She grunted as she made sure the phone was turned off; No way I'm letting them interrupt this vacation for at least the next hour
She went into the bathroom and tore off the business suit like it was a prison. She turned on the shower, and took a moment to regard her naked body in the mirror. She liked what she saw. All those crunches paid off, Baby...the guys on the beach are gonna be all over you.
She realized she'd forgotten to unpack her shampoo bottle, but she noticed the complimentary one marked "Sedgewick Special" sitting by the tub. She shrugged; it was an unusual shade of blue, but she figured it would do the job nicely.
She let the hot water spray on her for a moment, letting the tension and frustrations of her job be washed down the drain. I think Sally's right. I need a boyfriend...I want a boyfriend...making a six-figure salary isn't as much fun without the time to spend it and someone to spend it with...
A fantasy started to play in her mind of a tall, handsome, muscular stranger visiting her in the shower as she squirted some shampoo in her hand, and started to rub it in her scalp. There are lots of hunks on the beaches, you know. Maybe one of them will be worth keeping...
She suddenly paused. This is the weirdest shampoo I've ever seen...it doesn't seem to even be lathering. What...
"Hey, Baby...wanna wrestle?"
Kay Johnson barely had time to scream.
Marie Lupin jumped as a Class 5 wearing a tacky shirt threw a box of Cheerios at her. She barely avoided it, and a spray of toasted whole grain oats covered her and the nearby display.
"We found the ghost, JC!" Eric Stantz shouted, nearly being hit with a gallon of milk.
"Great!" John Spengler replied back. "Is Big Joe all right?"
"For the moment!"
The store's PA system broke in. "Corey Jones line 101"
Next to Eric was a fat, balding middle age man wearing a tie. He was huffing and puffing from exhaustion, clearly not used to having to exert himself.
"Corey Jones line 102"
"We got him away from the entity..." Marie explained "But the bogey ain't too happy about it!"
"We're getting set up." TJ Anderson broke in. "Just keep it busy until we're ready!"
"Easy for you to say..." Marie muttered, avoiding a biscuit. "For one thing, all this starch is probably bad for my diet..."
"Corey Jones out for carts, please."
In the S-Mart's sporting goods department, the other two Ghostbusters were clearing a staging area. "Are you really going to try that thing?" TJ asked, a distinct note of disdain in her voice.
John was fidgeting with his GBX, the device that served as this generation of Ghostbusters' combination PKE Meter and communication device. It had one more intended function, but thus far... "I realigned the containment matrix grid after the last disaster. It should work this time."
"That's what you said last time." TJ rolled her eyes. "And you nearly ended up burning down city hall with it."
"Science is not always a clean and easy road." John said indignantly. Then a grin came to his face. "Care to make a wager?"
"Corey Jones line 103"
" 'Wager'?" TJ blinked. She raised one eyebrow. "What did you have in mind?"
"If it fails, I take over your rotation on garbage duty for the next month. If it works...you let me take you to a movie."
She was silent for a few seconds. "Nothing unduly soppy. The last thing I want is ideas being put into your head. And no special effects schlock fests, either--I deal with enough of that at work."
He rubbed his chin. "The Paul Blart: Mall Cop remake?"
She made a pained face. "I walked right into that one, didn't I?" She sighed. "Acceptable."
"Corey Jones to Layaway"
She pulled out one of the familiar, boxy ghost traps the company had been using for nearly forty years. "That doesn't mean I'm not going to heedlessly disregard a backup plan."
"That referring to the ghost trap, or the date?"
She made an exasperated groan.
"What did you do to this guy, anyway?" Eric asked.
"We wouldn't give him a cash refund." the manager replied.
"Corey Jones line 105"
"Just because they haven't had this shirt since 2010, I didn't have a receipt, and I stole it from Wal-Mart!" the ghost howled. "What kind of a way to run a business is that?!"
"Corey Jones to the Service Desk, please."
"Eric! Marie! We're ready in sporting goods!" John's voice called out from their GBXes.
"About time..." Marie muttered. They'd moved into ladieswear, and were now dodging bras and underwear--which, thankfully, tended to be a lot softer than grocery items.
"NOW!!!" They heard TJ shout as they ran between the bike racks. A beam of charged particles slammed into the ghost.
"About time!!!" Marie said, unholstering her thrower and joining in.
"I think it's ready!!!" Eric said after a few seconds.
The ghost was cussing up a blue streak. "From that language, you'd think he used to work here..." Marie quipped.
"Corey Jones to furniture for guest assistance"
TJ stood next to a trap pedal. "Angle it over to the right--the backup trap is right by the fishing poles."
"Backup?" Eric asked. "Oh, man, you mean he's gonna try again?!"
"Absolutely." John answered, pointing the top of his GBX at the entity.
"Get ready to duck when it blows up!!!" Marie shouted.
John ignored her, and pulled back the slide switches at the side of the unit. The top of it began to emit a bright cone of light.
Containment Field Engaged the display read.
"Huh? Wait a minute...what's happening? Where's my refund? I want my money back!!! Aaaagh!!!" With that, the ghost was sucked into the cone of light, and disappeared into John's GBX.
"Corey Jones dial 600"
Eric and Marie jumped behind the bike rack, dragging the manager with them. TJ looked hesitant, not sure whether to join them or not.
