By Fritz Baugh
Based off a Story by Barry Peterson
GBI Case File GBNY-1991-9/205
As Egon had studied under Epimetheus at MIT, the answer was of course "yes". Compford turned over a device that Epimetheus had built before his disappearance in 1978; Egon surmises that it is an experimental dimensional portal. But when he and Venkman enter it, they don't find the aged physicist--instead, the Peoplebusters, weird undead counterparts of Ray, Egon, and Venkman, are set loose in New York City.
Just after the Peoplebusters flee Ghostbusters Central, the portal opens again, this time expelling none other than Epimetheus himself. As Egon and Ray attempt to find out more about his ordeal, Venkman and Winston follow the trail of destruction and slime to the World Trade Center, where some of the slime victims become monsters until Slimer's slime counteracts the strange effect.
The Peoplebusters, meanwhile, have set up shop at the Statue of Liberty.
"Good" Peter Venkman said next to him. "All this daylight was beginning to give me the willies."
Ray Stantz picked at his big toe, the one that didn't have a boot over it and looked more like a thumb. "Stay on your guard, though, Peter. Those..." he grimaced as he said the word "Ghostbusters are still out there. They have the advantage of turf and numbers..."
"Winston is gonna be pissed that he missed this for a second time..." Venkman guffawed.
"Remember that these meatbags appear to resemble us in appearance and thought process." Egon pointed out. "They will presumably have a similar capacity for cunning and..." His hollow eye sockets glanced at Venkman. "...Dumb luck."
"You're just cranky because you miss Janine, Ziggy..." Venkman retorted.
"They may have the advantage of numbers and turf..." Ray grinned broadly. "But we don't care what happens to their fellow meatbags..."
The three Peoplebusters shared a round of evil laughter.
Egon tensed. "I hear something..."
"ECTO-2, ECTO-1, do you read, over?"
"We hear you, Winston." Egon replied.
"Please tell me you're getting close." Venkman's voice came over the radio. "I'm not sure who I want to throttle more, Frump or Slimer"
"ETA is five minutes four seconds." Egon smirked. "Approximately."
"I will be timing you on that, you know." Venkman replied.
The Statue of Liberty, site of one particular instance of Ghostbusters history, began to dominate more and more of their field of vision
For thirteen years he'd lived in the hellish fractured parallel universe his old student and his friends had labeled "The Flip Side". Over there, Epimetheus had many of the same powers that ectoplasmic entities had in our plane of existence--including a relationship with gravity that was essentially optional.
Now, at last, his body was adjusting to having the relationship becoming a mandatory one again.
He wasn't alone in the room, he realized. A young woman, maybe thirtyish, was standing there wearing a sweat shirt and pants with a towel wrapped around her head.
"My babysitter I take it?" Ian asked.
"I prefer the term Client Administrator." the woman responded, with a deep Brooklyn accent. Ian found himself feeling flustered for a few seconds...
"You must be the person Egon called..."
"He's the only man in the world I'd get out of a frickin' bubble bath for." she replied.
Epimetheus smirked. "You have good taste. I was Egon's physics instructor back at MIT--Professor Ian Chesterton Epimetheus." he extended his hand.
She seemed to light up, but perhaps become a little nervous at the same time. "Janine Melnitz. I've worked here for the last eight years..."
She probably had the firmest handshake of any woman he'd ever met.
"Brooklyn, I take it?" he said impishly.
"Um...yeah?" she replied, not knowing quite what he was getting at.
"I once met a firecracker from Brooklyn. Feisty, blunt, and didn't suffer fools gladly. Barbara Wright was her name at the time." He shook his head. "Then she got married..."
"What happened then?"
"She was still feisty, blunt, and didn't suffer fools gladly. But then her name was Barbara Epimetheus." He winked at her. "I'd say my old student has done even better than I ever would have dreamed."
He turned and strode off to the stairway down to the garage, where his invention was waiting, leaving Janine standing there looking flabbergasted.
