Episode Forty

Avoid Spoilers! Read from Episode One

Astray
[adverb, adjective. away from that which is right; into error, confusion, or undesirable action or thought.]

June, 1983

A 16 year old Kelly Driver walks along the bank of the Helling River, the woven rucksuck on her back full of her high school text books. She pauses every now and again to spot a fish darting quickly underneath the brown water, before heading on her way.

She reaches the caravan park, drops her bag underneath a large peppercorn tree and quickly climbs it, seating herself on the bough. The drooping leaves of the tree provide Kelly with the privacy she needs.


Present Day

Kelly Driver walks up to the large chain link temporary fencing surrounding the site of the old caravan park. She looks at the construction taking place within the fence’s boundary and can’t help but feel a little saddened.

The local park ranger had grown up in Peppercorn Patch. Her parents had been nomads who had regularly travelled from one place to another, never settling in any place for long. That all changed when they reached Peppercorn Patch. Kelly’s parents had unintentionally settled in the small town for longer than they had anticipated. Kelly was only young, a ten-year-old who had learnt not to get too used to living in one location for a long period of time. She had also learnt not to make friends, particularly good friends. She would always lose them when her parents decided it was time to move on.

Maybe it was the town itself that made them stay. Maybe it was the fact that they were getting tired of moving. Perhaps maybe it was the people they met in the town.

Kelly and her parents joined a small community of like-minded people when they moved into the Peppercorn Patch caravan park.


June, 1983

From her hiding spot on the branch of the peppercorn tree, Kelly etches a love heart into the tree’s trunk. Inside the love heart she etches her initials, KD, followed by 4 HS.

KD 4 HS.

She loved HS, but didn’t have the courage to say anything.

Kelly jumps down from the tree, picks up her school bag and walks to her parents’ caravan. It was situated in a part of the caravan park that was known as ‘The Family.’ Five caravans were home to the people of ‘The Family.’ They were a small community of like-minded people all gathered together.


Present Day

Kelly walks along the fence line until she reaches the river. She recognises the large peppercorn tree near the water’s edge. Without hesitating, she jumps up onto the tree’s lower branch. She looks over the tree’s trunk, trying to locate her etchings, but they are no longer visible.

Kelly makes herself comfortable on the branch, breaks off a twig and starts etching.

KD 4 HS.

She feels like she’s 16 again.


June, 1983

Kelly knew that ‘The Family’ were the reason her parents had stayed in Peppercorn Patch. It was the first time that Kelly had a family other than her parents, as she had never met any of her grandparents. It was also the first time that she was able to make friends. Good friends. Lasting friendships with good friends.

Kelly never wanted to move. She wanted her parents to stay in Peppercorn Patch.

“How was school today, Kelly?” Miranda Smart asks her as she walks towards her parents’ caravan.

“Good, thank you, Mrs Smart,” Kelly replies. Miranda Smart was one of the people in ‘The Family.’ Kelly had learned that Miranda Smart was one of the first ‘Family’ members, along with her husband, Reginald Smart. Kelly knew it was always important to be polite to Mrs Smart.

“Have you seen Henry?” Miranda asks.

“I’m sorry,” Kelly replies politely, “I haven’t seen Henry today, Mrs Smart.”

Henry Smart was Kelly Driver’s best friend.

Although normally in the same class at school, Kelly had not seen Henry that day. That made her sad, for how she longed to see Henry Smart.

KD 4 HS.

“I’m sure Henry won’t be far,” Kelly tries to reassure Miranda Smart, seeing that the woman is looking a little worried.

“Of course,” Miranda replies, “you go on and do your homework.”

Kelly was happy to be in such a caring community of like-minded people.


Present Day

Walking up the steps of the large grey building brought back a lot of memories for Constance Helling. She had worked at the psychiatric hospital, Holgate Bedlamites, for many years as a nurse.

“I want to see him,” Constance announces abruptly to the front desk nurse.

“I’m afraid that’s not possible,” the desk nurse stutters.

“Make it possible!” Constance bellows. “I’m not leaving until I see him.”

“You’ll have to make arrangements with the police.”

“I need to see him!”

The desk nurse sighs and notices the grief in Constance Helling’s face. She looks around quickly and, noticing they are alone, nods her head and ushers Constance through the door.

Constance rushes down the corridor of the hospital looking for the correct room. She navigates her way effortlessly through familiar corridors until she finds the room she is looking for.

She slides the Perspex glass on the door across and peers into the room. On the bed she can make out a dark figure.

“I’m desperate,” Constance whispers into the room. She can see the figure stir in the darkness. She can feel her eyes fill with tears.

She waits for a few seconds, but he doesn’t answer her. Impatiently she flips the light switch on and the room illuminates.

The prisoner shields his eyes from the bright light and makes his way over to the door.

“I need you to tell me!” Constance cries, pulling out a pair of pliers. “I need you to tell me where my son is.”

“Hello, Constance,” Doctor Peter Smith says, “I’d be more than happy to tell you where Thomas is.”


Next Episode – Thursday March 17

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