The Real Ghostbusters and its characters are owned by DiC and Columbia Pictures. All original characters are my own creation. Thanks also to Fritz Baugh for his opinions on the writing so far.
Chapter 1: Spooky and Sweet
On a humid summer night in Upper Manhattan, old Bob Prestwick turned over in his bed as he hovered precariously over the abyss that lay between sleeping and waking. Even though he had switched on the dehumidifier a couple of hours earlier than normal, it was still fairly muggy in the tenement flat above the small antique shop Bob owned, and this was interfering with his comfort levels. He lay on his back, the most comfortable position he had found, his eyes closed, trying to sink into sleep, willing himself not to move again. A relative calm hung in the air, the only noise coming from the engine of the occasional car wending its way down the street.
Suddenly, a strange noise broke the near-silence. Bob's eyes jerked open at the sound. "Damn that noise," he muttered. "Just as I was gettin' off to sleep as well. Probably the darn birds disturbin' them loose ceiling tiles. Ah, well." He was about to settle back into his rhythm when a loud bang came from downstairs.
This time Bob jerked right up off the mattress. He was suddenly fearful. What was going on? What could have produced such a sound? Not a gas leak, surely? He always made sure the electricity and gas were in full working order…A bizarre noise that sounded eerily like a laugh suddenly emanated from downstairs. Bob was very definitely afraid now. Then he heard a voice, not a human voice but a raspy, alien one. He couldn't quite hear what was being said, but nonetheless the sound of the voice sent chills rattling up his spine. He thought to himself quickly. Should he go investigate or was this something he should stay well away from?
Another voice, this time a male human voice, made itself heard from the shop below. Almost without thinking about it, Bob raised himself to his feet and padded across the small bedroom to the cabinet where he kept his shotgun. He opened the door and hefted the weapon before proceeding to the door leading onto the upstairs landing. He nudged the door open as silently as possible and stepped forward. The sounds of footsteps wafted up the stairs, and then bleak silence.
Bob proceeded down the stairs, holding his shotgun, his thumb stroking the safety catch nervously. Reaching the door that led into the shop, he pressed the door handle down and shoved the door open. He braced himself, gun at the ready…
The scene was quiet, but it was immediately obvious to Bob that something untoward had happened. The main door was wide open, the summer breeze wafting its way into the shop. Several items of merchandise lay in pieces on the ground, the sight of which drew a perplexed frown from Bob. And most noticeably of all, a man lay on the ground his side, unmoving.
Realising it could be serious, Bob kneeled down by the prone figure's side, resting his shotgun on the ground. He took hold of his arm and felt for a pulse. He found one, beating steadily away under his wrist. Thank goodness. Remembering the first aid course he had taken during his time in the Army, he checked for any injuries that may have left him in such a position. He soon discovered an ugly welt on the man's balding head. He must have been struck upside the head, thought Bob grimly. Any harder and he woulda been out permanently. Well, best get the poor guy to a hospital…
The old man became aware of a sudden chill that had taken hold of the room. The feeling made him reach instinctively for his weapon. Holding it, he looked around the shop for any hidden sign of life. The whole store had taken on a spooky, milky quality, and it filled Bob with a subdued sense of alarm. Not only that, but there was a strange smell in the air. A smell like something burning. So very spooky…
Spooky? Bob shuddered slightly as he ran that word through his head. Could a ghost have just visited his store? He remembered that laugh he had heard, a laugh that had seemed to emanate from the darkest recesses of the murky unknown…
His line of thought was broken by a murmur from the prostrate figure on the floor. Crouching down by him again, Bob saw that the mysterious victim had started to regain consciousness. The man twitched his head. "Take it easy, now," Bob spoke gently. The man's eyes flickered open and he blinked unseeing up at Bob. "W-where am I?" he slurred. "Who're you?" He blinked rapidly and then took on a confused and even slightly panicked look. "Who am I?"
Bob sighed. Poor bastard's lost his memory. Best get on the phone.
He went behind the till and made the call. After hanging up, he decided to himself that he'd make another call in the morning…to the only organisation in New York City that would be able to check up on his possible ghost problem.
"C'mon, Slimer. We don't have all day."
Ray and Slimer sat (or in the latter's case, hovered) at the table in Ghostbuster Central's living room area, at a game of checkers. Above them lurked Peter, the psychologist looking down on the game, his arms crossed. "Ray, is there some sort of hidden purpose to this game you haven't told me about?" asked the brown-haired Ghostbuster. "Because it's obvious to me that Slimer doesn't have a clue how this game goes."
