Season Two Recap

The Saga Continues September 14

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Thomas Helling

The three shots that Sergeant Michael Anders fired at Thomas Helling with his handgun on that climactic night three months earlier were only meant to stop and disarm the attacker. One bullet entered and exited Thomas’ right thigh and another went through his left fore arm which was holding the bloody scalpel. The third bullet was aimed at Thomas’ left shoulder. As Thomas moved, reeling from the first two shots to his body, the third bullet exploded through his chest, narrowly missing his heart.


Sergeant Anders can feel his mobile phone vibrate in his pocket. “Sergeant Anders,” he says into the phone.

“Sergeant,” he can hear Doctor Peter Smith say on the other end of the phone, “I’m sorry, I don’t know how it happened!”

“Doc? What’s wrong?” Sergeant Anders asks.

“I went to see him as soon as I heard he was awake…” Doctor Smith starts to say.

“Hang on,” Sergeant Anders interrupts. “Thomas Helling is awake?”

“Sergeant,” Doctor Smith sighs, “Thomas Helling is gone. I don’t know how it happened, but somehow he escaped.”


Amber Harp

Valerie shakes Amber’s hand and looks quizzically at the young woman in the expensive looking suit. “Amber Harp,” Valerie thinks out loud. “Amber Harp from The Holgate Times?”

“That’s me,” Amber smiles.

“No, no,” Valerie says. “I told you over the phone that I wasn’t speaking to any newspaper, Ms Harp.”

“I only need a short amount of your time,” Amber says. “Anything at all for my story.”

“You’re very persistent.” Valerie is getting frustrated. “I’ve been telling you for months that neither myself or Joanne are interested in being interviewed for your story.”

“But Joanne has such a great story to be told,” Amber tries to reason. “Surviving her attack, dealing with her husband’s murder, and now her long recovery back to full health.”

“Who do you people think you are?” Valerie snaps. “I think you need to leave, Ms Harp. How many times do I have to say no before you understand?”

“I wouldn’t be a very good journalist if I stopped every time someone said no to me now, would I?” Amber picks up her brief case and heads towards the front door. “I’ll be in town for a little while if you change your mind and want to talk.”


“Richard was your best friend, wasn’t he?” Amber grabs Kyle Cook’s arm to comfort him. Kyle nods his head and wipes the tears from his face.

Amber stares at Kyle for a few seconds without saying anything, before making a few more notes on her note pad. “I’m sorry for your loss, Constable,” she says to him. “I’ve just got one more question.” Amber Harp gives the police officer a curt smile before asking, “Don’t you think it’s curious that Thomas is right-handed?”

“I don’t follow,” Kyle says, fidgeting in his chair nervously.

“Richard’s throat was cut from right to left,” Amber offers. “His throat was cut by someone who is left-handed.”


“I don’t understand how Thomas Helling could have done this,” Amber says. “He’d just been in a coma, with life threatening gun shot wounds.”

“He’s proven to be a very dangerous person,” Sergeant Anders replies. “We don’t know what he’s capable of.”

“It just doesn’t make sense.” Amber refuses to concede.

“So I’m guessing you have a better idea than I do?” Sergeant Anders says impatiently.

“Yes. That’s what I’ve been trying to tell you since I arrived in this town,” Amber exclaims. “I don’t believe that Thomas Helling killed Richard Evans.”

“I was there when it happened, Ms Harp,” Sergeant Anders says.

“You weren’t there when he was killed, though. But there was one other person there at the time. I believe Kyle Cook is the man that we’ve been looking for.”


Joanne Evans

“I don’t understand,” Joanne Evans says to the woman in red standing in front of her, “my mother died when she gave birth to me.”

The woman slowly brushes the flowing red hair out of her face and she smiles again at Joanne. She gently touches Joanne’s cheek with the back of her fingertips. “You’re more beautiful in real life.”

Joanne pulls away quickly from the woman’s touch. “I’m sorry, I must get going.” Joanne starts to manoeuvre the wheelchair away from the woman.

Suddenly, Joanne can feel the warm touch of the woman’s hand on her shoulder. “I am your mother, Joanne. Don’t believe anything you have been told about me.”


“Tell me about my mother,” Joanne says.

“She was very much like you,” Valerie Pickering says. “Kind, caring, beautiful. She would have loved you dearly.”

“How did she die? Have I been told the truth? Did she really die?”

“I’m not sure what you mean, honey.” Valerie is confused. “You know the truth.”

“She died when she gave birth to me?” Joanne asks.

“Yes, honey. She lost too much blood.”

“Are you telling me the truth?” Valerie could now see the tears forming in Joanne’s eyes.

Valerie looks deep into Joanne’s teary eyes. “Honey, it is the truth. I was holding her hand when she died.”


Valerie Pickering enters from the kitchen with a tray of coffee mugs and passes a black coffee to Father Bolton. “I think I have a new addiction,” she says. “Coffee.”

“You’ve been an inspiration, Val,” Father Bolton lifts his mug as if to applaud Valerie. “How long have you been sober for now?”

“Just on three months,” Valerie says. “All credit goes to Joanne.”

Joanne looks to her aunt and smiles at her as she is handed a mug of coffee. “We’ve been helping each other,” she tells Father Bolton.

“You’ll be walking again in no time,” Valerie throws her arm around her niece’s other shoulder.


The glow from the bed lamp sends imposing shadows down the hallway and as Joanne wheels herself down it, she makes out a dark figure near the hallway’s end.

“Aunty Val?” she asks, hesitantly. “What are you doing?”

“Hello, Joanne,” she hears a haunting voice, realising that the figure is not her aunt. The dark figure swiftly rushes at her. Joanne lets out a short scream before her mouth is covered.

She hears the voice again:

Ring-a-ring o’roses,
A pocket full of posies,
A-tishoo! A-tishoo!
Now Joanne is mine!


Joanne Evans doesn’t recognise the song, but she finds it haunting. It had been on repeat since she had arrived.

In dreams I walk with you.
In dreams I talk to you.
In dreams you’re mine all of the time.
We’re together in dreams, in dreams.

Suddenly she hears footsteps approaching her from behind. She tries to spin her head around to see who it is but her abductor is just out of sight.


“Hi, Aunty Val,” Joanne Evans says as she wheels her wheelchair in to Valerie Pickering’s hospital room.

“Jo, honey, how is the baby?” Valerie cries out.

“I’ve just been for an ultra-sound,” Joanne gently rubs her belly and smiles at her aunty. “Everything is okay.”


Kyle Cook takes both of Joanne’s hands and holds them in his own. “I promise to take care of you, Joanne,” he says to her. He pulls her in close to him and they embrace.

“I promise, Joanne,” he says again. “I will look after my family: you and I.”

“And our baby,” adds Joanne.

Kyle Cook reaches down and rubs Joanne’s belly. “I promise.”


Cathy Gilmore

“I came over to show you something,” Cathy says to Valerie.

Cathy pulls a folded piece of paper out of her pocket. “I received another letter,” she says as she passes it to Valerie. “It was in my mailbox when I got home.”

Valerie squints at first to read the handwritten letter, before pushing a pair of reading glasses onto her face.

She reads the letter:

Row, row, row your boat,
Gently down the stream.
Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily,
I want to make you scream!


Mark and Melody stand together on the doorstep of their newly purchased unit in Holgate. Melody plants a kiss on Mark’s cheek before sliding the door key into the lock.

“I still can’t believe it,” Melody says to Mark as they take a step into the house. “It’s ours.”

Mark embraces Melody and kisses on her on the forehead. “We deserve it,” he says to her.

Mark heads towards the kitchen and notices an envelope from the real estate sitting on the counter.

“Congratulations Mr & Mrs Gilmore!” the front of the envelope reads.

It was true, Mark Gilmore thought to himself; he was married, but not to Melody.


Pulling off her jacket, Cathy skims through the envelopes sitting on the table. One of them catches her eye. Addressed to Mr and Mrs Gilmore, it is correspondence from a bank in Holgate.

Tearing open the envelope, Cathy reads the contents:

Congratulations, Mr & Mrs Mark & Melody Gilmore on the purchase of your new house in Holgate.

Everyone here at Holgate Bank wish you all the best for your new future together!

“Melody?” Cathy says out loud. Cathy’s head spins as she thinks about why her husband’s receptionist is listed as Mrs Gilmore. Her head continues to spin as she remembers all the extra work that her husband has been doing of late. Her husband seemed to have been working away from home in Holgate more and more recently.

Cathy throws the letter on the table in disbelief and she tries to hold back tears that are starting to well up. “That bitch!” she says in anger. “That bastard!”

