OPENING NIGHT
PART ONE

From the files of Fritz V. Baugh, Official Historian
with plot assistance from the entire GBWC team
GBI Case File GBWC-2003-21/001

Somewhere
I will have my revenge...

He laughed at me...said I wasn't good enough...

That I wasn't skilled enough to be part of their clique...

I will show him...

I will have my revenge...

"Are you ready, then, fleshling??? Do you accept the power--and your obligation???"

"I do, Lord Atrocity"

There was pain. Intense, exquisite pain.

Pain so intense that I should want to die.

Apartment of Joey Williams, PhD.
Los Angeles, California
April 18, 2003
Joey cussed as the phone rang, rousing him from a deep sleep. He didn't have to work today, so he'd stayed up too late watching Cartoon Network...and he'd been roused from a very...interesting dream starring Fujiko Mine from Lupin III...

"Hmm...Doctor Williams' house. I'm sorry I can't come to the phone right now, but if you leave a name and message and a number and all that I'll get back to you as soon as I can I promise. Beeeeeeep."

"You were up watching cartoons again, weren't you?" the voice at the other end said in mockingly stern tones. It was his closest friend, Chuck Sherwood.

"And be glad I do, because otherwise you'd be out of a job..."

"Like I need you personally to watch!" Chuck laughed. "I catch your act, remember? It'd probably be better for my career if you didn't like my stuff!"

"I'll remember that if I get stopped by a movie critic this evening." Joey deadpanned.

"Just as long as you're there, sleepy head. It took me pulling in a favor or two with the brass to get you those seats. I warn you now--I think you're gonna be stuck with the UBN 'Dance with the Skeletons' contest winners."

"No prob, Chuck. Just as long as there isn't a big pole in the way blocking my way. Though being your performance maybe it'd be just as well..."

Chuck laughed, told him to perform an anatomical impossibility on himself, and hung up.

Joey found himself in a contemplative mood as he showered and began to dress. All of twenty-four, he had earned a degree in the field of parapsychology, but work in the field was pretty sparse. There were a few research positions, but no big college funded it anymore: ever since Columbia closed their parapsychology department in 1983, and Stanford closed theirs after that lab accident in the mid 1990's. Private industry was even worse: there was a famous, even legendary organization of professional paranormal investigators and eliminators, but their operating teams were small and pretty much invitation-only. So Joey had been living on his other love, stand-up comedy, and was beginning to become known at it, too: for the past year he'd been appearing at the Groundling's main stage, and had even almost managed an appearance on Jay Leno. If only Richard Simmons hadn't run late that night...

It was at the Groundling that he'd met Chuck, another aspiring comedian and actor (Hey, it's LA). Chuck had gotten a big break when he was called in to do a voice for the Walt Disney Company's latest animated movie. It was a stroke of raw luck, too...the actor who'd originally recorded the part had had a contract fight with Disney over the share of the movie's profits, and one of the producers had seen Chuck do a bang-up impression of the same actor at the club. Thus, Chuck rerecorded the lines and was about to become an Offical Movie Star. Which led to him finagling some tickets for his friend, Joey.

He was trying not to be jealous of his friend's approaching fame. He wasn't completely succeeding. He was genuinely happy for Chuck, but at the same time it hurt a little bit--like Joey was being left behind somehow. That something significant was about to happen--and Joey wouldn't be part of it.

Stevens Point Hospital
Doctor Kyle Stevens exhaled loudly. It had been a long night shift, and to say he was tired would be an understatement of epic proportions. For goodness sake...I shouldn't be feeling this old already...

Maybe it was the eighteen-hour shift he'd just worked. Maybe it was that LA was so different from Mt. Olive, Alabama...They didn't have gang turf wars and drive-by shootings back home. So often he wished they needed him there...or anywhere...except here.

"You okay, Kyle?" Kyle looked up to see his fellow doctor and old friend, Micheal Camy, a tall fellow (6'5") who'd heard all the "how's the weather?" jokes more times that he cared to remember.

"Tired...to put it mildly..."

"Look, Dr. Flieheit and Dr. Chen both came in ten minutes ago. Go home and get some sleep, Kyle. Feed those cats of yours, assuming they still remember who you are. We won't need you here until after six this evening--you can almost manage a full night's rest in that time!"

