They had barely moved, when Egon strode back past them, Fluid Analyser in hand.
“I found this on top of your fridge, Venkman,” he said, displeased, “Please don’t leave it there, Slimer might swallow it,”
Ray chuckled as he looked at Peter.
“He’s got a point, pal, Slimer was comfort-eating earlier,”
Oops! One and one make two.
Peter looked at him, and it wasn’t a good look, “Comfort eating what, Dr. Stanz?”
“It was my fault,” Ray mumbled, guiltily, sticking his hands in his pocket and kicking an imaginary stone.
“Has he been comfort-eating from my fridge?” Peter asked, sternly.
Egon’s voice came from the end of the corridor, “No, he emptied that this morning, he’s been comfort-eating out your freezer. Are you coming, Ray?”
Ray looked at Peter, puppy-eyed, “Please can I go now, Dr. Venkman?”
“Fine, run along,” Peter sighed, “I’ll find Slimer myself,”
Peter marched off, muttering, slamming the door behind him.
The second Peter had left there came a squelching noise above Ray’s head.
He looked up.
A blob of familiar, green gel was oozing through the ceiling. It squeezed all the way through, and dropped in front of Ray, where it hovered in mid-air. The green blob sprouted a pair of arms, and grew a goofy face with a large mouth and yellow eyes.
It was Slimer, and he was looking well fed. Ray could tell by the sandwiches and half a gateau inside his translucent body.
Slimer smacked his lips and grinned tombstone-like teeth at Ray.
“Better make yourself scarce, buddy. Peter’s onto you. Why don’t you go check the street outside Egon’s window? He found some weird new slime out there, and we don’t know what it is,”
The doorbell rang, and by the sound of it, Janine had answered.
Slimer put one hand on his hip, the other on his chin, and hummed curiously.
Then he nodded and zoomed out through the window. He passed, soundlessly, through the glass, and zipped out of sight.
It was Janine calling, and Peter quickly reappeared, leaning on the stair banister, “Yeah?”
“The fans have arrived. If I show them up, will you take them?”
“I expect nothing less than daily admiration, Janine, you know that!”
Ray rolled his eyes, “Later, Venkman,”
He moved away from the buzzing voices below and went to find Egon.
Spengler was back in his lab, pouring the special goo back out of the Fluid Analyser and into the dish.
“So what is it?” Ray asked him, excited again.
“Well, the Analyser didn’t give me a reading, so that means it isn’t slime, and it’s certainly not ectoplasm,”
“Wow! So it’s something new!” Ray enthused, coming over.
“It’s ... something else,” Egon replied, mysteriously, now polishing his glasses.
Ray raised his eyebrows, “‘Something else’?” he said.
“Mm-hm,” Egon said, shortly, “I don’t know what it is,”
But he said this without meeting Ray’s eye. Ray narrowed his eyes. He knew Egon too well now to be fooled.
“You know more about this than you’re letting on,” he said, quietly.
Egon stopped polishing and put his glasses back on, looking guilty.
“Alright, yes, I am. And I know what it is. I just didn’t want to-”
There came a loud cheer and round of applause from overheard. The fans had evidently just met Peter Venkman.
“-show off,” Egon said, looking up and frowning.
“What do you mean?” Ray asked, tapping the sample dish.
“What I mean,” Egon said, focus returning, “in theory only, mind ...”
He lowered his voice, “... I have single-handedly found ... angel essence,”
Ray looked as though Christmas had come early.
Egon proceeded to tell him what he’d seen since touching the substance. But when he told Ray that part of the plan was to send the ghosts away, Ray looked crestfallen.
“What! None at all? Seriously?”
“I’m always serious,”
“But ... but, that’s ...”
Egon waited, politely. Ray bit his lip, unsure if he liked the idea or not. He loved his job, but the whole point of it was to protect the city.
“I’m not sure what I’d do if I couldn’t catch ghosts,” he said, softly.
“I’m not sure what I’d go if I couldn’t study slime, but we can’t afford to be selfish,” Egon answered, wisely.
“All that for the price of one soul?” Ray murmured, “Whose?”
“I dare not contemplate,”
“And you saw all this just by touching an essence?”
“Wow!” Ray breathed, reaching for the dish, “Can I try?”
“Oh err – Sorry, Ray,” Egon said, hastily moving it out of reach, “Better not risk it,”
“We can’t afford to be selfish,” Ray said, swiftly, “Come on, Spengler,”
“I would, Ray, honest, but ... um ...”
Egon went quiet, cradling the essence in both hands, “Gabriel chose me. It makes me feel ...”
But his voice trailed off before he finished the sentence. Egon cleared his throat and looked away, embarrassed.
Ray thought he understood and casually backed off a step, nodding passively.
“Please do me one big favour,” Egon said, suddenly, “Don’t tell Venkman,”
Ray was surprised, “Why not?”
There came a burst of laughter from upstairs.
“He might do that in my face,” Egon said, sadly.
Upstairs, Peter was entertaining his fans, who were mainly teenage girls.
“Ghostbusters are always appreciative of love and support, and we’re very grateful for your interest. We don’t take on new recruits as this is a family business, but please feel free to buy our merchandise: T-shirts, mugs, watches, hats, key-rings, and free balloons for the kids, to advertise us in your own charming way,”
The fans left an hour later, and Peter got away. He decided to go for a snack, but along the way, he passed Janine’s office, and he heard her call his name.
Venkman doubled back and stood in the doorway, “Yes, Janine?”
She didn’t look at him right away, but spoke as she typed at her computer.
“You’re a lucky man, Peter. You don’t know what it’s like to feel invisible,”
“What?” Peter was puzzled. What was she talking about?
“The fans love you almost as much as Dana does. You’re funny. You’re charming. You have a way with people,”
Peter nodded at the bouquet of roses, now arranged in a vase on Janine’s desk.
“You’re not doing too badly,” he said, “Who’s the lucky guy? Was that phone call from him too?”
“No one,” Janine muttered, face pinking, “I bought the flowers for myself, and the call was a wrong number, ok?”
Peter raised his hands in peace and made ‘I’ll zip it’ motions with his hand.
Janine sighed at him. There was a brief quiet, and then the phone rang.
She answered it.
“Hello, Ghostbusters ...” She raised her eyebrows and looked at Peter, “I see ... Yes, I understand ... Thank you very much. Goodbye,”
She put the phone down and looked at Peter.
“Three ghosts, the local theatre,” she said, simply, slamming her hand on the large, red button on her desk. A fire-bell went off, signalling the emergency call.