Episode 6: “Blast from the Past”
The TV cut to an ad for the Ghostbusters that had just began making waves in Des Moines.
Daniel Carter grimaced as Cynthia Palmer stepped into the screen holding a cell phone while wearing her Ghostbuster uniform. She pointed at the screen.
“If you go into your application store, you can search ‘Ghostbuster Neighborhood Watch.’ Once you’ve downloaded the app, you’ll be helping us to locate spiritual dangers throughout the city.” She pocketed the phone and added. “We’re on the hunt for major spikes in spiritual activity and your help will give us the edge we need to find what we’re looking for.”
A Ghostbuster with a nametag that read “Ross” pointed at the screen and energetically said, “Only you can save the city! Be a Ghostbuster and download our app today!”
Dan clicked the remote to change the channel. After everything that he had been through, he couldn’t stand Cynthia Palmer and liked the idea of making her disappear with a click.
Instead, the remote clicked, but the channel didn’t change. He hit the button again a few times, but nothing happened. He sighed, trying to think of where he had last seen AAA batteries in his small apartment.
That’s when he also noticed that Cynthia’s face was expanding on the screen as if she was about to climb out and ruin his life all over again. Growing to fill the entire thing. Dan leaned forward and reached toward the screen as if he could reach out and strangle his old friend.
A knock at the door reminded him that his television wasn’t going to start ejecting people from it. Hell, it was a console television from the early nineties.
Dan grabbed his crutches and used them to hop with his one foot to the door. When he answered the door, Daniel found a white bearded gentleman dressed in a business suit.
“Hello, Daniel,” the man stuck out his hand. Dan glared at it, but didn’t accept the handshake. “I’m here about an urgent matter. Might I come in?”
“Who are you?”
“I think that I’m someone who can help you get what you desire.”
Dan’s glare turned into a frown. “How does what I want become an urgent matter?”
The older man smiled a toothy grin. “Urgent to me, fortuitous for yourself.”
“And you seem to know what I want?”
“I do,” he answered. “Would you let me in if I told you that I could help you rain Hell down on Cynthia Palmer?”
For the first time in a long time, Dan felt the edges of his mouth curl up. He hopped out of the way of the door and allowed the older gentleman to enter.
“My name,” he said as he took Dan’s seat in front of the console television, “is Martin Murray.”
“Tell me Martin,” Dan sat on the console tv and left his crutches leaning against the nearby wall, “what can you do about Cynthia Palmer?”
“Absolutely nothing,” Martin frowned. “Unfortunately, my efforts against her have been met with resistance.” His frown was replaced with a smile that made Dan feel uneasy. “But I can help you do what I couldn’t.”
Martin reached into his suit jacket and pulled out a pill bottle and a flask.
“Take both of these and you’ll be able to ruin her life.” He handed them to Dan who proceeded to look them over.
“And these are?”
Martin raised an eyebrow. “A pill to kill you and an elixir to revive you.”
“How is my dying supposed to hurt Cynthia Palmer?”
Martin shook his head. “The flask will bring you back. Bigger and stronger. You’ll be able to destroy her and everything she’s built.”
“And then what?”
“Whatever you want. I’m building a new world and people with the gifts I’m giving you will rule it.” Martin stood and walked to the door. “Drink the flask first, it won’t taste good. Negatively charged slime never does. Then take the pill. The effects should be quick, so get comfortable.” He opened the door and stood half in the apartment as he said. “Then hunt down and destroy Cynthia Palmer.”
Martin Murray shut the door behind himself, and Dan set the pill bottle down. He twisted the cap and sniffed. The smell wasn’t bad or good, but the something about the smell reminded him of that day in Afghanistan.
Sergeant Palmer was asked to assign patrol detail and had chosen Private First Class Daniel Carter to accompany her on the morning rounds. He had only been a few days from his tour ending, and was looking forward to the flight to Germany before heading home.
