New Winslow S7E2

The bar was an absolute dive. One of the side windows was broken, the cracks covered with a tattered ad for live music about eight months earlier. It looked a lot like Keegan’s actually, if maybe a little dimmer, hotter, and much more crowded. Olivia went straight to the bouncer, a large man with a thick silver mustache. “Can you help me?” she asked.

She must have looked horrible, because the man’s stern expression melted into concern. “Of course,” he said, sounding more like a grandfather speaking to his granddaughter than someone who could break the shins of anybody here. “What’s wrong, sweetheart? Someone bothering you?”

Despite being at least twenty years older, he sounded like Noah. Not that that accent was anything strange around here, Olivia had traces of it herself. But the sound of his voice nearly got the tears going again. “No,” she said. “I’m looking for a friend who’s missing. He used to come here a lot, and I was hoping maybe someone here had seen him.”

“What’s he look like?”

“Really, really tall,” she said automatically, pulling out her phone and scrolling through her photo gallery. There weren’t a lot of pictures of Noah in here, he didn’t really like having his photo taken. Finally, just as she was starting to panic, she found one of him sitting in the backyard with Mia on his lap. He was facing Mia, so he wasn’t looking directly at the camera, but it was enough to make him recognizable. “This man, Noah Kelly,” she said, holding her phone out.

The bouncer pulled out a pair of reading glasses from his leather vest pocket and put them on, holding the phone at arm’s length as he studied the picture. “Oh, him,” he said. “He hasn’t been in in a long time.”

“He quit drinking,” Olivia said.

“Good for him.”

The bouncer looked up toward the bar, where two bartenders were darting back and forth, filling orders and laughing with the patrons. “I haven’t seen him,” he said. “But go ask Sue and Dre, they’ve been here since this morning and would have seen more people.”

“Thank you,” she said, her voice tight.

Neither bartender had seen Noah that day, though the older one clearly recognized him as well. She told Olivia that she’d have Noah call if he did come in. And that he was a good guy, she hoped everything worked out. As Olivia walked out, the bouncer put a giant hand on her shoulder and gave a sympathetic pat.

Once she was in her car and driving through Ware’s quiet downtown, it was safe to cry. She was sobbing to the point of having to pull over alongside a small strip of closed up shops. Noah was gone. And Iris had hurt someone else. Olivia had known it was a bad idea to let Iris mess with him, but like she’d told Andrew earlier, no one could make Noah do anything, couldn’t they? Especially not when he thought he was doing the right thing. And she was terrified and sick and she’d threatened to kill Iris. Which didn’t even make her feel bad yet.

Maybe Noah was home by now. She’d get home and he’d be there, safe on the couch with Gray Lady. He’d found whatever it was that he was looking for and it wasn’t alcohol.

She glanced at the clock on her dashboard. Eight o’clock. There was another possibility, unlikely though. And she felt a little bad pulling Cleo in, but it was time. Maybe she could hope he’d gone to her for comfort.


Cleo was in bed with Edie, the sheets tangled and both of them laughing, blissed out and exhausted. It had been a good day off together. Cleo had solidified her recording schedule and it was time to finish the album. She’d built it around a song that had gone oddly viral earlier in the year, easing some of her career stress. So this was a big step for her. And, maybe more importantly at the moment, they’d gotten the call that the apartment was theirs. That cute Brighton apartment that they’d be moving into in two weeks.

Edie rolled over, the sheet sliding down to their waist as they propped their head on a delicate hand and smiled at Cleo. “I love you,” they said breathlessly.

She leaned in and kissed them. “I love you.”

As tempted as Cleo was to start round six or seven, her stomach was growling. So instead, she opened her mouth to offer to make dinner. But then her phone buzzed on her bedside table. And she was pretty sure she’d heard it ring a few minutes ago too, so she probably should check it this time.

“Sorry,” she said to Edie as she reached for the phone. “I have a feeling this is something.”

She answered. “Hey Liv, what’s going on?”

It was too late for Liv to be calling just to chat, wasn’t it? And the sinking feeling in Cleo’s stomach was confirmed when Olivia spoke in a shaking voice.

“Have you seen Noah today? Or talked to him?”

“No, I haven’t,” Cleo replied, looking over at Edie, who was now looking concerned. “Why, what’s going on?”

“He left and no one can find him.”

Shit. Shit shit shit. Cleo sat up and got out of bed, going straight for her dresser. Edie blinked her, startled by the sudden movement. “Did something happen?”

