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"Hm...fascinating..." the boy who owned the finger said.
The baby was a tiny, brown-skinned girl of about four months of age, dressed in a pink sleeper with Dora the Explorer on it.
The boy was only days shy of five, but tall for that age, and studied the baby with wide green eyes. He had unruly red hair featuring a squiggly tail in the back ("I can just about swear your hair must just grow that way. It explains a lot about your father's look" his mother had said more than once) and was dressed in shorts and a Power Rangers t-shirt.
"Johnathan!" the other girl in the room admonished him. "If you keep doing that she will start crying and Kylie will be mad at us!!!" She was about the same age as the boy (truth to be told, almost exactly the same age--the difference measureable in a matter of minutes) and regarded the scene with eyes of the deepest blue. Her hair was finer than his, and spun of a rich blonde color. The purple shirt and red jumper she was wearing gave them an oddly matching appearance, which seemed even more appropriate when one looked closely at them: those different colored eyes nevertheless both held an intensity that was unmistakably shared by the other, and by the eyes of the man that fathered them...
"It's just an experiment, Edie..." Johnathan replied, making a dismissive noise. "I wanna see how she responds to stimulus, that's all..." and he poked the baby again.
A shrill, piercing cry was the result.
Both almost-five-year-olds looked up, panicked, as the door to the room was thrown open, allowing the entrance of a twenty-five year-old woman with a slight build and long, dark hair. She was wearing, as she almost always did, makeup that gave her a pale appearance ("Goth" is how they'd heard their Uncle Peter describe it). Right behind her was a three year old girl with the same brown skin as the baby girl, dressed in a frilly pink dress.
Even worse for the two children, right behind them was a woman with the boy's red hair and the girl's nose and jawline.
"Johnathan Chirstopher and Eden Marie Spengler, can I even leave you alone for three minutes?" Janine Melnitz Spengler chastised them, as Kylie Griffin picked up her younger daughter.
"Momma's here, Rose...no need to cry..."
"I was just touching her..." John tried to explain. "it wasn't hard or nothing...I ust wanted to see how many before she, y'know...did anything..."
"He poked her twelve times." Eden chimed in, not so much ratting her brother out (in her mind) as relaying the results of the experiment.
"You two..." Janine shook her head, looking over at Kylie and Rose.
"Rosey okay?" Conchita Rivera asked in a quiet but pleasant voice.
"She's okay, Chita...aren't you?" Kylie replied, holding Rose up. "C'mon...smile for Momma, huh?"
Janine surveyed the scene for a moment, then turned to the Twins. "Okay, everything's fine. Listen, it's almost time for your Uncle Peter to be on TV--why don't you go up there with Jessica and watch?"
"Uncle Peter's gonna be on TV again? He's been doing that a lot lately..." John noted.
"Come with us, Conchita!" Eden said, taking the younger girl's hand.
"Race you!!! Last one there is a doo-doo head accountant lawyer!!!" John shouted, taking off in a run.
"Johnathan!!! You walk now!!!" Janine shouted after him.
After a few minutes, Rose Rivera stopped crying and began to doze back off.
"They're just curious about babies, I guess..." Janine exhaled. "I guess that's totally natural."
"Even if they weren't genetically predisposed to be curious about, well, everything." Kylie nodded with a smirk.
Janine shook her head affectionately. "They come by that honestly after all...and Rose is the first real baby they've been aware of. They were only two when Conchita was born...they were too busy being babies themselves at that point."
"Well, being Spengler babies, which meant nailing down algebra..." Kylie quipped, provoking laughter from both women.
She'd heard stories for years about the "slimy disgusting eating machine" from her father, and when she was about six she finally got to meet it. For Slimer, perhaps not surprisingly considering the source of Jessica's DNA, it was something akin to love at first sight.
For her part, she found Slimer extremely disgusting...but he tried so hard to make her like him she eventually relented and realized she actually liked the creature. Though she would be caught dead before admitting it.
Yes, she was indeed Peter Venkman's daughter.
John bound up, jumped over the couch, and plopped right into the seat next to her, helping himself to a large handful of popcorn without even asking.
"You could at least ask, Johnny..." the eleven year-old said with mock disgust. Like them, she had inherited some tall genes (from her mother, in this case) and a mop of curly dark brown hair. She favored a rather informal, tomboyish style of dress, which contrasted with the subdued Eden and the downright frilly and girlish Conchita.
"Popcorn, Spengs?" Jessica asked Eden, tearing the bowl away from her brother and offering it to her.
"I believe I shall." Eden answered, making a big show of taking some and eating it slowly to tease John. "You want some, Conchita?"
"Si..." she responded simply, taking a few bites which she ate daintily.
A few minutes later Janine, Kylie, and Janine's husband--Professor Egon Spengler--appeared. "I begin to doubt that Roland, Eduardo, and Garrett will make it..." Egon said with some amusement. Now forty-six years of age, his hair was beginning to turn white from the ears down, but was still assembled in a style that his son's resembled, swirling at the top with a squiggly tail at the back. Still, the second team could swear Egon Spengler actually looked younger than he did when they first met him in 1997. "You watching it there at Fort Arnold?" he asked his cel phone.
"Oh yeah..." the tiny tenor of Ray Stantz came back. "Winston's got it up on the big screen..."
"It's starting! Hush!!!" Jessica said loudly.
The flashy logos of the AllmusicTV network came across the screen, and a forty-something woman dressed in clothing that was just a tad conspicuously trendy appeared.
"Thanks for joining us for this Allmusic TV news special! Twenty years ago this week the movie Ghostbusters was released, which was about the first case of the famous group of Professional Paranormal Investigators and Elimanators (try saying that five times fast). And you may remember how it was me who landed one of the first interviews with the famous leader of the Ghostbusters, Dr. Peter Venkman!!!
Footage came up of the same woman, albeit twenty years younger and wearing stylish Eighties clothes. Next to her was a man with dark hair, green eyes, and a brown and green suit. The screen read Dr. Peter Venkman. February 11, 1984
"Hey, gang, this is Corkie for Allmusic TV! And I'm talking to the original Ghostbuster, Dr. Peter Venkman!"
"I can't believe your Dad was ever that young..." John said.
"I can't believe it either." Jessica agreed.
"I can't believe how far he's gone to still look as young as he does." Janine rolled her eyes, whispering to Egon, provoking a brief chuckle out of her husband.
"Hello, youth of America!!!" Venkman said, flashing his cheshire grin.
"Peter, it's been six months since you guys beat up on Gomer..."
"Right. So. What's your life like now?"
"Oh, you know, the usual. Just hanging out and saving the world. You know just last week we stopped some creep before he could put everyone in the world nighty-night..."
"It's a tough job, but somebody has to be paid incredibly well to do it. Right now we're working on opening offices in Los Angeles, London, Paris, and Tokyo now. Within a year, Ghostbusters will be worldwide."
"Sweet. My friend was at this club in Ibiza and she swears she saw the ghost of Jimi Hendricks high-fiving Elvis."
"Well, they had a lot in common."
"I know! Now...I have to ask you the question on everyone's mind."
"If it's about those Meryl Streep rumors, I really can't comment."
"Hee hee...no, no, it's not that. What's Louis Tully really like?"
There was a solid round of laughter from the room. "He's a doo doo head!!!" the Spengler Twins and Jessica chanted in unison. Janine just buried her face in her hands, an embarrassing memory or two resurfacing.
The scene shifted back to the older-looking version of Corkie. "Well, twenty years later, here I am at the Allmusic TV studios in Los Angeles, here with our very special guest--Dr. Peter Venkman, chairman of Ghostbusters International! I guess the offices in LA and London thing took, huh?"
Venkman was wearing an incredibly similar suit to the older interview, and save the extra lines on his face looked rather much the same (though everyone in the room suspected that the current hair color was artificially enhanced).