Ray looked up at his colleague and friend. "Well, Peter, me and Egon have been trying to improve Slimer's receptory skills. You know, using things like games and the like."
Peter rolled his eyes. "Uh-huh. And have you geniuses made any progress?"
Ray thought for a second. "Uh, weeell, y'know, I think…," he gave slight confused chuckle, "that is to say, Egon thinks…"
"Nope, thought not." said Peter in an exaggeratedly glib tone of voice, turning in the other direction for a few seconds. "Anyway, don't you think you're setting your goals too high with this thing? I mean, why don't you start with something easier? Like teaching calculus to preschoolers, for example."
Ray made a concilliatory gesture with his arms. "Ah, come on, Peter. What harm can it do?" He recoiled suddenly as the checkers went flying without warning. Slimer had lost patience and seemingly also his temper, and had swept the pieces off the board in rage, leaving a streak of slime across the board. "Slimer! Ohh…" Slimer turned away from Ray, his arms folded, gibbering away in his usual unintelligible fashion.
"You're a bad loser, slimeball." reprimanded Peter, pointing his finger in the ghost's face. "And Mama Venkman didn't bring me up to tolerate that sort of behaviour under my roof." Ray detected an undertone he was very familiar with. An undertone that said: You just wait here while I go get a proton pack and a trap. Ray remained cool as ice, however. "Don't worry, Peter. He's not as if he can help it. After all, he doesn't have the kind of restraint humans have."
Peter rolled his eyes. "You don't say, Einstein. So, I take it by your philosophical attitude that you'll be picking up the pieces?" At that point they heard voices from outside. Then Egon and Winston entered the firehouse, still jogging as they licked away at ice-creams. Normally Egon would be up in the lab occupied with some way-out-there experiment, or tending to his latest gadget, or otherwise clearing up the place after damn near blowing it to smithereens as a result of one of the aforementioned experiments. But Winston had seemingly been on a mission to get Egon out of the firehouse more, and he had finally succeeded…after he had promised Egon they would stop by the physicist favourite ice-cream parlour. Egon had of course compensated by getting up to start his daily work an hour earlier. There was no deterring that man.
Peter went up to greet them. "Left-right-left-right-left-right-left-right-left-right," he chanted in a parody of a military drill instructor calling double-time. "At ease, Privates. Let's have the reports on those ice-creams, and let's have 'em now." he ordered.
Winston and Egon played along. "Tasty and satisfying. Just what the doctor ordered." said Winston. Egon deliberated for a moment.
"Hmm. Rich in flavour, with the right level of sweetness…maybe a touch too soft…" said the physicist slowly. "Maybe I should do a chemical analysis. And then use the results to suggest how Billy can create the perfect ice-cream." This drew a chuckle from the other three.
"Well, if we ever run out of ghosts, we could always turn to making ice-cream. With Egon on our side we could control the market." joked Ray.
Winston nodded in response. "Not a bad idea, not a bad idea," said the black man, playing along. "Peter, make a note of it, will ya?"
"I would, Winston, but you can forget that idea. Slimer would gobble up the whole supply before we could sell it." cracked Peter.
"That reminds me. Ray, how did the games of checkers go? Ah." Egon's voice cut off as the mess Slimer had left caught his eye. "No need to answer that question." He chewed and crunched the cone, devouring it in mere seconds.
"Calories come off, calories go back on again," noted Peter, watching his friend eat.
A nasal female Brooklyn-accented voice interrupted the flow of conversation. "Hey, guys. We've just got a call from the owner of an antiques store. He thinks he mighta been visited by a ghost in the night."
Ray got to his feet. "An investigational case. Could be fun." Winston unfolded his arms.
"What's the name and address, Janine?" asked the latter.
"The name's Bob Prestwick. He lives uptown at 20 Phillips Street." explained the secretary.
"Old Man Prestwick? Don't you know him, Ray?" asked Peter.
"Kinda. I've visited his store a few times. He's had some interesting items in that little place he owns…some even occult-related. He's always had a passing interest in the supernatural, although he's never seriously studied it." Ray went to recover their jumpsuits from the wardrobe. He gathered them up and handed them out. "We'd better bring the packs just in case."