“Iris,” Olivia replied flatly. “She did something and Andrew said it messed with Noah. Something with the curse, she hypnotized him or something and he was fine with it, but something he saw really messed him up and he left. And now none of us can find him and he didn’t bring his phone.”

That was a lot of information trying to cram its way into Cleo’s mind. She held the phone tucked between her shoulder and ear as she pulled on some soft pants. “Have you talked to the police?”

“Yeah,” Olivia said. “A little while ago. They said there’s not much they can do, it’s only been a few hours and he’s an adult.”

“He has a history of substance abuse and suicidal tendencies,” Cleo said. “Are they not taking that into account?”

“They are,” Olivia said. “But they said all they can really do is keep an eye out for him.”

“Fucking useless,” Cleo muttered as she awkwardly put on a shirt. “I’ll be there in half an hour. Are you at home?”

“No, I’m still in Ware, I went to check a, um, a bar he used to go to,” Olivia said. “I don’t know what to do, I thought maybe I should keep driving but I don’t know where…Cleo, I don’t know what to do.”

She was crying now and Cleo was trying not to do the same. “We’ll find him,” she said. “It’ll be okay.”

She wasn’t sure she believed herself when she said it. Especially now that her mind was going back to that open back door and freezing evening. “I’ll head to your house,” she said, feeling Edie’s eyes on her. “I have my phone, call me if anything changes.”

They hung up a second later and Cleo turned to see Edie watching expectantly. “You’re going to New Winslow,” they said softly.

“I have to,” she said. “Noah’s missing. I can’t…”

Tears were burning her eyes and her hands shook as she put on her shoes. “I have to be there.”

She thought Edie might argue, and it looked like they wanted to. But they just looked down at the bedsheets. “I’ll be here if you need anything,” they said instead.

Relieved, Cleo went back over and gave them a hurried kiss. Then she was out the door.


Two hours after returning to Iris’s shop, Andrew was completely drained, laying on the floor of Iris’s shop with an equally exhausted Iris beside him. For all the time they’d spent doing rituals and attempting to contact the spirits of Billy McBride and the Alderidge family to track down the origins of the curse, Iris had never sunk so much of herself into the work. She’d put all of her energy into this ritual, holding Noah’s leather jacket as she tried to track him. And when her energy had flagged, Andrew had given his. But there was no sign.

“It doesn’t make sense, he has to be somewhere,” Iris said, letting her hand fall limply to the floor beside her.

Everything in Andrew’s battered skull was screaming what he didn’t want to hear. Noah was dead. If they weren’t able to track him down, it was because he wasn’t alive.

“No, stop it,” Iris muttered, clearly half-asleep. “The spell is tracking his physical body. Not like…” She trailed off, then shook herself awake. “It doesn’t mean he’s dead.”

Great, so she was still capable of reading his thoughts then.

“I should have said no,” Iris murmured, looking up at the dimmed overhead lights, then closing her eyes again. “I’m so sorry, Andrew.”

She faded out as Andrew’s whole body went cold. It was after midnight by this point. Was it really just that afternoon he’d been kissing Noah on the old sofa in his new flat? And now he might never see him again. And he hadn’t told Iris about any of that. He hadn’t told anybody.

Iris’s breathing had gone slow and steady as she fell asleep beside him. Andrew was tempted to join her, but he had to go home. If Noah showed up there tonight, he needed to be there. And even if he didn’t, Andrew needed to be with Liv.

“Are you going upstairs?” he asked Iris, shaking her gently.

“I’m fine here,” she breathed. “It’ll lock behind you.”

The blanket she’d spread out for the ritual was bunched up now, and Andrew carefully slid it out from underneath the candles and herbs, then laid it over her. She didn’t move as he blew out the candle and stood up on sore legs, groggily heading out the door with Noah’s jacket in his hands. He pulled it on, holding it tightly closed over himself, even in the heat of the night.


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The Northern Worcester County branch of the Foundation for Paranormal Research is one of the organization’s top investigation and cleanup teams. So when a case comes in involving a century of mysterious disappearances, they figure they’ll be done before their lunch break is supposed to end. Investigators James and Amelia go to the site while their coworkers remain behind. But in seconds, Amelia vanishes in the cursed house and the others are forced to find her with no help from their bosses. Will they be able to get her back or will the house claim one final victim?

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