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By TAPS_Family_Anthony
#473893
Set one month after the events in Ghostbusters: "Mutes"( You can read "Mutes" here: http://www.ssprstn.com/sitebuilderconte ... mutes1.pdf ), "Iconography" follows the story of the Ghostbusters as they get called in to help a powerful but corrupt CEO as he suffers from a mysterious curse. At the same time, half the team is out of state at a paranormal conference where things may just get spookier than planned while P.C.O.C. and Walter Peck have an inspection scheduled and the Ghostbusters aren't ready! Enjoy and thoughts and comments welcome!

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Naha, Okinawa
Sho Hashi Shrine district
May 6th, 1993
10 Miles from the city center….


Aiden Cooper’s feet hurt. For the last two miles, he had trekked through the ancient city of Naha in Okinawa on a tour of the city’s most ancient sites. The whole damn city was ancient, he thought acidly. Naha’s modern city streets winded and twisted over layers of Japanese and Chinese history, eras bleed together, colors on a yellowed and now very crowded human canvas. The tour guide, a stunningly beautiful milky-skinned, raven-haired Japanese woman of twenty-four years wearing the red short yet very sharply professional dress of the tour company Asia Earth Tours, had been prattling on and on about the history of Naha for the last several hours. She probably was a college student, and genuinely knew her stuff, Aiden admitted to himself, blinking a sweat drop out of his eyes, but at the moment he didn’t care.

She continued to speak, indicating the various areas as she did around the tour group, a motley collection of fifteen people of all nationalities all armed with and fumbling with bulky cameras. The Americans were the easiest to spot. They were the loudest dressed, bright floral prints and khakis. Aiden, a businessman, was dressed in a light charcoal colored suit made of thin yet resilient silk with perfectly shined black shoes and dark colored sunglasses. He was probably the best dressed among this lot, he thought. He half heartedly listened to her.

“…The Kyuuyou is, as far as we know, the oldest known factual history of the chronology of Okinawa. It was written and put together by Tei Heitetsu between 1743 and 1745, a Ryukyu government official in the Chinese community in Kumemura. It continued to be updated up until 1876, the 29th year of King Shou Tai. The Irosetsuden, was an additional chapter of the Kyuuyou which presented old stories and legends from and around the Ryukyu prefecture.”

The woman, who’s name Aiden had already forgotten (who could remember these things, after all?) stopped before a huge building that seemed to be set apart from the modern buildings that had grown up around it. Aiden had jumped on this walking tour at the last moment. He was here on a business trip, a seminar (he hated those things, so boring). As CEO of GlobalTech, one of New York’s top technology firms, specializing in applied military technology using mobile computing, he had little choice.
His assistant had been scheduled to go, but the damned woman had called in sick the day before and he didn’t want to forfeit the non-refundable attendance fees so he had went instead. Why waste money?

The seminar had finished a day early and so bored out of his wits, Aiden had taken one of the many walking tours around Naha, and thus had ended up in this horrid tour group, surrounded by human sheep, dressed in Armani, listening to a grad student lecture about Japanese history, in front of whatever the hell this giant building was. The building itself was surrounded by a crumbling wall that rose up fifteen feet, capped in red-orange clay tile. A gate rose up to twenty feet, made of painted red wood with tiered layers, bordered in gold and scarlet, a torii. There were no doors but a single bronze bell, inscribed with kanji prayers hung from the middle.

Beyond the gate were small ponds, intricately lined with gorgeous white flowers and lilies, all meticulously maintained as the small waterfalls fell from level to level to splash and trickle among the rocks. There, just beyond the waterfalls and mini ponds was a stair case made of white stone that rose into an open temple. The temple itself was a multi-story building made of the same white stone as the stairs topped with a red-clay tiled roof. It was silent as monks dressed in orange sarongs moved in contemplative study among the dim halls lit by flaming biers. Aiden had to admit, he was impressed. Normally the thing that impressed him the most was the bottom line at the end of each quarter but he was in his own way a collector of antiques from around the world.

So at this point his interest was perked a bit more than before. There had to be antiques in the temple. He wondered exactly how much it would take to buy some of them for his collection. The tour guide called for attention. It took her two tries but once she had it, she continued.

“We know from the Irosetsuden, that the name of Naha comes for its original name, Naba, which was the name of a large, mushroom-shaped stone in the city. Gradually, the stone wore away and was buried. Over the years, the name and its kanji changed as well into its modern form.” She looked from one eager face to the other. Aiden wasn’t paying full attention but was instead surveying the gold inlays of the torii gate.

“…The Ryukyu Kingdom was an independent kingdom which ruled most of the Ryukyu Islands from the 15th century to the 19th century. The Kings of Ryukyu unified Okinawa Island and extended the kingdom to the Amami Islands in modern-day Kagoshima Prefecture, and the Sakishima Islands near Taiwan. Despite its small size, the kingdom played a central role in the maritime trade networks of medieval East and Southeast Asia.”

The tour guide then turned her attention to the gate and Aiden’s heart stopped. For a moment, he had to blink twice to make sure he wasn’t seeing things. Then he realized of course he was.

There, on the left and right sides of the gate were two enormous statues, each easily five to six feet high. Each stone was carved into a terrifying visage of what looked like a lion or maybe a dog. Its eyes, round, bulging, staring, pierced him with their beady and knife-like intensity. The monsters were identical, except the one of the left had its mouth closed; the one on the right bared its lethal looking fangs for all to see, daring you to come closer. Their blunt snouts were wrinkled in frozen snarls, their gray bodies powerful and eternally still as sat upon terracotta plinths. To enter the shrine, Aiden noticed, you had to pass between the lion statues. There was no other way. Now that she had his attention as well, the guide went on dramatically, her Japanese accent lilting in the warm air.

“These statues are known as the shisa. They are a traditional Ryukyuan decoration. When seen in pairs like this, they were most often placed on the roof or entrance to houses, places of worship or sacred sites. They are considered to be guardians, wards of their protected sites. Some Okinawans believe the male has his mouth closed to keep the bad out of the home, while the female has her mouth open to share goodness. Others more often believe the female has her mouth closed to “keep in the good”, while the male has his mouth open to “scare away the bad”.”

“Like the komainu, the lion dogs, the shisa are variations of the Chinese concept of the fu-dog, vigilant guardians against evil and any who may harm the site they protect.”

Image

Aiden felt a chill run down his spine as he looked into the eyes of the male shisa, its open mouth seeming to snarl at him. He wasn’t a religious man but something was raising goose bumps on his arms. He didn’t know why.

“It is with honor and reverence that the monks will allow us into their temple which they have maintained for over five hundred years. Once inside, do not speak to the monks. Do not touch anything. Do not pick up anything. This is a holy place. Show respect as you would with any church at home. This way, please.”

The guide turned on her heels and gracefully led the group onto the temple grounds. When it came his turn to pass between the gargoyle guardians, Aiden paused, only for half a second. He felt something cold seep into his skin and he actually shivered, despite the heat. Shaking his head, he moved forward through the gate and walked fast, past the koi filled ponds up the stairs to catch up with the rest of the group. Once inside, thankfully, the temperature dropped considerably. The air smelled of clean water, cool stone and incense. The only sound was the quiet shuffling of sandled feet as the monks went about their daily rituals.

Fifty feet inside the temple itself, the tour guide stopped again, this time next to a set of three shelves, each tiered above the other, lined with hundreds of candles, gleaming, shimmering bright. On each shelf, Aiden noticed, were several much smaller statues, icons of the shisa, replicas of the ones outside, painted in different colors, usually shades of red and green, some with mouths open, some with mouths closed.

There was even a yellow one.

“Ladies and gentleman, as you can see, the shisa are revered by those who keep up the old ways and are very much believed in. Centuries ago, a legend tells the story of how the shisa came to be in such a position in Okinawan tradition.”

Walking closer to the candles and tiny statues, Aiden looked at each one, fascinated and the wheels of his mind already turning to other things. Like his collection of artifacts at his penthouse apartment in Manhattan.

Like how one of these shisa would perfectly add to his Asian artifact section. It always impressed the women he brought back to his place when he would make up some bullshit about the history of each piece. Of course, those women would always be gone the next day with a decent pay off to make them keep their mouths shut, but still. The guide was talking again.

“When a Chinese emissary returned from a voyage to the court at Shuri Castle, he brought a gift for the king, a necklace decorated with a figurine of a shisa-dog. The king found it charming and wore it underneath his clothes. At the Naha Port bay, the village of Madanbashi was often terrorized by a sea dragon who ate the villagers and destroyed their property….”

“…One day, the king was visiting the village, and one of these attacks happened; all the people ran and hid. The local noro had been told in a dream to instruct the king when he visited to stand on the beach and lift up his figurine towards the dragon; she sent the boy, Chiga, to tell him the message”

“The king faced the monster with the figurine held high, and immediately a giant roar sounded all through the village, a roar so deep and powerful that it even shook the dragon. A massive boulder then fell from heaven and crushed the dragon’s tail. He couldn’t move, and eventually died.”

“…This boulder and the dragon’s body became covered with plants and surrounded by trees, and can still be seen today. It is the Gana-mui Woods near Naha Ohashi bridge. The townspeople built a large stone shisa to protect it from the dragon’s spirit and other threats and it is still visible there, to this day.” She concluded, turning once more to lead the group further into the temple.

His thoughts racing, a crazy idea struck him and Aiden made a move. Why should he have to pay religious nuts who believed in old tales anything. He ran one of the most powerful Fortune 500 companies in America. He wasn’t about to haggle with a monk. Reaching up towards one of the red shisa statues, his fingers had just touched the stone of the six-inch figure when the guide’s voice snapped out. Aiden flinched but froze where he was as she turned to pin him with an icy warning glare, her almond dark eyes flashing.

“Sir, please do not touch the artifacts. Be respectful.” Aiden felt his face flush.

“Uh, sure. Sorry. Was just curious.” He made to pull his hand back as she turned away and began lecturing about the classes of warrior monk in feudal Japan as well as how the trade between China and Japan began to influence both cultures. The moment her back was turned, Aiden’s hand snaked out, snatched the tiny figure and vanished with it into his pocket.

Aiden felt a burning at the back of his skull and whirled around as the rest of the group moved forward, pointing at things and gawking like a bunch of stupid birds at a worm fest.

There, behind him, was a single monk dressed in a dark robe with a round straw hat on. He carried a knarled wooden staff in one wrinkled hand. His face was a maze of lines and shadows but he never said anything. The monk just stared at Aiden as a hot wind blew through the temple gates and ruffled his robe turning them into billowing wings.

Aiden stared back and saw the man’s eyes were strange, almost entirely black. He couldn’t make out an iris or pupil…no sclera. Just blackness, an inky void in each socket…

Aiden raised his hands, the statue in his pocket, and glared at the monk, feeling stupid at the sudden creepy rush that was coming off of the old fart, and then angry because he felt stupid.

“What? Can I help you?” he snapped. The monk said nothing but shook his head.

Somewhere a bell tolled. A single deep mournful note.

Aiden turned away and walked quickly to catch up with the tour group, eager to be away from the eerie old man. The tour guide noted his late arrival during her lecture and didn’t look pleased.

“Mr. Cooper, please keep up with the group. The temples are very large and we do not want you getting lost.” She said sharply.

“I’m sorry I was just talking to a monk.” He stammered lamely.

“What monk? The monks here do not speak.” She replied curtly.

Not wanting to waste time with this woman and possibly get caught and yet oddly determined to prove his innocence, Aiden whirled and pointed.

“That….monk.” The words caught in his throat. The monk was gone. There were no doors to either side of where he had been standing and no other way out of or into the temple that Aiden could see. The old man was just gone, as if he had never existed. Another rush of cool fear trickled down his spine.

“Never mind.” he said.

The guide nodded and continued her lecture. For the next hour, they toured the temple and finally, at last the tour was over. The shrine was the last stop and Aiden was glad to be going back to his hotel and catching a flight back to New York.

On the way back out of the temple as he passed out through the torii gate, he felt something was wrong but he couldn’t put his finger on it. Ever since he had entered the temple, he had felt strange. As he waited with the other tourists on the bus that would take them back to their hotel in central Naha, he fingered the stolen statue in his pocket. No one had noticed. He was free and clear. Why was he worried? Finally the bus, an orange and white monstrosity labeled with so many advertisements and sponsors it was hard to see the manufacturer of the vehicle pulled up. With a hiss of dragon’s breath, the doors opened and Aiden boarded, planting himself in a seat in the rear of the bus.

The doors closed and with a jump and a halt, the bus pulled away and slowly entered traffic, the cars and people becoming more dense as they neared the city center. Aiden paid no mind to anything else as he drifted into a dreamless sleep, the bumping and car horns making him feel more at home than he had felt in the last three days.
Soon, he would be home and back in the real world, civilization. No more blasted tours, no more lectures, no more seminars, just a dry martini, satin sheets, air conditioned rooms and a beautiful woman hooked on his right arm.

As the bus pulled farther away, the reflection in the back bus windows caught a glimpse of the temple, its bright torii gate and the statues of the shisa out front, guarding the sacred sanctuary inside.

The left shisa sat, still as the stone it was made of, unmoving, its mouth closed, eyes unblinking.

The right shisa with its snarling fangs, gaping mouth, flaming eyes and mane of stone-fire….

…was gone.



May 7, 1993, Cooper Tower
Penthouse Apartment, Floor Sixty,
Manhattan, New York.




“This is a great place,” the attractive blonde named Donna Schimdt said as she stood near the floor to ceiling window that opened with a view that took in most of lower down-town Manhattan, the city lights twinkling like stars. Below, traffic went on in a steady stream, bright head lights winking and the red flash of stop lights. A car horn blew somewhere. The stars themselves in the night sky were close to invisible at this level with man’s constructed galaxy of the world’s greatest city overshadowing nature itself. In her graceful tapered well manicured hands she held a wine glass, filled with an amber liquid. Her body, firm and curvaceous, was slinky beneath a short black dress with a plunging neckline. Her blue eyes sparkled and her full lips were astounding. Aiden couldn’t help but stare at her. It was a pity she had the brains of a rock. Well, most women did anyway, he thought.

“How’s the Chardonnay?” he asked, making small talk, walking up behind her. She was right of course, he mused as he did, the suite he called home was large, sporting fifteen foot vaulted ceilings, glass fixtures and sculptures with white leather furniture and a rug made of red Persian silk. The light white-gray carpet was spotless and the walls were holding up Aiden’s various awards and pictures of himself with dignitaries and at demonstrations from around the world. She snapped back from her reverie and turned seductively towards him, fingering the stem of her glass. “It’s great, really. It’s a fine age.”

He stepped closer and moved in for the kill. He had spent over a grand tonight on her alone, dinner, a theater show, a private after hours tour of the museum and now, he would pull the final plug, the one that had gotten him more women into his bed than his pocket book ever would. He would take her into the back room, the one just off of the bedroom (brilliantly placed, if I may add, he thought to himself).

“Did you enjoy the museum tonight?” he asked lowly, looking into her eyes, giving her the best smolder he could come up with, feeling that familiar tingle in his loins as he did. She nodded expressively, brushing a strand of her golden locks out of her face and tucking it behind her ear, sipping her wine.

“Absolutely. I love history and stuff like that. Its so….” She searched for the word.

“Educational? Enlightened? Expansive?” he offered suppressing the urge to scream idiot at her.

“Yeah, that!” she replied, not even noticing. He reached up and traced a finger around her shoulder strap of her dress, her skin warm and soft beneath his touch. Her face flushed red a bit, and he wasn’t sure if it was from the wine or something else. Not that it mattered.

“Would you like to see my personal collection?” he asked, opening his arms, directing her with an open palm towards the back room. Her face brightened. “Absolutely!” She eagerly made off out of the living room, her heels silent n the carpeted floor before they started clacking on the oak wood floors in the hallway. He followed quickly, moving ahead of her. She laughed as he passed her and finally, they stopped outside of a heavy wooden door with a keypad on the right, just above the door knob. It glowed with a tiny red light, steady and strong.

Most people would have never guessed the wood was just an external shell. The door itself was actually three inch thick steel with triple steel dead bolts, perfectly balanced to swing like wood. The entire room itself was actually reinforced. One could never be to sure about thieves, he thought. Ironically, that made him grin. He liked irony when it was in his favor.

“Oh…impressive.. security….” She teased and looked away, only partly in jest as he keyed in the entry code, the little light flashing green. With a beep and a sliding of metal on metal, the door handle flicked up and Aiden reached out and took it in his right hand, his left going to his lips in mock seriousness.

“Few women ever get to see this and I really like you and wanted to share it just with you. So you can’t tell about what you see here. Promise?”

“Promise!” she replied, sipping the last of her wine.

“And open sesame…” he swung the door open.

The door swung open, stopping smoothly, the balance perfect. The room beyond was a black cavern full of tiny red winking lights at different intervals. Aiden knew she couldn’t see any detail and reached into the room with his left hand and depressed a single recessed switch. With a click, wonderfully and artfully placed spot lights lit up, one by one, flooding the room with even cool light, just like a museum. The hardwood polished floors reflected the light. Cases upon cases, all glass and gleaming steel lined the walls, going back thirty to forty feet or more. Shelves, also glassed in, stood fastened to the higher parts of the wall. A fossil of a small flying reptile hung from the ceiling, suspended by nearly invisible clear cables. In the center of the massive room was a large container, a glass display case approximately five feet high, sealed in bullet proof shining glass and steel. The winking red lights in each case were individual motion sensors and alarms. Aiden took no chances like the foolish monks who had so generously donated his latest piece.

“Wow!” Donna said, stepping into the room before Aiden, her eyes agape, roving from one case to the other. Each case was filled with neatly arranged artifacts from every era in time, each labeled and dated with a blurb about the history of each one below it on white card stock. She moved further into the room.

“Wow…” she said again and rubbed her hands over her upper arms. Aiden noticed her tone had changed. It was less of a tone of amazement and closer to one of discomfort.

“What is it?” he asked, moving towards her. He felt it the moment he stepped over the threshold. The cold air hit him in the face, a brutal biting cold that chilled him to his bones. He gasped audibly. Looking over at Donna, he saw her skin had broken out in to gooseflesh. “I’m sorry,” he stammered. It shouldn’t be this cold in here…its supposed to be temperature controlled. Let me check the thermostat…”

Over to the left side of the room next to the door was a control panel, where Aiden stopped and flipped open the cover. Inside was a keypad for the alarm and temperature controls. The green digital display read the alarm status, the temperature, last time of room access, humidity, and number of artifacts in the room itself. It would alert him instantly if any were missing. Everything looked fine. The temperature read-out however caused him some consternation. His eyebrows furled downward as he read it.

The temperature which was never supposed to fall below 68 degrees Fahrenheit, was displaying at a frigid 48. The humidity was normal at fifty-five percent. What the hell?!

“I have no idea what’s wrong with this damned thing. Artifacts like this shouldn’t be stored in an area this cold. I have it set to not fall below sixty-eight.” He pushed the diagnostic reset button and after a moment, the cold air began to dissipate and the temperature began to rise, slowly. Grunting to himself, he stepped back over to find Donna standing over the center case which was filled with Asian artifacts. Aiden kept Japanese and Chinese separate from his Khemer artifacts and pieces, each clearly labeled by period and location.

He walked over to her and was glad to see her goose bumps from the unexpected cold had vanished. The room was gradually warming back up. He’d call the maintenance people in the morning. He wasn’t about to loose his collection to faulty equipment. “What is that?” she said, apparently not really bothered by the cold much now that things were warming up.

She was pointing to what looked like a female figure, dressed in a long gown with an intricate head-dress on that formed into a multi-spired disc behind her, like sun rays, which of course they were. It was discolored from age, a deep shade of bronze flecked with green.

“That, is an image of the legendary Sun Queen of the lost island nation of Yamatai, Queen Himiko. She ruled in a period far lost to Japan’s history, but it’s recorded in several sources that she was a feared and respected figure, enough for both Japan and China to pay her tribute. She was supposed to have had shamanistic powers and controlled the wind and sun.”

“She’s beautiful.” Donna said in admiration. The tiny face of the icon was indeed quite shapely, with strong almond eyes.

“And powerful. She ruled for fifty years, from 189 to 248 A.D. Then she vanished. No one knows why.”

“So neat!” Donna moved around the glass, her fingers gliding over it. He would have to clean the glass later, and Aiden scowled but quickly hid it under a smile as she stopped and focused on another artifact inside the case. He smiled when he saw it.

“What is this little thing?” she asked.

“That, is a recent acquisition from Okinawa, Japan. It came from a temple maintained just outside the modern city.”

He smiled. Indeed it had. The little lion-dog figure sat there, behind its white business card, labeled and dated, just like everything else in the room, similarly acquired. Its red paint flared, a scarlet wooden fire in the lights of the room. Surrounded by much bigger artifacts, it looked small, unimportant. Not nearly as powerful and terrifying as it big brothers had been outside the temple gates.

“It’s a shisha,” he said, remembering the lecture from the tour. Piecing together the words of the guide had been nothing. He did have a stunningly good memory after all. He just found most people and things so banal as to not be worth paying any mind to. “Supposedly, they are ancient guardian spirits who slayed dragons and protected sacred sites in ancient Japan. These icons are carved to keep out evil spirits…like gargoyles.”

“Its kinda creepy. It looks evil.” She said, backing away from the case, her eyes locked onto the tiny figure’s snarling open mouth and tiny fangs, its glaring eyes pinning her like a fly. She straightened, her eyes drifting up and she let out a blood curdling scream, her wine glass dropping to the floor, hitting and exploding into millions of razor sharp shards, tinkling and winking in the lights, the sound painful in the quiet.

Whirling, Aiden followed her gaze to the door of the room and saw nothing. Just the hallway. Not even so much as a spider.

“What? What’s wrong?!” he asked, moving toward her, careful not to step on the glass, even though he was still wearing his patent leather dress shoes.

“I saw…I saw something…in the door way…I..” she stammered. He looked at her hands. They were trembling, as though she were a rabbit cornered by a wolf. Her ample chest was heaving, her pupils wide with terror.