John stood there, watching the display, a single bead of sweat upon his brow.
After five excruciating seconds, the blinking red light from the display stopped, and a solid green light replaced it.
Containment Stability 100%. Containment Capacity 24%
"PRODIGIOUS!!!" John shouted, punching the air with his left fist.
"It..it worked?" Eric asked from under cover.
"I told you it would. Eventually." John said, mostly succeeding in not sounding too smug. Mostly.
TJ turned and sighed. "I suppose this means I need to brush up on my Mall Cop etiquette, don't I?"
"Corey Jones to Grocery Aisle 3 with a mop, please"
Marie looked at the manager. "Don't you have anyone besides Corey Jones working here?!" The manager looked at her like she was speaking Martian.
"Been doing some shopping, Marie?" John asked.
Marie noticed a lacy brassiere that had somehow become stuck to the ion arm of her proton pack.
"Those are on sale this week!" the manager told her. "Why, I'll even have them take off an additional 10% for saving me from that ghost!"
Marie looked at the bra with a sour look. "I only wear black. Besides..." she tossed it at TJ. "34D is for someone overly topheavy. Probably more your size."
"Erm, um..." TJ said awkwardly, giving the item to the manager.
"Well, next time some spud wants to throw their own Blue Light Special..." Eric told the manager dramatically. "You know who to call!"
The other three Ghostbusters rolled their eyes.
The four Ghostbusters were greeted by the sight of Client Administrator Jeremy Cranston talking to someone they didn't recognize, while John's fraternal twin sister, Dr. Eden Spengler, was concentrating on her own GBX.
"About time you guys got back." Jeremy said. "This is..."
"Lloyd Bassett, Good Sirs and Madames." the larger man said. "Executive Manager of the Jones Beach Hotel Sedgewick."
The four Ghostbusters shook his hand, and introduced themselves. "And how may we help you today, Mister Bassett?" John said.
"I'm having, as you might say, a problem which I believe to be of a supernatural sort at my Hotel." Bassett answered. "I wish to hire your esteemed organization to deal with it."
"Doesn't GBI have a Franchise in Long Island?" Eric asked Jeremy.
"I"m well aware of that, Good Sir." Bassett nodded. "And believe me, some of the blokes at the Sedgewick company are rather negative about Ghostbusters."
"Well, how many of their rooms has GBI destroyed in their day?" Marie said brightly.
"Irrelevant." Bassett shook his head. "They captured the blasted spirits, and that is the important part. Insurance takes care of the rest anyway." Bassett made a dismissive wave of his hand. "I chose to bring my plight to the home office, as it were, due to the glowing words of my late father. Colonel Floyd Bassett. Had a bit of a problem with a spirit himself back in Aught Seven, and praised the work of your operation."
The exact second Bassett said "Captured the blasted spirits", Slimer appeared. Bassett either didn't notice, or didn't regard a ghost appearing at Ghostbusters Central to be unusual.
The four Ghostbusters looked at each other. "I guess it can't hurt to hear about the problem. Tell us what happened, Mister Bassett." Eric said.
As Eric and TJ listened to Bassett, John went over to his sister. "It worked! It finally worked!!!"
"So you said when you called and asked me to come over." Eden replied.
"As soon as I get this puppy in the big kennel, I want you to run a full diagnostic check on the software." John said. "Please?"
"Of course." she said. "This really is exciting. It's the first equipment upgrade of our own, and the first major development to any of the gear since we were kids."
John nudged back to the others, as Bassett was continuing the story of Kay Johnson. "The police department looked into it, of course, but between no real signs of foul play, and this horrible blue substance all over the tub which they couldn't identify..."
"You didn't happen to bring any, did you?" Eric asked excitedly.
TJ gave him a dirty look, and Bassett looked aghast. "Of course not!"
"Didn't hurt to ask." Eric shrugged.
"We'll head up there and take a look as soon as we get the equipment prepped and have some lunch." John said.
"I appreciate this far more than mere words can convey, Doctor Spengler." Bassett said with obvious relief.
"So much for an afternoon sitting in front of the boob tube watching hentai." Marie sighed, with mock disappointment.
Marie, bored as she usually was on road trips, spoke up. "Okay...I have a question..."
"And here I am out of cookies." John deadpanned, not looking up from the paperwork he was studying.
"Eric..." Marie said. "It wasn't the first time I thought of this, but I was reminded of it when we were being chased around the grocery department by that Class 5. Back when we fought Amot-Naphemus, you pulped a zombie by snapping your fingers, put that mystic whammy around us that saved Johnny's very nice bacon, and then you zapped the monster at just the right time. I keep thinking a gooper in a Hawaiian shirt shouldn't have been any trouble after that."
Eric sighed, and looked a bit embarrassed. "Well, yeah...It's kinda complicated. You see, as a wizard of the Order of Hermes, I have to follow a code of conduct. There's two parts of it that I have to be the most careful of: one is interference with 'Mundanes', meaning non-wizards..."
"I thought you called us 'Muggles'..." John quipped.
"It was originally written to prohibit court wizards, and to keep the Order out of human politics." Eric continued, ignoring John's quip. "It was expanded by the Grand Tribunal of 1456 to basically keep the Order secret; it used to mean they'd even try to convince everyone in the world that magic and ghosts weren't real, but that's fallen by the wayside since GBI proved the existance of ghosts scientifically." Eric sighed. "Then there's the part about 'Molesting the fae'."
