Savage is a novel by Richard Laymon. It was first published in 1993 and was paired with In the Dark in volume 10 of the Richard Laymon collection.
Whitechapel, November 1988: Jack the Ripper is committing his last known act of butchery in the one-room hovel occupied by the luckless harlot, Mary Kelly. And beneath the bed on which the fiend is cruelly and cheerfully eviscerating his victim cowers a fifteen-year-old-boy... This is just the start of the extraordinary adventures of Trevor Bentley, a boy who embarked on an errand of mercy and ran into the most notorious serial killer in criminal history, a boy who became a man as he travelled on a quest of vengeance across a wild and untamed continent - a boy who brought the horrors of Jack the Ripper to the New World.
Off to Whitechapel and on to America
Trevor Wellington Bentley is a 15-year-old boy living in London in 1888. When friend of his deceased father starts physically abusing his mother, Trevor violently subdues the man and goes off to contact his uncle who is a police constable. On the way, he is accosted by a group of thugs. Trevor manages to get the upper hand on them and stabs one. He's spotted covered in blood and accused of being Jack the Ripper.
Trevor runs and hides in a nearby house, but has to hide from the prostitute who lives there, bringing with her a customer. As Trevor hides beneath the bed, he hears the man violently assault and murder the woman. He concludes that this was the infamous Jack the Ripper. Trevor takes it upon himself to stalk the Ripper and stop him from killing any more women. He manages to attack the Ripper, cutting off his nose but ran scared as the man tried to attack him. Trevor seemingly loses the Ripper by diving in the river, but when he climbs aboard a ship, he is knocked unconscious.
The next day, Trevor awakes on the ship, now commandeered by Jack the Ripper. He introduces himself as Roderick Whittle and unveils his plans to abscond with Trevor and the ship's owners to America where he can inflict even more violence. Trevor becomes accustomed to his fellow hostages, the bossy yet cowardly Trudy and her weak-willed fiancée Michael. As the days go by, Trevor plots to do away with Whittle once they arrive in America, while Trudy and Michael discourage him at every step. Whittle treats Michael like a slave and inflicts unknown horrors on Trudy using the dismembered remains of a dead crewmember. Upon arriving in America, Whittle stabs Michael and tries to kill Trevor, but Trevor eludes capture. He finds Trudy's body in the cabin in an unrecognizable state. Unhindered in his desire to kill the Ripper, Trevor makes his way along the coast to find a place to stay for the night.
The General and His Ladies
Trevor arrives at a house along the coast. He is taken in by the house's patriarch General Forrest, who lives with his overbearing wife Mable and their granddaughter Sarah. The General and Sarah both take a liking to Trevor, but Mable gives him a hard time whenever she can. Trevor helps the family tend to the house and their horse stable and they pay him for his efforts so that he can make his way home.
One night, Trevor and Sarah discover that one of the horses has gone missing. Trevor immediately suspects Whittle. Later on, Mable goes missing as well. She's discovered dad in the streets, having wandered off in her old age. The General kills himself upon finding out. After the funeral, Sarah invites Trevor to her room to console her. Sarah reveals her fears of dying alone as she's nearly 27 and hasn't found a husband. When Trevor tries to give her some words of comfort, Sarah kisses him. The two make love.
Trevor and Sarah spend the next few days together, having forgotten about Trevor's quest to track down the Ripper and get back home. One day, Trevor receives news that there have been a number of brutal murders in a western town known as Tombstone. He and Sarah then make plans to travel to Tombstone and stop Whittle from doing more damage.
Bound for Tombstone
Trevor and Sarah travel by train to Tombstone, with Trevor going under the façade of being Sarah's houseboy. As they travel further west, Trevor becomes enamoured with the American wilderness. One day, a young man by the name of Elmont Briggs boards their train. He sees Sarah and immediately starts chatting with her. Trevor suspects Briggs of having lustful intentions and gives him the cold shoulder. Sarah becomes increasingly cold towards Trevor whilst reciprocating Brigg's charms, finally sending Trevor to their cabin while she had some private time with Briggs. Trevor suspects that maybe Sarah has grown tired of him and is looking for something better, but soon feels regret for thinking that way. Sarah comes back, but Trevor can't face her with his resentful thoughts still lingering in his head. He takes a walk out to the end of the carriage and sees Elmont having a smoke. Trevor gets into a fight with Briggs and is thrown overboard.
Trevor tries chasing after the train, but without any footwear he has no chance of keeping up. The next day, Trevor is accosted by a group of outlaws. The leader, named McSween,takes a liking to the boy after he helps them rob the train following Sarah's. Trevor becomes part of the gang as they travel further west. They force a rider into selling his horse to Trevor, whom Trevor names General in honour of General Forrest. The gang teach Trevor how to fire a gun, which Trevor plans to use in his confrontation with Whittle, all the while enjoying his desperado lifestyle.
One night, the gang are in a tavern celebrating their latest heist when the former owner of General comes after them. They kill the man and his accomplice, but the rest of the town hunts them down. After two confrontations, the town's posse and the desperados all manage to kill each other off.
