- September 5th, 2016, 8:32 pm
Here is the entire story!
The Ghostbreakers: A Darkness at Gossedale Manor
Dr. Johan Spence moved through the gloom, slowly approaching the massive, winding staircase deep inside Gossedale Manor. The air was thick with disturbed dust and hanging cobwebs, but his ecto-goggles allowed Spence a clear view of the hideous thing at the top of the stairs.
The ghost resembled a bloated gray worm or leech, seven feet of oozing, wriggling ectoplasm. Its ugly head held two wicked mandibles, which clacked and clawed the air continuously. It knew it was being hunted now.
As Johan drew his ion rifle and gave it the slight twist that activated the particle accelerator at the heart of his proton pack, he heard Elyk Wyseman's footsteps just behind him. Dr. Wyseman was the comedian of the group, always willing to lighten up a dour situation with a joke or flip comment. Now he came alongside Johan and aimed his slime blower at the worm creature.
“Ugly mother, ain't it?” he said with a grin.
Before Johan could respond, the third member of the Ghostbreakers joined them, PKE meter in hand. Dr. Frank Zeigler, a top-rate engineer and technician, had built most of their equipment. Once the head of a nuclear research facility, Frank had been let go when his interest in the paranormal grew from a hobby into a full-fledged obsession.
“Wyseman, your grammar is as atrocious as ever.”
Above them, on the landing, the worm creature raised its head, opened its carnivorous maw - packed with needle-like teeth - and roared. The bloodcurdling sound echoed through Chicago's most famous haunted house, reminding Johan that this was no ordinary case. They were being paid over a quarter of a million dollars to rid Gossedale Manor of its supernatural squatters, but only if they completed the job in one night. With four ghost traps full already (half their supply), and with the clock approaching 3:00 AM, things were beginning to look grim.
“This one's a class six repeater,” Frank continued. “And the giga-meter readings I took a few minutes ago show--”
Abruptly, with blinding speed, the worm-ghost spat thick ropes of ectoplasm at the Ghostbreakers. Johan and Frank managed to avoid the snares, but Elyk was hit and pinned to the floor by the sticky material. The monster roared again and charged down the stairs.
“Look out!” Johan boomed, aiming and firing in one fluid motion. High energy protons generated by the accelerator on his back screamed from the tip of his ion rifle, a multicolored orange and blue maelstrom that singed through the air and struck the ghost near its tail end. The proton stream reacted with the thing's ectoplasmic body, stopping its forward momentum and beginning to encircle it in a prison of nuclear particles.
Before it could be completely contained, however, the worm twisted, and the last two feet of its repulsive tail detached and lay, quivering, on the staircase. Free once more, it lunged toward Johan, perhaps meaning to neatly snip his head from his body with its razor-sharp, insectoid mouthparts.
He dove to the side, desperately trying to get beyond the thing's bite range. Elyk, firing from his back, hit the creature full-on with a barrage of positively-charged mood slime from his slime blower, giving his friend the time he needed to get clear. The ghost shrank back from the touch of the slime stream, which would weaken it and make it more susceptible to attack.
Frank put away his PKE meter and drew his ion rifle. A quick glance at Johan, and together they threw furious gold fire in unison. Elyk saw the creature completely engulfed this time, snaking and twisting in a futile effort to escape the beams. Together Frank and Johan slowly dragged the ghost off the stairs and into the air. It hovered, trapped, three feet below the ceiling.
Freeing himself from the entangling slime using his ecto-prod, Elyk unslung an empty trap from his belt. In a practiced movement, he swung the device using its cord and slid it across the floor under the suspended worm.
“I'm opening the trap...now!” he yelled. As he stepped on the footpad, Johan took his finger off the fire-button of his particle thrower. Frank also cut his stream, both men averting their eyes from the trap. It opened, and brilliant white light blossomed from within. A complex matrix of particles resembling a moving magnetic bottle surrounded the class 6 entity, bonding to its ectoplasm in an unshakeable embrace. After three seconds had passed, the particles from the trap returned to their original places in the matrix, dragging the screaming worm along with them. As it was compacted and sucked into the trap, the ghost gave one last howl of agony and fear, then disappeared as the trap closed. Tendrils of smoke drifted upward from it, and a single LED flashed red, indicating occupancy.
