She sat next to him. "What did you do, Jim?"

Jim grimaced. "There was something I should have told Blair, but didn't."

"Something about you as a sentinel," Naomi inferred. "He found out. Was anyone hurt?"

"No one's been hurt, except Blair. He," Jim swallowed hard, in remembrance of all the times the shoe had been on the other foot, "he thinks he can't trust me, Naomi."

"Oh, Jim, he trusts you more than anyone else on the face of the earth!" Naomi leaned over to put her arms around her host. "You know that."

"Not like that, Naomi. He thinks I'd have told him if I trusted him. That that's why I didn't tell him. And it wasn't that way! I just forgot it," Jim said into Naomi's shoulder.

"You forget a lot of things, don't you, dear?" she said.

"I guess," Jim muttered.

"Repression, denial, projection you suffered a lot in your life," Naomi said soothingly. She cradled in her arms a man who hadn't known a mother since his early childhood. "I don't think you're going to lose Blair, Jim. He just needs time to process things."

Jim pulled away. "Process things? You think that's the panacea that will make it all go away? Let me tell you, Naomi, there are some things that can't be processed away. Some hurts that can't be healed." Jim was lost in memory for a moment. "I may have finally driven him off, and it was with something I never even thought about."

Naomi ran a gentle hand down his cheek. "You don't think Blair is smart enough to realize that?"

Jim almost laughed. "Yeah, he is. But the way he sees things, I'd never have forgotten it, if only I'd trusted him enough to tell him when it happened. And he may be right about that." He drew a breath that was almost a sob. "He said he had to think if I was the right sentinel for him. He's got a course at the U., Naomi, and lots of people in it who know other people with sentinel senses. I'm going to lose him to someone else."

"Friendship's not a competition, dear. But what was it, Jim? Do you mind my asking? What didn't you tell him?" Naomi laid her hands in her lap.

Jim sighed. "No, I don't mind. This is something you can't tell anyone, Naomi. You know why."

Naomi flushed. "I know. I've learned my lesson. I want to help, though. What was it?"

Jim explained about the visions he had had at Alex Barnes' destroyed apartment, and said that something like them had happened that very day for the second time only in his life.

"Psychometry? Touching objects and getting verifiable information from them? That's fantastic, Jim!" Naomi exulted. "If you could control it...."

"That's just it, Naomi," Jim cut her off. "I can't control it. It's spontaneous. Only I think Blair believes that he should be teaching me to do it, or control it, or something. He thinks we should be working on it together. Like we worked on my dials."

Naomi jerked her head up. "What's this doing to your investigation of the case? Why aren't you out investigating?"

"I'm waiting for Blair." Jim said quietly. "First he told Simon we'd be working here through the afternoon, and Simon read him the riot act. Then, once we'd 'talked', he said to go back to work without him and tell Simon anything I wanted. That he didn't care."

"No wonder you're spooked," Naomi said. She sighed, and reached over to pat Jim's knee. "What can you do to investigate from here, now, Jim? To make at least part of what Blair said to Simon be true?"

The stray thought that that might be how his partner had learned the art of obfuscation and misdirection so well flitted through Jim's brain, but he moved on to more serious matters. "Net research. It's got to be done, though that's more Blair's field than mine."

"Go ahead then, and do it. I'll take care of dinner. I'm sure Blair will be back by then."

"Why?" Jim was anxious to know.

Naomi smiled sweetly. "He took Libby with him, Jim. He'll get her home in time to feed her. You can be certain of that."

Jim's face lit up. "Yeah, he will, won't he? Thanks, Naomi." He betook himself to the computer in his bedroom, and began surfing the internet.

Naomi went looking for candles and the cleansing scent of lavender.


It was just after six when Blair and Libby arrived home. They entered Blair's apartment, and Blair went directly to Libby's food bowl.

On hearing him, Naomi let out a peal of welcome. "Sweetie! You're home! I'm so glad to see you again." She was at the top of the spiral staircase.

"Hi, Mom," Blair said, glancing up at her. "Nice to see you too." He puttered around his kitchen. "Come down and have some coffee if you want."

Naomi lost her grin for a second. It was worse than she had anticipated. Maybe Jim really was right, and their friendship and partnership were in danger. "No, honey, you come up. We've got your lasagna ready, and a Caesar salad and garlic bread, and I made an apple pie with cinnamon for dessert. You know you like my apple pie."

Blair smiled briefly. "I do, Naomi. Just now, I have things to do. I'll eat when I eat."

Naomi Sandburg, who had an unnerved, robotic Sentinel behind her listening to every word, was not about to put up with that kind of treatment by her baby boy. She clattered down the steps and threw her arms around him, instead.

"Jim told me you'd had an argument," she said, as Blair returned her hug.

"Yeah, well, that's how it goes; I lost my appetite. You go and eat. Keep Jim company."

"What about you?" Naomi wanted to know.

"I'm fine. I have Libby, and a refrigerator full of food." He began rooting in the fridge. "What more could a man want out of life?" He sounded bitter.

"A really good friend, even if he's a screw-up from time to time, maybe?" Naomi mumbled. "And a reason to get up in the morning, because you've got important work to do together? I think those are two things you have, and need to hold onto."

Blair looked at her over his shoulder. "Thanks for the advice, but I'm going to have to work this out by myself."

Naomi looked around the lair. She had cleansed it with lavender, but the bad vibes from Blair himself were going to take more than lavender could do. She made a spot decision "Well, come up if you want to. I'm leaving after dinner. I'm going to go stay with Jen."

"Aunt Jen? Jen Carr?" Blair asked, surprised. "I thought you were staying upstairs."

"I'm in the way here, sweetie," Naomi admitted. "You and Jim have things to work out. I'm not going to come between you. I can see my friends and family, Robert, maybe, while I'm at it, and you know that I can keep myself entertained around town." Her smile was bright. "I want to meet the Druid circle Sky was in, and Cheryl, my friend from Greece, joined a Wiccan coven there, and has a sister in one here. I'd like to look her up. Then, there's a whole convention to attend! I'll be very busy, and having fun!"

Blair's smile faltered. "Okay, Ma. Go eat with Jim, and say goodbye when you leave. If you need a car over the next week or so...."

"I'll use yours!" Naomi announced brightly, dangling the keys. She whisked herself away to the loft as Blair spluttered, beyond reach of a retraction of the use of the Volvo.

Blair fulminated silently. She had outmaneuvered him. He wasn't going up there for his keys. He would have to ride with Jim, for the whole time Naomi was in town. Oh, joy.

Jim sat down to eat a dinner that tasted of ashes, and Blair began writing up preliminary reports, for filing in the morning with Simon.

Thus ended the Sentinel's and Guide's second day of the killing reign of the Copy Cat Ripper.


Day Three began with the Copy Cat Ripper, so spelled, being splashed all over the news. Don Haas's exclusive had turned into a journalistic free-for-all. The press, local and national, had all but submerged the second site the superintendent probably sold the tip to everyone, Jim believed the one where LuLu Nichols had died. Not only were the television stations out prowling for information, but all four Cascade newspapers too. In the most dangerous city on the continent to cover, three television stations and four newspapers not only could survive, but thrive. The two kill sites were crawling with reporters, and the police department was besieged. Every cop and support worker in the city had been warned against leaks. It would mean their jobs, and they knew it.

As for Jim and Blair, there was a sterile truce between them. They had a case to solve, as quickly as possible, by whatever means were at hand, and the partners knew they couldn't risk splitting up while it was ongoing. They didn't look at each other; and spoke seldom, and then only about the case.

When they got to the office, they found Simon in Major Crime organizing a task force. He had detailed Rafe and Megan to work the cases in the field, pairing Joel and Henri to work from the base of Major Crime, following up tips. Simon himself would be the liaison with the press. He had seconded Detective Fred Aberconway and Officer Chuck Warrener from Homicide to partner Rafe and Megan, ensuring two teams in the field at all times. He wasn't counting on Jim and Blair, apparently.

"What are Ellison and Sandburg doing?" Aberconway asked, being thorough.

"Here are copies of our initial reports," Jim said, as Blair returned from the photocopier. Blair took the place at Jim's side, which had been saved for him by Simon, and handed the documents to his partner. Jim circulated them around the group of investigators.

Everyone had copies of the forensic reports as to evidence on both deaths, and the ones referring to LuLu Nichols were identical with Amy O'Hare, right down to identifying the too-common, untraceable knife. A pall hovered over the conference room.

"Detective Ellison and Dr. Sandburg are following their own line of investigation," Simon declared, "and we'll have to see if it pans out."

"A tip from an informant? Shouldn't we all know about it?" Warrener wanted to know.

"Not a tip exactly," Jim explained. "We received information from an unexpected and confidential source, potentially a good one, and there may be something to it. But this line of investigation doesn't need more than the two of us to follow up, and we all know that most cases like this are solved by good old-fashioned police work."

Warrener grunted. "Yeah, we know."

