gone_byebye: (blue light)
Monday, February 18, 2008 / November 21, 1905
Near 65th Street and Park Drive South
Central Park

Well, it had been a good plan at the time. . .

No, really, it had. Ray had reworked the trap from top to bottom, bringing it into line with the specs on Tesla’s silver box. They’d pleaded, cajoled, and eventually bribed Lenny into following the time spirit’s trail despite his claims that it gave him the mother of all migraines. They’d done the math on the proton packs’ new capabilities (frankly, they strongly reminded Ray of the devices used by the Great Race of Yith against the only half-physical polyps, but he was pretty sure Egon didn’t want to hear that just now).They’d even run the thing to ground in Central Park, a disturbing experience given the park’s decidedly threadbare condition in 1905. Now there was just one problem.

Fighting a spirit entity capable of moving through the fourth dimension as easily as a human moved through dimensions one, two, and three was like trying to get a bead on a Muppet in an industrial blender.

“This is incredible!” shouted Ray over the swirling winds that marked the entity’s passage.
“This is exactly what Tesla and his research team had to deal with when this thing got loose at Wardenclyffe! Right down to the random aging and de-aging of parts of the surrounding environment!”

“That’s great, Ray,” Peter answered. “I’m glad you got to see it, I really am. Now how did they get it into the box? The proton streams-“

“Actually, Peter, right now they’re almost exclusively electron beams-“

“Thank you, Egon, like I cared. The point is they’re barely even slowing that thing down! How do we get it into the trap?”

“Yeah, Ray,” chimed in Winston. “How did Tesla pull it off? You’re the one who read the papers.”

“Unfortunately, he didn’t give specifics,” Ray said. “Not that Dr. Hrvanovic could understand, anyway. Too many abbreviations and dialect words.”

Peter clapped a hand over his face. “That’s fantastic,” he said. “So, what now? Do we jump up and down and shout ‘come and get it, big tasty bait’, or what?”

Ray grimaced, dodging a blue-tinged bolt of energy from the spirit. Where it struck the ground, a squirrel’s forgotten cache became four of New York’s newest and most surprised-to-exist oak trees. “That part I don’t know,” he answered. “My experience with aphysical chronal entities is pretty limited-“

“Winston! Get down!” Peter tackled the other man to the ground just in time; a red-edged blast tore through the rock that had been behind the Ghostbuster, turning the weathered, grimy, ancient hulk to a sharp-edged, fresh-from-the-massif piece of clean stone.

“-the Reapers devour whatever’s damaged the time stream, the Hounds only ever attack a particular target, and the Yithians aren’t like this at all, so this is obviously a separate class of-“

“Ray, look out!” shouted Egon.


The blast this time was directed not at Ray but at the ground under his feet- which did not so much explode as simply cease to be there. More precisely, a circle of ground some four feet acrss and about three and a half feet downwards ceased to be there all at once. Ray hit the bottom of the newly extant bit with a bone-jarring thump and fell heavily against the side of the pit. As he pushed himself upright, the time being’s half-there form suddenly loomed over him.

”Mother,” he blurted , and hunched his shoulders up around his ears.

The spirit’s disjointed, ululating wail entered the brain by way of the bones, rather than the ears. It took Ray a moment to realize three things: one, the spirit wasn’t attacking, two, it was in fact retreating at speed, and three, someone had just shouted in-

“Egon?” said Ray, opening one eye and scrambling out of the pit. “Is that Hebrew?”

Egon didn’t answer, as he had both hands clamped over his mouth and a horrified expression on his face.

“Oh, get over it,” Ray said. “So you’ve got an exorcist lurking under the surface. Big deal.”

“Can you do it again?” asked Peter. “That thing’s fallen back a lot. “

“It’s just getting ready to strike again,” Egon answered. “I think we should try the packs one more time.”

“Hate to break it to you, Egon, but that only pissed it off,” said Winston.

“That’s the point,” Egon said. “It’s not trying to get away. It’s regrouping. If we make it angry enough to attack us directly instead of firing on us-“

“Then one of us can open the box as it makes its charge,” Ray finished. “Egon, that’s brilliant.”

“No! No it is not brilliant!” Venkman snapped. “If you don’t open the box in time that thing’s gonna rewind us so far back in time we’ll be our ancestors’ ancestors, or we’ll end up a million years old or something.”

“Then we’re just going to have to open it fast enough,” Ray said. “Do you have any better ideas?”

“I don’t know,” said Peter. “Try asking it nicely?”

“Actually, Tesla’s notes did mention that-“

“Guys?” said Winston. “Do you think we could have this argument after we’ve nailed this thing to the wall?”

“Sorry,” said Ray. “Okay, everybody, all together on the count of three-“

The electrical strikes weren’t very much by comparison with the sort of energies the Ghostbusters’ proton packs usually unleashed, but there was still a hellaciously impressive display of light and sound as four crackling streams tore into the air around the time spirit. The being turned their way, hissing like a sandstorm.

“Ray! Trap now!” called Peter- but Ray was frantically stomping on the pedal already. “Oh, no…”

Stupid, stupid, stupid,thought Ray erratically, I should’ve tested the opening mechanisms after all the modifications we made- although there is one thing-

”What the hell are you doing?” Winston roared as Ray dove forward- straight at the point where some unknown part of the time spirit intersected with the ground.

Or rather, at the point about a foot in front of that point, where the trap lay inert. As the spirit winked out of its original configuration and blinked back into existence oriented downwards, the better to stare at the odd little human, Ray snatched up the trap and rolled over onto his back. “Hi there!” he said brightly to the thing. “I suppose you’re wondering what I’m doing here today.”

It stared at him. Everyone stared at him.

“I could probably give you a very impressive speech right now. But really? I’m turning this knob right here on the left-hand side,” Ray said. “The emergency open knob.”

It lunged.

The wail that echoed through Ray’s entire skeleton as he wrenched the knob all the way around, forcing the trap open, would snap him out of a sound sleep for a solid fortnight. But it was very much a wail of utter defeat; the thing’s charge had carried it straight into the box, and all its disjointed, ill-connected parts followed. As something on the order of Cerenkov radiation flared from the box for the last time, Ray forced the knob back around and snapped the doors shut.

There was silence in the park for a few moments as Ray lay there panting. Then Winston coughed and poked Peter in the shoulder. “I think it worked,” he said. “Take a look.”

Peter, Winston, and Egon all looked up in time to see the pre-war buildings that edged the park shimmer and change, drawing themselves upwards into some very familiar outlines indeed. The ground underfoot went from a patchy, scabrous mess of neglected earth worked and reworked by chronal energy blasts to the still-scungy but at least reasonably uniform ground cover of Central Park in February. The wood-and-brass boxes that had contained their electrical charge accumulators even shimmered and shifted back into the familiar forms of the proton packs-

“Um, guys?” said Ray from his prone position. “Could I get a hand up here? I think I wrenched something.”

“That’s what you get for playing tackle football with the invisible time monster,” said Venkman, but he grabbed Ray’s hands and hauled him upright. “You okay there? Anything broken?”

“I don’t think so,” Ray said. He ran his fingers over his torso and prodded at a few sore places. “It hurts like the dickens, but it’s all in one piece.”

“Good,” said Winston. “That means I don’t have to feel guilty if I slug you. What were you thinking?”

Ray grimaced. “Sorry, Winston. I had to get the trap, fast, and I didn’t have time to pull it in by the cable hand-over-hand. I didn’t think I was going to wind up that close to the thing- whatever it was.”

“You’re just lucky the knob functioned at all,” said Egon, who was examining his glasses as if to make absolutely sure the earpieces weren’t going anywhere. “If it hadn’t, you would’ve been in a great deal of trouble. Immortality or no.”

“And speaking of trouble,” said Venkman, “what are we gonna do with that thing now?”

Ray looked ruefully at the modified trap. “I haven’t got a clue,” he admitted. “Although a trip to Milliways might be in order, if the door’s opening again-“ He stopped, wincing. “Huh boy. I just remembered I’ve got that get-back-to-the-Bar-free ticket from Dominic. I could’ve used it to get us some help at any time.”

“Oh, like we needed it,” said Peter. “We did pretty well in the end, didn’t we? Our world, our war. Not theirs.”

