Updated: Aug 30, 2022
Check out our episode here! White Smoke by Tiffany D. Jackson
A gruff, old person’s voice declares that the house is theirs and it won’t be taken from them. The house was paid for with their family’s blood. The person is possessive to the point of threatening, but they're glad a little friend has come.
Marigold Anderson is sick of motels, greasy diners, cement highways and gas station bathrooms. For days she and her family, mom Raquel, little brother Sammy, stepfather Alec Green, stepsister Piper, and Buddy the family dog, have been on the road traveling from California to their new home in Cedarville in the Midwest. Mari loves her little brother Sammy but barely tolerates her stepsister Piper, who has whined and moaned and complained the whole journey. Mari has to keep repeating to herself that change is good. Change is necessary. Change is needed.
Change is definitely needed. Mari has a bedbug fixation and spots a black speck on her clothes and is convinced she has been infested, but the speck is just lint. She is desperate for a blunt, desperate to feel numbness again. She’s been working through stuff with her therapist, but the future is so uncertain, particularly this move, however the only thing she’s going to miss about California is her friend Tamara. When they eventually reach Cedarville, the town looks like something from The Walking Dead… it looks abandoned.
Raquel, Mari's mom, won the three-year Grow Where You are Planted (GWYP) Residency which will pay her to write and pay the bills. This is great because Mari's parents had to pay a lot of money to help get her clean. In addition to the money, the GWYP Residency also comes with a massive old house that is still being extensively renovated as they pull in the driveway. Irma, the GWYP rep, is there to greet them and has brought a welcome basket. Mari spots and immediately throws the nuts out as Sammy is severely allergic to them. Irma shows them around the house and during the tour, Mari sees a shadow and hears a slow inhale of breath behind a door, but no one is there. It’s just the shadows of trees. It’s fine. After the tour, Irma goes through the specifics of the contract with Piper constantly and annoyingly trying to get her father’s attention. Sammy asks where everyone is and Irma gives them a whistlestop tour of Cedarville from the porch including the urban garden program, the library and the schools.
In the street, people start to silently come out of the houses, but they look like a creepy crowd of mannequins. At 5:35 all the contractors put their tools down and can’t get out of the house fast enough. Mari thinks the house smells weird which spikes her anxiety, so she burns incense in her new room while she inspects and treats the floor for bedbugs. Piper, who is always watching, fakes a cough and tells her dad that Mari is smoking again, which he knows is blatantly not true.
The next day, in the kitchen, Raquel is doing the dishes and she reminds Mari and Sammy that everyone needs to clean up after themselves, but the dishes aren't theirs because they know the rules. They probably belong to Piper, but they were on too high a shelf for her to reach. Mari tries to tell her mom that she heard someone walking around last night, but this is dismissed. Piper is standing on the stairs listening to all this. Raquel makes a point of putting Sammy’s EpiPens in an accessible place in the kitchen where everyone knows where they are. The contractors arrive then, and they look apprehensive. They’ve lost a hammer but none of the family have seen it.
While Sammy plays video games, Alec and Piper are at the store, and her mom works, Mari starts to inspect and treat the communal rooms for bedbugs. She feels a creak behind her but she’s alone, yet she can’t shake the sense and essence of someone. Mari notices the basement door is open, but the family was told by Irma under no circumstances to open the basement door. Mari opens it wider and the hinges squeak. It’s black down at the bottom.
Buddy comes running in, Mari decides to take him for a walk and Sammy volunteers to come along. As Mari opens the front door, she is punched in the face by a boy around Mari’s age, Yusef Brown, who was knocking at the same time. Ooops! Alec met Yusef at the store and sent him to the house to do yard work with his uncle. Yusef is super apologetic, really nice and very flirty with Mari. Once everything is sorted and settled, Mari goes to find her cell phone hoping she will at last have a signal, but she can’t find it. Mari retraces her steps and is about to borrow her mom’s to call it when she spots it on the stairs. That’s not right. Someone must have put it there.