“Can I—“

“I need go, “ she cut him off. “Yes, I need to leave. Its been a wonderful night and everything but I just don’t feel well right now.” She moved around him, her heels crunching on the glass. Stunned and not sure what to think, Aiden followed her, looking up and down the hall for any sign of what had happened. There was nothing amiss. “Let me call you a cab at least,” he stammered, unsure of what to do or how to handle this. A woman had never not ended up in his bed after a night like this.

“I can manage…please, I just want to go. Now.” Moving back into the living room, she grabbed her coat from off of the sofa and without so much as a look back, she bolted out the door and was gone, leaving Aiden to watch her move quickly down the mirrored hallway and stop at the end, at the elevators, pressing the button repeatedly until the car finally arrived, swallowing her up and with a DING vanished down to the lower floors, leaving Aiden wondering what the hell just happened. Unable to figure anything out, his night ruined, Aiden closed the door and locked it, walking back towards his bedroom, figuring he would have the maid pick up the house tomorrow before he left for his weekend retreat in upstate New York. It was still a Friday after all. A bit depressed, and disgruntled, he went to his bedroom, leaving the door to the artifact room ajar.

His bedroom was done in dark grays with his work desk taking up more half of it, a dark colored wardrobe and Asian décor taking up the rest. A huge sapphire rug was spread under his king-size bed that was draped in a gray silk sheets and smothered in pillows. Another floor to ceiling window was a the foot of his bed on the opposing wall, which was actually a set of double doors that led out onto his private balcony. Through it, he saw the city winking at him, as if it knew a secret that he didn’t and shared his plight.

The city could go to hell as far as he was concerned. His night was ruined.

Ah well, maybe he could find something at the Catskills Resort tomorrow to entertain him until he had to be back in the office by Monday. Sighing, he undressed, flinging his clothes to the floor and killed the lights, the cool satin surrounding him as he drifted quickly into an alcohol assisted sleep.

Out in the hall way, in the artifact room, the glass from the shattered wine glass sparkled in the lights. The lights in the room dimmed and finally went out, throwing the room into pitch blackness. The door itself swung slowly shut and the locks engaged, the keypad light turning scarlet. Inside the room, in the darkness, surrounded by ageless history and twinkling red alarm lights, two more red lights appeared six feet from the floor. These new lights did not wink like the alarm lights but burned steady, twin shimmering hot embers. Twin black spots appeared in the red lights…they seemed to move, left and then right.

In the dark, the only thing that could be heard was the sound of the temperature control system, cycling as the temperature in the room began to drop again, the green digital display reading seventy-two….sixty-eight….fifty-three….forty-two…

A new sound began to fill the room as well. A deep resonant rumble…an organic diesel truck sound, it vibrated the glass of the cases…a throaty lion growl.

After a few minutes, the eyes went out and the growl stopped. Silence once again assumed rule of the room.

In the bedroom, deep in the throws of sleep, Aiden’s dreams turned, changing from women and oceans and spas to one of a stark sun stripped landscape, bleak and lacking any color as the ground splintered beneath him and the dream changed again, fluidly. Suddenly there was nothing and he was consumed by the horrific feeling of falling, plunging. Even as he turned and tossed, casting aside the covers, he could not wake up but he finally he did, screaming as the face of monster loomed at the foot of his bed, placing smoking paws on the footboard, clambering over, its black fangs and horrifying staring eyes, those eyes, ruby red, its mane of fire, came to consume him…

He woke up again in a cold sweat, sitting up, crying out in terror, looking around the room, panicked. Nothing was there with him. He was alone, utterly alone. The room was ice cold and he looked at the clock. It had been just after midnight when he called it quits and now, it was about three in the morning. Good God what a dream, he thought. It had felt so real. He could feel the unholy eyes on him…smell its putrid decaying body…smell the brimstone from its burning mane…the weight pressing him down into the bed, trapping him.

No more wine before bed. That’s all it was. Just wine and the stress from his screwed up date…

(GUILTY!!!)

The word exploded in his mind. Where in the hell did that come from? It wasn’t part of his thoughts but it was at the same time. A deeply growled word.

Guilty? Him? For what?

Forget it, he told himself. He was going back to bed, nightmares or no nightmares. He turned over and pulled the blankets up higher, wrapping himself in security and safety from the monsters of his mind. In a few moments, he was asleep again. This time, there were no dreams.

In the darkness of the room, as the city that never slept went by outside his balcony windows, under his bed, twin red orbs glowed steadily bright as a low growl issued forth, blending with Aiden’s snores.

Image

GHOSTBUSTERS: “Iconography.”

By: A. Milhorn

Based on characters created by Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis

**************
User avatar
By TAPS_Family_Anthony
#474352
Monday
May 10, 1993
14th North Moore Street
New York, NY 10013




“Miss Melnitz, I am here for the bi-monthly inspection per P.C.O.C Operations Code 14, sub-paragraph four. If I am not allowed to inspect these premises and they do not pass it, then I will have no choice but to suspend your operating license until the situations marked are rectified.”

Walter Peck, former EPA agent, stood just over six feet, dressed in his signature navy blue impeccably neat sharp suit and dress shoes, his auburn hair and short beard and mustache perfectly coifed, combed and in place, his blue eyes blazing, stood towering over the desk of Janine Melnitz, his hands planted firmly on it, glaring at her with the fury of a wounded mother bear. Janine Meltniz, a short but fiery five foot three woman of Brooklyn Heights , sat behind her heavy desk and computer, her red hair just as neat but a little more out of place, her glasses sliding down her nose as she looked up at him with sharp eyes made of lasers and her large hoop earrings dangling.

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“ I know the code. You don’t have to quote it to me but the bosses aren’t in right now and you are going to have to wait until they get here. I don’t handle inspections.” She snapped back, her Brooklyn accent stronger than any force of nature. She picked up a nail file and began to file her right nails non-chalantly. Of course, she thought, she did handle inspections and any other business duty that Ghostbusters Incorporated handled. She was the secretary. She just didn’t particularly care for Peck. Her filing done, she smoothed out mini-skirt and her orange blouse, and put the file down, looking up at Peck who had turned a shade of red that shouldn’t have been possible for a human being.

“May I remind you that you are a government employee, bonded and contracted for the city of New York. There are standards to be held here, and I will not let them slip. The Mayor is slotting P.C.O.C.’s budget into the next quarterly review and I want this place ship shape for when it does!” Peck snarled.

Unflinching, Janine reached over and moved her mouse, waking up her computer. Rapidly, she fired off keystrokes, the keys blacking loudly in the garage office area. Pulling up her calendar, she looked quickly through it and found the entry for today. Nothing too special just a few low level class three’s out at the fish market. The boys had been gone since this morning.

She pointed at the screen and turned the monitor around where Peck could see it, her red nail clacking on the glass.

“As you can see, they are at the Fulton Fish Market. They have four class-three’s to get rid of. You know what the Mayor says about protecting business interests for the city.”

Peck sighed, desperately trying to squash his anger.

“When they get back—“ he started as the garage doors clicked and opened, swinging open outward towards the streets. A car came into a view, a large long white ambulance, a station wagon build festooned in blue police lights and caution stripes. On its roof were gadgets and equipment Peck couldn’t begin to name and emblazoned on the driver and passenger door was a red circle with a diagonal slash covering a white cartoon ghost. All of its windows except the windshield were tinted darkly.

The car itself was a 1959 Cadillac Miller-Meteor combination hearse-ambulance end-loader that had been restored and painted a bright white, with long tapering rocket shaped red tail fins. Its large fat white wall tires bounced as it came over the dip in the pavement and pulled up into the garage, all twenty-three feet of her, her seven and a half foot wheel-base quickly filling the garage, her engine rumbling powerfully with all eight cylinders. Peck stared at the car expectantly as the engine was shut off and the only noise in the garage was the ticking cooling engine.

The driver’s door opened and a tall man who had his dark hair combed into a stiff but somehow geeky pompadour stepped out, his lanky frame and narrow face holding up his round black-glasses. He looked like an egg-head but was in fact, a genius so advanced that he was an out cast in many scientific circles. He wore the standard Ghostbusters uniform, a grey-khaki colored flight suit with black combat boots and gray elbow pads. A black name tag with red letters was sewn on over his left breast pocket.

“Spengler” it read.

Egon Spengler, the brains of the Ghostbusters operation and one of its three core founders. Egon had throttled Peck a few years ago in a fit of uncharacteristic rage when Peck made the mistake of shutting down the containment grid down in the basement of Ghostbusters HQ, the converted firehouse….of course that was back when he, Walter Peck, was just a low EPA enforcement agent. Now, he was head of the Paranormal Contracts Oversight Commission…and effectively, Egon’s boss.

Sliding out of the passenger side came two more men. One was a somewhat shorter but still tall chunkier man with wavy brown hair and child-like brown eyes. He was grinning from ear to ear like he had just won the lottery. His name tag read Stantz.

Ray Stantz, the enthusiastic one, Peck sneered. The man, like Egon, was brilliant but was blinded by a charismatic streak two miles wider than the BrooklynBridge. After him came another man of similar height, with short cut almost shaved brown-blonde hair, dressed also in a uniform. Clean shaven and not a day over twenty-eight Peck thought, was the newest staff member of Ghostbusters, Incorporated, Bryan Welsh. Welsh was hired two years ago when Peck himself was just made head of P.C.O.C by the city council. He was, what was it called again, the “experimental equipment technician.” A fancy term, Peck suspected, for guinea pig.

With a slamming of car doors, two more men came from the back of the car. A tall powerfully built black man stood and rubbed his shoulder, rotating it in its socket, grimacing. Winston Zeddemore, perhaps the only member of this group to have the slightest shred of common sense. Peck found him to be highly competent and probably the easiest to work with, but did not make the mistake of thinking Winston cared for him anymore than Peck cared for who stepped out next. A hot flash of anger welled up in Peck but he kept it in control even as he crossed his arms and his eyebrows dropped down into the vicinity of hell’s waiting lobby.

The last man was six foot two, just slightly tall but not as powerfully built as Winston. His hair was brown and his eyes sharp and highly intelligent, a shade of ocean blue with a slight receding hairline. While Peck knew the man held at least two Ph.D’s, the man was a natural born smooth talker, a con-man who was quick to spot a potential buck and the bane of Peck’s personal existence. To Peck, the man embodied laziness, womanizing and greed. He was one of the few people who could genuinely stir Peck into a fury beyond this aggravation with the Ghostbusters secretary.

Peter Venkman.

Shutting the door and looking up, Peter spotted Peck.

“Oh hey, Pecker. What’s up?”

“My name,” Peck growled, “Is Peck.”

“Apologies. Deepest. Scout’s honor.” Venkman said, cracking his back.

The smell hit Peck like a tidal wave. It was the worst, ranking wet fish smell that he had ever encountered in his life. It made his stomach climb for his throat. The stench of rot and decay, of polluted water made his eyes tear up.

He reached into his breast pocket and grabbed his hankerchief, covering his nose with it, though it did little good.

“What in Christ’s name is that smell?!” he snapped gagging slightly.

“That,” Winston said, grinning slightly, “is the tax dollars of New York tax payers keeping local businesses safe from paranormal incursions, my friend.”

“Smells worse than Slimer…” Janine said under her breath behind her desk, glancing over at the empty ecto-tank next to the stair case, the scent just hitting her. “What hit you guys?” Peck noticed the empty tank, his eyes bulging, his face getting even redder.

Venkman reached back into the car, fumbled around for a few moments and then pulled out four roughly shoe-box sized rectangular metal boxes. The boxes were black with silver panels on either side and buttons and dials. Twin yellow and black caution stripped doors on the top smoked heavily, clouds of steam wafting up from it. Near the back, an inverted L shaped handle stood out and next to it was a red light. On each of the boxes, the red light blinked furiously. Eight foot black flexible coaxial cables came out of the back of the boxes and attached to a single simple foot activated pedal. The boxes were the source of the smell.

Holding the metal boxes up like a trophy, Venkman finished.

“These, my dear Janine, just made us forty-thousand richer. Good thing the city is invoiced directly now, eh, Pecker?”

Peck scowled at him even though Venkman couldn’t see it.

“Put those things into containment before I cite you for irresponsible handling of dangerous materials!” he shouted, his voice muffled.

“Sure thing. Yo, cool breeze. Take these things downstairs and dump ‘em in the grid.” Venkman passed the loaded traps off to Welsh, who crinkled his face is disgust but took the smoking sparking traps anyway and headed for the basement stairs just off to the right of Janine’s desk.

The remaining four Ghostbusters crossed over to Peck and Venkman stood nose to nose with him.

“What can I do for you?”

“Excuse me, what can you do for me is more appropriate and I’ll have you know stunts like that can be dangerous and—“ Peck started, holding his hankerchief closer.

Venkman interrupted. “Excuse me, I am still the CEO of Ghostbusters, Incorporated, Peacock or no peacock.”

“We’ll see what the mayor has to say about that. In the mean time, you have an inspection today. I called about it last week.”

Venkman visibly paused and then continued on.

“ We’re ready for inspection anytime you are. Aren’t we?” He turned to the others. Ray raised an eyebrow.

“I don’t know, Pete. I mean—“

“The ecto-plasmic dampners are out of alignment. The containment grid needs flushing, the proton packs need a tuning on the cyclotron releases, the psycomagnetheric plasm generators—“

“Okay, Egon, we get the point.” Peter quickly cut him off turning back to Peck.

“ We need more time.”

Peck glowered at him. “Budget review is coming up, Venkman. If you aren’t ready to pass inspection in two days when I come back, I will personally remove your operating license and make you explain to the mayor WHY you aren’t ready and I think a fine to the tune of forty-thousand seems appropriate.”

Peter blanched.

“We’ll be ready, won’t we fellas?” Winston said, looking around at each of his friends and co-workers, motioning to Peter to shut up with an eyebrow before he got them in any deeper.

“Absolutely.” Ray chimed in.

“Affirmative.” Egon followed pushing his glasses back up on his nose.

Peck walked swiftly towards the garage door, opening the smaller inset door, stepping one foot outside.

He paused as he did, looking back inside, nailing Venkman with a glare.

“One more thing. That forty-thousand payday? Its on hold pending the results of your inspection and the damage analysis from the fish market. I expect the damage claim to be on my desk before five PM tomorrow. And get that green menace back in his tank! There is a court order in place still!!”

The sound of the door slamming was loud but at least Peck was gone.

All eyes turned to Peter and each face was less than happy.

“No over time, Dr. Venkman?” Janine asked, tapping her fingers on her desk pointedly.

“Call the fish market and get their numbers. I need a shower.” Peter groused turning away from Janine and tromping upstairs, his mood decidedly less than thrilled.


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*****
User avatar
By TAPS_Family_Anthony
#474440
*****

“Its called what?” Peter asked, scrubbing the last bit of water out of his ears with a towel. The second floor of the firehouse was the dorm area. Somehow, the Ghostbusters had managed to squeeze in five beds among all the clutter of equipment, documents, old books and collected paranormal artifacts. Each of them had their own apartment but rarely stayed in them except on weekends when the office was closed. It was just easier to stay at the firehouse for when emergency calls came in.

Sitting on the end of his bed, Egon adjusted his glasses.

“Para-Con.”

Ray, who had his head buried in a four page program covered in colorful graphics and pictures peered up from behind it.

“It’s the biggest paranormal conference of parapsychologists and investigators on the east coast! Its going to be held in Altoona. Dr. Hans Holzer is the keynote speaker this year and John Keel will be there and even some Russian investigators from the Soviet Institute! You know what that means?” he said, pointing out faces and names in the program whom Peter did not recognize.

Not really caring, Peter shrugged and tromped back into the bathrooms to hang up his towel. “Yeah, it means I’m going to be surrounded by enough egg-heads—no offense Egon—for three days. I don’t think I could stand the pressure.”

Egon brushed off the remark. He knew Peter was pissed about the forty-thousand dollars from the fish-market being put on hold. Not seeing that Peter really wasn’t paying any attention, Ray continued.

“No! It means we get to speak with some of the top minds in the field of ghost hunting and paranormal research. I’ve been dying, no pun intended, to talk with Keel about Mothman and the UFOs in Point Pleasant!” Seeing that Peter was less than thrilled, Ray switched gears. “It means that we may get you see Katarina again. We haven’t seen her in years. But if you really don’t want to…” Ray said, knowing full well he had Peter’s full attention now. Venkman came back out of the bathroom, pulling his shirt down over his head and buckling his trousers.

“Besides, we need to go to the conference. We could call it extra training and maybe Peck would ease up off our backs and could release the payment from the market.” Winston advised, laying back on his bed, crossing his ankles.

“Well,” Peter said thoughtfully, “When you put it that way. “

“So who’s going to watch over the station while we’re gone?” Egon asked, looking at the others. No one said anything. No one really wanted to stay behind and clean up the place AND handle Peck’s inspection.

“We could ask Cool Breeze—“

“His name is Bryan.” Egon reminded Peter.

“Whatever. What about what’s her name from your store, Ray?” Venkman flopped down on his bed and stretched, his shoulder cracking audibly. Those proton packs were heavy and they seemed to get heavier every year.

Ray nodded seeing where Peter was going. He glanced at Egon. “Kylie? She does practically hero worship you, Egon. She’s been through the training course. We could let her, Bryan and Janine watch the place for the weekend. Have to pay everyone over time though.”

“Hold up. You can pay Kylie over time if you want. That’s your store. Janine’s on salary. Cool Breeze—“

“Cool breeze can what?”

Bryan stood in the door, now dressed in clean civilian clothes, a simple blue t-shirt and jeans.

“We thought that myself and the other members of management would take a few days to do some off the job training at the Para-Com—“

“Para-Con.” Winston said, his eyes half closed.

“Para-Con. It’s a paranormal conference held in Altoona. Its going to be majorly boring, so we elected you and Janine and Griffin, to watch the station and finish up the place for inspection in two days. “

“Seriously?” Bryan’s face fell. Peter nodded. “Seriously.”

“Fine. I want over time. I had plans.” Bryan said making his way over to his bunk, crashing face first into the pillow.

“Well that’s one down, two to go.” Peter grinned. “Who gets the bell the cats?”





****



Ray’s Occult Book Store

33rd Street Mark’s Place

New York, NY10003

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Kylie Griffin, a small statured woman in her early twenties, with pale skin, black nails, black lipstick and black eyes shadow stood behind the counter at Ray’s Occult Bookstore. She had her mid back length jet black hair pulled back into a short spiky ponytail and bangs framed either side of her face. Most people found her to be highly attractive in an Elvira Mistress of the Night kind of thing. Few people got to know the fact that she was actually an intellectual, a deeply devoted student and scientist of the paranormal in her own right, her primary love being surrounded by ancient knowledge and books of all ages. She wore twin small red earrings and a spider web ring on her right middle finger. Otherwise her manner of dress was simple: Black jeans, black shirt, and black combat boots.

Like Janine, her Brooklyn accent was thick and her wit was sharper than many razors. So far, she had only a few customers and nothing too unusual. On the desk in front of her, next to the computer, a small desk clock sat, its hands spinning wildly all around the face of the clock, so rapidly that little stringers of fabric had been tied to it and made it into a decent desk fan. She drummed her fingers on the desk, going through the inventory that had came in on Friday, making sure nothing was left off the list. She would physically go and double check it shortly before her lunch break.

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The bell above the door jangled and Kylie looked up from her work. A tall, red-headed woman dressed in a long dark trench coat and hood came in. Kylie caught the scent of ozone and saw that the mid-afternoon sky outside had grown dark. The only windows in the store were directly behind the counter and were currently blocked by shelves. Its no wonder she didn’t notice the storm rolling in. She thought she heard thunder in the distance.

Kylie recognized the woman as she closed the door behind her and came around the stacks of books and artifacts on shelves, stopping before the desk, pulling off her sunglasses to reveal stunning amber eyes.

Like a wolf’s eyes.

Kylie looked up and smiled as the woman lowered her hood.

“Hey there, Luna. How are you?”

“Hey hun. Did it come in?” she asked quickly but politely.

“Yeah it did. Lemme grab it for you.”

Kylie turned and rummaged under the counter, pushing several jars of colored slime out of the way. Red, blue, yellow, black, and pink. When she touched each jar, the jar’s fluoresced briefly, glowing and making a tonal hum, each jar making the sound of a different part of the musical scale. They settled down after she set them aside. Rising up, she had a large package in her hands.

“I almost didn’t make the order in time. But I got it. Gould’s Guide to Shape-shifting Beings and Management of Ecto-Plasmic Phasing: A History.”

“Before the full moon? You are a doll!” Luna beamed gratefully.

“Eh, I do what I can. Want me to put it Isiah’s account? You guys still have some credit from the troll skin you brought in last month.” Kylie asked, keying in the order into her computer rapidly.

“No, I’ve got it. I don’t want my mom to see that I’ve been doing that, even if daddy says I can.” Luna slid a fistful of currency across the table and Kylie rung her out. She looked up and Luna as Luna put the large book under her arm and put back on her sunglasses, pulling up her hood.

“You should stay away clear of the fields around Lupusville next Thursday. A bunch of hunters have been given a permit for those grounds.”

“Thanks for the info. I’ll be sure do to that.” Luna’s eyes went down to the spinning hands of the clock on Kylie’s desk.

“ You know, I’ve been in here dozens of times and I’ve never asked what is that thing?”

Kylie grinned. A chance to use her knowledge. Something she relished.

“This clock was made by Herschel Glueke, a demented but genius watchmaker. He intended it to show the exact time of death of anyone that stands near it. I think it dates to around 1821. There’s so much ambient PK in here from the artifacts it just goes nuts. Peter used it for a desk fan before Ray moved it here.” Kylie gestured around her and Luna saw the many artifacts, paintings, steamer trunks, pieces of jewelry…all cursed artifacts.

“Wow that is so cool. You have the best job. Tell Egon my mom said hi!”

“Tell Leda I will. I’m glad you guys moved back to Lupusville. You’re closer now.” Kylie said, shutting her cash drawer. Luna nodded.

“Yeah well, you know how these things go. Anyway, gotta run! Thanks, Kylie!”

A moment later, the bell above the door jangled again and the door shut just as the first rain drops began to fall, pelting the glass window of the door.