"At least he doesn't have to wear a rug like Grandpa Charlie..." Jessica said, downing a bit of popcorn. "You should've seen him at the Enron hearings a while back..."
"Well, Corkie, it sure did. I mean, it took a while--Ghostbusters International didn't take off until after we got back together seven years ago, and somehow the Paris and Tokyo offices never made it. But we got some great Ghostbusting teams in London, here in LA, and all over the United States and Canada."
"And I understand you're married with a couple kids now?"
"Yeah. My son Oscar and daughter Jessica--and I know they're watching right now. I promise you, I never dated Meryl Streep."
Jessica rolled her eyes. She knew her brother (technically half-brother) Oscar Wallance was watching at a friend's house, and was probably having the same reaction.
"Actually, all the Ghostbusters are married now--but let me tell you, that took some doing in one case."
"Doctor Spengler?" Corkie guessed, giggling. "I tell you, my sister and half the girls in her science club had the biiiiggest crush on him"
"Ew, ick..." Eden said, sticking her tongue out.
"Hey, I can't fault the girls for taste..." Janine chimed in loudly. Egon cleared his throat and looked at the ceiling.
"And how is Louis Tully these days, anyway?" Corkie asked with a mischievous grin.
Venkman seemed to grapple with the question for a moment. "Well, after his fifteen minutes ran out he went to law school. Back in '88, when we got back together the first time, we hired him as our accountant and lawyer--he runs GBI's finances how. He's had some setbacks, but he's doing okay."
"I hear he got married a while back and it didn't work out." Corkie asked.
"Oh Adonai..." Janine exhaled.
Venkman's brow narrowed. "All I'm gonna say about that is that it was something that never should've happened in the first place, and the situation is rectified. Let's leave it at that.
Corkie looked confused for a minute, and decided to wisely pursue a different line of questioning. "So I hear your son is in a rock band?"
Just about then, Egon's cel phone rang.
"Egon?" Janine whispered.
Egon looked at the display. "It's from GBI...a message to contact Vincent. Urgent."
"Vincent" meant Dr. Vincent Belmont, former employee of Ghostbusters New York, former leader of the Ghostbusters Manhattan franchise, and current leader of one team of the Ghostbusters UK
None of the others noticed as he left the room.
Egon went to his laboratory, jiggling the mouse to call up his computer's display. "Priority..." he muttered, and activated the unique, security-encrypted instant messaging program he and some of the GBI techs had developed (though Venkman liked to call it "AIMless")
Unsurprisingly, he saw that Vincent was online.
You are signed on as ProfESpengler. GBI encryption is ON
Send to: DrVincentBelmont
DrVincentBelmont: Professor! Glad I could reach you so quickly.
ProfESpengler: Indeed. What is going on?
DrVincentBelmont: Right to the point...
DrVincentBelmont: Two days ago we found something in the Asylum
DrVincentBelmont: An old book
DrVincentBelmont: Suspicious enough, but it gets better
DrVincentBelmont: It's blown out Iain's PKE Meter about three times
DrVincentBelmont: And I've finally figured out what language it's written in
ProfESpengler: I take it it's not Latin, then?
DrVincentBelmont: It's Sumerian
"Sumerian?" Egon said out loud.
ProfESpengler: So no idea as to the content?
DrVincentBelmont: Egon, I've translated the first two pages...which took me the better part of 14 hours,
DrVincentBelmont: I might have it translated in about a year...and I don't feel it can wait that long.
DrVincentBelmont: I'm too slow with Sumerian. I never really got a feel for it like you.
DrVincentBelmont: Egon...I need Dr. Spengler.
DrVincentBelmont: You are one of the world experts in the Sumerian language
ProfESpengler: No need for excessive pleasantries, Vincent
ProfESpengler: Of course I will take a look at it.
DrVincentBelmont: Thank you, Sir.
DrVincentBelmont: Though it will be a trick...
ProfESpengler: How so?
DrVincentBelmont: I wonder if the scanner will work if it's that hot with PKE...
ProfESpengler: It's potentially incredibly hazardous
ProfESpengler: I will come to England to inspect it personally
Egon noted that it took Vincent a full thirty seconds to respond. Perhaps he's informing the others...
DrVincentBelmont: I won't lie to you, sir. That is news of tremendous relief to us.
ProfESpengler: I thought it might be
ProfESpengler: It will take me some time to get things arranged here
ProfESpengler: But I should be leaving in the ECTO-4 by tomorrow
DrVincentBelmont: Thank you, sir.
ProfESpengler: Until I see you in person...
ProfESpengler is now logged off
Egon sighed and laid back in his chair. Sumerian almost always means trouble... he thought to himself. Anshar and Khishor...the Doomsday doorway...and of course Gozer...
Janine had quietly entered the room. "I know that look...how bad is it?"
"In all honesty, I don't know yet. It may be nothing...but I have this feeling..."
She snuggled up to him. "It's still weird to hear you say that. But in a good way..."
"A man who is not constantly learning is stagnant. And learning that there's more to life than logic was something you taught me."
She giggled and kissed him. "Now all I gotta do now is figure out how I'm gonna corral the kids all by myself for a few days..."
He laughed. "That, my Dear, is something I'm still learning myself..."
"Peter, that is a horrendous stereotype." Egon responded, zipping up his familiar blue flight suit.
"Tell that to Robert--he's from Morecambe...he'll back me up on this."
The other two legendary original members of the Ghostbusters were in the room, as was Janine. Ray Stantz was dressed in a brown jacket with the Ghostbusters logo on its chest. Winston was wearing a grey plaid shirt that reminded Ray of what he was wearing the very first time they'd met, almost twenty-one years before.
Being only 43, Ray's face was still ruddy and youthful--if not for the beard he'd grown over the last couple years, he was almost indistinguishable from the days he fought Gozer, Samhaine, and the Boogeyman on a weekly basis
Winston, while the oldest Ghostbuster (having just had his 51st birthday earlier in the month), also still looked quite vital. He'd regrown the mustache he'd shaved off not long after the team founded, and his dark hair sported a couple of distinguishing white streaks.
"I'm not sure you should be going alone...what if it is dangerous?" Ray asked.
"You just want to get a look at it, don't you?" Winston quipped, poking Ray on the arm.
"Well...um...yeah..." Ray replied sheepishly. "I'm an occultist, you know..."
"True. But not fluent in Sumerian." Egon replied. "Ray, if it's something dangerous, remember there are two teams of Ghostbusters in England more than capable of dealing with it."
"I know..." Ray responded. "And I don't have a ready babysitter for Eric with his Mom visiting Nova Scotia..." He chuckled at the thought. "Her and her little projects..."
"I thought that was why you liked her, Man...' Winston teased.
"I thought it was because of her nice set of..."
Janine cleared her throat loudly in warning.
"Egon's right, Ray." Winston said. "Tommy Simpson's got a good crew, and we know Vince is a force to be reckoned with. I think anything that comes after Egon is gonna think twice if it realizes it has to get through Vincent Belmont to do it..."
"True...and I guess it's not the best omen for all of us to go." Ray said resignedly. "Last time we were there the Prime Minister got kidnapped, and the time before that the place was undergoing a potential disaster of biblical proportion..."
"More like astrological proportion..." Venkman chimed in. "Hey, my publicity tour will be done in about a week...if you really need me I suppose I could come home, just..."
"You still haven't figured out what happened to that guy of yours yet?" Winston asked.
"Nope" Venkman replied. "I know after what happened to John Lipsyte, and Ron leaving he had every right to be upset. But trust me--it just doesn't seem like Jeremy to just up and vanish like that."
"I think it's settled, then." Winston summarized. "Egon goes to England, we continue as normal."
"Normal being a fairly relative term around here..."
Janine, Ray, and Winston followed Egon to the ECTO-4, the custom gyrowing aircraft Egon had built back in 1989. It was equipped with a version of what was probably Egon's masterpiece invention, the transdimensional warp drive, though being expensive to operate, had only been used a handful of times. It wouldn't be needed for this trip.
