This is an amateur, non-commercial story, which is not produced, approved of, or in any way sponsored by the holders of the trademarks/copyrights from which this work is derived, nor is it intended to infringe on the rights of these holders. And so it goes.
Mrs. Johnson was one of the Banzai Institute's nightowls, one of those rare creatures that came alive when the sun went down. As Chief Archivist, her job had two main functions: locate requested information for people, and put it back when they were finished with it. She would sleep during the day, then hit her office about 10:00 p.m., gather up the request slips, shove the returned items into a shopping cart, then descend into the basement, the home of the Institute Archives.
Usually her chores kept her busy until 2:00 or 3:00. From then on, she busied herself by critiquing applicants' demo tapes, filling out paperwork on this and that, writing dirty science fiction stories, eating massive amounts of popcorn, and--very rarely--picking up after the Hong Kong Cavaliers' messes.
She had this night chosen to take a midnight break in the Archives, away from prying eyes and bothersome requests. The reason for this was simple: The Vampire Lestat had finally made its way through the Probability & Statistics Sewing Circle & Terrorist Society to her eager little hands. She sat back in comfortable chair, her legs propped up on an oak table as she pored through the novel. A can of Classic Coke ("Breakfast of Insomniacs") sat close at hand.
Mrs. Johnson shivered slightly as a cool breeze whispered past the nape of her neck; someone must have turned the air conditioning down again. She absently lowered the sleeves of her sweatshirt, her eyes never leaving the book.
About three pages later, she felt a pair of strong hands resting on her shoulders. Before she could turn to see who it was, the hands began to knead and scrunch deliciously. Mrs. Johnson closed her eyes and sighed happily. "Oh, you're good at that," she groaned. Nearby, the can of soda began to tremble slightly.
"Glad you like it, Eunie," a deep, masculine voice chuckled.
"Always," she sighed. The soda inside the can began to fizz and spill out of the open top. "You do this just like Eddie used to," she continued.
"Eunie babe, there's a good reason for that." Just then, Mrs. Johnson realized that her benefactor was using her late husband's pet nickname… a name no one else at the Institute knew.
The soda can was shaking violently. Ignoring it for the moment, she slowly turned around.
Her subsequent screams raced through the Institute Archives.
* * * * *
David Letterman flashed a toothy grin at the television camera, then turned to where the World's Most Dangerous Band was playing. "So, Paul, I understand we've got a special guest in the band tonight?"
Paul Schafer nodded. "We sure do, Dave. Straight from the Hong Kong Cavaliers, none other than Perfect Tommy!" The long chorus of applause, sighs, and hotel room keys hitting the stage was deafening. The blond Cavalier simply stood there smiling and waving, the utter essence of cool.
"Well, I'm glad you made it tonight, Tommy, and you're never coming back," Letterman laughed. "Well, ladies and gentlemen, we've got a special treat in store for you tonight. You see, we've finally managed to get these guys to get away from the job for awhile and drop on in. So let's all give a warm welcome to The Ghostbusters!"
The four paranormal specialists strode in, dressed in full working regalia, to an overwhelming blaze of applause. Peter Venkman waved breezily to the crowd, Ray Stantz nodded with happy embarrassment, Winston Zeddemore smiled and drank in the adulation, and Egon Spengler fiddled with his PKE meter, almost stumbling into the others in the process.
"Egon," Zeddemore hissed, "will you put that thing away? You can track down that reading later! We're on national television, man!" Egon looked up, blinked several times, then returned to his work.
Letterman glanced over at the oblivious Ghostbuster. "Does it pick up cable, too?" he asked, getting a good round of laughter from the audience.
Venkman, of course, took the lead speaker role. "Well, Dave, I'm sorry to say it doesn't, but it can find empty parking spaces, loose change, and loose women." Another burst of laughter filled the air. "No, seriously, guys, Egon is pure and simple a workaholic. While we were waiting in the Green Room…nice munchies, Dave, while I'm thinking of it, Ray loved the Doritos…Egon did a test scan and thought he got a reading."
Letterman cocked his head. "You mean there might be ghosts here in Rockefeller Center? Or did you forget to allow for Larry 'Bud' Melman?"
"Ray, I'm still getting a reading," Egon mentioned as if no one else was around. He handed the meter over to Stantz, whose eyes glittered with happy anticipation as he studied the readings.
"Class Four Floating Vapor?"
"Certainly would seem so."
Peter turned to Letterman after glaring at his partners. "Doesn't sound like Melman to me, Dave."
"I see. So tell me…Ray, isn't it?" Stantz nodded absently. "What exactly is a class four floating vapor?"
Suddenly the PKE meter extended its legs fully. Ray used it as a pointer toward the ceiling. "Oh…something like that."
Letterman ignored the screams of terror that were cascading from the audience and looked up. "Well, I'll be damned," he exclaimed as the ghost of Ed Sullivan floated menacingly above the set.
"Boys," Venkman signaled his crew, "it's showtime."
* * * * *
Reno and Pecos were watching Letterman in the Institute rec room when Mrs. Johnson burst through the door. "Hey, Mrs. J," Reno motioned. "C'mere. Look at what Tommy's gotten himself into."
"Yeah," Pecos added. "Looks like Ed Sullivan's not too happy with modern television…Eunice? What happened? You look like you've seen a ghost!"
Mrs. Johnson's eyes rolled backwards; she fell to the floor with a loud thump. Reno reluctantly turned from the carnage onscreen to run to her side. "Pecos, get someone from the Infirmary up here…geez! She's got some sort of goop all over her shoulders! What did she get into down there?"
Pecos was too busy shouting into her Go-phone to reply. In minutes Little Red, the Institute's head nurse, came running into the room, followed by New Jersey. "Red, give me a vial of ammonia," the lanky physician ordered, holding out his hand expectantly. He broke the seal with a quick snap, the waved the container over Mrs. Johnson's nose until she began to gag and cough. "Steady," he soothed. "Easy…what have you got on your shoulders?"
"Huh?" she asked dazedly, then her eyes widened. "New Jersey…Pecos…you're not going to believe this!"
"Try me," Pecos urged.
