New Winslow S8E12

Noah felt a little better when he came back down about twenty minutes later. It had been a decent conversation with Roman, even if he’d been reluctant to actually call once he was alone upstairs.

“Of fucking course,” Roman had said with a groan when Noah told him that Samuel Alderidge was actually that terrible poltergeist thing and Iris had inadvertently blocked him from communicating.

“And Olivia’s the one who worked it out,” Noah said. “Shocking, I know. But she also suggested something that makes a lot of sense. She figured the curse came from Rosalind, because of how angry she is. And Rosalind wouldn’t be angry enough to set this powerful a curse if it was just her own death she was avenging. So it had to be-”

“Her son,” Roman finished. “Jesus Christ, that poor woman.”

That poor woman had incinerated someone only months ago, but Noah had to admit that he was surprised how much pity he felt for her too. 

From there, the conversation unfortunately turned to him. No matter how much he tried to redirect it, Roman found a way to bring things back to Noah. He knew that was what Roman meant when he set up these more frequent check-ins, but it still made Noah feel like he was squirming under a magnifying glass. He’d stayed on the phone with Roman for a little while, then taken a few minutes alone upstairs to consider their new plan.

He’d do anything it took, of course. If it meant getting Andrew out of New Winslow safely and breaking the curse, he’d do more sessions with Iris and get Billy to talk through him. Billy said he’d only talk to his family and Noah was the only family member available here. He was the only person who had come close to allowing Billy to communicate with others, both Liv and Iris knew that. 

And if he had to relive Billy’s death during these sessions, then he’d just have to deal with that side effect. Maybe he could get them to think of it like a particularly powerful recurring dream, followed by a nightmare migraine. None of that mattered if it meant getting Andrew out of town safely. 

Liv’s plan was safer, and he knew they wanted what was best for him, but they shouldn’t be so concerned about that right now. And they had to see that there was so little difference between what they had been doing and this new plan, beyond the fact that the safety measures in the house would have to come down. 

But whatever. He could wait a few days if it meant Liv wasn’t worried.

After a few minutes of trying to get his head on straight, Noah was almost there as he headed back downstairs. Andrew was lying down on the couch, propped up with a few pillows from Liv’s bed. Meanwhile, Cleo and Liv were on the other couch, talking quietly. They stopped and looked over at the sound of the door creaking open.

“Are you staying tonight?” Noah asked Cleo.

She nodded. “I’m not driving home right now.”

Fair enough. Noah sat down in the recliner and glanced at Andrew, who was gazing up at the ceiling. “You okay?”

Andrew glanced over. “Hmm? I suppose. Too much to think about right now.”

“I know,” Noah said, reaching over and squeezing his foot.

He leaned back against the seat and closed his eyes. “Are you going to sleep?” Olivia asked.

“You going to stare at me if I am?”


He laughed, not bothering to open his eyes even as every fiber in his body seemed to crackle with electricity. “Nah,” he said. “Not yet, at least. I’m still too wired. Plus, I don’t have my jingle bells yet.”

“You laugh, but I’m about to go check the Christmas boxes in the cellar for some.”

“I bet you fucking are.”

He was tired, but everything was buzzing so loudly in his brain that he wouldn’t have been able to sleep right now if he tried. Between the fire and the revelations of the night, there were so many things to figure out. But even as he tried to grasp them, they were fluttering away out of his reach. All Noah could feel was the overwhelming stress and how frustrating it was that none of the others would just listen to him on this. And a drink would so easily solve some of that. Just a shot of whiskey and he’d probably be able to focus enough to think of a plan that would work for everyone. 

And the fact that he was thinking that, especially after talking to Roman and especially especially after relapsing over the summer, made anything light or positive Noah might be feeling slip away in a second. He couldn’t stop just yet, he needed to keep moving and fix this.

“What time is it?” Noah asked, sitting up. “You know what? I’m sorry, but there’s no point in waiting. Let’s call Iris. She can help me channel Billy and we’ll find a way to make it work. If he’s been able to send me shit and listen to Liv while I’m sleeping, then he can talk through me. Who cares if it’s hard?”

