Chapter 1: Samantha Uris Takes a Bath
Samantha didn’t like baths. She always felt there was something unclean about them. Maybe Patrick should have noticed something was wrong when she murmured that she was going to take one. But he was caught up in a documentary he was watching. Samantha loved that he got so invested in documentaries. He always wondered what it would be like to live in that time.
He’d talked about it one day. He’d asked Samantha what she thought it’d be like. Hell. Samantha wanted to answer. Sometimes looking back at things, makes them seem less scary, less real. Distance, distance corrupts perception. But she’d been through hell. She couldn’t remember everything, but she knew enough that she wanted to stay as far away from things that were real. If it could even be described as real.
What really made her remember back to when she was younger was when she discovered one of her best friends from childhood had become an author. Isabela Denbrough. She’d always said she was going to grow up to write. Samantha just didn’t know Izzy wanted to write horror. Horror books that seemed too close to truth. Horror movies that seemed to hint at something but couldn’t quite describe it.
The books were depressing. They tore at Samantha and broke her heart. She didn’t know why though. A lot of things related to her childhood were marked with that very thought. Why? Samantha was on the last book of Izzy’s when she took a bath that May night. It was like she finally finished what she needed to do. No. She finally finished what she could.
Samantha thought about writing to Izzy. She’d told Patrick that she was going to every time she looked at the book cover. She wasn’t going to. Patrick knew that, but he always told Samantha it was a good idea. Reconnect with her childhood friend.
Samantha had met Patrick at a sorority party. He’d been visiting a friend and came by. Samantha had stumbled on a rug and he stopped her fall. They’d spent the rest of the night talking. Patrick even said he thought he might love her at the end of the night. Of course, Samantha had laughed, told Patrick that wasn’t a good pick up line.
But Patrick continued to talk to her after that night. He drove up to her college almost every weekend, just getting to know her. By the middle of the Spring semester, Samantha knew that she was in love with him too. He proposed after graduation that spring.
Her parents didn’t think it was as good idea. Not that they didn’t like Patrick, they just thought it was a bit rushed. She and Patrick had heard his parents making comments about them and how they didn’t agree with the marriage. The thing is, they didn’t care. They were happy and Samantha just knew, she just knew that they were going to make it.
Patrick had always wanted to teach. He’d had a teacher that changed his life and wanted to be that person for someone. Samantha remembered when he first was looking for jobs. It felt like he had a million tabs open on his computer. Samantha took one look at the screen and pointed to the listing in Georgia.
“I don’t know. Doesn’t it just seem right?” Samantha had laughed, giving him a quick kiss. “I can hear my mother already! Why be poor and hot in Georgia when you can be poor in a nice temperature like New York.”
“What do you mean it seems right?”
“I don’t know Patrick. Let’s just try it, what do we have to lose.” Then Samantha had frozen, a weird look washing over her face. “We couldn’t save ourselves.”
“What?” Patrick had asked, standing to shake Samantha softly. “Samantha, what are you talking about?”
Samantha had shaken her head, blinking at Patrick. “Hmmm? Oh sorry, I think I just zoned out there. But Georgia, I promise, this is a good idea.”
Patrick applied to the job and neither of them were surprised that he got it. Samantha started working at an accounting firm and was partner there shortly after. It may have been surprising to some, but her mother always knew she’d fight until the very end. About a year after their move to Georgia, Samantha had stopped taking her birth control.
Patrick and Samantha agreed on most things. It’s probably why they ended up clicking when they met at the sorority house. They were compatible in their political view, enjoyment of Tom Hanks’ films, their attendance at synagogue, and a litany of other things. But most of all, they both wanted children.
They had for a while, but years of trying, it never happened. They even went to a specialist and were told nothing was wrong. But there had to be something wrong, because they weren’t pregnant when by all accounts, they should have been.
Patrick wouldn’t admitted, but Samantha scared him half to death one night. They were lying in the dark and hadn’t spoken in what seemed like hours. Patrick would have sworn Samantha was asleep, but she rolled over and her voice pierced through the emptiness.
“It’s my fault.”
Patrick had pulled her close, arms tightening around her. He hadn’t told Samantha this, but she’d been cold. So cold with fear Patrick thought he might start shivering. “Don’t be ridiculous. There’s no way you could know that.”
But Samantha did know. And on some level, she knew that Patrick knew too. She’d told him about these dreams she’d been having. Dreams where she’d wake up and know, know something was wrong. That she was living in the eye of a storm and everything was going to come crashing down. The problem is, like every other dream, it faded. Then, everything was fine.
Everything was fine until May 28, that is. They were watching one of Patrick’s documentaries. Stan was reading Isabela’s latest book. It’d come out days earlier. She’d gone the day it released to buy it. She didn’t mind reading on her phone, but whenever it was Isabela’s books, she wanted the physical book. Maybe because it was real, tangible.
The phone rang and Samantha answered. Samantha couldn’t tell you why she answered. The second she saw the unknown flash though; she knew she had to answer. Patrick would later say that he knew something was wrong that very second. He could sense Samantha’s fear. He didn’t say anything though. Samantha stood up, walking so Patrick could still hear his movie.
“Samantha Schmidt…I’m sorry, I don’t know any Mishael’s…Wait…Mish? Is that really you? I’m so sorry, what has it been twenty, thirty years…How are you? Why are you…Oh…No, that’s okay. I get it…Yeah, yeah, I understand…Bye Mishael.”
Samantha hung up and said she was going to take a bath. Patrick didn’t respond, but Samantha didn’t wait for an answer. It wasn’t long after that Patrick realized that Samantha didn’t take baths. That she hated them. He knew something must be wrong, so he decided to take her a glass of wine and sit with her.
Patrick froze when he saw the door was closed. Samantha never closed the door. She never said why, but Patrick assumed she didn’t really understand herself. She knew it was something in her childhood and that when the door was closed, she panicked.
