Episode 4: Slimed! Part 1
Regina was wearing a grey hoodie that had the “No Ghosts” logo over the left side of her chest. With an almost obsessive ferocity, she was regularly checking her watch as she walked east on Locust Avenue in Downtown Des Moines.
“Oh,” Simon had said, “almost like it’s undercover?”
Regina shrugged. “Undercover, or convenience, but can you do it?”
Simon tilted his head to the side as he ran through the possibilities. “Yeah, I could do it, but it wouldn’t have a lot of the functionality of the original P.K.E. Meters.”
“It wouldn’t work with the goggles and you wouldn’t have the directional functionality.” He took off his glasses and started cleaning them. “The type of P.K.E. signature wouldn’t be measured either. You also wouldn’t be able to record the data.”
“Yeah, but it would still measure P.K.E. wherever I’m standing?”
Simon nodded. “That’s all it would do.”
That was a week ago, and today was the third day that Regina had been using her new phone case. It attached to the back of her phone as a flat black case except for the half of an orb that projected off of the back over where the camera was. The orb was clear, showing the internal antenna and LED’s wrapped and against the case. The case ran off of the battery from the phone and used the phone’s Near Field Communication technology to report to the phone numerical data on the nearby P.K.E. readings.
It reported all of those readings to a simple application that Simon made. The application also tied to Google Maps, putting a pin into any readings that were abnormal.
The final half of the smaller P.K.E. was entirely Regina’s doing. The watch she was wearing was a Pebble Smartwatch. Notifications that Regina wanted would be reported to the watch over Bluetooth. She had asked Simon to add a notification feature to his P.K.E. application. When the numerical P.K.E. data rises above whatever level Regina sets it at, her watch gives her notification.
All Regina has to do is walk around with her phone case turned on. The application will send any P.K.E. spikes as an alert to her watch. No more carrying around the bulky P.K.E. meter unless she needed it. Instead, Regina could walk around all of Des Moines with her hands in her pockets just waiting for it to vibrate that she had found something.
She could locate the Seven Sons of Sibitti. She could locate Erra.
Maybe she could even find her brother.
It was the entire reason that she was on the streets of Des Moines with her newly designed, and highly mobile, P.K.E. meter.
When Locust ended, directly in front of the Capital building, Regina turned north toward Grand. Once she crossed the block she paused in front of the Wallace Building to look at the Capital building. It was beautiful. A large golden dome on top of …
Regina pulled her hands out of her pockets and took a look at her watch.
She turned around to face the golden-mirrored windows that covered the southern side of the Wallace Building. She began walking toward it.
Beneath the large windows was a set of doors. Regina walked in and another vibration came to the watch. She looked at the notification and read it.
PKE Reading: 151 Units.
She walked to the right toward a set of doors that were opened onto a large auditorium and the watch vibrated again.
PKE Reading: 110 Units.
The number had gone down and that meant that she was getting further away.
She turned around and walked to the set of doors that would have been on her left as she had entered. Another vibration let her know that she was going the right direction.
As she went through those doors, she found a long lobby with a view of the capital building to her left and on her right were historical moments and facts in Iowa agriculture, including an antique plow and a biofuel display showing an older gas pump filled with corn. The lobby was huge, but there was almost no one in it aside from two women sitting and talking on some of the chairs that were lined up along the windows.
It only took one more vibration before Regina pulled out her phone and looked at it directly. Walking forward, she saw that she was walking toward the Department of Agriculture. Regina cast another glance at her phone and watched the numbers on the P.K.E. app climb higher as she continued toward the office. She almost crashed right into several state employees as they stared at their own phones.
“Oh,” said the shorter woman. “Sorry,” she gestured toward Regina’s phone. “Pokemon Go? Are you Team Valor?”
“Huh?” Regina asked, genuinely confused. “What?”
The man she was with wore a grey flat cap and smiled pleasantly at both women. “My wife is talking about Pokemon Go. It looked like you were playing,” he held up his phone. “Like us.”
“Oh, no,” Regina showed the Ghostbusters symbol on the shoulder of her hoodie. “I’m a Ghostbusters, hunting ghosts.” She held up her own phone as if the P.K.E. meter application explained everything. “Have you seen anything strange or unusual?”
