Albert and Thomas dashed along a corridor. They passed 'Cosmos and Culture', where a nightsky was projected, portraying constllations and the solar system. After that, they saw, 'Measuring Time', a collection of over five hundred timepieces that illustrated the ingenuity of their makers. Finally, they reached a section that was still being built. It was called 'Who Am I?', and had an information board outside it.
'Welcome to our interactive gallery for what makes you unique!'
Albert and Thomas looked at each other. Despite the room not being finished, they couldn't resist a peek inside.
"Oh. There's nothing here," said Albert, disappointed.
The room was inside completely empty and white, except for a full-length mirror opposite.
"Wait ..." Thomas said, softly, and began to approach the mirror.
"What? It's just your reflection," Albert said, baffled.
Thomas gestured for Albert to come closer. Thomas moved until he was pressing his ear right against the glass.
"Thomas, stop," Albert said, suddenly. The hairs on the backs of his arms were standing on end. He didn't know why, but something about the mirror gave him the creeps.
"We should get mum and dad,"
Thomas felt unnerved by Albert's tone, and he sensed something strange too. It was as if time slowed down. The hair on the back of Thomas' neck stood on end ... He began to pull away from the glass ... Albert took a step forward ... The mirror split down the middle like a shark's mouth, and lunged into the room, the jagged glass like rows of serated teeth! The mirror mouth swallowed Thomas whole and morphed like mercury, rippling until it was solid and plain-looking again ...
Except Albert was sobbing on the floor, clawing at a mirror on the opposite wall.
Minutes later, Janine was in the room, her arms round her son, and Egon was stood protectively over them.
"Albert, what's ! Where's your brother?"
Albert pointed at the mirror, and Egon understood. He went white.
He thumped on it with his fists, very unscientific.
"GIVE ME MY SON BACK!" he bellowed.
Janine stopped him. "Egon, no! Use your head!"
At that, Egon's familiar frown fell into place.
You could almost hear the electricity as his brilliant mind worked overtime.
Both parents strode to their car, coats billowing behind them, Janine cradling Albert in her arms.
As the rest of the Ghostbusters were back in America, they knew they would have to handle this themselves.
Minutes later, they returned to the mirror room, positivley bristling with anti-ghost equipment. Their P.K.E and Giga metres flashed and beeped, their proton packs thrummed menacingly, and Egon's goggles buzzed electronically. The green and red lights of their gear flitted and blinked as they marched straight up to the mirror.
"Janine, look at this," Egon said, showing her the vision through his goggles.
Janine visably paled, "Oh my god!"
There was a silvery trail broken off at the foot of the mirror, and it led all the way to Albert where it was attached to the area covered by his hand.
"It's their soul," Egon said, fighting to keep his eyes from welling.
Janine was already scanning the mirror, "Energy field stable. We can cross dimensions,"
She dip an ankle into the glass, and phased through it as though there was nothing.
Egon stepped in after her, feeling a slight cool breeze as the - everything - changed around them. This was off the map territory now, where the laws of physics no longer applied. Egon had been in many places like this before - Ghost zones, alternate realities, and the such-like. Winston had even been outside the gates of Heaven once. How they could always breathe in places that appeared foreign to oxygen was always a big coincidence.
But Egon didn't believe in coincidences.
This place looked vaguely familiar. They were standing on what could pass as a floating island of rock, suspended in endless space. They were surrounded by multi-coloured gas clouds and a trillion stars.
Thomas was ahead of them, looking weirdly out of place, for he was sat, slumped, on a dining chair. He was limp and inanimate as a rag-doll, but he was alive.
Egon clasped Janine's shoulder, not a moment too soon.
Someone had appeared in the visible spectrum right next to Thomas, but he wasn't a ghost. Egon went very still. "Oh no ..."
The stranger was a middle-aged man wearing a white suit and tie. He had pale grey eyes that were red-rimmed, like an insomniac or an alcoholic. He had no eyebrows at all, like he had shaved them off. He had receding, scrubby hair, a hooked nose, and deathly-pale skin. He took one look at Egon and gave the most wicked smile.
"Hello, Dr. Egon Spengler," he said, in the slimiest purr imaginable.
Egon felt cold, but was sweating at the same time.
Janine aimed her proton gun. "Give us back our kid, Gozer," she demanded.