"Some faeries I know don't mind being molested." Marie interjected.
"Do you want me to answer the question or not?" Eric rolled his eyes. After a few seconds of silence, he continued. "Some supernatural entities classify as 'Fae' by the Hermetic model of realm interaction."
"During the Amot-Naphemus crisis, I wasn't an official GBI employee--I could react more like a wizard. Now that I'm officially a GBI member, I have to be a little more careful; I have to be double careful about using any Hermetic powers in public while I'm wearing this uniform. It's the same situation Master Vincent is in at Arcane Division; it's the benefit of his experience, and the fact that my Mom is a Hermetic lawyer, that I know this is the best way to handle it."
"I mean, after all, you notice the press conference didn't say anything about me being a magus, right? Rein•Hagen Academy is a public institution, so mentioning it was okay. The fact that it's a recruiting ground for wizards is not public knowledge, and putting that in a press release would have gotten me Marched."
" 'Marched'?" TJ asked.
"Wizard March." Eric explained. "Basically, other wizards hunt you down and kill you on sight."
"That would be bad, yes." she nodded.
"So doing a Perdo Vim on a ghost in public where people could see it? Not helpful. As long as I can keep the Order and magic out of my day job as much as I can, we should be fine."
"Sooo...how's this pair up going?" Marie said leadingly.
"Howsabout..." John said, rolling his eyes. "Boys in one room, girls in the other?"
Marie huffed, then shrugged. "Well, if we must..." She then grabbed TJ and kissed her on the cheek. "I guess I can work with that."
TJ pushed her away forcefully, making nothing but an exasperated noise. Eric grinned evilly. "Now there's an image I'll linger on for a while."
"You just stay on your side of the room too." John said simply.
"You two are both so uptight." Eric chuckled.
"First things first." Bassett said, harrumphing, pretending he wasn't hearing any of this conversation. "I would think you want to take a look at Miss Johnson's room?"
"Ambient PKE is almost nil." John said, studying his GBX. "It probably wasn't a high-level manifestation."
"High enough to kidnap a guest in the shower." Eric pointed out.
"You don't have to have a fifty Twinkie PKE reading to pull that off." John noted.
Marie was looking at the blue goo all over the place, and pulled on a rubber glove with malicious glee. "Sample time!"
"The slime, Marie. The slime." Eric quipped. Marie acted crestfallen.
TJ entered the bathroom, looking through some of the paperwork the officer had given her. "Miss Johnson was here on vacation; had only checked in an hour or so before. The porter outside heard a scream, some hideous laughter, and when security arrived, they found the room unoccupied. The shower was still running, this odd blue substance was all over the place, and Miss Johnson was gone. There was no sign of entry, forced or otherwise, and she was travelling alone."
Eric picked up an empty shampoo bottle. " 'Sedgewick Special'...they got their own label?"
"Probably some cheap shit they charge an assload for." Marie joked.
"What is the next move, Doctor Spengler?" TJ asked.
John rubbed his chin. "Logically, Inspector Anderson, we take what we know about the incident and attempt to replicate it. It's all we have--the PKE readings are too low for there to have been a dimensional crossrip here, and what's left is too dispersed to tell us much else." He took the Petri dish Marie handed him. "We do have a sample of the ectoplasmic residue, but finding out much will take a full examination at the lab."
" 'Replicate' the incident?" TJ raised an eyebrow.
Marie's face lit up. "So who gets to jump in the shower first? Or are we all going at once?!"
"You are not suggesting what I think you're suggesting!" TJ felt her own cheeks flushing
"Look, you go first, and if nothing happens, I'm next." Marie shrugged. "I'm not happy either, but Johnny's right--you look to be closer to the same 'type' as the victim." She then leaned over and whispered into TJ's ear. "And just think how big a woody he's gonna get from it."
She grumbled, sighed, and nodded in defeat.
Leaving the door unlocked wasn't something she liked doing...even for a sting. Certainly, back in Scotland Yard, she never had to strip naked and take a shower with two horny men (and a horny woman she sometimes wondered about) only one unlocked door away.
She sighed, and said aloud. "All right...time to start this..." The towel covering her otherwise nude body fell with a sigh.
"You know the drill..." Marie reminded them. "If something happens, like a break in the signal, I go first. Just in case it's a false alarm."
John didn't seem to hear her.
She looked at the GBX. It was carrying audio feed only, obviously, as TJ had no desire to become a Daily Motion sensation. She found herself wondering what the sounds were doing to those on the other side...she could imagine John Spengler sitting there watching his GBX intently.
She would never admit it out loud, but she actually liked that thought.
If this doesn't work, perhaps we should stick him in the shower tomorrow.
She would deny even more vigorously that she liked that thought even more.
Johnathan Christopher Spengler naked, wet, and soapy...right here with me right now...
And she would do little short of kill someone before admitting she liked that thought most of all.
In her distraction, she bumped the soap dish, and it hit the floor with a loud splash.
"TJ?" Marie's voice called from the GBX.
"I dropped the soap. I just have to pick it up..."
She heard a thump, and the sound of Marie and Eric's laughter.
"I'm fine..." John sputtered. "I just fell off the bed."