Kyle grinned, but was reluctant to move. Mostly because it would take energy he wasn't sure he had..."Are you sure about that?"

Micheal gently mocked punching him in the head. "Despite what you seem to believe some times, Doctor Stevens, this place CAN run itself without you. At least for a few hours. Now go home and sleep--you know you're no good to anybody when you're too tired to tell the difference between a catheter and an enema."

"My patients would definitely agree with that!" Kyle couldn't help but laugh.

Apartment of Peter Kong
"Why, I remember the time we had to fight six skeletons all at once...and they had swords! And..."

"I know, I know, Grandpa...the skeletons had swords and nearly cut Great Uncle Eddie's head off with them but you stopped them."

"Hm...I've told you this story, haven't I?"

"Well...a time or two..." Peter smiled fondly.

"You heard from your Pop yet, Petey?"

"He called last night...he wishes he could've made it, but after fracturing that hip..."

"Durn kid of mine doesn't know when to quit. Keep tellin' him that investigatin' every haunted house that comes up isn't his job anymore, but nooooo...top it off, the durn house wasn't haunted. Just somebody's cat got stuck in the chimney..."

"You know how dedicated to his job Pop was. Hurt a lot to have to give it up."

"Yeah...and then he moved to Muncie. Muncie? That's like the middle of friggin' nowhere!! He needed to stay here and take care of me but..." Grandpa Kong started to nod off, and ten seconds later he was snoring.

Peter Kong looked at his paternal grandfather--Jacob Kong Senior--with amused fondness. It really didn't bother him hearing all of the stories...of how thirty years ago Jake Sr. and his best friend started their own ghost hunting buisness. Ten years later, Peter's father--Jake's son, Jake Jr.--had inherited the business. But a rival professional paranormal investigation outfit sprung up around just before that, and when Jake Jr. and his partner--the son of Jake Sr.s partner--finally defeated their main enemy, there was nothing left for them: that other team and it's franchises just simply put them out of business.

"Muffy..." Peter called to Jake's nurse.

Muffy Glenn, the professional nurse and caregiver Jake Jr. had hired to look after his old man, appeared in the doorway. "He finally nodded off, I take it?"

"Yeah..." Peter responded. "Maybe it's better if he slept for a while. He may need the energy--I kept telling him he didn't have to go to the premiere tonight, I'd understand, but you know how he is..."

"You're his only grandchild and he's proud of you, Peter. I mean, all of the buzz is around this movie...some quarters are already talking Oscar and it hasn't even come out yet."

"You're making me blush, here..."

She winked at him. "I try, Mister Kong. It try..."

Los Angeles Hotel Sedgewick
Jeremy Hicks muttered to himself as he left the lunch room. Something about all that posh just kind of bugged him...thinking about how much the meal he just ate probably cost more than his first car just kind of put him on edge. I can't believe I'm even at this place...the Hotel Sedgewick? It'd take two weeks salary just to afford one night in this place...

Good thing I'm not paying for it.

He tried to shake off the funk he was in. He was in LA! About to be at the debut of a major motion picture! And for him it was all free!!! He should be having the time of his life.

Except...the night before...for the first time in months he'd dreamt of her...La Llarona..."The Weeping Woman"...her words seemed so clear this time, almost as clear as that strange day when she'd first uttered them to him...

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...

"Hold that elevator!!!" a loud female voice shouted.

Jeremy did so without even thinking, and wasn't disappointed for his effort. The woman who ran into the elevator, slighly out of breath, was one of the more attractive specimens of female Homo sapiens he'd had the pleasure of meeting. Around his own age (22), possibly a few years older. She had long, blonde (slightly reddish) hair, and was dressed in a simple purple shirt and mini skirt. She wore tennis shoes over short socks.

"Thanks. " she said, still a bit breathless. "Could you hit the button for floor 19, please?"

"Nope." he replied, smirking.

She looked at him, a bit of annoyance starting to cross her face.

"Already pushed the button." he clarified, grinning. "That's my floor too."

She made that distinctive female grumble and set the bag she was carrying down, sounding quite glad to do so for the minute or two it would take to reach floor 19. Jeremy took the opportunity to study her more closely...

