New Winslow S8E6

It was the pain that woke Andrew. He didn’t remember falling asleep on Liv’s couch, but that was where he woke up, with pain radiating throughout his back. He swallowed a groan as he came back to consciousness, then attempted to shift his body on the couch, but couldn’t stop the sound this time.

He was supposed to be at Iris’s shop in a few hours. He hadn’t gone last night, so it was beyond important for him to be there. Baxter had attempted to burn down both of their businesses, successfully done so with his, and the curse was keeping Andrew trapped here where Baxter could get him whenever he wanted. Andrew knew it wasn’t actually as simple as that, that Baxter would have to get through the others too, especially now. But remembering the terror of that burning door, the smoke coming in from underneath, he couldn’t help feeling every inch of how vulnerable he was right now. 

They needed to get this done. 

But as he tried to get up again, another sharp pain wrenched through him and he just ended up lying on his side on the couch instead. There was no way Andrew was going to be able to get up, walk or drive to Iris’s shop, then sit through everything they needed to do.

His new mobile hadn’t arrived yet, so he was going to need to use the landline. Ignoring pains he almost certainly should not have ignored, Andrew stood up, clutching the coffee table in a strange, folded crouch. He shuffled carefully toward the kitchen doorway, grateful to be alone for this embarrassing display. When he reached the phone, he leaned heavily against the wall, then dialed Iris’s number.

“Andrew, hi,” Iris said, sounding slightly distracted as she answered the phone.

“Iris, I don’t think I can get to your shop tonight.”

There was a pause and for a second he was worried he was about to get a lecture on the importance of what they were doing. But instead, she let out a breath. “Jesus, yeah,” she said. “Take your medicine, I can feel it radiating off of you.”

He was pretty sure his tablets were somewhere in Liv’s kitchen, just out of reach. “I want to come over,” he said. “But I can’t drive and I definitely can’t walk.”

“No, it’s fine,” she said, and she sounded like she meant it. “Let’s reschedule for tomorrow.”

“Yeah, I’ll feel better then.”

“Probably not,” Iris said, and he didn’t bother resisting the urge to roll his eyes. “But tonight I’ll pull out everything we have. We shouldn’t focus on the pages right now, let’s just focus on getting you out.”

“You mean breaking the curse.”

“If that’s what gets you out, then yeah.”

“No, we need to end it completely,” Andrew said. “Iris, if we don’t, and I manage to get out on my own, then someone else is going to end up getting trapped and it’ll just keep going. He’ll target them and-”

“Andrew, I didn’t mean we stop trying to break the curse entirely,” Iris interrupted. “I mean the priority is going to be getting you out. Safely,” she added quickly, as the constant arguments with Noah immediately came into Andrew’s mind. “Then we’ll focus on the curse.”

He’d known all along that she really did want to get him out for his sake, but he didn’t fool himself that there wasn’t a massive amount of professional ambition involved in her desire to break the curse. So this surprised him in a way that made him feel bad about being surprised. “So what do we need to do, then?”

Iris was quiet for a second and Andrew leaned his bruised back against the wall, then immediately flinched away from it. “When did you last try to get out?” she asked.

“Last night in the back of an ambulance.”

His stomach flipped as the words came out of his mouth and he glanced around, praying Noah wasn’t within earshot. “Right,” Iris said, “Sorry. I mean… I’ve been trying to think if there’s anything else specific to you that we could try. I’ve been thinking all day but-”

“If there was, we would have found it already,” Andrew said. “If the meditation and potions and rituals and all of that could have gotten me out, it would have before now. And that was as close as I ever hope to come to reenacting how Roman got out. But it still didn’t work. So I don’t think rugged individualism is getting me out. No, we’re back on our silent ghost buddies.”

He wobbled slightly just as he spotted the tablet vial on the counter. “Careful,” Iris said. “You should sit down.”

“I’m just getting my tablets from Liv’s kitchen,” he said, taking a careful step that sent a new trail of fire up his muscles and into his ribs. “So come on, tell me what you’re thinking. I know it. I can sense things over the phone too.”

