Chapter Thirty-Eight


February 6


Dot takes the blindfold off as soon as her hands are untied. Her captor left the room immediately after, locking the door behind him without saying a word. Indeed, he has not uttered a sound since they walked out of the ice rink and she hasn’t really had a good look at his face either because she was told to walk in front of him. She has only seen the back of his head and the trilby hat.

   She had thought it odd to receive a message purporting to come from Lamplight when she was sitting at her table at the rink. She had spotted Keith in his Duffle coat sitting at the rink-side, but she could not see either Lamplight or the other detective. She couldn’t think of any reason why he should want to send her a message which was asking her to come and see him in the foyer. Could that mean they have taken Mr Trilby into custody? If so, why hasn’t Lamplight come to her or sent Keith to get her for that matter?

   Something is telling her to beware. Should she go to the foyer or should she simply go and tell Keith? The problem with that is it would risk blowing her cover as well as his if Mr Trilby is there and watching.

   She decides to take the risk and go but before she does, she dives into her bag to find some kind of marker and finds a lipstick she seldom uses. She smiles at the thought and scribbles a brief note Just follow the lipstick on the back of the note the waitress has just delivered.

   She walks slowly out to the foyer and looks around. There are small groups of people either on their way in or just emerging and deciding where to go next. She cannot see Lamplight or the detective. Are they hidden somewhere, watching her? If so, what is supposed to happen next? This was not part of the plan in her briefing.

   She stands there, looking around indecisively when a voice behind her says quietly: ‘Don’t look around. Just walk forward slowly. I have a knife at your back. Walk to the door and then turn left. I will be right behind you. Do nothing to attract attention.’

   She does as she is told hoping that Lamplight is watching. Where is he? Where is the detective? Why are they allowing this to happen? She considers turning to face him and to try to grapple the knife from him, but all it would take would be one thrust with the knife and it would all be over and she would be lying on the floor bleeding.

   What Dot does not know is that a man wearing a trilby is sitting on the opposite side of the rink to Keith and he is being closely watched. When Dot and the real Mr Trilby leave the rink, he will get up and walk out, to be confronted by the police on the way. He will be asked where he got the hat, and he will answer that he found it on the seat.

    Dot has the lipstick concealed in one hand which she keeps clenched. They walk past the cinema and the voice behind says to walk to the car park. He points to a blue Ford Cortina and she is told to get in the back seat. As she is walking to the rear door, she pretends to trip and reaches out with her lipstick hand on to the boot lid to steady herself and as she pulls herself up, she puts a tick on it, covering it with her hand. He is standing behind and to her left and fails to notice.

 She opens the rear door, which conceals the tick and climbs in. He closes the door and walks around the front of the car to the driver’s seat and gets in, taking his hat off to reveal thick brown, curly hair.

   Dot surreptitiously tries to open the door, but he must have engaged the child lock. She sits back and while she is bursting with questions, she decides to stay totally silent. He may have been expecting a struggle, shouting, threats, questions; hysterics even. She is hoping he may be thrown by a complete, stony silence. He may be tempted to reveal more about why he is doing this or to become triumphant or boastful.

   She reminds herself that he thinks he is abducting Amy, Keith’s girlfriend, for reasons she may well discover. The fact that he has instead abducted a reporter is her ace card which she will play at a critical moment.

   He tosses what looks like a black bandage to her, growling at her to put it on. It is a blindfold and he watches by the rear-view mirror as she puts it on. ‘Don’t try anything stupid,’ he says. ‘Just do as you’re told and you won’t get hurt.’

   The car starts up and she is fairly certain they are travelling down Beech Street and not Kensington or Prescot Road. She knows that the main road at the end is Edge Lane and if they turn right, they will be heading towards the city centre and if they turn left, they will be heading out of town.

