New Years Spooktacular
January 1, 1990
"Raymond, look at this," Egon Spengler said without taking his eyes off the steadily increasing digital readout on the screen of his PKE meter. The unit's arms extended outward to either side with enthusiasm matched only by that of Ray Stantz himself.
"Well this is great," Stantz replied giddily. "A PKE surge of this magnitude can only mean the estuaries have yet to evacuate fully."
"Agree," Spengler said. "Residual psychomagnotheric torrents would explain these intense fluctuations. I say we venture out street level to continue to track these patterns."
"Residual torrents," Winston repeated, his brows furrowed in attempt to make sense of what his colleagues were discussing. "As in there's still more slime under the streets of NY?"
"Precisely," Spengler replied calmly.
"Excuse me Egon," Venkman interrupted from his position perched against the pool table, "you said sending that charming Carpathian back through the painting would put an end to all this slime business. Now I don't know how you like to celebrate the New Year but my schedule usually involves lots of sleep and maybe a champagne hangover."
"Peter, Vigo was merely the manifestation of the negative emotion the plasm-river was channeling. His absence from our dimension merely means the slime has become a psychic turbulent conductor without bias."
"English, Egon. Please."
"Pete, the slime that's still here is free to pick up and harness whatever emotional rifts may be passing by," Ray interjected. "Love, hate, anger, sadness, joy..."
"Okay I get it. We have to hope everyone in New York is having a great day or else the pink ooze festering underground is going to be really angry."
"Not just angry, Peter. According to these latest readings, it could potentially focus enough psychic turbulence to create rifts in the dimensional fabric."
"Think gateways to other planes of existence," Ray added. "This would be like closet doors for entities eager to enter our world."
"So what can we do about it?"
"I vote we move to someplace happier. And warmer," Winston said through a grin. "I hear Miami's nice this time of year."
Egon and Ray looked at each other approvingly. "We've been talking about a few different options," Ray said. "Possibly running the slime through a positive energy converter before releasing it back into the system."
Venkman rubbed his temples with a sigh. "Ray, I don't suppose anywhere in all of your and Egon's delusions of grandeur anyone stopped to calculate how we could possibly get paid for any of this."
"The thought had crossed our minds," he replied cheerfully. "Unfortunately unless we can convince the city that our theory is correct, all we have to go on is speculation."
"I know I'm going to regret asking this, but how are we supposed to prove this theory correct?"
"We've got to go back down to take more readings."
"And by down, you don't mean downtown, maybe watch the parade while we're there?"
"No Peter, he means back into the subterranean. Hopefully to trace the ectoplasmic river back to its source," Egon said, shutting off the PKE meter with an audible click.
"Boy I'm glad I asked."
"The last time I went down there, I got to see the interior of a ghost train from the exterior. That's as it ran me down," Winston said assuredly. "Nobody's less enthused about going back than this guy."
"Don't be so sure about that," Venkman added dryly.
January 1, 1990
Abandoned Subway Tunnels Under Manhattan
"Why is it there's never any hauntings on the beaches of Maui?" Venkman muttered to no one in particular while pushing a clod of dusty spiderweb away from his face with a gloved hand. "Maybe the ghost of a bikini-clad lifeguard who made the ultimate sacrifice while on duty?"
"How are you reading?" Spengler said.
"Coming in at between 1 and 1.2 GeVs," Ray answered. He ran a sweep of his arm and hand holding the brightly lit Giga Meter in a loose circle. "Pretty warm still considering when we sent Vigo back through the gate, the slime should have dropped to full neutrality. What about you, Z?"
Winston looked up from the buzzing KUD Meter he was holding. "Uh, 0.000010. That sound about right?"
"You're sweeping for fluctuations in dimensional consistency," Egon added. "Anything under .0042 is nominal."
"Guys, I hate to break up nerd-fest 1990 here but I told Dana I'd take her out for New Year's Dinner. Any chance at all we can maybe pick this stuff up again, oh I don't know, maybe during the week? Say Tuesday at noon while I'm taping?"
"No-can-do, Pete," Ray said. "These readings are all pointing to something grim on the horizon."
"What, grim? You all just said the readings are normal."
"Not normal, Peter. Just slightly askew from nominal," Egon fired back from behind the PKE meter. "The natural psychokinetic rhythms of the area have yet to balance."