"You can't fool me, Professor." Janine teased. "Forget all about translating an old book, you're doing this to take a nice, long trip in your hot rod..."
"You know me too well..." Egon retorted, smirking.
"You take care, Homeboy..." Winston said, shaking his hand.
"I shall." Egon replied warmly.
"If you can get hold of any Doctor Who stuff..." Ray joked, hugging his old friend.
"Your favorite is Tom Baker, but you like Sylvester McCoy too..." Egon replied.
Ray and Winston wisely left to give husband and wife one moment more alone together.
After a few tender words and a long kiss, the tall man boarded the aircraft. With a roar, it came to life, and carried him into the skies, bearing east...
She moped along the street of TriBeCa...berating herself for not having the courage to go up there...
There. The former firehouse at 110 North Moore Street, the one with the sign bearing the legendary logo, the cartoony white ghost surrounded by a red circle, with a slash across the creature...
Oh Egon... she thought wistfully.
She'd been so close a year ago...her heart soared when the ad appeared in the LA Times...
Ghostbusters International to Open West Coast Division
"235?" The slutty strawberry blonde woman called. Her skirt is just way too short Mary Sue had thought. She has to be easy...I mean, Geez, "Chelsea Aberdeen"? That sounds like a porn star name or something...
Then she realized..."Me!!! That's me!!!" she shouted, jumping up and down, running to the front of the room
"This way..." the bitch said, leading her to a table where Dr. Peter Venkman (Egon's best friend in the whole world!!!) and some other guy were sitting, both wearing sport coats and ties. The other guy had a paper nametag reading "GBI FRACHISE CEO", while Venkman's was plastic, engraved, and had his name and the title "GBI CEO"
Venkman stood up and introduced himself and the other guy--Dr. Joey Williams, the new franchise's CEO--to her. "Our business operations manager, Miss Aberdeen, tells me you scored quite well on the test. Miss..." he looked down at the paper in front of him.
"Mary Sue Gladstone!" she anwered brightly, before Venkman could read it.
"Miss Gladstone" Joey nodded, clearly impressed...
Mary Sue looked at both of them, then around some...she saw a third man, with a "GBI STAFF" tag, playing Beenimon on his Game Boy Advance but that didn't satisfy her. "Egon isn't here?" she just had to ask.
One of Joey's eyebrows shot up. "Egon?"
"The whole reason I want to be a Ghostbuster is so I can meet Egon! He is like the perfect man, and I want to give him all the love he needs!!!'
Venkman looked sad as he reminded her. "You...do realize that Professor Spengler has been married for the last five years?"
Oh yeah...remind me of that... she seethed inside. I don't see how anyone can think they're compatible...that guy who wrote the movies said so! He thought they were "failed" and "mawkish"--why didn't she just stay with that...oh, that one guy, the accountant or something?
She knew Peter would understand, after all..."Oh, c'mon, Peter, you worked with that bitch, you know how she is--she just wants one thing out of him and that's it." She just wants his rod up her hole!!! "She's just no good for him!!! It's a mismatch made in Hell!!! I have a black belt in karate--I can take her!! Hi-Yah!!!" With that, she threw a roundhouse kick at harmless empty air...
...Or it would've been if some dorky looking guy hadn't walked up just then.
Game Boy Man jumped up and ran over to the now out-cold Dork.
Venkman smiled a warm smile of comprehension and approval as he shook Mary Sue's hand. "I think we've seen all we need to, haven't we Dr. Williams?"
Joey smiled too. "I think we have Sir!"
"We'll send the application to the home office for processing, and contact you shortly! Thanks for your interest!!!" Venkman continued.
"When should I call..."
"We'll call you, Miss Gladstone!!!' Joey said happily.
"I'm gonna be a Ghostbuster!!!" she chanted happily as she walked away. "I'm gonna get to meet Eeeegon!!!"
Only they never did call her back.
She tried to call, but the Whore who answered the phone kept putting her on hold. She went to the office once, but some Jerk who was some kind of Egon rip-off gave her the runaround and lied to her about "Dr. Venkman isn't here" and a bunch of crap.
That redheaded bitch must have found out I was going to be a Ghostbuster... Mary Sue thought angrily. And she sabotaged me. She mind controls Egon, and probably f***s Peter too...she made them turn me away. Because she's afraid.
She hid as she heard the roar of an engine...the ECTO-1 returning to the firehouse. She could vaguely see the outlines of those kid imposters sitting in the car...that Goth Hooker and the Latino guy who thought he was hot stuff. And a guy in a wheelchair? What kind of moron thinks a guy in a wheelchair could be a Ghostbuster?
She ran back to her hotel room, and cried. She'd sold all of her earthly posessions except her snazzy pink Ghostbuster flight suit to get here, and she couldn't take the last step.
There was a knock at the door.
She sniffled, and got up. Too early for the maid...
She opened the door. The person standing their was wearing a dark hood over their face, like Darth Sidius, so she couldn't see their face. "May I help you?"
"I am here to help you." a cold female voice replied.
He opened the door to the closet and tossed the Flemmings' coats onto his bed..."So, does anybody want to play Parcheesi?"
Something growled very very loudly. And very very angrily.
"Okay! Who brought the dog?" he asked.
Suddenly, the door to the bedroom exploded, showering wood and plasterboard over the assembled guests. Something large, evil looking, and horrible flew through the air and landed on the buffet table, crushing it. It looked like the horrific offspring of a gargoyle and a Doberman Pinscher, hairless, horned, and walking on four legs
He screamed and ran, opening the apartment door and closing it behind him.
He ran down the corridor, quickening his pace as he heard, and saw the door to his apartment exploding.
He quickly pressed the button to call the elevator to the 22nd floor. Mrs. Blum, his neighbour, opened her door and looked out after hearing the noise. As she saw the monster she shreiked; the elevator doors opened and he darted in; Mrs. Blum darted back into her apartment, slamming the door.
He burst out of the entrance to 550 Central Park West, scaring a female tenant and the doorman.
"Help! There's a bear loose in my apartment! Help, help! Help!" He yelled, running across Central Park West and causing several cars to brake hard. He then tumbled over the wall bordering with the park.
"A bear in his apartment?" The doorman asked in surprise. Suddenly the monster charged through the foyer of the building, knocking over the door man and causing a couple to jump out of the way. As it ran across the street it caused a blue station wagon and a checker cab to break hard and swerve out of the way.
He ran through the darkened park until he saw the lights of Tavern on the Green.
"I'm going to bring this up at the next tenant's meeting. There's not supposed to be any pets in the building." He ran up to one of the large windows, and began to bang on it. He then ran around to a glass door, but found it locked.
"There's gotta be in a way in." He crashed into some metal lawn furniture, then quickly got up and banged on the window, causing all of the people in the restaurant to look at him with some mild distaste.
"Somebody let me in!" He banged wildly.
He then sensed something behind him, and turned...and there it was!
"Nice doggie. Cute little pooch. Maybe I got a Milk-Bone..."
He checked his pockets. Nothing. The monster growled, and he screamed as he slid down the glass...
And twenty-one years later, Louis Bartholomew Tully, CPA, and Chief Financial Officer of Ghostbusters International, awoke screaming at the memory.
"Just...just a dream..." he said faintly, his senses coming back to him. He got up and splashed some cold water on his face...and jumped about a foot as the phone rang.
He checked the caller ID: 555-1013 Venkman, Dr. Peter...the number to Peter's apartment in the city. I thought he was still in Los Angeles... Louis thought, his first idea being that Venkman was bugging him with GBI business in the middle of the night (not for the first time, either). Unless... he thought, and couldn't stop his heart jumping at the thought...
"Hello, Louis Tully, how may I help you?"
"Louis? I'm sorry to be calling so late, but...
It's her... Louis thought excitedly. Dana...
"Oh, no problem, Dana..I..um..wasn't sleeping too well anyway..."