Patrick knocked, “Samantha, honey, are you okay?” His voice was meet with an unsettling silence. “Samantha? Samantha! SAMANTHA!” Patrick was yelling. The only thing answering him was a soft sound of dripping. Dripping? He yanked the handle, only to find it locked. And for the weirdest reason, Patrick suddenly thought we couldn’t save ourselves; how could we save anyone else.
Patrick pulled out his phone, ready to call someone. Then he told himself he was being crazy. They had keys, spare keys. He ran downstairs, pulling the key ring out of the drawer. He searched for the bathroom key as he went back upstairs. It almost felt like he was moving in slow motion. He finally threw open the bathroom door.
Patrick stared at Samantha lying in the tub. The water was pink now. Written on the wall in Samantha’s blood were two letters. IT.
Chapter 2: Richelle Tozier Takes a Powder
Richelle Tozier couldn’t stop vomiting. She’d have thought there was nothing left. When had it started? Right. After she hung up with Mishael. Mishael had told her It was back. What the hell was It? Richelle couldn’t remember It. Hell she barely remembered Mishael. Except, when she called, Richelle suddenly heard someone saying, as clear as day, Mishael, like Richelle, but you can call me Mish, like meeee-sh.
Richelle agreed to go back. But why? Mish asked how much she remembered. The truth was very, very little, but she agreed. She knew enough to go back, right? Ever since she hung up the phone though, memories were coming back. Flooding her thoughts and causing nausea. Nausea so strong, she couldn’t stop vomiting.
Once it calmed for a bit, Richelle decided to book the trip to Derry. Derry. That’s a name she hadn’t thought of in years. Her hand grasped the triangle necklace she was wearing. The necklace she’d worn every day, but never knew why.
She called Carol, she was always able to book trips for her. Richelle couldn’t remember the last time she’d actually scheduled anything for herself. Carol would be able to handle it, Richelle knew that. They’d become closer over the years. One day Richelle would like to meet her. If she made it out of Derry.
“What’s up, Richie?” Carol answered.
Richie smiled at the name. Everyone knew her as Richelle Tozier. They said some people might not like her going by Richie. That’s my name. Richie Tozier’s the name, doing voices is my game. Lose the attitude Richie, they said. You’ve got to make sacrifices to make it, they said. They took my name. Richie hadn’t thought about it in years. She’d lost her childhood and didn’t even know it. Then she lost her name.
“Richie?” Carol asked again.
The nickname rolled off her tongue easily. Few people used the name anymore. Only those who were really close to Richie. Come to think of it, Richie wasn’t that close to people anymore. Not since Derry anyways. Not since…
“I need you to book me a trip Carol. I’ve got to go to Derry, as soon as possible.”
Carol didn’t ask any questions. Richie loved her for that. Mainly because, well, Richie didn’t have any answers. She leaned against the bathroom wall trying to think of something, but nothing came to mind. The sound of Bruce Springsteen drifted from the other room.
Richie had put a record on. She thought of sitting in someone’s room. They were talking about leaving Derry once they graduated. Who was it? Had they left? How did it go? Oh, honey, tramps like us…Baby we were born to run. Brent. That’s his name. Brent Marsh.
Richie’s phone rang. “Hey, Carol.”
Carol listed off the travel details. Flight times and any layovers. She told her about the car agency she went through. She couldn’t book the hotel though. Carol didn’t know how long Richie would be in Derry. Richie didn’t know that either. Richie told her it was fine and hung up.
She looked up the number of the Derry Town House. Shit. That was another name she hadn't thought of in years. How did she even remember it? Richie shook her head, dialing the number. It felt like it rang forever. It probably wasn’t even open any more. She hadn’t thought to check.
It’ll be gone. There’s no way it was still standing. Gone. Gone like those glasses Richie used to wear. The oversized round glasses that were always broken. The ones that her friends said would have been more stylish if they fit her face. But Richie didn’t care about stylish. The bigger the glasses the more she could see. The glasses that Henry Bowers had broken. The glasses Greta mocked relentlessly.
“Derry Town Houses, how can we assist you?” A cheery voice pulled Richie from her thoughts. New England accent. That’s an accent she hadn’t heard in a while.
“Hi, can I book a room? I’m going to be in Derry for some business,” Richie said in a New England accent. She didn’t know if she was even trying to do it. Sometimes voices and accents, they just came out. “Problem is, I don’t know how long I’ll be there.”
“Oh, that’s alright! We’re not full, so we’ll be able to renew if you need to stay in longer.”
That accent, it’d been so long. I’m gonna break those fucking glasses, you bitch. Criss. Victor Criss. Richie remembered telling him off. She didn’t know why. Probably didn’t matter. Richie was known for running her mouth and getting in trouble. It didn’t help that she wore a permanent look on her face that just read, punch me! I don’t give a shit, I doubt you’ll even do it.
Richie ran a hand down her face. Fuck, she needed a cigarette. She’d promise her mom she’d stop smoking. Six years after her death, Richie finally lived up to the promise. But now, she just needed one. One cigarette.
Richie shook her head and dialed Steve Covall’s name. Her manager. She had to tell Steve she was leaving. He was going to be pissed. What did it matter, though? Richie probably wouldn’t be back. Wouldn’t be back to face the wrath of Steve.
“Hey Steve, we’ve got a bit of a problem. I’m leaving town. Tonight. I know you’re not going to get it. But I made this promise when I was younger, and I have to live up to it. I don’t understand it all myself, but I won’t be here for a few days, I’m going to Derry, Maine.”
Steve took a deep breath. “Are. You. Fucking. Kidding. Me. Tozier? I’ve got a schedule. You made a promise when you were younger? What as a kid? I know you haven’t lived in Maine since you were seventeen. You don’t make promises to keep at that age.”
