A/N: The Real Ghostbusters is owned by DiC and Sony Entertainment. Just to explain one of my motivations behind writing this story, well, I'm both a Ghostbusters fan and a student of German. So, I thought it appropriate that my first successful attempt at writing an RGB story would see how the boys handle one of Germany's most well-known supernatural legends. This story is the result :) Also, many thanks to the talented Rosey Collins, aka EGB Fan, for beta-reading for me. So, on with the story...
Chapter 1: Cruel Mistress
The Rhine River, near Sankt Goarshausen, Germany, in March 1989...
It was yet another typical evening for Ludwig Haussmann. Of course, that was no bad thing, as he enjoyed his work. He had worked the waterways for about twenty years now, but still he never ceased to appreciate the smell of the evening air, the comforting sound of the chug-chug-chug of the small freighter's engine, the homely breeze touching his face, and of course the sound of the river itself. It was these simple pleasures, he thought to himself, that so many people seemed to take for granted these days.
The river was getting twisty now, and Haussmann turned the tiller gently to manoeuvre the boat so as to keep it well clear of the hidden rocks beneath the water's surface. Even though the river was beautiful, she could be a cruel mistress. Satisfied that he was well clear, the mariner stole a glance up at the cliffs that stood tall over the river on either ride, curving round almost in a gesture of defiance to the boatmen that passed them every day.
There came a crackle over the ship's radio. "Base to Freighter 167, come in please..." The boatman picked up the radio and answered. "Receiving you."
"Alles in Ordnung?"
"Alles in Ordnung," Haussmann replied. "I'm passing the Rock now."
"Good. It looks like you are well on schedule," replied the dockmaster. "Report your position in half an hour."
Haussmann was about to reply in the affirmative when he heard it. A beautiful, enchanting song, bewitching him. He had never heard such a beautiful voice before. He could not yet make out the words. He didn't need to. All that mattered was the voice...It came from the top of the cliff. From the rock...the Rock of Lorelei.
"Hello...hello...come in?" came the words from the radio. Haussmann didn't hear them. As far as he was concerned, there was no voice except the one he was hearing. His eyes searched for the source of the enchanting sound...and found it. Her looks matched her voice. There she was, just like in the old stories, sitting there on the rock combing her luscious golden hair. Haussmann was transfixed by the sight and sound. He hadn't heard the tune before, but it didn't matter, the tender fluidity and richness of the voice carrying it filled him with a warmth that he had never known before.
He didn't realise that his hand was resting too hard on the throttle, increasing the freighter's speed beyond what was wise. He didn't realise that he was too close to the unforgiving rocks that held sway beneath the unresting waters...
Haussmann was thrown clean off his feet as the freighter was stopped in the most forceful way possible, striking his head on the edge of the control panel as he went down. All thoughts of the beautiful maiden that had enraptured him driven from his mind, he only saw stars dancing in front of his eyes. Dimly aware of the barge slanting to one side, the result of water rushing in from a rupture in the lower hull, he tried to haul himself to his feet, but his body would not cooperate. He just had time to hear his crew's frenzied cries of "Abandon ship!" before the blow to his skull sent him off into unconsciousness.
Later that week...
"Quiet, please, gentlemen, quiet!"
The mayor wiped his brow for the umpteenth time that evening. This particular town meeting had been a tough one. This time they had not been discussing the usual mundane topics, such as the town budget, the new arts centre, or what the state government had done this week to annoy the town's residents. No, this time the topic was of a far more outlandish, some might say fantastical, nature.
The seething cauldron of voices died down, but one voice still spoke out. "Four incidents in one week, Herr Burgermeister. There can be no more doubt. We want a decision!"
"And so you shall receive one, Anton." He mustered up the steeliest expression he could. "All the evidence points toward it. Two hundred years ago we could explain this away as superstition, or fantasy, or even witchcraft," he paused, "but now it is wearing thin. For too long we have ignored a deadly menace on the doorstep of our fair town, even passing it off as harmless folklore....but no more. Something must be done!" He slammed his fist down on the lectern in front of him.
"But what, Herr Burgermeister? Is there anyone in this town qualified to confront this demoness?"
The mayor took a deep breath. The strain was showing, and he knew the one hundred-odd people amassed in the town hall could see it. "Vielleicht niemand," he said simply. "We shall have to look further afield."
"Wirklich?" Josef Brunstein, an exchange student studying at Columbia University, listened intently to his father speaking over the phone. "I agree, Father, it is time...yet so many people refuse to accept the existence of the supernatural."
"I think the tide has turned, Josef." came his father's voice on the other end of the line. "Superstition can only explain so much."
"Indeed, Father. But what can we do about it?" He paused. "Wait. There are some people here in New York who may be able to help us...I shall contact them."
"Very good, Josef. Are you all ready to come home?"
"Yes. It will be very good to get home, despite this madness."
"And it will be good to see you again, Josef, and hear about your experiences in America so far."
"I have plenty to tell. See you tomorrow, Father."
"See you tomorrow, son." Josef hung up and looked around the reception area of the apartment in which he stayed. It would be best if he saw the Ghostbusters in person, so he could explain everything to them in detail, if need be. He knew where they were based. He just hoped this was within their remit.