Standard Disclaimer: This song haunted me until I wrote the dang story! Humph! Don't own the characters or the lyrics to 'The Devil Went Down To Georgia' by The Charlie Daniels Band. Thanks to Lyrics World, where I found it. Everything is done with out permission, and I'm making no money off of it. Thank you!The Devil Came Up From Georgia
By Icka! M. Chif
The house gave Roland the creeps. It wasn't the air of discrepancy that accompanied the long abandon buildings, or the sounds it made as they approached, it was something else. Something he couldn't quite define, but sent the hairs on the back of his neck on edge anyway. As a general rule, this didn't disturb him. After all, the paranormal was the Ghostbusters's business; they faced daemons and ghosts just about every day. But that still didn't make him feel any less jittery.
He glanced back at the rest of the team. Eduardo and Kylie had their blaster out, eyes scanning the area around them for danger. They both seemed to be a bit on the tense, almost nervous, side. Garrett also had his blaster out, but he had his usual cocky grin on his face, ready to kick ghost butt. Roland swallowed, reaching for the door and opening it. The door groaned as Roland carefully opened it and stepped in. As the oldest, he felt it his responsibility to look out for the others. Whether it meant going in first or changing his younger sibling's diapers.
The place was as empty as and as quite as a tomb. Little clouds of dust picked up where he stepped. He slowly walked deeper into the room, the others following.
"Hey, lissen. This spooks been here a while. It can wait a little bit longer until we find out more about 'im." Eduardo suggested, voice coming close to cracking.
"We already did, Eduardo." Kylie reminded him. "We know all we're gonna know until we confront him again." She and Roland had responded to the first call, but had only found residue PKE traces. The only sign that anything had been there at all had been a broken fiddle lying in the middle of a scorch mark.
"Worth a shot." Eduardo muttered under his breath, eyes dancing around as they crept in.
"So, Kylie. What did you say the name of today's lucky victim was?" Garrett asked, mock cheerfully, trying to lighten the mood as they crept in.
"A class 9 known as Jack Scratch. He travels, like the salesman, only challenging fiddlers to a contest to see who is better. If they win, they get a fiddle made of gold. They lose, the daemon gets their soul."
"Maybe we should let the daemon hear Roland play." Garrett grinned. "He's probably never heard anything quite like it."
Eduardo hid a snicker behind his hand. Kylie shot them a dirty glare for him. Roland made a mental note to thank her later.
"I play the violin, not the fiddle. There's a difference. And I still don't see what you find so funny about my learning the violin." He remarked. "It's a perfectly good instrument to play."
"Yes it is, isn't it?" A voice oozed from the air around them, sending the hairs on the back of his neck on edge. The other 3 looked around, unconsciously falling into a loose circle back to back, blasters at the ready. They couldn't pin point the direction the voice had come from.
"Show yourself!" He called, hoping he sounded braver than he felt.
"And just how would you have me do that? Like a daemon? A ghost? A human like you, perhaps? I have many forms you know." The voice purred. This time it sounded like it was coming from Roland's left. He resisted the urge to look, holding his ground. He could feel the others solid presence behind him, if they didn't see the daemon, he probably hadn't shown himself yet.
"Any form you like." Garrett growled with bravado. "Seen one spook, ya seen 'em all."
Scratch chuckled. "Very well. Since you wish it." He appeared off to the right of Roland, a dark shadow between him and Eduardo. Immediately, they opened fire, the proton beams illuminating the room.
"This isn't working, man!" Eduardo shouted after a few tense heartbeats. He was right, the beams had no effect on Scratch at all. The daemon wasn't even twitching.
"-And back to the sales man analogy." Garrett remarked.
"Cut the beams!" He ordered. The team did. It was the wrong choice. As soon as the packs cut out, he found himself unable to move, floating a few inches off the floor.
"I can't move!" Kylie gasped behind him.
"Me either!" Garrett growled.
