Check out our episode here! Burden Falls / Wicked Little Deeds by Kat Ellis
Ava and her Uncle Ty and Aunt Carolyn are the only members left of the Thorn family that once owned a distillery that made Thorn's Blood Apple Sour and lived in the Manor at the edge of Burden Falls. After her parents died in the car wreck that gave Ava horrible scars on her hands, the family seems cursed. The apples in the orchard died after a blight and a freak freeze and now Ava and her aunt and uncle are moving out of the Manor and into an old mill cottage just down the road. After they move in, Uncle Ty reveals that they had to sell the Manor to the only people who would buy it... The Miller family, led by Madoc Miller, the man who killed her parents. Uh. Yikes. They get settled in at the mill and then Ava remembers that she never painted over the depressing mural she painted after her parents died. If the Miller twins, Freya and Dominic, find it before she can get rid of it, they're going to put it on their horror video show, which, as fake as it is, gets millions of views from around the world. That's not going to be good. She'll have to sneak back over there later and cover it up.
Ava calls her friend Ford who lives near the edge of the Manor's property. She plans to go over to visit him and then sneak back into the property to get rid of the mural. When she gets to his house, she discovers that he's next door, hanging out with the Miller twins, Ava's mortal enemies. What the heck? The twins aren't really twins but everyone calls them that since Freya was moved up in school and now she and Dominic are in the same grade. Ava sneaks onto the property and is working her way through the orchard when she sees someone... No ... It's not who she thinks it is... it's just Mrs. Miller walking the dog. She hides but then overhears Freya having a sexy phone conversation with someone that she would hate for anyone to overhear. Then she's spotted by Dominic, who has taken up residence in her old bedroom! He, his father and Ford all come out looking for the trespasser so she runs off to the waterfall. This is a dangerous place, but before long she's able to sneak back home. Without having painted the mural. Again.
At school, there are rumors that a girl who had been reported missing last week was found at the bottom of the waterfall with her eyes missing. Yikes. There is also talk of Dead-Eyed Sadie, the ghost that supposedly haunts the Thorn property and Burden Falls. Did Dead-Eyed Sadie take the missing girl's eyes?! After this, Ava goes to art class taught by Uncle Ty. She and Freya get into a heated discussion of Ava's final art project that might kind of look like Dead-Eyed Sadie in a penis tower, but it's actually a piece based on the horror graphic novel she's writing but struggling with. When Ava goes back to her seat, she realizes after sitting in it that her chair was covered in red paint. Ugh! Did one of Freya's friends do that while they were talking? No, it was an accident by another student, but Ava still gets in trouble and is sent to the principal's office for causing a scene in class.
After school, over the disgusting decaf version of Ava's favorite iced coffee drink that Aunt Carolyn insists she switch to, Ava talks to her aunt about the eyeless girl who was found. Carolyn thinks this might remind Ava of her father's death in the car crash from just about a year ago, but no, it makes her think of Dead-Eyed Sadie. Dead-Eyed Sadie is a ghost who haunts the manor grounds and appears before a Thorn dies. Her mother always said Sadie was an omen, a warning of things to come, Ava's grandfather said he saw her before he died. And so did Ava's own father. And Ava too, while we're at it, but she's still alive. Ava thinks about her grandfather's funeral and how upset Uncle Ty was about being the second son. Wistful, Ava goes to her room and looks out the window which unfortunately faces the Manor and the waterfall, but then she notices a bunch of Evil Eyes carved into the window frame which can't be a good thing. She looks out the window again and maybe sees Dead-Eyed Sadie out there on the bridge. Surely not though.
At school the next day, Ava learns she is failing several of her classes and that she's probably not getting the art scholarship. The guidance counselor, Mr. Hamish, who is a total creep, suggests that Ava needs tutoring and offers his assistance. Um, no thanks, sleazy mustache guy. Ava tells her friends that the counselor offered his services, which they also took exactly the same way we did, and they mention something about seeing Freya angrily leaving his office one day. Maybe he's a total creep. Later, while Ava is in the library, she sees Dominic going into a private room. The library assistant comes by to chat then, not noticing Dominic is in an area off limits to the public. Dominic thanks her for distracting him when he comes out. Yeah, like she was actually helping you, geez.