"I saw Eddie!" When several faces familiar with that name blanched, her face tightened. "I did! He was a ghost! I was down in the Archives, and I took break, and someone started working on my shoulders, and when I turned to see who it was…it was him!"
"You been working a bit too much lately?" Red asked.
"Hey, that reminds me!" Reno snapped his fingers. "Check out the television!"
* * * * *
"Well, this is a new one," Venkman drawled as he dodged a flying chair. "Busting a major television personality."
Ed Sullivan glided around the ceiling, groaning with that distinctive nasal accent. The audience had attempted to flee the building, only to find that the doors were covered with a slimy substance that kept them quite shut. And no matter how hard the production crew attempted to cut away from the show, the cameras continued to roll.
Letterman had chosen the wise course of hiding under his desk, which was about the only major piece of furniture that hadn't taken flight. Close by him were Ray and Egon; Peter and Winston were attempting to draw the creature's attention, with mixed results. The band had also taken what cover they could, with one exception.
"Hey, anything I can do?" Perfect Tommy asked Winston.
"That depends. Do you know how to use a proton pack that's powered by an unlicensed nuclear regulator?"
"No, but if you hum a few bars…" Another chair passed just over their heads.
"Well, sorry, but unless you brought your own, you'd better get out of the way and let us do our thing!" Zeddemore shoved Tommy over to the desk and whipped out his particle thrower. "Ray, Egon--either of you got a trap handy?"
"On its way!" The small device slid to the center of the stage.
"Got it! Ready, Pete?" Venkman signaled readiness. Just as they prepared to fire, however, the original ghost was joined by a giant wraith that bore a slight resemblance to a rodent from hell. Atop its head was a small beret.
"Aw, c'mon man!" Venkman cried. "Not Topo Gigo!" The giant rat screamed and descended toward him, its claws extended and ready to rend flesh. At the last second, Peter fired, slamming a beam of light into the monster and sending it flying backwards.
"Come on, guys, we need some help!" In response to Venkman's plea, Stantz and Spengler came flying over the table (which was no easy feat, considering that it too had taken flight), throwers ready. "You guys focus on the rat. Winston and I'll take Ed!"
"Right!" Stantz fired a multicolored blast of energy at the rodent, which easily eluded the beam…but flew right into Spengler's well-timed shot. As Egon struggled to keep the unholy terror in his grasp, Ray snatched a second trap from the side of his proton pack and sent it sliding across the floor. He then shot a second restraining beam at the ghost, who screamed and writhed in helpless frustration. Slowly the two paranormal experts lowered their quarry from the ceiling, until it floated just over the rectangular box Ray had sent scooting. Stantz's foot slammed down on the activation pedal; an incredibly beautiful nimbus of energy exploded from the box, sucking the spectral rodent irresistibly into the containment unit. Seconds later the trap shut, sealing its prisoner securely within.
Venkman and Zeddemore meanwhile were struggling to pin Ed Sullivan down; the ghost had thus far shown an uncanny ability to elude their blasts. In addition, the Ghostbusters were hampered by their need to keep from blasting too hard, lest debris inadvertently tumble down upon the audience. With the additional aid of Stantz and Spengler, however, they were quickly able to pin the ghost down in a crossfire. A second trap went sliding across, and within minutes the crisis ended with the soft click of the trap shutting.
Letterman and Perfect Tommy peered over the remains of the desk. "Well, we'll be back with more 'Stupid Ghost Tricks' after these important commercial messages," the unflappable host deadpanned.
* * * * *
Buckaroo Banzai lay in bed on his back, lost in a deep, exhausted sleep. His current series of experiments--finding ways to penetrate other dimensions--had thus far produced precious little, despite his best round-the-clock efforts. Finally, he had surrendered to the inevitable, heeding Professor Hikita's nagging and collapsing in his private quarters.
As he slept, he once again dreamed of Peggy, his one and only love, tragically murdered only minutes after their marriage by the evil crimelord Hanoi Xan. He could see her now, more beautiful than ever, her smile radiant as the stars in the sky, drawing him closer in a deep, soulful kiss.
He twitched slightly as the scent of her favorite perfume wafted through the darkened room. He grunted in pleasant memory of their romantic encounters. He only dimly sensed his belt unfastening itself, followed by the loosening of his trousers and the unzipping of his zipper.
Abruptly his eyes snapped open, wide with astonishment. "Peggy? Where…" His voice trailed off with a throaty groan; his eyes slowly rolled back into his head, then shut again.
* * * * *
"You guys always have nights like this?" Perfect Tommy asked the Ghostbusters, who were stashing their gear in ECTO-1. The remainder of the program had featured the 'Busters telling various yarns about the specters they had trapped over the past year. Letterman could barely contain his glee; the ratings were going to shoot through the roof.
"Actually, no," Winston grinned. "This was kinda slow, to tell the truth." He shook Tommy's hand warmly. "Bet you never saw anything like this in your travels, huh?"
"Yeah," the Cavalier nodded. "To each their own, I guess." Venkman and Stantz shook his head as well. Egon was studying his PKE readings and scribbling them down on a pad of paper. "Well," Tommy concluded after trying in vain to get Egon's attention, "I guess I'll be seeing you all. Be cool."
"Nice guy," Winston commented to Peter as they watched the tall blond man stride toward his car.
"Not bad," Venkman agreed, "but he's a bit too cocky for my taste."
Winston choked back a snicker and decided to see what was fascinating Egon so. "What's goin' on, man? You've been checking those readings since the show ended."
"I'm deeply concerned by what I'm seeing." Egon looked up, his normally serious face even more so. "We're witnessing just a small part of a spacial/spectral chronomical anomaly, one that might mean the end of life as we know it."
Ray's eyebrows rose. "You sure?" he asked, peering over Egon's shoulder to double-check. "Whew! You aren't kidding!"
They piled into ECTO-1. "So what are we talking about, Egon?" Peter asked as he started the engine.
"Something is ripping at the barriers of reality," Egon stated gravely. "It's permitting ectoplasmic energy to seep through the dimensional barriers, which in turn is allowing paranormal entities access into our world. And it's getting worse."
"That explains why we've been so busy lately," Winston nodded.
