Episode Thirty-Five

32 Weeks – Part Two

The day of the wedding

The local park ranger, Kelly Driver, runs through the front door of the town hall and over to Joanne Evans.

“It’s starting to bucket down outside!” Kelly yells, brushing the drops of rain off of her dress.

Joanne throws the towel that she is using to wipe the champagne off of her dress onto the table. “What next?” she cries out loud.

Joanne watches as the wedding guests swarm into the town hall from outside.

“Joanne.” The local priest, Father Bolton, walks up to Joanne. “It’s starting to rain heavily outside. We may need to perform the ceremony inside.”

“I guess we’ll have to,” Joanne says, slightly annoyed.

“Here,” Kelly Driver grabs the towel off the table and starts mopping up the spilt champagne. “I’ll get this cleaned up. You go and get ready, Joanne.”

Without another thought, Joanne takes off to the hall’s makeshift dressing room. She realises that she doesn’t have a lot of time left to get herself ready for the wedding ceremony. As she enters the corridor, she suddenly stops in her tracks, grimacing. She instinctively reaches for the bottom of her pregnant belly.

Joanne breathes deeply for a couple of breaths before continuing on her way. She is adamant that her contractions will not get in the way of a wedding.

One month earlier

Joanne holds her breath for what seems an eternity. She had just locked herself into Doctor Peter Smith’s basement and her eyes hadn’t yet adjusted to the darkness. She listens for movement on the other side of the door, but she can’t hear anything. What am I thinking? she asks herself.

As soon as she had seen the vinyl record’s cover on Doctor Smith’s desk, the song that had been played to her on repeat while she was being held captive instantly came back to her. The song still haunted her dreams.

Anyone could have that record, Joanne thinks to herself. That doesn’t make Doctor Smith a predator. How could Doctor Smith be The Poetry Predator?

Joanne listens for any sound beyond the door. She still can’t hear anything, so she decides to head back up into the house.

Stop being silly, Joanne, she says to herself. Doctor Smith is not someone you should be afraid of.

As she reaches for the door’s lock, Joanne can suddenly hear something move behind her. Spinning around instantly, Joanne can make out a figure down below her on the basement floor.

“Joanne,” she hears a voice say. “Come down here and help.”

Joanne makes her way carefully down the basement steps in the dark. She reaches out on the wall next to her and searches for a light switch. She finally finds it and illuminates the dark space.

In front of her, the woman in red leans over a bloodied Cathy Gilmore.

“Please help, Joanne,” Sylvia Jessop calls out. “Cathy needs your help!”

13 Years Ago

“I want to see my daughter!” Sylvia Jessop ran after Benjamin Pickering.

“That’s not what we agreed on,” Benjamin shouted back at the woman. “You agreed 12 years ago that you would never be a part of her life!”

“Things change, Ben!” Sylvia yelled. She brushed the red hair out of her face. “I found out the truth!”

“The truth?” Ben asked. “What are you talking about?”

“The truth about Joanne, Ben.”

“You’re crazy, Sylvia! You will stay away from my daughter!”

“She’s not your daughter, Ben! That’s what I’m trying to tell you!”

One month before the day of the wedding

“Cathy!” Joanne screams, running to help her friend. Joanne lifts Cathy from the floor, holding her friend in her arms. Joanne notices the bloodied bandages wrapped around Cathy’s hands. “Cathy, I’m here!”

Joanne shakes Cathy, trying frantically to wake her friend. Cathy stirs momentarily.

“He’s coming!” Sylvia suddenly screams, her red dress flying behind her as she squeezes her body under the stairs.

Joanne can hear the sound of keys unlocking the basement door. The door slowly creaks open and Doctor Peter Smith’s moves slowly down the wooden steps to the basement below.

13 Years Ago

“You stupid woman!” Benjamin said. “What do you mean she’s not my daughter?”

“It didn’t happen the way you thought it did,” Sylvia replied.

Benjamin shook his head and walked away from the woman, towards the pedestrian crossing. “I’m late for work. You’re not making sense.”