While washing the dishes, Sammy, being the supportive brother he is, makes fun of Mari for being punched in the face. Piper watches from the table. Alec mentions he can’t find his watch before taking Piper to bed. The next day there is a rancid smell coming from a vent or maybe the basement? Mr. Watson, the contractor, says no one goes into the basement. Suddenly the TV clicks on, the cable guy has managed to connect it, and the program is an evangelical preacher, Scott Clark, trying to sell magic seeds. Apparently everyone watches him and buys into it.
Strange little things continue to happen around the house: things are going missing, they run out of oat milk a lot quicker than normal, Piper says she saw a man in the hall just standing (though Alec suggests it was Mari with heavy implication to his true meaning, that she was high), but they dismiss it as Piper’s imaginary friend. Later, something wakes Mari up. No one is in her room, but she can’t shake the feeling she was being watched, and the family room light is on. Mari investigates with Buddy sniffing around and she notices the clock has been moved. Suddenly there is a loud creak and a violent stench from the closet. Mari nopes out of there.
On a walk with Sammy, Mari finally has enough signal to call their dad who is currently working in Japan, and update him on the move. Sammy wants to investigate all the abandoned houses on their street, but Mari immediately thinks that there are probably bedbugs inside so she doesn’t want to go and decides she could really use some weed. The abandoned house they go into is unsettling, it’s as if the family only just left though there are signs of squatters. A creak from upstairs has Mari and Sammy backing up into the kitchen but it’s only Piper.
Back at home, Raquel is making dinner and mentions she keeps misplacing kitchen tools, but she probably just can’t find them from the move. When the contractors arrive, Mari asks if other houses are being renovated and receives a resounding no. There have also been multiple different contractors working on the house because no one seems to stay for long. Later, when Mari is in the shower, the water cuts off. This happens more than once. When the soap suds clear from her eyes, Mari sees a gnarled hand slip past the curtain turning the water off. Screaming, Mari runs out of the shower. Sammy, in the hallway, denies turning the water off while Piper watches them.
Finally they have internet in their house and Mari is able to get a video call through to Tamara and tells her about the weird spooky stuff going on. They also talk about how Mari needs to get some weed, so Tamara suggests she grow it herself in one of the abandoned houses. As they talk, Tamara watches the bedroom door behind Mari open by itself. That’s not normal.
On their first day of school, Mari and Sammy’s dad calls. He has arranged a surprise for Mari, a new pair of running shoes that Alec places in front of her. Mari was one of the best on the team at her old school and everyone expects her to take up track here, but she’s not going to run track anymore because she wants to focus on her healing. Mari gets to school and notices that it’s really old and ugly with more girls than boys. Mari notes it smells like a musty nursing home because she’s been trying to sniff out someone who smells like weed and finds one girl, Erika. She very awkwardly tries to make friends but she is also being careful. Later Mari runs into Yusef and he’s all flirty again. Erika warns Mari that she better be careful because of the high estrogen count of the other girls at the school who want to hook up with Yusef. Back at home, Mari asks her mom for lunch money but her mom decides she’ll just add money directly to an account at the school. Mari is pissed they don’t trust her with the money and goes on a run hoping it will help against the craving.
Mari desperately needs some weed because she’s having weird dreams of creaking floorboards and Piper attacking her, while usually bedbugs are the star of her dreams. Mom and Alec are talking about Piper having an imaginary friend, Ms. Suga, which at ten years old, seems a little odd. Alec points out the same thing happened after her grandmother died. She and Piper were really close and she’s going through a lot of changes right now so it’s understandable.
Though Mari could ask Erika for a hookup, she is seriously considering growing her own weed garden but she needs a secure place, supplies, and seeds. Remembering the urban garden club mentioned by Irma, Mari heads to the library. At the garden club, she finds out that you need to participate in the club activities in order to borrow the tools. Yusef is there, of course, and after they’re done he takes her to his place. Yusef’s Pop-Pop is watching preacher Steve Clark on TV. In his room, Mari finds out that Yusef is also a DJ, and though he plays music about weed, he doesn’t smoke it.
Later, Mari is dreaming and she is paralyzed. She can hear someone creeping around and makes out an outline of a person in her room. Suddenly she feels bedbugs crawling everywhere. When she wakes, Mari heads to the kitchen with Buddy and spots someone watching the house in a truck. When she opens the door, they drive off. Later, Mari is talking to Tamara and begs her to send some marajuana seeds. Against her better judgment, Tamara does.
