New Winslow S8E18

“Noah, you look terrible. Are you sure you want to do this?”

It had been less than twenty-four hours since he’d called her and now here Noah was at her shop. Iris knew it was a bad idea to do anything, just looking at him. He looked like he hadn’t slept right in a while and the beard he’d had when they began this search for Billy was growing back in patchy scruff. He nodded, then his eyes darted toward the tarp-covered windows along the side of the building and she knew that he hadn’t talked to anybody else before coming here.

“Look, it’s fine,” he said, rubbing roughly at the back of his neck. “I promise, I’ll, like, sleep and take care of myself and everything after we’re done. But Andrew got hurt and it was Baxter’s fault. And Baxter’s not going to stop. I don’t think we should be wasting any more time on this when we could just reach into my subconscious or whatever, get this kid to talk to his buddy through me, and be done with it. I know you can do it. So just do it and worry about me afterwards.”

Just the fact that he was describing the process like this was enough to set off even more alarm bells for Iris. Andrew had asked her not to do anything. And she could still feel the tip of the knife at her throat from when Olivia had threatened her in a way that Iris knew was very real and would return the instant anything else happened to Noah.

“Hey,” she said, as gently as she could. “I’m not going to do this.”

“Do you know anyone else who will?”

The only one she could think of off the top of her head had died in an inferno of her own making about twenty feet from where they were standing. “No,” Iris said, the rush of relief unexpected as she made her final decision. “It’s not a good idea.”

“I won’t run off again, I promise. And- and it’ll be quick. We can just do it and be done. I’m sure that he can talk through me. He talked to you, I know it was him. Aren’t you going to channel the son?”

“I’m going to try, when the time is right,” Iris said. “But now isn’t the time.”

“It is. I need to do this before he gets hurt again.”

Fuck. She liked Noah a lot (even if she wasn’t sure he liked her at all), but she could see why Andrew had been so distressed after he’d called the shop yesterday. Iris hadn’t known a lot of addicts, but nothing about this frantic fixation and self-destruction she was seeing in front of her was healthy. The only reason she’d agreed to see him at all when he called this morning was because he said he needed to talk to her and it would only take a minute. And that he had work, so he’d stop by before then. That gave them a time limit, making it a safer option.

“Let’s talk to Andrew,” Iris said. “We’ll make a safe plan, alright? He mentioned something about setting up a beacon, that might be worth considering.”

“Andrew’s not going to agree to anything,” Noah insisted, bobbing slightly on his heels as he argued with her. “He keeps saying he doesn’t want me to do this for him. But what matters is getting him out safely. Breaking the curse is going to do that and that’s way more important than whether or not I get hurt along the way. You said I’m a beacon for Billy, remember? So it’s fine, Iris. What do we have to do? Come on, I’m ready.”

Now that she’d made a firm decision, it was easier to keep turning him down. “No,” she said. “I’m serious, Noah. There are other ways.”

“But nothing fast enough,” he argued. “Liv and Andrew want to take it slow, but you didn’t see what happened with Roman when he was sick. I was there with him, he was dying before it let him out. Andrew got hurt and it didn’t let him out. So this needs to end before he gets hurt even worse and…”

His voice was thick at the end of it and he stopped to clear his throat. Iris took advantage of that to reach over and take his hand. And clearly he was in bad shape, because he let her.

“Even if I said yes, it’s not going to work right now,” she said, keeping her voice as gentle as possible.

“Why not?”

“Because you’re exhausted and afraid to do it.” 

Noah glared at her and she glared back. “What, do you think I don’t know what I’m talking about?” Iris asked. “You can’t just force these things. You have to be in a healthy space or you’re not going to get the results you need. Remember last time? I couldn’t hypnotize you for a reason. I told you the first time we did it, I can’t make you do anything you don’t want to do. And you don’t want to do this.”

“Then what do I have to do to get to that space where I can do it? Or that I want to do it? I want to do it, Iris.”