"So what? Maybe they're going to need until Valentine's Day to balance out. Heart shaped boxes, chocolates, there's a whole lot of stray love in the air. That toaster of yours might be writing sonnets by then."
"This way," Ray announced, signaling to a small offshoot from the main tunnel. "The readings are slightly stronger through here."
"Yes," Egon confirmed before Ray could complete his question. "It's the west branch of the tunnel where you had collected the initial sample."
"It's just a trickle now," Winston observed. "Nothing like the river we all swam in."
"Correction, you all swam in," Venkman said. "I was trying to have a nice meal with a lovely women that evening if memory serves."
"If the slime is receding, these readings are especially strange," Stantz said, his attention returning to the Giga Meter. "The energy we assumed was being generated down here must not be as wide spread as we hoped."
"Hmm," Egon said as he crouched to take a PKE reading of the area above the tickle. "Unless what we're detecting is in fact a focused phantasm. Perhaps something else came through the gate."
"Guys, as someone who was there the whole time, I can state with confidence nothing else came or went through that painting last night," Winston added assuredly.
"Not the painting, Z, but the parallelogram of slime flowing beneath the surface," Ray said. "There was certainly enough of this stuff trucking along down here to generate some serious rifts. A gate that size could have let through something very big."
"Like 35-foot long Twinkie big?"
"Uh yeah, more or less. Maybe something closer to a 20-foot cupcake but I think you get the idea," Ray said.
"All this talk of food has me thinking I probably shouldn't leave the ol ball & chain waiting for me at the restaurant . Again."
"It's just as well," Egon said, returning the meter to its holster. "It appears there is little more to be gained by staying down here though I would like to overlay a schematic of the slime-flooded tunnels against a map of the streets above to get a better sense of where the disturbance manifested."
"That's a great idea," Ray said enthusiastically. "First thing tomorrow morning I'll head down to Hall of Records and see what I can turn up."
"I can try the Mass Transit Authority," Winston said. "See what they have on record for mapping out these subways."
"Good and I'll pay the utility companies a visit," Egon said. "Between the three of us, we should have a pretty good fix on the geography of the activity."
Peter shook his head. "Look at you guys. All excited about getting up early and staring at a bunch of dusty old maps. The moment anyone figures out how we can earn a penny doing all this work, I want to be the first person you contact."
"But you said never to disturb you unless it's an actual emergency."
"Ray, working for the city of New York on a strictly voluntary basis is a real emergency. It's jobs like this that remind me I owe the mayor a solid sit-down where I plan to propose a package where the city itself foots the bill for any paranormal eliminations we perform rather than the consumers directly. Think of the tourist opportunities a spook-free New York would offer the world."
"Our busts paid for by the Department of Parks and Tourism. Brilliant," Ray shouted.
"Perhaps it wouldn't be a bad idea for the city to invest in an insurance policy to cover any damages to property or landmarks that could inadvertently take place as a result of our service."
"Good thinking Egon, I'll be sure to bring that up as well. Now let's get out of here and salvage what's left of this New Year's Day. It's the 90s people, let's try to start acting like it."
January 2, 1990
Ray unfolded a large map of the city and set it across the pool table. Egon squinted then lined up his transparency of the telephone service lines atop the map.
"And accounting for the addition of the Rockaway Line in 1956, it would appear we have a pretty close match," Ray said through the steadily rising smoke of the cigarette hanging between his lips. "Assuming that cable company schematic you got is more up to date than Con Edison's.".
"Which would place the vortex of the disturbance roughly here..."
"Let me guess," Venkman said, appearing at the top step of the firehouse, "the Manhattan Museum of Art."
"Close Pete, but this would be dead center of 8th," Ray said, looking at Egon's finger on the map.
"Not Greenwich Village."
"It looks like Washington Square," Egon said.
"Neat," Venkman replied, half invested in the conversation. "I brought donuts. Even got those peanut sticks you like Egon."
"Washington Square," Ray repeated, exhaling a stream of smoke. "Before it was built in 1826, the entire area was used as a burial ground."
"Always hot with baseline PKE," Egon added, "but nothing to suggest a cross fold until now."