Oh yeah...this is a fine piece of architecture here...

She picked through the bag, which looked to Jeremy to have several heavy books inside it. She gently kicked it. "The things I do for that man..."

Jeremy hoped his face didn't fall too obviously. "Not for you?"

She looked at him with a start, like she'd not meant to have anything she said heard. "Um...no...they're for Doc."

A doctor? Man, I can't cut a break here...

"He asked me to get these books for him. Standard stuff from the gift shop--lots of LA local color stuff he'll probably never read, but he's an incurable pack rat and insists 'I want to be ready in case I DO want to read up on LA'. Plus the new Gundam DVD. Can't be bothered to do it himself when he's inspired, though if I don't make him put his pencil down he'll keep doing those equations right through the premiere..."

Jeremy raised an eyebrow. " 'Premiere'?"

"Uh...yeah. Doc won tickets to the Dance of the Skeletons premiere tonight on a radio call-in contest, trip for two all expense paid."

"You're sh*tting me. That's exactly how I got here too! So...you his date then?"

She laughed. "Sort of. I'm not the person he really wanted to invite, but he couldn't work up the courage to ask her. Miss Second Best, I guess that's me..."

Now you're really sh*tting me

The bell rang and the elevator door opened.

The woman hefted the bag up with a slight groan. "Let me get that for you, Miss..."

"That's really not neccessary!"

"Hey, we're on the same floor, so it's not like I'm going out of my way, right?"

She looked at him for a few seconds more. "I guess" She handed him the bag. "Chelsea Aberdeen."

Damn...this bag is heavy..."Jeremy. Jeremy Hicks."

She led him to room 67 and knocked on the door. "Doc..." she called. "I'm back"

The door opened and a man with slightly unkempt brown hair opened to stare at them through his eyeglasses.

"I take it the hotel has abandoned its dress code?" the man in the doorway quipped, raising an eyebrow and adjusting his necktie.

Chelsea rolled her eyes. "He's not on the staff, Doctor...I ran into him on the elevator."

"Oh?" "Doc" replied, a slightly mischievous tone in his voice.

Jeremy went for the direct route. "Jeremy Hicks. I hear you won your tickets too, Doctor..." He extended his right hand

"Fritz Baugh." the other man replied, shaking it. "My companion can be loose tongued at time, but she speaks the truth. These my books?"

"You're welcome" Jeremy deadpanned as Fritz took the bag. "So what are you a doctor of?" Whatever it is your bedside manner sucks...

Fritz raised an eyebrow again. "Physics."

Oh...a science nerd...should've guessed...the chick must go for the cranium...

"Heh heh heh..." the scientist chuckled, hefting a DVD case out of the bag. "The latest volume of G Gundam..."

"You don't have time, Doc." Chelsea chided gently. "You have to get ready for the premiere."

"Tomorrow then. A pleasure meeting you, Mister Hicks. I suppose I might see you tonight."

"Um, yeah...um, nice meeting you, Doc. And especially you, Chelsea." with that, Jeremy waved and made a hasty retreat from the room.

She is a babe...what is she doing with that wierdo?

"What?" Fritz responded, catching the look Chelsea was giving him.

"You could've been nicer."

"I thanked him for the books."

"No you didn't"

"Okay, I meant to. Besides, I don't think it was me he was interested in anyway."

"Jealous?"

"Why should I be? Your social life is none of my business."

"If it was Bernice you'd be jealous."

"True. But he wasn't eyeing Bernice like a four-course dinner." he quipped, pulling two postcards out of the bag. "Which reminds me, I have to get these postcards sent to her and Leon..."

"Like she really cares..."

"Let's not have this debate again, Chelsea. As I've said before, I can waste my money any way I want."

"Oh, don't let me stop you, Doctor Fritz...if you'll excuse me!!" with that, she slammed his door hard as she left.

Fritz regarded the door for a moment. "Now what got her so enraged?"

Somewhere...
There was pain. Intense, exquisite pain.

Pain so intense that I should want to die.

But no.

I cannot die.

I will not die.

HE will die.

And then the pain is gone. I stand transformed.

There is deep, dark laughter.

