Joshua resumed his journey, glancing in his rear-view mirror. The two blonde girls, sleeping on the backseats had been heavily sedated. The liquid in the needles was a substance that Joshua had kept handy, but had never before used. He had been warned that it could knock someone out for ten hours, giving them a series of vivid, horrible hallucinations.
The girls had twitched and yelped a couple of times as Joshua drove around the town. I wonder what kind of crazy dreams they’re having.
The mobile phone in his pocket vibrated, signifying the arrival of a message. A moment later he was able to stop in a parking bay and see his message, informing him that he had received a money transfer. The limits of the notification service prevented him from finding out the exact amount received. He raised an eyebrow and looked at clock on the instrument panel of the car. It’s taken Dan Castle less than four hours to give in to my demands. Maybe I should have asked for more.
The receipt of ransom payment was timely. It allowed Joshua to concentrate on the fundamentals of his predicament. My time with Abigail started with a ransom demand. It seems destined to end with my payment and her release.
Joshua’s shoulders slumped as he drove onward, the town centre his new destination. It’s so close to the earlier incident. They’ll expect me to be miles away by now. The nearest branch of his bank was close to a multi-storey car park he had passed on several occasions.
Joshua remembered the Britten Centre being built in his youth, but the place hadn’t been updated since. The car park had newer Pay and Display machines, and the cars parked in its spaces were more modern, but the place looked very much the same with the addition of rust, dust and badly applied paint. As he paid for parking and locked the car, with the sleeping girls still inside, he wondered whether the days of the small shopping centre were numbered. There was only so much they could do with new coats of paint.
He paused to look back as walked towards the entrance through which he had just driven. The car was parked in a gloomy corner, on its own in a half-empty car park. No one would have cause to go near the car, let alone peer through the windows. For at least the next few minutes, the two girls would remain undiscovered. If I’m quick, I’ll be back out of the car park before anyone even knows I’m here.
The bank, an imposing sandstone building on a nearby corner, was reached within a minute of walking. He stopped briefly at the cash machines unsympathetically stuck into holes cut out of the stone near the entrance, inserting his card and checking his balance.
After following the onscreen prompts, he was shown a balance of a little over five thousand pounds. His own frown could be seen in the reflection from the glass screen. Is that it? He gritted his teeth and resisted the urge to thump the keypad with his clenched fist. He thinks he can pay me off with such a meagre amount? A fifth of the sum I requested?
Unsure whether to be furious or disappointed, Joshua ejected his card and walked inside. As he waited in line he couldn’t help but feel insulted on behalf of his captive beauty. They don’t value their daughter at twenty five grand. He shook his head. Regardless of the unacceptable amount, Joshua knew he should move the money before asking questions.
In moments he was leaving the bank, having displayed his driving license for identification, holding a white envelope. He rested it on the palm of his hand as if weighing the ransom money on a scale. Should Abigail’s life be traded for this? An amount of money that can be blown away in a mild wind?
The cash, though somewhat pathetic, would allow Joshua to stay hidden for a short while, and it would allow him to make an explosive exit from the town of his youth. I need to teach the Castles the value of their little girl. They’ll soon wish they moved heaven and earth to get her back.
His car was unencumbered by curious observers. No one was peering through the windows, wondering why someone would leave one girl, let alone two inside a locked car. No one was holding a phone to their ear or looking for security or for the police. Instead, the car had remained, undisturbed, in its dark corner. As he unlocked the doors he noticed that the girls had not moved at all in the time he had been away.
He started the engine and drove away, planning another visit to the DIY store. This time, he was buying something for destruction rather than distraction. He looked in his rear-view mirror at one of the girls. If things go according to plan, I’ll be the last person to see her alive.
After another short shopping trip to the DIY store, Joshua drove to the coastal road, parking by the side of the road a hundred yards from the B & B he had used the previous night, and terrorised only a matter of minutes earlier.
The road was clear of any police officers. No uniformed individual was standing guard. No one was even doing anything with his old car, still parked a short distance away. They’ve prioritised catching me, miles away, over towing my car. They won’t be expecting me to return here so soon.
Wearing a hat and a long coat, Joshua was ready to move the girl. A smile crept across his face as he stared down at her still body for a moment.
Dan Castle, the private investigator wants to play? Then let the games begin.