Episode Eighty

Avoid Spoilers! Read from Episode One

Act 5

Sergeant Michael Anders steps up to the front of the Helling house.

“What do you want?” Constance Helling snaps as she opens the door.

“Constance, I need to come inside to speak with you,” Sergeant Anders tells her, looking behind him again, before adding, “privately.”

Constance gives the police officer a quizzical look. She thinks about Joanne Evans having just given her son, Ricky, over to Anna-Maree Axe. Was he here to take Ricky away from the family already?

“I’m not sure…” Constance starts.

“Trust me,” Sergeant Anders says, pushing his way past Constance into the house, “you’ll want to hear me out.”

Constance closes the front door and follows the police officer down the hallway. “What is this about, Sergeant?”

“I think you should take a seat,” Sergeant Anders says.

“I’m really not in the mood for playing these silly games…” Constance huffs, folding her arms across her chest.

“I understand, Constance, but there is nothing silly about what I’m about to tell you.” Sergeant Anders motions for Constance to take a seat next to him on the lounge. “Please sit down.”

Constance huffs again and pushes her large frame down onto the lounge opposite Sergeant Anders. “So, tell me what’s so important, Sergeant.”

“Constance,” Sergeant Anders says, “it’s important that you’re honest with me and tell me everything you know. Otherwise you might be in some real trouble.”


Joanne Evans looks back up the hill towards the Helling house. She can see the house lights twinkle in the darkness of the night. “Are you sure Ricky will be okay with Anna-Maree?” she asks her aunty, Valerie Pickering.

Valerie looks up at the house and grabs Joanne’s hand, squeezing it gently. “I’m sure he’s going to be just fine, Jo.”

They continue walking towards Joanne’s townhouse. Along the way, they pass the main street of Peppercorn Patch and come to a stop outside the site of where Valerie’s business, The Grand Hotel, had once stood. In its place, an empty dirt patch and construction fencing.

Joanne puts a hand on her aunty’s shoulder. “I’m sorry.” Her mind flashes back to when the building exploded, killing Cathy Gilmore’s husband, Mark Gilmore, and injuring many others.

Valerie sighs out and smiles politely. “I’m not. I think it’s for the best.”

“But you loved this place,” Joanne says.

“It had been holding me back for many years, Jo. My drinking problem would have been fixed a long time ago if I had just got rid of this place sooner.” Valerie feels her lower back suddenly tingle and she reaches for where her kidney transplant had taken place.

Joanne hugs her aunty. “After everything that’s happened, Aunty Val, you are the strongest person I know.”

Valerie holds her niece in close to her. The two hold each other in silence for what feels like an eternity.

“I just received the insurance payout,” Valerie speaks first, interrupting their hold. “For The Grand Hotel.”

“Oh,” Joanne says, curious. “Are you going to rebuild?”

Valerie laughs, then pulls Joanne’s hands into her own. “I’m giving the money to you, Jo.”

“Aunty Val?”

“You could use it, with the custody battle coming up and all,” Valerie informs Joanne. “Plus you can use it to look after Ricky.”

“Aunty Val, I can’t take your money…”

“…Don’t argue with me, honey. I don’t need the money anymore. You need it more than I do. There’ll be no more discussion on the matter.”

“Aunty Val, but how could I ever repay you?”

“A bed at your place is all I ask for,” Valerie says, suddenly pulling at Joanne’s hands and dragging her across the road, racing down towards the river. “Let’s go and have some fun!”


“What do you know about Dustin Harris’ death?” Sergeant Anders ask Constance.

“Councillor Dustin Harris?” Constance asks, swallowing hard. “He had a heart attack, didn’t he? In hospital?”

“He did,” Sergeant Anders agrees. “Were you there?”

Constance scoffs. “What are you insinuating?”

“I’m not insinuating anything, Constance,” Sergeant Anders says. “I’m just following up on some information that I received recently.”

“He’s been dead for some time now,” Constance says. “What’s so important now?”

“Constance, did you have any reason to harm Dustin Harris?”

Constance stands up from the lounge suddenly. “Out!” she screams at Sergeant Anders. “How dare you! Get out!”

“Constance, I have a witness that says you were with Dustin Harris when he died,” Sergeant Anders continues.

“What witness?”

“His grand-daughter,” Sergeant Anders reveals.


“You know, this could have ended differently,” Constance Helling looks down upon the hospital bed that Councillor Dustin Harris is laying in.

“You mean by telling everybody the truth?” Dustin sniggers.

“The truth is what people want to believe,” Constance replies.

“You’ve made everyone believe that it was me that killed all those people,” Dustin says, trying to remain calm. “You know that it was your grandmother, Gretel Helling.”

Constance roars with laughter. “The truth is, Dustin, you will be forever known as a murderer. You killed all those people, including my grandmother.”

“Constance, you know that isn’t the truth. I didn’t do it,” Dustin protests, reaching for the breathing mask off the bedside table next to him and placing it on his face. Dustin struggles to breathe. “Why let me take the fall for this?”


“His grand-daughter?” Constance says, exasperated.

“Her name is Maggie Harris,” Sergeant Anders informs her.

“I don’t understand what this is all about,” Constance huffs, turning her back to the police officer and rubbing her face with a hand, the flashback continuing to haunt her.


Councillor Dustin Harris takes a few breaths of oxygen using the breathing mask. “Why are you doing this Constance?”

“Don’t you understand?” Constance huffs. “I’m protecting the Helling family name.”

“It’s all a lie!” Dustin yells. “Your whole life has been a lie.”

“Shut up, you fool!” Constance is beginning to become angry. “No one will ever know the truth! No one is ever going to believe you! You are a murderer!”

The heart rate monitor suddenly starts beeping rapidly and Dustin Harris grabs for his chest. Constance can see him struggle to reach for the breathing mask.

“I really must get going, Dustin. I have a wedding I must get back to,” Constance says, regaining her composure.

The sound of the monitor suddenly breaks out into a long continuous sound.

Constance looks over at the screen as it shows a solid flat line. “No one is going to miss a murderer.”


“Maggie saw you exit the hospital room as Dustin was dying,” Sergeant Anders says.

“I didn’t kill him,” Constance protests. “He was already unwell. There was nothing I could do for him.”

“The truth is,” Sergeant Anders explains, “I don’t believe that you did kill him.”

“Then why are you here?” Constance is impatient.

“You claimed that Dustin Harris was responsible for the deaths of all those people that were discovered in that dam in 1965,” Sergeant Anders says.

“Yes, he confessed to me.”

“They were all missing their teeth,” Sergeant Anders continues. “And so far the teeth have never been recovered.”

Constance swallows hard again. “I’m not sure how I can help you, Sergeant Anders.”


Taking the key from around her neck, Constance silently makes the sign of the cross, praying that the box opens.

The lock of the jewellery box clicks and a surge of excitement shoots through Constance’s body. She slowly lifts the lid of the jewellery box up to reveal its contents.

“Oh my!” Constance gleefully exclaims as she sees the white pearls inside the box. She reaches down inside the box to lift out the shiny beads before suddenly reeling back and screaming out in horror.

The jewellery box is knocked to the ground, along with its contents. Hundreds of pearly white beads disperse across the floor. Constance looks down in disbelief at the sea of human teeth.


“Maggie Harris doesn’t believe that her grandfather was responsible,” Sergeant Anders explains. “There is no evidence that he was involved and, quite frankly, I agree with her.”

“This is ridiculous!” Constance is becoming increasingly more agitated. “Just tell me what you’re doing here!”

“Maggie is suing you for defamation,” Sergeant Anders tells her. “She claims that you know who the real killer is and you’re covering it up.”

“I told you before to get out!” Constance suddenly snaps.

“Constance,” Sergeant Anders tries to reason, “if you lose the defamation case you’re going to lose everything. Not only that, if you have information about a mass murder that you haven’t disclosed, you could be in serious trouble. Obstruction of justice could land you behind bars.”

“I’m not speaking to you anymore without my lawyer,” Constance says, suddenly calm.

“Constance, let me help you.”

“There’s nothing to help with,” Constance dismisses the police officer.

“Where is the box of teeth?” Sergeant Anders asks.

Constance looks at him quizzically.

Sergeant Anders steps in close to her. “Let me help you hide them!”


Next Episode – Monday May 28

Episode Seventy-Nine

Avoid Spoilers! Read from Episode One

Act 4

On the outside of the door there are roaring and popping noises as the fire takes hold of Olivia’s house.

The smoke has become thick and Amber Harp’s eyes water. She can no longer even see her son who is standing next to her.

“I love you, mum,” Drake manages to cough.

Amber grabs hold of her son and holds him close to her. “I love you too, honey!”

Before they both know it, the window behind them smashes. Amber instinctively looks behind her but she can’t see anything through the smoke. She knows the windows were boarded up with wooden palings, but someone on the outside could have removed them.

“Stand back,” Amber says to her son as the sound of glass smashing continues.

The black smoke instantly rushes from the room and out of the broken window. Amber can make out the silhouette of someone wearing a breathing apparatus enter the room. The light on the helmet shines across the room and into her eyes, blinding her suddenly.

“Mum?” Drake calls out.

“Drake, honey,” Amber says calmly, “go with the man with the helmet.” Through the smoke, she sees their rescuer take hold of Drake and usher him to the broken window to escape.

Amber cautiously makes her way to the window as well. She senses her rescuer is close and puts her arm out to grab hold of him.

As she lifts her leg up to climb over the bed, she loses her balance and tumbles backwards. She grabs on instinctively to her rescuer’s shirt and, in the process, pulls him down on top of her.

“I’m sorry,” Amber manages to splutter. She looks up at the rescuer who is trying to regain his own feet. He falters on his own feet and the breathing apparatus slips down his face.