“Steve, I’m going.” Richie spoke with a finality that surprised her.
“Fine, but I won’t forget this.” Steve hung up without another word.
Richie threw her phone onto the rug a few feet away from her. Yeah, she wouldn’t hear the end of this. But then again, she might not even hear the start of it. Richie stood, walking to pack. She didn’t bother taking time to pick things out, just threw some clothes in her suitcases. It wasn’t until after she’d finished packing, that she realized she’d only packed clothes similar to what she’d worn as a kid. Clothes they didn’t let her wear on stage or meeting people. They said she dressed like she’d robbed the men’s section of a thrift shop. Richie smiled, running her hand over the button up watermelon shirt. They were right, it was hideous. Just like the glasses she used to wear.
Richie knelt in front of the safe in her closet. She pulled out the cash she’d been saving ever since she’d left Derry. Tramps like me, baby they were born to run. Richie couldn’t tell you why she saved it, but she always knew something would happen where she’d have to leave. Richie always thought she was running towards something, but maybe she was running away.
She sat there, cash in hand, thinking over the memories that had been flooding through her mind since Mish had called. They were kids when it happened. Kids. They’d grown up together. Beth had taught them how to build damns. Beth. Beth Hanscom. She as possibly the sweetest person Richie had ever met. She was bullied for being overweight. They’d pretended to be models. Jungle explorers. They’d grown up having horror movie marathons and breaking into abandoned buildings. Had it not been for Henry Bowers, Victor Criss, Belch Huggins, Greta Bowie, Marcia Fadden, the bullies of Derry, it would have been great.
Richie smiled, thinking about Beth and the others. Sam Uris, she was only Jewish girl in their grade. Izzy Denbrough. Izzy had learned Spanish as her first language and kids bullied her when she started school. Richie could hear her yelling Hi-yo Silver as she rode her bike through town. Brent Marsh, he always had a cigarette when you needed it and he hid them almost as well as the bruises. And Richie, with her big mouth and face begging to be punched. Her big glasses and straight A’s. They made quite the group.
But it wasn’t great. That summer had been anything but great. She remembered going to the Neibolt house with Izzy. How she’d screamed at the top of her lungs, you killed my brother, you hijo de puta! The smell of garbage, no not garbage. The smell of It. It was so much worse. There was darkness. Darkness she couldn’t comprehend. And George. Little Georgie Denbrough.
Riche stood, the cash falling around her as she ran to the bathroom. Her knees hit the tiles and she slid across floor, barley making it before she was throwing up again. The sound of the metal pendant of her necklace hitting the porcelain echoed too loudly. She wiped her mouth, leaning back again. Tears streaming down her face. Georgie had only been six.
Richie was shaking. She’d seen Georgie right before then. Right before those floods. His arm. God his arm. Something was in the sewers. Richie remembered the sewers and began to sob. When was the last time she cried? Right, when her mom passed away. She ripped out her contact lenses. They stung. For the first time in twenty-seven years she was going home.
“Home,” Richie said with a dry laugh, devoid of humor. “I’m going home. God help me.”
Chapter 3: Bethany Hanscom Takes a Drink
Just a forewarning, I wrote it so Ben (Beth) had an eating disorder in high school rather than a High School gym teacher being the reason she lost weight.
Beth had never wanted fame. She didn’t care if anyone even knew her name. She’d always been fine just keeping to herself. She wanted to make her mark in the world, do something that she’d always look at and think, I made it. Not for anyone else. Just so she could go, you were alright all along Bethany.
By all accounts, she had made it. Hell, Time Magazine had named her most promising young architect in America. She didn’t know what hat meant, though, not really. How many architects were there in America? People told her it was good. She’d been on Forbes’s 100 Most Power Women too. But really, it meant nothing.
With all her accolades, she still surprised people. They’d see her in one-horse towns and run-down bars, surprised when she was recognized. That’s where she was headed tonight. The Red Wheel roadhouse just outside of Hemingford Home in Oklahoma.
She was turning off the highway though and going through the drive through at Bucky’s Hi-Hat Eat-Em-Up. She hadn’t eaten all day and knew she had too. A few minutes later she was sitting in the parking lot, staring at the bag in her passenger seat. One bite Beth, it won’t kill you. She wanted to scream. She hadn’t felt this way in years, not since college. She punched the steering wheel and screamed. Mish had called and all those feelings came back. She reached into the bag and pulled out a fry. One fry and her stomach felt like it was rolling over with guilt.
“It’s going to be okay, you’re not that girl anymore, Beth. This meal isn’t going to lead you down that road.” She whispered, tears starting to run down her face. 3 calories, 5 at most. She put the fry in her mouth, holding her hands over her face telling herself to chew and swallow.
She thought back to Greta and Marcia. How they’d snicker behind her back. Tell her no one would love her. But it hadn’t been just them. Beth thought of the It. He’d never love someone like you. That’s what It’d said. She threw her car into drive, flying down the road to the Red Wheel.
Beth sat at the bar, that’s where she always sat. She was wearing ripped jeans and scuffed tan work boots. It’s what she always wore. Anytime anyone walked into that bar, that’s what they saw. She was wearing a chambray shirt and black jeans. Richie would have taken one look and called her a basic white girl. Because she was. She choked out a laugh. When was the last time she thought of Richie Tozier?
“Well hello Ms. Hanscom,” Ricky Lee said. Beth could hear the uncertainty in his voice. Beth never came in on a weeknight. Two beers on Friday, three on Saturday, every weekend. Both relied on that consistency. It was almost as consistent as Beth leaving alone every time she came in, no matter who hit on her. “You look a little distracted tonight.”
“I don’t want a beer tonight,” Beth said as Ricky Lee grabbed a beer stein.
