Secrets of the Last

An RGB fic by Princess Artemis

© copyright S.D. Green, 2002, except fer them dang RGBs

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"Oh, of course. A dark abandoned warehouse. Why ever would I think we'd have a bust anywhere else?" Peter asked quite sarcastically. It wasn't exactly true that the Ghostbusters always ended up in abandoned warehouses, but it happened often enough.

"Demons take to the lonely places, Peter," Ray answered, sweeping the area with his PKE meter.

"I wasn't looking for an answer," Peter returned rather dully.

Ray walked toward the door of the warehouse, with Peter, Egon, and Winston behind him. They all had their rifles out and ready; the PKE readings indicated they would need them and every inch of their native abilities. It was a class 7, bordering 8...Ray hadn't been joking when he mentioned demons.

"I hope this turns out as routine as the dark abandoned warehouse' bit," Winston said quietly as they entered the building.

"With any luck," Peter commented. They looked around the inside of the building. It was empty, except for a very large and assorted variety of cobwebs and not a little dust. As far as they could see, there were no ghosts, goblins, goopers, spuds, spirits, or anything of the sort.

Then there was...Giant, towering monstrosity of wings and long teeth shaped in a richtus grin, it bore down on the four so fast they couldn't get away. Blasters fired, showing bright against the dark and wrapping around the great beast—but two of the beams rose from the wrong end, and before anything could be done, those two went dark.

Even before anyone could speak, a voice boomed inside the rundown warehouse so loudly that the walls shook. "NOT YET," is all it said, and for a split second the demon was distracted, its class inexplicably lowered to a mere 2, and Peter tossed out a trap and caught it before anything else could happen.

The last two proton beams also went dark. Peter wiped his brow and said, "That was about the easiest bust ever. But I wonder what happened to Egon and Winston. I guess it must have picked them up."

"I wonder why the demon dropped in class like that," Ray said as he went to pick up the smoking trap, PKE meter still in hand. It was registering something very faint, nothing even so strong as to be a class, but, still, there it was, so he left it on.

"Hey Winston! Spengs! You can come out now!" Peter called into the darkness. "Smiley's gone!"

There was no answer. Peter walked toward where the demon had stood, and tripped...straight into a nightmare. It was dark, too dark to see, and later he would be desperately glad of that. He fell across something a little soft...not too soft, but it had some give, and his hands and face landed in a large amount of warm slimy stuff that smelled all too much like human blood. He swallowed a scream and tried to find his footing; one hand landed on something hard, metallic, and the other on something somewhat soft, but not squishy or bloody. He finally found his feet and flicked on his flashlight; this time he did cry out, and fell back, cracking his head against the stone floor.

Ray ran up to him and demanded, "What's wrong?"

Peter gasped and choked, trying to form the words. But he wouldn't turn his flashlight so Ray could see. "Human," was all he could get out in his shock.

Ray put the PKE meter in his left hand and unhooked his own flashlight and scanned the floor. "Oh my GOD," he said in an almost uncomprehending tone. The light flickered about Winston, bit cleanly in half...more blood and viscera than Ray was prepared to see...but there it was, and there was no way Winston could have survived it. In fact, there was every chance he never even felt it.

Ray backed up a step and swung his flashlight out, looking for Egon, fearing the same fate, fearing to confirm it. The light grazed Peter, and he was covered in red blood, and other things Ray wished not to identify.

It didn't take long to find Egon, and Ray lowered his flashlight as quickly as he could. He didn't want to see any more. Another clean bite, another dead friend. He looked back down at Peter in the gloom. "Same thing...he's gone too."

Peter sat up and rubbed his head. "What...what?"

Ray's voice was toneless. "It must have tried...it bit them...."

"Bit...? With those teeth?"

"Yeah. They're dead."

* * *

NOT YET boomed in his mind. And then he was caught, in three places at once, and he didn't know who he was. Just that now he stood in what appeared to be a wedding reception. The third place. The second was indescribable. The first was in a warehouse. He looked down at himself; he was dressed in a fine tuxedo, and there were people dancing all around him. But he couldn't dance. He moved as fast as he could to the wall, trying to hide almost.