"I really don't like this, man." Eduardo said nervously. Roland didn't blame him, he didn't like this either.
"That's because I do not require three of you to be moving now." Scratch said, materializing in front of him. Scratch's faintly glowing eyes were about at eye level with him, meaning the daemon was probably about 7 feet tall. From what Roland could see of him, Scratch appeared to be a classic daemon from stories, huge horns, thick leathery red skin and cloven feet. For some strange reason, he was also dressed in a Victorian style suit. Scratch appraised him with a critical eye. "I only require him."
"What do you want?" He demanded.
"Nothing much." Scratch said casually. "Few spirits to call my own, some nice music and a nice warm hole to enjoy them in. And, in this instance, you."
"Roland?!" Garrett scoffed, surprised. "Wh-" Scratch made a quick gesture, and Garrett fell silent, and not by his choice by the look on his face.
"Good. Now, every so often, I grow a bit... restless, shall we say, and I go out into the mortal world to find someone of my skill to challenge to a contest of skill. One musician to another."
"And if I refuse?" He asked stoutly.
"You see, Roland is it? You don't really have a choice. You can play me to see who is the better violinist and you and your friends go free. Or you don't and you all die. Of course, you loose the contest; you and your friends die anyway. But it's really up to you whether you when you want to die."
Roland swallowed. "I-I don't have my violin here with me, I'd have to go get it." He managed to get out. If he went back to the firehouse, he could get Egon's help in freeing the others.
"Not a problem." Scratch snapped his fingers. His violin appeared at his feet. "And here you are. Your violin. Any other arguments?"
Well, that blew that idea. He picked up the violin, stuck. He wasn't that good with the violin, but as the daemon said, what choice did he have? At least if he played, that might give the other 3 a chance to figure a way out of this. And he wasn't going to go down without a fight. They had been in worse cases then this, granted he couldn't think of any off the top of his head, but they had survived. The Ghostbusters would get through this one too. He squared his jaw and nodded.
Scratch grinned. "Excellent. Do you want the honour of going first, or shall I?"
"It's your challenge, you go first." He said, motion for the daemon to go. Scratch bowed a golden fiddle and bow appearing in his hands.
"You're too kind." Scratch sneered, drawing the bow across the fiddle with an evil hiss. Roland flinched at the sound, and he could almost feel the others doing the same. Scratch seemed to find their reactions amusing, but he couldn't tell for sure. Maybe it was just the prospect of winning. The daemon settled the fiddle properly under his chin, and began to play.
The music was unlike any he'd ever heard before. It was hissing and evil sounding, like a serpent was winding it's way around them with every note. The music would some times be mocking, laughing at them for trying to best one such as he, then the next moment lauding them for defeating so many of those who threatened the mortals. It was madding to listen to. And much to Roland's dismay, very, very good.
Finally, the last note drew it's self-out and faded, leaving silence hanging thickly in the air around them. Jack Scratch looked at him expectantly, waiting for him to start.
Roland swallowed, then tucked the fiddle under his chin in the proper place and tested it, tightening a few of the strings into tune. Once tuned to perfection to his ear, he lifted the bow and ran it across once. It let out a pitiful squeak. He flinched, the enormously of the task weighing heavily on his shoulders. He swallowed and set his jaw. The others were counting on him. He wasn't up to Jack Scratch's level, but he wasn't going down with out a fight. He muttered a quick prayer to anybody who may have been listening and lifted the bow.
To his surprise, his quick prayer did not unanswered.
Garrett's jaw dropped as Roland began to play. It wasn't the normal scratching ectoplasm damaging, eardrum piercing screeching noise that Roland claimed as music. It was actually, well, *good*. Not his type of music, he preferred good ol' alternative rock and roll, but still quite listenable in that country music type of fashion. Like the stuff his parents would listen to occasionally. Only faster, and more upbeat.
"He's possessed." Kylie whispered beside him. The daemons attention must have been drawn away from them enough so that they could talk again.