She collects her thoughts for a few moments before rushing quickly around the unit and packing a small suitcase of clothes. She pulls out a pen and scribbles down a message on a piece of paper:

Mark,

Enjoy your life with that whore!

Please do not come looking for me. I am going to head to my mother’s place for some time to think about what I’m going to do.

Do not even try to contact me!

Your forgotten wife.

She pins the note to the front door and slams it behind her. She is thrown in darkness. The streetlight that normally lights the front of the house has been out for a few days.

Opening the boot of the car, she throws her suitcase into it. Suddenly, she can feel something grab her from behind. She tries to turn around and free herself from the grip, but before she knows it, she is lifted from the ground and hoisted into the boot. She tries to let out a scream, but the boot is swiftly closed. Thinking quickly, she reaches for her mobile phone, but realises that she doesn’t have it with her anymore.

Cathy starts banging on the roof of the boot with her fists. She tries to scream out as loud as she can.

The car’s engine starts and she rolls abruptly around the boot as the car jolts forward.

The Poetry Predator pushes his foot down on the accelerator and the car disappears into the distance.


“Let me go!” a petrified Cathy Gilmore screams out from the boot of her car. “Someone help me!”

Without warning, she hears a key entering the lock and the boot door shoots open. She can see the stars twinkle in the night sky above her. She is overcome with fear as a dark figure leans down over her. The small light glowing from the boot illuminates her captor’s face.

“Hello Cathy,” the Poetry Predator smiles at Cathy.

“You’re not Thomas,” Cathy manages to reply.

“Thomas? That idiot! Of course I’m not Thomas!” the Poetry Predator laughs.

“What do you want with me?” Cathy tries to remain calm.

“Cathy, I think you know,” Cathy’s captor says eerily. “You’ve known the truth about me for a while now. You’re the only one that knows.”

“I won’t tell anyone, I swear,” Cathy says, trying to stay strong.

“Have you told anyone yet, Cathy?” the Poetry Predator snaps at her.

“No one, I swear. Please let me go.”

He forcefully grabs Cathy’s left wrist and places a pair of pliers over the bottom of her pinky. “Who have you told, Cathy?” he screams at her.

Cathy screams out, sobbing uncontrollably. Fear has taken over and she is unable to answer.

Mary, Mary, quite contrary,”
the Poetry Predator recites out loud,
How does your garden grow?
With silver bells, and cockle shells,
And Cathy’s fingers all in a row.”

With that, the pliers around Cathy’s little finger is clamped together. The crunch of bone is masked only by the sound of Cathy’s scream.


Season Three begins Monday September 14.

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The Seeds Are Sown

The Helling Family Story so far

The Helling Bros.

The Helling brothers, Robert and Edward, used their father’s inheritance to purchase land and establish a farm that made some meagre profits growing strawberries. An accidental discovery one day lead the brothers’ profits to sky rocket. What Robert and Edward thought to be a weed actually turned out to be the biggest money maker they ever could have imagined. It was a peppercorn tree.

The groves of peppercorn trees soon filled the farmland from one end to the other. It didn’t take long for them to take off and not long after that the Helling brothers were making a small fortune.

Within 5 years of establishing their business, Robert and Edward Helling had built large factories and the small community had grown into a lively little village. The river was renamed in honour of the brothers to Helling River and the little township was born.

Robert married and had children, living in a part of the factory which was converted into living quarters while Edward, the younger brother, built himself a house overlooking the farm and township on the highest hill.

The Great Depression of 1929 hit the Helling Bros. business hard. The township soon halved in numbers as many of the workers left to find employment elsewhere. The Helling brothers were losing money, and fast.

To make matters worse, the peppercorn tree groves were hit by a bushfire which destroyed most, if not all, the precious trees.

Robert Helling himself spiralled into depression as he struggled to make ends meet for his own family. It came as no surprise to many the day that Robert Helling disappeared. He left a letter to his wife and children apologising for abandoning them. He wrote of his inability to continue living with the constant pressures of caring for them. He too had packed his bags and left town.

It was Edward Helling who stepped in to take care of his brother’s family. He took on the role of family man and became a father figure to Robert’s two children. Robert’s wife, Gretel, had also maintained hope that Robert would someday return to his family. But he never did. Gretel fell in love with Edward and they were married soon after. They lived as a happy family in the house on the hill that Edward had built.


Jack and Elias Helling

Over ten years had passed since the Great Depression of 1929 and Edward and Gretel Helling’s peppercorn farm was once again booming. As was the town. Edward had become a father to Gretel’s two children. They had grown older and helped out on the farm.

Jack and Elias Helling were both barely of age when they enlisted in the military in 1941. The young Helling brothers soon left to fight for their country. Even though Edward and Gretel would see little of their children during the war, Jack and Elias would write home often. Hearing from their children is what got them through and they were counting down the days that they would see both their sons again.

It was the letter they received from Elias Helling in 1942 that told them that both of their sons were returning home. One son, however, would not be returning alive.

Jack Helling was one of the first to be buried in Peppercorn Patch’s cemetery.


Gretel Helling

Edward Helling had been the last person to see Gretel Helling alive. She had left the house one morning as she had done nearly every other morning to go on her morning walk along the tracks through the hills behind the Helling House.

Edward and Elias Helling set out on a quest that morning in search of Gretel. Their search ended an hour later at the foot of a rocky cliff.

Mystery remained as to whether Gretel had accidentally fallen on her walk, or whether she had decided to end her pain and take her own life.


Years passed and Edward and Elias both managed the running of the Helling Bros. business. Fairly soon they were being offered large sums of money for the farm land they were using. Over time they sold off most of the land until they only had a small parcel of land left. By this time the Helling Bros. business had ceased to exist and Elias Helling had set up the local camping grounds to cash in on the booming tourist industry. Elias married and had a child of his own; a daughter named Constance.

An elderly Edward Helling years later sat propped up in his bed. His son, Elias, sat by his side. Edward knew that he only had a few short breaths left before he would say goodbye to his son for the last time.

“My son,” Edward spoke slowly to Elias. “You have been my pride and joy. You would have been my brother’s pride and joy too.”

“You’re my father. Not Richard. You have been the one that has been there to look after me and treat me like his own son,” Elias fought to hold back tears.

“There are many things in this world that will remain a mystery, Elias,” Edward informed his son. “There are some things from our family’s past that should also remain a mystery.”

Elias Helling was intrigued by what his elderly father was trying to say to him.

“Our family has many secrets, Elias,” Edward continued. “And if you ever want to find out what they are, then all you need to do is open this box.”

Edward handed Elias a small brown wooden box. On the front of the box was a bronze keyhole surrounded by the engraved initials, H.B.

“Only open if your heart tells you, Elias,” Edward warned his son. “But remember that some things are best left unopened.”

Elias looked the box over. “Where’s the key?” he asked his father.

It was too late. His father had found peace.


Constance Helling

Constance pulls out the wooden box that her father, Elias Helling, had given her from her handbag. She opens the box and lifts out its contents. She twirls a golden skeleton key in her fingers. “What am I supposed to do with this?”

Constance pulls a faded pink bed sheet off of one of the nearby tables and its dust flies through the air making her cough. As she throws the sheet on the floor, she notices a wooden box sitting on the table – a jewellery box with a hand-carved pattern of flowers on the outside.

Constance lifts the jewellery box up and notices a name carved in the top: Gretel.

“My grandmother’s jewellery box,” Constance says excitedly.

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.


The newspaper clippings sit on the floor surrounding Constance Helling. They all date back to 1965. Constance picks up one of the newspaper articles and skims through it hastily before throwing it to the side and picking up another. She had found the clippings in an old folder sitting next to the jewellery box she had found in the shed.

“I don’t understand…” Constance says to herself as she picks up another clipping to read. She skims the first few lines of The Holgate Times article:

At least 20 human skeletal remains have been located at the site of the old dam in the small town of Peppercorn Patch. Local law enforcement have advised that the bodies have yet to be identified, however all have been found to be missing their teeth.


Having entered the town of Holgate, Constance Helling slows to a stop outside a large grey coloured building. Its drab façade does not make for a warm welcome.

“I knew I’d seen it before,” Constance says to Dustin as she points up to the large sign above the building’s entrance. “I walked under it nearly everyday for years.”

Dustin turns to Constance and gives her a blank look.

“I used to work here,” she continues, “as a nurse.” She pulls out a small wooden box from her handbag and shows it to Dustin. He looks the box over and his eyes suddenly light up. He looks quickly up at the building’s sign again.