On their anniversary, Raquel and Alec go out to celebrate leaving Mari in charge. As everyone is getting ready or settled, Piper fills a snack box with treats and says she's going to have a tea party with Ms. Suga. Meanwhile, Mari decides that 219 Maple Street seems to be the only house on their street that is suitable to grow her cannabis garden that she dubs her Secret Garden. She drags her gardening supplies in, including the seeds from Tamara she germinated under her bed. Back at home, her hands are cut up from setting up the Secret Garden, and as she goes to get salve, Mari hears Piper having a conversation with someone but can’t see who, though she knows it’s not Alec. When pushed about who it is, Piper calls for Alec who comes running. She’s all innocence and light when her dad is there to protect her and claims she was talking to her dead grandma. Her nasty smile suggests otherwise.
Erika smokes a lot and is steamed everyday and Mari is jealous. Erika tells her everyone knows she was at Yusef’s house the other day and is now public enemy number one. After school, Mari is the first one to get home. The house is making weird creaking noises again and she hates it. In the kitchen, Mari finds the cabinet doors and drawers open and empty, food dishes, pots and pans and silverware all laid out on the counters. Mari thinks it’s Sammy, but Sammy and her mom think it’s her looking for bedbugs again. So who did this?
Outside there is someone on the porch asking for Piper’s mom. With her is a girl around Piper’s age. She tells Raquel that it’s not safe to play in the abandoned houses and that Piper tried to persuade her daughter to play in one because she plays in one all the time. When confronted, Piper says that Marigold plays in them, too, but Mari calls her bluff and it seems to work. Piper says Ms. Suga has seen Mari, then starts demanding her dad.
The next morning, Mari is worried about Piper’s accusation and decides she needs to be careful. Then the rancid smell is back so Mari burns sage to cleanse the house. Piper is waiting for Mari, she tells her it’s Ms. Suga’s house and she doesn’t like what Mari is doing and doesn’t want her selling drugs in her house, and she wants Mari to leave, so Mari challenges her. Just then, there’s a strange light outside. The house across the street is on fire! Raquel tells everyone to get their shoes on in case they need to evacuate, but oddly, Piper already has her muddy shoes on under her pjs. Mari, Sammy and Piper watch from the porch as the police investigate the charred remains of number 215, and Mari is concerned because it’s so close to her Secret Garden.
Later, Mr. Sterling from the Sterling Foundation, which is sponsoring the Residency and redevelopment in Cedarville, and Irma have come for dinner. It’s as fun as you would expect. Raquel and Alec tell the story of how they met, Mr. Sterling compliments the food and Piper asks what happened to the house across the street. They tell her it was an accident when someone threw out a cigarette but Piper doesn’t stop talking and says she’s heard junkies use the houses with pointed looks at Mari. Mari changes the subject to their own house and the weird things that happen there, but Irma says not to believe the stories about it being haunted because she personally had it blessed.
At 6:00 am there is a pounding at the front door. It’s a neighbor who had a pile of tools taken and he’s just found them on their front porch, except his axe which is still missing. Strange. At school, Mari hears whispers about her being the girl on Maple Street, and at garden club she asks Yusef about it. He explains that everyone is surprised that she is still alive since she lives in The Hag's house. Who? Yusef explains that The Hag is a demon woman who paralyzes you in your sleep and steals your skin, and apparently Mari is The Hag in new skin. Yusef then spots three black spots on Mari’s sleeve and her bedbug fixation kicks in, they’re just ladybugs but she can’t deal with it.
Years ago, before her parents’ divorce, they were hoarders of a sort. Her dad returned one day from a work trip to New York bringing bedbugs with him. Mari was viciously bitten but no one believed anything other than teenage hormones caused all the violent raised bite marks. Eventually Mari found an article online about bedbugs and knew she found the reason and the many writhing nests in her mattress confirmed it. Everything had to be disposed of and burned, but she could still see them, still feel them. Tamara’s cousin introduced her to weed to help calm her, but when she tore a muscle in track, she found that crushed up Percocet also worked perfectly to calm her nerves. Now, Mari is running home, stripping off her clothes. When she goes upstairs naked to take a hot shower, Mari finds Piper in her room crushing up her incense sticks and sage because Ms. Suga doesn’t like them. They wrestle and Mari tells her to get out of her mother’s home if she doesn’t like it.
