Following the consumption of half of a full English cooked breakfast, Abigail was pleased to have eaten a proper meal. She had eaten food filled with drugs in this man’s former home, but she felt confident that such drugs were not necessary, or easily administered, in a public, roadside restaurant.
Throughout the morning, Abigail had behaved like a subdued version of herself. Before she knew it they were on the road again in Joshua’s attempt to stay ahead of the Law. I can act like an obedient girl and gain his trust. Then I’ll get the chance to make my move.
“How long have we been driving?” she asked.
The kidnaper looked at the instrument panel of the car. “It’s a while after ten, so almost an hour and a half.”
“Can we stop somewhere?”
“We can stop anywhere you like, but not yet.” He responded.
“I need to stop. I need to use the bathroom.” She made her best attempt to speak in a needy whine, whilst deliberately squirming in her seat, trying her best to look desperate and uncomfortable.
There was a long sigh from the captor-turned-driver. He griped the steering wheel hard and drew in a couple of deep, slow breaths before relaxing his hands again. He looked over at her. “It will be a very quick stop. I can’t stay still for long right now.”
“Why not?” Abigail asked. A cheeky smile crossed her face. “Is someone after you?”
He didn’t look at her again, keeping his eyes on the road, lips pressed together.
After a minute of silence he said, “There are some services up ahead. We’ll stop there.”
After around two minutes of quiet, broken only by the hum of the tyres on tarmac, they turned off the road and the car came to a stop in a parking space close to the entrance of a large, new building with a front made almost entirely of glass. It housed restaurants, an arcade and several shops as well as toilets. It was more like a mini mall than a brief stopping place.
As her kidnaper killed the engine, he tapped Abigail on the leg. “Remember, I have the gun to hand. Don’t do anything stupid.”
Abigail rolled her eyes. “I know. You’ll hurt me, get rid of me or something if I try to run away, blah, blah, blah.”
He squeezed her leg so hard it hurt. He spoke through gritted teeth. “I also don’t like to be mocked. This is serious, Abigail.”
A solemn look froze on her features as she nodded.
“Now,” he said with enthusiasm, “let’s have our comfort break so we can carry on with our journey.”
He smiled at Abigail as he opened the door and exited the car. Abigail forced a smile back and did the same. She looked around, wanting to bolt in the opposite direction. How far could I expect to get? These services seem to be nowhere near anything.
She fought the instinct, instead walking calmly by the side of the child abductor, rapist and murder with the gun. She needed to pick her battles. At that moment she didn’t fancy herself to win this one.
They walked through a central walkway, looking like everyone else. They passed a newsagents and two fast food outlets before taking a left turn into the toilet area. Abigail started to walk towards the ladies’ toilet but her captor grabbed her arm. He pointed directly ahead at the Disabled toilet. Upon trying the handle he discovered it to be locked, no doubt to prevent use by those who were able-bodied and who felt rules did not apply to them. He sighed let go of her arm. “You use the ladies’ toilet and I’ll use the gents’.” His voice lowered to something barely above a menacing whisper and added, “If you try anything...”
Abigail nodded. A worded response was unnecessary.
Abigail walked through the door. Freedom, if only for a minute. She walked in the direction of the cubicles and stopped in her tracks. This was perhaps a perfect opportunity to take action.
She approached an overweight but not obese middle-aged woman drying her hands. A faded floral blouse topped off an outfit otherwise consisting of creased dark trousers and smart slip-on shoes. Her shoulder length dark red hair was being disturbed by the hand drier.
“Excuse me, but I’m in desperate need of someone to help me.” Abigail said, talking loudly enough to be heard above the sound of rushing hot air.
The hand dryer stopped and the woman stared at her. She had the look of someone who understood kids. Maybe she was a teacher. Maybe she was a new grandparent. Either way, there was a look of compassion in her eyes.
“What do you need help with, darling?” She spoke like a woman far older than she looked.
The barely-prepared speech gushed out of Abigail at speed. “My name is Abigail Castle. I was kidnapped from school on Friday and the kidnaper is waiting for me out there.” She pointed to the door as she spoke.
The woman frowned for a second, perhaps considering whether this was some sort of phone stealing scam. She looked like she might have been too trusting of strangers in the past.
“I just need to call my parents to tell them I’m okay.” Abigail paused and unzipped her coat, revealing the school uniform she was still wearing, unsure whether she was convincing this woman. She might have to start again with someone else, but time would be running out. “I’ll tell you the number and you can dial it and speak to them first.”
The woman shrugged and removed her phone from her bag. She dialled the number as recited by Abigail and hit the speaker button, holding the phone between the two of them.
As Abigail could hear the rings of the phone she said a quiet “Thank you” to the woman who smiled back.
The phone continued to ring. No one was home. They were parents missing their daughter. If they were home they would answer the phone within a couple of rings. After a seeming eternity the answering machine greeting requested that a message be left.
As the beep sounded, the door flung open with enough force to hit a woman reaching for it. She let out a yelp and shielded her face as the kidnapper stormed into the room, pointing a gun at the head of the woman with the phone.
His shoulders raised and fell great distances as he stared at the woman, the whites of her eyes showing the fear rushing through her.
In a voice far too calm for the situation, the man said, “Give me the phone, now.” He paused, taking another deep breath. “If you do not, this will be your final phone call.”
“Don’t do this!” Abigail shouted. “You shouldn’t be in here.”
Someone in the background was shouting something about calling security. Someone else screamed something about the police.
The man looked at Abigail, still pointing the gun at the other woman. “Abigail, how am I supposed to trust you now? Move away from the phone and don’t do anything else stupid.”
The woman was frozen, as if the gun pointed at her had emitted some kind of cartoon-like freeze ray.
“The phone. Now!” the man demanded. Instead of waiting for her to cooperate he ripped it out of her hand, stuffed it into his pocket and stormed out of the room, dragging Abigail with him. In a quiet voice, once again through gritted teeth, he said, “I don’t know why you insist on defying me, girl, but it needs to stop.”
She wondered about the speed at which he had put the phone in his pocket. He had not ended the call. My parents will hear this. Will this make things easier, or have I just made things worse?
“Where are we?” she asked, hoping to make the answering machine recording far more useful. “Where are we going?”
He shook his head, walking at a brisk pace to the exit, holding the gun to her.
She continued by shouting, “Leave me alone! My parents need to know I’m okay!”
There were people darting out of the way, some distant screams as people realised the situation, and some people raising a phone to their ear with worried looks on their faces.
As they walked through the door towards the car, the kidnapper said, “I hope you made use of the facilities before you decided to abuse the trust I placed in you.” She took another few laboured steps, the strong grip of the man hurting her right arm. “We won’t be stopping again.”
Abigail, whilst scared, was starting to understand something. This man isn’t going to use this gun on me. She smiled. I wonder what will happen if I take a few more chances.
Her kidnapper would have been confused by the broad smile on her face, wondering why brandishing a gun had somehow cheered her up. People would report the incident to the police if they had not done so already. They’ll know where to start looking. I just need to give them more clues and delay him as much as possible. Then my Dad will find me.
Abigail started to feel that there might be an end in sight. She could be drugged, punished and messed around by the man with the gun, but she could handle it. I can put up with it when I know it will all end soon. The man was cracking under his own pressure and he would make mistakes. People like her father thrived on the mistakes of criminals, and this guy was certain to keep making them.