This is the thirteenth part of a fiction serial, in 906 words.
Marjorie looked at her captor. With or without the mask, he wasn’t remotely scary. In fact, he was very ordinary. Unattractive, tired-looking, and maybe not much over twenty-five.
She pressed her advantage.
“You might as well take me away from here tonight. There’s nobody around at the Zoo at this hour, and you could pick me up something to eat on the way. We could soon clear up this cage, and the room, then there would be no trace of me ever being here”.
Rodney handed back the necklace. He didn’t want to be accused of taking it for no reason, and besides, he could ever chance trying to sell it. Unlocking the main door of the cage, he was still unsure if she would just try to run. But she didn’t. She just tidied up her stuff, and slid out the mattress and lantern. A quick check to make sure that nothing of hers remained in the cage, and she walked out, standing next to the young man.
“I will need my shoes. Can I have them back?”
He slid them out from under the table by the wall. “I just didn’t want you kicking anything, and hurting yourself”. Marjorie smiled inside. He was already apologising, and she was still in the room at the Zoo. She grinned, acting in a friendly manner. “What could I have kicked? I just ended up with cold feet”. His expression was sheepish. “Sorry. I didn’t think. Hang on here for a minute, and I will come and get you when the car is turned around and ready. OK?” She nodded, clutching her school bag as she awkwardly struggled into the heavy shoes. He stopped at the metal door, and turned. “Just get your personal stuff. I will sort out everything else tomorrow”.
Tina Collier thought she might just as well head off home. All sorts of nut cases were ringing in with information, trying to claim the reward. They had supposed sightings in London and Glasgow, and one as far away as Vienna. She shook her head in frustration, and spoke to the room, her voice flat and angry. “This is all bollocks. I told Calder what would happen. Now we are tucked up with dealing with close to six hundred sightings that are going to all be fictitious. Or I will eat my very large shoes!”
The man moved her quickly into the car. It was parked surprisingly close to where she had been held, in an area that appeared to be derelict. As she rolled into the boot, she heard an animal cry that she didn’t recognise at all. It must have been at least ten minutes before she smiled, and spoke to herself. “Gibbons”.
Phil hadn’t been called into the police station yet, and was shitting himself waiting for the call. He hadn’t seen Rod since the maps thing, and wondered what the hell was going on. But he couldn’t call or text. That was the arrangement, part of the plan. And he had to stick to the plan. He had another can of beer, and checked his watch. Was it too early to go to bed? Sleep might be hard to come by, but it might quieten his whirring thoughts.
Rodney drove the car around in circles deliberately. No need to let her work out the route, just in case. He still wasn’t sure if he should take her to his place, but a hotel would want a credit card deposit, and might well think something funny about such a young girl checking in with him. If he was going to go with her plan, then he might just as well take her to his flat. If she was going to grass them up, it made no difference either way. After completing a second turn around the ring road, he pulled the car to a halt outside his block. As he waited for the coast to clear, all he could think of was that his small flat was like a tip. It was two weeks since he had changed the bed, and there was at least five day’s worth of washing up in the sink.
After fifteen minutes of waiting until the street was clear, he opened the boot of the car and helped her out. Ushering her into the entrance at some speed, he hoped she wouldn’t remember enough about the location to think to bring the authorities there. She had her bag with her, and had left nothing in the car that could be construed as evidence. At least as far as he could tell.
The first thing that Marjorie noticed was the smell. Musty, unwashed, unfamiliar. Then when he put the light on, she took a sharp intake of breath. Turning to look to him, she put her hands on her hips, and shook her head. “What a shit-hole! Don’t you ever clean up around here? For God’s sake, don’t you have any self-respect?” Rodney forgot that he was the kidnapper, and blushed. “Sorry, I didn’t know you were coming, did I? Sit down a minute, and I will tidy up. Then I will phone up and get us some food delivered”.
Marjorie sat on the sticky, shiny sofa, and wrapped her arms around her bag, trying to look scared and upset.
But try as she might to do that, she could only manage to look pleased with herself.