Where is Kate?
It was Tuesday afternoon, Alice hung up the phone and ran cheerily into the kitchen.
Her beloved dad had called from prison.
It was the highlight of little Alice’s week.
Alice’s dad had unfairly been taken away from her six months previously, just before her 10th birthday. He now lived in a big grey house, up on a hill, with steel bars and a giant ogre preventing his escape.
As well as the weekly phone call, Alice sent him lots of letters and pictures (mostly of her defeating the evil ogre and setting her treasured dad free)
Alice’s dad was a wealthy man, even though he had been taken away from her, he was determined that he would play a pivotal role in her life. Poor kid, she had already lost her mum he would make sure that she would never feel alone. He would ensure Alice had the best care, her grandparents would move into their beautiful home, he would employ the best nannies, the closest that could be found to Mary Poppins. No expense would be spared on her education. There would be an iron clad circle of trust around his little girl. Ensuring she has everything needed to become a happy, well balanced and loved young lady.
The years ticked slowly by and Alice’s dad was still in prison, still maintaining his innocence.
Alice’s dad ensured his daughter knew he was innocent and that he’d be out by her next birthday. Her next birthday came and went and dad was still in prison. So came the next birthday and the next. The first few years of false hopes and empty promises were agonising for Alice. Her dad had to be honest and admit he would be in jail for a long time, he didn’t know when he’d be released but whatever happened he would ensure he’d be there to walk his little girl down the aisle, “I’ll meet you there kid”. Alice took this information in her stride, she was such a strong clever girl.
The weekly phone calls continued, though the conversations shifted from prison ogres and bedtime stories to exams and boys.
Around the time of her 17th birthday, Alice began to question the prison system and justice;
“How could an innocent man be in jail?” thought Alice.
“I am going to help dad get out of prison, I am going to become a lawyer!” she announced to her gran proudly.
Alice told her dad of her new dream,
“Alice, you don’t have to shape your life for me, there is nothing you can do for me. Do what you’re passionate about, what makes you happy.”
“Nothing would make me happier than to have you home!” Alice confidently proclaimed
Alice was a determined child, when she put her mind to something it would take a miracle to change it.
Her A-levels came and went, and of course she did brilliantly. Alice was accepted to study law.
Her first two years at university went so quickly, Alice enjoyed her course, it was so interesting plus she had a ball, made lots of new friends, even met a boy…..
It was the first day of her third year and Alice received a letter.
Scrawled across the page was
“Murder is your family!”
“Everything you’re fighting for. You’re fighting to destroy yourself”
“Daddy is a cold blooded killer!”
“My dad? Never! He was wrongly accused of fraud.
Took the fall for the big bosses, but a killer? Not possible!” thought Alice
Some people have way too much time on their hands. Alice threw the letter in the bin and didn’t give it another thought.
Two days later, another letter came through.
Australian underground. Melbourne. MAFIA king!!!
“This is ridiculous, none of this is associated with me or dad.” Alice thought aloud.
But the most spine chilling of all, at the bottom of the page, were four little words,
“Your mother is alive!”
Alice’s heart raced, her breath caught in her throat. As she read the note she felt the words choking her one letter at a time, wrapping themselves tightly around her esophagus
Her whole body shook as she tried to comprehend what the letter meant.
She re-read the note.
“Your mother is alive!”
There it was in black and white. If she dared contemplate that her mother could be alive then she would have to contemplate the fact her dad was a murderer.
A feeling of nausea passed over her, the room was spinning, she slid onto the cold floor hoping it would offer some stability. Her arms wrapped around her knees for comfort, her body continued to shake. Alice was silent.
Suddenly the phone rang, shattering the silence. Apprehensively she reached for the phone and answered.
A hard rasping voice greeted Alice with the words “Hardinge Family” and the line went dead. This did not deter Alice as she screamed “Who are you??” but of course there was no response.
She urgently scribbled down the ominous message, grabbed her bag and rushed out the door.
The law department library had archives upon archives, Alice was bound to find some clues there.
There on the front page of the Australian was the headline Mafia Boss Hardinge to stand trial and a large picture of her dearly loved dad.
Alice was in shock, could it be that her beloved kind father was a mafia boss? It just sounded so ridiculous. Even if it was true how could she not know?
Alice continued to read through the hundreds of articles on her father and his life of crime. It was difficult to deny his involvement. Alice had to admit her dad wasn’t who she once believed he was.
Her phone vibrated, a text message had been received.
The message simply said “Where is little Kate Anderson?”
The messages were getting more ludicrous. Alice’s inquisitive nature got the better of her and she trawled the archives for Little Kate. Unsurprisingly nothing significant was found, until one article caught her eye.
Kate Anderson Abducted, playing in her front garden, Tasmania, Two years old, No clues to her whereabouts, parents still live in hope that little Kate will one day come home.
The words ignited Alice’s thoughts, a succession of dynamic reactions within her brain.
Alice knew what she needed to do.
After nearly twenty four hours of travel Alice was outside 23 Harlow Drive.
She took a deep breath, gathered her thoughts and proceeded to knock the blue front door and waited. A woman in her fifties opened the door and as soon as Alice saw her she knew, Alice gave a nervous smile and greeted her with the beautiful words:
“Hi mum………..it’s Kate