“This box belonged to my grandmother,” Constance runs her finger over the initials, H.B., on the front of the box. Above them, on the building’s sign, they can see the same initials.

Holgate Bedlamites.” Constance smiles at Dustin. “Welcome to the asylum.”

“The mental hospital?” Dustin asks.

“Yes, I initially thought the initials stood for Helling Bros, as in the business my grandparents founded, but then I remembered the hospital I used to work at; Holgate Bedlamites. The small wooden boxes were used to store medication for the patients.”

“So your grandmother was a patient?” Dustin asks.

“No,” Constance says to the elderly councillor, “she was a nurse, like me.”


“Robert and Gretel Helling’s first child was actually a girl. A daughter named Maria,” Dustin says, continuing to shield Constance from the rain. “Maria was born with a condition which meant she would never have any teeth.”

Constance hides her shock from Dustin, and recalls the jewellery box of human teeth that she located.

“She didn’t survive,” Dustin informs her. He leans over and pats the small grave that Constance is kneeling in front of. There is no gravestone to identify the grave, only a small cross.

“She was only a baby,” Constance says. “They must have been heartbroken.”


Councillor Dustin Harris

“I believe that my father was killed, murdered even,” Dustin tells Constance. “He disappeared without a trace when I was a boy, and I believe that his body was one of the skeletons that was found.”

Constance looks at the man in front of her, her mouth wide open in shock.

“I was hoping that by helping you,” Dustin continues, “I would be able to find out the truth about my father. And help you in the process.”

“I knew you weren’t telling me the whole truth,” Constance says.

“I didn’t want to make you feel like your family wasn’t important, but I’ve been trying my whole life to find out the truth about my father.”


“There’s one other thing I haven’t told you yet,” Constance says, picking up a brown paper bag. “I found this with the newspaper clippings.”

Constance passes the brown paper bag to Dustin. He looks at her quizzically before opening the bag up and peering inside.

“It’s a diary,” Constance tells him, “belonging to my grandmother, Gretel Helling.”

“We have to read it,” Dustin says. “What if it has all the answers we have been searching for?”

“I couldn’t read it by myself, but maybe we can read it together.”

Dustin unties the leather bind at the front of the diary and opens it up to the first page. “Are you ready to do this?” he asks Constance. “Are you ready to find out about your family?”


Season Three begins Monday September 14

Episode Twenty-Four

Violet

“Let me go!” a petrified Cathy Gilmore screams out from the boot of her car. “Someone help me!”

Cathy bangs on the roof of the boot with her fists, trying to make as much noise as possible. Moments earlier the car had come to a stop and the engine had been switched off. Without warning, she hears a key entering the lock and the boot door shoots open. She can see the stars twinkle in the night sky above her. She is overcome with fear as a dark figure leans down over her. The small light glowing from the boot illuminates her captor’s face.

“Hello Cathy,” the Poetry Predator smiles at Cathy.

“You’re not Thomas,” Cathy manages to reply.

“Thomas? That idiot! Of course I’m not Thomas!” the Poetry Predator laughs.

“What do you want with me?” Cathy tries to remain calm.

“Cathy, I think you know,” Cathy’s captor says eerily. “You’ve known the truth about me for a while now. You’re the only one that knows.”

“I won’t tell anyone, I swear,” Cathy says, trying to stay strong.

“Have you told anyone yet, Cathy?” the Poetry Predator snaps at her.

“No one, I swear. Please let me go.”

“I don’t believe you, Cathy.”

“I swear, I’m telling the truth.” Cathy begins to sob.

Cathy sees the Poetry Predator turn his back on her for a moment and seizes her opportunity to escape. She quickly jumps up from the boot and goes to jump out of it. Before she knows it, she is swung back down to the floor of the boot, the side of her face throbbing with pain.

“You’re not going anywhere!” the Poetry Predator barks at her, pulling a pair of pliers out of his pocket. He forcefully grabs Cathy’s left wrist and places the plier over the bottom of her pinky. “Who have you told, Cathy?” he screams at her.

Cathy screams out, sobbing uncontrollably. Fear has taken over and she is unable to answer.

Mary, Mary, quite contrary,
the Poetry Predator recites out loud,
How does your garden grow?
With silver bells, and cockle shells,
And Cathy’s fingers all in a row.”

With that, the pliers around Cathy’s little finger is clamped together. The crunch of bone is masked only by the sound of Cathy’s scream.


Constance Helling slides the jewellery box across the coffee table towards Councillor Dustin Harris. “Take a look for yourself,” she says to the elderly man.

Dustin carefully releases the clasp of the box and slowly opens the lid. He lets out a quiet gasp as he takes in its contents.

“I dropped the box,” Constance says. “It took me forever to pick up all of those teeth.”

“How many?” Dustin asks, picking up a couple of the teeth from the box and examining them.

“I didn’t count them,” Constance replies. “I’m guessing over one hundred.”

“Interesting.” Dustin is enthralled with the discovery. “Enough for about forty people.”

“Do you think they belong to the bodies with no teeth?” Constance asks.

“I don’t see who else they would belong to,” Dustin reasons.

“Do you think you could finally find your father?”

“With these?” Dustin points at the box of teeth as Constance nods her head. “I wouldn’t know which teeth to start with,” Dustin says, as he thrusts his hand deep in the box and grabs out a handful of the teeth. “Even if I did, there would be no way to identify them. My father didn’t have any dental records.”

Constance sighs heavily, defeated. She had tried to assist Dustin, but to no avail.

“Seems as if we were both hiding something from each other,” Dustin says to Constance as he drops the handful of teeth back into the jewellery box. Constance gives the elderly mayor a curt smile, before he adds: “I guess we’re even then.”


“Hi, Aunty Val,” Joanne Evans says as she wheels her wheelchair in to Valerie Pickering’s hospital room.

“Joanne!” Valerie cries out, tears instantly flowing down her face. “Oh, my little Jo.” The woman starts laughing, relieved.

Joanne pushes herself up from her wheelchair and throws herself at her aunt lying in the bed. They grab each other, crying. Their embrace seems to last a lifetime.

“I’m here Aunty Val,” Joanne whispers, wiping the tears from her face.

“I’m so sorry, Jo. I’ve let you down.”

“No you haven’t,” Joanne replies, as she gives her aunty a kiss.

“Jo, honey, how is the baby?” Valerie pulls her niece in even closer.

“I’ve just been for an ultra-sound,” Joanne gently rubs her belly and smiles at her aunty. “Everything is okay.”

Valerie lets out a relieved cry again as she grabs her niece and holds her tight. “Everything is going to be okay, Joanne. I promise.”

There is an unexpected knock at the door which makes both women sit up from the bed quickly.

“Sorry, I hope I’m not interrupting anything,” Senior Constable Kyle Cook says as he walks into the room.


“I’m afraid we’re not completely even,” Constance says to Dustin.

“I don’t follow.”

“There’s one other thing I haven’t told you yet,” Constance says, picking up a brown paper bag. “I found this with the newspaper clippings.”

Constance passes the brown paper bag to Dustin. He looks at her quizzically before opening the bag up and peering inside.

“I’m sorry I didn’t show it to you earlier,” Constance continues. “I wasn’t actually sure if I was ready for what was inside it.”

“Ready for what?” Dustin asks, as he reaches into the bag and lifts out its contents. He holds a small leather bound book in his hands. He looks up at Constance in confusion.

“It’s a diary,” Constance tells him, “belonging to my grandmother, Gretel Helling.”

Dustin’s eyes shoot wide open in shock as he looks from Constance to the diary in his hands.

“I haven’t read it yet. I was scared about what I would find,” Constance tells Dustin.

“We have to read it,” Dustin says. “What if it has all the answers we have been searching for?”

“I couldn’t read it by myself, but maybe we can read it together.”

Dustin unties the leather bind at the front of the diary and opens it up to the first page. “Are you ready to do this?” he asks Constance. “Are you ready to find out about your family?”


“Did your officers find anything at the shed?” Amber Harp asks Sergeant Michael Anders.

“Not a trace. I’ve got them out searching the surrounding bushland,” Sergeant Anders replies.

“I don’t understand how Thomas Helling could have done this,” Amber says. “He’d just been in a coma, with life threatening gun shot wounds.”

“He’s proven to be a very dangerous person,” Sergeant Anders replies. “We don’t know what he’s capable of.”

“It just doesn’t make sense.” Amber refuses to concede.

“So I’m guessing you have a better idea than I do?” Sergeant Anders says impatiently.