Pure horror runs through Amber Harp’s body. She is frozen momentarily as she looks up to face Doctor Peter Smith.

As Doctor Smith tries to get to his feet again, Amber swings her legs at him, kicking him into one of the room’s side walls. His helmet is knocked off of his head.

“Drake!” Amber screams out loud. “Run! Run and get help!” She can hear her son exit the broken window and his small footsteps pound against the outside pavement.

Doctor Smith manages to get to his feet. He stands over Amber Harp, pushing the weight of his leg onto her arm to restrain her.

The fire quickly engulfs the whole building and before long all that remains is a pile of ash.


Police investigators shine their torches into the burnt building’s rubble, searching for Amber and her son, Drake.

“Doctor Smith attacked me and then set fire to my house!” Olivia screams out in anguish. “He’s killed my sister!”

“Over here!” an investigator suddenly shouts as he shines his torch into the smoky rubble. “I think we’ve got something!”

Everyone looks on as the investigator pulls an object from the rubble. It is passed around to a number of police officers before ending up in front of Olivia.

“Do you recognise this?” the officer asks Olivia, holding up a dirtied helmet, once bright yellow but now the colour of a well-used fireplace.

“Doctor Peter Smith was wearing that when he attacked me.” Olivia rubs a bruised cheek with her fingers. “I ran to get help straight away, but it was too late!”

“There’s no sign of anyone in the wreckage,” the officer says. “We think they may have escaped, maybe with the help of Doctor Smith.”

“Help?” Olivia scoffs, before starting to cry. “He wanted to harm my sister. This fire was no accident, officer. The Poetry Predator has my sister, and her son!”


Sergeant Michael Anders steps up to the front of the Helling house.

Before knocking, he looks over his shoulder and sees Joanne Evans and Valerie Pickering walking down the steep hill.

He wonders why they were here, especially since he knew there was much animosity between the pair and Constance Helling.

He faces back to the door and knocks, taking in a deep breath as he does so.

“What do you want?” Constance Helling snaps as she opens the door.

“Constance, I need to come inside to speak with you,” Sergeant Anders tells her, looking behind him again, before adding, “privately.”

Constance gives the police officer a quizzical look. She thinks about Joanne Evans having just given her son, Ricky, over to Anna-Maree Axe. Was he here to take Ricky away from the family already?

“I’m not sure…” Constance starts.

“Trust me,” Sergeant Anders says, pushing his way past Constance into the house, “you’ll want to hear me out.”

Constance huffs as she looks out at Joanne Evans and Valerie Pickering fading into the distance down the hill and then closes the front door.


“Drake!” Amber screams out loud. “Run! Run and get help!” She can hear her son exit the broken window and his small footsteps pound against the outside pavement.

Doctor Smith manages to get to his feet. He stands over Amber Harp, pushing the weight of his leg onto her arm to restrain her.

Amber struggles with the weight upon her. She also chokes from the acrid smoke engulfing the small room she is trapped in.

She is dragged to her feet by Doctor Smith and before she knows it, she is lying face down on the backyard’s grass. She feels a sense of relief that she is now outside the burning house, but afraid of her captor’s intention and fearful for her son’s safety.

“You should have kept well away!” Doctor Smith demands. “This is what happens when you go sticking your nose into everything!”

Amber pants heavily, her face flush with the grass, the taste of dirt sitting on her lips. She finds it difficult to see the stars in the night sky through the thick smoke filling the backyard.

The sound of the house collapsing just metres from them echoes in Amber’s ears. Doctor Smith’s heavy knee still sits in her upper back. She cannot move.

“You had no right to kill my husband!” Amber grits her teeth into the dirt. She feels brave, regardless of her current situation. Her son, she knows, has escaped.

Doctor Smith pushes her face further into the grass. “I warned you!” he spits.

In the distance, Amber can hear a siren. Rescue is on its way. A smile crosses her face.

“You can come with me!” Doctor Smith pulls her from the ground suddenly. He pulls her body around and marches her further into the backyard.

Beyond the back fence, the dense bushland beckons them both. Doctor Smith forces Amber over the fence and into the bush. The undergrowth scratches her legs as she is forced further into the darkness. Away from safety.

Amber tries to struggle, but Doctor Smith is too strong.

“Keep walking,” he instructs her.

The fire quickly engulfs the whole building and before long all that remains is a pile of ash.


Akemi rushes up the emergency exit stairs of her newly-completed complex. She pants heavily as each step seems to become harder and harder to make. She finally reaches the top of the internal stairs and pushes open the exit door leading out onto the building’s fourth floor rooftop.

She quickly looks around in the darkness, hoping to find what she has come looking for.

Her eyes take a few moments to adjust to the darkness, having just exited the lit stairway.

She takes a step out onto the rooftop and looks around again.

On the ground, there are droplets of something dark in colour. She reaches for the emergency lighting switch and instantly the rooftop is awash with bright light.

The droplets of blood lead Akemi along the rooftop. She follows as the trail of blood travels closer to the roof’s edge.

The blood drops suddenly stop.

In front of her, the image she saw earlier on the roof is no longer dark. She can see the attacker clearly in the full light.

Akemi holds her breath as she looks to the attacker’s hand. A large knife covered in blood is gripped tightly in it.

“You?” Akemi struggles to say. She is confused. “But how could you have done this?”

She looks to the bloodied knife again as the attacker’s hand moves upward.

Doctor Peter Smith’s eyes penetrate her soul.


Next Episode – Monday May 21

Episode Seventy-Eight

Avoid Spoilers! Read from Episode One

Act 3

Akemi Helling struggles in the water for a few moments before pulling herself out over the side of the pool. She crawls over to the side of the building. A body lying on the pavement is still. Blood is quickly beginning to pool beneath it.

Akemi instinctively looks up to the roof and sees a dark figure back away from the edge quickly.

“Help!” Akemi calls out loudly. “I need help!”

In front of her, Akemi can see a lifeless body. She rolls the body over to face her and recognises who it is immediately.

“Oh, my God!” Akemi screams. “Help! Somebody! Help!”

Through the doors leading into the building, Akemi suddenly sees a security guard running out towards her.

“Call an ambulance!” Akemi screams at him. “We need help here!”

The security guard grabs out his mobile phone and dials for emergency assistance. Akemi leans in close to the bloodied body, trying to look for any signs of life.

“Come on, please still be with me!” Akemi pleads.

She suddenly hears a sound coming from the rooftop again. She looks up towards it and notices a dark figure again.

“Where are you going?” the security guard asks Akemi as she heads towards the building’s doors.

“I’m heading up to the rooftop to find out who is up there,” Akemi calls back. “You stay here.”

“I don’t think it’s wise to go up by yourself, Ms Helling.”

“I need to find out who did this to her!”


“Take Ricky for me,” Joanne Evans steps towards Anna-Maree Axe and pushes her son forward.

“Joanne?”

“I need to keep him from Wendy Evans,” Joanne explains, placing Ricky in Anna-Maree’s arms. “If you’re Ricky’s biological grandmother, then there won’t be a legal problem with you taking him.”

“But…”

“You would be saving Ricky’s life.” Joanne kisses her son on his forehead. “If Wendy ever got hold of him, I’d never see him again.”

“Are you sure you want to do this, Joanne?” Constance asks, watching on as Anna-Maree holds her biological grandson for the first time.

“No, but I need to do something to keep him from Wendy,” Joanne offers.

Anna-Maree smiles down at Ricky. He peers back at her with uncertainty. “Hello, there.”

“Please take good care of him,” Joanne instructs Anna-Maree. “I’ll be back for him in a couple of days once this custody issue is sorted.”

“Joanne, it could go on for weeks, months even,” Constance says.

Joanne looks at her son one last time before leaving the house. “I won’t let it.”


As the fire engines arrive at what was once the house belonging to Amber Harp’s sister, Olivia, darkness shields at first the devastation that has taken place.

Once emergency lighting has been set up, it becomes evident just how quickly the fire had taken hold of the house and how little of it has been left standing.

The blue and red lights from the emergency vehicles ignite the neighbourhood.

“She was in the spare bedroom,” Amber’s sister, Olivia tells a police officer. “With her son, Drake.”

“Maybe your sister was able to escape?” the officer points out.

Olivia wipes tears from her face. “It wasn’t possible. They would have been trapped.”

“Why?” the police officer asks an increasingly distraught Olivia.

Olivia puts a hand to her forehead. A large purple wound sits above her right eye. “I was attacked by someone. I was knocked out and came to just in time to get out myself. Amber and Drake were locked in the bedroom.”

“Locked?” the officer asks curiously. “Do you know who attacked you?”

Olivia holds her injury with her hand. “I didn’t see him, but there’s only one person it could have been. I was protecting my sister, you see, and her son. They were in grave danger. I was trying to protect them.”

“I don’t understand,” the police officer says. “You’ll have to be clearer.”

“I was protecting them from Doctor Peter Smith.”

“Smith?” the officer repeats. “The Poetry Predator?”

“Yes!” Olivia screams. “I knew he would hurt her!”

Police investigators shine their torches into the burnt building’s rubble, searching for Amber and her son, Drake.

“Doctor Smith attacked me and then set fire to my house!” Olivia screams out in anguish. “He’s killed my sister!”

“Over here!” an investigator suddenly shouts as he shines his torch into the smoky rubble. “I think we’ve got something!”


As Joanne exits the front door of Constance Helling’s house with her aunt, Valerie Pickering, they are encountered by a familiar face.

“Joanne?” Sergeant Michael Anders says.

