WHERE IN THE WORLD IS CHELSEA ABERDEEN?
From the files of Dr. Fritz V. Baugh, GBI Agent
GBI Case File No. GBNS-2004-22/203
From the files of Dr. Fritz V. Baugh, GBI Agent
GBI Case File No. GBNS-2004-22/203
It was the Super K-Mart on the West Side of the city, just a mile north of Indianapolis International Airport. He hadn't set foot in this place in over a year, since he'd found his life completely turned on end by the premiere of Dance of the Skeletons.
He was back because his life had been turned topsy-turvy once more.
He couldn't help but smirk as he saw the first person he recognized--Blaine, the cart boy ("01" in the company parlance)
He stopped and mopped his face again...the sweats were getting worse, and the pain in his left leg only seemed to have intensified as he got away from Los Angeles...he knew he should've mentioned it to Kyle before he left LA, but it didn't hurt that badly at the time. He'd just twisted it during the battle with Ashram, a sprain. Why should it still be hurting like this?
All of that was forgotten, though, when he stepped into the door.
It had been his life here for three years--between when he finally got out of New Jersey in 2000, though aforementioned fateful day in 2003. It wasn't very often that a man with a PhD in physics had to labor away as a retail drone, but nobody in academia was able to forget about the lab explosion in 1998 either. Even though Fritz himself literally had.
Grocery line 101, please. Grocery, 101. Electronics line 102, please, electronics, 102. Personell, you have a call holding on 104...
Not the way he envisioned coming back to this place. And certainly not the circumstance...
Robert Griffiths hadn't even bothered to take off his ectovisors since they'd left the job. "Now that's something I think I'm getting bloody tired of..."
Jeremy Hicks grinned and hoisted the trap. "What are you complaining about? I was the one that had to hold the cheese..."
Leon Hogan lit a cigarette, and offered it to Robert. "Not a big deal for me. I used to live in Jersey--I saw rats bigger than that living in the Super's apartment. Actually, the rat was the Super..."
"Class Six rodentform entities..." Fritz nodded putting away his meter. He was tired, to be certain, but not without anticipation--it was late enough in the morning Chelsea should've been there.
"I think that one is going on my Top Ten List of Jobs I Don't Want To Remember." Joey Williams agreed. "Hey, Fritz, when Chelsea comes back from the bathroom or whatever, tell her to get me some coffee or something..."
Fritz looked once again. "Hm...her car's not here..."
"Geez, Doctor, how hard you working her? You weren't even with her last night..." Jeremy ribbed him.
"Unless somebody else is Clienting our Administrator..." Robert deadpanned; none of them really put any credence in the idea, but the dirty look Fritz gave him was worth it.
"I tell you guys I got a call from UBN?" Joey said brightly. "They've been after me because they want to put together a late night talk show. Starring me...silly idea, huh?"
Fritz tuned Joey out and went towards his room. A quick shower and a few hours sleep were foremost on his mind...until he saw the note sitting on his bed, emblazoned with his name. In Chelsea Aberdeen's handwriting.
Fritz turned to see a stocky man of African American descent, probably ten years younger than him. "Holy shit..." Fritz exhaled.
The younger man grabbed the scientist in an intense bear hug. "So how you doin', Man? I heard on the news all about that stuff in LA..."
"Not much to tell, Corey..." Fritz finally replied. "It's great to see you--I somehow missed you over Christmas, which is really a surprise considering the customers swear you must live here..."
Corey Jones laughed heartily at the joke. "Well, they did say the same thing about you..." Corey looked around quickly. "Hey, where's Chelsea? Last time we talked you two were an item at last..."
Fritz sighed, the weight of the world that had temporarily been taken off of his shoulders by the appearance of his old friend--short of Chelsea, the best friend he'd made here--crushed back down on him full force. "I was hoping against all hope that maybe you would have something to say about that..."
"Oh man...it's not good, is it?"
"No. Let's go over to Famous Eddie's and I'll tell you the whole story..."
I love you more than words can adequately say, but it's because of that I have to go. I don't know how to explain it--I barely understand it myself--but something has changed. Something has happened that would put you in terrible danger if I stayed...
And I just simply cannot have that.
Please...go on with your life. Forget about me. And whatever you do, please, for your own sake, don't try to find me.