Later that night, Ava sneaks back to the Manor to paint over that mural, but instead she finds Dominic being attacked by Dead-Eyed Sadie and rushes over to help just as he topples off the bridge ... Wait no, that's not Sadie, it's just Freya in a costume with dark makeup and Dominic isn't actually dead. They're filming their YouTube show Haunted Heartland. And Ford is there helping out! What?! Jerk! He covers for Ava being there and everyone laughs at her. Privately, Ford says he's trying to keep them from filming about her family, which is nice I guess. Dominic asks why she's really there, but she leaves, WITHOUT PAINTING THE MURAL, telling him to not drag her family into their video. Later, Ford apologizes and says he needs to hang out with them because he wants to be an actor and they're all internet famous, but come on, you're supposed to be Ava's best friend and she really, really hates the Millers.
But why does she hate them so much? Let's flash back to the night of the car wreck. It's icy, a year ago exactly. After a celebration with Uncle Ty and brand new Aunt Carolyn, Ava's Mom is driving and nervous because it's snowy but Ava's Dad is tipsy so she has to drive. Ava's in the backseat, being a typical surly teenager, but then her dad freaks out, thinking he sees Dead-Eyed Sadie and starts having a seizure, which he hasn't had in a long time. Ava saw her, too, though. As her mom is freaking out, trying to pull over, a giant Hummer plows into their car, sending it careening down an embankment. When they land, upside down, Ava sees her mom looking right at her, but her head is turned around the wrong way. Her neck is broken. Then she sees her dad, who is barely alive, saying that he saw Sadie. But now his eyes are gone. Ava tries to get to her dad, but then Ty arrives and pulls her out. She climbs through the remains of the car and her hands are full of shattered glass. Ty climbs in to get his brother out, but he dies, too, saying "we all have to crawl" over and over and over again. Ty gets out just as a tree falls on the car. Was Dead-Eyed Sadie an omen or a warning? Madoc Miller saunters over then, after grumbling about his scratched paint to see if everyone's okay. When he sees that Ava's a bloody mess and clearly her parents are violently dead, all he says is "guess not."
Back in the present, Ava's supposed to go to her parents' grave with Uncle Ty and Aunt Carolyn before school after waking up from reliving the horrible crash in a nightmare, but Uncle Ty is not feeling well, so she goes to school instead. On the way, she sees Dominic's car at the gas station and plans to pull over to talk to him about not dragging her family down in his video, but Freya is driving his car and then speeds off. Later, Dominic finds her in the library where she's working really hard trying to come up with more panels for her graphic novel art final. Dominic said he's seen her work before online and had a dream about the end of the story, which she could totally use since she's been struggling so much, and he gives her permission, if she'll help him with his Dead-Eyed Sadie video. He also reveals that he found her mural and realized that she was going to paint over it but hadn't yet, so he did. The mural was an assignment from her therapist and featured Madoc, Dominic's father, laughing at the car crash... not very flattering... but he understands. She doesn't know if she wants to help him or not even if it means she'll finish her project and pass her class and possibly get the scholarship.
Later, after school, Ava sees Dominic on the side of the road in the snow, so she pulls over. He's got a blinding migraine and is just sitting in the snow. Freya drove his car to a modeling gig and his parents are out of town and here he is suffering from a migraine. She gets him in her car and back to his house, which should be empty, but his car is there, meaning Freya is, too. They exchange numbers and Ava starts to leave, but then she decides to see if Dominic really did paint over the mural or if he was just saying that to humiliate her somehow. When she gets to the pavilion, she sees Freya in there, in the same dark makeup and contacts from their video. But no. That's not makeup or contacts. Freya is dead and her eyes are gone. Ava touches Freya's face, screams and then Dominic comes running and starts CPR, but it's no use, Freya is dead.
At the police station, Ava is interviewed and the cops seem to think she's responsible for Freya's death. Everyone knows they hated each other. There were also handprints about her size all over the place. Luckily Ty is there, still sick, and they are able to leave when the questions get too leading. The next few days aren't great. Ava has terrible nightmares and school is bad. There are rumors being spread and there's an evil eye carved on her locker and they're also all over the place in the library. The librarian implies that the library assistant is pretty upset over Freya's death and he’s not at work because of it, which is weird and a little creepy. Later, she finds out that Freya made a video the night she died and in it, she's in Ford's room, snooping around and finds Ava's apple necklace, the birthday gift given to her by her mother before she died. Um. No. Ford stole her necklace?! That's not okay. Furious, she leaves school and goes to the cemetery to visit her parents' graves. Dominic is also there, but she doesn't talk to him.
