[The 8th sign of the zodiac; a cool aloofness, with an underlying scorching, passionate nature]
9 years ago
Heather Strong steps closer to the car and looks inside the boot. A number of police officers surround her. At least five pairs of eyes gaze down into the car boot.
Before them, they see a sea of dark red. The interior of the car boot is covered with dried blood. A number of tools, including a hammer and wrench lay inside, also covered in blood.
Heather Strong gasps. The police officer standing closest to her grabs her arm.
“Heather Strong,” she hears one of the officers recite, “you are under arrest for your daughter’s murder.”
8 years ago
The courtroom is buzzing with the sound of intrigued and suspicious townsfolk. Heather Strong sits in the dock facing a jury of her peers.
The judge taps his gavel to bring the courtroom to a silence.
“Counsel,” the Judge addresses the defence barrister. “This trial has been going on for ten days. Is there any sign of it wrapping up in the near future?”
“Yes, your honour,” the defence barrister tells the judge. “But we have one more witness.”
There is a murmur throughout the courtroom.
“The defence calls on Mr Christian Strong to testify.”
There are gasps throughout the courtroom.
Heather Strong looks on as her estranged husband steps up into the witness stand and takes the oath.
“Mr Strong,” the defence barrister says, “can you tell the court about your relationship with the defendant?”
“Heather was a wonderful wife and we had a good life together.”
“Did something change that?”
“Our daughter, Phoebe, became sick,” Christian Strong explains. “I couldn’t cope with everything that was going on. I checked myself out of Heather’s life – I checked myself out of my own daughter’s life.”
“It must have been hard.”
“It was. But it must have been harder on Heather. She had to look after Phoebe on her own.”
Heather Strong sheds a tear.
“Do you believe your wife is capable of murder? Do you believe she killed your daughter?”
Christian Strong closes his eyes and pauses. He opens them and looks directly at Heather Strong. “It wasn’t Heather who murdered our daughter,” he explains. “It was me – I killed Phoebe.”
The silent courtroom is suddenly thrown into chaos.
The judge’s gavel banging onto the bench can be hardly heard through the shocked cries from the crowd.
3 years ago
She had lost everything.
And now her name.
Heather Strong needed to move on. She could no longer cope with the daily insinuations about her daughter’s disappearance and murder.
Even though her husband had been charged and found guilty of her daughter’s murder, there were many people who believed that she still had some involvement. Besides, Phoebe Strong’s body had never been found, so suspicions and talk were rife right throughout the town of Holgate.
Heather Strong decided she needed to escape. She changed her name to Anna-Maree in the hope that she could disappear from everyone’s radar.
She moved to a small country town a few hours’ drive from Holgate where she could be anonymous. She worked on a small farm and lived a happy life, eventually meeting her future husband, Joseph Axe, a farmer.
Anna-Maree Axe had finally found peace. She always thought of her daughter, Phoebe, but at long last she didn’t have the whole town against her.
That was, of course, until some of the country folk got wind of a suspected child killer in their midst. The threats against Anna-Maree started mildly, but gradually became more serious.
From rotten eggs being thrown at their house, to petrol bombs destroying everything they owned, Anna-Maree knew it was time to move on again.
“We have to leave town,” Anna-Maree said to her husband.
“Whatever it takes for me to keep you safe,” Joseph replied.
Moving to Peppercorn Patch was Anna-Maree’s idea, and soon they were in the car headed towards safety.
“A new life,” Joseph said to his wife.
From her position in the passenger seat, Anna-Maree Axe gently touched her husband’s knee. Their car traveled around the curvy bends of Holgate’s Gap and passed the sign which told them they were almost at their destination. “Yes,” Anna-Maree agreed.
“We deserve it,” Joseph Axe added, steering the car around another sharp bend.
“I’m sorry for everything,” Anna-Maree said.
Joseph put his hand on his wife’s. “Don’t apologise,” he told her. “The main thing is we’re both safe now.”
“Yes,” Anna-Maree agreed.
“It’s a new life, remember,” Joseph reminded his wife.
“A new life,” Anna-Maree repeated.
“Our past is behind us.”
The night of the full moon
“You have to help me Constance!” Anna-Maree screams, pulling at Constance’s jacket.
“You shouldn’t have come back here.” Constance pushes Anna-Maree away from her. “You have no idea what you’re getting yourself involved in.”
“I found out the truth!” Anna-Maree screams again. “You have to help me!”
“Whatever happened, it can’t be fixed now.” Constance tries to leave again.
“Constance, Phoebe was never killed.”
“Phoebe is alive,” Anna-Maree clarifies.
“I don’t understand.”
“I need to find her.”
“How am I supposed to help?” Constance asks, bewildered by the shocking news.
“She’s been here recently,” Anna-Maree explains.
“Who? Phoebe?” Constance asks.
“Yes, only you probably didn’t recognise her.”
“What are you saying, Heather?” Constance’s head is spinning.
“Joanne is in grave danger. Phoebe is not herself.”
“Everyone is in grave danger. Phoebe is ill and needs help,” Anna-Maree continues.
The still night is suddenly disrupted by the sound of a gunshot reverberating through the forest.
“That sounded like it came from the clifftop,” Constance says, exasperated.
“We need to find Phoebe before it’s too late,” Anna-Maree urges again.
“What has she done?”
“She’s out for revenge,” Anna-Maree finally explains. “Phoebe is out for revenge of anyone that stands in her way – only she’s not referring to herself as Phoebe any longer.”
“Not herself,” Constance nods in understanding.
“My daughter needs help. When was the last time you saw Melody Walker?”
Next Episode – Monday May 22
Episode Illustration by Grey Alexander
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