Jeremy drew back. Robert shifted uncomfortably. Joey on the other hand moved closer to his friend...the expression on his face spoke volumes. "Fritz..."
Fritz folded the paper carefully and put it back in it's envelope. He took off his glasses before exhaling loudly.
"Fritz...just what did you do?" Joey finally said tentatively.
"Not a goddamn thing that I can reconcile with this..." Fritz finally said. His voice was calm on the surface...but they all knew him well enough to know there was something else to the tone. Something seething with confusion and anger.
Fritz went the phone, and dialed the number of Chelsea's apartment. "Disconnected..."
He went to the rolodex..."Aberdeen, James..." he read from the page...
"Aw, man...now all of a sudden I'm worried..."
Fritz nodded. "So was I...so am I...we've both known her for a few years, and this behavior is simply not in character. There's something missing to this picture, Corey, and it's something neither her father nor myself can identify. One of the reasons I came back here is that Chelsea's mother still lives out in Avon. If anybody knows anything, it'll be her."
"I hope so..." Corey shook his head. "Why didn't you come out sooner?"
"Things got busy...and I hoped maybe she'd call, or let her father know where she was...something. Then things all started to fall apart fast..."
"Call me Rose." the blonde woman replied. According to her resume and her driver's license, she was over forty years old, but certainly didn't look it. "I don't know about 'impressive'...but I do my job well. Mrs. Spengler can vouch for that."
"I noticed this...said you two worked together?" Joey asked, trying to keep his attention on the interview instead of his comrade. Fritz was not looking real well at that point. His hair, while always messy, looked like it hadn't been cleaned in a couple of days, and for the first time in the year plus since he'd known him Joey realized Fritz was sporting some stubble...
"We temped together one summer. Janine said she didn't really need the money, but she had to get out of the house and away from her now-ex..." Rose rolled her eyes. "I met the guy once. Kept droning on and on about Roth IRA's...I swear I'd have put a bullet through the pissant's head after a week."
"I much prefer the Ed Roth IRA's myself: you invest in big, bad-ass custom cars" Joey said brightly. "Er...eyeah, I just hope you keep in mind that 'pissant' is still GBI's Chief Financial Officer, and don't make trouble for us."
Rose answered with a bit of annoyance. "Dr. Williams. I'm professional enough to keep things like that out of the workplace--it's not like, being on the other side of the continent, I have to deal with him every day."
Joey grinned. "So, when can you start?"
"I could start today."
"You do realize this is only a temporary assignment?" Fritz finally said.
"Well, what he means is that we did have a Client Administrator, and Fritz is definitely hoping she'll come back..." Joey started to explain.
"I know that." Rose nodded. "But Janine said she'd impressed upon Doctor Venkman that this shouldn't really be a one-person job anyway.
"I..." Fritz said, a bit sheepishly. "Forgive me my foul mood, Miss Prevost. I do look forward to working with you..."
"Not a problem, Doctor." Rose nodded. She didn't say anymore, but in a lot of ways he reminded her of Janine's current husband...her "real" husband, in Rose's eyes...and she could well imagine Egon Spengler acting the same way if Janine had vanished with barely a trace.
"Jeff never told any of us what he got in the mail, but he was even quieter after that..." Fritz said to Corey. "Later that same day we got word that Ashram, the entity that Andy fought in the East Tennessee Ghostbusters' first case had broken out of their Containment Unit. So we had to be on high alert...and I wasn't able to do anything about Chelsea..." Fritz took one small sip of his cola.
"And that's the guy who trashed the place a few weeks after that?" Corey asked.
Fritz nodded. "After all that Joey and some of the others decided they'd had enough...Joey, Chad, Robert, and Leon all resigned...Joey left it all to me to see that the GBWC gets put back together...I had to approve a few things, but finally I could get away. Our warehouse was a mess...Kyle, Jeremy, and Will went back to Tennessee with Andy. I'm not even sure where Jeff went to..he just said he'd be out of touch for a while, but would be back when the time's right..."
"And now you're back here." Corey shook his head.
"Hey, you..." a female voice broke in. It was behind his back, so he couldn't see the woman who said it, but he knew that voice quite well. It froze him.
"What's up, Bernice?" Corey replied. "You see who's here?"