Some man came up to him and asked, "What's wrong, sir? You look like you've seen a ghost."

That was true...he had, more than he ever expected to see. "Yeah...yeah...ghost...." And he leaned over and whispered secrets in the ear of the man and the man blanched, and ran.

A woman came, and he whispered secrets to her, and she fainted at the horror he spoke of...for his secrets were madness.

* * *

NOT YET boomed in his mind. And then he was caught, in three places at once, and he didn't know who he was. Just that now he stood in what appeared to be a wedding reception. The third place. The second was indescribable. The first was in a warehouse. He looked down at himself; he was dressed in a fine tuxedo, and there were people dancing all around him. So he got up and found someone, and danced. And he danced well, and the woman was delighted, and he whispered secrets to her, and she was delighted all the more. When the number ended, she excused herself and sat at a table, fanning herself.

He found another dance partner, and with her he danced, and whispered secrets in her ear. And she too was awestruck at the beauty he spoke of, even though his secrets were madness.

* * *

Ray and Peter sat back to back, not knowing what to do with themselves. Peter had tried to wipe as much of Winston's blood from him as he could, but really, it was a hopeless task. Ray fiddled with his meter, still wondering why there were readings, albeit faint. Neither of them moved to call an ambulance, or the Firehouse, or anything else. What use would it be? To call one was simply to have some people in medical garb scrape their friends off the floor, stick them in bags, and cart them away. To call the other was to make it real, and to bring Janine into it.

Ray focused himself on the PKE, almost to the exclusion of all else...certainly to the exclusion of sights he would rather not have seen and would haunt him for long enough that they could wait a little while. "Why are there readings? They aren't ghosts, not shades, not...I don't know what they are!"

Just in order to be doing something, anything but dwell on the feeling of blood squishing between his fingers, Peter got his own PKE meter out and flipped it on. He wasn't as good at using it as the brain trusts' Drs. Stantz and Spengler...rest in peace.... He shook his head, trying not to think of that. Instead he made a valiant attempt to do what Ray was, focusing his sole attention on the meter...again, something he was not as good at as Ray or Egon. Or even Winston when he got to reading books. "DAMN IT!" he shouted at himself.

"What?" came Ray's startled question, Peter's shouting having brought him out of his singular focus.

"Nothing Ray. I'm not ready is all."

Before Ray could say anything, their cell phone rang, a shrill noise in the dark. Peter scrambled for it—talking to people was a way he could exclude the rest of the world, and he was good to go for that right now. "Hello?"

"Hi Dr. V." It was Janine on the other end. Peter gulped, but said nothing.

"It's me, in case you don't recognize the voice," Janine said, sounding a little put off.

"Y-yes, I do...who wouldn't," Peter answered lamely.

There was a pause at the other end of the line. "It doesn't sound like you gate crashed my rather distant and snobby cousin's wedding reception," she said finally.

"No...we...we...bust. We had a bust."

"Then why is my cousin claiming you guys are there? She said Winston's scaring the crap out of everyone he talks to...and all the women in the place are lined up to dance with Egon." The last was said with a very distinct flash of anger.

"WHAT?!" Peter nearly screamed into the phone.

"Don't have to shout Dr. V." Her voice turned slightly petulant. "I'm sure if you were there they'd be lining up to dance with YOU...but why would Egon and Winston go crash a party? I thought for sure you were responsible...you know, lots of rich single women...."

Peter put his hand over the mic on the phone and turned to Ray. He whispered, "Janine says that Egon and Winston are at her high-falutin' cousin's wedding reception."

Ray worked his jaw but could barely speak. "It...they must be ghosts then...but...why?!"

"I dunno, but call 911. See if you can convince them to perform some major surgery on...on...them."

"That might be a little difficult."

"Well cash in some favors if you have to! That reading we saw...I'll bet they aren't all the way gone yet."

"Yeah...that's right!" Ray said, almost jubilantly. "This won't be the first time we stick a Ghostbuster's ghost back in his body...well...maybe the first time for Winston." Now that there was a shred of hope for his friends, Ray was straight back to being Ray, and he called up a nearby hospital.

Peter went back to Janine. "Janine, where's this reception located?"