When Ava gets home, the police are there and ask her more questions, including making her describe the entire scene over and over again. She gets overwhelmed and freaks out, then starts seeing everyone without their eyeballs, so she bolts. After she calms down, she chats with a friend whose dad is the detective on the Freya case and finds out that Freya’s eyes were ice-picked out, yikes, but also that she died around noon when Ava was definitely at school, so she can't really be a suspect. Thank goodness! She texts Dominic and decides she is going to get his help with her project, so they meet up in the library later to work on it. They don't really talk about Freya or Dead-Eyed Sadie or the Thorn family and only focus on art, and Ava realizes she doesn't hate his guts out anymore.
At work at the gas station that night, Madoc comes in. He's not nice but he apologizes for Ava finding Freya's body. She watches the videos that Freya and her friends made, trying to figure out who the secret sexting guy is. In one video, she sees a person in the shadows but then it disappears. She tells Carolyn about it later who says they're going to have to commit her and that her uncle is currently filling out paperwork, but luckily she's just kidding and tells Ava she's been under a lot of stress lately. She gives her one of her favorite coffee drinks and sends her to her room. And of course she sees Dead-Eyed Sadie again and finally starts to believe that when you see her, you die.
The next morning, Ava goes to Ford's to get her necklace and sees Dead-Eyed Sadie along the way. Yikes. Ford's still asleep when she gets there, but his mom is kind enough to let her in. She’s so angry with Ford and it doesn’t help when he tells her that he stole it because he saw Ty trying to pawn it, but Ava doesn't believe him. Her uncle would not do that. They fight and it gets even worse when he says her finding Freya was all about her, just like last year with her parents’ death. She leaves.
Later, Ava talks to Dominic. He wants to leave Burden Falls and decides he is going to after the investigation is over and finish up his senior year online. He wants to road trip to haunted locations and urban legend sites and learn their actual stories, which is what Haunted Heartland would be if it weren't so fake. Dominic also talks about how when Freya was 14, Liam, the creepy library assistant, was swapping nudes with Freya at their old school and now he is here. Gross. Liam said on the news he didn't know her well. Gross.
Later, Ava reads some research about Sadie that Dominic found in that private library room he snuck into. Sadie was a girl, distantly related to the Miller family, who worked on the Thorn property generations ago. Ava's great great grandparents condemned her as a witch and her great great grandmother plucked Sadie's eyes out because they were what drew in her husband. Then they locked her in the cellar underneath the Manor, which is still there today, but she disappeared. Witch! Is this why there are Evil Eyes carved everywhere? Because Sadie's eyes were taken? Are they protecting the Manor from Sadie or protecting everyone else from the Manor?
When Ava goes to work later, Ford sends her a million texts and calls a bunch, but obviously, she does not want to talk to him. She finally relents and learns that Ford saw something in Freya's video that might lead to her killer. They go outside the gas station to talk but don't get anywhere because a car skids by on the ice and Ford pushes Ava out of his way while he runs. The car was driven by the creepy counselor Mr. Hamish and his lady friend who happens to look exactly like Freya. Ugh.
Ava's not doing so well, obviously. When she gets home, she mindlessly draws eyeballs all night and sees Sadie outside her window when she wakes, but really, there is no one out there. She wonders if she should begin counseling again. Um yes, probably. She asks Ty about Sadie and about the research Dominic gave her, how the Thorns and Millers are connected and that Sadie was a Miller and how the Thorns tortured her. Ty says not to dig into it too much because all families are shitty sometimes. That's a little bit more than shitty, Ty.
There is a costume dance party in the woods by the river later to celebrate Freya's life and Ava goes. Just because she hated Freya doesn't mean that she doesn't think it's terrible that she died at barely 16. She, as a generic dark fae, and Dominic, as Slender Man, dance and she realizes that she doesn't hate him at all anymore and that actually she quite likes him and that maybe the Thorns and the Millers don't always have to hate each other either. But then there's a ruckus. Someone has fallen through the ice into the river! Everyone at the party joins together to pull the person out, but they're holding onto someone else. A dead body. Ford's dead body. And his eyes are missing.