“Sergeant,” Joanne says politely to him, not able to look him in the eyes. She feels a rush of panic and hopes that the police officer isn’t here to take her child away.

“Beautiful night,” Sergeant Anders says, looking up into the clear night sky. He sees the bright stars twinkling up above.

“Yes,” Joanne manages.

“Sorry, Sergeant,” Valerie suddenly says, “but we must get going.”

“Of course, I won’t hold you up,” Sergeant Anders says. “I came to see Constance.”

As Joanne and Valerie hurry off, Joanne turns to her aunt, panicked. “Do you think he’s here to take Ricky?”

Valerie tries to reassure her niece. “I doubt it. He’s on our side, remember.”


Akemi rushes up the emergency exit stairs of her newly-completed complex. She pants heavily as each step seems to become harder and harder to make. She finally reaches the top of the internal stairs and pushes open the exit door leading out onto the building’s fourth floor rooftop.

She quickly looks around in the darkness, hoping to find what she has come looking for.

Her eyes take a few moments to adjust to the darkness, having just exited the lit stairway.

She takes a step out onto the rooftop and looks around again.

On the ground, there are droplets of something dark in colour. She reaches for the emergency lighting switch and instantly the rooftop is awash with bright light.

The droplets of blood lead Akemi along the rooftop. She follows as the trail of blood travels closer to the roof’s edge.

The blood drops suddenly stop.

In front of her, the image she saw earlier on the roof is no longer dark. She can see the attacker clearly in the full light.

Akemi holds her breath as she looks to the attacker’s hand. A large knife covered in blood is gripped tightly in it.

“You?” Akemi struggles to say. She is confused. “But how could you have done this?”

She looks to the bloodied knife again as the attacker’s hand moves upward.


Next Episode – Monday May 14

Episode Seventy-Seven

Avoid Spoilers! Read from Episode One

Act 2

“Are you ready to have something to eat yet?” Charles King leans down over the stranger, whose binds still hold them captive to the bed.

“I’m not hungry,” the stranger replies, trying not to look their captor in his eyes.

“Oh, come on,” Charles King sulks. “You have to eat. Besides, I’ve been cooking this all day for you.” He pushes a plate of roast vegetables towards the stranger.

“When are you going to let me go?” the stranger asks, trying not to sound fearful.

Charles King looks at the stranger, then to the bedroom’s window. Beyond the glass pane, there is darkness. A few stars twinkle in the night sky. “What? You want to go right now?” he laughs. “I can’t let you go right now. It’s too dark – you’d get lost.”

“Please,” the stranger begs, “I’m so thankful that you saved me, but…”

“Is that all the gratitude I get?” Charles King raises his voice. “Nothing for you then!” With that, he takes the plate of vegetables and tips the contents onto the floor where his three dogs eagerly eat it up.

“Please,” the stranger continues to beg, “I’m sorry, it’s just…”

“You’re not sorry!” Charles King snaps. “You want to hurt me.”

“No, no, that’s not true!” the stranger attempts to argue. The stranger tries to be brave.

“You don’t even know who you are!” Charles King says.

“You showed me my driver’s licence,” the stranger reminds him.

“But you don’t actually remember who you are,” Charles King continues. “If I hadn’t shown it to you, you wouldn’t even know who you are.”

The stranger lies in the bed, looking up at Charles King feeling defeated. It was true, without the photo identification, it was hard for the stranger to remember anything about themselves or their life prior to this point.

“You can’t leave just yet,” Charles King goes on. “Not until you get your memory back. You’re going to stay here with me and I’m going to look after you.”

The stranger sighs silently. They had tried hard. Just like the many other times before this one. Maybe one day the stranger would succeed and finally gain Charles King’s trust. Until then, they would stay here. There wasn’t any other option at the moment.

Charles King gives a final look at the stranger before turning off the light and closing the door. “Sweet dreams.”


“You claim to be my mother?” Joanne Evans asks Anna-Maree Axe.

“Yes, your biological mother,” Anna-Maree confirms. “You were involved in an unfortunate mix-up at the hospital. Annette Pickering never died having you, Joanne. She died giving birth to Melody Walker.”

“This was all your fault?” Joanne looks at Constance Helling.

Constance looks at Joanne, shakes her head slightly before stuttering, “The mix-up was my fault, yes, but I never meant for it to happen. It was an honest mistake, Joanne. Please believe me.”

“So Sylvia Jessop and Doctor Smith’s child is actually Melody Walker?” Joanne asks Anna-Maree.

“That’s right. I took Melody home with me, thinking she was my own,” Anna-Maree explains. “Only she was known as Phoebe Strong then.”

“My life could have been so different,” Joanne says softly, looking lovingly at her son, Ricky.

“It’s not too late to make up for lost time,” Anna-Maree says as she steps up close to Joanne. She wants to give Joanne a hug but fears she may be going too fast too soon. “If there’s anything I can do to help…”

“Well, actually, there is something.” Joanne looks from her son to her aunt, Valerie Pickering, and then Constance Helling before adding, “Ricky is in danger of being taken from me.”

“I’ve heard about the court proceedings for custody over Ricky,” Anna-Maree confirms.

“Richard’s mother, Wendy Evans, thinks she can take Ricky from me,” Joanne says angrily, “but she doesn’t know who she’s messing with!”

“What do you need me to do?” Anna-Maree asks.

“Take Ricky for me,” Joanne steps towards Anna-Maree and pushes her son forward.

“Joanne?”

“I need to keep him from Wendy Evans,” Joanne explains, placing Ricky in Anna-Maree’s arms. “If you’re Ricky’s biological grandmother, then there won’t be a legal problem with you taking him.”

“But…”

“You would be saving Ricky’s life.” Joanne kisses her son on his forehead. “If Wendy ever got hold of him, I’d never see him again.”


Crack.

The bolt trapping Amber Harp and her son, Drake, slides across the outer side of the door.

Amber looks to the plate of food that had been delivered by her sister, Olivia.

Drake has already started to eat it, for he is hungry. Only a handful of small meals during the day meant that Amber and Drake were feeling malnourished.

“Eat up,” Amber says to her son as she brushes his hair with her fingertips. “You can have my portion too.”

“Are you not hungry?” Drake asks.

“Not tonight,” Amber lies. She wants her son to have all the energy he can get.

Amber rarely heard loud noises coming from outside the enclosure she and her son were in, but something about the sound she suddenly hears makes her heart stop. She hushes Drake.

There is a sound as if a commotion is taking place. Some loud bangs.

Amber runs quickly to the door, pressing her ear against it to hear more clearly. The sound is muffled, though, and she finds it difficult to hear anything that makes sense.

“What is it, mum?” Drake asks.

“Sshh,” Amber hushes. She’s intent on finding out what’s happening.

“What’s that smell?” Drake is persistent.

Amber sniffs the air. She smells it too. She looks down to her feet. Underneath the door, smoke starts to filter into the room.

The door she is leaning on suddenly feels warm – hot even.

“There’s a fire out there,” Amber tells her son, panicked. She begins to bang on the door. “Let us out!”

Drake runs to Amber’s side and begins banging on the door as well. Acrid smoke continues to fill the room. Amber pulls her shirt up to shield her face from the smoke and urges Drake to do the same.

“Help us!” Amber screams as loud as she can.

On the outside of the door there are roaring and popping noises as the fire takes hold of Olivia’s house.

The smoke becomes thick and Amber’s eyes water. She can no longer even see her son who is standing next to her.

“I love you, mum,” Drake manages to cough.

Amber grabs hold of her son and holds him close to her. “I love you too, honey!”

The fire quickly engulfs the whole building and before long all that remains is a pile of ash.


Next Episode – Monday May 7

Episode Seventy-Six

Avoid Spoilers! Read from Episode One

Act 1

“Has it been hidden?” Akemi Helling asks her assistant.

They both stand in the courtyard of the newly built hotel situated on the bank of the Helling River in the town of Peppercorn Patch. The complex towers them on all four sides and Akemi can see the numerous balconies of the apartments look down to where she is standing in its centre.

The assistant looks at Akemi and then points to the swimming pool in the middle of the courtyard. “It’s been buried.”

Akemi laughs, looking over to where the swimming pool is being filled with water pumped in from the local firefighting engine. “Buried?”

“Yes, underneath the pool,” the assistant confirms.

“That’s brilliant,” Akemi laughs again. “Under all that water and concrete, it will never come to the light of day again!”

The assistant gives Akemi a smile, before looking to his feet. “Preparations are on schedule for tomorrow’s grand opening, Ms Helling.”

“Wonderful!” Akemi says excitedly. “Just make sure you do a once over of all the rooms again and make sure nothing is out of place. We only get to make a first impression once, so it better be a good one. Our whole livelihoods may just depend on the success of this hotel.”

“Yes, Ms Helling,” the assistant says, before hurrying off to follow his boss’s orders.

Akemi Helling looks over to the pool again. The rushing water hitting the concrete brings a smile to her face. Soon enough this complex will be filled with families and holidaymakers oblivious to what is buried underneath the large concrete hole they will be swimming in.

Akemi turns to walk out and sees a gardener looking at his mobile phone. “I don’t pay you to stand there and do nothing!” Akemi shouts at him. “We open tomorrow morning. Hurry up and get these gardens finished!”

The gardener pushes his mobile phone begrudgingly into his pocket. He continues tending to the Japanese-inspired garden he has been busy preparing.


“Quick!” Joanne Evans calls out to her aunty, Valerie Pickering.

Valerie huffs as she tries to race up the hill behind her niece. “I’m…” she pants, “…coming as fast as I can.”

Joanne holds her 18 month year old son, Ricky, in her arms awkwardly as she too pants up the hill.