Ricky Lee would have told you Beth looked twenty years older that night. Well, her eyes did. Beth always looked ten years younger than she was. But her eyes, her eyes tonight looked aged. It scared Ricky Lee. He set the stein down, wondering what had happened to her.
“Something’s wrong Ricky Lee, and I don’t know what.” Ricky Lee watched her, curious. “Can you fill that stein with whiskey? Whatever kind you want.”
“Ms. Hanscom, there’s not a chance in hell you’ll walk out of here tonight if I do that.” Beth looked at Ricky Lee in a way that shook him to his core. In a way that made him fill the stein. “On the house.”
“I went to Peru once. Study abroad for my major. Kind of like an architect internship,” Beth said, not really caring if Ricky Lee heard. The native Peruvians taught me this trick. See if you squeeze lemon juice into your nose, you don’t notice the taste of the liquor.”
Before Ricky Lee could stop her, Beth reached over the bar and grabbed some of the sliced lemons. She squeezed two of them into her nose. The tears from the stinging covered the ones she’d cried earlier. Guess she was drinking her calories tonight. Then she grabbed the stein of whiskey and started chugging.
Ricky Lee’s widen in surprise as Beth drank over a third of the liquor. “Did you know I used to be fat?” Ricky Lee shook his head. “Yeah, it was insane. I was bullied for it. I was bullied for a lot of things, actually. Greta Bowie and Marcia Fadden were your typical mean girls. What I didn’t expect was for the guys to bully me too. I mean, I didn’t think that happened.”
Beth untied the bottom of her shirt and pulled it up to reveal a scar. It was old and white now. It’d been so long since it’d happen. The H from when Henry and his gang carved it into her skin. She traced a hand over it, before lowering her shirt and tying the bottom again.
“I’m lucky he didn’t care his whole damn name. Imagine being branded with Henry your whole life just because you were overweight.”
Beth grabbed two more lemon slices; Ricky Lee’s watched in terror. She squeezed juice in her nose and took another long drink. Annie walked behind the bar, watching Beth in surprise. She expected her to pass out any second.
“What’s wrong with Beth?”
“Not a clue.” Beth grabbed two more slices. “Miss Hanscom, you’ve got to stop. I can’t roll you out of here.”
“Twenty-seven years and I’m still being haunted by them. I saw them in my living room after Mish called. I was suddenly sixteen again on the cusp of an eating disorder.” Ricky Lee went to take the stein from Beth. Only about a third of the liquor was left. “There’s no use, Ricky Lee. It can’t do anything worse than that phone call did.” Beth took a sip. “Oh, I have a present for your kids.”
Beth pulled out 3 silver dollars. They were from long ago. Her dad had died when she was four and left them to Beth. They’d been her grandpa's. That’s all he left in his wake besides debt. Ricky Lee looked at the coins then at Beth. If you’d have asked Ricky Lee what someone her size would be doing after drinking that much whiskey, he’d have said lying in a crumpled heap by the bar stool. Yet she was cognizant. She didn’t slur a single word. Ricky Lee looked in her eyes and saw nothing but a sober person starting back. A very scared, very sober, person.
“I used to have one, but I gave it to Izzy. Spanish Izzy is what they called her. Shit, am I scaring you Ricky Lee?” Ricky Lee nodded. “Sorry. I just, I’m really scared. And I hope you never know what this feeling is like.”
“Miss Hanscom is there something I can do?”
“Ricky Lee you’ve done everything you could. I got a call from Mishael today. I didn’t even know who she was. I realized in my car tonight that I didn’t know a thing about my childhood. It all came back. Some guy name Brent or Spanish Izzy saved my life. Saved my life with that other silver dollar. I’ve got to go Ricky Lee.”
Ricky Lee moved to stop Beth when he saw her eyes again. She was a dead man walking. It was a ghost of the Beth Hanscom he’d come to know. Beth waved goodbye to him before stepping outside of the Red Wheel. She got in her aging car and started driving to the airport. Back home.
“She just drank enough to kill herself and you let her drive off!” Annie yelled from behind Ricky Lee.
“You know, Annie, I suppose she would be better off killing herself than whatever she’s about to face back home.”
Chapter 4: Ellie Kaspbrak Takes Her Medicine
The thing is, to know someone, just look in their medicine cabinet. Unless that person is Ellie Kaspbrak. Nobody could understand who she was by looking at it. Hell, even Ellie didn’t know who she was looking at it. Then again, she didn’t really need to look at her medicine cabinet to not know who she was.
Row after row of medication. Eddie looked over them, reading the names. Sometimes she wondered if she needed them, really needed them. She had the strangest feeling someone told her she didn’t. Like someone had slapped an asthma inhaler out of her hand and told her to get a grip. It wasn’t real.
But how could they know what was real. Ellie thought her life until this point was real. She stared at the medicine. She thought all her illness were real. Everything her mother told her had been real. Nothing in her life felt real anymore. Just a medication induced nightmare that she was never going to wake up from.
Ellie grabbed the bag from below the sink. She started throwing the medication in. If she was going to willingly jump into a nightmare from her past, she was going to make sure it was while she was medicated. Prescription drug after prescription drug. Over the counter medication after over the counter medication.
She heard Myron screaming her name. He wanted to know what she was doing, who had been on the phone, and why she was so scared. Ellie couldn’t tell him. How crazy would that sound? That someone called from twenty some years ago to make do on a promise she didn’t even remember making? She grabbed the bag off the counter, leaning to one side from the weight.
She’d always been small. Smaller than most people her age. Myron towered over her, then again, most people towered over her. She dropped her bag on the bed and went to pack. Corporate suit after corporate suit. Was that all she wore anymore?
“Ellie? What’s going on?” Myron asked, his voice shaking.