Simon set the tasks for the day. Jim, Blair, Henri and Joel had pre-assigned duties. Rafe was to get the word out to as many prostitutes as possible, as well as see if anyone knew how the Ripper came into contact with LuLu Nichols or learned her name; Aberconway was to partner him. Megan and Warrener would revisit Jim's and Blair's work at the crime scenes and autopsies, in the unlikely event that they'd missed anything. Simon suggested acidly that Ellison and Sandburg might attend at the morgue with Megan and Fred, since they hadn't been at the autopsy the afternoon before. It was a stiff reminder to Jim and Blair that they'd walked out on the second murder, and now someone else was doing their job. They both colored, but they obeyed, trailing after Connor and Warrener.

"I want to see you two in my office, once you're done," Simon called after them dourly.

Jim guessed it wasn't going to be for cookies and coffee.


The body looked as they knew it would. Jim had downloaded from the net a description of the autopsy of Polly Nichols. The descriptions of the wounds were identical; Jim confirmed that to Megan and Fred. All in all, it was more confirmation that the Copy Cat Ripper was replaying the part of Jack the Ripper. The two teams broke, and went their separate ways.


Jim was driving. Simon hadn't been anything like gentle in their talk. Jim was sick at heart about the reaming Blair got; he knew it was more his fault than Blair's, and that Blair was shielding him in taking it. He and Blair had been rapt in misery for ten minutes in the truck, Jim paying no attention to where he was going, and unconsciously making for home. He couldn't take the silence and unhappiness any longer than that. Clearing his throat, he said, "So if this is the real Jack the Ripper, how'd he do it, Chief?"

Blair's head swiveled around, uncannily reminding Jim of the hellacious head of Linda Blair in 'The Exorcist.' "I'm not answering that until we're home. That's where we're going, of course." He sounded almost rational.

"Oh, yeah," Jim checked the surroundings. "Okay." He got them to 852 Prospect Avenue, and they ended up in Blair's condo, the faster of the two to reach. The men doffed their jackets and hung them up.

"How did Jack the Ripper get from London, England, in 1888, to here and now?" Blair recapped the question. "That's what you're asking me?"

Jim nodded, feeling silly.

"HOW THE HELL SHOULD I KNOW?" Blair screamed in his face. "What am I, a seer with a crystal ball? You're the one having visions all over the place. You tell me!"

Jim was at the end of his tether. "Stop shouting at me!" he yelled back. "I'm not asking for guarantees. I just want possibilities, even ones so far out there that Mulder wouldn't believe in them. You're the anthropologist; I thought you'd know about this stuff."

Blair began spitting his words out. "Oh, you just want possibilities? Well, let's try some of these, Jim." The man was dangerously angry. "He has a time machine." He ticked one finger on his left hand. "Or maybe, in 1888, he fell into a fold of the fabric of the time and space, and fell out again here." Another finger was ticked off.

"Maybe he's an immortal demon, who just pops up here and there in time, wherever he likes, and kills for sport, letting humans take the blame. Or maybe he's an demon who possesses a mortal and makes him kill for him." The last two fingers were done.

"It could be the ghost of Jack the Ripper, who has somehow found a way to make himself solid so he can kill again. Or the ghost is possessing people, a la the demon." He ticked off the left thumb, and started over on the right hand with the next sentence. "Maybe the guy drank from the fountain of youth and he's a forever-young mortal. A human Jack the Ripper who's an adept could be killing by projecting his astral body, his ka or ba, on the astral plane." Two fingers on the right hand moved. "Or a medium using ectoplasm.

"Then there's sorcery itself. If he's Jewish, and that weird message about 'The Juwes are the men That Will not be Blamed for Nothing' actually has some meaning to it, he could be creating golems and using them to kill. Do you know what I'm talking about?" he checked with his audience.

"The reference to the chalk message that Sir Whatever had wiped off the wall where Catherine Eddowes died, I get. I don't know about golems."

"Doing research on the murders, huh?" Blair's eyes glistened.

Jim shrugged. "I was waiting for you for a long time, Chief. I needed to do something."

"Okay," Blair said nonchalantly, and the hairs on Jim's neck stood straight up. "In Jewish legend, a golem is a man made out of mud, who does the sorcerer's bidding, and then collapses, mud again." The third finger on his right hand was closed down. "Other sorcerers in other parts of the world could create tuplas out of light, or breed homunculi in glass jars, or make zombies from corpses." Blair threw both hands up, wide open.

"Or maybe he uses androids or robots. Or he's a cyborg, himself, with super strength. Hey, he could be a combination of Dr. Frankenstein and the monster!

"Or maybe it's really Jack the Ripper's great-great-grandson, and you got the reading from the psychometrizing you did because the DNA is so close.

"TAKE YOUR CHOICE, JIM!" he shouted the place down. "Because I can't think of any other way the real Jack the Ripper did it, you ruled reincarnation out about that, and I'm trying hard to find you answers. Believe me. Believe me, 'cause no one else on earth would believe you if you told your theory to them."

Blair collapsed into the green beanbag chair, like a marionette dropped by its puppeteer.

Jim stood, his hands at his temples. There was suddenly no noise in the lair, not Libby breathing, no fridge compressor, no wind at the windows. It was terribly shocking. Jim took the blue beanbag chair.

"Listen, Chief, I'm sorry," he said. There was almost a tremor in his voice.

Blair looked up from folded hands. "Yeah, I know you are."

"I expect too much from you sometimes," Jim admitted.

"Sometimes." Blair sighed. "But it's always about the wrong things."

"Huh?"

"You can't trust me about your having psychometry, which I believe, when no one else would. God, I can't imagine how Simon would respond if we ever told him what goes on with us.

"But on the other hand, you expect me to have some crystal ball when it comes to the spirit world, and mysticism, and magic, as it pertains to someone we don't even know, and demand instantaneous access to the beyond! Jim, I'm a Shaman, and I do the best I can to back you up as your Guide, but I'm not all knowing about that stuff. No one can be." He sighed with helplessness.

"I just wish you'd trusted me before, the psychometry, I mean. Do you know how I know it's real? I'm not totally gullible; before, I thought it was fake, big imaginations or cold readings.

"But if you tell me you have it, it's real. I believe in it, because I believe in you. You're my Sentinel. That's how much I trust you. I just need you to trust me back." There was something like hope in his eyes. "It's that simple, Jim."

It was that simple. Jim was up and out of his chair, and Blair was up and out of his, and the two friends grabbed each other and Jim hugged Blair, who was pounding him on the back in exchange. It took perhaps three seconds, and then they were back to good.

"Geez, Chief, you scared me."

"I know. I'm sorry."

"It wasn't that I didn't trust you, Blair. But I couldn't go back to the hospital to see you...."

"...to tell me, before you went to Mexico. I thought of that while I was walking."

"But you're right about me forgetting to tell you things you need to know. I just, I can't. I forget them. They're not there, Chief."

"I'll try to help you with that. I don't know how, but I'll try."

"I know. I trust you. I really do."

Then Jim batted Blair's curls, Blair went for a pillow to whap him with, and they both had to deal with an energized Libby, who wanted in on the fun.


Jim had brought down floppies of the research he'd done on the original murders, and Blair had hauled over a dining room chair for Jim to use as they both worked on the net. They were in agreement that they needed to know everything they could about each murder, if they were to intercept and catch the Ripper. But the sheer volume of information was daunting. They were going through the names of suspects, when Naomi arrived upstairs, and never heard her, so intent were they on their work.

"Montague Druitt was 'sexually insane'? What the hell does that mean?" Jim asked.

"To Victorians, it could be anything from being gay to liking horses waaaaay too much," Blair said sarcastically. "Yeah, the guy offed himself around the time the Ripper disappeared, and we know it wasn't him, after all, since the Ripper's here, but still...."

"All this armchair quarterbacking from the higher-ups." Jim was shaking his head. "They had no idea who did it, did they?"

"None that I can see," Blair said, "and when you add all the new names proposed "

"Like the Duke of Clarence and James Maybrick, you mean."

Blair nodded. "Yeah, royalty, and a guy whose wife did time for murdering him, when he probably overdosed himself on the arsenic he ate daily. Geez, poor woman. Whoever the Ripper is, I don't know if we're going to see him in the list of original suspects, Jim."

"Boys? I'm here," Naomi caroled from the loft. Libby scrambled upstairs to greet her. "Where are you?"

"Down here, Mom," Blair called. "Working."

"It's lunchtime. Do you have time to eat with me?"

They needed a boost to carry them through the rest of the afternoon; Ripper research was confusing and exhausting. "Sure, Naomi," Jim yelled up. "We'll be right there."

Blair saved what they had, and they went to lunch with Naomi.

She'd provided a table full of deli delights. Naomi stuck to cheese sandwiches, but Blair and Jim built massive heroes on baguettes, with tongue for Blair and corned beef for Jim. As they munched, coleslaw and potato salad, dill pickles and pickled onions at hand, Naomi smiled. They all had mineral water, and she'd put coffee on for later.

"I'm so glad you worked things out," she said perkily.

"We are too, Ma," Blair said around a bite of pickle.

