CURTAIN CALL
PART ONE

From the files of Dr. Fritz V. Baugh, Official Historian
GBI Case File No. GBWC-2004-22/100

April 17, 2004
Los Angeles California
Ghostbusters Omnibus Timeline Year 22
The wispy, ephemeral woman looked sad as she spoke to the wiry man with slicked-back brown hair standing before her

Beware the snare of Anpu...seek those who follow the neon banner of the rat...the ludicrous one and the dragon of victory, the healer and the binder of spectres...but guard yourself, for the ten will be sundered...

John Lipsyte awoke, in a sweat.

That dream had intruded on his sleep a few times over the last year...most memorably the night before the open recruitment ...

Which made it all the more incredible that the man he saw in the dream...the man the ephemeral woman was talking too...was already a member of the embryonic Ghostbusters West Coast team.

John got up and splashed some water on his face. It had been his blessing, and his curse, for as long as he could remember. Indeed, his first clear memory, at the tender age of three, was a nightmare where the one of his favorite cartoon characters, the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man, came to life and started destroying things...

Two nights before the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man was conjured up at Central Park West in New York City.

You're a natural latent psychic... Joey had said, shortly after John had joined and he and Fritz had run a series of tests on him. You show signs of both sensitive and physical psionic abilities, but you're not focused...your potential is diffused.

Joey had been a big help...but the one thing he had never told anyone else was that the man in the dream was Jeremy Hicks.

Elsewhere...
"Ravisher..." the deep voice called.

There was a flash of smoke, and the jackal-like form of the Ravisher, sporting a hoodie and taloned hands, appeared before the armored form in the throne (who also sported a jackal-like head).

"You summoned me, Lord Atrocity?"

"The phase of the moon is almost right....I will need just one more thing to unleash the power of the Eye of Apophis..."

"I am flattered you think of me. Milord...instead of the Geistimanns..."

"They have been excellent servants...but their loyalty is first to themselves. You, on the other hand, have given your soul to me. Besides...I think you will enjoy this errand..."

A Posh Address In Beverly Hills
April 18, 2004
The limo glided down the avenue lined with posh houses. It came up to one in particular, and the driver stopped in front of the armored gates.

"Name and business?"

"Doctor Peter Venkman to see Miz Bartholomew." the driver answered, in a crisp British accent.

"One moment..." came the response. "You're confirmed....I'm buzzing you in now."

"Bloody pretentious jackasses all over the bloody place..." the driver muttered as the gates opened and he guided the car in.

The car parked, and the driver got out and opened the passenger door. He held out his hand and a woman took it, using his firm grip to help pull herself out of the car. Twenty six, and with shoulder-length strawberry blonde hair, Chelsea Aberdeen may not have been Hollywood glamourous, but still turned a head or two.

"Thank you, Sir." she said to the driver, with a wink. She was currently dressed slightly more formally than her norm, with a blazer, knee-length skirt, hose, and pumps making her look very businesslike.

The driver went over to the other passenger door and opened it, allowing Dr. Peter Venkman, Legend of Ghostbusting, to emerge. A scant six months shy of the dreaded "five-oh", the brown color in his hair was enhanced by dyes (though he admitted that only to his hair dresser and his wife) but the energy in his green eyes was the same as it had ever been.

He was wearing his best suit, one selected for him by his wife (being from the world of classical music, Mrs. Venkman had a clue or two when it came to dressing more formally). "So do you like the limo, Robert?"

Dr. Robert Griffiths, whom Venkman had enlisted to drive them, made a grunting noise. "Not too bad, Dr. V....but I think I prefer the ECTO-1N."

"To each his own, I guess, Robert...I may be biased by any ride that doesn't have me screaming for my life."

"Is Dr. Stantz's driving really that bad?" Robert had to ask.

"Yeah. You ready, Chelsea?"

Chelsea shuffled a couple of the papers in the folder she was holding. "Ready to go, Doctor Venkman."

"How many times have I told you you can call me Peter?"

"We really need to get this done, Doctor Venkman."

Venkman rolled his eyes and led the younger woman into the house. Robert took a PKE meter out of his pocket and switched it on--a precaution that was why he'd been asked to drive...

