Joey's World by jmc
Summary:

Joey's life is not quite what she thinks it is. Will she ever escape the people in control of what is actually happening?


Categories: St Scholastika's House Characters: Hilda Annersley, Jo (Bettany) Maynard, Nell Wilson
School Period: Armishire, Guernsey, Prequel/Taverton, St Briavel's, Switzerland, Tyrol
School Name: Chalet School
Genre: Alternate Universe
Challenges:
Series: None
Chapters: 8 Completed: Yes Word count: 20882 Read: 18148 Published: 03 Jun 2011 Updated: 03 Jun 2011

1. Chapter 1 by jmc

2. Chapter 2 by jmc

3. Chapter 3 by jmc

4. Chapter 4 by jmc

5. Chapter 5 by jmc

6. Chapter 6 by jmc

7. Chapter 7 by jmc

8. Chapter 8 by jmc

Chapter 1 by jmc

Hilda Annersley sat back in her chair and surveyed her study. It had been a long day and she was tired. She had started this little project about 40 years ago now and had initially only envisioned it running for a year or two but it had proved to be a smashing success. The coming of the internet had served to make it more popular.

Hilda thought back to when her idea had first taken hold. She had been trying to break into the TV business for a couple of years but had met little success. Then she met a young actress whose name she discovered was Nell.  The two of them had got talking and after a quite of few glasses of wine had started to make more and more ridiculous suggestions about possible TV series. One of the ideas stuck in their minds and after being turned down by numerous TV executives they finally found someone who was willing to back them.

They had decided to set their series in colonial India. They cast the main family fairly quickly but spent about 6 months scouring orphanages for just the right infant. She was finally found and after their backers paid some fairly hefty money to the right people they were set to go. The series had premiered to high ratings but the cost of filming in India and complaints of the cast and crew and the heat eventually started take its toll. When the actors playing the parents started demanding pay rises to make up for the conditions a decision was made to kill them off and change the direction of the show.

Ratings continued to be high once they settled in the fictional town of Taverton. It proved much easier to recruit actors to play people who would interact with the now orphaned young children when they were in Britain. They lived with their guardian who was a kindly if at times rather muddled gentleman. This was due mainly to the fact that although the actor they hired was a British icon he was also a bit of a drunk. Still he doted on the little girl and their scenes together were always highlights.

When the little girl turned four, tragedy almost hit the show. She was a lively thing who was always up to some sort of mischief and the two actors who played her brother and sister loved her like they would an actual sister. Then she became ill. The whole country was on tenterhooks to see if their little darling would survive.  There were vigils held outside the village where filming took place and it was the lead news in all the newspapers and on TV.  The little girl slowly recovered but it left her a little frail. This only made the public tune in more.

By the time she was 10 the little girl was famous worldwide. Dolls in her image sold quickly and parents were cutting their daughters hair in the same style, but popularity in the show had started to wane a bit. The public had had enough of village life so Hilda and Nell made a radical decision. It was time for the show to change direction again. The public wanted more adventures so they decided to move somewhere where this could happen.

Hilda and Nell decided to hold a competition and they were inundated with entries. They quickly ruled out any of the big cities and the show was setting by this time was the late 1920’s so any of the cities were too modern and it would be too difficult to film there. They needed somewhere where they could control the environment and where there would not be too many crowds. At first the desert areas of both the USA and Australia seemed attractive but then they realised that the filming conditions would prove to be just as if not more difficult than those in India due to the remoteness of the locations.  A winning location was finally found and casting began for the new format.

Hilda was bought back to the present by the ringing of her mobile. She listened intently with an expression of extreme displeasure growing on her face. When the caller had finished talking she said,   “Just do it!” and then snapped her phone shut. Stalking over to a large painting hanging on the wall she pressed a button on the frame, which then swung open and poured herself a large glass of whiskey. She gulped it down quickly and then poured herself another. She wished Nell was here so she could discuss the problems they were having but Nell was off scouting half term locations for the next term. Hilda sighed to herself and then put on her headphones to listen to some music. Her eyes closed and her thoughts drifted back to the early days of the school. 

The publicity machine had gone into overdrive to promote the changes and they were helped by the lawsuit bought against the studio, Hilda and Nell by the actor playing the little girl’s brother. He was not happy about the fact that he was to be effectively written out of the series and would be limited to guest appearances.   Eventually an agreement was reached and his reappearances in the show were always greeted with much enthusiasm.

The new location and the casting of many young beautiful girls helped the show to become even more popular than ever.  The public couldn’t seem to get enough of it. The simplicity of life in the pre-war Austrian Tyrol combined with the fact that it was so easy to arrange for different adventures to befall the girls made it must see viewing.  A young piano genius was even cast and before long she had released an album which quickly became a bestseller due to her exposure on the show. Different cities began to vie for the privilege of being visited as a visit always bought along huge surge in tourism along with it. In general the public did everything they could to help the show succeed as it was so fascinating. But they were also one or two nutters around that had to be carefully watched. Britain and Austria went so far as to introduce new laws protecting the show. 

They discovered to their chagrin that there were many problems that had to be overcome. They discovered that the young women hired to be the school cook didn’t actually know how to cook so they had to arrange for caterers to cook the food required each day for the girls. The actors hired to clean the school rebelled when they realised that the producers were actually serious about not letting them use modern conveniences so they had to sneak in cleaners every night. Security guards were hired to keep out unwanted guests and also to stop some of the older girls sneaking off at nights.

Auditions were held almost constantly for new girls to the school with some parents actually offering Hilda and Nell money for their daughters to be part of the show. Two of these were Americans and they quickly became viewer favourites due their wild antics and their at times almost incomprehensible language. While some of the happenings in the school were scripted the girls were mainly just told to act like normal school girls. Before appearing on the show they had to attend a six week boot camp to learn about life in the that period and to give them time to get into character.

Any actor or actress appearing on the show had to sign strict contracts, keep up with the school work given and had to agree to live in a style that was appropriate for the era.  More than once girls nearly gave away the whole concept.  Bags were searched often and more than once items had to be confiscated in case the young girl saw them. Girls that broke contracts were more often than not never heard of again, especially in the later years. Many of the young actresses got into trouble during their ‘holidays’ as they went wild as if to make of for the stricter life they had to lead while at work.  A spin off series was developed at one stage to follow some of these girls during their holidays but viewers preferred them in the school setting so it was cancelled after one season.

As Hilda and Nell actually wanted the young girl to learn they hired some actual teachers who wanted something a bit different to teach the classes. Whilst they actually taught the girls they only had to stand in front of the class during lesson time. Their correction and lesson plans were done by another team unless it was needed for a plot point.  The actress playing Madge, however, had to be tutored to give her English lessons to the young girl. When the young girl was not in the room though, the lessons were very different.

Soon after the move to the Tyrol the actress playing Madge had indicted a desire to not be involved as much as she had met someone who she wanted to marry.  She also wanted to live a less restricted life than she had done for the past thirteen years. She was persuaded to stay until she could be easily written out of the storylines.  A sanatorium was then established on the show so the Madge could marry the chief doctor.  Hilda and Nell agreed to keep paying her a salary if she would stay close so the young girl could visit.   Two chalets were then built. One for her to live in with her real husband and one for her to be in when her sister came to visit. The sanatorium was far enough away that the young girl would not be able to drop in for unexpected visits. When the young girl was not around the whole of the Sonnalpe, as it came to be known, were the production offices. When she was there various parts were disguised as living quarters for various hospital staff and patients. The sanatorium itself was an actual hospital that served the production company. All modern equipment was carefully hidden away when the young girl came to visit.

The young girl was never short of friends as the young actresses hired to be around her found her genuinely fun and caring. Another little angelic looking girl was hired to play the part of surrogate sister. The young girl’s shortcomings were encouraged as nobody wanted to watch someone who was perfect. High ratings came when a character actress was hired to play the part of matron. She was thoroughly nasty and the public enjoyed watching the young girl spar with her. They also lapped up the whole Princess and the kidnapping plotline. That worked out even better than expected when the young girl actually decided to go off after the Princess. Some of the crew were not too happy though as they had had to chase her up the mountain lugging all their equipment while trying not to be seen.

It was at about this time as well that Nell decided that she had wanted to be more than just one of the producers. She decided to become a science mistress as she foresaw all sorts of opportunities for explosions and then high ratings. She was actually rather good at science herself and now saw this as a more legitimate way to use her skills. She had such fun playing the part of a sarcastic mistress that she finally convinced Hilda to become a part of it as well though Hilda realised, with regret, that she would need to be a different sort of mistress. They already had Con Stewart with her peppery temper and they needed someone who could get close to the girl. So she became the calm Hilda Annersley, which at times for her was quite difficult to play. Being so close to the young girl made it easy for them to steer her in the directions they wanted her to go.

 

Chapter 2 by jmc

The whole project had nearly came undone at various times and there were complaints from some countries about the way it’s citizens were portrayed. Germany, in particular, was unhappy about the fact that it was one of their country women who was expelled. The young girl saw some cameras once but some quick thinking by two of the young actresses led her to believe that it was a film crew who was making a movie in the area.  The young girl also had to be watched constantly as even though she was in the fresh air of the alps she was still prone to becoming ill. Even the producers didn’t plan  for her to become as ill as often as she did. Ratings always went through the roof when it happened though. Tonics were prescribed for her and were laced with modern drugs to help her to recover. Throughout it all, however, she remained oblivious. She never questioned that so many odd occurrences happened. How she kept meeting the same fat German women or how young girls with no parents, absent parents or had bad parents kept turning up at the school or why so many of these children ended up living with her sister. She was happy in her little world.


A good looking young doctor was introduced to the show. He was to be the twin brother of a mistress and was intended as an eventual partner for the young girl. For one of the few times since they began the show Hilda and Nell hesitated. Could they marry off the young woman just for the sake of the show? What about children? As the young women got older would viewers want to watch her? But as Hilda and Nell had no intention of giving up their show they talked themselves out of their fears. The show that had made them both not only extremely wealthy women but also very powerful women.


So they held a series of lengthy auditions.There was no shortage of applicants for tthe role. The shortlisted actors had to undergo lengthy psychological testing and sign extremely rigid contracts. Even once he got the part the actor selected was told that it might all come to nothing if he had no chemistry with the young girl. Luckily once he met the young girl he found that they could talk easily and that she was  extremely refreshing from all the vapid actresses that he had been around in London.