The next morning, Mari comes downstairs and finds the usual glass in the wrong place and the basement door open, the rancid smell emanating from inside. Then she realizes she hasn’t seen Buddy. Is he down there? Mari hears a raspy voice from the basement whisper it’s not your house. Then there are creaking sounds of someone walking up the stairs. It’s my house. Mari runs upstairs when music suddenly blasts and Buddy and Sammy run out of Sammy’s room and Mari tells her mom someone is in the basement. Alec goes down and finds the basement door locked. Her mom is about to ask if she’s on drugs… no, say you don’t believe her but don’t accuse her of taking drugs again. Mari looks out the window to see the truck across the street is still watching the house.
Later, the whole family must attend the Sterling Foundation’s first open house event at their new offices. It’s the usual boring corporate affair, however, the speech Mr. Sterling gives makes Mari realize they want to redevelop the whole of Maplewood with offices, retail shops, and a giant park space. They will flatten what is already there, but what do they plan to do with the residents? When they get home after the event, the lights are still on and they can see a lamp has been knocked over. Alec goes in to investigate and Raquel calls 9-1-1. The house looks like it’s been through a tornado, though Alec and Piper’s things remain untouched.
After the open house and the break in, Mari talks to her dad, who is an architect, about the Foundation and their plans and he offers her one piece of advice: follow the money. Mari takes off for a run and ends up in front of Erika’s house and they chat for a while about her dad who is in prison for possession of an ounce of weed because of stupid laws put in place by Mr. Sterling’s older brother when he was governor. Erika invites her to a party that night where Yusef will be DJing. Later, Mari reaches Tamara who tells her about the prank calls Mari made. That wasn’t her, Tamara guesses it could have been Piper with the long hair and heavy breathing. She stopped answering after twenty calls. Tamara took a screenshot, but Mari doesn’t recognize the figure.
Mari heads to the party which is in an abandoned house, Yusef behind his DJ setup. She’s on edge after all that’s gone on and needs to hit up Erika for some weed but for now the cheap vodka will do. Erika finds her, and lights a spliff offering Mari a draw. Yusef isn’t impressed when she takes it and storms away. Mari still feels great when she goes to bed but wakes up suddenly cold. The rancid smell is strong, the door of her room is open, her comforter is gone and someone is standing at the bottom of her bed fisting the sheet.
Mari gets up and walks out of the room ignoring the person muttering at the foot of her bed. She’s trying to convince herself it’s a dream and is worried she’ll be found high if she wakes anyone up. In the bathroom, Mari calls Yusef, but he isn’t buying that it could be real and tells her to get a piece of paper and draw a happy face on it and slip it under the door. Demons don’t like happiness and when she wakes up and finds it, it will make her smile. Mari sleeps in the bathtub for the rest of the night and in the morning finds the paper but it doesn’t have the smiley face anymore. The paper is flipped over and there’s an angry face with pointy teeth drawn on in a childlike hand. She accuses Piper of doing it but Piper says it was Ms. Suga. Looking at Piper’s face, Mari knows she can’t say anything because she’ll be forced to take an at-home drug test and will fail it.
Mari catches Tamara up with what’s been happening. In the background, Buddy’s hackles start to rise. Tamara tells Mari to give Piper some slack because she’s just a little kid who found her beloved grandma dead. Tamara then asks who the person is walking by her door and then the back door slams. Mari investigates but can’t find anyone, but then power goes out and sounds and shadows confuse everything. Suddenly, the lights come back on. Mari finds her phone, which wasn’t where she left it, and calls Yusef. He’s with Erika and they come and pick her up.