Marie rolled her eyes. "Yeah...that large, flat, stationary object is so easy to fall off of."
She knew she shouldn't be doing this, and would probably pay (and pay dearly) for it later, but she couldn't help herself. As she rubbed the shampoo into her hair, she started to sing...
"Oh I wish I were a little bar of soap..."
"You okay, JC?" Eric asked. "You're practically hyperventilating..."
"I'm fine." John answered brusquely.
"Maybe you'd better get up and get some air." Marie suggested disingenuously.
"I'm. Fine." John repeated.
"Nothing." John squeaked, not looking at her.
Marie and Eric were stifling back laughter. They were only barely succeeding.
"What?" TJ asked.
" 'Oh, I'm sorry, I dropped the soap, I'll just have lean my wet, naked bum down there and pick it up!!!' " Marie said, in a (very bad) imitation of a certain upper middle class London accent.
"Piss off." TJ snorted. "I was nervous about this whole stupid situation!"
"Riight." Eric chuckled.
The unused bottle of "Sedgewick Special" shampoo sat in the shower caddy. The blue shampoo within started to swirl around...a pair of eyes appeared, blinked, and looked around the now empty bathroom.
"Nuts" a voice said quietly. "That chick was awesome."
The shampoo swirled again, and the eyes were gone.
"What?" TJ asked.
"I just saw a blip." John replied. "It only lasted for a second, but..."
"Neither am I." John shook his head. "The local PK valence is a couple of GEVs higher than the initial reading, but not enough to be certain it means anything."
Marie, now feeling a bit assured that a monster wasn't about to attack them, had to pick just a little. "Wouldn't you have rather been in this room about, say, ten minutes ago?"
"Drop dead." John snorted.
Marie lowered her gun, but her eyes narrowed. "You notice something?" She pointed to the "Sedgewick Special" shampoo bottle. "That shit is about the exact same shade of blue as the ectoplasm all over the crime scene."
John raised an eyebrow. "You're right." He walked over to it, scanning it with the GBX.
"Hey, TJ..." Marie asked into her own GBX. "You didn't use the hotel shampoo, did you?"
"What?" TJ asked, confused. "No. It's normal formulation--I have oily hair. I used my own."
"There is an elevated reading..." John noted. "But again, nothing conclusive." He grabbed the bottle with a gloved hand. "But you're right that this does bear investigation. We'll take this back to GBCentral, subject it to a full deep scan, and compare it to the ectoplasm from the event site."
"Heh." Marie quipped. "Hear that? Your oily hair may have just saved you." With that, Marie began to croon "Oh I wish I were a little bar of soap..."
Eden rolled her eyes. "Jeremy knows better than to challenge Slimer to a belching contest." she said aloud. "Slimer always wins..."
Eden heard the sounds of the ECTO-1 replivehicle returning, and this prompted her to disconnect the GBX she was studying, and make her way downstairs.
"You challenged him to a belching contest again, didn't you?" John asked.
Jeremy nodded. "I really thought I had him this time--I had a three cola lead and everything."
TJ rolled her eyes. "I'm certain you could have found better uses for you time, Mister Cranston."
John bit back a joke about Well, yeah, but Edie was probably upstairs in the lab... It was obvious that Jeremy had a crush on his sister, but it gave John the creeps. It just reminded him a little bit too much of a rather grotesque bit of family history he preferred not to be reminded of under any circumstance. Granted, Jer isn't an accountant, but still...
The fact that Eden had chosen that second to appear at the top of the stairs made his silence fortuitous--she probably would not have appreciated the joke, if she even understood it. Like Mom says...Edie's a lot like Pop...
"I just finished the diagnostic to the GBX." Eden said, tossing the device to him. "I couldn't find a single anomalous reading in the containment matrix--I think that alpha alignment subroutine you wrote appears to have finally stabilized it."
"Prodigious." John grinned. "Maybe now I can convince the rest of my fellow Ghostbusters to stop taking the old traps along."
"Not yet." TJ said, hefting the bag of items taken from the Jones Beach Sedgewick. "I think each and every one of us will have to use it successfully first, at the very least."
Eden looked around. "Eric and Marie?"
John shook his head. "We have some leads on the problem, but we wanna run some tests here. They're staying at the Sedgewick in case something else happens--they'll call if it does."
"And I'm still not sure that was wise." TJ noted.
John shrugged. "They are on the clock."
"Yes, but one of them is Marie Lupin." TJ countered.
"Good point." John admitted.
Slimer floated along, babbling about his victory over Jeremy Cranston. He took another massive swig of a bottle of Gurgle-Urp.
The three Ghostbusters entered the main lab; TJ set the sack of samples down on a table, and started to remove them carefully.
John and Eden looked at a computer screen. "The fifth matrix variable is so flat, I wonder..."
"What?" Eden asked.
"I wonder if I could raise the positronic inductor flow back up from six to seven." John grabbed the GBX and started to toggle through some settings. "It would get another six percent containment capacity, and still shouldn't compromise the field integrity."
"Unless it's overloading the induction regulator." Eden countered. "If that's what led to the failure back in June..."
"We'll never know without trying." John returned. "I mean, it's either the induction regulator, or the flow sensor switch. If it's the flow sensor switch, then this will make the GBX even better without bothering the flow sensor switch!"
TJ rolled her eyes, and contemplated leaving the room.
