Episode Fifty-Five

Avoid Spoilers! Read from Episode One

Amber

Sergeant Michael Anders peers through the glass panel of the hospital door. Inside the hospital room he can see Amber Harp sitting on the bed. Sitting on the bed next to her, he can see Amber’s ten-year-old son, Drake. In the chair next to the bed, Amber’s husband, Steven Harp, sits. Smiles all round. They look like a happy, loving family, Michael thinks to himself.

“How’s she doing, Doc?” Michael asks the new local doctor, Joel Prasad.

“She’s still been having the seizures,” Joel tells him. “The medication she’s on seems to be helping and her memory seems to be slowly returning.”

“Positive news, then,” Michael says, continuing to gaze into the room. He watches on as Amber laughs and gives Drake a big hug.

“You miss her, don’t you?” Joel asks.

Michael closes his eyes and drops his head. “It’s silly,” he says.

“Not silly at all,” Joel says. “You loved her a lot.”

“I should be happy for her,” Michael says. “I should be happy for all of them, but I feel so lost without her.”

“It must have been a big surprise.” Joel puts his hand on Michael’s shoulder.

“I wish she had of told me,” Michael sighs. “I’ve never felt this heartbroken.”

“You need something to take your mind off things,” Joel suggests to his new friend. “Why don’t you join me as a judge at tomorrow night’s beauty pageant?”

Michael laughs out loud.

“I’m serious,” Joel adds. “It’ll be fun!”


“Aunty Val,” Joanne Evans whispers as she enters her aunty’s hospital room. “It’s me; Joanne.”

Valerie Pickering stirs from her sleep. She stirs from her heavily medicated sleep. Valerie had been in hospital ever since she had had her life-saving operation to replace her failing kidneys. Michael Anders had been kind enough to spare one of his own to save Valerie. The surgery came at a cost, though. Valerie had been through complication after complication post-surgery. She seemed to be on the mend now, however pain medication was still her best friend.

“My baby Jo,” Valerie slurs groggily, “so nice to see you.”

Joanne assists Valerie to a seated position, takes baby Ricky out of the stroller and places him in her aunty’s lap.

“He’s getting so big,” Valerie says, a tear coming to her eye. “I’m missing him grow up.”

“You’ll be a big part of his life always,” Joanne says, wiping her son’s face. “You’ll love Aunty Val as much as I do, won’t you Ricky?”

Without warning, Valerie’s face tightens and she pushes the baby on her lap towards Joanne. “Please don’t trust me with him!”

“What do you mean, Aunty Val?” Joanne asks, picking Ricky up and holding him in her arms.

“I can’t be trusted,” Valerie cries, almost sounding as if she is in pain. “Only bad things will come if you entrust your baby with me.”

Joanne holds her baby even closer to her body. She laughs nervously. “I’m not sure what you’re trying to tell me, Aunty Val.”

In front of her, Joanne looks on as her aunty throws her body back onto the bed from her seated position. Joanne watches as she sees Valerie’s eyelids twitch and her eyeballs underneath roll back and forth.

“Aunty Val?” Joanne turns to get help but is stopped. She looks down to see Aunty Val’s hand grabbing hold of her arm.

“I can see it, Joanne.” Valerie’s eyes continue to roll. “There will only be tragedy if you leave your baby with me.”

Joanne, unnerved, sets Ricky down in the stroller and reaches out to comfort her aunty. Valerie begins to cough, lightly at first, then becoming uncontrollable.

“I’m going to get you some help!” Joanne says over the loud noise of the coughing. She can see her aunty struggling for breath between each cough.

“It’s so smoky in here,” Valerie says, holding a hand to her throat. “It’s so hard to breathe.”

“There’s no smoke in here, Aunty Val.”

“There will be smoke soon,” Valerie coughs. “Not everyone will survive.”


Joanne is feeling very unsettled after her encounter with her aunty. When she walks out of the hospital room, she spots Doctor Joel Prasad talking with Sergeant Michael Anders.

“Doctor Prasad,” Joanne calls out to the doctor as she pushes the stroller over to the men.

“Hi Joanne,” Joel says. “How’s your aunty?”

“I think she needs some help,” Joanne explains. “She seems to be hallucinating.”

Joel nods reassuringly to Joanne. “A common side effect of the pain medication. A lot of patients think they are seeing things that aren’t actually there.”

“She’s scaring me,” Joanne sniffs. “She’s talking about smoke and people not surviving, and not being trusted with Ricky…”

Joel puts his hand on Joanne’s shoulder. “It’s okay, Joanne,” he says to her. “I could only imagine how you would be feeling. Watching your loved one like that must be hard. Let me go in and check on her. I’ll go and make sure she’s comfortable.”

“I’d appreciate that,” Joanne says as she watches the doctor head into her aunty’s room.

“You need something to keep your mind off things,” Sergeant Anders suddenly says.

“Like what?” Joanne asks, curious.

“Like a beauty pageant.”

Joanne laughs out loud.

“I’m serious,” Sergeant Anders says. “I’m judging, so you’ve got a good chance of winning.”

Michael Anders gives Joanne a big toothy smile. She looks at him sheepishly before returning the smile. “I’m going to have to buy a new dress,” she laughs.


Sergeant Michael Anders watches on helplessly as his lover is escorted down the corridor towards the hospital’s entrance. Amber Harp’s luggage is carried by her husband, Steven Harp. Her young son, Drake, walks next to her, hand in hand.

As she walks past him, Amber’s eyes meet Michael’s for a split second. Michael’s heart beats faster. He wants to grab her. He wants to embrace her. He wants to tell her how much he loves her. But instead he just watches as she exits the hospital, flanked by her family.

Michael follows the Harp family outside, keeping his distance. He watches as Steven Harp loads the car boot with Amber’s bags. Her son races around to the other side of the car and jumps in the back seat. Steven enters into the driver’s seat and starts the engine.

“Time to return home to Holgate,” Michael can hear Steven Harp say to his wife.

Amber puts her hand on the door handle. Before she opens the door, she turns and her eyes meet Michael’s for the second time. She turns back towards the car and opens the door.

“Amber!” Michael suddenly calls out to her.

Amber turns. Michael runs towards her. He puts his arms out and they embrace.

“I’ll always love you,” Michael says, tears welling in his eyes.

Amber looks at him without saying anything. They stare at each other silently for a second before the sound of the car’s horn disrupts them. “Time to go Amber!” Steven Harp shouts impatiently.

Amber pulls away quickly. Michael notices a tear fall down her cheek.

Silently, Amber enters the car and closes the door behind her.

As the car takes off, Michael can see Amber meet his gaze. She mouths the words I love you to him.

Michael brings a hand to his face and wipes the tears from his cheeks. He reaches into his pocket for a tissue. It’s then that he realises that something is in it. A piece of paper. Amber must have slipped it into his pocket while they were hugging each other.

Michael unfolds the piece of paper and reads his lover’s handwriting: It’s all a lie. I’m in grave danger. Please come find me.

Sergeant Michael Anders looks up suddenly from the piece of paper. He looks on as the car holding Amber Harp captive rounds the distant corner and exits the town of Peppercorn Patch.


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Episode Fifty-Four

Avoid Spoilers! Read from Episode One

Henry

June, 1983

Number Six sniffs a couple of times, wipes her face and looks the priest in his eyes.

“What are you talking about, dear?” Father Bolton puts an arm out to try and comfort her.

“I didn’t mean to kill Henry Smart,” Constance Helling weeps.

Father Bolton takes a step back and brings his hand to his mouth in shock. “Constance?” he says, bewildered.

“I killed her, Father,” Constance continues to cry. “I didn’t mean to do it. We were fighting one moment, and the next thing I knew she was on the ground. She hit her head on a rock.”

“Constance,” Father Bolton says, ushering Number Six into his house, “you need to start from the beginning.”


Present Day

Anna-Maree Axe walks down the main street of Peppercorn Patch. Even though it was the middle of winter and cold, the sun was out and it had turned out to be a pleasant day. Anna-Maree’s newly coloured hair was hidden under a beanie. A scarf swamped her neck and sunglasses kept one third of her face hidden.

She passed people in the street. Peppercorn Patch townsfolk who had no idea who she really was. She was now Anna-Maree Axe. And that was how she wanted it to stay.

Anna-Maree had a problem. In fact, Anna-Maree had more than one problem. But she seemed to have dealt with all of the problems that she was faced with. Most of the time she just ran away from her problems.

She now had a loving husband. She wasn’t about to run away from him. But she did need to fix one of her problems first. And that was the reason why she was in Peppercorn Patch.

“Can I help you?” the bank manager asks Anna-Maree as she enters the small bank.

Anna-Maree goes to take her sunglasses off, but stops herself, realising that she needs to keep her identity as hidden as possible. She doesn’t recognise the bank manager standing in front of her, but knows the bank’s cameras would probably be filming her.

“I have a security deposit box,” Anna-Maree says. “I’d like to view it.”

“Of course,” the bank manager says, leading Anna-Maree over to a desk in the back corner of the bank. “I’ll need to see some identification.”

Anna-Maree is suddenly nervous. A wave of fear floods her thoughts. She hands over the false identification to the bank manager.

“Thank you,” the bank manager says, taking the card. “You’ll need to remove your sunglasses.”

Anna-Maree hesitantly slides the sunglasses down her nose and then completely off her face. She pushes them onto the top of her head.

“Thank you, Ms Strong,” the bank manager says, handing back Anna-Maree’s ID and taking a key out of the desk drawer. “Have you got your key with you?”

“Yes,” Anna-Maree rummages through her handbag and pulls out a golden key.

Anna-Maree follows the bank manager through a back door and into the safety deposit room. “Number?” the bank manager asks.

Anna-Maree looks at her key and sees the number engraved at the top of it. “Thirteen,” she tells the bank manager.

The bank manager leads her over to the table in the centre of the room. She takes a seat as her box is retrieved. After the box is placed on the table in front of her, the bank manager slides a key into one end of it. Anna-Maree takes her key and inserts it into the other side. There is a clicking sound as the front of the box separates from the rest of the box.

“I’ll leave you to it, then,” the bank manager says. “Use the phone to call me when you’re done.”

Once the bank manager exits the room, Anna-Maree pulls the box towards her and slides the lid off.

