New Winslow S7E61 – Season Finale

Charles Baxter could see the ridiculousness of this plan. Hell, he could even see the humor in it. And if his entire life wasn’t on the line right now, he might actually laugh at the idea of repeating history in such an obvious way.

But Nancy’s phone call had made him realize he was going about this all wrong. He was drawing unnecessary attention to himself, trying to sow the seeds of distrust in Iris. She didn’t need his help with that; she was capable of fucking up all on her own. He’d known that for decades now and people in this town knew it too. But she wouldn’t stop. The one time he needed her to, she just kept on going. He’d hoped she’d stop once Roman Beckett got out of town, God knew how. But instead, it was like she and the others had ramped up their efforts to solve the curse after Beckett’s escape.

He knew Andrew Harris was still here. And Charles felt for the boy, but he was probably staying with Kelly, those boys had been attached at the hip throughout high school. So he was fine. And his medical issues were none of the council’s concerns. Even though that was a far second place to his real concerns, this was something that Charles actually believed in. Like he frequently told the rest of the council whenever the topic of the curse (or The Strangeness, as his father had sometimes slipped up and called it. And Charles had to be extra careful not to do it himself) came up in meetings, they didn’t pay citizens’ rent for them or mow their lawns when they hurt their backs. Would that be a kind thing to do? Yes, of course. But it was not the purview of the local government. And the New Winslow curse was in the same category.

Thankfully, the rest of the council were more focused on their re-election campaigns and pet projects than they were on a curse they all just wanted to forget about. So it didn’t take much redirection to get them back on task when the conversation came up.

If Charles’ goddamn grandfather could have just been a little more patient, he would have gotten his wish. Rosalind Alderidge would have caved at some point. Charles knew what kind of debt she’d been in. Most of the Alderidges had died by that point, her husband and mother during the influenza pandemic, her brothers in the First World War years earlier. She’d been saddled with their debt and when the rumors of towns being disincorporated and flooded for the Quabbin Reservoir began to circulate, the value of her home would have crumbled. Nobody except Elmwood Financial would want to buy a mansion in a town that might not exist in a few years. She would have sold and the company would have gotten all the property it wanted in the neighborhood.

Or hell, weren’t three parcels of land enough space to build a hotel on? Did Harrison Barlow really need to get greedy on a development that was just as likely to be taken by eminent domain as it was to replace the town of Greenwich as the local vacation spot when Greenwich was a mile underwater?

There were so many ways this could have gone and the curse, however it happened, would never have been set. Charles knew this in his bones, but that wasn’t what life had offered them. And now he was responsible for his family’s own private curse, that of keeping this secret from the world. Or at least as much of the world that actually cared about a tiny town somewhere in rural Massachusetts.

But this tiny town in rural Massachusetts was where Charles Baxter’s entire life was, so if that secret got out, then not only was his family shamed, but his life was ruined. And he wasn’t going to let what he’d built get away so easily.

He just needed to scare them, that was all. Maybe some minor injuries, just enough to show that this was serious business but not enough to kill anyone. Charles wasn’t a murderer. Even at his angriest, he couldn’t imagine reaching that point. Threats, of course. He was a politician, he knew that sometimes you had to get your hands dirty. Or hire others to get their hands dirty on your behalf. But the threats apparently weren’t working, despite his hope that maybe the calls would be enough. He was actually starting to feel a little ridiculous hiring people for that, but so be it if it meant stopping all of this nonsense.

But apparently his private strife wasn’t so private anymore. Not if people were noticing? And talking about him? No, that couldn’t stand. So now here he was, at two in the morning, outside of Iris Davies’s silly shop on New Winslow’s empty main street. There was one newly repaired window with tape still on it and he could see the glow of lights on the shop’s shelves within.

People were talking about smashed windows downtown lately, so nobody was going to question it happening yet again to Iris’s shop. He’d have to be quick about it, but it wasn’t like Charles was an expert in burning down houses. That was his grandfather. But he assumed that it couldn’t be that hard. Not when he had two containers of gasoline on the sidewalk beside him and plenty of matches in his pocket.

The types of things she had in her store would probably go up nicely. From here he could see shelves of books and ropy wall decorations that would easily catch fire. Charles knew that Iris lived above the store, but she’d get out easily enough, she must have smoke alarms in there, it was a town requirement. This would scare her badly enough to get out, not hurt her.

The window shattered with a satisfying crash, glass spilling onto the frame and into the shop. He waited for a beat, listening for the sound of the alarm going off. There was silence, then the beeping began. He didn’t have long.

He tried to pour the gasoline through the broken windowpane. But as he tried, it bounced off the scarred wood. Urgency briefly forgotten, Charles stared at the now-dry spot where he’d just seen a stream of gasoline land, then tried again. It connected with the windowsill, then evaporated with a sizzle, but no heat.

This was her fucking magic shit, wasn’t it? He couldn’t burn the building down, she had traps up to keep it from happening because apparently this was something Iris had considered in the past. And if he didn’t move right now, she was going to catch him. He hurried down the sidewalk, away from the broken window and clanging alarm.

It was fine. He had another option.

The Limerick Building was brick, so it wasn’t likely to ignite the way Iris’s wooden shop should have. But still, Andrew Harris owned the building, for whatever reason. And while losing a new business in town would be a shame, it would certainly send that message Charles needed to send.

This time, he broke the window on the front door, carefully reaching in to unlock it. He opened the door, moving as quickly as he could to get out before the alarm went off. He shuddered, a chill coming over him that made him want to drop what he was doing and run away. But he had work to do and a point to prove.

This time, the gasoline flowed easily onto the old tile floor of the Limerick’s front entrance, harsh and eye-watering as he emptied the remaining container. Charles backed up toward the street, eyes darting around to make sure that no one was around. Then he struck a match and held it against the corner of some old meeting minutes he’d found in the town council’s office earlier. He waited a beat for the tightly rolled papers to ignite, then tossed it into the open door of the shop and ran, heart pounding too quickly in his chest as he felt the heat of the gasoline igniting behind him.

This would get the message across.






Leave A Comment

3d book display image of The Vanishing House

Want a free book?

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?

Get Your Copy Today>>