When their truck had been hit by the IED, Dan was surprised that he had come out of it unscathed. He got out of the vehicle and was immediately ducking enemy fire. Diving back into the truck, he saw that the Sergeant hadn’t moved. Shaking her a few times, she was alive, but unconscious.
He pulled her from the truck on the side with the least amount of gunfire hitting the truck. The whole time he was radioing in their position and the attack. Looking around the truck, he couldn’t see where the gunfire was coming from, but he knew he wasn’t getting anywhere if he had to drag Sergeant.
When she started to wake up, he told her as much. “I can get back on foot, I’ll get help.”
“No,” she sat up and grunted. Her eyes told him that Palmer was concussed. “Return fire. Keep them back.”
Dan shook his head. “I can get there. Stay here.”
“Private, that’s an order. Do not leave.”
He ignored her and ran away from the truck. Gunfire peppered the ground around him as he ran. Dan pulled his pistol and returned fire, but the movement slowed him down.
He made it about thirty yards when he saw another truck that must have been sent to answer his radio call. Dan started waving his arms in between shots over his shoulder at the invisible combatants.
Then he stepped on another IED. His layover in Germany didn’t happen.
If Cynthia Palmer hadn’t assigned him, if she hadn’t been injured, and if she hadn’t been right, he would still have his leg.
He drank the flask. While the taste was about as subdued as the smell, the effect was immediate. Dan’s rage only seemed to grown inside him. As he finished the flask, all he could think about was destroying Cynthia Palmer. It was the reason that he was still alive.
Alive? Through his rage, he remembered the pill. The flask would revive him, but the pill would kill him. Whatever transformation these tools were going to do to Dan’s body he just didn’t care. That Murray fellow told him this is how he would get his revenge on Cynthia.
Without thinking about it, he popped the lid on the pill bottle and swallowed the only pill that was inside.
Nothing happened immediately. Dan hadn’t expected it to. Even with his rage, he knew pills still had to dissolve to be of any use. So he waited and thought on ways to destroy his old Sergeant.
He didn’t have to wait long, and after about three minutes his chest suddenly felt too small for his heart. The beating of his heart grew louder and he could feel the pressure throughout his whole body as his ticker struggled to keep beating.
It was a struggle that it wouldn’t win.
Daniel Carter died.
A minute later, his soul, charged by the negatively charged slime, tore itself from his corpse and looked down on to his body.
Rage filled him as he realized that the only way he would get his vengeance on Cynthia Palmer, a Ghostbuster, was to become a ghost. She had cost him his leg, and now she had cost him his life.
With a roar of fury that shattered the windows, Dan’s ghost launched himself out of the apartment and into the city.
“I think that went well,” Regina said as they left the studio.
Jordan nodded. “Especially for our first televised appearance. We should think about doing a commercial,” he shrugged. “Might get us more calls.”
“If this app takes off,” Simon said, “than we won’t need to do any advertising. It’ll be assigning us jobs on a regular basis.”
They were unloading their equipment into the van, handing it off to Simon to load into the appropriate cages.
Cynthia had unloaded most of her equipment when she noticed that her PKE Meter wasn’t anywhere in sight.
“Shoot,” she said. “Hey guys, I’ll be right back.” She hooked her thumb over her shoulder. I left my PKE Meter at the coffee table.”
Jordan shook his head. “One little tv-spot and suddenly our little warrior is forgetting her equipment. I thought it would take longer for the spotlight to blind you.”
Cynthia hit him in the arm. “You’re hilarious. I’ll be right back.”
Running back into the building, she hopped into the elevator for the ride to the television station’s floor.
Once she was back in the studio and had explained her predicament to the receptionist, he waved her back.
The PKE Meter was right where she thought it would be, sitting on the edge of table where the coffee was served. As she reached for it, Cynthia jumped as it suddenly came to life, the antennae on it lighting up as they spread out.
“What the hell?”
She grabbed it off of the table and grabbed her Ghost Mace from her belt at the same time.