She pulls out some paperwork and quickly flicks through it. She drops the stack of paper on the table and pulls out more, flicking through it as well.

“Where is it?” Anna-Maree says out loud. She pushes the paperwork over the table, frantically searching.

She can feel her face redden as the paperwork on the table is pushed in every direction.

“Please, please!” She says, frantically. “Where in the hell is it?”

Frustrated, Anna-Maree lets out a howl that is only muffled by the thick, soundproof walls of the safety deposit room. As she gets to her feet, she pushes the table away from her, the paperwork and safety deposit box on it flying across the room.


Geraldine Jenkins unlocks the front door of her daughter’s unit and assists her daughter up the front steps.

“You know, you really don’t have to stay,” Mark Gilmore says, carrying his wife’s bags into the house.

“I’m staying for my daughter,” Geraldine snaps. “Someone needs to look after her.”

“I appreciate your offer to help,” Mark says to his mother-in-law, “but Cathy is my wife, and I’m sure I can look after her.”

“Like you’ve looked after Cathy all this time?” Geraldine snaps again. “Good protective husband you are!”

“I didn’t send her the cookies,” Mark protests. “I didn’t poison my wife.”

Geraldine turns to face Mark and wags a finger at him, berating him like a small child. “The police might believe you, but I have my doubts!”

“I don’t want to harm my wife!”

“But cheating on her with that mistress Melanie…”

“Melody,” Mark interrupts.

“…Melody! That was okay, was it?” Geraldine reprimands him. “That wasn’t hurting my daughter?”

“Be quiet! The both of you!” Cathy Gilmore suddenly shouts. She bends down to pat her Ragdoll cat. It purrs and pushes its body through her legs.

After a moment of silence, Geraldine turns to face Mark again. “I’m staying to look after my daughter. She needs me at the moment. I think you’re best off finding other accommodation for the time being.”

“But where would I go?” Mark asks.

“Why don’t you see if Melody has a spare room,” Geraldine quips. “Actually, it probably wouldn’t matter if she didn’t, would it?”


“Number Six came to me,” Father Bolton says to Kelly Driver. “She attacked Henry.”

“But we looked up to her!” Kelly holds back tears. Kelly tries to hold back her anger. “We looked up to Constance.”

“She tried to prevent Henry from leaving.”

“I was supposed to leave with her,” Kelly adds, reminiscing. “Henry wanted me to leave with her.”

“Constance said that she was trying to look after Henry,” Father Bolton explains.

“So she attacked her?” Kelly is incredulous.

“It was an accident,” Father Bolton says. “Constance didn’t mean to hurt her.”

“What happened after that?” Kelly asks, becoming increasingly impatient with the Father who she looked up to as her own ‘father’.


June, 1983

“It was over here,” a 22-year-old Constance Helling says to Father Bolton, leading him to the location where she had attacked Henrietta Smart.

They both step timidly through the dark forest, the glow of the flashlights leading the way.

Constance shines her light over near the rocks and sees Henry’s bicycle glimmer. “She’s over here,” Constance says.

Father Bolton steps over closer to the bicycle and uses his flashlight to search the forest floor. “Where is she?”

“I don’t understand,” Constance says, her flashlight darting quickly around. “She hit her head here.”

“She’s not here, Constance,” Father Bolton states. “Maybe you were mistaken, child.”

“I know what I saw!”

“Come on,” Father Bolton says. “Let’s head back. We can search for her in the morning. She might have returned home.”

Without saying another word, Constance Helling and Father Bolton begin their trek back out of the forest.


Present Day

 “I don’t understand,” Kelly says. “Where was Henry?”

“She wasn’t there,” Father Bolton tells her. “So she must have survived the fall.”

“But how do you know?” Kelly asks. “Constance could have hidden her body somewhere else.”

Father Bolton takes a deep breath and takes Kelly’s hands in his own. Their warmness is a comfort to Kelly. She wished he was her real father.

“My dear child,” Father Bolton says, closing his eyes. “Henrietta Smart survived.”

“You saw her?” Kelly asks.

“Yes, Kelly,” Father Bolton whispers. “In fact, I’ve seen her recently. She’s back in town.”

Kelly Driver lets out a gasp.

Father Bolton smiles. “And I think she’s changed her name.”


Next Episode – Thursday August 18

Episode Fifty-Three

Avoid Spoilers! Read from Episode One

Number Six

June, 1983

At a few minutes past midnight, Kelly Driver quietly exits her parents’ caravan and makes her way over to the large peppercorn tree. She sees her friend, Henrietta Smart, standing next to the tree, lit only by the moonlight.

“You came,” Henry says, smiling. She points to the metal box on the back of the bicycle, ushering Kelly to put the clothes she is holding into it. Kelly notices that it has been marked with the initials KD 4 HS. “We’ll be good for a few days.”

“Where are we going?” Kelly asks.

“Ssssh!” Henry hushes. “Change of plans.”

Kelly looks to her friend. Henrietta looks nervous. More nervous than she was looking earlier in the day. “Change of plans?”

“We can’t go tonight,” Henry explains. “Long story. I’ll explain later, I promise.”

“You promised you would explain everything tonight, Henry!” Kelly is growing impatient.

“I know, I know. I’m sorry.” Henry pulls Kelly towards her and the two girls embrace. “You’re a good friend, Driver.”

“What aren’t you telling me, Henry?”

“Take this box,” Henry says, pulling the metal box off the back of the bicycle and handing it Kelly. “Take it and keep it safe. We’ll need it when we leave, so keep it safe until then.”

“You’re scaring me,” Kelly whispers.

“Driver, listen!” Henry is now the impatient one. “Take the box and hide it. I’ll let you know when we can leave and I’ll tell you everything then!”

The two girls say their goodbyes and Kelly instantly charges herself with finding a good hiding spot for the metal box containing their runaway clothing.


Present Day

Kelly Driver opens up the metal box again and pulls out its contents. The clothing and high school identification cards lay scattered on the table in front of her.

The last image of Henry Smart flashes in Kelly’s mind. She can see Henry giving her a hurried kiss on the cheek. She can’t shake the image of Henry brushing off her so eagerly. The final memory of Henry Smart.


June, 1983

Henrietta Smart kisses Kelly Driver on the cheek and watches as her friend disappears in the darkness; the metal box full of clothing clutched tightly under Kelly’s arm.

“I’ll tell you everything soon,” Henry whispers. She suddenly turns to face the large peppercorn tree.

“You did the right thing.” From behind the tree a dark figure emerges. Henry can make out the silhouette of her 22-year-old acquaintance.  “You did the right thing by sending her away, Henry.”

“Are you happy?” Henry huffs, pulling her bicycle up from the ground.

“I’m just looking out for your best interests, Henry,” the 22-year-old says. “If ‘The Family’ ever found out about your plans to leave, there would be serious consequences.”

“How would they find out?” Henry asks. “Would you tell them?”

The 22-year-old sighs, reaching her hands out to meet Henry’s. “Your parents are the founders of ‘The Family’. They are number one and two on the food chain. They’re bound to find out sooner or later.”

“Would you tell them?” Henry persists.

“Kelly’s parents are numbers three and four,” Henry’s acquaintance continues. “They’re bound to find out soon as well.”

“I guess you will be bound to tell them about Kelly and me?” Henry snaps, backing away from the figure in front of her.

“My mother is number five,” the 22-year-old says, “which makes me number six.”

“I don’t give a rat’s arse what number you are!” Kelly yells, pushing her bicycle in the direction of her parent’s caravan.

“You will do what I tell you!” Number Six threatens. “I am your elder, so you will do what is best for you. Unless, of course, you want me to tell your parents that you’re planning to run away.”

“You don’t scare me!” Henry snarls.


Present Day

Kelly walks up to the church altar, opens the metal box and dumps its contents over the religious table. “Her disappearance has governed my life,” Kelly barks at Father Bolton. “You need to tell me what happened to her!”

“Not here, Kelly,” Father Bolton says quietly, calmly taking the local ranger by the hand and escorting her into the confessional.


June, 1983

Number Six pushes the bicycle further and further into the bushland. She had taken it from the front of Reginald and Miranda Smart’s caravan. Even though it belonged to Henrietta Smart, Number Six knew that Henry was best off not having it. Number Six had seen Henry try to plan an escape, and by taking the bicycle away, she knew that it would make it harder for any escape to happen.

Number Six nears a rocky and secluded part of the National Park. The overgrowth of trees and shrubbery in this area of the forest make it the best possible location to hide the bicycle.

Number Six lays the bicycle down near some large rocks and begins to pull some large branches over the top of it. She also finds some leaves and twigs and sets about the bicycle’s camouflage.

“What are you doing?” Number Six jumps suddenly, startled by the sound of Henry’s voice.

“Henry, you scared me,” Number Six says.

“I followed you from my caravan. Why have you taken my bike?” Henry asks.

“I’m doing it for your own sake, Henry,” Number Six explains, stepping in front of the bicycle’s location. “You can’t leave.”

“Give me my bike back!” Henry yells, attempting to push Number Six out of the way.

“You have no idea what you’re doing!” Number Six yells back, pushing against Henry.

Number Six grabs Henry by the shoulders and shoves her aggressively to the ground. She looks on as Henry falls to the ground, the back of her head hitting a large rock. Henry’s mouth exhales a whimpering sound, her body suddenly lying limp and still on the forest floor. Henry’s eyes roll towards the back of her head.


Present Day

“I have a confession to make,”

“Yes, go on.”

“I should have told you earlier, but I didn’t think it was fair.” Father Bolton hold his hands in his lap and closes his eyes, the distant memory of 33 years earlier flashing through his head.

“Tell me, Father,” Kelly implores.

“Number Six came to me.”

“Number Six?” Kelly is suddenly unsure.

“Yes, Kelly,” Father Bolton says. “It was Number Six who came to me. She attacked Henry.”

“But we looked up to her!” Kelly holds back tears. Kelly tries to hold back her anger.

“She tried to prevent Henry from leaving.”

“I was supposed to leave with her,” Kelly adds, reminiscing.


June, 1983

“Father,” Number Six sobs, “please help me!”

Father Bolton peers out the front door of his house. He had awoken to Number Six’s harsh banging on the door. He was still in his bed clothes.