"That reminds me, guys. Janine's making ugly noises about quitting again," Peter piped in. "Egon, I think you need to take her out to dinner and dancing again."
"What good will that do?" Egon blinked blankly at the grinning faces around him.
"Trust me. Works every time," Peter assured him as they pulled out onto Fifth Avenue.
* * * * *
"What's up?" Tommy asked as he stepped through the doorway and gazed at the chaotic tableau before him. Granted, chaos was a way of life at the Institute, but this was a bit weird, even for him.
"Eunice swears she saw Flyboy," Red informed him, smiling brightly at her favorite Cavalier. "You were great tonight, by the way."
"Naturally." Tommy crouched beside the sofa. "She okay now?"
"I gave her a Valium," New Jersey said. "She was really spooked…no pun intended."
"What's this stuff on her shoulders?" Tommy asked, grimacing as the sticky goop stuck to his fingers.
"Don’t know," Reno replied. "You should see the Archives. The place is just dripping with it."
Tommy looked up. "Anyone tell the Boss?"
"He's sleeping," Pecos stated in terms that meant and we're going to make sure he stays that way. "We just got back from checking the Archives. Want to come down and take a look?"
"Nah. I'm beat," Tommy said, shaking his head. "Besides, you two know your stuff. What do you think it is?"
Reno shrugged. "Some of it was Coke--there was a can down there, but it looks like it had blown off its lid. The rest of it…I've got no idea."
"Well, it can keep till morning," Tommy yawned. "I'm heading for bed." He leered at Little Red. "Care to join me?"
"Give me a ring, and we'll see," Red retorted pointedly, waving a finger at him for emphasis. Tommy grinned and shook his head, then strolled upstairs toward his quarters.
"Should've known better than to ask him for help," Pecos muttered under her breath as Tommy left. "He can't be bothered--might mess up his clothes."
"Ah, don't sweat it," Reno grinned, wrapping his arm around her shoulders. "He's right. There's nothing we can do until morning."
* * * * *
Far away, two travelers stood on the edge of an interstate highway, thumbs outstretched in the slim hope that someone might take pity upon them. The taller of the two--a slender fellow with aristocratic features and a cloak that melted into the night--sighed and tried to take the weight off his lame leg. Suddenly he stiffened and stared intently toward the horizon, his obsidian eyes straining to glimpse an invisible summons.
"We're needed," he murmured to his associate, a slightly pudgy man with features which could (and often did) shift quickly from cheerful to mournful. His face was currently in the latter mode.
"That's just great," he complained, setting down his unusually shaped guitar case on the gravel. "We went to all this trouble to get out here, and now, just like that, you want to head right back to New York, no explanations given. 'We're needed.' I don't know why I put up with all this, I really don't. If I had half a mind…"
"Try again," the dark man snapped. "You're already at that level. Now quiet, and see if we can get a lift." His eyes narrowed into fiery slits; the next vehicle, a large semi carrying hogs, pulled over and let them aboard.
* * * * *
"Good morning, everyone," Buckaroo greeted the breakfast table attendees with his typically understated tones.
Reno looked up and gazed curiously at his friend and leader. There was something oddly different about Buck's demeanor this morning--he looked positively relaxed and rested for a change. "You're looking well," Pecos said with a slight smile, nudging Reno softly to indicate that the change hadn't escaped her notice either. "Sleep well?"
"Oh yes," Buckaroo nodded, setting down a plate utterly overflowing with goodies--another incredible sight. One more and Reno would meet the Carrollian concept of believing three impossible things before breakfast was over. "Where's Mrs. Johnson?" Buckaroo continued, glancing around the table.
"Oh, that's right." New Jersey dabbed at his mouth with a napkin. "We had some bad craziness last night. Mrs. J claimed she saw a ghost down in the Archives."
"Yeah--said it was her husband, Eddie. Weird thing about it was that she was covered in this odd goop, and it was all over the Archives as well. Really ugly, messy stuff--I saved a sample for analysis, in case you're interested."
"Why wasn't I contacted?" Buckaroo asked in that stiff, polite tone that meant somebody is going to catch hell for this.
"You were asleep," Pecos neatly replied, as if that was the only logical response one could make. "We took care of it. Eunice is upstairs in her bed, asleep. You can look in on her if you want."
"No, I trust Sid," Buckaroo said, shaking his head. "I notice Tommy's not here either?"
"'Late Night'," Billy pointed out. "Crazy stuff happening there, too. They had the Ghostbusters on, and Ed Sullivan appeared out of nowhere. Caused one hell of a ruckus 'til they caught him."
Buckaroo absently scratched his right cheek, lost in thought. "Perhaps we ought to call the Ghostbusters, have them look into Eunice's manifestation."
"Ahh, I don't know," Pinky shrugged. "Could just be a case of being down there alone at night, reading a horror novel and letting a leaky pipe make someone jump to conclusions. I wouldn't bother--I hear they're fakes. Besides, they charge an arm and a leg."
"You sound like Rawhide," Pecos snorted; she immediately cringed and wished she could get those words back. Everyone at the Institute missed the big guy, but none more than Buckaroo. He'd taken his old friend's death very hard.
Buckaroo started to say something then thought better of it. "Who's taking Eunice's job today?"
"Let me see." Pinky scanned the duty roster. "Annie O. She's probably already there."
"I think it couldn't hurt to let the Ghostbusters have a look. And perhaps Dr. Spengler and I could talk about my latest project." Buckaroo covered a belch and excused himself from the table.
"Big mouth," Reno shot at Pecos.
"It slipped out," she retorted. "I goofed, okay? I admit it." A smile softened her features. "He looked rather content this morning, you know?"
"Anyone sneak into his room last night?" Billy asked Pinky, who shook his head. "Hmmm. Interesting."
At that moment, Inez Rodriguez, the Institute's chief housekeeper, came storming into the room. "Where is Buckaroo?"
"Just missed him, Inez," Reno said. "What's wrong?"
"You tell him to leave his damn experiments in the lab! I don't get paid enough for messes like that one!"
"What are you talking about?" Pecos asked.
"I went in to clean the room and make the bed. I find the sheets are dripping with this snotty goop! Just utterly disgusting--it's on the floor and the walls too, and I can't get it up with anything! You tell him for me--he leaves his toys downstairs in the lab or I quit! Ask him too if he knows how much bed sheets cost!"