“You won’t need that,” a familiar voice said from behind her.
Cynthia spun around, bringing the Ghost Mace up as she did, but she never got a chance to use it. A spectral hand grabbed her wrist while another grabbed her throat.
Recognition lit Cynthia’s eyes up. “Private?”
“Hey Sarge,” he smiled, but it was bitter. “Saw your news spot. Great work, but I think I can do better.”
As he said it, Cynthia realized that her wrist wasn’t being held anymore, so much as Private Carter’s spectral blue wrist had begun to merge with her own. Within seconds, his spiritual presence had slid into her physical form. Cynthia couldn’t move at all as Dan started taking control of her body.
“You know what they say,” he said with a mix of her voice and his own, “possession is 9/10ths of the law.”
Back at the van, Simon waited patiently for Cynthia to return so he could close of the grating over where the PKE Meters hung.
When she finally made it back to the van, she looked up at him, leaned a bit to see his entire chest, and then handed him the PKE Meter. The screen was broken on it.
“What happened to it?”
Cynthia shrugged. “I don’t know. Got up there and they seemed to be having some sort of celebration. I think it got bounced around during that.” She leaned again, and Simon looked down at his chest to see if he had something on it. Just the nametag on his jumpsuit.
“Is there something on me?”
Cynthia shook her head, “Nah, Franco. I thought I saw something, but just the light playing tricks.”
“Franco? Since when do you call me Franco?”
She shrugged. “I was thinking while I was in the elevator, that if we’re going to take this to the next level we need to be working on our branding. The people see our nametags, we should use them to address each other.”
Simon frowned, but it made sense. “Ok…Palmer.”
For some reason that was outside of Simon’s understanding, Cynthia cringed when he said her name, as if she had been physically hurt by it.
He locked the cage and hopped down from the van, “Are you alright?”
“Yeah,” she paused as if struggling to remember, “Simon. I think the elevator might have messed with my head.”
“Or something like that,” he added skeptically. “Are you driving?”
Cynthia reached into her jumpsuit pocket and fished out the keys, “Sure.”
The ride back to their headquarters on wasn’t a long one. The office building where they hung their jumpsuits was only a mile from the television station, but Cynthia took her time, every now and then she seemed confused by a turn, but when Jordan asked her about it, she smiled and said, “Don’t worry about it, Ross, I’m just lost in thought.”
“Just don’t be lost in Des Moines,” he chuckled. “Some of us have things to do.”
When they pulled in, Cynthia tossed him the keys and said, “I’m not feeling the best. Think I’ll head home for the rest of the day.”
Jordan nodded. “Sure thing. If we need you, we’ll call.”
Climbing into her pickup truck, Cynthia angled the mirror down to look into her eyes.
“Stop trying to block your memories from me,” Dan growled into the mirror. “If I get discovered, I will kill your friends.”
“Listen to me, Dan,” Cynthia was looking back at her own face in the mirror, but she wasn’t seeing herself, she was seeing the spectral former Private First Class. “I don’t know why you’re doing this, or why you’re so,” she gasped as she felt the emotions radiating off of his soul, “angry, but this can’t end well for you. The best case scenario is you ending up inside our containment unit, while worst case has me screaming inside of my own body and annoying the hell out of you until you finally leave.”
“Or,” Dan countered. “Me listening to your agonizing screams as I dismantle your life piece by piece before a distraught Cynthia Palmer, former Ghostbuster, is found hanging in her apartment.” He shrugged, “Besides, can’t you feel the exchange taking place?” In the mirror, Dan’s spectral image glowed a brighter blue and shimmered. “The longer I am in your body, the more I take from you.” He smiled menacingly. “I’m absorbing your soul. You’ll be around long enough to watch your life fall apart, and then you won’t exist anymore.”
“You’re an idiot, they won’t believe you’re me.”
“They already bought it.” He paused for a minute. “Wait a second, one of your thoughts just drifted into my mind.” Dan took the keys out of the ignition and got out of the car.