"Eh? Oh...yeah..." Bernice replied.
Fritz didn't want to, but he had to...he turned to look at her. Bernice Roderick. They'd worked together in the Cash Office for a while...she was cranky, and just a little wierd, but very bright. Fritz had fallen for her hard.
He took the sight of her in and for a second he almost forgot what had brought him here. Not glamorous, but attractive in an eccentric way...the type he'd always been drawn too, starting with Ann Fishburne back in high school. Bernice was a few years older than him, but didn't look her age.
She'd finally agreed to one date after months and months of prodding, only to shut him out a week later without any explaination.
"What? This place got ghosts now? I guess that'd explain where all the pens at the Service Desk go..." Bernice joked, emitting a snorting chuckle...that Fritz, despite it all, still found kind of cute.
As usual, her blonde hair was a mess and she was wearing a set of purple leggings that looked about a size too small. "No ghosts. I was looking for Chelsea."
Bernice made some sort of dismissive noise. "Corey, Darren's looking for you--I think he wants you to rearrange that stuff on the midway again..."
Corey rolled his eyes and got up to find a phone. Bernice lingered for few seconds, eyes unreadable (As always) then turned and walked off just a little too quickly.
"Nice seeing you again." Fritz finally managed to say through his bone dry throat.
"Yeah whatever..." Bernice replied dismissively as she left.
"Fritz! Thank God! I couldn't believe it when Jim called and said Chelsea had disappeared...I..." She paused. "Though by the look on your face I guess that means you still don't know anything..."
Fritz was once again amazed by Chelsea's mother, and how much like her daughter she seemed (knowing technically, of course, the truth was that Chelsea was a lot like her) The same voice, the same bearing...even if her hair was still a little darker in color, even in old age.
"I'm afraid not..." Fritz replied. "I was hoping she'd shown up here, or at least tried to contact you..."
Pauline shook her head. "You better come inside and tell me what's goin' on..."
"You don't look good." Pauline commented. "You're all pale, and need a shave badly. Are you sure you're all right?"
"It's just stress, Pauline." Fritz brushed it off. "If I can just find Chelsea and figure out what's wrong, it would make it all go away..."
Pauline looked at the note Chelsea's written to Fritz and shook her head. "This just doesn't sound like her at all...after all she went through to get you..."
Fritz rubbed his eyes with his hand. "I know..."
"Do you?" Pauline replied, a bit of an edge to her voice. "I constantly heard all about you...she and her friends, constantly wondering what was wrong with you. 'How can a guy that bright act so stupid sometimes' is what she said to me more than once..."
Fritz didn't say anything.
"Are you sure there isn't anything you're not telling me? Something you did?"
Pauline looked thoughtful for a few minutes..."Dorothy..." she finally said.
"Chelsea's aunt." Pauline replied. "Jim's big sister--she was here about a week before Chelsea left LA. Asked a lot of questions about how she was doin', wondering if she'd found a man yet. I told her she had--showed her some pictures Chelsea sent of you, in fact...and I thought her reaction was a little odd. I wouldv'e thought she'd be happy, but she wasn't. In fact, I think about it and it was like she was..."
"Scared." Pauline replied. "I thought it was a strange reaction...I dunno, Dorothy's a wonderful woman, but she never married. Always said it was probably 'better for the men of the world that way'."
Fritz stood up. "You wouldn't happen to have her phone number?"
"I think so...I haven't talked to her a lot since Jim and I divorced, but we don't hate each other or anything..." Pauline started to dig through her rolodex..."Here it is..."
"Dorothy? It's Pauline...well, I'm not so fine, Dorothy. Chelsea's gone missing...wrote a strange note to Fritz and went away. I haven't heard from her, Jim hasn't...no, actually, he's right here. I...what? Dorothy, that doesn't make any sense--Dorothy, what..." Pauline held the phone away from her ear. "She hung up on me..."
"What did she say?"
"She asked where you were, and when I answered she started saying 'tell him to stay away from her. She doesn't want to be found.' and hung up."
"She knows something. Let me try."
"Miss Aberdeen? I'm Dr. Fritz Baugh. I'm with Ghostbusters International--I am needing to contact your niece, Chelsea Aberdeen. It's..."