He was teasing, wiggling his fingers for emphasis and maybe feeling a little loopy from the pain, even without having had his medication yet. 

“We should try to reach Billy McBride again.”


He walked carefully across the kitchen, where he could see the little orange vial on the counter, next to a half-eaten loaf of bread. Things were just slightly different in here than they’d been when he moved out. Nothing vital, but the countertops had changed just a little while he was gone. But he was back now, wasn’t he? 

At least he had to hope he was, because his other options were limited. “You’re at home, right?” Iris asked.

“I’m at Liv’s.”

“That’s what I meant.”

“Stop reading my mind,” he muttered as he gripped the counter for support. “Are we using him as bait? Is that your plan?”

“There’s a way to put it,” Iris said. “I prefer to think it’s motivation. Who wouldn’t want to talk to their best friend after a century? Maybe No-”

She stopped talking so quickly that he thought the call had dropped. Then the backdoor opened and Noah stepped inside. “Andrew,” he started, then noticed the phone and stopped.

“I’m fine, I’m just getting my tablets.”

Noah didn’t argue, just moved underneath the phone cord and went to the sink for a glass of water. Andrew hoped he’d bring it out to the yard, where he was apparently working in that overly large garden he was growing from the obscene number of plants he’d bought under Vivien’s influence. Instead, he pulled out a kitchen chair, set the glass down on the table, and waited expectantly as Andrew finally opened his pills.

“We’ll talk tomorrow,” Iris said. “If I think of anything-”

“Of course,” he said quickly, though both of them knew that wasn’t going to happen. It hadn’t since last January, and it wasn’t going to happen now.

“Is there anything I can do to help you?”

He almost said “kill me,” but Noah was still in the room and memories of being told he was sticking around for the mortgage, and of suicide watch that Andrew apparently wasn’t supposed to know about, made him swallow that joke. “No,” he said finally. “Just keep looking, I suppose. We’ll all be there tomorrow, so fresh eyes might help.”

“You’ll all be there?” Iris said. “Wait, you mean…”


“Do you think I should try to talk to her?”

“Talk to Liv? Iris, absolutely not,” Andrew said, dry swallowing his tablet as Noah glared at him. “Just… I don’t know, accept the help and try not to…”

There was no good way to end that sentence. “We all have the same goal,” he finally finished.

“I’ll let you go,” Iris said. “Um, rest up.”

“Cheers, yeah.”

He hung up and sat down heavily in the chair Noah had pulled out, finally surrendering. Noah nudged the water toward him and he took it. 

“Why are you up?” Noah asked.

Andrew didn’t answer until he’d drained the glass, then looked up at him. “Like you should talk,” he retorted. He wasn’t quite sure it made sense, but the sentiment should be enough.

“Do you need help getting back to the couch?”

He was about to say no, then get up and get himself there. But standing made him let out a pathetic little noise, and Noah all but carried him back to the couch. And Andrew could tell himself he didn’t like that, and he’d believe the lie.

He expected Noah to go upstairs or back outside, but he just tinkered with the air con unit for a second once Andrew was lying on the couch again. “What did Dr. Degas say you need?” he asked.

“A couple days on the painkillers,” Andrew said as Noah made a face. “And then careful movement and rest.”

“How are you feeling?”

Andrew laughed. “They help,” he admitted. “I’ll probably be asleep in fifteen minutes, which I don’t actually want. But fuck, this hurts.”

“Do you want to be alone?”

“No, please stay.”

He was about to apologize for asking that when Noah was clearly in the middle of what was likely four different projects outside. But Noah nodded and settled in beside him, obviously in no hurry to leave. “I have fifteen minutes,” he said with a soft smile.


The next morning, Olivia was out of coffee. Of course she was, she’d barely made coffee at home since the Limerick opened in April. But here she was, two days after it had burned down into a shell of itself, and she was shocked that there was no coffee in her cabinets. There was tea, some of Andrew’s nice teas that he’d forgotten here and were thus spared from the flames. But tea wasn’t going to cut it for her this morning.