"You need to cleanse the place," she told them, "but the important thing is that you're back on track." She put a slice of tomato on a baguette, and reached for the mayonnaise.

"Ah, yeah. Naomi, if you want to stay here," Jim started, awkwardly.

But Naomi was shaking her head. "No, not while you're in the middle of this awful case. I saw the papers. The Herald and the Sun were scary enough, but the Tribune was completely terrifying. You need a free hand, and I'm perfectly happy staying with Jennifer. I've got everything planned." She smiled. "I'm going to the convention, on and off, to have my palm done, get a past life reading, have someone read my cards, and look for some nice crystals. I've got messages for local Wiccans and Druids from friends in other places. I've got lots to do, and so do you, but they're not compatible, are they?"

Jim and Blair had to admit she was right.

"Ma? Since you've got my car, could you do something for us?" Blair asked.

"What do you need?"

"Libby's clip is next Friday. Could you take her and bring her back? Pete keeps standard office hours, and Jim and I don't, you know?"

"Yes, of course," Naomi pledged. "Who's Pete?"

"He's Pete's for Pets in the Midtown Plaza, and he's wonderful with animals. He talks to them, and they talk back. He and Libby are hilarious."

Everyone laughed. Naomi said he sounded like an animist, and wondered about whether they celebrated Samhain. When told the address, she said he had the place where Bill Montenegro's bar once was. Blair and Jim both wondered who Bill Montenegro was, but were not going to go there. They chatted over coffee, and then Naomi was gone again.

Jim and Blair went back to trying to become instant authorities in the search for the real Jack the Ripper. It was then that they had their brain wave about how he chose his vics.


There was no murder on the weekend. On Tuesday morning, the third body was found.

The woman was called Annie Chappelle. She was black, a widow, and well-preserved for forty. She also had a disabled son at home to care for. She frequented local bars, good ones, and picked up dates. She had thought that was safe. She was wrong.

The task force assembled on Tuesday morning.

"We went to the scene," Megan reported on behalf of herself and her interim partner, Detective Aberconway. She described the way the body had lain, and Jim tapped Blair on the hand.

"Uh, we've been doing some pretty intensive research into the original killings," he started, only to be shut down by Aberconway.

"And there's something from more than a hundred years ago that will help in this investigation, DR. Sandburg?" The man was more than combative.

"Yes, there is," Blair asserted. "It's a matter of victimology and methodology."

Simon interjected, "Let's hear him out. Maybe he's got something, maybe he hasn't, but we're not in the position to let any leads go uninvestigated."

"Thanks a lot," Blair mumbled, then launched into his explanation. "The Copy Cat Ripper seems to be tailoring his victims in Cascade to the victims in the original killings, which I'm going to call the Whitechapel killings, to keep them straight.

"The first victim here was Amy O'Hare, who went by the name of Bunny Tail when she was tricking. In the Whitechapel killings, the person considered the first victim isn't an analogue for Amy O'Hare. But there was an earlier killing that fits."

"Mary Ann Nichols wasn't the template for O'Hare?" Officer Warrender said, astonished.

Blair shook his head. "No, but a woman killed August 7, 1888, matches up with her. Martha Tabram was a hawker and a prostitute. Amy O'Hare was a painter, who tried, mostly unsuccessfully, to hawk her paintings, and turned tricks when she needed money."

"Is that all you've got?" Aberconway grunted.

"No," Blair said, long-sufferingly. "The thing that matches identically is the M.O.; both women had identical wounds. The copycat wasn't trying to find a 'Martha Tabram', but someone whose lifestyle was more or less like hers."

"If you'd read our preliminary reports," Jim said poisonously at the Homicide detective, "you'd have realized the similarities between the two."

Aberconway melted into his seat.

"With LuLu Nichols, it was the other way around. The copycat went for someone with a name like the first official Whitechapel Ripper victim. Mary Ann Nichols, going by 'Polly', and Mary Louise Nichols, going by 'LuLu'. True, Polly was a confirmed alcoholic, and LuLu a heroin addict, and they both prostituted themselves to keep themselves in supply of what had hooked them, but it's the names that really link them."

"I thought it was the wounding that did," Chuck Warrender put in.

"Well, I'm talking about how the copycat chose Lulu Nichols. It was opportunistic, I believe, sheer chance that the day after he killed Amy O'Hare, he happened upon Lulu Nichols. There was a three-week period between the killings of Martha Tabram and Polly Nichols in 1888. With 13 days to Hallowe'en to fill, there ought to have been a gap between the Cascade killings. That tells me this guy will deviate from his plan, his schedule, big time, in order to get the 'right' victim."

"We think he's stalking Cascade," Jim added to the conversation.

"Oh, so that's the line you were following up," Megan muttered. No one corrected her.

"The next victim in Whitechapel was Dark Annie Chapman," Blair stated.

"Anne Chappelle, a black," someone said.

"Chapman was a widow, with a disabled son, only he was in a home, because she couldn't care for him. Here the Ripper pulled off matches for name and lifestyle. It took him three days, but he did it."

"The injuries and poses match identically, again, too," Jim said. "Confirmation that it's the same man's handiwork."

"How?" Rafe demanded, clunking a fist on the table. "How? How is he doing this?"

Jim and Blair looked at each other. Jim spoke. "We think the guy is tapping into the city computer records for either or both criminal records and social services. We don't have a clue as to how to stop him from doing it, either. And he may already have all he needs."

The room exploded with exclamations.


"Therefore, we suggest that any woman whose name is 'Elizabeth' or 'Stride' or a variation of either, especially if she is a widow living alone, be very, very careful about who she goes out with over the next couple of weeks."

"Remember how many different nicknames there are for 'Elizabeth', too. Liz, Lizzy, Libby, Lisa, Beth, Betty, Bet, Elspeth, the list goes on. Get a baby book and check it for nicknames. Or even if she has a nickname that's nothing like Elizabeth, like Daisy or Honey, if this profile sounds like someone you know, especially someone in your family, be sure she's warned, and if you can, get her to some place safe."

"Thank you, Detective Ellison, and Dr. Sandburg. This is Don Haas for WCDE, reporting. If your name is Elizabeth, take care to be safe. And there you have it!"

Blair and Jim stared at the set, hoping it would work.


Apparently, it did have some effect. Blair had gone to school to teach his Sentinel seminar on Wednesday, and no one died. Megan was undercover as 'Ellie Stryker', a chronic alcoholic who was streetwalking to pay for beer. False records had been inserted in the computer system; 'Ellie Stryker' had a huge dossier of social system reports as a teenage alcoholic and mother, whose life went to hell before she was thirteen. But Megan didn't get a nibble. The only johns who picked her up were Jim, Blair, Rafe, Henri, Simon, Chuck and Fred. Joel manned the tip lines with an army of helpers. When they couldn't stare at the monitors any longer, Jim and Blair went out and canvassed the neighbors of the deceased women. Everyone did his or her job. No one caught a break.

When Naomi arrived on Friday to pick up Libby for her clip, both partners were much more relaxed with each other than the last time she saw them. It gladdened her.

"Do you think you've got a handle on this case yet?" she asked.

"We're doing the best we can do, Naomi," Jim told her. "If we can stop him from killing again, even if we don't catch him...."

"...which is not an option," Blair said, his lips grim.

"...we'll have done our jobs the best way we know how. Serial killers like this are hard to track, and he's not leaving DNA evidence behind. Without that, we may not get his identity. Stopping him, though, is a good second choice."

"How about you, Ma?" Blair asked. "It's not the visit you'd hoped for. Having fun?"

Naomi laughed gaily. "Oh, Sweetie. You know me. I can have fun anywhere. I've got a lovely platinum aura crystal, and those are hard to find. My tarot cards say I'm going to meet a generous gentleman within the next three months and we'll have great fun together. My astrology chart says I'm due to have a wonderful time all this year, with lots of money, so I'd better buy lottery tickets, and my past life reading was interesting too. Not Cleopatra, so I was a little disappointed, but a nice woman, a Marie Jeannette Davies, who died in childbirth. She was a world traveler, too, like me. I'm just really glad I have my son here and now, so I can take his dog to the groomer's!"

Blair reached over at the door and gave her a big smacking kiss on the cheek. "Me, too, Naomi. Me too. And I'm glad you're having fun."

"Oh, I am!" she said. With a laugh and a wave, Naomi and Libby were out the door.

"Good thing Libby's last name is 'Sandburg'," Jim said absently.

"Yeah, good thing," Blair agreed.


On Sunday morning, the dam burst.

There were two new bodies. They matched the templates of the next two murders by Jack the Ripper, and, like them, the women had been killed within a couple of hours of each other, over Saturday night into Sunday morning.

The first thing Blair did was phone his courtesy aunt Jennifer, and make sure Naomi was safe. She was. Blair went back to trying to catch a killer.

The task force was sodden with despair. The copycat had not only foiled their best attempts to close him down, but evaded Megan's lure, and was no doubt planning to kill on Hallowe'en. They had two days to catch him, and nowhere to look.