Egon was studying a sample of the Peoplebuster slime, Model 2.0 PKE Meter beeping and blinking. "It's just as I thought...this PKE is electrostatically positive."
"Huh?" Frump looked, glassy eyed.
"PKE and ectoplasm normally are electrostatically negative." Ray explained. "It's why we use 'proton' packs--the positive electrostatic charge neutralizes the negative charge of ectoplasm..."
"But the Peoplebusters come from an odd parallel dimension, the 'Flip Side', and one of the major differences in their natural laws is that PKE is positively charged." Egon continued. "It explains a great deal--our proton packs didn't work there because the positive charge only strengthened their PKE."
"But what about the monsters?" Winston asked.
"The people back there had a sort of reaction to the positive ectoplasm..." Ray guessed. "It led to a transformation until Slimer's 'normal' ectoplasm--negative--neutralized the positive, canceling the transformation."
"Assuming the Peoplebusters have more where that come from, Slimer may prove to be our Ace In The Hole." Egon added.
Venkman shivered. "You have no idea how badly it scares the living shit out of me that the fate of the world may rest with Slimer"
"I admit, it's possible the effects of the positive PKE may wear off on their own." Egon mused. "Indeed, given time, the positive PKE will repolarize itself. It's actually what started to happen to us on the Flip Side--we didn't develop 'ghost powers' immediately, but when our own PKE began to repolarize. Professor Epimetheus's PK trace is almost entirely positively charged--though as a native of this plane, it was already starting to repolarize back..."
Venkman yawned loudly. "So you're saying we let them be and everything will be okay?"
Egon looked at him with annoyance. "Of course not."
"Just checking." Venkman grinned.
"The slime may repolarize eventually..." Ray agreed, unstrapping some equipment from the ECTO-2. "But those guys can do a hell of a lot of damage in the meantime if we don't stop them." And he smirked at Venkman. "You'll be glad to know that Slimer isn't our only Ace In The Hole, Peter..." With that, he pulled a Slime Blower out of the back of the small helicopter.
Egon was strapping on a proton pack as Ray started to don the Blower. "Inspector Frump, we will need to get access through the police line..."
Frump grumbled. "The Mayor already said to cooperate with you clowns, but I don't have to like it. He ain't too happy about it either--he knows how much trouble you caused for Lenny..."
"Jock shouldn't be so bitter." Venkman quipped. "Almost fifty percent of us voted for him in the '89 election and everything..."
Winston saw it first, and pulled his thrower. "Incoming!!!"
Venkman, Winston, and Frump well recognized what was starting to head for them: a throng of people affected by the Peoplebuster slime in the same way that the people at the World Trade Center were. Several "zombified" National Parks employees, and one tourist in a loud Hawaiian shirt with ten cameras slung over his shoulder were on the attack!
"The only thing missing is them moaning 'braaaaaaaainsssss...' " Venkman quipped.
"Low dispersion!" Egon shouted.
They knew what Egon meant: use a low power beam. Fire to intimidate, not actually hit, if possible. And hope that, just because the Ghostbusters weren't going to intentionally harm innocent human victims, the zombified innocent human victims didn't know that...
The Parks employees and the tourist dodged Venkman and Winston's first volley of shots, but still moved forward
"Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that these guys are fast..." Venkman said.
"Let's see them dodge this!!!" Ray shouted, appearing from behind the ECTO-2, now fully clad in the Slime Blower harness.
Ray pulled back the trigger lever, and the nozzle of the Blower started to spin, spraying out a thick, viscous, slightly luminescent pink substance.
The slime stream hit the tourist. He howled in indignation, and fell to the ground, writhing for a few seconds...before being turned back to normal.
"It's working, Egon!" Ray whooped, hosing down the zombified Parks employees. They also fell to the ground, and started to return to human form.
But one zombie evaded Ray's slime stream, and made a beeline for the one Ghostbuster who hadn't attacked them yet--Egon. Egon pulled his thrower quickly, and drew a bead on the zombie.
"Egon! Be careful! Remember it's..." Winston started to shout.
Egon fired, but the beam was different somehow. Redder in color. The zombie was held fast by the beam.