The bed creaked when Myron sat on it. Ellie didn’t really believe people when they said you married your parents. But looking at Myron, Ellie couldn’t deny it. He could be her mother’s brother honestly. Just like her mother, Myron was well overweight. Married or not, Ellie kept her last name. She couldn’t remember most of her childhood, she was keeping one thing.
Ellie ignored his question, shoving her work clothes to the side. In the back there was an old box of clothes. Clothes she hadn’t worn in the last ten years. They’d still fit her. She grabbed them, not bothering to look and threw them in her suitcase. She looked at her shoes, grabbing a few pairs of sneakers. She wouldn’t need dress shoes, right?
What were they going to do? Someone had to have an answer. What she needed now was someone to lighten the mood, make it less terrifying. Maybe Richie would. Richie. That’s a name Ellie hadn’t thought of in a while. She smiled.
Richelle Tozier and her stupid oversized glasses and bad impressions and hair that never seemed to be brushed. She’d know how to make this better. For a second, Ellie felt like she could picture Richelle standing there. Riche flipping off Bower’s gang before making a run for it. Ellie’s hand went to her throat, where was her inhaler? Ellie felt her throat closing as she looked for it. She closed her bag, leaving Myron in the bedroom as she ran downstairs. She’d left the inhaler by the T.V. When was the last time she used it?
“ELLIE! Will you please answer me? I’m freaking out here.”
Ellie turned to see Myron’s terrified face. Ellie thought for a second, just a second, Myron was more scared than her. But Myron knew, he knew what the next week would be like. Ellie couldn’t know that. Could she? Ever since Mish’s phone call, she’d been having memories. Were they really memories, or just the ghost of her mother?
Ellie picked up her inhaler. There’s physically nothing wrong with you, Ellie! It’s not real! Was it Richie who had yelled at her? That was when she went home and threw her inhaler away in front of her mom. Ellie had lied and said that her P.E. teacher told her she didn’t need it.
“Why would you tell my child she didn’t need her inhaler?”
“Ma’am. I didn’t, but Ellie’s never had a reason to need an inhaler.”
“I’m sorry, are you telling me she’s making up her attacks.”
“Ellie’s never had an asthma attack in class. She runs with the other kids and might even enjoy the games more than other people.”
“How dare you accuse her of lying.”
“This school is a joke! you’ll be lucky if I let my child come back here.”
Ellie wiped a tear from her eye, looking around the room. Everything she’d done, everything she’d achieve was to prove she could do it. As if looking at her mother saying, little Ellie Mae made it, she made it in the big scary world all on her own. Sometimes it felt like more than that, it felt more vengeful. It was done out of spite.
Spite for all the times she’d been embarrassed in school from her mother telling people she couldn’t do something. Spite for the times she tried to leave only to move back in a few months later. Spite for the fact that her mother had passed away and she could still hear her taunting voice.
Put your shoes on Ellie. It’s supposed to rain, you don’t want to catch a cold. You know what happens when you go outside and don’t wear your rainboots. We wouldn’t want you to have to stay home from school Ellie.
It rains in Derry. It rains a lot there. It was raining the day George Denbrough-. Ellie lifted the inhaler to her lips, pressing down as she struggled to breath. She hadn’t thought about George in years. What was his sister’s name? Isabela. Izzy Denbrough.
“Ellie, can you answer me? Why are you leaving?”
“Myron, I can’t tell you why I’m going. I don’t fully get it myself.”
“Then why are you going.”
“I have to.”
“What about work?”
Work. Ellie had almost forgotten about work. She was a risk manager. Ironic that her whole life was her assessing the risk of things and yet, she didn’t have a second thought about running back to Derry. Running back was the riskiest thing she could do.
“When will you be back?” Myron asked, running a hand through his hair.
“I don’t know, My, a week? Not more than that.”
“A WEEK?” Myron yelled as Ellie through open the door.
“Don’t worry Myron, I’ll be fine. Don’t worry. I love you.”
And Ellie left. Myron yelling her name from the doorway as she got in the cab. Yelling off all the ways she could get injured or sick on her way to Derry. That she should just stay home, it’d be okay. Would it though? Would anything be okay again?
Ellie thought it over. Did she really love Myron? They’d gotten a divorce a few years earlier, but Ellie ended up right back with him. Just like she had with her mother. She took a deep breath, trying not to cry. She didn’t. That’s the problem. She didn’t love Myron. What was she going to come back from when she got back from Derry? She bit back a frustrated scream as she realized the train she was on might as well be a time machine. A time machine back to hell.
Chapter 5: Brently Marsh Takes a Whuppin
Just a warning, this chapter does involve an abusive relationship.
He was sleeping. Not well. Brent couldn’t remember the last time he’d slept well. Tom was next to him, snoring. He always snored when he went to bed drunk. Tom going to bed drunk was better than him staying up though.
The phone rang. It was loud, Tom was going to be pissed. Brent sat up, looking around for his phone. He answered it quickly, hoping it hadn’t woken Tom up. Why was he getting a call from an unknown number in the middle of the night? He should have left it on silent, but he was worried Tom would sleep through his alarm.
“Is this Brent Marsh? It’s Mishael Hanlon. It’s back Brent, it’s back.”
Brent felt like he’d been hit by a truck. “WHAT?” He yelled.
Tom gave Brent one of the angriest looks he’d seen in a while, but he didn’t do anything. Brent wasn’t focusing on what Mish was saying. Tom just walked out of the room. A moment later, Brent heard the fridge open. Tom was going to start drinking again. There wasn’t any beer in the fridge. That meant whiskey. Brent’s hand was shaking as he held the phone to his ear, watching the door. Drunk Tom was bad. A drunk Tom drinking whiskey was worse.
Brent had met Tom four years ago at a singles event. A friend of Brent’s had made him go. He didn’t want to go. Wanted to focus on his career. Tom would tell him that there were three things he noticed about Brent when they first met. He was desirable, vulnerable, and damn talented at game design.