As the end of the now young women’s school days approached Hilda and Nell worriedly had long debates about what direction they should take the series in. The young women had repeatedly stated a desire that all she wanted to do was become a writer but that she never wanted to get married. This wasn’t at all what the pair had planned or the public wanted. No one wanted to watch years of some women sitting at a desk writing. Neither would she be able to go to university as there was no way that they could control the filming conditions in that sort of environment. Lengthy meetings occurred with the result being that the young woman found the doctor appearing in her life more frequently. Public sentiment was on their side although young actors continued to submit their resumes in the hope that the producers might actually opt to go another way.


Two favourite characters from the early days of the school were bought back as mistresses of an Annexe that was to open up. One of them was a character that had come from the young girl’s home town and who often had differing opinions to the young girl so Hilda and Nell were hoping the fireworks might continue. Many of the youngest actresses, who were careless with their words and modern belongings suddenly found they had health problems and were removed to this annexe. The angelic young actress was also sent there but it was more to teach her or rather her parents a lesson. Her parents had started demanding more appearances for her and wanted the show to focus more on her. Aware of the public backlash that might follow if they got rid of her altogether they sent her away from the main action and limited her to guest appearances. They relented a bit when parents backed down and gave her a serious illness for the public to sympathise over. Once she had grown up though and her wild behaviour had on too many occasions caused problems and delays in production they wrote her out and she was never heard of again apart from one brief appearance.


The term following her graduation the young women came back to the school for a visit.  A planned illness at the Sonnalpe forced her to stay for longer but when she started to shut herself up writing sudden changes had to be made. Staff became ill which forced the young women to have to help out with some teaching. The young women continued to write in her free time and eventually copies of her book were published and sold as collector’s editions, although era appropriate ones were published as well to be used as props.  Hilda  took over as headmistress after the actress playing the head had an unexpected stroke. Nell complained for years afterwards that she should have taken the position as she had been on the show first and also she was the one who convinced Hilda to become a cast member, but Hilda just reminded her that she had won the hand of poker fairly and squarely and that it was all her own fault that she couldn’t tell when Hilda was bluffing.


They then moved the young women to a chalet at the side of the lake with her family for a few terms. The Chalet had belonged to a rival school that had been set up to create antagonism and competition for the main school. The rival school was quickly shut down and its characters absorbed into the school proper when it became clear that viewers while although happy to see the young women with her nieces and nephews still found her more enjoyable to watch in the school setting. Having the young women by the lake made it more plausible for her to drop in to the school. To keep the young woman involved they frequently had members of the school come to her for advice.  It never occurred the  young woman why she was the only one who could solve all these problems. The move also kept the young woman away from the production offices at the Sonnalpe and made it easier for the producers to plan.


Still not ready to actually marry her off, Hilda and Nell cast another young man whose main aim was to pursue the young woman and try and convince her to marry him. The actor was secretly promised that if he could make this happen, he would be made a permanent cast member and get to marry her.   His chasing her round the Sonnalpe though made very amusing viewing and viewers were torn between the two suitors but it quickly became obvious who the young woman preferred.


To allow the young woman to escape her suitor, a trip to India planned. The actor who played her brother was bought back for this. He had just starred in a string of hit film and his fans were ecstatic to see him again. Hilda and Nell, despite having to pay a huge appearance fee, were rubbing their hands in glee over all the extra attention his appearance was generating and they sought to replace his costs in merchandising. A special boat was charted and filled with all sorts of interesting characters for the young woman to interact with. The young woman was sent away with the angelic girl, who had promised to be on her best behaviour if she could get a major storyline, to visit the young woman’s brother. Once in India the pair were spirited away to a hidden location that had been set up for them. The young woman found herself not allowed to wander any cities of India as her brother claimed it was too dangerous. To make up for this there were many parties and activities planned within the area where her brother was living and the young woman had a wonderful and came home happy and with a feeling that she had reconnected with her roots.


 During her time away, however, plans for major changes were afoot. It had been realised that World War Two was about to happen in their timeline and that Austria was going to be invaded by Germany. Hilda and Nell were excited. This was the chance to do something really big and exciting. An escape was planned. Excavators were bought in to dig a long tunnel and many cameras that could film in the dark were placed in its walls. An escape route to Switzerland was mapped and safety precautions were put in place. Casting took place for the new roles. This was going to be the biggest and most ambitious thing the show had seen.


Everything was ready by the time the young woman returned. She was allowed to settle back into her life and then the fun started. Almost everything went perfectly to plan. One thing they hadn’t banked on was that the young woman would fall into the young doctor’s arms at the end of a disastrous picnic. Not really expecting her to say yes a proposal was made and accepted. Hilda and Nell had celebrated with a large party for the cast and crew.  The world partied with them.


 The angelic actress played her part beautifully on the streets of Innsbruck. The mob scene was genuinely scary and the escape was the best thing that had been seen on the show ever. It proved to be so popular that it was played on TV every night for a week. The long trek to Switzerland proved difficult for both the cast and crew but their complaints were quashed by the large bonuses that they received. The cast  were also able to take advantage of food tables and conveniences set up for them where they stopped each night. They took full advantage of these while the young woman was sleeping. Make up was also applied to each person at these times to make it them appear more tired and strained than they were.


Nell got her own back on Hilda when she placed herself in the escape. She was the one to get the big action scene and she was sure that she would become even more popular than she was now, but   Hilda had got her own revenge by changing the wig from the ruffled and dirty hair that Nell was supposed to emerge from the tunnel wearing, to a white one. Nell’s horror at finding her hair had turned white was genuine. This was one thing that she wouldn’t be able to change.


 

Chapter 3 by jmc

 

Hilda woke up the next morning with a bad headache. She had had a restless nights sleep and had odd dreams. Episodes from the show kept popping up in front of her. Even in her dreams she couldn’t escape it and here again the show had taken over her thoughts the minute she had woken. She thought ahead to the day in front of her as she wearily made her way to have a shower. She almost wished that she could be Hilda Annersely headmistress as that life was infinitely more simple than the life she had now. Peering at herself in the mirror she groaned. Her eyes had large black rings under them and her hair looked like it needed to be dyed again. After her shower she quickly got dressed and expertly applied her makeup and made her way to the breakfast meeting that was the first order of the day. Throughout the meeting though she was hard pressed to keep her mind on the proceedings as he thoughts kept straying to what had happened after they had left Austria.

The escape to Switzerland had been almost too much for the young woman. Production was actually halted whilst she recovered. The weary crew took a well deserved break while the cast waited anxiously to find out if their contracts would be renewed. Everyone knew that the show was to continue but no one was exactly sure of the format. While waiting for her to recover Hilda and Nell argued over the wedding that was to take place. Should it be a large wedding or a small quiet one? Reluctantly they came to the conclusion they had written themselves into a bit of a corner and that a big wedding really would not be appropriate under the circumstances. They started to plan for the young woman’s family instead.

They relocated the cast yet again to Guernsey with the intention of moving away from the school and making it a family orientated show. It also served as a cost cutting measure to get rid of a large number of the cast. They introduced several prominent families of the area and the young women’s sister again became a stable fixture in the cast. But the public were restless. The show was now lacking something. Gone were the amusing accidents that the girls of the school had taken part in and there were just not enough familiar faces. So after about a year the school was reopened and some of the familiar students and mistresses returned. But although the young woman did not know this the school was different. Despite what was shown to the public the focus of the school was on performing arts. Many parents were prepared to pay a lot of money for the chance to showcase their children on the show. Those students that became more prominent were promised some appearance fees.

Hilda and Nell wanted the young woman to have a family and they wanted the children to be her own. The lifespan of the show would then be extended and if the public tired of the young woman then there would be new children to fall in love with. Furious debate took place and the young doctor was spoken to, but, although fond of the young woman, he refused to sleep with her. They tried to offer him more money but he refused. Nell then suggested adoption but since they had adopted the young woman laws had been tightened so this was also unviable.

 They finally hit on IVF to allow the young woman to conceive and had the young doctor give doses to his wife each night containing the necessary medications and then he gave her a dose which knocked her out and under a light general anaesthetic they removed some of her eggs. She felt very much under the weather for a week or so but her husband just ordered bed rest for her.  Later on they dosed her again and impregnated her. To their complete delight it worked first time round and instead of just one baby, she was going to have three. This was kept secret from everyone except the one doctor who knew and Hilda and Nell. They were so excited as they could practically see the money raining down on them. Hilda and Nell sent the young doctor away to war, partly as punishment for his refusal to go ahead with their plans, and left the young woman on her own to cope with her pregnancy.

Nell started a campaign to have one of the babies named after her and to become the godmother to get one up on Hilda. Neither of them had children of their own although Hilda had two failed marriages behind her. Neither had lasted long when her husbands had discovered that she put the show before them. Nell had more content with a string of affairs and enjoyed a long on and off again liaison with one of the actors. It had been Nell who had cast the young doctor and made him catholic. Hilda had been occupied by other matters at the time had only realised when they started to plan the wedding what this would mean for the young woman.

The news that the young woman was pregnant took the world by storm and created many ethical debates. Unfortunately for Hilda and Nell, some members of the public started to complain about their treatment of the young woman and began to campaign against them and the show. The protesters were doomed to disappointment however, when all the controversy led to even more people tuning in to the show.  Around the globe viewing parties were set up to see the episode announcing the arrival of the baby. People crammed into bars and pubs to watch the episode. When the triplets were born it had almost caused hysteria. Hilda and Nell were quick to release a line of merchandising that went along with their arrival and Helana, Constance and Margaret became the most popular babies names that year for girls. Len and Con became popular boys names.

The cast were also in shock when it was announced. The surprise on the face when the news was delivered to the young woman’s sister was genuine. Camera’s actually had to stop rolling for a while for the actress was convinced that she was being set up. Another high rating episode for the year was when the young actor came back from the war for a quick break and got to meet his babies for the first time. He actually fell in love with them at first sight and pleaded with Hilda and Nell for no harm ever to befall them. Hilda still not so forgiving after his refusal to sleep with the young woman sent him back to the war again but Nell, as a reward for having the baby named after her, promised. Hilda found out about this promise but when she confronted her, Nell had just replied that she had said no harm would come to the babies. She had never said that no harm would not come to the young doctor.