"Think it was the combination of natural turbulence and the framing of the slime lines?"
"Possibly. Could also be the residual pull on the dimensional fabric caused by Vigo attempting to enter through the painting."
"Guys," Janine Melnitz interrupted, coming in slightly out of breath from her climb up the stairs. "We got company. One of the mayor's former advisers..."
"We've already met, no need for fancy introductions," said Jack Hardemeyer as he pushed his way past the secretary. "I hope yours was a happy and productive New Year gentlemen."
Venkman wheeled, a single bite missing from the powdered jelly in his hand. "I don't remember inviting this turd over here. You guys invite this turd over here?"
"No," Egon said.
"I would never," Winston added.
Venkman turned back slowly. "What'd you do Ray?"
"Everyone just relax," Stantz said. "Mr. Hardemeyer liked your idea, Pete. He says the city would be interested in considering a proposal to finance the permanent removal of paranormal activity from within its borders."
"Oh well that changes everything. Would you like a doughnut, turd?"
"Now, now," Hardemeyer said through his permanent toothy grin, "no need for hard feelings. I come here today as a representative of new opportunities and hopefully to usher in an era of governmental and Ghostbuster cooperation. I hope we can leave the past in the past."
"Of course we can," Venkman said sardonically. "Of course that would be a lot easier for us to do if we were the ones who had you committed."
"For what it's worth that move cost me my position with the mayor's office."
"Wait a minute if what you mean to tell us is you're no longer the mayor's personal adviser, then what in the world are we listening to this for? Escort him to the door, Janine."
"Wait just a moment. I'm only asking you to hear me out. If you don't like what I have to say, I'll gladly show myself to the door."
"Make it snappy, we've got important business going on up here. Burial grounds and slime tunnels and stuff."
"Well you see part of my demotion entailed taking a position with the Department of Parks and Recreation. And I'm fine with that. I'm all for a cleaner and healthier New York. First day on the job though and I'm encountering things I can't explain."
"What kind of things," Ray asked.
"Well we've been getting all sorts of strange sightings from Native tobacco farmers to hangings on the gallows in the northwest corner. Someone even said they saw Giuseppe Garibaldi."
"So what do you want us to do about it? Bust these characters so the city can stiff us on the bill again? Set us up for another half a decade as defendants?"
"The mayor is very concerned. He has asked the Department personally to appoint a task-force and is in the process of having the budget approved. I can promise you full funding but we must act quickly. You guys were my first choice. If you aren't interested, I have to head back downtown to meet up with that television medium on WKRR-TV Wednesday mornings at 3am. See if he'd like to perform a government-funded seance or something."
"The All-Seeing Nakia? I know him! He's an even bigger fraud over there than I am."
"Well this does coincide with the disturbances Spengler and I have been recording," Ray said with a sigh. "Suppose it could warrant taking a look."
"I'll warm up Ecto-1a," Winston said, climbing out of his bed. "But there better be a hot meal somewhere in all of this before the day is over."
January 2, 1990
6th Ave Toward Washington Pl
"Do you think the police escort was really necessary Pete?"
"Ray, sometimes I'm convinced you fail to see the importance in our work."
"Besides this is just our tax dollars at work guys," Winston added from behind the wheel. "In a way, we're actually paying ourselves."
"Thank you, Winston."
"These readings are bad," Egon interrupted from the backseat.
"Egon, again with this whole good, bad thing. I thought we covered this."
"Whatever it is that's attempting to punch into our world, it's doing so with unparalleled ferocity. It's making the door our past Class 7 came through look like a red carpet."
Ray coughed from the passenger seat. "And we just barely closed that one by crossing the streams on the other side. I'm not aware of anything on the entire Reference Net capable of the turbulent forces Spengler's been recording since New Year's Eve."
"Look!" Egon shouted the moment he lifted his eyes up from the display of his PKE meter.
"Mother puss bucket," Venkman muttered. "Here we go again."
Serving as the backdrop to hordes of terrified pedestrians fleeing in the opposite direction and nearly as tall as the Washington Square Arch itself, the source of the bulging energy surges revealed itself with a deafening roar. With eyes glowing red like fire and brown rippling flesh that barely covered a massive skeleton, the creature ducked between the arch's central support, collecting a handful of terrified humans and dropped them into its gaping, yellow-toothed maw.