“I suppose you’re right,” said Ray. “Still, I think I’d like to get back to the Bar. Romana or Ace would be better equipped to deal with this thing. Or the Doctor, if he’s around. Or-“

“Ray,” Egon interrupted, his face gone even paler than usual, “I think you need to turn around very, very slowly, right now.”

A lean, horrible, starveling thing of fangs and angles was boiling out of the intersection of two fallen tree limbs. Ray swallowed as the Hound of Tindalos manifested, but did not move. His brain, however, chose that precise moment to give the lone neuron responsible for common sense and survival instinct the afternoon off, and so without really meaning to he said, “Took you long enough to get here.”

It cocked its head- or possibly its entire body; space in the thing’s vicinity did not look quite right no matter what angle you approached it from- and yowled, the sound oscillating rapidly between just above and just below the upper and lower limits of human hearing.

“…really? I would’ve thought you’d have been long since done with that trip,” Ray said, blinking. “Did the directions work?”

“Directions?” asked Peter. “What are you- ow!”

As Egon somewhat theatrically dusted off his elbow, Ray nodded to the Hound. “Okay, that’s something, at least. Is it too much to hope for that you’re here for this guy?” He held up the trap.

The Hound’s jaws snapped once with a sound like the collapse of empires. Droplets of phosphorescent ichor sprayed from its muzzle.

“Ew,” said Ray, wiping at his face.

It yowled again.

“Apology accepted,” Ray said. “One last question. Do you show up on cameras?”

The Hound’s entire physical structure was composed of pure angular wrongness, and everything about it was alien to the human experience, whether so massively so that it caused the eye to slide off or merely in subtle, disturbing fashion. Nevertheless, it managed to give Ray a perfectly recognizable look of pure disbelief.

“Sorry, thought I’d ask,” Ray said. “Anyway, if you’re ready-“ He hefted the trap. “Run for it.”

The sound of iron filings snapping into line with a powerful magnetic field filled the air as the Hound turned and bolted for Park Drive. Ray drew back his arm and threw the trap as hard as he could. It tumbled through the air exactly as one would expect an un-aerodynamic object made of metal to tumble, but that didn’t much matter; the Hound twisted in mid-run and leapt up to snatch the trap in its jaws. There was a spine-shivering crunch, and then the Hound leapt again, this time for a pair of crossed electrical wires overhead. A moment later it had vanished completely into the angles of the intersection, leaving no sign at all of its presence.

As the faint sounds of cheering started to rise from the Park Drive- it appeared that people had come running into the streets from every direction as soon as 2008 reasserted itself- Ray allowed himself a momentary sag forward. He braced his hands against his knees and closed his eyes. “That was too close,” he said. “That’s twice now I’ve run into Bingle there-"


"It's the closest I can get to a comprehensible pronunciation of its name. We don't have either the anatomy or the neurolinguistic concepts to understand how to produce the whole sound accurately- anyway, people aren’t supposed to survive even one encounter with the Hounds.”

“Yeah, well, you’re a freak,” Peter said with a shrug. “Our freak, and we love you, but a freak nonetheless.”

“Thank you, Peter.”

“Not a problem.” He grinned. “Of course, now we’re stuck with an entirely different problem.”

“Which is?”

“One of you three has to tell the Mayor what went down,” Peter said. “The way I see it, we could all use some vacation time after this. Me, I’ve got just enough time to take Dana and get us both the heck out of Dodge for a few days before we have to start training the new crews.”

Ray rubbed at his face with both hands, but nodded. “All right,” he said, “all right.”
gone_byebye: (bigtime geeks)
Sunday, February 17, 2008 / November 20, 1905
32 West 40th Street, 17th Floor
Late Afternoon

People did not generally hammer on the door at this hour on a Saturday with any sort of urgency whatsoever, in Rajko Hrvanovic's experience, but today... well, to put it mildly, today was not a general sort of day in the slightest. He stepped away from the artifact showcase he had been polishing (for the fifth time that day) and answered the door.

The pounder was a tall, pudgy, dark-haired man in a flat cap, a maroon shirt, suspenders, and brown tweed trousers. His face was familiar, but before Rajko could speak the man whipped out a neatly folded piece of paper from one of his pockets. "Dr. Rajko Hrvanovic, Secretary General of the Tesla Memorial Society of New York?" he asked.

Rajko hesitated. "Ah- who wants to know?" he asked. There was an intensity about the man that worried him.

"Dr. Raymond Stantz, sir, of the Ghostbusters."

"Oh! Oh. I knew I'd seen you somewhere. I just couldn't remember where."

"Thank you, sir, I get that a lot." Stantz held out the paper. "The city of New York's authorized us to investigate the current abominable state of temporal affairs in the Manhattan area. This is the best explanation I can offer of the situation at the present time. Read it at your leisure, but I don't know that we currently have enough time for me to go into any kind of detail. For the moment, I need to ask you whether the Society keeps any of Dr. Tesla's personal papers on hand, particularly anything dating from the time period surrounding October and November of 1905."

Rajko glanced over his shoulder at the artifact case. "As a matter of fact. . ."

14 North Moore Street

"...he said they don't normally allow the general public to handle Dr. Tesla's papers directly, but under the circumstances he was willing to make an exception," Ray said, clearing the kitchen table off with a sweep of one arm. "Starting with the fact that the majority of the objects and papers in their possession had been rendered one hundred per cent brand spanking new- the ones that still existed, anyway. They don't actually have anything left from after November of 1905."

"That would explain why the Metropolitan Museum of Art's staff was going into collective hysterics," said Egon. "I never got inside, unfortunately."

"What were you doing at the Met in the first place?"

"Nothing as relevant as this. Go on."

"All right," Ray said. "According to the journals I had access to today, there was a streak of research under way at Wardenclyffe Tower in late 1905 that had to do with the extremely unusual radio signals first heard in Colorado Springs. Tesla was under the impression that the repetitive signals he was picking up from the portion of the sky in which Mars was ascendant were possible attempts at communication. So, like any radio fiend worth the name, he modified the original receiver plans for greater sensitivity and started tweaking his other inventions in an effort to make some kind of contact with the signalers."

Egon nodded. "The Teslascope in the Matthews book. Supposedly used to communicate with Venusian intelligences. Yes, I remember."

"Right. Well, Matthews was talking out his ass," Ray said. "The plans for the device were severely water-damaged in 1906 and too moldy and fragmentary to read after that- but when the timewave passed over Manhattan, they were restored to their original 1905 condition. What Tesla did invent had nothing at all to do with Venus. It was a signaling device that just so happened to have an output in a very peculiar portion of the electromagnetic spectrum." He opened the folder of copies he'd made and slid one of the papers over to Egon. "He may have been the first human being in the world to come up with a means of transmitting energy through the fourth dimension."

That got Ray a long look. "I realize that considering the things we've done with spacetime vacuum bubbles to open the planar barriers with the spirit world, I'm hardly in a position to object," Egon said, "but the logistics involved in creating a device with that kind of capability makes everything north of my substantia nigra throb."

"It gets better," Ray said. "The transmitter worked- and worked a little too well. Tesla's device caught something's attention, and it came running."

Egon went very still at that.

"The entity that answered the signal was almost completely incomprehensible in its actions and nature, but as nearly as Tesla could tell, the thing was an entity that existed in at least four if not more dimensions at the same time. It appeared in multiple locations at once, randomly appearing and disappearing-"

"Like a three dimensional creature intersecting a two dimensional plane as it walks," Egon said.

"Yup. Exactly like. And the problem was that it started taking objects with it- passing them through one another, winking them out of existence, returning them exactly as you'd expect if they'd been through a significant portion of the fourth dimension- rapidly aged or youthened, depending on the object and the entity's whim."

Egon adjusted his pince-nez and looked down at the documents again. "And he had no means of returning it to its point of origin," he said. "Only of attracting more."