They go out to a greasy diner where Erika is flabbergasted that Mari is vegetarian then Yusef takes them to a beach. Mari asks what they do for Halloween, and they tell her they don’t do anything. Yusef tells Mari about a kid who, around thirty-years ago on Halloween, went into Maplewood and was found dead the next day. The houses were abandoned back then but filled with druggies and squatters. Every year someone tries to smoke out the houses, but people have died in those fires and they can get out of control. No one knows who sets the fires but now people stay home on Halloween to protect what’s theirs. Back at home, Mari takes her dad's advice to follow the money. She pulls up the Foundation website and looks over the board of trustees. They’re all rich, but rich enough to buy half a city…? Then she looks up Maplewood Devil’s Night. There doesn’t appear to be a lot. Then she looks up Seth Reed, the victim, and finds a lot of references to the Russo family.
The next morning, Mari’s alarm keeps going off. Wake up, take pills, pack her school bag, which are her usual alarms, but at the wrong times. Then there’s another one, one she didn’t set, where’s Buddy? Where is Buddy? Then there’s another alarm, did you remember to lock the door last night? And another. And another. And another. And another. And another, did you check for bedbugs? Mari is sent into a panic. It must be Piper. Mari is pissed and goes after the little shit in the kitchen. Mari grabs her by the hair so she can’t get away, and Piper screams for her daddy. Alec comes running and Raquel is there trying to calm the situation. Piper tells Mari Ms. Suga did it. Alec doesn’t do anything to scold Piper for messing with Mari’s things or for still having an imaginary friend at her age.
Later, Raquel swears she heard Mari calling her, but she didn’t, and asks if she's seen the broom because it's gone missing, but nope. Taking this opportunity to speak to her daughter, Raquel tries to encourage Mari to join the track team again because it would be good for her, but again, nope. Mari’s secret garden is growing well, but she feels like there is something wrong with the house, the furniture has been clustered together and there are muddy footprints. Has someone been there? When Mari returns home she runs into Mr. Watson who has found her spare clothes for her secret garden visits under the deck. They’re just garden clothes… Yeah, right.
Talking to Yusef at night has become a regular thing. As they talk, Mari hears a creak but tries to ignore it. To blow off steam, Yusef takes Mari and Sammy out of the city to an apple orchard. While Sammy is riding a noble steed in the paddock, Yusef finds out about Mari’s ex (he was an asshole) and she finds out about Yusef’s lack of one even though the girls outnumber the boys ten to one. Yusef tells Mari he found out that the Sterling Foundation is planning to tear down the library. Mari thinks Maplewood could use improvement, but Yusef says not all change is a good thing and that they should save their legacy instead of tearing it down. Yusef points out that Mari’s little sister could have come today too, but Mari denies that Piper is her little sister which makes Yusef challenge her attitude. Does she talk like that around her, because that’s not cool. Mari turns defensive, he doesn’t know how horrible Piper is.
Later at home, Mari is thinking about what she saw at the Secret Garden when Sammy calls up to her. Buddy is acting weird, he’s like a living statue looking at the basement door. Something seems to transfix Sammy too who thought he heard something but then he dismisses it. Then they wonder where Piper is and if she could be behind the sounds, but they have no idea where she is which is bad as Mari is supposed to be babysitting. Just then, Sammy spots some black flecks on Mari’s clothes causing a surge of panic and she can’t stop the scream from coming. Sammy realizes it’s coffee but it’s too late. Piper is watching and looks smug at Mari’s manic reaction. Sammy calls their mom home and she manages to get Mari relaxed. Sammy has stripped the sofa to show Mari it’s only coffee and not bedbugs, but how did coffee grinds get into the sofa? It has to be Piper.
At school, Mari is trying to find Erika because she needs a blunt the size of her head. What she finds is Erika being taken out by two police officers for selling drugs. Yusef tries to get Erika free as she cries to check on her grandmother. Mari thinks Erika was framed. When Mari gets home it’s to find Mr. Sterling there. Mari is spooked and can’t trust anyone and is convinced they are being watched and their wifi monitored. Raquel gives Mari a pee cup and tells her she needs to be sure she's not using drugs again on account of all her freakouts lately.
