Episode Thirty-Six

Labour Pains and Acid Rain

The day of the wedding

Father Bolton stands at the front of the congregation.

“Since time immemorial, people have performed ceremonies to mark a transition, a change of status,” Father Bolton begins the ceremony. “Today we gather for the happiest of ceremonies – the change of status from single individuals to a married couple.”

The couple reach out their hands for each other as Father Bolton continues the wedding ceremony.

“Today is the public affirmation and acknowledgment of all that you are to each other.”


One month earlier

Joanne Evans lays on the basement floor sobbing, holding Cathy Gilmore in her arms. “Doctor Peter Smith is my biological father!”

Cathy strokes Joanne’s head with her bandaged hands. There’s nothing much else she can do for her friend.

Before them, they both see Doctor Smith stir from his position on the floor. He reaches for the back of his head and rubs the spot that Joanne belted his head with the wooden paling.

“We have to get out of here,” Cathy says to Joanne hurriedly.

Joanne heaves Cathy up from the floor and assists her to the basement’s stairs.


27 Years Ago

“But I love you, Syliva!” Peter Smith cried out loud.

“I’m sorry, Peter,” Sylvia Jessop said. “But it’s over.”

“You can’t just get up and leave me like this!” Doctor Smith was angry. “We were going to have children! We were going to be a family!”

Doctor Peter Smith could never just forget the love of his life, Sylvia Jessop. She, however, had seen through his inconsistent behaviour as a result of his hidden diagnosis and had ultimately ended their relationship.

“There’s a couple I want you to meet,” Doctor Peter Smith had told Sylvia Jessop a year later. ‘They’re hoping to have a child of their own and they need your help.”

Sylvia Jessop had agreed to help Benjamin and Annette Pickering to have their own child by being an egg donor. She had agreed that she would never make contact with her biological child; a daughter named Joanne.

Several years later, Sylvia Jessop received a phone call from Doctor Smith. “Our daughter needs help,” he had said to her.

“Our daughter?” Sylvia asked.

Peter Smith explained that Annette Pickering had died during childbirth and Joanne had been left without a mother. “Our daughter needs a mother in her life.”

Sylvia Jessop had then learnt the truth about Joanne.

Still obsessed about Sylvia Jessop, Peter Smith had concocted a plan to have a child with her. He used the egg donation from Sylvia to create his own child. Benjamin and Annette Pickering would never know that the IVF child that they would raise would in fact be completely unrelated to them – a mother assisting out of pure compassion, and a father with a broken heart.

“I need to tell Benjamin!” Sylvia said to Peter Smith.

“Benjamin must never know!” Peter Smith retorted.

Sylvia Jessop did not heed Doctor Smith’s warnings. For that she paid the ultimate price. As did Benjamin Pickering.

The accident seemed just that; an accident.

Doctor Peter Smith’s biggest problem was disposing of the car. It wasn’t easy to make a red station wagon just disappear.


The day of the wedding

Joanne Evans grabs her belly for what feels like the hundredth time. She knows the time between the contractions is becoming shorter and shorter.

Looking out into the crowd of onlookers, she smiles, hiding her pain. She wants the wedding ceremony to proceed as normal.

“If any of you has reasons why these two should not be married,” Father Bolton looks over the congregation, “speak now or forever hold your peace.”

The congregation grows quiet and Joanne looks out over the familiar faces. She grimaces again as a contraction takes hold of her body.

“I object!” comes a call from the back of the town hall.

The silent hall is suddenly awash with voices. Who could possibly object?

From the back of the hall, a woman dressed in turquoise starts walking down the aisle. “My name is Melody Walker,” the woman says, “and I object to the wedding of Cathy and Mark Gilmore.”


One month earlier

Joanne Evans pushes Cathy Gilmore up the last step before hurriedly slamming the basement door behind her. She had managed to free her best friend from the horror that was The Poetry Predator.

On the other side of the door, Doctor Peter Smith bangs on the door. Joanne knows that she doesn’t have enough strength to hold the crazed man at bay for much longer. Cathy, her hands wrapped in bandages, is unable to assist Joanne hold the door closed.

Cathy tries to open the front door, but it is still locked.

“Quick, into the office!” Joanne screams.


The day of the wedding

“Melody?” Mark Gilmore says to the woman walking down the aisle. He grabs a hold of Cathy’s arm to reassure her. “What are you doing here?”

“I loved you, Mark,” Melody says, stepping down the aisle closer to the couple. The noise from the congregation grows louder. “You were supposed to marry me! You weren’t supposed to marry your own wife again!”