"You act as though I was actually invited."

"Find it Janine! We have to know. We are going to gate crash...gotta find out what our buddies are doing there eating caviar and dancing with beautiful rich single women without me."

"All right Dr. V. But only if you keep all those rich young beautiful single women off Egon."

"You have my word."

* * *

They had to know. He couldn't keep it to himself, even if he wanted to. They had to know. It was real. Where the fire isn't quenched and the worm doesn't die...they had to know. It was indescribable, indescribably worse than words could express, and he could feel the fire still...he was there, and here...and they had to know.

Most people at the reception were giving him a wide berth, clearly afraid...and if he could have seen himself, he would know why. He might have been dressed nicely, but his bearing and expression were horrifying to behold. Indeed as verily one who has seen true terror and will never forget it. And every time a waiter or waitress passed near with a plate of champagne, he grabbed two glasses and downed them like a drowning man might gulp air. It had no effect though...and for one of the very rare times in his life, he really did want to be drop down fainting drunk.

But one person...a kid, early teen he supposed, came right for him. "Hey," the kid said, "I know who you are. You're that Ghostbuster."

"Ghostbuster," the tuxedoed man said. "That sounds familiar. Which one?"

"Winston Zeddemore. That one."

"Yes, that sounds right," Winston said. "I have to tell you something."

"Yeah I heard!" the kid said excitedly. "This party' is a drag...and I heard you were telling horror stories. I like horror stories. Tell me."

So Winston whispered secrets in the young man's ear, a horror story to rival any the kid had heard before. And the teen turned pale, rooted in place, unable to move, clutching at the sleeves of his jacket as if Hell had come to earth and called on him.

* * *

Now it seemed that he was dancing with the bride. It seemed so many people were flocking to him. He didn't know why, except that maybe they had heard from the others the secrets he told. He couldn't describe it, not really, he was never one for words of the caliber necessary...but he doubted anyone would be. His secrets were wonderful beyond human comprehension, and he tried to tell them, because it was real. He could still feel it, indescribable joy, like everything good and pure in the world, even like the simple cherished moments, all magnified a million-fold. But he had to tell them, he couldn't keep it to himself...it was too wonderful to keep to himself.

So he found himself dancing with the bride, who to his shock was looking at him with a very singular intensity. "I don't remember inviting you, but I'm glad you came," she said, her voice almost purring. He wondered what the groom would think if he heard his bride speaking to another man in those tones.

"I have to tell you something," he said, and try as he might, he couldn't help smiling down at her.

"I heard you've been telling wonderful stories, Egon. You've made quite a splash with the women here." She glanced toward a clutch of those women, who were all smiling and glancing his way as they talked amongst themselves. "Why don't you let your hair down?" she said.

"All right," he said, and reached up into his hair and flicked at something, and it fell, and she thought he looked much better that way.

If he could have seen himself, he might have known why every woman in the grand ball room was staring at him. He was dressed nicely, but his face was beyond any sorrow or fear...beautiful in ways very few people were. "I have to tell you something," he repeated, and she smiled and turned her ear.

And he told his secrets, and she cried, and clutched at him, and kissed him, as if that would bring her closer to Heaven.

* * *

Peter drove Ecto-1 alone to the address Janine had given him. He looked up at the building he had arrived at and whistled low. It was beautiful, and gaudy, just the place for a snobby rich cousin to have a reception. "Dang. Really wish I had been invited," he muttered to himself as he stepped up to the door.

A well-dressed man stood at the door and discreetly stepped to the right, barring Peter's entrance. "Do you have an invitation sir?" the man asked coolly. It seemed apparent to him that Peter had nothing of the sort, dressed in a filthy brown jumpsuit as he was. He couldn't tell that most of the dark splotches on Peter's clothes were blood.

"Well...yeah, kinda," Peter said, not overly kindly. He reached up and brought down his proton rifle. "There are some ghosts in there, disturbing the guests. I got called to investigate."

The man sniffed disdainfully. "I was not informed of any such thing."

"Sure you have. Just now. And...well...unless you feel like footing a nice big destruction of property' bill from the people who hired me, maybe you'd let me in, hmm?"