“I have a theory.”

“A theory. Great. A reporter from The Holgate Times has a theory.” Sergeant Anders can’t hide his frustration.

“Yes. That’s what I’ve been trying to tell you since I arrived in this town,” Amber exclaims. “I don’t believe that Thomas Helling killed Richard Evans.”

“I was there when it happened, Ms Harp,” Sergeant Anders says. He is almost about ready to send the reporter on her way.

“You weren’t there when he was killed, though. But there was one other person there at the time.”

“Constable Cook?”

“Yes,” Amber says, exasperated. “I believe Kyle Cook is the man that we’ve been looking for.”


Senior Constable Kyle Cook closes the door behind him and walks over closer to the hospital bed. “I hope everything is okay.”

“I wasn’t expecting you here,” Joanne says, pulling herself up and propping herself up onto the edge of the bed.

“I was worried about you,” Kyle Cook says, moving closer to Joanne. “Do you remember who did this to you?”

Joanne looks down and shakes her head. So much has happened lately. She can’t seem to think straight.

Kyle Cook sits down on the bed next to Joanne.

“There was somebody,” she suddenly remembers. “It was a woman. A woman with red hair. She claimed to be my mother.”

“Your mother is dead, Joanne,” Valerie says, bewildered.

“That woman might be dangerous, Joanne,” Kyle Cook says. “You shouldn’t trust anyone at the moment.”

Joanne looks to the floor again and nods, before Kyle Cook takes both of Joanne’s hands and holds them in his own. “I promise to take care of you, Joanne,” he says to her. He pulls her in close to him and they embrace.

“I promise, Joanne,” he says again. “I will look after my family: you and I.”

“And our baby,” adds Joanne.

Kyle Cook reaches down and rubs Joanne’s belly. “I promise.”


Season Three Coming Soon!

Episode Twenty-Three

Indigo

“Please, no!” Joanne Evans pleads. She can see the dark figure standing in the doorway, the end of the rifle only inches from her head. The moonlight from the open door illuminates the dark space, and Joanne can see the rain glistening outside.

“Joanne?” A flashlight is pointed at Joanne’s face. Joanne shields the bright light with her hands.

Joanne can hear the movement of a raincoat as the figure rushes towards her. Now kneeling beside her, the figure takes Joanne in their arms. “You’re okay, now,” the figure says to her.

As Joanne’s eyes adjust to the blinding light of the flashlight, she can make out the shape of the person kneeling next to her. The dark figure pulls the hood of their raincoat off to reveal a head of frizzy grey hair.

In front of her, Joanne can see the local park ranger, Kelly Driver, pulling off her raincoat and offering it over for warmth.


Constance Helling sits at a small table on the deck of Helling House overlooking the town of Peppercorn Patch below. The rain that continues to pour down obscures the normally breathtaking view of the town surrounded by national park. Councillor Dustin Harris sits opposite Constance, a small cup of tea in one hand.

“Have you heard anything about Thomas?” Dustin asks Constance about her son.

“Not yet,” Constance replies. “Joanne has been found. Sergeant Anders is going to be talking with her shortly to see if she knows anything.”

Dustin takes a sip of his tea. “Do you think it was Thomas? That took Joanne, I mean?”

“I don’t know what to think of anything anymore,” Constance says, sounding exhausted. “I’ve had nothing but heartache since I came back to this town.”

“I’m sure they’ll find Thomas.”

“I hope he’s okay,” Constance says. “I can’t bear the thought of him out there on his own, especially after everything that’s happened.”

Dustin doesn’t know what else to say. He swirls the remaining contents at the bottom of his cup before drinking it. “Well,” he says. “I must make tracks.”

“Before you go,” Constance turns to face the elderly man, “there’s been something on my mind.”

Dustin raises his eyebrows, curious.

“I haven’t been able to shake it,” Constance continues. “At first I thought that you were just being helpful, but the more I think about it, the more I feel that you know more than you’re letting on.”

“Oh,” Dustin is taken by surprise. “Straight to the point.”

“Why are you so interested?” Constance presses.

Dustin sets down his empty cup and takes a deep breath. “You’re right,” he concedes. “I am interested. I’ve been helping you because I believe we can help each other.”

“Help each other with what?” Constance asks.

“Finding out about our families.”

“Our families?”

“Yes, I admit it. I’ve been a little selfish in not sharing my true intentions.”

“Yes?”

“I believe that my father was killed, murdered even,” Dustin tells Constance. “He disappeared without a trace when I was a boy, and I believe that his body was one of the skeletons that was found.”

Constance looks at the man in front of her, her mouth wide open in shock.

“I was hoping that by helping you,” Dustin continues, “I would be able to find out the truth about my father. And help you in the process.”

“I knew you weren’t telling me the whole truth,” Constance says.

“I didn’t want to make you feel like your family wasn’t important, but I’ve been trying my whole life to find out the truth about my father.”

Constance quickly processes what she has been told. Everything she has learnt about her family flashes through her mind, before coming to a screeching halt. The image of her grandmother’s jewellery box falling, sending a mass of human teeth spilling across the floor, gives her an idea.

“I may be able to give you an answer,” Constance says to Dustin. “I may be able to help you to find your father.”


“I didn’t recognise who it was,” Joanne says to Sergeant Anders, tears falling down her face. “I wish I could help more, but I didn’t see his face.”

Joanne Evans sits across from Sergeant Michael Anders and The Holgate Times reporter, Amber Harp. Michael Anders had allowed the reporter to sit in on his interview with Joanne in the hope that they could quickly identify and apprehend the person that was involved in Joanne’s abduction.

“Joanne, I need you to think very carefully,” Sergeant Anders says to Joanne. “Do you remember seeing Thomas Helling?”

Joanne shakes her head and wipes her face with a tissue. “I don’t remember.”

“Take your time and have a good think, Joanne,” Amber urges.

“I’ve sent a couple of my officers over to the shed now to see if they can find anything. I’ll wait to see if anything comes up,” Sergeant Anders tells Joanne.

After their questioning, Sergeant Anders and Amber Harp assist Joanne to Cathy Gilmore’s car. Cathy folds the wheelchair up and lifts it into the boot of her car.

“I’ll take her to go see Valerie,” Cathy says to Sergeant Anders.

“How is she doing?” Sergeant Anders asks.

“I think it will do her good to see Joanne,” Cathy says.

“Such a shame. She was doing so well.”

“Yes, but she’s had a bit of stress lately that would drive anyone to drink,” Cathy reasons. “She’ll be in hospital for some time.”


Darkness fills the sky. Cathy Gilmore had endured a long day at work as a nurse at the local hospital. She had taken Joanne to see her aunt, Valerie Pickering, at the hospital. She had been hospitalised due to her alcohol dependence, which had taken a turn for the worse. Cathy had managed to find Joanne a bed in the hospital for the night where she knew her friend would be safe and hopefully get a good night’s rest after her ordeal.

Walking in the front door of her unit in which she lived with her husband, Mark Gilmore, she throws the mail she collected from the letterbox onto the dining room table. Her husband was away on business in Holgate tonight, so Cathy knew she would be home alone.

Pulling off her jacket, Cathy skims through the envelopes sitting on the table. One of them catches her eye. Addressed to Mr and Mrs Gilmore, it is correspondence from a bank in Holgate.

Tearing open the envelope, Cathy reads the contents:

Congratulations, Mr & Mrs Mark & Melody Gilmore on the purchase of your new house in Holgate.

 Everyone here at Holgate Bank wish you all the best for your new future together!

 “Melody?” Cathy says out loud. Cathy’s head spins as she thinks about why her husband’s receptionist is listed as Mrs Gilmore. Her head continues to spin as she remembers all the extra work that her husband has been doing of late. Her husband seemed to have been working away from home in Holgate more and more recently.

Cathy throws the letter on the table in disbelief and she tries to hold back tears that are starting to well up. “That bitch!” she says in anger. “That bastard!”

She collects her thoughts for a few moments before rushing quickly around the unit and packing a small suitcase of clothes. She pulls out a pen and scribbles down a message on a piece of paper:

Mark,

Enjoy your life with that whore!

Please do not come looking for me. I am going to head to my mother’s place for some time to think about what I’m going to do.

Do not even try to contact me!

Your forgotten wife.

She pins the note to the front door and slams it behind her. She is thrown into darkness. The streetlight that normally lights the front of the house has been out for a few days.

