Knowing that the large man and his henchman had gone to apprehend Abigail, Joshua had made a decision on returning to his car. Instead of making his final journey on UK roads to the port of Dover, he took advantage of the two hours he had to spare to follow his hospitable host.
Keeping far back and almost out of sight, he had been surprised when young Abigail had tried to flee a forty year old block of flats, only to end up in the arms of the seemingly strong photographer, first-aider and general servant of Sergei.
Sergei had driven off with Abigail, whilst David stood there, trying to be discreet as he pointed a pea-shooter of a gun at the girl.
Joshua moved off in pursuit, passing the photographer, strutting along the path now, whistling with his hands in his pockets, but not in the direction of the hotel as per some instructions from Sergei.
He followed the car in front in a southerly direction through several junctions until the river was in sight. The buildings became shabbier with every road sign that passed him by. The occasional broken window gave way to a series of buildings that looked as if they would fall to the ground if they remained in their derelict state beyond the next couple of years.
Whilst wondering if the buildings could appear any grimmer, he noticed Sergei coming to a stop by the side of a deserted road. Joshua carried on driving, turning his face away to avoid being recognised. He reached the end of the street, the River Thames directly in front of him, an old wall and a steep drop away, and had no option but to turn left. Where he parked.
He hurried out of the car and peered back around the corner, towards Sergei’s silver car, with no signs of anyone inside. He’s already taken her somewhere, and I’m too far away to see anything.
Sticking his neck out further, he noticed an alleyway beside the car. His heartrate increased as he thought about the implications of dark alleys and young, unruly females. He had dealt with several of the latter in earlier years, but Sergei’s methods were bound to differ. He’s taking her down there to get rid of her.
Hurrying but trying his best to keep his footsteps light on the pavement, Joshua reached the alleyway. It was a cobbled street, too narrow for a car to negotiate with its wing mirrors staying intact. It was dark, even in bright daylight.
He could see the tall, wide figure of Sergei, dragging a shorter, slender figure into the darkness. He considered following when he noticed another face further along the alley, barely discernible amongst the shadows.
Edging along the wall, he found an alcove, an exit to a long-abandoned office or factory, into which he could press himself, keeping out of sight.
Despite his distance, he could hear a conversation taking place without the need to see anything.
If Sergei did his deals in the shadows, this was as secluded a place as he was likely to find in the whole of the city. None of the eyes of the world would happen to fall upon this old, untidy, uninteresting and unwanted place.
He listened. A deal would soon be done that would condemn Abigail to a dirty, debauched lifestyle, and possibly an early death. He felt a horrendous need in his gut to spring into action. What have I done to this girl? If I really care for her, I need to free her from this.
As he waited for the trade to take place, his mind wandered to a crazy, future situation, years after his successful rescue of the girl currently being passed from pillar to post. In his mind’s eye he could see a future time in some far-flung part of the world in which he was living happily by the side of a maturing Abigail, who had changed from hating him to tolerating him, and eventually to loving him.
He shook his head. A daft dream, not even likely to happen. Even without the realisation of that ideal scenario, he would, at least, save this girl from a life so closely resembling hell.