“What is it, dear?” the young priest asks.

Number Six wipes tears from her face. Father Bolton can see the 22-year-old shaking.

“I didn’t mean to do it, Father,” Number Six cries. “I need your help.”

“What help do you need, child?” Father Bolton pulls his nightgown around his waist tighter.

“I didn’t mean to kill her, Father.”

“What are you talking about, dear?” Father Bolton puts an arm out to try and comfort Number Six.

Constance Helling sniffs a couple of times, wipes her face again and looks the priest in his eyes. “I didn’t mean to kill Henry Smart.”


Next Episode – Monday August 15

Episode Fifty-Two

Avoid Spoilers! Read from Episode One

Kyle

“You’ve been a very naughty boy, Kyle.” Inspector Wesley Manning reaches into his pocket and pulls out a pair of handcuffs. “There’s no way you were ever going to get away with what you’ve done.”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Kyle Cook says, backing away from his senior officer.

“You don’t have to make this difficult for yourself.” Inspector Manning takes a step towards Kyle.

As the dust flies through the air, the two men engage in battle. They bring each other to the ground, becoming increasingly closer to the cliff’s edge.

“I told you that you were never going to get away with it!” Inspector Manning screams.

Kyle feels overpowered and lifeless. He tries to move his body to fight back but he is paralysed.

“Naughty, naughty boy!” Inspector Manning says, lifting Kyle off of his feet and raising him into the air. Kyle can feel himself flying through the air and out over the edge of the cliff. He looks back and sees Inspector Manning standing on the edge of the cliff laughing hysterically.

The sky and trees fade into the distance and Kyle lands with a thud at the base of the cliff.

Darkness fills his vision.

Kyle Cook sits up in bed violently, letting out a scream. His body is wet with sweat. He feels his heart pounding rapidly in his chest and he takes in short, shallow breaths.

“Kyle?” Joanne stirs from her sleep. “Are you okay?”

“Just a bad dream,” Kyle reassures his lover.

“I know what that feels like,” Joanne says quietly, before closing her eyes and falling back asleep.

Kyle Cook takes a few moments to calm himself down.

Don’t lose it now, Kyle, he thinks to himself. He looks over to the cot in the corner of the room and sees his infant son sleeping peacefully. You’ve got everything you ever wanted. Don’t lose your head now!


Father Bolton looks around the small congregation from the front of the church. He sees Joanne Evans, dressed in a pale pink dress, seated at the front. Her blonde hair falls to just below her shoulders in effortless curls. Joanne, Father Bolton notices, looks more radiant than ever. It is so nice to see the young woman happy and healthy again.

On Joanne’s lap, a little Richard rests. He is dressed in a long white dress. No ordinary dress though – baby Richard is adorned in a christening gown.

“I now ask baby Richard’s parents, Joanne and Kyle, to bring Richard forward to have their son presented for baptism.” Father Bolton ushers the pair to make their way to the baptism altar.

“Today the Church receives baby Richard with joy,” Father Bolton begins his blessings as Joanne and Kyle step forward.

“His name is Ricky,” Kyle suddenly interrupts.

“Ricky?” Father Bolton asks, confused. He looks to Joanne for confirmation.

“Yes,” Joanne says quietly. She looks to the floor and does not meet the priest’s gaze. “We’ve decided to name him Ricky.”

“He doesn’t suit being a Richard, anyway,” Kyle sniggers.

“Today the Church receives baby Ricky with joy,” Father Bolton continues. “In baptism, baby Ricky will begin his journey in faith. Will you care for him, and help him take his place within the life and worship of Christ’s Church?”

“I will,” Joanne and Richard echo together.

“Ricky, I baptise you in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit,” Father Bolton recites.

From the back of the small church, Kelly Driver looks on as she sees Father Bolton pour the holy water onto the infant’s forehead. The sight causes a shiver to make its way down Kelly’s spine.


“Family members,” Reginald Smart calls to his friends gathered around, “let’s pray for Kelly!”

“Let go of me!” Kelly screams out.

“Let’s heal this poor girl from her pain and confusion,” Miranda Smart says. “Let’s pray that she recovers from her sickness.”

Kelly suddenly feels the congregation in front of her throwing water at her.

“This holy water will wash away your sins!” Reginald exclaims. “You have corrupted our wholesome daughter and you will now be accountable for your actions!”


“Father,” Kelly grabs a hold of Father Bolton’s arm as he exits the front door of the church.

“Kelly,” Father Bolton says, a big smile erupting on his face, “it’s so good to see you finally out of hospital. How are you doing?”

Kelly presses her hand to her abdomen. The bullet piercing through her body suddenly flashes in her memory. “I’m doing much better, thank you Father,” she says.

“You had a lot of people praying for you, Kelly,” Father Bolton adds. “So I knew you were going to make a full recovery.”

“I never lost faith,” Kelly says.

Father Bolton turns to move down the front steps of the church.

“Father,” Kelly grabs his arm again. “When you visited me in hospital, you told me you knew what had happened to Henrietta Smart.”

Father Bolton’s smile fades suddenly and he looks at Kelly despondently. “Not now, Kelly.” He turns to move away again.

“Father, I need to know what happened!” Kelly’s voice rises.

“Kelly, my child,” Father Bolton sighs. “I pray that you continue in your recovery.”

With that, Father Bolton turns away and disappears into the baptism gathering.


“In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit,” Kyle Cook whispers to himself as he makes his way along the bush track. Only the light of the moon guides him.

Don’t lose your head now, Kyle, he thinks to himself.

“Faith is the gift of God to his people,” Kyle reprises the baptism of his son, quoting the words spoken by Father Bolton. He continues his climb through the bush.

Kyle slaps himself on his face. Get with it!

“In baptism, God calls us into his marvelous light. To follow Christ means dying to sin and rising to new life with him,” he repeats.

Where is it? Kyle looks around at the rocky ground beneath him. He grabs the torch out of his pocket and shines it around him, frantically.

Above him he can see the rocky cliff face. Somewhere under his feet he knows is the shallow grave of Inspector Wesley Manning.

“In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit,” he says as he notices the collection of rocks he had placed on the grave to mark its location.

As he nears the grave, he can feel his heart pounding in his chest. He wipes his sweaty palms on his shirt. “I embrace Christ’s love!”

At first, Kyle doesn’t know if he’s made a mistake or not. Sitting next to the pile of rocks is a mound of dirt.

The only sound in the dark forest is Kyle’s heavy panting.

Kyle looks down into the empty hole that once housed Inspector Manning’s dead body.

Kyle flashes his torch around anxiously, the light blazing in all directions. He holds his head and feels dizzy. Pull yourself together, Kyle. You buried the body here.

Kyle points the flashlight into the empty hole again.

“I turn away from evil!” he screams into the night.


Next Episode – Thursday August 11

Episode Fifty-One

Avoid Spoilers! Read from Episode One

Anna-Maree

“Have we made the right decision?” Anna-Maree Axe asks her husband as they unpack the contents of their car.

“How many times have we been through this?” Joseph Axe tries to reassure his wife. “Our past is now behind us. We don’t have anything to worry about here.”

“I know,” Anna-Maree sighs, pulling the large suitcase out of the boot of the car. “It’s just that we’ve made such a big decision. We’ve left everything and run away.”

“We had no choice. You know that,” Joseph reasons.

“And I’m sorry for that,” Anna-Maree says. “It was all my fault.”

“Don’t apologise,” Joseph tells his wife. He takes the suitcase from her and it drops to the footpath. He takes her hand and pulls her in towards him, putting his arms around her. “We’re in this together, remember. No matter what happened in the past, we’re going to move on.”

“Okay,” Anna-Maree agrees.

“That’s why we moved here, remember. The past is behind us. No-one here in this town knows about us. It’s a fresh start for the both of us.”

“Yes,” Anna-Maree leans her head against her husband’s chest. “Yes, a fresh start.” If only it was that simple, she thinks to herself.


She charges down the hospital’s corridor. The overnight bag she has packed is slung over one shoulder. Her eyes dart from one door to another, constantly searching for the right room.

“How’s she doing?” Geraldine Jenkins asks the doctor standing outside her daughter’s hospital room.

“I take it your Cathy Gilmore’s mother?” Joel Prasad, Peppercorn Patch’s new local doctor, asks.

“Yes, how’s my daughter?” Geraldine asks again.

“She was very lucky,” Joel informs her. “The poison she ingested could have killed her.”

“Poison?”

“She’s lucky she vomited it up, otherwise I’d hate to think what would have happened,” Joel continues.

“I don’t understand.” Geraldine is confused. “How was she poisoned?”

“We believe it may have been arsenic poisoning. The box of cookies she had been eating were sent for testing and were found to have traces of it,” Joel explains.

“Cookies?”

“Yes, from her husband.”

“Mark?” Geraldine says, exasperated. “Mark poisoned her?”

“Well, that’s what we initially thought…”

“That bastard!” Geraldine screams. “He’s put my poor girl through so much misery! And then he tried to kill her?”

“Please, Ms Jenkins.” Joel tries to hush the woman. “We don’t believe it was Mark.”

“What do you mean?” Geraldine asks. Joel ushers her to a seat outside of Cathy’s room.

“Mark denies having sent the box,” Joel explains. “It seems someone else may have tried to harm your daughter.”


Douglas Lawson had lived in Peppercorn Patch his entire life. He inherited the old house that he lived in from his late parents. The house was showing much wear and tear, but Douglas still loved it nonetheless. It was the only house he ever knew. He had never lived anywhere else. Besides, it was a charming house. And he loved it.

Douglas Lawson was also showing wear and tear. In his late fifties, Douglas was a labourer and had been all his life. He was in and out of employment, as the small town often did not provide enough work for him to make a decent living. He didn’t mind that, though, as he owned his house and liked to keep to himself. The house was pretty secluded and his nearest neighbour was far enough away. Douglas would often drive himself to his mailbox. It was a long walk and, as a labourer, he didn’t need the exercise.

Douglas steps outside onto his back verandah. The washing basket under his arm is full of overalls and work gear. He had been fortunate enough to be employed recently by Akemi Helling’s construction company. He was involved in building the town’s new hotel. It had been a controversial decision to join the crew, as many of the local townspeople were opposed to the new development. But he knew he couldn’t say no to the opportunity. He needed the work.

