The Doll Collector

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Chapter 38

Amanda welcomed the continuation of her role at the guest house on a part-time basis over the off-season. Thankfully the manager was aware that there would still be occasional guests, and that the building would still be in need of cleaning at least weekly.

As she ascended in a lift that might have been installed thirty years earlier, she looked at her watch as she scrunched up her face. One hour remaining, but the second part-time job starts in just over two.

She disliked working two jobs, but the need to support her one year old son gave her the determination to continue.

The lift doors opened, snapping her back to her current assignment. There were two guests in two different rooms on the upper floor of the building, and one had switched rooms. This meant there was the need to clean a room, ready for the next guest, who could in fact be several months away. She pushed the cleaning trolley through the door and used a bunch of keys to enter the first room. It was empty and seemed to require little effort to clean. The bed sheets would need replacing, but most of the rest of the room was as it had been left previously.

She replaced the bed sheets, dusted and checked the communal bathroom before vacuuming the room and closing the door behind her, happy that she was maintaining her usual standards of cleanliness. Facing towards the bathroom with the trolley in front of her, she locked the first room and moved backwards towards the second room. Her right arm brushed the door handle as she moved, pausing to unlock it.

She opened the door, humming to herself and carrying two fresh towels for the en-suite. She looked straight ahead towards the window and her mouth dropped open. A second later, in another involuntary movement, she dropped the towels. She had never seen such a scene.

She turned around and looked across the threshold to discover a small yellow ‘DO NOT DISTURB’ notice sitting on the floor. I must have knocked it off when I brushed past the door handle with my arm.

In front of her, sitting on the floor and handcuffed to the radiator, was a naked girl aged somewhere between twelve and fifteen.

Amanda didn’t say anything. The girl didn’t say anything. Both seemed surprised to see someone. Amanda considered retreating and locking the door behind her, but something in her bones suggested she should stay right where she was. She reached down and grabbed the towels and ran to the girl, putting them on her lap. Working up the courage to speak, she said, “I’m Amanda. I’m the cleaner. I had no idea there was someone in here.”

“I’m Abigail,” she responded. “You might have seen me on the news.”

Amanda wore a puzzled look with a twist of shock and awe. “The news?”

“I’ve been kidnapped and I’m being held by a man called Joshua Billings who has left the room for a couple of hours.”

Amanda did not have the time or the stomach for watching the news. Working two jobs and looking after a young child filled the majority of her world. “Is there a key for the handcuffs? Should I free you?”

“He’ll have the key with him,” Abigail said as her shoulders slumped. “He could probably be back any minute.”

“I’ll go and get help”” Amanda said, standing up and running for the door. She closed it and locked it behind her and paused for a moment to take a deep breath. She ran down the stairs, her legs suddenly feeling feebly inadequate for navigating the old stairs in a hurry. She hadn’t been cleaning for more than a few months, but she was certain this wasn’t normal, and that the privacy of guests would only go so far.

She had stumbled upon the scene accidentally, but she had found a girl being held prisoner against her will. She had a duty to do something about it.

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