New Winslow S7E47

She was in a study. The room was small and dim, with slants of sunlight coming through the curtains ajar over the windows. Dust motes danced in the beams as Iris stood in the doorway to the room, looking around. The walls were lined with bookshelves, all of them stuffed with old, worn books. There were a few very new-looking ones, including a handsome encyclopedia set. But for the most part they all looked as though they’d been bought in a yard sale or a dusty used bookstore somewhere. In the center of it all, vaguely silhouetted by the sunlight behind her, an older woman sat at a large wooden desk, writing fiercely. She looked up at Iris through wire-rimmed glasses with a neck chain hanging loosely off of them. “I was wondering when you’d show up,” she said.

“Evelyn Harbinger?” Iris asked.

“Come in, come in, you’re letting out the warm air.”

There was a fire going in the small fireplace beside the doorway and Iris quickly closed the door behind her. Harbinger motioned impatiently for her to come to the desk and she walked hesitantly over, looking at the books around her. The titles squiggled out of recognition and she knew she was dreaming.

“Sit, young lady.”

Iris sat and Harbinger studied her for a long moment, intense gray eyes peering over the rims of her glasses. “You let my book get ruined.”

Even in her dream, Iris’s stomach twisted with shame. “It was- I mean…yeah, it was my fault.”

“Stupid decision,” Harbinger said. “I’m just grateful you didn’t get to the second or third volumes. I don’t need your clumsy hands wrecking-“

“The third one is already damaged.”

Iris’s temper got ahead of her common sense this time as she blurted the words out. She expected Harbinger to be scandalized, but she just continued to look at Iris.

“Go on,” Harbinger said. “I only put a lifetime of work into these volumes. What, pray tell, happened to that one?”

“Someone tore out the pages talking about the origin of the curse,” Iris said.

“The Strangeness?” Harbinger confirmed.

“They buried the pages with your body to keep the truth from coming out.”

Harbinger glared at her. “Iris Davies, are you going to come into my study, interrupt my very important work, and tell me lies?”

“I’m not lying!” Iris snapped, realizing that she was dangerously close to pushing herself out of the dream. She took a breath, trying to get back to that calm place. “I’ve looked all over the town and Charles Baxter told me they’re buried with you. You’ve been dead seventy years, there’s no way the papers survived that long.”

Harbinger sniffed. “I was cremated,” she said. “And I took nothing with me that I didn’t arrive with.”

“Where?” Iris asked. “The archivist couldn’t find your tombstone, maybe they burned the papers there.”

“I didn’t want a tombstone,” Harbinger said. “I wanted my ashes scattered in the forests of the Swift River Valley.”

“You were scattered at the Quabbin?” Iris asked.

Harbinger gave her a disgusted look. “You have a very intelligent brain, Ms. Davies. I suggest using it once in a while. No, I was not scattered in the drinking water supply, though that might serve some of those lawmakers right. I was simply sent out among the wilds of the area, just like I requested.”

“So the pages still exist, then?” Iris said, leaning forward in her seat as the writing on the papers in front of Harbinger continued to swirl and swim.

“Yes,” Harbinger said. “And I suppose it makes sense that they would spread that lie. The powerful men in this town wanted me to shut my mouth and put down my pen during my life, but I knew it was important that the truth of the Strangeness and the actions that led to it were printed. Even if we never knew the actual reason it occurred.

“Well, where are they?” Iris asked eagerly. “We looked in the town archives and the library and I even broke into the town hall cellar to find it. A source said they were ‘underground’ and weren’t able to elaborate.”

“I don’t know.”

“What do you mean you don’t know?”

“I mean I’m not God, child. I’m not all knowing and all seeing. If I was, this work would be a lot easier now, wouldn’t it? And I would have been able to stop you from leaving my book to be destroyed by a crazed spirit. When I tell you I don’t know, it means I don’t know. Who is this ‘source’ you’re so confident in?”

“Vivien Dyer. She’s a – she was a powerful psychic, and she said she spoke to you multiple times in the spirit plane.”

“I’ve never heard of this woman.”

Harbinger’s glasses hung around her neck now, against the green wool sweater she wore, even in the heat of the room. “So this means I have to start looking for those pages again,” Iris said, more to herself than to the ghost in front of her. “Fuck, Andrew is going to kill me.”

“I would appreciate it if you keep the cursing out of my study, thank you,” Harbinger said.

“Sorry,” Iris said. “Is this really your study?”

Harbinger continued to look at her, her lined face deeply unimpressed. “Miss Davies, did you-“

“No, I mean, this isn’t a facsimile of your study, is it? This is truly your study still. This is your anchor in New Winslow, in some form I can’t comprehend, but you’re also in the spirit realm.”

Then an idea struck her. “Do you think you could talk to the Alderidges?”

“No more than you can,” Harbinger replied as she searched through a stack of papers on her desk for something.

“But you’re dead!” Iris exclaimed. “If you could just talk to them on the spiritual plane, that would make this so much easier.”

Harbinger looked at her and, again, Iris felt like she’d just made a blunder in class. “Ms. Davies,” she said. “Do you know how the spiritual plane truly works?”

“No,” she admitted.

“Of course not,” Harbinger said and for once, there was a bit of a smile on her stern face. “Alright, pay attention, you’re going to need this. For starters, yes, this study is my anchor. I have too much to do and you can’t expect me to let go of the space I fought so hard for. But no, before you ask, I am not haunting some modern man in his home. I am at rest, as it were.”

She picked up a thick book from the other side of her desk and set it in front of Iris.”Here is our world,” she said. “The plane of the living, where you currently are, is my desk. Notice that it touches the spirit world. You can make contact between planes to an extent. As you are now. However, two spirits might be on entirely different pages, if you will, within the spiritual plane. If I’m on page twenty, for instance, poor Samuel Alderidge might be on page eighty-four. And his mother might be on page two hundred and twelve. I can’t necessarily talk to Samuel from my position, nor can he speak to his mother. But all of us can interact with the living world in ways, in the same way that the book as a whole touches the desk. And should we be anchored in some way, all the better.”

“So if you were to be on the living plane…” Iris started slowly.

“Not me,” Harbinger said firmly. “I’m busy with my own work.”

“But if a spirit, any spirit, was going to,” she continued. “Then they could interact with one another.”

“I suppose,” Harbinger said.

“So they’d need a vessel. A medium willing to have them possess their body, rather than just answer the phone.”

Harbinger’s smile was approving, but the room was getting less distinct. “What happens in those pages?” Iris asked her. “Can you just tell me?”

“It’s the Strangeness, Miss Davies,” Harbinger said. “I don’t think there’s anything in there that you don’t already know.”

That wasn’t true, not by a longshot. But Harbinger and her surroundings were nearly translucent by this point. “Thank you,” Iris said, knowing her time was running out here. “This has been…thank you. And I’m sorry about your book.”

“The history needs to be known,” Harbinger said. “Find a way.”

The words were still ringing in Iris’s ears as she opened her eyes. The room was still dark, but like in Harbinger’s office, sunlight peeked in around the shades on her windows. She sat up and drank the water she’d left at the side of her bed, considering everything that had just happened.

Charles Baxter had told her those papers were buried and gone. And he wasn’t a good actor, she could tell that from what a mess he’d been over the past year. There was always a chance he was lying, but it seemed more likely that he genuinely didn’t know that the papers still existed. But the one thing about all this that she had no doubts about was that Andrew was going to be furious when he heard that the search was still on.




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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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