He was pleading now and Iris was in way over her head. “Look,” she said, shaking her head. “Let’s just call Andrew and-”

“I’m an adult,” Noah snapped. “We don’t need to call Andrew.”

“Yes we do, because he asked me not to do this,” she snapped back. 

The heat seemed to leave Noah as quickly as it had risen up. “He did?”

“He’s worried about you,” Iris said. “I know you want to help him, but this isn’t the right way to do it.”

She could tell Noah was somewhere between getting angry that Andrew had stepped in or continuing their fight. “Listen,” she said, before he could say anything else. “We’re not going to try to reach Billy right now. And I’m not going to do anything that suppresses you or traps you to make room for Billy to speak.”

“Why not?” he demanded.

“Because I’m not Vivien!”

Her outburst seemed to startle him almost as much as it started her. “I’m not,” she continued, voice softer now. “But what we can do is start preparing you to try some of the alternative methods, like we were talking about. An actual, external beacon is a good idea. That would help him really target his communication with you. You said, um, you said Olivia talked to him?”

“Yeah,” Noah answered, looking somewhere beyond her. “I was sleepwalking and she said she spoke to him directly. But he didn’t talk back.”

“Great, then that’s the safest route. If he’ll talk to Olivia through you when you’re dreaming of him, then she can ask him to talk to Samuel. That’s the first step. We need his consent on that part before anything else, anyway.”

“But we’ve been trying that and we can’t just wait around for things to line up like that again,” Noah said. “It’s not like it happens every night, that’s what the problem with this plan was before. And if I’m just having some dream about not studying for a physics test, then we’re wasting time.”

“I have that dream about once a month,” Iris said, and was relieved when the corners of Noah’s mouth turned up, just a little.

How would Celine handle this? The thought suddenly occurred to her. It was an odd thing to think, she’d never considered Celine as a mentor or example or anything. But right now it seemed very fitting. She patted his arm. “I’m not doing it,” she said, feeling a little ridiculous as she did her best to mimic Celine’s energy. “I’m not going to hypnotize you right now so that we can talk to Billy. And I’m not going to find anyone else who will and neither should you. If someone was willing to either try to do so while you’re like this, or said they had some way to make you not afraid, then I don’t trust their intentions. Okay?”

Noah looked like he was on the verge of exhausted tears, but she had to be relieved when he didn’t argue. “We’ll try other methods, that one is just going to hurt you. But having Olivia try to talk to him might work. So might attempting lucid dreaming so you could talk to him yourself. Have you ever done that?”

“I don’t know. But Iris, the fastest way-”

“I’m not ruling it out entirely, but we need to be safe and you need to be in a much better headspace for that to work.”

He nodded, sending relief flooding through her. Maybe she’d get through this interaction without Olivia stabbing her.

“Lucid dreaming,” Noah said thoughtfully. “Do you think we’re linked when I’m asleep?”

“Dreams are a method of spirit communication,” Iris said, more confident now that they were on familiar, less dangerous territory. “The mind is more open to receiving those types of signals when you’re asleep. It’s something about the brainwaves, I’m not sure exactly.”

“Great, then just put me to sleep instead,” Noah said. “How do I do that? I’ll reach him that way.”

Oh no, they were right back on terrible ground. “Noah…” she started helplessly.

“No, no, I mean like a tincture or something?” he said, looking around at the shelves. “Hell, do you have a bottle of Nyquil? We….”

He stopped and she knew from his expression that he just realized exactly what he’d said. “Fuck,” he whispered. 

“No, it’s okay.”

“I’m so sorry, I should go.”

“No, stay,” Iris said, the sound of the door closing behind him last time echoing in her mind. “Let’s go upstairs.”

She went over and locked the front door, flipping the sign to CLOSED. Noah looked like he was about to argue, but she was already walking over to the door to her apartment. “Come on,” she said. “It’s safe up there. Do you want some soup?”

Iris was relieved when he followed and she wondered exactly when would be the right time to call Andrew. “What are we going to do?” Noah asked.

“What do you want to do?”