“Got the slippery bastard!” Elyk yelled in triumph. “Teach him to slime me!”
Johan sighed in relief, despite the cardinal rule of Ghostbreaking - never show fear. He slipped his ecto-goggles to the top of his head and powered down his ion rifle. Frank cleared his throat as Elyk picked up the smoking trap.
“As I was saying, Wyseman, the giga-meter readings I took earlier have confirmed my suspicions. It appears there is a reservoir of slime beneath this house.”
Elyk sneered. “Hey, we break ghosts. We don 't do septic tanks.”
“This is serious. The reservoir is the reason this house has so many entities inhabiting it. We have to go down there.”
Johan clapped Elyk on the back. “Just think of the money, Wyseman. That much green will definitely cover your dry-cleaning bill.”
The other man looked down at the slime stains on his gray jumpsuit with distaste. “Fine. But if you two need someone to take a swim in that stuff, count me out.”
Frank ignored him and took out his giga-meter. The swinging arms moved upwards and the indicator lights blinked rapidly.
“Let's head for the basement.”
Johan Spence followed his colleagues, tensed and ready for anything.
* * *
The basement of Gossedale Manor was damp, chilly, and filled with a pitch-black darkness. For some reason (possibly related to the damage they had caused upstairs) the electricity didn’t work, and a cold fog had begun to infiltrate the entire house from the moor outside.
The Ghostbreakers switched on the powerful floodlights attached to the top of their proton packs, and the murk was dispelled, at least to some extent. They saw cobwebs, mouse-droppings, linen-covered furniture, and moldy walls, crumbling in places. The basement also stank of mildew and staleness.
Johan drew his ion rifle and sniffed the air. “This smells like that time-share I bought in Boca. Remember that place?”
“How could I forget,” Elyk snapped. “You convinced me to go in on that deal. How much money did I lose again?”
“Hey, that’s on you, pal. You should have known better than to listen to me.”
“Quiet, you two,” Frank ordered, peering into his giga-meter. “Let’s focus. According to these readings, there is a reservoir of slime nearby.”
Johan stepped over a rotten coffee-table and peeked behind a huge covered sofa. “So you keep saying. But I don’t--”
Just then they all heard a loud, echoing sound - like the dripping of a thick liquid. Frank’s giga-meter began to chirp. “That’s it!” he yelled, pointing. “It’s through there.”
Together they ran to a crooked door-frame and shone the floodlights in. What they saw inside the room caused Johan to simultaneously gag in revulsion and raise his slime-blower’s nozzle. It wasn’t a pretty sight.
The room had obviously once been a parlor or den. The ruins of a pool table lay collapsed to one side, and the skeletal remains of several dart-boards still clung stubbornly to the peeling walls. The center of the floor was marred by a huge hole, floorboards cracked and splintered in a nine-foot radius. One entire side of the house seemed to be tilted here, side and end tables had slid toward the gaping maw of the hole and lay in a jumbled heap, half in and half out. Covering just about everything in the room was a generous layer of glistening psychomagnetheric slime.
And it was moving.
“What’s our play here, Zeigler?” Johan asked. “We don’t have near enough slime to neutralize this mess.”
Frank checked his meters, then shot a glance through the gloom toward Elyk. “It’s headed west,” he said, pointing.
Elyk nodded, and the Ghostbreakers moved to the north, south, and east sides of the slime pool. Johan kicked aside a ruined coffee table, grimacing as his boot came down in a thick puddle of slime. The material felt almost alive, shuddering under his foot and moving to the side like some gelatinous alien life form.
“Look!” Frank boomed, pointing to the decrepit west wall of the mansion’s basement.
Johan noticed a break in the floorboards, maybe a square foot in size. The slime was seeping through this gap, slowly pushing its thick, bubbling substance through the wall.
“That’s the noise we heard,” Elyk shouted. “The level in the pool is decreasing rapidly. Looks like it’ll be empty in a few minutes.”