There was a pause at the other end. "You either? Louis...I don't know...I hope you don't think I'm crazy...but it's been years since this happened. And with Peter in LA I didn't know who else to talk too except you, because..."
"I'm here for you Dana. I always will be you know that."
"I had...I dreamed about Zuul tonight."
Louis dropped the phone. He scrambled to pick it up hurredly. "I'm sorry Dana it's just...I had a dream about being chased by the Terror Dogs too..."
"Oh God..." she inhaled. "Maybe it's nothing, but maybe it means something..."
"I don't know...maybe we should talk to Ray and Winston tomorrow..." Louis advised. "I'd say Doctor Spengler would be a better person to talk to but he's in England right now so Ray or Winston or even Doctor Jackson would be our best bet on that..."
"Yeah. I think...I think that would be a good idea. It may be nothing, but...well, what if it isn't?" Dana exhaled hard. "I'm sorry to bother you...but in a lot of ways this is something Peter and the rest will never understand the way you do--because it happened to us, not them."
"I gotta go now, Louis...I need to call Peter in LA...I just need to hear his voice right now." And with that, she hung up.
Peter...it's always Peter... he thought to himself ruefully as he sat back down on his bed.
He had loved Dana Barrett from the moment they'd met. She was graceful, and refined, and intelligent...and of course so achingly beautiful...
But she was not to be his. The man who hunted ghosts...he swept her off her feet. And noone...not the Czechoslovakian models Louis dated in his "fifteen minutes of fame"...could take the edge off of that. Then Peter Venkman made his error. Dana left him. And now, she could fall into the arms...
...Of violinist Andre Wallance.
Louis remembered their wedding with agony...the bittersweet mix of joy for her and sadness for himself when Dana announced her pregnancy...and he genuinely felt sorrow for her when Andre left her shortly afterward. How could a man do that to such a sweet child like Oscar? And he shook his head thinking about Oscar...the "baby" who was now sixteen years old, practically a man. He's a good kid Louis had to admit. Even though his music gives me a headache...
There was another woman who'd been part of his world...but hindsight made it more and more obvious there was no real love there. Certainly not from her. And deep down, he knew he never loved Janine Melnitz, either--there was just the unspoken bond of a common experience: pining away for the higher creatures they could never have.
Except Janine won in the end... he reminded himself. She got what she wanted...the happy ending...the marriage to Doctor Spengler...the two kids. And they're absolutely adorable...even if they hate my guts with a passion
And what do I have? Faded memories of a moment of glory...a six-figure stock portfolio.
And a life that screams at me in it's savage emptiness
Roland, having just opened the door to Ghostbusters Central, rolled his eyes and set his duffel bag down on the floor of the firehouse.
Eduardo and Kylie, who'd been trying to provoke a smile out of Rose, looked up and signalled their own greetings.
"Muchacho..." Eduardo said, high-fiving him. "So how were things in Tahiti? Lots of chicas, huh?"
Kylie rolled her eyes and told her daughter "Ignore your father, Rose. He's off in Macho Land again..."
Just two weeks before, Roland had attained his PhD in Electrical Engineering. Venkman had surprised him with a vacation in Tahiti to celebrate. "Even though I won't be there with you, and of course Tahiti without Venkman is disgusting..."
"I won't complain. Eddie, is the Professor here?"
"He's in England on business." Garrett responded. "Don't change the subject."
Roland made a dismissive noise of his own, and went over to the reception desk. "Where's Janine?"
"The lights flashed a few minutes ago, so she ran up stairs to see what the gremlins were doing..." Garrett replied simply.
Janine appeared, dragging her son by the arm, her daughter close behind. "How may times has your father told you not to try and put aluminum in the microwave?! This reminds me of the time you tried to blow yourself up!!!" Winston was behind the Spenglers, looking like he couldn't decide whether to laugh or offer his own parental advice.
"That would've worked if you hadn't stopped me!!!" John replied with defiant sulkiness.
Eden saw an opportunity to redirect the conversation: "Doctor Jackson!!!"
It worked. Janine looked up. "Hey! Look who's back! Roland, I'll talk to you later in the afternoon--I'm taking these two over to get some lunch. And some Ritalin." She added with sarcastic exasperation.
"I'll see you in a little while, Mrs. S." Roland nodded as the threesome left.
Winston waved goodbye to his old friend and turned to look at his newer comrades. "I'll be upstairs if you need me--Ray will be by later to compare notes with Egon and the other guys in England."
"You're...on duty tonight?" Roland asked, suddenly wary.
"Yeah. Problem with that, Doctor Jackson?"
"Of course not, Sir. Just...jet lag, I guess..."
Winston shrugged and went upstairs.
"How's little Rosey today?" Roland said, going over to Kylie and Rose. "Gonna smile for Uncle Roland?"
"Good luck." Kylie sniffed.
"We're not happy today?" Roland said in his best cutesy-wutesy voice. Rose just looked back at him like he was deranged.
"That kid's a lot grumpier than Chita was..." Roland noted, turning to Eduardo.
"Different kid. I mean, none of your like, what, three dozen brothers and sisters are exactly like you, right?"
"I only have six, Eddie. And calm down, it wasn't an insult--or intended as one, anyway. I was just saying Rose doesn't smile as much as Conchita did...and where is Conchita, anyway?"
There was the sound of the toilet flushing, and little Conchita came out of the restroom at the front of the garage.
"Ready for lunch, Chita?" Eduardo asked. Her face lit up.
"Yo quiero Taco Bell?" she asked, provoking a chuckle out of her mother.
"Now remember, Chita..." Eduardo said, picking her up. "Never say that around Yaya...she considers it a negative stereotype..."
"You guys think you can hold the place down for an hour?' Kylie asked them.
"Yeah." Roland agreed.
The assembled Rivera family left the building, leaving the two old friends alone.
"You were worried that Charlene was gonna be here, weren't you?" Garrett said, teasingly.
Roland's face darkened. "Listen, I told you before I left...she does not like me. In fact, she thinks I'm a flaky, nerdy spazzball..."
"Now what makes you say that?"
"Oh, I dunno...maybe the part where she called me a flaky, nerdy spazzball?"
"And you believed it?"
"She threw a basketball at my head!!!"
"Hey, I've hung around with a lot of athletic chicks, remember? That's how they show their affection..."
"She's my boss's daughter and she's not even twelve!!!"
Garrett laughed. "Okay. Now there's a problem..."
"I could ask you how things went with your rock climber while I was gone..."
"Don't change the subject!!!"
"What? You can tease me about twelve year-olds but your love life is off limits?"
"It was just one little date...it's not like we're gonna get married next week."
Roland adopted his own impression of Dr. Venkman's grin. "That sounds an awful lot like things went well..."
"Well, all I'm gonna say is that it wasn't our last date...and it didn't take me about, like, a year or two or seven to take her on it."
With that, Roland Jackson and Garrett Miller laughed hard.
"I know...I know, Man...I'm sorry." Roland apologized. "I guess...I guess I look at Eduardo and Kylie, and their girls and...well, I feel just a little jealous."
"I know what you mean, Roland." Garrett agreed. "But don't forget you have something they don't--you stayed in school. You got a frickin' Doctorate, Jacko! You're Roland Jackson, P-H-D."
"And let me tell you, I think Eddie and Kylie are a little jealous of that. Kylie might have earned hers if not for the motherhood thing derailing her...so believe me, the 'grass is greener' feeling is mutual."
"And the Professor...Dude, I don't think it will be until his own kids get their doctorates that he'll be any prouder of anyone. So...you know...for the two or three more years it takes for that to happen, bask in it..."
Another deep belly laugh was provoked.
"We're doing all right, aren't we?" Roland had to agree. "We don't have all the drama Eddie and Kylie did...or the Professor and Janine...or even Doctor Venkman and his wife...but we're doing pretty well."
"Yeah, my Man, we are." Garrett high-fived him.