She stalked back to the living quarters; behind her, Pecos and Reno shared
* * * * *
"Morning, Janine," Peter yawned as he stumbled down the stairwell. "Coffee ready?"
"Yes, and you can get it yourself," the perky redhead snapped, carefully smoothing out her brand-new miniskirt and adjusting the matching blouse. "You got four calls waiting--the Marx Brothers are opening a new production of 'Animal Crackers' at the Met, the Algonquin Round Table is raising a ruckus at that hotel, there's a full-torso stripper in Times Square, and the Banzai Institute wants you to check out a reported visitation."
"It never rains but it pours," Winston commented as he grabbed a donut from the plastic "Slimer-proof" container.
"Tell me about it," Janine nodded. "Business sure has been picking up lately…" Her voice trailed off as Egon appeared at the foot of the stairs. "Oh, good morning, Egon," she smiled brightly, bringing him a mug of coffee and two donuts. "You were so wonderful on Letterman last night--I videotaped the whole thing! Are you hungry? Can I get you anything?"
Egon smiled slightly and shook his head. "This is fine, Janine," he said as he took the plate and coffee. "Gentlemen, I'm growing concerned with the sample readings of late. We're witnessing another buildup of psychokinetic energy, and frankly, I'm baffled at the cause."
"Lovely," groaned Winston. "Another giant Twinkie."
"Hi, guys!" Ray beamed as he arrived via the pole. "We ready to roll? I just saw a Type Eight at Trump Tower on the TV! Tell 'em we're on our way when they call, okay, Janine? Let's get moving!" The other Ghostbusters groaned and grunted as they piled into ECTO-1; Janine stood by her desk, looking a bit forlorn and dejected. This outfit hadn't come cheap, and she hadn't gotten a single comment from Egon about it.
Just as ECTO was pulling out of the firehouse, Egon's head popped out of a back window. "Janine--I forgot--"
"What is it, Egon?"
"That's a very attractive outfit you have on today!" He ducked his head back in as ECTO hit the streets.
Janine sighed and smiled radiantly as she shut the doors. "He noticed! Isn't life wonderful?"
* * * * *
Buckaroo Banzai stepped up to the receptionist's desk and smiled down at Annie O. "So. What am I doing today?"
"Let's see," the petite brunette said as she grabbed the schedule. "Here we go--Mister Russell Nash is coming around eleven to show you an antique samurai sword you'd inquired about. Sir Reginald Ramsey would like you to return his call at your convenience--apparently he read some of your New England Journal of Medicine articles and would like to set up a meeting sometime in the future. Oh, and Doctor Emmett Brown called again about a proposal--something about combining your Oscillation Overthruster with a… 'flux capacitor'. He believes that, were you to pool your talents, you'd be able to pass through both time and relative dimensions in space." She patted a large stack of envelopes. "Your 'must-answer' mail is waiting for you, courtesy of Mrs. Johnson. Otherwise, the day is yours."
Buckaroo grimaced and picked up the stack of mail. "If this is the 'must-answer', I'd hate to see the rest."
"Yes, you would," Annie smiled.
"All right. If Mr. Nash should arrive early, please show him in." With a heavy sigh, the great Buckaroo Banzai stepped into his office and opened the first letter.
* * * * *
"So, Janine," Egon spoke into the cellular phone as ECTO-1 roared through the Lincoln Tunnel toward the wilds of New Jersey. "What else do we have on the list?"
"Let's see…you've got a few stray full-torsos in Greenwich Village and a really weird one in Brooklyn--some dead SF fan artist who's trying to catch up on her backlog. And there's the Banzai Institute call, too."
"Hey, Egon," Winston called from the back seat. "We're down to only a few available traps. Maybe we ought to head back to the firehouse and clean these out first?"
"Normally, I'd say yes," Egon said. "But the Banzai Institute call is only a consultation, no trapping needed. I suggest we pay a visit and investigate. If need be, one of us can return and obtain a few more traps. Janine," he said into the phone, "please tell the Institute we'll be there in…" Egon glanced around at the traffic, studied the excessive speed Peter was driving at, and mentally added everything up. "…Forty-nine minutes."
* * * * *
Perfect Tommy was just stirring toward wakefulness, stretching and yawning as he headed for the bathroom and a good hot shower. He was feeling rather pleased with himself, which was not all that unusual. He smiled winningly at himself as he shaved and brushed his teeth, knowing that he would be utterly irresistible to any woman who crossed his path today. Even Little Red.
"What to wear, what to wear," he mused cheerfully as he glided over to the closet, home to some of the coolest, most stylish outfits to be found anywhere. He'd be helping out in the stables this afternoon, and then it was over to the labs to assist Buckaroo on the new dimensional interface project. This called for something casual and previously worn; it wouldn't do to accidentally get something new dirty. With a stylish flourish he opened the closet doors.
It took him a second or two to fully register what he was seeing: the entire closet was bathed in some foul-smelling goop that dripped to the floor in big oozy globs. All of his clothes were completely drenched in the awful stuff. Tommy's mouth fell open, and for the longest time nothing other than a weak squeak of protest came out.
Finally, with a supreme effort Tommy forced himself to be calm, cool and collected. "Very funny!" he called out to whoever might be watching. "Real good one, guys. Hope you know a good dry-cleaner, because you're paying for this." And when he found out who was responsible, they'd pay a second time…on his terms.
There was a soft chuckle from behind him, one tinged with a southern drawl that made the hairs on his neck stand on end. It was a familiar sound…but one he thought he'd never hear again. He was dead. Tommy had watched him die. Those damned Lectroids…
Slowly Tommy turned around.
Rawhide grinned at him and slapped a slimy hand on his bare shoulder. "Boo."
Tommy screamed and ran for his life.
* * * * *
Pinky Carruthers, guardian of the Banzai Institute's front gates, heard the wailing approach of ECTO-1 long before he saw it. He rubbed his stubby chin, wondering if this could even remotely be some nefarious plot of Hanoi Xan's to gain entrance. Nah, he told himself as he pushed the button that opened the gates. Xan prided himself on subtlety. This ECTO thing had all the subtlety of Mardi Gras.