Due to all the excitement extra security guards had to be employed as even after the birth protestors were trying to infiltrate the filming location and free the young woman. Due to their wealth and power Hilda and Nell were able to instigate a no fly zone around the area and the only attempt to fly in was quickly written into the story as a German pilot who crashed his plane.

The next couple of years were good to the show. A subsequent move to Wales and a more secure area provided another chance for an exciting escape, this time by boat. Once again the young woman was in shock after the events and again it was Nell who was escaping with her. The fact that the babies were also with them for the escape just made it more exciting.

The new school was set in a beautiful old mansion. Hilda and Nell were inundated with people wanting their children to attend the school and they were able to bring many of these in by once again using the ploy that another school was closing. The young woman and her sister were also placed in homes near the school and were frequently bought in and consulted over its running. As the young woman still counted the older students as her friends she often came up to see them and they turned to her to help solve their problems.  Despite the war and the fact that her husband was absent, the young woman was happy. She had three beautiful babies and many wonderful friends.

The paparazzi were ferocious in their attempts to infiltrate the area in Wales and there was an almost permanent presence around the outer area of the compound where events took place. Any vehicle that moved in and out of the area was carefully checked and people who were found trying to sneak in were prosecuted for trespassing. Each person had to walk through scanning machines and their possessions were searched. One attempt to warn the young women was almost successful but when the small object containing the message landed near the school by mistake, Hilda was quickly able to run out and retrieve it and she was able to improvise a message from the brother of a former student.                                                   

Contracts of all the actors were reviewed and severe penalties were put in place for those who gave unauthorised interviews. Girls who joined the school also had to sign contracts and confidentiality agreements. Those who broke any part of their contracts were quickly asked to leave the school and were written out and never heard of again. The contracts even carried penalty clauses for after anyone left the show. Only one person ever broke this and the consequences were so dire that no one ever attempted it again. At any interviews either Nell or Hilda had to be present and they carefully vetted the questions reporters wanted to ask beforehand and terminated interviews when they veered away from the approved questions.

 

Chapter 4 by jmc

 

Hilda’s day was not improving. When her breakfast meeting had finished she had retired to her office to sort through her correspondence. Before she could start her phone started ring and as she listened to the voice on the other end her face darkened. This was not the news that she had been hoping to hear. After outlining the consequences of failing to do what she wanted to the caller she hung up and started massaging her temple. Her head was pounding. She wished that Nell was here so she could discuss the problems they were facing. Despite their rivalry over the years it was when they were together that they came up with their best ideas. Hilda searched her desk for some tablets and after taking them called her actual secretary and told her to cancel all appointments for the next couple of hours and sat back in her chair, eyes closed. Her mind kept racing though and she continued to be assailed by memories.

The young woman continued to write her books, despite having the triplets and a number of other people living with her. Her book on the escape from Austria hit number one the best sellers list and Hilda and Nell made a fortune from it. The Girl Guides were extremely grateful as due to them being featured on the show the number of girls wanting to become guides increased.

From the time she moved to Wales she had her triplets, her maid, the angelic little girl who was not so little anymore, two nieces of her brother in law and at various times friends of hers from school living with her. She also had her dog. This dog had been her companion since the second term at Tyrol but had been left behind in the escape from Austria. He had been reintroduced to the show  before they arrived in Wales,when it had been reported that he was pining away in an animal shelter for her. Even Hilda and Nell had found the negative publicity too much and quickly invented a highly implausible escape from Austria for him. His scenes with the growing triplets were delightful and the public were content again.

 The presence of so many girls in the house created an extra connection with the school and made sure that the young woman, who was missing her husband badly, was kept very busy.  The busiest of all though was her maid Anna. When it had been decided that the young woman would require a maid they bought in a young Austrian woman who had been one of the maids at the school in Tyrol Before starting her new position she was given extensive cooking and sewing lessons and shown how to clean. Help for the household was provided as often as possible with a crew on standby for whenever the young woman left the house, but there were many times when the maid actually had to cook, clean and sew. As one of the hardest working members of the cast she was also one of the highest paid.

A young man also hired to write letters to the young woman from other people who had been her friends while at school. This gave additional opportunities for the young woman to pop in to the school from time to time to give her news. Due the young woman’s determination to keep up with as many people as possible the letter writer was kept very busy. He was forced to keep a book with all the different writing styles and being scared of Nell and Hilda was very careful not to mix anyone or their handwriting up.

They continued to hire the most popular ex students as staff for the school. The public loved seeing them back and as they understood how the show worked it was easier for them to integrate.  Staff who came in without being on the show before found it much more difficult. It also helped to keep the young woman happy, as she was always so pleased to see her friends back. Nell and Hilda were wanted to keep the young woman happy for the present as they had some serious storylines planned that would really test the young woman.

When the triplets had been born, both Hilda and Nell had been delighted when the young woman had labelled her triplets with character traits and decided to all that they could to encourage them, especially the naughty one. But they were disappointed when the triplets, who had seemed identical to begin with, started to look different as they saw opportunities for them to create chaos disappearing. Hilda with fond memories of identical twins at her school was particularly annoyed.

After they had been in Wales for a while they realised that this time they may have made a mistake.  The war aside, there was not much they could really do to provide in the way the exciting storylines that had previously occurred. There were no high mountains to run off to or caves to get lost in. Nell kept coming up with all sorts of escapades that the young woman could participate in, with her along for the ride of course, but Hilda vetoed every single one of them. She made some excuses to Nell about not being able to change the course of the war but she was secretly quite jealous of the attention Nell had received over her adventures. So they would have to wait it out for a while and the reassess their next move.

The show was inundated with offers from companies to feature their products on the show and with their coffers a bit low after the expensive moving the show three times both Hilda and Nell jumped at the chance. While the young woman was not around the girls could be found carrying cans of coke while out walking and their new walking shoes were always Nike.  But the viewers reacted badly and so they were forced to pull most products although there was still some money to be found from companies who had been around since the Second World War or before.  

It happened out of the blue. It hadn't been planned but it led some wonderful tear jerking episodes. The youngest triplet came down with bronchitis and was severely ill. The young woman was beside herself with fear that something would happen to her daughter. Her husband was still overseas and she turned not only to her sister but also to Hilda and Nell for comfort.  The infant was actually removed from the set and taken to hospital, as there were fears of pneumonia. The infant’s condition was the lead story on news bulletins for a week as well as the lead story in all the papers. Hilda and Nell consulted lawyers to make sure they were covered in case the worst did happen. She was taken to the set of the new sanatorium and keep under observation there. When the young woman was there she was in one room but when she wasn’t there she was in a room with modern equipment receiving the best care that money could buy and even though she was only an infant and extremely ill one at that she did start to notice what was going on around her.

Hilda and Nell were alerted by the doctors that the infant seemed fascinated by the beeping machines around here. They asked the doctors if she actually need them but they were reluctant to take her away from them for too long. When the young woman visited there was always someone watching the live feed from the room ready to jump if the infant worsened. Either Hilda or Nell were also there whenever the young woman visited, although they were usually unseen by her. They had invested too much time and effort into the show to see it fall apart now. They had formulated a plan by which if the youngest triplet worsened and doctors had to come in someone would quickly inject the young woman with something that would cause her to lose consciousness and then they would tell her she had fainted with the strain of it all.

Fortunately this had never come to pass and the infant had recovered. The day the infant was sent home saw the public give a sigh of relief and they settled down to wait for the next drama to befall the young woman. The next year passed by quickly although not much happened in the world of the young woman. The war was still going on, so she lived quietly. She continued to write her books, missed her husband and got involved with various events at the school.

Throughout that year the young woman hovered over the infant scared that she was going to fall ill again and let her get away with behaviour that she didn’t tolerate in the other two girls. She had tantrums when things didn’t go her own way, which were quietly encourage by Hilda and Nell. The camera crews were encouraged to keep a close eye on the little girl and Hilda and Nell were concerned to learn that although she outwardly appeared to have few memories of her time in the hospital and she was frequently seen to be glancing around as though suspicious of something.  After about twelve months of this and after many arguments Hilda and Nell came to a momentous decision. They were going to tell the infant.

One day when the young woman went to visit some friends and left the triplets in the charge of the young Austrian maid Hilda and Nell came to visit. The other two triplets were sent out to play with the angelic girl but the youngest triplet was told that it was too cold for her. Her Auntie Hilda told her that she had a story to tell her so the infant had settle down on her lap and listened intently. The youngest triplet was a very clever little girl and when the story reached the part about triplets being born she had realised that Auntie Hilda was talking about her family. She was told she was a very special little girl and that she couldn’t tell her sisters or her mamma what she knew as it might upset them very much, but when her daddy came home she could talk about it with him.

Despite the medication Hilda’s headache worsened and she now felt extremely ill. She gave up all pretence of work and after cancelling the rest of her appointments for the day and declining the offer from secretary to get a doctor in for her she wearily made her way back to her room. The room was spinning round when she finally managed to lay down. Before leaving her office she had grabbed an ice pack from a concealed fridge and she now placed it across her forehead.  

When Hilda woke the next morning her headache had gone but she felt drained. She lay in bed for a while but eventually decided that she had to get up. A long hot shower helped her to feel ready to face the day ahead and she managed to eat a light breakfast. In her study she placed a call to Nell and told her that she had to get back to the Platz quickly as they had a lot they needed to discuss. Nell was not pleased to be summoned in this way and wanted to know why Hilda couldn’t just sort it out herself. Hilda sighed and briefly relayed what was going on. Nell swore vehemently, said she would be there as soon as she could and hung up. While waiting for her computer to boot up Hilda starting thinking again.

Things had continued on quietly for a while but the public wanted more. They missed the adventures and the air raids and bombs that had seemed so exciting at the beginning of the war had become boring for them.  So two young twins were introduced to the show and sent to stay with the young woman. Their clothing fascinated the audience but there were calls in some English speaking countries for their speech to be subtitled. They had a mysterious map with them and the public enjoyed the spy and second sight storyline.

An actress who had grown weary with her role of the continual bad girl who was never going to be redeemed asked to be released from her contract. This was incorporated into the spy story and she was expelled from the school. The young actress went on her way happily with good references from Hilda and Nell. In interviews post show the public were surprised to find she was nothing like her character and was in fact she was shown to be extremely sweet and caring, She had nothing but good things to say about the show and in future years was always in great demand at any sort of cast gathering.

