In the city of Garret, Alice Woods talks to a co-worker, Nathan, at a co-op and he tells her about the city's urban legends. He talks about two kids who went to Medallion Park.
The boy Ben says how his grandfather used to work at Peach's Meats taking out tongues from cow's heads. They cut through the park and the boy hiccups. The girl Kara kisses him to "cure" his hiccups and they continue on. They come to a field with a staircase in it, leading up to nowhere.
Nathan tells Alice that old-timers have talked about the staircase in the park, and that the urban legends say that no one should ever go up the stairs.
After they walk away, Kara wants to go back and go up the stairs, but Ben refuses. She sees someone watching them and insists on investigating. It's a small child in a red robe, and he ducks out of sight. Ben continues on, disgusted, and Kara calls to the child. When she checks the spot where the child was, there's no one there. Meanwhile, Ben comes to an old playground and another red-robed child pops up, holding a meat tenderizer hammer. When Ben tries to go past, the child jumps in front of him and then advances on him. Ben trips and falls down, and the child starts chopping him.
Kara hears Ben's screams and runs to investigate. She reaches the playground but there's no sign of Ben.
Alice and Nathan leave the co-op, and Alice explains that her professor mentioned a job there for a social worker. She and her sister Zoe are staying at an Airbnb and about to move in to a place they found. Alice tells Nathan that Zoe is going through a transitional phase of her life.
Zoe gets out of bed, snorts some coke, meets Alice, and they drive to the house they want to rent rooms at. Alice tells Zoe not to be weird, and a woman Diane comes out and warn them that the neighborhood--Butcher's Block--is safe except for the nearby park. Diane asks them if they have any scissors so she can cut off her bandages, and the landlady Louise Lispector comes out and tells Diane to go. Louise assures the sisters that Diane is harmless but they should never give her scissors. As she goes, Diane yells that she was just trying to help.
Inside, Alice says that she Googled Louise and discovered that she used to be a reporter. Zoe admires a stuffed squirrel on the mantelpiece, and Alice tells her not to touch it. They look around and Alice finds an article cut out and mounted on the wall talking about the disappearance of Louise's brother. She notices a study and Louise says that she's doing research on a story and abruptly cuts Alice off. Louise feeds her hairless cat, Andre, while Zoe peers at the other stuffed animals. Alice explains that she's a family advocate teaching poor families about using the system, and Louise warns that when someone tries to change the world, the world changes them.
Once the sisters move in, the next morning Alice gets a call from an unknown caller. She answers and her mother wishes her a happy birthday. Alice points out that her birthday was a week ago, and refuses to tell her where they've moved. Her mother says that she wasn't herself and apologizes, and says that she needs to get out of the mental hospital. She asks to talk to Zoe, and Alice refuses to let her talk to Zoe saying that it's not good for Zoe. Alice hangs up, cutting her off.
Louise is busy stuffing a raccoon in her basement workshop. Alice comes down and tells her that Zoe is in recovery and shouldn't use any drugs or alcohol. She explains that she took the job for Zoe because they needed a fresh start, but Louise doesn't want to hear it.
Nathan drives Alice to her first clients, Tanya Marcus and her daughter Isabelle. He explains that CPS is removing Isabelle from the home, and warns that no one said their job was going to be easy. They drive into Butcher's Block and Nathan explains that the city was built around meat-packing plants and Joseph Peach ran most of them. His workers lived in Butcher's Block until Peach disappeared and the whole place shut down. Nathan explains that there's no public works or public funding: Butcher's Block is a socioeconomic dead zone. Alice admires the street art, much of which features screaming faces. Nathan tells her to never come down there alone or at night.
The two social workers arrive at the Marcus house and go inside. Tanya insists that she would never hurt her daughter, and Nathan advises her not to resist the CPS when they come. Isabelle comes in wearing a small red robe, and says that she got hurt playing in the park. She blows Tanya a kiss and Tanya blows her one back, and Nathan says that they're not taking a position on what she did or didn't do. Tanya insists that Isabelle got bit by a dog but she made a story made up about being bitten by something else. Alice says that she used to throw herself down the stairs to get some attention because everyone paid attention to Zoe, and tells Tanya that she believes her. Tanya tells Nathan that Alice gets it, and Nathan has her fill out some forms. They're unaware that a young bald boy is watching them through a peephole in the wall and licking the surface.