The Ghostbusters wasted no time in getting the gear loaded up. Soon, with a screech of tyres, Ecto-1 was rolling out through the large set of double doors before rocketing down Pell Street, Ray at the wheel. After watching them head off, Janine noticed the mess Slimer had made, the checkers pieces strewn over the wooden floorboards, green slime streaked across the board and flecks of slime adorning the table and one of the chairs. Janine shrugged. "Well, there's nothing in my job description about clearing up messes made by ghosts. That's more THEIR bag." And with those words, she sat down behind her desk. Popping a piece of bubblegum into her mouth, she began blowing away as she began writing a letter to her sister.
Ecto-1 slid through the streets of downtown Manhattan, Ray deftly weaving the converted hearse in and out of traffic with the devil-may-care vigour of a New York cabbie. He still managed to exchange a few words of conversation with his friends as he did so, though. "So, guys, got any ideas of what we'll find there?"
Egon adjusted his glasses. "Well, it stands to reason that when Mr. Prestwick said 'visited', he was, um, euphemising somewhat. It's entirely possible that this ghost, if indeed that's what we're dealing with, saw something of interest in the shop."
"Ray, you said that the old guy occasionally had items of occult interest to sell, right?" asked Winston.
"Yeah. Nothing too scary or out-there, mind," answered the young engineer. "Nothing that would bring about the end of the world or re-summon Cthulhu, no, nothing like that. Most they could do between them is probably summon a few minor spirits."
"Phew. Well, that's something," breathed Peter. "But the old man's getting on, Ray. How do you know he just hasn't been taking his medication recently or something?"
"No, Peter. He may be old, but he's still as sharp as a knife. And if he says they are spooks in his building, then I'm inclined to believe him." countered Ray.
Egon turned to Peter. "We'll keep our minds open. It's even possible that what he felt may be residuals from a previously haunting or some such. Is this the address, Ray?"
"Yep. This is it." He swung Ecto-1 over to the kerb and pulled up. The Ghostbusters alighted and retrieved their proton packs from the rear storage space. Strapping on the powerful devices, the four men glanced up and down the street. It was a fairly quiet, benign area, consisting mainly of two-storey houses in rows, dotted with curious-looking shops and other small businesses. Definitely not a hip-and-happening part of town. They approached the shop, whose front door was marked with a slightly ominous 'Sorry – Closed For Today' sign.
Finding the door locked, Ray knocked lightly. Bob Prestwick's wizened face appeared as he pulled aside the door curtain briefly. Seeing who the visitors were, he unlocked the door and opened it. "Good morning, gentlemen. Please come through, I'm glad you've come." he urged politely in a humble voice. The Ghostbusters trooped into the shop. Inside, it was dark and somewhat dusky. Shelves were laid out haphazardly, the effect creating a somewhat claustrophobic effect. On these shelves were pretty much all one would expect to find in an antiques shop; everything from old wind-up clocks to esoteric sculptures to Russian dolls to ornate vases and glassware. Already Egon had his PKE meter out and was scanning everything in sight.
"Sorry to bother you fellas. You must think I'm some sorta crazy old fool, calling you out here because of some weird noises." said Bob meekly.
"Not at all, Mr. Prestwick," said Winston. "If this turns out to be the start of something big, you'll have called our attention to it."
"Yep, that's right. Remember when Gozer came through? That all started as a manifestation in someone's refrigerator," explained Ray.
"Too right," cut in Peter. "Just think of us as your friendly neighbourhood ghost experts. Say, Egon, you got anything?"
"Nothing too substantial," replied the blonde-haired man. "I think, Mr. Prestwick, it would help a great deal if you described to us in detail what happened last night."
Bob nodded. "Okay then." He launched into an account of what he had seen and heard the preceding night, leaving no detail out. Peter, Ray, Egon and Winston listened intently. When he was finished, Bob looked intently at each of the Ghostbusters in turn.
"Hmm," said Egon. "This definitely sounds like a haunting."
"And that loud bang you described might explain this," Ray announced, pointing out what looked like a large burn mark on the floor. Egon bent down and held the PKE meter close to the black stain. At the same time, he put his finger and swished it over the burn. "This looks like gunpowder," he noted, studying the coal-black dust that now adorned his fingertip.
Peter ran a hand through his well-groomed brown hair. "Does gunpowder really give off PKE readings, Egon? Or is this some special blend our visitor got off the spectral black market?"
"No, Peter." He pushed his glasses up on his nose. "Besides, a blast mark like that could only have come from an antique military cannon."
"Well, this IS an antiques store," Peter noted with dry humour.
