Episode Twenty


It had become too dark to search the river once the wheelchair had been located. Sergeant Michael Anders postponed any search of the river for Joanne Evans until the following morning. Once daylight hit the small town of Peppercorn Patch, a police crew started their search of the river. Police divers were sent to the deepest parts of the river, while other officers headed downstream to the shallowest parts of the river to see if anything had washed up.

“Have you found anything?” Sergeant Anders asks one of the divers a few hours after beginning the search.

“There’s no body down there, Mike,” the diver replies. “She’s not down there.”

Sergeant Anders already knew the answer. He knew that Joanne’s body was not going to be found in the river. “Thomas has her,” he concedes. “We need to find Thomas.”

The car cautiously navigated the sharp bends in the road traveling on what was known as Holgate’s Gap. Constance Helling was headed towards the town of Holgate.

Constance Helling hadn’t known what to make of the birth certificate that Dustin Harris had given her. It belonged to her grandmother, Gretel Helling, and somehow she knew that it would connect her with everything she had discovered already. She just didn’t know how. She had found it rather curious that Dustin had given her the birth certificate. Somehow he must have known that Gretel had been involved.

“I know whatever you need to know,” he had said to her, “has got to do with your grandmother. You need to go to Holgate to find out more about her.”

“I can’t leave right now,” Constance had protested. “Thomas is missing. I must stay here in Peppercorn Patch.”

“There is nothing you can do here at the moment, Constance,” Dustin had told her. “You need to take your mind off that. I’ll join you and we can do this together.”

Constance knew it was true. There wasn’t much she could do. The police were out looking for Thomas and all she could do was sit and wait. She made the decision to head to Holgate with Dustin. Her grandmother had been born in Holgate and that’s where she needed to start.

Having entered the town of Holgate, Constance Helling slows to a stop outside a large grey coloured building. Its drab façade does not make for a warm welcome.

“I knew I’d seen it before,” Constance says to Dustin as she points up to the large sign above the building’s entrance. “I walked under it nearly everyday for years.”

Dustin turns to Constance and gives her a blank look.

“I used to work here,” she continues, “as a nurse.” She pulls out a small wooden box from her handbag and shows it to Dustin. He looks the box over and his eyes suddenly light up. He looks quickly up at the building’s sign again.

“This box belonged to my grandmother,” Constance runs her finger over the initials, H.B., on the front of the box. Above them, on the building’s sign, they can see the same initials.

Holgate Bedlamites.” Constance smiles at Dustin. “Welcome to the asylum.”

Cathy Gilmore steps up to Valerie Pickering’s doorstep and knocks on the front door. After a few seconds, she knocks again. After no response following a third knock, Cathy reaches into her handbag and pulls out her keys. Joanne had given Cathy a key to the house in case of an emergency.

As Cathy takes a step into the house after unlocking the door, it seems as though the house is empty. The house is quiet and there is no sign of Valerie. On the kitchen bench, Cathy notices a collection of empty bottles: wine, whiskey and vodka. No less than 10 bottles once containing alcohol.

“Valerie?” Cathy calls out into the quiet house. She makes her way to Valerie’s bedroom. “Valerie,” she sings out again as she moves. “Are you in here?”

As she nears the bedroom, Cathy can hear a faint noise: someone crying. She knocks on the closed door gently and, after no response, opens the door. In front of her, she can see Valerie Pickering. Slumped on the floor next to her bed. Sobbing quietly. Holding a bottle of whiskey.

“Val!” Cathy rushes at the woman to grab the bottle. “Give me that!”

“No!” sobs Valerie. “Leave me be!”

“What are you doing?” the nurse in Cathy asks sternly.

“I want Joanne back,” an intoxicated Valerie continues sobbing.

“Drinking yourself silly is not going to get Joanne back now, is it?” Cathy lectures the woman in front of her. “Come on,” Cathy struggles to pull Valerie to her feet, “I’ll make you something to eat.”

I close my eyes, then I drift away.
Into the magic night, I softly say.
A silent prayer, like dreamers do.
Then I fall asleep to dream my dreams of you.

Cathy worked quickly to cook up something for Valerie. She knew that the woman needed to eat something to assist with all the alcohol that she had presumably consumed.

“I came over to show you something,” Cathy says to Valerie as she places the plate of eggs and toast on the table. “But I’m not sure I want to now.”

“What is it? Show me!” Valerie demands, slurring her words.

“It might be too upsetting, but I don’t know who else to tell. I haven’t even shown my husband.” Cathy pulls a folded piece of paper out of her pocket. “I received another letter,” she says as she passes it to Valerie. “It was in my mailbox when I got home.”

Valerie squints at first to read the handwritten letter, before pushing a pair of reading glasses onto her face.

She reads the letter:

Row, row, row your boat,
Gently down the stream.
Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily,
I want to make you scream!

Joanne Evans doesn’t recognise the song, but she finds it haunting. It had been on repeat since she had arrived.

In dreams I walk with you.
In dreams I talk to you.
In dreams you’re mine all of the time.
We’re together in dreams, in dreams.

“Hello, is anyone there?” Joanne calls out. She looks around her and sees that she is in a large shed; an old farming shed once used by the Helling Bros. business. It is completely empty apart from the chair that she is strapped to and the record player spinning its repetitive tune next to her.

“What do you want from me?” Joanne calls out again.

Suddenly she hears footsteps approaching her from behind. She tries to spin her head around to see who it is but her abductor is just out of sight.

“What do I want from you?” Joanne can hear a voice behind her, and feels a hand brushing the back of her neck. “I want you to listen.”

Joanne hears more footsteps before a sea of red suddenly surrounds her. She can see the woman in red before her. “It’s time, Joanne,” the woman in red leans in close to Joanne and whispers in her ear. “It’s time you were told the truth.”

Next Episode – Monday July 13

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