Douglas takes a shirt out of the basket and pegs it to the makeshift clothesline under the verandah awning. He never did get around to constructing a permanent one. As he goes to take another piece of clothing from the basket, he notices something strange in his backyard. The chickens in the coop seem to be acting strangely, clucking furiously at the dog house. The dog house, Douglas knew, was no longer inhabited as his beloved Retriever had died 18 months earlier.

Douglas puts the clothes he has in his hands back into the basket and steps down off the verandah into the backyard. He steps closer to the dog house.

The dog house, Douglas notices as he gets closer to it, is occupied.

“Oi,” Douglas shouts, grabbing the garden rake off the ground. From a safe distance, he stretches the rake out and pushes it into the dog house, prodding it hard into the unwelcome guest. “This is my property!”

The unwelcome guest stirs, Douglas can hear. He sees movement from inside the dog house and backs away suddenly, almost tripping over the garden hose sprawled carelessly on the grass. “Get out of here!” Douglas tries to act brave.

From inside the dog house, the unwelcome guest appears.

Douglas sees the unwelcome guest, shouts out in horror, and continues to back away quickly. This time he trips up the verandah’s steps and falls down.

“Hello, Dad,” Thomas Helling says, taking in a big breath of fresh air. “It’s so good to be home.”


Anna-Maree is sheltered by the cover of darkness. Just to be sure she wears a large black jacket, the hood up over her head to cover her face.

As she walks to her meeting point, she avoids the streetlights. She knows she can’t ruin everything now by being seen.

She steps down to the river’s edge, close to the large peppercorn tree. She looks around in the darkness. The only sound she can hear is the flow of the water. The person she is meeting is late.

“Is it really you?” Anna-Maree can suddenly hear a voice behind her. She turns towards the voice and hears footsteps come closer.

“Thanks for meeting with me,” Anna-Maree says.

“I can’t believe it’s really you,” her acquaintance says. “Welcome back to the Patch.”

“It’s been a very long time,” Anna-Maree says.

“Yes, it has.”

“I haven’t even told my husband why I’m really back here,” Anna-Maree continues.

“New name. New husband,” her acquaintance sniggers. “New life too?”

Anna-Maree steps closer to the visitor in the darkness. She can see an old friend under the hood of their own jacket looking back at her.

Anna-Maree reaches up and pulls her own hood off. “No one must know I am here,” she whispers. “No one must know who I really am.”


Next Episode – Monday August 8

Episode Fifty

Avoid Spoilers! Read from Episode One

Sylvia

The day of the wedding

Joanne Evans reaches for her belly and grimaces in pain. She looks down at her bridesmaid dress and notices that it is covered in blood.

“Joanne, are you okay?” Father Bolton notices Joanne trying to hold herself up.

As Joanne collapses to the floor, the blood continues to flow.

“Help!” Joanne whispers faintly.

Joanne looks up at the hazy vision above her. She can just make out the blurry images of people rushing to help her.

“She’s going to lose the baby!” Joanne can faintly make out her friend, Cathy’s voice. “Joanne, honey, stay with me!”

The guests of Cathy and Mark Gilmore’s wedding look on as Cathy Gilmore, dressed in her white wedding gown, kneels over her friend. The white wedding gown is no longer white.

“Is she going to be okay?” Father Bolton asks, holding a bloodied newborn baby in his arms. Its cries echo through the town hall.

“Joanne!” Cathy screams again, watching on as blood continues to flow. “Where is that bloody ambulance?”

“It’s too late,” Cathy can hear a voice behind her say. She looks up to see Constance Helling. “Cathy, you know as well as I do it’s too late to save her.”


One Week Later

“Say hello to mummy,” Kyle Cook says, holding baby Richard in his arms and lowering the baby close to Joanne Evans, who is lying in the hospital bed.

“Not now!” Joanne says, pushing the infant away and pulling the bedcovers close to her face.

“But it’s our baby, Joanne!” Kyle says. “You haven’t held him once!”

“I know,” Joanne sobs. “I just don’t feel I have the strength at the moment.”

“What’s happened to her?” Kyle says to the nurse. “What is wrong with her?”

“She’s been through a lot,” the nurse reassures Kyle. Cathy Gilmore reaches over and caresses Joanne’s forehead, brushing the hair out of her face. “This poor girl has been through so much. She needs all of our support right now.”

“She doesn’t even want to hold her own son!” Kyle says.

“Give her time. I’m sure she will.” Cathy continues to caress her friend’s hair.

“She’s not all there in the head!” Kyle points to his own head, indicating that he means his lover is not mentally stable.

“She may not be, but just remember what she’s been through,” Cathy informs Kyle. She looks down at her own hands and remembers the torment that she herself had gone through recently.

“The best place for her is at Holgate Bedlamites,” Kyle suggests. “That’s where all of the insane people go.”

“Constable,” Cathy is incredulous. “You couldn’t possibly consider sending Joanne there.”

“Why not?” Kyle asks. “She’s not right. She’s not the Joanne I know and love. That Joanne is lost.”

“You can’t be serious,” Cathy steps closer to Kyle, almost pleading with him.

“I am serious, Cathy,” Kyle says forcefully. “I’m her next of kin, so I decide what’s best for her.”


Four Months Later

“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.”

“I’ll get to see my son!” Joanne sits up suddenly, excited.

“Yes, I’m sure you’ll be happy to see him.”

Joanne grabs onto Constance’s nurse gown. A wave of panic fills her. “What if he doesn’t want me?”

“He’s your son, Joanne. I bet he can’t wait to see his mum.” Constance sits on the 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.”

Constance smiles at Joanne. For a moment she feels unsure as to whether Joanne is ready to leave the mental hospital. She had been at Holgate Bedlamites for a few months and was sure that Joanne was ready to leave; fit to be a mother again, but now she was doubting herself.

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

“Thank you,” Joanne says. “You have been my strength in here.”

“Come on,” Constance says, pulling a red dress out of the wardrobe and motioning for Joanne to put it on. “Everyone will be waiting for you! Peppercorn Patch is about to have its beauty queen return.”


Present Day

She is pulled by her angel. She feels a sense of belonging in this part of town. Joanne steps quietly through Peppercorn Patch cemetery. Over one shoulder, she carries her infant son, Richard. The flashlight she has in other hand illuminates the dark spaces in front of her.

She is pulled to the large peppercorn tree. She knows what is awaiting her there.

She is pulled by her angel.

She reaches the tree. She shines her light over the headstones that rest there. One after the other she sees their names and feels endless sorrow.

Benjamin Pickering
Annette Pickering
Richard Evans
Sylvia


The day of the wedding

“Joanne!” Cathy screams again, watching on as blood continues to flow. “Where is that bloody ambulance?”

“It’s too late,” Cathy can hear a voice behind her say. She looks up to see Constance Helling. “Cathy, you know as well as I do it’s too late to save her.”

“My baby!” Joanne, covered in blood, screams. She looks from her newborn baby in Father Bolton’s arms to the bundle in Cathy Gilmore’s arms.

“Tell me she’s okay!” Joanne screams at her friend.

“It’s too late to save her,” Constance says to Joanne.

Cathy looks her best friend in the eyes, shakes her head and sheds a mountain of tears.


Present Day

Joanne looks down at the infant-sized grave next to her late husband’s. Sylvia, the headstone reads.

“I named you after a very special person,” Joanne says to the grave. “Sylvia was my biological mother. I’m sure you two are looking after each other up there in heaven.”

The infant that Joanne has draped over her shoulder suddenly stirs and Joanne places him on the ground next to Sylvia’s grave.

“My sweet baby Richard,” she says to her son, “this is your twin sister, Sylvia, and she’s going to be your guardian angel for the rest of your life.”


Welcome back to Peppercorn Patch!

Retribution.
[noun] punishment inflicted on someone as vengeance for a wrong or criminal act.

This Season. Prepare for Vengeance.

Next Episode – Thursday August 4

Season Four Recap

Avoid Spoilers! Read from Episode One

Doctor Peter Smith

Doctor Peter Smith sees the interview room door open and Constance Helling, the head nurse at the psychiatric hospital, enters, followed by a disheveled looking Joanne Evans. Her blonde hair, usually brushed neatly down to her shoulders, sits matted and teased on her head. He can see that Joanne has been crying, as her eyes are red and her face is puffy.

Constance Helling ushers Joanne, dressed in a hospital gown and slippers, to a chair on the opposite side of the table to Doctor Peter Smith. The chair, in contrast to Doctor Smith’s, is cushioned, and Joanne crawls into it, bringing her knees up to her chest.

“Joanne doesn’t trust you,” Constance begins, “but is willing to hear what you have to say to her.”

“I understand her apprehension.” Doctor Smith tries to catch Joanne’s eyesight, but the woman has her head lowered towards her lap. “I thought Joanne deserved to know the truth.”

“She’s been through a traumatic experience,” Constance reminds the doctor, before adding brashly, “no thanks to you.”

“I mean to do her no more harm,” Doctor Smith tries to reassure his biological daughter. “I only want what is best for Joanne.”

Constance huffs disbelievingly. “Too late for that.”

“I don’t have schizophrenia, Joanne,” Doctor Smith says, as Joanne lifts her head to look at the man in front of her quizzically. “There are no drugs that can fix what I have. And I’m afraid it could be hereditary.”

“Enough!” Constance suddenly interjects, grabbing Joanne by the arm and attempting to pull her up. “Joanne doesn’t need to hear this. She doesn’t need to hear any more of your pathetic excuses!”

Joanne pushes the woman off her and stands closer to the table, looking down at her biological father. “Tell me,” Joanne says interrogatingly. “Tell me what I’ve inherited from you.”

Doctor Peter Smith lowers his head and emits a small sigh. “I have Huntington’s Disease,” he informs Joanne. “There’s no cure.”

Joanne exhales loudly and turns and walks towards the door, thinking about her own depressed state of mind as of late. She wonders if she could have possibly inherited the same condition.

“You can be tested,” Doctor Smith informs her as she reaches the door.

Constance Helling helps Joanne open the door and the two start to exit the room.

“Joanne,” Doctor Smith calls out, “there’s something else I haven’t told you.”

