RUSSIAN ROULETTE
PART ONE

Filed by Dr. Nathaniel Masterson, GBWC Engineer
GBI Case File GBWC-2003-21/007
[cue theme music]
Chapter I
The Stranger

A small drizzle started up, seeming to wash away the slowly setting sun. Dr. Joey Williams hit the lights on the Ecto-1N. It would be getting very dark soon, especially on this side of town. Dr. Fritz V. Baugh sat in the passenger seat, fiddling with his PKE Meter. It was broken and in desperate need of repair (all thanks to their last encounter).

The streets were empty. The South part of town was always liked this. Street lamps busted beyond repair. Poverty, pollution, and panic was common in this area. Gangs were constantly fighting over “territory”. Homeless breaking into the few homes not made of cardboard out of pure desperation of food or shelter. Disease spread quickly. Not a trash can or dumpster was left unturned. It always gave a sense of danger, which the two Busters were familiar with.

Joey dazed off, trying to imagine how any of the Busters could handle a call in an environment like this. Then again, he recalled the many encounters he had with Andy Harness, who had bragged about his “street” skills.

BANG

Joey’s attention was suddenly directed towards the gun fire. Fritz was also distracted and took a glance to investigate whether it was gang-related or hey-I-found-a-gun-and-now-I-am-going-to-fire-it-aimlessly-because-I-have-nothing-else-left-to-loose-and-this-is-the-most-excitement-I-can-get-seeing-as-how-I-can’t-afford-a-hooker.

Thankfully, it was gang-related.

Still eyeing the battle, the two men were not aware of a huge puddle of standing water dead ahead of their vehicle. Nor were they aware that the brakes were now too slippery to be activated. Nor were they aware of a cat crossing the road.

Fritz just happened to glance away from the battle to notice the poor creature.

“Take a hard left Joey! NOW!”

As if programmed to do so by command only, Joey obeyed and missed the animal by inches.

The refurbished ambulance raced down an alley only to be in the path of an odd looking gentleman. A very unlucky odd looking gentleman.

Again noticing trouble, Fritz exclaimed “Holy hell! BRAKES!”

And again, the human computer did so, but without much success.

“Can’t! They’re shot!”

As the ambulance approached, the drunken old man couldn’t help but admire its beauty.

The two men in the now deadly weapon closed their eyes as if trying to imagine nothing of the sort was taking place.

SMACK!!!!!!

They had just taken the man on a journey through a brick wall.

Joey’s eye lids slowly rose.

From the rubble arose the man that stood staring at the once intriguing ambulance. He brushed off the debris and stared in the face of Joey.

"What the heck was that for!?!?!" shouted the man.

"I thought …. I thought you were Ted Kennedy." Replied Joey trying, to make up a quick excuse.

"I see a lawsuit coming." Fritz shook his head while muttering under his breath.

"Not if we leave before anyone realizes what happened." Joey replied.

“Don’t you feel guilty?”

“Well, chances are that was one of Dr. Steven’s cats crossing the road that kinda caused this whole thing…”

"Good point. So, um…do you want to just leave then?"

"Yes, I do."

"But what about that homeless man?" Fritz so blatantly pointed out.

"You know, when you hit me, you sprained my index finger." The homeless man chimed in.

"Look Fritz! He talks. Do you do anything else boy?" Joey said with a sarcastic tone.

"So, Let me get this straight.” Fritz reasoned first with himself then with Joey. “You just smashed a homeless man through a brick wall head on and he comes out of it with a sprained index finger?!"

"Yeah, that seems about….. right. Yeah," Joey replied.

"No one messes with Nathaniel Masterson, you dig? Either you two homies are taking me with you or I sue, is that cool?" the now revealed man stated.

"What!?! No, that’s not 'cool'. You threaten to sue us unless we take you with us and you think its 'cool'?" Joey said agitated. “And we aren’t your homies you piece of white trash!”

”Nathaniel Masterson, eh?” Fritz said under his breath. "Joey, calm down. It seems like we have to take this guy…I think I know who he is."

"Fritz, listen to this. How about I hop back in the car and run him over until he’s dead? Then we’re off the hook," Joey said hopefully.

Fritz waved away Joey’s suggestion and slowly rubbed his chin, pondering. He was quite sure that this man covered in what seemed to be squirrel fur had claimed he was the genius Nathaniel Masterson. If his memory served him correctly, this guy had a very successful and interesting past…

"Get in the car you two." Fritz reasoned with himself.