"You have the power now. You will have your revenge. In return, you will now serve me."

"Yes, Milord."

Such power!!! I bristle with it!!! I...

Hm..okay, I don't have hands anymore, but that's a small price to pay.

"Thusly, in the name of Anubis the Lord of Death, I shall call you henceforth...the Ravisher!!!"

Ravisher...oh yeah...I like it. The Ravisher.

"Go, my servant. Have your revenge...and then we'll talk..."

Anaheim
Joey tugged his collar uncomfortably as he moved from the limo toward the theatre. It'd been a while since he put on a tuxedo, and was remembering that he didn't really care for it.

A teenager caught his eye. The boy was slouching against a pole with a posture and expression that seemed to shout "My Parents Made Me Come To This Stupid Thing", especially as his tuxedo was set off with spikey blue hair. It was only confirmed for Joey when a tall woman with flowing, slightly curled brown hair came up to him, and he visibly straightened.

"It's about time to go in."

"What? Pop done with the autograph hounds already?"

"Just about. You know how he is--always has to smooze with the papparazi."

"I still can't believe he made me come to this thing. It's a f***ing cartoon, Mom!!!"

"Oscar Wilhelm Wallance, I hear that word come out of your mouth again tonight, and I swear I will spank you right then and there with every camera rolling." the tall woman said through gritted teeth, grabbing his arm.

"Hey!!! Dana!!! Oscar!!!" a smooth voice called to them.

Joey instinctively turned along with them, and just about crapped his pants. He was a trained parapsychologist, and anyone with even the slightest interest in the field regarded the man now standing ten feet away from him as one of a quartet of virtual demigods. Joey Williams was within shouting distance of Dr. Peter Venkman, one of the original and legendary Ghostbusters.

"So, Oscar...all the Hollywood starlets not keeping their hands off of you? Or is your fabulously gorgeous mother being right next to you making them all jealous?"

Oscar snorted with irritation.

"Are we not Mister Happy Pants today, Son?"

"I'm not your son."

"Oscar..." Dana growled.

"Well, I'm not!!!"

Venkman took off his sunglasses, his jovial Cheshire grin disappearing. "Y'know, half your hoodlum friends would give their left arms to be attending a big shin-dig like this, and here you are b*thching because we wouldn't let you stay home." His green eyes were starting to flash with anger. "And since I'm not your real father, I guess that means we'll just have to ground you in your room until he gets back into the states. Which will be what? March? He can decide how to punish you then, I guess..."

Oscar was still angry, but the thought of being grounded for most of the next school year had it's intended effect. His eyes fell, and he mumbled something that sounded like "sorry"

Venkman tousled his hair. "Glad that's settled. Though I think more of a cobalt blue would've matched your eyes better..."

Oscar chuckled despite himself. The less amused Dana hissed "Peter..."

Joey lost track of them right after that, as several more people pressed in. He finally entered the main theatre, and began to look for his seat...he finally found it. In the seat next to him was a man with slightly unkempt brown hair and eyeglasses, staring with interest at his cel phone or something. "Seat 13B?"

"As I am seated in seat 13C I would assume so." the man responded, not looking up from his phone.

"I don't think they allow calls during the movie..."

"The movie hasn't started yet."

"Friiiitz..." the quite attractive blonde on the man's other side said, punching him in the arm. Fritz grumbled and put the phone away.

Hello... Joey thought to himself. "Oh, you didn't tell me Miss America was your date..."

The blonde woman chuckled and blushed. Fritz rolled his eyes. "This is your day for admirers, isn't it Chelsea?"

Jeremy, sitting off to Miss Aberdeen's other side, smirked mischieviously and chimed in "I saw her first, Dude" at Joey.

"I think as a gentleman, or a reasonable facsimile, I shall let the charming young lady decide...Chelsea's a pretty name, by the way..." he took her right hand and kissed it. "Joey Williams. Doctor Joey Williams. But call me yours."

Fritz was regarding this with all of the enthusiasm of a man about to projectile vomit his lunch. "Hello? I hate to be in the way of the mating ritual, but do you mind?" he snapped, waving their hands out of his personal space.

"Quit acting so jealous." Chelsea retorted, sticking her tongue out at him.