“I’m sure you’ve provided her with enough grief for one day,” Constance snaps. “In fact, her whole lifetime!”

“How could this possibly get any worse?” Joanne whispers, grabbing onto the door frame to keep herself upright.

“I was already a father before you came along, Joanne,” Doctor Smith confesses. “You’re not an only child.”


“I’ve lost her,” Doctor Smith whispers.

“Yes,” Constance says, “it’s what you deserve. How does it feel to have something you loved taken away from you?”

Constance Helling lowers herself to the floor and pushes her back up to Doctor Smith’s. The only thing that separates them is the Perspex screen. Tears start to stream down her face.

“You took my Thomas from me,” Constance continues. “He was all I had in this world to love.”

“I’m a bad person,” Doctor Smith agrees.

“You were a good person once,” Constance reflects. “I remember telling you I wanted a child of my own.”

“I remember. We were young then.”

“And you told me about IVF,” Constance explains.

“You were my first patient.” Doctor Smith’s eyes begins to tear up.

“You helped me make my beautiful boy.” Constance wipes her face and takes a few deep breaths. “And then you took him away.”

“He was a beautiful boy,” Doctor Smith says, wiping his own face. “But he had problems of his own. He battled his own demons.”

“I could have helped him,” Constance offers.

“It was all my fault,” Doctor Smith says, burying his head into his hands. “I should have screened the sperm donor.”

“You think he inherited his problems from his father?” Constance asks.

“I know he did.” Doctor Smith rubs his temples with his fingertips.

“It was an anonymous donor,” Constance adds. “There was no way of knowing.”

“It was before I knew myself,” Doctor Smith reflects. “I hadn’t yet been tested for Huntington’s, otherwise I would never have done it.”

“Done what?”

“Donated my sperm,” Doctor Smith replies. “Thomas never had a chance. Not with a father like me.”


Amber Harp

A beeping sound can be heard coming from Amber Harp’s pocket. Her heart suddenly races as she realises she has been caught out.

She can see the anger intensifying in Leading Senior Constable Kyle Cook’s face.

“What’s that?” Kyle quickly jumps up and grabs at Amber, reaching into her pocket. She tries to stop him but he finds her mobile phone. “You’re recording me?” he bellows, before pitching the phone violently across the other side of the room.

“I’m sorry,” Amber says, frightened.

He grabs Amber by the shoulders and pulls her close into him. His lips brush her face. “You silly, silly girl,” he says to her. “Now you have to pay!”

Amber tries to free herself. “I wasn’t recording you,” she lies. “It was just my phone receiving a message.”

Kyle Cook spits in Amber’s face and grips her shoulders even tighter. “You just had to come meddling, didn’t you?”

Realising she needs to act quickly, Amber swiftly brings her knee up and it makes a sickening connection with Kyle’s genitals. He howls in pain, releasing her from his grip and dropping to the floor.

Without hesitating, Amber pulls the high-heeled shoes from her feet and makes a quick dash for the front door of the police station.

As she races down the front steps of the building and onto the footpath, she suddenly feels dizzy. She continues running down the footpath away from the police station, trying to keep her balance.

A shooting pain in her head overwhelms her and she collapses to the ground, her body twitching in involuntary spasms.


“The scans of your brain suggest that you had an epileptic episode,” Doctor Joel Prasad tells his patient, Amber Harp. “Most certainly this was caused by the violent trauma you received when you were attacked all those months ago.”

“And the memory loss?” Michael Anders, sitting on the bed next to Amber, asks.

“An unfortunate side effect of the seizures,” Joel explains.

“Will she have epilepsy forever?” Michael is concerned for his lover.

“It’s hard to tell, but it may be something that Amber will have to live with. Fortunately, there are drugs that can help alleviate the symptoms and reduce the severity of the attacks.” Joel Prasad scribbles down something on his clipboard folder.

“But she’ll make a full recovery?” Michael interrogates the new doctor.

“Early days yet, but it seems our patient seems to be remembering some things.”

“Yes,” Amber Harp smiles from her hospital bed. “I am having some memories returning to me. I feel like I’m finding myself again.”

Joel Prasad laughs at his patient, touching her gently on the shoulder and scribbling more down on his clipboard. “I’ll go and organise your medication and let you two find yourselves again.”

As the doctor leaves the hospital room, Michael Anders leans over his lover and strokes her brown hair from her face. “I love you, Amber Harp.”

Amber smiles, grabbing hold of Michael’s hands and holding them to her face. “I love you too, Michael Anders.”

Michael Anders had been discharged from the hospital and was returning home to see out the rest of his recovery. He would be returning to his old job as the Sergeant of Peppercorn Patch Police as soon as he was well enough. For now, things seemed to be looking up for Michael Anders. He was hopeful that Amber Harp would be discharged from hospital shortly too, and that she would live with him.

“I don’t want you to return to Holgate,” Michael says. “I want you to come home with me.”

Amber smiles, closing her eyes gently and imagining her new life with Michael Anders.

“I was going to save it,” Michael says, reaching into his pocket, and kneeling next to the bed. He pulls her hand towards him and pushes a silver ring onto her finger. “Marry me, Amber.”


Before Amber Harp can answer Michael Anders, there is a knock at the door. Joel Prasad enters the room and hands Amber her medication. “I hope I wasn’t interrupting anything,” Joel says as he notices the ring on Amber’s finger.

“Michael just proposed,” Amber replies excitedly.

“Congratulations, you two!” Joel shakes Michael’s hand. “Just in time to tell your visitors, it seems.”

“Visitors?” Amber asks.

“Some friends from Holgate are here to see you,” Joel adds.

Amber and Michael both see a man walk into the room holding a bouquet of flowers. “Amber,” the man says. “I’m so glad you’re safe.”

Michael looks at the man inquisitively. Amber looks at the man curiously, trying to search her fragmented memory bank.

“She’s had some memory loss,” Joel Prasad explains. “It may take her a while to remember.”

The man places the flowers on the table next to the bed, leans over and gives Amber a kiss on her forehead.

“Steven?” Amber says, her brain working hard to search for memories.

“I’m sorry, who are you?” Michael Anders asks the male visitor.

“I’m Steven Harp,” the visitor introduces himself, shaking Michael’s hand.

“Amber’s brother?” Michael asks.

Steven Harp laughs out loud. “No, I’m her husband.”

From behind Steven, a little boy of about ten years of age appears. He looks up at Amber sitting on the hospital bed.

“Drake?” Amber says, looking at the boy.

“Mummy!” the little boy rushes to the bed with outstretched arms.


Kelly Driver

Akemi Helling pushes the metal box across the table towards Kelly Driver. “My workers found this buried when they were digging the foundations,” she says.

“Why are you bringing this to me?” Kelly Driver says, looking over the box. On top of the box she can make out faded initials once written in a black marker. KD 4 HS.

Akemi pulls out two pairs of shoes and a few pieces of clothing.

Under the table, Kelly can feel her hands perspire. “Clothes?”

“More than clothes, dear,” Akemi says, pulling out two laminated photo IDs and placing them on the table.

“I got involved in something bigger than I realised at the time!” Kelly tries to dry her wet hands on her jeans. “I didn’t realise anything was going to happen!”

Kelly looks down at the two high school identification cards. On the first she sees her 16-year-old self staring back at her. On the other she sees her best friend, Henry Smart.

Akemi Helling gives Kelly a quizzical look. “What happened to Henrietta Smart, Kelly?”


June, 1983

At a few minutes past midnight, Kelly Driver quietly exits her parents’ caravan and makes her way over to the large peppercorn tree. She sees her friend, Henrietta Smart, standing next to the tree, lit only by the moonlight.

“You came,” Henry says, smiling. She points to the metal box on the back of the bicycle, ushering Kelly to put the clothes she is holding into it. Kelly notices that it has been marked with the initials KD 4 HS. “We’ll be good for a few days.”

“Where are we going?” Kelly asks.

“Ssssh!” Henry hushes. “Change of plans.”

Kelly looks to her friend. Henrietta looks nervous. More nervous than she was looking earlier in the day. “Change of plans?”

“We can’t go tonight,” Henry explains. “Long story. I’ll explain later, I promise.”

“You promised you would explain everything tonight, Henry!” Kelly is growing impatient.

“I know, I know. I’m sorry.” Henry pulls Kelly towards her and the two girls embrace. “You’re a good friend, Driver.”

“What aren’t you telling me, Henry?”

“Take this box,” Henry says, pulling the metal box off the back of the bicycle and handing it Kelly. “Take it and keep it safe. We’ll need it when we leave, so keep it safe until then.”

“You’re scaring me,” Kelly whispers.

“Driver, listen!” Henry is now the impatient one. “Take the box and hide it. I’ll let you know when we can leave and I’ll tell you everything then!”

The two girls say their goodbyes and Kelly instantly charges herself with finding a good hiding spot for the metal box containing their runaway clothing.


“Hello, Father,” Kelly says from her hospital bed. “Thanks for visiting.”

“Of course,” Father Bolton says to Kelly. “That’s what friends are for.” He places a hand on her leg and Kelly thinks he can hear him praying for her.

Kelly looks at the kind man in front of her and grabs his hand. “You know,” she says, pulling him closer to her, “I consider you my own father.”

“And you a daughter to me.” Father Bolton smiles down at Kelly.

“When my real parents decided to leave Peppercorn Patch I thought I would never survive,” Kelly says. “When they up and left with ‘The Family’ I knew where my real home was.”

“Peppercorn Patch,” Father Bolton says.

“Yes,” Kelly agrees. “I could never leave with them. I realised they didn’t value me as much as they did that evil cult they belonged to.”

“I’m sorry your parents abandoned you, Kelly,” Father Bolton expresses his disappointment.

“I’m glad you took me in, Father,” Kelly says. “You more than made up for my parents.”

Father Bolton squeezes Kelly’s hand.

“I just wish Henry had the same opportunity as me,” Kelly adds. “Not a day goes by when I don’t think about what might have happened to her.”

Father Bolton squeezes Kelly’s hand even tighter.

“Kelly, my dear child,” Father Bolton says, grabbing a hold of his rosary beads, “it may be a shock to you, but I know what happened to Henrietta Smart.”