"No kidding." Eddie muttered.
He was about to make a comment when Roland did something even more shocking. Rol opened his mouth and began to sing.
"The devil went down to Georgia
He was lookin' for a soul to steal
He was in a bind
'Cause he was way behind
And he was willin' to make a deal
When he came upon this young man
Sawin' on a fiddle and playin' it hot
And the devil jumped
Up on a hickory stump
And said boy let me tell you what
Now you play a pretty good fiddle, boy
But give the devil his due
I'll bet a fiddle of gold
Against your soul
'Cause I think I'm better than you"
It kinda sounded like Roland, if Roland had been born and raised in Nashville. Roland even was moving a bit different, as if it wasn't him in his own body. Jack Scratch wouldn't know that though. He did seem to be losing a bit of his cockiness though. Garrett carefully watched the daemon's reaction as Roland played and sang.
"The boy said my name's Johnny
And it might be a sin
But I'll take your bet
And you're gonna regret
'Cause I'm the best there's ever been
The devil opened up his case
And he said I'll start this show
And fire flew from his fingertips
As he rosined up his bow
Then he pulled the bow across the strings
And it made a [sic] evil hiss
And a band of demons joined in
And it sounded something like this-"
Garrett was sure of it now. Jack Scratch had visibly paled as Roland played well, like a daemon. The music hissed and mocked, a laughing parody of the same song Scratch had played earlier.
"He's doing it! He's beating the daemon!" Kylie grinned.
"Easy, Ky, he's not done yet." He whispered. He hoped she was right, cuz if Rol lapsed back to his normal playing talent, they were dead. Roland started singing again, the music changing.
"When the devil finished
Johnny said well you're pretty good old son
Just sit right in that chair right there
And let me show you how it's done
He played Fire on the Mountain
Run boys, run
The devil's in the House of the Rising Sun
Chicken in a bread pan picken' out dough
Granny does your dog bite
No child, no"
Roland's fingers practically danced across the strings of his violin, his foot stomping in time to the music.
"Why can't he play like this back at the fire house?" Eduardo griped.
"Shhh." Kylie shot them both a look. Garrett realized she had moved her head in order to do it, the grip holding them was weakening. He tried to move and found he could move his head and wiggle his fingers a bit. He could see the others doing the same experimentally. "When Roland finishes, zap Scratch." Kylie ordered. They both nodded.
"Then scratch one Scratch." He grinned. Eduardo rolled his eyes at him.
"The devil bowed his head
Because he knew that he'd been beat
And he laid that golden fiddle
On the ground and Johnny's feet
Johnny said, Devil just come on back
If you ever wanna try again
I done told you once you son of a bitch
I'm the best there's ever been
He played Fire on the Mountain
Run boys, run
The devil's in the House of the Rising Sun
Chicken in a bread pan picken' out dough
Granny does your dog bite
No child, no"
Garrett was able to move his arms enough now so that he could reach his gun. It was like moving underwater. Roland was almost to the end, re-playing the 'Johnny' part again with a vengeance. He began to raise his gun, aiming for Scratch. Eduardo did the same and Kylie pulled out the ghost trap.
Roland played the last note with a flourish, lowering the bow. The last note faded away, leaving the room in near tangible silence. "Well?" He asked Scratch.
Scratch nervously cleared his throat. "It appears that you are, indeed, a better fiddler than I."
Roland couldn't resist the grin that spread across his face. "Giving the devil his due, eh?" He asked. A part of him wondered where that had come from. He ignored it.
Scratch smiled. "Exactly. However, I never promised to spare your and your friends lives if you won." He menacingly raised his hands, preparing to zap them into oblivion or something worse.