“Great,” Johan yelled. “Once this stuff is out of the house, our job is done, right? We can seal the hole then head home!”
“I think that would be extraordinarily bad, Spence.” Frank shouted back. “We have to determine where it’s going.”
“One way to find out.”
“Wyseman, no!” Frank warned, but it was too late. The darkness of the manor cellar was instantly dispelled by the harsh yellow-white brilliance of a high-energy proton stream as Elyk opened up with his particle thrower. The other two Ghostbreakers shielded their eyes as the beam first hit the pool of moving slime, skittering across its surface without effect.
Then he adjusted his aim and his stream struck the wall where the gap was allowing the slime to escape the house.
The effect was immediate and spectacular. With a booming roar, the wall exploded in a shower of wooden and plaster fragments. A foul-smelling smoke cloud drifted through the basement, causing the three men to gag and stumble backwards. “Ecto-goggles, now!” Frank bellowed, struggling to don the eyewear while coughing.
“At least we finally had a successful test of that hybrid proton pack/slime blower you two designed. Good job, Wyseman.”
Once they had sight again, they saw a four-foot hole had been blasted through the basement wall. The slime was pouring through in a massive torrent now, flowing like warm molasses out of the house. Johan hurried to follow Frank as he ran to the gap and peered out, shining his floodlights into the darkened tunnel which they had exposed.
He saw a level passage, apparently dug out of the dirt and bedrock, that soon plunged into a black abyss. The psychomagnetheric flow was cascading down into those depths like some disgusting, nightmarish waterfall.
“Great,” Johan said.
“Uh, guys?” came Elyk's voice from behind them. “I think you might want to see this.”
They turned back, as the last of the slime stream ran around their boots and slipped through the ruined wall and down into the darkness.
“What is it, Wyseman?” Frank asked.
Elyk pointed with his flashlight. The huge depression in the basement floor that had once housed the pool of mood slime was now empty. At the deepest point at its center lay a human skeleton.
“Hello,” Johan said.
The Ghostbreakers scrambled down the treacherous slope of the crater, cement fragments and pebbles raining down on them from above as they descended. Finally, the three men reached the human remains at the center of the depression.
“It appears to be an adult,” Frank said, kneeling to examine the skeleton.
Elyk joined him. “I don’t see any obvious broken bones…” he offered.
“One side, gentlemen,” Johan ordered, squeezing himself between the other two. “Give me some room to do my thing.”
“Oh, that’s right,” Elyk said wryly. “You had those two semesters at U of C.”
“Pritzker Hall, baby,” Johan affirmed. “I was eighteenth in my class, and don’t you forget it.”
Frank rolled his eyes. “And why didn’t you finish the program, again?”
“Family troubles, Zeigler,” Johan said. “Family troubles. Now, you gonna let me work, or what?” He began to examine the body, turning the bones over carefully and adjusting their position. He looked at the skull, then turned his attention to the vertebrae. Finally, he rubbed each long arm and leg bone, and checked the hands, feet, and ribs.
While Johan pored over the skeleton, Elyk and Frank kept a wary eye on the ruined wall where the slime had escaped. Not only were they watching for its return, they were also nervous that the weakened structure might give way completely, causing the whole wing of the Gossedale house to collapse on top of them.
“Done,” Johan declared, after a few more tense moments.
“What d’ya got, Spence?”
“Subject is male, over 65 judging by the condition of those hips.”
“Darren Gossedale, senior?” Elyk offered. Johan shrugged. “Maybe.”
“There's no obvious cause of death, and no signs of trauma. The body’s positioning suggests he was curled into a fetal position at the time of his death.”
“I’d say it looks like he drowned.”
“Drowned?” Frank asked, eyes widening. “In the pool of slime?”
“That would be my guess.”
“Oh God,” Elyk choked. “Can you imagine dying that way? Talk about a bad way to go!”
“How long has he been here?” Frank demanded.
“It’s hard to say without some equipment…but judging by the residue build-up on the furniture and wall…”
Johan and Frank glanced around the room quickly with appraising eyes.