"Bingo," Ray said. "The best he could do was whip out the advanced mathematics and start putting it through the kinds of contortions that you normally only see in your finer Japanese bondage porn. Don't look at me like that, it's in Venkman's collection. As nearly as I can tell- and understand, I don't actually speak Serbian and Dr. Hrvanovic couldn't translate all of the abbreviations and idioms being used- Tesla managed to construct that box in such a way that the interior was fractionally dimensionally offset from the exterior. Not to the degree of a TARDIS, or even of the magnetic box I made last year, but enough to make it all but impossible for the entity to extricate itself once the box was closed. The geomatic sigils were part of that- the dimensional calculations were substantially based on Babylonian computational geometry."

"Fascinating," said Egon. "How did the box wind up in the time capsule?"

"Apparently," said Ray, "Tesla had originally intended to give the box to the city government with the intention that they find somewhere to store it until another scientist could devise a means of either banishing the entity, or permanently sealing it. The box was never more than a stopgap, since his own studies really weren't along those lines. One of his assistant seems to have inadvertently sent the box to the police instead of City Hall and, well..." Ray gestured at the Firehouse around them. "You get the idea."

"Unfortunately," said Egon grimly. "What do you propose we do now?"

"Well, we're going to have to start by modifying one or more of our existing traps," Ray said. "I can't build another offset box without at least two weeks' notice and more magnets than we currently have on the premises. Vitally important goniochronicity issues. Our traps've been altered just like our packs and PKE meters. I've had a look at them. They're pretty similar in design to Tesla's silver box now. Then we're going to have to track the thing down and lock it up again, and then we'll have to devise a long-term storage solution, because the Geib-Spevack process could run from now until Judgment Day and it still wouldn't produce enough deuterium oxide to make me willing to shove a time entity into the containment unit." He shook his head and looked down at the papers ruefully. "We'll jump off that bridge when we come to it."

"You left out one step," said Egon.

"Oh? What's that?"

"Someone's going to have to explain this to Peter." Egon's expression took on a faintly smug aspect. "Not it."

"... dammit."
gone_byebye: (secret emergency phone)
"This is weird, Daddy," said Ecto as she trundled down the street, maneuvering now and again to avoid less nimble drivers and the occasional spooked horse.

"Is it? I would have thought you of all people would be used to hunting with a companion entity by now, what with Francis and all," said Ray.

"No, I'm fine with Lenny," said Ecto. "I mean driving like this."

Ray looked up; he'd been watching the PKE imp's expression of concentration. "With the streets like this, I can certainly see how-"

"Not that either, Daddy," Ecto said patiently. "I mean I've finally found my diagnostics."

"Wouldn't that be a good thing?" said Winston, who was seated in the ostensible driver's seat. "I mean, now you know what's going on with yourself, right?"

"Yeah, and I don't like it at all," Ecto said. "It's all mechanical. I've hardly got any diagnostics. All my processing's being done with those wheels and rods in the back."

Egon (who had held Ray to his promise about the smoked glasses and not having to talk to the imp) glanced over his shoulder at the boxy part of the ambulance. "Don't tell me," he said, "let me guess. You're a Babbage engine."

"Uh huh," says Ecto. "And I can't pick up on signal. I don't have any kind of wireless anything in my systems."

Ray winced. "I'm sorry, kiddo. I promise, we're doing this as fast as we can-"

"If I can interrupt the family moment," said Peter, "you've got an imp trying to get your attention, Ray."

"Whoops. Sorry, Lenny."

"Eh." The imp shrugged. "I picked up on something. Not the spirit's presence, but one heck of a lot of its residue."

"Do you think it's the place where it spent all that time building up for the power discharge?" Ray asked.

"Sure feels like it," said Lenny. "Take the next left, willya?"

"Okay," said Ecto. There was an aaooga. "Cripes. If you can't figure out how to drive an unfamiliar vehicle, mister, leave it at home and get a horse!"

Ray covered his mouth with one hand, trying not to laugh.

A few more turns later, Lenny held up a hand. "Here," he said. "Right here. That building. it's in there."

Winston frowned. "You sure? We were just down here yesterday morning."

"And did you have me with you then? No? Then you wouldn't know."

"I think what my colleague is trying to say is that you'd kinda think City Hall would notice that the timewave came out of One Police Plaza, what with them being, you know, across the street from each other and all," Peter said.

Lenny fixed Peter with the world's smallest dirty look. "Listen, buddy," he said, "I don't know humans, okay? My job is to say, oh, hey, will you look at that, there's supernatural energy in the area, and what kind and how strong. You take it from there. Not me. I don't know what any of these places are, even. All's I know is, the same energy that ripped through you guys' place the other day is still hanging around in there like thaumic radiation after a wizard gets the words wrong and explodes."

"All right, all right. Jeez," said Venkman.

"Actually, Peter, it occurs to me that there may be a valid reason for City Hall not having noticed," said Egon. "Aside from the incident having occurred at an extremely inconvenient time of the morning, the proximity of the building to the timewave's epicenter may be responsible itself." He glanced meaningfully at Ray.

"Egon's right, Peter," Ray said. "According to the interviews I conducted yesterday, the timefront passed through the Lower Manhattan area at speeds of at least several hundred miles an hour, and it certainly didn't slow down to any appreciable degree as it got further north. A phenomenon like this could easily pass through City Hall so quickly that the people inside would've been pretty hard pressed to say that it wasn't instantaneous."

"Preciesly." Egon gave a thin-lipped smile of satisfaction. "Of course, there's the matter of it being City Hall. I wouldn't trust the average New York City bureaucrat to accurately assess whether the sun had risen in the east."

"Well, okay then," said Peter. "What are we waiting for?"

The scene inside was one of chaos on a short leash. Having been stripped of their radio communication and a hefty chunk of their telephones, the police in Manhattan were making do with runners, telegrams, and couriers both wheeled and mounted. The desk sergeant on duty looked as harried as Ray could remember ever seeing a police officer, although her face brightened when she saw the Ghostbusters approaching. "Tell me you know what's going on," she said. "Please."

"We're on top of it, ma'am," said Ray with a smile. "As a matter of fact, we have reason to believe the answer to most of the major questions of what happened today lie right here in this building."

"Oh, thank God," said the sergeant, a dark-skinned woman whose desktop sign proclaimed her to be Sergeant Derrina Watkins. "The archive room's right down the stairs- I'll get you an escort."

"That's not how I mean it, ma'am," Ray said. "I mean we think the phenomenon originated here."

"We'd like to sweep the building for parachronal energies," said Egon. "Has anyone delivered anything unsusual to the building lately, or threatened any kind of unspecified action against the premises?"

Sergeant Watkins blinked. "Nothing's been delivered, no," she said thoughtfully. "Not that I know of, anyway. And we get threats all the time, but we follow up on those and they're usually either crazies or guys with guns, not-" She nodded towards the cluster of her fellow officers in front of the messenger duty board. Like Lieutenant Chen yesterday, they were dressed in the winter duty uniforms one would expect. Most of them had the high helmets of the time jammed on at awkward angles. "The only unusual thing I can remember happening here in the past couple of weeks is the thing with the cornerstone?"

"What thing with the cornerstone?" Peter interrupted, leaning forward.

Sergeant Watkins barely even batted an eye as she glanced at Peter. "The building's been under renovations lately. When the crews started working in the area with the old cornerstone, there was a rumor going around that something might be inside it. Somebody said it used to be really common to put time capsules in building cornerstones."

Egon, Winston, and Ray exchanged glances; Peter frowned. "So what happened? Did you guys wind up opening it or what?"

"Well, it was decided in the end that we weren't going to, but I honestly don't know," said Sergeant Watkins. "I can get someone to take you down there if you like."

"That would be fantastic," said Ray. "Thank you very much, Sergeant."

"No problem," said Sergeant Watkins. "For you guys, whatever you need."

"Actually, I have one last question," said Peter.


"Everybody else I've met since this whole thing started's made a comment about my personal appearance. How come-"

Sergeant Watkins snorted. "Dr. Venkman, several of the officers on duty here were born in China," she said. "They woke up with half-shaved heads and queues. Your little clump of facefur ain't nothing next to Officer Tsai having a braid down to his ass."

She rapped a bell on her desk sharply and signaled the officer who appeared to take the Ghostbusters down to the renovation area. Ray took the opportunity to flip Lenny's box open. "Well?" he asked the imp. "Are we getting warmer?"

"!*(&) yeah," said Lenny. "We're practically on top of it."

