The Doll Collector

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Chapter 3

Joshua stepped in from the cold, shaking the wet coat from his shoulders. He ruffled his longer-than-usual hair with his right hand and discovered that it was only slightly damp. He couldn’t help but feel all-together pleased with himself. The game is afoot. He smiled again. It wasn’t like him to be so bold. He almost announced himself with a ‘Honeys, I’m home,’ such was his mood.

He paused and listened. Silence. Two and a half hours into his care, the three girls were out for the count as was to be expected. No sounds of creaking beds or murmuring from any of them. Still and quiet, just as he liked it.

He wouldn’t rely on just one of his senses to confirm the girls were as he had left them. He crept up the stairs and peeped into each room. Sleeping like three beautifully lumpy logs, he thought, and then he smiled again.

His methods, honed through the years, had increased his confidence and improved his skills. He was able to capture and sedate three girls with relative ease. It seemed to lack the previous elements of danger, and offered him less of a challenge than in days past.

Whilst on the first floor, he took the opportunity to walk into his own bedroom and remove a suitcase from underneath the bed. He placed it on top of the neatly made bed and allowed his palms to glide briefly over its cold surface. He took a deep breath and then let out a long sigh. Oh, how I enjoy my hobbies.

He didn’t open the case. The merest touch of its surface was sufficient to remind him of its contents. He picked it up and slid it back under the bed, smoothed and flattened the bed sheets, turned off the light and sneaked downstairs, past three sleeping beauties.

All of these years, he thought, and the game is changing.

He furrowed his brow slightly as whispered to himself. “The game needs to change, and I have to be the one to change it.”

As could be expected, even dedicating one’s times solely to hobbies left room for boredom, for feeling like things were systematically similar. However much things changed, the majority stayed the same. Change can be good. It keeps things… interesting.

He had thrived in his consistencies before, and his methods this time had started in exactly the same way. He insisted on a thorough scout of each girl prior to abduction. He managed to follow each girl to their home, unseen, on numerous occasions. The next step required little effort or expense as he gathered details from electoral roles and to check thrown-away documents to find out family names. It was simple enough to use every available online resource (not least of all Facebook) to discover more details of the family. Usually he could obtain names, dates of birth, and review several photographs of each girl before he had ever laid a hand on them.

Joshua had been surprised to discover that Daniel Castle, parent of Abigail, was the managing director of the small outfit named Castle Investigations Limited, incorporated around two and a half years earlier. I’ve never abducted the daughter of a P.I or of an ex-policeman before. Now I have a girl that’s both.

He mused on his ideas, day after day. He drove past the old but neat office building, noticing the sign, still gleaming with newness, next to the front door above three blank spaces. He continued to contemplate his course until he found himself in front of the freshly kidnapped Abigail holding a camcorder, before delivering the roughly edited DVD to her father.

Abigail’s name meant ‘father in exaltation’. He smiled as he remembered that little titbit, gleaned from a simple internet search a day earlier.

“Can I come of conqueror?” Joshua asked himself in hushed tones, feeling himself starting to get over-excited. “Can the father exalt himself above all? Above me? Surely I can win. This is my game, my rules. I control every piece. Every move will be at my command.”

The tapping of his fingers on the handrail reminded him that his predilection for pubescent girls was often an essential element in his life. It was the only thing that kept her nervousness at bay for any length of time.

“Will the man’s deductions prove to be better than my diabolical schemes?” He reached the base of the stairs, fidgeted with his hands, stretched out his fingers and made fists again and again. He started pumping his fists slightly, as if gearing himself up for something big. “Can I stay a step ahead of Daniel Castle, the failed police officer, the lone P.I, seeking to restore a ruined reputation?”

He stared out of his front window and raised clenched a fist. Of course I can.

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