"The Mayor won't cancel the convention," Simon reported. "There are too many religious groups for whom the day is a holiday and who are taking part in the festivities. She says she can't treat it like a purely commercial event. She's happy to close the kids' funhouse, and tell parents to cancel Hallowe'en this year, but she won't do anything else."

"Maybe she's not got a warm spot for prostitutes," someone whispered. The room considered it in silence, and then moved on.

"Megan, you can't do any good out on the street. Your vic was taken. We'll reassign you wherever you can do the most good."

Megan made a check mark on a piece of paper.

"Who's seen the bodies?" Jim wanted to know.

Rafe had, and described two women butchered exactly like Elizabeth Stride and Catherine Eddowes, left dead behind the rundown bars where they'd apparently been picked up by the killer.

"Any tie-in for names?" Warrender asked.

"Yes, to Catherine Eddowes. The vic was a Katey Dow. The other was Isobel Kidney. I don't see a match there," Simon replied.

"Ah, but I do, Captain," Blair said, with unaccustomed formality. "Isobel is a variant of Elizabeth. I left it out of the list of nicknames I gave in the interview with Haas." He couldn't meet the eyes of anyone else in the room.

Simon took off his glasses and pinched his nose. "Blair, you can't blame yourself for this killing. There are a ton of nicknames for 'Elizabeth' and you gave the likeliest. I don't think anyone in this room knew Isobel was one, so how could you expect that he would?"

Everyone murmured encouragement, and Blair sat a little straighter in his chair. "Thank you, Captain," he said, and glanced at Jim.

Jim's face was quizzical. "I think I remember something about Elizabeth Stride, the London woman," he said. "Help me out here, Chief. Wasn't she living with a guy named Kidney or something like it, at one point in her life?"

Blair blinked. "Yeah," he said, "yeah, come to think of it, I believe she was. That's what the Ripper focused on? How unpredictable is that?" He looked and sounded horrified.

Simon called for suggestions for preventing another murder, especially one on Hallowe'en. The consensus was that if the man struck on the night when people ran around with red-colored corn syrup all over them, when he could pull a sheet over himself and pretend to be a ghost, the chances were slim to none of getting him.

"Then," Captain Banks decided, "we need to get to the citizenry. A press conference, warning about the last woman killed in 1888. Mary Jane Kelly. Common names. So common. Megan, check the phonebook. Look for any listings for Kelly; there could be husbands listed. You find any Mary Jane Kelly's or Mary Ann Kelly's or Mary Beth Kelly's or MJ's or the name's spelled 'Kelley', anything, we'll put a uniform on them."

"Got it, Captain," she said, and went to scrounge up a phonebook.

"We need to alert the bar owners," Jim suggested. "They might have regular customers they can identify as being in danger. I don't know how to tell a menacing-looking partygoer from the killer, but that's not how we're going to get him. We're going to get him through the vics. I've always believed that."

"Rafe, make up circulars for the bars," Simon handed out the job. "Aberconway, you're in charge of warning the pro's; take Warrener and Henri Brown with you. Jim and Blair, follow your own lead," he decided. "I'm going to give a press conference to drag in all the help we can get from the public, and I'll be looking for the co-operation from the whole of Homicide on this. It's already nasty. We don't need it being any nastier."

Everyone ran from the room.


There were no deaths on the 29th and 30th. The 31st dawned, foggy, chilly, and one hour lighter than the prior week had been; daylight savings time was over, and the night would be darker than ever. Hallowe'en had come to Cascade, and there wasn't a cop or consultant who didn't have fear in his heart.

Jim and Blair went to Evidence. Blair had had an idea.

"Maybe you can initiate a vision through touch. It may not work, but it's worth a try."

It was a measure of how desperate Jim was that he didn't even argue about it. He just requisitioned all the material confiscated at the crime scenes. There was a truckload of it.

He duly touched each and every one, in the sanctity of a viewing room on the other side of the glass of its interrogation room. Nearly four hours later, he had gotten nothing at all. So they trekked all the material back to Evidence, signing it in again, and went home.


They ate soup and grilled cheese sandwiches, brainstorming as best they could. Blair had another idea. "Okay, so you can't initiate a vision after you've already had one. It could work in the future, though; we'll have to try it."

Jim gave him the fish-eye.

Blair ignored it. "What about recalling the one you had, Jim? Maybe there's something you've missed. I can talk you through it. Wanna give it a go?"

"Yeah, sure." Jim and Blair had done that kind of thing before; it wasn't entirely new to the reluctant sentinel.

But again, despite their best efforts, there was nothing more to the vision than the absolute assurance that they were up against the real Jack the Ripper, and not a copycat.

"Okay," Jim suggested. "Let's go back to the research and currycomb it for info." It was their only recourse. An hour after they began, Jim swore in a voice thin and low.

"Jim?" Blair asked, alert to danger.

"The last victim, Blair. Mary Jane Kelly."

"Yeah?"

"That was her common law name, Chief."

Blair asked what he didn't want to know. "What was her legal name?"

"She was a widow. Mary Jane Davies. She spent time in France, and the French...."

"...the French would be Marie Jeanette Davies. My mom," he stopped, unable to get the words out.

"Naomi might be the reincarnation of the Ripper's last victim. Where is she, Chief?"

"I don't know. I just don't know. She could be anywhere, Jim."

Both men dropped everything and raced for the truck.


Act 4


Both of them were on their cell phones.

"Auntie Jen? It's Blair. Is Naomi there?" Pause. "No? Do you know where she went?" Pause. "Did she mention any plans for today?" Pause. "Okay, thanks. Wait, wait! If she shows up, keep her there with you, and don't let anyone in the house. Call me or Jim right away." Pause. "Good. Bye."

"...an APB on Blair's Volvo, Simon. We think Naomi's the next victim." Pause. "We could tell you why, but...." Pause. "Exactly. Oh, make sure the BOLO says she's a cop's mom; we don't want her treated like a suspect, but like family." Pause. "Okay, thanks. We're doing everything we can think of." Pause. "We'll call if we come up with anything. Thanks, Simon."

They collapsed their phones at almost the same second.

"Jen has no idea where Naomi is," Blair blurted out.

"I put the 'be on the lookout' notice out, through Simon. He'll make sure if the cops find the Volvo, they know it's a cop's mom they're dealing with."

Blair nodded his understanding. "Jen said Naomi's been talking about Wiccans, Druids and animists, and how they celebrate Samhain. It's fascinating...."

"Her son's mother," Jim said with a quick smile.

"Yeah, I guess," Blair replied, jogged out of the daze he had nearly fallen into. "She could be looking for an invitation to the ceremonies, Jim. She said she had messages for local Wiccans and Druids. We should check it out."

"Yes, a good idea. Try the Druids first?"

Blair had to think for a moment. "I don't know anyone in the circle, now," he said sadly, "but Celtic Anam's been taken over since Sky...died."

Jim reached out an arm and gave him a quick squeeze on the shoulder. "Do you have the store number?"

"No, not now. But it's still in the same premises."

"Okay. Let's roll." Jim did a U-turn and ignored the yells of foul play from the other motorists in Cascade.


Celtic Anam had its 'Closed' sign on the door.

The dark had fallen, though it was only about five o'clock. And there was the fog, seeping into cracks and bones, smelling of dead fish, bouncing sickly yellow shadows here and there in the sodium street lighting. Chilly, drear and ugly, the fog made everything worse.

A candle was in the window of the shop, and by its light, Jim could just make out a tiny cup and plate beside it. He drew Blair's attention to it.

"Oh," Blair breathed. He pulled himself together. "That's an honoring of the beloved dead, Jim. It's for Rowan, and Sky."

Jim gave him a quick look over.

Blair smiled quirkily. "I just wish I'd done it, that's all." He strode forward and knocked at the door. "Pepper? Are you there? Anyone there? It's Blair Sandburg!"

A bulb went on overhead of the two men and then inside, at the porch. "Blair? Is it you?" The door was opened. A small lady, looking grandmotherly, poked her head out. "It is you!" she said happily.

"Hi, Bridie," he answered. "Jim, this is Bridie McCullough. She took over the shop, after Sky died."

"Hello, Jim," the small woman said. "You're late, though. I was just getting ready for the Samhain ceremony. Do you want to attend?"

Blair shook his head vigorously. "No, thank you, Bridie. Not this year. I'm actually looking for my mother. Her name's Naomi. I think she might have come here, or contacted someone in your circle. We've got to find her, and soon!"

Bridie stepped back and allowed the two men into the shop. Jim towered over her, but she twinkled at him, and he grinned back. "I haven't seen her, but I think it's possible Gwen Polgarth has. Let me call her."

She led the two men into the office area, and picked up a phone, speed dialing. "Gwen, dear. It's Bridie. Have you seen Naomi Sandburg? Yes, Sky's Blair's mother. You have?" She nearly danced with the news. "Do you know where she is now? Oh." The dancing stopped. "Did she say where she was going? All right. I'll tell Blair to try there, then." She put down the receiver.

The partners waited with bated breath.