Opening the boot of the car, she throws her suitcase into it. Suddenly, she can feel something grab her from behind. She tries to turn around and free herself from the grip, but before she knows it, she is lifted from the ground and hoisted into the boot. She tries to let out a scream, but the boot is swiftly closed. Thinking quickly, she reaches for her mobile phone, but realises that she doesn’t have it with her anymore.

Cathy starts banging on the roof of the boot with her fists. She tries to scream out as loud as she can.

The car’s engine starts and she rolls abruptly around the boot as the car jolts forward.

The Poetry Predator pushes his foot down on the accelerator and the car disappears into the distance.


Final Episode – Monday August 3

Episode Twenty-Two

Blue

The Holgate Times – Monday, June 1st, 2015

Poetry Predator Preys on Patch

The small town of Peppercorn Patch is still reeling in shock this morning after the disappearance of one of its residents, Joanne Evans. Police believe that Thomas Helling, who had escaped police custody recently, may have abducted Mrs Evans.

Thomas Helling, originally from Peppercorn Patch, but residing in Holgate until recently, was in police custody while in a coma in Peppercorn Patch Hospital. He had been accused of attacking Joanne Evans and her husband, Richard Evans in their home on the night of February 9 this year, later killing Mr Evans in what police explain was a cold-blooded act of revenge. He escaped from the hospital late last week.

The Holgate Times can reveal that handwritten letters were sent to Mrs Evans on three different occasions, as well as two letters being sent to her best friend, Catherine Gilmore. All five letters are thought to have been written by Mr Helling and sent to the women, in what police believe to be predatory behaviour.

“All the letters were deranged poems or nursery rhymes,” Ms Gilmore said. “It was like he [Mr Helling] was trying to torment us…preying on us.”

“Our priority at the moment is to locate Joanne. We all hope and pray for her safe return,” Sergeant Michael Anders of the Peppercorn Patch Police Department said.

Amber Harp folds the newspaper she is reading on the table in front of her. The Holgate Times reporter is happy that she has been able to pen an article to keep her boss off her back, but knows that it’s not the real reason she is in the small town. As the crime reporter for The Holgate Times, she was tasked with writing a report about the attacks that had occurred three months ago resulting in the death of Richard Evans.

In writing her article, the reporter went to great lengths to investigate every detail of the case. There were, however, many unanswered questions that needed to be answered. Amber decided that the only way that she was going to get those answers was to travel to Peppercorn Patch herself and ask those people involved. So far, no one had been really forthcoming, particularly Sergeant Michael Anders. She still had something to tell him. She wanted to find out his thoughts. She had a theory that Thomas Helling hadn’t acted alone, and she thought she knew who it was.


“I did a bit of digging around,” Councillor Dustin Harris says, holding an umbrella above Constance Helling to shield the rain. “It wasn’t easy to find, but I found some records buried deep in the hospital’s archives.”

“And?” Constance asks brashly.

“Robert and Gretel Helling’s first child was actually a girl. A daughter named Maria,” Dustin says, continuing to shield Constance from the rain. “Maria was born with a condition which meant she would never have any teeth.”

Constance hides her shock from Dustin, and recalls the jewellery box of human teeth that she had located.

“Did you hear me?” Dustin asks Constance. “She was born with no teeth.”

“Yes,” Constance is shaken from her thoughts. “No teeth.”

“Can you see the connection?” Dustin asks.

“Sorry?” Constance can’t think straight.

“The bodies. No teeth. Maria. There’s a connection,” Dustin declares.

“What happened to Maria?” Constance asks.

Dustin kneels down next to Constance. She doesn’t seem to notice the rain now pouring over her back.

“She didn’t survive,” Dustin informs her. He leans over and pats the small grave that Constance is kneeling in front of. There is no gravestone to identify the grave, only a small cross.

“She was only a baby,” Constance says. “They must have been heartbroken.”


Mark and Melody stand together on the doorstep of their newly purchased unit in Holgate. Melody plants a kiss on Mark’s cheek before sliding the door key into the lock.

“I still can’t believe it,” Melody says to Mark as they take a step into the house. “It’s ours.”

Mark embraces Melody and kisses on her on the forehead. “We deserve it,” he says to her.

“The removalists should be here soon,” Melody says excitedly as she rushes upstairs to take a further look around.

Mark heads towards the kitchen and notices an envelope from the real estate sitting on the counter.

“Congratulations Mr & Mrs Gilmore!” the front of the envelope reads.

It was true, Mark Gilmore thought to himself; he was married, but not to Melody.


The silence had remained for what seemed like hours. Joanne Evans had no sense of how much time had passed. It was still dark, so she knew that it must have been early morning. She had heard the rain drum down on the shed’s tin roof for most of the night.

Her captor had left shortly after she told him not to hurt her, or her unborn child. She had struggled to free herself from her restraints ever since, constantly moving and twisting her body to loosen the binds. Soon they had become loose enough for her to manoeuvre out of them.

Her persistence had paid off. She was now slumped on the floor in front of the chair.

“Come on, Joanne,” she encourages herself, “you can do it.”

The many physiotherapy sessions that she had attended over the last few months had seemed to be paying off. The rehabilitation that she undertook meant that she was able to lift herself off the floor, using the chair to heave herself up onto her feet.

Small step by small step, Joanne treads through the darkness. She can see the door on the other side of the shed illuminated around its edges by the moonlight from outside.

When she finally gets to the door, she cries out in horror. The door is locked.

“Help!” she bangs on the steel door. “Help me!”

Joanne continues to bang on the door until she can hear movement outside. Footsteps. She can hear the bolt of the door being unfastened, before the door suddenly swings open. Joanne loses her balance and falls to the floor.

Before her, Joanne can see a dark figure, illuminated only by the moonlight.

“Hold it right there,” Joanne can hear the figure in front of her say.

“Please don’t hurt me,” Joanne cries out, as the dark figure points a rifle at her head.


Next Episode – Monday July 27

Episode Twenty-One

Green

“Please don’t hurt me,” Joanne flinches as the woman in red touches Joanne’s cheek.

“Hurt you?” the woman in red says. “Why would I want to hurt you?”

“I don’t know what you want from me,” Joanne says, terrified. “Please just let me go.”

“It’s not as easy as that,” the woman in red smiles at Joanne. Both women stare at each other without saying a word for what seems an eternity before the woman in red breaks the silence. “I am your mother, Joanne.”

“My mother is dead,” Joanne tries to scream out at the woman, but she is choked up. Tears start to run down her face. “My mother died when I was born!”

“There was something you were never told about me, Joanne.”

“You’re not my mother!” Joanne shouts, crying.

The woman in red leans over Joanne again and embraces her. “It’s okay, darling,” she says, trying to comfort Joanne. “Your mother is here now.”

“Get off me!” Joanne screams, and pushes at the woman in red with all her strength. Even though she is strapped to the chair, Joanne manages to push the woman in red to the floor.

“Sssh!” the woman in red hushes Joanne. “He’ll hear us.”

“Who? Who will hear us?” Joanne almost yells again.

“The man that has you hostage here.”

“You’re the one who’s taken me hostage,” Joanne says angrily, trying to loosen herself from the binds that are holding her firmly to the chair.

“I’m your mother, Joanne,” the woman in red says, almost offended. “Why would I have done this to you?”

Suddenly, there is the sound of a door bolt being unlatched, which takes both women by surprise. “Help me!” Joanne pleads with the woman in front of her.

“He can’t know that I’ve been here,” the woman in red says, panicked.

With that, the woman in red picks herself up from the ground and disappears from Joanne’s sight.


“I didn’t recognise the initials until you showed me my grandmother’s birth certificate,” Constance Helling tells Dustin Harris. “Once I saw the Holgate connection, it hit me.”

“The mental hospital?” Dustin asks.

“Yes, I initially thought the initials stood for Helling Bros, as in the business my grandparents founded, but then I remembered the hospital I used to work at; Holgate Bedlamites. The small wooden boxes were used to store medication for the patients.”

“So your grandmother was a patient?” Dustin asks.

“No,” Constance says to the elderly councillor, “she was a nurse, like me.”

“She worked at the mental hospital as a nurse?”

“Yes, until she met my grandfather and she moved to Peppercorn Patch to live with him,” Constance says, showing Dustin a green coloured piece of paper. It was a record of employment that Constance had managed to locate. “I had no idea she was a nurse.”

“A strange coincidence that you both ended up working at the same place,” Dustin says, pulling a piece of paper out of his pocket.

“Yes, what a coincidence,” Constance agrees. “What do you have there?”

“I should have given you this earlier,” Dustin says as he hands the piece of paper over to Constance. “Your grandmother’s birth certificate wasn’t the only one I located.”