"Don't do this to yourself, Doctor. Don't call again." (Click)
Fritz fought off the urge to slam the phone down hard. "She said 'don't do this to yourself' and 'don't call again.' " He looked at Chelsea's mother, now looking quite upset. "I'm sure of it now--she knows something. Chelsea might even be there..."
"What are you going to to?"
"I'm going to New York. If you have Dorothy Aberdeen's address, I'd like to have it. And I need to make a couple of calls--GBI headquarters is in New York, after all..."
Pauline hugged him, eyes misting. "Bring her back, Fritz...and be careful."
A large man with a backward green ballcap grunted "Bout f***ing time..." as he lit a cigar. An employee of the airport scowled at him.
"Sir, there's no smoking inside this area..."
"Bite me." he replied, taking another puff of the cigar. A bulky man, he projected an attitude of being dangerous to mess with.
The blonde woman next to him elbowed him. "Bo...please. We don't want to get thrown out of here again..."
Another man stood near the walkway. A bit younger than the large man in the ballcap, with much shorter hair, between his glasses and his serious expression, he gave the impression of being dangerous to mess with in completely different ways.
But it was just as accurate.
Bo Holbrook was the leader of Ghostbusters International's first franchise, formed in 1997 shortly after Peter Venkman, Ray Stantz, and Winston Zeddemore returned to the company they'd helped found fourteen years earlier. The thirty-three year old Brooklynite had a reputation for being loud and obnoxious, and the reputation was not unearned, but those who knew him also knew that he would walk through Hell for his friends.
The woman with him was Jennifer "Jen" Spengler, and was the niece of GBI's other founder, Professor Egon Spengler. Eighteen at the time, (now twenty-five) she had also found herself caught up in the events on Thanksgiving 1997 that had led to Nightsquad's creation. With her high forehead, blonde hair, and intense eyes, the resemblance to the more famous Spengler was pronounced.
The last member of the welcoming committee was Dr. Vincent Belmont, only a month and change shy of his thirtieth birthday. He was the longest in a family line that had been dealing with the supernatural for centuries, and had been touched by it himself starting with his posession by the Avatar of Scorpio in 1991. He had been hired by Ghostbusters New York not long after Bo and Jen had formed Nightsquad, and later went on to found the Manhattan based Arcane Division before, just a year ago, helping get Ghostbusters UK's Graveyard Shift up and running.
"There he is." Jen pointed as Dr. Fritz Baigh walked off the airplane.
"YO! DOC!!! OVER HERE!!!" Bo called loudly, waving his arms. Both Jen and Vincent shuddered with embarrassment--which of course is what Bo was hoping for.
"And I was worried about having to find someone I didn't recognize..." Fritz rolled his eyes as he walked over to the welcoming committee.
"I still need to take you out and get you drunk off yer ass." Bo said brightly, shaking the smaller man's hand vigorously.
"And Jen?" Fritz shook her hand next. "Still keeping him semi-civilized, I see? How are the cousins doing?"
"John and Eden are a handful, aren't they?" Jen smirked. Bo of course took the remark about "semi-civilized" as the perfect opportunity to pantomime picking his nose and scratching his balls until she shot him a dirty look. "I'm not sure Uncle Egon and Aunt Janine don't have the easier job, though."
Fritz shook Vincent's hand with a more familiar warmness. "One of these days, we have got to meet up when there isn't something bad going on. First it was John's funeral, then the Gozer crisis..."
"We were involved in that too, you know." Bo said. "Did you hear how I shot Mister Stay-Puft in the face?"
"And thus knocked him down, causing a small earthquake?" Jen finished teasingly.
"That part I don't care about. Me shooting that f***er right between the eyes, that was the cool part."
"Jill doing all right?" Fritz asked Belmont.
"Quite well--I know she's glad to be back in the States." Vincent responded. "And thank you for the wedding present."
"If I could've gotten away from LA I would've been there..." Fritz started to say, then staggered a little bit. Bo grabbed him and steadied him.
Vincent gave him a concerned look "You don't look so good--I seem to remember you shaving better."
"Chelsea's mother and my brother Al said the same thing--I'll give you the same answer. It just doesn't seem important right now." Fritz responded.