"Egon," put in Ray, "Do you think a ghost could have an interest in stealing objects of value?"
"That's what troubles me, Ray. It IS an outside possibility, but it wouldn't seem to fit in with any known ghost behaviour." answered Egon
"What do ghosts usually want?" asked Bob Prestwick.
"Well, most of the ghosts we usually encounter usually seek selfish pleasure – cheap pranks, food, the opportunity for mischief…and occasionally complete domination over all of mankind and/or spiritkind." Seeing the look of alarm taking hold of Bob's face, Ray stepped in quick. "But that last one only applies with powerful demons. Like Gozer," he said.
"But I don't think that's what we have here," reassured Winston, although a part of him did entertain the possibility.
"Not unless he's planning to start small and work his way up," added Peter. "So that leaves what possibilities?" The four men stood in a circle, Winston with his hands on his hips, Egon stroking his chin in thought.
The African-American spoke first. "For my money, I'd say our spook wanted something specific. Ray said there are objects here of supernatural value. Maybe he was after something only he knew the real power of." There was a pause. What Winston said rang a note with the others that was not at all promising. After all, hadn't something of real power, namely the Necronomicon, gone missing just before Cthulhu had risen the last time? Of course, the Ghostbusters had known precisely what it was they were dealing with then. But here, circumstances were far more suspicious.
"In any event, it's probably a good thing you didn't go charging in all guns blazing," Peter said to Bob. Bob shivered slightly. "Darn right," said the elderly man.
"Whatever caused that would've made mincemeat out of these old bones. I don't know if I'll be able to sleep easy tonight."
Ray stepped forward and laid an understanding hand on Bob's shoulders. "Tell you what. One of us will stand guard here tonight – " Peter made a face which had 'it'll probably be me' written all over it – "in exchange for a list of the things that were stolen. I can run a check with the information I have to see if any of them hold any sort of power." He paused. "I think this is gonna be interesting, guys."
"For you, maybe. What do us mere mortals have to do?" inquired Peter.
"I'll check in Tobin's Spirit Guide if there are any spirits who would any interest in perpetrating theft of valuables. Peter, you can guard the shop tonight."
"Yep. Just as I suspected." sighed the psychiatrist. "And that leaves Winston to do the laundry and the washing-up, right?" he cracked.
"Thanks, Peter." said Winston with mock exasperation. "I could take over on that self-defence thing you were doing with Slimer. You did say the program would have to be adhered to every day without fail for it to be beneficial."
"Self-defence?" gasped Peter. "Self-defence? Oh, please, Spengs, tell me it isn't so."
Egon looked nonplussed. "Really, Peter. I thought any attempt to make Slimer more useful would sit well with you."
"Ya can't defy that logic Peter," added Ray.
"Whatever. Well, let's head for home." They headed for the door. Ray looked back at Bob Prestwick.
"Thanks for calling, Bob. Business has been slow recently and we're glad we've got something we can sink our teeth into. We'll be in touch."
Bob gave a tentative smile. His eyes gleamed with reassurance. "Thanks yourself, son. See youse guys around."
That familiar utterance, the closest any of the Ghostbusters came to having a catchphrase, bounced off of Winston's eardrums yet again. "Say, Egon m'man, that's about the tenth time you've 'hmmmed' in the last five minutes. What gives?"
Egon didn't look up from the petri-dish he had been surveying. On it was smeared a sample of the weird gunpowder-like substance Egon had collected at Prestwick's Antiques. A large, ornate scientific microscope lay to one side while small jars containing all different sorts of chemicals were lined up carefully in order over the desk. "Well, now that you ask, Winston," began the physicist in his distinctive bass voice, "The tests I've been running on this substance seemed to be bearing fruit. I have managed to deduce that this substance is detritus…in other words, they're the remains of a solid object."
Winston nodded. "OK. And these tests are foolproof, right?"
"As close to foolproof as is scientifically possible, Winston. I do try to use the best materials possible." Egon insisted.
"Sure thing, m'man…so how did it get that way?"
Egon readjusted his glasses. "No ideas yet. I'll say that this requires some detective work."
"Did you say 'detective', Egon?" asked Winston, the resident whodunit aficionado, with a smile. "So let's think about it…could this theoretical object been destroyed by our ghost by accident? Let's say that guy who was knocked out was just grazed by the blast – knocking him out cold - and one of the items on sale got blasted instead."