He tried his best to ignore the surprise on everyone else’s faces, looking beyond them at the wall across the room, focusing on a small frame full of photos hanging by Mia’s nursery door. “It’ll be easier than trying to catch messages in the dark when he won’t talk and I can’t even fucking remember them clearly on my own,” Noah continued. “We’ll just go straight to trying to get him to communicate with the son, what’s his name, Roland. Because that’s clearly where this is going. Best case, we get him on board now and move on from there. Worst case, we have to figure something else out. But we don’t waste any more time hoping that maybe I’ll dream about him tonight and maybe he’ll talk to Liv. No one else has to come, but I’m just going to go.”

There was a tension in the air, tight and crackling, when he finished talking and Noah turned to see Andrew slowly sitting up, his face set with anger. “No,” Andrew said. “The worst-case scenario is that it hurts you.”

Noah was about to say something in response, either that it would be fine or that, if it wasn’t fine, it didn’t matter. Though he wasn’t quite sure what was going to come out. Because now that panic that had been simmering for God knew how long, was clamping down on him. He was going to break, there was no way around it now. He’d leave here and buy some whiskey to make it all shut up before he did what had to be done. 

All he had to do was stand up. And if he did stand up, he didn’t think anything would stop him. 

It had been so easy back in June. He drove to the liquor store, hating himself the whole time, but going anyway. Nobody looked twice when he bought a nip of whiskey. They wouldn’t look if he bought a handle either. Nobody outside of this room and one little room at the Countess would give a shit.

Noah swallowed hard, trying and failing to hold Andrew’s furious gaze. The other two looked more concerned than angry as they came across the room toward him. “Noah, what’s going on?” Olivia asked.

“Nothing,” he snapped, turning on her now. “I’m just saying, there’s no point in wasting time waiting. You said we have to speed this up. Well, we’ve tried your plan already. It doesn’t work. But we can go to Iris and just get straight to it. And maybe she can, like, lock me in long enough for them to talk. She could talk to him, then she can channel the other guy like she said she would. Then it’ll be done.”

“And then maybe you’ll live through someone’s death again,” Andrew said. “Which has hurt you before and might again. Or – or maybe these ghosts – who have already shown they’re violent, mind you – will target you. And maybe this time you’ll actually die.”

“So what?” Noah snapped.

“So what?” Olivia looked like he’d slapped her. 

“Jesus Christ, Noah,” Cleo said, shaking her head.

“I’m not just going to sit here and watch Andrew die when there’s something I could have done.”

“And I’m not going to watch it hurt you again!” Andrew yelled, then winced and brought a hand up to his neck. “I already did that and I’m not doing it again. You dream about Billy’s death, Noah? I dream about your tail lights going around that goddamn curve, and knowing that might be the last time I ever see you. Because I didn’t fucking stop you when I knew we shouldn’t keep going.”

Noah’s hands were shaking as he stared at them and he imagined he wasn’t looking very good, but it was hard to think right now. “Noah, what’s this about?” Olivia demanded. “What brought this on?”

“It needs to get done,” he repeated, unable to put anything else into coherent thoughts, let alone coherent words. “I’m the family, I need to do it.”

He squeezed his eyes shut for a moment and tried to breathe. But he couldn’t, the ocean waves were crashing over him and they were going to fill his eyes, his mouth, his lungs until that was all he was. And if he left this room right now, he was either going to drink or he was going to die. And that small animal part of him that actually wanted to stay alive was screaming at him to stop all of this, right now.

He heard Cleo say something to Liv, but the waves roared in his ears and he couldn’t hear what it was. His hands were in fists on his lap, flexing and releasing on their own, in rhythm with the pounding in his head and the ocean waves. His nails cut into the flesh of his palms and his damaged wrist throbbed as he squeezed his fists, but the sharp pain was barely a spot of light in the gathering storm clouds in his brain.