Hilda still annoyed with the young doctor over his refusal to go along with their plans decided to kill him off. After all, the young woman had the triplets and it would make great viewing to see her struggle with her grief. It might also offer the chance for them to introduce a love interest a bit down the track. The episode with his death completely shocked the viewers, as they never expected it. Hilda and Nell had only realised the script containing the news just before the scene was shot to avoid any spoilers leaking out. The cast were also in shock. It was so completely unexpected.

The young woman fell apart completely at the news. She hid herself away and would have nothing to do with anyone, not even her children. No one could get through to her. She was a broken reed. Public anger began to mount and calls for the young doctor to return from the dead became stronger and stronger. Hilda and Nell quickly realised that unless they bought the young doctor back the show would not survive. But the young doctor was not so forgiving. He refused to come back unless he was given a pay rise and some input into the direction of the series. He also wanted a cut of the profits from the merchandising. Hurried negotiations took place in secret and with their backs in a corner Hilda and Nell struck a deal with the young doctor. The second sight storyline was then used again and it was announced that the young doctor had not actually died.

The young doctor came home again and the young woman was ecstatic to see him but the news that he had died had changed her forever. She was never again quite so carefree and girlish. The news caused her to grow up in many ways, that nothing before had ever done. Not long after the homecoming the young woman found herself pregnant again and this time gave birth to a boy. Hilda and Nell had decided that the distraction of being pregnant and the arrival of a new baby would help the young woman to forget about the unhappy events of the past year. It would also serve to mollify the viewers who had still not quite forgiven the pair for their intentions to kill off the young doctor. They again used IVF but this time it only resulted in the birth of a single boy. The episodes leading up to and after the birth led to some new t-shirts and other merchandise when the young woman accidently dyed herself green. 

 

Chapter 5 by jmc

 

Disaster struck for Hilda and Nell not long after the birth of the new baby when they both found themselves indicted for tax fraud and forbidden to go anywhere near the set while investigations took place. The quickly cooked up a storyline where they were both in an accident that prevented them from coming back to school. The accident was set far enough away that the young woman couldn’t come and visit them and to make her more needed on the set they also involved some of the other actors who played mistress’ at the school. For good measure there was also an injury the young woman’s sister’s youngest child so that she would not be able to return to the school either. It would all rest on the young woman.

They sent a good friend of theirs in to play the part of the new headmistress and instructed her to make life difficult for the young woman as she could. She was to change the way in which the school was to be run and to keep the young woman busy. The viewers loved it and they also loved the court case that was televised daily on the news involving Hilda and Nell. It was the biggest scandal of the year and you could not go anywhere without hearing the people discussing the goings on of both the young woman and of Hilda and Nell.

Nell managed to get herself cleared of the quickly and came racing back to the school. She quickly instigated herself as head and calmed the young woman down. Hilda was not at happy woman. Her case was far more complex and looked like it would take at least a year to sort out and it found guilty she was facing serious time in jail. And to top it all off she knew that if she somehow managed to get acquitted she knew that she would have trouble getting Nell out of the head’s chair.

The young woman had quite a peaceful time while Hilda was fighting her charges. She was called in again to the school to help with a young cello genius and then was sent on a holiday with three of her old school friends and their families. The holiday was in part an excuse to get her away from the school while investigators were there. Viewers had loved the change of pace and enjoyed catching up with the three friends again. There also just happened to be a beautiful young invalid and an unruly young boy in the village where they were staying. Naturally they had turned to the young woman for help and the invalid then fell in love with her own doctor whilst the unruly boy had been sent off to school by the young woman and doctor. To spice it all up a bit Nell, enjoying being able to make decisions on her own, had also added a gang of thieves sent to steal an expensive cello from the invalid.

Hilda, in the meantime, had been fighting tooth and nail to avoid being sent to prison. As one of the most famous and wealthy woman in the world she could not move without people recognising her and the paparazzi were waiting for her from the minute she left the hotel where she was staying to the minute she had returned. There had been two camps of people; those who wanted to see her rot in prison in payment for all that she had done to the young woman and the much larger group who wanted to see her acquitted so that she could continue to think up things to do to the young woman.

The court case began and the evidence looked had damning for Hilda. She was blaming it all on her accountant but he had struck a deal with prosecutors that gave him immunity if he turned over all his records and gave evidence against her. By the time all arguments had finished and closing statements had been heard it had looked certain that Hilda would go to prison for a long time. The only question remaining had been, how long? The court had erupted in uproar when the head juror had announced his finding of not guilty. The prosecutors had been furious. The jury had been questioned on if this were truly their finding. Only Hilda had remained quiet with a curious little smile on her face.  In the months after the trial the prosecutors had looked long and hard for any evidence that Hilda had tampered with the jury but they couldn’t find any.

Nell whilst Hilda’s trial was on had tried to take the spotlight of it as much as possible. The young woman’s brother was asked to return and as his fame had risen during the years it was a much anticipated return. It was also announced that he would make regular guest appearances. There had been a film star mystery, the wedding of the young invalid to her doctor, and rescues in the snow. The young woman was also once again pregnant.

When Hilda had returned triumphantly to the school the young woman had greeted her with open arms. Hilda had thanked Nell for a job well done and agreed to share the headship with her as a sign of her gratitude. Both of them knew exactly what job Hilda had been referring to.

The birth of another son had been a worrying time for everyone. The young woman did not cope as well with this pregnancy and it was a difficult delivery. So difficult in fact that they nearly had to move her to a modern hospital. Both Hilda and Nell, with memories of the prison cell in which they had been placed when first arrested had no desire to go back, gave the go ahead for this as a last resort but ordered if this was to happen she would have to be drugged first. The baby had luckily arrived safely and the young woman was none the wiser.

The next few years paced by relatively quietly with nothing major taking place with the young woman or the school. Viewers tuned in to see the antics of her growing family. The youngest triplet continued to be frail and frequently had temper tantrums when she didn’t get her own way. Hilda and Nell were frequent visitors to the house and always had time to spend alone with the little girl.  They had also kept a firm eye on the other children. By the time the triplets were seven there had been another young boy born and a new family with a young daughter had moved in as neighbours.

The phone rang causing Hilda to jump. It was Nell. She would be back that evening and was making sure that Hilda would be around. After a brief conversation Hilda hung up and went back to the emails she had been reading. Then the actress who played the school secretary stuck her head round the door and said that it was time for breakfast in the dining room Hilda sighed and made her way down. She wished not for the first time that she could have something other than milky coffee or hot milk to drink. Nell had it so much easier over at St Mildred’s. She could have what she wanted. Hilda dealt with various girls during the rest of the day, calling them to her study and reminding some of them about the exact terms of their contracts. When she threatened to cancel them if they didn’t do better the left her study with very red eyes and promises to do better. While some of the girls were in her study she couldn’t help but compare them to her biggest success, if you didn’t count the young woman who was undoubtedly her crowning achievement.

Hilda and Nell had decided that they needed someone to spice up the show a bit. A new person who could have adventures, hopefully sometimes with the, despite having six children, still young woman. But they knew that they would need someone special as they had intended to make her and her friends an integral part of the cast. They had needed someone who was confident but they had also needed someone who had enough problems that the young woman would feel the need to help her.

To try and find just the right person Hilda and Nell had come up with a new TV show. Thousands of young girls had been auditioned in cities around the UK and hopeful parents had flown their young daughters in from many countries around the globe. From each audition the judges, Hilda, Nell and Mabel Bubb, had picked a lucky few. The new girl would have to be well spoken, intelligent and willing to do just about anything. When they had the top one hundred girls they had then set about the process of whittling them down until there were only twelve had remained. The lucky few had then been put through a series of tests, which had steadily grown more challenging and dangerous. The final winner, who had been a standout since they had first seen her, had been a short, stocky young girl with bright blue eyes. She had been fearless and had not put a foot wrong through the whole process.

The young neighbour moved in with her mother and Gran and had quickly become acquainted the young woman and her family. By the time she had started to attend the school she was friends with the triplets and Hilda and Nell had instructed her to keep a firm eye on the youngest triplet. Despite being cast as a leader and directed to act that way she was in fact a natural leader and as the camera adored her she had gradually started to take over more and more of the action and girls who before this had been featured found their scenes being cut. She relished her power and as everyone knew that as she had the full support of Hilda and Nell, most were scared to cross her.

The death of the young neighbour’s father had come at a time when she was ill from overwork and as both her mother and gran were ill as well it was the young woman who had had to come to the rescue and help the young neighbour. After this the young woman began to mother the young neighbour, as her mother and gran were frequently ill. She even began to call her Auntie.

When the triplets began school Hilda and Nell had realised that there was a major problem they would have to address with the all of the young woman’s boys. How were they going to go to school? Hilda at one stage suggested that they set up a boys school as well and that Nell should become the head of that but Nell had quickly realised that as far as the young woman was concerned that this would put her out of any action and firmly to the side so she quickly squashed that idea. In the end they had decided that as with the youngest triplet they would tell the boys as soon as they were old enough to understand and then they would be sent away to boarding school as soon as they were old enough and would spend most of their time there.

The court case now far behind them Hilda and Nell had grown bored with life. It was far too peaceful. They hadn’t been able to think of anything to spice up the show that wasn’t too far-fetched or repetitive. There had been the usual schoolgirl pranks and the young woman had been called in to help with the usual problems. Hilda and Nell had been able to release albums for two talented music students but while critically acclaimed they did not appeal to the youth market as they were classical. They had started up a program to attract sporting stars and had gradually started to become regarded as a training centre for talented netball and tennis players.  Languages as per the school in the show were also a feature. But after the turmoil of the war and all the action and adventure that had come along with it life was tame. Ratings for the show had dropped and while the viewers where still interested in the young woman and her family they wanted more. Even the introduction of the young neighbour hadn’t been able to produce the type of adventures that they wanted.

Hilda and Nell had finally decided that the young woman was too happy. It had always been the dramatic or action scenes that had drawn the highest ratings. People had wanted to see the young woman struggling. Despite working long hours at the san she had been able to see her husband nearly everyday and their relationship had grown closer. She had six lovely children and she was able to visit her sister frequently. Her brother who had lived further away also appeared occasionally but even his appearances had begun to bore audiences. They had to do something and they had to do it quickly.

