New Winslow S7E16
“Do you think Noah would be up for trying to contact Billy today?”
Andrew looked at Iris, unable to even think of a polite answer to that. But apparently the disapproving stare was enough, because she wilted slightly as he continued to look at her in silence.
“It’s been about eighteen hours,” he finally said. “Let’s give him a little time, yeah?”
They were in Iris’s shop and Andrew was midway through an eight-hour shift that was crawling by. Liv and Noah were back at the Limerick today and that was where Andrew was going straight after this. And perhaps he’d even sleep in his own home tonight, the little flat where he’d spent all of three nights so far. If that.
“Vivien kept saying she could end the curse in minutes if we wanted her to,” Iris said as she turned on the small laptop she’d set up at the other end of the counter.
“And Vivien’s newest business venture is tearing souls in half,” Andrew murmured as he continued to balance the register against the few sales for the day so far. “Forgive me if I don’t leap at the chance.”
Even though his tone was light, something inside him still twisted even as he said it. The horror on Celine’s face when she’d gone out to the yard to talk to Noah was something that was going to haunt him for a long time. And he didn’t even know what any of them could possibly do to thank her, even as she insisted no thanks was necessary. He’d overheard Noah trying to before she left, but she’d simply reminded him he was the one who ignored Roman’s protests that his heart attack was just a cold. So if he really wanted, they could just call it even.
“So Billy is still around then,” Andrew said. “What, does this mean he’s just been ignoring you until now? What made this so different?”
“I don’t know,” Iris replied, and he could see it pained her to admit it. “But it’s something to do with Noah, they have a connection like I said. And Vivien seemed to see it too.”
“Iris,” Andrew said, pausing his maths and turning to look at her again. “You are not seriously considering bringing Vivien in to help, are you?”
“No,” she said quickly. “Of course not. It’s just that, she’s really powerful, you know? And maybe she knows things.”
He believed her, but that didn’t mean he was going to let it go. “Of course she knows things,” Andrew replied. “She knows how to destroy people. How many people do you think are running around with wide swathes of their entire being just torn out because of her? Does she actually have clients? Or is it an elaborate delusion?”
“I’m not going to ask her for help,” Iris said, her tone a bit too firm for Andrew’s liking right now. “I promise. I just want to end this.”
“Then let’s end it,” Andrew said. “What we have so far is that Billy exists, and he is able to interact with this world. Excellent. What do we do when we connect with him?”
“We ask him to connect with Samuel Alderidge, his best friend in life.”
“And do spirits do that, you suppose? He can just get on the ghost phone and give Samuel a ring?”
“You don’t need to be so snarky,” Iris muttered.
Maybe he was laying it on a bit thick today. “Sorry,” he said. “Alright, so we ask Billy to connect with Samuel. And we think Samuel’s got the solution?”
“He is connected in some way. My theory is still that there was a death in the house and that was the catalyst for the curse. Rosalind still lived there at that point, but I’m not sure about Samuel. He would have been in his mid-twenties by the time of the fire.”
Iris was pacing in tight circles now as she thought. “So what if Rosalind was killed after months of intimidation by Barlow and his cronies? They set the fire, Rosalind died, and Samuel set the curse as revenge on the town?”
“It’s plausible,” Andrew said, playing with a small glass ball on the counter now, sending rainbows over the door to Iris’s flat. “And if he intentionally set a curse on the town, he could unset it, yeah?”
“Yeah. Or he’d be another step toward finding the solution.”
Andrew wasn’t fond of the idea of following a trail of breadcrumbs through a game of ghostly telephone, but it wasn’t like they had other options here. “I’ll talk to Noah,” he said. “After he’s had a few days. But I don’t want to force him into anything, not on my account especially.”
“Deal,” Iris said a bit too quickly.
A little while later, Iris went upstairs to make a quick lunch while Andrew watched the shop. She was tempted to call Noah while she was up there. Anybody else, maybe she would have given into the temptation if it meant solving this sooner. But Andrew would absolutely kill her. And she could admit to herself that she did feel guilty about what had happened. So instead, she put together a sandwich and sat in the quiet for a few minutes, thinking.
Billy McBride was there, they’d found him. He had cast his final memories into Noah’s mind, where they played over and over, causing Noah to relive them as he walked in his sleep. And now that they knew there was a link between Noah and the ghost, they could use that. Andrew’s dig about ghost telephone wasn’t entirely wrong, but reaching the (dead) family in question via the son’s (also dead) childhood best friend wasn’t actually the weirdest thing Iris had ever dealt with. Though it was up there for sure.
Vivien had called Noah the McBride boy, so it must be a family connection. She’d have to ask him about that. But regardless of what the connection was, it was there. So Noah was going to be the link she needed.
What if Iris tried intentionally contacting Billy with Noah? A spirit board session with him in the room. Maybe then Billy would talk. She didn’t imagine that Noah would be very amenable to being hypnotized again, not after what had happened last time, but that was a possibility as well. She had her concerns about the energy he’d received from Billy, but they could steer the session away from his memories of Billy and toward allowing Billy to speak through him.
Risky, extremely risky given how protective Noah’s friends were of him. But she could ask him. If Andrew didn’t absolutely kill her for it.
But the spirit board was a better first step.
Her phone rang, the same one that went to the shop downstairs, breaking through the silence. Iris got up and picked up. “Hello?”
There was silence on the other end, then just the sound of breathing. “Hello?” she repeated.
“This needs to stop,” a voice whispered.
A tendril of fear crept into Iris’s heart. “It’s time to stop, Iris,” the voice continued, then disconnected without another word.
She stayed where she was for a moment with the phone in her hand, then slowly hung up. Most of her instincts said to keep this to herself. She’d just get someone else hurt if she told them about it. Andrew couldn’t leave town to escape any danger that came his way, he didn’t need anything more. But that was what got her in so much trouble before, so it was time to get over that instinct and try to rely on others.
Rely on her friend. If he thought of himself that way too. Iris honestly didn’t know, and she didn’t want that the thought hurt like it did, so she was just going to let it go for now.
She went downstairs and Andrew looked up from the booklets he was stocking on the shelves near the cash register. “I just got a weird phone call,” Iris said, pushing against her misgivings as she tried not to picture all the ways Baxter and his cronies could hurt Andrew.
She detailed the call and watched any signs of amusement leave his face. “I wonder who that could possibly be,” he said.
“If not him, then someone connected with him,” Iris said. “He’s a politician, he’s got ties to everything.”
“Just be careful, please. And I will too. But thank you for telling me.”
He smiled at her and for a second, she felt like maybe she was being patronized. But the sincerity in his face was reassuring and she rejected that idea much faster than she would have before.