1. This story has extensive spoilers for Ghostbusters: Afterlife. The movie's been out for almost six months as of this story's debut, so I figured enough time had passed.
2. If you think Ghostbusters: Afterlife is the greatest movie ever made and was absolutely perfect, this story is build on a dissenting opinion or two. As those who read my snarky review already know, that while I enjoyed the movie a great deal there were a few things that rubbed me the wrong way and yeah, they're going to come out here.
So here we go.
At the top of the console, three gyroscopic rings rotated slowly around what appeared to be large chunk of glowing quartz.
Near the console was a hatstand, with a long, dark blue coat draped around it.
The sole occupant of the room--a gray-haired man wearing a set of red-tinted ether goggles--had one of the panels of the central console open, and was adjusting something with a screwdriver.
"Try the delta variable flux sensor." he said to, apparently, no one.
"Attempting now, Professor." a computerized female voice answered. A few seconds later. "Error detected, variable 3469."
An alert sounded, one conspicuously similar to that of a certain fictional time machine's cloister bell.
"Dimensional transit to Null Zone in progress. Tracking."
The man in the goggles looked at the sidereal chronograph on another console. "I think I know who this is."
There was a knock at one corner of the room.
"Dimensional anomaly tracked from sidereal reference 24-59537 plane 0681. Dimensional IPQ identified, reference code 4820 designate 'Deek' "
The man nodded, with a slight knowing smirk. "Opening the door now, Deek." he said as he pulled a lever on the consule.
The door opened to admit an unusual meter-tall creature. The tail, and horns protruding from the back of its head (with a smaller one on its nose) made it look vaguely reptilian, but it was covered in a layer of smooth soft blue fur. A mess of mint green hair covered its head; a rather incongruous pink ribbon and bow hung down from it.
"That's more like the service I expect, Ulforce." Deek said in a chirpy voice. "You're learning."
"Sounds like something my old cat would have told me." Ulforce responded. "It doesn't matter which one, either."
Deek sat down with a bit of a grumble. Ulforce raised an eyebrow and opened a different part of the panel, withdrawing a Munch bar and a can of Pepsi, which he offered to her. "You seem uncommonly...subdued today." Deek of course took the offered treats.
Professor Ulforce was one of the two Chronomancers, mysterious beings with some ability to travel through time--he had aided the Ghostbusters on one specific case in 1999, where a dimension-hopping madman with his own shocking ties to the Ghostbusters had tried to tear time to pieces.
Deek was known as the Chronicler of Realities, and could slide into different parallel timelines. By keeping herself just a half-second out of phase with the timeline, she could observe without being seen herself.
She'd last visited Ulforce--from her point of view--about two years earlier.
"You won't believe some of the stuff I've seen lately." Deek shook her head, wolfing down about half the Munch bar at once.
"Last time you were here you were talking about timeline 681." Ulforce noted. "And you just came back from there, according to the epsilon sensors."
"Yeah..." Deek nodded, then rolled her eyes (or at least it otherwise looked to Ulforce as she was rolling her eyes; it was hard to be sure as her eyes were also apparently all black pupil). "Let me tell you, Vic, that place is a bigger shit show than I thought..."
"You said the ECTO-1 was rusting in an Oklahoma barn..." Ulforce reminded her.
"Turns out it was there because Egon-681 stole it, all the ghost traps, and all the fuel isotope from the other Ghostbusters." Deek said. "He basically fucked over the other Ghostbusters and fled."
"The traps and the curium-246? That...doesn't sound much like anything the Egon I knew would do." Ulforce shook his head, going back to adjusting the console. "Or any of the others you've told me about."
"And that ain't even the half of it, Vic. It was because he basically went nuts, convinced that Gozer the Gozarian was about to return, and it was going to happen in this armpit place called Summerville."
Ulforce made a knowing noise.
"That lead to the second biggest shock of this whole shitshow: smartest guy in the world, expert in physics, the guy who made the Ghostbusters possible...and not a one of the other guys believed him. Not even Ray."
"Not even Ray?" Ulforce asked, a bit incredulous.
"I couldn't believe it either." Deek shook her head. "That's why he robbed the team and took off. And even Ray was basically saying he should, and I quote, 'burn in hell'."