The police interrogate Ava again since she and Ford were best friends up until only recently. The police think it's not a good thing to be on Ava's bad side. After not really getting anywhere with their interrogation, they leave and Ava goes to Ford's house to see his mother. His aunt is there visiting and she suggests that now that Ava doesn't live in the Manor anymore and her parents are gone, she could go anywhere after high school, and she realizes this is true! As she leaves their house, Dominic calls and asks her to come over. It's weird being back in her old house. Everything is different, except her room, which is now Dominic's.
He shows her social media comments he's gathered from Haunted Heartland about Freya and they're gross. He leaves the room to check on the dog and while he's gone, Ava goes into Freya's room. Dominic finds her. She thinks about Freya snooping in Ford's room and thinks maybe she had something to hide too. Then she thinks about Ford finding something in her video. Then they both realize that Freya had two phones in the video, so they try to find it. Then it rings and it's in Ava's coat pocket, the same one she was wearing when she found Ava, but one she hasn't worn since. They take it to the police. She accidentally put Freya's phone in her pocket when she found her thinking it was hers and completely forgot about it. Very reasonable considering everything that was happening.
A couple days later is Ava's eighteenth birthday and a lawyer gives her an envelope on her way to school. She shoves it in her bag and forgets about it immediately. At school, someone has put an eyeless doodle Ava did onto Freya's locker that now says "Sadie made me do it" which is obviously terrible. Then Mr. Hamish calls her into his office. He tells Ava that, unfortunately, she did not get the art scholarship. But why? The only other person going for it was Freya and she's dead! Turns out, she couldn't get it either because she was only sixteen, which is probably why she left his office angry that day, so they gave it to another student instead. This is very bad news but what is even worse is that Ava looks down at the scars in her palm and they open up like eyeballs and stare at her. Welp … better freak the fuck out.
Ava bolts from Mr. Hamish's office and out to her car, fully prepared to cut off her own hands, but then she rationalizes that she's not been sleeping well with the murders and so she's been drinking lots of her favorite coffee drinks to stay awake. She's just jittery is all. Yeah, that's it. Then she opens the letter from the lawyer. Madoc made a trust for her to give her her proceeds from the sale of the Manor when he bought it. The check is for $250000. Dominic comes to her car then and explains. He says his dad was so depressed about the accident and didn't know what to do, so he set this money aside for Ava when she turned eighteen so she could have it without Ty being able to get it somehow. That's also why Madoc bought the Manor. He knew it was about to be foreclosed on, so he did the only thing he could do to help and bought it.
After this long and important conversation, Ava and Dominic talk about the possibility that Mr. Hamish was sleazing on Freya, so they go to the police and tell them. It's awfully convenient that he and Freya had a heated conversation at school and then he also almost ran over Ava and Ford the night that Ford died. They see library-assistant Liam at the station as they leave. He's gotten in trouble for having illicit conversations with underage girls.
Ava spends the evening with her friends since it's her birthday and they watch shitty vampire movies and eat pizza. Ava tells them about how she's been seeing things lately, people with no eyes, eyes in her hands, freaking Dead-Eyed Sadie all over the place. They suggest she visit a doctor to see why she's hallucinating all these things, but they're not at all terrible about it. Maybe she's being poisoned by a weird gas leak or something.
Ava and Dominic talk later about Mr. Hamish and how they really think he's responsible for the murders. They decide to trick him into confessing by blackmailing him a little and getting it on tape. They're going to use the cameras set up on the Manor property to record him confessing and lure him there with a note saying they know about Freya and to give Ava the scholarship or else they're going to tell the police. Seems like a solid plan.
That night, Ava gets ready to leave and tells Carolyn she's getting something from the Manor that will help solve Freya's murder. Carolyn offers to go with her, or suggests Ty go, but Ava turns her down and gives her a kiss on the cheek. Carolyn gives her a coffee for the road. How sweet!