Melody Walker

Melody Walker peers through the hospital room window. She crouches behind the garden hedge so that the four people in the room cannot see her. She sees Cathy Gilmore leaning over the hospital bed and give the male patient a kiss. “Whore!” she huffs under her breath.

Melody still feels aggrieved by Cathy Gilmore. Melody had fallen in love with Mark Gilmore, and had believed that Mark had loved her too. They had purchased a house together and Mark had promised that he was going to leave his wife. That was until Cathy went and got herself captured by The Poetry Predator. When Cathy was finally rescued, Mark changed all their plans and went running back to his wife. He told Melody that Cathy needed him more than ever.

What about me!? Melody had tormented herself. Mark still loved her. She was sure of it.

She just needed to get Cathy out of the picture.

Kneeling behind the hedge, she pulls a rifle up to her shoulder and points it in the direction of the hospital room.

Melody had only moments earlier broken into the local ranger’s car. Kelly Driver stored her rifle under a blanket on the back seat of her ute.

What about me!? Melody torments herself again as she presses her finger on the rifle’s trigger, and then reloads.

Bang. Bang. Bang. Bang.


Kelly Driver had survived the attack on her life, if only just.

The question on everyone’s lips, of course, was: Who shot through the window? Who broke into Kelly Driver’s vehicle, took her rifle and shot four bullets through the hospital window?

The police investigation, headed by Leading Senior Constable Kyle Cook, had so far been fruitless. The stolen rifle had been found dumped in the garden hedges outside the hospital room, but no other evidence about the perpetrator had been discovered. There had also been no witnesses to the event. It was frustrating to all, but it seemed that no-one knew of what had happened. No-one seemed to know who pulled the trigger.

But someone did pull the trigger. Someone reloaded and pulled the trigger of the rifle four times. And she hoped that no-one would ever find out.

“It’s Melody, isn’t it?” Joel Prasad, the new doctor, asks Melody Walker as she sits in his office.

“Yes, nice to meet you,” Melody shakes the good-looking doctor’s hand.

“How can I help you today, Melody?” Joel asks, adjusting the stethoscope around his neck.

“Well, it’s more how I can help you,” Melody says, brushing her leg closer to the doctor’s. “We’re both fairly new around here, so I thought we could get to know the place together.”

“Sounds logical,” Joel laughs.

Melody pushes her leg even closer to the doctor’s and thrusts her chest forward. “Let’s start by getting to know each other.”


Leading Senior Constable Kyle Cook

“I thought you had left town.” Senior Constable Kyle Cook approaches Inspector Manning, having hiked up the walking track from the town below.

“I’m glad you could join me up here,” Inspector Manning says, smiling. “It’s beautiful up here, isn’t it?”

“Yes, it certainly is spectacular,” Kyle agrees. “Why did you ask me up here?”

“I was back in town to visit Kelly Driver,” Inspector Manning explains. “I wanted to see she was okay.”

“That was nice of you.” Kyle steps closer to the edge of the cliff.

“I also got a chance to visit Michael Anders.”

“Oh.” Kyle is curious.

“We had a good long chat about his current predicament,” Inspector Manning says. “The department has decided to drop the investigations.”

“What do you mean?” Kyle tries to hide his anger.

“Michael Anders will be reinstated as Sergeant of Peppercorn Patch. Once he’s recovered fully from his recent surgery, of course.”

Kyle Cook is glad that it is getting dark, for he cannot hide the anger that his face surely expresses.

“The truth is, Constable Cook,” Inspector Manning says, putting his hand on Kyle’s shoulder, “I’ve actually been investigating you.”

“Me?” Kyle is stunned.

“You’ve been a very naughty boy, Kyle.” Inspector Manning reaches into his pocket and pulls out a pair of handcuffs. “There’s no way you were ever going to get away with what you’ve done.”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Kyle says, backing away from his senior officer.

“You don’t have to make this difficult for yourself.” Inspector Manning takes a step towards Kyle Cook.

Age versus experience is put to the test suddenly as the two men engage in battle. Dust flies everywhere as the men bring each other to the ground, punches thrown to release each other’s grip. Inspector Manning straddles the young constable and grips his legs tight around Kyle’s. For a moment, the two men remain motionless. Inspector Manning struggles to pull Kyle’s arms up so that he can latch the handcuffs around his wrists. The dust from the dirt dances around them and makes it difficult for either man to keep their eyes open.

Stalemate. Neither man moves. Heavy panting. A dust bath.

Without warning, Kyle Cook bucks his body violently, and Inspector Manning releases his hold over Kyle. Inspector Manning slides along the gravel towards the edge of the cliff, thrown by the force of Kyle’s buck. Inspector Manning grabs a hold of Kyle’s arm as he continues to slide ever so close to the cliff’s edge.

With one arm, Kyle Cook holds onto the branch of a tree. Kneeling in the dirt, his other arm is attached to Inspector Manning who is holding on for dear life. Dangling over the cliff, the only thing that is keeping Inspector Manning from falling is his tight grip on Kyle’s arm.

He can’t hold on forever, though, and, before long, his grip loosens. Kyle Cook watches on as Inspector Wesley Manning falls to his death, hitting the rocks below with a deafening sound that roars throughout the bushland and sends a flock of birds shooting into the night sky.


Kyle Cook hated to get his hands dirty. A contradiction, considering that is all he had done since moving to Peppercorn Patch and becoming a police officer; a sworn protector and law enforcer.

Leading Senior Constable Kyle Cook had to use what was around him: a rock and a few branches. He had managed to dig a shallow grave underneath a large gum tree. He had been digging for a while and his whole body was covered in dirt. It would have been pitch black had it not been for the light illuminated from his headlamp.

He had to act quickly before someone noticed the light amongst the trees above the small town. He knew that this would only be a temporary solution to his problem until he was able to sort out what he was going to do with the body. Surely someone would start asking questions.

For now he had to hide the body of Inspector Wesley Manning.

Kyle Cook was frantic. He had lost his calm.


Cathy Gilmore

Cathy Gilmore exits the hospital room of one of her patients and heads to the nurse’s station. She grabs out another cookie from the carton of cookies that her husband had sent her.

“You don’t look too well,” a nursing colleague informs her.

“I’ve just been busy today, that’s all,” Cathy says, taking a bite of the cookie. “I haven’t eaten lunch yet, so these will have to do.” She grabs another cookie from the carton and shoves it into her mouth before hurrying to her next patient.

As she reaches the door of her next patient, Cathy suddenly feels ill. She grabs a hold of her stomach; it pulsating with a stabbing pain. Nauseous, Cathy grabs a hold of the wall to keep herself upright. The room around her spins. She retches violently and vomits all over the hospital corridor’s floor, before collapsing and sending her work colleagues into a panic.


Anna-Maree Axe

Peppercorn Patch. The sign welcomes the couple.

“A new life,” Joseph says to his wife.

From her position in the passenger seat, Anna-Maree Axe gently touches her husband’s knee. Their car travels around the curvy bends of Holgate’s Gap and passes the sign which tells them they are almost at their destination. “Yes,” Anna-Maree agrees.

“We deserve it,” Joseph Axe adds, steering the car around another sharp bend.

“I’m sorry for everything,” Anna-Maree says.

Joseph puts his hand on his wife’s. “Don’t apologise,” he tells her. “The main thing is we’re both safe now.”

“Yes,” Anna-Maree agrees.

“It’s a new life, remember,” Joseph reminds his wife.

“A new life,” Anna-Maree repeats.

“Our past is behind us.”


As the car rounds the next corner, the couple can see a hitchhiker on the side of the road. Joseph slows the car down.

“What are you doing?” Anna-Maree asks.

“We should give them a lift,” Joseph suggests. “We’re starting over, remember?”

Anna-Maree sighs silently. She feels unsure of picking up a hitchhiker, but trusts her husband.

“Where are you heading?” Joseph asks the hitchhiker.

“Peppercorn Patch.”

“Jump in back. That’s where we’re headed,” Joseph instructs.

The hitchhiker lugs a backpack into the backseat and climbs in after it, quickly securing the bullets that begin to escape from the side pocket.

“You heading to Peppercorn Patch for work or pleasure?” Anna-Maree asks their passenger.

“Kinda both,” the hitchhiker replies, “I used to live there.”

“Well we’re moving there, so maybe you can show us around,” Joseph suggests.

“I’ll be too busy reacquainting myself,” the hitchhiker declares, slightly annoyed by the interrogation.

“Oh, I bet you’re looking forward to catching up with old friends, then,” Anna-Maree says.

“Yes, I can’t wait,” Thomas Helling replies, patting the handgun in his pocket. “I can’t wait.”


Prepare for Vengeance. 

Season Five. August 1.

Episode Forty-Nine

Avoid Spoilers! Read from Episode One

Lies
[noun. inaccurate or false statements; falsehoods.]

Present Day

Peppercorn Patch. The sign welcomes the couple.

“A new life,” Joseph says to his wife.

From her position in the passenger seat, Anna-Maree Axe gently touches her husband’s knee. Their car travels around the curvy bends of Holgate’s Gap and passes the sign which tells them they are almost at their destination. “Yes,” Anna-Maree agrees.

“We deserve it,” Joseph Axe adds, steering the car around another sharp bend.

“I’m sorry for everything,” Anna-Maree says.

Joseph puts his hand on his wife’s. “Don’t apologise,” he tells her. “The main thing is we’re both safe now.”

“Yes,” Anna-Maree agrees.

“It’s a new life, remember,” Joseph reminds his wife.

“A new life,” Anna-Maree repeats.

“Our past is behind us.”


Nine Months Ago

The door to the caravan makes a squeaking noise as it is opened. The large brown boots bang harshly on the caravan’s linoleum floor.

“Hello Thomas.” The Poetry Predator closes the caravan door behind him and smiles at Thomas Helling.

Thomas Helling rocks himself from side to side, forcing his body into a tight ball on the bottom bunk bed.

“It’s okay, Thomas,” The Poetry Predator says as he reaches down to brush Thomas’ dirty, unwashed hair. “I’m a friend.”

Thomas Helling looks up timidly at The Poetry Predator. “My name is Thomas?” he asks.

“Yes, it is. You were in an accident, but I’m here to look after you.”

“Who are you?” Thomas asks.