Venkman and Chelsea were met by a woman in her late thirties, with short light brown hair, and dressed in sweat pants and a t-shirt. "I just hope there aren't any paparazzi hiding in the bushes...I'd hate to end up on the front of Lurid Weekly Gazzette looking like this..."

Venkman greeted her in stereotypical Hollywood fashion, a peck on the cheek. "Forget it, Cath. You look stunning as always. Thanks for letting us see you today..." He turned to Chelsea. "Cath, this is Chelsea Aberdeen, Client Administrator for our West Coast office. Chelsea...Catharine Bartholomew. She was one of my first clients when I went into the agent biz..."

"A pleasure." Chesea said, shaking Catharine's hand.

"The same..." Catharine responded. "Now come on inside and tell me what brings you here..."

She led them into her spacious living room, and had them seated on a large couch opposite the plush chair she sat in. A butler prepared drinks.

Venkman took a sip of his martini. "Cath...I don't have to tell you what today is..."

Cath looked away. "No...I'll never forget coming home, hearing on the news about Jon..."

Chelsea put down her Pepsi (she didn't care for alchohol), and couldn't help but be taken by a memory or two of her own. The joy she'd felt when Fritz had asked her--not one of his brothers, not the coworker who'd been stomping on his heart for the previous couple of years--to attend the premiere of Dance of the Skeletons with him. One year ago today. The delightful jealousy he'd shown when, in short order, Jeremy Hicks and Joey Williams had flirted with her. And the moment it all changed. When a day of fun turned into an abattoir...

"Cath...we've been researching this for the last year...Jon was murdered, and we think we know who by..." Venkman said.

Cath's eyes narrowed. "I thought it some gang banger...the inquest said it was a gang hit...random retaliation against that doctor who'd pissed them off earlier in the day...the doctor who'd actually..." she paused "...saved Jon from the Anaheim attacker."

Venkman shook his head. "That's the official story...but that doctor is now part of my West Coast office too...he was there. It wasn't a gangsta--it was the same monster that had attacked Jon in Anaheim. I know you didn't always believe those stories I told about my days as a Ghostbuster, but..."

"Now let me get this straight, Peter---you actually expect me to believe that Jon was murdered by a ghost?"

"Actually, Cath...it could be even worse." Venkman said. "We now think it was a human being who...well, for lack of a better description, sold his soul for power."

Chelsea knew it was her turn to explain things. "The creature called himself the Ravisher" she said, pulling a picture out of her folder. "There are no photos, but this is a fairly accurate artist rendition--I can vouch for that, because I was there at the Anaheim theatre."

Cath picked up the picture, and studied it. "A dog wearing a hoodie?"

"Miss Bartholomew...the Ravisher made several statements during the attack that created the distinct impression that he acted with a personal dislike of Mister Dennison. And he apparently was someone that, in his own mind at least, Mister Dennison should've known: one thing I distinctly remember him saying is 'You can't be forgetting me, Jonny...c'mon, you know who this is...Or, to be more accurate, who this once was!!!'"

Venkman nodded. "Another bit went like this...'Heh heh heh...I told you you'd regret firing me...' And he specifically, when talking to me, used the word 'revenge' in talking about Jon"

Chelsea produced some more papers. "A few months ago the GBWC's Official Historian and Co-CEO, Dr. Fritz Baugh, was going over the files in regard to this case and made a discovery..." She handed one of the papers to Cath. "January 16, 2003...altercation at Disney Studios...forcible removal of staff writer Joseph Snurf. Threatened bodily injury to director Jon Dennison--according to Dennison, Snurf had just been fired for drinking on job."

"Oh God..." Cath said, looking at the paperwork. There was a picture of a pudgy man with a mustache and a patch over his right eye. "You don't really think..."

"We've spent the last three months trying to get any sort of lead on Joseph Snurf's whereabouts...he didn't have much family, and not a lot of friends, and all of our searches have turned up blank: as far as the world knows, at this moment, Joseph Snurf disappeared sometime in late March of 2003. Not a single friend or family member has heard from him since. His bank and credit card accounts haven't been touched since then." Chelsea explained.