Trevor's spirits are at an all-time low. Everyone he's ever met since his first confrontation with Whittle has died except for Sarah, but only because he'd seemingly lost her to Briggs. He contemplates suicide, but figures that the fates want him to see his mission through and postpones killing himself. One the way to Tombstone, Trevor meets two conmen who try to sell him a "glory elixir" that will raise the dead. Trevor declines and makes his way onwards.
While camping in a chasm, Trevor is ambushed by a young girl named Jesse. Jesse had run away from home to escape several men who tried to molest her, only to lose her horse and most of her possessions. Trevor offers to give Jesse a lift into the next town. He spots a German family who might be able to take her the rest of the way, but when the patriarch offers to buy Jesse, Trevor suspects him of being a deviant and rides on. Jesse and Trevor begin to warm up to each other, with Trevor deciding that Sarah wasn't as right for him as he once believed, but Jesse just might be. One night they make camp near a lake when a storm hits. A flash-flood nearly kills Trevor, Jesse and General, but Trevor manages to escape. When Trevor tries to find them, He sees Jesse topless and tied to the wagon the Germans were travelling in. The German man approaches them, obviously with sinister intentions for Jesse when Trevor shoots him. He then frees Jesse and they find General alive and well.
Jesse and Trevor reveal their feelings for each other, sharing a kiss by campfire. As they see Tombstone on the horizon, Jesse asks Trevor if they can wait awhile before arriving in town. Trevor had told her earlier about both Whittle and Sarah, but the one that concerns Jesse most is Sarah, as she has since figured out Trevor's history with her from his stories. Trevor and Jesse make camp for seemingly the last time.
The End of the Trail
Trevor ultimately decides that he loves Jesse more than Sarah and tells Jesse that they should just keep travelling. On the way, they run into a horseman who tells them to be wary of a local native known as Apache Sam. This Apache Sam has been kidnapping women and taking them to his hideout in a cave hidden in a rocky outcropping called Dogtooth. Trevor and Jesse come to the conclusion that this Apache Sam is Roderick Whittle and make plans to go after him. While making camp with the horseman, Trevor makes plans to leave Jesse and take on Whittle himself in order to protect her. He then decides against this and falls asleep, only to wake up the next morning and find out that Jesse had acted on that exact same plan. Trevor hitches a ride with the horseman until they find Jesse and the two of them make their way into Dogtooth.
As Trevor and Jesse came closer to Dogtooth's cave entrance, General became spooked by the rattlesnakes and narrow space and fled. Trevor and Jesse almost have the same impulse when they see the scattered corpses surrounding the cave's entrance. The bodies were dismembered in a fashion that Trevor knew all too well. They made their way into the cave upon hearing the sound of a woman screaming. When they enter a lit chamber, they are met with the sight of dozens of dead and dismembered women. At that moment, Whittle surprise them. They try to shoot him, but Whittle uses one of the corpses as a shield and injures Jesse with a stray bullet.
At a stalemate, Whittle tells Trevor about how he was able to become a local law enforcer in Tombstone as a way of covering his tracks. He was able to blame his killings on native Americans and kill anyone who got close enough to him because of his seemingly trustworthy image. Whittle then takes a moment to tell Trevor about the corpse he had used to shield himself. When he mentions that this corpse was particularly fond of Trevor, he realized to his horror that he had shot the mutilated remains of Sarah!. Whittle had apparently run into Sarah who had arrived in Tombstone alone and confronted him in Trevor's stead. Whittle was able to overpower her and took her to his hideout to torture until she died, all the while telling him about the boy she loved. Wracked with guilt, Trevor nearly breaks down but recovers quickly enough to shoot Whittle before he can make a move on Jesse. Trevor manages to scuff Whittle's cheekbone and the killer runs into the darkness.
Trevor tries to lure him out by offering him Jesse in return for his freedom, but Whittle doesn't take the bait. Trevor then throws Jesse down and shoots near her head, making it seem like he's killed her. Believing that Trevor had deprived him of a victim, Whittle came back into the chamber and tried to attack Trevor, but Trevor managed to blow Whittle's left eye out of it's socket. Whittle subdues him and then runs over to Jesse to molest her corpse. Jesse manages to muster up enough strength to slash Whittle's throat, ending Jack the Ripper's reign of terror for good.
Trevor and Jesse make their way out of Dogtooth on the back of Whittle's horse. Both are badly hurt and struggle to make their way out safely. The horse gets spooked by coyotes and throws them off its back, knocking Trevor unconscious. When Trevor awakens, the charlatans from earlier have found him and are trying to revive Jesse, who appears to be dead. One of them pours some glory elixir down her throat and to their astonishment, Jesse comes back to life.
Trevor and Jesse travel with the charlatans selling glory elixir. Jesse acts as the dead body they use as a demonstration while Trevor acts as a plant. The two then get married and spend the next few years travelling the West.