Cold night. Misty. Steven Shearsmith's breath fogged the air in front of him. He heard the blood pounding through his ears as he pressed close to the rough brick wall on the corner of the street and spied on the scantily-clad girl.
She wore a short jacket of stripy brown fur that seemed two sizes too small for her. It didn't even reach her midriff and couldn't have provided much benefit against the chill night air. That wasn't really the point. The jacket was open at the front and the shiny orange material of her bra--all she wore underneath--was stretched taut over the curves of her large breasts.
Steven liked big boobs.
The girl wore a short skirt of the same shiny orange material. It gleamed in the orange glow of the streetlight above her and clung tightly to the lush curves of her behind. It was so short it failed to adequately cover the pink cheeks of her buttocks.
Steven liked a perfect peach of an ass.
She was clearly a streetwalker. The only people that walked these misty streets and dark alleyways after the sun went down were prostitutes and their clients.
Steven tightened his hand around the object he had in his pocket, careful not to prick his finger on the point.
She was alone. The cold and the fear had driven the others away. Fear, because five girls had vanished from this area in the past five months. Their bodies had yet to be discovered. A wolf stalked these streets.
The girl didn't seem to be bothered by either this or the cold. Other than the elaborate tattoos spiralling over her pale skin she didn't look much like the other working girls Steven was used to seeing. She was a lot more attractive for starters. Classy. Chic. Aloof. Along with her short fur jacket and tight orange miniskirt, she wore long orange gloves and stylish boots that were laced up to her knees. Her black hair was cut in a fashionable bob that framed her perfect features. As she posed against the lamppost Steven thought she looked more like an actress or model than a woman of the night. He wondered what she was doing here.
His heart fluttered momentarily at her beauty and he stamped down on it. He had work to do. No distractions.
The one weird thing about her was her sunglasses. It was the middle of the night. There was no sun. Why was she wearing sunglasses? And such a large pair too.
A light bulb dinged in Steven's head.
A black eye. She was hiding a black eye. Someone--a customer, pimp--had clocked her a good one and left a bruise. That's why she was on the streets, and why Steven hadn't seen her before. She wouldn't be able to see her usual clients--rich business types, probably--like that, but the punters here wouldn't care.
Steven was so proud of his deductive prowess he stopped paying close attention to his surroundings. His foot nudged against a discarded beer bottle and knocked it over with a clatter that sounded--to Steven--as loud as a siren.
"Who's there?" The girl turned and stared in his direction.
Steven ducked back behind the corner and pressed his back flat against the wall. He squeezed his hand around the narrow object in his pocket. He held his breath. Even though his heart sounded like a drum to him, he knew only he could hear it. Wait. Be quiet. Give it a few moments and the girl would put it down to her imagination playing tricks on her.
"Come out. I know you're there."
No, she didn't. She was bluffing, trying to sound bold to mask her fear. In a few moments she'd put it down to her imagination and go back to waiting beneath the streetlight.
"We can play hide and seek all night ... if you're willing to pay," the girl said, her voice mischievous and seductive.
Steven couldn't place her accent. Polish, or maybe Russian. Exotic. Sexy.
Stay put. Stay quiet. She'd realise it was only her imagination.
Steven waited for a while, long enough for his thudding heart to subside from somewhere around his throat to back in his chest where it belonged. No more challenges came from the girl. She must have decided it was a cat or rat and put it out of her mind. Steven leaned around the corner for a peek...
... and saw a flat black pair of sunglasses staring back at him. The girl leant casually against the lamppost and stared directly at him. Her bee-stung red lips turned up in a smile.
"There you are," she said.
Steven froze, uncertain of what to do.
"Come over here, so I can see you," the girl said.
Steven shuffled out of the darkness.
The girl wasn't intimidated by his appearance at all. Even though five girls had vanished without a trace from these streets over the past month, she wasn't frightened of him in the slightest, instead looking at him with an amused little half-smile on her lips. Steven was used to that. No one ever took him seriously. He tightened his grip on the object in his pocket.
"What are you doing here?" the girl asked. "You don't look like you're here for sex or companionship."
Her wraparound shades hid her eyes completely. Steven couldn't read her expression at all, but he had the queer feeling her gaze was boring right through him like X-Rays.
"I-I-I..." he stammered.
He started to pull out the object in his pocket.
A car pulled up out of the gloom, stopping right under the streetlight the girl leant against. At the sight of its headlights Steven bolted like a startled deer.
Reece Pemberton opened the passenger door and let the girl in off the street. He was surprised at how attractive she was. She'd looked fine when he'd glimpsed her through the windscreen, but up close she looked even better. Beneath her fur coat her petite figure was curvy in all the right places and slim in all the others. Her black hair was cut in the style of a chic starlet. She looked like Hollywood's idea of a streetwalker and--in Pemberton's experience--Hollywood was usually way off when it came to these things.