"Let's get your luggage and on the way home." Jen said firmly. "Then we need to hear everything about what is going on..."
Fritz was finishing up as they all got out of the car; the Miller Meteor favored by Ghostbuster franchises the world over, it's unique take on the ECTO concept featured a black paint job, a staggering array of antennae, and the "no-ghost" insignia cast in purple. "...Aunt Dorothy is our last potential lead at this point, and she's here in New York. So thus, I'm in New York."
"We're here for you on this, Fritz." Bo nodded. "You want this bitch's legs pulled off or somethin', just let me know. Yeti's pretty big--he can do it..."
Jen rolled her eyes with exasperation.
"I..don't think that will be necessary, Bo..." Fritz responded, a slight grin creeping onto his face.
"We managed to verify Dorothy Aberdeen's address." Jen said as she went over to the main reception desk. "We thought about calling her, but after what you said about her hanging up on you..."
"That's all right." Fritz replied. "I really wanted to see her in person--it's a lot easier to lie over the phone than it is face to face."
"Especially when you have wizards, mystics, and rather large individuals as backup." Vincent added. Bo repositioned the stogie in his mouth and cracked his knuckles menacingly.
"Sorry, Jen, just...for a moment, I remembered where I was. John..." he paused, several emotions threatening to overwhelm him. "John was quite a fan of Nightsquad's. He used to pick at Ron about how Bo managed to beat him at the pie-eating contest in the '03 company picnic.." He exhaled, and sat down at the reception desk wearily. "John always wanted to meet 'The Legend'...and now he never..."
"You better lay down for a little bit." Jen said with equal parts empathy and firmness.
"Maybe I better..." Fritz nodded, letting her lead him to the guest room upstairs.
Bo waited until they were out of earshot "John? Wasn't he the one who..."
Vincent nodded. "John Lipsyte. The man the West Coast lost in the Anubis case in April."
Bo nodded his head ruefully. Losing a comrade was a pain he understood all too well.
"I don't like this.." Vincent continued after a pause, reluctant to give the thought voice. "He wasn't like this during the Gozer case. He's falling apart." Vincent sat down. "I feel terrible. There is no spell in all of the tongues of men, or a potion or charm of any make that could ease his suffering."
Bo grunted, and chewed on his cigar for a moment before responding. "Hmph...I thought you said that magic can do anything, Gandalf."
"A spell could only give him a quick fix, and a false emotion. Unfortunately, there is no cure for weariness of the human heart. I can only lend support...but I feel like I'm watching a good friend waste away." Vincent lowered his head solemnly
She shivered as she went over to the dark pool in the center of the room. The bile rose again as she followed the directions she'd been given--the loose robe she was wearing fell off of her shoulder, and she sat, nude, in the pool, the water covering her to just above her belly button.
"Lucindra the Wronged, Consor of Dagon, the one who owes you begs your audience..."
A few minutes went by. She chanted the phrase again.
On the third try, the water began to bubble, and morph like a cgi effect...at first, it was a mirror image of the summoner, the shape of a nude woman cast in water.
"I am here..." a melodic, but cold, voice replied, tinged with a Scottish accent. The water woman's shape changed...still female, but younger. Drawn cheekbones and an aristocratic forehead, with a rain of dark curly moss serving as "hair" "The preparations continue?"
"Yes, Milady...all goes as planned." The summoner sighed deeply. "But if only it were not so..."
"Thou knowest the debt owed me by thine bloodline. Thou art too old to pay it--thy womb is cold with age. But she is younger, fertile...she will be perfect."
The summoner nodded. "She has accepted that, Milady."
The watery woman's glowing green eyes narrowed. "Thou art still troubled?"
"She had...a suitor." The summoner finally admitted.
"It would have been easier for her were this not true..."
"But I fear...Milady, this man is no ordinary one." She gulped. "He is allied with powerful forces..."
"I fear no mortal force"
"Not even...the Ghostbusters?"
The woman of water's face contorted into a sneer. "Then it is more imperative that thy finish the preparations quickly. The alignment draws near--in seven days, the Lord of Deep will awaken, and seek his pleasure. All must be in readiness by then."
She dissolved back into the water, leaving the summoner alone save one last declaration. "For thy kin's sake, for that of this man, and for thine own sake, noone must interfere..."