Constance Helling waves goodbye to Sergeant Michael Anders and closes the front door. She lets out a loud sigh, putting a hand to her chest where she can feel her heart pounding.
How did Sergeant Anders found out about the box of teeth? she thinks to herself. If the box was ever found, she knew she was ruined. The secret that she had been keeping would be out and there would be no hiding the darkness of her family’s past.
It was something that Akemi Helling, her estranged step-mother, had said to her only a few weeks prior that had prompted her to take action.
Akemi had mentioned to Constance that she knew about the existence of the box. Councillor Dustin Harris must have told her before he died. Constance knew that Dustin had been conspiring against her ever since she rejected his story about her grandmother, Gretel Helling, killing all of those innocent people.
“Constance,” Akemi had said to her a few weeks earlier, “if you’re found with the box of teeth, you’re going to put us all in trouble. The Helling family name will be ruined and we’ll both be put away for covering up a mass murder.”
“No-one else knows I have it,” Constance had explained to Akemi. “We’re not in any trouble at all.”
“I have a few sources that claim the opposite,” Akemi had said. “Sergeant Anders is leading an investigation.”
“You think he may come looking for it?” Constance had asked.
“Yes, you need to get rid of it before he finds it in your possession.”
Constance sighed out deeply, scrambling to think of a way that she could safely dispose of the box and the evidence that would lead to her criminal liability.
“Give it to me,” Akemi had requested. “I’ll have it hidden so that it will never see the light of day again.”
Constance wasn’t sure whether or not she should trust the woman standing in front of her. After all, she had taken her father, Elias Helling’s, land from her and developed it into the hotel monstrosity it was today. Akemi Helling was shrewd, but Constance knew she didn’t have any other options. She needed to trust her. She had given the box over.
As she stands at the front door, trying to collect her thoughts, Constance reaches for her mobile phone. She searches for AKEMI and presses dial.
Constance can hear the dial tone. It stops suddenly and connects to Akemi’s voicemail.
“Damn it, Akemi,” Constance says, frustrated. “Answer your phone!”
She presses the hang up button and looks at the time on her watch. She needed to get in contact with Akemi to make sure the woman had dealt with disposing of the box.
She dials Akemi’s number again with no success.
Akemi Helling’s eyes dart between Doctor Smith’s eyes and the knife’s blade. She doesn’t know where to look.
“We can put this all behind you,” Akemi says, taking a step backward.
“You can’t leave!” the attacker suddenly screams, the blade pressing up against her.
“Ok, let’s talk about this,” Akemi tries to reason.
From the pocket of her pants, Akemi’s mobile phone squeals. Its ringing startles them both. She doesn’t dare to answer it. Her eyes stay fixed on the blade in front of her.
Joanne Evans and Doctor Joel Prasad sit on the park bench in Peppercorn Patch’s town square. The lamp post next to them illuminates the contents of the pizza box sitting on the bench between them.
“So, tell me, what were you doing in the river?” Joel asks between bites of his pizza, trying to hide the smile on his face.
Joanne sniggers quietly. “Aunty Val’s idea of cheering me up,” she says. “We have a lot of fond memories playing in the river.”
“You seem close with your aunty.” Joel makes an observation.
“She’s like a mother to me. She’s the only family I have, apart from Ricky.”
“You’ve both been through so much. I’m sure you couldn’t have gotten through without each other,” Joel says.
“I am the person I am today because of her,” Joanne says. “She made me determined and strong.”
“Good traits to have.”
Joanne pauses for a moment, puts the slice of pizza she is holding back down into the box and turns to face Joel. “There’s something I’ve never told anyone about my aunty before,” she says to him. “It’s about time I shared it with you.”
Constance Helling couldn’t wait for Akemi to answer her phone any longer. She had decided that she needed to go to the hotel to see if she could find her.
She holds the flashlight in front of her, lighting the dark path as she makes her way on foot down the hill from her house.
“Why don’t you just answer your bloody phone,” Constance huffs to herself.
As she walks towards the hotel, she passes the cemetery. She hears a noise coming from within the gates, but, at first, ignores it.
She hears the noise again. This time closer. Bushes rustling. She shines her flashlight towards the noise and is shaken by the image illuminated in front of her.
“Are you alright?” she calls out as she rushes towards a dazed and confused looking Valerie Pickering.
Amber Harp lies in the silence. The only thing that she can hear is her own breath. Short and shallow, she tries as hard as she can to control it.
She hadn’t seen her captor, Charles King, in two days. The dried blood from his mouth still stains her lips and chin. He had run from the room and slammed the door. He had not yet returned.
Though dark, her eyes have adjusted. She looks down to her feet, tied by rope to the bottom of the bed.
She feels weak, but somehow something inside her is willing her to keep going. An internal will to survive has taken hold of her.
The lack of food and exercise means that she has lost weight, and she can feel the binds around her wrists are now loose.
Amber Harp twists her left hand slowly, edging it out of its hold. She reaches over and unties her right hand, then unties her feet.
For the first time in two weeks, Amber Harp’s feet touch the wooden floor boards.
The ringing of the mobile starts up again. Akemi feels a sense of dread as she silently prays for it to stop.
Too sharp to notice, the edge of the blade presses into Akemi’s arm. A thin line of blood forms below the knife.
“But, why?” Akemi manages to ask bravely.
She takes her eyes off the blade and they dart towards Doctor Peter Smith’s eyes again.
The attacker doesn’t answer her.
“You don’t need to do this. Just drop the knife,” Akemi pleads.
“You’re here to hurt me too!” the attacker screams at her. Akemi feels the blade dig deeper into her skin.
Akemi looks beyond the attacker where a body lies on the ground. Akemi can see blood continuing to exit out of a knife wound.
The body, she is sure, is no longer alive.
Doctor Peter Smith’s dead eyes stare at her, unnervingly.
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.
Next Episode – Monday June 18