"Wow." Ulforce shook his head. "The Ghostbusters in my world had their own acrimonious break-up in 1991, but nothing like that. Ray was the one who held the least grudge of the other three over it."
"I know. That's why it shocked me so bad." Deek nodded. "Everything got kicked into gear, though, when Egon died."
Deek sighed. "Yeah...all by his lonesome he'd managed to temporarily trap one of the Terror Dogs, and ran to his farmhouse. But the other Terror Dog was after him, and he hid the ghost trap but then died from a heart attack." Deek paused dramatically. "And that's when I found out the real shock."
Ulforce looked at her a second, then went back to adjusting the console. "Bigger than Ray Stantz wanting him to burn in hell?"
"Oh yeah..." She shook her head. "Egon-681 had a daughter. With someone who wasn't Janine. Two years before the Ghostbusters even formed."
Ulforce dropped the screwdriver.
"You have to be joking." he said after a few seconds.
"I wish." Deek replied.
Ulforce sighed, took off his ether goggles and replaced them with a pair of glasses, pushed the button to produce another can of carbonated soda, and sat down beside Deek. "I can't even conceive of this, pardon the pun."
"After Egon died, Janine contacted a woman named Callie. Callie came to Summerville with her two kids--son Trevor and daughter Phoebe."
Ulforce raised an eyebrow. If Deek noticed she didn't say anything about it.
"I heard her saying her father just died, and I was trying to figure it out she could have teenage kids because I couldn't see how she could be much older than thirty in 2021, you know? And when Callie got to the farmhouse Janine was there...and they were meeting for the first time. Not even a 'So you're my stepmother, huh?' I mean...ungh...and it gets even worse."
" 'Worse'?" Ulforce asked incredulously. "How?!"
"Callie never even met Egon. Or if she ever did she wasn't old enough to remember it." Deek answered.
Ulforce shook his head, and took a drink. "That sounds a little like Egon-8932's father...he had a tragic first marriage, and Egon's half brother was raised by the dead wife's family. But even then Edison eventually acknowledged and reconciled with Ellis before he died."
"Well, to be fair I guess, there's no sign that Callie ever tried to contact him either." Deek shrugged. "He did get updates and pictures, probably from the mom, but that's it."
"Even if contact was prohibited by whatever custody arrangement was made, I'd think any legal injunction would have ended when Callie turned eighteen." Ulforce mused. "So she had children? What about their father?"
"Out of the picture." Deek answered. "I didn't even catch his name. Apparently he and Callie split up because he couldn't deal with Phoebe--her brother Trevor's a bit of a gearhead, but otherwise kinda normal, but Phoebe's awesome. She's a lot like her 'aunt' Eden, kind of a mini-Egon."
Deek continued. "Phoebe's the one who figured everything out, with the help of a local boy I only ever heard referred to as 'Podcast' because he has one about weird mysteries and conspiracy theories. It was when Phoebe, Trevor, and Podcast got thrown in jail for roasting half the town when they were chasing a ghost that she called Ray and got the reaction I mentioned earlier."
"They caught on quick." Ulforce noted.
"Well, Trevor found the ECTO-1 and got it working. Phoebe found Egon's proton pack and got it working. They both had a little help--Egon's ghost was hanging around doing all sortsa poly...poultry...those ghosts that move things..."
"...Yeah, poltergeist type stuff. And playing chess with Phoebe. But anyway, Phoebe, Trevor, and Podcast catch a metal-eating ghost but get arrested."
Ulforce rolled his eyes. "I think it's every Ghostbuster's fate to be arrested at least once."
Deek continued. "It's when Phoebe calls Ray that we find out what's been going on with the other three: Ray's still running his occult bookstore, kinda like he did in some other universes like 1423. Winston's gotten into finance and is now super loaded and has at least two kids--don't know if their Mom is Kaila, Tiyah, or someone else. And Peter married Dana and they live upstate--he's a lecturer on advertising at SUNY."
"Wait a second..." Ulforce said with a bit of mischievousness. "Egon's got a secret kid we didn't know about, and Peter's in academia? You sure it wasn't the other way around?"
"I know, right?" Deek rolled her eyes. "So, anyway, the kids are arrested and Mom Callie was pissed. In part because she had a date with a hunky seismologist named Gary Grooberson that got kinda interruped when they called her to say 'Your kids are in jail because rampant destruction'."
