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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.

 




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