“Six months,” they said in unison.
“You two scare me sometimes,” Elyk said, shaking his head.
“So,” Frank continued. “We have evidence that the owner of the house – and patriarch of the whole Gossedale family – drowned in a pool of psychomagnetheric slime about six months ago. Despite this fact, his heirs didn’t report him missing until a few weeks ago. They then hire us to break the ghosts in this place, obviously having no clue we’d find the man’s body down here during our work.”
“What’s it all add up to, Zeigler?”
“It adds up to trouble. Gentlemen, I think our night is over. I want to talk to the Gossedale heirs, first thing in the morning. I’ve got a few very important questions to ask them.”
“What do we do about him?” Elyk asked, indicating the skeleton.
Frank Zeigler flipped open his antiquated cell phone. “I’m calling the police.”
“I'm afraid I can’t let you do that,” came a voice from behind them, causing the Ghostbreakers to whirl in surprise.
They saw a man standing by the opposite wall, dressed in what appeared to be a black trench coat and hat. At his feet, something was shifting and moving, something the men couldn’t quite make out.
Spence pulled down his ecto-goggles just in time to see the shapes at the stranger’s feet coalesce into bubbling mounds of slime, complete with rapidly-forming tentacles and cavernous mouths.
“Look out!” he yelled, raising his neutrona wand.
“Destroy them,” The dark man said, and the slime-creatures surged forward, blazingly fast.
Johan knew that psychomagnetheric slime flows could form shapes that mimicked living things. Everyone knew about the tentacles of slime Ray Stantz had encountered while dangling under the pavement of New York city in the old Pneumatic tunnels. The thing in Dana Barrett’s bathtub had been even more fully formed, with a rudimentary mouth.
The black creatures charging toward him were different, however. Not only did they have appendages, but their limbs were fully articulated and the creatures ran like great, dark wolves. Fangs glinted in their mouths, and Johan had no doubt they were sharp.
He opened up with his proton pack while Frank dove desperately to the side. One of the black monsters flew by him, it’s jaws snapping inches from his face. It twisted in mid-air like a cat, and Johan knew it would be back in moments.
The other entity was struck by Frank and Elyk firing in unison, an explosion of yellow-blue fire that stopped the creature’s forward momentum and threw it back, squealing in pain or frustration.
“It’s no good, Wyseman,” Johan warned as the thing leapt back to its feet. “We’ll never get a containment field on these things.”
“The negative polarity variance is too high!” Elyk yelled, trying his best to keep a beam on the slippery slime-monster. “Any ideas?”
A bolt of inspiration suddenly seemed to strike Frank. “Hose the man in black!”
“I’ve waited my whole life to hear someone say that,” Elyk said, turning and triggering the slime-blower portion of his hybrid weapon in one smooth motion. “Cover me!”
The whine of the blower’s motor scaled up and Elyk threw a thick rope of positively-charged psychomagnetheric ectoplasm at the dark figure. Johan and Frank threw twin proton beams at the malevolent slime beasts, driving them back and making sure they couldn’t come to their master’s aid.
The shadowy form turned to run, but it was too late. Coated by a layer of mood slime, he collapsed, shouting and twisting in a futile effort to avoid the stream.
Suddenly, the two etheric monsters paused. Their head-like appendages turned, and their gaze shifted to their fallen commander. Without warning, they pounced simultaneously.
“No!” the man yelled, but it was too late. Each creature closed a toothy maw on one of his arms, and he was lifted between them as if he were as weightless as a child. In unison the beasts leapt, and he was borne off toward the pit in the bedrock they had watched the flow of slime drain into earlier.
The Ghostbreakers ran to the rim of the depression, arriving just in time to see the man in black dragged down into the dark hole in Gossedale Estate's grounds. As his last horrible scream of terror dissolved, a rumble began to build. The three men exchanged a nervous glance as the sides of the tunnel started to shake and shift.
“Get back!” Frank yelled as the Ghostbreakers scrambled backward. For a few moments, the earthquake continued. Then a great plume of dust blew upwards, blotting out the star-filled sky. After that, silence.
