The story that Joanne Evans has recounted to Doctor Joel Prasad has left them both feeling a little unsettled. The half-eaten pizza is pushed to the side and Joel puts his arm around Joanne.
“Your aunty is one brave woman,” Joel tells Joanne. “But I think you’re a pretty brave woman yourself. I mean, all the things you’ve been through and had to overcome.”
Joanne looks up at Joel and gives him a polite smile. “Thanks,” she whispers. “That means a lot.”
They are both suddenly taken by the moment and their lips touch each other’s. It had been so long since she had felt this close to anyone, Joanne realises. She doesn’t want this moment to end.
The shrill sound of Joel’s mobile phone ringing interrupts their moment. They both pull away from each other, Joel sighing as he reaches for the phone in his pocket.
“I’m sorry,” he says, “I should take this call.”
Joel answers the phone while Joanne picks up the pizza box and puts it into a nearby bin. She no longer feels hungry. Butterflies in her stomach have taken over any hunger pains she may have had.
“That was the hospital,” Joel says to Joanne as he puts the phone back into his pocket. “There’s been an accident – I don’t have all the details yet, but it sounds like an emergency. I need to get to the hospital.”
“Go, go!” Joanne urges the doctor. “We can catch up sometime during the week.”
“I’d like that,” Joel says, giving Joanne a kiss.
Joanne laughs. “I promise I won’t forget next time.”
Amber Harp places her feet on the wooden floorboards. She steadies herself using the bed for support. She still feels weak from being trapped for so long.
She makes her way over to the bedroom door and fumbles for the handle in the darkness. The door is locked. She cannot open it.
She fumbles again in the darkness, this time finding the light switch next to the door. The room is awash with light and Amber is suddenly blinded.
She sees the window on the other side of the room and rushes over to it. She tries the handle and it swings open a fraction. Amber’s excitement lasts only a moment as she realises that bars have been fitted to the outside of the window. There’s no escaping out of it.
There must be a key for the door in here somewhere, Amber thinks to herself. She looks around the room to see what’s in there.
Two large cardboard boxes in one corner of the room get her attention. She moves over to them and opens the first one. Odds and ends fill it. She rips out the contents furiously, but there is nothing of interest.
She pulls the other box close to her and opens it. Photographs fill the box and Amber sees a young boy of varying ages present in all of them. Charles King has a son? Amber thinks to herself.
She continues pulling out the photographs and comes across a photo album. She pulls it out of the box and places it on her lap, leaning her body against the wall.
Multiple newspaper clippings fill the album, and Amber immediately recognises them. The headlines are unforgettable.
English Backpacker Goes Missing in National Park
Hiker’s Tale of Terror
Three Girls Remain Missing in Wilderness
Hope Fades for Missing Mother of Two
Amber Harp doesn’t need to read the stories, for she knows them well. All too well.
She remembered the hours she had spent investigating these missing person cases. As the Holgate Times crime reporter, she had written these articles herself.
She never did know what had happened to the missing people in these stories, or who had been responsible for their disappearance.
Amber slams the album closed and throws it across the floor. She isn’t prepared to be another missing person.
No-one will be writing a newspaper article about her disappearance, she decides.
Only moments after Joanne sees Doctor Joel Prasad rush off, she sees an ambulance race past the town square. The blue and red flashing lights violently cut through the darkness of the night.
She prays to herself that whoever it is, they are okay. It’s a small town, and she knows most people in it, having taught many in her job as a high school teacher. She would hate to find out if someone she knew was hurt.
She is keen to return to the job that she had once loved so much. She hadn’t worked at the high school ever since her husband, Richard Evans, had been killed. So much had happened since, but she realised she is ready to start working again.
Joanne picks up her handbag and slings it over her shoulder. She steps onto the footpath leading away from the town square in the direction of her townhouse.
Akemi Helling gently reaches for the knife and it drops to the ground. She pulls the attacker in close to her and they embrace each other, a sigh of relief escaping from them both.
“I’m here now,” Akemi whispers. “It’s okay, I’m here now. Everything’s going to be okay.”
She holds the young boy close to her.
Drake Harp sobs uncontrollably.
Akemi looks down over the edge of the building into the complex’s courtyard. She sees two paramedics enter and run towards the lifeless body still lying on the pavement at the base of the four storey building. Akemi prays to herself that the paramedics can help her. The injuries from the fall looked serious.