"Is the spirit responsible still here?"

"Nah, I don't think so," said Lenny after a moment's concentration. "Betcha I could come up with a trail once we find its old nest, though."

"if you could, that would be fantastic," said Ray. "Thank you."

"Y'welcome," said Lenny. "Oh- thirty feet up ahead, through that door on the right."

"You heard the imp," said Peter to the officer. "Is that where the cornerstone is?"

The officer frowned. "I don't think so, Dr. Venkman," he said doubtfully. "That's more of a staging area for the construction crew."

"Let's see it anyway, okay?"

"Sure thing." The officer opened the door and started to reach for a light switch, then stopped. "Sorry," he said ruefully. "It's all gas down here."

A few fumbles later, there was light in the room. It shone on toolboxes, shovels, picks- "I think those used to be jackhammers," the officer said- and a table on which a number of items were laid out. Unlike nearly everything else of 1905 the Ghostbusters had seen in the city so far, the things on the table looked old. The envelope was yellowed and ancient-looking, the silver box's engraved patterns were covered in tarnish, the photographs were curled up at the edges, and the police officer's badge looked much the worse for wear. "Huh," said Ray, moving forward. "Looks like this stuff took the blast head-on."

"Are you kidding?" said Lenny. Something in the imp's voice made Ray look down at him; Lenny's expression was deeply disturbed. "That wasn't the blast. That stuff's been marinating in the spirit's power all this time. Ever since they put it in the ground." He pointed. "Especially that thing, there, the silver thing. What the @#%$ is that?"

"Officer?" Ray asked. "I don't suppose you happen to have a pair of rubber gloves on you?"

"Afraid not, Dr. Stantz."

Ray glanced at Egon, who nodded fractionally. "That's all right," he said, and picked it up anyway. It was surprisingly heavy and a little bit warm to the touch- not as warm as Ecto's resting temperature, but warm enough to be noticed. As he turned it over in his hands he frowned a little. "Hey, Spengs?" he said. "I don't think this stuff is tarnish. It sort of looks like ... almost like some kind of galvanic corrosion. Like it's been accidentally electroplated, although I couldn't really say with what."

Egon frowned. "Let me see that," he ordered, adjusting his pince-nez.

"What's going on?" the officer asked. "What is that thing, anyway?"

"Difficult to say," Egon answered. "But Dr. Stantz is right. This discolored stuff's been accreting on this box for years. It's been precipitating out of the limited air supply in the capsule and adhering itself to the device, if I'm not mistaken."

"Okay, I might not be Captain Engineering here," Peter said, "but doesn't that kind of thing need electricity to happen in the first place?"

"Or another power source, yes," Egon answered. "Potentially one ionizing across a poorly constructed planar barrier."

Ray had been examining the envelope where it lay; his head came up sharply at that. "You're kidding," he said.

"I wish I were, Ray," said Egon. "Look at this. I've seen these patterns engraved on the box before, and so have you."

Ray squinted at the box, and then whistled. "Babylonian geomatic sigils," he said, awed. "Layered on top of one another like someone was trying to stack Armor Class bonuses."

Egon nodded grimly. "And not layered very well, either. The interference patterns the resultant stabilization fields set up must've been-"

"Hey!" snapped Peter. "Do you mind? Some of us speak English."

"It's a primitive ghost trap, Peter," Ray said. "Made by somebody who only had a vague theoretical idea of what he was doing, unless I'm very much mistaken."

"So wait," said Winston. "Am I hearing you guys right? Somebody in 1905 managed to trap a spirit in that thing and it's been sitting under One Police Plaza ever since?"

"Pretty much," said Egon. "Officer? Is there any chance you have the provenances of these items?"

"Only if it's in the envelope," said the officer, and very carefully undid its fastenings. "Let's see... newspaper clippings, a couple more photographs, some money fastened to cards... oh, here's a letter to the good people of 2005. Guess we were supposed to open it a while ago, huh?"

"What's the letter say?" said Ray. "It could be important."

"Uh... huh. 'Greetings and felicitations from the citizens of New York City...' yadda yadda yadda, understanding and the common good, building on the foundations of the past just as on the foundations of the building... okay here we go." He gestured to the Ghostbusters to gather around. "The badge belongs to an officer who died in the line of duty-"

"That kind of artifact's a pretty powerful spirit anchor," Ray suggested to Egon.

"The newspaper clippings are the most important events of the year to date," the officer went on. "The money's just a couple samples of the currency of the time. The pictures are the mayor and other city officials in 1905, and the box... huh." He pulled at his bottom lip. "That's interesting. Says here the box was a gift to the city from Nikola Tesla, straight from his labs at Wardenclyffe."

Egon's eyes widened; Peter whistled. "Okay," said Peter, "so Tesla was a ghostbuster too?"

"Hardly, Peter," muttered Egon. "I would have heard something about that."

"Or I would have," Ray added. "Believe me, I read enough about the man. What else does it say?"

"Uh... basically? It didn't come with an explanation. It just arrived from Wardenclyffe one day and they assumed it was meant for the capsule. They hope the people of the future can explain it," said the officer. "Is that thing really a ghost trap?"

"Apparently so," said Ray. "I never would've imagined it, but it could theoretically hold a spirit in a primitive form of restraint. The containment capacity would be temporary at best, though. Especially if the spirit inside were capable of exerting enough power to ionize across the planar barrier like this, since that kind of electrical activity would've been what caused this schmutz to adhere to the box and build up-"

"And that would've distorted the sigils," said Egon, "and completely invalidated their ability to hold a spirit in check."

"And then it would've escaped," Ray said. "Lenny?"

"Hm?" said the imp, who'd been eyeing the silver box with all the loathing a human might reserve for a rabid rat. "Oh. Yeah. That thing's where the spirit's been, all right. Could you put it away? It gives me the creeps."

"Sorry," said Ray, and looked to the officer. "Any chance we could take this with us to investigate?"

"Lemme ask upstairs first," the officer said, "but I doubt they're gonna say no."

gone_byebye: (Arkham)
Sunday, February 17, 2008 / November 20, 1905
14 North Moore Street

Ray made it out of bed first, an unusual circumstance on a Saturday. He had his reasons. One of them was his desire to get the newspaper first; the papers yesterday had been preprinted when the timewave hit. Today's papers would've been written up and assembled by hand, and would include news about the goings-on.

He wasn't disappointed. The boy on the corner, a cranky-looking youth who had tied his suspenders together and knotted them around his waist rather than spend one instant looking any more like a stereotypical newsboy than he absolutely had to, sold him a copy of the broadsheet version of the Post. The usual crew must have been on front page duty, because the headline read, in forty-eight point type:

IT'S 1905

Yup. It was still the Post he knew.

A quick read-through confirmed that most of the articles were purely local news. Other stories had to be phoned in from the outer boroughs or New Jersey, since the National Guard still hadn't lifted the Governor's quarantine of the island. There were vintage fax machines in some of the businesses around the city, especially in the financial district, but one of the articles confirmed that no, they weren't compatible with the devices used in 2008. Neither were quite a lot of the telephone circuits, for whatever reason. The MTA said in another article that the subways and elevated train lines would be running today, but only within Manhattan. A notice from the Red Cross sprawled across most of an entire page, saying that the Greater New York Chapter was mounting an effort to get people situated wherever possible; there was housing on the island for over two million people despite there only being a million and a half residents as of 2008, but most of it was cramped, overloaded, and substandard beyond belief. And the hospitals...

If Ray was reading the paper correctly, the hospitals were reporting an apparent absence of AIDS patients. On the other hand, the polio wards were practically overrun. And there were a fair number of other diseases, all emergent since the 1950's, that no longer appeared to exist- but each and every case had been replaced by something modern medicine had all but conquered.


He'd have to look into that later. Right now, the rooftop was calling. His second reason for making sure he was the first Ghostbuster awake was that he'd stuck his hand under his pillow the night before, and his lightsaber was still there... sort of. Certainly there was something metallic and cylindrical under his pillow. Whether it was still the device he remembered remained to be seen. And if it wasn't, he didn't want anybody else around to see.