“What are you doing?” Cynthia demanded from inside her own head. Shock hit her as she saw what he was planning to do. “No, you can’t.”
Dan walked back into the office.
“Forget something?” Regina asked.
“Yup,” he punched her across face and kicked Simon in the gut as he stood up.
“Cynthia, what are you doing?” Jordan came running forward. Dan threw a stapler at him forcing him to duck.
“Ross,” Dan was trying to find something in Cynthia’s memory to use against him. He was coming up empty. Cynthia had respect for this friend. Hurting him would hurt her. “It’s time you became what you hunt.”
Cynthia’s body walked to the caged lockers and, with strength that surprised the rest of the Ghostbusters, tore the lock off of her own. She put on the pack and wasted no time drawing the neutrino wand and launching a stream at Jordan.
He only barely was able to step out of the way in time and dove toward Simon.
Simon grabbed his arm, “She’s possessed.”
A proton stream blasted the desk and they each grabbed Regina’s arms and tugged her toward the back office.
“No shit, Sherlock,” Regina replied.
“We are leading her toward the Containment Unit,” Simon continued, ignoring Regina.
Jordan’s face blanched. “That’s bad. Very bad.”
“We need to stop her.”
Simon joined Regina this time as they looked at Jordan with dumbfounded expressions.
Another proton stream almost took off Regina’s head.
“Come on back, guys,” Not-Cynthia’s voice sing-songed to them. “I only want to kill you and undo everything you’ve built.”
“We have no choice,” Jordan said. “If we don’t go to the back room, we’re going to know what it’s like to be busted.”
Simon nodded and led the way through the secured door and into the room workshop where he stored all of his prototypes and the containment unit.
“Is there anything in here that we can use?” Regina asked.
Simon shook his head. “No, nothing in here is complete.”
“And we don’t want to hurt Cynthia,” Jordan added. “We need slime.”
Regina suddenly remembered her Ghost Mace.
“I’ve got an idea.” She pointed at the door. “When she…it…whatever comes in here, distract her.”
As if her words commanded it, a proton stream blew the door to splinters. They all ducked as Cynthia walked in.
“Um,” Regina waved in Cynthia’s direction, “I said I need a distraction…”
Jordan’s eyes went wide, “But she has a nuclear accelerator attached to her back.”
Simon rolled his eyes, stood up and grabbed some parts off of the work bench and shrugged. “Hey, you’re using that proton pack all wrong.”
He raised the parts up in a gesture that made it look like he was going to use them to shoot at her.
Cynthia spun the wand toward him and shouted, “Is this better?” before launching a proton stream at him.
He only barely jumped out of the way, but it was enough of a distraction for Regina to sneak up behind Cynthia switch off her proton pack and soak the back of her head in the mace slime.
Cynthia roared in pain as the positively charged slime tried to overwhelm Dan’s spectral energy.
He roared again and turned to flee but was halted as Jordan and Regina held onto the proton pack.
Cynthia’s head turned around unnaturally to face them both and in it they didn’t see Cynthia anymore. Her face had morphed into that of a man. She slipped out of the pack before her head twisted forward again and she flew back the way she had come and out of the building.
“Well,” Simon said, “that was new.”
Cynthia hid inside her own mind while the wounded Dan flew through the air. When he finally came to a stop, gripping her head and howling into the air, they were in a small one bedroom apartment.
On the floor next to a large console television was a body laying face down. It had only one leg.
“So,” Cynthia asked, “this is your apartment then?”
A demon like roar escaped from her mouth again, and Cynthia noticed something.
“Do you feel that?” She asked Dan. “That slime you were hit with is giving me back my strength.”
Using her will, she confronted Dan.
They were still in her mind, but to each of them it looked like they were in the desert, facing each other on a long dirt road.
Cynthia looked down at herself to see she was wearing her Army fatigues.