“You mean like a woman hunting ghosts?” the man in the flat cap replied with a wry smile. “No, nothing unusual. Good luck in your hunt.” His wife and he started off toward the glass doors.
Regina called over her shoulder. “Good luck with yours,” and continued following the strange readings she was getting.
As she came to the front of the Department of Agriculture office, a group of older gentlemen came out and started to walk past her.
The meter let out a shrill cry that made Regina and the men jump.
“Can we help you miss?” The man nearest her asked. He was about six inches taller than her and had a bald head and a goatee that was obviously colored.
He also sent the P.K.E. meter app into fits.
As it continued to beep loudly, he glanced down at the phone and then at Regina’s hoodie.
Regina wasn’t certain about much, but she was sure that this man was related to the Erra incident.
Anger flashed across her eyes as she demanded, “Where’s my brother?”
“A Ghostbuster? Welcome to the Wallace building, but,” he looked over his shoulder at the parking lot and the cars out there, “aren’t you supposed to be outside?”
As if his words had caused it, a car alarm began sounding in time with the P.K.E. meter.
His small smile was only overshadowed by the flash of orange spectral energy behind his eyes.
Regina had no time to pursue her line of questioning and turned and ran back out of the Wallace Building and out to the parking lot.
The couple that had been playing Pokemon Go were running from the only car in the small, street-facing, parking lot. Lights flashed inside of it in an eerie yellow and blue glow that shifted erratically.
As Regina made it to the car, the glowing burst out of the windows, shattering them in the process.
Standing directly in front of Regina were two spectral animations from the couple’s came.
Regina wasn’t sure what the blue one, shaped like a snake with a silver head wreathed in fins, was, but the yellow one was on merchandise and artwork across the world.
Pikachu let out a growl and lunged for Regina.
She suddenly realized that running toward the ghosts had been a horrible idea. Without a proton pack or a trap, there was literally nothing that she could do except run.
Well, and she dialed her phone.
“Get to the Wallace Building! Downtown! Bring an extra pack!” Since no one answered, Regina figured that the team could play the office voicemail at her funeral.
As Regina ran back toward the Wallace Building’s big glass doors, she saw that the group of men, including the one with the orange eyes, were standing outside.
“Oh no,” the possessed man shouted. “They are attacking us!” He raised his arms and the windows, every single window in the Wallace Building, exploded outward, showering glass all over as the men around him dove to the ground.
Regina did the same, dropping to be avoid the glass and the lightning and fire attacks coming from the Pokemon-disguised ghosts.
When she got back up, all of the older men were gone. Most likely they had dove back into the building and took their possessed friend with them. Regina turned away from the building to see how close the Pokemon were and regretted it almost immediately.
Pikachu was only a few feet from her and was charging his energy for his next attack. The blue snake-thing was slithering toward her with its mouth wide open to bite.
A proton stream slammed into the snake-thing, holding it in place as a trap slid on its side directly next to Pikachu.
“Pikachu! I choose you!” Jordan shouted. The trap doors opened and Regina looked away as Pikachu was sucked inside.
Once the yellow bastard had been sucked up. Jordan and Cynthia collected the snake-thing in a similar manner.
A relieved Regina walked over to her teammates. “How did you guys get here so quickly?”
Jordan shrugged and pretended to flip his hair back. “You know, we were, like, in the neighborhood.”
Cynthia rolled her eyes. “He’s an idiot, but kind of right.” She nodded at Regina’s watch. “The app sends up an alert to each of our phones if it picks up a signal over 100 units.” She waved at the car with the shattered windows. “How did they manifest?”
Regina shook her head. “I was following that P.K.E. signal, and it brought me here,” she waved frantically at the Wallace Building. “It led me to a living and breathing man, except his eyes glowed, and I think he made these things appear.” She took a breath and then added, “What the hell is going on?”
Cynthia gestured at the Wallace Building. “Someone in there made these things?” She looked at Jordan whose eyes were wide. “Can people do that?”
He shook his head in reply, “Maybe, but I doubt that’s what this is.” He grinned, “I think we just found our first possessing entity.”