The man harrumphed, but stepped out of Peter's way. Peter tipped a pretend hat to the man and walked by him in such a wholly self-confident manner that it made the man grind his teeth.

But it didn't matter to Peter; he just wanted to find his friends.

He holstered his rifle and cased the area. It was huge. He called to mind the description that Janine had given him—Winston was scaring the pants off everyone, and Egon was being surrounded by the ladies. For Peter, it was easier to pick out a swarm of well-dressed single women, it practically being a sixth sense and all, so it was that he found Egon first. Apparently the snobby rich cousin had taken quite a shine to him.

"Oh boy, that's going to piss off Janine," he said to himself as he made his way toward the tall Ghostbuster...the ghost of a Ghostbuster.

As soon as people caught sight of Peter in his bloody jumpsuit, they scattered, some of them screaming, some fainting. They probably thought he was the ghost, just by looking. Anyway, he had caused quite a ruckus and Egon and the bride stopped dancing and looked his way.

Peter came up to them and said to the bride, "Sorry Mrs. Whateveryournameisnow, I have to cut in." She nearly collapsed, but seemed loath to let Egon go. Peter reached for her well-manicured hand that clutched at Egon's tuxedo sleeve, and the bride yanked her hand away, freeing Egon.

"OK, Big Guy, enough makin' the ladies swoon, that's my department," Peter said as he grabbed Egon's ghost by the elbow.

"I'm sorry, do I know you?" Egon asked.

Peter winced, but said, "Yeah you do. I'm Peter Venkman, Ghostbuster Extraordinare. I'm here to get you and Winston back."

"Peter, yes, I recognize the name. I have to tell you something."

"Not now! Winston first, stories later, got it?"

* * *

Ray tapped his foot at the paramedics and surgeons he'd managed to drum up. They had come to the warehouse, thinking there was an emergency, but now they were not quite sure what they were supposed to do.

"Let me get this straight," said one surgeon, "you want us to do major surgery on...two deceased men."

Ray nodded. "They're only mostly dead."

"MOSTLY DEAD?!" another surgeon shouted. "How can...can...that!" he pointed towards Winston, laying on the floor in more parts than he should be, "be anything but all the way dead? This isn't brain dead we're talking about!"

"Still," Ray insisted, "they're not all the way dead. Are you going to do the surgery or not? The faster the better!"

"No, I won't do it. You said they were still alive. I'm not performing surgery on dead people."

Ray's expression darkened considerably. "Look, we can do this one of two ways. You do the surgery and our insurance pays you exorbitant fees, or you do the surgery and I don't release seventy class 3's into your hospital, thus ensuring you have to call us and bust them and pay us exorbitant fees."

The head surgeon was about to go ballistic. His fists were shaking and his face was bright red. Finally he snapped, "FINE. We'll do it. But if you're wrong and they are as dead as we think they are, our hospital is going to sue you until you go bankrupt, got it!"

"I got it," Ray said, deadly calm. "Just as long as you put them back together, as fast as you can. You don't have to worry about anesthesia anyway."

The surgeons and paramedics huffed but went to work. Ray turned away so he didn't have to see them picking up Winston and Egon's bodies and carted them off to the ambulances, so they could start working

* * *

It took a little longer than Peter would have liked to find Winston. It wasn't that he was hard to spot...the room was packed except for one corner where there were only two people and a fairly wide circle of empty space around them. One of the people was Winston, the other some kid about scared out of his ever lovin' mind. The problem was Egon kept trying to wander off, and people kept trying to drag him off. It was a bit of a blow to Peter's ego to see everyone fawning on Egon's ghost and not him. Fortunately, Egon was solid and Peter could keep a good hold of him.

Finally, they reached Winston's side, and the poor kid took that as a fine excuse to get the heck away from the scary Ghostbuster. The teen scrambled away as fast as his legs would carry him.

"Well, at least we don't have to pry anyone off you," Peter quipped.

"Hmm?" Winston said, confused.

"OK, look. Me Peter Venkman, you Winston Zeddemore. Me come to get you because you aren't supposed to be here. Are we clear?"

"I knew who I am. And I recognize you," Winston said, eyes haunted. "I have to tell you something."