Egon thought for a moment, drawing in a deep breath. "Hmm. A good idea, Winston…but our man was knocked out by a blunt object, not an energy emission."
"OK. Well, I'll keep thinking about it." Winston afforded his fellow Ghostbuster a smile.
"We'd be grateful if you would, Winston." Egon readjusted his glasses. "Anyway, how have you been faring with the research?" Winston glanced momentarily down at the new copy of Tobin's Spirit Guide. Determined to help out in any way he could, Winston had offered to start the tedious process of ploughing through the tome in search of a ghost with the right motivation.
"Not much, I'm afraid, homeboy, other than a load of weird names. Y'know, it never ceases to amaze me the kind of names these goopers come up with for themselves. I mean, what the hell would possess someone to call themselves 'Oogoblad'?" said Winston.
Egon's eyes twinkled with underlying humour. "You will find far worse names in there, Winston. I can assure you of that. So what have you found?"
The older man rested his head on a palm and signalled with one hand. "There's all the usual stuff, and then some – wanton property destruction, sabotage, insatiable appetite, cross-dressing…"
"Cross-dressing?" Egon repeated, furrowing his brow.
Winston casually waved a hand over the book. "Believe it. Boy, when they say this new edition is up-to-date, they mean it."
"Well…so it would seem." He paused. "Go on."
"OK, well…the only spirits registering as larcenists are those who make their main purpose out of it. We've got a Robin Hood imitator – a gooper who steals from the rich to give to the poor, a ghost who steals stuff that was illegally acquired in the first place..." Winston trailed off there. "And that's it."
"It appears likely to me that we're dealing with one of those. Ghosts usually have no desire for physical possessions – it isn't conducive with their physical state, for one thing. Many ghosts below a certain power level can't even handle physical objects…although Slimer may be an indication that they can learn with practice."
"That makes sense," replied Winston.
BBBRRRIIIIIINNNGGG! The piercing ring of the alarm pulsed through the firehouse. Looks like someone had a ghost. Ah, well. Busting ghosts was more fun than trudging through heavy books, thought Winston. Can't speak for Egon though…
Egon and Winston slid down the firepole. Ray and Peter were still at the Central Library – having together taken the initiative to do some research there. (Ray piquing Peter's enthusiasm for the task with the reminder that his favourite librarian, Kathy, was on duty at that time of day). They would have to pick them up. Winston requested the address. Janine promptly informed them that there was a haunting at a sweet factory on the outskirts of Brooklyn. Winston took the wheel of Ecto-1 and soon they were heading for the library, en route to Brooklyn. He screeched to a halt a little quicker than Egon would have liked.
"Really, Winston. Ray's having a bad influence on you. Maybe I should do some driving in future." noted Egon dryly.
Winston shrugged. "Just as long as you don't stick to the speed limit, homeboy." He looked out the window to see Ray and Peter approaching. "Yo, guys. Any success your end?"
"Yeah," said Peter excitedly. "I think I've earned myself a date with Kathy."
"No, Peter. I meant with the research."
Ray threw up his hands in a concilliatory gesture. "Nuh-uh. All the stolen goods checked out negative. Nothing that would be of any practical use to an occultist."
"Maybe not. But those items sure were expensive," said Peter. "Real authentic crystal ware…not to mention a sculpture that was rumoured to belong to a former Nepalese prince. I think we're dealing with a connoisseur here."
"Connoisseurs don't steal," threw in Winston, who was known to be something of an art appreciator – he could often be found in his spare time touring one of the myriad museums and galleries New York had to offer. "Anyway, get in, guys. We've got a job." Ray and Peter flopped down in the back seat row before Winston pulled away from the kerb. Fifteen minutes later, they had arrived at their destination. They stopped in the car park outside the plant. It was a gloomy day, the sky overcast, shrouded in an unending greyness. A man in a flourescent yellow apron had directed them to the car park outside the main facility, a large block-like industrial building equipped with two tall chimneys. From them, twin trails of silver smoke twirled lazily upwards.
"Wow," breathed Ray in the tones of a five-year child who had just learnt Christmas would be made a monthly holiday. "This is really it. The head factory of Goldinbloom's Sweets…I've always hoped we'd get a job here."
"YOU can get a job here, Ray. I think I'll stay as a Ghostbuster, thanks." said Peter as they got out and geared up. "It pays better."
