A Change for The Better

Earlier that day

   Slimer, meanwhile, was having a good time hunting in Egon’s trash-can.

   He chucked out chocolate bar wrappers and empty soft drinks cans.  Egon was a sugar junkie, there had to be something tasty in here!

   But, after a while, something quite other than food got Slimer’s attention.

   He heard a voice, not too far from where he was floating ... and it wasn’t mortal.

   Slimer stopped rummaging and peered across the street.

   There!  A ghost was sitting on a brick wall, all alone.  He was invisible, but as Slimer was a ghost too, he could see him just fine.

   Slimer concentrated, trying to hear what he was saying, for he was muttering to himself.  Slimer thought he sounded very unhappy.

   Slimer felt a pang he hadn’t felt in decades, and the pang was pity.  He could tell that this was a good soul, for he sensed no evil vibes, and slowly approached.

   The stranger was a human ghost, and would have been six foot five had he been standing.  He was built like a doorman, had dark skin, a shaved head, and hands so large he could have torn a Yellow Pages, but right now, he didn’t look up to it.

   Coming round him, Slimer saw he was indeed depressed.

   The little ghost waved at him, timidly.

   “Where are you hoping to go?” the other asked, as though they had already been having a discussion.

   Slimer didn’t move, he just watched and listened for more.

   “I was kind of hoping limbo,” the tall ghost said, “Neither here nor there, know what I mean?  I don’t deserve either the other places.  I’m nothing special, but I’m not bad,”

   Slimer began to cotton on, and gave him a scared look.

   Suddenly, the big one stamped his foot so hard he made a hole in the pavement.

   Slimer cringed, but didn’t move away.

   “Damn you, Lucifer!  I just got used to being dead!” the big ghost exploded.

   Slimer’s mouth opened, slightly.

   “Being dead, is fine.  There’s nothing to fear.  You still get to choose your friends, your lover, and your path!  But moving on ... It’s like dying all over again,”

   He looked Slimer in the eye and Slimer now saw the bullet hole in his head.

   “No one chooses how they die,” the big ghost murmured, “No one chooses where they go next.  That’s up to the Grim Reaper ... when he moves us on,”

   Slimer’s pupils contracted.  The Grim Reaper was ushering ghosts from Earth?

   If he’d had skin, he would have gotten goose-bumps.

   “Do you wanna leave?” the big ghost whispered.

   The little one shook his head, vigorously.

   “That makes two of us.  My name’s Clive by the way, what’s y-”

   Clive stopped speaking, abruptly.

   “I don’t believe it!  I’m fading!  The Reaper’s taking me now!” he gasped.  Clive flung out a plate-sized hand to Slimer, who took it in his tiny, green one.

   “I hope we meet again,” Clive said, his voice echoing.

   Slimer felt the huge hand turn into air as it slowly vanished.  Next moment, Clive had gone, but where to, and whether or not he could come back, Slimer didn’t know.

   He suddenly felt angry.  Angry that Clive never had a choice in staying where he felt at home.  The same thing would happen to him too, eventually.  It wasn’t fair!

   But then, neither was getting old, or being bullied, or being murdered.

   Life was like that.  Why should death be any different?

   Something interrupted his train of thought, but luckily, it was a welcome interruption.  Slimer looked round and shielded his eyes.

   A pair of headlights lit up the road as a car approached the firehouse.

   Slimer’s eyes widened in happiness: It was Ecto-1 and, more importantly, it was Peter, Ray and Egon.

   Slimer rushed to meet them, waving his hands in the air.

   Ecto-1 drew up inside the building as the huge doors parted, and Slimer zipped in before they closed.

   “Wow, he’s sure pleased to see us,” Ray said, looking out.

   So anxious was the little ghost to tell what he’d just heard that he tried entering the car window.   There was a thrumming sound as he bounced off the spook-proof shield.

   “Slimer, are you ok?” Ray asked, winding down the window.

   Slimer nodded, looking dazed.

   “Ray, is the car ok?” Peter echoed.

   Slimer scowled.

   Peter switched off Ecto-1’s engine, and they all got out.

   Slimer went straight to Egon, gibbering in panic, trying to say the Grim Reaper was after him.  But Egon misunderstood.  He thought Slimer was panicking about emptying Peter’s fridge.

   “Not now, Slimer,” he said, and strode past him.

   Slimer gestured, desperately, after Egon, but the scientist’s mind was set on something.  Peter was getting his coat.  “I’d best be shooting off. Dana will be expecting me home soon,”

   He and Ray exchanged ‘goodnights’.  Slimer sagged, and only Ray noticed him.

   “You can talk to me, little guy.  What’s wrong?  Did that ghost dog chase you again?”