Ava and Dominic get everything set up, Ava only seeing Sadie once while they were outside planning. When they get inside to check camera angles on the video feed, Dominic let's his dog out and Ava accidentally spills coffee while he's gone. She gets it on her hand, leaving a handprint on the table. Then she thinks back to Freya's murder scene and how the police thought she was responsible for her death because there were handprints about her size. But there were other handprints as well. Ava realizes there must have been two murderers! She goes outside to tell Dominic and sees Mr. Hamish? No… Uncle Ty. And then he hits Dominic with a crowbar.
Ava is completely freaked out. Uncle Ty? Uncle Ty killed Ford? Uncle Ty killed Freya? Uncle Ty was sexting Freya?! Yeesh! She was barely sixteen! No no, Ty explains, he would never cheat on Carolyn, he was just using the naked photos as blackmail to get money from Madoc. But then he realized she was so young and that if he got caught with child pornography, well, that wouldn't be good, so he had to kill her. He has been really mad for a long time about not getting any inheritance when his father died. But why do all this now? Ava offers her trust check, but no. Ty doesn't want to have to hurt Ava. She tries to keep him talking and asks why he killed Ford. Sadie, no, Aunt Carolyn steps from the shadows and claims responsibility for that one. Not you, too!!!
Carolyn says Ford was never meant to die, but he came to the cottage the night they almost got ran over to show Ava what he found in Freya's video and Carolyn knew he had to die. But then she decided she could blame it all on Ava. And then she tells her that she's been drugging her with PCP to make her think she was going crazy. And that they also were drugging her father the night he died. Maybe it was the PCP that made him claw out his own eyeballs after the car crash. Fucking yikes. Ava slaps Carolyn and as she's about to retaliate, Dominic's dog attacks her. She pepper sprays Ty, gets Dominic up, and they run inside the house to hide.
But that doesn't last long because Carolyn and Ty set the Manor on fire. Ava and Dominic can't escape from their hiding spot in the cellar, but they can go down deeper, into the place where Sadie was thrown after her eyeballs were plucked from her face. They crawl down through a water pipe that leads out of the Manor and to a well at the pavilion, using Dominic's phone for light. But it's still very dark and terrifying of course. And also of course, Ava sees Sadie crawling on the ceiling of the pipe like a spider. And the pipe is filling with smoke. And the well is boarded up. Ava reaches up to try to get a signal with Dominic's phone and does! One of his buddies has been trying to call since he realized the Manor was on fire. Thank goodness he called because now they might finally be saved if he'll come help them out. Ava tries to reach up to the boards blocking the well and feels Sadie grab her ankle and freaks out, losing the phone. Then she realizes it wasn't Sadie who grabbed her but Dominic. And now he's passed out from smoke inhalation and being crowbarred in the head a little while ago.
Dominic's friend arrives and gets them out of the well. Luckily they are both alive and mostly unhurt, though Ava did fall into the disgusting well water and now she's covered in muck. Small price to pay. They are walking through the orchard when Ava sees Carolyn on the bridge. She doesn't see Ty anywhere. She approaches Carolyn who starts freaking out, screaming that she's not a Thorn. Carolyn thinks Ava, disgustingly well-water-wet Ava, is Dead-Eyed Sadie. Then the actual Dead-Eyed Sadie appears behind Carolyn, pulls out her eyes and topples her off the bridge and into the waterfall below. Was that actually Sadie or was that left over PCP? Hard to say.
Police and firetrucks arrive shortly but still no one has seen Ty. Then he shatters out the window, screaming that Carolyn left him to die and that everything was all her fault and she murdered Ford and Freya. Whatever guy, you're going to prison for a long time. How could you be so desperate for money that you cause an accident that kills your brother and his wife, you drug them and their daughter and hell, probably you're own father, too, and then murder kids? Not worth it.
They go to the police station and tell them all what exactly happened and then they find out that Mr. Hamish, though not responsible for Freya's death, was still guilty of something. Freya bribed him to let her get the art scholarship, but wouldn't give the money back when he found out that Freya was too young to win. Still gross but not as gross as a murderer.
Things wrap up fairly well, or as well as can be expected after finding out that your only family has been trying to frame you for murders and drugging you and all. Ava's got $250000 if she needs it but plans to not spend it if she can help it. She wants to keep writing graphic novels and go on a haunted road trip with her boyfriend. First stop? Harrow Lake.