"Slimer!" John called excitedly.
Slimer babbled nervously and floated over. He'd been subject to enough trap tests over the last four decades he knew what was coming next. He took another massive gulp of his drink.
"On three!" John said, brandishing the GBX.
On "three" Slimer was sucked into the device, whimpering.
John studied the readings.
"Well?" Eden asked.
"I think it's the induction regulator." John said flatly, dropping the GBX.
His thought was interrupted by the whole building shaking violently.
Jeremy rolled his eyes and shrugged. "John works fast, doesn't he?"
"Well now we know?" John said sheepishly.
"Science can be painful, I realize, but you, Johnathan Christopher, can really belabor the point!" Eden spat out, throwing her singed vest to the ground.
"Sorry?" John said.
Slimer floated by, looking dazed. He burped loudly, then babbled "Excuse me"
"Obviously, I'm letting Edie use the shower first." John told TJ brightly.
"Obviously." TJ nodded.
"Good idea." John nodded.
As they left the room, the dazed Slimer spotted something on the floor. It drew his attention--a plastic bottle filled with blue liquid, which somehow seemed...off....to him.
He squinted. There were letters on it. He sounded them out to himself. "Sham...poo?" He lit up. "Shampoo!!!" He not only deciphered the letters, he knew the word! Wouldn't Peter be proud of him?!
And then he realized why it must have seemed "off"...the Ghostbusters kept shampoo in the bathroom! In the shower stall!!!
He knew he had to hurry--Eden was gathering some unsinged clothes, and would be using it soon. Remembering how mad Eden's Mom got when Peter sent him in there once (to look for doughnuts in her shower cap) he decided he'd better be quick. She might even be mad at him if the shampoo wasn't there!
Feeling proud of himself, Slimer grabbed the bottle and floated off quickly.
As she stood under the shower head, she was barely registering the spray of water, her head veering between thoughts of murdering her brother, and the equations she'd been working on before the "accident"
She basically was on auto pilot as she grabbed the shampoo bottle and splorched out a handful, angrily starting to rub it into her scalp. I could arrange an experiment with the dimensional portal, and "accidentally" send Johnathan to the Netherwold...
She was relieved to see the two taped up Petri dishes of slime from the event site, but it was replaced with panic. Where's the shampoo bottle? She looked under the bench. Nothing. She saw the bag with the soap bar from Kay Johnson's shower...
And next to it was a bit of familiar green slime.
"Slimer!" TJ shouted brusquely.
Slimer appeared, still looking pleased with himself.
John entered too, wiping his face with a wet paper towel from the kitchen. "What's wrong?"
"Slimer..." TJ asked him. "Did you see a bottle of shampoo on the floor here?"
Slimer nodded excitedly.
"Was it blue?"
He continued to nod.
"Where is it now?"
Slimer pointed in the direction of the bathroom.
The could hear the shower running.
"Oh. Shit." John and TJ said in unison
...And stopped in midair.
"Hey, Baby...wanna wrestle?"
She spun around to find an entity floating there, still congealing out of the translucent blue material. It had a human head--male, with scraggly shampoo (ectoplasm, she realized) forming a vague impression of hair. It had a large nose and slightly bucked teeth, but its eyes were dancing with anticipation.
She glanced at the shower caddy--the Sedgewick Special shampoo bottle sat there, now empty. In a flash it all fit together: while this wasn't the Jones Beach Sedgewick, the circumstances otherwise fit the disappearance of Kay Johnson: woman in shower, empty bottle.
There was pounding at the door to the bathroom. "Eden!!!" John's voice shouted, full of worry.
"Johnath...Mgph!!!" Eden had started to shout back, but the entity had shot out a blue tendril, stuffing it into Eden's mouth, preventing her from making any other sound.
"Not so loud, Blondie...company, like, spoils the mood."
"And I'm in the mood for love!"
With that, he shot out more tendrils, grabbing her arms and legs. There was a swirling mass of blue energy behind the entity, and in a quick motion, Eden was thrown into it--alone, unarmed, and naked as the day she was born.
"I guess it's back to my place!"
John rammed the door with his shoulder, but he and TJ were greeted by the sight they feared most: a shower stall empty save for the Sedgewick Special bottle that almost seemed to be mocking them.
"Sooo..." Marie said "How mad do you think Johnny and TJ would be if they knew we were goofing off like this?"
"Not my fault they're so uptight." Eric shrugged. "I left the meter on, with the volume up, so if there was any PKE change, we'd have heard it."
"Are you sure?" Marie teased. "I mean, that tantric stuff you pulled was pretty...distracting."
Eric chuckled, and pulled on a pair of pants. "Of course, if I hadn't told the meter to ignore my own pattern, it probably would have blown up."
There was a thing or two Marie was wanting to tease him about. Mostly involving a certain eight hundred pound gorilla that was more of a one hundred forty pound blonde from higher up the evolutionary ladder, but why spoil the moment?
The GBX sounded it's comm alert. Eric looked at the display. "Oh, good, it's Teacher." He opened the channel. "Hey, JC, so what's the re..."
Marie saw his face harden, and somehow knew she wasn't going to like it even before he exclaimed "Eden what?!?!
For a brief moment, there was a rush of air that felt cold to her wet, naked body, then she abruptly splashed into a pool of warm, viscous slime.