Elsewhere in the theatre, Peter Kong was getting his grandfather situated. "You gonna be okay here, Grandpa? I wasn't able to get you something closer to the animator section, where I'll be..."

"Pfah. I'll be fine, Petey..." Jake Senior responded. "It's not like I'm gonna have to run or anything..."

"Only if a ghost shows up during the movie" Peter joked, and the two laughed hard.

Peter headed for his seat. Some of the other animators of the project were near him as was Wilton Gladstone, the producer; Jim Harley, the associate producer (Peter didn't care for him--he embodied the associate producer cliche of "guy who didn't do anything but still gets his name on the picture"); and Jon Dennison, the director. Dennison was talking to some man Peter didn't recognize, but somehow seemed familiar.

"...Gotta get over to the family, Jon; the stepson is not real happy about this. But good luck, dude. You deserve it."

Wow...Peter thought to himself. They should've gotten THAT guy to do the Garfield movie instead of Bill Murray! He sounds just like Lorenzo Music!!!

Jon laughed. "At least you've only got one, Pete...my third wife's been married twice, so I got five stepkids. What you gonna do about it?"

His name's Pete? Now this is really bugging me...

The man who sounded like Garfield laughed and walked away, taking a seat near a striking, tall woman and a sullen teenager with blue hair. Dennison got up out of his chair, and went to the front of auditorium

"Ladies and Gentlemen, Honored Guests, I've been asked to say a few words to you before the show begins. As you know, back during the dawn of the Golden Age of Animation, the Walt Disney studio released the legendary short cartoon 'Skeleton Dance' Well, a few years ago I saw that cartoon and was struck with the idea of doing a new cartoon, inspired by it's visuals. An action-packed comedy featuring a stalwart hero, a plucky heroine, and a cute animal sidekick dealing with the hordes of skeletons based on the originals...and today, all of our work pays off. I'd like to thank my producer, Wilton Gladstone...my brother-in-law, Jim Harley...my head animator, Peter Kong, and the entire animation team...the fine voice actors--Maurice LaMarche and Jim Cummings, two of the giants of their industry--and their crew of vets and talented newcomers...and of course my wife Taffy. Enjoy the show, my friends!!!"

"I thought that guy'd never shut up." Joey whispered. Fritz stifled an honest chuckle.

"Aren't you forgetting someone, Jonny?" A deep voice uttered, seeming to come from nowhere and everywhere at once.

"What the f***?" someone next to Peter shouted.

"You think this is part of the show?" Chelsea asked Jeremy.

"Um...I guess..."

"I think someone got left off your list, Jonny-Boy..." the voice said again. There was something starting to happen...a swirl of mist started to surround Jon Dennison.

"Wh..what the hell is going on?" Dennison said, panic in his voice.

"You can't be forgetting me, Jonny...c'mon, you know who this is..."

"Either that guy is a better actor than the voice cast, or he's genuinely frightened." Fritz noted simply, pushing his glasses up his nose.

"...Or, to be more accurate, who this once was!!!"

People were starting to get jittery.

Peter Kong looked at his grandfather. "Grandpa?" Peter was feeling the strange urge to sneeze.

"C'mon...who else would hate what you did enough to ruin your moment of glory?"

The mist congealed near the panicked director. He tried to run.

The mist folded around him, stopping him.

"This isn't part of the show, is it?" Jeremy asked.

"It has to be..." Chelsea replied, grabbing Fritz's arm.

"I'm beginning to suspect not."

"Look...whoever you are...I got money...lots of money..." Dennison started to plead.

There was a ripping sound.

Dennison's right shoulder exploded into a guyser of spewing blood.

The mist parted. Standing there was a creature resembling a jackal, albeit one standing upright and having smoke wisping from his pores. The monster flexed it's right arm, the large talon that replaced his hand covered in blood.

A hoodie? Joey thought to himself incredulously. A jackal-headed monster wearing a hoodie?

"I have been through the fires of Hell and been transformed. And why have I done this? To get my revenge on you, Jon Dennison. Call me...the Ravisher!!!"

"Oh, F**k..." Joey muttered under his breath, now quite sure Fritz was right.

This wasn't part of the show.

To Be Continued

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