The grandfather clock in the hall chimed. Brent hated that clock. It was too loud. Too constant. Like a constant unending reminder that Brent had gotten himself into this mess. Hadn’t he? Tom told him to go to hell when he said they should get rid of it. It’d been my father’s, you dumb mother-.
“Sorry, Mish. Yes. . . What has it been? . . . I don’t think that should be a problem. . . Izzy Denbrough! How did I forget her? . . . Can you reserve me a room, Mish? Reserve me a room and say a prayer. I’m going to need it.”
Brent could count the times he’d felt like this. It was before two of the biggest presentations of his life. Except that was anxiety. This was fear. Fear he hadn’t felt in twenty-seven years. Fear he never thought he’d experience again. Fear he never knew he’d experienced in the first place.
Brent lit a cigarette. When was the last time he’d smoked? He couldn’t remember. Tom didn’t like cigarette smoke. Didn’t like how Brent looked when he smoked. Brent told Tom he’d thrown the cigarette’s out, but he always kept an extra pack. Just in case. He didn’t know what the just in case had been really. But now he knew, and he wished it had never happened. Brent turned around, going to get the suitcase from the closet when he saw Tom standing at the door. He looked surprised. No, he looked afraid. Brent moved passed it and went to get the suitcase.
He threw the suitcase on the bed, knowing he’d need to pack before Tom snapped out of it. This wasn’t going to go well. He knew that. Tom was saying something. Something about needing a prayer. How Brent didn’t need a hotel. Whatever it was, wasn’t worth listening to. Brent started throwing clothes in his suitcase, clothes Tom didn’t like. They were dated, too young. Cigarette smoke trailed behind Brent, like a reminder of the night he’d lit a cigarette without thinking.
They were walking out of the movie and Brent pulled the pack out of his pocket. Tom didn’t say a word, just walked in silence to the car. He opened the car door from Brent. Tom didn’t do that, and Brent should have known at that moment. But he didn’t. Tom leant down and said his name very softly. Then he smacked him.
Brent had blinked. He felt like he was a teenager again. When’s the last time that happened? His dad. He hadn’t thought of his dad in years. He’d looked at Tom and could see he was expecting a fight. He’d been expecting Brent to chew him out, tell him to go to hell, get out of the car, something. But Brent hadn’t. He’d looked up and said just as softly, “Why’d you do that?”
“Throw the cigarette out.”
“Shit, sorry Tom. I’d forgotten.”
“Throw it out.”
Brent had done just that. He’d thrown the cigarette to the ground near Tom’s foot. “There. But Tom, you can’t just hit me. That’s not the way you build a relationship.”
“Then get the fuck out.” Tom had stepped back slightly. Brent had known what he meant. Tom set the rules for how this relationship was going to be built and if Brent couldn’t handle it, he could leave. Brent shook his head. “That’s all I’m going to say.”
“You’ve said enough,” Brent had bit out angerly. He shouldn’t have. He knew that. Tom had slammed his head on the dashboard. But Brent hadn’t fought back. He never fought back. He heard Tom say something about leaving, he couldn’t make out everything though. “I want to go with you Tom, okay?”
“Brently,” Tom snapped, drawing Brent’s attention back to the present. Tom stood in front of him, a belt wrapped around his hand.
One day you’re going to kill me Tom, I just know it. Brent had said that to Tom years ago. And the look in Tom’s eye made it felt like it was going to be today. The day Tom had said would never come was finally here. And Brent wasn’t scared.
“I’ve got to go Tom.”
Brent looked at the cigarette in his hand. He fought the urge to scoff before walking into the bathroom to put it out. “It’s out. I’ve got to go Tom, it’s an old friend of mine. She needs me.” Tom took a step forward, the belt swinging slightly. “Put the belt down.”
But Tom didn’t. He swung and Brent dove out of the way. His shoulder connected with the door and the belt struck his forearm. He vaguely heard Tom apologize, but he couldn’t hear right. The belt was coming at him again. Brent reached for it and saw something flash across Tom’s eyes.
“Thomas. Stop.” Brent was talking to Tom like he was having a tantrum. Like he was a child. “I’m not fucking around right now.”
Tom moved towards him, the belt swinging more. He dove out of the way, not making a sound. The vanity rocked when he hit it but didn’t tip. Brent started picking up things on the table and throwing them at Tom. His alarm clock smacked him in the face, and he stumbled backwards.
“Listen here you son of a bitch. I’m going to that airport. One more step towards me and I’ll kill you. I swear to god, I’ll kill you Tom.”
It was like slow motion. Tom lunged at him. Brent jumped to the side, narrowly missing him. He grabbed the lamp from the vanity as he did. Without looking, Brent swung. The lamp shattered as it connected with Tom’s head. Tom stumbled backwards, falling when he hit the side of the bed. There was so much blood. What if something was wrong? Tom groaned. He’ll live. Brent though, tossing the lamp to the side.
He grabbed the suitcase and ran from the house. He didn’t stop when he heard Tom screaming at him. Telling him to get back upstairs or he’d kill him. Brent ran as far as he could before he felt like he was going to be sick. He sat down on the steps of someone’s house. He wasn’t wearing shoes. How had he not realized until now. He started laughing and couldn’t stop. The noise piercing in the otherwise silent night.
Chapter 6: Isabela Denbrough Takes Time Out
Izzy curled her feet the minute they hit the ground. They should get a rug. Izzy always thought Maine was cold. Maybe it was a different kind of cold. Their Airbnb in England was chilly. The kind of chilly a pair of socks and a fire fixed. The cold in Maine had a way of sinking to her bones, making her feel like there wasn’t any warmth or light left on the Earth.
