The year was 1888. Summer was just beginning to go into decline to autumn in the English countryside – not that many could tell in this particular corner of England. Here the weather was usually cloaked with smog and the only way to differentiate between summer and winter was by how you shivered, or didn’t. As is the English quirk, the weather was of the utmost importance – even through the stinking, cloying pollution.
On most evenings, visibility was but a few yards in some places. The smell was much, much worse. Coal soot hung in the air, mixing with the dampness in this particularly wet summer. The product of the soot and damp made for a clinging, cloying smog hanging like a pall over the streets and alleys that made up this chosen city of residence.
The additional stench helped to make this part of the city a miserable place to exist for the majority. Sewage and rotting slaughter waste were regular aromas. Little wonder at the population of rats, they thrived. The air just a few feet above their level was almost too thick to breathe.
Fog enveloped shapes and absorbed the little illumination given off by the gas street lamps. Figures loomed into view suddenly or were just as swift to disappear. To be certain of recognition, a person would have to be almost on top of another – unless there was another means of identifying them.