A motley crew of the living and dead milled around a stone bench at the center of Gramberly Cemetery. Goodwood Duxford, the leader of the group and caretaker of the graveyard, told the gathering about the mysterious wandering ghost and the forgotten section of Gramberly.
“I first encountered the spirit two weeks ago,” Goody said. “He was walking along the southern boundary. That’s when I saw it.”
“Saw what?” Jonny Clement said. A Civil War drummer, Jonny was recruited because of his experience in wartime.
“The gate,” said Frankie Harp, Goody’s girlfriend and only other living person at the gathering.
“There’s no gate along the southern fence row,” said Marcel Duxford, Goody’s grandfather and patriarch of the dearly parted branch of the family.
“There is now,” said Goody. “That’s the second part of this oddity. The other is that the woods beyond the fence, beyond the gate, is actually a former part of Gramberly.”
Goody let that sink in without any comment.
Frankie brought out the map she and Goody found at the library the week before. Rolling it out on the bench, she showed everyone the region in question.
“Here, you can barely see the property line,” Frankie said. “We couldn’t find anything in the city records about why this area was separated from the cemetery.”
The two oldest Chamber siblings, Justin and Theodore, had been recruited because their family plot was closest to the gate, and they were burly teens or were when they died during a measles epidemic in 1896.
“I remember that gate from when we were kids,” Justin said. “Remember, Theo? We’d pretend we were Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer. We explored those woods all the time.”
‘Why haven’t any of the other Gramberly wanderers noticed this gate before?” said Lilith, a recent resident of the cemetery and Goody’s best friend.
“It’s a portal,” said Zebediah Arien, the longest residing spirit at Gramberly. A giant of a man, Zeb died at age 42 in a mining accident in 1816. He rarely left his resting place but came when called to help Goody. “That part of the stone garden was sealed off, disenfranchised, long after my accident.”
“Why would that part of the cemetery be cut off?” Lilith said.
“I don’t know,” said Zeb. “There were rumors, but I’ve never tried to find out. All I do know is that the gate usually stays hidden.”
“So, sometime after the epidemic in 1898 the gate was, what dematerialize?” Lilith said. “Zeb remembers it, Justin and Theo do too. Who else remembers the gate?”
“I’ve asked around,” Goody said. “Zeb and the brothers are the only ones that recall a gate. Why now, why would it show up now?”
“That’s what we gonna find out.” said Jonny.
“We’d better get going then,” said Marcel. “Word’s got out about this expedition, and there’s some Gramberly residents that could cause a brouhaha about it. They’re worried what it all means and don’t want us stirring up trouble.”
Making their way across the cemetery, Goody’s ragtag band looked like a badly choreographed zombie walk. When they reached the southern side of the stone garden, they easily found the unexplainable gate. The new mystery was that it was already open, inviting them into the woods.
Zeb tried to pass through the entrance first, but Goody called out to him.
“No, Zeb. You’re more vulnerable than I am to what another ghost can do.” Goody stepped up to the front of the group. His grandfather moved to cut him off.
“Boy, you’re not immune,” Marcel said. “As much as I love you, Goody, I don’t want you to join me in the family plot just yet. We’ll lead the way.”
Zeb and Marcel went through the gate first, followed by Jonny and Lilith, then Goody and Frankie, with the Chamber brothers bringing up the rear.
They made they way down an overgrown trail, in double file, until Zeb held up his hand, signaling the group to stop.
“What’s wrong?” Frankie said.
The ghosts silently parted to reveal what had halted the expedition.
“That isn’t on the map,” Frankie said.
“What now?” Lilith asked, standing behind Jonny for protection.
“We cross the bridge when we come to it,” Goody said.
“You’re a funny man, Dux.” Frankie took Goody’s hand as they stepped onto a wooden bridge that crossed a nonexistent creek.