"Three!" Garrett shouted behind him. He automatically ducked flat as 2 proton beams blasted Scratch, encompassing him. Scratch had barely enough time to struggle before the trap's light trapped him and sucked him into its vortex. Scratch had just enough time to scream unfortunately. The sound abruptly stopped with a metallic 'clang!' as the trap shut. The noise was followed by 3 grunts as Kylie, Eduardo and Garrett hit the ground.
"Well, that was fun." Garrett remarked, righting his chair before climbing into it.
"You okay, Roland?" Kylie asked, concern marking her pale face.
"Yeah. I'm fine." He assured her. He felt better than fine actually. He felt great!
"How did you do that?!" Eduardo demanded to know, walking up.
"Play like that, man! You've never sounded, well, that good before!"
"Well..." He could feel the presence that had helped sustained him through the performance leave, only to appear floating next to him. "Guys, I'd like to introduce you to Johnny." He announced, motioning to the transparent young man next to him.
The other 3 busters between him and the spirit for a moment, as if debating whether or not to bust it. They finally put the blasters down, relaxing a bit when they realised that Johnny wasn't making any sudden or dangerous moves.
"You're the man in the song, aren't you?" Kylie finally asked, curiosity sparkling in her eyes.
Johnny nodded, grimacing. "Yep. That's me."
"So, what happened?" Garrett asked, looking puzzled.
"Well, turns out it *was* a sin ta make a deal with the devil." Johnny sighed with a deep southern drawl. "It was alright while Ah was alive, but once Ah died, Ah was bound to the daemon 'til someone else beat Scratch. No one has 'til Roland here."
"And how did you do that?" Eduardo asked again, crossing his arms, scowling.
"Well.." Roland scratched the back of his head nervously. "I kinda... asked for help."
"He asked for help." Johnny repeated for him. It may have been an optical illusion, but he was looking less solid than when he first appeared. "The others who took Scratch's challenge thought they could beat him on their own an' couldn't. Roland knew he couldn't an' asked fer help."
"So you possessed him?!" Garrett exclaimed, making a face.
"He didn't possess me." Roland assured him. "He just... lent me his musical abilities for a bit. There's probably not even a trace of ectoplasmic energy left."
Kylie, right on cue, pulled out her PKE meter. "He's right. Not even a shred of residue." She waved her meter at Johnny, who was less substantial than a moment ago. "You register as a class 2, but with some higher energy spikes, like a class 5. Probably from exposure to Scratch." She frowned, a puzzled look on her face. "These readings are starting to diminish..."
Johnny shrugged. "It's Greek ta me."
Johnny gave her a broad grin. "Well Ah coulda tol' ya that!"
Garrett and Eduardo hid their snickers before Kylie could glare at them for it.
"It was nice meeting you." Roland said, holding his hand out. "And thanks again for the help."
"Weren't nothin'." Johnny assured him, waving him off. "'Sides, gave me a chance ta fiddle again. 'Bye y'all! And thanks!"
The spirit vanished from sight, just fading out of view infront of their eyes. Roland had the feeling that Johnny hadn't crossed over into the ghost dimension just yet. Unless he missed his guess, Johnny was probably out catching up on all the things he'd missed while stuck with Scratch. He smiled to himself. Hopefully they'd see him again, and not on a bust.
"Well, I gotta hand it to ya bro. You did good back there." Garrett remarked, slapping him on the back.
"Can we go home now?" Eduardo asked, yawning. Kylie glared at him.
"Sounds good to me." Roland interjected before they could start up again. "But I get to choose the music for the ride home."
Garrett and Eduardo traded looks off to his side. "Uh-oh. Get ready for nap time, Eddie." Garrett whispered. Eduardo nodded, face sullen.
Roland grinned. "And I promise I won't force you to listen to classical, either."
Garrett, Eduardo and Kylie all let out not-so hidden sighs of relief.
Only to be replaced by expressions of horror several minutes later as the Ecto-1 pulled away from the curb.
For some strange reason, Roland felt like listening to some country music on the way home.
Comments, questions and history about the actual song, please send to icka_IMP@hotmail.com
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