"Guess again," The man said, smiling.
"It's Lucifer!" he breathed. Janine's jaw dropped. "What!"
"If there's something weird and it don't look good," The Devil growled in his eeriest tones.
"Why are you here?" Egon said, through gritted teeth. He sensed there was no getting out this time.
"I was feeling forgotten," The Devil replied, leaving Thomas' side to walk towards Egon with a prowling step. His hands were bunched into fists by his side. He had the air of someone waiting to stick a knife in and twist it.
"You boys were so busy bustin' ghosts and gods that you forgot who the real enemy is. Me,"
The Devil stopped until he was almost nose to nose with Egon who knew better than to run. The Devil wasn't here for a fight, and he didn't dare fire his gun in this close a range to his family. They had nothing to defend themselves with!
Think Egon think!
"You have one choice," Satan whispered, "sacrifice to me one of your children in exchange for future happiness for the rest of your family,"
"NO!" Janine screamed, aiming at The Devil's head, "Egon get back!"
They all knew she had no chance. Egon went white-lipped, The Devil laughed, and Janine felt her face burn as her eyes welled.
Egon thought as fast as he could ... and realised he had already made his choice.
"Excellent choice," Satan purred.
There was a flash of pure reality as Egon found himself transported through time. Like Ebenezer Scrooge in a Christmas Carol, no one around him could see or hear him. He was in the bathroom at home. This was several weeks ago now.
Janine was bathing, and humming softly to herself. Contentedly even.
Egon understood. Upon realising it had been he who had chosen Janine to have a miscarraige so that his twin boys could live, Egon felt his insides retract in self defense as his emotions shut down. He felt numb.
As blood streamed into the bath, and Janine reacted in shock, Egon phased through the bathroom door and walked, dream-like, into his never-to-be daughter's baby room. Ashen-faced, he looked round, very slowly. Taking in the toys, the cot, and finally the beautiful purple paint on the walls. His eye fell on the tin and noticed a single word in the middle that he had never seen before:
With unceremonious, and callous suddenness, Egon found himself sprung back into the bare, white room that was the science museum. He toppled to the ground. Janine, Albert and Thomas tumbled down with him. Realising they were safe, Albert and Thomas hugged each other, crying gently. As if from far away, Egon heard Janine asking everyone if they were alright, and would they see The Devil again. He managed to mumble a "possibly not", as he scanned the boys' soul with his P.K.E.
He witnessed it re-connect before his eyes, and the boys visably calmed down. This was some comfort to him, and he took both boys into his arms. Janine moved in too for a hug, and he put his arm round her too.
"Let's - get back to family time," Egon said, shakily. He and Janine returned their equipment to the car, and she saw something was very wrong.
"What happened?" she asked, darkly.
Egon couldn't look her in the eye, for he felt the most horrible guilt.
"Violet," he said, in an almost inaudible voice. "She was the sacrifice so that you, Albert and Thomas would live,"
Janine looked like she was about to burn the world with the look in her eyes.
"Please - " Egon started.
"I'm not angry with you," she said, "He's The Devil, Egon. No one escapes him undamaged ... But answer me this: Where is the Raouskinna?"
"Why?" Egon asked, guardedly.
"I want to be the first human alive to torture The Devil," she replied, matter-of-factly.
It was a hell of a way to end a holiday.
"Ok," he said in a small voice, not daring to argue.
The drive back home was subdued, but Egon promised himself he would lavish the boys with love every chance he had.
They all felt a lot safer back in the firehouse, and the boys both ran straight to Ray, Peter, and Winston, and gave them big hugs.
Egon envied their obliviousness to what had happened between him and Satan.
Not even Thomas, who Satan had subdued for a moment, seemed overly troubled. All the same, their father gave them both thorough tests in the lab for any signs of possession, slime leakage, and P.K.E readings. He took their tempature, listened to their heart-rates, shone a light in their eyes, checked their throats, and took samples. They were both very well behaved, and were especially interested when he showed them the scan of their souls.
The Spenglers slept in the firehouse together that night, and all felt safer being closer to the other Ghostbusters, but, all the same, the story of The Devil's invasion scared Peter, Ray, and Winston somewhat, and everyone kept an eye open that night.
At least no one had to answer the phone ... for now.