Constance grabs the paper and looks it over, confused. “Who is this?”

“It seems they had another child,” Dustin explains. “A girl. Robert and Gretel Helling had a daughter.”


The new letter that Cathy Gilmore had received was handed around the small group.

“How many of these have you received?” Sergeant Michael Anders asks Cathy.

“This is the second one,” Cathy replies. “I received the first one about three months ago.”

“Do you think it’s from Thomas Helling?” Senior Constable Kyle Cook looks to his sergeant.

“It’s possible. But we won’t know for sure until we find him,” Sergeant Anders says.

“So Joanne received these letters as well?” Amber Harp, the reporter from The Holgate Times, asks Cathy.

“Yes, I only discovered that recently,” Cathy informs the group. “Actually, it was the same night she disappeared.”

“She told me about the letters,” Sergeant Anders confesses.

“You knew that she was receiving them?” Amber inquires.

“Yes, but I thought they must have been from Thomas. I thought she was safe because Thomas was in hospital,” Sergeant Anders says.

Amber Harp looks over the letter that Cathy received. “Quite curious, isn’t it?” she asks no one in particular. “Are they all this poetic?”

“Yes, poems and nursery rhymes,” Cathy agrees.

“Bloody deranged,” Kyle Cook says. “Sick bastard.”

“If it’s not Thomas, then we’ve got someone in our community preying on others,” Sergeant Anders processes the situation.

“Yes, a predator,” Amber Harp adds, scribbling something down in her notebook, “The Poetry Predator.”


The daylight had disappeared a few hours earlier and Joanne finds herself surrounded in darkness. The only thing that she can hear is her short shallow breath. There is an eerie silence that overwhelms the large shed. Even the turntable next to her has stopped playing its repetitive tune.

Joanne struggles to free herself from her binds once again by moving her body around.

“Don’t struggle,” she hears a voice pierce the silence. Joanne stops moving and, petrified, holds her breath to listen to the sounds around her.

Joanne listens as footsteps come closer to her. She’s too terrified to move.

“You are mine,” she can hear the voice again.

“Please don’t hurt me,” Joanne cries. She can feel warm air around her neck.

Terrified, Joanne starts shaking uncontrollably. Tears start flowing down her face. “Please don’t hurt me,” she pleads again.

She can hear the crackle of the phonograph needle hitting the vinyl on the turntable next to her. The haunting song is on repeat again.

“Please don’t hurt me,” Joanne screams over the music, pleading with her assailant. “Please don’t hurt me, I’m pregnant.”

The sound of the record unexpectedly screeching to a halt plunges everything back into silence.


Next Episode – Monday July 20

Episode Twenty

Yellow

It had become too dark to search the river once the wheelchair had been located. Sergeant Michael Anders postponed any search of the river for Joanne Evans until the following morning. Once daylight hit the small town of Peppercorn Patch, a police crew started their search of the river. Police divers were sent to the deepest parts of the river, while other officers headed downstream to the shallowest parts of the river to see if anything had washed up.

“Have you found anything?” Sergeant Anders asks one of the divers a few hours after beginning the search.

“There’s no body down there, Mike,” the diver replies. “She’s not down there.”

Sergeant Anders already knew the answer. He knew that Joanne’s body was not going to be found in the river. “Thomas has her,” he concedes. “We need to find Thomas.”


The car cautiously navigated the sharp bends in the road traveling on what was known as Holgate’s Gap. Constance Helling was headed towards the town of Holgate.

Constance Helling hadn’t known what to make of the birth certificate that Dustin Harris had given her. It belonged to her grandmother, Gretel Helling, and somehow she knew that it would connect her with everything she had discovered already. She just didn’t know how. She had found it rather curious that Dustin had given her the birth certificate. Somehow he must have known that Gretel had been involved.

“I know whatever you need to know,” he had said to her, “has got to do with your grandmother. You need to go to Holgate to find out more about her.”

“I can’t leave right now,” Constance had protested. “Thomas is missing. I must stay here in Peppercorn Patch.”

“There is nothing you can do here at the moment, Constance,” Dustin had told her. “You need to take your mind off that. I’ll join you and we can do this together.”

Constance knew it was true. There wasn’t much she could do. The police were out looking for Thomas and all she could do was sit and wait. She made the decision to head to Holgate with Dustin. Her grandmother had been born in Holgate and that’s where she needed to start.

Having entered the town of Holgate, Constance Helling slows to a stop outside a large grey coloured building. Its drab façade does not make for a warm welcome.

“I knew I’d seen it before,” Constance says to Dustin as she points up to the large sign above the building’s entrance. “I walked under it nearly everyday for years.”

Dustin turns to Constance and gives her a blank look.

“I used to work here,” she continues, “as a nurse.” She pulls out a small wooden box from her handbag and shows it to Dustin. He looks the box over and his eyes suddenly light up. He looks quickly up at the building’s sign again.

“This box belonged to my grandmother,” Constance runs her finger over the initials, H.B., on the front of the box. Above them, on the building’s sign, they can see the same initials.

Holgate Bedlamites.” Constance smiles at Dustin. “Welcome to the asylum.”


Cathy Gilmore steps up to Valerie Pickering’s doorstep and knocks on the front door. After a few seconds, she knocks again. After no response following a third knock, Cathy reaches into her handbag and pulls out her keys. Joanne had given Cathy a key to the house in case of an emergency.

As Cathy takes a step into the house after unlocking the door, it seems as though the house is empty. The house is quiet and there is no sign of Valerie. On the kitchen bench, Cathy notices a collection of empty bottles: wine, whiskey and vodka. No less than 10 bottles once containing alcohol.

“Valerie?” Cathy calls out into the quiet house. She makes her way to Valerie’s bedroom. “Valerie,” she sings out again as she moves. “Are you in here?”

As she nears the bedroom, Cathy can hear a faint noise: someone crying. She knocks on the closed door gently and, after no response, opens the door. In front of her, she can see Valerie Pickering. Slumped on the floor next to her bed. Sobbing quietly. Holding a bottle of whiskey.

“Val!” Cathy rushes at the woman to grab the bottle. “Give me that!”

“No!” sobs Valerie. “Leave me be!”

“What are you doing?” the nurse in Cathy asks sternly.

“I want Joanne back,” an intoxicated Valerie continues sobbing.

“Drinking yourself silly is not going to get Joanne back now, is it?” Cathy lectures the woman in front of her. “Come on,” Cathy struggles to pull Valerie to her feet, “I’ll make you something to eat.”


I close my eyes, then I drift away.
Into the magic night, I softly say.
A silent prayer, like dreamers do.
Then I fall asleep to dream my dreams of you.


Cathy worked quickly to cook up something for Valerie. She knew that the woman needed to eat something to assist with all the alcohol that she had presumably consumed.

“I came over to show you something,” Cathy says to Valerie as she places the plate of eggs and toast on the table. “But I’m not sure I want to now.”

“What is it? Show me!” Valerie demands, slurring her words.

“It might be too upsetting, but I don’t know who else to tell. I haven’t even shown my husband.” Cathy pulls a folded piece of paper out of her pocket. “I received another letter,” she says as she passes it to Valerie. “It was in my mailbox when I got home.”

Valerie squints at first to read the handwritten letter, before pushing a pair of reading glasses onto her face.

She reads the letter:

Row, row, row your boat,
Gently down the stream.
Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily,
I want to make you scream!


Joanne Evans doesn’t recognise the song, but she finds it haunting. It had been on repeat since she had arrived.

In dreams I walk with you.
In dreams I talk to you.
In dreams you’re mine all of the time.
We’re together in dreams, in dreams.

“Hello, is anyone there?” Joanne calls out. She looks around her and sees that she is in a large shed; an old farming shed once used by the Helling Bros. business. It is completely empty apart from the chair that she is strapped to and the record player spinning its repetitive tune next to her.

“What do you want from me?” Joanne calls out again.

Suddenly she hears footsteps approaching her from behind. She tries to spin her head around to see who it is but her abductor is just out of sight.

“What do I want from you?” Joanne can hear a voice behind her, and feels a hand brushing the back of her neck. “I want you to listen.”

Joanne hears more footsteps before a sea of red suddenly surrounds her. She can see the woman in red before her. “It’s time, Joanne,” the woman in red leans in close to Joanne and whispers in her ear. “It’s time you were told the truth.”


Next Episode – Monday July 13

Episode Nineteen

Orange

“Sergeant Anders!” Amber Harp runs after the police sergeant as he walks briskly towards the police station. “Sergeant Anders! I just want to have a word with you!”