"She did come to the store, on Gwen's shift, not Pepper's. She had a message for her from Gwen's sister in Nairobi. She stayed for a while, and they talked...."

"Bridie," Jim said with immense grace, "where is Naomi now?"

"Oh, oh, well, Gwen said she mentioned going to find a Wiccan by the name of Star Michelle."

"Do you have any idea who Star Michelle is? Her phone number? Place of work?"

"No, dear," she answered Blair. "But I do know where she's likely to be worshipping tonight."

Jim stifled back 'Yes!' and Blair grinned at him.

"Where's that, Bridie?"

"At Wolfshead Park, dear. Go past the gates, and if you need to get there quickly, drive down the bicycle path on the right, as far as you can go. Get out when you stop, and follow the path to where the stream crosses it. Contrary to popular superstition, white witches have no trouble crossing water," Bridie said, scolding, as if it were the men from Major Crime who had slandered her friends. "Cross the stream, and follow it to the left. It isn't far from there. You'll see the clearing. It's nicely sheltered, and the candles don't blow out. Everyone will be in black, which is hard on the eyesight, but there should be candles enough to see by, and they'll be wearing nice gold and silver jewelry, to call the sunlight. It's a glittery ceremony. I'd leave now, if I were you. You won't want to interrupt them once it's started." That was a caution, if ever one was uttered.

"Thank you, Ms. McCullough," Jim said politely.

"I'm just Bridie, detective. Thank you for stopping by." She began to usher them out. "Oh, I forgot something."

The men turned to look at her.

"Blair dear, did you remember to leave anything for Sky tonight?" she asked in her silvery voice.

Blair was embarrassed and troubled. "No, I didn't. I wish I had."

"Well, then, why don't I sell you these for a penny?" Bridie materialized a candle, a cup, a bottle of water, and a single star-anise cookie.

Blair choked a little. "Did you have them ready and waiting for me, Bridie?"

Bridie smiled kindly. "Let's just say I thought you might be thinking of Sky tonight."

Blair reached into his pocket and took out his wallet.

"The price is a penny, sir!" the little woman fluttered. "Not a cent more!"

Blair dug into his jeans, and found one red cent. "Thank you, Bridie. Thank you, very much."

She showed him to the window, and he lit his candle from the one there, putting out the cup full of water and the cookie beside those Bridie had left herself.

Then he went on the hunt for his mother again.


The clearing was right where Bridie had said it would be, but it took a good hour to drive to the location, even with sentinel sight to guide them. The fog was filthy, thick, and rotten. It was hard to breathe, let alone see.

Jim found the stream, and they got out to ford it. When they found it, the circle of thirteen Wiccans were in the midst of preparations. An altar held candles of black, orange, white, silver and gold, and their placement was the work of one black-clad member. Another two were discussing the choice of stone, to represent Mother Earth in the ceremony. Someone was measuring out herbs and spices, incense for a thurible Jim made out bay, cinnamon, rosemary, and frankincense, but couldn't guess at the others. A group of four were standing to the side, with grand masks of animal faces. This much he saw, then the two partners were challenged.

"What do you want here, with us, tonight?" a compelling woman's voice asked from the darkness.

Blair answered, as was right. "Bridie McCullough told us we might find Star Michelle here. I need to talk to her."

"Bridie McCullough, eh?" came a deeper voice, a man this time. "Why would she tell you that?"

"Because it's true, I expect," Blair ventured.

Everyone was surprised into a laugh, and the formal challenge was over.

"I'm Star Michelle," the first voice told the men from Major Crime. "Why do you need to speak to me, at this hour, in the middle of celebrations?"

"I'm Blair Sandburg, Naomi Sandburg's son, and I really need to find her. She's in danger." Blair couldn't continue.

Star Michelle spoke again. "I met her for the first time today. She had a message for me from a friend in Greece. I don't really know her, though."

"No, I understand that. But did she say where she was going tonight? Did she tell you her plans? Anything, anything at all that you remember could help her."

Star Michelle was silent, in the vast darkness. A moment or two passed, while Blair thought he would die of the waiting. At last, "She didn't tell me anything about her plans. We talked about Druidic beliefs, and Wiccan, and she spoke also of an animist she'd met, who impressed her a lot. A very conversable woman. I liked her, and she did me and my friend a service. If I could tell you more, I would. But this is the day of new beginnings to us, and we will keep your mother, your Naomi, in mind as we celebrate the coming of the new year."

Blair's eyes were misty. "Thank you. I appreciate your help. Please keep her in mind."

"You too, shaman," came the male voice. "You also we will remember as the new year starts."

"Thank you," Jim said, as he put an arm around his best friend. "From both of us."

"It's time for you to go now," Star Michelle said. "Blessed be."

"Blessed be," chorused the other worshippers, and they went back to their preparations honoring mother earth and the dead.

A bonfire sprang into life behind them as they drove out of Wolfshead Park.


"The animist must be Pete," Jim told Blair. "Somehow, we've got to find him."

"Yeah, but how, Jim? It's midweek, you and I both know he doesn't keep the salon open past six, and it's seven-thirty now, with half the park to drive through before we get to an open road. Who do we ask for help, now?"

"Simon," was Jim's ready answer. "Phone him."

Blair called Simon's cell phone. "Simon? Where are you now?"

"Major Crime. Where would you expect me to be? Where are you, Blair? Is Jim with you?"

"Yes, I'm here, Simon. I'm driving."

"Where are you, that Jim's using both hands on the wheel? No, don't tell me, unless it's important."

"Simon, has there been anything come out of the BOLO?"

A deep sigh came over the line. "I wish I could tell you it had, but there's been nothing. It's hard to read the plates of parked cars with the fog so high, and rising higher every minute."

"Damned fog," Jim grumbled. "Okay, look, we need to find the proprietor of Pete's for Pets." He spelled out the name. "Can you do a computer search for the ownership of the business, who pays realty taxes, whatever you can come up with, for us? Naomi may be with him."

"Run a search of his record, Simon," Blair demanded. At Jim's look, he said, "Hey, I may not want to know, but I want to know."

"Okay, you've got it. I'll call back in a few."

They said goodbye, and Jim kept driving.


They were almost at the gates of the park when Simon Banks called back.

"I've got an address for you. No phone number, or at least the one I got doesn't work. Try 568 North Union Drive."

Blair, ever curious, asked, "How'd you get it? He doesn't have any convictions or anything, does he?"

Simon was heard laughing his head off. "Only one, Blair, only one. He's a tree-hugger." The connection was cut.

"Shoulda seen that one coming," Blair said to his near-hysterical partner. "Look where you're driving, Jim!" He wrenched the driver's wheel over to the right, so they didn't pop a wheel on a massive rock, which had escaped Jim's notice.

Jim sobered up instantly. He took over the driving with all attention to the road, and drove like Hades in his chariot.

Blair was silent. Blair was praying.


North Union Drive was a landscape full of small, but comfortable, bungalows and ranch houses, and Number 568 was one of the latter. The generous yard, laid out in an era when land was cheap, was filled with green growing things, and huge, majestic cedars. A jack-o-lantern with a jolly smile sat in the window, but the outside lights were off, apparently to signify that all the treats had been given out, and it was too late to ask for more. It was nearly impossible to think that that could be the site of anything as unnatural as an immortal Jack the Ripper.

Jim had barely touched the brakes before Blair was out of the truck and running. "Hey, wait up!" He screeched to a halt and slammed Sweetheart into park, then he was up and running, too.

Blair was pounding on the door, ringing the bell and sounding a brass knocker, as well. "Open up! Pete! Open up!"

A clatter within brought a halt to the door bashing. The door swung open, and the Major Crime pair gaped.

"Oh, it's you. I should have expected it. Libby was just full of worry about you two. Naomi also. What's wrong?"

The man built like a Sumo wrestler on steroids, the self-declared King of Sweaters and Jeans, was wearing a hula skirt and coconut shell bra. Jim had to turn away to hide his face.

Blair held the fort. "Look, Pete, we need to find my mom. Did she say anything about where she was going tonight?"

Pete said, "No, she didn't. I have no idea where she is. Why do you have to find her?"

Over Pete's shoulder, someone said, "Look here. That's why."

A news bulletin was running on national television. "...The so-called Copy Cat Ripper, whose count now stands at five women dead in Cascade, Washington, delivered this recording to All The News just thirty minutes ago. It contains a threat that we hope reaches the men it's meant for, on this broadcast, and we encourage other news agencies to run this recording until we know it's reached its intended hearers. Here's the tape:

"Greetings from Hell, gentlemen. You've been trying to catch me, but nobody can. Nobody ever will. Ha-ha. The game's not over, but it's become more fun, hasn't it? I know where she is, and you don't. I can see her, and you can't. I'm going to kill her, and you won't stop me. Ha-ha. You're welcome to try. Little Jackey's on a lark, and Ms. Davies is in the dark. So are you, coppers. Or should I say 'copper' and 'brass'? You do have a brass nameplate on your desk, don't you, sonny boy? Don't delay, or I'll be having fun with your mum, without you. Hahahaha!"