Dr. Masterson jumped into the front passenger seat of the severely damaged Ecto-1N.

When he was sure the door was shut and the un-bathed hobo could no longer hear them, Joey exclaimed, “What?! You aren’t serious, are you? Look at ‘em! The goof ball has blue sideburns for crying out loud! What could he possibly do to help us?”

“Just get in.” said an exasperated Fritz as he fiddled with his left eyebrow.

Joey stood in silence looking at the rubble. He then stuck his hand in the inner pocket of his jumpsuit and pulled out a wrinkled package of Marlboro cigarettes and a transparent green lighter. He tapped the package of cigarettes until one popped out. He slowly put it into his mouth and brought the lighter up to his mouth, covering the lighter from the wind and drizzle.

With and sigh excreting smoke, Joey opened the driver’s door.

“What do you think you’re doing? I’m driving, you maniac.” Fritz exclaimed curtly.

Joey just stared and pounded his fist on the top of the vehicle. He could use a nice bean burrito or enchilada from Taco Bell, he thought as he opened the back door. A good-as-new PKE Meter greeted him on his seat.

He stared at it, astonished, and quickly shot a glance at their new passenger. “How did you-“

“I’ll explain later.” Grinned Fritz as he turned the ignition.

The car started with a whir and a hum.

With the thought still in his mind as he leaned back, Joey asked "Is Taco Bell still open?"

Nathaniel let out an agreeing moan.

Fritz chuckled. This unnerved Joey.

The bruised ambulance drove off into the darkness of the street. Destination; Ghostbusters: West Coast Headquarters.

Chapter II
The Encounter
As the Ecto-1N pulled into the gigantic doors of GBWC HQ, an excited Dr. Andy Harness greeted them. He was wearing his jumpsuit and sporting a very out-of-date proton pack, probably returning, himself, from a call. He was chewing on a toothpick, which immediately popped out at the sight of the busted vehicle.

“What the hell did you do to the car?!”

“This goofy guy hit us.” Explained Joey as he exited the vehicle, still unaware of their strange passenger.

“I don’t know who you think you are pal, but no one screws with GBWC. You hear me? No one!” Screamed a now angered Andy, reaching for his proton gun.

Nathaniel began to chuckle at the sight of this weapon. Cracks were evident and it was painted a crude orange, probably to hide the horrible mess of wiring protruding from the pack.

“I don’t like your attitude, man. You are so lucky you aint dead! Then again, that could be arranged…” Exclaimed Andy while charging his pack.

Fritz and Joey then stepped back. They knew Andy had a short patience, but when someone has messed with his “toys”, he didn’t exactly appreciate it.

The pack whistled, now prepared to fire. Suddenly, the pack sparked and shut down, sounding much like a sudden unplugged vacuum cleaner.

Andy was shocked and shook the pack with disapproval.

“Hold on their cowboy.” Nathaniel said as he approached Andy. “Look here, the spark occurred because of the absence of proper electrical tape. See here? If it was there, you could have just said goodbye. Now, if you patch up that wire, it is most likely to stop, but on a machine with power of this magnitude, it would be more efficient just to replace the lot. Also, this pack is way too heavy, and many of these attachments can be made into one simple attachment. If you move this cooling tube over here…”

Nathaniel went on to explain in further detail other problems of the machine. Sometime during the lecture, which seemed to be in another language, Andy looked up towards Joey and Fritz with astonishment.

Fritz smirked. Joey sighed and shook his head as he headed past the two into the HQ. He needed a shower.

The GBWC HQ consisted of a huge garage, in which housed their Ectos and other vehicles. Proton packs, PKE Meters, jumpsuits, cigarette butts, ashtrays, maps, traps, and Playboy’s lined the interior of the garage. It was a real man’s workplace.

He continued to the stairs leading to the bathroom. Joey passed by Peter Kong, another 'buster, who was sitting at the top of the flight was feverishly working on his family album. Snippets of people and places littered the hall leading to Joey’s relief salvation. Peter seemed to be in his own world. Such concentration.

“Working on a new album for the upcoming reunion?” Joey said, breaking the zoned atmosphere on the second floor hall.

Peter’s head slowly turned up. His eyes were baggy, most likely from working all night. “I….I….I need more Coke…the soda kind…” Stuttered an exhausted Peter as he slowly rose. He tripped over himself as he headed downstairs.

Joey continued his trek towards the ‘Promised Land’.