Kylie turned up the music on her CD player and Nine Inch Nails belted out:

….This is the first day of my last days

I built it up now I take it apart climbed up real high

Now fall down real far no need for me to stay the last thing left I just threw it away….



The phone rang.

Quickly, she turned down the music a bit and answered it.

“Ray’s Occult Books. We’re open till seven on weekdays, midnight on Saturdays.”

Her face brightened a bit. “Hey Ray. You got something you need looked up? Don’t tell me, it’s a class-six, no, a class-seven. I was reading about the night marchers and with that Hawaiian thing going on right now in Central Park, its probably….what…” Her face darkened.

Her brows knitted.

“Wait…Peck has an inspection….right…You want me to what?!”

She rubbed the bridge of her nose. As the manager at the book store, she was the only employee Ray had right now to watch the store, meaning they were going to loose revenue if she was gone for three days. On the hand, a call may come in while she was at the station and she could get out from behind this desk. At least Venkman would be gone.

“All right, I’ll do it. Just make sure I get over time. I’ll close up shop a little early and be over around eight. Later, Ray.”

She hung up the phone and sighed.

At least it was over time.

The door jangled again and she looked up to see a small mousy looking man with thin balding hair, red cheeks and clothes straight out of geek catalog. He even had a pocket protector. He kept wringing his hands and looking nervously about. He gulped and finally approached the desk as Kylie’s eyebrows reached for her hairline.

Finally, he spoke.

“Um. Hello. I’m not really sure how to ask this but…I need …”

He motioned her closer. She leaned lower, her hand itching towards the pepper spray she kept just out of sight.

“…I need…a love potion.”

Kylie rolled her eyes and stood back up.

“Aisle seven, back of the store and around the corner. Use at your own risks. No refunds.” She advised him.

It may have been an easy day but it was going to be a long night.
User avatar
By TAPS_Family_Anthony
#475232
14th North Moore Street
New York, NY 10013


The storm hit hard, the wind and rain lashing the city streets, angry and sharp. The temperature had also dropped. The day went from being a decently warm day into a near freezing evening, the sun long ago surrendering to the evening. The city that never slept kept going, not even remotely slowing down, the heartbeat of Manhattan strong and steady. The gleaming skyscrapers twinkled and shone every time the lightning flashed. Cars stood at a stand still in the streets as the evening traffic was hampered by the storm, the roads slick and dangerous. The firehouse stood solid in the gusts, its red brick and light colored cement darkened from the soaking downpour. The No-Ghost sign above the garage doors glowed steadily in the darkness, the white sign and the red no-ghost logo contrasting brilliantly.

Outside, parked along the curb were two cabs from the New York Taxi Commission, the old Ford Crown Victoria’s dull yellow looking almost green from the sign’s bright glow. Their head and tail lights added an unreal light to the area, bathing everything in a white/red mix. The two cabbies, both older men, sat behind the wheels, checking their watches as the wipers flicked back and forth. A third cab pulled in slowly behind them, stopping just short of the second cab’s rear bumper, its brakes squealing. Inside, two shadows moved, and the rear door shot open and Kylie Griffin quickly stepped out, unfurled her umbrella and stood up. She reached back into the car, fumbled around and came out carrying a cat carrier. Thanking the driver, her voice lost in a thunder clap, she slammed the door and made for the firehouse’s front door. She hoped it wasn’t locked (it wasn’t) and stepped inside the smaller inset door of the main garage door, slamming it shut behind her. She set down the cat carrier and shook out her umbrella.

“Oh hey Kylie. How was your day?”

Looking over towards Janine’s office area, Kylie grinned, taking off her cap and wiping the water out of her eyes.

“Heya. It was good. Slow. Had a really creepy guy come in asking for love potions.”

Janine’s eyebrows went skyward as she moved a stack of completed forms into a file folder.

“I keep telling Ray to get rid of those things…”

“Tell me about it,” Kylie said, opening one of the wooden doors on the lockers, putting her coat and umbrella inside. “But they are one of our best sellers, especially in February.”

“Typical.” Janine replied, going back to her keyboard. She had invoices up to eyeballs and Peck’s documentation system was enough to turn her hair gray.

Squatting down, Kylie unlatched the cat carrier. “So why are you here so late? The office closed three hours ago. Its not like we are going to get swamped or anything.”

“Bosses orders,” Janine said, clicking her mouse furiously. “Inspection in two days. Peck said we have to have the place in ship shape fashion or he’s going to yank our license and put a stop on the payment from the Foulton Fish market.”

“That’s bullshit. Peck is an ass.” Kylie replied, and smiled as Pagan, her male short-haired tom, stepped gracefully out of his carrier. He was a large but slinky cat, with dark grey fur, yellow eyes and a light underbelly. As far as cats go, Kylie thought he was one of the most intelligent animals in her experience. Since the death of Rose, her grandmother who had practically raised her after her mom and dad divorced, Pagan was her best friend and confidante. Besides her journal but no one ever saw that, she mused.

Pagan looked at Janine and meowed.

“Hey, Pagan. Want a snack?”

Pagan meowed and bounded across the brick garage floor, ducking under Ecto-1 and leaped up on Janine’s desk, not stirring a single piece of paper or moving a pen. Janine opened the second drawer on the left side of her desk and dug around. She came back up with a jar of cat treats.

As she turned the lid, the treats rattled loudly in the plastic container.

A bright green blob blasted out of the ceiling, swirled, and dive bombed for the treat jar.

“Hey! Watch it!” Kylie snarled ducking quickly. She was hit anyway with the slime after trail. Annoyed, she wiped it off on her jeans legs. The potato shaped mass hurled itself right at the cat treat jar. Pagan took one look at it, hissed violently and bolted off upstairs towards the bunks and lab. Janine didn’t flinch but simply reached down under her desk and pulled up a ghost trap by its handle, the cord trailing behind it to the pedal that was under her right foot.

The blob, a translucent slime-dripping phantasm with a rough face eyes and huge mouth with two spindly arms and no legs froze instantly defying the laws of inertia the moment it saw the trap. Janine looked directly into Slimer’s yellow-orange eyes.

“Don’t even think about it.”

Slimer looked from the trap in her left hand, to the treats in her right. It looked like he was making the hardest decision of his existence.

“I’m warning you, ecto-breath. One move…”

Slimer’s eyes raced back and forth and finally he lunged at the treats.

Not even flinching, Janine depressed the foot pedal.

The yellow and black caution striped split-hinged trap doors sprang open; a cone of dazzling white light and energy snaked out, filling the entire room with its brilliance. The red energy snarls snared Slimer and Janine pushed the pedal again. The trap began to whine as it switched from open to closed, yanking Slimer down, down before slamming him into the black box, the caution striped doors slammed shut and sealing behind him. The light vanished and the indicator light on the front of the trap turned yellow. On the back, the status light winked off and on. The trap sizzled and sparked briefly before finally settling down, letting off copious amounts of steam.

“Nice catch. You gonna grid him?” Kylie asked moving over to Janine’s desk.

Shaking her head, Janine replied, “I’d like to but Egon said he can’t because he’s an invaluable tool for science.”

“Says the man who collects spores molds and fungus.” Kylie quipped.

“Did someone say fungus?”

Janine looked up, frowning at the deep voice as Dr. Egon Spengler came down the stairs, his tall brown hair and dark rimmed glasses framing his narrow face. Janine growled to herself. The man, handsome as he was, could be so literal. She finished up her paperwork.

“No, Egon.”

Kylie waved. “Dr. Spengler.”

“Hello, Kylie.”

Dressed in white shirt with a vest pullover and dress pants, Egon looked as he always did in civilian clothes: like a scientist. Behind him came Peter Venkman in his brown wool suit jacket, green undershirt and brown pants. His shoes were scuffed but he didn’t care. Peter looked at the trap smoking on Janine’s desk.

“Slimer?”

“Yup. Tried to snag the cat treats. Scared Pagan half to death.” Kylie told him, crossing her arms. She respected all of the Ghostbusters but she and Peter had a love/hate relationship. He still owed her fifty bucks as well.

“Figured as much. I got the left overs from the assault.” Peter said, holding up his left hand. It was badly scratched and his suit jacket, Kylie noted, was covered in gray cat hair.

Winston followed Peter and he was pulling on his jacket.

“Come on, Ray, we gotta go! The meter’s running!” he called back up the stairs, waving to Kylie as he and the others passed her and made for the front door.

“I’m coming! I’m coming!” came Ray’s disgruntled shout from the lab area. Moments later a loud crash and the sound of shattering glass followed the sound of cursing came down the stairwell.

Egon winced.

“I hope that wasn’t my experiment.”

“It probably was.” Peter said non-chalantly.

Ray Stantz bolted down the stairs, buckling his belt and pulling on his jacket.

“Sorry! Who’s got the bus tickets?” Ray bumbled, jumping the last stair.

“ I do.” Winston reminded him, pulling them out of his jeans pockets.

“Hey Ray.”

“Kylie! Thanks for doing this for me. I really appreciate it. All of you guys! Really awesome!” Ray kept running past them and bolted out of the door into the rain.

“What’s he so excited for?” Kylie asked, putting her hands on her hips.

“One of the key note speakers is John Keel, the ufologist. You know Ray. Loves his aliens.” Winston replied, turning to follow Ray out the door.

“I think he is an alien.” Peter snarked.

Egon was the last one to leave. He turned to Janine and Kylie.

“Bryan’s downstairs working on scrubbing the containment unit inner seals. I left the checklist of thing that need to be done by Wednesday. Its fairly short. If you get a jump on it, you could have it completed in sixteen hours or so.”

“Sixteen hours?” Kylie blanched.

“Its over time.” Janine sighed. “We need the money.”

“If any calls come in—“

“We can handle it, Dr. Spengler. No worries.” Kylie told him.

“Well. Okay then. See you all in three days.”

With that, Egon was gone, the door shutting behind him as the thunder growled. Rain tapped loudly on the windows and the firehouse was now eerily quiet except for the deep low hum of the containment grid downstairs.

“I guess I’m going to head downstairs and check on the list of stuff. You going to be here all night?”

Janine nodded. “Yup. Gotta check the entire billing system, resolve any open accounts…its going to be a long night.”

“I’ll head up and throw on some coffee.”

Bryan Welsh came up from the containment area, his khaki coveralls covered in grease and what looked like ectoplasm. He was wiping his hands with a white rag that wasn’t white for very long. His face had black streaks on it. Whether the marks were grease, slime or carbon scoring, Kylie couldn’t tell.

“Did someone say coffee?”



***

Her eyes burned. The computer screen was blurring and Janine finally sat back and pulled off her glasses. It had been three hours straight of working on forms and paperwork, filling in numbers, cross referencing work sheets. The large mug of coffee next to the phone (which hadn’t rang once, shocker), was almost drained.

It was her third cup.

She reached out for the cup, intending to drain it. Her eyes jumped up, her mouth falling open in shock.

The front door smashed open, slamming against the interior wall, rain and wind surging through the garage. Lightning flared, crazy shadows danced around the fire hall and a man stumbled through the doorway, his business suit in tatters, covered in green and blue gunk, water dripping from his hair.

“HELP ME!”

His voice was ragged, his breath hard and forced as he panted, tripping, regaining his balance and slamming into Janine’s desk, sending her coffee cup and the last of its contents crashing to the floor shattering into millions of pieces. Her papers scattered and her pencil holder spilled all over the desk. The full trap holding Slimer flew down into the floor, clattering onto its side next to the file cabinets behind Janine’s desk.

“Hey, what the hell are you doing?!” she snapped.

“Help …me….you…have…to….please….” he panted.

Movement caught her attention and Janine snapped her head up.

There on the firehouse floor, the brick seemed to move…ripple…flow…

Green light exploded from up between the mortar and with a splash of sparks and heat, twin apparitions came up through the floor, screaming, roaring and hissing, their dagger like teeth gnashing.

Twin dragons, one jet black with flowing scales and blazing red eyes, the other arctic white its blue eyes seething with hatred swam in the air, undulating, curling, their growls loud and painful. The dragons swirled around the firehall, seeking, their jowls leaking flame and raw energy before their eyes locked onto the man.

“My God…” Janine said to herself, gasping in shock as the dragon’s doubled in size, now over twenty feet in length. They became giant lizard snakes, jaws snapping, wild eyes roving.

She slapped her hand down on the red alarm button on her desk. Normally it was reserved for Class Six or above manifestations but this qualified for an emergency. An old fashioned school bell rang, its metal hollow clanging rapid and ear piercing. A red alert light in the dorms, kitchen, lab and bathrooms flared red, flashing over and over.

Janine looked around wildly. The nearest proton pack was in the equipment locker to the right of Peter’s office behind her desk. It would take a few seconds to get to it but by that time, these things would have shredded the man in front of her.

Booted feet came running up the basement stairs and Kylie and Bryan appeared on the landing, each one dressed in filthy coveralls, faces covered in grease. Janine felt her heart soar. Each one as wearing a black back-pack like machine with a rifle-like blaster attached to a black hose to the pack. Four red lights circled around on the round cyclotron. Proton Packs. Janine felt her sanity coming back.

“What in the hell are those?!” Bryan yelled, activating his thrower. A high whine filled the air as the pack switched on, slowing to a steady thrumming hum.

“No idea but they aren’t going to be around for long!” Kylie shouted back, switching on her pack.

“On three!” Bryan ordered. Kylie acknowledged. “THREE!”

Both Ghostbusters opened fire, twin proton streams blasting out of the ends of the thrower rifles, each one a long undulating rope of sheer raw power, orange and red surrounded by ionizing blue electric snarls. Sparks flew from the tips of the thrower barrels and the roar of the streams challenged the beasts for supremacy.

The streams snared out, seeking the negative charge of ectoplasm. The dragon creatures tried to avoid the beams but the confined space of the firehall made it impossible. The beams connected, one with each beast, snaking around the monsters like energy lassos.

Sparks cascaded as the beams burned away ectoplasm holding the entities in place. Screeching in rage, the ghosts pulled and struggled, their movements causing the already twisting streams to yank hard, pulling Kylie and Bryan forward, the surge of the powerful rifles and the entities shaking their arms as they shortened the streams, drawing the monsters in closer.

One of the beasts lashed out, the black one, its razor toothed maw narrowly missing the cowering man who was on his knees, covering his head. Slime flew everywhere, spattering the desk. The smell of burned cloth singed the air.

“GET A TRAP!” Kylie barked.

Bryan reached around on his belt and found he didn’t have one.

“NO GO! I didn’t grab one!”

“ITS TAKING BOTH OF US TO CONTAIN THESE THINGS! JANINE, GET A TRAP!” Kylie shouted over the roar of demons and machines.

Janine moved fast, snapping out of her astonishment, picking up the fully loaded trap that held Slimer. Knowing she was going to regret it, she slammed her foot down on the pedal, opening the trap. The cone of white light blasted out and Slimer’s essence shot up out of the sparking trap, reformed and took one look at the dragon demons before screaming a high pitched squeal of terror and bolting through the nearest wall. Setting the trap up on its caster wheels, Janine kicked it out open under the beasts.

The monsters seemed to sense the beam’s suction and snarled. A voice called out, deep, bellowing, shaking the walls.

“GUILTY!!”

“LOWER THEM IN!” Bryan called, moving his thrower down, drawing down the steam and captured white dragon with it even as it fought violently.

Slowly, both dragons came down, snared in the streams, and at last, they entered the trap’s containment field zone. With a whir and a spark, the trap activated as Janine’s foot came down on the pedal again. The dragon spirits were yanked down into the trap together, merging at the atomic level vanishing as the doors snapped shut and sealed, the secured light winking on yellow and the red light beginning to flash. For a moment, the trap shuttered on the ground, jumping, spitting sparks before it settled down and began to steam.

Shutting off their streams, Bryan and Kylie powered down, warily, looking around for more entities. Kylie holstered her thrower back over her right shoulder and looked around haphazardly.

“What are you looking for?” Bryan asked panting.

“My PKE meter.”

Searching through one of the wooden lockers that dated back to a time when the fire house was still a fire house, Kylie found her meter, an updated model of the standard PKE meter. It looked almost identical except instead of the wing-antenna on either side of the meter that would extend and light up according to the strength of psychokinetic energy detected, this meter had twin antenna rods that stuck up out of the top of the meter. Turning on the meter, a green energy sine wave blinked into existence and surged gently between the two rods. Twisting a dial, Kylie swept the room.

“Negative. That was the last of them. We’re clean. What’s his story?” She shut the meter off and looked over at the man cowering on the floor in front of Janine’s desk.

He was visibly quaking in terror and was covered in muck and slime. His suit, obviously expensive, was torn and burned in several places. His brown hair was tussled and unkempt. When he looked up at her, his skin was drawn and pale. Dark circles lined under his eyes and his eyes themselves were sunk. He looked like a walking dead man.

“Help me…they’re….they’re after me….all of them. Please…” he stammered on his knees.

“That voice…what was it?” Bryan asked holstering his thrower and walking over to check the trap. It was holding. “What was it that it said?” he asked, looking at his co-worker.

“It said ‘guilty’. What the hell did that mean?” Kylie asked, looking from Janine to Bryan and finally, the man groveling on the floor.

“They’re going to kill me….No sleep…lost…please.” he panted between shakes.

“Who? Who are you? Who are they?” Kylie asked, kneeling down before the man, taking him by the shoulders. He didn’t respond and kept shaking. The man was in shock. Kylie did the only thing she could think of.

She slapped him with an open palm, striking him hard enough to turn his face away from her.

After a few seconds, the blow seemed to snap him out of his daze. He rubbed his reddened face, stopped shaking a little and when he next spoke, his voice was low but level, the shake still there but much less noticeable.

“My name…Aiden Cooper. I need your help.”
User avatar
By TAPS_Family_Anthony
#475628
Nice! I'm looking forward to reading more!
Glad you like it! When I first started this series, I wanted to tell the story of the Rookie and the team before the Rookie moved on to Chicago to continue the story line from the Video Game. Now that IDW has came out and done their series, its really changed the ball game.

For me, the canon was always Ghostbusters, The Real Ghostbusters, Ghostbusters 2, Ghostbusters The Video Game, Extreme Ghostbusters.

I've actually started to really love IDW and the direction they've went. I still want my series to lead up to the Extreme Ghostbusters and it will, it will just be a bit different. It was great having Kylie in this one.

I wonder if anyone got the easter eggs I tossed in so far. Did you spot them? :)
User avatar
By TAPS_Family_Anthony
#475631
“Since Friday, this strange stuff has been happening to me.” Cooper said slowly. He had taken a shower in the dorms and was given some of Bryan’s spare clothes, a blue t-shirt and jeans. They were a little large on him but it was better than a slime covered suit. He had a warm towel wrapped around his shoulders and a steaming mug of coffee between his palms. The steam from the mug floated up into the air. He seemed much calmer now.

Janine stood off to the side, her arms crossed, listening as the man told his story. Kylie and Bryan sat the dining room table across from Cooper, taking notes as he spoke.

“Can you be more specific? What types of things?” Kylie asked, pausing her writing.

“Ever since I got back from a business trip to Japan, everything has been going wrong. The electrical units in my house that control the temperature have been going nuts. Freezing one minute, scorching the next. Priceless sculptures have been exploding. Doors will open and close. My yacht…I went on a boating trip on Saturday…my yacht sunk A two-hundred and fifty thousand dollar ship. Gone.”

Bryan knitted his eyebrows.

“Bad wiring and bad luck maybe?”

Cooper looked up from his coffee pinning the Ghostbuster with a nasty look.

“Look, buddy, I’ve had plumbers, electricians and even the police come and check things out over the weekend. They couldn’t find anything wrong.”

“Anyway,” Kylie said, looking over her notes, “Anything else?”

Cooper paused for a moment, sipped his coffee and he began to shake again.

“Yeah…the dreams,” he started slowly. “The dreams started Friday night. I had a date over and she got spooked. I thought she was a flake and went to bed. I had the wildest damn dream….dreams of a thing…its face…stoney…animal like…its eye were like fire. I don’t know...”

Cooper swallowed.

“Then they changed…the dreams. They started to get violent. This thing…this creature would come out of the darkness, climb over my bed and bite me over and over…ripping me apart but ….but I wouldn’t die, I just kept coming back together….finally, it would drag me through the glass doors and throw me off of the balcony…I would scream and each time the fall felt longer…when I hit the ground…I would wake up.”

“Sounds like one helluva nightmare, “ Kylie assured him, setting down her pencil.

“Did anything happen while you were in Japan?” Bryan asked, rubbing his eyes.

Cooper shook his head. “Not that I’m aware of. It all started once I got home. It was just a tour of old places. ”

Kylie looked thoughtful. “Those things...they said "guilty." Did you take anything, by accident or otherwise, from anywhere you visited in Japan?”

Cooper visibly stiffened and looked away, staring deep into his coffee, his eyes swimming in the pool of darkness there, the steam warm and comforting.

“No.”

Janine frowned but said nothing.

“I don’t want to go back to the penthouse…its gotta be safer here. I mean, you guys do this stuff every day, right? I never believed…” Cooper sighed, setting his mug on the table.

Kylie shrugged. “Normally we’d find you a hotel but I guess given the nature of the attacks, you can stay here. Janine, did Ray finish installing those ecto-shields he kept talking about?”

Nodding Janine straightened, stepping away from the counter.

“Yeah, he and Winston installed them at the end of last month.”

“You know how to turn them on?”

“Sure. They aren’t tested though.”

Kylie rubbed her chin. “We don’t have much of a choice. Switch them on. Everyone stays here tonight. Keep a proton pack close by just in case those shutters and shields fail.”

“Captain Bligh. I like it.” Bryan smirked.

“Can’t be too sure. I’ve never seen those things before in any of the occult literature.”

“He can have Peter’s bunk. Janine, you can hit Ray’s. I’m going to stay up a while and dig into Tobins. See if I can find these things. Bryan? You going to be up for a while?” Kylie continued.

“Yeah, we just about finished the containment seals before those things showed up. I just need to run a systems check on the biometrics and laser grid. After that, the containment unit is done. We can start doing the gear checks tomorrow sometime. Maybe after we check out his joint.”

