The Doll Collector

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Chapter 86

The pain Joshua felt shooting through his arm was incredible. He could almost feel the tiny bones in his hand shatter on impact.

Withdrawing his now deformed hand from the hole in the plasterboard, he tried his best not to show any further weakness. He gritted his teeth and shook his head. Yelling in pain does nothing. I need to force myself to concentrate here.

Regardless of the amount of concentration, he was certain that he would lose this fight. If it ever looked like he was winning, Abigail would weigh in, tipping the balance in Dan’s favour once again.

Even if Joshua still had two useable hands and Dan was alone, he would still struggle. This man, the former police officer, knew how to fight. He seemed able to channel all of his rage from the past few days into every punch that connected with Joshua. I almost got his daughter killed. I almost blew him up. He’ll not stop until he’s got his revenge.

Joshua had won numerous confrontations with girls aged up to sixteen, but that wasn’t even close to adequate preparation for a fight like this.

He reached for the gun in his pocket and then padded his side in a panic. It was here just a moment ago. He cast his gaze around the floor, blue, turning shades of red and black with spots of his blood. I can’t see it anywhere.

There were tears in Joshua’s eyes. He shook his head, wearing a rueful look. I’ve got one good hand, no weapon and I’m backed against a wall. It’s game over. In a wild rush of adrenaline, he ducked out of the way of further punishment and connected with a couple of punches with his only good hand.

With a few seconds to move freely around the small room, Joshua looked for anything he could throw at Dan, anything that could hurt him or distract him long enough to provide him with an advantage. There’s nothing here. Not inside a box that’s designed to stay safe on the high seas. The most he could do was to toss his bottle of water in the man’s direction, but the throw was too feeble to do any damage at all with a light plastic object.

In any case, Dan ducked out of the way of the missile and threw a heavy punch to Joshua’s stomach. He felt the air leave his entire upper body, as much as he tried to keep it in. His legs were swept from under him and he crashed to the floor again, landing on his left arm, unable to keep himself from screaming again. What’s the point? I’m too weak to avoid showing weakness.

There were two or three kicks to the midriff before there was a sudden halt to the violence. The fight was over. Dan had seen no reason to prolong the punishment.

After catching his breath, in the middle of a coughing fit, he took the opportunity to employ some psychology, hoping that doing so would at least mitigate the pain to which he would be subjected.

“You know there’s no way out of here, don’t you?” He let out a long series of coughs, unable to stop for several seconds before adding, “A proper detective would’ve figured that out.”

There was a smile on Dan’s face as he looked down, and then out of nowhere there was a whack to the back of his head. Pain gave way to dizziness, which gave way to blackness as he passed out.

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