It had  been decided to move the location again. The school was going to move to an island, which would provide a backdrop for all sorts of new adventures, but to do this they had needed to move the young woman as well. Plumbing problems, which caused many girls to become ill, had been the official excuse for the school moving and they had invented problems with the foundations of the young woman’s house.  This had forced her to move and had therefore taken her out of her comfort zone. To compound matters they had also decided to send away the young’s woman’s sister to Canada.  After so many years on the show the sister had not been happy to be virtually written out and if she had realised that it was the beginning of the end for her character she would have been more ferocious with her complaints.

It had been Nell who had suggested the final change. She had heard from the young neighbour, who had become a confident for the youngest triplet, that the little girl had been talking about telling her mother what was going on. They decided to send her away with the young woman’s sister.  The little girl was included in the illness plotline and her father under pressure from Hilda and Nell was forced to tell the young woman that she needed to be sent away for her health.

The young woman had been devastated when Jack told her this news. It had taken over an hour of arguments from him to convince her that this was the best thing that she could do for her daughter’s sake. Even after agreeing she had had long talks with not only her sister but also with Hilda and Nell trying to get them to agree that she should not send her. Before she knew it, however, she had been waving goodbye to her youngest daughter.  

The youngest triplet had not though been sent to Canada. Instead Hilda and Nell had arranged for her to have tutoring, particularly in French. The young girl had been sad to be away from her family but her father had visited her when he could and bought along news and photos. She had sent letters home regularly.

It had been at the same time that her daughter had left that the school had moved to the island. Hilda and Nell had decided to delay the house foundations story a little bit because by moving the school earlier than the young woman, the two elder triplets would have to become boarders at the school. The young woman found herself suddenly with only her boys at home.

Viewers enjoyed the change of pace of the move to the island. The young neighbour was a prominent character and provided one of the best girls fights seen on TV that year. The island provided the girls at the school with opportunities for visits to a nearby bird sanctuary where a well known British naturalist was bought in to talk to the girls. Sales of his new book skyrocketed after the first visit so he was always keen to come back on the show. The girls enjoyed swimming and boating and a big regatta was held at the end of the term.

 The young woman came to visit more than once and was able to present the school with boats, which then helped to provide the big dramatic storyline for that term. The culmination of this storyline saw the young woman taking the bait and telling off the actress, who played the aunt of one of the schoolgirls, so ferociously that it left the poor woman in shock. Hilda and Nell and had just rubbed their hand in glee at all the extra publicity. They had then bought in the foundation storyline and moved the young woman to a new smaller house and had her teaching in the school.

That term had seen no end of adventures. They had paid the owners of the ferry to stage a shipwreck when the weather had gotten rough. This had left the young woman fearing for her life and then stranded at the school for days on end. There had been other near drowning involving the girls during the half term break and to top it all off at the end of this term Hilda and Nell planned for an accident with the oldest triplet.  They had known they were taking a calculated risk but had gone ahead with the idea anyway. They had set the oldest triplet on fire. There had been crew and paramedics standing by and the clothing had been specially treated but so much could have gone wrong. There had been another big shock that term as well. It was one that they hadn’t planned on and it had involved the middle triplet.

During the term there had been an incident with the middle triplet that had involved sleeping walking. This had not been the first time that she had sleepwalked but they could not find out what had been the cause. No one had been telling stories in the dormitories and they had not been eating anything strange.  Everyone was at a loss. Hilda and Nell didn’t mind too much as it made for interesting viewing but they did want to know what was causing it. Hilda had even thought that if they knew what triggered it then they may be able to utilise it.

Without Nell knowing, Hilda had called the middle triplet to her study and questioned her carefully. She had received a big surprise when the little girl had calmly stated that she had just wanted to be in on the action for once. Once it had become clear that she knew all about the show Hilda had been seriously angry. Who had told her? She vowed that the person who had told her would pay. She continued to question her and was stunned to hear that she had known about it for as long as she could remember. She hadn’t spoken to anyone about it and was usually quite happy to slip off into a little dream world when she didn’t want anyone to notice her. But sometimes she did, so she had decided to sleepwalk.

After these revelations Hilda had been in a quandary. Should she or should she not tell Nell? Reluctantly she had decided to tell her but only because she actually wanted to keep in Nell’s good books for a bit longer as her plans were not quite complete. Nell too had been shocked but then realised that there was nothing they could do about it and then she had announced that she had news that would make this pale into comparison.

Nell had been quite pale when she explained that the young doctor had been to see her and told her that he wanted to take the young woman away for a bit. He had said that they could send her to Canada to visit her sister. He had told Nell that there were to be no cameras unless he agreed. She needed a complete break from all they had put her through, especially as she was pregnant yet again. They would have to make do with antics from the school for a while.

Hilda had been furious and had demanded of Nell what gave him the right to ask all of this but she too had paled when Nell had handed over some photocopies and had seen that he had gathered evidence of Nell’s involvement in her trial.   They had both agreed that they would have to let the young doctor do as he wanted and sat down to make some plans. At least her pregnancy had stopped her from going out much and they could hire a ship filled with actors to take her over there, even if there was to be no cameras. They would have to set up somewhere for them to live and send her sister and her family over there as well. It would take a bit of work but it was doable. Once Nell had gone Hilda had had to go and rethink her plans regarding Nell. The young doctor had beaten her to the punch. 

 

Chapter 6 by jmc

 

Hilda spent the day in her study waiting impatiently for Nell to arrive. She was unable to concentrate on very much. Different scenarios about what they could do kept running through her mind but none of them seemed adequate to her. She hoped that Nell would have some ideas. Her head began to ache again. It seemed unbelievable that after all these years and after so much plotting, scheming and effort that it might this might be the end. She didn’t want it all to end. What was she going to be left with if it all ended?  Nell would help. Even after all she had put Nell through over the years this was Nell’s baby as much as hers. Both of them had made many enemies over the years. Enemies who would love to see them fail. Who could have done this to them.

Hilda had thought through her plans carefully. She and Nell had already decided to move the school again. There had been thoughts of going back to Austria but a Swiss company had offered huge amounts of money in sponsorship if they moved the school there.  It had been decided that Hilda would go out first and establish a new branch of the school. A branch for older girls. Nell would remain behind as head of the current branch for another year before she followed Hilda out. The new branch would be the main one to be featured on the show and the actresses at the branch would all be chosen to have thrilling adventures in the Alps. The young woman would be sent to live nearby, as they would establish a new branch of the sanatorium, with the doctor in charge. It would be staffed it with handsome young doctors for the girls to meet. Both women had decided to keep the doctor as close as possible so they could keep an eye on him. Despite the fact that he had blackmailed them Hilda had a strong admiration for him. It was not often that someone managed to cross her.

Nell had been so jealous about the plans that she had practically turned green. She had been the one who was involved in all the adventures and she had been the one who had saved Hilda from a lengthy prison sentence. She thought Hilda owed it to her to let her take the spotlight. Hilda had known though if she had just offered it to Nell that she would have been very suspicious as it was not in Hilda’s nature to make a gesture like that. So she plotted.

When Nell had come to see Hilda not long after the young woman had gone to Canada, she was wearing a triumphant grin. She had told Hilda that she had some photos that she thought Hilda might not want anyone to see. After she had showed them to Hilda, Nell had said that she was taking charge from now on and would be the one going to be head of the new branch in Switzerland. Hilda had argued with Nell for about an hour but then with an expression of defeat on her face had agreed. Why Nell had thought that Hilda could be blackmailed twice in one year was beyond her. Once Nell had arrived in Switzerland, Hilda had sent her the real photos. They were not of Hilda at all. She had just superimposed her head on the images and airbrushed a few bits. She told Nell that the original photographer would verify that fact and supplied the name of the model. To drive her point even further she also supplied copies of the photos with Nell’s head on them. The Photoshop course that she had completed online had been worth every penny.

Nell had screamed in rage when she realised she had been tricked but there was nothing she could do. She had been established as head of the finishing branch and she resigned herself to the fact that she would not be shown as frequently.  After a while she realised that there were some benefits about not constantly having the spotlight on her and enjoyed her life immensely. Some of the new actors on the show had been rather gorgeous. She had also told Hilda that she still knew many things that she was sure Hilda would still not want others to know. Hilda had responded with that fact that she had a secret file on Nell so the pair of them had agreed to go back to planning the life of the young woman instead of plotting against each other.

To fill in the gap left by the young woman the school once again merged with another school. This time it had been with girls who did not fit in with the ethos of the school and it had caused some dramas. An up and coming tennis star had been featured. The first term by the finishing branch was shown in great detail and the viewers responded well to the change in scenery again and Swiss tourism industry felt well rewarded for their sponsorship. The young neighbour was paired up with a young fireband from Australia. The public loved the new girl and her complete disregard for the rules. The young neighbour feeling that she was being pushed aside complained to Hilda who set up a storyline that involved her in falling into a well which eventually resulted in a find of pirate treasure in the school’s last term on the island.

The young woman had her twins in Canada and while the viewers greeted the news with joy, the excitement level was lower than previous births. Aware that his future hinged on the show the doctor allowed just enough footage from Canada to be shown so as to keep the fans satisfied. The shows ratings had gone up significantly when the young woman returned with all her children in the last term and again became main fixtures in the show. The youngest triplet and the young fireband were teamed up as friends, which caused the young woman much anxiety.  It was Nell who had thought up this pairing before she left and the mischief this pair got up to proved very successful both in terms of viewers and merchandising. The youngest triplet after her exile from the show for nearly two years was very excited to be back and promised never to tell anyone about what she knew and promised to create as much havoc as she could.

Hilda had enjoyed her last year on the island very much. Once the cast had learned that the whole school would be moving to Switzerland and that the number of girls going would be cut back there was mayhem. Hilda developed a website for the show and put polls on for who the public thought should be written out. Girls and staff were told that they would be sent to an English branch of the school and that if they did well there they would be called to the Swiss Branch. Once Hilda had whom she wanted though she dropped that idea like a hot potato and in fact only very few girls were ever recalled in later years. Hilda had been sent gifts from parents and the older actresses who played mistresses also put in their pleas.  The young neighbour had known that she was safe and had been besieged by others to put in a good word for them with Hilda. Hilda just sat back and enjoyed all the plotting and backstabbing. She also managed to stock up her bar with some very fine whiskey in the process.