He closed the door behind him as he entered the lavatory. It was lined with wall paper, which was tearing off the wall. The wallpaper was a nasty greenish color with weird flower shapes. The guys had to close their eyes while relieving themselves, for fear of becoming constipated.

Joey stripped his clothing and reached for the faucet. Nothing.

“Why does this always happen to me?”

He snatched a nearby towel and wrapped it around himself as he headed back downstairs. Someone didn’t pay the water bill. It was time to blame someone that could not comprehend what was going on at the moment. He headed towards Peter.

Descending from the second floor, Joey noticed a small crowd of his co-workers, all busters. The crowd consisted of Andy, Dr. Robert Griffiths, Peter, Michael A. Chad and Fritz, who was backing a distance smirking at the display. The blue haired Dr. Masterson was giving a quick synopsis of the equipment lining the wall.

Joey walked towards Peter and was about to rain down disgrace on his family, since he didn’t pay the bill; which was a lie.

A girlish high pitched squeal was then echoing through the garage. The now surprised congregation of confused busters were already looking at the source of the commotion.

Balancing on a workbench four or so feet off the ground was Dr. Masterson.

Chapter III
The Call
“Get that demon away!” Screeched the acrobatic 80 year old.

The congregation all laid their eyes upon a curious cat, which meowed in response.

As if on cue, Dr. Kyle Stevens entered the room. “There you are baby.” He said as he scooped up the amber feline. “How are you today?”

“You have cats walking around here?!” Nathaniel questioned, still holding his pose.

“This is one of my favorite strays, Mr. Twinkles.” Dr. Stevens said as he lifted the cat towards the terrified man and made its paw wave.

“That is a girl you imbecile.” Andy explained.

Dr. Stevens turned the cat to face him, as if confused why the cat hadn’t told him sooner.

Seeing an opportunity, Dr. Masterson jumped down and ran upstairs.

“So Fritz, who exactly is this guy?” Andy asked.

With the question never crossing his mind, Dr. Stevens realized he wanted to know the very exact thing. “Yeah. Tell us.” He agreed as he sent off his cat, which was clawing at his grip.

“That’s right. Thanks for reminding me!” Fritz said getting comfortable on a bench.

“Dr. Nathaniel Masterson was born in 1928 a whoreson. As you can imagine, he was neglected and taken as property under the state. He was placed in a nearby orphanage, which was common during the ‘Great Depression’-“

“Wasn’t that the time when Disney Land got rid of their boat ride?” Dr. Stevens interrupted. “Cause, if I hadn’t been so young, I would have a few choices words-“

“He was talking about the 1930’s, after the stock market crashed!” John Lipstyle corrected, obviously listening in from a far corner. “Continue Fritz.”

“Thank you. Well, anyone can guess how horrible the conditions were in a crowded orphanage. So, naturally, Dr. Masterson set out on adventures away from the ‘home’ he had acquired. He spent the majority of his time near a river in which many River Otters were and was reported to use Otter behavior in his everyday life. This was usually expressed in his eating habits when he would eat off his stomach…ahem…anyway, after turning 17, he set out on the ‘Information Super Highway’. He graduated from Flagler College in St. Augustine, Florida with an Engineering Masters and a minor as a Military Tactics, due to the influence of World War II.”

“So that explains how easily he fixed my PKE meter!” Joey said displaying his ‘toy’.

The audience, as perplexed as a Kindergarten show-and-tell class, passed the PKE around in a crude circle.

Witnessing this peculiar sight, Fritz continued.

“In 1948, he joined Boeing as an assembly line worker. He would always speak of how to make the equipment more efficient on the job and word of his discoveries soon traveled to his superiors, who quickly gave him a promotion after viewing his alumna. He then invented the RAM jet engine; a revolutionary design using no moving parts and toping speeds of 6-18 mach’s.

“From 1951 to 1956, he worked as a Military Engineer during the Cold War. He specialized in Spy Planes and continued using his RAM engine in all of his designs. He efficiently made great debuts with his superior officers…and their daughters.”

Dr. Stevens had a puzzled look on his face.

“Dr. Masterson’s career seemed to sky rocket, literally, as he was asked by NASA to again assist our country against the Russians; in space. He was asked, along with many other teams of scientists and engineers, to build a rocket that would send ‘Man to The Moon’.”

“If this guy was doing this well, then why isn’t he rolling in the dough or married to a woman 40 years younger than him?” Questioned John.

Fritz held up his index finger and continued.