“Sounds good.” Kylie stood and headed over into Egon’s lab, heading straight for the desktop computer, waking it up, taking a seat, getting lost in the work immediately.

“Guess I’m heading for the basement. Janine, you good?”

“I’m fine. I’ll grab a spare pack and keep it near the desk. I still have a boatload of bills and accounts to go through. I’ll get the ecto-shield system going.”

“What do I do?” Cooper asked.

“For now,” Kylie called from across the room, clacking on keys as her fingers flew across the keyboards. She reached for her belt and pulled off her PKE meter. Grabbing a stereo-like cable, she hooked it into a special adapter on the CPU’s front while plugging the other end into the bottom of the handle of the PKE meter. A green light winked and the data from the meter began to upload. “Try to get some sleep. I’m going to download the scans I took after we busted those…things. I didn’t get anything but maybe I missed a residual trail.”

“Right. Sleep.” Cooper muttered not impressed.

“The beds are through that door, past the pinball machines. If you see anything glowing, moving or that looks weird, do NOT touch it.” Bryan cautioned him, heading for the basement, picking up his proton pack and shouldering it as he did.

Janine followed him, running a hand through her hair. She was going to need more coffee after this but decided she could do without. She was wide awake now. Cooper, unsure of what else to do, made for the bed area, sinking into a bed that was nearest to him, pushing a Dopey Dog doll off into the floor. He layed his head down on the cool pillow with out pulling down the blankets and curled up, in a fetal position, his eyes darting to every dark shadow thrown by the lightening outside. The large bay window at the other end of the dorm that overlooked North Moore Street allowed much of the storm to be visible. It made Cooper edgy but soon exhaustion took over, his eyelids became heavy and soon, blackness took over.

Downstairs, Janine walked behind her desk, warily looking for the loaded trap that held the dragons. Not seeing it, she presumed that Bryan had taken it downstairs to dump them into the grid. The hanging lights in the garage made things look creepy, casting deep pools of darkness where their illumination didn’t reach, glinting off of Ecto-1’s chrome bumpers and glass. She knew she had to check to make sure the doors were locked before engaging the ecto-shields but something about that darkness between herself and the door made her uneasy after seeing the dragons come up out of the floor.

Sighing, she steeled her nerves and plunged ahead, her heels clacking on the brick floor, her reflection distorted in the tinted door windows of the Ecto-1. Normally, this was like a second home to her. Everything was familiar. Now, the darkness seemed dangerous and crowded. Somewhere, something clinked as it fell.

A screw maybe? A bolt?

A mouse. Had to be a mouse.

She reached the door and shot the bolts home both on the smaller and the larger doors. Satisfied, she moved quickly back across the garage. Safely back in the bright light of her desk lamp and the warm glow of Peter’s office, she sighed, relieved. What had she been so afraid of? For a moment, she felt sheer panic…and then, it was gone.

Odd.

Quickly, she moved across to the left wall, behind where Vigo the Carpathian’s painting was once housed. Thankfully, he had been sent back to the museum with an ecto-damper on it. He wouldn’t be talking anytime soon.

There on the wall, was a clear case lined with caution-stripes. A bio-metric hand scanner was next to it on the left, red lights glowing steadily. Reaching up, Janine placed her left hand, flat, palm side out the scanner. In a moment, a scanning light read her palm lines and finger prints and with a beep, the clear case unlocked, the clear door swinging up to reveal a single large button that now glowed a steady red. She pushed it. With a click the button turned green as metal shutters lined with wires and mesh dropped down over the windows and doors, locking into place. Briefly, yellow-gold flashes surged over the wire meshes and then vanished. The air electrified for a moment and then settled again.

Hopefully, those would hold. According to Ray, they would keep out anything Class-Six and below. Dragging the spare proton pack out of the equipment locker she made her way back over to her desk. This was the first time the shutters had been used she thought. That’s how things typically went at Ghostbusters, Inc. Nothing was ever field tested until it was actually in the field.

Casting a single glance around, she sat and went back to work, soon losing herself in the task.

Downstairs, Bryan touched the hand scanner on the side of the ecto-containment unit, pulled a lever and opened a small trap-cassette door, inserted the trap and dumped it the grid, the status light on the front of the large red unit turning green. Withdrawing the spent trap, he tossed it into a corner pile of spent traps to be cleaned, charged and reset for later use. He re-calibrated the special PKE meter that was next to the containment unit to account for the two new energy signatures. Everything was in the green and so far, the unit seemed to be holding the entities without a hitch.

Personally, it was the kind of break in the monotony that he liked but it was enough for one night. Pulling over a laptop, he hooked in a cable to the control box on the side of the containment grid. First, the laser grid check…then the biometric security protocols. This was going to be a very long night.

Upstairs, Kylie scrolled through reams of data. Over the years, Egon and Ray had uploaded all their case notes, research papers, PKE readings, everything from 1980 (the pre-company days) until now. She glanced at the progress bar for the data transfer. It was going slowly but surely. It would be another hour or so before it transferred fully over. So far, nothing was matching the description key words of the dragons, nor was she seeing anything about them in Japanese occult history. She scrolled passed an image of a demon, a child hunter, called Grundel. The image of it, the distorted face, glaring beady eyes, green skin with long tapering fingers, black trench coat and oversized floppy hat freaked her out. She moved on quickly. She never did like to look at that thing and couldn't figure out why.

Determined she pressed on.

In the dorm rooms, Cooper, no longer able to see outside due to the ecto-shields covering the windows, slept, and for the first time in days, it was dreamless, the clacking and clicking of Kylie’s keyboarding like a lullabye.

***
User avatar
By TAPS_Family_Anthony
#475801
Very nice! I really enjoying this. Keep up the great work!
Thanks! What do you think about the new time line I am setting up? If you've read the first story in the series "Mutes" it sets up everything one year after GBTV.

What has been your favorite stuff so far?
User avatar
By TAPS_Family_Anthony
#477936
With a grunt, Cooper snapped awake. He looked around and saw at first darkness. Slowly, his eyes began to focus and he saw the soft glow of the green and amber lights of the computers and machines on the walls sharpen, heard the whir of the desk fan and felt the now warm blanket beneath him. The mattress was a twin size, was not comfortable and was not anything like…well…screw it. It was a bed, he thought, sitting all the way up, his back popping loudly, his short wavy brown hair tousled. In the defused glow coming from the kitchen stove overhead light in the next room, he saw the secretary, (what was her name again?) had collapsed onto a bed surrounded by books and journals. She slept gently and did not stir.

One of those black metal proton packs with the hose and rifle like gun attached to it stood up, propped against the dresser. Its red lights were off and it did not hum.

He strongly desired to be home but at the same time he knew what was home waiting on him…what was chasing him. Suddenly, he got the creeps. Standing, he made his way out of the dorm area, crossing the old wooden floors and—

SHIT!

He fell forward, and grabbed, flailing for anything, grabbing a metal railing at the last moment as gravity snared him. His forward momentum stopped, and his heart jumped into his throat, kicking like a rabbit. Cursing, he straightened up. He had almost walked straight into the open side of one of the poles that led down to the floors below, a hold over from the building’s past as a fire house. Pushing himself back up, he stepped away from the hole, the green metal railing cold under his hand. If he would have fallen, that would have been a fatal one straight down onto the brick below.


Pay attention, he chided himself.

The kitchen and dining area were dark, the only light was the light in the stove hood. Dishes sat in the sink. A few pizza boxes and few beer cans stood out. The trash needed to be taken out. Ugh. These people needed a maid, he thought, careful not to touch anything. He hadn’t noticed the clutter before; he had been too scared. Now he was noticing everything. He looked over, across the way, past the pool table and into the lab area. The short girl with the dark hair, the Goth, was asleep at the keyboard. She had apparently passed out working.

There was a clinking sound, glass on glass. Turning, Cooper looked at the refridgerator. It took him a moment to process what he was seeing. It was vibrating, jumping in place. Inside, bottles rattled and packages shuffled unseen and to his shock, the door burst open and something, a thing, materialized in mid air, hovering. It was a blob, roughly shaped like a weird green potato. It was translucent, with yellow eyes and dripped slime like a St. Bernard did with drool. It had two spindly arms and two four fingered hands. It had no legs or tail. It also stank, like onions and garlic…rotten onions.

Its arms were laden with snacks, food, doughnuts, a beer, a bottle of soda and chip dip. Behind it, the fridge door slowly swung shut, the fridge light winking out, pitching the room back into dim darkness. The green entity glowed brightly and it seem to pay Cooper no mind at all, solely focused on its food. He had seen it before when the Ghostbusters were fighting those dragons. It didn’t seem dangerous but it was creepy anyway.

The smell was…well…shitty.

Not saying a word, Cooper turned quickly away from Slimer, leaving him alone. The ghost floated over to the dining room table and dropped everything it had and dove into the pile face first, the food vanishing. Cooper’s lower lip curled in disgust as he walked away, the sound of the thing stuffing its face was repulsive. Moving downstairs, he saw a bright light coming from the basement area. Closer still, he heard the sound of metal tools clanking and heard music playing softly.

Janet Jackson it sounded like…”That’s the Way Love Goes”.

I'm gonna take you places
You've never been before and
You'll be so happy that you came

Oooooh, I'm gonna take you there
Oo-ooh hoo-ooh oo-ooh
That's the way love goes


A voice sang along, badly, with the music, a man’s voice. It was the other Ghostbuster. Moving down the stairs, Cooper stopped at the last step, and stopped, watching the spectacle before him. It was in fact the male Ghostbuster, the one with the short tan-brown hair, brown eyes, average but somewhat chunky build, dressed in a now grease and grime covered set of khaki coveralls and combat boots. He wore a weird set of goggles that looked like military issue AN/PVS-5a Night Vision Goggles.

His company made a similar piece of gear of the US Military but these had been modified with special lenses in silver tubes. A grease streak ran under his right eye, a wrench flashed in one hand and a socket driver in the other. A grease covered rag that had once been blue, stuck out of his back pocket. He was dancing, in what he must have thought to be a good way, rather badly. He was also half-lip synching half singing the song, the socket wrench his microphone, the wrench waving to an invisible crowd.

The basement area was much larger than Cooper would have thought. Shelves and racks of equipment lined the brick walls, each one labeled and sorted. Cables and caution striped black metal traps, meters and measurement devices that looked like something out of a science fiction movie. Lab tables lay strewn with pieces of gear in various states of break down. One of the traps lay open; it’s inside grid had been decoupled and pulled out, the shiny silver mesh winking in the harsh basement lights. It was cluttered but oddly organized. Cooper had seen engineers labs like it in his company’s factories.

This area was clearly utilitarian and dedicated to a singular purpose. Screwdrivers and fasteners, split-loom cable, coaxial and more were everywhere. On the left wall as he came down the stairs, a huge metal unit was sunk into the brick wall which had been oddly re-enforced around the unit. It was as tall as a man, deep red in color with a square back and a circular face. A ring of steady amber lights circled the front plate which appeared to be made of very thick steel.

A bio-metric scanner for a hand was hooked into the left side of the machine with its lights burning a solid red. On the right, was a recessed lever. There in the middle was a small rectangular door like hatch shaped like a trap cassette that, for the moment, was fully sealed. Two lights, one red, one green sat above the hatch and there just to the right of it was a small three button key pad.

A set of thick twin cables snaked out from the unit and let to a vertical computer station with a set of binocular like lenses on it. The lenses were hooked directly into the cables and a display read out. All in all, it looked like a giant septic tank from the year 3000.

The dancing Ghostbuster finally spun around on the end of a verse and saw Cooper.

“Jesus!” he spat, stumbled, lost his balance, found it again and righted himself, stopping dancing and singing immediately, lowering the wrench and socket driver to his side. Reaching up, he pushed the goggles up and onto his forehead revealing his eyes and the circles of dirt around them. He reached over and slapped a hand down on the CD player and killed it, the sound ceasing. Tossing the wrench and socket driver onto a work bench, he pulled off the goggles and wiped his face with the rag. It didn’t help much.

“What are you doing down here?” Bryan asked Cooper, his eyes narrowing a bit in confusion.

“Sorry. Couldn’t sleep. Woke up. Strange place and all that.”

“I’ll give you that. No harm. Something I can do for you?” Welsh asked, sighing and popping his lower back, grimacing in pleasure as the bones cracked.

“Not really. What are you doing?”

Bryan smirked. “You mean besides scarring your memory for life with my interpretation with Janet Jackson?”

“Yeah, beyond that.”

“Just finishing up the interspacial gaskets and seals on the containment unit there. Cleaning and recharging the traps, doing a head count. Technical stuff.”

Cooper moved into the basement proper, his hands in his pockets.

“Head count?”

Nodding, Bryan titled his head over at the big red tank like machine.

“That, is the ecto-containment unit, ECU for short. Its where we store all the ghosts, spirits, entities and things we trap, if we can trap them. Most entities are trappable so they end up here.”

Cooper blanched.

“You mean, there’s…ghosts…in there? Like monsters and stuff?”

“Yup.” Bryan said, stuffing the rag back into his pocket. “Quite a few demons, elementals, a few poltergeists.”

Cooper’s color drained. “What about those things that were after me?”

“I dumped them hours ago.” Bryan turned around to the work bench and began to reassemble the trap in front of him after running a quick diagnostic using a meter that resembled a volt meter, apparently satisfied.

“Can they get out?”

“No. Nothing ever leaves the grid. Once its dumped, it can’t come out unless we let it out, which, is problematic, or if the grid is shut down.”

“Has it ever been shut down before?”

“At least twice. I wasn’t here for the first time but the second time I had just joined up.”

Moving closer to watch him work, Cooper raised an eyebrow.

“What happened? Slime go everywhere?” he said half jokingly.

“No. An explosion that nearly wiped out the firehouse, set loose inter-dimensional gods and came pretty close to ending the world. We have bio-metric security and back up generators now.” Bryan said non-chalantly.

“Does the government know you have these things?”

“Yup. They are one of our biggest contractors when they need a place cleared out. They've called once or twice. They usually don’t make it public.”

“How do you do a head count if you can’t pull things out?” Cooper asked, moving over to the ECU. Up close, he could feel a powerful electric field pushing against his skin. It was prickly and the hum rattled his teeth fillings.

Bryan set the trap aside and sighed. He wasn’t going to make much progress with Cooper nosing about and civilians normally weren’t allowed in the containment area.

“Look, Mr. Cooper. We don’t normally let civilians down here. We’ve had trouble before. A lot of this equipment is dangerous.” Bryan picked up a PKE meter that was on the wall next to the unit, pulled a coaxial cable up from the side of the ECU and screwed it into the base of the handle of the meter. Switching it on, the meter’s screen flashed brightly, and its antenna wings rose and froze, maxed out as the runner lights flickered rapidly, the meter buzzing shrilly.

“Look, see the sine graphs?” Bryan pointed at the meter’s screen.

“Yeah.”

“Those graphs indicate a ghosts frequency. Each ghost species has its own unique frequency that usually falls within a given bandwidth. Its how we hold them in the particle streams…the proton packs are nuclear accelerators. By using protons to attract the negatively charged particles that make up ecto-plasm the stream acts like a lasso. The frequency band allows us to ensnare most entities. Once in a while, we come across one that has a different frequency. We have to adjust on the fly but, even the odd ones out can be tracked.”

Pushing a button on the face of the meter changed the display. It now showed a set of sine graphs pulsing slowly, gently, like a heart beat. A list of frequencies scrolled by and after a few moments, the meter beeped and displayed a number.

“That number shows all the separate frequencies inside the ECU at any given time. We track it on log sheets and it can tell us if any frequency goes missing because each frequency has a unique PKE valence that is unique to each specific entity of ghost species. All are presently accounted for.”

Disconnecting the meter, Bryan plugged it back into its charging station, going back to the work bench to finish the trap. He had three more to go.

“Is there any way to visually check?” Cooper asked, some-what interested in the technical aspects of a corporation he once dismissed. There were potential military applications of some of this technology. Portable nuclear accelerators? Laser grid systems? His mind was turning.

Bryan stiffened, and stopped wiping the trap housing.

“Yes. But we try not to. Its…not pleasant.”

“What do you mean?”

Bryan pointed at the binocular lenses linked into the unit.

“Hit the red button, its the only one on that console. Look through those lenses. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.”

Giving the man a funny look, Cooper crossed over behind him, stepping over the cables and leaned down over the console, his eyes just above the closed eyepieces. Cautiously, he tapped the red button and the console booted up with a quick hum and a beep, the lenses on the binocular like device slid up, revealing polarized orange lenses. A set of headphones popped out of a slot. Lowering his face down, Cooper pressed his eyes to the lenses, and placed the headphones over his ears.

Immediately, he wished he had not. He did not know how to describe what he was seeing. His blood turned to ice and his heart sped up. A chill ran down his spine as before him a landscape, bleak and dark exploded into view, spreading to all visible corners. There was no sun, no moon, no stars, just a defuse red-black glow, nothing but a twisted apocalyptic hell. Towers of black earth and scorched pipes snaked, buried into and jutting out of the earth. Dark corridors lead into the shadows. Rivers of dark glowing purple slime coursed, pulsing with a heartbeat as bat-winged things took the air, screeching and screaming. A heavy thick mist covered everything, like smoke. Leaning against a dark wall, a transparent thing raised its head and looked in his direction, its scarlet eyes flashing as it revealed foot long claws.

Deeper in the distance, huge things moved, walking slowly, eternally in limbo. Monsters of every shape and size, six legged fiends of hell strode the ashen ground. Smaller demons ran in packs, chasing others, feeding upon them, snickering and laughing in high pitched cackles. A wisp of a shadow snapped into place and there, a tall slouched figure in a wide brimmed black hat stood, dressed in a large ankle length black trench coat. The figure seemed to sense it was being watched and raised its head, revealing a twisted malformed long green face with yellowed teeth and beady red eyes. It smiled, a horrific visage, its purple tongue lashing as it raised a bony green hand and pointed towards Cooper. It spoke, it voice a deep rattling growl, seductive and ensnaring. He felt its call in his soul, pulling at him.

“Let me out….come in and play….”

He could take it no longer and slammed his hand down on the red button, shutting the lenses and yanked the head phones off of his head, throwing them to the floor.

“God Almighty what IS that?” he said, his heart flying, skin clammy and cold.

“That,” Bryan said, turning around again this time with a fully reassembled trap. “Is what the world inside the containment unit looks like. It’s a pocket dimension constrained within near infinite space inside the laser grid system. It’s a prison, Mr. Cooper. Its not pretty.”

“Those…those things…they’re…”

“Spirits. Demons. Lost souls. Monsters from other worlds. There’s a lot of misery in there. Once you check in, you don’t check out.”

Cooper swallowed. “What bout…human….spirits?”

Bryan walked over to the racks of traps, set his up on a clear space, and plugged in a charging cable to its power pack.

“Mr. Cooper, we are the first and last line of defense of anything that comes from the ghost world into ours. That includes human spirits. Thankfully, most human spirits, once their issue is resolved, will move on. Where they do, we don’t know. They just disperse. Once in a while, a human who was cruel or evil in life will stay around and over time, his or her negative energy will warp them into something that’s a shadow of a human. Others, willing choose it. Then they become a problem. We are the solution. There are a few in there, Mr. Cooper. It bothers us. That’s why we don’t look in very often.”

“I think I’m going to go upstairs…get a drink. I need a few minutes.”

“You do that. If you need me, yell. I’ll be here for a while. Still need to finish up a few things here. Don’t touch anything other than what you can identify and if you run into Slimer, don’t antagonize him. He’s mostly harmless but you don’t want to get slimed. Its messy and the ion shower is broken down for the night.” Bryan told him and crossed him arms.

Cooper took the message and made his way back up stairs, heading for the dorm and kitchen stair well, the dim lights in the garage area winking off of the Ecto-1. There, in the darkness behind the passenger side wheel well of the Ecto-1, Slimer sat, his body most invisible, his yellow-orange gleaming eyes shining brightly, staring at Cooper, moving with him. Cooper heard a small sniggering laugh and quickly hurried his pace.

*****

Image
User avatar
By TAPS_Family_Anthony
#4787077
*****
Blair County Convention Center
1 Convention Center Drive
Altoona, PA, 16602.
Tuesday
2:00 PM

The man stood behind a podium. He was over six feet, barrel chested but not heavily built. His hair was neatly combed back and where it was once black, it was now showing tones and streaks of gray. His trimmed beard was mostly black but had many gray lines and brush strokes in it from age. His dark eyes, however, twinkled and were sharp, suggesting that perhaps he knew something you didn't and he wasn't telling. Something haunted him, it was obvious. His voice, a deep baritone, smooth but yet at the same time colorless, was amplified through the microphone as he continued his presentation to the large crowd filled ballroom before him.

“…Human experience is the core of our existence. When it comes to reports of unusual experiences, whether its UFOs or monsters, ghosts even, our memories are shaded and colored by our frames of reference, whether they be scientific or religious. Back in 1967, I had no intention of launching new legends when my car ran off the road during at thunderstorm in West Virginia. I was going from house to house, looking for a phone so I could call for help. The house I stopped at that had a working phone was of no assistance. The owners slammed the door in my face after getting a look at me. Dressed in black, with my black beard and black coat, why, to them, I must have seemed like Satan himself!"

His energetic smile dimmed as he continued.

“Three weeks later, these people and forty-four others were killed when the Silver Bridge collapsed. Before their death, rumors began to swirl that my appearance in Point Pleasant at that small house was an omen of death and soon people were saying that Beelzebub himself was walking the back roads but in reality it was just me, busy catching a nasty cold investigating what would be later called the Mothman. These two people, and those later who repeated the story of my appearance that stormy night, were devoutly religious. They were not terribly well educated and low income. Religion and their faith was everything to them, their very foundation. The only frame of reference to which they could try to quantify my odd appearance was the religious. That year was perhaps the darkest I had ever experienced and many things made me question my own sanity as my investigations into Mothman and the UFO lights in the Ohio Valley drove me deeper into the strange and often nebulous nature of our perceived reality…”

With a click of a button in the remote in his hand, the man switched to a new slide which appeared on the large presentation screen behind him. The slide transitioned quickly from a photograph of what appeared to be a bright light shining in the night sky to that of a disaster site, a bridge, its twisted steel girders and parts lying strewn in the Ohio River as though some giant had came along and grabbed the bridge, lifted it, tore it to shreds and threw it down on top of the human wreckage into the freezing waters.

