Episode Forty-One

Avoid Spoilers! Read from Episode One

Untoward
[adjective. unfavourable or unfortunate; improper.]

The day of the wedding

“Joanne.” Sylvia Jessop reaches down and takes Joanne’s hand. “It’s time to leave. I will show you the way.”

Without questioning the woman, Joanne gets to her feet and follows Sylvia through the haze.

“You’ll both be welcome where we’re going,” Sylvia Jessop says.

Joanne suddenly realises that she is holding something and looks down at the newborn baby in her arms. Its naked body is still covered in blood.

“Where are we going?” Joanne asks Sylvia as she continues to follow the red shape in front of her.

Sylvia Jessop doesn’t answer Joanne. She just continues to walk through the haze of wedding guests. Joanne can’t make out their faces. Everything except for the woman in red and the baby in her arms is a blur.

Suddenly there is a flash of white light and Joanne raises one of her hands to her face to shield her eyes from the glare.

As her eyes adjust to the bright light, she can make out a dark shape forming in front of the light. She squints into the light, before suddenly coming to a realisation. She recognises the shape forming in front of her. It is the shape of her guardian angel.


One month before the day of the wedding

The fountain pen that Joanne is holding in her hand is covered in blood. She can see the blood start to drip down her hand.

On the floor in front of her, Joanne can see Doctor Peter Smith laying in a pool of his own blood. She drops the pen in horror and it hits the floor, sending the red liquid splattering.

“Joanne, are you okay?” Cathy Gilmore asks from the other side of Doctor Smith’s office.

Joanne is still in shock. She’s not able to speak. She reaches for the chair behind her and slowly takes a seat.

Cathy moves slowly towards the body of Doctor Smith on the floor. As a nurse, her immediate reaction is to give the man some medical attention. As a victim of his torture, however, her heart tells her otherwise.

Cathy had worked closely with Doctor Smith for many years in Peppercorn Patch’s local hospital. She thought she had known the man quite well. That was until he had attacked her and she found out about his true colours. Cathy had found out the truth about Doctor Smith. He was schizophrenic. Somehow he found out that she knew. She couldn’t be trusted not to tell anyone.

Cathy reaches down and nudges the doctor. “I think he’s dead,” she says. “I can’t be certain without checking his pulse, but I can’t do it with these.” Cathy lifts her bandaged hands up to show Joanne. “You’re going to have to check, Joanne.”

Joanne, still without saying anything, pulls herself from the chair and kneels down beside Doctor Smith. She reaches her hand out to his bloodied neck to feel for a pulse.

Without warning, Doctor Smith lets out a blood curdling scream and grabs onto Joanne’s arm.


The day of the wedding

“Richard?” Joanne whispers.

In front of her, Joanne can make out the silhouette of Richard Evans, her late husband. He takes a few steps towards Joanne and reaches his hand out. Joanne rushes over to her husband and they embrace.

“I’ve missed you so much!” Joanne cries. She can’t let go of her husband. She quickly realises that she is no longer holding her baby. She turns around suddenly and sees Sylvia Jessop holding the baby.

“Who’s this?” Richard asks Joanne.

“This is Sylvia Jessop,” Joanne explains. “My biological mother.”

“And this?” Richard points to the baby.

“That’s my baby. I’m going to name him after you.”


One month before the day of the wedding

Joanne lets out a scream before pulling herself away from Doctor Smith.

Doctor Smith reaches for his neck to stop the flow of blood. “Joanne,” he struggles to say. “Please help me!”

“You sick bastard!” Cathy screams at him. “You don’t deserve Joanne’s help!”

“I didn’t mean to hurt you, Joanne. I only wanted you to know the truth.”

Joanne looks down at Doctor Smith, then to her best friend. Cathy shakes her head disapprovingly. “He’s dangerous, Joanne,” Cathy says.

Doctor Smith reaches his arm up to Joanne, pleading for her help. “If you let me die, Joanne,” he says, “you’ll never learn the truth about Thomas Helling.”


The day of the wedding

“Baby Richard,” Joanne says to her husband.

Richard Evans smiles and holds the baby in his arms. “He’s beautiful,” he says.

“You and Kyle must be very proud,” Sylvia Jessop says, placing an arm around Joanne.

“Yes, we are,” Joanne sighs.

“What is it, Joanne?” Sylvia asks, sensing something bothering her daughter.

“Kyle won’t like the name I’ve chosen,” Joanne says. “He doesn’t like me talking about Richard for some reason.”

Richard pushes the baby back quickly into Joanne’s arms. “You should be going,” he says.

“But I just got here,” Joanne replies.

“You’ve moved on, Joanne,” Richard says, starting to fade back into the bright light.

“Don’t go yet!” Joanne screams out anxiously. “Richard! Come back!”

The baby in her arms starts to cry and she tries to hush it by rocking her body.

“I haven’t been telling Kyle the truth!” Joanne screams out, watching the dark figure continue to fade into the distance.

“What are you saying Joanne?” Sylvia Jessop asks, curiously.

“The baby isn’t Kyle’s,” Joanne says tearfully. “The baby’s father is Richard.”


Next Episode – Monday March 21

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