"Ghostbusters," Egon announced, waving a badge in the air. "We're expected."
"Head on in." Pinky nodded. "But do us all a favor and cut the noise, okay? We've got people working and sleeping here." Peter looked hurt--he loved making a magnificent entrance--but cut the lights and siren. ECTO-1 rolled quietly into the beautiful estate.
"Man, this is something else," Winston whistled as he gazed out over the lush, well-tended scenery. "These guys must make a fortune to keep this place up."
"Yeah, they do, with their patents," Ray agreed. "What I wouldn't have done to receive a fellowship here! The advances we could have made in parapsychology…"
"Why didn't you apply, then?" Winston asked.
"Egon and I did, but our presentation kind of blew up," Stantz sighed. "Still, if we had come here, we probably wouldn't have founded Ghostbusters with Peter…"
"…And Gozer would have destroyed the universe," Egon concluded. "Gentlemen, I'd advise you to keep your eyes and minds open. Expect the unexpected."
At that very moment, Perfect Tommy came screaming out the front door, clad only in a pair of boxers. He was followed by several men and women--one of whom (a redhead) was struggling with a camera. Two of the faster men managed to grab Tommy and tackle him.
"Case in point," Egon noted.
The Ghostbusters got out of ECTO-1; one of Tommy's pursuers, a man with dark curly hair and piercing blue eyes, came over to greet them. "Ghostbusters?"
"Sorry, no," Peter said, shaking his head. "We're trick-or-treating early this year to beat the rush."
"Pete!" Ray hissed. He offered his hand to Dr. Banzai. "Ray Stantz, sir. You'll remember Egon Spengler, and this is Winston Zeddemore. And the wise guy is Peter Venkman."
"A pleasure." Banzai shook hands with each of them. "I'm glad you made it, gentlemen. We seem to be having a ghost problem."
"Isn't that Perfect Tommy?" Winston asked, nodding toward the still-screaming Cavalier.
"In the flesh," Banzai agreed with a smile. "I'd like for you to interview him first. He's claiming to have run into one of our dead Cavaliers."
As they stepped through the crowd, they could hear the redhead talking to her terrified patient. "Tommy, it's all right, I'm here," she soothed. "Everything's going to be okay. The Ghostbusters are here, and they'll take care of nasty old Rawhide."
"Ghostbusters?" Tommy echoed. In a heartbeat he became once more the essence of cool, despite the fact that he was nearly buck-naked. "Hey, guys. Good to see you again."
"Kind of cool out here to be strolling around in your shorts, isn't it?" Peter asked with a grin.
"I dunno. Feels fine out here to me." Tommy stood up and accepted a robe from Pecos. Egon had his PKE meter out and was running it over the Cavalier; the antennae were glowing and slowly extending. "What's he doing to me, anyway?"
"I'm checking you for traces of residual psychokinetic energy," Egon informed him. "And you've definitely had recent contact with a ghost--a powerful one, too, from the look of it."
"No kidding," Tommy said, shivering slightly.
"Pete, why don't you get a sample of some of the ectoplasm on Tommy?" Ray suggested, tossing his partner a small container. Venkman made a face but complied. "If you don't mind, Doctor Banzai," Stantz continued, "we'd like to go inside and check out the other encounter sites."
"No problem," Buckaroo agreed. "Consider yourselves given free run of the place."
"Man," Winston muttered as he stared at the buildings around them. "It might take a week to check the place out completely."
"Yeah," Peter sighed happily. "Our inspection fee is going to set a record!"
* * * * *
"There's definitely a spectral presence here, Ray," Egon called out as he scanned the site where Mrs. Johnson had run into her late husband. "Unfortunately, the trail's already cold. It must have been a momentary PKE surge."
"The ectoplasm's hard as a rock." Stantz scraped a layer of crusty goo off the copy of Lestat. "They're going to have a time cleaning the place up."
"I think that's the least of their worries right now, Ray." Egon shut his meter off. "Two confirmed manifestations in the last twelve hours, plus the other calls we've received in that time. Something odd is going on."
"Odd, though," Ray said, "that the readings I've been getting here, while cold, are still stronger than anything else we've encountered. So what now?"
Egon motioned upward. "Peter and Winston are checking Perfect Tommy's room, but I picked up a third discrete reading not far from that. I think we'd best check it out."
* * * * *
"Man, what a waste," Peter sighed regretfully at the remains of Perfect Tommy's wardrobe. "Should we tell him that this stuff doesn't come out, no matter how many times you have it dry cleaned?"
"I doubt he's ever going to want to wear it, anyway." Winston waved the gigameter around the room, hoping he was doing it correctly--Egon had been a bit vague about how to take readings with it. "Man, this room is so hot it's a wonder we're not burning up!"
"Let me see." Peter peered over Winston's shoulder. "Wow! About the only time I've seen it higher than that was Gozer!"
"Thanks for the reminder." Winston rolled his eyes toward heaven. "I really needed to hear that." Just then a scream from nearby cut off Peter's retort. The Ghostbusters raced out of Tommy's room toward the source of the cry.
Winston suddenly shoved Peter to one side; an instant later, a pair of throwing knives hissed past, imbedding themselves into the wall with a fatal thud. Peter gulped and turned toward their origin--only to grow paler at what he saw.
Floating between the Ghostbusters and two female Cavaliers were three specters--full body Class Threes from the look of it. One of the women was screaming hysterically; the other, a slender Asiatic, stood poised to throw another knife. "Get back!" Peter yelled, then turned to Winston. "Let's get 'em!"
"Right!" Together they flew into action, rolling a trap into position beneath the writhing ghosts. Next they fired a volley of particle blasts that securely snared the spirits. Their screams overwhelmed those of the living as they found themselves helplessly entwined within the energy lattice.
"Okay, Mr. Zeddemore--a-one and a-two…" Winston's foot slammed down on the activator panel. The unearthly aura exploded from the trap, bathing the spirits in its radiance and drawing them inexorably downward. The apparitions wailed in frustration one last time, then vanished as the trap snapped shut.
