Home > Ghouls, Ghouls, Ghouls (Ghost Hunter Mystery #5)

Ghouls, Ghouls, Ghouls (Ghost Hunter Mystery #5)
Victoria Laurie

Chapter 1

For the record, I am not a morning person. Especially not this morning, because, technically, I believe it was so early, it still might have qualified as being the middle of the night. Still, the hour did nothing to dampen my producer’s enthusiasm while discussing the next shooting location for our cable TV show, Ghoul Getters. “I know you guys don’t want to hear too much about the history of the place we’re investigating,” Peter Gophner—aka Gopher—was saying as the entire cast and crew were seated around a table at a small café in the airport, “but in this case, I really think it’s necessary.”

I felt something heavy hit my shoulder, and when I turned, I saw my best friend’s head resting on my shoulder.

“Gil,” I whispered, nudging him with my elbow.

“ZZZZZZZZZ ...,” he snored.

My fellow ghostbuster, Heath, laughed quietly. “He’s out cold,” he said. “He looked pretty wiped out when we left the hotel.”

“ZZZZZZZ ...,” Gilley agreed.

I sighed, yawned, and tried to focus on the map Gopher was laying out on the table. “As you know from your tickets, we’re heading to Ireland. From the airport we’ll travel by car to the village of Dunlee and check in at our lodgings. Once we get a little rest, we’ll head here.”

Blearily I followed Gopher’s finger, which had zipped over the map to rest on a small X that seemed to be just off the coastline of the channel that ran between Scotland and Ireland. “Are we going scuba diving?” I asked.

Gopher smiled and for the first time he seemed to detect the rather cranky mood from those of us still awake at the table. “Ha,” he said, flashing a toothy grin. “No. This is actually a very small island just off the northern coast. The island is primarily made up of a small rocky shore surrounding a huge block of rock that juts up about a hundred feet. The top of the rock is quite flat and is about five hundred meters wide and eight hundred meters long.”

“That’s a big chunk of rock,” I said.

“It is, and four centuries ago, in fifteen eighty-four, someone decided it was the perfect place to build a castle.”

“How do you get up to it?” John, our sound tech, asked.

“Well, on the island itself, there is a set of stone stairs carved into the rock that lead right up to the top,” Gopher said smartly. “But the tricky part is actually getting to the island at all.”

“You’d have to go in by boat, right?”

But Gopher shook his head. “Nope. Boats are too dangerous because of the currents, shallow water, and submerged rock formations. Only the coast guard is allowed in that part of the channel.”

“So how does one get to the rock?” I asked.

“There’s a man-made causeway that, during low tide, extends a little over one and a half kilometers from the Irish coastline directly to the shores of the rock.”

“During low tide?” Heath interrupted. “What’s it like during high tide?”

“It’s underwater,” Gopher said with a chuckle of appreciation. “I’m tellin’ you, the guy who built this castle was a friggin’ master of defense.”

“So we can only travel to and from the castle twice a day?”

“Twice a day for about four hours each turn. Plenty of time for us to get in to do a little investigation and take some footage, then call it a day and scoot back across the causeway before the tide rolls in again.”

I looked at him skeptically. “How’d you hear about this place?”

“I got a tip from one of the local historians,” he said. “But wait. I haven’t got to the best parts yet.”

Heath and I exchanged a less than enthused look. With a sigh I said, “Proceed.”

“So, as I was saying, on this rock is this amazing fortress called Castle Dunlow. It was built in the late sixteenth century and was occupied right up until the early twentieth century. The place is a historical landmark and I had to get special permission from the town council to investigate it, because normally it’s completely off-limits to tourists.”

Gopher looked around at us with an expression that suggested we should be impressed. The only one who said anything was Gilley. “ZZZZZZZZ ...”

“Gil thinks that’s great!” I said, hiding a smile. Next to me Heath ducked his chin and snorted.

Gopher scowled. “Anyway,” he continued, “Dunlow Castle comes with a pretty rich history and is reported to be chock-full of ghosts.”

“Hopefully it’s not quite as haunted as Queen’s Close,” I muttered, referring to the rather dicey ghostbust we’d just come off.

Our producer ignored me and laid out an aerial photo of the castle. “Legend has it that in the late fifteen hundreds, before the castle was even fully completed, several ships in the Spanish Armada were sent to attack England, but were pretty soundly defeated, and when they turned back, a storm caused about two dozen ships in the fleet to crash all along the northern and western Irish coastline. One of those ships actually crashed on the rocks right next to Dunlow Castle. The lord of the manor, a guy named Ranald Dunnyvale, sent his men to capture the ship’s crew and held them at the castle until the war with Spain was over.

“It turns out that the ship that crashed was carrying some heavy hitters in the Spanish Armada, and Dunnyvale was eventually able to ransom these guys back to Spain for a hefty sum.”

I yawned. So far, I wasn’t that impressed, but I knew that Gopher wouldn’t be this excited about something unless he was working a specific angle, so I waited him out.

After taking a sip of coffee, he continued. “Now, Dunnyvale wasn’t the only guy to take prisoners—a lot of ships sank during that storm and several hundred Spaniards found their way to shore and Irish dungeons—but the difference with Dunnyvale’s conquest was that the ship that crashed on his rock remained very much intact and he was able to take all the spoils from it, including what many believed was the payroll for the entire fleet in the form of gold bullion.”

I sighed. This was getting complicated, and I was getting hungry. “Anyone want a muffin?” I asked, ready to gently transfer Gilley’s head onto Heath’s shoulder.

“Hold on, M. J.!” Gopher snapped. “I haven’t gotten to the best part yet.”

“Oh, sorry,” I said, hoping he’d get there really, really soon.

“Legend has it that Ranald kept the bullion a secret so that he wouldn’t have to pay taxes on it, and he sneaked it off the Spanish ship and hid it somewhere in his castle.” Again, Gopher looked around at us eagerly, but we all just stared blankly back at him. “Don’t you get it?” he asked us.

“Clearly we don’t,” said Kim, one of our assistant producers.

Gopher tugged impatiently on the brim of his ball cap. “The ghost of Ranald is one of the spooks said to haunt the castle!”

Again, we all just stared at him blankly. “Soooooo?” I finally said.

“Wow, you guys really are slow on the uptake in the mornings,” he grumbled. Then he spoke slowly as if we were children struggling with the concept of two plus two. “If M. J. and Heath can find Ranald and talk to him, maybe he’ll tell you guys where he’s hidden the gold.”

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