Prelude
Late September, 2012

Mourning the death of summer, the roundabout groaned in the wind as the young lass waded through the shin-high grass. The time for merry freedom was dead and gone, so the groundskeeper no longer acted with any sense of urgency; the green, bereft of its August community, had been left to grow some five weeks, now, filling the village park with that familiar eerie feeling the girl had known every year since she was deemed sufficiently old and responsible enough to make her own way home from school. The dolorous song of the roundabout and the soft susurrus of the long grass melted into an uneasy brooding atmosphere and, attempting to distract herself from the ambience, she was plucking plump, ripe blackberries from the hedgerow dividing the park and the churchyard. Their juice was steadily staining her fingers a deep purple-red.

The man-thing approached silently. Fingers of green grasped desperately for purchase as it glode through the overgrowth. She turned as he approached. The last thing the girl would remember of her life as Eleanor Beeforth was the white plastic mask whose proboscis protruded grotesquely from its face, woollen noodles of pale hair tumbling down around its temples. The mask whose chilling grin belied an undertow of soul-wrenching horror.

The authorities discovered the body of Eleanor Beeforth nestled like a lamb amongst the green. The blackberries they first mistook for blood, crushed beneath the dress shoes of this 'Number Taker', as he would later become known. No cause of death would ever be identified for any of his pristine victims.

It had simply appeared that the young girl’s number was up.