Sergeant Michael Anders pauses briefly, turning to face The Holgate Times reporter. “Ms Harp, I can’t talk now! I’m busy!”

As Sergeant Anders heads off towards the police station, Amber follows him. Her high-heeled shoes rap along the uneven paved footpath. “I just need to know, Sergeant,” she calls out after him.

“Ms Harp, not now! Please!” Sergeant Anders is starting to lose his patience with the reporter.

“Is it true?” she persists. “Is Thomas Helling really missing?”

Sergeant Anders stops suddenly and faces Amber. “Who told you?”

“So it’s true?” Amber brushes the brown fringe out of her face.

“I told you I can’t talk,” Sergeant Anders turns to walk off again. “I’m busy.”

As Amber starts to run after him, one of the heels off her shoes breaks loose and she almost falls to the ground. She curses under her breath before reaching down and pulling the shoe off her foot. “This town is no longer safe, Sergeant Anders!” she calls out to him. “With Thomas Helling out on the loose, no one is safe here!”

She sees Michael Anders disappear through the entrance of the police station without looking back.


Sergeant Michael Anders races into the police station and heads straight to Senior Constable Kyle Cook’s desk. “Any news?” he asks Kyle.

“Sorry, Serg. Nothing yet,” Kyle says. “No reports of anyone seeing Thomas.”

“He can’t have just disappeared! Someone must have seen him, or knows something!”

“I’ll keep making calls,” Kyle says as he reaches to pick up the telephone. “I’ll try Constance Helling again. Maybe she’s heard something since the last time you spoke with her.”

Sergeant Anders just nods his head and turns to walk away. He suddenly sees the front door of the police station swing open.

“Sergeant!” he can hear Valerie Pickering scream out. “It’s Joanne!”

Sergeant Anders rushes over to Valerie as she collapses in his arms. Tears are streaming down her face.

“What about Joanne?” he asks her.

“I can’t find her,” Valerie continues to cry. “I went to wake her this morning and she was gone. I’ve tried calling her…”

“Val!” Sergeant Anders attempts to calm the woman down. “I’m sure she’s fine.”

Valerie stops crying and faces the police officer. She brushes the tears off her face with her hand. “She’s not fine,” Valerie sniffs. “Thomas has her!”


Councillor Dustin Harris steps up to the front door of Helling House, the house high up on the hill overlooking the town of Peppercorn Patch. He tucks the folder he is holding under his left arm, takes a deep breath and knocks on the freshly painted door. He waits for a moment before hearing the latch of the door being unlocked.

“Have you heard anything about Thomas?” Constance Helling says as she opens the door and sees the mayor.

“No,” Dustin replies. He sees a worried looking woman. He senses that she probably hasn’t slept since being told her son had disappeared. “I’m sorry, I haven’t.”

Constance lets out a big sigh as she tightens the dressing gown she is wearing around her waist. “What do you want?”

For a moment, Dustin Harris sees Constant Hell, the woman that most residents of the town despise. A heavy set woman in her fifties, Constance Helling has always made her presence known. An ascendant of the famous Helling family, she would always try to assert her authority, even when most of the time she had none. Her sharp tongue and imposing figure made many fear her, something she quite liked. Dustin Harris did not scare easily.

“I’m curious,” Dustin smiles wryly at the woman in front of him. “Why are you so interested in finding out about those bodies?”

Constance rolls her eyes, irritated. “I found the newspaper reports, that’s all. I wanted to see for myself.”

“That was all? Nothing else?” Dustin presses.

“No. Now if you don’t mind, Councillor Harris,” Constance says, starting to close the door, “my son has gone missing. I have other things to worry about right now.”

Before Constance is able to fully close the door, Dustin pushes the folder he is holding towards her. “I thought this might interest you.”

“What is it?” Constance grabs the folder and looks quizzically at the elderly mayor.

“Take a look for yourself.”

Constance opens up the folder. On a single piece of paper inside the envelope, she can see a photocopy of a birth certificate.

“How did you get this?” Constance snaps at Dustin.

“I thought you might be interested,” he smiles again. “Now you know where she was born.”

“This is my grandmother’s birth certificate,” Constance says. “Why do I need this?”

“You tell me,” Dustin winks at Constance. “Let the fun begin.”


Kelly Driver, the park ranger, stands on the bank of the Helling River. Next to her, Sergeant Anders stands looking out into the middle of the river.

“This is the exact location that Thomas’ car plunged into the river,” Sergeant Anders says to Kelly. “Seven years ago.”

Kelly says nothing, but looks out as a police diver enters the middle of the river. She had noticed something caught on some tree logs and had informed Sergeant Anders immediately.

“Joanne wouldn’t have been able to swim yet,” Kelly looks up at Sergeant Anders. He returns her look with a grim face.

Next to them, a tow truck noisily works its pulley. It pulls aggressively at a metal object in the middle of the river, prying it from its resting place under the logs.

Kelly Driver and Sergeant Anders look on as the object is dragged from the river.

“This doesn’t look good,” Kelly sighs heavily.

Before them, they see the metal object hit the river bank and the tow truck stops pulling. Sergeant Anders looks on in disbelief as he sees Joanne’s wheelchair resting on top of the black water.


Next Episode – Monday July 6

Episode Eighteen

Red

They made their way slowly along the narrow winding dirt tracks. Neither of them could move very fast, so it took them a while to get to their destination. They stopped a number of times along the way to rest.

“Just over this hill,” Councillor Dustin Harris, the elderly mayor of Peppercorn Patch, says to Constance Helling. “It’s not far now.”

As they make their way over the small hill, both of them stop and gaze down at the large dirt hole. What was once a large dam used by the Helling family to water their Peppercorn trees had long since turned into a vast expanse of lifeless dirt.

Dustin Harris points his bony finger to the large dirt hole. “When the dam dried up in ’65,” he says to Constance, “that’s where the human remains were found.”

Constance looks down at the old dam site in wonder. She hadn’t informed Dustin Harris of her human teeth find, nor had she any intention of doing so until she could make more sense of what it all meant. All she had told the elderly mayor was that she had found some old newspaper clippings of the grisly find of skeletal remains, and that she was interested in finding out more about it.

“About forty bodies in total were found down there, though quite a few of them have never been identified,” Dustin says, giving Constance a big toothy grin and tapping his teeth with his finger. “No teeth, you see.”

“The skeletons had no teeth?” Constance asks.

“None whatsoever. Whoever brought them here must have taken them,” Dustin says.

“They were murdered?” Constance asks curiously.

“Presumed murdered. Only skeletal remains were found, so it could never be established. As far as I know, the police were looking for a killer in possession of human teeth.”

“Why the teeth though?” Constance thinks to herself, as she hears the sound of her mobile phone ringing in her handbag. “Hello,” she answers the phone.

“Constance,” the voice says on the other end of the line. “It’s Sergeant Anders. Have you seen Thomas?”

“What do you mean? He’s in hospital,” Constance says, almost irritated.

“I’m afraid not,” Sergeant Anders informs her. “He’s gone.”


“You were supposed to be here watching him!” Sergeant Anders bellows at Senior Constable Kyle Cook. “How could you have not seen him walk out?”

Both men stand inside Thomas Helling’s small room in the hospital. The equipment that was once keeping Thomas alive now lays sprawled over the empty bed.

“I’m sorry,” Kyle says. “I didn’t think he was going to be able to leave, so I took a break.”

“You left your post?” Sergeant Anders is furious.

“I went to meet Amber.”

“Who?”

“Amber Harp from The Holgate Times,” Kyle informs his sergeant.

“You were talking to the media? You were supposed to be here keeping guard of Thomas Helling, and you leave to talk to the media?” Sergeant Anders turns to walk out of the room, looking back at Kyle Cook. “This is on you! If anything happens to anyone, I’ll make sure you take full responsibility!”

“Trust me,” Kyle says as Sergeant Anders walks off, “this is the last thing I wanted to happen.”


Father Bolton, Peppercorn Patch’s resident priest, sits on the lounge opposite Joanne Evans. Next to her, Cathy Gilmore sits with her hand resting on Joanne’s shoulder.

“I’m sure they’ll find Thomas,” Father Bolton tries to reassure Joanne. “Sergeant Anders and his crew are out looking for him now.”

“How could this happen?” Cathy asks, tightening her grip around Joanne’s shoulder. “He’s a danger to everyone.”

“I’m sure they’ll find him,” Father Bolton says again. “Joanne, you’ll be safe here.”

Valerie Pickering enters from the kitchen with a tray of coffee mugs and passes a black coffee to Father Bolton. “I think I have a new addiction,” she says. “Coffee.”