Alice sits up abruptly and looks around the house. She listens at the wall, tapping nervously on it looking for hollow spots. She comes to Isabelle's bedroom and finds the girl sitting on the floor, playing and humming to herself. Isabelle is wearing the red robe, and the name "Smart Mouth" is written on it. The girl says that she found the robe in the park on the playground. Alice notices a hole in the wall and hears something inside making noise. Isabelle tells her that when she gets scared, she hides in the park, and Alice tells her that when she was a child she used to hide from her mother. The girl tells her that she hides behind the "lady tree", and asks Alice to make sure nothing happens to her and Tanya. More noise comes from the hole, and Alice peers in and then calls to Nathan. Nathan comes in and Alice says that there's something inside the wall. He dismisses it as a raccoon, and the bedroom door closes and locks. Isabelle is gone, and they hear Tanya scream. Nathan breaks down the door and they run to the living room, but there's no sign of mother or daughter and Tanya's cigarette is on the couch where Tanya was sitting.
Zoe wakes up from a dream of someone pounding on the door, yelling that they're the police. She takes some coke and goes outside, and Louise is sitting out on the lawn smoking marijuana. Zoe joins her and lights up a cigarette, and then asks for a hit. She admits that she's using but hasn't told Alice to avoid stressing her out. Louise gives her the joint, and Zoe realizes that Alice told her that she uses. She talks about how her brain turned when she was 26, and it was like an "insidious onset" and the beginning of the end for her.
Alice and Nathan call the police, and the lead officer, Luke Vanczyk, figures that Tanya left with Isabelle before CPS could take the girl. Nathan notes that Luke is Chief Vanczyk's son, and Luke figures that Tanya disappeared because she knew the CPS was coming. Once Luke and his partner Todd leave, Todd suggests that they stop and get a quesadilla.
That night, Zoe asks Alice what she's thinking. She suggests that the cops were right, but Alice insists that something happened to them and no one cares. Alice figures that Isabella might still be there hiding, and drives to the Marcus house with Zoe. They go there and find Diane on the sidewalk. She holds up her bloody hands and says that she cut off her bandages, and then asks Zoe why they've restrained her. Diane offers to cut her free, and tries to jam scissors into Zoe's eye. Alice pulls her off and Zoe runs into the house to wash the blood off of her hands. She hears voices whispering, and remembers her mother on the bed cutting her hands.
Alice calls to Zoe that she's going outside to check something out, and goes to back yard. Zoe sits on the porch and sees a child in a robe across the street. The figure runs across the street to the house, but when Zoe steps out, it's disappeared. When Zoe looks around, she sees the figure in an alleyway and assumes that it's Isabelle, and the figure runs to Medallion Park.
When she goes to the park, Alice sees a woman's face drawn on a tree. There's an old wooden shack nearby. There are children's toys and a hatchet inside, but no sign of Isabelle.
Zoe chases the figure into Medallion Park.
A man steps out of the shadows and introduces himself to Alice as Joseph Peach. He says that he's just talking a walk and his family used to own the place. An owl screeches in the distance and Joseph tells Alice that it lives where his house used to be and it's a playground now, and he lives close.
Zoe follows the figure to a staircase reaching up to nothing. The figure is eating some animal, and Zoe touches it on the shoulder. It turns to reveal a swollen-like baby face. Zoe crawls backwards, and the figure--Smart Mouth--picks up a meat tenderizer and advances on her. After a moment he stops when the twisted Pestilent God appears at the top of the stairs. Smart Mouth walks up the stairs and enters the door at the top, and the Pestilent God follows it. They enter the open door and it closes behind them and when Zoe closes her eyes for a moment, the stairs disappear.
The next morning, Zoe returns to the Marcus house and finds Alice waiting for her. They hug and go home. Zoe packs her things and tells Alice that she saw something, and she doesn't know if it's inside or outside of her head. She picks up her coke and says that they have to leave. Alice asks how long she's been using, and Zoe tells her since the meds stopped working. Alice refuses to go, insisting that she won't live in their old house, and Zoe figures that she's afraid she'll become her. She warns Alice that there's nothing she can do about it, Alice warns that Zoe can't leave because she needs her, and Zoe wonders if Alice needs her. Her sister insists that it won't, and she says that she'll take the bus if Alice won't help her and storms out with her suitcase.
Alice goes to Louise's study and apologizes for being loud, and says that Zoe will be back. Louise doesn't care as long as someone pays the rent. Alice asks about Louise's book, and the landlady says that people go missing in Butcher's Block like her brother.
Zoe walks down the street to the bus stop.
Louise says that there are people--maybe one family--that are taking all of the missing people.
Zoe sits down and waits for the bus.
Louise explains that if it was the Peaches, it would have begun with their founder, who was a reclusive religious fanatic. They all disappeared in 1952, but Louise thinks some of them are hanging around killing. Alice realizes from the photo that the founder is Joseph, the man that she talked to.
Joseph approaches Zoe and says that he used to sing in a choir until his voice changed and they kicked him out.
Written by Gadfly on Feb 9, 2018