Episode Forty-Six

Avoid Spoilers! Read from Episode One

Contentious
[adjective. causing, involving, or characterised by argument or controversy.]

Present Day

“How’s my patient doing today?” Doctor Joel Prasad asks his patient at her bedside.

Kelly Driver pulls herself up to a seated position, screwing her nose up at the hospital food which had just been placed on the table in front of her. “I’d be better if I didn’t have to eat this crap!” she responds.

Joel laughs, before opening the bag slung on his shoulder. “Here, you can have this.” He grabs out a container of food and puts it on the table. “It’s a curry I made last night. I’ll grab a sandwich from the canteen instead.”

“I can’t take your lunch,” Kelly says.

“You need it more than I do,” Joel says to his patient. “Or do you doubt my cooking ability?”

“I have no doubt you can cook, Doctor,” Kelly laughs. “I’m just wondering if there is something you can’t do.”

“I can’t juggle,” Joel confesses. “If I wasn’t a doctor, I think I would learn to juggle and run off with the circus.”

Kelly laughs, before realising that the doctor is seemingly being honest with her. “Well, aren’t you full of surprises.”

“Speaking of surprises, I have one for you,” Joel announces, motioning towards the door. “An old friend of yours is here to visit.”

Kelly Driver looks on in amazement as a man, dressed in a suit jacket and tie, walks into the room and lowers himself onto the chair next to her bed.

“I’ll leave you both to get reacquainted,” Joel says, heading for the exit. “Call out if you need anything.”

Kelly no longer feels very hungry. She pushes the table away from her, and its wheels roll away from the bed.

“I don’t have anything to say to you,” Kelly says, crossing her arms and looking away from her guest, towards the view of the treetops through the hospital room’s window.

“I came to see that you were okay, Kelly.”

“I’m fine. You can leave now.”

There is silence, before Kelly’s guest clears his throat, opens up a notebook and clicks a pen into readiness. “It’s time you told me the truth, Kelly,” Inspector Wesley Manning instructs. “Tell me the truth about what happened to Miss Henrietta Smart.”


June, 1983

A week had passed since anyone had seen Henrietta Smart. Even Kelly had grown more anxious everyday, even though she knew her friend was planning to leave. Kelly was upset that Henry had left without her. Kelly had no reason to leave herself, but couldn’t bear the thought of being without her best friend.

KD 4 HS.

Kelly Driver had loved the outdoors from a very young age. She had always known that she wanted to be a park ranger. She loved the thought of looking after wildlife and the beautiful National Park forest that surrounded the small town of Peppercorn Patch.

Kelly strolls along the walking tracks surrounding the town one day, her backpack on her back filled with lunch and a water bottle. In her hand she holds a Polaroid camera, taking photos of the wildlife she stumbles across. She is yet to see a lyrebird in the wild, so she is adamant that this would be the day.

Following the song of the lyrebird, Kelly decides to stray from the track. With the leaves and twigs crunching under her hiking boots, Kelly ventures further and further into the forest. She can hear the sounds of the lyrebird’s song growing louder and louder. She knows she is close. She has to take it easy, for she doesn’t want to scare the Superb Lyrebird away.

The next crunch underfoot is hard. A log, perhaps, from a fallen tree? No. Logs aren’t blue. Logs aren’t metal.

Kelly Driver bends down and frantically brushes the leaves and twigs away. She knows straight away what it is. She knows straight away what it means.

Underneath the bush scrub lays Henrietta Smart’s bicycle. Henry Smart was indeed missing.


Present Day

Kelly Driver finds it difficult to meet the police officer’s stare. Inspector Wesley Manning clicks his pen impatiently.

“You found her bicycle, Kelly,” Inspector Manning says. “You must know something about Henrietta’s disappearance.”

“Maybe she never intended for anyone to find her,” Kelly suggests. “Maybe she ran away and never looked back.”

“You don’t believe that. You know something and you’re not telling me.”

“She’d spoken to me about running away. For all I know she did just that.” Kelly tries to rearrange the pillow behind her back to make herself more comfortable.

“Seems strange to me that her bike was dumped in the forest,” Inspector Manning tries to reason.

“Please, I don’t know anything more,” Kelly says.

“Her parents were upset with you, weren’t they?” Inspector Manning pushes. “When they found out about your relationship with Henrietta they were furious, weren’t they?”


June, 1983

The whole town was plastered with posters requesting help for finding missing person, Henrietta Smart. The whole town was at a loss. No-one had known what had happened to Henry, not even Kelly.

“I just want her to come home,” Miranda Smart, Henry’s mother, cries to Kelly one day. She had taken the news of Henry’s disappearance the worst. “Do you know where she could have gone, Kelly?”

Kelly breathes heavily, unsure whether to tell Mrs Smart of Henry’s plans to run off with each other.

“She trusted you, Kelly,” Miranda continues, “are you sure she didn’t tell you anything?”

Kelly breathes heavily again.

“Mrs Smart,” Kelly begins, her voice wavering, “I think Henry may have been scared about something.”

“Scared?”

“She wanted me to run away with her, but she wouldn’t tell me why.”

“Run away with you?”

“Yes.” Kelly feels ill telling the woman in front of her. “Mrs Smart, Henrietta and I loved each other. She wanted me to run off with her.”

Miranda Smart stops crying and sniffs a couple of times. She wipes the tears from her face, before bringing her palm in contact with Kelly Driver’s cheek, slapping her hard. “Henrietta is not homosexual!”

Kelly holds her own palm to her cheek, trying to caress it.

“Stay away from me and my family, you demon!” Miranda screams at Kelly. “No wonder my daughter ran away! You are going straight to hell!”


Present Day

The sunset in the distance sends a vibrant orange and pink glow across the tops of the treetops. Inspector Wesley Manning stands on the edge of the cliff looking on at the colourful sky in awe. He looks down at the cliff below him and remembers back to the first time he had been here.

He had been a young constable when he first came to this site to investigate the death of Gretel Helling. His investigations at the time had led him to believe that Gretel had thrown herself from the cliff, tormented by the loss of her loved ones. It was only recently that Inspector Manning had discovered the truth – Gretel Helling had been thrown from the cliff by Dustin Harris, enraged by the fact that she had killed his father. Presumably she had also found out the truth about Dustin’s killing rampage, killing all of those innocent people and removing their teeth. It still didn’t make sense to Inspector Manning, but all those involved in the case were now dead, including Dustin Harris who had only a few months ago died of a heart attack.

Unbeknownst to Inspector Manning, someone did know the truth – the real truth, and she had decided to conceal the truth to protect herself and her family’s legacy. Constance Helling would take her family’s secrets to her grave.

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Oh.” Kyle is curious.

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

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

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

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

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

“Me?” Kyle is stunned.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Next Episode – Thursday April 21

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