The foursome trooped over to the entrance to the facility, where a gaggle of people – plant workers, presumably – were standing around. Some of them were chattering away excitedly, some were pouring all their effort into looking bored. All of them looked towards the new arrivals, and the hint of a cheer went up. Then a bespectacled, nebbish-looking man who reminded Peter of Louis Tully approached them. "G-good afternoon, Ghostbusters. Glad you've come. Uh, we have a slight g-ghost problem in here, and, uh, and it's disturbing the development of our new fudge formula. Terrible, m-most terrible."
"Can you direct us to the general vicinity of the haunting?" asked Egon.
"Certainly, gentleman." He stepped towards a purple door while still half-turned towards the quartet, chattering away excitedly. "Oh, this new formula's great, extra-sweet with just ninety-percent of the sugar…and it's smoother, thanks to our phat new anti-cloying solution. Amazing. Oh, yes…" He cranked open the door. "In there, Ghostbusters. Good luck." The foursome piled in through the door, which slammed shut behind them.
Oh, and don't stick your finger in the vat. We haven't got the taste quite right yet!" he shouted after them. "Oh, and we're boiling the fudge on an extra-high heat. It'll burn ya. Damn, I should've told them that before they went in…"
Inside, the Ghostbusters looked around the plant interior. Vats of boiling fudge were dotted at precise intervals across the area, giving off a thin steam as well as a heavenly smell that made the guys' nostrils quiver.
"Mmm…" breathed Ray. "Are you getting anything, Egon?"
"Yes. Five Class 4 free-floating apparitions. Location…"
The other three drew their throwers and powered up, waiting for Egon's direction.
…directly above us."
They looked up. Sure enough, there they were. Five ugly goopers circling them, like a shark does its victims. "Let's hit 'em!" shouted Ray. The four proton streams lashed upwards, but with unpredicted speed the gaggle of spooks disappeared through the ceiling a split-second before the ion streams struck the steelwork.
"Man, either these ghosts are getting faster, or our proton streams are getting slower," said Winston, surprised.
"Or we're getting older," added Peter laconically. "Can you trace 'em, Egon?"
The blonde-haired man twiddled anxiously with the knobs on the meter. "They're still here," he informed them.
"I guess we should split up," suggested Ray. "Me and Winston'll take this side…" – he gestured to a walkway that led along the left-hand wall – "Egon, you and Peter take the right-hand side."
They split into their teams, pacing along the walkways, throwers at the ready, listening and looking with the heightened senses that had come from their five-odd years ghost-hunting experience. Only the incessant bubbling sound of boiling caramel came to their ears. The ghosts had obviously taken cover.
Suddenly, things got interesting again . Peter spotted one of the spooks too late as the gooper gathered up a handful of hot fudge and threw it at him – scoring a direct hit on Peter's hair. "Yow…that's hot!" shouted Peter. "You'll pay for that!" He cut loose at the big-headed, slobbering spook, his temper getting the better of him and spoiling his aim. Peter gave chase to his assailant as the latter led him up a set of coiling stairs that led from a recess in the wall to the higher reaches of the plant. "Hmm, at least it's tasty," murmured the psychologist as he caught a falling drop of fudge on his tongue.
Egon's attention was then caught by a hissing that came from an open door behind him. Spinning on his heel, he briefly spied an oval head with six eyes on stalks poking out from behind the door. "Yo!" squealed the entity. Egon rose to the challenge, booting the door fully open and charging through, finger on the trigger. He found him outside, in an area which looked rather like some sort of loading and unloading area, judging by the signage and the wide open space, beyond which was a raised part. The physicist studied the area. Where had he gone? Switching on the PKE meter again, he followed the signal past a parked fork-lift truck down a narrow alley that ended in a brick wall. Two dustbins stood before the brick barrier.
A harsh mechanical rumbling emanated suddenly from where Egon had come. Focusing instantly on the source of the noise, Egon's eyes bulged in horror as he saw the fork-lift truck spring into life and come roaring at him down the alley…
Egon saw only one course of action in that horrified instant. Taking careful aim, he fired one short burst of protons at the head of the six-eyed ghoul that laughed from behind the fork-lift's wheel. It had the desired effect – instead of engulfing the entity the stream knocked the ghost right off the fork-lift as if he had been struck by a flying breeze block. With no-one at the wheel, the machine slewed to the left and took a huge chunk out of the brick wall before it finally stopped, sending bricks cascading down and throwing up a cloud of thick choking dust which made Egon's eyes water. He could however still see the ghost which was recovering from Egon's attack. Wasting no time, the tall man threw out a trap and blasted away at his enemy. The ion stream struck home as Egon stepped on the pedal. The trap's doors parted, releasing a vortex of bright light and white sparks. The would-be killer spook shrieked as he found himself caught in the pull of the powerful device. He was sucked in and imprisoned firmly as the doors snapped shut.