Sylvia grabbed Benjamin’s arm, but he continued across the road. “The IVF!” Sylvia yelled at him. “There’s something you need to know!”

Benjamin stopped suddenly in the middle of the road as Sylvia pulled him towards her, but the move proved fatal.

Benjamin Pickering was killed instantly when the red station wagon hurtled straight towards him.

One month before the day of the wedding

Doctor Peter Smith walks slowly towards Joanne. She still holds an unconscious Cathy in her arms. She sobs as she continues to shake her friend. “What have you done with her?”

“My sweet Joanne,” Doctor Smith says. “Finally I have you again!” He steps even closer towards her, pulling on a pair of latex gloves.

Suddenly, Cathy coughs. She opens her eyes groggily and and stares up at Joanne. “Joanne?” she tries to say.

“It’s alright, Cathy,” Joanne tries to reassure her friend. “You’re going to be okay.”

“It’s Doctor Smith,” Cathy says, slurring her words. “The Poetry Predator is Doctor Smith.”

“I know,” Joanne squeezes her friend. She sees Doctor Smith look down upon her and smile. It sends a shiver down her spine.

“He’s schizophrenic,” Cathy says to Joanne. “I happened upon his medical records while working at the hospital one day. I wasn’t supposed to find out.”

“You stupid bitch!” Doctor Smith suddenly roars. “I should have just killed you, Cathy!”

From her hiding spot under the stairs, Sylvia Jessop silently creeps up behind Doctor Peter Smith. She lifts the wooden paling that she had found over her head and it makes a loud cracking noise as it smashes over Doctor Smith’s skull. The Poetry Predator crashes to the floor.

13 Years Ago

Sylvia Jessop laid bloodied on the side of the road. She made out the red station wagon slow down before speeding up and disappearing into the distance. She reached around her and found Benjamin Pickering’s hand. She grabbed onto it.

“Ben,” she said, trying to take a deep breath. “I’m sorry. I didn’t realise Peter Smith was crazy.”

Sylvia’s vision started turning hazy and she suddenly coughed up some blood. She could see people rushing around her.

“He never could accept it when I broke up with him. He never stopped loving me.”

Sylvia Jessop took her last breath, hand in hand with Benjamin Pickering.

One month before the day of the wedding

Joanne looks around the basement. She sees Doctor Smith laying on the floor, but the woman in red has disappeared. She looks to her hands and sees the wooden paling she is holding. She cries out in terror, before dropping it to the floor.

“What’s happening? Where is she?” Joanne cries.

“Sylvia Jessop was killed, Joanne. She’s not here,” Cathy says.

Joanne closes her eyes. The room around her spins and she is suddenly taken back 10 months earlier to when she was attacked in her home and left for dead. The memory had been suppressed all this time.

“I’ve given you something for the pain,” Doctor Smith says to Joanne as she lays in the hospital bed. She looks down at her legs damaged and bandaged, told that she would never use them again.

Joanne looks on as Doctor Smith injects her with more pain relief. “You won’t remember a thing,” he says to her.

Doctor Smith reaches into his pocket and pulls out a Polaroid photograph. He holds it up for Joanne to see. “A photograph of your parents, Joanne.”

Joanne blinks a couple of times, noticing her parents standing on either side of a woman with red hair. She is wearing a bright red dress.

“This woman, Joanne,” Doctor Smith says to her, pointing at the woman in red, “is your real mother.”

Joanne shakes herself out of her recollection. She looks down at her friend, Cathy. “I’ve been imagining her.” Joanne holds her hand to her mouth. “She’s in my head.”

“Doctor Smith has been drugging you, Joanne,” Cathy says. “That’s been causing the visions.”

“What if I’m schizophrenic too?” Joanne starts to cry, and cups her hand around her pregnant belly.

“What do you mean?”

“I may have inherited it,” Joanne drops to the floor beside Cathy and holds her friend close to her, the most devastating memory rushing back:

Doctor Peter Smith smiles down at Joanne in her hospital bed. “And I’m your real father, Joanne.”

Final Episode – Monday November 30

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