One young actress and her family tried to sue Hilda for breach on contract and went to the tabloids about the way she had been treated. The young actress had been introduced at the same time as the young neighbour. She was to have been a mathematical genius that would bring great honour to the school. Unfortunately she had clashed with the young neighbour from the beginning and had subsequently been seen as a rather unpleasant character. Hilda had got wind of the interview from a friend and had managed to quash it, although not without much difficulty and in return had counter sued the young actress. Hilda won the case convincingly and the young actress and her family were then dragged through the tabloids themselves. That the information she gave the tabloids was untrue, Hilda had cared not a bit. Photoshop came in very handy yet again. The family was ruined. The father lost his job, they had had to pay for the court case against Hilda as well as paying her damages and the young actress was reviled at her new school for daring to oppose the show. She never worked in the entertainment industry again.

Just before the departure of the young woman to Switzerland the young woman had seen her niece married and had bid farewell to the angelic girl for the last time. After all her wild behaviour Hilda found it amusing to have her leaving to go to a convent. The Austrian maid had only agreed to move with the family provided that she got another, quite significant, pay rise and some more help. Hilda had toyed with replacing her and had even gone as far as to interview some candidates but she had not been able to find anyone better. She had become a confidant to the two younger triplets and the boys adored her, so Hilda had employed an old girl to come and help out in the nursery.

The move had also meant a permanent parting from her sister. The only time they had ever really been separated was when her sister had gone to Canada before her. In some ways the sister was happy as she was able to pursue her own projects, but due to some conditions in her contract she was still at the beck and call of Hilda and had to drop everything and appear whenever Hilda wanted her. The goodbyes had been quite teary. Both the young woman’s sister and brother had come to see her off. For Hilda this had served the purpose of making her more dependant on the school for company, especially as where they were going in Switzerland was quite isolated and apart from the school, there would only really be the san. The young woman was going to be living closer to the school than ever before as she would live next door. In an age of every increasing technology it would enable Hilda to keep a firm eye on the young woman and keep track on the people who came to the area.

Hilda had decided to allow the young woman to travel to Switzerland via some of her friend’s houses. It was an expensive process as permits for filming had to be obtained and set dressing stations and clearing streets to make it look like the late 1940’s took some doing but in the end all was set. The young woman had provided some amusing but strange moments when packing to leave and viewers were pleased to see an old friend who just happened to be at the dock in France. They had then visited another old friend who Hilda had living in a slightly run down chateau outside of Paris. The young woman was exhausted by the time the arrived and Hilda had worried that she would be unable to continue therefore throwing all her carefully laid plans into chaos. All was well though and the trickiest part of the whole journey and been when she visited another friend in Basle as they had had to be more careful when staying in the middle of the city.

The early days in their new home had passed with some adventures. The middle triplet had been instructed to sleep walk again and young woman had been frantic as they searched for her eventually finding her on the roof. The family explored the area around their new home and viewers got their first glimpse of the new school and by the time the new term had started they were well associated with the area.

The new term opened with some of the young woman’s children having measles. Knowing that the young woman would have trouble coping with the illness of her children Hilda had managed, with Nell’s help, to obtain some of the virus. After being assured that the children would suffer no lasting effects and that the dose would be mild she had paid a down on his luck doctor to sneak work out the way to give the children doses. It also meant that the new school had been able to start without any interference from the young woman and Hilda had been able to sort out a few teething problems.

Switzerland had provided a perfect backdrop for the new school.  One of the biggest complaints by audiences for a number of years had been about how unflattering the uniform were so they were changed when the school moved. They were also made of a material that was easily dry cleanable and were able to be cleaned quickly and easily.  The san was again the production offices but these were all in the basement behind hidden doors that the young woman was unable to access. In fact the whole area under the san was remarkable as there were apartments for the crew and other cast members as well as cinemas and bowling alleys and other entertainment areas to keep the crew and the members of the cast, who were not school girls, happy. There had never any shortage of staff from the school volunteering to visit patients at the san.

The neighbour had begun to have more and more scenes in the show and newspapers and websites around the world had joked that the name of the show should be changed. The stories revolved around her and her gang and they had a lot of power within the school. If you crossed any of the girls in the gang you soon found yourself on the outside of everything. Hilda knew all about it of course and actively encouraged the neighbour.

Hilda had also arranged for hair-raising adventures to happen at least once a term. In the first term after watching the weather report for days she sent the neighbour and her friends for walk and they, as she hoped got caught in a snowstorm. While the girls did not always know what Hilda had planned there were always safety precautions in place. Hilda had been fine with the girls receiving injuries as long as they were not too bad. The last thing she had wanted was a girl to die or be so seriously injured that investigators would be bought in giving the game away to the young women.  Many of the girls received bonuses or extra airtime if they were injured or managed to perform a spectacular rescue.

The skiing in the first term had provided much amusement for the audiences although the cast had complained about the old fashioned skis and the fact that there were no lifts. The girls had quickly learnt not to complain though as Nell had suggested that Hilda should make the cameras focus on the girls who complained the loudest. The young Australian had provided a completely unrehearsed stunt won an award for best stunt but one that ski areas around the world had had to ban skiers from attempting due to the large number of injuries.

During the time in Switzerland Hilda and Nell had decided to introduce more and more girls with problems that either the young woman or the neighbour would be called in to help. The young women was encouraged to have parties for new girls every term and the girls were always excited to go over and met one of their favourite authors. There were one or two new girls who had snuck hidden cameras in to take photos but once the photos had circulated these girls quickly found themselves with no storylines. 

 

Chapter 7 by jmc

 

Hilda’s mobile rang again and she answered it irritability when she saw it was Nell. Her expression grew darker and darker when Nell explained that her car had broken down and that she would not be able to get there until the following day. She snapped her phone shut with such force that a crack appeared across the screen. She felt a vein in the side of her neck begin to throb and the familiar feeling of a headache appeared. She felt as though everyone and everything was conspiring against her.

Time had started to fly by once they had reached Switzerland and Hilda had found herself busier than ever. For the first time she had begun to realise how much work Nell had actually done at the main school. Before the move Hilda had been too busy to realise this but once life had settled down she had not appreciated reading all about Nell’s life in the gossip pages over the internet and in the tabloids.  While still involved behind the scenes, Nell had very little participation in the main school and this had given her considerably more free time and she was enjoying life immensely. Hilda resolved to end this once and for all and had begun to plan for Nell to once more become more part of the main school.

Despite the triplets being too young for the new school in Switzerland, Hilda had allowed the young woman to argue for their inclusion in the new setting and had finally allowed herself to be persuaded that they should come. Hilda had wanted the girls under her nose to control them and to make sure that the oldest triplet was still kept in the dark.  Now that the young woman was getting older and could not participate in as many adventures, Hilda had wanted to ensure a successor for her and had already planned her marriage.

The youngest triplet had been involved in a near drowning during the second term. Hilda had approached her about falling into a lake over the half term trip. The young girl had promptly agreed. For this accident Hilda was taking no chances and there had been a diver, at the ready to set to help if there were problems. Certain girls had been briefed to distract the oldest triplet in this case, but everything had gone off perfectly. The young woman had come down to see her daughter and had provided some touching scenes. She had also managed to help the new girl who had been involved in the rescue.

The finishing touch had been to arrange for the marriage of one of the audience’s favourite mistresses. That young woman had asked if she could be released from her contract as she wanted to get married and start a family. Hilda had taken some time to think this over and once she realised the young history mistresses fiancé was also an actor had said that they could change the conditions of her contract. She would let her reduce her hours if both her and her fiancé would get married on the show as well. The young history mistress had seen her lawyer who had informed her that there was no way she could break her contract without suffering huge penalties. She had then accepted Hilda’s offer. Hilda, feeling generous at the time, had agreed to let the young couple pursue film projects when they were not needed although she wanted script approval. Hilda had also agreed to let the couple have a percentage of the profits from the merchandising that she would release for their marriage.

The school had continued all through the years with a tradition of a sale for beds in the sanatorium. Most of the goods that the students produced were pure rubbish and in the early days were often just discarded but the advent of eBay had meant that often things were snapped up for ridiculous prices. Realising this Hilda and Nell had set up their own site where people could bid for goods before the sale and then these were posted out once various actors had bought them on the day. Some of the girls actually managed to produce beautiful work and were asked to sign certificates of authenticity to go with their work. Hilda and Nell had received the profits from the sales while the girls were at school but many had gone on to find quick success afterwards.

Hilda had decided that the young woman needed another child but felt it was too early to introduce another baby so she had arranged for the school to give the woman a puppy as her old dog had died before the move to Switzerland. Despite the young woman’s efforts to train him this dog had been trained from an early age to be the naughtiest dog that it could be and, when she was not around, this training was continued by the doctor and the maid. Anyone who was going to come in contact with the animal had had to sign waivers saying that the production company was not liable for any costs that arose from being injured by the dog.

Hilda had also introduced an unofficial goddaughter for the young woman from a barely remembered friend from the school across the lake in Tirol. This goddaughter had even shared the same name as the young woman. The young woman had eagerly taken the child in and had been able to provide support in some extremely touching scenes when the child’s parents were kidnapped and then severely injured. The young actress who had been cast was personable and well liked by most members of the cast.  Only the young neighbour had antipathy for her as she had felt her spotlight slipping away from her with the introduction. Especially after a big rescue scene in which the unofficial goddaughter was the heroine rather than the young neighbour.

The young neighbour had not been happy, as she had felt her part in the rescue had been minimized and she had demanded some big scenes from Hilda. This occurred in the following term. The young neighbour started the term with the death of her grandmother and then there was also her mother who was not well again. She was given a difficult new girl to look after, was made dormitory as well as form prefect and provided an amusing escaped during some Christmas festivities.  But the biggest scenes came near the end of that term. A stunt had been very carefully planned. It had been practised over and over again before it had finally been filmed and on the day it was worked spectacularly. The young neighbour had been thrown against a tree and had looked dead. The young woman had been called upon, as the neighbour’s mother had been too sick to come. The young woman had sat by the bedside of the young neighbour with tragic eyes as she had waited for news. She had declared that if the young neighbour's mother could not be there for her then she would. She had also been particularly upset that it had been one of her children who had helped to cause the accident.  In fact there had been many calls to the production office by viewers who had been anxious about the youngest triplets health as a result of her tears. Hilda had just congratulated her on a job well done.