Egon drew a sharp breath. These ghosts are nasty, he thought to himself. Best that I warn the others what they're dealing with. He reattached the now-full trap and headed at full steam for the entrance to the plant to rejoin the fray.
"Get 'im! Get 'im!" "Watch it!" Ray and Winston's voices intermingled as they duked it out with another spook. They were round the other side of the vats, taking cover behind a maintenance cart loaded with tanks containing cleaning chemicals. Their target hovered over a bubbling cauldron, slobbering and pulling faces. Not to mention dodging every blast Ray and Winston let off at him.
"Careful, Winston…that's Goldinbloom fudge!" warned Ray urgently as Winston almost struck the side of the cauldron with a misjudged shot.
"C'mon, Ray. They can afford it."
"Yeah, but it's the principle of the thing…" Ray expounded as he ducked out of the way of another salvo of burning caramel. "Say, there's Peter. I hope he's got a plan up his sleeve. I'm getting tired of this checkmate."
Peter had indeed appeared on one of the higher walkways. He gave his two comrades the thumbs up, and then he proceeded to a small control panel, unseen by the ghost. He examined the controls for a couple of seconds before cranking a lever.
Above the ghost was a long funnel-ended pipe that hung suspended from a small framework halfway to the ceiling, where it curved and led towards a vat in the area adjacent to the boiling area, where Peter had been a moment before. When Peter pulled the lever, there was a whirring sound and the pipe shuddered and vibrated. The whirring changed to a hissing. Without warning the gooper started to shriek and thrash its spindly limbs. It was not enough and he was sucked into the pipe. "Way to go, Peter!" whooped Ray. Peter ran back to the vat. A rattling and a squealing noise indicated the spectre had been sucked straight into the vat. He held a ghost trap to the opening in the side and squeezed the trigger. Spooky came hurtling out, dripping with the messy remnant of whatever had been in the vat, and straight into the trap. The doors clamped shut.
"That'll teach ya to play Cowboy and Indians on company time," Peter exclaimed to the smoking trap before re-affixing it to his pack. Say, where's Egon, he thought. I hope he's not off trying to weasel scientific info about the produce out of Willy Wonka out there…Nah, he'd always be with us busting. Although didn't he once say, 'Good confectionery requires careful use of science'? Eh, whatever…
Egon suddenly appeared downstairs, by a set of stairs leading to another walkway. He was so focused on trying to locate the others that he didn't detect the ghost that lay in wait above the doorway. He had no warning as the spook swooped down and scored a direct hit on Egon's blonde coil of hair.
"Yuck!" Egon spluttered and flinched as he felt slime drip behind the collar of his jumpsuit. A shrill, piercing laugh alerted him to his attacker. He powered up his thrower again and took aim. "Far be it from me to take an attack personally, but that was uncalled for." He fired, but his adversary jumped out of the way and over the metal steps. The ion stream made contact with the steelwork, leaving a few scorch marks but otherwise no damage. Egon mounted the steps onto the walkway to see if he could get a better shot. He was too late however to see the spook lower itself to the walkway and leave a hazardous slick of slippery pink slime on the steel surface.
Egon looked ahead and saw the blob give him the raspberry. Refusing to get flustered, he approached his enemy and fired again…and missed. He heard the shouts of the other three as they noticed what was going on. The ghost wouldn't be able to hold off an attack from all sides
"Okay, Ray. Count of three." directed Winston as they crouched behind a cauldron and skilfully took aim. "Three-two-one…fire!" Two streams lashed out and struck the entity full centre, holding him firm. "Got him!"
Egon gathered himself to roll out the trap. However, he did not see the layer of silvery ectoplasm that the ghost had left behind. He began to skid and his arms windmilled as he fought to regain his balance. "Look out, Egon!" Peter's warning came too late. Egon lost his footing and his momentum coupled with his height tipped him right over the flimsy guardrail. Before he could tumble into the cauldron of boiling fudge below, he grabbed hold of the edge of the walkway and hung there…
"Egon!" yelled Peter as he noticed his best friend's predicament. Suddenly only caring about Egon, he shut off his stream and bolted down the steps three at a time for the lower level. Re-entering the kitchen area, he mounted the gangway steps in record time. He flung himself down – nearly skidding on the slime blanket himself – and grabbed his friend's free hand.
