Shadow of Nobbs Road

There was something off about that part of Nobbs Road. When I stood there in the day, it felt like home. Yes. Indeed, I had lived there for a number of years in a creaky old house with beautifully kept wooden floors and a large, ornate, green gate made of twisted iron. I was very happy living there and only had good things to say about the place, at first.

But, like creeping damp in a wall or fine hairline cracks in a beautiful portrait, there was something else. There a disquiet about the road or the land that grew on me over time.

When I stayed awake at my house on the Nobbs Road late at night, I felt the tug of something strange there. As the hour grew later, my thoughts would grow darker. It took me a while to recognise this, but there was a sense of foreboding that permeated my sleep and seeped into my waking mind. I only became aware of this in moments of idle thought or when a cloud passes by on a sunny day.

At first, it was just a feeling of unease, but then over the years it became its own entity and I began trying to avoid the shadow of Nobbs Road. I would make sure I was inside before dark, tucked into the safe illusion that domestic comforts project. I would lock my front door and make sure my curtains were closed. I would make sure I was fast asleep long before the midnight. I stopped inviting friends around and began to consciously ponder why I felt like this.

Insanity is incremental, and so is obsession. At face value, they are pretty similar, but with a key difference is the ability to distinguish between reality and fantasy.

So one day I decided that I would investigate it. Being unattached and financially secure, I had both the time and the means to plough into such a pursuit. And so I would investigate the quaintly-named Nobbs Road, that part of that road and what happened there long ago. If nothing else, I would find out something of the history of where I live. And, at best, I would dispel my ghost with a dose of benign reality.

Over months of scouring the Internet, old library paper clippings and, eventually, the city and the police’s public records I had a story. Actually, I had many stories from the civil war shelter in the old farm building to the retired couple who died in a fire there that destroyed the second incarnation of the house (excluding the original gate that still stood there now). There was even a bootlegger that lived there for a while and a moderately successful author who had been born there before moving inland.

All these lives and their related stories were scattered over centuries, but there was one that stood out. I found vague references to it online, so I went to the library and found a key part of it as a tiny fifth-page article in a now-forgotten newspaper. Then I went to the public records and found some of the legal records evidencing this narrative.

Interestingly, I could find no record of who designed and installed the same twisted, iron green gate that stands in front of my house now. It just seems to have always been there, but I suppose that is another story entirely.

And that is how this story begins, as one day about two centuries ago an old lady was banging on that gate. The recently married couple that had just moved into the house–the wife’s father owned it, but he was off in Germany–came out to see her. They had their newborn in their arms when this strange, wild-haired old lady had warned of where they were living.

I could find no record of exactly what that warning had been, but the man the next day had reported it at the police station. The entry into the police records had just said: “Residents at 2 Nobbs Road receive another warning. Woman not located.

There is a gap in the records, but in Winter that year the poor couple buried their firstborn. The grave is still there on the hill at the old cemetery overlooking the bay. I went and visited it and through the moss and cracked, weathered rock I could just make out the words, “…taken tragically before his time.

The police records showed that an investigation into the child’s death was opened, but the couple refused to co-operate and their statements are not on record. The case was closed and marked as “Cot Death“.

It was at this point that the story took a strange turn.

The tiny fifth-page article in the now-forgotten newspaper speaks about the mysterious gatherings taking place at 2 Nobbs Road. Neighbours reported dark-dressed strangers coming and going from the house late at night. They also spoke of strange sounds and smells coming from the property. And then there was one naked, terrified man seen jumping the gate and running from the property late at night. When the police found him, he was screaming uttering incomprehensible gibberish about falling stars and the “the darkness below that speaks“. By the time the journalist from the newspaper got to interview him in the mental hospital, he was unresponsive. Given those type of clinic’s treatments, the latter was no surprise to me. The journalist, though, did note in his article the deep cuts and scratch marks that covered his body, before concluding that “…in the interest of public good, the men of the law should investigate the unseemly goings-on at 2 Nobbs Road.

But, I suspect that without a coherent statement from the man committed to the mental hospital, the police could not legally act nor issue a warrant for searching 2 Nobbs Road. Either that or they did not care for it. Either way, the police do not appear to have done anything at this stage and, thus, it not surprising to see that a later seventh-page article talks about a group of neighbours that had had enough. They had been complaining about strange sounds and smells coming from that house at night and a number of them had now also reported missing pets.

The final pieces of evidence that I have points to a terrible climax late one Winter’s night. That fateful night, the police were called out to settle the peace as a neighbourhood crowd apparently stormed 2 Nobbs Road. What they found, though, was a raging fire that had broken out across the property. The police report spoke about how the strange fire raging through the property was impossible to put out, but it did not travel to adjacent property and its flames touched nothing outside of 2 Nobbs Road, stopping at the twisted iron gate. But, this raging fire was also the least of their worries, or so spoke the third-page article I found.

The couple that had lost their child were at the front of a gang of black-robed people standing on the properties lawn before the burning house. The lead policeman on the scene describes the couple’s faces as being dark and unrecognisable. The police found no sign of the neighbours that had apparently stormed the property (and they never would find signs, as no less than seven unsolved Missing Person cases are filed at that date from Nobbs Road). But there was a caucus of screams coming from inside the burning house and, thus, some of the policemen attempted to charge into the flames and save whoever was trapped in there (the firemen, busy with a fire across town at the time, would only turn up later and extinguish much of the blaze).

The police that charged into house would never come out. Part of the house collapsed and a lot of the property–except the green, twisted iron gate–was consumed in the fire. Neither the policemen who charged towards the screams nor any neighbours came out of the blaze. Heat of the blaze must of been intense, as no bodies–not even charred ones–were found. The police report noted that the screaming quickly died out and the lead investigator noted that he believed the fire had simply consumed everyone trapped in that house.

The remaining police had rounded up the black-robed gang, after a brief skirmish, pulled them from the raging inferno of 2 Nobbs Road, and marched them down to the police station for questioning. At this point, the firemen had turned up and begun dealing with the fire. The firemen of the day did not keep any records that I could locate, but the police report noted in a post-note that one of the firemen had also been killed fighting the fire that night.

The next morning, the officer on duty at the police station had walked into the jail and found that all the black-robed strangers were gone, save for the young couple. But the couple were hanging, dead from the ceiling with the words, “SORRY, WAS NOT ME” scratched into the husband’s chest.

The police noted the suicide and their files were empty from there. The wife’s father had come back from Germany and auctioned what was left of the house and the couple had been buried in two separate graves. The wife’s grave is somewhere in Germany with the rest of her family. Her husband, though, is in a tangled, overgrown part of the old graveyard overlooking the bay with no stone or name to mark it.

Pondering this twisted tale, a strange thought occurred to me and I checked the lunar calendar of the day. The date recorded for this bizarre climax was over a three-night lunar eclipse occurring on the longest night of the year.

There is one final event that may or may not be related to this story, but a year later the new residents of this address–after building the third and, so far, final house that now stands at 2 Nobbs Road–reported a strange, old woman threatening them at their self-same green, twisted iron gate. This time the police records note what the old woman said by the following note: “New residents at 2 Nobbs Road receive warning against living there. Told to leave or else they never will, as ‘beast is hungry’. Parks Dept. report no animals in vicinity. Woman not located.

I sold that house and moved far away. And, although life has moved on for me, sometimes when a shadow of a cloud passes or the full moon dips behind dark clouds, I can still feel something tugging at me. I can still sense something old and evil with a hunger whispering about a twisted, iron gate that holds it tied to that its accursed prison.

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