“Like pea-soup and spinning heads?” Regina asked. She couldn’t help but feel a little excited by the prospect.
“Exactly,” Jordan said. “I don’t think this is just any possessor, though.”
Cynthia shook her head. “It’s definitely one of the Seven.”
“Wait,” Regina was confused. “Why?”
Cynthia explained, “The possessing entity is inside a government employee and wanted you,” she pinched the logo on Regina’s hoodie, “a Ghostbuster, to be distracted. He knows who you are and he is positioning himself in a place of power.” She holstered her neutrino wand. “Also, while he could be some other,” Cynthia looked at Jordan with uncertainty as she almost confidently continued, “possessing entity, he revealed himself to you in a very showy fashion. That kind of behavior implies he hasn’t been in that body long.”
Jordan nodded. “My thoughts exactly.”
Regina was incredibly happy. She was looking for anything that would lead her to her brother, and one of the Seven, companions to Erra, would be exactly that.
“What are you waiting for?” Regina grabbed Cynthia’s arm. “Go get him.”
“We can’t,” Cynthia yanked her arm back. “We can’t just trap him. We need to interrogate him if we want more information on the Seven and Erra. As far as I know, none of our equipment can do that.”
“Besides,” Jordan added, “this equipment would kill a normal person, and our possessor is wearing a living person.”
“Oh,” Regina’s disappointment was evident, “I hadn’t thought of that.” She was frustrated. “We finally have a clue and we can’t do anything to retrieve it.”
“That’s not true,” Jordan answered. “We can do things, I just don’t know what. Simon will have an idea. We still haven’t opened all of the equipment crates.” He lifted the traps that still smoked at the ends of their cables. “Let’s get these guys in the containment unit and see what Simon has to say.”
Back at the Ghostbusters: Des Moines Headquarters, Jordan explained the situation to Simon as Simon dug through crates and packing peanuts with a fervor.
Simon turned and tossed Regina a small, handheld canister.
“First things first, if you’re going to hunt down possessors without a proton pack, carry that with you.”
Regina looked it over. “What is it?”
“Think of it like Ghost Mace,” He handed out identical canisters to Cynthia and Jordan. “One shot of that will make any ghost think twice about coming at you.”
“What’s in it?” Cynthia looked at her canister. It had a no label, only a black and yellow caution stripe across it.
“That’s the next thing.” Simon dug lifted up another pack.
The pack was made up of three tanks. The outer tanks were smaller and silver while the tank in the middle was a military green with more black and yellow caution stickers across them. Where the neutrino wand would be on the proton pack was instead a high-tech looking emitter hose with a lever on top.
“Large concentrations of emotions create slime,” Simon explained. “That’s all ghosts really are, on a scientific level. They are just emotions that have found a way to become visible. The proud owner of a historic home becomes angry that his house is now used for tours. All of that negative emotion combines with other people’s emotions and then slime starts to coalesce. Then the spirit uses that slime to build a form, or to animate furniture.” Simon patted the pack with the tanks. “That slime doesn’t have to be negatively charged.”
“What happens when positive and negative slimes meet?” Regina asked.
“They cancel each other out.” He nodded toward the ‘Ghost Mace.’ “The Ghost Mace and this big pack are filled with regenerating positive slime. Hit a ghost with either of these and it’ll at least send it running.”
Jordan frowned. “What about ghosts charged by positive emotions? If the pack only has positive slime, how would we battle those?”
Cynthia slid her Ghost Mace into her pocket. “You want to be known as the Ghostbuster who killed Casper the Friendly Ghost?”
Jordan’s eyes went wide as he followed the idea out of the quantifiable and into the emotional. “Oh, of course. No, I wouldn’t want to hurt nice ghosts.”
Cynthia pointed at the new pack. “How does this help us with our current situation? We handled the animations with the proton packs.”
“But the possessor is still out there.” Simon crossed his arms. “If we soak possessed people with the positive slime, then they’ll eject the possessor.”
Regina was confused. “Why can’t we just use the proton streams? They worked on the goat.”
