The Doll Collector

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Chapter 85

Abigail’s friends had sometimes fantasised about a scenario in which two men were fighting over them. As much as Abigail had no such desires, she was about to witness that very thing. In one corner, the man who had kidnapped her, and had since saved her life. In another corner, her father.

Just a moment ago the door to the container had opened again, much to the bemusement of them both. As much as Abigail had once hoped to be rescued, that hope had been fading with every passing second until she saw her father’s face.

After a wordless introduction by the morose man in yellow, the door of the container slammed shut, leaving the three of them alone, nowhere to go.

There was an equal amount of panic on the face of each of the men. One would fear that their time was up. The other would be worried that, despite his rescue attempts, that they would be locked away until the ship arrived at some other port on the other side of the world.

Abigail stayed locked in position on the sofa, staring at the two of them, a couple of feet apart, her eyes probably as wide as Joshua’s. Both of these men, both with a different kind of affection for me, are about to go head-to-head. The voice in her head was probably about to issue a cry along the lines of ‘Let’s get ready to rumble!’ as she continued to stare at the pair of them.

As Dan took a step forward, Joshua ran around him and pounded on the door. “Hey! Hey!” he shouted. “Open the door! There’s been a mistake!”

Without so much as a flicker of a muscle beforehand, her dad spun around, grabbed Joshua’s shoulders and threw him to the floor. Despite the softness of the carpet, a huge thud reverberated around the container, far louder than Joshua’s attempts to get the attention of the man outside.

As she watched from the sofa, Abigail realised that she was holding a crisp in her half-raised hand, withdrawn from the family-sized bag before her father had shown up. She placed it back on the table, in the mouth of the open packet. There’s something impolite about sitting here eating snacks while my dad fights for my freedom. There she was, their only audience, and in effect, the prize for the winner.

After a struggle on the floor that was furious enough to shake the container, Joshua threw Dan off. Seconds later they had both clambered to their feet. For a moment, both were unaware of anything but their nemesis.

Feeling helpless, she couldn’t have been of any use in the fight if she had wanted to be. To add to her reluctance to join in with the contentious fist fight that was developing, she found that she was unable to move her feet again. She looked at her feet for a moment and shook her head, the only movement of which she seemed capable. Now’s not a good time to freeze. What’s wrong with me?

Joshua was in the throes of throwing punches. He missed with the swing of his right hand, her father with his back against the wall. He went for a jab with his left, not noticing that her father was moving to his left at the same speed.

Joshua’s left fist went straight through a thin coating of plasterboard and insulation and collided with solid metal. At the same time that his punch echoed around the chamber, Joshua let out a scream of pain that drowned out the sound of the hammering rain and sleet.

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