“Who was on the phone Iz?” Andrew asked. He was leaning against the doorframe in the kitchen, holding a cup of coffee. Izzy didn’t answer, just walked to pour a glass of scotch. “What’s scaring you this bad?”
“I’m not scared.”
Andrew gave her a pointed look. He was right. She was shaking so much she spilled some of the liquor onto the counter. She took a deep breath, telling herself she wasn’t afraid. Not that she even knew what she could be afraid of.
“I know you’re an author, but you’ve never embraced the I’m drinking before noon since the world’s shit stereotype.”
Andrew was right. She’d made it through Derry and college without drinking. Yet here she was, running toward it the second Mish called. Maybe Susan had been right. Izzy had been so excited to leave Derry and go to university. She’d gotten a full ride scholarship. But when she got there, she realized people aren’t better just because they aren’t in Derry.
If the people in her creative writing class hadn’t made her want to drink, why did Mish’s call. Izzy took a drink of the scotch. There had been the girl that showed up to class every day hung over day and spent the entire time flirting with the TA. Then there was Hemingway wanna-be. Every single idea or story he wrote was simplistic at best. He tried to explain why there was always deeper meaning. There wasn’t any deeper meaning to his tired short sentences and dull exposition. Everyone was a try-hard that spent their time trying to impress the instructor, who was just a washed up has been that never published anything worth reading.
Which might be why Izzy never did well in the class. Every time she suggested an alternative to whatever commentary her professor gave; she was shot down. No matter what she wrote, it wasn’t good enough. Hell, her highest grade was a B and that was impressive. Most of her assignments barely received a passing grade.
Then one day she just, she just snapped. They were talking about the socio-whatever importance of stories. How every fucking story had to have insight on culture or history or politics or something. Izzy had stood up. She didn’t even bother waiting for her professor to finish speaking before she started.
“If you can’t write a story that includes politics, culture, history, and any other sociological thing you want to name, then it’s not a good story. You’re not a writer if you don’t automatically include those in a story. Because bottom line, a story is sometimes just a story.”
The only thing the instructor said as Izzy stormed out of the classroom, backpack still open was that she still had a lot to learn. Maybe that’s true. But then, so did the arrogant dick that thought he knew everything about every author. Izzy had wanted to quit after that day, but something made her stay.
The next week she showed up to class and dealt with the same stuff. She ended up writing a story called the Dark. She hadn’t known it at the time, but it was about George’s death. Izzy had turned it in and gotten it back with three red marks. In capital letters were the words CRAP, WHAT?, and F. Just out of spite, Izzy submitted it a magazine that accepted horror writings.
It wasn’t the first time she’d submitted a story. There’d been a number of them, but she’d never won anything. It’d never been accepted. Until the Dark, that is. The magazine editor told her it was the best horror story he’d read in nearly thirty years. They bought it from her for $500.
Izzy almost forwarded the email to her instructor but decided to be pettier. She printed off a screenshot of the registration page after dropping the course, stapled it to a copy of the editor’s email, and tacked it to the bulletin board on her instructor’s door.
She started to walk away, but she saw all the stupid comics and poor analogies hanging on the wall and decided to write something else. Izzy pulled a pen out of her bag and scrawled across the bottom of the email: The day fiction and politics are interchangeable is the day I kill myself. Politics are as constant as weather. Stories are as constant as death. She went to put the pen back but then added: maybe you have a lot to learn.
Her instructor had emailed her back informing her that her final grade for the course was an F. He’d added that if the reason she was writing was to make money she’d never really write. Izzy printed that email off and was determined to prove him wrong.
Most people would say she did. By the age of 23, Izzy Denbrough had become one of the, if not the most, famous horror authors still publishing. She’d gotten an offer to make one of her stories into a movie. Susan Browne, her agent said she shouldn’t go. That it’d end in burn out. A burn out fueled by drugs and alcohol. She’d lose everything. But she’d been wrong. Izzy had gone to Hollywood and the only thing she’d lost was her heart and that’s when she’d met the lead actor Andrew Phillips for the movie adaptation.
“Izzy!” Andrew yelled, pulling her from her thoughts.
“Andrew, what do you know about me?”
Andrew blinked, before taking a deep breath. “You grew up in Maine. I know your mom moved from Mexico and met your dad in college. I know you moved two years after your brother died and you went to college in Portland. You were worked part time despite your full ride to help your parents since your dad was sick with lung cancer. I know he passed away when you were twenty. I know you meet Andrew Phillips after writing the Black Rapids You met Andrew Phillips who was dying. He was drowning and you threw him a life vest.”
“I could go on and on Isabela. I could tell you every detail of your life. Because I know it all. But it’s more than that. Izzy, I was ruining my life. I was taking drugs and wasn’t long before I fell too far to come back, but you caught me Izzy.”
Andrew ran his hand over his face, watching Izzy. He sat down at the stool next to her, resting a hand on her knee. She wished she could hide her emotions but knew she couldn’t. Andrew always knew what she was thinking, he always knew.
“It feels like everyone’s running. Running to the next thing. Not you though. Izzy you always have everything under control. You just stroll through life. You know no matter what that you’ll get there,” Andrew paused, looking her over with concern. “I know you have nightmares.”
Izzy pulled back slightly. She suddenly felt afraid. It was a feeling she wasn’t used to. Izzy wrote so much about it but wasn’t sure the last time she’d even felt fear. She didn’t have nightmares. Not even that, she’d never even had dreams. Nothing good, nothing bad.
“You do. You mumble. I can never make it out, but your scared, I know that. Just like I know you got a call today to go to Maine and that you want to leave.”
“Did you know George was murdered?” It was Andrew’s time to look confused. “After a flood. He’d gone out to play and I didn’t go with him. His arm was pulled off, Andrew. They say he either died from blood loss or shock.”
