Episode Twenty-Two


The Holgate Times – Monday, June 1st, 2015

Poetry Predator Preys on Patch

The small town of Peppercorn Patch is still reeling in shock this morning after the disappearance of one of its residents, Joanne Evans. Police believe that Thomas Helling, who had escaped police custody recently, may have abducted Mrs Evans.

Thomas Helling, originally from Peppercorn Patch, but residing in Holgate until recently, was in police custody while in a coma in Peppercorn Patch Hospital. He had been accused of attacking Joanne Evans and her husband, Richard Evans in their home on the night of February 9 this year, later killing Mr Evans in what police explain was a cold-blooded act of revenge. He escaped from the hospital late last week.

The Holgate Times can reveal that handwritten letters were sent to Mrs Evans on three different occasions, as well as two letters being sent to her best friend, Catherine Gilmore. All five letters are thought to have been written by Mr Helling and sent to the women, in what police believe to be predatory behaviour.

“All the letters were deranged poems or nursery rhymes,” Ms Gilmore said. “It was like he [Mr Helling] was trying to torment us…preying on us.”

“Our priority at the moment is to locate Joanne. We all hope and pray for her safe return,” Sergeant Michael Anders of the Peppercorn Patch Police Department said.

Amber Harp folds the newspaper she is reading on the table in front of her. The Holgate Times reporter is happy that she has been able to pen an article to keep her boss off her back, but knows that it’s not the real reason she is in the small town. As the crime reporter for The Holgate Times, she was tasked with writing a report about the attacks that had occurred three months ago resulting in the death of Richard Evans.

In writing her article, the reporter went to great lengths to investigate every detail of the case. There were, however, many unanswered questions that needed to be answered. Amber decided that the only way that she was going to get those answers was to travel to Peppercorn Patch herself and ask those people involved. So far, no one had been really forthcoming, particularly Sergeant Michael Anders. She still had something to tell him. She wanted to find out his thoughts. She had a theory that Thomas Helling hadn’t acted alone, and she thought she knew who it was.

“I did a bit of digging around,” Councillor Dustin Harris says, holding an umbrella above Constance Helling to shield the rain. “It wasn’t easy to find, but I found some records buried deep in the hospital’s archives.”

“And?” Constance asks brashly.

“Robert and Gretel Helling’s first child was actually a girl. A daughter named Maria,” Dustin says, continuing to shield Constance from the rain. “Maria was born with a condition which meant she would never have any teeth.”

Constance hides her shock from Dustin, and recalls the jewellery box of human teeth that she had located.

“Did you hear me?” Dustin asks Constance. “She was born with no teeth.”

“Yes,” Constance is shaken from her thoughts. “No teeth.”

“Can you see the connection?” Dustin asks.

“Sorry?” Constance can’t think straight.

“The bodies. No teeth. Maria. There’s a connection,” Dustin declares.

“What happened to Maria?” Constance asks.

Dustin kneels down next to Constance. She doesn’t seem to notice the rain now pouring over her back.

“She didn’t survive,” Dustin informs her. He leans over and pats the small grave that Constance is kneeling in front of. There is no gravestone to identify the grave, only a small cross.

“She was only a baby,” Constance says. “They must have been heartbroken.”

Mark and Melody stand together on the doorstep of their newly purchased unit in Holgate. Melody plants a kiss on Mark’s cheek before sliding the door key into the lock.

“I still can’t believe it,” Melody says to Mark as they take a step into the house. “It’s ours.”

Mark embraces Melody and kisses on her on the forehead. “We deserve it,” he says to her.

“The removalists should be here soon,” Melody says excitedly as she rushes upstairs to take a further look around.

Mark heads towards the kitchen and notices an envelope from the real estate sitting on the counter.

“Congratulations Mr & Mrs Gilmore!” the front of the envelope reads.

It was true, Mark Gilmore thought to himself; he was married, but not to Melody.

The silence had remained for what seemed like hours. Joanne Evans had no sense of how much time had passed. It was still dark, so she knew that it must have been early morning. She had heard the rain drum down on the shed’s tin roof for most of the night.

Her captor had left shortly after she told him not to hurt her, or her unborn child. She had struggled to free herself from her restraints ever since, constantly moving and twisting her body to loosen the binds. Soon they had become loose enough for her to manoeuvre out of them.

Her persistence had paid off. She was now slumped on the floor in front of the chair.

“Come on, Joanne,” she encourages herself, “you can do it.”

The many physiotherapy sessions that she had attended over the last few months had seemed to be paying off. The rehabilitation that she undertook meant that she was able to lift herself off the floor, using the chair to heave herself up onto her feet.

Small step by small step, Joanne treads through the darkness. She can see the door on the other side of the shed illuminated around its edges by the moonlight from outside.

When she finally gets to the door, she cries out in horror. The door is locked.

“Help!” she bangs on the steel door. “Help me!”

Joanne continues to bang on the door until she can hear movement outside. Footsteps. She can hear the bolt of the door being unfastened, before the door suddenly swings open. Joanne loses her balance and falls to the floor.

Before her, Joanne can see a dark figure, illuminated only by the moonlight.

“Hold it right there,” Joanne can hear the figure in front of her say.

“Please don’t hurt me,” Joanne cries out, as the dark figure points a rifle at her head.

Next Episode – Monday July 27

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