Episode Seventy-Nine

Avoid Spoilers! Read from Episode One

Act 4

On the outside of the door there are roaring and popping noises as the fire takes hold of Olivia’s house.

The smoke has become thick and Amber Harp’s eyes water. She can no longer even see her son who is standing next to her.

“I love you, mum,” Drake manages to cough.

Amber grabs hold of her son and holds him close to her. “I love you too, honey!”

Before they both know it, the window behind them smashes. Amber instinctively looks behind her but she can’t see anything through the smoke. She knows the windows were boarded up with wooden palings, but someone on the outside could have removed them.

“Stand back,” Amber says to her son as the sound of glass smashing continues.

The black smoke instantly rushes from the room and out of the broken window. Amber can make out the silhouette of someone wearing a breathing apparatus enter the room. The light on the helmet shines across the room and into her eyes, blinding her suddenly.

“Mum?” Drake calls out.

“Drake, honey,” Amber says calmly, “go with the man with the helmet.” Through the smoke, she sees their rescuer take hold of Drake and usher him to the broken window to escape.

Amber cautiously makes her way to the window as well. She senses her rescuer is close and puts her arm out to grab hold of him.

As she lifts her leg up to climb over the bed, she loses her balance and tumbles backwards. She grabs on instinctively to her rescuer’s shirt and, in the process, pulls him down on top of her.

“I’m sorry,” Amber manages to splutter. She looks up at the rescuer who is trying to regain his own feet. He falters on his own feet and the breathing apparatus slips down his face.

Pure horror runs through Amber Harp’s body. She is frozen momentarily as she looks up to face Doctor Peter Smith.

As Doctor Smith tries to get to his feet again, Amber swings her legs at him, kicking him into one of the room’s side walls. His helmet is knocked off of his head.

“Drake!” Amber screams out loud. “Run! Run and get help!” She can hear her son exit the broken window and his small footsteps pound against the outside pavement.

Doctor Smith manages to get to his feet. He stands over Amber Harp, pushing the weight of his leg onto her arm to restrain her.

The fire quickly engulfs the whole building and before long all that remains is a pile of ash.

Police investigators shine their torches into the burnt building’s rubble, searching for Amber and her son, Drake.

“Doctor Smith attacked me and then set fire to my house!” Olivia screams out in anguish. “He’s killed my sister!”

“Over here!” an investigator suddenly shouts as he shines his torch into the smoky rubble. “I think we’ve got something!”

Everyone looks on as the investigator pulls an object from the rubble. It is passed around to a number of police officers before ending up in front of Olivia.

“Do you recognise this?” the officer asks Olivia, holding up a dirtied helmet, once bright yellow but now the colour of a well-used fireplace.

“Doctor Peter Smith was wearing that when he attacked me.” Olivia rubs a bruised cheek with her fingers. “I ran to get help straight away, but it was too late!”

“There’s no sign of anyone in the wreckage,” the officer says. “We think they may have escaped, maybe with the help of Doctor Smith.”

“Help?” Olivia scoffs, before starting to cry. “He wanted to harm my sister. This fire was no accident, officer. The Poetry Predator has my sister, and her son!”

Sergeant Michael Anders steps up to the front of the Helling house.

Before knocking, he looks over his shoulder and sees Joanne Evans and Valerie Pickering walking down the steep hill.

He wonders why they were here, especially since he knew there was much animosity between the pair and Constance Helling.

He faces back to the door and knocks, taking in a deep breath as he does so.

“What do you want?” Constance Helling snaps as she opens the door.

“Constance, I need to come inside to speak with you,” Sergeant Anders tells her, looking behind him again, before adding, “privately.”

Constance gives the police officer a quizzical look. She thinks about Joanne Evans having just given her son, Ricky, over to Anna-Maree Axe. Was he here to take Ricky away from the family already?

“I’m not sure…” Constance starts.

“Trust me,” Sergeant Anders says, pushing his way past Constance into the house, “you’ll want to hear me out.”

Constance huffs as she looks out at Joanne Evans and Valerie Pickering fading into the distance down the hill and then closes the front door.

“Drake!” Amber screams out loud. “Run! Run and get help!” She can hear her son exit the broken window and his small footsteps pound against the outside pavement.

Doctor Smith manages to get to his feet. He stands over Amber Harp, pushing the weight of his leg onto her arm to restrain her.

Amber struggles with the weight upon her. She also chokes from the acrid smoke engulfing the small room she is trapped in.

She is dragged to her feet by Doctor Smith and before she knows it, she is lying face down on the backyard’s grass. She feels a sense of relief that she is now outside the burning house, but afraid of her captor’s intention and fearful for her son’s safety.

“You should have kept well away!” Doctor Smith demands. “This is what happens when you go sticking your nose into everything!”

Amber pants heavily, her face flush with the grass, the taste of dirt sitting on her lips. She finds it difficult to see the stars in the night sky through the thick smoke filling the backyard.

The sound of the house collapsing just metres from them echoes in Amber’s ears. Doctor Smith’s heavy knee still sits in her upper back. She cannot move.

“You had no right to kill my husband!” Amber grits her teeth into the dirt. She feels brave, regardless of her current situation. Her son, she knows, has escaped.

Doctor Smith pushes her face further into the grass. “I warned you!” he spits.

In the distance, Amber can hear a siren. Rescue is on its way. A smile crosses her face.

“You can come with me!” Doctor Smith pulls her from the ground suddenly. He pulls her body around and marches her further into the backyard.

Beyond the back fence, the dense bushland beckons them both. Doctor Smith forces Amber over the fence and into the bush. The undergrowth scratches her legs as she is forced further into the darkness. Away from safety.

Amber tries to struggle, but Doctor Smith is too strong.

“Keep walking,” he instructs her.

The fire quickly engulfs the whole building and before long all that remains is a pile of ash.

Akemi rushes up the emergency exit stairs of her newly-completed complex. She pants heavily as each step seems to become harder and harder to make. She finally reaches the top of the internal stairs and pushes open the exit door leading out onto the building’s fourth floor rooftop.

She quickly looks around in the darkness, hoping to find what she has come looking for.

Her eyes take a few moments to adjust to the darkness, having just exited the lit stairway.

She takes a step out onto the rooftop and looks around again.

On the ground, there are droplets of something dark in colour. She reaches for the emergency lighting switch and instantly the rooftop is awash with bright light.

The droplets of blood lead Akemi along the rooftop. She follows as the trail of blood travels closer to the roof’s edge.

The blood drops suddenly stop.

In front of her, the image she saw earlier on the roof is no longer dark. She can see the attacker clearly in the full light.

Akemi holds her breath as she looks to the attacker’s hand. A large knife covered in blood is gripped tightly in it.

“You?” Akemi struggles to say. She is confused. “But how could you have done this?”

She looks to the bloodied knife again as the attacker’s hand moves upward.

Doctor Peter Smith’s eyes penetrate her soul.

Next Episode – Monday May 21

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