"No no, no stories. Besides, Egon is in line ahead of you to tell Uncle Petey bedtime stories, so you'll have to wait. You can tell me later."

"It's not a bedtime story Peter," Winston said. "I'm still there. I have to tell you. You'll never sleep again."

Peter paled a little; Winston looked like he could tell such a story right now. "OK, but not now. Maybe later. I got to get you two out of here."

"Can you take us from...there?" Winston asked slowly.

"There? I hope so, if you aren't all here." Peter answered.

"No, we aren't. And I don't want to leave there," Egon said.

"You two are leaving HERE anyway, right now!" Peter nearly shouted, then grabbed Winston by the arm and bodily dragged the two ghosts out of the ballroom.

* * *

Perhaps bringing the two ghosts to the hospital hadn't been such a grand idea. Both of them insisted on stopping everyone they could and telling their secrets, since they couldn't get Peter to listen. And it was frightening to see: every person Egon whispered to seemed to almost fall into a trance of joy, and at the very least, they went about their jobs with quite a bit more enthusiasm than before, while everyone Winston told his secrets to either fainted, ran out of the hospital pale as ghosts, or fell into a deep despair.

It was all Peter could do to keep the two of them from talking up every doctor, nurse, and patient in the whole place. He was certain if they were allowed free reign, the hospital would come to a complete standstill and nothing would get done...least of all get their bodies back in inhabitable condition.

Some time after Peter, Egon, and Winston arrived, Ray found them. Ray looked shocked, which wasn't entirely unexpected; he had seen Egon and Winston in far worse condition not long before. Or at least...he thought they had been. Looking at Winston's ghost, Ray wondered if perhaps Winston's body didn't look better.

"You look like hell, Winston," he blurted out.

Winston speared Ray with a terrible expression. "I don't look like Hell. I'm IN Hell."

"Whoa whoa whoa WHOA!" Peter said, holding up his hands as if to stop the conversation. "Let's back up here. What do you mean Winston?"

"Let me tell you," Winston answered quietly.

"No, I remember you said something about never sleeping again. I'm kinda partial to sleeping, so let's not tell me any scary stories. But...what do you mean you're actually in Hell?!"

"Just what I said. You said you could take us from there."

Peter scratched his hair. "So...hmm. Egon, you said you weren't all there at the reception. Where are you?" Ray got out his PKE meter and started scanning the two ghosts.

Egon answered, "I'm here, I'm there...and...somewhere else. Three places." He pointed down the hall, in the general direction of where his body was currently being put back together.

Peter turned to Winston. "Same thing? Here, there, and down the hall?"

Winston nodded.

Ray fiddled a little with his meter and declared, "They're right, they are in more than one place. That's why we weren't getting a full class reading in the warehouse. Something must have split their spirits up. I'm still not getting a full reading from them here...or down the hall. Part of them must be somewhere where I can't read them."

"That's what I said," Winston whispered. "Can you take me out of...there?"

Peter's eyes went wide. "We'll try our best! Yes! Of course! Even if we have to go there ourselves to get you!"

"You can't go there...you can't!" Winston said, shuddering.

"And I don't want you to get me," Egon declared. "Even if you could. I'd rather you find a way to get the rest of me there."

Ray ventured, "I'm guessing the rest of Egon isn't in Hell."

"Let me tell you," Egon said to Ray.

"NO," Peter demanded, "NO STORIES. I don't want to know either of your secrets. Keep them to yourselves!"

"I can't!" Egon said loudly.

"I won't!" Winston cried.

"Ray, do they make things to tape ghost's mouths shut?"

"I think the they' would be us'...and I don't think so, but I suppose we could always try to make something later." Ray said. "And I think it would be really dangerous to trap them...even if we could bring ourselves to do it," he finished quietly.

Just then one of the surgeons Ray had railroaded into fixing Egon and Winston came down the hall. "Well, your mostly dead' bodies are repaired and on life support," he nearly spat, but then he saw the two ghosts. He blanched and pointed soundlessly at Egon and Winston, whole and intact and apparently alive, after he had spent hours putting the same two dead people back together.