"Are you okay?" he asked.
The girl turned to him and raised a quizzical eyebrow.
Ah that explains it, Steven thought, seeing the large pair of sunglasses she was wearing, even though it was pushing on to midnight outside.
"I saw that fellow and thought you might be in trouble."
"Why would you think I might be in trouble?" the girl asked.
"Don't you follow the news?"
"No," the girl said. She looked every inch the insouciant starlet. "Far too dreary and depressing."
"There's a killer on the loose. The press have dubbed him the Wolf of Whitechurch. Five girls have gone missing over the last few months."
The girl's lips parted in an open-mouthed expression of shock. She glanced out of the window. The ferrety-looking man with greasy ginger hair had already disappeared back into the darkness.
"I thought it was quiet," she said.
"Lucky for you I happened to be driving by on my way home from the clinic," Pemberton said.
"Clinic? Are you a doctor?"
"Yes," Pemberton replied. "Dr Reece Pemberton. I work at the sex clinic a couple of streets back. It's a charity thing. We hand out contraceptives, give the girls regular checks for STDs, that kind of thing. If we can't keep them off the streets we at least try to make it safer for them. I don't think I've seen you around before."
"I don't normally work here," the girl said. "It's a temporary thing."
And had something to do with those sunglasses, no doubt, Steven thought.
He glanced down the full length of the girl's body. She had a phenomenal figure. It was rare to see such a pair of firm, round breasts on a slim frame like hers without the aid of a surgeon's knife. It was a shame she'd chosen to despoil her lovely body with tattoos. The youngsters didn't seem to appreciate what they had nowadays.
"Um," the girl said. "Thanks for helping, but can you drop me off at that corner up there."
... so I can find a real paying customer. She was too polite to say it but Pemberton knew she was thinking it.
"Actually, I have a teensy little confession to make," Pemberton said. He reached across and placed a hand on her thigh, let it slide inwards. "I wasn't just driving home through these streets."
"Really," the girl said. One warm hand settled over Pemberton's wandering hand while her other crawled across the gap into the doctor's lap. "Does the good doctor like to take his work home?" she breathed in a sultry voice.
"Don't think bad of me," Pemberton said with a cheeky smile. "I have needs like every other man."
"I don't think bad of you at all," the girl said. "You're my knight. I could be dead right now if it wasn't for you. It's only fair I reward you."
Her hand brushed against Pemberton's crotch.
"Do you mind if we go to my home?" he asked. "It's not far from here and I prefer to be in more comfortable surroundings. I'll pay a little extra."
"Sure," the girl said.
"What's your name?" Pemberton asked.
"Nicole," the girl replied. Beneath her opaque black shades her lush red lips turned up in a suggestive smile.
Steven fumbled with his pockets. Why did they have to make them so damn tight?
He had to remember that.
He'd read the characters off the number plate of the silver-grey BMW the girl had climbed into.
No. No. It was already starting to slip away.
He gripped the object in his pocket and tried to pull it out. The point of the pencil was caught under a fold.
He got the pencil out. He rummaged in his other pocket and found a crumpled up page of notepaper. He stood in the orange glow of one of the streetlights.
R419 J2W, R419 J2U...
R419 J2U, A419 JTU...
Was it R419 J2W or A419 JTU?
Steven couldn't remember. It was gone, slipped out of his thoughts like every number seemed to. He slumped down. Why did he have such a poor memory? Why couldn't his stupid brain remember numbers?
The girl lounged on the big bed in the main bedroom of Dr Pemberton's spacious home, a converted farmhouse a little way out from the hustle and bustle of the town centre. The doctor appeared in the doorway. A smile was on his lips and a strange light sparkled in his eyes.
"I have another confession to make," he said.
His smile widened, became a rictus grin, like that of a skull ... like death. Light glinted off the scalpel he held in his right hand.
"I'm the wolf," he said. "I'm the killer. I killed all those girls. The power of life and death, it's the greatest drug of all."
Pemberton leant casually against the door, the only exit from the second storey bedroom.
"You can scream all you like. There's no one around for miles."
Strangely, the girl didn't show any intention of screaming. In fact she seemed completely unfazed.
"Aren't you afraid?" Pemberton asked. "I'm the wolf. The streets whisper my name; the papers write about my deeds; the TV screens scream of my crimes. I'm death."
The girl looked back at him without a flicker of fear.
"I see nothing more than an arrogant little human," she said. "Another pathetic little speck of blood and meat puffed up with delusions of their own importance. You all think you're playing the starring role in one of the grand tales of existence."
She took off her shades.
"This was never your story."
Pemberton dropped the scalpel. His face twisted into a mask of fear. Too late he realised even wolves fear tigers.
Steven's eyes were drooping shut when he felt a tap on the back of his shoulder. He jolted in alarm, scattering crumpled up balls of notepaper.
"What are you still doing out?"