The only part of the whole plan that the young neighbour had objected to was the fact that she had had to shave her head to look he part of an invalid. Her parent had argued against it, her gent had argued against it but thorough it all Hilda had held firm. The young neighbour’s head had been shaved and Hilda seeing an opportunity to look magnanimous and get her name in the papers had signed the young woman up for the World’s Greatest Shave after hearing about it from an Australian friend. She had set up a sponsorship page on the show’s website after the accident and declared that she would donate all money to leukaemia research. The amount of money that had been generated by this had been astronomical and there had been talk of Hilda receiving an OBE. Hilda had ensured that Nell was sent all clipping of this as well as providing links to any website that had this rumour.

The young neighbour had recovered from her injury with remarkable speed. She found to her pleasure that the publicity she had received from her illness had made her even more marketable than before and she was inundated with requests to be the spokesperson for hair product companies. In the end she was became spokesperson for a perming company and her hair ever after was curly.

Nell had realised that Hilda was starting to run the show too well without her and worried that she would find herself even more on the outer, or disposed of entirely, had cut back on her social life and had agreed to Hilda’s idea that the finishing school should move closer to the school proper.  She had arranged for the young woman to have another child and no one was more surprised than Hilda when the young woman came to the staffroom to announce her news. Nell had also been busy scouting the country in search of talent and managed to arrange for another young piano genius to join the school. She had quietly arranged a different contract from the usual ensuring that any profits from the young artist while she was at school went to her and her only.  Nell had also turned the annual pantomime for the finishing school into a writing competition, which each participant had to pay to enter. The winner had received the pleasure of seeing their pantomime on TV in a special episode and had been flown to Switzerland to be part of the audience.  Due to the thousands of entries each year Nell had made a tidy sum.

Hilda had quickly realised that Nell was back in the picture, especially when any hope of honours disappeared for her when some influential columnists reminded the public in their columns about Hilda’s trial and strange acquittal. Hilda had been furious but had resolved to pay Nell back when she was least expecting it.

A new friend had been introduced for the young woman. Again it had been someone from the school at the other side of the lake but the two had quickly become fast friends. The young woman had even sent her youngest son off to be with her friend’s tutor for her boys during term time. The young boy, who knew about his family, had been extremely disappointed when he was not allowed to go to school with his brothers. Both his father and brothers had filled his head with stories about the outside world and much of his resulting behaviour had been his method of rebellion. The young woman had insisted that he was too young to be sent away so the doctor had come to see Hilda and this compromise had been reached.

The young woman had given birth to another girl.  Before the birth of the baby a worldwide name the baby competition had commenced. As people could only enter the competition after purchasing merchandise sales had skyrocketed. The name that had eventually been chosen by Hilda and Nell had been a throwback to one of the favourite early characters. When the doctor had suggested the name to his wife she had agreed quickly as she missed her little sister. Nell had also asked the young piano genius to write a short song to commemorate the arrival of the baby. The viewers had loved this idea and for a number of years it became popular for the rich to commission famous artists to write songs for the arrival of their children.

There had been short protests with the introduction of two new girls to the school, whose backgrounds were not that of the usual girl, as certain portions of the public had not liked the, what they called, stereotypical images that were presented.  But, on the whole school life had continued on as normal.  There had been a new mistress, who was initially a sparring partner for the young neighbour and who took the public fancy for a while. Her introduction had been a ploy on Hilda’s part to try and entice some more male viewers to the show. Before her introduction a series of photos had been leaked to the tabloids and men tuned in to watch the young mistress in droves.  Advance publicity of a stunt involving her and the young neighbour had been extreme and there had been a campaign asking for the young mistress not to be killed off as there had been many rumors that this was going to happen.

 The young woman had been happiest she had been for a long time. Her children were all healthy, her husband was close by and she had such good friends in the area, including all the mistresses at the school. Her only gripe had been that her boys had to be sent off to school, as there was no school for them in the area. It was the young woman herself who had provided the next idea for the school. She had a morning tea to which she had invited a select group of staff and announced that it was going to be twenty-one years since the beginning of the school and that they should do something to celebrate.

Hilda had been taken by surprise. She knew the school had been running for a long time and if you added that time to the time before the school began she had worked on this show for over half her life. It had caused Hilda to examine her life briefly. Her marriages had been very brief, as the men she had married couldn’t compete with the show. They had quickly realised that this had meant more to her than anything else. She had few close friends although there were many people who had tried to get close to her. She had no children of her own but she wasn’t really sure if she regretted that or not as she felt like the young woman was hers anyway. But in the end she had come the conclusion that she liked the wealth and power that she had and wouldn’t trade it for anything else.

Nell and Hilda had put their heads together after that morning tea and by the end of a long meeting they had been rubbing their hands with glee. This storyline had provided so many opportunities for them. They would release DVD’s with the best of episodes. They could also release sets with favourite characters and this would also be the perfect time to ask many of the characters back for a reunion special. Nell was also sent off to Austria to see if they could film some special episodes there.

 

Chapter 8 by jmc

 

Hilda spent the evening trying to look at various reports but she could not keep her mind on them. She had a splitting headache again and neither tablets or whiskey seemed to be helping. Her phone had been strangely silent since her call from Nell and she had her inbox had been almost empty. Her secretary had barely disturbed her all day. Even the young woman had not called or popped in to visit. Hilda felt strangely alone.  She had very little sleep that night and stood for under a very hot shower for a long time before she felt ready to face the day. She heard voices in her outer office and sat ready to berate Nell as she walked in but she only got a few words out when she saw who was accompanying her. Her mind went into shock and strangely she started thinking again about the celebrations that had taken place at the school.

The viewers had greeted the months that had followed the announcement of the twenty-first year of the school with joy and people tuned in the see many of their old favourites appear. Online polls appeared on various fan sites to determine who people would and would not like to see turn up. Hilda had briefly toyed with the idea of bringing in some of the young woman’s least favourite people but after talking it over with Nell had been unable to work them into the storyline. Many viewers emailed in ideas of what the show could do to celebrate and some of them had been truly bizarre. In the end as so much positive publicity had been generated by the whole event Hilda and Nell had decided to stick with fun events to celebrate.

Some of the naughtiest girls left behind when the school came to Switzerland were reintroduced and they picked up where they had left off. The big reunion weekend was extremely popular and the photo that was taken of everyone on the day had been released as a limited edition print. The event that everyone had been waiting for though was the one where the young woman would head back to Tyrol with her four closest friends as well as the prefects from the school who by then had counted the young neighbour amongst their number.

Hilda and Nell had shown no footage of this trip before these episodes, as they had wanted to achieve maximum impact for their viewers with the young woman’s visit. The fact that the younger members of the school had kept coming back and saying how great it was which had only increased the anticipation. It had been Nell’s idea to actually send all the younger students. Hilda had balked at the cost at first but Nell had talked her down. In reality though Hilda had just hiked up the fees for that term.

The visit had been the highlight of the year. It had been an expensive time though as they had had to hire special security forces to keep prying people away. Filming rights had also had to be paid to let them film in the various buildings that had belonged to the school or the san. Most of the people around the area had only been to pleased to help as they had benefitted greatly over the years from the tourists who came to see where the young woman had gone to school and where she had fallen in love. It had been this very fact that had made it so easy to go back there as the village had been kept in much the same way to promote tourism.

The young woman’s happiness at being back there was infectious. The whole trip had been extremely happy and when the young woman started talking about coming back t0 visit more often Sensing holiday adventures, Hilda and Nell had reacted quickly. By throwing money at various homeowners they that had managed to secure one the chalet that had first housed the school across the lake. They had also had hurried phone calls with the young neighbour and the young woman’s friends and a stunt had been quickly set up and a specific actor flown over. The thunderstorm that came at the same time had been an added bonus but by the end of the trip the young woman had her chalet. The trip and the night-time adventure had thrown the young woman and young neighbour closer together and they were now friends rather than child and honorary aunt. The viewers had been ecstatic to see the young woman in a adventure again and the episode was one of the most downloaded TV shows for the year.

At the end of that eventful term the young neighbour won a major prize and was confirmed as headgirl for the following year and the youngest triplet continued to cause trouble for both her parents and the school. She didn’t study and was actually in a lower form to her sisters. This however had been her request because as long as she wasn’t in a form with her oldest sister she could do more of what she wanted. The middle triplet was content just to go with the flow and she actually enjoyed writing stories and poetry.

More new girls had introduced each with their own problems. A young disabled girl was introduced and in her last big stunt for the school there had been an avalanche that a group of seniors got caught in. This combined with a nasty accident had meant that the young neighbour had been able to weave her magic once more. In her final term at the school the young neighbour had turned her attention on the triplets. The oldest triplet had been asked to look after a new girl by her mother and along the way they had become friends. To try and cement this friendship there had been a smallpox storyline. No one really got sick and the oldest triplets other friend was given a pretend reaction to an injection to get her out of the way. The new girl had been expelled from other school that had allowed Hilda introduced a sordid blackmail story, which only the young neighbour was able to sort out.

The same term as the blackmail story the young woman had given birth to another set of twins. Again Hilda had been surprised when the pregnancy had been announced but she had simply presumed that Nell had given the go ahead. The young woman by now had eleven children and there had been mutterings from viewers that enough was enough. Hilda had had to hire more help for the young woman’s maid as she had protested about the amount of work that she had to do, as in her opinion, the young woman did not do enough round the house and was too occupied with her writing and other affairs to pay enough attention to the babies. Hilda had given her another pay rise and had sent round more help.

The holiday home in Tyrol was used for the first time since it had been purchased. It had had to undergo modifications to allow for shooting to begin there, as all the old equipment that happened to still be in place was obsolete. That holiday saw the introduction of three teenagers to the household as the young woman basically adopted them when she saw they were all alone.  Episode in Tyrol continued to rate well and tourism in the area skyrocketed after each visit.

