Joshua, ever meticulous in his methods, had washed his hands, pulled on a new pair of gloves and he had sterilised and laid out the necessary implements.
He would examine the two other girls in the same manner in which he had examined Abigail, but hopefully with substantially less back-talking.
The others seemed to be much more susceptible to his tried and tested methods, not even stirring as he shook and prodded them. He let out a long sigh and let his shoulders relax for a moment. My drug-induced slumber still has power over most of my subjects.
He looked down at Bethany, lying still in a simple cotton nightdress, oblivious to the brightness of the light in her room. At twelve, she was slightly smaller than Abigail and was less developed. Her dark brown hair, brown eyes and slightly round face helped her to stay looking childlike. The symmetry of her perfect cheekbones suggested potential.
“Bethany,” he whispered, reaching out to brush her arm with the palm of his hand. “House of affliction, or an abode prior to sacrifice. A fitting name, considering the ordeal ahead of you.” He smiled.
With time and a sensible diet, she could attract the attention of modelling agencies, if she felt so inclined. Her slightly rough, acne-induced complexion would smoothen out, and her thin-rimmed glasses would be a temporary setback to long-lasting beauty, still unseen by immature school boys. Despite her potential, the open mouth and drool-soaked pillow suggested a slovenly look as she slept, typical of the average adolescent.
As he watched the girl sleep, and throughout the examination, he couldn’t help but think of young Bethany on the numerous occasions she had passed him, dressed in her school uniform. He was a fan of most school uniforms, but hers was perhaps his favourite. Maybe it was the style, maybe it was the girl, or maybe the combination reminded him of his days at school in the same colours.
At the moment of abduction she had been wearing the usual white shirt, black and silver striped tie and a black cardigan, chosen ahead of the black sweatshirt alternative. Her surprisingly short pleated black skirt combined with her white ankle socks to draw Joshua’s attention. His observations continued day after day, as he planned her capture.
Even with winter thrusting colder weather at all who ventured outside, Bethany still walked to and from school showing her almost stick thin, bare legs between a high point of her thighs and the middle of her calf muscles. The outfit was finished by the same pair of flat sole black girls shoes as worn by millions of schoolgirls throughout the country.
Having verified the girl’s virginity, he wondered whether he should have reconsidered the nightdress. He shrugged it off. I know better than to doubt my methods. In any case, he could drug her at will, providing the chance to change her back into her uniform.
He smiled, raising an eyebrow. This pretty little thing is completely in my power. She was everything he wanted from his abductees, despite lacking some almost invisible quality, thus far undefined, possessed by the girl in the next room.
With the physical examination of the girl complete, he collected his medical implements, turned off the light, retreating briefly to his own bedroom to check Bethany’s possessions. As was becoming customary, and unlike Abigail, she possessed her own mobile phone.
As a result of briefly reviewing its contents, he had discovered the occasional flirting message sent to boys, but everything hinted at these boys being in her own age group. Such things are to be expected, even with the purest of girls. There wasn’t even the slightest hint from her person or her possessions that her innocence was in any doubt. She had clearly valued her virtue as much as the feisty female in the next room.
He made preparations for the final examination of the evening, once again almost scalding his hands, unsure whether he enjoyed or endured the sensation.
He turned on the light in bedroom number three and looked at the final girl, Sandra. She had been more of an unknown quantity. The thirteen year old strawberry blonde girl with grey eyes, a cheeky face and wide hips attended school in a nearby village, travelling to and from school by bus.
He had driven through the village at the commencement and at the conclusion of the school day, watching girls that seemed to be forcibly wearing a slightly garish combination of bright pink blouse and maroon blazer with the mundane black or dark grey trousers. Sandra had opted for the rather more interesting skin tight trousers that allowed Joshua to get an idea of at least half of her figure without any genuine effort.
Why do parents and teachers allow clothes that appear to have been sprayed on? He smiled ever so slightly. Not that I’m complaining.
The rest of Sandra’s figure was well hidden under the blazer, at least half a size too big. His experience in watching thousands of school children had taught him that this wasn’t unusual. The cost involved in buying and adjusting blazers would typically cause parents to acquire one that the child would be expected to “grow into”. The academic year was only two months old, meaning most still had plenty of room for growth.
He had discovered upon changing her clothing that her skin-tight trousers had dulled the curves of legs that were shapely for a girl of her age. Her breasts were small by comparison to the shape of the rest of her body. He knew that the maturity of the coming years would allow everything to catch up, leaving her full-figured.
He, of course, did not need to wait around to see the results. Previous experience allowed him to see, in his mind’s eye, this girl in the future: A plain, slightly overweight girl with a garish, sleazy attitude towards sex and relationships.
The girl’s physical examination indicated that her apparent cheekiness may have contributed towards loose morals, long before her fourteenth birthday. The physical signs of innocence were not present. He looked at the girl’s face again as he gathered his things. He turned off the light, shaking his head. I should have been able to tell. She doesn’t even look as pure as the other two.
Snapping off the final pair of gloves and replacing the medical implements in his suitcase, Joshua had one final source of evidence about this girl’s activities. He checked the contents of her mobile phone, sitting with Bethany’s by the side of his bed. The girl had been sexting like it was going out of fashion.
There was a substantial array of nude and semi-nude images of the girl on her own phone, a lot of which were attached to messages sent to two or three males. She had received around ten in response from these people. One was a naked boy aged around fourteen, the others were pictures of two different men, quite hairy, overweight and ugly, as well as their various body parts.
She was being groomed by more than one predator, all the while having a sexual relationship with a boy from among her peers. When considered with the pictures of her performing sex acts on older men, this girl made the average loose-moral girl appear significantly saintly.
She is not a girl for my collection. He scowled and poked out his bottom lip like one of his prisoners might do after being denied sweets. She’s so far wide of the mark I don’t know why I bothered with her.
She was, instead, a girl ripe for punishment, an example for the other two. They would learn the dangers of being so intimate with men and boys prior to emotional and physical maturity.
“Sandra,” his whispered, scowling and shaking his head. “The unheeded prophetess. I wonder if you can see what’s coming to you.”
He needed Abigail to witness his correction of the little strawberry blonde girl with nothing left to give away. The terror will encourage her to bend to my will like a steam-treated wood.
Only by forcing the innocent girls to observe such her upcoming horrors could he be sure that neither was going to do anything to ruin his plans for immortalising them in his collection.