Before long, they reach their destination. They step up to the front door of the house. Breathing out heavily, Joanne looks at her aunty and knocks on the door with trepidation. “Let’s hope this works.”

There is a few seconds of silence before Joanne knocks again, this time impatiently.

An outside light illuminates the front of the house on the hill. Constance Helling opens the front door.


Crack.

The bolt sliding makes a loud noise. Amber Harp knows that noise well. It means that the door to the room would open.

Amber’s sister, Olivia, enters the windowless room carrying a tray of food for her sister and Amber’s ten-year-old son, Drake.

From their position on the bed, Amber and Drake rise slowly. The weeks of confinement meant that they were growing weaker.

Olivia places the tray on the table and heads to exit the room.

“When will we be allowed out?” Amber asks weakly, holding her son close to her.

“When it’s safe, Amber,” Olivia says. “I’m doing this to protect you both.”

“We need sunlight, Olivia,” Amber tries to plead to her sister. “We can’t stay in here indefinitely.”

Olivia turns to exit the room again, but stops. “Doctor Peter Smith is still out there, Amber. While he’s still allowed to roam freely around, neither Drake nor yourself are safe.”

“I can look after myself,” Amber retorts, trying to act strong.

“He’s too clever for you,” Olivia replies. “Look what happened to your husband, Steven.”

Amber looks to her hands. If she hadn’t noticed they were shaking before, she now did. She holds back tears as a memory of her late husband tries to take over her thoughts. She decides to hold her son closer to her.

“If I was out of here, Olivia, I’d be able to take care of myself. I’d be able to take care of Drake. I’d go hunting him down and kill that bastard myself!”

“That’s why I can’t let you out right now,” Olivia says. “I’m afraid that I’d lose you both if it didn’t work out the way you planned.”

Olivia closes the door behind her, exiting the room and silencing her sister’s pleas.


“Please, you need to help!” Joanne pleads to Constance Helling when the front door is opened.

“Joanne?” Constance is baffled.

“I need your help to save Ricky!” Joanne pleads again.

Constance looks down to see Ricky in Joanne’s arms. The young boy seems to be startled.

“I’m not sure how I can help you,” Constance says to Joanne.

“Constance, cut the crap!” Valerie suddenly interjects angrily. “You know how you can help Joanne and Ricky!”

Constance looks at Valerie, almost preparing to reply, but instead ushers the trio into her house. “How do you even know if this will work?” she asks.

“We won’t know unless we try,” Joanne replies, following Constance down the hallway and into the living room.

“Well, I’ll go see if she’s ready,” Constance says as she disappears down the back of the house.

Joanne stops at the large windows overlooking the town below them. The streetlights and lights of the buildings sparkle in the darkness. Valerie stands next to her and takes her hand, firmly giving her support.

Constance reappears a minute later. Another woman follows behind.

“Joanne?” the woman says timidly.

Joanne looks suddenly around at the direction of the voice. Joanne sees the woman for the first time. It was no longer just a myth. The woman was actually standing in front of her. Only recently she had learnt the truth. And at last she was able to see it with her own eyes.

“Anna-Maree?” Joanne asks the woman.

“That’s what I go by these days, but most people know me by the name of Heather Strong,” the woman replies.

“You claim to be my mother?” Joanne asks Anna-Maree Axe.

“Yes, your biological mother,” Anna-Maree confirms. “You were involved in an unfortunate mix-up at the hospital. Annette Pickering never died having you, Joanne. She died giving birth to Melody Walker.”


The courtyard lights illuminate the swimming pool complex. Akemi Helling is proud of what she had achieved. A little over two years ago, this land was little more than a flailing caravan park. Now it was home to a multi-million dollar apartment complex that was sure to be Akemi’s defining feat.

Akemi strolls through the courtyard’s garden, checking one last time before tomorrow morning’s official opening. A large number of residents from both Peppercorn Patch and Holgate were due to be in attendance. The hotel was the exact tourism boost the town needed.

As Akemi is about to head inside the building, she catches a flash of light from the building’s roof. She squints up to the building’s fourth-storey roof-top. The light is gone.

Suddenly there is a scream.

Akemi rushes to the side of the building, running over newly laid turf that sinks a little under her feet.

Akemi tries to hold her breath to hear any other sounds. Silence.

The building should be empty, except for the security guards manning the boundary.

Another scream.

Akemi leaps into the pool just in time. The falling body plummets to the ground where she was once standing.

Akemi struggles in the water for a few moments before pulling herself out over the side of the pool. She crawls over to the side of the building. A body lying on the pavement is still. Blood is quickly beginning to pool beneath it.

Akemi instinctively looks up to the roof and sees a dark figure back away from the edge quickly.

“Help!” Akemi calls out loudly. “I need help!”

In front of her, Akemi can see a lifeless body. She rolls the body over to face her and recognises who it is immediately.

“Oh, my God!” Akemi screams. “Help! Somebody! Help!”


Next Episode – Monday April 30

Episode Seventy-Five

Avoid Spoilers! Read from Episode One

Prologue

It hadn’t always been this way for Charles King.

But, alas, this is how it now was.

The reclusive 45 year old had kept to himself for many years. The only companions he had were his three dogs – all greyhounds – Mist, Jade and Indigo.

Charles King’s house was hidden from the outside world, nestled in the Holgate National Park and surrounded on every side by forest.

This is how he had chosen to live. And he couldn’t see how his life could be any different.

That is, of course, until the stranger arrived.

The stranger would change everything for Charles King.


The wet muddy ground is compressed under the weight of Charles King’s hiking boots. The heavy rain drums down fiercely upon his raincoat. The endless rain seems to penetrate the waterproof material.

“You three!” Charles King calls out to his dogs as they continue to race away from him. “Get back here!”

In his hand, Charles holds the dogs’ leads. He usually lets them off to go for a run around freely, but they seem to have a mind of their own today. The storm seemed to be making them have a mind of their own.

Charles King continues to chase after the dogs through the forest. Wet branches scratch his face as he tries to shield it with his hands.

He couldn’t let these three get away. There was no way of knowing where they would end up out here. He also knew the park rangers around here carried rifles and would probably shoot the dogs on the spot if they approached them.

“Mist! Jade! Indigo!” he calls out again, becoming impatient. He is slowed by the thick mud forming on the ground. It is becoming difficult to hear as well because of the ferocious noise of the rain falling on the trees. The sound of drumming water becomes deafening as Charles steps up to the water’s edge. He has reached the river. It is the same river that runs through the small township downstream; it is known as The Helling River.

He sees the dogs upstream. The three of them are pulling at something on the river’s bank.

It is slippery and as Charles King edges closer to where the dogs are located, he sinks in the mud. He worries that he’s going to lose a boot.

“Get over here!” he yells at the dogs again. The dogs ignore him and continue to pull at something, sniffing the area meticulously.

Charles King gets closer, squinting through the rain trying to see what the dogs are so curious about. He wipes the rain off his face, grunting to himself as he does so. The dogs suddenly back off. They know their place in this family, and Charles is boss.

Charles reaches down to the pile of drenched clothing.

“Good find, girls,” he says to his dogs as he lifts the almost lifeless body up onto his shoulders. “Let’s get this one inside before they expire.”

Charles King has just altered his destiny.

Charles King has just rescued the stranger.


Charles King grew up with two loving parents and received the best education available to him. Throughout his schooling, there was a small group of students whom he considered to be his friends. His parents had assisted him with gaining employment on his graduation from high school and he was even enrolled to undertake a university degree in medicine.

Despite all this, Charles King’s life was so different to how everyone, including himself, expected it to be.

He didn’t need anyone else, he had often told himself, for he had his canine companions.


The old wooden house was small, but Charles King made do with what he had. The three dogs slept together on the floor at the end of his bed. His bed was nothing much – just an old mattress that had seen better days, but it didn’t bother him as he did not sleep much. He just hoped the stranger wouldn’t find the sleeping arrangements too uncomfortable. Though, in honesty, anything was better than lying face down on the riverbed with endless rain making your skin soggy. He felt as if he could slide the stranger’s skin off straight off their body.

The dogs didn’t seem to be happy either, as Charles King had given the stranger all the blankets he could manage to find – including theirs. They looked at him suspiciously when he took it from their bed. “Well you found our stranger,” Charles King had said to them when they give him an incredulous look, “it’s your fault I’m taking these blankets.”

The stranger hadn’t awoken yet, but it had only been half an hour since they had returned from outside. Charles King was patient. He would wait as long as it would take.

Besides, it wasn’t every day that he was able to rescue someone from their ultimate death.

The stranger, for now, slept peacefully.


The storm passed that evening and the heavy rain eventually subdued. Only a light spray continued on into the evening and into the next morning.

Charles King busily emptied the five buckets situated around the building to collect the leaking rainwater into the water tank on the side of the house. He left one of the buckets for the dogs to drink out of. “From the heavens,” he says to the stranger as he fills an empty glass jar full of the water. He pushes it to the stranger’s lips. The still sleeping visitor does not respond by drinking and the water spills down the stranger’s face. Impatiently, Charles King pours the remaining water over them. “Wake up!”

The three dogs howl in unison.


Charles King was growing impatient. He no longer wanted to wait. He wanted the stranger to wake up. Wake up now.


When the stranger awoke, Charles King wanted to know about it. He didn’t want to miss out on finding out about his new companion.

The rope he tied around the stranger’s hands and feet and attached to the bed frame ensured the stranger could not escape.

The stranger belonged to him now.


“Wakey, wakey!” Charles King pours more water on the stranger’s face.

The stranger is sure to wake any day now. How much longer is he going to have to wait?

The stranger stirs, trying not to drown in the onslaught of water. Not able to move their hands or feet, their face twitches and contorts as the water invades their eyes, nose and mouth.