"What in the hell is that?" Winston said, slamming on the car's brakes with a squeal.
"I've never seen its like in Tobin's Spirit Guide or Spates Catalog for that matter," Ray said, unable to turn his attention away from the scene unfolding from beyond his window.
"Of course," Egon said. "That's because it's not, by definition, a ghost."
"No, Egon's definitely right," Venkman added. "That thing has got to be a monster of some sort."
"No Peter, it's a Wantannabe. A destroyer of worlds."
"Well that's what I meant."
"Wan-ta-nna-be," Ray repeated slowly.
"Okay I give guys," Winston said. "What is a Wantannabe?"
"In folklore it has gone under a wide variety of names; cave troll, eastern swamp ogre, jungle death ape," Ray began.
"When in fact it is an ancient inter-dimensional traveler. Something not born of our world," Egon added. "With origins tracing back to the dawn of mankind."
"Yes these 'ogres' have been documented as far back as in early cave paintings in Indonesia and France. Dismissed as legend but probably responsible for the near extinction of our species countless times throughout the ages," Ray said.
"Well what's it doing here in New York?"
"It's an opportunist Peter, likely drawn to the instability Vigo introduced to the continuum. This explains why we were able to monitor the energy fluctuations but not an entity itself."
"I say we gear up and show it a few things changed in the past 40,000 years," Winston said, slamming the car into park. "That is if our equipment works on inter-dimensional travelers of course."
"I'm not entirely sure."
"It looks like it hasn't fully phase shifted into our scale of existence," Ray said. "Likely bordering on the ethereal plane. Obsessionally solidified enough to pop a handful of onlookers into that hideously over-sized jaw of his like potato chips."
"In which case our positronic ionized particle streams would likely polarize it to some degree even if it's not completely negatively charged like a true ectoplasmic entity," Egon said.
"That's good, right?"
"It's good enough for me," Venkman said, opening up his car door.
"Though capture or entrapment will be extremely unlikely if the ionization rate is off even slightly."
"Well then our only hope will be to try and push it back to whatever dimension it calls home," Ray said concerned. "But without a door, that's going to be tricky."
Behind them the creature swept up another handful of screaming citizens and made short work of them.
"Ray, you and Winston strap into the Slime Blowers. Venkman, you and I will approach it with Proton Packs."
"Hey, just give me anything with a trigger, Spengs."
Standing elbow to elbow, the four men were dwarfed by the rampaging creature, which flickered in an out of existence like a bulb on the brink of blowing.
"A bit taller as we get closer isn't it?" Ray said.
"Little more than 20-feet of cupcake if I do say so myself," Winston added.
"For your information Ray it's 67-feet tall, give or take three quarters of an inch," Egon said.
"Well however tall it is it's got to get by The Ghostbusters right?"
"Okay guys, suck in your guts, the news people just got here."
"Step aside ladies and gentleman. Allow these men entry," Hardemeyer announced, flanked by half a dozen uniformed police officers. Panic-stricken people scurried past from all directions.
"That's us for ya," Venkman muttered. "Always going the opposite direction of the screaming masses."
"Set your thrower to maximum neutrona and go full stream for its head on my mark," Egon said.
"Egon, you disappoint me. I know better than to aim for the ankles these days."
Suddenly a massive hand came down again, this time sweeping up the officers leading the way and Hardemeyer as well. In one swift motion it tossed their flailing bodies into the still January air before swallowing them whole.
Venkman's eyes widened. "There went our paycheck! Blast it!"
The scene exploded in a shower of wildly undulating orange light as the two proton streams found their target. Sparks intermittently rained from the burning flesh of the creature as it flashed in and out of tangibility. The giant took a slow step back to stabilize itself then began thrashing violently, sending bodies, cars and chunks of concrete flying in all directions.
"Save it," Egon called out. Venkman held his stream a moment longer. "It's what I feared, we're stinging it but we don't possess enough energy to neauronize something of that magnitude."
The four men crouched down beside the base of the arch. Debris toppled freely all around.
"Funny us saving this city time and time again only to get swallowed whole by some primitive alien dimension hopper with an insatiable appetite for human flesh."