Maybe one of the others would buy him some liquor, just enough to get him through this. This time it made sense to do it, to get it so that Noah could be useful. Last time he’d planned to only drink that one nip, but then he’d caved and stolen Liv’s bottle of wine. But if someone else made the decision for him…


Andrew’s voice beside him was sharp, tugging him out of the ocean of his thoughts. Noah opened his eyes and Liv was kneeling in front of him, her face close to his own. “Noah, did you take something?” she asked.

He shook his head quickly as he looked away, his empty stomach twisting. “I need to leave,” he managed to choke out.

His eyes met hers again and he could tell she knew what he was thinking. “No,” she said. “No, you’re not leaving.”

The part of him that was unreasonably angry was outweighed just slightly by the part that was unbearably grateful to have someone else take the decision away from him. Liv stood up and pulled him in tightly, arms around him so he couldn’t get out of the chair. His arms were pinned at his sides by her grip and he couldn’t do anything but sag against her.

“It’s okay,” she whispered.

“No, it’s not.”

The waves were receding now, the thunder in his ears less booming. But the shame was so hot. Here was Andrew’s home burning down along with Liv’s dream. Liv was hurting again, he’d seen it in her eyes all night. The humans and ghosts involved in the curse were becoming violent, and Cleo’s relationship had ended because of him and all of his shit. And yet, Noah was the one falling apart.

This all felt too much like that last hazy night before he left for rehab and that made him want to be better. He kept his eyes closed, breathing in time with Liv and listening to her heart beating. It was too fast; he scared her too much, too often.

“I shouldn’t have mentioned being locked in,” he whispered. “I scared you.”

“Come here,” she said, letting go of him, but holding his hand to pull him up.

Once he was on his feet, Noah was tempted to jerk his hand out of her grip and run, but he followed her to the couch instead. Maybe in this version of that night, Noah could make things right. He couldn’t change the past but maybe he wouldn’t have to relive it and let all his friends down again. His eyes darted to Andrew, who was looking at Noah with more softness than he deserved as he sat down beside Liv.

He wasn’t going to yell at them this time. They shouldn’t be concerned about him, they had more important things to worry about. He’d just let them yell at him this time if that’s what they needed to do.

But no one was yelling. Why weren’t they yelling? Instead, they were all quiet as Liv continued to hold his hand tightly. “Let me go,” he whispered.

“Absolutely not.”

“Please, Liv, you have to let me go.”

His throat was so tight and he was seconds from crying, but he wasn’t going to. He should go, get out of here before he hurt anyone any further. But even if she would let him go, Noah wasn’t sure he could move.

“I should’ve died,” he choked out, staring unseeing at the small pile of laundry on the coffee table in front of him. 

“What do you mean?” Liv asked softly. 

“I should’ve died.”

She went way too still, holding his hand even tighter. “I was supposed to have died,” he said, still staring.

“That wasn’t you,” Andrew said from somewhere nearby. “Remember? That was Billy who died, not you.”

“I should be dead.”

Cleo’s hand was on his shoulder now, soft. “Noah, did you take anything when you were upstairs?” she asked again.


“Is it alright if I check?”

Was there anything up there? He hadn’t drank anything, but he couldn’t trust his brain right now. He nodded blankly and Cleo’s hand left him with a gentle trailing of her fingers. 

Maybe Noah did die at some point and just hadn’t realized it yet. Maybe back when he fell off that ladder in the cellar. He broke his neck, not his wrist, and now he was just here waiting for the others to find his body.

Or that last night. Maybe he never actually went to rehab. Maybe he’d gone upstairs and killed himself. The thought had been there that night, right? It never truly went away.

Why was he thinking like this? It was like nothing was sticking. Was it that energy wipe still? Or Billy? Or maybe it was no one else’s fault. Maybe Noah had done irreparable damage drinking and it was all coming back on him. So he might as well go out and get shitfaced, the damage was already done. At least maybe he’d have one night without dreaming of storms. 

Or just have one drink and level out. He’d be in a better place to do something useful. And that was still what mattered right now.

“Do you have anything?”

Olivia froze, and even through the drowning, he knew she heard him clearly. “No, I don’t,” she replied.