She slid one of her charms aside, allowing in an outside presence just long enough to usher Noah past. Then she slid it back into place, reminding herself to move it again when Andrew inevitably came over.

“I want to help,” Noah replied

“Okay,” Iris said. “First step is to make sure that your energy is healthy.”

He shuddered and she had to resist the urge to hug him. “Not like that,” she said. “I mean, it’s no different from preparing for a ritual. Mentally and physically. We could have some soup and maybe meditate or just talk. I was actually using lucid dreaming fairly recently to get in touch with Evelyn Harbinger. It’s fascinating, like you’re in a different world for a little while and-”

Iris reeled herself back in before she could really get going, though he didn’t seem to notice. “I’ll get you some resources to help you get centered before you go to bed tonight. Is Olivia – is she planning to be there?”

“Yeah,” he said. “But it’s not certain, is it?”

“Nothing is,” she said. “But it’s worth a try, right?”

He clearly wanted to argue again, but as he looked around her living room, she could see the fight was gone from his stance. “Come on,” she said with what she hoped was a comforting smile. “It’s vegetable soup, my mom’s recipe.”

She needed to call Andrew at some point, but the danger seemed to have passed, at least for now. So she led Noah into her small kitchen, where the crockpot was sitting on the countertop. “Sit down,” she said, motioning to the tiny table.

Noah sat down awkwardly in the one chair that she had there. The other was in the living room, piled with clean laundry, so she hurried in, pushed the clothes off, and brought the chair back to sit across from him. She got them both bowls of soup, then sat down.

“It’s hot,” she warned.

She knew it was too much to ask that he’d talk as they ate. His energy seemed inflamed, almost painful to the touch. Iris didn’t know if that was entirely him or if Vivien’s energy wipe had anything to do with it, even with Celine’s repairs. She could see the delicate stitchwork Celine had left behind, with something just beyond her eyes. But beyond that, he sat awkwardly, looking around the room like he thought he should be doing something. She just smiled and took a bite of her soup.

It was good, exactly like her mom’s. She’d used the crockpot too, she was always a busy woman. 

“There’s bread too, if you want some,” Iris said after a few minutes of silence.

Noah shook his head, but he took a few spoonfuls of soup. “It’s good,” he said softly.

“It’s my mom’s,” she explained. “She’s down in Pennsylvania, so she gave me her recipe before she moved. It’s pretty simple, but the secret is cayenne pepper. Don’t tell her I told you.”

He smiled slightly at that, but didn’t say anything else. 

After a little while, her bowl was empty and his was only half-filled, but now cold. “I know you have to call Andrew,” Noah said, breaking the silence. “But could you give me just a little more time? I’m not ready to face any of them yet.”

“Of course,” Iris said softly, picking up the bowls and bringing them toward the sink. “Do you want to stay here?”

“Can I?” he asked, then cleared his throat. “I mean, is that alright? Just for a few minutes?”

“Yeah, of course.”

She walked toward the living room and turned on the gas fireplace, leaving the flames low. “I fucked up,” Noah said, sitting on the couch as she took the squishy, high-backed chair beside it.

“So did I,” Iris said, surprising herself and apparently him as well. “This is my little cave for people who have fucked up.” 

He looked over with a small, crooked smile. “Thanks.”

They sat in silence after that. Iris picked up a scarf she’d been half-knitting for about six months, just looking for something to occupy her hands. Noah gazed into the fire, deep in thought. The frantic energy around him was settling, not much, but enough to give her a sense of reassurance.

It was tempting, though, she realized as she looked at him. For all her talk downstairs, it was deeply tempting. He was right, trying to talk to Billy McBride through him was the fastest approach. And for all of her attempt to be like Celine and do what was best for Noah’s health, she really wanted to try, just like he did. 

They could do it, if they were careful. Maybe last time he’d been nervous because Andrew was there. Or because they were in the shop. She’d ask him if he felt up for trying, he’d say yes, and maybe this would be solved tonight.


It took a second, but he looked over at her. “Hmm?”


He turned back to the fire and Iris tried to remember where she’d left her books on lucid dreaming.




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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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