Winston Zeddemore poked his head down the hole around the fire pole. "You guys okay down there? With all the laughing I was afraid the vampire clowns had come back..."
Garrett and Roland laughed again.
"What was waiting for you?" the even voice of Egon Spengler asked,
"Zuul..." Dana Barrett Venkman replied. "The Gatekeeper. The Terror Dog..."
"And then?" Vincent Belmont asked.
"I woke up screaming. I called Louis, and he had the same dream with Vinz Clortho...and then I called Peter."
Ray Stantz, Winston Zeddemore, Dana Barrett Venkman, and Louis Tully were in Egon's laboratory; the computer connection had been activated again, but this time the full media was at work--on screen, the tiny faces of Egon, Vincent, Peter Venkman, GBUK's Ben King, and the Ghostbusters West Coast's Dr. Fritz Baugh could be seen. Louis was trying not to think about what this was costing the company...
"Ray...did Dana and Louis register any PK variances?" Egon asked.
"None that I could detect...but it was several hours ago..."
"If I'd known I'd have come right away, but..." Dana began to say.
"Don't." Venkman said to his wife simply. "You did the right thing letting me know then...if it's anybody's fault it's mine for not telling you to hustle over there."
"So what are you saying?" Louis asked, worry beginning to show on his face. "There really is something going on?"
"Yes." Fritz responded. "The material we've been translating all pertains to Gozer. The main book in Sumerian, the Latin excerpts Iain and I've been working on, all about Gozer."
"Dr. Baugh's teammate, Jeremy Hicks, vanished a couple of weeks ago. He was sighted on May 27 in Toronto by Dr. Walker and Dr. Davis of ECTO Canada..." Vincent began to explain.
"He'd been acting...strangely ever since our battle with Lord Atrocity in April. We thought it was because of what happened to John, and Ron leaving, but then we found out Wednesday about his sighting in Toronto. He's posessed by something..." Fritz explained. "Thus, our trip to England."
"The same place the bloody Book of Gozer resurfaced." Ben added.
Egon and Venkman looked at each other. "And Walker's report... Egon said with just a tinge of hesitation. "...did have Hicks calling himself 'The Keymaster' "
Louis Tully's face went deathly pale.
"It's happening again, isn't it?" he asked, fighting off the urge to pee himself. "Gozer is coming back..."
"Not if I can help it." Egon said with a forcefullness that would've been uncharacteristic years before.
The woman looked at her with an intense stare. "Is...Professor Spengler here?"
"I'm afraid he's on England on GBI business..." Janine responded, her instincts starting to shout warnings to her. She tried to nonchalantly move closer to the fire bell button on her desk. "May I take a message?"
"Not necessary. Is Doctor Venkman here? I've spoken to him once before..."
I bet you have... Janine found herself thinking It better have not been at any time after 1992...and if was before that you would've been underage... "Doctor Venkman is also in England."
The woman seemed to struggle with something for a few seconds. "Doctor Stantz, then?"
"May I ask why you are asking?"
"I want to know whether I should expect any of them to come to your aid--as I kill you!!!" With that, the woman vaulted over the desk, her hands reaching for Janine's throat.
If Janine had been taken completely by surprise, it might have worked, but some instinct had put her on her guard. She'd been in many a schoolyard brawl back at PS 47 after all...she rolled and managed to kick her attacker in the midsection, driving her back. Long enough to ram down the fire bell.
"Let Roland and the kids get it..." Venkman shook his head.
"RAAAY!!! WINSTOOON!!!" a loud, angry female voice came through the fire pole wells.
The tiny face of Egon Spengler reacted with surprise and concern. "Janine?"
Ray and Winston were headed for the pole before anyone could say another word.
"What in the hell are you talking about?" but before Janine could recieve any answer, the pink-clad woman succeeded in grabbing her, with a speed that seemed impossible.
And started to choke her with a strength that also seemed impossible.
"When you're out of the way...Egon will be mine! And we'll be happy!!!"
Adonai in Heaven...is that what this is about?! Janine realized with disgust and horror. She's one of those EgonsStalkers like on the internet?! This is insane!!!
"We'll get married...and have a couple of daughters, and they'll be cuter than those stupid kids he had with you...and he'll forget all about them, and be happy with me and our daughters forever and ever and ever..."
There was a loud, solid thud, and Janine could suddenly almost breathe again.
She opened one eye to see that Winston Zeddemore had body-checked her attacker into a filing cabinet. "I know Janine doesn't always have the best customer relations skills, but this really isn't the way to deal with the problem..."
Three tiny faces had appeared at the top of the stairwell. "Stay up there!!!" Ray barked at his son and the Spengler Twins.
"Mooom!!!" John shouted, and started to run down there anyway, but Eric--three years older an a bit bigger--managed to stop him.
Eduardo and Roland, on the other hand, charged down the stairs to help. Kylie helped drag the frantic John back up the stairs. Garrett cursed his disabililty for one of the few times in his life--he would lose precious moments getting to the elevator...
"Ray!!! I don't think she's completely human!!!" Winston yelled to him.
Ray grabbed a broom handle and charged the woman grappling with Winston, shouting "Goongala!!!"
She moved out of the way just in time to make the broom handle hit Winston with a loud CRACK that broke it.
"...oops..." Ray said weakly.
"You defend her? After all the slut's done to him?" she howled, her eyes lighting up. "Oh, I get it...she lets you f*** her too..." with that, she shot Ray with a blast that sent him flying across the garage.
"Oh, you are gonna get it so brought on, Bitch!!!" Eduardo shouted, jumpkicking the woman, sending her right into the storage lockers. In an ironic twist, it just happened to be the one marked "SPENGLER" she bounced off of.
Roland and Dana helped Janine up. "You okay, Mrs. S?" he asked.
"I will be once that bitch is in jail..."
Louis just froze at the top of the stairs. Dana was down there...Janine was down there...but he couldn't move any closer.
Eduardo was doing an endzone dance by the fallen attacker. "What can I say? I am good..."
"Eddie!!! Look out!!!" Ray shouted as the woman's eyes opened again.
"What?" was all Eduardo could say before he was blasted across the room like Ray was.
The woman got up, an evil leer on her face. "He seems a little young for you, whore, but it's not surprising you aren't very discriminating..."
Roland had his PKE Meter out. "She's corporeal, but putting off a double wave valence...I think she's posessed..."
"Please tell me you aren't going to defend her too, little man..." the attacker said dismissively, moving toward Roland and Janine.
Ray and Winston both jumped her, years of mutual training and teamwork letting them use their combined strength to hold her back. Winston grabbed her in a headlock, making her unable to move to blast them, though a few new holes were made in the interior of the old firehouse. Winston tightened the grip, in hopes of making it too painful to keep her eyes open to fire.
Eduardo grabbed her too. "Like it rough, Chica?"
Suddenly, the woman opened her mouth and screamed. As she did, an aqua blue stream of ectoplasm vomited out of it, almost hitting Eduardo.
"What the f***?" he shouted.
In Ray and Winston's grip, the woman went limp.
Roland had his meter out. "It's ectoplasm all right...and the PK trace is fading. It had something to do with what happened to her, I bet..."
"That'd be my guess too..." Ray nodded. The woman who attacked them was out cold.
"Is it all right down there?" Kylie shouted.
"I think so..." Winston responded.
Three kids were down the stairs in seconds, just about knocking Louis over.
Eduardo had put on his proton pack, thrower at ready, watching the unconscious attacker suspiciously.
"You okay, Mom?" John asked her as he and his sister hugged her.
"I will be, Johnathan..." Janine responded. "Once somebody explains what the heck just happened."
"Magic, I bet, JC..." Eric chimed in. "It's cool stuff...when used for good instead of evil."
Ray regarded his son with a little bit of apprehension. He'd been suspecting that Eric had...a sensativity to PKE flow. Maybe even potential..."The Gift" he'd heard Vincent Belmont and Liz both call it. I guess it wouldn't be a surprise... Ray admitted to himself.