“Come on, baby girl,” Olivia said to Mia, who was sitting in her booster seat at the table, finishing up her breakfast of strawberries and peanut butter toast squares. “Let’s take a ride down to the general store.”

It was surprising at first how nervous she was to be at the general store. But when Olivia thought about it, this wasn’t that shocking. Beyond the possibility of seeing Charles Baxter there again, Olivia hadn’t actually gotten over her fear of being in public. She just rarely actually went out in public these days. Lately she’d spent all of her time at home or at the Limerick. Her fear of being out in public was assuaged by the safety of those two places. She’d been to others, of course, but not often and not since the Limerick burned down. They’d scooped up Andrew at the medical center and, from there, Olivia’s world had shrunk down even more.

As they pulled up outside the general store, it wasn’t too busy. There were a few cars parked diagonally in the spots in front and she parked beside an old truck, getting Mia out of her car seat on the other side. This would be easy enough. They’d go in quickly and just avoid any conversations.

This plan was almost successful. Olivia went inside without bothering to take one of the few tiny carriages at the front of the store, got her coffee grounds, and got in line with Mia on her hip. And then immediately saw Tara Stevenson behind the counter. And judging from the look on Tara’s face when she noticed Olivia, they were about to have a conversation.

“Olivia,” Tara said as Olivia got up to the cash register with her coffee grounds. “Sweetheart, how are you doing?”

“I’m alright, thanks,” Olivia said, an obvious and complete lie that Tara saw right through.

“I’m so glad that no one was hurt.”

“Andrew was,” Olivia said, and Tara’s face fell in shock. “He’s alright, but he had to escape out the window or he would have died.”

Tara’s eyes darted down to the end of the counter and when Olivia followed her gaze, she saw the younger town council member whose name she couldn’t remember, the one who had come into the Limerick with Jean McNamara over the summer. She was standing there, chatting with a grouchy-looking Nancy. Tara turned back to Olivia. “Andrew was in there?” she repeated. “Sweetheart, I’m so sorry. I was told a completely different story.”

“Did it have to do with the Limerick burning down because we had an amateur do our electrical wiring?” Olivia asked bitterly. “A drunk amateur?”

Judging by the tears suddenly shining in Tara’s eyes, that was exactly the story going around. “It was arson,” Olivia said, shifting Mia on her sore hip. “The county fire department said so. They said the ignition source was gasoline. It started in the front of the shop, ignited the window curtains, and spread rapidly throughout the rest of the building, including Andrew’s apartment. Anyone saying otherwise is lying. And Noah didn’t do a goddamn thing wrong.”

She knew she was being loud, but she didn’t care if anyone else in here heard it. The fear still twisted in her chest, but her anger had her shaking as she held onto Mia. 

She turned to see Nancy glaring at her. Not just her usual scowl, it seemed tinged with something else. Hate, definitely. But… more than that. The town councilwoman, whose name Olivia didn’t know or care about, was watching too. She looked… nervous? Olivia didn’t give a shit.

“I just need to buy this,” she said, turning back to Tara and nudging the coffee on the counter. “Then I need to get my daughter home.”

She knew this wasn’t fair to Tara. Mrs. Stevenson had been nothing but kind to her for her entire life and it wasn’t her fault that the story going around was so deliberately harmful. Tara nodded and scanned the coffee. 

“I didn’t believe it,” she said as she handed Olivia her receipt a moment later. 

It was said so deliberately loudly that she knew it was for the benefit of Nancy and the councilwoman. Even if it wasn’t the truth, it was a show of support for Olivia. She was too tired to be embarrassed by anything she’d said before, so instead she just nodded.

“Thank you, Mrs. Stevenson,” she said. “I really appreciate that.”

“The truth will come out,” Tara said as she passed Olivia two molasses cookies from the display case. “It’ll be alright.”

Despite everything, Olivia thought she might actually believe that.




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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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