New Winslow S7E28
The way the internet was working well enough to have Roman included in tonight’s meeting was a miracle unto itself. And Iris had to hope that some of that miraculous energy might spread to their attempt to contact Billy McBride yet again.
She was trying not to be frustrated. They’d made progress, she tried to remind herself. Enormous progress. But now that the connection had been established, Billy wasn’t answering anyone but Noah. And now, it didn’t look like he was even going to do that.
She’d felt a little ridiculous suggesting a séance. In theory, it wasn’t anything less plausible than the spirit board and essentially the same thing. But sitting there on the floor of her shop, holding Noah’s hand on one side and Dr. Degas’s on the other, Andrew across from her, she just felt silly. Like she was relying on horror movies for her information, not years of careful training.
And doing this with the ever-practical Dr. Degas back for the first time in weeks made her feel even sillier. Dr. Degas hadn’t said a word about it, just took Iris’s probably sweaty hand in her own cool one and sat beside her on the wooden floor, the candles lit in the center of the circle.
Maybe it was having Roman watching all of this on a screen at the Countess that made it feel less real than any of the other things they’d tried. And it brought back memories of trying to summon Billy with Vivien all those months earlier, which wasn’t helping Iris’s confidence or mood at all.
The atmosphere was certainly perfect for a séance. It was a cool night. She couldn’t open the windows because the wards to keep Roland out were reliant on the way the sash was currently angled. But the temperature in the shop had backed off from the heat and humidity of the day. Around them, merchandise tossed shadows from the low lit shelves, cutting through the pink and blue neon glow. The candles were real this time, not the dollar store tea lights she used at the Countess and outside where wind might throw everything off.
Around her, the others were taking this seriously. Noah’s eyes were tightly closed and she could tell he was almost too intensely focused on this. Beside him, Andrew held his hand and kept his head bowed, occasionally glancing over at her. And Dr. Degas had immediately taken everything for what it was. Judging by the quiet conversation she’d had with Noah at the beginning of the meeting, she clearly knew everything that had happened. But she didn’t say a word about it to Iris, just asked what needed to happen next.
“Billy,” Iris called yet again. “Billy McBride, can you talk to us? We’re here, we want to talk. We mean you no harm, we just need your help and think we can help you in return. Your descendent, Noah is here again. He’s your family, and he needs your help.”
She was laying it on a bit thick, she knew, but it wasn’t wrong. She’d seen what Noah would do for Andrew and he needed Billy in order to do anything. Iris waited for a response, anything at all. Best result, maybe he’d talk to her either in her head or out loud. Maybe he’d even talk through Noah again, a thought that made her feel hopeful and then instantly guilty.
There was nothing happening, not even the tangle of words from last time. “Billy,” Iris said. “I’m going to give you one last opportunity before we close the door for the night. Please, talk to us.”
She had a tape recorder going as well, hoping maybe Billy would rather show up there. So they weren’t entirely without hope. Another long stretch of nothing. Iris’s nose itched, but both her hands were occupied.
“Alright,” she said after a long moment of silence. “We’re going to close the door.”
She went through the motions of ending the séance, finally letting go of the others’ hands and blowing out the candle.
“That was a waste of time,” she said as they all stood up, joints cracking as they did so. “Roman, are you still there?”
She looked over at the screen, where Roman was staring at them. For a second, she thought the image was frozen. Then he shook his head. “Did you not hear that?” he asked Iris.
He let out a staticky breath. “The yelling,” he said. “It almost blew out my speakers.”
“When?” Iris demanded.
“Just now,” Roman said. “Jamie heard it too.”
Iris cringed a little at the idea of whatever was happening scaring Roman’s kid, but then pulled her focus back to what was happening. “What did they say?” she asked. “Or was it just yelling?”
“Hang on, I can try to play it for you,” Roman said. “Jamie helped his old man start recording the meeting.”
Jamie laughed somewhere in the background as the others watched intently. Roman fiddled with some buttons for a second. “Jame,” he said, turning off screen. “Jame, how do I do this?”