   Slimer made frantic dismissive gestures with his hands.

  “Ok, ok!  Calm down!”  Ray said, shielding himself as he was sprayed with flecks of ectoplasm, “I get it!  It’s something serious.  Well, we’ve got some time before we lock up, so let’s talk in the living room – No offence meant by that ...”

   Upstairs, Egon went straight to his lab, pulled the dish of essence out of his pocket and placed it on his desktop.  He pulled the lid off at once and dipped in a finger.

   As if by magic, Gabriel appeared in the room.

   She looked like she’d been expecting him and, knowing angels, she probably had.

   Egon dived right in.  No point beating about the bush.

   “The Devil said he was going to torture who you forewarned!” he said, crossly, “He meant me, didn’t he!”

   Gabriel braced herself, breathing in deeply, “Yes,” she whispered.

   Egon licked his dry lips, “And how’s he going to do that?” he asked.

   “How’s he going to torture you?” Gabriel asked, shocked.


   Her lip trembled.  “You’ll – you’ll work it out for yourself,”

   “Tell me now!  I must know how to defend myself!  Hit me with it!”

   Egon thumped his chest with a fist.

   Gabriel gave him a long, sad look, her wings drooping.

   “I couldn’t bear to break your heart,” she whispered.

   Egon stared at her.

   “When then?” he asked, miserably, eyes shining.

   “When the world is rid of ghosts, and the demons appear,”

   Egon thought a moment, and felt panic rising now.

   “The demons can’t get out unless every ghost is gone, yes?”

   “That was the deal,” Gabriel nodded.

   “And that includes all the good ones, not just the ones we catch?”

   “Yes, although they will certainly not go to Hell, they will go to Heaven or be reincarnated,”

   Egon put a hand over his eyes, “So to sum it up, The Devil gets rid of one type of evil so he may replace it with a worse type of evil!”

   “An evil The Ghostbusters will defeat,” Gabriel said, confidently, “and you will have a world rid of evil for good,”

   “Then I have to agree with Lucifer: You want us out of business!” Egon cried.

   Gabriel looked shocked.

   “Of course I don’t!  You will be icons!”

   “I don’t want to be an icon!” Egon shouted, “I want to be a Ghostbuster, and now I’m to be tortured!”

   He pictured himself being dragged into a black pit by a hideous, scarlet monster, screaming and struggling helplessly...

   “I want to be a Ghostbuster!” Egon wept, “I want to be alive!”

   Gabriel drew away with something like guilt in her eyes.

   Golden light melted everything around him, and slowly ebbed away, revealing the lab again.  It was dark outside and everything was thrown into shadow.

   Egon wiped his eyes.  Gabriel had gone.  He couldn’t believe it.  He was going to Hell because of her!  How could she do this!

   Enraged, he grabbed the essence, roughly, and was on the point of throwing it out the window when the lab door opened.  Egon whirled round.

   Janine stood there, framed in light from the landing.

   “Egon, what are you doing in here?  We’re closing,”

   Egon stuttered, caught off guard.

   She folded her arms and shook her head, fondly, “Is there nothing you love more than science?”

   Egon blushed, suddenly unable to look her in the eye.

   The essence lay forgotten on the window sill, and Egon wiped his sweaty palms on his white coat.

   He walked, unsteadily, up to Janine, nerves jangling ... and failing ... He kept on walking until he passed her and reached the stairs.

   “’Night,” he called back.

   “’Night,” she answered, and Egon grit his teeth, hoping to God he’d imagined the note of disappointment in her voice.


   Egon kicked himself all evening.  He paced his flat, yelled at the mirror, and ate two bowls of ice-cream.  Nothing helped.

   Finally, he couldn’t stand it any more.

   Twenty minutes later, Egon stood, shivering in the dark, on Janine’s doorstep, hands deep in his coat pockets.

   He jumped when Janine answered the door.

   She was wearing a red, satin dressing-gown.

   “Hi!” Egon squeaked, and cleared his throat before trying again, “Hi, Janine,”

   She looked surprised to see him, “Egon!  What are you-”

   “Will you join me for dinner?”

   She blinked at him, amazed.

   “I’d ... love to!”

   Egon beamed.

   “If it weren’t half past nine,” she said, trying not to laugh.

   “Mm, late, I know,” Egon mumbled.

   She sighed, fondly, and stepped back to let him.

   Egon gratefully stepped into the warmth and the light, and Janine slowly closed the front door.

   They stood on the mat, looking at each other in silence ... Egon thought she looked beautiful without those big glasses ... She had always looked beautiful ... But it was her smile that made him melt towards her ...

The End

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