He turned and saw it was the same girl he'd seen earlier--the really sexy one with big tits and a fur jacket. She was still wearing those big black shades, even though it must be around two in the morning.
"You're okay." His shock gave way to relief. "I was worried that c-c-car ... might have been ... the k-k-killer."
"Oh him," the girl said. "He was nothing, nobody at all."
She watched as Steven leant down and picked up the paper he'd dropped.
"What are those?" she asked.
"N-n-notes," Steven said.
He held up one of the crumpled and dog-eared bits of paper. Strings of letters and numbers were scrawled across it in haphazard fashion. The girl tilted her head and her red lips drew together in a puzzled pout as she tried to decipher Steven's cryptic markings.
"N-n-number plates," Steven explained. "I hide and write down the number plates of the cars the girls get into. That way if they..." his lips turned down " ... if they don't come back I can tell the p-p-police and they'll know who the k-k-killer is."
The girl looked at him. He couldn't tell what she was thinking behind those shades.
"And you do this every night?" she asked.
"When I can," Steven said. He puffed his chest out. "I haven't got him yet..." his chest deflated " ... but I will."
The girl smiled. Steven thought she'd picked up a little more colour than when he'd seen her earlier. Her skin was still very pale--like milk--but there was a glow about her she hadn't had before. She looked less like a ghost.
"That's so sweet," she said. "You're like a guardian angel to the girls on this street. I bet they must really like you."
Steven looked at the floor.
The girl frowned. "They don't?"
Steven shook his head. "They don't like me being around. They call me b-b-bad things," he said. "C-c-creep. R-r-retarded."
"That's not very nice," the girl said, "to treat you like that when you're looking out for them."
She put a slender finger to her bright red lips. The long nail was painted black, Steven noticed.
"Oh. They think you're going to frighten away legitimate customers," she said.
"And still you come out here?" the girl asked.
Steven nodded. "Someone has to stop him."
The girl stepped forwards. She was standing very close to him. She turned her head up and down, from side to side. The nostrils of her perky little nose dilated. Steven thought she might be sniffing him. He didn't smell bad, did he? He sniffed his arm pits to make sure and instead caught a blast of the girl's perfume instead. It smelt nice and ... exciting.
"You smell nice," the girl said.
"I shower every morning," Steven said. Proud. His mother had been very clear on the importance of good personal hygiene. "You smell nice too," he said.
The other working girls wore perfume, but it was often so strong it made him feel a little queasy if he got too close. This girl's perfume wasn't like that. It didn't leave an aftertaste like rotten old tyres in the back of his mouth. Instead it slithered up into his brain and massaged the parts that made him feel good.
The girl smiled. She glanced coyly away.
"I'm Nicole," the girl said. "I didn't get your name earlier."
"St-st-steven," Steven said.
"Mmm, Steven." Nicole took another half step forwards.
Steven felt a little uncomfortable at how close she was. She was practically standing right on top of him. He shuffled backwards to create a little more space. Nicole ducked her head into the gap and moved it from side to side with her nose stuck out.
She was sniffing him again!
"You're not on d-d-drugs, are you?" Steven asked. "My mother said I should keep away from people on drugs."
Nicole lifted her head back up and smiled at Steven. "No, I'm not on drugs."
She slid forwards again. Steven shuffled back to make more space.
"Do you like looking at the other girls?" she asked.
Steven nodded. "They're sexy," he said.
"Am I sexy?" Nicole asked.
Steven blushed. He nodded again.
"Would you like to have sex with me?" she asked. Her red lips turned up in a mischievous smile.
Steven's mouth dropped open. His face went bright red.
Nicole shrugged off her fur jacket to reveal a tight orange latex bra underneath. Steven's eyes boggled. She was very big ... around the chest. The material of her bra was stretched so tight it looked like it might burst. Beautiful.
Steven's lips parted in a wide smile. Then it fell away into abject sadness.
"I c-c-can't," he said. He fumbled in his pocket and came up with a few coins. "I don't have enough money. I spent the last of my d-d-disability allowance on groceries yesterday."
Nicole bobbed her head down and looked at the sorry collection of coins in Steven's palm. She put a finger to her lips.
"Hmm, let me see. You've been out here all night looking out for me. I think that entitles you to a bodyguard discount. Now if we subtract that from my usual rate that leaves us with ... yes, I think this should be sufficient."
Nicole plucked a copper two-pence coin from Steven's palm.
The next moment the rest of the coins were pinging off the tarmac pavement as Nicole gave Steven a suggestive smile before placing both hands against his chest and shoving him back into the dark alley and up against a wall. Her arms wrapped around him and she crushed her soft lips against Steven's. His initial shock melted into warm pleasantness as Nicole kissed him. Her hot breath filled his mouth and ignited fires in his veins. She rubbed her crotch against him and her hands roamed up and down his back. Steven felt the soft mounds of her breasts press against his chest as she hugged him tightly.