He turned to look at her. “If we can just get something, anything. Not a lot. If I could just even out-”

“No,” she said. “I’m not going to help you hurt yourself again.”

“I’ll be fine,” Noah argued, that feeling of teetering on the edge of something massive and inescapable back, just like it had been that last night. “I’ll even out and contact Billy and then I’ll stop, I promise. I won’t drink anything after that if we can just go-”

“We’re not going anywhere,” Olivia said, one hand now moving up and down his back as he sat here hunched over on the couch. “It’s after midnight. Everything’s closed and Iris is probably done for the night. We’re going to stay here and we’ll get back to it tomorrow, I promise.” 

Last time he yelled at them and left. And right now he couldn’t leave, but he was just as scared now as he’d been back then.

“I’m sorry,” Noah said, forcing himself to stop shaking as he sat up straight. “I shouldn’t have asked. I shouldn’t be doing this.”

“It’s alright,” she said.

“Andrew’s apartment burned down.”

“I got out,” Andrew said as he sat on the edge of the coffee table, right in front of Noah. “I’m right here.”

“No, I mean I need to be better than this,” Noah said. “You all have real problems right now.”

Andrew was quiet for a second, then sighed. “Sometimes I want to skin you, I swear to God. You had your soul torn. Your actual energy, essence, whatever. And you’ve got how many things sticking their fingers in your head? I’d call that a real fucking problem.”

Noah took a shuddering breath and wiped his face on his sleeve. “Let’s call Iris,” he said.

Andrew’s lips were a thin line. “No,” Olivia said from beside him.

“I need to do this.”

“You need to get some sleep,” Olivia argued. “That’s probably part of this.”

He wanted to sleep without dreaming so badly, but sleeping wouldn’t help. Noah always had nightmares anyway. And he knew Iris wouldn’t mind. He’d have to get her number, but he knew she’d be up for it, especially when they were so close to finding a solution. 

He stood up to leave, then froze as he locked eyes with Andrew, who had slowly stood up with him. And now that he’d been distracted, Liv had the opportunity to tug him back down.

“Just stay, alright?” she said. “Everything’s okay.”

He wasn’t going to win this one, not with Liv standing guard.

“Fine, I’ll go home.” 

“Stay down here tonight, please?”

Last time he hadn’t stayed when she asked him to. If he remembered the night correctly (which was questionable) he’d fallen asleep down here, but then woke up, yelled at everyone, and stormed out. He wasn’t going to do that this time. So instead of screaming and leaving, he just nodded. 

There was a moment of silence as Noah tried to breathe through his shame. Andrew was still looking at him and Cleo wasn’t back yet. She was upstairs, searching through his apartment for drugs. There were none up there, but he’d given them no reason to believe that. And Liv was right beside him.

“I’m so tired.”

“Do you want to lie down?” Liv asked.

“I want to be alone.”

He wasn’t sure if that was true or not, but he knew he didn’t want to be here, the too-bright overhead light shining on everything wrong with him. 

“Take my bed, then. I’ll move Mia back into her room.”

“I’m not taking your bed.”

“Then take the daybed.”

Mia was asleep in Liv’s room, and the daybed was still in her nursery. Noah didn’t have a good argument against going in there instead of upstairs. And if he was honest with himself, he didn’t want to go upstairs. In this version, he wasn’t going to leave.

He was in Mia’s room, standing by the daybed. Noah didn’t even remember walking in here, but judging from Liv’s hand on his elbow, she’d steered him in while he was lost in his thoughts. “I’m so sorry,” he whispered.

She kissed him softly, on the edge of his jaw. “We’re not going anywhere,” she said, nodding toward the living room through the open door. “And neither are you. We’ll talk tomorrow?”

Liv stepped out of the room and Noah laid down, knowing there was no way he’d be able to actually sleep right now. But he was half in a dream a few minutes later, the storms hanging heavily in the nursery around him. His heart picked up as the waves splashed over the side of the ship, the clouds heavy with rain above him.

And then the room was gone and Billy McBride watched the storm roll in. 




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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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