Deep within the warm abyss of his now docile brain, a recognizable tune twisted and whirled.
Beep-beep, burrrr-beep, burrrr-beep, burrrr-beep, burrrr-beep, da-da-da.
"I ain't afraid of no ghost."
Sheldon stirred a little in his spot, a satisfied smile playing on his lips. "Who you gonna call?" he muttered.
The guys had long since departed, leaving him to watch the end of the movie alone. His protests had fallen on deaf ears but as far as this physicist was concerned, abandoning a cult classic midway was sacrilege and caused insult to its creator. Without even considering that it down right irritated the heck out of him to leave anything incomplete and this was no exception.
"Dan Aykroyd is not going to know we went home," Howard said, with rising irritation.
"Yeah, and I need my beauty sleep," Raj whimpered.
"But it's the principle of the matter, we'll know," Sheldon complained.
"Unless you can guarantee I'm not going to crash the car due to sleepiness, I'm leaving now!" Howard was out of his seat and pulling on his jacket, as Leonard also stood up and stretched. "Not you too?" Sheldon said, sadly. "Your bedroom is only a few yards away."
"I'm done in Sheldon. We've been in front of this television most of the day and night. I'll see you tomorrow," he said. Then without even shutting down his laptop, he dropped it on the couch next to Sheldon and staggered towards the bedrooms before the lecture could start all over again. The tall man huffed loudly at their departure and turned his bleary eyes back to the screen in defiance.
Ten minutes later he was sound asleep.
The next morning, after leaving her groggy companions sprawled on the hotel bed, Penny trotted down to the poolside. It was a lovely calm day and so far it was deserted which suited her just fine. She chose a prime position, sprayed on an even layer of sun protection and ordered a light breakfast. Dragging out her notebook and the papers the front desk had printed from her emails, she settled down to study. This new job was the first challenge Penny had had in years and she was determined to do well.
Meanwhile, in the depths of Sheldon's subconscious, he and his fearless unit were about to face the battle of their lives. An appreciative crowd had gathered outside 2311 N. Los Robles Avenue to cheer the four heroes on as they courageously entered the front of the charred apartment building, armed only with paintball packs. Over the last six months Sheldon and his brave sidekicks had risen to fame as mighty defenders of Pasadena. They were the only emergency service capable of protecting the city against an inexplicable rise of dark matter demons. Whenever the laws of physics were being carelessly flouted, Sheldon, Leonard, Raj and Howard were there to put things right.
"Bangbusters! Bangbusters! Bangbusters!" the adoring crowd chanted and punched the air in unison.
"Okay guys, lets send those god forsaken rogue elements back to the inter-dimensional abyss they came from," said Sheldon. Howard triumphantly raised his paintball gun to hip height and posed for the crowd.
"Bangbusters! Bangbusters! Bangbusters!"
"I still think we should have brought our whiteboards," Raj said.
"No time for that, we can do the sums on the way," said Sheldon, taking the lead up the stairs. And off they went to confront the unholy nightmare that had taken up residence on the rooftop of Los Robles Avenue and quite possibly to save the world.
The chants had faded away when the boys finally arrived at the rooftop, but a terrible sight awaited them. An iridescent staircase had sprouted from nowhere and led up to a set of laboratory doors just like the ones at Caltech. Except these were expelling what looked to be noxious green clouds of luminous gas.
"There's definitely some unsanctioned scientific-mysticism here lads, stay frosty," said Howard, as they spread out to check the building.
Penny was languishing on a stone slab not far away, scantily dressed and looking completely intoxicated. She was not alone, nearby on another stone slab was Stuart, also disheveled and glassy-eyed.
"I see Penny's on another date with Stuart," Raj mocked.
Leonard threw him a disdainful look. "She's not on a date, she's possessed by the malignant force of the beast," he snarled back.
At the sound of voices, she turned and directed a longing growl towards Sheldon. Earlier that day the demon within her had attempted to seduce him, which he easily resisted. He was a man of science after all, unlike his comrade Leonard, who was scowling at them both. "It's just the beast making her do that," he muttered. Sheldon didn't reply but he suspected that this was not the whole truth. While it was true that dynamical dark energies had been brought forth all over Pasadena, creating inter-dimensional wormholes, matter disruption and freak time distortions, there were other more mundane forces at play here. The arguments between Penny and Leonard had increased since she changed her career, causing her to call off their engagement to "reassess the future". At the same time she had been different towards Sheldon, paying him more attention and taking a real interest in his work and interests, which only made his roommate's moods intensify. Furthermore, Sheldon found himself welcoming this change in Penny. There was something not quite right about their lives and he struggled to find a logical reason behind his suspicions.