The damage, however, had already been done.
Behind them came the sound of tortured timber finally cracking.
Gossedale manor was collapsing.
* * *
Darren Gossedale, Sr., had inherited his childhood home – Gossedale manor – from his father, Stewart Gossedale.
Stewart had immigrated from England in 1870 and was known to have purchased land for both his estate and his textile factories directly from the Potawatomi native peoples who still lived on the lands around the outskirts of Chicago at that time.
What wasn’t known was that Stewart Gossedale hadn’t actually purchased the land at all. In fact, it would have been more accurate to say he had cheated the Potawatomi of the land in question. But such distinctions were unimportant and silly to the Gossedale patriarch, as unimportant and silly as the native people’s superstitions and spiritual beliefs.
His son Darren, however, was of a different sort. He had grown up on his father’s ill-gotten land, and he had seen things during his wanderings through its extensive acres of fields and swamps. Very unusual things.
Darren was an enterprising young man. As he grew, he became known in business as one who would never shy away from a deal. But no one besides Darren himself knew what kind of deal he had made in secret, out among the lonely pines and forlorn marshes of his father’s estate.
For the next forty years, his business reaped success after success. Even during downturns in the economy, somehow Gossedale Enterprises – now firmly under the control of the young Darren as his father’s once-sharp mind began to fade – always remained profitable.
His two children, Darren, Jr., and Alexis, grew to be young tycoons in the making as well. As their grandfather died and their father moved closer to his own retirement, they looked forward to taking the company to even greater heights.
Then they saw their father’s will.
* * *
The Ghostbreakers watched from a safe distance as the great mansion collapsed. A cacophony of breaking glass and snapping timbers went on for what seemed like an eternity but was surely less than a minute. When it was over, the darkness and fog totally obscured the ruins that remained.
“This is terrible,” Elyk exclaimed. “We had four traps in there! How are we going to get our equipment back?”
“I think we have bigger problems than that, Wyseman,” Frank told him, peering at his PKE meter. “These readings are extremely disturbing.”
“What now?” Johan asked wearily. “Haven’t we done enough damage for one night?”
Frank fixed him with a glare. “If my calculations are correct, something big is building up under this estate. If it blows, what happened to Gossedale manor might be just the beginning.”
Elyk approached and peered at Frank’s meter. “What do you mean, ‘something big’, Zeigler? More of that slime we saw?”
“Not just the slime. There’s also a presence here that I can’t quite get a fix on.”
Johan stared at the large hole through which the slime flow had drained, the same hole the dark creatures had carried the shadowy figure into. What was down there?
He nearly jumped out of his boots when someone tapped him on the shoulder.
Hearing Johan’s screech, Frank and Elyk whirled their flashlights, ion guns at the ready.
They saw a well-dressed woman, with blonde hair and fierce eyes, standing amid the cold ground-fog. “Hello, gentlemen,” she greeted. “Perhaps I can answer some of your questions.”
“Alexis Gossedale?!” Johan blurted. “What are you doing here?”
The woman tossed her hair petulantly. “I don't need a reason to be here. I own this estate!” After a moment, however, her voice softened. She looked down at her expensive pumps, now coated in mud. “I need your help, Ghostbreakers…and you most definitely need mine.”
The three men looked at each other for a moment. Overhead, the first drops of rain had begun to fall.
“Okay,” Johan conceded. “Maybe we do need some help. Let’s start by you telling us what the hell is going on here!”
“My father—” Alexis began, then trailed off. Steeling herself, she forced herself to continue. “My father made some kind of bargain with a demon, or evil spirit, or something. In his will he called it ‘Misibizi’. We thought it was nonsense.
“Apparently, this creature lived beneath the land my grandfather Stewart had acquired from the Potawatomi Indians when he first came to Chicago. According to my father’s writings, Misibizi wanted revenge, but he was able to strike a pact with it. So long as father was alive, the native spirit would withhold its anger and in fact bless and protect the Gossedales. In return, he would bequeath the land back to the Potawatomi upon his death.”