Akemi sees the building’s security guard next to the paramedics. She realises that she needs to get his attention so that he knows where she is. She also needs to let him know what she has found up on the rooftop.
She kicks the bloodied knife further away from her with her foot and gently seats Drake on the ground. “I’m going to get us some help,” she tells him.
Akemi leans over the side of the building again and calls out.
As Joanne walks along the footpath, she passes the newly-built hotel. She looks up at in awe. Its monstrous features tower over the small town and she feels saddened somewhat that it had come at the price of the caravan park that had been an iconic part of the town for so long.
Nevertheless, she did plan on attending the grand opening ceremony the next morning. She is sure that, despite the many protests for its development, it would be an asset to the small town’s future.
Joanne stops suddenly. She strains her neck in the direction of the noise she can hear.
“Help!” the sound reverberates around her.
Joanne listens, holding her breath.
She hears it again.
Joanne steps over to the emergency exit door of the hotel and pulls at its handle. The door is unlocked and Joanne steps into the building.
“Help!” Akemi yells down to the courtyard below.
Drake sits by her feet, still crying. “I want my mum.”
“I know, honey,” Akemi says, lowering herself to give the boy a hug. “I know.”
Joanne realises she must be getting close. She can hear the calls for help get closer.
Inside the building, she ascends the emergency exit stairs. The calls for help must be coming from the top of the building, Joanne thinks to herself.
The calls for help stop and the only thing she can hear is her own breath. Her fear of being caught trespassing is surpassed by her need to find whoever it is that may be in trouble.
She steps up to the emergency exit door and pushes it open.
Akemi holds Drake and manages to calm him. “You’re safe now, honey,” she reassures him.
They both hear footsteps on the other side of the door. Akemi realises help is on its way.
The footsteps stop and Akemi sees the door open up.
The door swings open and Joanne looks out onto the rooftop.
She squints into the darkness. She can’t see anything. She can’t hear anything, either.
She listens for another call for help, but doesn’t hear anything.
As she turns back towards the building, Joanne is about to head back down the stairs when she hears it. The noise is only faint, but it causes her to turn back around.
Joanne reaches into her handbag and pulls out her pocket flashlight. She switches it on and shines it in front of her.
The small beam of light makes its way across the rooftop and stops suddenly. Joanne lets out a cry as she sees Doctor Peter Smith crouched in the corner, a knife in one hand and Drake Harp secured across the mouth with the other. She can see the small boy crying.
Before Joanne can react, Doctor Smith lets go of Drake and rushes at her. She drops the flashlight and runs towards the door.
Joanne feels piercing pain in her head as Doctor Smith grabs at her hair. He pulls her towards him. She struggles to free herself and he drops the knife to the ground so that he can grab her with both hands.
“You always seem to find yourself meddling in my affairs,” Doctor Smith sneers. He pushes her to the edge of the building and holds her over the rail, her hair dangling into space.
“Run!” Joanne calls out to the boy. She can’t see him in the darkness, but knows he must still be there. “Run as fast as you can!”
Doctor Smith turns around to find Drake but it’s too dark to see. Joanne manages to stand up and pushes Doctor Smith away from her.
“Where is he?” Doctor Smith sounds frazzled.
Joanne looks around the darkness frantically. She hadn’t heard the door open, so she knows the boy must be here somewhere.
“You’re going to ruin everything!” Doctor Smith grits his teeth, turning back to Joanne and pushing her into the rail again.
The flashlight on the ground sends a small beam of light across the rooftop and Joanne sees a small hand pick up the knife.
Doctor Smith cries out in pain as Drake Harp pushes the knife deep into his back. He instinctively turns to his face his attacker and the knife is plunged into his stomach.
Doctor Smith staggers backwards, holding his wound. Blood pours from his body.
Joanne catches Drake’s eyes for a moment. She can see the fear in them as tears flow.
Doctor Peter Smith orchestrates his final act.
With his remaining strength, he grabs Joanne and pushes her to the building’s edge. She screams in protest.
Drake Harp stabs Doctor Smith in the back again and, with that, Joanne is sent over the edge, plummeting onto the pavement below.
Final Episode – Monday July 2