Cold grue laid spider webs on the hearers' skin. The laughter was maniacal and sickening.

Though the message had been whispered, and the voice disguised, Jim and Blair had no doubt that they were the copper and brass the Ripper referred to, nor that he had Naomi in his sights.

"God, please," Blair pled.

Jim grabbed him in a hug. "We'll be going now," he said to the house owners.

"No, wait," the second of them told him, a man in a wetsuit and snorkel. "Pete mustn't have heard her; he was getting the party favors together. Naomi was here, and we talked about animism. She's a good listener and a great talker."

Blair turned in Jim's grasp, and Jim let go of him.

"She is that!" Pete said, and the man in the wetsuit smiled fondly at him for a second.

"Anyway, she talked about a lot of things, and I remember her saying she'd had a past life regression done at the convention."

"That's right," Blair said. "She did."

"She said she was going to go as her past self, get a costume for it, and see if she could win a prize at the grand ball."

"Grand ball?" Jim asked.

"Yeah, yeah, Jim. They're supposed to close the booths for business and open the park up for a nighttime costume party. She's going alone?"

"I guess," said the snorkel man. "Does that help?"

"Does it ever!" Blair said, bouncing. "We've gotta go. Thank you so much!" He was down the walk and into the truck before Jim managed to shake both men's hands. "Jim! C'mon! Hurry it! I'm calling Simon."


"She's at the costume ball? I'll alert security there to keep an eye out for her. What's the description?"

Jim gave it. "Pretty woman, middle-aged, red hair, in a Victorian dress, black, with ruffles, I expect, floor length. Can we get Megan and Joel and everyone who's seen her out into the park? Damn it, the Ripper says he's there now, and can see her. Whoever can get to her fastest has to go for it, Simon!"

"I'm on it, Jim. And I'll be there for the...I'll be there to get him, too."

"He meant to say, I'll be there for the kill," Blair said bleakly. The enthusiasm of knowing his mother's whereabouts had dropped like an anchor in water, once he realized how long it would take them to get to the park. Even with the flasher on the roof and Jim's kamikaze driving, it had to be at least ten minutes, and that was far too long.


Street sign followed street sign, and still Jim couldn't drive fast enough. Hades in his chariot would have given Jim Ellison wide berth that night. He swung Sweetheart around the other cars and through intersections as if they were square dancing, carefree and raring to go.

Yet it wasn't fast enough.

Blair was back on the phone with Simon. "I know, I know. Just tell me who's out there? Isn't there anyone in the park who knows my mom?"

"Megan should be there within a couple of minutes. I expected her to phone in before now; she may have been delayed by the fog. It's rolling in off the Sound like some ugly, yellow Juggernaut. Blair, everyone is en route to the ball. I'm on my way. I called Park Security to tell them. I even called the Mayor for a contact for whoever signed on to do special security there, like private investigators, or off-duty cops. The word is out. We just have to keep hoping, Blair. He's up against a whole army of people."

"Yeah, that's what Scotland Yard and the City of London Police thought, too, Simon. Okay, okay. I'll try to keep my spirits up. Thanks. Thanks for the help. I know you're going the distance and more." Blair hung up.

Jim couldn't take his eyes off the road, not at his rate and in those driving conditions. But he had to comfort Blair somehow. "Listen, Chief, I've heard the guy's voice now, and I can probably track him that way. He isn't going to be expecting a Sentinel and his Guide on his trail. He has no way, no way at all, of knowing what we can do. Hell, we hardly know what we can do!"

"Yeah, I know." Blair stopped to think. "How many senses can you bring up on the dial without danger of zoning or disabling pain, Jim?"

Jim tried to think. "I don't exactly know, Chief. It's probably a combination of number and intensity. How many do you think we need, and how high?"

"Gotta have sight. No choice about that."

"You got that right," Jim said, and barely missed a city transit bus as it mistakenly tried to merge into traffic. Jim's traffic didn't merge.

"What about scent? Ma's probably got a lot of lavender sprinkled on her. She likes it, and she used it to cleanse the loft. Plus it's appropriate to the Victorian era. What do you think?"

Jim shook his head. "The fog stinks, Chief. Even filtering out the stench, I couldn't be sure to pick up on a delicate scent like lavender, and it's a favorite for a lot of women. If there are any other choices, maybe we should take them."

Blair sucked foggy air deep into his chest, and coughed. "Okay, hearing, then. You've got his voice, even if it was disguised. Do you have, like, a mental imprint of his cadences?"

"Like where he puts emphasis, and his pausing and stuff like that?"

"Yeah."

"Yes, I have. If I can't listen for the exact tone, I can at least listen for the way he speaks."

"Great, Jim, that's fantastic!" Blair pumped a fist into the air. "Taste is out. Scent is out. Sight and hearing are in. Touch is out, too." He started chewing his lower lip.

Jim Ellison smiled grimly, and started taking even greater chances.


They reached the park before hearing back from Simon Banks about the arrival of Megan, or any other people whom he spoke of, for that matter. Heedless of parking lot attendants and their shouts of indignation, Jim pulled Sweetheart up to the space reserved for the Mayor and got out. He flashed his badge at the man with the day-glo baton, and told him to tell Hanratty to call Jim Ellison if she had a problem with parking.

Blair was off and running, into the foggy night air.

"Hey, Chief! Don't get too far away from me!"

"I'm heading for the bandstand, Jim. You can see the lights overhead. If she wanted a prize, she'd be in that vicinity. What time is it?"

"The time now is 10:40. When's the judging?"

"Eleven! She's around here somewhere. Just catch up to me, Jim, and we can search together."

Jim swore under his breath. Blair was quick as a bunny over short distances, and had outpaced him. Jim picked up his speed, breathing the cold, wet air and feeling his lungs ache. When he got to the bandstand, he managed to tag his partner, and latch onto him.

"Don't, Blair," he choked out. "I've got a stitch in my side. I can't breathe like this."

Blair patted his partner's chest. "Okay, okay. I'll stick with you, now we're here. Do you see her anywhere?"

Jim peered around. "No. I don't."

"How high is the dial?"

"Five."

"Grab my hand and ratchet it up to seven. What about now?"

"Uh-uh. Lots of long outfits, but most of them are ghosts or vampires, clothing that fits over outerwear. It's damp and cold, and Pete in his hula costume had good sense, staying home."

"Yeah, well, who'd go out looking like that, anyway, Jim?" Blair asked without expecting an answer. "If you ratchet up to nine, is it dangerous?"

Jim sucked his tongue. "I'll zone, if you don't give me a lot of support."

"What do you need?"

"Hearing. Sing something, Chief."

"Sing?"

"For God's sake, Blair, we're trying to save your mother's life. Sing, dammit!"

Blair sang. It was the Battle Hymn of the Republic, the most rousing song he could think of, and it was sung with everything in Blair Sandburg, heart, soul and spirit.

Jim was safe, but he still hadn't found Naomi. "Chief, I'm bringing it down now. I need to try hearing."

"What do I give you for alternate stimuli, then?" Blair was beyond being able to think straight.

Jim did the thinking for them both. "Touch. Got a light?"

"No. Maybe we can bum one."

Jim simply commandeered a lighter from the next person who wandered past, reeking of tobacco, and handed it to Blair. "Scratch my palm steadily, and watch for zoning. If I seem to go too far...."

"...bring up the flame. I got it. I hate it, but I got it."

Jim stared steadily at him. "It's for Naomi, Blair. I can stand a lot worse than a burn blister to save her life."

Blair tried to say something, but choked instead. He just sealed his lips together and nodded furiously.

"Okay, then," Jim said. "Scratch my hand, and watch me for zoning." He went into the classic 'listening sentinel' pose, head back, mouth open, eyes fixed on nothing on earth.

Blair scratched at Jim's palm until he'd almost broken the skin. Reluctantly, he lit the lighter. But the second before he applied it to Jim's hand, the sentinel came back to full attention.

"Got her, not him. I can't hear him. He's not talking. But she is," Jim exulted. "Thank God she's a chatterer!"

"Yeah. Thank God you're a sentinel, too, Jim," Blair said, his heart in his eyes.

Jim smiled at him and jerked his head to the right. "That way. If we can close the distance, I can raise the dial again and follow her exactly."

"Lead on!"

They began sprinting through the park, bumping into people, Jim blocking like a linebacker. They plowed for what seemed like a quarter mile before Jim called a halt. "Okay, try again." Jim caught Naomi's voice at level six, before Blair had to start work on his palm. "There!" he pointed the way.

As Jim followed the trail, Blair followed Jim. They went more slowly this time, Jim keeping an eye out for anyone who looked like trouble. Unfortunately, very many people were dressed as if they were trouble, and a lot of them were masked. Jim began to up his scent ability, to check for adrenaline and fear. There was a lot of adrenaline, a lot of excitement, but no fear. Not until....

"Blair, he's got her."

"Oh, my God, what do we do?"

"He's gagged her; she's not speaking. I'll have to try following scent."