“He told you all this?” Elyk asked.
“No, my brother and I bribed Father’s lawyer to see the will in advance.”
“We knew we couldn’t let this happen. The company and the family’s land was supposed to go to us. We thought Father was losing his mind. We couldn’t let him go through with it. We paid off the lawyer to lose the will. Then we...we…”
Frank was staring at Alexis with an expression of utter disgust on his face. “You murdered him, didn’t you? The two of you killed your own father.”
“No!” Alexis yelled, her eyes blazing. “We just wanted to incapacitate him, so we could be given power of attorney. He was so old anyway, his mind was obviously slipping with all this evil spirit talk. We wanted to…accelerate it.”
Johan grimaced. “You poisoned him.”
Alexis began to cry, the rain mixing with her tears. “We hired a doctor. He examined Father, gave him a regimen of prednisone, much higher doses than what the bottle said. It all seemed legitimate. He began acting strange, erratic. We were going to wait a bit, then have him declared incompetent. But he disappeared!”
The rain was getting heavier now. “You didn’t even report him missing.”
“We didn’t know where he was…”
“You didn’t care, did you?” Elyk spat. “You took the opportunity to seize control of the company and didn’t even look for him.”
Alexis looked downward, ashamed. “We had an idea he was at the old manor house. We hadn’t lived there for years. A week later we sent people to check on him, once all the paperwork was complete and we were in charge of the company.”
Frank pointed a finger at the heiress. “You didn’t find him, but you found the ghosts and entities that had been stirred up by this Misibizi thing. That’s where we came in.”
“Yes. We needed the house clear of these creatures. We needed to have this evil thing destroyed.”
Elyk grinned. “And if we found out too much? If we found your father…we would have to be gotten rid of as well.”
Johan snapped his fingers. “So that was Darren, Jr. who tried to kill us. But…how did he gain control of those slime beasties?”
“When we found out all this nonsense was real, we visited some Potawatomi elders. Most wouldn’t help us, no matter how much cash we offered. One did. He gave both of us talismans to protect us and enable us a limited control over the entity and its servants.” She removed a metal wolf’s-head pendant from under her blouse. It gleamed in the floodlights’ glare.
Frank laughed mirthlessly. “When we hosed Darren, the effect of the pendant was neutralized, and Misibizi’s servants turned on him.”
“Lady,” Johan spat. “You are so going to jail.”
Alexis stepped back and raised the pendant. “Oh really?”
But it was too late. Alexis began to yell, holding the wolf’s head high.
“Misibizi! I summon you!”
There came and immense flash of lightning, almost directly overhead. The crash of thunder was titanic, a sound so vast the Ghostbreakers were nearly knocked to their knees.
From behind them, from out of the hole, an enormous fountain of slime began to shoot high into the air as the entire estate shook. The earthquake went on and on, and when the thunder crashed again something vague and unformed began dragging itself out of the pit.
Alexis Gossedale started to laugh.
Frank stared, slack-jawed, as the horrifying Misibizi coalesced above the hole in Gossedale estate. It looked vaguely like a giant, misshapen eyeball, hovering thirty feet in the air. Several thick tendrils of slime trailed beneath its grotesque form, hanging all the way to the wet grass below.
Its catlike pupil seemed to be staring at the Ghostbreakers with icy malice.
“Any ideas, Spence?” Elyk asked.
“Let’s go full stream – no fooling around.”
Frank nodded. “Throw it!”
The three men opened fire with their proton packs, beams of flashing gold and blue fire sizzling through the night. Frank keyed his slime blower attachment at the same time, though his tank was now half-empty. It didn’t seem the time to hold anything back in reserve.
The proton streams (and one thick rope of mood slime) struck the Potawatomi spirit full-on. A ragged mouth had formed beneath its hideous eyeball, and it opened as the monster screamed in fury and pain. It flinched back for a few moments, then pushed against the beams, its lidless eye seeming to swell and grow. A red bolt of lightning flew from its surface, straight at the Ghostbreakers.
“Look out!” Frank yelled, diving to the side.