One month earlier

“Call for the police!” Cathy screams at Joanne as they both lock themselves in Doctor Peter Smith’s office. On the other side of the door, they can hear The Poetry Predator searching for the key to the door.

“He’s coming in!” Cathy screams out, as the door opens.

Doctor Peter Smith opens the door to the office and smiles at both women. “Shall we begin with your toes now Cathy?” he laughs, pulling a pair of pliers from his pocket.


The day of the wedding

Amber Harp walks through the front door of the Peppercorn Patch police office. The Holgate Times reporter knows that Leading Senior Constable Kyle Cook is on duty, having been left solely in charge by Inspector Wesley Manning.

“Couldn’t get the afternoon off to attend the wedding?” Amber asks Kyle as she walks to his desk.

“Some of us have a job to do, Amber. I thought you’d be there yourself.”

“Weddings aren’t really my thing.” Amber pulls a chair up and sits opposite the police officer. “Confession time.”

“What are you on about?”

“I know you killed your parents,” she says calmly. “You’re a murderer.”

“Get out of here. I’m busy,” Kyle says, pointing his finger towards the front door.

“It took a bit of work to investigate, but I know you did it,” Amber pushes Kyle. “You covered it up, but I know it was you.”

Kyle stares silently at his desk before looking up at Amber and smiling at her. “Why, aren’t you a clever one. So what if I did? I got away with it. They were going to send me away. They thought that I needed help. I would never have been able to become a police officer if they admitted me to a looney bin.”

Amber is shocked. She didn’t expect Kyle Cook to confess so easily. “And Richard Evans?” she prods.

“That son of a bitch deserved it!” Kyle grins at her. “Now Joanne is mine.”

“So you did kill him?” Amber pushes her chair back slightly. She suddenly feels uneasy.

“I got away with that too, didn’t I?” Kyle laughs. “You’ve come to unmask me, Amber Harlot? You and that drop-kick boyfriend of yours disgust me!”

Suddenly, a beeping sound can be heard coming from Amber’s jacket pocket.

“What’s that?” Kyle quickly jumps up and grabs at Amber, reaching into her pocket. She tries to stop him but he finds her mobile phone. “You’re recording me?” he bellows, before pitching the phone violently across the other side of the room.

“I’m sorry,” Amber says, frightened.

He grabs Amber by the shoulders and pulls her close into him. His lips brush her face. “You silly, silly girl,” he says to her. “Now you have to pay!”


One month earlier

“Get away from her!” Joanne screams out loudly. She looks around the room to try and find something to defend herself.

Doctor Smith leaves Cathy and makes his way over to Joanne. “Joanne, my baby,” he says, as he starts to stroke her face. “Oh, how I longed to have a child of my own, and here you are.”

Quickly thinking, Joanne grabs Doctor Smith’s hand and bites it, her teeth sinking deep into his skin.

“You bitch!” he bellows, pulling his hand away and slapping her across the face. Joanne is pushed across the desk, before Doctor Smith reaches to pull her up. “I am your father! You will treat me with respect!”

Pushing the paperwork on the desk to the side, Joanne grasps for the closest object. She grabs a fountain pen, and spins her body quickly around to face her biological father.

The nib of the pen pierces through The Poetry Predator’s neck and he drops to the floor in a pool of his own blood.


The day of the wedding

Joanne reaches for her belly again and grimaces in pain. She looks down at her bridesmaid dress and notices that it is covered in blood.

“Joanne, are you okay?” Father Bolton notices Joanne trying to hold herself up.

As Joanne collapses to the floor, the blood continues to flow.

“Help!” Joanne whispers faintly.

Joanne looks up at the hazy vision above her. She can just make out the blurry images of people rushing to help her.

“She’s going to lose the baby!” Joanne can faintly make out her friend, Cathy’s voice. “Joanne, honey, stay with me!”

Through the haze, Joanne suddenly makes out a red object moving closer to her. As it gets nearer to her, the image focuses and she sees the woman in red standing above her.

“Joanne.” Sylvia Jessop reaches down and takes Joanne’s hand. “It’s time to leave. I will show you the way.”

Without questioning the woman, Joanne gets to her feet and follows Sylvia through the haze.

“You’ll both be welcome where we’re going,” Sylvia Jessop says.

Joanne suddenly realises she is holding something and looks down at the newborn baby in her arms. Its naked body is still covered in blood.


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Obnoxious Weeds will return in 2016.

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