At the garden club, Yusef is working hard, distracted. He knows Erika would never bring drugs to school, and Mari confesses she was once an addict. Yusef doesn’t understand why Mari would turn to drugs and lays into her, but Mari correctly points out why it is none of his business. Yusef doesn’t like drugs as they’ve sent nearly all his family and friends to prison. Mari changes the subject and says she needs to head to the library to print her homework because apparently Ms. Suga doesn’t like her computer at home. The name Ms. Suga makes Yusef go still, and he says he needs to tell Mari something back at his place.
Yusef takes Mari into his Pop-Pop’s room and shows her an old picture of Maple Street in its heyday. One of the people is Ms. Suga who owned the bakery. Her father had won some money and bought all his kids a house on Maple Street. When he died, the developers came knocking, but Ms. Suga refused to sell. Then rumors about selling drugs and Jon Jon, Ms. Suga's son, messing with kids started going around. After the little boy Seth Reed was found, Jon Jon's house was set on fire, and Ms. Suga ran in but never came out. After, it came out that Russo mobsters paid the kids to lie about being hurt by Jon Jon. Now, Ms. Suga is The Hag who will haunt your dreams if you disrespect her family. So how does Piper know about Ms. Suga? Mari promises Yusef she won't tell anyone about the true story of what happened.
In bed, Mari hears something thumping from above, on the roof? She can't move her arms and feels something pressing her into the mattress, then Mari sees the ghoulish Ms. Suga standing in the corner. FIRE! Alec shouts. Wait… she isn’t dreaming? More thumps wake Mari up and she pulls herself to her window. The thumps are from the tree hitting the roof, the house next door is still boarded up and there is no fire. Heading downstairs for coffee determined never to sleep again, Mari spots the truck watching the house again. Having enough of the creepy bullshit, Mari opens the door and the truck speeds off. She’s also sure she sees someone sneaking into the Secret Garden. Going back inside, Mari notices all the coffee things have been moved.
Mari is convinced she’s living in a cheesy horror movie, all the elements are there but they also seem off. She needs to research ghosts and yup, it looks like she's experiencing a haunting. Meanwhile Sammy is shouting for her but when she goes downstairs, she can’t find him. Then a closet creaks open and knowing she really shouldn't, Mari goes to investigate. Just then a hand shoots out and drags her inside the closet! It’s Sammy and he’s terrified because the voice calling out to Mari is him, but it isn’t him, and they are still calling out. Shit, shit, shit. Someone is coming up the basement steps and the voice is getting louder, so Mari pushes Sammy behind her. Then the house goes still and silent. Someone is right outside the closet door, but then moves on. They decide they need to make a run for it but Mari needs to head back for Piper. Calling her, Mari sees Piper at the top of the stairs but she doesn’t acknowledge her, just turns back around. Suddenly a broom swats at Mari sending her flying and a gruff voice screams, get out my house, but there isn’t anyone there and the broom comes flying at her again before she escapes the house. Suddenly Mari’s body seems to give up, so she sends Sammy running to Yusef’s house and passes out in the middle of the street.
Mari comes to for a moment and sees Mr. Watson before falling unconscious again. When she comes to again, it’s on a strange sofa and thoughts of bedbugs fill her mind until she hears Yusef’s voice. Yusef and Pop-Pop take Mari and Sammy home, and when they arrive, the police are there, and they hear Piper lying about being left alone. Sammy is trying to tell them the house is haunted, Alec is pissed at Mari for abandoning his daughter, Mari denies Piper’s lies before realizing Piper must be possessed by The Hag. Everyone thinks Mari is on drugs again but Sammy defends her. Do they think he is high too? Mari tells them she’s going back to California to live with her dad, and Sammy says he’s going too.
Their dad is still working in Japan so it’s going to be two weeks before they can get the hell out of Cedarville and the haunted house. Sammy has set boobytraps to keep him and Mari safe since no one seems to believe them. Raquel tries to talk to Mari and Sammy to persuade them to stay and try to be a family. Mr. Watson comes by the house later to take a look at the electricity, but Mari doesn’t trust him. Lying on Sammy’s bed, Mari wonders why the Sterling Foundation moved them into Ms. Suga’s house. She and Sammy are also worried about leaving their mom alone with Piper. Sammy says they need to get proof of the hauntings and Piper’s involvement and pulls out a couple of GoPro cameras his dad gave him to get it.
