Jan. 2nd, 2009

gone_byebye: (bigtime geeks)
14 North Moore Street
Manhattan
January 1st, 2009
3:30 AM


"You know," said Winston as Ecto turned the corner and wheeled herself into the Firehouse garage, "that might've just been the single quietest New Year's Eve I've ever had in Times Square."

"You've done New Year's in Times Square before? You never struck me as the big crowd, big party type," Ray answered.

"Long time ago. Back before I'd even joined the Army." Winston shook his head, a moment's rueful smile of reminiscence on his face. "I'll tell you about it in the morning. I gotta get some sleep."

"That makes two of us," Ray said. "Thanks for driving, Ecto."

"No problem, Dad. Thanks for bringing me along on this one."

"We would've been crazy not to," Ray said. "Can you imagine the two of us trying to get anywhere by ourselves if anything actually had attacked the celebration?"

"Speaking of by ourselves," said Winston, "I thought I saw a light on upstairs. We'd better go check on Egon. Think you'll be okay, Ecto?"

"Yeah, I’m gonna watch the New Year celebrations in Fairbanks." Ecto settled back on her wheels and dropped into that faintly meditative silence that accompanied her devoting more than half of her attention to network input. Ray patted the car's front fender gently with one hand and headed for the stairs, falling in behind Winston.

Upstairs was just as quiet, and most of the lights were out. Ray's usual nightlight glowed faintly from the direction of the bunk room. There were no other lights on save for the gleam from under one of the lab doors; Winston stepped forward and rapped on the door sharply with his knuckles. "Egon, man, you awake in there?"

"To some degree, yes," answered the physicist's voice after a few moments' silence. "Whether I'm fully awake or not is debatable. Would you mind coming in and verifying something for me?"

Winston and Ray exchanged glances. "All right," Ray responded. "Do you need us to bring anything?"

"Not immediately. Although the PKE meter may turn out to be advisable in the event that I genuinely am awake."

"I'm getting my proton pack," Winston said.

"I wasn't going to be the one to suggest it, but thank you," came Egon's voice.

Ray frowned; that wasn't his usual tone at all, and it certainly didn't sound like mere sleep deprivation at work. He knew that tone from personal experience. "Are you sure you're all right in there, Spengs?"

"No, Ray, as a matter of fact I'm not. Hence the need for external verification. Is Winston back yet?"

"Almost."

"Good."

Ray glanced over his shoulder at the sound of footsteps, then turned back to the door. "Okay, he's here," he reported. He pulled his PKE meter from his belt and extracted the sensor arms. "We're coming in on the count of three. One, two-"

On three he opened the door to the sight of the normally-meticulous lab. . . looking pretty much like it always did. No spirits, no slime, no shimmering weak places in the fabric of local spatiotemporal planar reality. Just a lot of equipment, and a lot of books, and a stack of notebooks, and a number of complicated diagrams pinned to one of the walls- okay, that was new- and Egon, and a more or less humanoid figure of ruddy clay, about a foot taller than anyone else in the room, with the word אמת written on its forehead and a knowing little smile on its face.

"I need that reality check now, Ray," said Egon.

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Raymond Stantz

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