Fortunately, the entity was no longer constraining her arms and legs...she hesitantly got to her knees, and wiped slime out of her eyes to open them.
The area was mostly dark, but there was a slight glow from the pool in which she was crouched. The pool was filled with what appeared, to her trained eye, to be the same bluish ectoplasm that her attacker was comprised of.
Well now...this is an unexpected scenario, isn't it? She took a glance at herself; other than being covered in blue sludge and nothing else, no obvious physical injury. Under other circumstances, this might be an interesting opportunity for scientific study, but right now...
"Oh my God!!!" a female voice shouted "Another one! I was beginning to think I'd..."
Eden looked up to see another woman; like her, completely naked, and covered in blue sludge, possibly stirred up by Eden's arrival. "...I was beginning to think I'd never see another human being again." the woman sniffled.
Even covered in goo, Eden recognized the woman from the pictures Bassett had brought to the firehouse. "Kay Johnson, I presume?"
The woman blinked. "How did you know?"
Eden held out an arm, and Kay helped her stand up. It was awkward, as the slime was slippery, but they managed it. "I'm Dr. Eden Spengler, with Ghostbusters International. We were brought into your case due to suspicion of paranormal involvement with your disappearance, which I think can be safely confirmed."
"As you can guess, the exact circumstances of our meeting are highly...accidental. For one thing, I am hardly in uniform."
Kay managed a rueful chuckle at this.
"Normal GBI procedure calls for a flight suit and a particle accelerator when encountering an ectoplasmic entity." Eden just realized why the woman chuckled, not having intended to make a joke, but glad she did. "Are you all right?"
"I'm not hurt or anything." Kay nodded. "Looks like the bastard got you the same way he got me...I was taking a shower, and he popped out of the shampoo bottle...before I knew it, I was dropped into this dark, slimy hole."
Kay crossed her arms to make herself less exposed. It would only be later that Eden would realize that she, herself, never bothered, just standing there like she had forgotten she was naked. She'd later theorized that perhaps the entity's ectoplasm had psychomagnetheric properties designed to loosen inhibitions...or maybe Eden was just too wrapped up in the mystery of the situation to even care.
"At least the temperature is comfortable." Eden noted. "Under the circumstance..."
"I looked for a way out..." Kay continued, gesturing.
With Kay Johnson's immediate health determined, Eden followed the gesture to look around and process her surroundings. We're in the bottom of an empty swimming pool! she realized. Well, empty save for the sixty centimeter layer of ectoplasm at the deep end, which is where we are...
"...I mean, this looks like the deep end of a swimming pool..." Kay continued, agreeing with Eden's unspoken observation. "But if I take more than a few steps toward the shallow end, and the ladders..."
To illustrate her point, Kay did just that, and the layer of slime undulated, and tendrils of it welled into their way, obstructing their path to the ladders. "That happens!" Kay finished.
"The entity obviously has control over the ectoplasmic material here. It might even be part of it. If only..." If only I had my proton pack. But I don't. "What, if anything, has the entity done to you since you've been here?"
"Nothing! I swear!" said the now-familiar voice of the ghost.
Four tendrils sprang out of the slime, grabbing Eden's arms and legs.
"Oh no!!!" Kay shouted, and ran to the far corner of the pool, cringing.
"Not that I didn't try, but anyway...You see, Blondie, it's like this. I'm in the mood for love!"
With this, Eden's legs were wrenched out from underneath her, and she was hoisted into the air, in a posture that clearly left some of the most tender parts of her anatomy....highly exposed.
"Why else would I grab you chicks in the shower? It means you're already undressed for the occasion!" Another tendril appeared from the pool of slime, growing and shaping itself into the entity that had attacked her in the shower. "Oh yeah...look at you, taller and with bigger knockers than the last chick...
"Pardon me while I make myself a little more...anatomically correct." The entity's shape continued to define itself. When it finished, it was still translucent, and blue, but otherwise now in the shape of a muscular man. Eden spared just enough of a glance to realize the entity was now "anatomically correct" in all senses of the word.
She'd taken enough biology courses to realize where this whole situation was now leading "I don't believe this! This is one of Uncle Peter's stupid hentai videos come to life!!! This is not happening to me! This is not happening to me!!!"
The entity chuckled menacingly. Eden closed her eyes and gritted her teeth. There was no way she could stop this. The window for Johnathan or her Father pulling a surprise last minute rescue was fading fast. I may flinch...but I refuse to scream. It's not getting that satisfaction out of me...
She waited for the inevitable.
And still waited
What the hell is...
She heard it sob.
"Aw, c'mon....not again..."
She slowly opened one eye. The entity was still standing about two feet away from her, looking down at itself. With reluctance, she followed its gaze, and noticed...
"Forgive the metaphor, but it appears the little soldier does not wish to salute me."
The ghost made a loud, mournful wail, and Eden was dropped butt-first back into the pool of slime.
The ghost's form returned to its less "anatomically correct" state, and it crouched down and kept sobbing.
"This isn't fair...she's a tall, hot blonde with the biggest boobs I've ever seen..." It sobbed "If I can't get it up for her, I'll never get it up!!! This just isn't..." Its voice trailed off as it started crying.
Eden took a second to process what was happening; Dr. Griffin had taken her, TJ, and Marie aside alone shortly after they became official Ghostbusters, and broached the rather sensitive subject of paranormal sexuality.
