New Winslow S8E17

Olivia didn’t mean to scream, but when the hand came down on her shoulder, she was a thousand miles away from downtown New Winslow. Mentally, at least. She’d needed to go back to the Limerick one more time, forcing herself to do so because there were a few more things that had been salvageable. Nothing life-changing, a few nicer tools (she’d confirmed that yes, her favorite whisk was fucked) and a closet of linens that had barely been touched by the fire. But she’d been so focused on the danger all around her, on the way Andrew almost died in that building, that when Isabel Rivera tapped her on the shoulder, she let out an honest to God scream.

Isabel screamed too, stumbling backward. “Sorry!” she exclaimed, holding up her hands. “Olivia, I’m so sorry, I thought you heard me!”

“No!” Olivia exclaimed, then forced herself to calm down. “I’m sorry.”

“You didn’t do anything,” Isabel said. “Shit, I didn’t mean to scare you.”

She plastered on what she hoped was an authentic smile. “I’m okay,” she said. “I was just distracted.”

And terrified. She was here under a too-open sky with no protections beyond what she had around her neck. Isabel still looked a little concerned, but Olivia waved her off with a shaky hand. “What’s up?” she asked, still striving to sound normal. 

“I was just passing by,” Isabel said. “I had a delivery in town and saw you standing out here. I swear, I called you twice. I wasn’t trying to scare you.”

“No, it’s okay,” she said yet again.

Isabel looked at the taped off wreckage of the Limerick building and Olivia could tell she was struggling for something to say. “It’s horrible, isn’t it?”

“I’m… God, I’m so sorry,” Isabel said. “I hadn’t seen it yet.”

“We don’t know what we’re going to do yet,” Olivia said. “Andrew owns the land and he’ll probably have to sell. We’ll have to clear it out, but I don’t think we can afford to rebuild. It was a miracle that we got the building.”

“I saw Keegan’s is for sale,” Isabel said, sending a strange jolt through Olivia that she couldn’t quite identify.

“That’s the one that should have burned down,” she muttered.

Thankfully, Isabel laughed at that. “Olivia, I mean it,” she said. “I know we don’t know each other very well, but if there is anything I can do to help, I will.”

“Thank you,” she said. “It’s not just the shop. It’s… I really don’t want to get you involved.”

“I don’t mind.”

Looking up at Isabel’s kind face, Olivia was tempted to spill everything right there on the sidewalk. But Hugh’s disbelief came back to mind before she could decide. Maybe it wasn’t fair to Isabel, but this was all weird and the absolute last thing she could handle right now was for Isabel to look at her the same way Hugh had when she told him about her possession.

A car pulled onto the street, moving slowly around Isabel’s box truck. Olivia glanced over, then froze as Charles Baxter looked back at her, his face completely neutral behind the wheel. He sped up, nearly hitting her car as he passed by.

“You need to leave,” Olivia said to Isabel, who stepped back, startled. 


“This place is weird and dangerous. You don’t have to believe me, but please.” She motioned toward the truck, sneaking a glance behind her as Baxter’s car disappeared around the bend, behind the old house turned home goods store a few buildings down. “I’m not going to try to force you not to come to town, I know this is your livelihood. But things are bad here right now. We’re trying to fix them, but there’s too much that’s just impossible to explain.”

“Who said I wouldn’t believe you?” Isabel asked, the flash of sadness on her face getting through Olivia’s fear just slightly. “Can I drive you home?”

“I have my car,” Olivia said, motioning toward it. “I need to meet Andrew anyway, we’re meeting with an insurance rep tonight and I have no idea what’ll happen there. But please, just stay safe, alright?”

She wasn’t making much sense and if she was trying to keep Isabel safe, she knew she was doing a piss poor job of explaining how to do that. But Isabel just squeezed her arm and Olivia wished again that she could just stay with her.

“Olivia, I believe you,” she said. “I don’t know what about, but I believe you. And if you need someone, just please call me.”

Olivia nodded, then motioned for Isabel to go back to her truck. She got in her own car and waited until Isabel was driving to pull out of her spot, her hands trembling on the steering wheel as she made her way home.


The flower had been beautiful, but now the petals were scattered in the dirt. Jamie tucked the stem deep into the bush so that no one would see. There were dozens of other flowers on and around it, so no one would notice one missing. At least he hoped so.

Jamie was alone in the gardens behind the Countess, seeing what he could do without his mom’s guidance. He’d been able to remove those petals with his mind. Not one by one like he’d hoped to do when he focused on them, but in one swoop, sending the little purple pieces onto the ground. And nothing had caught fire, a possibility he’d only thought about once the bits were already scattered.

This was real. The thought had been gnawing at Jamie for days, ever since he’d accidentally blown out the lights in the room and terrified his baby siblings. He could do this and that was incredible. 

He spotted more of the petals on the ground and focused on them, trying to manipulate the energy around them like Mom explained. His fingers twitched clumsily and he tried to tug on the soft buzz of energy in the air. Two petals floated off the ground for a moment, then drifted back down. Another try, remembering what Mom said about focusing your energy, and the entire thing shot up into the air along with another flower torn from the bush along the way, all of them scattering on the wind and blowing back into Jamie’s face. He spit out flower petals, then laid back in the grass, gazing up at the clouds. They hung low and heavy, so the rain was going to come any minute. 

Then there was the job. Dad had mentioned it the other day, how Ms. Missy and Ms. Anna had offered him a weekend job at the Countess once things settled down. He could start this year, then keep going in college if it worked out. Jamie hadn’t applied anywhere yet, but as long as everything went well, he’d be going to UMass Amherst next year. So he’d be nearby for college, close enough that if he had a car (and this was a great argument he’d have to hang onto when he started having that conversation with his parents), he could easily work here on the weekends. And he could start as early as this year and start making money now.

But this was senior year. Jamie had always assumed he’d be working in some form for senior year, of course he would. He worked at the House of Pizza sometimes and his parents did pay him to watch the babies when they were both working. But if he wasn’t doing that, he’d assumed he’d be working landscaping or something. Working at a magical inn was completely different. It would have been even before he’d found out that apparently he could do these things too. And the part of him that wasn’t thrilled about this desperately wanted a normal senior year.

After everything with Dad, then everything with the curse, he just wanted to finish high school like his friends. And shooting lightning and setting things on fire at school weren’t going to help with that. There were twenty people in his graduating class and Jamie didn’t need this to help him stand out any further. Maybe he’d shatter someone’s windshield on accident, or fry all the school’s computers. No girls were going to want to go near him if he kept doing weird things like that. And what if he made the varsity hockey team again, then set the rink on fire?

He just wanted a normal senior year. But as he brushed petals off his shirt, along with the first drops of rain, Jamie wasn’t sure how he was going to be able to do 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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