   The car turns left but does not travel far before turning right after pausing for traffic. The sound of traffic subsides and shortly after the car stops. He gets out, slamming the door behind him. She can hear him opening a door and then her door opens. He ties her wrists with handcuffs and hauls her out of the car, on to what feels like pavement and then to a door with a step which she stumbles on and reaches out to steady herself, putting a tick on the door in the process. He drags her up roughly and shoves her through a door into what sounds like a corridor and then into a room. He removes the handcuffs and immediately leaves, slamming the door behind him.

   She looks around her after removing the blindfold. The room is bare apart from a dirty mattress on the floor, a small table by a grimy window with iron bars on it, an upright wooden chair and another door to one side of the room. She walks over and opens it. Inside is a wash basin and a toilet, both filthy.

   On the table is a large bottle of water. She sits on the chair and gulps some down. For the first time, she can feel fingers of fear reaching out to her mind and her limbs. She begins to tremble and tells herself to stop. She gulps down more water as she feels tears beginning to form. She wipes them away with the back of her hand. What is he intending to do with her? How long will she be in this awful room? She must not let it show that she is scared.

   She hears the front door slamming shut which must mean he has gone out. She rushes over to the door, twisting the doorknob but it doesn’t move. She shoulders the door hoping a panel will splinter but it doesn’t. She rushes over to the window and tries to move the metal bars, but they are set in cement. She can hardly see out of the window it is so grimy, but she can just about see a back yard outside. She tries shouting but there are no sounds outside apart from some strange squawks nearby. She listens and realises it is a parrot which must be just a few doors away. That must mean there are people living there. She listens carefully but the street is completely devoid of any sound apart from the occasional car.

   She shouts out in frustration and returns to the chair. For the first time she looks around the room more carefully. In the corner is a small dirty-white bookcase she hadn’t noticed before. There appears to be a few books on it. She walks over to get a better look. She picks one up and blows the dust off it. It’s Graham Green’s Ministry of Fear. Underneath is Aldous Huxley’s Brave New world and there are one or two more as well. At least she will have something to read, she thinks grimly.

  She sits by the table wondering what might be going on outside. They will obviously have mounted a full search for her, little realising just how near she really is. The problem is that so few cars seem to travel down the road that nobody is going to notice her ticks.

   The walls are bare plaster with remains of an ancient brown wallpaper in places. A bare bulb is in the centre of the ceiling. The switch is beside the door. She walks over and flicks it and the bulb reluctantly lights as though awakening from a prolonged sleep.

   As she returns to her seat a thought occurs to her. She wonders if she has been named as the girl who has been abducted. They might be able to keep it quiet for a day or two but sooner or later they will have to name her. They cannot say it is Amy because she will have gone to school as usual. Mr Trilby is certain to read the papers or hear it on the radio or TV. What is his reaction going to be when he realises he has been fooled? It’s a development she hadn’t thought about before. She had always assumed that it would be she who revealed that at a time of her choosing.

   She is staring at the floor as these thoughts pass through her mind and suddenly, she notices something metallic almost hidden by a crack in the bare floorboards. She walks over, stoops down and prises it up with her fingernail. It’s a nail.

   She holds it up. It’s at least four inches long and the end is still sharp. An idea pops into her mind and she walks over to the window and looks at the iron bars. There are three of them. They are not particularly thick, perhaps a quarter of an inch, but they are buried quite firmly. She scrapes away at the cement around the base of the nail. It crumbles quite easily. Perhaps if she can free the end, she might be able to bend the bars upwards.

   She hears the front door slamming and loud footsteps echoing in the hall.

   They stop at her door.

Published by pod1942

I am a cereer journalist having worked for the London Dail Mail, Reuters and latterly the Liverpool Daily Post on Merseyside as well as the journalists’ leader in the region. I have experience as a crime reporter, feature writer, business editor and latterly, a senior sub-editor. My qualifications include a BA (Hons) English, from the University of Liverpool; a BA (Hons) Fine Art and an MA in Creative Practice both from Liverpool Hope University. I now divide my time between art and writing. I will shortly be publishing my first full-length novel, The Poseidon Files and as a taster I have written a short story which features the same central female character in which she talks about her world and her life. It is, however, essentially a ghost story.

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