Joshua laid awake an hour after Abigail had found out far more than he was comfortable revealing. She had long since fallen asleep, but his mind was too busy to resign itself to resting.
The media had painted him as a rapist and a murderer, which was true. There was no denying his current activities. In addition, they were now accusing him of another murder.
Following his time at school, surrounded by floozy females, he managed to put the pieces of his life together as well as he could. After dropping out of medical school, he found work as a legal clerk and hoped for a bright future.
A blind date arranged by a colleague introduced him to Emma-Jade, a beautiful woman with sculpted doll-like features and the blackest hair he had ever seen. It made her face look pale, but the whole natural-Emo look suited her.
Emma-Jade had been infatuated with Joshua. He had become used to the adoring looks of the woman, as well as others, who would turn away in disgust if they had known his true nature. Under pressure from parents, he married Emma-Jade and made plans for the future.
Out of the blue, his parents died days before the wedding. Joshua was distraught, inconsolable. He may have sabotaged the car in a manner that led to their deserved deaths, but that didn’t lessen the hole that had become evident in his life.
The well-publicised honeymoon period had been cut short. During some ill-advised role-play, his new wife had discovered his desire for young girls, his need for the perfect schoolgirl. She had not understood. No one would ever understand.
Following arguments and a threat to reveal his inward desires to the police, with subsequent arrest and investigation, Joshua had snapped.
Later that same evening the argument had concluded. With his wife’s head in his lap, he had a number of thoughts crossing his mind. Maybe I should bury her head with the rest of the body. He had instead opted to throw the body, weighed down with nearby rocks, into a nearby reservoir, the head included. He removed all traces of the woman.
The house was cleaned and repainted within hours. The following day he had closed their joint bank account and had withdrawn her savings as well as his own. With no evidence of wrongdoing, the police and the media had assumed that the couple had fallen victim to some terrible, unreported accident or that they had disappeared to another country in search of a happier, warmer life.
This time, the media and the police had finally arrived at the truth. Everyone wanted to capture Joshua and release Abigail. That could not happen.
He pursed his lips together, breathing heavily through his nose. My work, my mission is not yet complete.
He brought to mind the memory of Abigail kneeling on the floor, looking at the dolls in the case. Maybe she will be the last addition to my collection.
Every girl in that suitcase met the same criteria as the girl sleeping by his side.
When he looked at Abigail, he could see every success and every failure.
A multitude of mistakes clouded the early days of his hobbies. He discovered in the first few months that the perfect girls were only to be found within a strict age range.
He had tried abducting a ten year old once. He was disappointed with the lack of any sensation when looking at this girl. He felt nothing, like he was looking at a piece of dull, mass-produced furniture. He decided almost immediately to drug her. He left the girl, with all of the curves of a cheap ironing board, in an alley near her home. Only a couple of hours had elapsed from abduction to drop-off. She was cute, but cuteness was not part of his criteria. He was looking for beautiful, slender, perfectly formed girls who still had personality traits of carefree children.
He had also tried girls as old as seventeen, but he had quickly come to realise that such girls were taller, stronger and more cunning than those a few years their junior. One had almost escaped, one had hit him over the head with a rock she had picked up from the garden, and one had tried to poison him.
He had, through trial and error, determined that his hobby was best realised with girls aged between eleven and fourteen. They were usually innocent, but with sufficiently agreeable aesthetic qualities. They were caught somewhere in the no man’s land between childhood and adulthood that was often referred to as adolescence. The gap between girl and woman was, however, a wide expanse, and so determining the childlike girls from the near-adults had become a life-long pursuit to Joshua.
Several feet away, immortalised in the suitcase, were the hand-carved wooden dolls of the absolute best of the girls he had encountered. Various woodworking night classes had helped him to develop his skills to the point of perfection. Each doll had taken days to create. They were anatomically accurate. By the merest touch he could remember the thrill and excitement that he had originally felt when he had taken each girl. The thoughts, the sights, sounds and smells, the voices and the softness of their young skin would come rushing back. He only took so much effort for the purest of girls, the ones who deserved to have their every detail carved and commemorated.
Unsure of the time, Joshua continued to lie still. The time was right to start negotiations for Abigail’s ransom. He would send the email in the coming hours from the encrypted, anonymous email application on his laptop. He would give Dan Castle a few hours to gather the funds, giving Joshua the time required to almost finish the doll.
If all went well, he could find a way to disappear very soon. The thrill of the chase that he had instigated in misguided fashion would be behind him. He would be free to retire from his life’s work with his collection serving as a constant reminder that he had made the most of his different and disturbed life.
He smiled and closed his eyes, composing the words of the email in his mind for a moment. Abigail is as perfect a girl as I will ever find. Her doll will be my crowning achievement, the final, exquisite finish to my lifelong symphony.