Ray crept up on to the roof, deliberately not looking around any more than he had to. The lack of familiar buildings was exactly as weird as he'd feared, and he didn't want to jinx this. The 'saber handle had gone a good deal more ornate, with multiple tiny control panels and settings he certainly never installed. One end had developed a bronze-colored finial studded with green shiny bits, and the other had several prongs sticking out of it, bending first outward and then inward around the space where the blade would normally be. He wasn't sure he liked the look of it, but it probably wouldn't take his hand off, and they might need it, and he really really really wanted to know, so...

The noise it emitted when he switched it on was nothing at all like the familiar snap-hiss, but a deeper, louder vvvworrrmmm sort of sound. Which stood to reason, because what leapt into life was nothing nearly so precise or refined as the saber blade, but instead an odd sort of loosely looping fount of green energy some three feet long. It held an approximately bladelike shape, but it shed greenish sparks when he swung it, and if Ray squinted enough he could just about make out the circulation and motion of the blade's energies through the loops.

He was just about to find himself some kind of loose debris to test the odd blade's cutting power when something downstairs made a violent fzzash! sound. Hastily, Ray switched off the saber and ran for the stairs. The noise had come from Egon's lab, a fact Ray deduced not so much by its direction as by the fact that the lab door was half off its hinges and the air nearby stank of ozone. When Ray poked his head in, alarmed, Egon looked up from the awkward heap in which he sat against the far wall. "Ah, there you are, Ray," he said. "I thought I'd test the proton packs for functionality on the lowest setting." He gestured over his shoulder to the mahogany box and its assemblage of tubes, wires, and cables that had put a sizable dent in the wall. "Apparently in this time frame we've managed to produce shoulder-mounted man-portable Tesla cannons-"

"That's why the meter looked familiar!" Ray exclaimed, trying and failing to snap his fingers. "I saw something with almost the same design in that exhibition of artifacts from Wardenclyffe two years ago! It was supposed to be for detecting electrical field variance, wasn't it?"

"I wasn't at the exhibition with you, so I couldn't really say," said Egon. "Can I get a hand up, please? My clavicle's starting to complain."

Ray hurried over to help Egon to his feet. "Sorry. Listen, I'm going to take Lenny and head downtown to see if I can't find the approximate source of the timewave one way or another. Did you want to come along?"

"Do I have to acknowledge that thing's existence?"

"Considering that he's our only source of comprehensible PKE data, yes. You can wear a pair of smoked glasses and pretend he's a very short intern if you want, though."

"I'll take it," said Egon. "Let's go."
gone_byebye: (civvies)
Sundown brought about one of the darkest nights in Manhattan Ray had ever seen. Oh, sure, there were streetlamps- arc lighting, mostly- and yeah, the residential buildings had electricity here and there, but there were no towers stretching towards the sky with all forty or sixty or eighty lighted floors. It was bizarre, especially when he got a glimpse of either the New Jersey or the Brooklyn side of the island. Across the river in either direction the dull orange-yellow of sodium light spilled upwards as far as the eye could see. The presence of the Goldman-Sachs tower on the Jersey shoreline was especially disconcerting. New Jersey wasn’t supposed to be ahead of New York City in anything, and it definitely wasn’t supposed to have skyscrapers when Manhattan didn’t. It was an article of every New Yorker’s faith.

Still, there was no arguing with the view across the water, so he turned away from the river and started making his way back towards the Firehouse. He’d been able to interview a lot of people about the timewave today. It seemed like everybody in south Manhattan, bar none, wanted to talk to anyone who gave even the slightest impression of knowing what was going on. Surprisingly for New York, most of the stories were roughly the same. No visible spirits, no manifestations- just an odd feeling in the air, a visible distortion coming up from the south, and wham. 1905. Simple as that. Of course, the stories afterwards were as varied and crazed a bag of variable elements as you could imagine, but honestly, this was New York. If five people didn’t have six or seven different reactions to the same event, Ray would be hard pressed not to consider it a sign of the Apocalypse.

As far as the meter went… well, Ray was pretty sure he’d figure it out. Eventually. It was definitely reacting to something, but the darn thing didn’t have any kind of scale that he recognized. The most he could do was watch the arms rise and fall and pivot like some kind of extremely complicated divining rod. If he only had some other-

Some other way-

Two women who were arguing over the fastest way to the nearest working subway station- the MTA had begin opening service up again on the handful of existing lines- stopped mid-sentence at the sound of one hand clapping. Against Ray’s forehead, that is.

“It’s got to be here, it’s got to be here, it’s not like extremely minor demonic entities didn’t exist in 1905, it’s got to be- oh thank Rassilon.” Ray sat up triumphantly and held his prize out for Winston to see: a box of polished ruddy wood, edged in brass, attached to a broad wrist strap. “We might just be in luck after all.”

Winston eyed the box dubiously and scratched at one muttonchop. “I don’t know, Ray. I’d feel kind of safer relying on machines.”

“So would I, Winston, but I don’t think we’re going to get that chance.” Ray strapped the box to his wrist like an overly awkward wristwatch. “The amount of time it took me today to get any kind of information at all out of the meter isn’t likely to go down fast enough to please anybody. Whereas Lenny, here, came straight from the Hogfather with a one hundred per cent comprehensibility rate.”

“I don’t want any part of this,” Egon announced from the hallway outside. “You know how I feel about that thing.”

“I don’t see the difference between him and Slimer,” Ray called back. “Except that Lenny only has to get fed one Coco Puff at a time.” He rapped on the box lightly with one fingernail. “Hey, Lenny? Lenny, you still in there?”

The top of the box slid open to reveal the same minuscule grey-skinned imp Ray had received from the Hogfather at Milliways, dressed in bizarrely dapper evening wear and a top hat. “Hey,” the imp announced, raising his hat. “What’s shaking?”

“Actually, we were hoping you could tell us,” Ray said as Winston leaned in to peer more closely. “Something big swept through the city a couple of hours ago and left a wave of transformed technology and seriously worked-over people in its wake.”

“Yeah, I felt it.” Lenny ran the back of his hand over his nose. “Somebody really cut loose with that one.”

“Literally?” Winston asked before Ray could think to do the same. “Some kind of a spell or something?”

“Nah. Not like a wizard would use, anyways,” said Lenny. “And I know wizards. Their magic stinks, you can’t miss it. Nah, this was a spirit. Somebody pretty powerful, and pretty specialized. You know how some things out there just have a sphere of influence?”

“Sure,” said Ray. “There’s all kinds of entities that just project fear or rage or-“ He stopped before he got to lust. “All kinds of things. Are you saying this all came from one spirit?”

“Sure felt like it,” said Lenny. “Somebody who’d been working himself up for a lonnnnng time. That was stored power that got discharged.”

“Ask him whether he could identify the source this far after the fact,” came Egon’s muffled words.

Lenny rolled his eyes. “Yes,” he said, raising his voice. “As a matter of fact I could. Bring me near it and I’ll point it out like a !&*()&ing bird dog.”

“What did you just say?” asked Winston.

“!&*()&,” Lenny repeated.

“You can pronounce punctuation?”

“It’s one of the many glamorous perks of life in the detection imp industry,” said Lenny dryly. “Any other genius questions?”

“Only if you could tell us what kind of spirit was behind this,” Ray said. “It seems a little bit… well, modern, really… for a god to be responsible.”

“Yeah, no. Not a god,” said Lenny. “I’d know them, too. Nah, this was something else. Something weird. I’m gonna need something fresher to go by before I can say for sure, though.”

“All right,” said Ray. “We’ll go downtown with you tomorrow, if that’s all right.”

“Peachy,” said Lenny. “Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have some reading to catch up on.”

The imp dove back into the box and pulled the lid shut, leaving a faint smell of cigar smoke in his wake. Ray and Winston exchanged glances; then Winston raised his voice. ”You get all that, Egon?”

“Unfortunately yes.”

“Okay, then. We’d better go tell Peter and Ecto.”
gone_byebye: (secret emergency phone)
Somewhere in the middle of the afternoon, Ray managed to get away from not only the other Ghostbusters, but also the clot of reporters who’d descended on the Firehouse. The fact that they had to use pencils and notepads instead of their old tape recorders didn’t seem to be bothering them any; they were as loud and intrusive as always, especially since someone at City Hall had let slip that the Ghostbusters were on the case. The way Ray saw it, Peter could be loud and intrusive right back at them far, far better than Ray ever could, so they didn’t need him hanging around and getting in the way. Right? Right.