Mist, the largest of the dogs, jumps on the bed and licks the water from the stranger’s face.

“Well,” Charles King laughs heartily, looking at all three of his dogs, “at least you’ll have some food if this one never wakes up.”

All three dogs lick their lips in anticipation. Charles King can’t help but lick his lips in unison.


The stranger murmurs.

The stranger tries to pull their hands to their face, but the ropes hinder them.

“Good morning,” Charles King says, placing a bowl of pumpkin soup on the bedside table. “Made with pumpkins grown from my garden.”

The stranger opens their eyes, made harder by the fact they can’t rub them.

“Here,” Charles King says, using a wet cloth to wipe the stranger’s face, “let me help.”

The stranger looks around the room, confused. The three dogs sit uninterested in the corner. Charles King strokes the stranger’s legs. “I’m Charles.” He smiles at the stranger. His rotten teeth force the stranger to grimace, if only for a moment.

“What’s your name?” Charles King asks.

The stranger pulls at an arm, realising their captivity. The stranger is uncertain.

“I will let you free you soon,” Charles King tries to comfort his visitor. “I didn’t want you to hurt yourself.”

The stranger lets out another murmur. Charles King pushes a glass jar of water to the stranger’s mouth and the water is drained instantly. “You must be thirsty,” Charles King says. “Let me get you another.”

Charles King leaves the room.

The stranger can’t help but keep an eye on the dogs.

Where am I? the stranger thinks. Their head is still fuzzy and they’re not sure of anything.

The stranger looks around the room, trying to take everything in. They pull at the ropes holding them captive on the bed.

How did I get here? the stranger thinks.

The stranger tries to talk, but a raspy sound only escapes from a sore throat.

“Hush, now!” Charles King says as he enters the room with more water. “You need to rest. You’ve been here for almost a week now. If it wasn’t for me, who knows what would have happened to you.”

Charles King pushes the glass jar to the stranger’s mouth and the stranger swallows the water greedily, feeling the comfort taking hold over the parchedness of their mouth.

“Thanks,” the stranger utters, knowing they probably have to stay on the good side of their captor.

“You talk?” Charles King laughs. “Do you know who you are?”

The stranger sees flashes of a past life. Nothing clear. Nothing in focus.

The stranger can’t remember.

“You have a fractured memory,” Charles King smiles. “I’m here to help you remember.”

The stranger attempts to pull at the ropes again, unsuccessfully.

“Maybe this will help!” Charles King produces a driver’s licence. “Here’s some photo identification.”

The stranger blinks. The stranger blinks again. The stranger tries to take in the photo.

Charles King holds a small mirror up the to the stranger’s face.

The stranger looks into it.

“Recognise anyone?” Charles King asks.

The stranger can see their own reflection in the mirror. Beside the mirror they can see their photo identification. Their name is printed on it.

“It seems you’re quite famous where you’re from,” Charles King says. “Welcome to my humble abode.”


It’s true, it hadn’t always been this way for Charles King.

But, alas, this is how it now was.

This is how he had chosen to live. And he couldn’t see how his life could be any different.

That is, of course, until the stranger arrived.

The stranger would change everything for Charles King.


Welcome back to Peppercorn Patch! Season Seven has begun!

Next Episode – Monday April 23

Season Six Recap

Avoid Spoilers! Read from Episode One

Amber Harp

“Please believe me, Olivia,” Michael Anders urges. “Your sister, Amber Harp, was attacked. Not long after her attack I have reason to believe she was abducted by someone claiming to be her husband, Steven Harp.”

“But, but…” Olivia stutters, “…Steven is dead.”

“I know,” Michael continues. “That’s why I have grave dangers about your sister. I believe she may be in trouble.”

Olivia takes in a deep breath, closes her eyes and then exhales. “Amber is safe,” she says quickly.

“What?” Michael Anders asks.

“My sister and her son, Drake, are both safe,” Olivia confirms.

“What do you mean? Where are they?” Michael is incredulous.

“Look,” Olivia says, peering around the neighbourhood outside and lowering her voice. “I’m not supposed to be telling you this…”

Michael Anders and Valerie Pickering both move in closer to Olivia, trying hard to hear what she is about to tell them.

“…my sister, Amber,” Olivia continues, “is currently in witness protection with her son.”

Michael stares at Olivia, the sudden realisation of events hitting him.

“Her investigation into Doctor Peter Smith’s fraudulent activities was getting too close for comfort. After the attack on her life, she needed to be put away for safe keeping.”

“Put away for safe keeping?” Michael winces.

“She was putting herself in too much danger,” Olivia explains. “She needed to be extracted.”

Behind Olivia, in the doorway, a man suddenly appears. “Is everything okay?” he asks.

Michael Anders recognises the man instantly as the person imitating Amber’s husband, Steven Harp, in the hospital. “Steven?” Michael asks hesitantly.

“No,” Olivia says. “This is my husband, Andy. He helped to extract Amber.”

“I was there, I know,” Michael says. “But why would Amber think that Andy was her husband, Steven?”

“She was so confused after the attack,” Olivia explains. “She’s still getting her memory back, and she’s still having seizures.”

“I want to see her!” Michael suddenly demands.

“You can’t,” Olivia says, “she’s in witness protection. She’s in hiding!”

“I want to know that she’s safe!” Michael says, becoming emotional at the thought of his lover being alone.

“Trust me,” Olivia declares, “she’s safe now.”


Amber Harp sits on the bed with her son, Drake. Outside the locked bedroom door she can hear voices. The murmurs are too low for her to make out who is talking, but she can tell someone is at the front door.

She holds her ten-year-old son close to her. How she had missed seeing him all this time. Now she just hoped it was in different circumstances and she wasn’t a prisoner.

The bedroom window had been boarded up from the outside which meant the room was in constant darkness. Amber had no concept of time and she was beginning to feel defeated.

Her sister, Olivia, had tricked her. By the time Amber realised that the man claiming to be Steven Harp wasn’t her husband, it was too late. She was so confused at the time due to the seizures. She still suffered some memory loss.

Besides, when Olivia’s husband, Andy, threatened that he would hurt her son if she didn’t leave with him, she knew she had no choice. She just hoped that the note that she left Michael Anders would be enough. She was hopeful that he would find her one day.

It’s all a lie. I’m in grave danger. Please come find me.

In the meantime, she would remain a prisoner in her sister’s house.


Joanne Evans

The night of the full moon

Constance Helling tries to control her sudden outburst of grief. Anna-Maree Axe, once known as Heather Strong to Constance, kneels down next to her.

“I need to know the truth once and for all,” Anna-Maree says. “What happened?”

Constance takes in deep breaths, trying to control her sobbing.

“So much was going on that night,” Constance reflects. “Annette Pickering had just died during childbirth and you were giving birth at the same time…”

“Please, just tell me.” Tears start to roll down Anna-Maree’s face.

“I got confused and mixed up the babies,” Constance begins to sob again uncontrollably.

The paternity test reveals that Peter Smith shares no genetic material with Joanne Evans. Peter Smith, therefore, cannot be Joanne’s biological father.

“Joanne Evans,” Constance continues to cry, “is your real daughter!”


“What are you doing here?” Joanne asks her uninvited guest. “At this hour?”

Wendy Evans steps into the house and smiles politely at Joanne.

“If I knew that you were coming…” Joanne says, pulling the dressing gown belt tighter around her waist.

“Please, Joanne,” Wendy interrupts.

Joanne looks at her mother-in-law, confused. Her late husband, Richard, had not spoken to his mother for a while before he had been killed. Wendy could never understand why Richard had moved from Holgate to Peppercorn Patch when he met Joanne.

“What are you doing here Wendy?” Joanne repeats.

“You’ve lied Joanne,” Wendy says coldly. “You haven’t been telling the truth about my son.”

Joanne is speechless. She is unsure of what Richard’s mother is trying to tell her.

“Ricky is already 18 months old and I only just found out that he is Richard’s son?” Wendy fires at Joanne. “Your games are unfair!”

“You don’t understand,” Joanne tries to tell Wendy. “You see, Kyle came onto the scene and…”

“Enough, Joanne,” Wendy exhales. She extracts a signed document from her handbag, pushing it into Joanne’s hands. “A court order allowing me to take custody of Ricky.”

“What?” Joanne tries quickly to skim through the document.

“You’ve been trying to keep my grandson away from me,” Wendy declares. “Well, not anymore. He’s coming home with me tonight.”

The courtroom judge banging his gavel repeatedly on the bench echoes violently through Joanne’s head.


Melody Walker

“I’m so glad that you could join me,” Melody Walker says to the figure approaching her. “What a beautiful sight.”

“It certainly is,” the figure replies. “It’s such a beautiful town. Shame about the people who live in it, though.”

They both look down upon the town of Peppercorn Patch from the clifftop.

Melody Walker turns to face her visitor. She can just make out his face in the darkness. “I’m so happy that you are my real father,” she says to him. “I always knew that I would finally find you.”

“I’m so glad that you found me,” Doctor Peter Smith replies. “You are the daughter I never had – only now I actually do have you.”

They both look down upon the town again.

“This town will pay for what they’ve down to you, Father,” Melody Walker says through gritted teeth. “They will wish they never messed with us!”


Something is Coming…

Season Seven begins on Monday April 16

Episode Seventy-Four

Avoid Spoilers! Read from Episode One

Gemini
[The 3rd sign of the zodiac; The Twins]

17 years ago

Heather Strong had lived in Holgate for ten years with her family before her daughter became ill. Phoebe Strong was 10 years old when she was diagnosed with a brain tumour. She had been showing symptoms for a few months before her mother finally took her to a doctor to be looked at.