Dr. Ray Stantz sat enthralled, his dark brown eyes drinking in every fact, every image, every anecdote. He had brought a set of books, including a copy of The Mothman Prophecies for the man to sign. The man speaking was John A. Keel, a noted journalist who had taken a dedicated interest in UFOs and paranormal events and one of the most respected and controversial figures in parapsychology to date. Ray knew everything about the Mothman and the associated events surrounding the creature’s appearance. But still, to be in the presence of the man who had been there when it all went down, was nothing short of a small amount of hero worship.

Peter sat on his right, looking bored, while Winston on his left was mildly interested. Winston’s area of interest would be the Egyptology presentation later, focusing on the curses of King Tut and the Cairo blackout. Egon sat on Peter’s right, watching just as carefully as Ray was but more detached and cool, always logical and scientific. None of them were wearing their uniforms as they wanted to be as discrete as possible. Each of them wore their own casual clothes, casual khaki slacks or jeans, with light jackets and shirts. Egon was the exception. He wore what he always did when not in uniform: A white long sleeved dress shirt, a gray sleeveless sweater vest with a pocket protector filled with his pens and penlight, dark business slacks and shined shoes with a red tie. The man wasn’t known generally for relaxing.

Ever.

Peter looked at his watch and then at Ray.

“Is this about over?”

Ray glared at him. “Shh!”

Peter glared back. “Bah. Where’s the interesting stuff? I hope we aren’t going to spend the next couple of days listening to people talk. If I wanted that, we could have stayed home and asked Egon about the mating habits of his parameciums.”

“Paramecia. Their mating habits really are fascinating, Peter. ” Egon stated flatly, his deep voice loudly causing several people to look in their direction. He showed no sign of caring, instead merely pushing his glasses up onto his nose.

“Whatever. It’s a bunch of bugs splitting.” Venkman shot back.

“Paramecia are NOT bugs, Venkman. They are protozoa and they reproduce asexually, by binary fission. During reproduction, the macronucleus splits by a type of amitosis, and the micronuclei undergo mitosis. The cell then divides transversally, and each new cell obtains a copy of the micronucleus and the macronucleus. Many---“ Egon began, turning in his seat to face Peter, raising a finger like he did when he was about to launch into one of his lectures.

“Not now Egon. I’m learning about the funny lights and people are staring. Can we save the cell porn for later? Shh!” Peter snarked, causing Egon’s left eyebrow to reach up towards his hairline but he did go silent. Winston rolled his eyes.

“You know, for four guys who make a living working with the paranormal, you’d think we’d be more eager to learn about what we are working with.” He said, grinning just a little bit. Peter turned to his friend.

“Hey you with the realism and the seriousness, this is supposed to be a vacation.”

“A working vacation, Pete.”

“Fine, a working vacation.”

Sighing a bit, Winston looked over at Ray. “You really think the Rookie and Kylie and the Janine can pull off the list you two left them before tomorrow?” He glanced over at Egon.

“Sure. I believe in them. I mean, it was just four pages.” Ray shrugged.

“One hundred and fifty three items.” Egon added.

“Yeah. You think we should have stayed and helped?” Winston asked.

“Nah, guys, look. They can handle it. I mean, they don’t exactly have anything else to do, now do they?” Peter replied.

“Okay okay lets listen. We are missing the end notes!” Ray ushered them, quickly ending the conversation.

On the stage, John Keel switched the slide again, this time to a single haunting image of a black winged creature with indistinct features and huge spread bat like wings, its eyes, drawing in your gaze, piercing you with their scarlet gleam. He took a deep breath and set down his papers and remote. When he spoke, his voice was level and low, heavy with thought and memory.

“…For that one long year 1966 to 1967, my life had been intertwined with the lives of the people of Point Pleasant. I had been led into relationships and events that seemed to follow a structured pattern beyond my control. Even beyond my understanding. I had stood on those distant hills and watched those wretched bouncing lights mock me. In the months ahead, many things changed for those involved who had been touched by the Mothman and the UFOS and strangeness that had taken place, in as I call it, the Year of the Garuda….”

Keel made eye contact with each audience member, expertly driving his points home.

“…Roger and Linda Scarberry would divorce, as would Woodrow Derenberger. He went on to remarry a fellow contactee. Others suffered nervous breakdowns. A few, tragically would commit suicide. Some of the people who viewed the tall, hairy red-eyed monsters and things popping out of the darkness in Point Pleasant would die within six months….”

A brief spark of pain flashed across Keel’s dark eyes.

“….Perhaps the loss that hit me the hardest personally, was that of Mary Hyre the stringer, if you remember from earlier, the Athens-Ohio Messenger. She was with me since the first day I came to that small West Virginia town, exploring the dark miasmic world of the UFO contactees, the Mothman creature and the strange ghost-like events that plagued the area and the woods when these …windows… would open. She did not live see the book so many of you hold today get published.”

Ray fingered the spine of his copy silently.

Pausing for a moment to compose himself, Keel continued.

“Out there, in the night, those puzzling spheres of light still ply their ancient routes in the Ohio Valley as a new generation of young people stand on hilltops, scanning the skies. Their elders, jaded, no longer scoff. Believers in the extra-terrestrial hypothesis are now welcomed on respectable television shows, to spread their tales of the space-people and their imaginary world, inhabited by beings who take on the names of ancient gods and moan because they are prisoners of time…..”

He picked up the remote again, fingered it and went on.

“People still ask me if I know what the future holds. I just say that, much like Socrates, the more I learn, the less I know. We do not know who we are or what we are doing here. But we are slowly learning. Belief has always been the enemy of truth, yet ironically, if our minds are supple enough,” he paused, holding up an index finger, “… belief can sometimes open the door.”

Keel switched off the projector. The click was loud in the silent room.

“After spending a lifetime in Egyptian tombs, among the crumbling ruins and temples in India and the lamaseries of the Himalayas, endless nights in cemeteries, gravel pits and hilltops everywhere, I have seen much and my childish sense of wonder remains unshaken. One thought always remains, and it is one that I have found to have a powerful resonance to the paranormal, our reality and our universe itself in how it all ties together. Charles Fort asked this question to which you must now ask yourselves.

"If there is a universal mind, must it be sane?”

After a moment, the lights in the room raised, and the audience clapped wildly as Keel nodded his appreciation and gathered his notes, waving once and turning away. The crowd began to get up from their chairs, the rustling of cloth, bags and backpacks suddenly loud in the formerly empty silence. People began to talk and soon the room was abuzz with many voices exchanging ideas, commenting, even the odd laugh. A camera flashed somewhere as people began to mingle. Ray quickly got up and maneuvered out of their row, eagerly moving between people as he approached the stage. As Ray approached the stage, Winston stood up, cracked his back and looked around, his eyes setting on a familiar face that had just entered the room.

A woman, slim with a curvy figure, long chestnut brown hair that was tied back into a sleek falling wave past her shoulders and towards the small of her back stepped into the conference room. She wore a simple blue skirt that reached just past her knees with dark high heels that sat below shapely ankles and calves. A white business shirt wrapped around her flawlessly and in her hands she held a notebook and several files with a pen in her right hand. She looked around the room quickly, her eyes settling on the stage and the throng of people surrounding it.

“Hey,” he nudged Egon with an elbow.

“Yes?”

“Isn’t that…?” Winston asked, pointing with a nod of his head. Egon followed his gaze and nodded.

“Yes. It is.” Egon straightened his shirt and glanced over at Peter.

“What are you guys looking….” Peter followed their eyes and saw her. His heart skipped a beat. His pulse jumped a bit and his face flushed. It was her. He had not seen her in years. She was just as knock dead gorgeous as she was before.

“Its her.” He said breathlessly, his voice cracking a bit.

“Katarina Ivanova Sophia Novachenka. Wow. Who would have thought?” Peter continued grinning looking at Winston, crossing his arms across his chest.

“You remembered her entire name?” Winston asked incredulously.

“Of course. Who could forget such an embodiment of pure energy, a shining beacon of luscious beauty?”

“Its ironic that you get poetic and your memory improves around beautiful women when you can barely remember your bank account password.” Egon quipped. Peter ignored him.

“Still bored, Pete?” Winston asked.

“Nope. Not at all. Should I go over and say hi? I mean, I know its been years but defeating an Old One with the love of your life has to mean something.” Peter said, moving towards the end of the row.

“Peter, she locked you in a room with a bunch of Russian police.”

“Yeah, so? She helped us get out.”

“She also slapped you.” Egon reminded him as he and Winston followed their colleague out of the chair rows, making their way across the sea of people towards the conference room doors where Katarina stood gesturing at someone or something they couldn’t yet see.

“Small change. You remember she also kissed me.”

“She kissed all of us. I think she was just happy to be alive.” Winston said, slapping him on the shoulder.

“Well mine was longer and---“

“Hold it. She’s not alone.” Egon said, halting in his footsteps. Winston and Peter turned away from each other and looked back at the doorway.

A large trolley was being pushed through with a cover on top of something large that was sitting on the trolley. It was an oddly shaped thing and the wheels of the cart squeaked as it moved. A loud curse and a grunt came from behind it as its pusher finally stepped into view between the people moving about in the room.

He was a short man with perfectly coiffed grey-black hair swept back from his forehead, his narrow and pointed features accented by a thin upswept mustache. Dressed in a brown shirt and pants with a glass charm held around his neck by a thin chain, the man was odd looking for sure. Features wise, he reminded one of a somewhat short less imposing version of Vincent Price. He had beady eyes like a rat.

“Where….do…we…put…this…thing….?” he grunted, his voice tinted by a deep Southern accent that hinted at a flamboyancy that was at the moment, hidden by sheer will and frustration.

“You have got to be kidding me….” Winston groaned, rolling his eyes.

“Unfortunately, I am not.” Egon replied, his eyebrows narrowing in dislike.

“Unfortunately is right. Ray is not going to be happy. What the hell is she doing with that....?" Peter looked at his friends and back to Katarina who was directing the man to put the cart up next to the stage.

Across the room, John Keel handed Ray back Ray’s crumpled 1975 first edition copy of The Mothman Prophecies and as John said his goodbyes, Ray looked up to find his friends and froze in place, seeing both Katarina and her companion. He felt his blood heat up like the sun and he was sure he felt his cheeks turn red as his breathing quickened. His grip on the books in his hands tightened and in a completely out of character moment, he snarled under his breath the man’s name. It was a sound dripping with hatred and instant revulsion.

Bassingame.”
User avatar
By TAPS_Family_Anthony
#4819910
“RAY!”

Peter barked, jumping in front of his friend as Ray lunged towards the smaller man pushing the cart, who was oblivious to the exchange held not fifteen feet from him. Ray pushed against Peter, doing everything in his power to get at Bassingame. Egon and Winston each grabbed an arm as Ray’s books fell to the ground.

“Let go of me, Peter!” Ray growled, his eyes hot as he tried to work his arms out of his jacket.

“Raymond, this is irrational.” Egon stated, huffing as he applied more force to keep Ray in place, his glasses sliding down his nose. The absurdity of Ray’s feet spinning in the air was illogical and childish but it was the image that jumped into his mind. Egon reminded himself silently to lay off the late night Twinkies.

“That fraud cheated my aunt! He never paid for the damage to her house. His check bounced!” Ray snarled again, but he stopped trying to get at Bassingame and straightened out his clothes. Peter hissed quickly in Ray’s ear.

“Hey, I’m all for giving the guy a two for one knuckle sandwich special but right now we can’t afford an assault charge on one our CEO’s, now can we?”

The logic was sound, Ray knew but still…Bassingame was a disgusting little worm. A fake psychic who went around the country building a multi-million dollar business giving readings and séances, the little troll even had his own television network. It was worse than the televangelists. He was a slimy spineless coward who preyed on people who were hurting. A few years ago, his aunt Lois had a problem with poltergeist events in her home and she called in Bassingame (against Ray’s protests) to communicate with the spirit. She had invited Ray and the others over to sit in on the séance. Egon nailed Bassingame as a fraud immediately and had tried to warn Ray’s aunt further but Bassingame had held his little séance anyway, settling loose an explosion of normally peaceful domovoi, wrecking his aunt’s hundred and three year old house and nearly getting her killed.

The Ghostbusters had to step in and stop the mayhem, going home with at least twenty filled traps. Bassingame refused to pay for the damages until Ray himself had reminded him that he and Egon were very good researchers and would have no problem finding Bassingame’s personal address and no compunction about sending traps filled with all kinds of nasty demons and spirits to his doorstep for the rest of his miserable life if he didn’t pay for the damages he caused. Bassingame had cut his aunt a check that night and went home, his tail between his legs.

Not longer after, Peter’s father Charlie Venkman, a professional con artist, had enlisted Bassingame to help him release a bound elder demon from Alaska in the middle of Madison Square Garden, all because Bassingame said he could control it. Charlie had wanted to stick it into a side-show attraction, another one of his get rich quick schemes. Charlie had narrowly avoided prison time for the damages but the city was glad to just have Anagarak contained. After that, they had not heard much from Bassingame and frankly, after the check had bounced, Ray was happy it was that way. He didn’t feel like going to prison for assault.

But here he was, with Katarina. What the hell was his angle now, Ray wondered. Whatever was under that cloth was clearly something that should probably be left well enough alone.

“Whatever that thing is under there, it can’t be safe. We don’t have our gear. What if it’s like Anagarak again? We won’t be able to stop it. People could die.” Ray protested.

Winston having let Ray go looked at him with a raised eyebrow.

“You think I’d actually go to a paranormal convention with you three and NOT bring at least some protection?” he grinned.

“You brought a proton pack? The meson collider?” Ray’s eyes lit up.

“Nah,” Winston shook his head. “ Just the proto-type belt back and proton pistol Egon was working on. A meter and a trap. Its not as powerful as the big packs but hey, its something.”

Egon frowned. “We haven’t fully tested that design yet. Its highly unstable.”

“Egon, we work with live nuclear accelerators on our back every day. I think we can handle it. Besides, if something nasty is in that thing, what are we going to do? Throw pamphlets at it?” Winston said, moving off towards the exit door. As he moved past Bassingame and Katarina, Bassingame saw him. Katarina did not.

Bassingame’s eyes widened in shock and fear. Winston ignored him. To Winston, the little ant wasn’t worth his time.

“Looks like our cover is blown boys. Let’s move in for the kill.” Peter said under his breath. With that, he straightened his jacket and made a bee-line towards Katarina. Bassingame saw them approaching and blanched.

“Katarina Novachenka! How has the most beautiful girl in the land of the spooky and strange been doing?” Peter asked announcing his presence, his face grinning.

Katarina perked at the sound of her name and turned away from the MC of the conference, her thick brown locks falling like waves on her shoulders, waves breaking upon a beach. She saw Peter and her face split into a wide smile full of stunningly white teeth.

“Piotr!”

“See guys? She still remembers me.” Peter said to the others over his shoulder as Katarina made her way over from the MC to the Ghostbusters. Bassingame simply stood there, quaking, looking like he’d rather be anywhere but here. Peter directed his gaze at him and felt the slightest twinge of dark amusement when the man literally jumped and squeaked.

“Hey there, Bassingame. How’s the domovoi?”

Bassingame turned blood red and turned away from Venkman huffing in indignation. After the incident at Ray’s aunt’s, Bassingame had left with a domovoi on his back, hitching a ride. Lois had tried to warn him but they stopped her. Just deserts and all.

Apparently, it had taken him some extraordinary measures to get rid of it, if he even did.

“What are you doing here, Piotr?” Katarina asked, hugging Peter who felt his back stiffen and his face flush. His heart thumped a bit faster. Katarina kissed each man on the cheek and seemed genuinely happy to see them.

“Just some over time, really. Since we’ve contracted with the city, its something they like us to do. Continuing education. It makes the city council happy.” He told her, putting his hands in his pockets.

“Katarina, “ Egon asked, adjusting his glasses. “How are the readings from the zone?” Business as always. He was referring to the PKE sensors that the Ghostbusters had installed at the behest of the Russian government after an Old One had nearly broken through just outside of Dnepropetrovsk. It had been a major scientific and military research city during the Soviet days and they had requested the Ghostbusters place the sensors to make sure there were no more breaks.

“Its going well. All the levels are within the range you told me to watch for. Dimitri is out of jail now.”

“Better tell him to avoid anymore books.” Ray said, glaring at Bassingame out of the corner of his eyes.

“Oh he does. He stays clear of libraries.”

“So, beautiful,” Peter said, “What are you doing here?”

Katarina brightened, her Russian accent and light voice intoxicating. “Ah. I am glad you asked, Piotr. I gave up tennis and started working for the Abramovich Institute. After your visit, they took the data you found and now have a fully functioning research lab. Tennis couldn’t compare after seeing…what….we saw. I’ve been working for them for three years now. With a tip from Dimitri before he left the country, we found a most fascinating artifact.”

She motioned for Bassingame to push the cart closer. He did with great reluctance, staying well out of reach of Ray. Katarina reached over and pulled off the cloth. Ray had to admit, he had never seen anything quite like it.

Sitting in a large square glass case, it was a large almost pyramidal shaped carved stone. It was dark gray, covered in moss from many years underground. It had a flat base and each of the four faces was intricately and deeply carved with unique almost organic spiral designs and what looked like letters or glyphs. Along its edges was a dull metal that had probably once gleamed, coppery in color. Ray, an expect in demonic languages, didn’t recognize this one.

“Egon…what do you make of it?” he asked, leaning closer, glad to have something to look at besides Bassingame.

Egon leaned in with him, his large nose almost touching the glass, the stone reflecting in the lenses of glasses.

“Hmm. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything like this…its not Sumerian…its not Babylonian…not Hebrew…not even ancient Greek. The metal…it looks like old copper.”

“Copper is a good conductor…quite a few ancient cultures used copper in place of selenium due its PKE conductivity….there’s something about the copper though…it seems familiar…” Ray said stroking his chin. “Does the Institute have any ideas?”

Katarina shook her head. “Not directly. However, some of the scientists feel it could pre-date human civilization as we know it and may be a remnant of an older lost culture…”

Ray perked up. “ Are you suggesting that this is from Atlantis?”

“Archaeology teams have found similar markings at different sites around the world,” She told him, “At England, Nepal, Russia, even South America. I don’t know about Atlantis but it definitely is from an unknown culture that seems to have influenced or touched every known human civilization at one point in history.”

Ray made a noise in the back of his throat.

“So what does he have to do with anything?”

Katarina looked back at Bassingame and then to Peter and Ray, looking for an explanation for the undertone of hostility she heard.

“Do you know all know each other?”

“We’ve met.” Peter said, re-directing immediately. It really wouldn’t do to have Ray get arrested….besides, being arrested was usually his thing.

“Oh. I see. Dr. Bassingame has a theory that the institute feels is worth investigating further. Presenting it at this conference will be the first time we’ve reached out to the international community.” She said. “It was a little odd. He came to us not long after we found it. We don’t know how he knew but he seemed to know quite a bit about it, not that he’s telling us much.” She added, under her breath. Bassingame pretended not to notice.

Apparently, Bassingame had found a spine and straightened his suit and wiped his brow and came up to Venkman, shoving a finger in his face.

“Listen here you …whatever you are. You ruined my career enough times. You don’t know what you are dealing with. Get lost!”

Peter took the insult nonplused as Egon restrained Ray gently.

“Well I’m sure this presentation will be a stunning reminder of your scientific acumen. By all means, we await to be shocked, astounded and to probably pick up your mess but what the hell. Its fun.” Peter told him, a sneer on his face at last.

Bassingame huffed and turned on his heel.

“Miss Novachenka, its time. We have a presentation to make. Now.”

Katarina apologized. “I’m sorry, Piotr. Let’s talk after the presentation.” She followed Bassingame up to the stage as the small man struggled to lift the glass case off of the cart and lug it up onto the stage itself. Katarina quickly stepped in and helped him set up.

“So,” Peter asked, looking at Egon crossing his arms. “Thoughts? Are we in mortal peril?”

Egon’s brows came closer. “Possibly. I didn’t recognize that script and I’ve never seen anything quite like it.”

Ray sighed. “ I hope its just a hunk of rock but something about those carvings and that metal…something doesn’t smell right.”

Winston came back in, coming up behind them. He had a clutch of equipment in his hands: a ghost trap with its caution striped doors, a Mark 2 PKE meter and a medium sized fannie pack like device attached with a black hose to a wicked looking pistol roughly the size of a Desert Eagle.

He handed the trap to Ray who wound up its ten foot cable and pedal activator around his forearm. The meter went to Egon, who immediately flicked it on. It hummed and then the large glass black screen lit up with flashing green graph bars as the meter clicked and beeped softly. Untangling the belt-pack, Winston wrapped the belt around his waist and clicked the clasp shut. The belt was made up of a thick tear-resistant pistol belt. The pack itself was made of dull gray metal with vents along one side, an activation stud and a power indicator.

A black hose came out of the back of the belt back and attached to a pistol that looked like a cross between a sci-fi ray gun with a wide barrel and a semi-automatic pistol. The pistol had a setting dial on the side and a trigger stud. Clasping the leg holster around his thigh, Winston checked the power levels. The belt pack was fully charged and seemed to be working perfectly. He hoped it would be enough should something go wrong and with Bassingame it always did. He holstered the pistol in the thigh holster and sighed.

“ I guess we are as ready as we are going to get fellas. Let’s watch the show.” He said. The Ghostbusters took a stance close to the stage, standing in the middle of the conference floor, looking directly at Bassingame who glared at them.

“Fascinating.” Egon stated, lifting the meter up to the stone device. Even from this far away, the meter was picking up a large spike, its beeps and whirs increasing in volume as the antenna wings on the side of the meter began to rise, the lights along the top moving faster in time with the readings.

“What do you smell?” Ray asked, his grip tightening on the trap.