Mari is hanging at Yusef’s house later. While Pop-Pop watches the evangelical preacher, Mari asks to rewind the program so she can take a picture of a photo on the preacher's shelf. One of the girls in the photo looks familiar, so Mari googles Scott Clark and finds out that his daughter sits on the Sterling Foundation board of directors. She looks familiar because she saw her at the Foundation open house event. Mari calls Tamara and tells her about all the connections and that Maplewood is being purposefully kept rundown. Tamara also says that Instagram is filled with Devil’s Night images and there’s even a hashtag for it, but Mari can’t see any of that. It must be shadow banned. Tamara tells her she needs to get out.
That night, Mari is camped out on Sammy’s floor and they both hear the creak of the bathroom door but no footsteps. Then they hear footsteps downstairs. Sammy grabs the GoPro cameras and shows Raquel and Alec… Piper getting a cup of water. But she’s looking directly into the camera like she knows exactly where they are. Mari tells Sammy to set the cameras up in different places while she distracts Piper. Mari confronts Piper about Ms. Suga and finds that Piper is hurt because she is ignored by Mari, and she also wants everyone else gone so Ms. Suga will come and make apple pie like her grandma used to. Mari, of course, fucks up the conversation, and it ends in a shouting match. Then the foul smell comes back, the house comes alive, and the lights go out. Alec is determined to get into the basement to get to the circuit breaker but the power comes back on. However, all the rest of the power all across Maplewood is out.
Standing on the porch, a crowd of people come out of their houses and head to theirs. Why do they have power? The crowd seems hungry and angry, throwing horrible verbal attacks until the power comes back. Mari notices Mr. Watson amongst the crowd and sees him getting into a familiar truck. The next day Mari heads to the Secret Garden and finds Yusef looking at her plants. He is angry she lied and tells her to get rid of the weed. Mari tries to reason with him, but it doesn’t hold water so Mari throws all the plants into the compost bin. When Tamara calls, Mari tells her everything but Tamara agrees with Yusef. She also sends her an article about recreational marajuana being legalized in the state.
When Mari gets home, Raquel is at a Foundation thing, Piper is upstairs and Sammy is about to indulge in some oatmeal before checking the GoPros. On the stairs, Mari steps on something sharp, and thinks it’s a nail, but it’s actually a tooth. About to confront Piper, Mari stops and instead apologizes for her behavior and asks for a truce. From downstairs there is a clatter and Buddy barks wildly. Mari runs downstairs to find Sammy sprawled out having an allergic reaction to what turns out to be peanut butter in the oatmeal. The EpiPens aren’t in their cabinet above the fridge, instead there is a smashed up GoPro camera. The emergency EpiPens he keeps in his backpack aren’t there either. Finally, Mari finds one in her stuff from California. Standing up, Mari spots another crumbled GoPro on her bed. While Piper is on the phone with 911, Mari pulls Sammy outside and administers the EpiPen.
Now Sammy is in the hospital and in stable condition. Raquel feels guilty. Piper looks guilty. Their dad is on an emergency flight home from Japan. Sammy asks to see Mari and he tells her there was a third older camera he hid in the kitchen cabinet that he didn’t tell her about because it might not work. There has to be something on there, either there is a ghost or Piper tried to kill him. When they get back to the house, they all hear a wet hacking cough. They find Buddy lying in front of the bathroom wheezing and not able to breathe properly. Raquel and Alec take Buddy and leave Mari and Piper in the house. Mari accuses Piper of poisoning her brother and their dog and grabs the third GoPro. Piper is crying as Mari storms out to Yusef’s.
Yusef isn’t too happy to see Mari, but agrees to take a look at the GoPro recording. As he’s setting it up, Mari tells him the whole story of her addiction and how someone spiked the weed she got off someone her ex sent her to with fentanyl and Sammy found her on the floor foaming at the mouth. On the screen, the kitchen looks still but then an old woman starts to climb out of a cupboard. The hand is the same one Mari saw in the shower. She’s wearing rags, a sweater Mari thought she lost and an apron with a pie stitched on the front. The woman starts to eat the food in the fridge with her hands then Piper enters the frame and talks to the woman. The woman then takes a key and goes down to the basement. Mari’s phone rings then. Her mom is screaming. It’s not completely understandable except for her to get out of the house. Mari races home.