“I’m an old friend, Thomas,” The Poetry Predator says, sitting down on the bed beside Thomas. “Your accident left you with some memory loss.”

The Poetry Predator goes to brush Thomas’ hair again, but Thomas retreats, forcing his body into a tighter ball.

“I know you don’t remember me, Thomas, but I am your friend. I’m here to take you to a place where you can be looked after.” The Poetry Predator reaches for Thomas’ arm, but Thomas pushes away.

“No!” Thomas screams. “Don’t touch me!”

“Come on now, Thomas. Be a good boy.”

Thomas lets out another scream as The Poetry Predator reaches for him again. Without warning, The Poetry Predator pulls a syringe out of his pocket and jabs it into Thomas’ thigh.

“There’s no point struggling, Thomas. You can’t stay here.”

Now unconscious, Thomas is dragged by The Poetry Predator out of the caravan. The only light illuminating the night sky is from a streetlight in the distance.

After dragging Thomas into the backseat of Cathy Gilmore’s car and throwing a blanket over him, The Poetry Predator starts the car and steers it slowly to the exit of the caravan park. The streets of Peppercorn Patch are empty, and the car is manoeuvred through the quiet town.

“Say goodbye Thomas,” Doctor Peter Smith says to his sleeping passenger. “Say goodbye to Peppercorn Patch.”


June, 1983

“Let’s heal this poor girl from her pain and confusion,” Miranda Smart says. “Let’s pray that she recovers from her sickness.”

Kelly Driver suddenly feels the congregation in front of her throwing water at her.

“This holy water will wash away your sins!” Reginald Smart exclaims. “You have corrupted our wholesome daughter and you will now be accountable for your actions!”

“Let go of me!” Kelly screams.

In the firelight, Kelly can suddenly see a familiar face materialise. Father Bolton, the town’s local priest, moves in close to her.

“Father,” Reginald says, “we’re so glad you came. You need to help this girl attest to her sins!”

“What is this girl accused of?” the young priest asks.

“Homosexuality,” Miranda replies. “Spreading her evil ways.”

“Why, this is indeed an evil act!” Father Bolton declares, grabbing a hold of his rosary beads.

“Yes, Father,” Reginald says. “That’s why we called you here. You need to expunge this wicked girl of her sins.”

Father Bolton grips Kelly Driver’s arm firmly and ushers Miranda and Reginald to take a seat. “I’ll take over from here,” he tells them.

Kelly looks up at the priest and struggles for a moment. She realises his grip is too strong.

“Heavenly Father,” Father Bolton begins to say aloud, “please forgive these poor people for their sins.” Suddenly Father Bolton pulls Kelly in close to him. “Run!” he whispers to her, releasing his grip.

Kelly runs as fast as she can.

Behind her she can hear the local priest: “Forgive them, Father! For they do not know what they are doing!”

She runs and runs.

“You will leave this town,” she can hear Father Bolton reprimanding the members of ‘The Family’, “and never return! You are the sinners here and you are no longer welcome!”


Nine Months Ago

Doctor Peter Smith drives the car further and further away from Peppercorn Patch. Where he drives there are no streetlights and it is pitch dark outside.

“I would have loved to have gotten to know you better Thomas,” he says, looking at a sleeping Thomas Helling in the rearview mirror, “but you went and messed a lot of things up.”

Doctor Smith shifts gears and manoeuvres the car onto the side of the road and proceeds to head along the forest’s fire track. The car thumps over fallen branches.

“Do you know that Joanne is my daughter?” he asks, working hard to keep the car on the track. “I may have been a little overprotective, but I needed to look after her.”

Thomas makes a grunting noise from the backseat.

“I know, I know,” Doctor Smith adds, “you are my biological son. I was looking after your best interests too, but when you attacked Joanne, you crossed the line.”

Thomas starts to stir from his sleep.

“There was no way you could ever be with Joanne anyway,” Doctor Smith continues. “I mean, what would the neighbours say?”

Thomas tries to sit up.

“Just imagine!” Doctor Smith laughs, quietly at first, then hysterically. “Thomas Helling in love with his sister!”

“Where am I?” Thomas asks, groggily.

“You’re at the end, dear Thomas,” Doctor Smith replies, stopping the car and facing his passenger.

Thomas puts a hand to his head and blinks his eyes a few times, attempting to fix his blurry vision.

“I created you, Thomas,” Doctor Smith says, pulling a pair of pliers from his pocket, “and some things need to come to an end.”


Present Day

“Hello, Father,” Kelly says from her hospital bed. “Thanks for visiting.”

“Of course,” Father Bolton says to Kelly. “That’s what friends are for.” He places a hand on her leg and Kelly thinks he can hear him praying for her.

Kelly looks at the kind man in front of her and grabs his hand. “You know,” she says, pulling him closer to her, “I consider you my own father.”

“And you a daughter to me.” Father Bolton smiles down at Kelly.

“When my real parents decided to leave Peppercorn Patch I thought I would never survive,” Kelly says. “When they up and left with ‘The Family’ I knew where my real home was.”

“Peppercorn Patch,” Father Bolton says.

“Yes,” Kelly agrees. “I could never leave with them. I realised they didn’t value me as much as they did that evil cult they belonged to.”

“I’m sorry your parents abandoned you, Kelly,” Father Bolton expresses his disappointment.

“I’m glad you took me in, Father,” Kelly says. “You more than made up for my parents.”

Father Bolton squeezes Kelly’s hand.

“I just wish Henry had the same opportunity as me,” Kelly adds. “Not a day goes by when I don’t think about what might have happened to her.”

Father Bolton squeezes Kelly’s hand even tighter.

“Kelly, my dear child,” Father Bolton says, grabbing a hold of his rosary beads, “it may be a shock to you, but I know what happened to Henrietta Smart.”

“Father?” Kelly is suddenly incredulous.

“I know what happened to her, Kelly,” Father Bolton reiterates.


Cathy Gilmore exits the hospital room of one of her patients and heads to the nurse’s station. She grabs out another cookie from the carton of cookies that her husband had sent her.

“You don’t look too well,” a nursing colleague informs her.

“I’ve just been busy today, that’s all,” Cathy says, taking a bite of the cookie. “I haven’t eaten lunch yet, so these will have to do.” She grabs another cookie from the carton and shoves it into her mouth before hurrying to her next patient.

As she reaches the door of her next patient, Cathy suddenly feels ill. She grabs a hold of her stomach; it pulsating with a stabbing pain. Nauseous, Cathy grabs a hold of the wall to keep herself upright. The room around her spins. She retches violently and vomits all over the hospital corridor’s floor, before collapsing and sending her work colleagues into a panic.


As the car rounds the next corner, the couple can see a hitchhiker on the side of the road. Joseph slows the car down.

“What are you doing?” Anna-Maree asks.

“We should give them a lift,” Joseph suggests. “We’re starting over, remember?”

Anna-Maree sighs silently. She feels unsure of picking up a hitchhiker, but trusts her husband.

“Where are you heading?” Joseph asks the hitchhiker.

“Peppercorn Patch.”

“Jump in back. That’s where we’re headed,” Joseph instructs.

The hitchhiker lugs a backpack into the backseat and climbs in after it, quickly securing the bullets that begin to escape from the side pocket.

“You heading to Peppercorn Patch for work or pleasure?” Anna-Maree asks their passenger.

“Kinda both,” the hitchhiker replies, “I used to live there.”

“Well we’re moving there, so maybe you can show us around,” Joseph suggests.

“I’ll be too busy reacquainting myself,” the hitchhiker declares, slightly annoyed by the interrogation.

“Oh, I bet you’re looking forward to catching up with old friends, then,” Anna-Maree says.

“Yes, I can’t wait,” Thomas Helling replies, patting the handgun in his pocket. “I can’t wait.”


Thanks again for all of your support this Season!

Obnoxious Weeds will return for another explosive Season soon!

Be sure to subscribe to this blog to receive all new episodes via email and never miss a minute of the action!

Episode Forty-Eight

Avoid Spoilers! Read from Episode One

Secrets
[noun. things kept hidden or concealed; a mystery.]

June, 1983

“I know what she’s feeling,” Miranda Smart replies. “Kelly, I know what Henry must’ve been feeling.”

“How?” Kelly Driver asks.

“Kelly,” Miranda whispers. “I’m gay too.”

“I don’t follow.”

“Of course, Reginald doesn’t know. In fact, no-one does,” Miranda explains. “I grew up in a very Christian family and my parents would not have understood. I love Reginald, don’t get me wrong, but I married him because I had to.”

“I don’t think this is any of my business, Mrs Smart.”

“Reginald is a very strict Christian man,” Miranda continues. “He wouldn’t approve, which is the reason why he didn’t approve of Henrietta.”

“I think she tried to run away, Mrs Smart, but something happened to her.”

“I feel so ashamed that I let her think that I didn’t understand her.” Miranda Smart holds her hands to her face and begins to cry.

Kelly cries too. She misses her best friend.


Present Day

Cathy Gilmore rests the gift-wrapped box on the table in front of her. The present had been delivered to her at her place of work at the Peppercorn Patch hospital.

The nurse looks the box over, noticing a small card on the top of the box.

To my gorgeous wife, it reads, as if I could make you any sweeter, but I’ll try.

 A gift from her husband. Cathy felt so happy to have Mark Gilmore back in her life. She thought she had lost him to another woman, but things had worked themselves out.

She had been unsure whether she would take Mark back after he cheated on her, however she knew she still loved him. She had just been attacked by the Poetry Predator, so she was feeling particularly vulnerable as well. He had promised to take care of her, and that was what he was doing.

Cathy undoes the bow on top of the box and opens the carton of cookies. Choc-Chip. Her favourite. He certainly knows how to make her happy. And they look hand-made as well.

She wipes the crumbs from her lips before heading off to check on her next patient.


June, 1983

“Welcome everyone,” Reginald Smart addresses the small congregation.

Kelly Driver looks around at the group of people. The dark forest around them is eerie to Kelly, but she feels comforted by the familiar faces. She had been invited by Miranda Smart to attend the group meeting. It was a meeting that only people who were in ‘The Family’ could attend. She could see her parents’ friends sitting in a small circle around the fire which was keeping them warm.