Simon nodded, “Well, we didn’t know any better at the time, but the streams damage was mitigated by the extra souls the Soul Eater had absorbed. Normal possessors have no means of increasing their powers, and the host takes all of the damage.”
“This is positive slime?” Regina asked while holding up her Ghost Mace.
Regina looked again at her Ghost Mace and mumbled, “Pocket exorcism.”
“Almost,” Simon added. “The Mace is more of a deterrent. It probably wouldn’t eject any possessors.”
“Alright,” Cynthia took over. “What’s our game plan? We can eject the possessor, but only if we get close. He can generate animations, and he’s probably going to be pretty powerful if he’s one of the Seven.”
“We also need to interrogate him, and we can’t do that with him in a trap.”
“Regina’s right,” Jordan said. “How do we do that?”
Simon thought on it for only a second. “Being a possessor might not be in his favor. He’s weaker in the body than when he’s out of it.”
“Still,” Cynthia paused before continuing. “How are we supposed to hold him without him escaping on his own?”
“Not to mention,” Regina added, “He’s in a State Building. We won’t be able to bring nuclear accelerators anywhere near them without getting arrested. We’re lucky the police didn’t arrest us today.”
Simon slowly dragged his hands over his face while holding his glasses. “I’ve got an idea of how to hold him, but I’ll need time,” he turned to Jordan and Cynthia, “and funds.”
It was Cynthia’s turn to frown. “We’ll talk.” She turned toward the rest of them, “Jordan, you’re our on-call Ghostbuster. Any calls coming in are yours. If you need help, I’ll join you. Regina,” she turned toward the newest Ghostbuster, “tail this possessor. We don’t even know his name. I want as much information as you can get before Simon is ready for us to make our move. Unless Jordan needs me, I’ll be here putting together our plan of attack.”
Regina spent the next few days gathering data on the possessor and the skin suit that he was wearing. She reported it all back to Cynthia, who incorporated the useful bits into her strategy to capture and interrogate the possessor.
The possessed man was Brent Allen and he was in charge of the Department of Natural Resources. Other than his position with the state, Brent didn’t have anything about him that made him seem like a great candidate for possession. Whatever had chosen to possess Brent had either chosen him specifically because he was a higher up official in the local government or it had been a completely random choice.
To be fair, Regina was disappointed. It had been three days of tailing Brent Allen and all she had been able to report of value was information that was already public knowledge.
In contrast, the rest of the team had made a ton of headway.
Those three days had resulted in Simon building his piece of the plan. In exchange for using a proton pack in one of their commercials, Karl’s Dealership in nearby Ankeny gave a used Chevy Express van. In the last few days, he had essentially rebuilt it into their company vehicle. The white van now had the decals sent with the rest of the franchise kit, but also had a bunch of new stuff attached to the roof.
“That’s not the best part,” Simon explained when Regina asked about it. He waved a hand at the opened back doors. Along the inner walls were equipment cages. “Those cages double as a faraday cage. When the van is completed, I’ll be able to remotely trigger a charge that will run through the cages.”
“And that will do…what exactly?”
Simon smiled. “The van will double as a really large trap that we can sit in.”
“Ghost interrogation room.”
Ghost sightings had slowed way down with only one call in those three days, so Jordan had spent most of that time helping Simon with the van.
Regina was sitting in the office and reading up on the Seven when Cynthia walked in. She was wearing her jumpsuit.
“The guys say that the van is ready, if you’re up for it, I think it’s time for us to interrogate a possessor.”
Regina suited up and headed toward the parking lot, Cynthia was already in the driver’s seat while Jordan and Simon loaded the last of the equipment into the cages.
“All good to go?” Regina asked as she climbed into the back with the guys.
Jordan smiled, “When I say that this is the most capable ghost catching mobile unit in the world, I’m really saying that if I was a ghost, it would be an honor to be capture by the people driving this vehicle.”
Regina returned his smile. “Well, alright then.”
Cynthia punched something on the dashboard and sirens were suddenly emitting from the top of the van. “Let’s save the city.”
“Or just the Wallace Building…” Simon added.
Excitement filled Regina’s veins as the van peeled out of the office park.
She was finally about to get some answers.
To Be Continued in Slimed! Part 2…