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By George Karo

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Sample text

Vanity dies hard, Seward thought to himself with a humorless chuckle. He had to hurry if he still wanted to make the train. Where was that address? He had put it in a safe place. Now, when he needed it, he could not recall where exactly that was. He overturned the straw-filled mattress, inspected the underside of the wobbly table, and peered under the vegetable crates that served as dining chairs. He sifted through piles of aged newspaper clippings. Their headlines spoke of Seward’s current preoccupation: gruesome stories of Jack the Ripper.

Seward shook his head in bewilderment at the rapidly changing world around him. The French might have an antiquated railway system, but they were investing heavily in the race for the sky. Withdrawal fatigue began to overtake his system. He could feel every bruise and cut from his tumble off the villa rooftop. He was getting old. Valiantly, he fought the urge for a fix, certain he would need his wits about him for the battle to come. From the top of the incline, he beheld the familiar sight of Henri’s farmhouse nestled in foothills of the Alps.

She looked nothing like the prostitutes he had encountered in the back rooms of Camden district brothels. The wanton curves of her body, white and smooth as porcelain, would have distracted most observers from ever noticing the calculating cruelty of her eyes—but not Seward. He had seen a gaze like that before. Yet nothing in the doctor’s bleak past could have prepared him for the macabre scene he witnessed next. The young woman, pathetic gurgles issuing from her throat, was suspended above the edge of the empty mosaic bath.

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