Louis hung at the fringe of the moment of relief. As usual... he remarked to himself. That's where I've been for the last twenty-one years...the fringe...part of it, but somehow, not. Not in the way the guys are. Not in the way Dana and Janine are. Heck, not even in the way those newer kids are...
Then he bumped into something as he stepped back. And the hairs at the back of his neck stood up.
You were the last avatar of the Keymaster... a female voice spoke in his head, knowingly. No wonder the Master failed...
He whirled to see someone standing there, dressed in black, a hood covering their face.
The black-clad figure gestured before he could even utter a cry for assistance.
The whole room was filled with blue light...the same shade of aqua blue that just spewed out of Mary Sue Gladstone's mouth.
Everyone froze, as though they were statues. Even Slimer, who'd floated down the stairs with Louis, seemed frozen in place.
The black clad figure went over to Ray Stantz. "You are the one I want." the same female voice that Louis Tully had just heard spoke aloud.
"R...Ray..." Winston managed to say with great effort.
"D...D..Dad..." Eric tried to cry.
The woman brought a hand to Ray's face. For ten seconds, he stood there totally still...then uttered a garbled cry of pain.
"Impressive..." the woman said, taking her hand away. "I see you learned a trick or two about mental defense from one of the Hermetics...not that it was enough, of course." She reached into Ray's pocket, and extracted a set of keys. "This will prove useful..." With that, she turned, and walked toward to the staircase leading to the basement.
"S...s...stop...h...her..." Ray bit out as best he could.
"I...I..." Eduardo grimaced, trying to move his thrower.
Even upstairs, Kylie was frozen. And Garrett, who had just made it downstairs.
The Herald of Gozer walked into the basement, regarding the humming, red-painted device that dominated the room.
"There are a wide number of safeguards that protect this unit from being opened." she said aloud. "Since the only wholesale breach of the unit in the fall of 1983, a number of backups have been implemented." She was savoring reciting the text from Ray's memory.
To their horror, the people upstairs realized she was letting them see what was happening.
"You...you can't..." Ray said.
"What...what she trying to do?" Eduardo asked.
"She..wants to open...the ECU..."
"Computer access...how mundane." With casual ease, she typed in Ray's username and password.
Administrator Access Approved
Action: Locate Specific Entity
Reference GBI Case File GBNY-1983-1/001
"Gozer...it has to do with Gozer..." Louis got out, his instincts saying that loud enough he felt confident enough to say it.
"But...Gozer was destroyed? Right?" Dana replied.
"Gozer was returned to it's home dimension..." Ray answered. "But not all of it..."
Match found. Containment sector 2F
Realign Containment interface to sector 2F
"A large amount of raw ecto matter littered the streets around Central Park West..." Ray continued, straining.
Realignment of interface complete
Authorize Grid Shutdown
Warning! This action will cause, in the event of an outage of the main power, a loss of containment viability for five seconds before the backup power generation can be activated! Any entity in sector 2F may potentially escape the Ecto Containment Unit! Do you wish to continue?
Administrator Access Level for User Dopeydog Confirmed. Please reenter Password
Grid Shutdown Is Authorized
"Oh shit..." Janine whispered, a memory coming clear into her mind...
Cyrus Spengler nonchalantly pulled the handle, triggering a sequence of loud alarms.
"I really wish you hadn't done that, Doctor Spengler..." Janine said flatly
The ECU opened for a few seconds. A small, white figure popped out, only about a foot tall, wearing a sailor hat and a wide grin
"Oh, how cute..." Cyrus remarked
"The ectoplasm...marshmallowy in form, was collected with every ghost trap we had...we had to rig one of the packs to power the traps to hold it..." Ray struggled on, sweat forming on his brow both from the strain--and the comprehension of what was happening. "Until we got the new Containment Unit on line..."
"Now then..." the Herald remarked, moving toward the wall unit that held the master power switch. "All that is left is this simple mechanical device."
She pulled open the cover to the switch. It wouldn't even be possible to move it if the electronic component of the lock hadn't been disarmed by the Shutdown Authorization.
"The marshmallow slime recongealed...into it's last shape."
"The Stay Puft Marshmallow Man!" Kylie said.
"Yeah..." Ray managed to nod faintly.
Dad... Eric thought to himself, looking at his father. If only I could do something
"The Corpus of Gozer." The Herald acknowledged. "My Master's form and a large part of his power. With the Corpus free, and returned to him, he will be complete...and ready to assume his rightful place as ruler of this mudball"
"How can you do this? You're human!" Roland shouted. "Gozer will just destroy you too!"
"If it is his will..." the Herald replied. She selected one key from the ring she'd taken from Ray, and placed it into a waiting socket on the power switch.
There was a flash of light. And suddenly Eric Stantz and John Spengler were in the basement with her.
"Huh?!" Eric said outloud.
"What in the name of the Kordath..." the Herald started to say, as surprised as any of them.
Before she could react further, Johnathan Spengler jumped her, howling with a fury surprising for one so young.
"Get the keys!!!" Ray shouted.
"Get off of me, dust mote!!!" the Herald snarled, throwing the redheaded boy off of her. She gestured, and Eric Stantz was hit with a bolt of blue force, driving him back.
"Tremble, Mortals--for the return of the Destructor is at hand!!!" she shouted, her amusement gone. Who was the older boy, that he could resist my power? the Herald found herself thinking. And the younger one...I sensed something in him as well... She angrily turned the key, triggering a red light to start blinking by the power switch, and on the ECU's control panel.
The Herald of Gozer yanked the large switch downward.
The entirety of the basement lighting went red, and a loud alarm started to sound.
"Oh shit..." Winston inhaled.
"The odds of one specific entity being at the point of containment breach, even if it's in the same grid sector, are quite considerably low..." the Herald remarked, a bit of the smug tone returning to her voice already
The door to the containment chamber flew open.
"But as I understand it, a man named Spengler once said that at it's root, magic is all about beating the odds."
A foot tall, white, puffy, actually quite cute looking figure popped out of the opening, before it slammed back shut.
Backup Power Engaged
"Oh shit..." several voices said all in unison.
Suddenly, they realized they could move.
"GET OUT OF HERE!!!" Winston Zeddemore barked.
Eduardo Rivera grabbed Louis Tully, who was still looking dazed. He spared a look over his shoulder to see Kylie grabbing Eden Spengler...Thank God we left our girls with Beth and Kevin... he thought to himself.
Louis meanwhile, was fighting off a painful feeling of deja vu...like it was something he'd experienced before, but couldn't clearly remember (which was actually pretty literally true)...It's a sign...
"No time for courtesy, Mrs. Venkman." Roland said, grabbing Dana. Not having actually been at the firehouse at that infamous day, her feeling of familiarity was more diluted...but still quite present.
Slimer screamed and flew through the wall.
Winston Zeddemore, Ray Stantz, and Janine Spengler, however, ran the opposite direction.
Garrett cursed his disability for the second time that day, wishing he could help them, and rolled out of the building.
Wordlessly, they ran into the basement. Winston's powerful arms scooped up Eric Stantz and Johnathan Christopher Spengler, and only then did they flee the building with all due haste.
Fortunately, the same phenomenon that had saved the firehouse from wholesale destruction nineteen years ago--when Cyrus Spengler accidentally opened the ECU--saved it today.
The little white figure was growing rapidly, but it's substance was still ethereal. He phased through the front of the former Hook and Ladder No. 8 leaving little more than a marshmallowy glaze of slime.
The Stay Puft Marshmallow Man once more walked the streets of New York City.
The Herald stood atop an adjoining rooftop. "Corpus of Zildrohar!!! Your day of destiny is at hand!!!"
The giant figure just lurched down the street, knocking over a billboard as he walked.
"ME LIKE GOING FOR WALKIES..." a booming, genial voice responded.