“Welcome to all of our ‘Family’ members,” Reginald continued.

Kelly looked around to see her parents. She couldn’t see them, which she thought odd, as they, too, were part of ‘The Family’ and should have been in attendance.

“Kelly, it’s so nice of you to join us. We don’t usually invite children under the age of eighteen to our gatherings.” Reginald’s glasses glimmer in the firelight.

Kelly feels all eyes on her. Miranda Smart, who is sitting next to her, grabs her hand. “Thanks for coming,” Miranda whispers.

All of a sudden, Miranda pulls Kelly up from her seat forcefully. “This girl is confused!” Miranda shouts to the group as Reginald grabs her other hand. “She thinks she is a homosexual, but she is mistaken.”

Kelly Driver looks at Miranda Smart. In the glow of the firelight, Kelly can see Miranda smirking at her.

“You tricked me!” Kelly shouts, trying to free herself from the grip. “Let go of me!”

“Family members,” Reginald calls to his friends gathered around, “let’s pray for Kelly!”

“Let go of me!” Kelly screams out again.

“Let’s heal this poor girl from her pain and confusion,” Miranda says. “Let’s pray that she recovers from her sickness.”

Kelly suddenly feels the congregation in front of her throwing water at her.

“This holy water will wash away your sins!” Reginald exclaims. “You have corrupted our wholesome daughter and you will now be accountable for your actions!”


Present Day

“How dare you treat Joanne like this after all you’ve put her through,” Constance Helling says into the Holgate Bedlamites’ hospital room.

“She needs to know the truth about me,” Doctor Peter Smith replies, his face close to the Perspex screen.

“Joanne is better off not having you in her life!” Constance exclaims. “You’ve caused her too much pain!”

“She needs to be tested for Huntington’s Disease. Please just ensure that you do that for me.” Doctor Smith is restrained for a moment. “For her.”

“She’s already asked to be tested,” Constance replies. “She’ll find out her results shortly.”

Doctor Smith smiles to himself, before lowering himself to the floor. “I always wanted a child,” he says, sitting on the floor with his back up against the Perspex screen.

“And look what you did to her when you got one,” Constance huffs.

“I’ve lost her,” Doctor Smith whispers.

“Yes,” Constance says, “it’s what you deserve. How does it feel to have something you loved taken away from you?”

Constance Helling lowers herself to the floor and pushes her back up to Doctor Smith’s. The only thing that separates them is the Perspex screen. Tears start to stream down her face.

“You took my Thomas from me,” Constance continues. “He was all I had in this world to love.”

“I’m a bad person,” Doctor Smith agrees.

“You were a good person once,” Constance reflects. “I remember telling you I wanted a child of my own.”

“I remember. We were young then.”

“And you told me about IVF,” Constance explains.

“You were my first patient.” Doctor Smith’s eyes begins to tear up.

“You helped me make my beautiful boy.” Constance wipes her face and takes a few deep breaths. “And then you took him away.”

“He was a beautiful boy,” Doctor Smith says, wiping his own face. “But he had problems of his own. He battled his own demons.”

“I could have helped him,” Constance offers.

“It was all my fault,” Doctor Smith says, burying his head into his hands. “I should have screened the sperm donor.”

“You think he inherited his problems from his father?” Constance asks.

“I know he did.” Doctor Smith rubs his temples with his fingertips.

“It was an anonymous donor,” Constance adds. “There was no way of knowing.”

“It was before I knew myself,” Doctor Smith reflects. “I hadn’t yet been tested for Huntington’s, otherwise I would never have done it.”

“Done what?”

“Donated my sperm,” Doctor Smith replies. “Thomas never had a chance. Not with a father like me.”


Final Episode – Thursday April 28

Episode Forty-Seven

Avoid Spoilers! Read from Episode One

Undisclosed
[adjective. not known or made known publicly.]

Present Day

Kyle Cook hated to get his hands dirty. A contradiction, considering that is all he had done since moving to Peppercorn Patch and becoming a police officer; a sworn protector and law enforcer.

Leading Senior Constable Kyle Cook had to use what was around him: a rock and a few branches. He had managed to dig a shallow grave underneath a large gum tree. He had been digging for a while and his whole body was covered in dirt. It would have been pitch black had it not been for the light illuminated from his headlamp.

He had to act quickly before someone noticed the light amongst the trees above the small town. He knew that this would only be a temporary solution to his problem until he was able to sort out what he was going to do with the body. Surely someone would start asking questions.

For now he had to hide the body of Inspector Wesley Manning.

Kyle Cook was frantic. He had lost his calm.


“The scans of your brain suggest that you had an epileptic episode,” Doctor Joel Prasad tells his patient, Amber Harp. “Most certainly this was caused by the violent trauma you received when you were attacked all those months ago.”

“And the memory loss?” Michael Anders, sitting on the bed next to Amber, asks.

“An unfortunate side effect of the seizures,” Joel explains.

“Will she have epilepsy forever?” Michael is concerned for his lover.

“It’s hard to tell, but it may be something that Amber will have to live with. Fortunately, there are drugs that can help alleviate the symptoms and reduce the severity of the attacks.” Joel Prasad scribbles down something on his clipboard folder.

“But she’ll make a full recovery?” Michael interrogates the new doctor.

“Early days yet, but it seems our patient seems to be remembering some things.”

“Yes,” Amber Harp smiles from her hospital bed. “I am having some memories returning to me. I feel like I’m finding myself again.”

Joel Prasad laughs at his patient, touching her gently on the shoulder and scribbling more down on his clipboard. “I’ll go and organise your medication and let you two find yourselves again.”

As the doctor leaves the hospital room, Michael Anders leans over his lover and strokes her brown hair from her face. “I love you, Amber Harp.”

Amber smiles, grabbing hold of Michael’s hands and holding them to her face. “I love you too, Michael Anders.”

Michael Anders had been discharged from the hospital and was returning home to see out the rest of his recovery. He would be returning to his old job as the Sergeant of Peppercorn Patch Police as soon as he was well enough. For now, things seemed to be looking up for Michael Anders. He was hopeful that Amber Harp would be discharged from hospital shortly too, and that she would live with him.

“I don’t want you to return to Holgate,” Michael says. “I want you to come home with me.”

Amber smiles, closing her eyes gently and imagining her new life with Michael Anders.

“I was going to save it,” Michael says, reaching into his pocket, and kneeling next to the bed. He pulls her hand towards him and pushes a silver ring onto her finger. “Marry me, Amber.”


June, 1983

Kelly Driver grabs her school bag out of her locker and closes the door, fastening the padlock. She throws the bag over her shoulder and makes her way out of the school grounds, walking amongst the mass of students making their own way home.

“Kelly!” she can hear someone call out to her. She looks around, expecting to see a fellow classmate. Instead, standing next to her car, Kelly sees Miranda Smart. “Kelly, over here,” Miranda motions for Kelly to come to the car.

Kelly is hesitant, particularly given the circumstances. The last time Miranda Smart spoke to her was not pleasant. She makes her way timidly over to where her best friend, Henry Smart’s, mother is standing.

“Kelly, I’m so glad that I’ve caught you,” Miranda Smart says. “I can drive you home. Please jump in.” Miranda opens the passenger door and motions for Kelly to enter.

“I can walk home, Mrs Smart, but thank you for the offer.” Kelly knows how to be polite.

“Please, Kelly,” Miranda Smart says, almost tearfully.

Kelly Driver throws her bag onto the floor of the passenger side and jumps into the car.

“I’m sorry for the other day,” Miranda says to Kelly as she starts the car and takes off. “I’ve just been so upset about Henry. I worry about her all the time.”

“I understand, Mrs Smart,” Kelly offers. “I’ve been worried about Henry too.”

“I know that you too are close,” Miranda continues, “so I wondered if Henry told you anything. Maybe she told you something.”

Kelly knows how Henrietta’s disappearance would be affecting Miranda Smart. She takes a deep breath and decides to tell Mrs Smart about Henry’s plans. “But we never ended up running away together,” Kelly adds after confessing.

Miranda pulls to the side of the road and switches off the ignition. She lowers her head. “I know why she was going to run away.”

“Why?” Kelly asks.

“She told her father,” Miranda says. “She told Reginald that she was…was gay.”

“Oh?”

Miranda looks up and faces Kelly. “He didn’t know how to react. He told her that she was being silly and she didn’t know what she was talking about. He grabbed at her, tried to tell her she was being stupid. He told her she didn’t know what being gay meant.”

“She was running away because you didn’t accept what she was saying?” Kelly tries to understand what Miranda is telling her.

“I believe so. Reginald could never understand,” Miranda sighs.

“What about you?” Kelly asks.

“I know what she’s feeling,” Miranda replies. “Kelly, I know what Henry must’ve been feeling.”

“How?”

“Kelly,” Miranda whispers. “I’m gay too.”


Present Day

Before Amber Harp can answer Michael Anders, there is a knock at the door. Joel Prasad enters the room and hands Amber her medication. “I hope I wasn’t interrupting anything,” Joel says as he notices the ring on Amber’s finger.

“Michael just proposed,” Amber replies excitedly.

“Congratulations, you two!” Joel shakes Michael’s hand. “Just in time to tell your visitors, it seems.”

“Visitors?” Amber asks.

“Some friends from Holgate are here to see you,” Joel adds.

Amber and Michael both see a man walk into the room holding a bouquet of flowers. “Amber,” the man says. “I’m so glad you’re safe.”

Michael looks at the man inquisitively. Amber looks at the man curiously, trying to search her fragmented memory bank.

“She’s had some memory loss,” Joel Prasad explains. “It may take her a while to remember.”

The man places the flowers on the table next to the bed, leans over and gives Amber a kiss on her forehead.

“Steven?” Amber says, her brain working hard to search for memories.

“I’m sorry, who are you?” Michael Anders asks the male visitor.

“I’m Steven Harp,” the visitor introduces himself, shaking Michael’s hand.

“Amber’s brother?” Michael asks.

Steven Harp laughs out loud. “No, I’m her husband.”

From behind Steven, a little boy of about ten years of age appears. He looks up at Amber sitting on the hospital bed.

“Drake?” Amber says, looking at the boy.

“Mummy!” The little boy rushes to the bed with outstretched arms.


Next Episode – Monday April 25