"I thought you couldn't do that with lavender."

"Not lavender. Fear."

"Oh. God. What do I do, Jim?"

"Sing again, I guess. I'm going to need the hand to hit with."

Blair sang. This time, he sang a sea-chanty, as if he were a sailor ashore, drunk as a skunk, and partying hearty. "Sixteen men on a dead man's chest," he warbled loudly.

Jim scouted for Naomi's fear trail, and got it. "Pipe down, Chief. We're going after her."

He jogged fast, staying on top of the trail, when, suddenly, it disappeared.

"Shit!"

"Jim? Why 'shit'?"

"Lost her. Don't know why. I can't even guess."

Blair hung his head in his hands, long curls spilling over his fingers. It couldn't end like that. It just couldn't. He needed a miracle.

He took his hands away from his eyes, and he got one. A fancy black lace fan was lying at his feet.

"Uh, Jim?" Blair said. "Can you tell if this is Naomi's?"

He picked up the fan, and held it just out of reach of his partner.

"Yes, yes, it is hers. Why? It can't help me track her."

Blair looked at him peculiarly. "Trust me, Jim."

Jim stared back, puzzled.

"Jim, just trust me, please."

Jim was still puzzled.

"If ever in your life or mine you ever trusted me or will trust me again, trust me now!" Blair hissed.

"I trust you, Blair," Jim said.

Blair closed his eyes. "Thank you." He put a hand out to touch Jim's shoulder. "I'm going to give you the fan, Jim."

"And?"

"And you're going to psychometrize it."

"I'm going to what?"

"Trust me, Sentinel."

"Got it. I'm going to psychometrize the fan." Jim held out his hand, and Blair put the fan into it.


A lovely lady in a lovely dress, but frightened, a handkerchief stuffed into her mouth. She was being pulled backwards by a man in evening clothes, with the handle of some implement jutting from his breast pocket. Over his shoulder, a statue could be seen, a statue of George Washington. He pulled the lovely lady into a tent, lonely and forgotten.


"He's got her in a tent at the statue. The tent enclosed her scent. I know this is right. Come on, Chief!"

Blair didn't have to ask which statue in the park Jim meant. All he had to do was keep up with him. They powered along abandoned pathways, until they reached the tent Jim had seen in his vision.

Jim went in alone. The murderer was still dragging his chosen victim backwards.

"How? What? You dare?" the Ripper roared. His grip slackened just a bit.

Jim had his gun out. "You let her go, and I won't shoot you dead."

Blair was circling the tent outside, crouching, below the line of sight, hidden in the dense fog, except to sentinel senses. He came to a stop when he was at right angles to the men squaring off. He got out his Swiss Army knife, and slowly, carefully, started cutting a slit in the tent.

"I said, you let her go, and I won't shoot you dead," Jim repeated.

The Ripper tore the knife from his bosom, slicing outward through the cloth of his coat. "You'll never get me, copper!" he taunted Jim, and turned the knife toward Naomi, beginning the downwards stroke.

Blair tore the tent apart, leaped through, and struck the murderer like a thunderbolt, his hand out to push the knife away from Naomi, his body taking the man down to the ground, hard and unforgiving.

Naomi was propelled forward and landed on hands and knees, safe, if shaken.

Jim shot the bastard anyway. "For safety's sake," he told Blair. "He did still have the knife in his hand. I had to shoot him."

"He was knocked unconscious, Jim," Blair said, incredulous.

"Shhh," Jim whispered, his fingers at his lips.

Suddenly, the area was filled with police officers. The gunshot had drawn them. Jim laid his gun on the ground, and faced the other police with his arms in the air. Blair also raised his hands.

"Sandy? Jim?" It was Megan. "These are the good guys, officers," she vouched for them. "And that lady. What the hell are you doing in a blonde wig, Naomi? No wonder we couldn't ID you! We were looking for a redhead."

"I was a blonde," Naomi said, pulling off the wig. "It's a costume." She sounded dazed, and Megan put an arm around her and propped her up. Naomi smiled at her dizzily.

Megan went on. "As for the crook on the ground, someone cuff him and read him his rights. I have my hands full. You know," she blurted out to Jim and Blair, "he really does define 'medium everything,' like the clerk said, doesn't he? Kind of 'nothing-ish'."

Jack the Ripper was coming to. "How did you get me, copper?" he asked sullenly.

"The copper didn't get you. The brass did," Jim told him.


Simon, somewhat against his better judgment, allowed Jim and Blair to interrogate the suspect. Everyone insisted the interview be taped.

First came the requisite statement of rights. Jack the Ripper, however, was more than happy to boast of his prowess. He spurned legal help, and it was captured on film. What did he need with a lawyer? He was never going to see the inside of courtroom, he claimed. That, too, was captured on film.

"Tell us your real name," Jim suggested.

"Jack the bleeding Ripper."

"We've taken your fingerprints, and they don't match any on file here or with Interpol. So who are you, really?"

"Jack the Ripper. Saucy Jack. Don't you listen? Stupid coppers."

"Now, if you were Jack the Ripper, as you claim to be, you'd be something like 140 years old or more. That's impossible. You look to be in your thirties. So who are you?" Blair asked reasonably.

"I'm fucking Jack the Ripper, the one and only, the original, no one ever before like me, and no one ever after me, again, either." He sniffed.

"So how'd you make the trip from 1888 to 2000, across the Atlantic and the North American continent?" Jim asked.

"Wouldn't you like to know?" Jack smirked.

"We were talking it over," Blair said, motioning to Jim with his head. "We figure you've got a time machine."

"Wrong."

"Oh, then maybe it's the Fountain of Youth?" Jim conjectured.

"You wish," Jack sneered. "But it's not."

"You're a sorcerer?"

"Now, you're talking. Can I get a fag?"

Jim ponied up a cigarette, lighting it before he rolled it down the table to the hands cuffed to it.

"You're a sorcerer? Cool," Blair put in with mild interest.

"I'm not just A sorcerer, brass. I'm THE sorcerer." Jack bent forward to get the cigarette between his lips.

"I'm sorry, I don't understand," Blair said, innocent and helpless.

Jack looked at him with pitiless eyes. "You're not meant to understand, little brass monkey man. I wield powers beyond those of time and space. I'll be out of here as soon as my kneecap heals." He blew smoke at Blair's face.

"How are you going to do that?" Blair wondered. When Jack just sat there, Blair turned to Jim. "I don't think he's got a plan. I think it's just big talk."

"Oh, I've got a plan, all right. No prison can hold me. I can walk through walls. I can journey across time and space. I can transport myself anywhere I like."

"Only not with a broken kneecap?" Blair said, with curiosity.

"Huh. I probably could. But the pain gets in the way."

"You talk like you've done this before," Jim put in.

"I have. Dozens of times. You think I was born in the 1800's? I'm older than Rome," he proclaimed. "I come and go as I please. No man can kill me. All you can do is slow me down, and then I'll be out of here and off to the future. Me and my knife. I miss my short sword, though," the killer said with regret. "Now, there was a weapon."

"You have, like, a Roman name, then?" Blair asked.

"Iacus. What did you think?" The Ripper snorted. "You lot are so stupid. Once I'm fixed up, I'm gone from this land."

"Fixed up?"

"On morphine, for the knee. It frees the mind."

"Oh, so you do all this with mind control," Blair deduced, opening his eyes wide. "Was it hard to learn?"

"Piece of cake. Well, a piece of cake that took a hundred years or so to master, but what's that in a millennium or three?"

"So you, like, astrally travel or something?" Blair asked.

"Something. I move the whole carcass. Astral travel is for children." He spat out bits of tobacco. "Unless I'm diving into computers, that is. I can suck a hard drive dry in under a minute, but it's a purely mental thing, that."

"We thought maybe you found women that way," Blair commented.

Jack took a drag of smoke again. "Yeah, helped here. But I was out and about all over Cascade, stalking, too. Got a line on LuLu Nichols that way, being in the right place at the right time. The convention was a good time waster, when I wasn't cutting. Your ma's past life regression session was funny. Stabbing abdominal pains at the moment of death meant she must've died in childbirth? Please!" He smiled nastily and rattled the handcuffs as he mimicked a stabbing with a closed fist.

"Why do you kill women?" Jim asked.

"Why don't you?" Jack answered.

Jim said consideringly, "I never saw any sport in it."

"Well, it's a little harder now than in the past, but it's still fun. Besides, I'm entitled to them."

"Entitled to them?" Jim repeated. "How, exactly?"

"Part of the bargain. I kill them here, and they serve me there."

"There? Where, there?" Blair asked.

"Hell, of course. Where I write from. Doesn't either one of you listen? Can't you read?"

"You made a pact with the devil?" It was Jim's turn.

"I made pacts with a bunch of different devils and demons," Jack yawned. "They're limited, you know, but they won't admit it. They can't all promise you eternal life, infinite riches, endless wine, women, and song. That's how stupid most humans are. They believe anything, if there's the smell of fire and brimstone along with it."

"But you're smarter than that, aren't you?" Blair said. His eyes were bigger than ever.