“You’ve been an inspiration, Val,” Father Bolton lifts his mug as if to applaud Valerie. “How long have you been sober for now?”

“Just on three months,” Valerie says. “All credit goes to Joanne.”

Joanne looks to her aunt and smiles at her as she is handed a mug of coffee. “We’ve been helping each other,” she tells Father Bolton.

“You’ll be walking again in no time,” Valerie throws her arm around her niece’s other shoulder.

A moment of silence falls over the group as they each take a drink from their mugs. “I’m so scared,” Joanne breaks the silence. “Thomas is out to get me.”

“He’d be insane to return, Jo,” Valerie tries to comfort Joanne.

“He is insane,” Joanne tells the group as she pulls some paper out of her pocket. “He sent me these.”

The two handwritten letters that had been sent to Joanne are passed around the group. Valerie reads each letter a few times, trying to make sense of them.

“Oh, my!” Cathy pipes up, “I received a similar letter.”

“You got one too?” Joanne asks her friend.

“Yes, it scared me at first. But I didn’t think much of it after Thomas was captured.”

“But why would Thomas send one to you?” Joanne asks, as she looks at Cathy in disbelief.

“The devil’s work,” Father Bolton suddenly says, having read one of Joanne’s letters. “This is the work of the devil!”


Joanne lies in bed looking out into the darkness. It is late and she can’t seem to sleep. The thought of Thomas Helling out on the loose and the revelation that her best friend, Cathy Gilmore, also received a letter scares her.

She is haunted by Thomas Helling each and every day.

 She can’t seem to shake the image of the woman in red either. The woman that claimed that she was Joanne’s mother. A mother that she thought had died when she was born. A mother that everyone tells her is indeed deceased.

“Who is that woman?” Joanne asks herself. “I need to know the truth.”

She suddenly hears a noise coming from the kitchen, and supposes her aunt has returned home early from work. Switching on her bed lamp, Joanne heaves her body out over the edge of the bed and into her wheelchair. She decides to go and seek comfort from her aunt.

The glow from the bed lamp sends imposing shadows down the hallway and as Joanne wheels herself down it, she makes out a dark figure near the hallway’s end.

“Aunty Val?” she asks, hesitantly. “What are you doing?”

“Hello, Joanne,” she hears a haunting voice, realising that the figure is not her aunt. The dark figure swiftly rushes at her. Joanne lets out a short scream before her mouth is covered.

She hears the voice again:

Ring-a-ring o’roses,
A pocket full of posies,
A-tishoo! A-tishoo!
Now Joanne is mine!


Next Episode – Monday June 29

Episode Seventeen

Downpour 

The newspaper clippings sit on the floor surrounding Constance Helling. They all date back to 1965. Constance picks up one of the newspaper articles and skims through it hastily before throwing it to the side and picking up another. She had found the clippings in an old folder sitting next to the jewellery box she had found in the shed.

“I don’t understand…” Constance says to herself as she picks up another clipping to read. She skims the first few lines of The Holgate Times article:

At least 40 human skeletal remains have been located at the site of the old dam in the small town of Peppercorn Patch. Local law enforcement have advised that the bodies have yet to be identified, however all have been found to be missing their teeth.

“I wonder…” Constance says to herself again as she looks to her grandmother’s jewellery box filled with human teeth sitting on the floor next to her.


Mark throws the stack of papers to the table and grabs Melody’s hand. “We’ve been approved!”

Melody looks at Mark uncertainly for a few seconds before wrapping her arms around him excitedly. “Are you kidding me?” She laughs.

“I’ve got the paperwork here to prove it!” Mark says, as he shows Melody the approval for the home loan from the bank.

“You are unbelievable, you are,” Melody says as she starts kissing Mark’s face all over. “Unbelievably talented!”

Mark reluctantly pries himself away from Melody. “You know what this means?”

“We can crack open some champagne to celebrate,” Melody calls out as she turns towards the kitchen to grab the bottle out of the fridge.

Mark laughs and adds, “More importantly we can buy that apartment.”

Melody stops and turns to face Mark. Her eyes grow wide as a large smile works it way across her face. “I love you. You’re a keeper.”

Melody pours two glasses of champagne and hands one to Mark. “To us and a new beginning,” she says as their glasses tap.

“To us,” Mark says and takes a sip of the champagne. “Now,” he says as he places his glass down on the table, “I really must get going.”

“You have to leave already?” Melody pouts.

Mark takes Melody in his arms and pulls her in, kissing her on her forehead. “I’ll be back soon. But I really must be getting home.”

“We’ll have a home together soon. Just the two of us,” Melody says dreamily.

“Yes, Mel. Soon we will. But for now I must get home to my wife.”


“So, tell me,” Amber Harp pulls a note pad out of her brief case and starts making some hand written notes, “what happened on the night that Richard Evans was killed?”

Senior Constable Kyle Cook clears his throat. He feels slightly uneasy sitting opposite The Holgate Times reporter. He looks around The Grand Hotel from the table they are sitting at. There are only a handful of patrons in the establishment, all seemingly minding their own business.

“I remember thinking I needed to find Thomas Helling as quickly as possible before anything happened to Richard,” Kyle starts. “I knew that if we didn’t find Thomas quickly, then Richard was in trouble.”

“How did you know that?” Amber asks.

“He’d already attacked Joanne Evans and left her to die in the burning house. I knew Richard was in trouble.”

“How did you find them?” Amber scribbles some notes on her pad.

“I remembered that the house on the hill was owned by the Helling family. I thought I’d go check it out.”

“And then what?” Amber presses.

“I heard voices and I knew I had found them. I knew I had to act fast, otherwise there would be trouble.” Kyle takes a deep breath. “Thomas must have heard me. By the time I entered the room, he was holding the scalpel to Richard’s throat.”

“Did he say anything to you?” Amber asks.

“I don’t remember,” Kyle looks to the floor. “It all happened so fast. Before I knew it, Thomas had killed Richard.” Tears start streaming down Kyle’s face. “I tried to save him, but it was too late.”

“Richard was your best friend, wasn’t he?” Amber grabs Kyle’s arm to comfort him. Kyle nods his head and wipes the tears from his face.

“I can’t believe he’s gone,” Kyle looks up at Amber. “Poor Joanne. That bastard better not survive!”

Amber stares at Kyle for a few seconds without saying anything, before making a few more notes on her note pad. “I’m sorry for your loss, Constable,” she says to him. “I’ve just got one more question.” Amber Harp gives the police officer a curt smile before asking, “Don’t you think it’s curious that Thomas is right-handed?”

“I don’t follow,” Kyle says, fidgeting in his chair nervously.

“Richard’s throat was cut from right to left,” Amber offers. “His throat was cut by someone who is left-handed.”


“Thomas may have written this before he was shot,” Sergeant Michael Anders holds the hand written letter that Joanne had received in his hands. “Who else could have written this?”

“I don’t know,” Joanne says fearfully.

“I think Thomas was trying to scare you. He’d obviously prepared these letters in advance,” Sergeant Anders tries to reason with Joanne.

“What if it’s not Thomas?” Joanne asks.

“Like who?” Sergeant Anders almost laughs. “Everybody loves you Joanne. We all want to see you get better.”

Joanne looks up to the police officer from her wheelchair and gives him a smile. “You’re right,” she says.

Sergeant Anders kneels down to face Joanne, “I know it’s been hard for you. We’ll charge Thomas with Richard’s murder as soon as he wakes up from his coma. Doctor Smith says that should be pretty soon.”

“I want him to suffer,” Joanne says quietly.

Sergeant Anders puts his arms around Joanne and gives her a hug. “I’ll make sure of it, Joanne. He won’t get away with this.”

As he pulls away from Joanne, Sergeant Anders can feel his mobile phone vibrate in his pocket. “Sergeant Anders,” he says into the phone.

“Sergeant,” he can hear Doctor Peter Smith say on the other end of the phone, “I’m sorry, I don’t know how it happened!”

“Doc? What’s wrong?” Sergeant Anders asks.

“I went to see him as soon as I heard he was awake…” Doctor Smith starts to say.

“Hang on,” Sergeant Anders interrupts. “Thomas Helling is awake?”

“He woke up and I went to his room to check on him straight away,” Doctor Smith says frantically.

“Doc, I don’t understand,” Sergeant Anders says.

“Sergeant,” Doctor Smith sighs, “Thomas Helling is gone. I don’t know how it happened, but somehow he escaped.”


Next Episode – Monday June 22