"Ray, I thought we talked about this two night ago," Venkman said with a light slap across his partner's cheek. "You're going to try to be more positive about these apocalyptic things."
"I don't suppose crossing the streams might help?" Winston said, ducking as fragments of concrete and a plume of dust engulfed them.
"No, that would only lead to a small scale nuclear explosion in our dimension."
"We've got enough positively charged plasm in these tanks to tear open a small rift, Z, but a lot of good that would do us without knowing the exact whereabouts of dimensional doorway," Ray said.
"Of course Ray, that's it," Egon exclaimed.
"Yes the creature is the doorway. It's what's standing between our dimension and its own. We must have sent Vigo through before it could fully enter our world."
"Then that would mean there's only one way to send it back with enough of a wallop to make even its great grandchildren think twice about coming back here," Ray said, flipping his Slime Blower to life.
"I'm almost afraid to ask," Venkman said dryly, "but what does this entail?"
"We'd tell you Pete but you wouldn't like it anyway. Just keep your thrower set to full stream and follow our lead."
Winston turned to Peter. "Well it's tough to argue with them when they're both in agreement like this."
Ray and Egon stepped back into the creature's path, weapons drawn but not firing. Peter and Winston did the same.
"Just be ready to fire everything you've got on my mark and don't stop firing until either I say to or you're dead."
"Egon, you're dangerously close to getting the same talk I had to give Ray."
With a terrifyingly quick swipe, the four men were within the creature's grasp, rising skyward with sickening acceleration. In a moment the gaping pit of its outstretched jaw filled their line of sight.
"Now," Spengler shouted in the instant of weightlessness before gravity caught up with them.
Venkman felt his finger find the trigger as it had countless times before, the instantaneous recoil of his spewing thrower rebelling slightly against the force of gravity pulling him and the others into the foul blackness of the massive throat before them.
In conjunction with two powerful jets of foaming pink froth, his was the second stream of heat and light to punch its way into the creature's cavernous interior.
There was an instant where time stood still; when the light and sound and chaos ceased. They were no longer falling. The end of life as they knew it? The serene embrace of death? Then a rumble and the familiar sensation of concussion.
Life flashed its way back all around them, a fury of shock, heat, wetness and rushing ground to greet them.
They, along with dozens of others who had been consumed, tumbled and rag-dolled across the open expanse, looking up just in time to catch glimpse of the Wantannabe, gut a vast dripping crater, implode violently into a wisp of curling smoke.
Ray was first to his feet, covered in a blend of saliva and positively charged pink foam. The nozzle of his Slime Blower trailing freely behind him as he wheeled.
"Here," Spengler said as he slowly got into a crouching position.
"I'm okay too," Winston said, coming across the rousing wet crowd to greet them.
"Over there. Bottom of the pile."
They began assisting the dazed onlookers to their feet until finally all that remained was Venkman, flat on his back, and a slim dark-haired woman atop him.
"Don't move this last one until I've at least gotten her number."
January 2, 1990
Janine poured the last of the pot's coffee into Egon's cup as Winston came into the office area, towel still draped across his shoulder.
"Funny how a hot shower can almost make you forget that you were just in some mythological creature's digestive system. Almost."
"Well Louis, what do you think?" Ray asked.
"As your attorney, I wouldn't have you enter into any contract that could potentially contain any loopholes, fine print or bait and switches."
"And..." Venkman added from his desk.
"And this here is solid contract front to back. Congratulations guys. I went from defending you in a court of law from an extended prison visit to endorsing an honest-to-goodness government contract all in the course of a week. Only in New York!"
"This stipend should be just what we need to further fine tune the equipment. Now I just need an ectoplasmic entity willing to sit through extensive testing protocols."
The front split-doors parted and in walked Dana Barrett, young Oscar in one arm and a stack of the evening post in the other.
Peter jumped the half-door to his office and greeted her in the middle of the open room near the car.
"You look absolutely incredible tonight."
"Well thank you, Peter."
Taking Oscar into his arms, he added, "And Dana you don't look too bad yourself."
Still smirking, she dropped the stack of newspapers onto Janine's desk. "Front page again, boys. It's starting to look like you're making a habit of this."
"Tough to say if that'll still be the case when we're under government contract, Miss Barrett, but so long as there's something strange in the neighborhood..."