New Winslow S8E10

Iris wasn’t sure if she was more shocked or afraid to have Olivia in her shop right now. It had been about seventy-two hours since the Limerick building went up in flames. Charles Baxter hadn’t been seen in public since then, not that anyone outside of them truly believed he’d been the one to do it. There was no evidence to link anybody to anything. But the danger had intensified and apparently Olivia was feeling the urgency to finish this as strongly as everybody else, to the point that she was willing to be here in Iris’s space.

She was sitting in a metal chair beside Noah and Cleo, refusing to look at Iris. Not that Iris expected – or deserved – anything more. But Olivia was listening as they caught her up on the aspects of the case that she didn’t know. Which wasn’t all that much, Iris realized. Andrew or Noah must have been keeping her up to date so she wouldn’t have to be here with Iris.

“So we’ve got missing pages to a history that potentially tell us exactly what happened the night of the fire,” Iris said. “And they were supposedly destroyed but apparently still exist.” 

“According to a ghost in your dream,” Olivia said.

“Yeah,” Iris said, taken slightly aback by the bitterness in her tone. “But it wasn’t an ordinary dream. It was specifically to contact her.”

“Yeah, of course.”

“And if we find them, we’ll have proof that Baxter’s family was responsible,” Iris continued, trying her best to address the room at large instead of focusing on Olivia. “But we have no idea where they could be and have to focus on getting Andrew out.” 

Olivia looked over at Andrew. “Meaning there’s one ghost that will only talk to Noah if he talks to anyone, one that has committed murder, and one that won’t speak to anybody at all,” Andrew said, counting the ghosts off on his fingers. “And they’re the more reliable source right now. We have more proof that Billy McBride exists than we do of those papers.”

Why did Andrew sound skeptical about the papers? Maybe Iris was being oversensitive about everything tonight. She was nervous and guilt-ridden, so of course she was taking everything to heart. But even if he was being skeptical, Charles Baxter had nearly killed Andrew the other night, so Iris should just give him a pass.

“That’s ridiculous,” Olivia said. “And it’s not like you’re telling me anything you haven’t already told me. But when you put it like that…”

She actually laughed. It was shaky, similar to how she’d sounded after that first possession over at the Countess. When she’d fallen out of that chair, screaming and crying as Iris gave the ghost holding onto her a final shove out of Olivia’s body.

And then Iris had gone on to let it happen again. But she needed to set that aside for now, the same way Olivia had.

Olivia gave a tight, bitter smile toward Noah, who reached over and took her hand. They both looked like if they didn’t laugh, they’d cry. And Iris couldn’t say she blamed them. She was actually a bit surprised that her protections had held against the attempt on her own building. She was the obvious choice, but she never would have expected Baxter to go against the Limerick when he couldn’t get to her. Did he know Andrew was living there? Or was it just a matter of either good or bad luck for Baxter that he’d been in the building when it was torched? 

Olivia got up and went over to the counter, where every piece of paper Iris had that was even moderately connected to the curse were scattered. They’d collected a lot over the past couple years, mostly printouts from the local library and the collection over at the Countess.

“We have a few options,” Iris said as Olivia looked over the papers scattered on the shop’s counter, then began parsing through a stack of documents that Andrew had brought back from a trip to the Historical Society over a year earlier. That photo of the Alderidges was in there, their solemn faces familiar from Iris’s dreams, along with pictures of the house, old newspaper clippings that didn’t align with the truth of what happened, and a copy of the deed to the Alderidge home dated 1901. “We could try to bring in someone else to reach any of them. That would involve a lot of searching, because I honestly have no idea who would be the best option or what they would even need to do. If the ghosts won’t speak to me and they won’t speak to Celine, then I don’t know…”

Iris cleared her throat as Noah looked at her. She knew exactly what he was thinking and it was tempting. It was so tempting to say screw the rest of them, if Noah wanted to do this, then she’d help him connect with Billy McBride again. Last time had been terrifying and more dangerous than she had anticipated, but they’d be more prepared this time. And if it didn’t work, if Billy wouldn’t talk to them, then they’d cross that method off the list and move on.

If the main issue last time was that Noah had been too afraid, then there had to be some way to fix that, right? Not in a way that would force him, she and Noah both knew she couldn’t compel him to do anything he didn’t want to do. But he wanted to do this and it was that fear that was holding him back. So maybe?

But she wasn’t going to do that. At least not yet. “We were hoping that we could get Billy McBride to talk to Samuel Alderidge,” she continued. “If he could contact Samuel then maybe that’s someone Samuel would actually talk to. But he’s gone quiet and Samuel hasn’t answered me at all. It’s so strange that he’s so silent when his mom is so angry.”

“Ghosts talking through tin cans,” Olivia murmured.

She picked up the old photo and looked at it carefully. Then she set it down and gazed out the newly-repaired front window of the shop, toward the empty street outside. Was she thinking about everything that happened to her? She must be, and Iris couldn’t blame her for it.

“We’re kind of at a dead end, but I don’t think we’re entirely-”

“Iris, what the fuck kind of game are you playing here?”

Olivia looked furious as she spun back around, but for once Iris had no idea why. “Game?” she echoed. “What do you mean?”

“I mean, what’s your endgame?” Olivia demanded. “You’ve been here like, ‘we can’t reach Samuel Alderidge. Samuel Alderidge won’t answer my calls.’” She mimicked Iris in what was an unnecessarily pompous voice. “It’s been almost two years of this. Andrew’s been relying on you for help. So again, what is your fucking endgame?”

“I’m not playing any games!” Iris exclaimed as everyone else in the room looked uneasily between the two of them. “Seriously, I don’t know what you mean. Do-”

“I mean Samuel Alderidge has been standing in that window the entire time we’ve been in here talking!”

Olivia jabbed a finger toward the picture window at the front of the store, at the empty sidewalk outside. The reality of what she was saying nearly stopped Iris’s heart as she slowly turned in the direction Olivia was pointing. Everyone was silent, looking at the empty window.

And then there were three steady taps on the glass.




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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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