The Doll Collector

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Chapter 49

Dan’s phone started buzzing and ringing with the first few bars of a classic 80s rock ballad before he was able to answer it. The display indicated a withheld number. There’s only one person that would be calling me. He looked across at the police officers standing nearby in headphones as they gave him the thumbs up.

The Hi-Tech guys at a large police station in the centre of Norwich had plugged a device into his phone that was linked to a computer. With any luck, the tech would lead Dan to his daughter.

A map was showing on the screen that showed the entirety of the UK.

Dan answered the call with a simple “Yes”.

“I know you’ll be tracking this call,” said the voice. “That’s the point. I have the money. I assume you know what I’m going to ask?”

“Why was it only five grand?” Dan asked the question for him.

“Exactly, Mr Castle.” There was a brief pause in which he thought he could hear waves in the background. “It seems you might have a good mind for reasoning and problem solving after all. We will find out how good that mind is over the next few hours.”

“I couldn’t get more than five grand together in such a short space of time.”

“Now, come on, Mr Castle. I haven’t lied to you. Why do you insist on lying to me?”

“It’s not a lie. I-“

“You thought you could insult me and your daughter!” He bellowed, CAUSING Dan to lift the phone from his ear. He watched the two officers wince. After a second or two, a calm voice continued, “You insult me because you do not follow simple instructions, purely to defy me. In a way, you’re also deluding yourself. You’ve convinced yourself that you’re not giving in to the demands of a kidnapper, an abuser of young girls.”

Dan opened his mouth to respond but he wasn’t given the chance before Joshua continued, “You also insult your beloved Abigail because you’ve just indicated to me that she is not worth twenty five grand.”

Rattled, Dan said, “I can get the rest of the money. I just need more time.”

“I don’t have time for your games. I’m in control of this situation, not you!”

Dan looked at the computer. A red circle was hovering over the Lowestoft area, to the east of their current location. As he watched the map zoomed in slightly, and then again.

Dan broke the silence. “What do we do now then?”

“As I agreed, you will find a pretty blonde school girl in the boot of my old red car. You’ll know what it looks like. The original license plates are back on the car, which should help you. This phone will be next to the girl.”

“How long have I got?” Dan asked.

“As long as it takes you to get here.” There was a pause before he said, “One more thing. If I see a police officer anywhere along the seafront, your daughter won’t be here when you arrive.”

Dan looked back at the computer screen. The red circle was now a dot hovering over the coastal edge of the town of Lowestoft, less than an hour’s drive away. The DC nodded his head, confirming that the location was as accurate as they would get it, at this stage, and Dan felt his shoulders relax slightly. I could have my daughter back in under an hour.

Dan was about to talk to Joshua again when he heard loud noises on the other end of the phone call. He looked at the screen to confirm the call had not ended. It was quiet. He thought he recognised the noises as those of a phone being placed on a hard surface without hanging up, like he used to do with a home phone that was tethered to a cradle on a telephone table.

The call was still live. This was clearly the man’s intention. He wanted Dan to track the call and to travel to the location of the handset.

As he was about to speak to the DC, another officer burst in through the door, holding a handful of paper. “Sir, we’ve just received information from Suffolk. They know where the kidnapper withdrew his money.”

The DC nodded slowly and responded. “I would guess that he has defied our road blocks and that he hasn’t moved far from the coast in Lowestoft.”

The young officer looked utterly bemused, but regained his composure after a couple of seconds, seeing the computer screen, just about understanding how anyone else could have known.

Clearing his throat, DCI Hunt said, “Now, Mr Castle, it’s time to contact the Suffolk Constabulary and join our efforts to theirs. Let’s go and see if we can rescue your daughter.”

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