“I’m not sure. I’m getting a low level valence that is more than that of the collective background average, a good point eight and it keeps changing, high and low. Its like the energy is surging and receding.” Egon replied, adjusting the settings on the meter.

“Like an ocean wave?” Winston asked, glancing at the meter’s screen. The graph bars were rising and falling in a regular pattern, but were for now, still green.

“Precisely.”

Bassingame cleared his throat loudly and rather pointedly.

“Ladies and gentlemen, if I may have your attention, please?” His thick southern accent made it like listening to a Baptist preacher on Sunday.

“And here we go,” Peter said quietly. Bassingame spoke with a strange confidence that was missing mere moments ago.

“On March 11, 1976, author and psychic researcher Charles Berlitz made history when he claimed he had proof of the existence of Atlantis. Atlantis, as you know, is or was the lost eighth continent, situated in the center of the Atlantic Ocean. According to the great Plato, the island continent of Atlantis with its advanced technology and paradise-like existence was wiped from the Earth in a single day and night by the wrath of the gods themselves. In a giant tsunami, it sank beneath the waves and has, until now, been utterly lost to us. Berlitz claimed his proof in ancient carvings, legends and myths from different races and peoples from around the world. He even felt that there was a power source below the sea in the Bermuda Triangle at the end of what is called the Bimini Road. Famed psychic Edgar Cayce confirmed this but sadly, Berlitz was never able to prove his theory beyond this. No artifact has ever been found…..”

Bassingame paused dramatically.

“Until now.”

“The Abramovich Institute, of which I am a proud sponser, discovered this artifact three years ago, deep in the Siberian tundra, near the epicenter of what has been called the Tunguska event crater.”

Ray shuddered. The Tunguska event had occurred on June 30,1908 over the Podkamennaya Tunguska River in Russia. It had been a super-powerful explosion of unknown origin that flattened over 770 miles of forest, scorching it in concentric circles, blackening and killing every living thing in the radius. The area was still today slightly radioactive and was eerily devoid of life.

“Oh no…” Ray said, his color draining slightly. “Egon, could that be what caused the explosion in 1908?”

Egon’s voice as low as he studied the readings. “ No idea. I have nothing to compare these readings to but possibly.”

On the stage, Bassingame kept going.

“The Abramovich Institute now believes that this artifact did not cause that explosion but was rather uncovered by it. They believe it is merely a curiosity,” He paused, lifting out a strange pen-like carved rock on a thin chain on his neck that had been hidden by his suit shirt. “I believe it is much more. I believe that this device was a capacitor, a node on the ancient ley line system, not a glorified battery but rather a psychic energy based transport system. A psychic subway so to speak that not only moved the mind but the body.”

“This pendant was found by me personally deep in heart of the blast zone. When touched to the stone, it made the markings shimmer. Until now, I have resisted using it further, wanting more information. Based on what we could decode from legends and the lore of local tribes, a powerful race used these stones to access a system of travel by tracing the lines. With these pendants tracing the lines just right, you could choose your destination. According to these same legends, there was a terrible fight and the technology was lost to these ancient people. And now, we have it again. Where on earth does this transport system take us? Could this be how these ancient people shaped the world’s civilizations? Traveling instantly from one place to another? Our gas and oil crisis would be gone in a single night.”

“I don’t like where this is going…not one bit.” Ray hissed.

“I agree. The readings are changing whenever that pendant he has gets closer to the stone. I don’t know if it caused the explosion or not, but I don’t think that pendant should touch that stone.” Egon stated, worry creasing his features.

Bassingame stepped over to the stone, the pendant swinging freely close to the glass. On the PKE meter, the green lines flashed red for a moment.

“Ladies and gentlemen, I want you all to be here to experience a new era in travel and technology as we once again, unlock the secrets of the ancients!” He lifted the glass off of the case, exposing the stone to the pendant. The pendant itself began to glow with a bright flowing greenish light.

“We can’t let him do it!” Winston barked. Peter jumped forward, holding up his hand, his voice loud and direct.

“Yo, Bassinfinger! Wait a minute!”

Every head in the room turned to Peter, their eye brows raised.

Bassingame held the pendant over the stone and glared at Peter.

“That’s Bassingame to you, Venkman.”

Peter nodded dimissively. “Sure whatever. That dohicky there, it might be best if you just leave it alone. You don’t know what you are messing with and we are getting some really bad vibes from it, aren’t we, Egon?”

Egon nodded, holding up his meter. The attendants in the room looked at it, confused, eyes shifting, voices murmuring.

“Indeed. These readings indicate a massive power surge building up and it gets worse every time that pendant gets close to that stone. I highly suggest you do not touch it.”

“You highly suggest I don’t touch it?” Bassingame stood up to his full height, which wasn’t much. His face contorted in an unnatural rage.

“How dare you, you sanctimonious dullard. You, all four of you, ruined my career…ruined my life. You have no idea what I gave up to get back on track, no conception of what I’ve lost to be here on this stage. You have gotten in my way, in my life, for the last time. Today, after I reveal this ancient technology, no one will dispute my credibility ever again.”

Peter nodded, taking his hands out of his pockets.

“Hey, I get it, you’re still made over the domovoi thing…maybe even the whole Hob Anagarak bit. But these people in this room could be in danger by that thing and we aren’t going to let you do something so stupid again. You’ve already had your strikes, pal.”

Bassingame’s face reddened.

“Venkman. You always were so sure of yourself. Always looked down on me and my work. I have one thing to say to you, Venkman. To all of you Ghostbusters. ..”

Bassingame held up the pendant.

“Go to hell,” he snarled. Moving fast, he put the pendant on the side of the stone facing the crowd and began to trace the lines. Katarina now realizing the danger dove at him to stop him. He back handed her so fast she never saw it coming as she crashed down onto the stage.

“GET HIM!” Ray bellowed.

Peter needed no encouragement. He was already moving, Winston, Ray and Egon not far behind him. Bassingame hurridly traced the glyphs on the front of the stone, the pendant glowing hot with green light, the light spilling from the pendant onto the glyphs, the glyphs themselves now shimmering brilliantly green as he traced them.

Just as Peter reached out to grab him, having mounted the stage, Bassingame pulled the pendant away, the last glyph traced.

Suddenly the world stopped. The air itself froze, every molecule stopping instantly. Time slowed. The glyphs on the stone surged with green light as green lightning sparked.

Everything seemed to pull towards the stone…

BAM!!!!

The frozen air slammed back into motion with a roar as a wave of greenish energy blasted out of the device, catching Bassingame full on in the chest, throwing him backwards, across the room. He slammed hard into the far wall, collapsing into an unmoving heap with a quick scream that was cut short as green energy sparked on his body.

The glass case, the stage, everything around the stone exploded into splinters and pieces as the shock wave ripped it apart, throwing Peter off the stage and half way across the floor, slamming into conference attendees who themselves were thrown backwards, screaming in terror, surprise and pain.

The stone lifted, hovering in the air, spinning, faster and faster. Winston, Ray and Egon picked themselves up off of the floor, pushing smashed metal chairs off of themselves, standing in the human mess around them as people lay on the floor with bloody noses, singed clothes and tears of sheer panic. The shock wave had thrown everything into chaos. Pieces of wood, metal and cloth were everywhere. Debris choked the air from the smoking podium pieces that had been flash fried.

His hearing whining in his ears, Egon searched frantically for the PKE meter, finding it buried under a pile of rubble that had been the stage stairs. He heard Winston yell over the roar of the energy surging from the stone.

“EVERYONE GET OUT! MOVE IT! GET OUT OF HERE!”

Checking the meter, Egon found it was unharmed and pointed it at the now spinning stone. It was glowing totally green now, the green lightning surging up and down the metal sides, the stone glyphs burning with green fire.

“This is bad!” he shouted over the noise as the room cleared out, leaving the Ghostbusters behind.

“What the hell is going on?” Winston yelled, shielding his eyes from the light, the wind from shining stone rippling his clothes.

“That thing….Bassingame was right…it’s a transport system…it opens gateways!”

“Where did he open one too?!” Ray shouted, throwing his hand up in front of his face to shield it from the flying pieces of sheet rock from the wall behind the stone that began to crack.

“I don’t know!” Egon shouted back, hunkering down.

Across the room, Peter sat up, doing a physical and mental inventory of his body. He could still feel all his limbs. He wasn’t bleeding. He looked over to his left and Katarina was getting to her feet. The roar in the room…the wind…the flashing snapping snarling green light…was like being in a hurricane…

“Piotr!! What is going on?!?” She shouted at him, her brown hair whipping. “This wasn’t supposed to happen. He was never supposed to use it!”

“Get out of here! Let us handle this!” he barked at her, covering his face with his forearm as the sprinkler system exploded violently, spraying water everywhere. He had no idea how they were going to handle it let alone what they were dealing with. He looked up and saw that the room had cleared out, and his friends were okay. Naturally, Egon and Ray were studying the damn thing, Winston had drawn his pistol, and was switching it on, the proton ignition whine lost in the storm’s unearthly howling.

Katarina ran for the other exit and Peter moved over to join the Ghostbusters. He shouted to be heard.

“No one said this was a working holiday!”

“I said that!”

He wasn’t sure he said it.

“What is that?” He shouted at Egon.

“Why do you always ask me?!”

The stone was spinning so rapidly now it could not be made out. Another explosion of bright green light shot out of the device, bathing the room in its sick glow. The Ghostbusters shielded their eyes and when they lowered their forearms, the stone was gone, replaced by a large roughly circular portal like anomaly. It coursed and surge, sparking and hissing, spewing green radiations and emanations. Ray looked down into it and saw a hellish otherworld, black soil and bloody water with volcanic ash raining down like snow. Strange black creatures filled the air.

The green flash came again, stronger, brighter. Ray saw stars.

He looked over at Winston who had the single proton pistol. Ray looked at his feet and found the ghost trap laying on its side.

One thought screamed in his mind with the roar of the gateway.

This is not good. Definitely not good.

*******
User avatar
By TAPS_Family_Anthony
#4820245
******

Cooper Tower
160 Greenwich Street
New York, NY 10013
Penthouse Apartment, Floor Sixty



“This is where you live?” Kylie asked, brining the Ecto-1 to a stop, the white-walled tires bumping against the curb. She craned her neck so she could see through the curved glass of the windshield. The titanic tower of glass and steel rose into the sky, touching the afternoon sun. It was so tall, it looked like it was about to tip over onto her. Next to her, Bryan and Janine looked similarly impressed. Kylie, Bryan and Janine were now in standard Ghostbuster uniforms, khaki-grey flight suits, black combat boots and belts lined with surge detectors and key fobs. All three of them wore fully charged proton packs.

In the rear jump seat, Aiden, now back in his own freshly ionized and scrubbed clothes nodded.

“Yeah. Home sweet home.” He looked as if he would rather be anywhere but where they were.

“Tell me you live on the bottom floor.” Bryan said, sighing. Each proton pack weighed almost sixty pounds and standard procedure during an ectoplasmic emergency situation was to take the stairs….elevators had been known to be dangerous and not for falling. Falling was the least of one’s concern. Being eaten was a much more realistic scenario.

“No. Top floor. Penthouse.” Cooper told him.

“Great.” Bryan unbuckled his seat belt and followed Janine out of the passenger door, sliding across the bench seat.

“Don’t whine. If the main elevator shaft checks clear for PKE, we can take it. I don’t like feel like lugging the gear up sixty flights of stairs.” Kylie said, shutting the driver’s door with a solid thunk behind her.

The afternoon traffic and the pedestrians crept by as the day came to a close. Most people knew who they were and only a few stopped to gawk. Most people know to let them have their space but there were a few fanboys that didn’t know any better. Luckily, that type seemed few and far between today.

“So if you live on the top floor,” Janine asked as they pushed their way into the glass lined lobby, “What is the rest of the space?”

“Offices. Mostly secondary from the main complex in upper Manhattan. I sent everyone home before my date Friday...”

“Hope you are paying em.” Kylie said under her breath. Somehow, she doubted it, looking around the room. A large modern glass lined secretary desk sat in on area to their left, a computer terminal dark with a bank of phones silent. A waiting area with black leather couches sat with a large very old Perisan rug. Tall tinted windows let in a low level of ambient light.

Reaching to her belt, she pulled off her modified PKE meter from its fob. She switched it on, the green energy sine wave arcing gently between the two antenna on top. The screen glowed orange, casting her face in a reddish glow as she studied the readings.

“Nothing on the PKE. What about visual?” she asked, looking at Bryan. He pulled his ecto-googles off his belt and slid them over his face. Adjusting the knobs, he scanned the room.

“Nothing.” He pushed them back up onto his fore-head.

Kylie’s face scrunched up. “Given what you've told us has been happening, I would expect to find more than ambient low level PKE. There’s nothing here higher than average.”

“Then I guess we have only one direction go.” Janine said, pushing her glasses up on her nose.

“Up.” Bryan said, adjusting his belt and pack straps. “Please tell me we can take the elevator.”

“Should be able to with the levels as low as they are. If something happens however, I swear I’m going to haunt you.” Kylie told him as they moved across the posh lobby, her boots loud in the large space. A thought occurred to her. The whole lobby didn’t have a single light on. The only light that was in the room was from the sunlight outside. It was growing dimmer as the sun began to touch the horizon.

“What’s with the lights?” she asked, sweeping her meter around again in a slow arc. Couldn’t be too safe.

Cooper shrugged. “I try to conserve power. The public likes to know that we are a green company. The lights turn off on the lower levels when the building isn’t occupied.”

“How thoughtful.” Janine snarked. Kylie raised an eyebrow. Janine hadn’t been very polite with Cooper ever since he came in. She made a mental note to ask why.

“Then elevators are over there.” Cooper said, pointing them across the foyer.

“Lead the way.” Bryan said.


**********


The ride up to the penthouse level was uneventful. It was, Kylie thought, an unnerving experience because of that fact. She was expecting something, anything to happen. The dragon manifestations at the fire-house indicated they were dealing with a very powerful entity and for nothing to be happening was very worrisome. The PKE meter on her belt hadn’t made so much as a beep. Behind her, Cooper was being silent. His eyes were large and he had broken out into a sweat. Clearly the man was terrified but of what? So far, nothing they had found out from him matched anything in Tobin’s or any of Egon or Ray’s notes and studies.

With a soft jolt and a ding, the elevator pulled to a gentle stop. As the doors slid open, Kylie, Janine and Bryan pulled their throwers, switching them on, the high pitched hum settling into that comforting hum that buzzed her teeth slightly. Taking point, Kylie exited first into the posh thickly carpeted hallway. Sculpted artistic glass sconces lit the hallway with a gentle glow. Moving forward, eyes alert, she waited to be attacked, to see a manifestation, anything.

“You got anything?” she asked over her shoulder. Both Janine and Bryan checked their meters.

“Nothing. Not even a flicker.” Janine replied, frowning.

“This is strange. I expected more. That the place?” Kylie asked Cooper.

Cooper nodded. “Yeah that’s it. At the end of the hall. When I left, I just ran…but now…the door..its closed again.”

“Could it have been a staff member?” Bryan thought outloud.

“No. I sent them home for the weekend before all this craziness. I told you that.” Cooper said, a hint of the rich boy attitude slipping back into his voice. Kylie nodded and moved forward, towards the single white door at the end of the hall. There were no other entrances on the level, just the single door. It sat, beckoning to them. As they got closer, about ten feet from the door, a sound broke the silence.

The VREEEP of the PKE meter’s activating.

Startled, Kylie jumped a bit and mentally chastised herself for being unprofessional. Pulling it off of her belt, she looked at the screen. A vivid bold sine wave was coursing across the screen, towards the upper levels of the measurement output fields.

“You guys getting this, too?” she asked. Behind her, Janine and Bryan both had their meters off their belts and pointed at the door.

“Definitely. That’s a big reading.” Bryan added, frowning first at his meter and then at the door.

“Define big.” Janine asked, putting her meter back on her belt.

Kylie studied the readings a bit longer.

“Seems to be a very high band narrow frequency emanation, focused, behind that door…it’s a very powerful psychic force, a class 6 at the very least. Maybe even a class 7. Its ectoplasmic field is bigger than this building but its only contained to the upper penthouse. Strange, like something is holding it here.” She finished and looked up.

They had reached the door itself.

The door had looked normal from the elevator but up close, it was definitely not normal.

It was covered in ice. Ice that looked like it had bled from around the door frame, dripping onto the door into spiky icicles.

The handle and lock were totally frosted over and sealed inside a clear ice like ball. The door steamed in the warmer air but the ice did not melt. In the silence, a sound vibrated the air, a dull rhythmic sound….

….the door was breathing….or something behind it was. It sounded like the purring growl of a large cat. A lion, a tiger maybe. Kylie’s meter was going crazy, the alarm sounding a screaming warning. Shutting it off, she hooked it back onto her belt and took her thrower back both hands.

“Mr. Cooper, I highly suggest you stand to the side of the hallway. I don’t know what’s behind this door but all readings are indicating it isn’t Casper the ghost. We may need to fire and I don’t want you hit.” She ordered.

Cooper did as he was told, now visibly quaking.

Kylie reached for the door knob, thankful she was wearing the thick black insulated gloves. She could feel the unnatural cold seeping through them anyway. She tried to twist the knob but the ice prevented it.

“Mr. Cooper, we’re going to have to go in the hard way. You’re probably going to need a new door.” She advised him and stepped back.

“That’s fine. A door is the least of my worries. Do what you have to.”

From behind the door, the growl intensified. The air shook with a new sound, a deeper vibration, a pulse that every one of them felt in their bones.

It was a voice, whispering over and over a single phrase.

Guilty…guilty…guilty…guilty….

Kylie raised her thrower and took aim at the door knob.

“Watch your eyes.”

She depressed the firing stud.

The end of the particle thrower flashed brilliantly, and the twisting energy-rope proton stream blasted out, strobing and sparking, slamming into the door knob, bathing the hallway in a flashing orange-yellow glow. The growl and roar of the proton stream drowned out the voice.

Sparks spit and hissed from the door knob. Any normal wooden or metal object would have been obliterated by the stream, Kylie thought but worryingly, the door was holding up to the force of the blast.

“I need you two!” she ordered. Janine and Bryan took flank positions and carefully aiming to not cross the streams, opened up with their throwers. The three scorching beams arced and spat, hissing against the ectoplasmically charged door. The ice had melted away from the knob and it was glowing white hot. Kylie adjusted the output level of her stream. The beam intensified, the thrower bucking in her hands. She gritted her teeth and tightened her grip as the voices began to roar and snarl in earnest, no longer saying anything at all but just a cacophony of anger and vengeance.

BAMM!

A whoosh of icy air sucked into the apartment, like a vacuum seal had been ruptured.

The door blasted open, ripping off of its hinges, slamming roughly into the foyer wall inside the penthouse apartment, shattering a glass table and ripping a priceless painting from the wall. The Ghostbusters shut off their beams immediately, powering down as the wind suddenly stopped.

Shaking her bangs out of her face, Kylie cautiously stepped into the apartment. Besides the devastation they had just caused with the door, there was not a thing out of place. No demons, not darkness, not even a drop of slime.

“You guys heard those voices too, right?” she asked, moving into the main hallway.

“Yeah. Creepy as hell.” Bryan replied, pointing his thrower into a bathroom.

“What’s the layout, Cooper?” Janine snapped at him.

“The living room is this way and the bedroom.”

The group made their way to the large open living room. Kylie noted her surroundings. Very posh and upper class.

Everything was antique and seemed far beyond her pay bracket. Besides the random clothes in the floor, very little else was out of place. Some of the knickknacks and flower vases were knocked over but otherwise, it seemed like a perfectly normal apartment. As they entered the living room, Kylie wanted to vomit but not from any paranormal event but the color scheme. Thick gray white carpet, a large stone glassed in fire-place and windows that went from the floor to the top of the fifteen foot high ceilings. Definitely not her idea of a well decorated place. It was too artsy too pretentious. On a far wall, was a large glass case full of awards to Cooper for his various services and deeds, most were corporate awards she noted as she got closer.

Cooper himself was warily looking around, stepping lightly around the white leather couch.

Looking down at the carpet and specifically on the red silk Persian rug, Kylie saw strange black smudges. Her curiosity peaked, she hooked her thrower to a key fob on her belt, letting it dangle as she knelt down to get a closer look and as she did, she realized what they were.

Paw prints.

Huge foot wide paw prints. Tracks that had been burned into the rug by something walking through the room, singing the material to a melted crisp. Reaching out, she gently touched one with her index finger and pulled it away. The material was waxy, unlike ash yet it had all the hallmarks of ash. Taking out her meter, she scanned it.

The meter indicated with a loud beep that the material was in fact highly charged with psychokinetic energy. Looking around, she saw the prints actually made a trail out of the living room and back into the hallway.

She looked up at Cooper who was nervously glancing in the same direction.

Something wasn’t adding up.

She wiped her gloves off on her uniform pants and stood up.

“Hey guys, group conference. Mr. Cooper, excuse us for a second, please.” She said. Bryan and Janine huddled around her, putting their heads close together to keep their conversation as private as possible, Janine’s green ear-rings dangling in the middle.

“Something is off here guys. The manifestations we’ve seen so far don’t match up to what Cooper is telling us. Those dragons we busted at the fire-hall didn’t have feet. They flew. Something made those tracks.” Kylie started, indicating the tracks she had found. Bryan and Janine took a good look and turned back to the huddle.

“Now that you mention it, all he has mentioned is small stuff relatively. Nothing about a monster with paws a foot wide. You’d think he’d mention that.” Bryan said.

“Agreed. Does anyone know about him? I’ve never heard of him but clearly he’s big money.” Kylie said, looking at Janine.

As usual, Janine didn’t disappoint.

“While you were upstairs hitting Tobin’s, I did an Internet search on the guy. He told us the truth about his name. It is Aiden Cooper. He’s a Fortune 500 electronics and technology engineer. His company is one of the largest on the eastern seaboard and he has contracts with the military. Recently, a big news story covered a new deal with Japan. Remember he said he was on a trip to Japan?” Janine informed her.

Nodding, Kylie waited for her to go on. Janine did, her voice a whisper.