"Routine," Venkman assured the attractive Asiatic, who was staring warily at the smoking trap. "It's okay. They won't be coming back, I assure you--unless you don't make your regular monthly payments."
"Thanks," the woman nodded. "I thought Norse and I were goners."
"Hey!" Winston snapped his fingers in recognition. "You're Pecos! I remember reading about you in the…uh…" He blushed slightly. "The comic books," he finished lamely.
"That's right. And you must be Winston Zeddemore. I read about you in yours," she grinned as she helped the still shaking Big Norse to her feet. "You have to forgive Norse--she usually doesn't spook that easily, but one of those things looked like her old mentor, Rawhide."
"Quite understandable," Peter nodded compassionately as he helped the knockout blonde to a chair. "It's not every day you run across one of these things. Hi, I'm Peter Venkman…"
"I guessed that," Pecos snorted. She walked over and gingerly tapped the traps with one foot, jumping back as an aura of PKE energy surged around it. "The other two were the Seminole Kid and Captain Happen--him I won't miss. He was a snake, and I hope he's burning in hell."
"No friend of yours, huh?" Winston asked.
Her eyes glittered maliciously. "I only wish I'd been the one to send him there."
As Peter and Pecos discussed the situation, Winston grabbed the trap and headed for ECTO-1. To his dismay, there were no more 'empties' available.
* * * * *
"Doctor Banzai, you were quite explicit in your orders," Egon was reminding the agitated leader of the Hong Kong Cavaliers. "We were to examine all traces of paranormal activity at the Institute…"
"That's my bedroom, and I'd prefer you stay out of there," the normally inscrutable Buckaroo replied. "I assure you there's nothing inside that bears investigation."
"My PKE meter says otherwise," Egon said firmly. "Now, if you'll just move out of our way…"
Inez Rodriguez chose that moment to storm through the hallway. "Doctor Banzai," she snarled as she elbowed past both Ghostbusters and Cavaliers. "I got a complaint with you. I don't care if you pay the bills and my salary, you leave your experiments in the lab and out of your room!"
"I'm sorry?" Buckaroo asked, eyes wide with confusion.
"I don't know what that stuff on your sheets was, but I put them through three wash cycles and they still ain't clean!"
"Sheets?" Egon asked, his voice rising in excitement.
"Yeah," Inez nodded, ignoring Buckaroo's frantic motions to shut up. "All of 'em were covered in some gooey stuff, and it just won't come out no matter what I do."
"Could we see them?" Ray asked, trying to mask his own eagerness.
"Sure. Come on," the maid ordered as she shoved a neatly folded pile of sheets into Buckaroo's arms. "You put these on yourself, Dr. Mad Scientist."
"You go on, Ray. Doctor Banzai and I have something to discuss in private," Egon said, smiling slightly.
* * * * *
Once inside, Banzai sheepishly gave the details of his liaison with 'Peggy'. "I'm not surprised, Doctor Banzai," Egon said when his fellow scientist had finished. "It's not an unusual experience. Ray could tell you about a time when he was searching for a ghost in a Civil War museum…"
"That's all well and good, but what is causing all these manifestations?" Buckaroo asked.
Egon was waving his PKE meter around the room. "Still relatively hot," the Ghostbuster nodded. "Doctor Banzai, Ray and I have been wondering you know of anyone at the Institute experimenting in the area of psychokinetics?"
"No, but I could double-check," Buckaroo said. "I have status reports from everyone--it shouldn't take long. Most of them are fairly simple projects--electronics, cybernetics, agriculture, oceanics, and so on. My current studies are probably the most unusual of anything going on."
"What studies would those be?" Egon asked, fiddling with his meter.
"Nothing much. We're attempting to pierce dimensional barriers and perform observations…"
Egon's eyes grew very wide. "What did you say?"
Buckaroo shrugged. "It's just a step beyond the work we did with the Oscillation Overthruster…"
The Ghostbuster was already heading for the door. "Doctor Banzai, it's imperative that I see your laboratory setup at once. Ask your staff to bring the others there as well."
* * * * *
Far away, two weary, aching travelers tumbled out of the back of a battered pickup truck. As they watched their ride fade into the horizon, the smaller one stretched and sighed despondently. "Welcome to New Jersey," he groaned, picking up his oddly shaped guitar case. "Cesspool of America. Are you sure we have to keep going?"
"We've no choice," the dark figure snapped. "The deadalive are gathering strength. Every second we waste debating the subject is one less second we have to put an end to the danger." He limped over to the side of the road and stuck out a thumb.
"I hate this," the musician grumbled as a poultry truck pulled over.
"You should have thought about that six hundred years ago."
* * * * *
Ray, Winston and Peter were waiting for them at the door to the lab. Perfect Tommy, Pecos and Reno represented the Cavaliers. "What did you find?" Egon asked Ray.
"Sheets caked with slime," Stantz said. "The readings were hotter than Texas on a Wednesday afternoon. What's up?"
Buckaroo unlocked the door and let everyone in. The Cavaliers looked slightly uneasy about the situation; it was as if the Ghostbusters were implicating their leader in some terrible crime. And as everyone knew, Buckaroo Banzai simply did not make mistakes. The crowd milled around the edges of the crowded laboratory while Egon scanned the vicinity with his PKE meter.
"This is it," he said, a hint of excitement in his voice. "This is definitely it. Somewhere in this room is the source of the increased paranormal activity."
"Our spook problem, you mean," said Perfect Tommy.
"Not just yours. This affects all of New York as well."
"What's the hurry?" Peter asked. "That surge has done wonders for our bank account, you know."
"If we let it continue to grow, Peter," Ray warned, "pretty soon an army of Ghostbusters won't be able to contain the ghosts, goblins and nasties running wild--not only here, but all over the world!"
"Ah." Peter reluctantly bid farewell to fantasies of Tahiti and Porsches. "So we gotta plug the leak, right?"
"Correct." Egon was slowly circling the room, his eyes locked on the PKE meter. "As it is, I shudder to think about what could happen with all the already-expelled PKE in the hands of an entity wishing to remain in the living world. The implications are terrifying."
"Wait a minute," Winston said, raising his hands. "You're saying that Doctor Banzai here has been poking the dimensional barriers, and he accidentally hit the one between the living and the dead, and now there's a leak that's been causing all the spook activity?"