"Gary Grooberson..." Ulforce stroked his chin. "That is interesting..."
Deek continued. "So yeah, the whole temple of Gozer is about to blow up and the kids don't have the equipment and oh yeah, Gary and Callie get possessed by the Terror Dogs, after the one in the trap got loose. Vinz breaks the proton beams Egon put in the temple to keep the portal from opening, and then Ivo Shandor--who was there in a glass coffin ever since he died in 1945--comes back to life. The kids get the equipment with the help of the Sheriff's daughter Trevor's got the hots for but it's too late--Zuul and Vinz have made the sign of the Double Humpback Terror Dog and Gozer is back."
"Yikes. What form got chosen?" Ulforce asked.
"That was one of the weird things--it didn't do the whole 'choose and perish' thing. It was in kind of a spikier version of the same punk rocker in bubble wrap like when it first materialized, and after she tore Shandor in half she just started blasting things. The kids try their best but they were losing."
Ulforce took another drink. "I would think that if Earth-681 had been destroyed or taken over by Gozer, you would have led with that. So how'd the day get saved?"
"Well, after that call from Phoebe Ray got a fire lit under him. And I didn't see it but I'm pretty sure as soon as she dealt with Callie Janine high tailed it back to New York to kick some asses into gear fast. Ray, Peter, and Winston showed up and started blasting Gozer; then they activated the trap network Egon had set up on the dirt farm just for that occasion, which is what he did with all the traps, and contained Gozer."
Ulforce nodded. "That does sound like one of the Professor's plans."
Deek chuckled. "And I know what an old softy you are, Vic--Egon's ghost fully materialized for the final battle and helped Phoebe blast Gozer along with the other three--kinda 'together again for the last time'. Once Gozer was dealt with, he went on to the Other Side, but not before giving Callie a hug."
Ulforce sighed. "Like that makes up for ignoring her for her entire life."
"Yeah, I guess it doesn't, but it's something." Deek nodded, taking the last bite of her Munch bar. "Winston's gonna try to get GBI going again, but it seems like not much happens in this universe unless Gozer's popping up, so I guess we'll have to see how that goes." Deek slurped the last of her drink. "But I tell you, Ghostbuster or not, Phoebe's one I'm gonna keep an eye on. Like her 'aunt' and 'uncle' Edie and Johnny she's gonna make a mark on the world worthy of the name Spengler."
Deek smirked. "And as I talk about it, I realize that this timeline wasn't completely sprocked up. Sure, this Egon was kinda a bigger jerk than even the one in 1423, but at least he was human once upon a time instead of always being all cold and weird. And then there's this: Egon-681 alienated everyone he cared about or cared about him. He alienated the mother of his daughter and his daughter. He alienated his three best friends in the world. He even alienated everyone in Summerville by being a ranting weirdo. He alienated everyone important to him...but one."
"There was one person who never gave up on him. She visited him in Summerville and helped him, to use her own literal phrase, 'keep the lights on'. When he died he trusted her to make sure his final wishes were fulfilled. The one person he never was able to drive away was exactly who you'd think if you saw them in timelines 6886 or 6897 or especially 8932."
Ulforce nodded. "Janine."
"Yeah." Deek nodded also. "So this screwed up universe got some of it right after all."
Ulforce chuckled a little bit, and got up. "She was the one who came back to Egon first in my world, too. And dragged the other three back to New York to make up at his fortieth birthday party; so yeah, nice to hear that some things didn't change as much as it sounded like."
Ulforce went over to one of the consoles, and started typing on a keyboard. "You mentioned Oklahoma the last time you were here..."
"Yeah." Deek replied. "And you said you didn't remember anything happening there around 2021 or so."
"True. But I did consult the old GBI case file archives." Ulforce said. "And I was right--nothing happened in Summerville in the early 2020's."
"But there was a Gozer incident in my world in 2004, the Tonnes Quarry Crossrip." Ulforce continued. "After GBI dealt with that, the Professor, Doctor Stantz, Doctor Belmont, and some others continued researching the origins of the Chronicles of Gozer and the statues from Tonnes Quarry--to make sure there weren't any more of those things lying around."
