New Winslow S8E9

Roman had been at an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting with Noah, trusting Jamie to have the kids at the Countess. It wasn’t like this was out of the ordinary, Jamie babysat his siblings all the time. But with everything going on, it had taken Roman a long moment this morning to decide that he could be separated from the kids for a little while. He felt bad for them, cooped up in the room while he’d been gone, but he didn’t want to put any further pressure on Jamie while neither parent was in the building. 

Celine was at the House of Pizza for a little while longer. Roman still didn’t want her in New Winslow either, but considering he had just come from the First Congregational Church in Petersham, he didn’t have much of an argument to make with her today. Not that Petersham had a decades-long curse attached to it, but he wasn’t protected there either if Charles Baxter decided to take a little road trip. So he hadn’t brought it up again before she left.

It didn’t mean he had to like it. Just that Roman would lose that fight today.

Now he was back at the inn, the post-rain afternoon sun beaming down fiercely as he got out of his truck and started up the gravel walkway. The exterior of The Countess was gorgeous, an imposing mansion with flower gardens strategically placed throughout the front and along the sides. Missy had had some landscapers come in to help her set it all up at the start of the season, but it had been mostly her doing the upkeep since then. When Roman offered to help, Missy had simply called him sweet and moved on with her work. But he’d seen the garden go up, and all the changes that had occurred as the seasons went on.

And God willing, Roman would be home before they transitioned to their autumn landscaping.

He came inside and saw that the main desk was empty. But the coffee carafe was full, so he poured himself a cup and started up the stairs, considering some of what they’d discussed at the meeting. Noah had seemed well, all things considered, after what happened the other night. He hadn’t wanted to talk about the Limerick, either with the group or solo with Roman. But he also hadn’t said anything about being afraid he’d relapse or do anything rash in the aftermath of the fire.

Not that that meant he wasn’t thinking about it, or that he wouldn’t. So maybe Roman should be the one to broach the topic. Or at least check in with him beyond the talk they’d had in Roman’s truck on the way to First Congregational. He’d be checking in tomorrow anyway, since tonight Andrew said they were all meeting at Iris’s and-

These thoughts left Roman’s head instantly as he opened the door to his room. The first thing he saw was the babies, sitting on the bed crying. Abby had her arms around Aidan and they both wailed, staring up at the ceiling. Roman looked up to see the overhead light fixture suddenly glow brighter, the bulbs blindingly bright for a split second. Then it went dim, then bright again, then even brighter. Then the bulbs all exploded in a shower of sparks, glass shards falling to the carpet as the rest of the lights in the room flared to life. 

Was this an attack? Did something get in after all? God, what had he been thinking, leaving them here? Roman turned then and saw Jamie sitting on the floor in the corner of the room, as far from the bed as possible. He was hunched in on himself, holding his ears tightly as tears streaked down his face. He looked up at the broken light in horror. “Daddy!” Jamie sobbed, the sound chilling Roman as he saw the baby Jamie had once been in those tears. 

“What happened?” Roman demanded, dropping his coffee and hurrying toward Jamie as the babies seemed unhurt. “Jame, what happened?”

“I’m sorry!” Jamie yelled as he collapsed against Roman, sobbing into his t-shirt. “I didn’t mean to!”

Roman put an arm around him as he looked over at the little ones. They were still crying, the sobs wavering around each other discordantly. Then the lights in all the room’s lamps dimmed and went out, leaving them in darkness despite the sunlight beyond the window shades. With one arm still tightly around Jamie, Roman reached for the lamp on the table beside them and flipped it back on as he looked around the room. The desk chair was overturned and the overhead light had burned out completely, all of its bulbs broken. The dresser drawers all hung wide open, clothes spilling out onto the floor. But nobody was hurt, even if everyone was scared. And there was nobody else in the room.

And then the realization of what had happened hit Roman like a truck.

“Baby,” he said, scooping his son into his arms. “Jamie, it’s alright, I promise.”