"That's right." Egon was closing in on one particular corner. "The initial rupture most likely occurred when Doctor Banzai passed his Jet Car through the Eighth Dimension. His subsequent experiments have widened the rift and increased the paranormal activity accordingly."
"Hold on," Pecos protested. "The Jet Car test was in Texas, not here!"
"You're thinking only in spacial terms, miss," Ray pointed out. His face lit up as he launched into an explanation. "You see, any rupture in the dimensional matrix weakens all the barriers. I'd bet that the rupture in Texas has healed over now, like a scab over a cut. But the repeated piercings here have pushed the tear past a point where time could heal the situation."
"I still don't buy it," Perfect Tommy said. "This stuff just started happening in the last day. But you're telling us it's been going on since Texas?"
"If you ask around, I'll wager there have been several sightings on the grounds that no one ever bothered to report," Egon said. "Most likely the rift was small enough that the psychokinetic force was too weak to generate solid enough manifestations."
"So, where is the rift?" Buckaroo asked. "And more importantly, how do we seal it again?"
"Good questions," Egon replied. "I'm not sure how to answer either of them."
"That's so much help," Pecos sighed.
"Don't blame us," Ray answered hotly. "If you'd taken us in a few years ago, this could have been prevented."
"You demo blew up--literally--in your faces, remember?" Perfect Tommy smirked. "We don’t take just anyone, you know."
"Gentlemen, this discussion is counter-productive," Egon interrupted. "Besides, I've located the rift. It's right over there." He pointed to the far corner of the lab.
"I don't see a thing," Peter and Pecos said in unison.
"You wouldn't, any more than you'd see sunlight without something to contrast it with." Egon said. "Ray, try firing a low-spectrum blast into the region."
"Will do." The Ghostbuster grabbed his thrower, made a few adjustments, and cut loose. In moments a bizarre rip shimmered into view, bathed in the aura of the particle blast.
"Oh, wow," breathed Mrs. Johnson, who'd just arrived. "Cool!"
"Ray, cut the blast immediately!" Egon's voice rose in alarm. "The readings are increasing exponentially!" The lights suddenly dimmed out and an icy breeze from nowhere shot through the room, chilling Cavalier and Ghostbuster to the bone at its touch. Flickers of light danced and darted around them, odd groans and whispers tickled their ears.
"Let me guess--we ripped it, didn't we?" Peter asked. He shivered as the hairs on the back of his neck rose. "We're in trouble, aren't we?"
"I'm afraid so." Egon drew back to join his comrades. "Get your proton packs charged and ready."
"What good's that going to do?" Winston demanded as he powered up. "We're out of traps, remember?"
"It'll keep them back until we come up with a plan!" Ray yelled.
The Cavaliers glanced uneasily at each other. "You ever feel completely useless?" Reno asked Perfect Tommy.
* * * * *
Miles away, the dark-clad stranger cried out in pain. "It's started," he gasped. "I'm too late…"
"Just a minute, just a minute," snapped his musical companion. He looked up to find several faces staring at both himself and his friend. "Don't mind him. Weak bladder. Parl, go take care of that while I finish up here. Come on, seven…"
* * * *
"Wait!" Buckaroo Banzai sidled up to Spengler. "That analogy you made--about the rift healing up like a scab--is that accurate?"
"Pretty much!" Egon shot a wide-range blast that drove a wave of phantasms away.
"Can you fire your blasts directly into the tear--more or less cauterize the rift and perhaps force it to seal itself up?"
Egon considered the idea. "It might work--then again, it might cause the rift to grow even larger, perhaps past any hope of containment!"
Peter glanced over at the scientists. "You guys got an idea to save the day?"
"Possibly!" Egon called. "But it's incredibly risky!"
"And this is news to us?"
"Everyone go to narrow-band and fire into the rift!" Egon ordered; the Ghostbusters immediately complied. Four beams smashed into the pulsating tear in time and space. For a moment or two the tear seemed to shrink in upon itself.
"It's working!" Winston yelled.
"No, it's not," Egon said, shaking his head. "It's gone too far already. All we're doing is plugging it--keeping anything else from coming out."
"And we've still got the spooks in here to contend with!" Winston yelped. Sure enough, the phantasms were drifting lazily around the tight-knit circle of humans, held back by the sheer power of the Ghostbusters' proton packs, but waiting for the first sign of weakness for which to strike.
"So what now?" Pecos demanded, scooting closer inside the circle as a ghostly hand stroked her thigh.
Egon's mind raced. "Quickly," he suddenly snapped. "Reno, Perfect Tommy. Take my gear and Ray's off us and keep firing."
"Okay," the mystified Reno said as he helped the scientist get free from his pack. "But what are you guys going to do?"
"Consult with Doctor Banzai." Spengler and Stantz withdrew from their positions and knelt down with Banzai. "The device you used to pierce the dimensional barriers--where is it?" Egon asked tightly.
Buckaroo pointed to a nearby table. "You've got an idea?"
"Possibly." The scientists crept over to the table, ignoring the annoying onslaught of spooks that encircled them. "I assume your Oscillation Overthruster is the critical piece?"
"Correct. It sets the vibratory frequency needed to break through the dimension wall." Buckaroo smiled suddenly. "I see. Obtain the frequency of this rift, reverse the polarity of the neutron flow on my device…"
"…And the feedback should cause the rift to collapse on itself!" Ray finished. "Gosh, that is just brilliant!" He grabbed his PKE meter and set to work while Banzai and Spengler activated the…
"What do you call this, anyway?" Spengler asked.
Buckaroo shrugged. "The dimension-piercing device."
"My copyright lawyers think it needs some work." Just then Ray scrambled over and handed them a hastily scrawled note; Banzai read it, then punched in the frequency. "I believe we're ready."
"Be our guest!" Peter yelled.
The dimension-piercing device (patent pending) fired straight into the rift; at the same time, the Ghostbusters and their Cavalier assistants ceased fire. There was a sudden surge of power from the tear, but the instant the new beam touched the energy, an incredible flash of white light exploded from the point of impact. Ghostbuster and Cavalier alike fell under its intensity; Buckaroo later likened it to "seeing heaven for a heartbeat". Seconds later there was an unearthly whoosh as the rift reclaimed its power and sealed itself shut.
