When you reach the library, you’re perplexed to find the doors shut, even though it’s within opening hours. You contemplate the sign above the doors: Sandgate Town Council, AD 1911. This is an old building with a long history, and it’s not the first time you’ve come here to investigate a haunting.
You glance at the ornate art-nouveau décor owls flanking the sign, and you’re sure you see two sets of eyes blink down at you. Gargoyles. No surprises there. Gargoyles—or grotesques—are stone creatures possessed by fierce protective spirits that guard the buildings they watch over. The owls are watchful today, protecting the library from the strengthening curse.
You knock loudly on the closed doors. As you wait, you notice the bronze flap for ‘LETTERS’ near your ankle is flicking open and shut, as if by an invisible hand.
The librarian, bespectacled Rosa, opens the door a crack. Once she recognises you, she ushers you in. Inside, you’re shocked to find books strewn across the floor, shelves tipped over, and shredded paper covering the carpet. Rosa explains she discovered the mess this morning.
‘Some ghoul or poltergeist,’ she sighs. ‘We’ve burnt sage and put out the crystals, like you always suggest. But we don’t know how long it will hold. It’s looking bleak out there.’
You tell the librarian that’s why you’ve come. You ask Rosa if she can direct you, among the chaos, to any information on the Bramble Spirit. But by her grim look, you already know the answer.
‘Gone,’ says Rosa. ‘The lot of it. Every piece of information about that ghastly ship is missing without a trace.’
She reaches into her pocket. Her hand shakes slightly.
‘Except for this,’ she says. ‘I’d already taken this, before it all happened.’
She hands you a yellowing newspaper article. You unfold it to reveal a marriage announcement—the happy union of one Captain William Hunter and Clara Caruso, in 1910.
‘It caught my eye because Clara was my great aunt,’ Rosa explains. ‘She died young. Some say she died of a broken heart, after her husband perished in a terrible ship disaster.’
‘A ship disaster? So this William Hunter could be our Bramble Spirit captain?’
Rosa nods. ‘I’m sure of it. I’ve felt something following me, ever since I pocketed that paper. Something unnatural. I’d be glad for you to take it off my hands.’
You’re glad too. This is a lead to follow. But where is the best place to investigate the life of this Captain William Hunter?
Do you head to:
The Baptist Church: The Baptist Church on Cliff Street, the oldest church in Sandgate, where Hunter and Clara would have been wed in 1910? As you walk down Cliff Street, take a moment to look at the old photographs on the side of the real estate office, which depict life in Sandgate at the turn of the century—the Sandgate William and Clara would have known.
The Memorial Park: The Sandgate Memorial Park, where the spirits of past soldiers linger—potential friends and relatives of Captain Hunter? Take care when crossing the roundabout to get to the Memorial Park.