At that moment, lightning struck with an almighty crash. Penny and Stuart began to undertake a transformation, their shapes growing and altering until two huge gorilla-like gargoyles manifested where they once lay. "My word, she really has changed," Sheldon gasped.
The gorilla-gargoyles bound up the staircase and positioned themselves obediently on either side of the laboratory doors. The ground began to shudder, the doors slowly creaked open, and a dark haired woman staggered out, tripping over her heavy shoes. She was dressed in a close fitted brown wool jumpsuit with an extra cardigan over the top and had fiery red eyes and slicked back hair. "Amy!" Sheldon hollered. "What in heaven's name are you playing at?" The wool-woman hissed at the sight of Sheldor the Conqueror, now her mortal enemy.
"I thought the beast would be male," Howard said.
"It's whatever it wants to be," Sheldon whispered.
"Well, it's your girlfriend so you deal with it!" said Leonard.
Sheldon approached the bottom of the stairs cautiously, to stand before her blood red gaze. The last time they had spoken he had explained once again why cohabiting was most undesirable, and thought it had all gone rather well. So he was at a complete loss as to what had caused this waywardness. "Amy," he said, calmly, "As a registered tenant of Los Robles Avenue I respectfully insist that you cease all supernatural activity, come down off the roof, and return to your own apartment. Taking residence on my rooftop is not permitted in the relationship agreement."
"Are you the building manager!" she growled in a disdainful tone.
"No…" Sheldon replied.
"THEN TAKE IT UP WITH HIM!" she screeched, raising her arms and expelling green electric bolts from her fingertips. The guys were blasted right across to the other side of the rooftop.
"To arms!" Sheldon cried, rolling over and up on to his feet. The others scrambled up behind him and pointed their guns at the creature, but she pounced away easily.
"She's too quick," Raj squealed, as they continued to fire.
"Aim for the cardigan!" Howard cried. They all fired simultaneously at the wool blend, driving large dollops of yellow paint deep into the fibers. There came a succession of splats, a sizzle and then…
Thousands of tiny mothballs scattering to the ground like hail, filling the air with a musty sweet aroma. After a rather long pause, Howard said, "I'm sorry Sheldon, your girlfriend exploded!"
"It's okay," he said, "at least the threat to all mankind is over." The guys relaxed and began to survey the damage around them. All except Raj, who was examining his dark matter detector with a very serious expression. "I don't think Amy was the beast," he said, warily.
"Well, of course she was," Sheldon scoffed. "Did you not witness the last three years of my life?"
"It can't be her," he said. "…the readings are going off the scale, there's something bigger, something much more evil."
The ground shuddered and cracks began to appear, crumpling the staircase as a gigantic obelisk rose from the centre of the rubble.
"HOWARRRRRRD!" An all-powerful voice commanded.
"Mom?" Howard asked.
"Quick, let's hide," Raj whispered, pulling on Howard's sleeve. "Maybe she'll get distracted by daytime television and fall asleep like usual."
"I'M NOT YOUR MOTHER!" came a shrill retort, which almost split their eardrums.
"Bernadette?" Howard gasped in utter disbelief. "The beast is my wife?" He turned to the others who didn't seem that surprised. Leonard shrugged, "Kind of makes sense…" he said. The others nodded in agreement.
"ALL THESE YEARS… TRAPPED IN THAT TEENY TINY BODY… PRETENDING TO BE LESS THAN I AM…" she bellowed.
"Bernie darling, there's no need to destroy Pasadena. Just tell me what you want?"
"ALL I WANT IS TO TEAR MORTAL FLESSSSH… "
"Well I always knew she was ambitious," Howard shrugged.
"YOU DESTROYED MY SUBORDINATE, FOWL THE FOWLING… NOW CHOOSE THE FORM OF YOUR DESTROYER!"
"Choose? What does she mean?" Raj asked.
"It's a trick," Leonard said. "If we think of Spock, then Spock will appear and destroy us. Empty your heads." He squeezed his eyes and fists tightly and blanked out all thought.