"Another one of my West Coast guys used to work for Disney" Venkman continued. "He confirms that there was tension around the Skeleton crew before Snurf was fired...he'd had lots of arguments with Dennison about the way the story was going--he was mad as hell that Dennison didn't accomidate one of the A-list voice cast, fired him and replaced him with an unknown named Chuck Sherwood. By the time Snurf was shown the door, he and Jon did not like each other any more..."

"Enough to do something like this? To get transformed into a monster and murder him?" Cath broke in. "I just...I just can't believe it..."

Peter Venkman not only had a PhD in Psychology, he also had a natural gift for "reading" people. It was one trait he inherited from his father, Charlie, who had often used it for rather unscrupulous ends. "Cath...this is only a guess...but did you know Snurf?"

Cath looked away and buried her face in her hands. Chelsea was so stunned by the question (which seemed so completely out of nowhere to her) that she turned to face Venkman with a shocked look.

"Well...yeah..." Cath admitted. "You knew I was involved with Jon before he met his latest trophy wife, Taffy..."

Venkman nodded.

"It must have been almost two years ago that Jon introduced me to Joe at a party. They were still friends then, and Joe and I ended up hitting it off pretty well. Within a month we were..."

"Getting along really really well?" Venkman asked.

Cath turned her eyes down. "Yeah."

"After a while, Joe began to fight with Jon, and I couldn't help but think it was because Joe was jealous that Jon and I'd had a relationship, even if it was long over."

"This...puts a whole new perspective on things." Venkman had to admit. Chelsea was still silent.

Robert was seriously contemplating taking a catnap when the PKE meter he was holding began to go wild.

"Oh hell..." he cursed, putting the meter away and heading for the house.

"Cath...we're not here to embarass you or bring back bad memories...but it becomes more crucial than ever we know--is Joe Snurf the Ravisher?"

"Why ask her, Smart Guy?" a sepulchur voice with an unnatural resonance sounded.

"Chelsea, Cath, Get down!!!" Venkman commanded.

"What in the..." Catharine Bartholomew asked, understandably confused. She looked around, realizing her living room was filling with swirls of smoke.

The smoke congealed into a shape...man-sized, more or less, with a jackal-like head and wearing a hooded sweatshirt. "When you can ask the genuine article?"

"Is that..." Cath asked, horrified.

Chelsea nodded. "The Ravisher..."

"DOWN!!!" another voice commanded, and a beam of protons slammed into the side of the Ravisher's head.

"Ahhh! What the f***?!?!"

Robert Griffiths jumped into the room, branishing a Proton Pistol. The belt hidden by his sport coat, the weapon (the same one created for Kylie Griffin in 1997) had been perfectly concealed until it was needed. Which was right now.

"I remember you...you were one of those idiots at the Sanchez Diner..."

"One of the 'idiots' that practically caught your bloody ass before you punked out."

Venkman meanwhile had grabbed Cath and Chelsea both, and ran them out of the living room as quietly as possible. They ran toward the limo.

"I've gotten a lot better since then..."

"So have we, Dingleberry..." Robert snarled, and fired on the Ravisher again.

The Ravisher took the first shot, then dodged the second Cath Bartholomew's wide-screen TV taking the shot instead. "That'll probably come out of your bill..."

"Get'r in the car and lock the doors!!!" Venkman yelled to Chelsea, as he popped open the trunk. A Mark 4 Proton Pack was sitting there waiting.

"Secure!" he heard Chelsea's muffled voice as the locks on the limo clicked into place. Only he or Robert, having keys, could get inside the car now.

Venkman smirked with satisfaction as he heard the familiar sound of his pack arming. "Just try something now, jackal boy..."

Robert fired again, this time connecting solid. The monster writhed in the beam--but he knew he didn't have much time. The Mark 3 had a limited power supply and containment capacity. He unhooked a ghost trap from his belt and flung it underneath the undulating monster...

Which kicked it straight back to him, hitting Robert in the head, dazing him. The beam cut out.

"Bloody hell!!!" was all Robert could get out before the Ravisher backhanded him into Catharine Bartholomew's coffee table.

