She had been murdered before the Sainsburys in the Edinburgh area of Gorgie had been built, but that was as much as she remembered. The murder hadn’t even happened in Gorgie, but for some reason that was the place she had chosen to linger. Perhaps it was an old memory of the route to work she’d taken on the day of her death, just like everyday, on the number 25 packed with sleep befuddled commuters. More likely it was just random, like the dreams endured night after night by the living; triggered by a chance word or association and unfairly singled out by the mind from the deluge of the day’s detritus.
But there had been no one around when he had grabbed her from behind after she had gotten off the bus halfway down Leith Walk and bundled her up an alleyway where he slashed her throat with a broken bottle just because he could. She did remember trying to stem the red tide of her blood with grasping ineffectual hands, but the tide was not for turning.
Now she frequented the shadows in the early hours, ranging around the closes and dead-ends of Gorgie’s tenements, waiting, waiting for him to show himself. She’d been growing stronger since her death (at twenty-one), evolving into a force he’d have to reckon with if he ever dared show his face. And he would, she knew, eventually. Her rage was a molten, living thing that allowed no respite, no drifting off into the space of whatever happened next.
But her interaction with the world had had to begin modestly: first with rats and mice; then cats and later dogs. By sheer force of will she had learned how to lure the unfortunate creatures up darkened closes (the smell of a bacon roll here, the simulation of an owner’s voice there) and over time she refined her techniques. Now she could chew through flesh as though it was papier mache and only last night she had made her first practice kill on a human. He had been an old man, granted, but everyone had to start somewhere. His name had had been Robert Carswell, and he had been driven out of his bed by a rampant insomnia made infinitely worse by the recent death of his wife Muriel. He had thought a peaceful walk along darkened streets would soothe his aching head.
And now he lay beside the Tynecastle Stadium, hours from discovery and beyond hope.
She knew she needed some more target practice before he came and she had even picked out a likely victim: a young girl not much younger than she herself had been, out late after a work’s night out.
Everyone ended up in Gorgie’s mean streets at some point whether they intended to or not. And maybe, just maybe she was a Gorgie sort of girl after all.