“We’ve run some blood tests,” the doctor said to Heather and Christian Strong. “I’m afraid they show some inconsistencies.”

“What do you mean by inconsistencies?” Christian Strong asked.

“Is Phoebe adopted?” the doctor asked.

“No, I gave birth to her!” Heather replied, scoffing at the doctor’s questioning.

“I don’t think that’s possible, given these results.” The doctor looks at the couple, confounded.


The night of the full moon

“I got confused and mixed up the babies,” Constance Helling sobs to Anna-Maree Axe. “Joanne Evans is your real daughter!”

“I knew it!” Anna-Maree screams angrily at Constance. “All this time you had been denying the truth!”

“I was so ashamed,” Constance cries. “By the time I realised what I’d done, it was too late. You had already left Peppercorn Patch with your husband and daughter, and Benjamin Pickering had just lost his wife. I couldn’t go and tear the one thing he had left away from him.”

“But these children,” Anna-Maree shouts, “you left them without their real families!”

“I know,” Constance sobs again hysterically, “I’m a terrible person.”


17 years ago

“What does the doctor mean by Phoebe not being our biological child?” Christian Strong asks his wife, Heather Strong, once they step out of the doctor’s office.

“I’m sure it’s just a mistake,” Heather tells him. “I’ll call the hospital in Peppercorn Patch straight away and get this sorted out. They’ll be able to send me a record of Phoebe’s birth certificate.”


The night of the full moon

“When Phoebe was sick,” Anna-Maree berates Constance, “I rang you to find out why the doctor told us there were inconsistencies with our genetic material.”

“I remember,” Constance murmurs.

“You told me that everything was fine!” Anna-Maree says emotionally. “You said there must have been a mix up with the tests the doctor had conducted!”

“I know.”

“I asked you for records from the hospital, but you said they had all been destroyed!” Anna-Maree scolds Constance. “Now I know who destroyed them!”

“I’m sorry,” Constance howls. “Please forgive me! I’m sorry!”


17 years ago

“You mean to tell me that you can’t prove that Phoebe is our daughter?” Christian Strong says to his wife.

“The hospital’s records have been destroyed,” Heather Strong informs him.

“Phoebe is not our daughter?”

“She’s our daughter, Christian.” Heather Strong tries to placate her frustrated husband. “She’ll always be our daughter.”

Without saying another word, Christian Strong turns his back on his wife and walks out of the house. That same afternoon, he checked himself into the hospital for mental illness patients; Holgate Bedlamites.


10 years ago

Heather Strong had spent many years adapting. Adapting to her husband’s rapid spiral into depression and disappearance. She was now making of life what she could. She realised that life was too short to have regrets, and she never again made contact with Christian Strong.

She had survived. Heather Strong had survived her husband’s sudden departure. She had also survived the anguish of watching her daughter struggle.

Phoebe Strong had also survived.

Phoebe Strong, now 17 years old, had survived her brain tumour ordeal. Luckily, her life had been spared. She had been through so much herself and felt mentally much older than her biological age. Phoebe, like her mother, hadn’t had contact with her father. She felt somewhat angered by the fact that her mother wouldn’t allow her to see her father.

“Phoebe, honey,” Heather would say to her daughter, “your father ran off years ago. I have no idea where he is now.”

“I want to know him. I want to see him,” Phoebe would say.

“It’s a waste of time, honey,” Heather would confide in her daughter. “He wasn’t here for you when you needed him most. He ran off and wasn’t the father he should’ve been.”


The night of the full moon

“All Phoebe wanted was to see her dad,” Anna-Maree sits down on the grass next to Constance Helling. The moonlight casts a bright glimmer across the river in front of them. “I never expected that their eventual encounter would lead to so much torment.”

“Torment?” Constance asks.

“When Phoebe finally tracked her father down in Holgate Bedlamites, he had been a patient for many years,” Anna-Maree explains. “He wasn’t the same person anymore.”

“You’ve had much heartache,” Constance puts her hand on Anna-Maree’s knee, attempting to reach out to her old friend.

“Phoebe went there expecting to reunite with her father,” Anna-Maree continues, “only to find the shell of the man once known as Christian Strong. He confessed everything to her, telling her that she was not our biological daughter.”

Constance closes her eyes, a stream of tears still managing to pour down her face.

“Phoebe was already mentally unbalanced,” Anna-Maree adds. “The years of surgery for her brain tumour had resulted in her own mental illness battles. She reacted to the news badly, thinking that I had betrayed her by not telling her the truth. Shortly after that, she faked her own death and framed me for her murder.”

“Why did Christian ultimately confess to Phoebe’s murder?” Constance asks, bewildered.

“I guess he felt guilty,” Anna-Maree explains. “Maybe he thought that it was his fault for Phoebe reacting the way that she did.”

“I see.”

“In any case, I will fight to free Christian from his wrongful conviction. Phoebe was never killed. She’s alive and well, and I know she’s been here recently. Phoebe changed her name to Melody Walker not long after Christian was convicted and she’s been on the run ever since. I need to find her so that she can get the help she needs!”

“Whatever I can do to help,” Constance offers.

Anna-Maree turns to face Constance. “If we don’t find her soon, I’m afraid more people will be seriously injured, or even killed!”


Present Day

Melody Walker looks down at the town of Peppercorn Patch from her vantage point high up on the hill.

As she looks at the town, she reflects on the carnage. It wasn’t her fault, of course, that she had been driven to kill.

When she thought her life was finally back on track after changing her name from Phoebe Strong and framing her mother for her murder, things had taken a turn for the worse.

Her lover, Mark Gilmore, had to go running back to his stupid wife, Cathy Gilmore, after she had been abducted by The Poetry Predator.

Cathy Gilmore, of course, had to pay the ultimate price.

Melody had screwed up the first opportunity she had to kill Cathy when the bullets from the rifle nearly killed the park ranger, Kelly Driver, instead.

The poisoned cookies she delivered to Cathy almost killer her, however she somehow managed to survive that attack too.

She had to resort to killing a whole lot of people just to get her revenge. When she placed the explosive device in The Grand Hotel on the evening of the beauty pageant, she knew that it would cause destruction, but it wasn’t her fault – she had been forced into a corner and she had to act!

When the dust settled and she found out that Mark Gilmore was the ultimate victim, she was surprisingly satisfied. After all, he had betrayed her love.

Now it was time to take revenge on anyone else that had betrayed her.


“I want to see her!” Michael Anders demands.

“You can’t,” Olivia says. “Amber’s in witness protection. She’s in hiding!”

“I want to know that she’s safe!” Michael says, becoming emotional at the thought of his lover, Amber Harp, being alone.

“Trust me,” Olivia declares, “she’s safe now. You don’t need to worry about her. She’s safe.”


Amber Harp sits on the bed with her son, Drake. Outside the locked bedroom door she can hear voices. The murmurs are too low for her to make out who is talking, but she can tell someone is at the front door.

She holds her ten-year-old son close to her. How she had missed seeing him all this time. Now she just hoped it was in different circumstances and she wasn’t a prisoner.

The bedroom window had been boarded up from the outside which meant the room was in constant darkness. Amber had no concept of time and she was beginning to feel defeated.

Her sister, Olivia, had tricked her. By the time Amber realised that the man claiming to be Steven Harp wasn’t her husband, it was too late. She was so confused at the time due to the seizures. She still suffered some memory loss.

Besides, when Olivia’s husband, Andy, threatened that he would hurt her son if she didn’t leave with him, she knew she had no choice. She just hoped that the note that she left Michael Anders would be enough. She was hopeful that he would find her one day.

It’s all a lie. I’m in grave danger. Please come find me.

In the meantime, she would remain a prisoner in her sister’s house.


Michael Anders pulls his car into Valerie Pickering’s driveway. They had decided to make the return trip to Peppercorn Patch once they had been informed that Amber Harp was now safe in witness protection. They had also had news that Joanne Evans had been acquitted from Kyle Cook’s murder trial. They were both eager to return.

“Thank you for helping out,” Michael says to Valerie as she opens the passenger door.

“It’s the least I could do after what you did for me,” Valerie replies, referring to the kidney that Michael had donated to Valerie’s recent transplant.

“I guess we’ll always have a connection then,” Michael smiles.

Valerie smiles back, before contemplating sullenly. “There’s something I’ve been meaning to tell you.”

“Oh?” Michael says, suddenly curious.

“I’ve wanted to tell you for a long time, only I’ve never quite known how to do it.”

“Valerie, what’s going on?” Michael asks. He looks at Valerie sceptically.

“Well…” Valerie starts. Suddenly, on the outside of the car, Joanne Evans knocks on the window.

Valerie looks out to see toddler Ricky in Joanne’s arms, before wrenching the car door quickly open and hugging her niece. Michael looks on as Joanne leads Valerie into the house, the two reconnecting after a long time apart.

Michael sighs heavily. Valerie had been so close to saying something to him. He throws his head back into the headrest and pushes his eyes closed, trying to hold back tears.

He pulls his wallet out of a pocket and rifles through it, quickly finding the Polaroid picture he had kept in it for as long as he could remember.

Michael Anders unfolds the small picture and looks at the face staring back at him.

He had been given the photo by his foster mother when he was a teenager. It was a photo of his real mother.

Michael Anders looks at the photo of Valerie Pickering. He would do anything for her. He would always look after her.

After all, he had always known the truth about her.


“Joanne Evans!” the courtroom judge yells down at Joanne in the witness stand. “What have you got to say for yourself?”

“I’m not guilty!” Joanne cries.

“I put it to you that you are guilty!” barrister Harvey Dennis suddenly shouts.