"Like I said, Ghostsucker, I've gotten a lot better over the last year. I know a little strategy called 'rope a dope'...and I certainly know a distraction when I see it. Tootles..."

With that, the Ravisher vanished into a puff of smoke.

Venkman was watching the door to Cath's house, a bead of sweat running down his face, when he heard a shout coming from inside the car.

He turned to see a familiar shade of smoke billowing out of the cracks in the back seat windows. "Son of a f***ing bitch!!!" he shouted as he fumbled for the keys to open the door.

When he did, a scant ten seconds later, Chelsea was alone in the back seat, coughing and choking the acrid smoke. Venkman dragged her out as gently as he could manage.

"Aberdeen...talk to me...what happened..."

"He just...*cough* appeared...he grabbed her, said something about 'sharing a backseat again after all this time'...and they both vanished. *cough* *cough*..."

"Sit down, Chelsea...just breathe in the nice clean...well, the nice not so clean but better than Ravisher fumes LA air..."

Robert ran up, limping. He took a quick look at the scene. "I take it I'm bloody too late..."

Venkman nodded, holstering his thrower. "The jerk really has gotten better--he played us like suckers and got away with the girl right under our nose. I hate this--this sucks!!!"

"Any idea what ol' Jackal-Puss wants with her? Why not kill her outright like with Dennison?"

"None at all, Robert..." Venkman replied. "But I'm pretty sure we're not gonna like those answers when we do find out..."

April 25, 2004
Dr. Kyle Stevens grimaced as he looked out the window. The rain was coming down so hard that even with the wipers of the ECTO-1S (a converted SWAT van) turned to maximum, he was lucky to see a hundred feet in front of him.

"Man..." Dr. Andrew Harness griped from the back. "I thought LA didn't get weather like this...this is like monsoon season..."

"Of course LA gets weather like this." Dr. Jeff Nash replied. "The mudslides have to start somehow."

Peter Kong and Micheal Chad, having a head-to-head Genero Fighter battle on their Game Boys, both chuckled. "Hey, remember I'm in the van, Creepy. We'll be okay..." Chad grinned.

Jeff mumbled to himself, remarking that it was bad enough Harness coined that silly nickname, but to make it worse since then half the team (the half that saw themselves as budding comedians) latched onto it too.

Kyle shook his head as he switched the radio station. "At least that job was inside...I'd hate to think how soaked we'd be otherwise..."

"The National Weather Service is forcasting, you guessed it, rain rain and more rain for the LA area"

Jeff flipped the radio speaker the middle finger.

"...Other news, the LAPD confirms that security footage taken at her house confirms the allegation of Ghostbusters International's Peter Venkman that actress Catharine Bartholomew was apparently abducted by the same assailant that attacked director Jon Dennison one year ago..."

"Thank goodness for those cameras." Andy quipped. "Otherwise the damn fools'd probably think Dr. V did it."

"...described as wearing a costume resembling a 'dog in a hoodie', the assailant is clearly seen menacing Miss Bartholomew and battling one of the members of LA's own Ghostbusters franchise..."

"Good press? Is that allowed?" Peter chimed in.

Jeff squinted from the passenger seat. "Kyle, is that what I think it is?"

"If you think it's an incredibly welcome neon orange Ghostbuster sign, then yes." Kyle exhaled loudly. "We're almost there."

"I told you we'd make it..." Chad said smugly.

Andy leaned in close to Kyle and Jeff. "Hey...whatsay we make him walk the last two hundred feet?"

"Just awesome news, guys....I mean it, I knew our new comic was going to be huge, but a complete sell out? And now you're talking about a second printing? I love this! I love this a lot!!!"

When the five members of the GBWC South Team disembarked from the ECTO-1S, Venkman was sitting at Chelsea's desk using the phone. "I mean, it's funny being drawn to look sorta like Bill Murray and all of us wearing the same color, but hey, it's what the fans wanted, right? I can live with a little creative interpretation. Look, I gotta go--I promised my wife I'd call her back in the Apple before bedtime, so I'll catch you later..."

"Obscene phone call, Doctor V?" Andy deadpanned.

"Guys at 88MPH telling me how much obscene money we're making off that new comic...I tell you, they can't keep that thing in stock..."