“Of course, he endorsed his idea of a RAM based launching system, which he argued would be more environmentally friendly and cheaper to manufacture. His idea was proved impossible by tests and data run by the US Government which proved that a RAM engine did not reach maximum speeds until it is at high altitudes. They went on further to explain that the Rockets needed to reach their climax at a hundred or so feet in the air, not a few thousand. Dr. Masterson was shocked at this and began production on failure after failure. The last few years of his high life consisted of designs described as ‘wacky and futuristic’ or ‘insanely genius’-“

Fritz cut off as he witnessed Nathaniel coming down the stairs.

“So, Dr. Otter, eh?” Chuckled Andy, attempting to lighten the mood.

Dr. Masterson shot Andy a surprised look as he continued down the flight.

The phone then rang, breaking an awkward silence. Dr. Stevens leapt for the telephone; he wasn’t able to answer it too often.

“Hello, this is Domino’s Pizza. How may I help-“

Chad darted towards the phone. “Give me that you goon! You don’t work there anymore! Can’t you do anything right?”

“Hello, this is Ghostbusters: West Coast. This is Dr. Michael A. Chad from South Division speaking. How may I help you...yea….really?!....that sounds serious….an old woman is what...at the old Johnson’s mansion? But that place has been deserted for years. Why would anyone be in there...oh….well, don’t you worry ma’am. South Division will get on the case right away!”

Chad placed the phone back on the receiver. “We have an elevated class two on our hands. South Division, move out!”

Dr. Stevens, Peter, Chad and Andy all pilled into the Ecto-1S and drove off.

Joey sighed and went back upstairs to retrieve his clothes. Fritz snatched the Playboy from Dr. “Otter” and returned it to the bench. He followed and listen to further ideas from Nathaniel, who was on a roll.

Chapter IV
The Assistance
Jeremy Hicks woke from a closet located upstairs. This was his “home away from home”. He adjusted the pillows and blankets and folded them into a neat pile in the corner. He hid his stuffed animal in a shoe box on a top shelf.

After collecting Dr. Pepper bottles and numerous peanut M&M packages, he opened the door only to smack a passing Robert in the face.

“Ow! That hurt!” yelped a shocked Robert, grasping his nose.

“Sorry man. I was…cleaning the closet…again” Replied Jeremy.

Robert shook his head and passed him. It wasn’t the first time he had encountered this phenomenon.

Jeremy recollected his trash and disposed of it in the bathroom.

Looking in the mirror, he realized what a mess his hair was and quickly sprayed it down. He reached into a cupboard, and removed a T-shirt and some shorts. As he removed his pajamas, a still unbathed Joey walked in.

“Doesn’t anyone every knock anymore?” Jeremy exclaimed as he feverishly returned his trousers to their original state.

“Doesn’t anyone ever lock the door anymore?” Joey again tossed the blame to another.

He closed the door and stormed downstairs, hoping to nag to Fritz about adding on another bathroom.

His quest was interrupted by John, who asked for his assistance on the Ecto-1N.

“I told you before, man. I am our team ‘supervisor’, not ‘equal’.” Explained Joey as he rolled his eyes.

John swallowed his disapproval to this response and continued working.

Joey, quickly forgetting why he came down in the first place, went to his office.

It was a small office consisting of a desk, a window, love seat, and a plethora of cigarette brands.

“I swear I’m beginning to think that I am becoming a bit unappreciated around here…” He swore under his breath as he reached for a Marlboro from his collection.

He plopped himself down in his executive chair, in which he spent half of the teams income from a past job and blamed it on the Government when questioned. He glanced at a picture in the corner of his mahogany desk before lighting up. It was a picture of Stephanie, his last girlfriend. She was so petite and polite and plain beautiful. Stephanie was a keeper.

SMASH

Joey’s window shattered as he ducked under his desk.

“See? Now that is power!” Exclaimed Nathaniel.

“What the hell was that!?” Joey swore as he tore down his blinds.

Jeremy and Robert races down the stairs to investigate the noise.

“Dr. Otter just upgraded our staple gun!” Explained John. “No more protruding staples!”

“Unbelievable…” Joey said to himself. “An Einstein in engineering and he fixes a staple gun?! Sears already fixed that problem!”

A stunned Dr. Masterson dropped his head and began to pout as he shuffled slowly to the upstairs bathroom.

“You just had to discourage him, didn’t you?” Asked Fritz as he casually entered the garage.

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