Mari screams for Piper, but she doesn’t answer. The basement door is open so Mari goes down. There is a treasure horde of lost items on two makeshift beds probably riddled with bedbugs. Running back upstairs, Mari tries to find Piper but finds evidence of the old woman living in Piper’s closet. Then the smell hits her. Mari spots a yellow eye in the linen closet in the reflection of the mirror, and when it opens, there is the man she thought was a demon. He looks scared and misshapen. It’s Jon Jon. His hand drips blood as two fingers are missing, and he’s holding an axe. Mari tries to run but he catches her in the kitchen. Yusef comes running into the house and together they manage to stop the man. The downstairs closet is flung open and the old woman comes out, telling them to leave her baby alone and bites Mari. Yusef manages to get her off as Jon Jon swings the axe aimlessly. Mr. Brown appears in the doorway and fires his gun in the air. He recognizes the woman, it’s Ms. Suga, but Jon Jon has fled.
Police and EMTs arrive and they treat Ms. Suga and the bites she gave Mari. Raquel tells Mari the vet found two bitten off fingers inside Buddy’s mouth, and she and Alec tried to warn Mari and get home fast but now Mari is hurt and Piper is missing. Mr. Sterling turns up and offers to speak to the crowd outside. The sound of his voice stirs Ms. Suga and she charges at him. The crowd can see what is going on, can see the myth is real. How did they survive the fire? Mr. Sterling insights the crowd and using the porch as a pulpit, he tells them to smoke Jon Jon out then leaves. Yusef and Mr. Brown try to calm the masses but the hunt is on. Mari spots Mr. Watson and asks him about Ms. Suga and Jon Jon. He didn’t know they were living in the basement but suspected, so he kept watch trying to find out the truth. Meanwhile the police come pouring out of the house and leave, they’ve been ordered out of Maplewood.
Carrying an axe, Mari starts to search the abandoned houses on the street and finds hidden piles of gasoline, bricks, fireworks, all tools needed to burn down the city. This was the Foundation’s plan all along, to find a desperate family as bait and use Ms. Suga and Jon Jon to haunt them and scare them out. In the secret garden house, Mari finds footsteps to a secret passage and a tunnel. At the end, Mari emerges into her own basement and finds the towering figure of Jon Jon behind her.
Mari demands to know where Piper is. Jon Jon struggles to speak but tells her he can take her to Piper however noises from above force them to take a look. Outside, the mob is setting houses on fire, and currently the secret garden house is being targeted. Jon Jon takes Mari back down to the basement to the tunnels his father built a long time ago because he hated the cold. Jon Jon also says that a man told them to run Mari and her family off and if they did, they could have their house again. They emerge into the house next door where Jon Jon says Ms. Suga brought Piper. They can hear the crowd outside but also thumping from the roof, so Mari decides she needs to get up there. Jon Jon leads her further into the house as the mob outside starts throwing bricks and Molotov cocktails. The fire terrifies Jon Jon.
Mari and Jon Jon split up to search. In a bedroom Mari can hear the thumps coming from behind a bed riddled with bedbugs. Her panic starts but she can’t leave Piper and moves the mattress as the smoke from the fire starts coming in. Piper is bound and gagged in a closet, and after they free her, Piper leaps into Mari’s arms apologizing. Then Jon Jon breaks a boarded up window. As she steps forward, Mari’s foot falls through the floor and she can feel the fire on her leg. Jon Jon pulls her up and gets them out the window and onto a nearby tree. Jon Jon doesn’t want to leave the house because the mob is too riled up. He runs off to the tunnel, his clothes on fire.
Mari and Piper head to Yusef’s house. Piper apologizes and feels guilty. She helps Mari clean her leg wound. Together they watch the riot on TV. They’ve got the story all wrong, and Mari will make sure the truth is told. Change is good. Change is not always necessary, but the right change is most definitely needed.