“ I pulled a few strings while I was searching on him. Turns out, Cooper has a less than savory reputation for aggressive buy outs of small companies and, this is where it gets really interesting, he’s been the subject of several archeological controversies. Apparently, some countries have accused him of stealing artifacts and smuggling them back home but his hotshot lawyers have so far kept him out of court….that’s the unofficial line by the way. I had to pull in a favor with a friend at the NYPD to get that info. He didn’t really appreciate me calling him past midnight but he emailed me the details. I don’t trust him as far as I can throw him, which isn’t far.”

Bryan looked at Kylie. “You thinking what we are thinking?”

“That Mr. Cooper is hiding something? Definitely. Stolen artifacts? That could be dangerous territory. A lot of those old things had some really messed up curses on them. Don’t get me started about what happens to people who take rocks and crap from Hawaii. Pele is not a forgiving goddess.” Kylie said, her face darkening.

“How do we know if he has and then once we figure that out, how do we figure out which one is causing it? I don’t see any thing here beyond second hand antiques.” Janine said.

“Those prints lead back out into the hallway. Ten to one, we find their source, we find Cooper’s secret.” Kylie noted.

“On it. Let’s get to the bottom of this before any of us gets hurt.” Janine said.

Breaking the huddle, Kylie, Bryan and Janine followed the tracks back into the hallway. They stopped at a large door with a keypad entry. Scowling, Kylie called out.

“Mr. Cooper, come here please.”

Cooper came around the living room entrance and stopped dead when he saw the tracks and the door they were coming out of. He visibly got more nervous and looked at Kylie.

“What?”

“Mr. Cooper, what’s behind that door?”

He shook his head. “Nothing, nothing. Just china and my wine cabinet.”

Bryan took a look at the electronic keypad.

“You need biometric keys to guard wine?” he asked.

Janine raised an eyebrow. “Mr. Cooper, I am going to be blunt with you. You charged into our office in the dead of night and we risked a lot to save you from those dragons. We protect you and come all the way down here to find out what is after you. You don’t tell us much. We know about your history with artifacts. Open the door.”

Cooper shook his head. “Trust me, there is nothing behind here.”

Bryan stepped toward Cooper who stepped back a bit.

“Either you open the door or we blast it open. Your pick.”

Cooper sighed angrily and entered the door code. With a beep, the lock disengaged and the door swung open. Soft lights slowly came on revealing a massive room full of glass cases, polished hard wood floors, artfully placed track lights and hundreds of small artifacts from every country, nation and time period, all neatly laid out and labeled according to their era and location.

Her jaw dropping, Kylie stepped into the room, looking around her, in shock. The police were right. He was stealing artifacts. Some of them she recognized from her own brief side hobby of archeology and history. Some were actually museum pieces that had gone missing years ago.

“Oh my God.” Janine said as she followed.

“There has to be over a million dollars worth of artifacts in here…” Bryan said looking at some of the dates.

Holstering her thrower over her shoulder, Kylie pulled her meter off of her belt. Switching it on, she scanned the room. Nothing, not a single blip until….

There. She looked up. The meter was pointed directly as the Asian artifacts section. The reading was off of the charts, the sine wave arcing rapidly between the twin antennas. Following the reading, she walked around the case and found the source: A very old tiny statue, maybe six inches high, painted in faded red. It was a funny little thing. Sitting like a dog it was clearly a lion like creature with an open mouth baring fangs and strong little eyes. It seemed familiar. Her eyes dropped to the card below the statue and she read it:


Okinawa, Japan. Ryukyuan period. Shisha-guardian. Naha temple.
Circa. 1429.



Quickly, Kylie pulled out her pocket copy of Tobin’s Spirit Guide, the revised edition that Ray had republished a few year ago. She thumbed through the index and there, finding the entry she wanted she flipped to it.

No one noticed the white fog creeping into the room from the open door, snaking its way into the room.

Reading quickly, Kylie looked up at Cooper, her face flashing with anger. She stuffed her book back into her pocket, hooked her meter roughly back onto her belt and crossed the room. Before Cooper could react, she grabbed him by his shirt front, slamming him roughly against the wall.

“You son of a bitch!” she snarled.

“Let go of me you crazy—“ he protested.

“You lied to us!” she yelled, her eyes sparking in rage.

“Figures.” Janine said.

“What’s the bad news?” Bryan asked.

The fog continued to fill the room, coming up to their ankles. No one noticed. The thermostat on the far wall began to flicker as the temperature began to drop.

“He’s a thief! He does steal artifacts. The cops were right. All this trouble? He stole a guardian icon from a temple in Japan while he was there. He’s angered the shisha!”

“The what?” Janine asked.

“Shisha. Ancient guardians from Ryukyuan folklore." Kylie explained. "They were giant lion-dog like beasts that were carved in stone around sacred sites. They were powerful protectors of the area they were put in charge of. They were said to eat dragons for breakfast! They are vengeful and will not stop until justice is served and balance restored. And,” Kylie said, glaring up at Cooper, “ They will fixate on the offender and anyone he is contact with. Cooper just painted targets on our backs the moment he walked into our office!”

Cooper stammered. “I didn’t believe! I swear to God that I didn’t. I just took that little thing.”

“You asshole. That’s a sacred icon to those people. You have no idea what you’ve awakened.” Kylie snarled. “You—“

“Um, Kylie.”

Kylie didn’t look around, keeping her eyes pinned on Aiden.

“What?”

“We’ve got a problem.” Bryan said.

Kylie turned to see what he was talking about when she realized that she could see her own breath. A shiver ran through her body. The temperature had plummeted. It was so cold her skin burned, through her uniform. Shivering, she looked at the floor. A cold heavy fog had rolled into the room. Suddenly every meter went off, screaming warning alarms before shorting out violently sparking. Cursing, Kylie threw the smoking meter away before it caught her uniform on fire. Janine and Bryan did the same with theirs, shaking their hands from the sudden heat.

“We got company.” Janine said, stepping back away from the door.

“Oh boy.” Bryan gulped, taking the other side, drawing his thrower.

Kylie let go of Cooper who squeaked in terror like the coward he was.

There in the open door way to the artifact room, the fog grew up, swirling, forming into a dark shape. Arms and then legs formed, a dark skull like image that grew into a grim faceless visage with burning eyes. There before them, was a monk straight out of the past. His wide straw hat covered his face in the shadows, his tattered robes swirled and flowed with a dark energy, flapping in a breeze that didn’t exist. His knarled hands were holding onto a long staff like cane.

The monk’s scarlet eyes flared as he raised a twisted hand, pointing a knobbly finger at Cooper.

A raspy voice with an inhuman depth growled out.

“Guilty…”

“Maybe if he gives back the thing, it will go away!” Bryan offered.

“Worth a shot!” Janine said, bringing her thrower to bear on the glass case. Firing a single burst, she melted open the case lock.

“NO! That belongs to me!” Cooper yelled, stepping towards Janine.

With a roar the apparition sprang into action, leaping at Cooper, its face a screaming death’s mask.

“FIRE!” Kylie yelled, opening with her thrower.

Three proton streams snarled out, filling the room with surging orange-red light. The streams slammed into the entity hard, smacking it backwards in a hiss of sparks and flaring lightening. The force of the streams forced it back, pushing it out of the room and into the hallway. Roaring in rage, it struggled but the beams couldn’t grab onto it.

“The beams….they can’t snare it! Increase power flow!” Bryan ordered.

The beams thickened, now too bright to look at, the throwers bucking wildly in their hands.

“Its not working! Building up too much heat too fast!” Kylie yelled looking at her temperature gauge on the thrower’s control box.

Snarling, the entity spun its staff forward, catching the beams.

“STOP FIRING!” Kylie barked just as the entity flexed its arms, throwing the beams into the ceiling, reflecting them back at the Ghostbusters. The explosion as the beams made contact with the roof was astounding, debris cascading down on them, dust and ceiling tile filling the air. Ducking the Ghostbusters covered their faces as the room shook with the angry roar of the guardian entity.

It lashed out, its arms growing longer than the room itself, snaking around Cooper and dragged him violently towards itself, running down the hallway.

“HELP ME!!!” Cooper screamed.

“Its got Cooper!” Bryan said, coughing, standing up and shaking the dust off of his head.

“I don’t know if we can trap this thing,” Kylie panted.

“Figure it out on the run!” Janine said, leaping to her feet, following the entity out.

“Where did it go?” Bryan asked, looking around.

“The roof! I bet this place has a helipad. It’s a shisha. Its going to take Cooper with it as punishment.” Kylie told him as she flipped open the now melted case door, snatching up the tiny wooden shisha statue, shoving it into her pocket. She followed Janine, the pack heavy on her back as she ran.

“What happens then?” Bryan asked running behind her.

“You’ve heard what I said about shisha and what they do to dragons, right?”

“Oh great.”

Running back into the foyer, they found a series of charred paw prints leading to an open door that Kylie hadn’t seen before. Kicking it open, she found a small flight of stairs.

“Move it!” she ordered and charged up the stairs, her thrower drawn.

Bryan huffed as he ran. “Remind me why we are saving this prick?”

“Because its our job and I can’t slug him in that smug face of his if he’s dead!” Kylie snarled back, her voice dripping with anger.

“Good point.”

Reaching the top of the stairs, Kylie kicked open the door and stepped out onto the roof, Bryan not far behind, the night air warm as the sun had finally set. The roof itself was a wide open space with a raised helipad. The helipad had winking red warning guidance lights around a red H in a circle. A cell antenna and a communications array dotted the far side of the roof.

A hot wind blew and the sounds of traffic and car horns filled the evening.

Janine stood in the middle of the helipad, firing off shots at the screaming monk who had thrown Cooper to the ground but wasn’t letting him move an inch.

“I could use a little help here!” she shouted back at them.

“Switch your stream to 1400 megahertz! Setting four!” Kylie shouted over the noise.

Yanking her thrower from her pack she took aim and fired, adjusting the stream’s output. Bryan took up a position near the far edge of the pad, firing, forming a rough triangle.

Shouting to be heard over the beams roar, Kylie yelled at Cooper.

“Move it!”

Cooper crawled away, quivering.

The beams crawled over the entity, finally snaring it. It shrieked in rage, its robes billowing, its pale bone white skin flashing, teeth snapping, its blood red eyes flaring.

“We’ve got it! Get a trap---“ Janine said, tightening her grip on the thrower’s handle.

The entity clinched its teeth and hands, its eyes sparking blue fire. Its skin began to ripple and surge and with a scream from hell itself, its back arched, its flesh exploded off in a flash of light. A shock wave broke the beams hold, throwing the Ghostbusters to the ground.

Sitting up, Kylie rubbed her head. She had hit it hard when she fell, her eyes swimming and watering from the blow, a sharp shooting pain in her temple.

Reaching out, she dragged her thrower to her by its black hose and turned to face the monk entity.

One problem: The monk was gone.

In its place, was a huge monster, a lion-like creature with a thick heavily built body, a flaring mane of blue fire, huge paws and a whipping tail. Its body was as black as night and cracked like stone. Standing over six feet high at the shoulder, its gaping mouth was lined with crystal fangs, its eyes blazing with a burning hatred that sent chills up her spine.

The monster, a living breathing shisha, roared, a deep resonating rumble that made her ears hurt. It crouched low just like a cat, its shoulders raised and leapt into the air, its mane flaring like the sun. A jet of blue flame blasted out of its snarling mouth, scorching the air as it flew towards Kylie.

“Shit!”

She rolled to the right, hoping she was fast enough as the flame jet smashed into the space where she just was, cracking the cement landing pad in a violent flash of heat and smoke.

Rolling up onto her knees she took aim at the shisha. Janine and Bryan took up positions as the beast opened is mouth again, the blue flame leaking out of the corners of its maw.

“FIRE!”

She fired, her beam snaking out smacking into the shisha. Sparks flew and energy hissed, blinding her, lighting up the night.
User avatar
By TAPS_Family_Anthony
#4820430
****

“What we do?” Ray shouted, his voice nearly lost in the scouring wind pouring out of the shimmering portal that was spewing lightning and energy. It was pulsing in cycling waves; every few minutes, it seemed to flash brighter and the portal would grow bigger. Egon confirmed this and Ray’s heart sank a little. It seemed to be establishing a gravitational field. Now, instead of debris moving away from it, it was slowly being dragged towards the center of the portal.

“The portal….its growing. With every one of those pulses its PKE signature changes to a higher band. At the current rate of expansion, it will consume the entire building and keep on growing. This exponentional growth has never been seen before in any of the literature!”

Peter scowled at Egon.

“Pardon me for not being caught up. I’ll catch up later. How do we shut it down?!”

“PKE scans are showing a reversal of polarity! Soon, everything will begin moving towards it, like a black hole! LOOK!” Egon shouted, moving back away from the portal.

“Damn it!” Winston shouted, ducking as two chairs shot off of the floor, taking flight towards the portal. They slammed into the event horizon in a spray of sparks and sizzling energy. Passing through they started to fall into the other world, burning in the air as they vanished. The black flying things on the other side of the “window” took notice of the falling chairs and changed the direction of their flight.

“Looks like we go their attention!” Ray said, backing up, standing next to the others.

“What about Bassingame?” Winston asked.

“Leave him! Try a controlled short burst at the center! No more than 10,000 megahertz!” Egon suggested, pointing at the center of the portal, his hair blowing wildly.

Winston stepped forward and took up a classic Weaver stance, aiming his proton pistol directly at the core of the portal.

He depressed the firing stud, checking the output with his eyes.

A thin but wicked snarling orange-yellow proton stream blasted out with a brilliant flash, blue lightning crawling along the stream as nuclear packets, little white blobs of plasma, fired up through the core of the beam, slamming into the portal.

The pistol bucked in his hands as the beam made contact; an explosion of energy and sparks flooded the room as the portal absorbed the beam. Winston held the beam steady for a moment before shutting the beam off.

“No good!” he yelled back, shielding his eyes from the next pulse as the portal grew bigger, enveloping the stage, the podium, backdrops…everything was absorbed in a violent flash of green light. Inside the portal the big black things screeched as they grew closer, the Ghostbusters saw, much to their chagrin, that they weren’t small at all; they were actually huge with wingspans more than thirty feet across.

“GUYS! We need to close this thing now!” Winston barked, taking aim again, opening fire, the beam snaking out and smacking into the portal.

Egon, fought against the gravitational force, bracing himself as he began to slide towards the portal.

“We may have a problem! The gravity well is reaching critical mass! Its going to pull us in!”

Ray and Peter looked at Egon with horror on their faces. Another pulse wave blasted out and the four of them stumbled as the world shift again. Cracks began to explode in the floor as the carpet ripped up in place, looking like wagging tongues. Chairs flew into the air, smashing into the portal, being absorbed and sucked through, the light fixtures on the ceiling swung towards the portal like a magnet. The building itself shuddered with a thunderous roar as the walls began to split.

“EGON!”

“We need an equal opposing force cause the portal to implode!” Egon yelled, his voice barely audible over the roar. The portal was now mere feet from them, tugging on their hair and clothes as they began to slide towards it. The wall behind them split further, spewing sparks from electrical lines and a water main burst, soaking them as the water was pulled into the window of energy. The light was so blinding it was hard to see, everything was bathed in an eerie green glow.

“If we had the full size packs, we could possibly shut it down but we don’t have any way of generating enough force!” he finished, grabbing onto his glasses to keep them from flying off his face.

“What about the pistol and pack? Could we set it to over load?” Winston asked, looking down at the proton pack on his waist.

“Possibly! The force isn’t going to be enough. We need more!” Egon said, calculations running through his mind.

“The trap! I could set it on a cyclic pulse recharge cycle, make the onboard CPU think a battery surge was occurring…the power pack would blow up like a bomb!” Ray added.

Peter looked at both them, his eyebrows crossed.

“Remind me why the three of you aren’t in prison right now? You’re just a bit enthusiastic there, Ray!”

“There’s a danger; if the portal doesn’t take the pack, we aren’t going to have enough time to get clear. The explosion will wipe this building out entirely! They’ll be nothing left but a crater!” Egon warned everyone.

Peter rolled his eyes. “Will you please stop building things that can wipe out entire building complexes? I’d like to live to retire someday.”

Winston glared at him.

Peter shrugged. “What the hell. Retirement is overrated anyway. Let’s do it!”

Egon scanned the portal one more time. His hands shook with the force of trying to hold onto the meter itself, his glasses flying from his face into the portal, obliterating themselves in a spray of sparks.

“The stone is still there! Its in the center of the anomaly! We need to try to target the blast there if we can. We take it out, we can stop this!”

“I can’t even see it!” Winston said, taking the mini-proton pack off of his waist unbuckling the clasps.

“Its there! Trust me!” Egon yelled, squinting in the light.

“To overload the pack, you have to set its power cells to surge back on each other…create an ionic transference circuit but you can only do that by shutting down the vent system and overheating the proton accelerator!” Ray told him, struggling to remain standing.

“Got it!”

Winston twisted the knob hard over on the side of the pistol, ramping power up to maximum drain. The pack hummed and vibrated on his side.

“Bassingame!” Ray shouted, pointing.

Bassingame’s limp unconscious body had been pulled away from the wall and was sliding towards the portal quickly. Peter saw it and grimaced.

“I’ve got him!”

Peter lunged toward the short fraud, and grabbed onto his arms, yanking him back to the door way that was for now still holding, bracing himself and Bassingame there against the tug of the flow.

“You owe me for this…big time!” Peter shouted at him, even though he didn’t respond.

The tug became so strong that Peter was losing his grip on Bassingame. He wasn’t going to be able to hold them both there. Gritting his teeth, he braced his legs against either side of the door, even as the walls around the jamb began to split as the ground began to shake.

“I can’t hold him!!”

Suddenly the glass pendant on Bassingame’s neck stood up and went taught on the string, the crystal shimmering bright green, pulling towards the portal.

“That can’t be good,” Peter said to himself.

Bassingame slipped farther away, Peter straining, his forehead coated in sweat, grunting with the effort. He wasn’t going to be able to hold him…his hands began to slip…

Bassingame suddenly stopped his slide towards the portal as two more hands reached out and grabbed him under the shoulders, pulling him back.

“What the hell?!” Peter looked up to see Katarina, her long brown hair whipping in the suction, her dress flying wildly.

“I’m here, Piotr!” she shouted over the roar.

Back in the conference room, critical mass was approaching quickly.

“We’ve got to stop its growth now! Fire!” Ray ordered moving back farther.

Winston depressed the firing stud and the proton pistol nearly leaped out of his hands it bucked so hard. The intense orange-yellow proton stream was now almost impossible to look at, searing brilliantly like the sun, surging and growling with its own thunder. It crashed into the portal, spewing sparks and lethal curling energies, casting wild dancing shadows, Ray had grabbed up the ghost trap, turned it on its side and had ripped open one of its rectangular magnetic buffer plates to reveal the circuits inside the black box like device. He worked quickly, rearranging wires, yanking his hand back when it sparked nastily. Grimacing he dove back in.

Winston looked down at the temperature bar graph indicator on the proton pack. It was inching fast towards red.

“Ray! I’ve got about six more seconds before I hit critical heat! Hurry up!”

“On it!”

The portal seemed to show no effect at first from the blast but suddenly it flickered and the outer energy wall shuttered briefly, before it imploded where the beam was hitting, surging and crackling with a thunderous sonic boom. The energy split vertically up and down from the beams contact point, purple-green light spilling out as embers and soot from the other side began to flow back through the now ripped open portal. A gap began to grow, wider and wider until finally the beam itself punched totally through. The wind surged out as the gravitational flow suddenly reversed. The creatures that were flying towards commotion screeched and moved aside, splitting the flock as the intense proton stream burned through their world, missing them by inches. Angry, they reformed and flapped their gigantic bat like wings harder.

“Guys! If this portal was a window before I think we just made it a gate and the door’s wide open!” Winston belted out, holding his position as the proton pistol bucked and grew warmer. Soon it would be too hot to hold.

“Almost got it!” Ray said, his face a mask of sweat and concentration.

“HURRY!” Egon shouted.

“GOT IT!”

“Throw the trap into the portal! Egon ordered.

In Ray’s hands, the trap began to smoke heavily, spitting blue electrical arcs as a nasty sizzling sound began to pour form it. Disconnecting the foot cable, Ray threw it hard at the open gateway.

“I can’t hold it any more!” Winston shouted. “Its overheating!”

“Hit the trap and then throw the pack in!” Ray screamed.

Winston steadied himself and picked up the proton pack by its harness off of the floor and locking the pistol to on, threw the pistol and the pack into the portal. The trap and pack smacked into the open gateway and for a second, just a split second, they held there, frozen in time and space before they fell through, carried by their own momentum into the other world.

The trap began to fall, caught in the strange gravity of the other side as the still firing proton pistol spun wildly, its beam scattering the giant creatures, before finally swinging around just right and impact the sparking trap.

The feedback loop was instant.

With a thundering growl, a new sun was temporarily born inside the other world, a flaming nuclear fireball of destruction exploded as the proton pack and trap both over loaded simultaneously. The creatures caught in the blast were instantly disintegrated in a hot flash of heat and energy.

The portal buckled, the green glow flickering wildly as the shock wave from the overload explosion flew out of the portal.

“GET DOWN!” Egon yelled, dropping to the floor, laying flat and covering his head. The others did so as fast as they could.

Peter and Katarina weren’t able to duck.

“Katarin---“

His voice was cut off as the explosion shock wave hit Peter square on in the chest, lifted him and tossed him backwards. He lost his grip on Bassingame and saw Katarina herself go flying off, landing in a crumpled head. He hit the floor hard and for a moment everything was gone, blacked out before his vision snapped back just in time to see it: The portal bent wildly, and with a titanic snap of energy and sound pulled back in on itself, sealing with a WHUMP and vanishing from sight. The flying debris in the air fell to the ground and for the first time in minutes, the entire building was silent.

Peter let his head fall to ground in relief. They were alive.



****


It seemed like forever that he was out.

When he sat up, Peter felt his head begin to pound. A massive headache he supposed was the least of his worries. He looked around, getting to his feet, dusting his jacket off.

Debris, papers, books, display cases and ceiling tiles were everywhere. Water had soaked the floor from broken pipes. The glass doors of the conference center had blown out. The smell of ozone was strong in the air.