“Well, that’s different.” She looked across at Dan to see that he was in his fatigues, too. On closer examination, she could tell that he was hurt. It wasn’t his injury from when he was last in Afghanistan, instead he had burn marks all over his head, mostly toward the back where the slime had hit. As for his actual injury, his leg was still there. In spectral form his wound was nonexistent.
“I had years of rehab!” Dan shouted at her. “All because you ordered me along on that patrol!”
From seemingly nowhere, he drew a pistol and aimed it at her.
“You were injured, Private, because you can’t follow a simple order.” Suddenly Cynthia realized that she was holding a proton pack wand. She flipped a switch on it. “If you had spent the last decade focusing on building a life instead of hating me, you might have been happy.” She spun a dial on the side. “I’m sorry that your life went to shit, but I’m done letting you ruin mine.”
“No more talking!” Dan shouted, and began firing at her.
Cynthia flinched before realizing that the gun wasn’t actually firing. It clicked, over and over, but no bullets fired from the gun.
Dan looked at the pistol with rage before throwing it to the side and charging Cynthia.
“I don’t think so,” Cynthia shouted and then flipped the final switch.
A boson dart launched from her proton pack and hit Dan square in the chest.
Instantly, Cynthia was laying on the apartment floor coughing as blue spectral energy leapt from her chest. She climbed to her feet and saw that she was standing across the room from Dan’s ghost.
“I’m sorry that you were wounded,” Cynthia said softly, “but the wound didn’t ruin your life and neither did I. You ruined your life by focusing on hate and revenge instead of moving on.”
Dan’s face was contorted by the rage, and Cynthia could see her words weren’t having much effect.
“You can move on now, though,” she continued. “Let go of your hate and go find something for yourself in this new existence.”
“NO!” he flew at her.
Cynthia flinched and threw up her arms.
A crash made her open her eyes and she looked around to see that Simon, Regina, and Jordan had kicked in the door.
Proton streams wrangled Dan as a trap slid underneath him. Within seconds, Dan was in the trap and Jordan was looking over Cynthia.
“We need to make sure you’re healthy,” he explained. “Kinda saw your neck do some weird stuff that it shouldn’t do.”
“Holy crap!” Regina was exclaiming. “What happened?”
Cynthia pointed at the body on the floor and explained who he was and what had happened.
“He’s still fresh,” Simon observed. “He shouldn’t have been able to create a spiritual form yet. It takes time and the collection of energies.”
“He needed to culminate more emotional energy,” Jordan agreed.
“More slime?” Regina asked.
“How did you guys find me?” Cynthia asked. “I didn’t even know Dan lived here.”
Regina smiled, “The app is working. Enough people have downloaded it that Simon was able to track you as you flew across the city.”
Regina’s watch buzzed and she took a look at it. “There’s something in here giving off a reading.”
Jordan drew his PKE Meter, but Cynthia snatched it out of his hand. She followed it to the console television where she found an unmarked pill bottle and a flask. The PKE Meter spiked when she waved it near the flask.
Picking it up, she overturned it until a blue slime dripped from it.
“Is that what I think it is?”
Jordan looked over her shoulder at the PKE Meter and then at the flask. “Looks like he chugged slime.”
Simon raised an eyebrow. “If he drank negatively charged slime, it might give his spirit enough power to coalesce at the sooner after death.”
“Where did he get it?” Regina asked.
Cynthia frowned. “Where do you think?” She crouched and inspected her former friend’s body. “He fell away from the television.” She eyed the chair. “Someone else was here. I’m willing to bet it was the Chairman.”
“But…why?” Regina asked.
“To distract us?” Jordan supplied. “Or take us out.”
Cynthia stood up and looked to her friends. “This is great news.”
“Why?” Simon asked.
Jordan smiled. “Because the night that we released the PKE App to the public is the same night that they sent a hitman after us.”
Regina caught on. “They’re scared of us?”
Cynthia nodded. “They’re scared of us.”