“You are guilty, Joanne!” prosecutor Virginia D’Amor chimes in.

“Please, no!” Joanne cries.

“You have to be punished for your crimes, Joanne!” the judge yells. “Your punishment, determined by me, is the removal of your son from your care!”

Joanne suddenly lets out a wail that echoes through the courtroom. “No!”

The judge tries to maintain order of the court by banging his gavel onto the bench repeatedly. Bang. Bang. Bang. Bang.

Joanne is awakened by the sound of banging.

Next to her, Ricky sleeps soundly. She is covered in sweat and realises that she had been having a nightmare.

The banging noise continues as Joanne pulls herself out of bed and heads to the front door, switching on the hallway light as she goes.

Joanne opens the front door and stares in disbelief at the person knocking at her front door.


“I’m so glad that you could join me,” Melody Walker says to the figure approaching her. “What a beautiful sight.”

“It certainly is,” the figure replies. “It’s such a beautiful town. Shame about the people who live in it, though.”

They both look down upon the town of Peppercorn Patch from the clifftop.

Melody Walker turns to face her visitor. She can just make out his face in the darkness. “I’m so happy that you are my real father,” she says to him. “I always knew that I would finally find you.”

“I’m so glad that you found me,” Doctor Peter Smith replies. “You are the daughter I never had – only now I actually do have you.”

They both look down upon the town again.

“This town will pay for what they’ve down to you, Father,” Melody Walker says through gritted teeth. “They will wish they never messed with us!”


“What are you doing here?” Joanne asks her uninvited guest. “At this hour?”

Wendy Evans steps into the house and smiles politely at Joanne.

“If I knew that you were coming…” Joanne says, pulling the dressing gown belt tighter around her waist.

“Please, Joanne,” Wendy interrupts.

Joanne looks at her mother-in-law, confused. Her late husband, Richard, had not spoken to his mother for a while before he had been killed. Wendy could never understand why Richard had moved from Holgate to Peppercorn Patch when he met Joanne.

“What are you doing here Wendy?” Joanne repeats.

“You’ve lied Joanne,” Wendy says coldly. “You haven’t been telling the truth about my son.”

Joanne is speechless. She is unsure of what Richard’s mother is trying to tell her.

“Ricky is already 18 months old and I only just found out that he is Richard’s son?” Wendy fires at Joanne. “Your games are unfair!”

“You don’t understand,” Joanne tries to tell Wendy. “You see, Kyle came onto the scene and…”

“Enough, Joanne,” Wendy exhales. She extracts a signed document from her handbag, pushing it into Joanne’s hands. “A court order allowing me to take custody of Ricky.”

“What?” Joanne tries quickly to skim through the document.

“You’ve been trying to keep my grandson away from me,” Wendy declares. “Well, not anymore. He’s coming home with me tonight.”

The courtroom judge banging his gavel repeatedly on the bench echoes violently through Joanne’s head.


Obnoxious Weeds will return later this year with Season Seven!

Theme Music Composed by Ian Camilleri Music

Episode Illustration by Grey Alexander
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Episode Seventy-Three

Ep 73

Avoid Spoilers! Read from Episode One

Taurus
[The 2nd sign of the zodiac; cautious, practical and purposeful]

“Phoebe is alive,” Anna-Maree Axe tells Constance Helling. “She’s been here recently.”

“Who? Phoebe?” Constance asks.

“Yes, only you probably didn’t recognise her.”

“What are you saying, Heather?” Constance’s head is spinning.

“Joanne is in grave danger. Phoebe is not herself.”

“Not herself?”

“Everyone is in grave danger. Phoebe is ill and needs help,” Anna-Maree continues. “We need to find Phoebe before it’s too late.”

“What has she done?”

“She’s out for revenge,” Anna-Maree finally explains. “Phoebe is out for revenge of anyone that stands in her way – only she’s not referring to herself as Phoebe any longer.”

“Not herself,” Constance nods in understanding.

“My daughter needs help. When was the last time you saw Melody Walker?”

“Melody Walker?” Constance gasps. “Melody Walker is your daughter Phoebe?”

“Yes,” Anna-Maree says. “That’s what I’ve been trying to tell you!”

“Nobody has seen her since the explosion at The Grand Hotel,” Constance informs Anna-Maree.

“I can tell you now that she was probably the one responsible,” Anna-Maree says.

“But why?” Constance asks, unsure.

“She’s not well, Constance. She needs help. She’s out for revenge!”

Constance lowers herself to the ground, still trying to understand the news she has just been given.

“I know it’s hard to understand,” Anna-Maree continues, “but Phoebe faked her own death. She never was quite the same after her operations to save her. The brain tumor left her damaged.”

“How did you know she was here?” Constance asks.

“I read an article in The Holgate Times about The Poetry Predator,” Anna-Maree explains. “It detailed some other incidents that had occurred, such as the shooting of a park ranger in hospital, the suspected poisoning of a nurse and then, finally, the explosion at The Grand Hotel. I knew that Phoebe had to be involved.”

“She has to be stopped before she hurts someone else,” Constance says.

“That’s why we need to find her. That’s why I’m here. And that’s why I need you to tell me the truth!”

Constance looks up at Anna-Maree, a feeling of guilt suddenly wrenching her whole body.


“Please believe me, Olivia,” Michael Anders urges. “Your sister, Amber Harp, was attacked. Not long after her attack I have reason to believe she was abducted by someone claiming to be her husband, Steven Harp.”

“But, but…” Olivia stutters, “…Steven is dead.”

“I know,” Michael continues. “That’s why I have grave dangers about your sister. I believe she may be in trouble.”

Olivia takes in a deep breath, closes her eyes and then exhales. “Amber is safe,” she says quickly.

“What?” Michael Anders asks.

“My sister and her son, Drake, are both safe,” Olivia confirms.

“What do you mean? Where are they?” Michael is incredulous.

“Look,” Olivia says, peering around the neighbourhood outside and lowering her voice. “I’m not supposed to be telling you this…”

Michael Anders and Valerie Pickering both move in closer to Olivia, trying hard to hear what she is about to tell them.

“…my sister, Amber,” Olivia continues, “is currently in witness protection with her son.”

Michael stares at Olivia, the sudden realisation of events hitting him.

“Her investigation into Doctor Peter Smith’s fraudulent activities was getting too close for comfort. After the attack on her life, she needed to be put away for safe keeping.”

“Put away for safe keeping?” Michael winces.

“She was putting herself in too much danger,” Olivia explains. “She needed to be extracted.”

Behind Olivia, in the doorway, a man suddenly appears. “Is everything okay?” he asks.

Michael Anders recognises the man instantly as the person imitating Amber’s husband, Steven Harp, in the hospital. “Steven?” Michael asks hesitantly.

“No,” Olivia says. “This is my husband, Andy. He helped to extract Amber.”

“I was there, I know,” Michael says. “But why would Amber think that Andy was her husband, Steven?”

“She was so confused after the attack,” Olivia explains. “She’s still getting her memory back, and she’s still having seizures.”

“I want to see her!” Michael suddenly demands.

“You can’t,” Olivia says, “she’s in witness protection. She’s in hiding!”

“I want to know that she’s safe!” Michael says, becoming emotional at the thought of his lover being alone.

“Trust me,” Olivia declares, “she’s safe now.”


27 years ago

“You’re going to make a wonderful mother,” the midwife, Constance Helling, tells Heather Strong, handing the baby over to her.

Heather Strong looks at the baby girl in her arms and starts to cry. “She’s beautiful.”

“She looks just like you,” Constance informs her. “She’s got your nose.”

Heather Strong laughs. “She’s too small to have my nose.”

Constance giggles to herself. “Too true. She is way too small to have your nose. But I’m sure one day she’ll look just like you.”


The night of the full moon

“That’s why we need to find her,” Anna-Maree declares. “That’s why I’m here. And that’s why I need you to tell me the truth!”

Constance looks up at Anna-Maree, a feeling of guilt suddenly wrenching her whole body. “The truth?”

“You know what I’m talking about Constance!” Anna-Maree shouts. “Where is the birth certificate? You know what I’ve been looking for this whole time!”


27 years ago

Heather Strong carries her newborn daughter out of the Peppercorn Patch hospital and approaches the car where her husband has arranged to pick her up. She opens the door and secures her daughter into the baby capsule in the backseat of the car.

“It’s going to be so sad to leave this place,” Heather says as she joins her husband in the front of the car. “We’ve made so many good friends here.”

“There’s no work for me here,” Christian Strong reminds his wife. “We need to go to Holgate so I can get a proper job to look after my family.”

“I know,” Heather says, placing a hand on her husband’s knee. “I know you want to look after your new family.”


The night of the full moon

“It was a simple mistake,” Constance says. “By the time I realised what I’d done, it was too late. There was no way I could do anything about it.”

“You stupid woman!” Anna-Maree yells at Constance. “You’ve ruined everybody’s lives!”

Constance collapses to the ground, sobbing uncontrollably. “I’m sorry,” she splutters.


17 years ago

Heather Strong had lived in Holgate for ten years with her family before her daughter became ill. Phoebe Strong was 10 years old when she was diagnosed with a brain tumour. She had been showing symptoms for a few months before her mother finally took her to a doctor to be looked at.

“We’ve run some blood tests,” the doctor said to Heather and Christian Strong. “I’m afraid they show some inconsistencies.”

“What do you mean by inconsistencies?” Christian Strong asked.

“Is Phoebe adopted?” the doctor asked.

“No, I gave birth to her!” Heather replied, scoffing at the doctor’s questioning.

“I don’t think that’s possible, given these results.” The doctor looks at the couple, confounded.