But Hilda had grown felt the show was growing stale. Every term there had been the introduction of a new girl and it had become more and more difficult to come up with original problems for the girls. The stunts and adventures had gradually grown bigger and bigger and more and more dangerous. The triplets came in for more storylines but the show had also needed new blood. The young neighbour was firstly at the finishing school for a year but then she too had left the show as a permanent cast member and the student who Hilda tried to replace her with was not universally loved. In an effort to replicate the success of a cast member from the English era Hilda had introduced a young tomboy. But audiences had not taken kindly to her. Hilda was also facing the fact that as the triplets were getting older they too would not be round for much longer. The boys were all away too much to be utilised and the young children simply did not have the same following as the triplets. She was prepared to allow the younger two triplets to leave but she had plans for the eldest and was not about to let her get away.

The young neighbour was a special guest on numerous occasions and she had always appeared at a time where she had fortunately been able to solve a problem that no one else could. Both her mother and her stepfather were both killed off leaving her effectively alone with no one to turn to except for the young woman and her family. The oldest triplet had looked up to her and tried to take over her mantle once the young neighbour had left. She became had become a mentor to the young tomboy and each week viewers submitted questions for the young tomboy to ask her.

As it had worked so well before another school was again merged in to provide tension but it failed to live up prior storylines. Hilda had tried to twist it so that the merge was only temporary to provide tension between the two schools but it had been to no avail. A sad point at this time was the actor who had played the school’s art master for a long time died suddenly. As he was much beloved by all the cast and crew the grief over his death was real. Hilda just worked the sudden death into current plotlines.

 The triplets had begun to become prefects and talk about their futures. Hilda used them more and more in scenarios. In one term she sent them out to be caught in a snowstorm and as a result of the stress and trauma the middle triplet had been asked to sleepwalk again. There had been a time of concern, however, when a stunt involving the youngest triplet had gone wrong when an actress had failed to duck in time when a bookend had been thrown at her. Instead it had hit her in the head and the youngest triplet had been very afraid that she had been badly injured. The girl’s parents had tried to sue for damages but had no luck. Finally the triplets young sister had been kidnapped and when the resulting fight to get her back had got carried away all three triplets had been injured although not badly.

The young woman had again provided a storyline that had been a hit with the viewers. She had organised a reunion with many of her old friends over the holidays. Many of these people had not been at the twenty-first birthday and some of the actresses had not done any work since their time on the show so viewers eagerly tuned in. Unable to help herself Hilda had organised a walk gone wrong adventure much to the disgust of the actress who then had to pretend to spend months back at the san. Fans who had always thought the actress had had a raw deal with the way her character had been portrayed were happy to se e her get married and finally find happiness.

Hearing murmurs of dissatisfaction from viewers Hilda had tried to beef up the show further. Bullying, more kidnappings, drugs, holding people hostage at gunpoint, speedboat accidents, illnesses, rescues from houses of ill repute all become storylines. The angelic young girl was written back in for one episode but there had been howls of protest that the young woman had not been allowed to see her again.

The young woman had had more children wished upon her. She had become guardian to the girl whom the angelic girl had rescued and after a very dangerous stunt involving a rain crash came to adopt a baby. She was also left as guardian to a young orphan. Hilda felt she had to keep the young woman busy as the less she left the Platz the easier and cheaper it was for all concerned.

When one of the youngest twins had become ill Nell had stormed in to see Hilda but Hilda had denied any knowledge of the affair and had accused Nell. The young woman had been frantic with worry but Hilda and Nell had kept much of the illness of the air, as they both claimed they had been worried there would be investigations into how the little girl had become ill. Neither could explain it. The little girl was shown later to be bravely recovering with the young woman and her family hovering anxiously over her.

It was at about this time Hilda was forced to take some time off as she needed an operation. She had reluctantly left Nell in complete charge but before she departed she had left detailed instructions on what she expected to happen and as soon as she could keep in contact every day with the production studio and Nell via email, messenger and her mobile phone. The details of her surgery were kept vague much like that of the young woman’s a few years previously. Unlike her though Hilda had been able to check into a hospital easily and there had been no subterfuge required. Hilda had been displeased when she had come back to find that no one apart from the young woman had really missed her and things had run very smoothly in her absence.

Hilda stared at the group who had entered her office. None of them apart from Nell were meant to be here. Term had finished. The oldest triplet was now engaged. Her next plan involving both the young woman and her eldest daughter was about to come to fruition and it was going to be huge. So why were all these people here? She shut her eyes in the hope they would disappear.

After a moment Hilda opened her eyes but her office was still full of people all staring at her silently. As well as Nell there was the young woman and the doctor with his arm around the young woman, the triplets all with tears in their eyes, the young woman’s sister and brother and her best friends, a number of the staff from the school, the young woman’s faithful maid and the ones that had caused the most shock to Hilda – some cameramen who had been with the show for years. Seeing them told her something that she really didn’t want to know.

“What is the meaning of this?” she managed to stammer out while looking wildly round at everyone.

“What does it look like to you Hilda?” replied the young woman of all people.

“Some sort of pathetic attempt of Nell’s.”

“We know you have been frantic for the last couple of days. You suspect something has been going on and have been trying to get to the bottom of it haven’t you.”

Hilda nodded mutely too shocked to talk.

Nell spoke next. “We've been working towards this for a while now.”

“I suppose you think you can run this show do you?” spat back Hilda. “And I take it she knows,” she said gesticulating wildly at the young woman.

“I’ve known for a while,” said the young woman with ice in her voice.

Hilda’s jaw dropped and once again she was unable to speak.

“I was horrified when I first found out,” aid the young woman. “I was more than horrified. I was mortified. I was angry. No I was furious. And it all explained so much. Why so many strange things happened to me. Odd occurrences and strange objects suddenly made sense. Random things the children said suddenly became clear. Well I can tell you now. It’s over.”

“How long has she known and have you had anything to do with this?” screamed Hilda suddenly furious whirling round and facing Nell.

“I told her when we went to Canada,” said the doctor suddenly.

“Why? Why would you tell her? We gave you everything you wanted!” Hilda screamed at him now.

“Why? That’s easy. Because I love her and because of you I nearly lost her. After I told her she was sick for quite a while. I managed to downplay it as part of her pregnancy as I was worried about what the pair of you would do if you found out she knew. That you would arrange for some sort of fatal accident or something like that and continue on with the triplets.”

Nell looked at Hilda with shame in her face. “That was the backup plan yes. But I would never have been able to go ahead with it.”

Hilda just looked at Nell with scorn in her eyes. “You were always weak. Never able to go the distance. That is why I have been the one in charge. The one with all the power.”

“Not anymore you aren’t,” replied Nell quietly.

“You can’t do this to me!”

“Yes we can and we are,” said the young woman. “I was so hurt at first. My life wasn’t my life. Everything had been planned. You and Nell had planned every hurt and every bad memory. So many things happened that just weren’t true. You put me thorough some truly horrible experiences. I just wanted to die. But Jack wouldn’t go away. He kept talking to me and kept telling me we could still have life together. He told me he loved me and he told me what he feared would happen if I let on. It took a long time but I forgave him. We were quietly married in Canada for real before we left. It wasn’t until then that I knew what a real marriage was like.” And after that speech the young woman turned to her husband and sank into his arms a bit red faced.

Jack suddenly grinned. “The youngest three children were all natural by the way. These guys…..” he said indicating the cameramen “had had enough too. They were happy to walk away for a while if I asked.” His expression grew solemn again. “Anyway after we came back and moved here Nell came upon us one day unexpectedly when we had gone off for a bit of alone time. I was in a complete panic because I thought she would run and tell you but it seems Nell was as unhappy with you as we were. You are not a very popular person Hilda and have managed to make a lot of enemies over the years.” said the doctor.

“You wrote us out of the story almost completely and while she might not have been our real sister to us she was our sister,” said the young woman’s sister angrily. “We hardly ever get to see her anymore and we miss her.”

“And all through school we really were her friends. It might have started as a job but how can you grow up with someone and share in all sorts of things and not become close.” The four friends were all nodding their heads in agreement.

“We wanted to stop you before but until Nell contacted us we didn’t know how,” said the young neighbour.

“You of all people should not be doing this!’ yelled Hilda desperately. “I gave you everything you wanted. You were the most popular person in the school. You are rich and famous.”

“I was young when I started but as I got older I began to see exactly what I was doing. I didn’t know what to do. It was too difficult to talk over with anyone as I was always in the spotlight. The cameras followed me constantly. I managed to escape the cameras one day and went for a walk by myself. I met Jack who heard me debating it all out loud to myself. He told me it was OK. That she knew and that there was a plan to try and stop you.”

“But why now. If you have known for so long, why now?” asked Hilda looking at the young woman.

It was Nell who replied. “Ultimately it was your plan for Len. You wanted her to get married. There was no way you were going to let her go to university. She has already accepted that marriage proposal. ”

“But I was going to let her go to university first.” said Hilda. “Then she was going to come back and the show could continue with her children.”

“No you weren’t. You were never going to let her leave the Platz. Your plan was for Jack to be in an accident causing Len to have to stay on the Platz to help her mother out. Reg would then convince her to get married quickly. And little Phil. How could you do that to her? It was bad enough when you convinced me to give the children measles but polio?” said Nell with disgust in her voice and waving some papers that Hilda recognised in her face.  

Hilda’s shoulders slumped. Nell knew everything. “But think about the ratings and the money. Surely you can’t give it all up,” she said in a last ditch attempt to win Nell back.

“She’s my god-daughter Hilda. I want her to be happy. She knows everything by the way. Margot told her years ago but she was so scared of you that she never said anything. I found out a couple of years ago and convinced her not to let you know until we were ready. I don’t care about the power and money any more. We started in this together but even though my name is still in the credits it has become the Hilda show. You try to control everyone and everything. Well I don’t care about the power and money any more. I’ve now realised that there is more to life. But you never will. All you care about is yourself. I’ve been working towards this for a while now. So the big news is that the show is not going to stop. It’s going to be different. We….” said Nell pointing at everyone in the room. “have bought you out.”

“Impossible!” Nevertheless Hilda made a mad dive for her laptop which she had had ready on her desk in anticipation of Nell’s arrival. Her face turned whiter and whiter as Nell’s news was confirmed. Her head exploded with pain and she fell to the floor.

She saw someone step over her. It was the young woman.

“Ok it’s my life so I am in charge now,” said Joey. “ From now on we’ll do things my way.”

Joey made it a point from then on to go and visit Hilda each week as she lay in a bed in the sanatorium paralysed from her  massive stroke. The viewers lapped it up.

 

This story archived at http://www.sallydennylibrary.co.uk/viewstory.php?sid=112