He started for the Firehouse roof, but paused just short of the door. The reassuring skyline wasn’t going to be very reassuring, was it? Half the buildings would be missing, or too tall or too short. Not to mention that the city sounds were going to be all wrong… So much for that idea. Time to hijack Egon’s lab. Not that there was anything wrong with his own, but there were too many individual projects waiting in there to distract him, and he needed to think this through. Egon’s lab might look like what happened the day Mrs. O’Leary’s cow kicked the chaos bucket over, but Egon swore up and down that he knew where everything was and that dire fates would befall anyone who disturbed so much as a paper clip. If that wasn’t an incentive to leave the shiny things alone and work through the logical sequence of events, Ray didn’t know what was.

He locked the door behind him, just in case. Only once he was sure Egon wasn’t about to turn up in search of sanctuary of his own did he look around and heave a sigh; just like every other room in the Firehouse, Egon's lab had been given a chronological makeover. Wires and consoles had been replaced by brass and glass, and tables of harmonic resonances and the electromagnetic spectrum had been replaced by charts of obscure religious symbology. The bookshelves were still there, but most of the volumes were bound in leather of questionable age and provenance. It looked, Ray thought, a little bit like what he'd always imagined Ivo Shandor's study to look like...

He put the thought swiftly out of his head and settled down on a convenient stool.

All right. The city had been overwhelmed by some kind of temporal phenomenon. That much was certain. It had come from somewhere south of Fourteenth Street, by the sound of things. (Unless there were multiple epicenters of the conversion phenomenon, which was admittedly a possibility.) It affected the animate and the inanimate alike to varying degrees. It had mental effects as well as physical, although the mental effects varied considerably by person. It reached downward one hell of a distance, upward far enough for the entire Empire State Building to have been affected, and outward to the river. (Possibly further, as he hadn't been down to the river yet to see whether the piers were messed up or not.) What did that suggest? Under other circumstances he'd be inclined to say there'd been some kind of cross-rip or possibly even an island-wide aborted temporal swap phenomenon, with the possibility of people in 1905 suddenly finding themselves surrounded by esoteric technology, but the impression of secondary memories didn't quite...

Hm. No. Maybe. He'd read a number of TARDIS archives in the past, when he'd first traveled with Romana. He dimly remembered seeing something about splits in the time-stream resulting in a second set of memories until the split could be resolved, at least in certain very specialized circumstances. Usually the splits didn't manifest quite like this, though. This felt almost like a split and a splice combined- but that kind of thing didn't happen without serious interference of some kind. Generally there were lesser phenomena that indicated an upstream temporal disturbance of that magnitude, if he remembered right. So. . .

. . . so he had nothing, at least not at the moment. Bleah. Well, he'd just have to find a way to get further downtown and see if he couldn't locate other people who'd witnessed the same wave as Janine. Maybe they could fill him in further. And he'd definitely need to get-

To get readings. Again, bleah. Ray pulled the PKE meter from his belt; he'd found it under Ecto's front seat. When the timewave hit, it'd been turned into an insurmountably complicated device of clockwork and coils, all tiny lights glimmering off gears and sheets of crystal. Doubtless it was capable of responding to something, but he had no idea what the response would look like, or how great it would be, or even how to turn the meter on. There was, admittedly, something faintly familiar about the design- something he knew he ought to remember...

Unfortunately, Egon was the one with the secondary set of memories. Ray? Not so much. He was going to have to figure this one out on the fly, somehow, and fast. They didn't have time for him not to know what he was doing.
gone_byebye: (secret emergency phone)
When they returned to the garage, Janine was waiting for them, her feet propped up on the desk as she flicked through the pages of the newspaper. "Hey, guys," she called without looking up. "Hey, Ecto. What's going on? You left your proton packs in your lockers."

"We didn't need 'em this time," said Winston. "We weren't out on a call this time. The Mayor wanted to see us."

"Somehow, I'm just not surprised," said Janine. She lowered the paper. "Hey, Dr. V, you got a little something on your lip there, right under your nose."

"Oh, ha ha, very funny," snapped Peter. "One more person says that and I'm knocking over the first Duane Reade I see."

Janine just smiled and raised her voice. "Hey, Egon? I borrowed some of your clothes. Hope you don't mind."

Egon, who had been about to examine the moving parts in Ecto's back compartment, looked up. "Excuse me?"

"Your clothes, Egon. I went through your drawers and grabbed one of your shirts and a pair of what passes for pants right about now. I had to use half a box of safety pins. You got long legs."

"I'm aware of that," said Egon dryly. "I'd like to know what prompted this, though."

Janine reached under the desk. Without looking away, she produced a long corset with a built-in bustle section that would've sent Greenpeace into fits of apoplexy. Peter stared at it and whistled. "Wow. Baby got back."

"I know," Janine returned. "Not what I had in mind when I got dressed this morning. I'd've gotten here faster if I had any idea how to breathe in that stupid thing."

"Wait a second," said Ray. "You were already dressed when the time wave hit? When did this happen?"

"This morning. About an hour and a half ago," said Janine. "I was on my way over here, dressed like a normal person-"

"You, Janine? What's this world coming to?"

"Cram it, Dr. V. I hadda walk here from Third and Fourteenth in that thing, and you do not want to know how long that takes when the streets're full of horses and cars that make the Model T look modern." She paused. "No offense, Ecto."

"It's okay, Janine," said the ambulance in a subdued voice. "I'm kinda used to it by now."

Ray sighed and patted his daughter's hood. "It's gonna be okay," he murmured, and turned back to Janine. "Exactly what happened, do you remember? Did you see any kind of distortion or phenomenon? Was there any kind of warning, visually or otherwise? Anything at all?"

Janine frowned a little, thinking. "Yeah," she said. "I remember looking down Third and thinking, 'wow, things look really fuzzy, I should go to the eye doctor'. Then the air suddenly got all ripply, like in a parking lot on a hot day, y'know? Next thing I know there's this whummm noise, and when it goes away, I'm stuck in that thing and everybody else on the street's dressed like they're trying out for a movie. And the cars're all gone, and there's horses in the street, and the buildings're all different. I'm kinda surprised I got here at all, with everybody freaking out and all."

"But you definitely saw it coming up from the south?" Ray said. "Okay, that's a start, if nothing else. Thanks, Janine."

"You're welcome, Ray," she said. “Whaddya think’s going on?”

“No clue whatsoever,” Ray said. “But whenever there’s time weirdness, I, for one, know who to call…” He stepped over to the door into the alleyway and opened it.

And closed it, and opened it again, and closed it again.

On the third try he said something under his breath in Sumerian that made Egon stare. “Sorry, guys,” he said, switching back to English. “It, um… looks like we’re on our own for this one.”

“No Milliways?” said Peter.

“No. No Milliways.”

“Oh, that’s just great.
gone_byebye: (civvies)
"Hey, Ray?"

"Yes, Peter?"

"After Lenny gets through with us, do you think you could do me a favor?"

"That would depend on the nature of the favor."

"Do something about your daughter's suspension, would you?"

"As much as I sympathize, Peter, I'm not going to make any kind of mechanical upgrades to Ecto until we've figured out what's going on and Manhattan is back to normal. I just don't think it's a good idea."

"That's what I was afraid you'd say. Man, I never wanna see another cobblestone again as long as I live."

"That makes two of us."

"Three," said Winston. "Definitely three. How about you, Egon?"

"I never liked them in the first place."

"Okay then, it's settled. The next time one of us sees Santa Claus, we ask him for an asphalt spreader." Venkman glanced up at the doors ahead. "Here goes nothing, guys. Hey! Lenny!"

If the Mayor heard his name being called as the Ghostbusters strode in, he didn't notice it. He had good reason. No one, no matter how seasoned a politician they are, can be expected to hear another voice added to the cacophony of virtually all the bureaucrats in Manhattan.