"I told you they weren't all the way dead," Ray said with not a little smugness.

The surgeon didn't say anything, and managed to get away before either Egon or Winston could stop him and try to tell him their stories.

"OK guys, come on," Ray said, "Sound's like it's time to get you all together."

Winston fairly ran down the hall, while Egon held back. "EGON, get your skinny butt in there now!" Peter demanded.

"I...I don't...you don't know what you're asking me to leave!"

Ray gently started pulling Egon toward the room where his mostly dead' body lay. "I don't know if you heard it, but something shouted awfully loudly Not yet'. When it did, the demon went all the way to a class 2 and we caught it, before we realized it had bit you two in half."

"'Not yet'," Egon repeated slowly. "Yes, I heard it. Not yet. Not yet...."

"Yeah, not yet. Not your time," Ray said. "So get in there and make sure it's not time yet."

"All right, Raymond," Egon replied, but he didn't sound altogether happy about it. Peter did a double take, looking at Egon, and thinking about how fast Winston had run. It was the first time he had seen either ghost look...different. Winston looked like he was about ready to burst with joy and Egon looked almost haunted...exact opposites of what they were before.

"Well, that I guess proves it more than anything else," he said to himself, watching Ray lead Egon down the hall. "If the time was right...they couldn't be like that."

So Peter followed them into the ICU room, a second shy of whatever they did to reunite their scattered spirits and their now inhabitable' bodies. Ray was excited, showing off the PKE readings. "Everything's normal, biorhythms are all right and there's no trace of the faint readings we had before!"

And it was certainly true of Winston; despite having just been cut in half and stitched back together, it was taking more than a few nurses to keep him down. "I feel like a million bucks!" he declared as loudly as he could, which in this case wasn't very loud, because indeed the spirit was willing but the flesh was weak.

"You sure that's not the morphine talking?" Peter asked with a relieved grin.

"Doubt it," Egon said from the next bed over. He looked like death warmed over. "If they treated us the same...I would expect that now any human pain feels like nothing to him."

"Oh," Peter said, thinking he understood. "Because he was in Hell. But you were in Heaven, weren't you."

Egon nodded very slowly. "Rather unfortunately, this means every human pain feels quite a bit worse than it ever did right now."

"I won't flick your ear then."

"PETER," Egon said as sternly as he could. "That's not funny."

"So you two storytellers going to try and regale us the way you did every single person that got in your way?"

"I won't," Winston said. "I think I preached enough fire and brimstone for one day."

"I can't," Egon replied. "I don't have the words anymore."

Suddenly Peter's cell phone rang and all the nurses and doctors anywhere near him glared at him. "Sorry!" he said quickly, running out of the room. He'd forgotten to turn it off like so many signs in the hospital had demanded he do. Once he was outside he answered it. "Hello!"

"Dr. V., now they're saying you threatened the doorkeeper and ruined their party by waltzing in all blood stained. And apparently the groom wants to kill Egon for trying to seduce his wife! CARE TO EXPLAIN?!" Peter held his phone away from his ear; Janine's voice could be quite shrill and piercing when she wanted it to be.

"Well...I...yeah, I guess. I did go grab a couple ghosts from their party. You should come to the hospital for Egon's side of the story, but I'm sure he'll deny he did any such thing. And if the groom calls again, you can tell him he's too late."

"What? Hospital? What do you mean too late? Who got hurt? Egon didn't get killed again, did he?"

Peter and Ray hadn't exactly told Janine everything that had happened, and they were probably going to catch it hot from her once she arrived, but truth be told, at first they had been in too much shock, and after, they didn't want to worry her unless they had to. Peter said into the phone, "Well, yes, he did, sorta...again...and actually Winston got killed this time too. But they're both feeling much better now."

Janine made several wild threats about what she was going to do to Peter for not telling her any of this before, then hung up. So Peter turned off his phone and went back to the ICU to warn everyone there was an angry Janine on the warpath and that Egon should try and come up with an explanation and quick pertaining to why the bride was hanging all over him and the groom thought he was trying to seduce her.

~The End~

________________

Author's Note

This is cut nearly whole cloth from a dream. That's why Winston got stuck in Hell...