Jeff rolled his eyes as he shucked his gloves and utillity belt. "You don't have to tell me...the seventh was a nightmare--lots of fanboys wanting to buy the book from an authentic Ghostbuster..."

"I know. I should've signed some copies for you like I did those stores in New York..."

"Probably just as well you didn't. If the fans found out I probably would've been robbed..."

Chad yawned loudly and sauntered off....Peter Kong was still looking at his Game Boy. "At least I got one round over him...I guess that the Technicolor Yawn is useful after all..." Still, he was beginning to really hate losing to Chad constantly...

Kyle and Andy went over to the still open garage door, and looked out. "Darn LA kids don't know how to handle this...we get gullywashers like this all the time back in Tennessee..."

Kyle nodded. "Alabama too..." He almost said something, but stopped. Andy would probably think he was crazy, but there was something about this storm he just somehow didn't like...

Elsewhere...
The statue stood unfazed by the pouring rain beating down upon it. Part of a private collection, the piece mostly amazed visitors by being so grand spankingly ugly--the sculpture was of a creature that resembled an unholy cross between a gargoyle and a Doberman Pinscher

There was a crack of lightning.

The eye of the statue began to glow an angry red...there was a cracking noise...another...more...stronger...the surface of the statue was criss-crossed by spider-vein cracks...and then pieces began to fall off...

Within another two minutes, the pedestal stood empty save a pile of stone rubble.

Jeremy Hicks, GBWC North Team, looked up from his sandwich. "What?"

Robert Griffiths, eating and trying to watch Wheel of Fortune, looked back at him quizzically. " 'What?' What?"

Jeremy shrugged. "I dunno...I thought somebody said something to me...I guess probably something from the TV echoing." It couldn't have been Robert and it couldn't have been Joey Williams, who was snoring loudly from the couch.

"Probably" Robert agreed.

Dr. Ron Daniels looked out the window of the computer room. "No way I'm making it back to Stanford in this crap...looks like you guys are stuck with me for a few more days. The Dean will be mad, but hell, what's the worst he can do? Fire me?"

Chelsea was seated next to Dr. Fritz Baugh, who was studying some screen on one of the computers. "What you working on, Fritz?"

"I was collating some of the PK traces from the general scan systems...monitoring the general flow of PK in the LA area..." he answered.

Ron looked around at him. "I would take it that since you're noting it the results are not so good."

"Ronald, assume this cupcake is the normal PK flow in the LA area..."

Ron shook his head with mock indignation. "For shame, Doctor Baugh, I though the Professor trained you better than that--GBI's standard unit for normal PKE levels is a Twinkie..."

"That's not the point." Fritz retorted, Chelsea giggling a little bit next to him. "The readings I'm getting right now are between thirty and thirty five cupcakes...and it appears to be rising..."

"Okay. Let me say it." Chelsea chimed in. "That's a big cupcake."

"Of course I'll make it back by the Mood Slime concert, Dana...I told you I would and I promised Oscar..." Venkman was now talking to his wife in New York. "You know I'm damn proud of that kid and his talent--he gets that from you of course. Well, yeah, him too, but to hear Andre tell it my influence 'warped' it..."

"I could swear the rain is just getting harder..." John Lipsyte said, looking out the window.

"Nah...listen, give my love to Oscar and Jess. And of course I love you oodles" With that he made exaggerated kissing sounds into the phone. After a few seconds he exploded with laughter. "Take care, Dana...Bye..."

"Who's 'Mood Slime'?" John asked.

"My son's rock band." Venkman answered, chesire grin appearing. "I'm of course quite biased, but they're pretty damn good..." Venkman looked out the window and whistled mournfully at the look of outside.

"I'm glad I don't have to drive in that..." John remarked. "Even if we get a call it's Robert's problem..."

Fritz and Chelsea walked into the garage/reception area, Chelsea wearing a raincoat and holding an unopened umbrella. "Hell, it's still coming down like cats and dogs..." she grumbled.

"You know what I think..." Venkman said. "I think I'm going to take this opportunity to take advantage of Joey's hospitality and use that lavish VIP guest room he set aside for me." It was true enough--with a lot of space in the former warehouse, creating a few extra bedrooms had been no problem, including one specially set aside for Peter Venkman's use.