The image cut slightly, then Roman was back with his son, who looked strikingly like him these days, beside him. The kid was doing something on their end, teasing Roman lightly as he did so.
Then Roman and Jamie disappeared, and there was a choppy video of Iris’s shop playing. They were all sitting in the circle, and she could hear herself saying Billy had one last opportunity to talk. She remembered the silence after, it rang in her ears as disappointment set in.
But in the video, there was suddenly a cry, young and sad, warbling on the unstable connection. “Please just let me go home. I want my family.”
She glanced at Noah, who was frozen in place. “That’s him,” he said, his voice a hoarse whisper. “That’s Billy, I hear that in my dreams.”
There was crying, just for a moment, helpless sounding in a way that hit Iris’s heart. She glanced over to see Noah’s mouth tremble, just a little in the neon light, before he swallowed hard and looked over at her as the crying stopped.
Billy didn’t sound stable and now Iris had to wonder how long the spirit had been deteriorating alone in the Countess. “Billy,” she said, keeping her voice soft and hopefully comforting. “We want to help you get home. We can do that, we just need your help, alright?”
She was speaking to silence, but she had to hope that wherever he was right now, he could hear her.
Noah was so tempted to ask Andrew to spend the night. But it was just too forward, even for him. He was less worried about this whole thing than he expected to be. The sex thing, not so much the ghost thing. That was still lingering as he got out of the shower a little while later and walked out into his empty apartment. After they’d wrapped up their meeting earlier, Iris had played her own tapes of the session. Sure enough, the same desperate sobbing had shown up on that as well.
Gray Lady was nowhere to be seen as Noah glanced around his apartment. She had a new hidey hole somewhere in the house, probably a whole network of little tunnels she’d found and Noah would eventually have to deal with. But she always came back when he poured food in the dish. And the past few weeks, she’d been extra attached to him. He’d wake up with her purring on top of him nearly every night and she trailed after him throughout the house in the few hours he was home each day.
Even when he got home from rehab, she hadn’t been this affectionate. It was like him being away for two days had completely rattled her.
Of course, it rattled him too if he thought too hard about it. So he just avoided doing so.
Noah blinked, suddenly realizing he’d been standing in the small hallway outside the bathroom for way longer than he’d thought. He hadn’t been thinking about anything, just spacing out. Shit, he needed to get some sleep. Not that it would be restful, not with the nightmares that were sure to come.
He got into boxers and a t- shirt, but caught himself spacing out again sitting on the side of the bed. There was so much and he was so tired. And he wanted to go home.
No, no, Billy wanted to go home, not Noah. Noah was home. His cat was somewhere in here and Liv and Mia were safe downstairs. This was home.
“Billy,” he said out loud, remembering the way the kid had cried on Roman’s recording. “Billy, hey, just talk to me, man. It’s alright, we’ll figure this out.”
He hoped he sounded assuring. Noah could remember the fear Billy felt on that ship, watching the storm rolling in. He could feel the heavy clouds building in here, in his bedroom, the waves roaring around him. Billy was going to die. An eighteen-year-old who loved his mother and wanted to be a doctor. He was about to be thrown overboard into the raging ocean, gone forever. Never going home.
But Noah wasn’t going to witness that part again. His mind seemed to block it when he woke up, maybe for the sake of his sanity. After all, when he’d seen it at Iris’s shop, the headache had been some of the worst pain he’d ever felt. Worth it to solve the curse and reach Billy, of course. But likely something that his mind was going to avoid by preventing him from trying to access on his own.
But if Liv was able to talk to Billy the other night when Noah was sleepwalking, then maybe Noah could talk to him too.
“Bud,” he said, Roman’s teenage son coming to mind as he tried to figure out how to talk to this kid. “Billy, I can’t help you unless you work with me, alright? I don’t know how to talk to you. But if you can hear me, just respond, alright? Let me know you can hear what I’m saying.”
He laid down on the bed, staring up at the sloped ceiling. Maybe the kid would talk to him in his dreams tonight if he tried to be open to it. He could hope.
Six hours and three terror-filled dreams of seawater later, Noah woke up on his living room floor, Gray Lady purring on his back.