"Of course, I am. I bartered with six fallen angels to get eternal life, youth, power over time and space, and the entitlement to killing women to serve me in hell." Jack yawned again.

"Let's see. Life is one. Youth is two. Power over time is three. Power over space is four. Entitlement to killing women for service in hell that's only five," Blair counted.

"You have to break it up. Entitlement to killing women is five, and their service in hell is six."

"Which angels were they?" Jim asked.

"Like I'm going to tell you? So you can get the package deal, like I got? Think again."

"You said something about how stupid most humans are. Aren't you human?" Blair asked.

Jack looked around the interrogation room, then straight into the mirror. "Yahhhh!" he screamed, sticking his tongue out. He laughed that insane laugh, Hahahahaha. Then he said, "Nope. Not human, here."

"Well, then, what are you?" Jim wanted to know.

"I," Jack said grandly, "am one of the Nephilim. Bow down and worship me." He spat on the floor again.

"Huh?" Jim said intelligently. "Never heard of 'em."

"I bet he has, the brass boy."

Jim looked at Blair.

"The Watchers, I think, from the Hebrew writings," Blair explained. "They're giants, and they have some unnatural lust for women, or something. I could be wrong. They're very obscure, and I haven't looked at the source material recently. Sorry."

"Oh, you're a fallen angel, then?" Jim picked up the topic.

"No, I'm a Nephilite. A giant, not a fallen angel." Jack seemed to be outraged.

"A giant? Like Goliath? Not just, you know, a giant among men, but really big?"

"Of course. Take a look at me." Jack cocked his head, apparently expecting admiration.

"He doesn't look like a giant to me. Does he look like a giant to you, Chief?"

"Nope. And I'm not exactly tall, myself. He looks kinda normal. Don't you, Jack?"

"I look normal when I'm among humans. It's part of the bargain, power over space. In hell, I revert to being a giant. What's wrong with you people? Don't you understand anything?"

"We're having some trouble understanding you, Jack," Blair admitted.

"This is so stupid. I'm quitting. Go talk to the mirror. Show's over." Jack threw his head back and laughed for five minutes.

Jim made a motion to the mirror, and he and Blair got up and left the Nephilite to his solitary pleasure.


Forensic psychiatrist Madeleine Palfrey had been observing, for the prosecutor's office.

"What's your opinion of his mental state?" Simon asked on behalf of all.

"Loony-tunes, crazy as a coot, howling mad: take your pick. He's clearly delusional, and with his thought processes and attitude, I can't see how he could instruct legal counsel or aid in his defense. Sorry, everyone. I think he's unfit to stand trial, and that sanity is not in his future. My professional opinion." She lifted her shoulders for a goodbye, and left.

"All right!" Jim and Blair slapped high fives.

"All right?" Simon yelped. "In what universe is that all right? I want him tried, convicted, and sentenced to death."

"Ah, Simon -- this is one of those things you really don't want to know," Blair began.

Simon's face went wan. "He's not crazy. He's really the devil. That's what you mean."

"Yeah, sorta, Captain," Jim said sympathetically. "We think he really can mindwarp himself out of a prison cell, if he's not in pain."

"Tell me something I want to hear," Simon begged.

"See, this is what we're thinking," Blair closed the gap between himself and Banks, speaking low. "If he's sane and evil, we've got problems. But if he's insane and bad, we don't."

"Why?" The one word seemed to have all 26 letters of the alphabet in it, and more.

"All those lovely psychotropic drugs, Simon," Blair said happily. "The standard stuff given to psychotics. They'll dope him, and keep doping him, until he thinks he's a human being like the rest of us. Know when that will be? Never! And he'll be such a space case that he'll lose all the mind control powers he ever had."

"To say nothing of the fact that he'll probably be permanently in restraints, strapped down to his bed, because of his violent nature," Jim tossed out.

"Gotta hand it to the devil, or devils," Blair pondered. "They never make a bargain that works out for a human. Or a Nephilite."

Simon said slowly, "I am beginning to think there are a bunch of women who have just been let out of hell."

Jim and Blair smiled at him. "We think so, too."

Blair ended with, "Hey, in there. Can you hear us, Jack?"

A long howl was the response, and then Jack the Ripper began gibbering fiendishly, kicking the table, and overturning his chair.

"Thought so," said the brass.

The three men from Major Crime left the observation room, more than content.


A week later, Jim and Blair stood on the loft's balcony. The fog had disappeared, gone with November frost. They were still in October, though, the case of the Ripper on their minds.

"There were a lot of strange things about that case, you know," Blair mused.

"Yeah, I noticed some, too," Jim replied. "Like how there were so many other coincidences with names and jobs, besides the women the Ripper picked for victims."

"Chuck Warrener and Sir Charles Warren? Fred Aberconway and Fred Abberline?"

"Both of which Homicide cops have now transferred out of Cascade, and no one's heard of them since. Yeah, exactly like that."

"How he focused on my mom, Jim, too. She wasn't a streetwalker, he didn't pick her up in a bar, and she's not in the computer database. It's like everyone around us, including all the victims, were really reincarnated, on purpose, into this time and place. Only Jack wasn't, 'cause he never died. Too bad. With his karma, he'd have been pond scum, and no problem at all."

"I wanted to ask you, Chief," Jim hesitated.

"Yeah? What, Jim?"

"You think I can really psychometrize stuff? On a continuing basis? I mean, think of all the cases I could solve!"

Blair held up warding hands. "Whoa, man. I don't know the answer to that one. But...." He hesitated in turn.

Jim waited for him to complete his thought.

"When you did the first psychometrizing, it was after Alex. To stop her from killing masses of people with nerve gas, and to avenge what she did to me. When you did the second, it was because Jack the Ripper, the real Jack the Ripper, was here in Cascade and killing with impunity. When you did it the third time, it was to save my mom's life."

Blair put his hand on his buddy's arm. "I don't think it's reproducible in a lab, Jim. I don't think you can call this up whenever you want. It's got some spiritual preconditions to it, from what I can see. It either involves a lot of people in danger from callous killers who have gone free from justice, or it's about me, or my mom, your family, you know?" Blair was a little pink. "I wish I believe I could help you use it, but I honestly don't think I can. It's a God-given talent, Jim. Ask Him about it."

Jim stared out over his city. "Hey," he said, " that's cool, as long as any time you have a fan you need psychometrized, you know who to go to."

"I'll know, Jim," Blair assured him. "I'll know." He smiled at Jim.

Jim smiled at Cascade.


EPILOGUE

"The Copy Cat Ripper has been confined to the state psychiatric facility for the criminally insane, until such time as he is judged to be fit for trial."

"Mm, mm, mm." Trey Jacobs turned off the radio. "Whatchu think of that?"

"He one sorry-ass nutcase. Cutting all those women. Ain't nothing sane about that. Women are for loving." Curly Gordon went on shaving wood from a stick.

"No, man, I mean, whatchu think about that De-tec-tive Ellison? And Dr. San-burg?"

"They cool. They got him."

"Yeah, but it's how they got him." Trey's voice was mysterious.

Curly looked up. "Whatchu mean? How they got him? How'd they get him?"

Trey reveled in his friend's attention. "He got secret powers, that De-tec-tive, and that doc-tor, he do too. Uh-huh. I know it." His word was final.

"How you know dat, homey?" Curly asked with a pout.

Trey pursed his lips together. "I heard it," he said, "from a friend of a friend."

THE END


Author's Notes

1. The author thanks Suisan, Caellagh, and Anna, her consultants on this story; any mistakes are those of the author alone.

2. The primary source material for this story was The Mammoth Book of Jack the Ripper, edited by Maxim Jakubowski and Nathan Braund, Robinson Publishing Ltd., 1999, ISBN 1-85487-537-X. The number of sites on the internet devoted to Jack the Ripper is legion, and the author suggests any interested readers might run a search on the topic through any search engine for further information.

3. The best sources for studying urban legends are the books by Jan Harold Brunvand, including "The Vanishing Hitchhiker", a classic in the field. It is available, in part, on the net: http://garlic.aitech..edu.au/~bwechner/Documents/Hitch/vanish.html is an authorized web version. A web search on this topic will divulge a wealth of great tales.

4. The Burning of Bridget Cleary, by Angela Bourke, Pimlico, 1999, ISBN 0-7126-6590-0, is a non-fiction work about a 26-year-old woman in 1895, Ireland, who died at the hands of her loving family, when they burned her to death in the belief that the sick woman had been switched for a fairy changeling, and that the fairies would give their loved one back to save their changeling.

5. 'Nephilite' is derived from the word 'Nephilim', found in Genesis 6 and Numbers 13 of the Hebrew writings/Old Testament of the Bible. Who or what the Nephilim (a plural word) are, is obscure and, in some versions (like the cloned, alien/human hybrid giants created by our hidden UFO masters), downright bizarre. Try The Straight Dope post at http://www.straightdope.com/mailbag/mgiantsons.html for more on this odd topic, which probably generated a few urban legends of its own in its day.


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