Episode Fourteen

Cool Change

The three shots that Sergeant Michael Anders fired at Thomas Helling with his handgun on that climactic night three months earlier were only meant to stop and disarm the attacker. One bullet entered and exited Thomas’ right thigh and another went through his left fore arm which was holding the bloody scalpel. The third bullet was aimed at Thomas’ left shoulder. As Thomas moved, reeling from the first two shots to his body, the third bullet exploded through his chest, narrowly missing his heart.

Thomas was lucky to have two experienced police officers at his side that night – they saved his life.

Thomas Helling’s mother, Constance Helling, was also there. She was a nurse – and that night she was also Thomas’ saviour.

“Joanne, darling. I’m your mother,” the woman in red caresses Joanne Evans’ blonde hair. “One day you will know the truth about me.”

“What is the truth?” Joanne calls out, as she sees the woman in red begin to walk away from her.

Joanne tries to unlock her wheelchair’s brakes, but they seem to be stuck. “Come back!” Joanne screams out. “What is the truth?”

“One day you will know the truth,” Joanne can hear the woman in the distance.

She tries to unlock the wheelchair’s brakes again. They unlock this time, but she suddenly finds herself wheeling backwards, starting to roll down the hill. Joanne tries to grab for the brakes again, but they seem to have disappeared. The wheelchair is gaining momentum and speedily rolls backwards down the hill. At the top of the hill Joanne can see the woman in red.

The next thing Joanne remembers is seeing her aunty’s face.

“Another bad dream?” Aunty Val asks her.

“I don’t have good dreams anymore, Aunty Val,” Joanne is relieved to be awake from her nightmare.

“Oh, honey, I wish I could click my fingers and make everything better for you,” Valerie Pickering says to her niece, giving her a big hug.

“Me too,” Joanne whispers. “Me too.”

“Remember you have another physio session this morning,” Valerie reminds Joanne. “Your therapist says that you’re coming along nicely.”

“Defying the odds,” Joanne smiles at her aunty.

“I never had any doubt you would be back up walking again.”

“Well, I’m not quite walking yet,” Joanne says. “Speaking of defying the odds, remember you have another AA meeting tonight.”

“I wouldn’t miss it for the world.” Valerie Pickering gives her niece another big hug.

Thomas Helling was quickly rushed to hospital as soon as the ambulance arrived. He had somehow managed to be kept alive by the trio.

“If he doesn’t survive, I’ll kill you myself,” Constance Helling screamed at Sergeant Michael Anders as she clambered into the back of the ambulance with her son.

“Constance, I’m sorry,” Michael Anders tried to explain, “but he was about to attack Kyle. I had to stop him somehow.”

“By trying to kill him?” Constance barked back.

“He killed Richard Evans,” Constable Kyle Cook retorted. “He’s a murderer.”

“Hold your tongue! I don’t believe he could kill anyone.”

“Accept the truth! He killed Richard Evans,” Kyle Cook shouted at Constance as the paramedics closed the back doors of the ambulance. He looked up at a solemn faced Michael Anders. “If I wasn’t a police officer, I wouldn’t have saved him.”

“Let’s go wash,” was all that Michael Anders could reply.

Both men were covered in Thomas Helling’s blood from their efforts in trying to save him. Luckily for Kyle Cook it covered up Richard Evans’ blood and Sergeant Michael Anders was none the wiser.

Joanne couldn’t shake the dream. She couldn’t help but wonder who the woman was. She hadn’t seen the woman in red since the day she had first encountered her at her father’s grave almost three months ago. The woman had promised to tell Joanne the truth, but so far she hadn’t been told anything.

Valerie Pickering parks the car in the hospital’s car park. She had driven Joanne to her weekly physio session. Her physiotherapist, Doctor Karlsson, was based in Holgate but travelled to Peppercorn Patch once a week to see his patients.

“I’ll get the wheelchair,” Valerie moves to get out of the car.

“Tell me about my mother,” Joanne says unexpectedly.

“Jo, honey, we have to go in for your physio session,” Valerie seems uncomfortable.

“I want you to tell me what she was like.”

“She was very much like you,” Valerie says. “Kind, caring, beautiful. She would have loved you dearly.”

“How did she die?”

“Jo, honey.” Valerie is still uncomfortable. “I don’t think it’s the time or place to be discussing this.”

“Have I been told the truth? Did she really die?”

“I’m not sure what you mean, honey.” Valerie is now confused. “You know the truth.”

“She died when she gave birth to me?” Joanne asks.

“Yes, honey. She lost too much blood.”

“Are you telling me the truth?” Valerie could now see the tears forming in Joanne’s eyes.

Valerie looks deep into Joanne’s teary eyes. “Honey, it is the truth. I was holding her hand when she died.”

Constable Kyle Cook walks down the hospital hallway. He can see a few people smile at him as he walks past them. A few of them give him the thumbs up. He has become the town hero, and he likes it.

He stops outside Room 301. Outside a colleague sits on an uncomfortable looking plastic chair. “I’ll take over from here,” Kyle Cook says to the police officer who has been keeping guard.

“Great, I’m dying for a toilet break.” Kyle can see the police officer move off in the direction of the restroom.

Kyle enters the hospital room. It is dark apart from a small overhead light.

“Hello friend,” he says to a sleeping Thomas Helling. “Still alive and making my life a misery, I see.”

Kyle looks over at the machines that are working to keep Thomas alive.

“Strange, it seems we’ve done this before,” Kyle laughs, “except this time you don’t have to pull through.”

The machines continue to hum along at a constant pace.

“Did you hear? I received a bravery award.” Kyle laughs again. “Can you believe it? I was so brave. Trying to rescue Richard Evans from you – the town’s crazed lunatic.”

Kyle almost expects a response from the sleeping Thomas. He moves closer to him. “This is not in my plan, you know. You’re going to ruin everything if you wake up.”

There is a click as the sound of the tube connected to the mechanical ventilator is detached.

“You’re not about to ruin everything now, my friend.”

Next Episode – Monday June 1

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