[it begins here]
The city spoke to Madeline Comstock in a strange, muffled voice that night as she walked its empty streets. The Yellow-cabs that usually perched like vultures at the bus depot were gone. In the distance, the fading diesel rumble of a sanitation truck sounded like the city clearing its throat to speak. But the only voice she heard was the staccato clacking of her boot heels on concrete as she strode down the deserted sidewalk. She listened to the echoes of her footsteps from the buildings around her. Even they seemed strange and muffled.
And Madeline knew why, too. For the past three months the city had been alight with fear as police seemed powerless to stop a brutal serial killer. So far, four men had been murdered, their throats slashed, their… um, bodies, mutilated.
She tightened her grip on her shoulder bag and studied the buildings. It had been months since Professor Leoniss’ party and everything surrounding that night was a blur in her memory. She tried to remember meeting the professor, his appearance, anything about him, but her memory seemed wiped clean. The only tangible evidence that she had even met him were the two rare books she was returning, tucked into her shoulder bag.
Even the buildings looked foreign and imposing, stretching up into the darkness over her. So much had changed since the night of that party. She checked the note in her hand for the address, found Lion Street, and began counting down the building numbers.
“It wasn’t the buildings or neighborhood that have changed,” she thought. It was her.
After the second murder, the media started calling him the “Slasher.” And in the darker recesses of the city where black humor was the currency of conversation, the women arched their brows while the men laughed nervously and spoke in salacious whispers about the “Cock Killer.”