The night of the full moon

Constance Helling tries to control her sudden outburst of grief. Anna-Maree Axe, once known as Heather Strong to Constance, kneels down next to her.

“I need to know the truth once and for all,” Anna-Maree says. “What happened?”

Constance takes in deep breaths, trying to control her sobbing.

“So much was going on that night,” Constance reflects. “Annette Pickering had just died during childbirth and you were giving birth at the same time…”

“Please, just tell me.” Tears start to roll down Anna-Maree’s face.

“I got confused and mixed up the babies,” Constance begins to sob again uncontrollably.

The paternity test reveals that Peter Smith shares no genetic material with Joanne Evans. Peter Smith, therefore, cannot be Joanne’s biological father.

“Joanne Evans,” Constance continues to cry, “is your real daughter!”


Season Final – Monday July 3

Theme Music Composed by Ian Camilleri Music

Episode Illustration by Grey Alexander
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Episode Seventy-Two

Ep 72

Avoid Spoilers! Read from Episode One

Aries
[The 1st sign of the zodiac; determined, impulsive, headstrong, driven and ambitious]

“You’re free to go home, Joanne,” Joel informs her. “The charges against you have been dropped.”

Joanne nearly collapses to the floor with the news. Joel tries hard to hold her up. “I don’t understand…” she stutters.

“Thomas Helling walked into the courthouse just moments ago and gave himself in,” Joel explains. “He’s just been charged with the murder of Kyle Cook.”


“How do we know you’re telling the truth?” prosecution barrister, Virginia D’Amor, interrogates Thomas Helling. “How can we believe that you were responsible for murdering Constable Kyle Cook?”

Thomas Helling closes his eyes and takes a deep breath. He knew that it would eventually all come to this. He could never let his own sister take the blame for what had happened. Joanne Evans may have been the one that had actually killed Kyle Cook, but Thomas knew that he had to take responsibility for the events that had unfolded. He had allowed himself to be brainwashed by Kyle and the least he could do was help his sister.

“You’ll believe me,” Thomas says, “when I show you.”

“Show us what?” Virginia D’Amor asks.

“I can take you there,” Thomas informs the prosecutor.

“Take me where?” Virginia is growing impatient.

“I will show you proof of my involvement.”


Michael Anders pulls his car up to the kerb, pulling the keys out of the ignition. “I think this is the place.”

“Are you sure?” asks Valerie Pickering, who sits opposite him in the passenger seat.

“I found the address among Amber’s belongings.”

“There’s only one way to find out,” Valerie says, starting to the open the car door.

“I just don’t understand!” Michael suddenly shouts. Valerie instinctively pulls the door closed. She looks around to see if anyone has heard them.

“Michael?” Valerie asks, confused.

“I mean,” Michael contemplates, “if Amber’s husband had been killed, then who was that at the hospital? Who did she drive off with?”

“Your guess is as good as mine.” Valerie shrugs. “Maybe this place will give you some answers.”

Michael nods, stepping out of the car and approaching the front door of the house they had parked in front of. Michael knocks on the front door as Valerie rests a hand on his shoulder, a sign of her show of support.

After a few seconds, the front door opens to reveal a woman with dark hair. At first Michael thinks he recognises Amber Harp, but quickly realises that, though the woman has the same eyes as Amber, it was not his lover. “Olivia?” Michael asks the woman.

“Yes,” the woman in the house replies, seemingly unsure of the uninvited guests at her front door.

“Olivia?” Michael asks again. “Are you Amber Harp’s sister?”


Thomas Helling walks along the forest track. His hands, both handcuffed in front of his body, make his stride uneasy as he tries to navigate the uneven ground. His balance is being tested like never before.

Behind Thomas, prosecutor Virginia D’Amor steps gingerly. She realises she should have changed her clothes before attempting their venture into the national park surrounding the town of Peppercorn Patch. She pulls off her dark blue business jacket as she begins to build up a sweat.

“How much longer?” Virginia D’Amor asks Thomas.

“Just around the corner here,” Thomas calls back.

As they round the corner of trees, the five policemen escorting the duo surround Thomas. He lifts both of his handcuffed hands and points his right index finger towards some shrubbery and bushes. “In there,” he says.

Virginia D’Amor steps timidly towards the bushes. She pulls on some latex gloves as she manoeuvres her way across the uneven ground. Using some branches she finds lying on the ground, Virginia pokes her way through the undergrowth. The woody plants scratch her bare arms as she tries to shield her face. As she gets closer, she suddenly sees it.

A skeleton.

Human remains.

Virginia covers her face in horror.

“I killed him,” Thomas explains. “There’s my proof that I’m a murderer.”

Virginia turns to face Thomas Helling. “You killed Inspector Wesley Manning?” she asks.

“Yes,” Thomas says. “I killed Kyle Cook too!”


“Who are you?” Olivia snaps.

“My name is Michael Anders. I’m a police officer based in Peppercorn Patch.”

“What’s this about, then?” Olivia says, annoyed.

“Have you seen your sister, Amber Harp?” Michael asks.

“My sister?”

“Yes,” Michael explains. “We have reason to believe she may be in danger.”

“Danger?” Olivia seems confused. “How so?”

“She was in Peppercorn Patch recently,” Michael explains, “covering the murder of Richard Evans for her story…”

“…she covers lots of stories!” Olivia interrupts.

“I know,” Michael says, trying hard to explain the situation, “but she was attacked.”

“What?” Olivia puts a hand to her forehead, screwing her face up in disbelief.

“Please believe me, Olivia,” Michael urges. “Your sister was attacked. Not long after her attack I have reason to believe she was abducted by someone claiming to be her husband, Steven Harp.”

“But, but…” Olivia stutters, “…Steven is dead.”

“I know,” Michael continues. “That’s why I have grave dangers about your sister. I believe she may be in trouble.”


Joanne Evans forces the front door of her aunt’s house open and rushes inside. Doctor Joel Prasad follows, entering the house with a small bag of clothes and toiletries.

“Cathy?” Joanne shouts into the house, almost sounding too eager.

Joel places the bags down on the floor and rests one of his hands on Joanne’s shoulder. “He’s been well looked after.”

“Cathy?” Joanne calls out again.

Cathy Gilmore had moved into Joanne Evans’ aunt’s house not long after her husband, Mark Gilmore, had been killed in the bombing of The Grand Hotel. All three women had felt they had lost everything – Cathy had lost her husband; Valerie had lost her business; and Joanne had almost lost her freedom.

But one thing had kept them all going.

One thing had kept them all alive.

“Where is he?” Joanne calls out again, impatiently.

From the lounge room, Cathy Gilmore strides towards Joanne. Walking next to her, finding his feet uneasily, walks an 18 month old toddler.

Joanne kneels down to the floor, stretching her arms out and allowing a stream of tears fall down her face.

The toddler looks at Joanne timidly at first, holding onto Cathy’s leg, unsure.

“Come and give mummy a hug!” Joanne sings out as Ricky runs to his mother, giggling with glee.


Four months after the Day of the Wedding

“Joanne,” Constance Helling whispers, waking the sleeping patient. “Do you know what day it is?”

“Huh?” Joanne rubs her eyes as she wakes up.

“It’s the day you get to go home,” Constance says. “Today you get to leave this place.”

Constance sits on the Holgate Bedlamites hospital bed next to Joanne. She places an envelope on Joanne’s lap. “Your test results.”

“My test results?” Joanne is perplexed.

“Remember, you wanted to be tested for Huntington’s Disease.”

Joanne puts a hand to her head. “Oh, yes,” she says. “I almost forgot.”

“Open it in your own time,” Constance says, referring to the envelope with the test results.


Joanne Evans lies in her own bed for the first time in six months. She is so happy to be at home, surrounded by loved ones. She will be forever indebted to her best friend, Cathy Gilmore, for looking after her son, Ricky, while she was locked away in prison awaiting trial for the murder of Kyle Cook.

She rests her head on the pillow, looking over at Ricky sound asleep next to her. The infant makes a slight snoring sound as he rests his head close to hers. How she longed for this moment for months. Finally she was home.

Joanne stares at the ceiling. How had Thomas managed to convince them of his involvement? Joanne thinks to herself. She didn’t like the thought of her brother being locked away for a murder he didn’t commit, but was grateful for his sacrifice. It meant that she could carry on with her own retribution.

Her biological father, Doctor Peter Smith, had been acquitted and let free. She had to find him and stop him before he managed to destroy any more lives.

Before she did that, however, she needed to find out for herself once and for all. Her father had Huntington’s Disease and she needed to find out if she had it too. She needed to know before she ever put her own son at risk.

Joanne’s index finger rips through the yellow envelope as if in slow motion. Joanne breathes heavily as she pulls out the test results. She had been holding on to them for so long in the fear the results would destroy her.

Joanne skims through the results, trying to determine what is written on the piece of paper in front of her.

Joanne holds her breath as she reads the results. Negative to Huntington’s Disease.

A tear falls down her cheek. She is suddenly feeling overwhelmed.

Joanne reads down the report further. She doesn’t quite understand. Another test? she asks herself.

Yes, the Holgate Bedlamites hospital staff had conducted another test. A test that Joanne didn’t even know about.

Joanne pants heavily, holding her chest as the test results flutter to the bedroom floor.

A paternity test.

Joanne feels as though she can’t breathe.

A paternity test conducted on her biological father, Doctor Peter Smith.

The room spins as Joanne continues to clutch her chest.

The paternity test reveals that Peter Smith shares no genetic material with Joanne Evans. Peter Smith, therefore, cannot be Joanne’s biological father.


Next Episode – Monday June 26

Theme Music Composed by Ian Camilleri Music

Episode Illustration by Grey Alexander
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