There will be a very short prologue, just half a page or so, from the perspective of a character we’ll never actually meet, but who careful readers might later sort out is a serial killer dubbed the Reaper, who was never apprehended. Then we’ll go into Act I, Scene 1:
Detective Diana Siddall had a headache, a toothache, and lingering tension in her shoulders from arguing with a boyfriend who just couldn’t seem to understand that the thrill was gone. She sighed and wrapped her coat around herself more tightly against the new normal of a freezing winter in Atlanta, then screwed her face into a smile for the old grouch of a patrol sergeant. “Please tell me why I’m here,” she said.
“Evening, ma’am.” The greeting was perfunctory, the respect feigned. “Those two guys over there by the bus stop? They found a baby in the bushes.”
She looked over to her right to see two slim, handsome men with stylish short haircuts and nice shoes. The taller one was coatless and shivering. “Um,” she said.
“The baby was alive, Detective.” The sergeant pointed up Peachtree Street at the glittering tower of Crawford Long Hospital. “Just saw one of the paramedics. Says she’s doing just fine, now they warmed her up. Only a couple of hours old, but she would have died if those two fellas hadn’t have stopped to take a leak.”
“Heartwarming. Sergeant, my head is throbbing, but I can still remember that I work Homicide. I sure am glad that little baby lived, but Dispatch only calls me for dead people.”
“Right. Getting to that, ma’am. On the way out of the bushes, they find a body.” Klieg lights cabled to the nearby crime scene truck activated, bathing the triangular thicket in between Peachtree and the great concrete ditch of the highway in bright blue light. Diana winced in pain; somehow, the light made the tooth hurt a notch worse.
She took a step to the side so that the sergeant’s big head and bigger hat blocked the light. “Okay. Let me guess.” She flipped her thumb back over her shoulder at the Peachtree-Pine homeless shelter. “One of theirs?”
“Sure looks like it.”
“Then I still want to know what I’m doing here. I’m off duty tonight. I’m supposed to have dinner with my daughter. As if you care.” She shook her head. “Sorry.”
“Dispatch put me right through to you, ma’am. On account of the guy’s got no eyes.”
“A-ha. Now I begin to see.” She started to walk around him toward the light. It was bearable, if only just. “You said that over the radio?”
“Hell, no. Ma’am. Guy called 911 about the little girl, then called right back when he almost pissed on the body. After I got here, dispatchers said they’d already forwarded it to you.”
“Just like I told them to.”
He followed her toward the light. “You think the Reaper’s back?”
“You have to wonder if he ever really left.”
This is just a first project of a beginning. The Reaper’s trademark was to excise his victims’ eyes and do various creepy things with them. So right away, we’re going to be caught up in that narrative, and only gradually is it going to become clear that either the Reaper has changed his artistic style, or this is something else entirely.