Jamie clung to him, exactly the way he always had so long ago, continuing to sob as Roman held him close. “It’s alright,” he called over to the little ones, who were still crying on the bed. “He’s alright.”

He lifted Jamie in a feat of strength he didn’t know he was still capable of, and knew he was going to feel tomorrow. Jamie barely seemed to notice through his shock, but Roman brought him over to the bed and set him down. He tugged the blankets down from underneath the two smaller kids, then carefully maneuvered everybody under the quilt. Roman tucked the now-silent Jamie under one arm while the babies snuggled up against his other side. “It’s alright,” he repeated, holding them all tightly. “Mom will be here soon, she knows what to do. I’m right here, it’s okay, I promise. I love you all.”


He wanted to call Celine, but eventually all three kids fell asleep in his arms and there was really no way for Roman to get up and find his phone without disturbing them. So instead, he stayed exactly where he was, holding onto them tightly. Jamie was tucked into his side, half-buried in the flowered quilt like he was trying to hide. Aidan was under Roman’s other arm, his little head jammed into Roman’s ribs. And Abby had her head on his stomach, everything but one little foot underneath the blanket.

Celine was only working until the beginning of the dinner shift tonight. She’d had errands to run and really only spent a couple hours in New Winslow. So she was going to be back pretty soon. Until then, Roman would just enjoy the time with his children, no matter what had preceded it.

The door creaked open at four PM, about two hours after Roman had gotten back. He’d been half-asleep himself and jerked awake as Celine stepped in and paused, looking at the scene on the bed. “What happened?” she asked in a whisper.

“Turns out Jamie inherited your abilities after all,” Roman said softly. “I came in to the ceiling lights exploding and everyone was terrified.”

Celine slid onto the bed in the tiny space on Jamie’s other side, running a hand through his hair. “I was a little younger than him when mine came in,” she said. “Everything I’ve seen says it isn’t genetic, but what the hell does anyone know?”

Jamie stirred and sat up, looking from Roman to Celine. He went from sleepy to scared in seconds, but Roman just held onto him. “It’s alright, bud,” he said.

“I don’t know what I was doing,” Jamie said, his whole body tense now. “Or how it was happening. I didn’t want to hurt the kids, I swear.”

“And you didn’t. They’re fine, see?”

Roman gestured awkwardly to the little ones, who were still asleep. “None of it is your fault,” Celine said softly. “Honey, you have my abilities. And apparently they kicked in today.”

“What?” Jamie asked, looking at her wide-eyed. “How?”

Celine shrugged. “I don’t know,” she admitted. “But it’s okay. I know it’s scary at first, but it’ll be fine.”

“I was so scared I was going to hurt them.”

He sounded so young. Normally Jamie wouldn’t be caught dead so vulnerable like this, but he made no move to leave the comfort of Roman’s grip as he looked up at his mother. “I know,” Celine said. “But you didn’t. And I’m going to help you control it, alright?”

“Can I get rid of it?”

Roman thought of Olivia Walker asking that same question. Then, months later, Jamie asking about the night Andrew had desperately dragged Olivia to them for help. “No,” Celine said simply. “No, it isn’t possible. But it gets easier to control. And if you’re considering going into this kind of work like me, it will actually be useful. But if it appears on its own, you can’t get rid of it.”

“I’m going to burn down my school.”

He said it so matter-of-factly. “I’d prefer you didn’t,” Roman said.

Celine just looked at him, then back at Jamie. “Are you okay?” she asked Jamie.

“I’m really hungry,” he admitted.

Celine laughed. “I bet you are,” she said. “I’ve got a bunch of food out in the car, want to help me bring it in?”

“Can I make it float in?”

“You think if that was part of this, I’d have carried in groceries all these years?”

Roman was relieved to see Jamie laugh as he got up to help his mother bring the groceries in. As the door closed behind them, he slid his arm out from beneath the sleeping babies and stood up, his limbs tingling as the blood flow resumed. He looked up to examine the shattered lamp, then moved toward the broom and dustpan he kept in the cupboard. 

Jamie too. Imagine 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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