Ghosts don't procreate through copulation. Eden's mind raced. There have been a number of cases of groups of Class Fives manifesting a 'family dynamic', but it is more a mimicking of the behavior of the living, just as Slimer doesn't really require food.
Nor can ectoplasmic entities procreate through copulation with living beings; reports of "half demons" such as Cambions or Daemonseeds all involve the demon possessing a member of the living (or a human male so recently deceased that living sperm are still present in his reproductive system) and the mystic enchantment of the resulting child, who is genetically that of the humans involved.
"That's the good news" Dr. Griffin had said.
The "bad news" (as Griffin had put it) is that many entities simply feed on strong emotion, and sexuality is a source of some rather intense emotion--whether through a willing seduction, or a non-consensual violation.
But the Class Three or Four entities, the ghosts of deceased human beings, present a new possibility: if the "unfinished business" of their life, the trauma that made them unable to "Cross to the Other Side", is sexual in nature, they may manifest their own form of sexuality based on that trauma.
It was all fitting into place. Two abductions of childbearing age human females in a state of defenselessness and undress. Attempted rape of both ("Nothing! I swear! Not that I didn't try, but anyway...") and now his rather morose state.
"I think I'm beginning to understand..." Eden said, sitting up. "Many entities remain on the material plane due to traumatic experiences before or during their deaths."
The ghost sobbed once more, but turned to look at her. "Am I to surmise that you had a problem with...sexual dysfunction?" Eden asked.
The entity sobbed again.
She knew she was on the right track now. "I want to help you. My name's Eden."
"Larry..." he answered mournfully.
"I want to help you, Larry. That's actually my job--it's why I ended up in this predicament, as we were trying to solve the mystery of Miss Johnson's kidnapping. But to help you, I need to know exactly what happened."
Kay, who was crouched in the corner hoping to avoid Larry's further attentions, gasped. "What in the hell are you trying..."
Eden held up a hand to shush her.
Larry sobbed some more, and then started to talk. "I went to this school...I was on the swim team...I spent hours in this pool..."
"And I met Darlene here. She was on the girls' swim team. She was so hot. I couldn't believe that she actually liked me back. So then, we made plans for our Senior Prom. I'd never...you know...with a girl before, and we were planning to..."
"I understand what you mean, Larry." Eden said. "Go on."
"So we decided to be kinda...er...kinky about it. We snuck off after the prom and came here to the pool. It was where we met, after all, and we wanted to be the place where we first...you know, did it."
Larry started sobbing again. "But when we got here, I got nervous. Darlene was the love of my life, and my...well, my little soldier wouldn't salute her! She wasn't mad, said she understood, but I was so embarrassed. And then...then..."
"Then what, Larry?"
"I slipped by the pool!" Larry bawled. "I hit my head against the tile, hard, and then....then it all disappeared...and I was looking down on myself...there were people all around, and Darlene was crying, and...and..."
"It wasn't supposed to be this way! We were supposed to have sex and maybe get married and all that stuff! All because my stupid dick wouldn't get hard! She was so beautiful! So thin, and with the cutest dimple on her..."
Larry stopped abruptly, making a gargled cry.
"Larry?" Eden asked.
"I...I felt something...in my pants...if I still had pants...
"Keep talking about Darlene, Larry!!!" Eden shouted. "Keep talking about how she looked and how you felt about her!!!"
Larry stood up, body defining itself again. A tendril of slime emerged from the pool, shaping itself at his will into the form of a woman. Larry looked at the replica adoringly. "Darlene was the hottest woman in the whole universe."
He cried out again, and realized that his "soldier" was now "saluting" the naked replica he'd created in Darlene's image. "Oh, Darlene..."
Eden was beset, for just a moment, with a bit of concern. Now that he's "saluting", will he seek to continue with his original plan?
Except that Larry didn't even seem to remember that Eden and Kay were in the room. It stared at the replica of his lost love, and embraced her. Within moments, Larry and the replica were having mad, passionate sex.
Kay cried "Oh, Gross!!!" and covered her face. Eden well understood the urge but the interest of science demanded she keep looking until the matter was concluded.
After a few moments, Larry and "Darlene" gave loud, garbled cries, and Eden had to close her eyes to avoid a spray of blue ectoplasm.
The effigy of Darlene melted back into the pool, and Larry started to fade.
"Thank you, Eden..." he said, turning to look at her one last time. "You helped me figure out what I was doing wrong...I didn't need just any woman, no matter how hot you are...I needed her. And now that I've made love to her her, even if it wasn't the real her, I can be at rest...and maybe, some day, when her time is up, I'll see her again on the Other Side..."
His voice trailed off, and the last of his form disappeared.
Just about then, there was the crash of a locked door being forcibly opened, and a flashlight point on the far wall. "Eden!!!"
"Marie?!" Eden shouted, incredulously. Just after the nick of time... "Down here! I'm with the abductee!!!"
Marie Lupin, in full proton pack, appeared at the edge of the pool. "Oh, wow, is Eric gonna be mad I made him stay outside!" she grinned wolfishly.
"Just...um...you wouldn't have brought any extra clothing, would you?"
"Dr. Eden M. Spengler, wearing nothing but blue slime. If I webcammed this, I could make a fortune..."
