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"After the First Death": One night, while sleeping in her room at Barclay Hospital in 1970, Ellie Coffin was called into a waking nightmare by the voice of Emma Coffin, the Coffin Witch. Evelyn, Em


Quote1 Tell me you don't want her gone, mother. Tell me Emma hasn't been a shadow on your life since that night you went looking for the Coffin Witch after my grandfather died. Tell me that and I'll leave. But I don't think you will. I think for once in your life you want to be honest with me, mother. Let me help you. Quote2
Eve Coffin



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Synopsis for "After the First Death"

One night, while sleeping in her room at Barclay Hospital in 1970, Ellie Coffin was called into a waking nightmare by the voice of Emma Coffin, the Coffin Witch. Evelyn, Emma's daughter, had warned Ellie away from the Coffin Witch, but tonight, the witch warns that it was a lie. Ellie had stopped taking her medication, and now they could be in contact. If Ellie would go home, to Coffin House, Emma promised to help her fulfill her place as the next Coffin Witch, and never need be alone again.

With a start, Ellie woke, and found that her roommate, Lorelei had snuck out of bed in the night. Stepping into the hall, she heard Lorelei's vomiting noises from behind the bathroom door, and realized with worry that Lorelei's irritability and vomiting might have been symptoms of a pregnancy.

Today, Ellie's daughter Eve leads a police search through the Coffin Hill Woods, where hundreds of people have gone missing in the last two centuries, despite the relative smallness of the forest. The woods have a primeval way of catching souls, and refusing to give them up again. At the foot of the tree where Emma Coffin was executed, Eve finds a small toy with the boy Shane Miller's name inscribed on it. Throughout history, it appears that the Coffin Witch has entered children's dreams and encouraged them to find her so that she could gain a connection with them and then convince them to kill their families. As she kneels before the tree, she is visited by an apparition of Evelyn Coffin, who admits that the toy had belonged to Shane Miller's real mother. Eve wonders what her mother had left there, when she visited the tree long ago, but Evelyn claims that Ellie had known better than to let the Coffin Witch manipulate her.

Suspiciously, Eve wonders how it is that Evelyn and Emma's spirits can be so lively, when spirits just sixty years dead can barely string together a sentence. Evelyn had tried to end her mother's killings by ensuring that the first family she murdered would have no survivor left to continue the bloodline. Unfortunately, she died before she could put a full stop to her mother. She warns Eve not to make that same mistake, passing her Dani's driver's license from the ground.

Dani's spirit, meanwhile, is standing outside Coffin House with the Coffin Witch, reminiscing about how she and Eve used to go to her house instead, because they both hated the mansion and everything it stood for. She turns to the witch and warns that Eve won't give in or stay out of her way. She believes that Coffin Hill won't feat the Coffin Witch forever, and that Eve will send her back to where she belongs. Emma doubts that, and promises that there are further tortures that can be visited upon the dead than death itself.

Eve is approached by Officer Wicox, who admits that her day has been too long. Traces of blood were found, suggesting someone was injured. In other weird news, Wilcox had discovered that the Andy that Constance Wright had claimed was her imaginary friend might have been real, and lived in a small room attached to the bathroom of what is now Wilcox's house. A snap of a twig causes Wilcox to draw her gun, only to see Chief Leland Starr stumbling through the brush with a bloody headwound. He explains that Shane had hit him and run off, mumbling "you killed me..." over and over. Wilcox calls for a medic, but Eve decides to head deeper into the woods, alone.

There, she sees Dani's ghost, warning that whatever Emma is working on, it's worse than what happened to the three girls back when they'd called on her. She's worried that Eve can't stop Emma. The Witch is using the dead, trying to stay on this side of reality. She suggests that Eve look at why Emma is still around; why the Coffin House is so haunted with her. She needs to look closer.

Ellie confirmed her suspicion with Lorelei, who explained that despite having done what she was told by so many people, including the Coffin Witch, she had finally done something for herself. She had met a boy at a party, and got herself pregnant on purpose. Ellie urged Lorelei to at least take some vitamins for her pregnancy, and sent her to bed before splashing some water in her face. When she looked up in the mirror, she saw Emma looking back at her, taunting that she intended to use Lorelei's child as she had used Lorelei.

Eve visits the town archive, rather late at night, and is welcomed by its keeper, who presents her with a set of plans for Coffin House - though not the original ones. The 1922 addition included the current kitchen and sun porches, but the plans show no anomalies in the building's structure. Eve knows the house has many secrets, though. Four men had died hauling the granite that was the building's foundation. A child snapped his neck falling from scaffolding, twenty years later, when they erected the chimney. The coffin blood line had only survived because an illegitimate son was raised by another member of the coven, raised in secret. The deaths continued, right up to Eve's adventure in the woods.

Worriedly, Eve shows up at the house and warns her mother that she has to leave for the night to stay in a hotel. Ellie refuses and denies involvement but Eve knows well that Ellie is completely involved - that she had been just as tormented by the Coffin Witch. Coffin House is somehow the key to Emma's power, and challenges Ellie to lie that she doesn't want to see Emma stopped. Coldly, Ellie responds that she'll pack her things.

With Ellie out of the house, Eve begins preparing, laying trails of salt, and turning out all the lights, before standing in the centre of a circle of candles, and calling on Emma to answer her: what will it take to get her out of the house?

Meanwhile, Wilcox and Starr go through their files, and Leland comments that Wilcox looks worse than him, despite his being the injured one. She diverts the subject to the case at hand, wondering how Shane has managed to evade them. Leland shrugs it off, inadvertently picking up one of the pieces of evidence that Wilcox has been secretly investigating on the side, for the Wright murders that took place in her house. She explains that she may have found proof that Constance Wright wasn't lying when she said there was another person in the house. She shows him the photos she took of the weird little room boarded up behind her bathroom. Encouragingly, Leland suggests she check adoption records, just in case this Andy wasn't one of the Wrights' biological children.

Led by instinct at first, Eve follows a trail of blood droplets from her circle, down a hallway to a door, oozing with it. Eve steps through the door, and prepares to take a step down the stairs before her, only to hear a voice warning her to stop. Turning, she sees Constance Wright, who explains that ever since Eve locked the door to Coffin House, she's been in the world of the Coffin Witch - and nobody comes out of that alive. Recoiling, Eve looks at the space she had intended to step, and sees only a gaping chasm, walled with pulsating flesh.



Notes

  • This book was first published on May 13, 2015.
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