From their vantage point across the street, the assembled Ghostbusters and family panted...and Eduardo just had to ask. "Why does Mr. Stay Puft sound like a tard, anyway?"
"He...he was formed out of the marshmallow ectoplasm we collected from the streets..." Ray explained, still holding his son. "He recongealed after it was loaded into the Containment Unit, but with Gozer's mind returned to it's home dimension, he was completely mindless at first. Then he sort of started to form a childlike personality...he seemed to like Slimer..."
"I don't see Slimer." Roland noted.
"He's probably halfway to Pittsburg by now." Kylie shook her head. "Everyone all right?"
Several nods followed.
"How much trouble am I in this time?" John asked, still, like his sister, firmly in his relieved mother's embrace.
"You did just fine, Sweetheart..." Janine responded.
Ray spared a moment of thought...Eric just showed the first signs of genuine mystic ability...she needs to know as soon as this is over...
Winston Zeddemore had his cel phone out. "No time for explainations, Rich--we got a huge emergency brewing here. Get word to Bo and Seward and hell, all the guys in Long Island and Jersey too...it doesn't get much bigger than this."
Winston Zeddemore stood there in his red-trimmed, aqua-colored flight suit, donning his Mark 4 proton pack. "Please tell me you have a plan, Ray..."
Ray Stantz, his normally merry eyes grave, pulled on his work gloves. His suit was tan, with brown trim. "We trapped him before using just about every trap we have...but he was even more mindless then. He doesn't seem very cunning, but it just might be enough."
"Plus there's the problem of laying out all those traps and keeping them energized long enough." Roland Jackson added. He wore the standard tan flight suit with the same work gloves Ray was wearing. Garrett, also attired in the standard flight suit, nodded next to him.
Kylie Griffin, in a new and unusual development, was also clad in the standard flight suit--albeit one colored black. Instead of the Mark 2 proton pistol she'd been using, she was armed with Ray Stantz's new prototype, created from the designs of the "proton rail gun" created by Dr. Chrismer and Dr. Masterson of the Ghostbusters West Coast. "A little napalm in this thing might help..."
Eduardo was not wearing the standard suit. He'd come a ways since the days Roland's team had formed, though--instead of bell bottom pants and cowboy boots, he was wearing tan work pants (that matched the flight suits worn by his colleagues) and work boots. He insisted on keeping the green shirt and orange vest, however. "I think Dr. Stantz and company tried frying back in 83..."
Janine Melnitz Spengler was in her flight suit also. The same blue as that worn by her husband, though the trim was orange. If only Egon was here... she couldn't help but think.
"All we know is, we gotta stop him. Not just because he's destructive..." Ray said. "But because it's a sure bet that that woman doesn't want him over for S'Mores..."
"Unless they're really really big S'Mores..." Eduardo quipped. Nobody laughed.
She expanded her senses once more, and saw where the others were waiting...the small, but powerful, cult she'd assembled over the years. The small group sat in a circle, all enshrounded in black, obscuring hoods identical to hers.
In the center sat a man chanting. "Ragnarok" he had chosen as his name...the twilight of the Gods in Norse mythology...and he was a sorcerer. His appearance to her had been one of the signs of the coming of the Traveller.
But of course I will serve you, Herald... he had said. Your Vuulgus Zildrohar is but another face of my Infernal Master, Wyrmus Magnus...
She joined her thoughts with theirs now
The Corpus comes, my Fellows...
We are ready they replied, as one.
Stay-Puft nonchalantly knocked over a small building as he strode along. He didn't do it maliciously, but just seemed to not comprehend how large he was and how comparatively fragile everything else was...
"WALKIES FUN..." he boomed, cheerfully.
As comprehension dawned, she yelled for her brother.
Annoyed, Oscar Wallance sprinted into the room. "What is it, Jess?"
She just pointed.
"Confirm that the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man, a frequent opponent of the famous Ghostbusters, has once again been sighted in the streets of Manhattan. Mayor MacShayne has called a state of Emergency..." Vernon Fenwick was saying.
Oscar was on the phone as quickly as his legs could get him to it.
"Ghostbusters I'm afraid we can't take any calls right now because we're having a big big problem and..."
"Tully, is my Mom there?" Oscar interrupted.
"Huh? Oscar oh sure..." Louis said quickly.
"You okay Mom?" Oscar asked her.
"I'm fine, Honey..." she replied. Oscar repeated that for Jessica's benefit.
"What's going on?"
"I don't know totally...but it's bad. And Ray thinks it's part of what your Dad went to England about..."
"Crap in a hat..."
"Stay where you are, both of you. It'll either be over soon or..."
"Or it won't matter where you are..."
"ECTO-1, ECTO-2, do you read?"
"Ray, he's still moving pretty much due south, down the Avenue of the Americas."
"You see anything else?"
"The bitch who sprung him, I think...she's floating nearby. You think she might be taking him someplace deliberately?"
"I'd just about bet the rent money on it."
Winston looked at Ray from the driver's seat. "Ray, I hope I'm wrong, but I got one guess..."
"You think maybe they're taking him to some place that might, say, be utterly sizzling with residual PK...maybe from a large man-made atrocity?"
Ray's eyes went wide. Janine knew what Winston was talking about too...the gasp they'd heard over the line made that obvious.
"Adonai...you don't think..."
Ray shook his head, and Winston remarked to himself that he'd never seen his old friend look so...old. Like any New Yorker, there was one day seared in their memory. Eduardo's brother Carlos had lost a lot of friends that day.
And the Ghostbusters had very nearly lost Egon Spengler, attending a conference in one of the towers.
"They're heading where?!" Bo Holbrook did a double take as he gripped the microphone.
"The World Trade Center..." Ray's voice came back. "We're on our way further down the Avenue to set up the traps...but we need you guys to slow him down, and drain as much power as you can. Seward and the Manhattan guys are on their way with the rest of the Extreme team...they'll meet you at Broome Street"
"Great..." Bo muttered "Like I need them slowing me down..." A chuckle came from one of the two guys in the back seat, causing the other to look at him quizzically.
"Behave". The blonde woman in the passenger seat said to Bo firmly. Which made both men in the back seat chuckle.
In truth, the vehicle was the original ECTO-1, purchased by Ray Stantz in 1983, and retired when the team reunited in late 1988. The original Ghostbusters and their successors had driven the second ECTO-1 (briefly known as the ECTO-1A due to the vagarities of license registration law) for the fifteen years since; in 2000, when Vincent Belmont and Gabriel Martin formed the Ghostbusters Manhattan franchise, Venkman had given them the original car (something it took Ray Stantz a while to forgive him for...the fact that Ray got to help with getting the old girl running again had helped, though)
Bo snorted as the Manhattan guys and three of the "Extreme" Ghostbusters got out of the car. "You ladies ready to go?"
Dr. Harry Seward, acting leader of the Manhattan franchise, regarded Holbrook though his glasses. "I'm sure Miss Griffin is quite ready...as are the rest of us."
"Just keep that asshole out of my damn way..." Garrett muttered, arming his proton pack.
After helping Bo don the massive "Super Pack" he'd built (the device that had helped catch the Blair Witch five years before, for one) Tom Morgan leaned in close to "Ecto" Ernie Slaughter. "There something I'm missing here?"
"Bo and the 'Extreme' kids don't get along...I'll tell you the whole story later." Ernie replied.
"A bit like old times, isn't it?" Dr. Gabriel Martin smirked as he armed his thrower. "Other than not having Vincent here to offer some droll comments..."
"The gizmo loaded and ready to go?" Eduardo asked Kylie.
Kylie hefted the proton rail gun. "As ready as I get..."
"Interesting device..." Gabriel remarked.
"You know, we had the black flight suits first..." Bo scowled.
"Bite me." Eduardo retorted.
Jen Spengler coughed loudly. "We're in position, Ray..." she spoke into her cel phone.
"Winston, Roland, and I aren't there yet, Jen. Ray's voice replied. "Give us at least five minutes if possible"
"Will do." Jen replied. "Janine?"