Deek's eyes narrowed a bit. "I do so want to know how you got a copy of the GBI archives..."
"I played a part in writing some of them." Ulforce replied "...And sure enough, by early 2005, they discovered Summerville."
Ulforce pointed to the main screen of the control room. A series of photos appeared on the wall, above a caption that read
"Damn, that's it!" Deek cried "But...Hrm..." Deek dug into the pockets of her hoodie for her notebook.
"They even found a 'glass coffin' like you described." Ulforce continued. "But the body inside was definitely dead, and stayed that way. It did match Shandor's description, but in our timeline Shandor's spirit had emerged in 1991 and been discorporated."
"That picture, there, with the numbers on it." Deek pointed, as she flipped through her notebook. "The ones that look like dates."
"Those?" Ulforce adjusted his glasses and narrowed his eyes. " '1821, 1823, 1883, 1908, 1945, 1983, 2004, 2020, and 2134'. They believe they correspond to favorable stellar alignments for Gozer's potential return. But Gozer had been so completely discorporated in 2004 that nothing happened in 2020." He looked at her. "And they would've known--they had some of the Oklahoma franchises check the place out at least once a year, and every month in 2020."
"I guess that explains it." Deek said. "The numbers in 681 were a little different...see? I wrote them here: '1821, 1823, 1883, 1908, 1945, 1984, 2021, and 2134'. And 1991 didn't show up in either one."
"I guess Shandor's ghost was spooked by the ectosphere drought that had started, kind of 'if I don't summon Gozer now I may not get to'." Ulforce shrugged. "And that might also explain why it went so poorly--it was the 'wrong' time."
"Not like not having Gozer come around in '20 meant things were boring, right?" Deek chuckled. "That Amot-Naphemus character was plenty scary enough. And we got a great team with Spenglers in that too...heh, come to think of it, they're even kinda similar--gearhead brother and Egon-like sister, too."
"Interesting comparison." Ulforce agreed. "So anything interesting in 1423 since last time?"
"Shockingly, no." Deek shook her head. "It's like things just died there after that weird stuff with the alien robots." She stuck her notebook back into the pouch on her hoodie. "So give a girl some hints, here--how much am I gonna have to jump back and forth between 8932 and 681 to keep up with all the fun? I know there's three time loops that have to be closed up, at least..."
"The first two are resolved in 2023, the third one in June 2024." Ulforce answered. "And that's all that I'm telling you."
"Aw, c'mon, I still have questions! Like, when is 8932 Egon gonna be a grandpa, and are the grandkids gonna be anything like Trevor and Phoebe? Could you at least tell me how long until Johnny and that Bonnie English Lass rail the living daylights out of each other?!"
Ulforce looked a bit uncomfortable, and coughed. "That's not really any of our business, is it?"
" "Cosmic Voyeur' here, remember?" Deek giggled.
Ulforce sat back down. "Deek, my friend, what I can tell you is that the next few years will answer every one of the questions you just asked. Even the, er, 'railing' one. But just like you have secrets you've got to keep, I do too. All I can say..." He winked mischievously. "...Is that it will be worth the wait."
Ghostbusters: Afterlife created by Jason Reitman and Gil Kenan
Ghostbusters 202X Created by Fritz Baugh and OgreBBQ
Tiyah Clarke created by Dara Naraghi and Selgood Sam. She was Winston's IDW (timeline 1423) love interest, and first appeared in Tainted Love
The 1991 fate of Ivo Shandor is related from the 8932 version of the events of Ghostbusters: The Video Game (Atari, 2009); written by John Zuur Platten, Flint Dille, Patrick Hegarty, and John Melchior with some input and revision by Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis.
Characters not taken from official material were created by Fritz Baugh unless otherwise specified.
Ellis Spengler developed with the aid of Jen Spengler, a former member of Ghostbusters Nightsquad.
The use of curium-246 was a fan conjecture by user "One time" on GBFans.com. It was, of course, inspired by the comment in Ghostbusters 2 of the pack power core having "a half life of five thousand years."
The "Tonnes Quarry Crossrip" refers to the fan fic story Chronicles of Gozer by Vincent Belmont, Ben King, Jeff Nash, Jeremy Hicks, Brian Reilly, Fritz Baugh, and others.