Of course, no one realized this until they woke up several minutes later.
* * * * *
Egon gave the room a final sweep with his PKE meter. "That's it," he announced as he shut the device off. "The rift is completely sealed shut."
"I'm very glad to hear that," Buckaroo grinned as he shook hands with the scientist. "My thanks, Doctor Spengler…and all of you. We owe you a great deal."
"That's for sure," Peter said to himself, juggling large figures in his head and scribbling them down on a small pad.
"At any rate," Banzai continued as he escorted the Ghostbusters toward their car, "perhaps you'd consider coming back soon and consulting with us on this project. I think you could contribute a great deal."
"We'd be happy to," Ray beamed. "Maybe now that we've plugged the leak, things will die down enough to come over. No pun intended," he added hurriedly.
"We'll be in touch." Buckaroo took the bill from Venkman, then watched as ECTO-1 headed toward the front gate. "Hmm," he said as he studied the itemized statement. "Good thing Rawhide can't see this."
"Why's that?" Tommy asked.
"If he'd seen how much they're charging us, he'd fall over dead again."
* * * * *
"Okay, genius," Peter said to Egon. "Out with it." Winston was guiding ECTO through the late afternoon traffic; while everyone seemed quite pleased with the day's work, Spengler had remained oddly silent. He stared out at the New York skyline, rubbing his chin thoughtfully.
"It's nothing," Egon said uncertainly. "It's just…something isn't adding up."
"Hey," Winston said from the driver's seat, "we plugged the hole, we stopped the spooks. What more can there be?"
"It's just odd that there was so much energy being put out, and yet when we closed the tear, the vicinity was completely clean. It doesn't add up," Egon repeated.
Ray shrugged. "If the place was clean, I don't see what else we can do."
"I know, I know. It just bothers me…"
* * * * *
At the fringe of New Brunswick stood two figures, one tall and cloaked in black, the other more colorfully attired but cringing. "It's not my fault," he whined repeatedly.
"You had to visit the facilities at that truck stop," raged the dark man. "You had to get involved in that dice game. You had to use those damned loaded dice of yours."
"But it all worked out, didn't it?" the shorter fellow pointed out. "Even if we didn’t get a chance to save the day?"
"Yes, and as a result that's one more financial windfall we missed out on!" The tall man glared icily at his companion. "There are times I wish you'd never drunk that immortality potion!"
"I thought it was awfully funny tasting wine…" The shorter man glanced across the highway; a police car was sitting there, the officer inside staring intently at the odd couple. "Uh-oh. They must have given the cops a good description."
The man with burning eyes and dark demeanor sighed to the heavens. "Another fine mess you've gotten us into, Myal."
I normally don't make a habit of rewriting my older work; it's time-consuming, it's frustrating, and it's time better spent writing new stuff. This one, however, is an exception. I was so embarrassed by the original version when I was retyping it that I started making changes here and there. The final version isn't perfect by any means, but I can live with it.
Parl and Myal come from Blakes 7 fandom; specifically, a book called Kill the Dead by Tanith Lee. Tanith, it seems, had a thing for Paul Darrow and Michael Keating, and wrote them into a novel she was doing. Since the story was for Annie Wortham and I was throwing all sorts of immortality and time/space travel references in, I figured what the heck.
And, because I'm a completist and it's something I always wanted it in this story…
Little Red shivered slightly as she opened the door to the Cryogenics Area. She peered within and with one hand patted the wall to find the light switch. The resulting illumination was still insufficient to quell the uneasy feeling in the pit of her stomach; this place gave her the creeps. Still, as head of the Infirmary it was her job to check the cryogenic chambers periodically and make sure that they were running within the specified parameters, so she swallowed, took a deep breath and stepped inside.
The door slammed shut behind her, making her jump about a foot into the air.
Red pulled her sweater around her; it was pretty cold in here, which made sense when you thought about it. Inside these chambers were the bodies of several fallen Cavaliers; while even Buckaroo admitted it to be a long shot, the Institute had nonetheless packed their bodies into these units in the hopes of somehow reviving them some day. Personally, Red figured that it was just Rawhide's way of saving on a funeral and burial, but…
Rawhide. Red stifled a sniffle and headed over to the next unit. Even now, she missed the big lug. They'd fought tooth and nail over every line of the Infirmary budget, but over time it had become a tradition, a game they both looked forward to. She'd even gone so far as add some utterly ridiculous expenditures to the budget, just for fun. This year, Buckaroo gave her budget a once-over and approved it without a single question. Red had gone to her room and cried for an hour.
Everything was checking out fine. Buckaroo would be pleased; after all that craziness with the Ghostbusters the other day, he had been a bit on the paranoid side. He'd insisted that everything be checked and double-checked, no matter how large or small. Well, two more chambers and she'd be done, and then she could go back to the Infirmary, report all was well, then have a nice hot cup of tea and some dark chocolate and forget all about this morbid place…
Red stared at the empty cryogenic chamber in front of her. Its lid lay to the right of the tube, undamaged. She blinked once, twice, three times and stared again. No change.
Little Red was not a woman who scared easily. Okay, there had been that really big spider of Hanoi Xan's, but that was a special situation. She knew all too well that some of the Cavaliers, Perfect Tommy in particular, had a really sick sense of humor. Then again, this was Rawhide's chamber. She wasn't sure anyone would go that far for the sake of a joke. Then again, given Tommy…
She ought to get on the Go-Phone and call Security just to be safe. She ought to get the hell out of there. She ought to…
"Hey, Red." Rawhide's drawl was unmistakable. "Where are my damn clothes? I'm freezin' my brass monkeys off in here…"
Little Red whirled around. There stood Rawhide in all his naked glory, looking surprisingly alive, all things considered. "Well?" he demanded.
"Homina homina homina," Red replied before passing out.
Rawhide caught her before she hit the floor; sighing, he hoisted her up and started looking for the door. "Must've been one hell of a party," he muttered to himself as he walked. "Don't know who put me down here, but they're in for one big surprise when I get hold of 'em, for sure…"