"THE CHOICE HAS BEEN MADE!" roared Beastanette.
"What? No one chose!" Leonard protested, looking at each of them for reassurance.
Sheldon stepped forward, paintball gun in hand, bold and resolute. "I chose!"
"But you told us not to choose anything."
"Correct. I told you not to choose anything."
"Oh great! It's Spock then," Leonard spat.
A thunderous pounding shook the earth. They froze as it came again. Low, slow and oddly padded thuds continued, closer and closer. Raj and Howard rushed to the edge of the rooftop to see what was coming to destroy them all. "What the hell is that?" Howard asked.
Leonard ran over to join them and after taking in the approaching killer, he turned towards Sheldon in disgust. "Soft kitty?" he snarled.
"We're going to be mauled to death by a giant toy cat!" Raj sobbed.
"Reload your paintball guns!" Leonard yelled, backing away from the edge of the building as the footsteps came ever closer. It's button eyes fixed on them and a muffled growl reverberated from the foam face. Raj, Howard and Leonard began to fire, the obelisk crumbling around them in a cloud of dust and paint, but their efforts had no effect.
"The paintball guns won't work. Don't irritate it." Sheldon wasn't firing. He was standing in the same position with his gun down, waiting.
"Don't irritate it! Are you mad?" Howard yelled, as the three guys leapt away from a huge velveteen paw, swiping in their direction.
"We're doooommmed!" Raj screeched.
"Soft kitty, warm kitty, little ball of fur…" came Sheldon's song from behind them.
The guys turned to look in bewilderment. "In a round!" Howard shouted pushing to the front. "Soft kitty, warm kitty…" he started, with the others joining in.
The kitty ceased the swiping attack and began to sway, listening intently to the lullaby. Its button eyes closed slowly and a thunderous purr shook the building. Then the huge toy sunk down on its belly and seemed to fall fast asleep before disintegrating in a puff of sparks and dust.
Seconds later, the crowd below erupted into applause. "We did it!" Leonard said, smiling broadly. The guys fell into congratulatory hugs, and Sheldon keen to avoid physical contact, patted them on the shoulders and began to scrutinize the mangled remains of the gorilla-gargoyles, which had plunged down the damaged staircase when the obelisk appeared.
He poked a gloved finger at the surface of the closest gargoyle and noticed there was movement within. "They're alive!" Sheldon shouted, and he began to pull sections away from the crumbling statue.
Raj and Howard rushed to the other gargoyle and began to burrow, more and more stone dust flying into the air as they did so. Stuart's groan came from deep within. On hearing this, Leonard rushed over to help Sheldon dig out Penny only to be overcome by the fragments in the air. He staggered backwards and dropped down on the ground, fumbling for his inhaler.
A large chunk fell away and Penny emerged as if waking from a bad dream. "Where am I?" she asked. As she tried to step out of the stone prison she wavered, but Sheldon took her arm to steady her and lifted her out. Her face was covered in dust but he had just the thing. Inside his overalls was a packet of wipes and he began to gently clean her cheek. "What happened?" she asked groggily.
"You were enthralled by a dark matter beast," he said, "which had been living in the guise of Bernadette."
"Huh…" she said, thinking for a few seconds, "Kind of makes sense…"
"That's what I said!" Leonard wheezed from a few feet away.
"So, you're like one of those monster-fighting genius guys?" said asked.
"Yeah, I'm a Bangbuster," he said, lowering her on to his knee for support as he started on the other cheek.
"So am I…" Leonard coughed weakly, but she didn't seem to notice.
"Wow," Penny said and before he could react she pulled his face toward hers…
Brrrring, Brrrring, Brrrring.
Disoriented Sheldon turned towards the sound emanating from the laptop next to him and hit a key to answer the incoming call. "Bangbusters, how can I help you?" he said automatically.
"Huh?" Penny's face appeared on the screen. "Bangbusters? What's a bang… buster… Sheldon?" His mind cleared in an instant as the apartment came into view around him, the smiling but puzzled face of Penny framed in the laptop. "I-I must have been dreaming," he stammered, almost to himself.
"Yes you must have been…" She chuckled, "Bangbusters? You'll have to tell me about that one."
Sheldon had a vague feeling that was not such a good idea. "I'll get Leonard," he said nervously and scampered off to wake him.
Beta - The toad of truth.