"-stockbrokers threatening to riot, your Honor, it's not a pretty sight-"

"The Helmsley Organization wants to know where the Empire State Building's gone, everybody wants to know-"

"We've still got the Brooklyn and Williamsburg bridges, but Triborough, Manhattan, and Queensborough are only about half there, and don't even get me started on the tunnels-"

"At least the Diamond District's quiet, but I don't know what that's going to be like tomorrow-"

"-iron lungs, your Honor! In every hospital on the island!"

"Ah, you're here," the Mayor suddenly said, and the rest of the room went quiet. "I've been waiting for- great googly moogly!"

"You know, that's starting to get old really fast," said Peter irritably. "You'd think nobody else in the city woke up this morning looking like a walrus."

"Not on that scale, no," said the Mayor. "Not that that matters right now. Do any of you gentlemen have any idea what's going on? Beyond the obvious, I mean."

Venkman looked over his shoulder at Ray and Egon; Ray and Egon looked at each other. Winston shook his head. With a sigh, Venkman turned back to the Mayor, but before he could speak the Mayor scowled. "That's about what I figured. Nobody has any idea. Nobody."

"You asked other people before us? Lenny, I'm hurt."

"You sure took your sweet time getting here," the Mayor shot back. "All right, you guys, here's the deal. Someone, I don't know who and I don't know how, has turned the clock back to 1905. I dunno if it's ghosts or magic or, or space aliens, or what, but this is the kind of weird crap we pay you and the Spook Squad to handle. Find out what's going on and get it fixed."

A dark-haired man with a pointed beard and a mustache that curled up at the ends, dressed in a spectacularly formal suit complete with vest, morning coat, and a shirt-collar that stopped just shy of his jaw, cleared his throat. The Mayor nodded towards him and said, "The Chairman of the NYSE wants me to remind you that there's a deadline on this. Get it fixed before the market opens on- what day of the week is it, again?"

"Tuesday, your Honor."

"Right. Washington's Birthday this week. Okay, get the island back to normal before the market opens on Tuesday, or your asses are grass."

"That's it?" said Venkman. "That's all?"

"Well, since we're on the subject, I've got a telegram here-" The Mayor grimaced. "A freaking telegram. Jesus Christ, it's 2008. . . anyway, I've got a telegram here from Governor Hundred's office saying he's called for the National Guard. Nobody's allowed to leave the island, just in case this- whatever it is- is contagious."

"Huh boy," said Venkman. "What else? There's always something."

The Mayor cocked an eyebrow at that. "I was getting to that. Dr. Frieden here tells me people're remembering things they didn't know they knew how to do, like work these cockamamy telephones and drive the cars when they couldn't even drive stick yesterday."

"My next-door neighbor woke up this morning half-convinced that he was supposed to report to his sportswriting job at the New York Gazette," said Dr. Frieden. "He's a television news anchor. And the Gazette went out of business in 1936."

Ray risked a glance over at Egon, whose expression had gone very worried indeed.

"These half-assed memories're about the only reason the city's still running. The MTA shut down all the subways as soon as it happened, but we're gonna have to open them up sooner or later. I don't wanna have a million and a half people relying on 'sort of' knowing how to deal with things. Find out what's going on and get it fixed, capisce?"

"Yessir," said Venkman, and saluted.

"Good. Get out of my office and get to work."

On the way out, Egon said, "Peter? You and Winston get back to Ecto. I need to speak to Ray for a moment."

Peter nodded. "Fine by me. I break out in a rash around too many politicians anyway."

As Peter and Winston went on, Egon pulled Ray aside into a small conference room. His expression went even more grim than normal. "We have a problem," he said without preamble. "A big problem. The memory phenomenon the Mayor mentioned, specifically."

"It sounds like the kind of thing that happens when there's a timeline fracture," Ray said. "I read a couple of records of that in the TARDIS archives once. But this isn't a timeline fracture, is it? More like some kind of bizarre timeline splice."

"Probably. But the specific nature of our chronal disjuncture issues isn't what I'm concerned about just now," said Egon. "Ray... do you have a second memory set?"

Ray frowned, considering. "I don't think so," he said, "but then again, I did live in 1906 for a while. I remember the time frame already."

"Consider yourself lucky, because it's an extremely disturbing experience," said Egon. "I've been dealing with the phenomenon since I woke up this morning, and it's been on the same scale of wrongness as the health commissioner's neighbor."

"Uh-oh," said Ray. "How bad is it?"

"Let's just say that I'm equally likely to remember getting rid of ghosts by means of exorcism rituals and ominous Latin or Hebrew chanting as I am to do it by use of the proton pack and traps."

"... we'd better get busy."
gone_byebye: (Arkham)
“It… it’s okay, sweetie,” said Ray, stepping forward. Resolutely, he ignored the urge to look outside. Ecto was somehow contriving to look pathetically huddled despite her distinctly rigid construction. “I don’t know what’s going on, but we’ll fix it, I promise.”

“Big words,” muttered Venkman. “We don’t even know what’s going on-“

“You’re not helping, Peter.”

Winston chose that moment to step outside, returning moments later with a newspaper. “It says it’s the Post, “ he reported, “but it looks like it’s… respectable.

“You gotta be kidding me.” Venkman pushed past Ecto and Ray to have a look. “Holy cow. That doesn’t even look like the Post.”

“Naturally not,” said Egon. “If this really is 1905, Rupert Murdoch hasn’t even been born yet, let alone had the chance to run Hamilton’s newspaper into the ground.”

“No, I mean it’s the size of the Times,” said Peter, holding up the broadsheet. “Seriously, Egon, you could paper-train a puppy with this thing.”

“You’re right about one thing, though,” said Winston, who looked as if he was concentrating on the paper at the expense of all the other stuff going on. “It hasn’t been run into the ground yet. This is real news-“ He flipped through a few pages. “All of it’s real news. Even the editorials. Check it out, they just crowned a new king of Norway.”

Egon and Peter gathered around Winston to peruse the paper. Ray took the opportunity to sidle over and rest a hand on Ecto’s hood. “I don’t even know how I’m talking, Daddy,” Ecto said in a very small voice. “I can’t find any of my parts. I think I run on steam.

“Well, it can’t be that bad if you can still talk and think,” Ray said. “I mean, for all that your technology’s gone seriously retrograde, it is still working, right?”

“I guess,” said Ecto. “I can’t even get signal, though. And I can’t run a diagnostic because I don’t know where my radio circuits are-”

“Maybe that’s not you,” Ray suggested. “If we’ve been thrust back in time somehow, it could just be that there’s no radio broadcasting for you to hear.”

“You’re half right,” came a voice from outside. “There sure as hell isn’t any radio in Manhattan.”

Ray and the others all looked up at the same time. It was Lieutenant Chen, looking as disgruntled as always. His uniform, at least, looked wearable- but the fact that he was doing everything in his power to bring one of the NYPD Mounted Division’s horses to a stop, and not having much success, couldn’t have been improving his mood any. “God dammit, Two-bits, I said whoa!”

Ray’s hand went to his neck; Garion’s medallion was still there. Thanking his lucky stars for small mercies, he let out a short, sharp whistle- in essence, a call of Hey! You! The horse’s head came up sharply, and the big bay whinnied- but stopped moving.

“Oh, thank God,” said Chen as he slumped forward in the saddle. “You have no idea what it took to get- holy schlamoly!”

“Very funny,” said Venkman, the target of Chen’s surprise. “You’re not exactly looking clean-shaven yourself, I notice.”

“Yeah, well, I’m not the one giving Stalin a run for his money,” said Chen. “What the hell, Dr. Venkman?”

“Somebody- I’m not saying who, but somebody- hid all the razors this morning.”

Chen shook his head. “Never mind,” he said. “You guys’re wanted at City Hall. I tried phoning you, but nobody at the phone company’s any good with turn-of-the-century hardware. Nobody anywhere is. It’s like this all over Manhattan, guys.”

“Really,” said Egon, pushing his pince-nez up his nose with one finger. “Does it extend into any of the other boroughs?”

“Not as far as we can tell, and it hasn’t hit New Jersey, either.” said Chen. The horse tossed its head and snorted. “Quiet, you.”

“It’s all right, Lieutenant,” said Ray, moving forward. “He’s just impatient. There’s a lot more horses around today than he’s used to.”