The conference center was a wreck. He hoped they weren’t going to have to pay for all this.

Looking to his left, he saw Katarina up on her feet, pulling her mussed hair out of her face and tying it behind her head with a scrunchie. She didn’t look any worse for wear but still…

He rushed over to her and took her in his arms, checking for any grevious wounds that would require his special attention.

“Katarina! Are you okay? Are you hurt? Do you need a medical doctor? A glass of wine? Dinner and a show?” he asked breathlessly.

She smiled a little, and took her stunning eyes off of him, mildly embarrassed.

“No, I am fine. Just a bruised elbow and a headache.”

Peter shook his head, taking her decline to his date offer on the chin expertly.

“Good, I mean, I’d hate to have to put you down.” He said, a grin on his face.

“You, need to behave, Mr. Venkman.” She said gently resuming her professional behavior though not totally Peter noticed. His charm was irresistible. Maybe someday, he thought. The others!” Katarina said, disengaging from his arms. She moved quickly, deftly stepping over the debris and heading back into the ruined conference room. Peter followed her, taking once glance at Bassingame who has just begun to stir from the floor, rubbing his temples and groaning.

He followed Katarina and found that the conference room was just as he thought it would look like, a war zone. The floors and walls were cracked, chairs were lying in pieces, the stage itself was totally gone, and the floor around the front of the room was seared black with smoke wafting up from it. He saw his friends, alive and well, standing up, their clothes rumpled, their hair a mess but looking fairly cocky and relieved.

“We did it, Pete.” Ray said with a weak smile as Peter walked up.

“You are amazing…all of you.” Katarina said, checking each one over.

“It was truly an even of hypermesonic proportions...unknown in any of the literature…it’s too bad the stone is gone. I would have loved to studied it more.” Egon said, looking at the smoking crater in the floor.

“You got the readings though. That’s more than enough for me.” Winston said, dusting his shirt off.

“True.” Egon replied, reaching up to push up his glasses before he realized that they were gone.

“So how about a kiss just to make sure we are okay?” Peter asked, a sly grin on his face.

Katarina rolled her eyes. “Don’t be pushing you luck, Piotr.” She said it with a grin of her own, her cheeks flushing from embarrassment.

“Hey, I got nothing to loose.” He said.

A groan from the door way caught their attention and everyone turned to look at what it was.

Bassingame was standing there, his clothes seared and burnt off in places, his normally perfectly gelled hair standing on end, his face bruised from the blast.

He stumbled past the Ghostbusters and stood at the crater, his eyes filling with hateful tears.

“…Its….Its gone….all my work…gone….You did again…You did it again!” he screamed, turning towards the Ghostbusters, his rat face contorting in rage. “I had it! I had proof! I had ….my career….!”

Ray turned to his friends. “May I? Its long over due.”

Silently, the other three Ghostbusters looked at each other and shrugged. Ray nodded.

“Thank you.”

Ray swung faster than anyone thought possible, slamming his fist in a particularly good right hook into Bassingame’s boxy chin, felling him to the floor, out cold. Ray grimaced and shook out his hands, his knuckles throbbing.

“That never hurt so good.” He said, rubbing his fist.

“On that, I agree. I never thought he would do this.” Katarina said. She knelt down and snatched the crystal pendant off of Bassingame’s neck, snapping the leather string he had tied it to.

“Oh that’s okay. We can send him the bill from the conference center for the damages since we were on a working holiday and not technically on the job.” Peter said as they began to walk towards the exit. Police and fire fighters had arrived, their sirens wailing as EMT’s rushed into the conference center, tending to anyone still left inside. They rushed past the Ghostbusters and Katarina and knelt by Bassingame.

“He’s fine but he’s going to have one hell of a headache.” Ray snarled.

They pushed through the throngs of people milling around outside, moving past the shattered entry to the conference room and finally stood under a blanket of night stars. The red and blue strobes of the police and ambulances made the parking lot look like a dance floor rave.

“What about that pendant?” Winston asked, eyeing it in Katarina’s hands.

She opened her hand and looked at it, insanely ornately carved organic crystal, forged thousands of years ago, priceless and one of kind. Thinking a moment she finally spoke.

“The institute will just have to deal with me later.”

She dropped the crystal to the ground and crushed it harshly beneath her heel, grinding it into micro fragments that released a final death rattle of green energy and died away as the shards themselves withered into nothing.

The Ghostbusters nodded in approval, even though Egon winced slightly.

Ray felt a tap on his shoulder and turned around, expecting to see a cop ready to question him or arrest him but instead saw a familiar face, grinning.

John Keel.

“Excuse me, Dr. Stantz,” he said, holding out a pen and paper. “Can I get your autograph?”

Ray felt his face flush and took the pen and paper grinning.

“Fanboy. Let’s get out of here before the press shows up.” Peter said.

“Its gonna be a long ride home. Our bus is supposed to be at the terminal in about thirty minutes.” Winston said, checking his cracked watch plate.

“Call a cab. I’m officially clocking out. “ Peter said, starting to walk away towards the street. Egon and Winston rushed to join him, Katarina at their side as Ray handed Keel back his notebook and ran to catch up.

“What are you going to do now?” Ray asked Katarina as he caught up to her.

“Go back to Russia. Seal this research for good. Some things should remain buried.”

“Do you really think it was from Atlantis?” he asked her.

“We’ll never know now. Maybe that is for the best.” She replied.

“Ain’t that the truth. No more tomb raiding for you and no more picking up after con artists. Sounds like heaven to me.” Winston said as they moved off towards the pay phone at the far side of the parking lot.

“Sounds real good to me,” he said again, quietly under his breath, quietly pleased with a job well done.
User avatar
By TAPS_Family_Anthony
#4820431
********

Kylie panted, her heart racing as she moved quickly to dodge another fire blast, snarling in frustration, taking another shot at the monster, the shisha easily ducking. Janine took a shot, the proton stream gazing its arched back, sparks flying. Snarling it rounded on her, dropping to the ground and stalking towards her.

“Come and get it, ecto-breath.” Janine taunted, waiting for the beast to get closer before spraying a proton stream directly into its face. The burning energy smacked the beasts head backwards as it roared in anger. Distracted, the shisha didn’t see Bryan come up as he flanked it. He opened fire, the beam crashing into it broadside, driving it to the ground in a roar of rage.

“Pour it on!” Kylie ordered, throwing a stream at the shisha from the rear.

The beams converged and snapped around the shisha in a snarling cage of raw energy, wrapping around it, holding it in place. It’s firey eyes flared, its teeth gnashed as it struggled to get free.

“Got it! We need a trap!!” Kylie barked, tightening her grip on her thrower as it bucked in her hands as the shisha tried to break free, the force nearly pulling her off of her feet.

“Its taking all of us to hold it!” Janine shouted back, her red hair whipping from the night wind. The helipad began to shake from the nuclear forces being exerted on it, trembling as though in a mini earth quake. Sixty floors below, pedestrians looked up at the night sky and saw the strange glow from the lightshow above as storm clouds gathered above the building, frozen in awe as sparks flew from over the edge of the railings and rained down.

The shisha groaned and looked over at Cooper who was cowering at the edge of the helipad.

“COOPER! Get over here! Take this trap off of my belt and toss-“

“Kylie watch it!” Bryan shouted as the shisha hunched down and a massive energy spike surged through it with all its power, breaking the beams hold. The proton streams instantly shut off, the packs over heated, slamming each Ghostbuster to the ground. Hitting the ground hard, Kylie watched in horror as the shisha turned its attention back to Cooper, its fangs dripping ectoplasm, its body glowing scarlet red. It slunk towards him, like a cat who’s cornered its mouse.

“VENT!” Janine yelled, thumbing the vent switch on her thrower. Instantly her pack’s cyclotron split and shot out horizontally, exposing the four red fuel rods. Steam and heat sizzled as the pack’s vents spewed hot steam into the night. The fuel rods dimmed as the heat was expunged, the cyclotron and fuel rods slamming back together as the pack started its auto-reset sequence. It would take a full ten seconds but that would be too late. The shisha would have Cooper and as much as she hated him, Kylie wouldn’t let it kill him.

Venting her pack, Kylie dug into her pockets and pulled out the shisha statue, thumbing it thinking fast. The only way they were able to snare the shisha was when it let its guard down otherwise the beams just weren’t phasing it.

Maybe….

She looked at her thrower temperature guage…another six seconds before the reset sequence was complete.

She took a gamble.

“HEY!” She screamed at the demon.

It turned its head and glared at her, knowing for the moment, she posed no threat. Snarling, it was about to turn back to Cooper to finish him off as he lay sobbing in terror, the crotch of his pants soaked through as the monster leaned over him, its deadly fangs inches from his nose.

Kylie waved the shisha statue.

“Is this what you want? TAKE IT!”

She flung the statue hard. It landed, skittering on the helipad, bouncing up and under the shisha and stopping just in front of Cooper’s heaving chest.

Great. Way to go calamity Kylie, she chided herself.

The shisha looked down at the statue, perplexed for a moment and then looked at Cooper, almost as if it were trying to decide which one to go for. It looked at the statue and then back to Cooper again.

GUILTY!!!!

Its voice boomed out, shaking the night itself as it raised its head to kill Cooper, its jaws wide and flaming.

Kylie kicked out her trap, the black box rattling on its wheels, coming to a stop just under the shisha.

“FULL STREAM NOW!”

She took aim and blasted. Janine and Bryan did the same as their packs came online. Three searing proton streams burned the night air, their orange-yellow intense light bathing everything as they smacked into the shisha who’s attention was momentarily on its prey.

The impact of the full force proton streams knocked the shisha hard as they snared around it, wrapping around the beast like ropes, scorching and sizzling in a lethal web of yellow sparking proton energy. Perhaps sensing its defeat, the shisha lunged for Cooper, it jaws snapping violently. He screamed in terror but the beams held, pulling it back, but barely.

Kylie slammed her foot down on the trap’s activation pedal.

The trap’s black and yellow caution striped doors shot open, bathing the shisha in white light as bluish energy from the containment cone vortex blasted out. Kylie hit the pedal again, shouting, “Keep the beams active until the last second! We can’t risk it breaking the draw down cycle!”

Janine and Brian shortened their streams, pulling the shisha away from Cooper and backwards into the trap cone. The trap whirred and the draw down cycle kicked in, grabbing the shisha in the blue energy snarls. It raged, snapping its huge jaws, swiping at the air with its front paws but its fate was sealed as its back paws touched the containment grid in the trap. It body began to elongate as it was sucked down, growing smaller, it atoms pulled apart, hissing and roaring. Finally, all of its body was yanked down into the trap except its head as it glared at Cooper one last time, it voice a gravely snarl.

Guilty….”

“Kill your streams!” Kylie shouted, shutting her beam off. The others did the same.

With a pop it vanished into the trap, the caution striped doors slamming shut and sealing. The trap shook violently as it fought the containment grid, sparks flying from the vents on the side of the trap but it was no use. The trap held. In a moment, it settled becoming still as the yellow containment indicator scrolled on and the blinking red light began to flash.

The shisha was trapped. It was over. The trap sparked once or twice more and began to steam heavily, the smell acrid and stinking of ozone.

Kylie felt her shoulders slump. Quickly, she holstered her thrower and ran over to the trap, kneeling down. Checking it over she looked up at Janine and Bryan.

“Its safe. Its contained. No breaches. We got it.” She said, relieved.

Janine and Bryan sighed relief and holstered their own throwers back over their shoulders on their packs. Cooper struggled to get to his feet as Kylie ran over to him and grabbed him by his shirt front.

“You son of a bitch! That thing could have killed us! Killed you! All over that? A stolen icon?” She looked at the tiny statue at her feet, the little red lion like figure laying quite inert.

Cooper stumbled, his words trying to come out but not making it.

Kylie felt like mashing his face in. She decided against. She was better than his brand of slime.

“You aren’t worth it. Janine?” she said instead, keeping her grip on Cooper’s collar.

“Call the cops. Tell them to come and take a peek in Mr. Cooper’s room downstairs. After our bill and they get through with him, I think the stock of his company is about to take a nose dive. You are going to cooperate with the police and return every single artifact personally with an apology, aren’t you, Mr. Cooper?” Kylie growled at him.

“Y-y-yes….Fine…anything...” he stammered back. Kylie looked him up and down one more time, seeing the wetspot on his pants.

“Your disgusting.” Kylie shoved him backward, letting him fall to the helipad, not caring in the least.

She headed towards the door that led back the penthouse.

“Let’s go. Janine, write up his bill. Bryan, call the New York Times. Let them know the police will be over here shortly to talk with Mr. Cooper. I’l call captain Frump. He owes us a favor.”

“Don’t forget to grab the meters on the way down.” Bryan added.

As they left Cooper was sitting on the helipad, alone in the night as the warm breeze flowed. He looked up at the stars and then down, down at the tiny wooden carving that had caused all this trouble. He picked it up. He felt nothing from it. It just stared at him with those little blank eye sockets. He let it drop to the ground before him realizing his troubles had just began.

He stood up and went to the edge of the roof, leaned on the railing and took his next breaths like they were precious. He had almost died. Sighing, he looked down at the street.

Sixty floors below, the long white shape of the Ecto-1 pulled away from the curb and drove off into the night. He stood there it seemed like, lost in thought.

Not long after it pulled away, two NYPD cruisers pulled to a stop outside of the building. Four officers got out and headed for the entrance. Behind them was a van with New York Times livery and broadcast equipment. Sighing, Cooper walked back to the helipad, picked up the shisha statue and headed down to meet them.

*****

Wednesday morning...
May 12, 1993

14th North Moore Street
New York, NY 10013


Walter Peck dressed as always in perfectly pressed blue business suit stalked around the fire house, his shined dress shoes clacking quietly on the brick floor of the garage. The Ecto-1 was parked in the garage yet no one was greeting him. It was inspection day and he didn’t have all day to wait. It was 9:30 in the morning. Glancing at his watch he sighed in aggravation, his auburn hair and neatly trimmed beard accented by his flashing eyes. He had enough on his plate after getting the reports of the incidents at Cooper Tower and the events in Altoona. The mayor’s office had been abuzz since midnight last night. One of the states richest men was being indicted on charges of theft and smuggling, not only in the state of New York but by several countries, including Japan. The city of Altoona was also seeking damages for their convention center but luckily, the culprit was not the Ghostbusters, but rather some phony side show psychic whom Peck had never heard of .

Footsteps came from behind him. Turning he saw Janine Meltniz, Kylie Griffin and Bryan Welsh walking down the stairs from the upper floors. Each one was dressed in casual civilian clothes and looked very tired. Each one held a cup of steaming coffee in their hands.

“Its about time you all showed up. Where are the others?” he snapped, crossing his arms.

“They haven’t got back from Altoona.” Kylie said, walking across the garage and crashing on the sofa next to the Ecto-1.

“Well, they need to be here. I took the liberty of walking through the firehouse when I got here since no one was up to greet me for the walkthrough. I have your inspection results, Miss Melnitz.” Peck said, glaring at Janine, waving a clipboard from under his arm at her.

Behind them, the secondary garage door opened.

“Honey, we’re home!”

Peck’s face reddened visibly.

“Venkman! You were supposed to be back last night!” He snarled, turning to face Peter and the others as they walked into the garage. Peck looked all four of them over. They were dressed in rumpled clothes and had the look of men who had been out on an all nighter.

He raised an eyebrow.

“Anyway, I’ve been dealing with the fall out from Altoona. The city called PCOC not long after it happened and they were going to sue us. Thankfully, I was able to convince them to charge that fraud Bassingame. He’s looking at least three years in a state prison and fines…very expensive fines.” Peck began, turning his attention back to Janine and Kylie, with Bryan sipping on his coffee.

“Altoona will not be paying for any services rendered that night and understandably so. However,” he said, pausing, consulting his inspection worksheet. “Like I said, I did do a walkthrough of the firehouse when I arrived an hour ago. You passed your inspection. I don’t know how you did it and to be honest I don’t care. Its done and the city is satisfied for another six months.”

Ray sat down his bags. “So we get paid for the fish market?”

Peck sighed. “Yes, Mr. Stantz. I’ve already cleared the check to be deposited and it will be in the company account before noon.”

Winston sighed. “That’ good news then.”

“There’s one other piece of news and as much as it pains me to say it”, Peck said, looking Janine, Kylie and Brian in the eye, “ You three did a good job. One final note: Miss Melnitz? Please add Griffin to the payroll. I hate having to explain to the city council why non-hired non-trained personel are involved in cases. It would make my life so much easier since she seems to have a habit of showing up whenever she likes.”

Janine nodded but said nothing, not wanting to press their luck. Peck scanned the garage again.

“Where’s that monstrosity you call a pet? He’s supposed to be in that tank.” He asked pointedly.

“He’s in the spare tank downstairs. That tank has a neutronizing glitch in the mesh that lines the glass.” Bryan said, taking a long drink of his coffee, savoring the bitter taste.

“Fine.” Peck said, not happy but otherwise finding nothing to complain about. He turned and moved past Winston, Ray and Egon, not giving Peter a second look. As he stepped out of the secondary garage door, he turned back one last time. He lifted the papers off of his clipboard and tossed a folded newspaper back at the Ghostbusters. Winston caught it and Peck slammed the door, leaving them alone.

“How was your trip?” Janine asked, stepping forward.

“Productive.” Egon said, going to his locker and pulling out his spare pair of glasses, putting them on.

“Exciting.” Ray said. “But I lost my signed copy of The Mothman Prophecies. It got lost in the explosion.”

“Explosion?” Bryan asked. “I thought this was supposed to be a holiday?” He grinned a bit as Peter rolled his eyes.

“It turned into a working holiday.” Peter said as he leaned up against the Ecto-1.

Winston was reading the paper quickly, his grin growing bigger with every line he read.

“Hmm. Seems like we weren’t the only ones who were busy. Guess who got the front page treatment?” he said, looking up at Kylie, Bryan and Janine.

“Local electronics CEO indicted on charges of smuggling and theft, local Ghostbusters are heroes, says five countries victimized by the thefts.” Winston read proudly.

“I told you we had it handled.” Kylie said stretching, setting her cup down.

“Never had a doubt. What happened while we were gone?” Winston said.

“What about you guys? What happened in Altoona?” Kylie asked in return.

“Let’s talk about it over breakfast.” Bryan said, heading for the stairs.

“I’m definitely for that idea…and then I’m taking the day off. No questions, Dr. Venkman.” Janine said, following him.

“Fair enough, I think you earned it. Can’t believe I just said that.” Peter said gently sarcastically.

Thirty minutes later, everyone was seated in the kitchen, chowing down on eggs, bacon and sausage. Slimer floated up through the floor sniffing. Peter blanched.

“I thought you told Peck he was contained in the back up unit.”

“Eh, I couldn’t stand letting him have everything,” Bryan said.

Swallowing a bit, Ray looked at Bryan. “So have you thought about where you want to open your franchise at?”

“Why, you trying to get rid of me?” Bryan chuckled, the orange juice going down icy cold and slightly tangy. “Nah, not thought much about it but I think I’m leaning towards Chicago. Less crazy.”

“Stick around for as long as you like. Its good to have the extra hands.” Winston said, spearing a sausage with his fork.

“I can’t believe you guys busted that guy and the shisha. That’s some good work.” He said, looking at his friends.

Kylie shrugged. “It was team work through and through. We recovered the meters and got some really good data for you Dr. Spengler.”

Egon nodded, folding the newspaper that he had been reading. “That’s good, Kylie. Thank you. The article about Altoona was fair enough. I’d say Bassingame is done for good.”

“About time.” Ray said.

“So you got to meet John Keel?” Kylie asked, looking eagerly at Ray. “What was he like?”

Ray thought for a moment, brushing Slimer away from his food. The green ghost hovered over towards Peter. Peter glared at the specter who took one look at the expression and bolted.

“He was different than I thought. I guess all of our icons are, really. He was pretty down to earth.” He said, looking at Kylie.

Kylie thought about the events of the last two days.

“Yeah, I’d have to agree with that. Icons and our beliefs about them are often far different than what really is.” She replied. As the conversation moved on to other topics, Kylie thought to herself about Cooper. His blind ambition and greed drove him to violate a sacred icon and he had paid dearly for it. He probably wouldn’t do any prison time since rich people rarely did any for their crimes. Its how life went.

Downstairs the phone began to ring. For a moment, Janine jumped up to get it and then stopped.

“Nah. We earned a day off. Let it ring.”

Kylie grinned. She couldn’t agree more.


*******

Okinawa, Japan
Three days later……



A lone silent monk went about his daily prayer routines, lighting the candles that had went out in the night. Around him, the temple was at peace, the only sound was that of contemplation and meditation. The bustling modern city outside was lost the moment one crossed the threshold. The flash neon and glass had no sway here. Crossing over to the icon reliquary, he looked over the shelves contained the different statues and sculptures. The candle flames danced gently, throwing soft shadows on the icons making them look like their eyes were moving. The icons always brought him a sense of peace and tranquility. One in particular caught his eye; six inches high, painted in faded aged red paint was the tiny lion like image of the shisha guardian, stoically keeping guard as it had for hundreds of years. He was glad to have it returned. The American thief had made reparations in simply returning the icon and thus, all was well again. Forgiveness is a divine energy and it was one that was a key of their beliefs. Turning, the monk went back deeper into the temple on his rounds.

Outside, at the temple gates, the twin shisha guardian lions sat, carved in stone, eternally still. A shadow moved in the night and another monk appeared, this one dressed in ancient robes with a large hat and a staff. He moved with a fluid grace. Taking one look at the temple, he nodded, satisfied and faded away into the darkness. The shisha statues eyes twinkled for a moment and then the light was gone.

Somewhere a car horn blared and life continued on.


The End.
User avatar
By TAPS_Family_Anthony
#4821200
Great story I really liked it very well.

:whatever: :cool: :blush: :kylie: :roland: :garrett:
Thanks, Farah! I will have the PDF versions of both "Mutes" and "Iconography" up soon. Working on polishing the grammar and spelling. For now, I'll post a preview of the next story in the series. Look for it in the Fan Fiction section!

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