"Just kidding." Marie grinned. She pulled out her GBX. "I'll be out in a second for those two flight suits, Eric. Call Johnny and tell him he can stop hyperventilating now. They're both here...no sign of the entity."
"There won't be." Eden shook her head. "It's resolved--I'll give you the full story later..."
Eric shook his head and sighed, handing her the two bath robes they'd appropriated from the Hotel. John and TJ were on the way back with the flight suits Marie had mentioned, but even with the sirens blazing all the way the ECTO-1 was going to require more time to arrive from New York.
Eric sighed again as Marie left. Now I know how JC felt about TJ in the shower earlier... There was a temptation gnawing at him...just a little Intellego Imagonem...he could see Eden, see the image that Marie so clearly enjoyed taunting him with. He even let a few sparks of mystic power play around his fingers.
Dammit all... he berated himself, knowing that Eden's tantalizingly close-by nakedness wasn't the only thing twisting him in knots. There was Marie herself, and what had just happened between them.
In some ways, Eden and Marie were such polar opposites. One was tall, blonde, plush, and sexually inhibited (Mini-skirts aside...) The other was short, dark-haired, tomboyish, yet...darn near insatiable, it seemed.
One just proved she wanted him. The other barely even seemed to know what all of the fuss was about.
But maybe that was part of the draw. Marie he didn't have to show how wonderful sex was. Eden needed someone to teach her that; why not him, one of her oldest friends?
He shook his head, and snapped the mystic sparkle into nothingness. When the day came he got to see what Marie was seeing right now, it wouldn't be because he attacked her in the shower, or used magic to steal the image. It was going to be because Eden Spengler was showing herself to him of her own free will.
"Fortunately, John had enough presence of mind to upload your PK trace to Eric's GBX." TJ explained. "It's what allowed Eric and Marie to reach you at the school."
"Granted, it would have been helpful if they'd arrived about ten minutes sooner." Eden grumbled.
"I feel jealous." Marie chuckled. "I was sure I'd be the first one propositioned by a ghost."
TJ rolled her eyes.
About then, Slimer appeared, and sniffed around the bottle of Gurgle-Urp sitting on the coffee table. "No, Slimer--you drank enough of that yesterday!" Eden admonished. Slimer looked mournful.
"Miss Johnson's medical report verified she was unharmed by the experience." TJ said. "At least physically--she was held for two days, and the entity attempted to force itself on her at least once. She's agreed to see a psychologist, as the police recommended."
Eden downed her glass of cola, and realized that TJ and Marie were now looking at her meaningfully. "I wasn't actually raped, you know."
"No, but it did try." TJ pointed out.
Eden sighed. "Unlike Miss Johnson, I've been trained in dealing with paranormal entities, and we all received the same preparedness course."
"Yeah, but sometimes, until something like this actually happens, you can't be sure how it can affect you." Marie said. "Especially someone as brutally repressed as you."
" 'Brutally repressed'?!" Eden cried; the shock was so great that she then released a massive, reverberating, and extremely unladylike belch that had Slimer looking at her in wonder, then bowing at her feet in mock worship.
"Um...Remember, 'brutally repressed' is Lupin-speak for 'Doesn't open her legs for every man that looks at her.' " TJ countered, ignoring Marie as she started to sing the "Little Bar of Soap" song in a mocking London accent. "I still think it would be a good idea to at least talk with a trained psychologist."
Eden looked annoyed, but nodded. "I actually made the appointment this morning. I honestly don't think there's anything to be concerned about..." she became more quiet. "But then again, my father thought the same thing after he survived a fall off the World Trade Center, and as a result freed the Boogieman."
The three female Ghostbusters shared a quick group hug, and TJ and Marie left. "And you will have to tell me how the Mall Cop remake turns out, Anderson..." Eden heard Marie teasing.
"Piss off." TJ spat back.
Eden took another long drink
Eden wouldn't tell any of them one thing about the experience, though. She'd probably take that aspect of it to her grave.
It wasn't something she would dare share with her parents. Or her brother. Certainly not Uncle Peter. Uncle Ray, she suspected from years of rumors and jokes her parents and their friends tried to keep away from them, would understand, but she couldn't confide it in him either, for fear of it reaching her parents.
The dark secret was that the entity's plight, once she knew it, had touched something within her. That even through all the horror, there was a curiosity stirred.
If Larry hadn't come to her as a kidnapper and would-be rapist...if he had instead materialized in her shower and simply asked for her help in his quest for sexual fulfillment...
(...Especially in his very "anatomically correct" version...the mental image of Larry and "Darlene" making love still brought a wistful blush to her cheek...)
She wouldn't have automatically said no.
The title "Ghosts Can't Do It" comes from one of Bo Derek's trashy softcore porn movies. It seemed oddly appropriate...
Gurgle-Urp is a tribute to the great Carl Barks, and his story "The Bubbleweight Champ" (W WDC 282-01)
Lloyd Bassett inspired by a character created by Floyd Gottfredson.
Additional Research From: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jones_Beach . Of course, a lot can change in twelve years, so if some little details are "inaccurate", chalk it up to that. And it being a fictional universe, of course.
Ars Magica and the Order of Hermes created by Johnathan Tweet and Mark Rein•Hagen; previously owned by Lion Rampant and White Wolf Games, now owned by Atlas Games.