"Get ready...here he comes..."
Not that they needed to be told. The vibrations and the booming but squishy impacts of Stay Puft's feet were impossible to ignore.
"You think this crazy scheme is gonna work, Ray?" Winston asked.
"It has to..." Ray replied, grabbing one of the round, orange traps that Egon and Roland had designed seven years before. "We link every ghost trap, old and new, we can spare into these proton packs...and hope we have enough suction to draw Stay Puft in, and enough power in the plasma cores to hold him long enough to get back to GBCentral..."
"It worked back in 1985, didn't it, Doctor Stantz?" Roland asked, dragging out the proton pack that had been selected to power the trap system. It was one of the Mark 2 packs of like vintage as the round trap--it had been designed to work with the plasma cores, and would provide a necessary focus.
Winston drug out two old Mark 1's. With a five thousand year half life, their energy supply was far from depleted. He and Roland quickly plugged the cyclotrons into the Mark 2 pack.
Ray threw out the conduction cables they'd need. "You know as well as I do that this area is still hot with residual psychokinetic energy...that's why we've had so much trouble keeping the necromancers and other dabblers away from it over the last three years...if Stay Puft is absorbing that energy--and I don't see why not, he's still part of an evil god, no matter how goofy he is--even this may not be enough if Kylie, Harry, Bo, and the others can't slow him down..."
Roland looked to the north...and realized he could hear the thunderlike stomping of brobdignagian feet...and with that realization, a bead of sweat dropped off of his head.
"On three..." Gabriel barked.
"THREE!!!" Eight voices roared in unison. Garrett Miller, Eduardo Rivera, Jen Spengler, Ernie Slaughter, Tom Morgan, Gabriel Martin, Harry Seward, and Victor Hyuga each sent a proton beam into the sky, hitting the beaming Marshmallow Man.
"You ready, Elvira?" Bo said, arming his oversize Super Pack.
"Don't make me hurt you, Holbrook." Kylie replied, wrinkling her nose.
"Promises, promises..." Bo retorted, stomping out his cigarette.
Both took aim.
"Yipee Ki-yah, Motherf..."
The massive oversize beam of the Super Pack and the plasma cartridge from the rail gun hit the giant creature right between the eyes.
The night sky reverberated, as the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man howled in pain, and started to fall backward.
"OH SHIT!!!" Ernie screamed.
"TAKE COVER!!!" Jen shouted.
"He's falling over!!! Isn't this good?!" an exasperted Bo cried.
"Not when he hits the ground!!!" Kylie answered.
"You ain't seen nothing yet..." a Brooklyn voice snarled, and the Herald was hit with a proton beam.
The Herald flew back some thirty yards, then turned around to face the ECTO-2. "I don't have time for you..." she gestured offhandedly, and a stream of blue slime flew from her fingers, hitting the ECTO-2.
Janine uttered several unprintable curses as the small copter's works began to jam up; she began to angle for a roof nearby.
The Herald turned back toward the Marshmallow Man.
Jessica Venkman grabbed onto her brother, and held him tightly.
"I'm...I'm still here, Vernon..." the newsman said, the picture starting to tentatively reappear. "The last attack actually staggered the Marshmallow Man...he fell over, and the sound was like a bomb exploding."
"Do you have any idea as to the conditions of any of the Ghostbusters?"
"I...I can't tell from here, Vernon..."
"C'mon..." Oscar said out loud. "If anybody can do this, it's Uncle Ray, Uncle Winston, and Aunt Janine..."
He wasn't sure who he was trying to convince more--Jessica or himself.
Winston was by Roland. "Roland's out cold...I don't see any sign of injury, but he got knocked out."
Ray grabbed his walkie talkie. "Stantz to anybody---do you read? Griffin? Holbrook? Martin? Anybody?"
"ECTO-2 here, Ray...you guys all right?"
"Janine, what the heck is going on?"
"They knocked over Stay-Puft. I'm on a rooftop across the street--the bitch who sprung him gummed up the ECTO-2s rotors, and I barely made a landing before he hit..."
"Kylie and the others...any idea?" Winston asked.
"No...there's a lot of smoke in the area, I...holy shit..."
"Stay Puft is starting to get up..."
"The corruption of religions pays off so much better than even the Infernal Master himself forsaw..." Ragnarok noted, with a tinge of glee.
"It is almost time, Milady..."
Winston jabbed the arming switches on the two Mark 1 proton packs, producing the familiar hum of alpha particles being agitated.
"HERE HE COMES!!!" Ray cried, as the familiar giant form appeared out of the smoke. He was no longer cute, either--the combined Super Pack and Rail Gun shot had melted his face away, revealing a charred skull that was still burning. The giant creature howled in anger and pain.
"STAY PUFT...HURT...NOT LIKE THAT..."
"Now, Ray!!!" Winston shouted.
Ray stomped the activator pedal that had been attached to the trap array.
The ghost traps sprung open in unison, filling the darkening skies with their white light.
With the invocation of the final activation phrase, an unnatural wind began to howl around them all.
"Come on...just a little more!" Winston coaxed the equipment. Several sparks had begun to play around the junction.
Stay Puft howled as his whole form began to destabilize...chunks began to pull off and fly into the trap beams.
Then an unnatural howling filled their ears.
"What the f..." Winston shouted.
They looked around to see the sky splitting apart, an angry purple whirlpool of energy swirling angrily. A dimensional rift... Ray realized.
He would swear, if for only a moment, the vaguest image formed in the gash...the face of a severe woman with crew cut hair and inhuman eyes.
The woman screamed in anger.
The makeshift device linking the traps exploded.
The Stay Puft Marshmallow Man uttered a burbling scream as his partially distended form began to be sucked toward the portal.
Several of the other Ghostbusters appeared, still woozy from the shock of Stay Puft's fall.
"Doctor Stantz!!! Mister Zeddemore!!!" Tom Morgan shouted.
"Don't get any closer!!! The suction is..." Ray started to say, before the howling winds picked him up off the ground.
"Oh damn!!!" Winston cursed, as he too was ripped from the ground.
"We gotta do something!!!" Eduardo shouted through the winds.
Jen armed her thrower. "We could invert the flow through the gate like Uncle Egon and the others did in '83...cross the streams."
"But Ray and Winston would be caught in the explosion!" Gabriel pointed out.
"Whoa!!!" Tom cried, as the winds knocked him down.
"Hang on!!!" Eduardo said, grabbing him and grabbing a nearby light post.
Jen spared one last glance as she tried to reach cover...
She saw Stay Puft, Ray Stantz, and Winston Zeddemore pulled into the angry purple portal's maw.
And with that, as suddenly as it began, the winds dissipated.
The hole in the sky was gone.
Oscar Wallance and Jessica Venkman looked at the screen in mute shock and fear.
"He...he and Uncle Winston will be all right..." John said pleadingly. "They gotta be all right. They're all right, aren't they Aunt Dana?"
Dana Venkman wiped a tear out of her own eye. "I...I don't know..."
Eden hugged her friend tightly, her own blue eyes starting to wetten.
Louis Tully pulled his glasses off and buried his face in his hands.
"Mrs. Spengler? You still there?"
"I'm here, Ernie...go ahead..."
"We've gotten everyone accounted for, no life-threatening injures...Roland took a bad hit, and Dr. Seward says he should probably go to the hospital to make sure he isn't concussed...and the ECTO-1X was knocked on it's side, so you can imagine the filth coming out of Bo's mouth right now."
"Yeah..." she nodded, and smiled joylessly. "I'll...I'll be down there as soon as I can. Make sure everyone knows I'm all right."
"Will do, Ma'am."
She stuck the walkie-talkie back on her utility belt, and spared one last look at the spot in the sky where two of her oldest friends in the world--her brothers in all but the most literal sense of the word--had vanished only moments before.
Adonai...keep them safe...
And then, inevitably, came the tears...