“Why didn’t you tell me?”
Izzy stood up to pour another glass of scotch, she walked to the other side of the counter. “Because I didn’t know! Andrew you know every single thing about my life. Every detail from the last eleven years. You knew my friends and meetings and thoughts. And hell, I could say the same for you. But I remember nothing from Derry. Over twenty years and I didn’t know a damn thing about my brother. Just the fact that he existed and his name.”
Izzy felt a flood of memories that she couldn’t stop. It was like Beth Hanscom’s dam broke. Except Izzy didn’t know who Beth was until now. Izzy knew anything she built wouldn’t just break. She remembered all of them, Ellie Kaspbrak and Richie Tozier who were always closer than the others. She remembered Brent Marsh, Sam Uris, and Mishael Hanlon. How did she have amnesia until Mish’s call?
Izzy looked at her hand. She was shaking so bad she could hardly make out the faint scar across her palm. The scar that hadn’t been there yesterday. The scar from when Sam had cut their hands with an old broken Coke bottle. They’d stood in a circle, Brent on her left and Richie on her right.
“When we were standing in that circle, we swore. We swore we’d go back and end whatever it was for good. Mish doesn’t think Sam will show up because she sounded strange. But I can’t imagine not going back, you know? Why wouldn’t Sam?”
“What the actual fuck are you talking about?” Izzy shook her head, as if to say I’m sorry, but I don’t even know myself. “Then let me go with you.”
Izzy rushed back to Andrew’s side, wrapping her arms around him. “Don’t say that. Promise me. Promise me you won’t go to Derry no matter what. Andrew that place is evil, and you need to be as far away as possible. Promise me.”
“I promise,” Andrew whispered before kissing the top of her head. “Can you at least tell me when I’ll see you again?”
Izzy didn’t answer, just hugged him tighter.
Chapter 7: Derry: The First Interlude
Mishael Hanlon didn’t believe in ghosts, not really. Once you’re dead you’re supposed to be dead. That’s what she thought anyways. But she lived in Derry. If a ghost existed, it’d be in Derry. Because Derry was haunted. Not a building in Derry. Not the park with its crumbling concrete. Not the pharmacy Ellie Kaspbrak had spent too much time in. The whole damn town was haunted.
Mishael would know. She’d spent enough time learning the history of Derry. She’d spent time researching ghosts and hauntings too. The thing is, every definition of haunting seemed the same. Something reoccurring. A spirit existing there. What you would expect a haunting to mean.
Except one definition. One definition that chilled Mishael in a way she never really understood. A place for feeding animals. That’s all Derry was really when she thought about it. A place for feeding It. Whatever was waiting under the bridge Adrian Mellon was thrown over. The same thing that’d been waiting in the storm drain the day George Denbrough had died. Derry was a place for It’s feeding.
The thing is, Mishael can’t even tell if she remembered It. She thought she did. Maybe it had been the trial for Adrian’s murder that had triggered it. They were putting his ‘killer’ on trial. Mishael heard the news and thought, might as well be that clown back again.
But life goes on. Every day, Mishael did the same thing. She stacked shelves, told off kids for looking up inappropriate things on the computers, waived late fees, the same thing every day. At night thought, the horror sneaked in. She spends half the night screaming into the pillow and the other half staring at the ceiling. She looks the same. The same bookish, timid Mishael. She’s just tired now. People brush it off, Mish has read one too many books they thought. If only they knew.
She had to call the others. She wanted to be sure though. Calling them was going to kill some of them. She knew it. Maybe not at first, maybe not physically, but it was going to be hard. Especially because she could never be sure. She’d never be sure that It was back.
But Mishael remembered how horrible it was. She remembered because she stayed. The others took off, all over the country. Hell, the world. They wouldn’t remember even after she called them. They needed to beat It though. They needed to beat It for real. To do that, Mishael had to learn as much as she could about It. She started with Albert Carson.
Albert Carson told her to let it go. It wasn’t going to end well. Mish couldn’t do that though. She just couldn’t. So, Albert told her where to look and in what order. And that’s exactly what Mishael did. Just like Albert said, Mishael found things that had never been written down. Things that would have haunted her in her sleep, if she wasn’t already plagued by the horrors from twenty-seven years ago. Plagued by the horrors that the cycle of Derry’s misery created.
Since Derry was found, things hadn’t been right. 1741, the whole damn town just disappeared. There weren’t any signs except for one burning building. It’d been like Roanoke, but nobody talked about Derry. 1851, Jon Markson killed his entire family and they say his corpse was grinning when they found him. 1897, lumber jacks came across the torn remains of another crew where the barrens were. 1906, the iron works exploded. They shouldn’t have, it didn’t make sense. 102 people died. 1930, the black spot burnt down and there were 170 disappearances of children. 1958, 127 children had gone missing. Lisa Albrecht disappeared over the summer. She wasn’t found until Christmas. Her body had been ripped open. 1985. Second worst flooding Derry’s ever experienced.
1985. That was the year Betty Ripsom, the only Ripsom daughter, had died too. Her mother swears she heard people talking in the drains. Voices bubbling up. Her husband thought it was crazy until one day after Betty died, he heard her laughing. No, not laughing, screaming. Hell, maybe a combination of the two, he didn’t know.
Tragedy was a part of Derry. The murder rate was 6 times that of any comparable town in New England. 6 times. Children disappeared at a rate of forty to sixty a year. They were mostly teenagers, runaways they said. That’s what they would have said about Mish and the others if they died twenty-seven years ago. Except they weren’t runaways.
Mish stared at the phone in her hand. Anything else. Just one more thing and I’ll call. She didn’t want too. They’d gone in once before, but there was no saying they’d come out again if they tried again. They’d promised, but she didn’t want to do that to them. Just one more thing.
Please God, don’t let anything happen. I can’t call them.