It Came From Behind the Mariachi Band

The Ghostbusters came to a stop outside a fancy penthouse apartment door. It was decorated with orange and black streamers and a picture of a grinning Jack-O-Lantern. Muffled sounds of laughter and music drifted into the hall from within.

"Ray," Peter asked, "are you sure this is the right place?"

"Positive," Ray answered.

"Well," sighed Winston, "only one way to find out." He extended a hand and rapped on the door. Almost immediately, a young man dressed as a chef opened up. "Uh, hi there. We're the—"

"Awesome costumes, guys! You look like the real thing."

The Ghostbusters exchanged a glance.

"Costumes?" asked Winston.

"Wait, I think there's been a mistake…" Egon started.

"Party's just getting started. C'mon in!" The man grabbed him by the shirtfront and yanked him inside the apartment.

The others trailed in after him. Once inside, they were immediately surrounded by costumed guests, tables of delicious-looking food, and music from a live mariachi band wearing huge sombreros.

Ray shrugged. "Paranormal disturbances can happen anywhere, I guess."

Winston tapped the chef on the shoulder. "Excuse me, but we're here because of your ghost problem, remember?"

The man laughed. "Ghost problem? Huh! Take your pick." He winked and motioned to a group of giggling women draped in white sheets and standing by a punch bowl.

"No, I mean real ghosts—" before Winston could say anything else, the chef went off to join the crowd. "Great. Now what do we do?"

"Are you kidding?" Peter sounded taken aback. "This place is great!"

"We should probably sweep for valences just in case," said Egon.

"Well, alright," agreed Winston, "but what I don't get is why the party's still going if the place is haunted."

Ray shrugged. "Maybe they haven't noticed."

"Don't be ridiculous, Ray," Egon said, pulling out the PKE meter and switching it on. "The guests could very well be under the influence of the ghost if it's powerful enough. It might even be trying to fool us into thinking nothing is wrong. Be on your guard."

"Ok, here's the plan," said Peter as he sidled off toward the women at the punch bowl, "you guys take a look at that half of the room and I'll check things out over here by the drinks."

"Riiight." Winston raised a skeptical eyebrow as he hurried away.

"Wow, that food smells really good…" Ray trailed off and moved in for a closer view of the refreshment table.

Winston and Egon exchanged looks, then headed off in opposite directions.

Egon swept the meter up and down in front of a couple confused zombies, poked a pirate in the chest to make sure he was solid, and ended his investigation of the dance floor by dissecting a piece of pumpkin pie to search for ectoplasmic residue.

After turning up unsatisfying results, he moved on to the platform where the mariachi band was performing. The musicians threw him baffled looks as he ran the meter across each of them, lifted their giant sombreros one by one to peer inside, then placed them back on their heads.

"'Ey, amigo." The trumpet player snagged Egon's shoulder between the chorus and verse three. "What're you doin'?"

"I'm searching for spectral activity and the residual ectoplasmic evidence of spiritual manifestations passing through the physical plane."

The trumpet player stared openmouthed, then shrugged. "Ok, dude, whatever. Just get off the stage, huh? We're about to finish."

"Oh, sorry." Egon stepped down.

"Hey, man," Winston appeared by his side, "I don't think we've got a ghost—"

At that second, all the lights went out, plunging the room into darkness. Several people screamed in surprise and the band cut out abruptly.

"Look!" somebody shouted.

Across the room behind the platform, a greenish, glowing, tiered mass slowly began to rise.

"What is that?" Winston asked.

"It looks like a…" Egons wasn't sure, it was just so absurd, "like a—"

"CAKE!" Ray had managed to find his way over to them and already had his thrower out at the ready. "It's a cake! Phantom craftwork at twelve o'clock! Fire!"

Before the other two could do anything, Ray's proton beam shot out. It collided with the cake causing it to explode and cover everything in the vicinity with green frosting and fluffy white chunks. The stream died out and the proton pack hummed into dead silence along with the rest of the room. Someone found a light switch…

"Ok," Peter came to join the other three, "somebody wanna fill me in on what that was all about? One of the charming little spirits over there spilled her apple cider on me—"

"What've you done?" It was the chef. He hurried out from behind the platform in a rage and looked about to rip his hair out. "You ruined my big surprise! I planned this months ago! I had that cake specially ordered and spent weeks making the arrangements for the special effects!"

"S-sorry," Ray spluttered, "we thought it was a ghost—"

"A ghost?" he fumed. "Who do you freaks think you are, the real Ghostbusters?"

Egon held up a finger. "Uh, actually, we—"

The chef pushed him roughly toward the door. "Out! OUT!"

"Wait," pleaded Ray as they were shoved through the crowd, "we can explain—oomph!" He huffed as he was thrown out on his ear and the other three landed on top of him.

*SLAM!*

"Nice going, Stantz," Winston muttered as he rolled off the pile of Ghostbusters onto the floor.

"Hey!" Peter sat up and shook a fist at the door. "Nobody throws Dr. Venkman out of a party! Dr. Venkman IS the party…and he was just about to get a phone number!"

"I think it's safe to assume we got the wrong address," remarked Egon.

"Speaking of addresses," snapped Winston, "lemme see that slip, Ray!" He snatched the folded paper out of Ray's hand as soon as he produced it from a front pocket of his jumpsuit. "Ha! This says number 1477, not 1471!"

"Janine's 7's and 1's all look the same, ok?" Ray folded his arms, glowering.

"Uh, sorry to interrupt…" said a voice behind them. They turned to see a tall man in a black tuxedo and top hat carrying a large suitcase labeled "Magic". "Is this the party?"

"Sure is," Winston mumbled through gritted teeth.

"Thanks," the man moved toward the door. "I'm up after the band."

"Be careful in there," Peter warned. "Tough crowd tonight."