Chen eyed Ray for a moment, then shook his head. “Great. Just my luck. If I get near the other horses is he going to start sniffing butts?”

“No, they don’t work that way,” Ray said.

“Good. That and not falling off and breaking my neck are all I care about right now. How’s that daughter of yours, anyway?”

“She’s, um…” Ray glanced over his shoulder. “Well- see for yourself.”

The horse’s ears slanted back a moment as Ecto hesitantly rolled forward into the daylight. “Um. Hi, Lieutenant,” she said.

Chen whistled at the sight. “Wow. You look, um… actually, you look great.”

“Really?” said Ecto, in an I-want-to-believe-you tone.

“Seriously. Like something out of a museum.” Chen wrapped his reins around his hands a few extra times, provoking a snort from the horse. “But, uh, so do all the cars in the city right now- the ones that’re left.”

“How do you mean?” asked Winston. “The only news we’ve got right now’s this.” He held up the copy of the Post.

Chen nodded. “Yeah, I know. All the newspapers in the city’re from 1905. Half of ‘em are papers that went out of business years ago. Something happened last night that looks like it grabbed pretty much every single inanimate object on this island and turned the clock back to 1905, hard. And if the object wasn’t there in ’05, it stopped being there. The Red Cross guys’re going berserk trying to find houses for everybody who lived in buildings that aren’t there any more.”

Ray’s breath hissed between his teeth, but Venkman put up a hand. “Question. How far down does it go?”

“Far enough down that the subways’re all missing- except for the old IRT lines,” said Chen. “And we’ve got elevated train service back, too. Listen, no offense, but like I said- the Mayor wants to see you. Think you can get to City Hall from here by yourselves? The sooner I get Two-bits here back to the stable, the happier both of us’re gonna be.”

“Ecto, honey?” Ray said. “Think you can do it?”

“I can try, Daddy,” said the ambulance after some thought. “But there’s no room in the back. I don’t know what all that hardware is, but it doesn’t come out.”

“That’s fine,” Ray said. “All right, Lieutenant. We’ll be there shortly.”

“Thanks,” said Chen. “I’ll see you there. Looks like October came early this year, huh?”

Oh, man, I hope not, Ray thought.
gone_byebye: (augh)
Friday, February 15, 2008
One Police Plaza
Late Night

The trouble with getting any kind of serious construction work done on certain buildings in New York City is that they're too important for work to proceed during the day. Renovation and new construction efforts have to be scheduled for off-hours or weekends. That gets expensive fast, since New York is one hell of a union town; time and a half adds up fast even under the best of circumstances.

Renovating One Police Plaza was anything but the best of circumstances. Probably pretty close to the opposite, in fact. The building had been rewired ages ago, and most of the piping had been replaced, but between one thing and another the aged structure's flaws had stacked one on top of another until the city had no choice but to order a massive overhaul. Ceilings were taken down and replaced. Carpets were pulled up to make way for new flooring. Load-bearing walls were strategically upgraded, one member at a time. Even the foundation of the building came under scrutiny, including the cornerstone, a ponderous grey block whose color and composition were at odds with the rest of the stone around it. It couldn't be removed, of course- such was the nature of cornerstones- but when careful examination proved it to be hollow, the city and the firm in charge of the renovation job sat down for a long discussion. There had been rumors in circulation for some time that there was a time capsule buried beneath One Police Plaza, but if such a thing existed, its location and age had long since been lost. Would it be worth breaching the cornerstone? Ought they to leave it be? Were there non-intrusive methods of finding out just what lay inside?

Such were the questions. And a little after midnight on Saturday, February 16th, 2008, a jackhammer slipped and made them all moot.

Saturday, February 16th
14 North Moore Street

"Ray." It was Venkman's voice, and probably his hand on Ray's shoulder, too. "Wake up, Ray. We have a problem."

"Gnrh." Ray tried to burrow further into his pillow; yesterday had been insanely busy. "Whazzat?"

"Ray, it's 1905."

His sleep-fogged mind considered this statement and made the only sensible response possible, namely: "You mean PM, right?"

"No, Ray, I mean AD," was the answer. "It's the year 1905 out there. Why is it 1905? What did you do??"

All right, that got him awake. "I didn't do anything," Ray protested, pushing himself upright. "Why do you- holy Heisenberg!"

Venkman was scowling at him. Or, rather, Venkman's mustache was scowling at him. The thing was impressive enough to have its own facial expressions entirely. Baleen whales would've paid good money to use that mustache as a substitute strainer. "What?" it snapped.

"Nothing! Nothing," Ray said hastily, and jerked his eyes away. Oh, God, were those gas fixtures?

"I'm almost certain this wasn't his fault, Peter," said Egon from the hallway. Ray took the opportunity to roll out of bed, away from Peter's glare. "For one thing, he's been asleep longer than any of us have. For another, I very much doubt either Romana or certain beings of his acquaintance with an affinity for angles would let him get away with anything that could possibly have this kind of effect."

"Well, this has to be somebody's fault!" Peter protested. "Who else do we know who has this kind of freaky luck with time?"

Ray looked up from his dresser and risked a glance over his shoulder; for one horrifying instant he was absolutely sure he was looking at Laszlo Spengler, fresh out of Miskatonic. Egon and his putative grandfather had distressingly similar tastes in clothing, right down to the suspenders. He shook his head rapidly and the illusion broke.

"I can think of several possible candidates, based on some of the papers that've been coming out of Stevens Institute of Technology lately," Egon said. "Now leave Ray alone and come help me assess the containment unit."

"What's this about the containment unit?" Ray said, the shirt he'd been about to pull on briefly forgotten. Egon hesitated, not quite willing to speak- but his eyes flickered upwards. A chill ran down Ray's spine as he realized that Egon was looking at the gaslights on the wall. "Oh, no. No, no, no-"

"It seems to be holding at the moment, but I haven't got the slightest idea of how," Egon answered. "Given that there doesn't appear to be any sort of electrical current being delivered to the building I can only assume our generators are in the basement somewhere and still functional. I think it behooves us to find out how long that situation's going to last."

Hastily, Ray jerked his shirt on and started buttoning it up. "That does seem like the critical thing," he agreed. "How far does the phenomenon extend? Is there any kind of indication of where it's coming from or where it started or-" He blanched. "Oh God. Ecto..."

Venkman grimaced. "Uh, Ray, about that-"

Ray ignored him and ran for the nearest pole. Thankfully, those were in exactly the same places as always. "Ecto, kiddo, are you all right?" he shouted down to the garage.

"No!" The car's voice was oddly reedy-sounding. "Daddy, don't come down here!"

"Nonsense. Of course I'm coming."

"Daddy, please-"

He dropped to the floor and blinked a few times; the garage wasn't particularly well-lit at the moment, and fumbling for the light switch quite naturally didn't help. "Ecto?" he said, moving forward.

"I don't want anybody seeing me right now," the car's subdued voice protested. "I'm all wrong."

"Then I need to help you," Ray said firmly. "I don't care what you look like. Come on, kiddo, turn your lights on? Please?"

There was a long, hesitant silence.

"I don't seem to have headlights, Daddy," Ecto finally confessed. "And I can't open the garage because I'm afraid of what'll happen if I try and transform like this."

"It's okay, Ecto," said Winston, who had come down the same pole as Ray. "I'll handle it."

"Uncle Winston, don't-"

But Winston had already made his way past Ecto and unlocked the garage door. As he heaved it open, the sounds- and smells, oh, God, the smells- of a million utterly indignant New Yorkers amidst their suddenly unfamiliar surroundings started pouring in. There were cars out there, true, but the engines were all wrong, and more than cars there were horses, and the buildings across the way were all wrong...

None of it particularly mattered to Ray, though. What was important was the light... and the fact that Ecto appeared to have had most of her body parts swapped out for something resembling an old-time train car crossed with a tractor, a truck, or both. A white-and-red... train car-tractor-truck hybrid, with the Ghostbusters logo on the sides, and... rods and wheels and pistons and other moving parts pumping furiously on the other side of its windows...

Ray covered his mouth with one hand. "Told you, Daddy," Ecto said miserably.

Somewhere outside, a horse was neighing.


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Raymond Stantz

February 2014

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