Fritz looked thoughtful for a moment as he and Chelsea walked over to her red Ford Escort. "Perhaps, considering the nature of the weather, you should consider doing likewise..."

She looked at him with a bit of a suspicious smirk. "You just want me to stay here with you tonight..."

"I will admit having you on the premises instead of driving in this meteorological disaster would do my nerves a great deal of good. But let us not forget..." he turned to scowl at Venkman and John before they could make any salacious comments. "You do have a room here that has been designated for your private use..." Which was true enough. There were rooms set aside for Venkman, Chelsea, and Ron, and still a few left for other guests or clients.

She shucked the rain coat and umbrella into the backseat of her car, and kissed him on the cheek. "Y'know...since I have like zero enthusiasm for driving in this mess, I think I'll take you up on that sweet offer."

"Remember, we have security cameras in this place, Doctor..." Venkman quipped. "If you go sneaking off to her room in the middle of the night we'll know about it and blackmail you with the tape for the next two or three years..."

Fritz turned beet red. John doubled over in laughter.

And then the whole world shook violently, as though struck by the hammer of God himself...

It wasn't the first or certainly the worst earthquake Jeff had ever experienced--he'd lived in LA for a few years now--but as the shockwaves faded and he discovered he was unhurt, a different instinct took over. He realized he was the closest to the team's Ecto Contaiment Unit.

"Fritz to all Ghostbusters..." he heard over the PA system. "Please report your status if possible...Chelsea, Doctor Venkman, John and myself are all right...please respond if you hear me..."

Jeff threw open the door to the large room holding the Ghostbusters West Coast's ECU, and was relieved to see the large, round, red device (externally quite similar to the one used by the New York team since late 1983) humming steadily, without a single red light showing on the display panel.

"Robert here, I'm with Joey and Jeremy...I f***ing hate earthquakes..."

"Daniels here. Standing by."

Jeff grabbed the house phone by the ECU and pressed the "page" button. "Jeff here--I'm okay, and the ECU is stable."

"Thank God..." Andy's voice replied. "This just ain't our day for weather is it?"

"Peter here...Chad and I're all right...though I think my Game Cube is history--I sorta fell on it..."

"Kyle here...I can't believe I'm not hearing about any injuries. That's a good thing of course..."

"Would somebody tell me what the f*** is going on?!" came Dr. Nathaniel "Otter" Masterson's voice.

"I think that's everybody, Fritz..." Kyle noted

"What the bloody?"

"Robert?"

There was a few seconds pause, and then Joey's voice came on the PA. "I think everybody better get to the rec room now...there's something on the news you need to see..."

Fourteen pairs of eyes stared incredulously at what they were seeing on the screen.

"...What looks to the world to be an Egyptian pyramid has appeared in Pershing Park in Central LA, simultaneous with the earthquake just a few moments ago. A mayoral spokesman has confirmed that the Mayor has declared a state of emergency for the city, and has asked the Governor for National Guard support..."

"Vhaat did you say? A pa-eer-a-mid?" Chad said, impersonating the Governor. Everyone else glared at him to shut up.

Fritz was punching the keys of his PKE meter. "I've patched into the area sensors. the good news is that the PKE flow has stabilized..."

"The bad news?" Joey asked with very little enthusiasm.

"The current energy level is one hundred and fifteen cupcakes."

Ron winced visibly. "I changed my mind...I'm going back to Stanford..."

The man in the suit smiled. He was enjoying the way the evening was going.

He would seem an ordinary man, albeit one in a rather expensive suit and resembling Gerald Butler, but for two unnerving facts...

The rain billowing around him was not touching him, splashing harmlessly against a forcefield six inches from the man's body.

And he was standing atop the newest feature of Los Angeles's skyline.

In his left hand, a blood red scarab glowed a pulsing light.

"Yes..." the man said aloud. "All is proceeding as planned...only two more steps to accomplish...the complete corruption and the sacrifice...and the power of the Eye of Apep will reach its zenith...what is will be no more, and what was will be again."

With that, he laughed loud, deep, and hard.

To Be Continued

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