Ghosts of St Lucia Past

As published in Semper Floreat.

It’s midnight on a Monday. All is quiet at The University of Queensland, when a battered old car rolls into a carpark adjacent to the Schonell Theatre.

Careful to keep their excited voices hushed, three amigos leap from the car and gaze up at the illuminated building in wonder. You may be wondering what their names are. For now, let us call them Athos, Porthos and Aramis.

Athos and Porthos start off at a brisk pace towards the Red Room, leaving a dawdling Aramis in their wake. Poor Aramis didn’t want to come on this adventure, he is tired and cold, and is really only here because he agreed to give the other two a lift. Athos and Porthos pay him no mind, drawn towards the now closed pub for reasons different than usual. Gathering pace, Athos launches up the steps two at a time (which is really quite impressive, because he only has little legs), and reaches The Entrance faster than the others. He swiftly whispers the secret password so Porthos will not hear.

It works! The door obligingly swings open, and Porthos, not wishing to waste a second, seizes the frame and propels himself into the corridor. There is no question of which door will lead to their prize; it stands out as obviously as if painted in fluorescent lime-green and hangs ever-so-slightly ajar, waiting for them.

The trio barge through the door, forgetting in their excitement to muffle their movements. Each scrambles to find the torch app on their mobile phones, and upon tapping the appropriate icon, their eyes light up with the scene around them.

Tunnels! They had found the secret tunnels whose stories had haunted the UQ St Lucia Campus for decades.

Jostling slightly for position, Porthos assumes the role of the leader and plunges into the semi-darkness. Athos eagerly starts off on his heels, while Aramis, intrigued despite himself, sets off close behind. The tunnel goes on for a little while, with little sounds from our companions aside from excited huffing and puffing.

Finally, the tunnel turns to the left and opens out into a large cavern. Stumbling slightly over old coke cans and a copy of Zoo magazine from 2001, the three amigos fanned out around the space, each impatiently searching for the treasure they had come here for. Aramis continues to be amused by the old copy of Zoo, and returns to Snap it, for good measure.

Meanwhile, Athos and Porthos charge ahead, seeking new tunnels branching off the space they have found themselves in. Through manhole after manhole they climb, squatting and waddling when the ceiling (or should I say floor?) advances too low towards the ground. Pulling spider webs from their dirt-streaked faces, legs cramping, our amigos grinned at each other, never happier.

All too soon, the trio find themselves back in the original tunnel, having exhausted the number of tunnels to explore and unearthing no treasure. A tinge of dejectedness slowly filters through the previously animated mood surrounding the group.

But wait. Is it? No – it can’t be!

Athos’ light finds a small manhole near the ground, clearly leading off into another space. Without a moment’s hesitation, he bends down and squeezes himself through the hole, fighting the instinct to gasp. Porthos and Aramis, caught by surprise at Athos’ sudden movements, quickly follow him through the hole, stopping in shock when they straighten up to take in their surroundings.

Treasure! Thousands of back-copies of Semper Floreat line the walls of the cave the amigos have just scrambled into.

Athos, the first in and the quickest to react, lets out a very un-hero-like squeal and dives into the first box he sees, zealously rifling through the ancient pages. The other two, rapidly regaining their senses also, high-five each other only briefly, before they too dive into the box nearest to them and begin to read. Inflated with elation, and full of exclamations of delight, the heroes gather as many boxes in their arms as they can possibly hold, and make off towards the battered old getaway car as fast as they can.

Loading their precious treasure into the boot of the car, the amigos grin, high-five together and shout triumphantly, “All for one, and one for all!” before speeding off into the night.

At which point Aramis was pulled over by the police and was given a speeding ticket.


*Dear reader, while you may not be able to access the amigos’ treasure and turn the precious pages of Sempers past, don’t forget that you can still grab onto this Semper, and the many more to follow through the year!*


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