Elyk and Johann cut their streams and hit the dirt as Misibizi’s electric discharge struck the ground where the three men had been standing a moment before. The dirt and grass exploded upward in a blinding cascade as the bolt split the turf with a hollow sizzling crack. When Frank crawled back to his feet, his ears ringing, he saw a crater four feet deep had been created by the blast.
“It’s firing again! Get down!” Elyk warned, and the Ghostbreakers ran in three different directions. Frank heard the crackling, electric sound again, and the night was lit in deep crimson for a moment. Then came another blasting crack of noise, and he was knocked off his feet and into a bush. Twisting, he raised his head and saw Misibizi’s horrid eye towering over the fallen Johan Spence.
“No!” Frank bellowed, firing his ion rifle wildly at the thing. His beam struck it from behind, and the creature roared and (thankfully) turned away from Johan. Then Elyk was beside him, adding his proton stream to Frank’s. It was no use, the spirit was too strong for them to contain. Slowly, it began advancing on them, moving against their streams even at full power.
Suddenly Frank saw Johan fire again, but this time his beam wasn’t directed at the gigantic eyeball menacing them. Instead, Johan’s stream struck one of the thin tendrils of ectoplasm attaching Misibizi’s grotesque form to the ground.
The slime thread snapped, and the monstrous creature shrieked in pain, whirling back toward Johan.
“Of course!” Frank yelled. “Its power comes from its connection to the land! Break that connection, it loses its power!”
“You don’t have to tell me twice,” Elyk said.
Together they fired in unison, and two more of the conduits connecting the spirit to the Gossedale estate – and by extension to the ancestral Potawatomi land – were severed.
Misibizi fired its lightning again at Johan – who dove headlong into a small copse of trees to avoid it – then turned toward Elyk and Frank.
The Ghostbreakers exchanged a glance, then ran in opposite directions. Misibizi, confused, fired wildly as its tormentors surrounded it on three sides.
“Cut those last two connections!” Elyk yelled. “And don’t let it reconnect to the ground.”
Johan Spence took a step forward, out of the trees that had sheltered him a moment ago, and removed a ghost trap from his belt. He spun the trap expertly on its cable, then tossed it toward the malevolent creature they were battling. As Elyk and Frank managed to cut Misibizi’s last ectoplasmic tethers, he stepped on the trap’s foot pad.
“I’m opening the trap!” he screamed. “Hit it now!” Then he threw his own proton stream, its brilliant, snaking power slamming into Misibizi at the same instant as those from the other two men. This time, their energies coalesced around the screeching spirit, forming an inescapable containment field. Its connection to the land broken, and its power fading, Misibizi was immobilized in seconds.
The energies from the trap seized it and began to drag it downward.
Johan closed the trap, and in moments the gigantic eyeball was stretched thin like a strand of spaghetti and sucked inside. The trap closed, and darkness reigned once more on the Gossedale estate.
“Whew,” Elyk breathed. “That was a tough one.”
“ ‘A tough one’, Wyseman?’” Frank said. “You are a master of understatement.”
“Hey, where’s Alexis?” Johan said, shining his flashlight around the wrecked grounds.
Frank was the first one to spot her body, laying in the middle of a crater caused by one of Misibizi’s last lightning strikes. It hadn’t been firing wildly, after all.
They ran to her, but there was nothing they could do. Her burnt hand still clutched the silver wolf’s head amulet.
The Ghostbreakers were silent as they slid their ion rifles onto their backs. Frank took out his cell phone and called the police.
The Gossedale curse was finally finished, but so was the Gossedale family.
* * *
Riding in the backseat of the truck, hours later, Johan’s mind kept replaying the events at Gossedale manor. It occurred to him that sometimes there was no escaping the past, no matter how hard you tried.
He glanced at Elyk, who was driving, and Frank, riding shotgun, and made a fateful decision. It was time to come clean to his teammates about his own past.
He didn’t want his personal monsters following him around anymore, threatening to rise out of the ground when he least expected them.
“Guys,” he said. “I think we need to talk.”
-------------Particle physicist, academic firebrand, spectral warrior.---------------