"Trap him! He'll attack Peter, otherwise!" yelled Winston. Despite the side of him that wanted to rush to Egon's rescue, he wheeled out the trap and stomped on the pedal. The gooper was ensnared in the energy vortex and trapped.
"Hang on, Egon…I've got you." rasped Peter through gritted teeth as Egon's wrist tried its damndest to slide out of his grip. Steam rised to meet them. Egon could feel the heat from the bubbling cauldron touch his face. If he fell, he'd be boiled alive in a few seconds.
"We've gotta do something. Peter won't be able to hold him for long!" implored Ray.
Winston surveyed the situation was wide eyes, his thrower still drawn. Analyse the situation, he thought hard, trying to apply his military experience. Locate the danger and eliminate it…that's it! "Ray, can't we release that gunk from the cauldron? If Egon falls, he'll still survive the drop…"
Ray clenched his teeth together. "We don't know where the drainage release is…wait, if we bust it open with our throwers, we can do it…I hope the walls aren't too thick…"
"Well, c'mon!" Ray and Winston fired at the cauldron, the ion streams striking home. The cauldron walls held firm.
Peter let out a snarling groan. "Egon, I'm not gonna be able to hold you much longer. It's up to Ray and Winston…"
"You can hold on, Peter," grunted Egon, deathly afraid. "I know you will…"
"It's not working!" yelled Winston then. Ray turned to him. "Hang on. If we turn the power up and bring the streams together, we could melt the thing..."
"Right!" They increased the power and focused the ion streams together at the base. A roar went up indicating the huge pooling of energy had was taking place. "Steady…"
"Peter, I'm sorry…" groaned Egon. "Shoulda been…more careful…"
Peter shook his head. "Don't say that Egon…it's not over…I won't get you die, big guy…you can't…" He squeezed Egon's wrist hard, but he was slipping away, loosening from his grip…
"It's working!" The cauldron suddenly gave a metallic groaning and creaking. The area around the focus of Ray and Winston's streams warped and started to dissolve. "That's done it!" A furious cacophony of bubbling went up…
"Hold on, Egon…" urged Peter, even though he could feel Egon about to drop any second…
Hot, burning fudge spilled like lava from a volcano out of the cauldron where part of the giant metal pot had warped, fissured, and melted. It flowed like an oozing light-brown river at Ray and Winston's feet. Ray rushed forwards and twiddled a knob on the control panel, shutting the cooker off.
"They've done it, Egon," grunted Peter. "But I can't hold you…you're slipping…"
Egon chanced a look down. "Let me fall, Peter. I'll only suffer a few burns. The thing's nearly empty…" Peter didn't heed his friend's request. He held out right to his last drop of strength, before Egon slipped from his grasp. The physicist landed with a splat! in the bottom of the cauldron. "Yow!" He leapt up and did a quick dance as he felt his backside squish against the layer of burning sugary gunge. Peter gathered himself up, ran to the end of the gangway, flipped over it and dropped the twelve feet or so to the ground. He ran over to the pot. "All right, Spengs, outta there. Playtime's up." A few well-timed thrower blasts to the side of the weakened cauldron peeled away a gap big enough for a man to pass through. Egon jumped from inside his death trap practically straight into the arms of the other three.
"Man, am I relieved," breathed Peter. "Don't ever go scaring me like that again…"
"I think for once Peter speaks for all of us," said Ray, a slight break in his voice.
Egon swallowed. "Thanks for not letting me down, fellas,"
Winston almost snorted. "Let you down, homeboy? Not if you promised me a billion dollars in gold and a guaranteed place in Heaven." They relaxed and broke the collective hug. "Right. Who wants to go home?" asked the black man. Everyone raised their hands. "Good."
"No argument there, Zedd. Definitely too much for one day." said Peter with a mix of emotions in his mordant tones. "Say, did we get all the ghosts?"
"Looks like it." answered Ray, his voice still a bit shaky, checking the PKE meter. "No more readings here."
Egon furrowed his brow. "I picked up five ghosts. And there are only four full traps. Where's the remaining one?"
"Don't know, don't care. Probably ran off when he realised he and his buddies were losing." suggested Peter unconcernedly. "Let's blow this pop stand."
The Ghostbusters made to leave the area.