"I got it!!!" Ray cried, sliming the stunned zombie.
The tourist with the cameras picked him self off the ground. "What happened? I was at the top of the statue, and now..."
"How are you doing, Sir?" Frump asked.
"Grooooovy..." the tourist replied, with a goofy grin on his face. "I love you, Man..."
"Crap." Venkman winced. "I forgot that part..."
"I'd recommend somebody find a Jackie Wilson tape and keep it playing until the slime is cleaned off." Ray told Frump. "The postive psychomagnetheric nature and the negative electrostatic nature of the mood slime completely counteracted the positive electrostatic transformation..."
Frump grumphed. "The only part of that I understood was the Jackie Wilson part..."
"Trade me proton packs, Winston." Egon exhaled.
"This one has been modified to emit a negatively charged ion stream." Egon explained. "By reversing the polarity of the neutron flow this beam should effect the Peoplebusters and their victims similarly to the standard beam against the standard negative electrostatic entities."
"That sounds good." Venkman noted.
"Why me?" Winston asked.
"You're a better shot." Egon answered.
"Should we jimmy up our proton packs too?" Venkman asked.
"No. We may need standard beams. The more diverse our arsenal the better." Egon answered. "Because if I was clever enough to come up with this countermeasure, it's entirely possible my counterpart can come up with a counter-countermeasure."
"I always said one of the scariest things we could ever come up against was an evil duplicate of Egon..." Venkman shuddered.
"Yeah." Winston retorted. "But if these guys are supposed to be opposites of us, why isn't your evil duplicate a good guy?"
Venkman shot Winston a middle finger
"I graduated high school in '77..." Janine admitted. Egon'd seen her graduation picture in her 1977 yearbook, so it's not like she could deny it.
"Time flies, doesn't it?" Ian shook his head. "Even after thirteen years of horror, it still seems like it was only yesterday..."
He flipped a few switches, and studied the readings. "How long have you know Egon?"
"Almost eight years." Janine answered. "I was hired here when they opened in 1983...a friend of mine was one of Dr. Venkman's ex-girlfriends, and recommended me."
"And how long before Doctor Spengler bowled you over?" he asked impishly.
She blushed, and looked away. "About six seconds."
He chuckled. "And how long before you got to him?"
"Even in hindsight, I can't tell. It was somewhere between six months and six years..."
He grimaced as he regarded a panel on the other side of the portal. He took it off, flipped it over, and put it back into place. He seemed to like that much better.
"My family didn't approve of Barbara at first." Epimetheus finally said. "My father was educated at Oxford. My mother came from some of the best finishing schools in New England. Barbara was a school librarian--'Far beneath your station' my father harrumphed." He looked at her again. "We were married for over forty years. One of the last things my father ever said to me was 'I'm seldom wrong about things--but I was wrong about Barbara'..."
"I...know the feeling." Janine admitted.
"Because we wanted it to be a surprise." Winston retorted. "We knew you'd take it in stride..."
"I think I'm ready to throw up now. Winston, old buddy, come over here closer to Uncle Petey..."
In addition to the long flight of stairs, Venkman had Slimer gripping his arm. Slimer was looking fearful again, and Ray pulled out another doughnut hole and threw it to him.
"Is anyone else concerned about the fact that they haven't attacked again?" Egon said, glancing up from his PKE Meter.
"I wasn't until you said that." Winston responded.
"I'm too tired to fight anyway..." Venkman whined. "If I tell Dana about today, she won't believe it. 'Yeah, well, it was business as usual--I brought back a dangerous device some guy from the Pentagon gave me, went to a parallel dimension, set loose an evil undead duplicate of myself, got attacked by zombies who could actually make the four minute mile, and walked up the stairs the top of the Statue of Liberty with Slimer holding on for dear unlife the whole way. So how was the L.A. Symphony?' "
"If you can be quiet, Motormouth, we're almost there..." Winston shushed him.
"Well, well...look who's here." Peoplebuster Ray grinned.
Slimer screamed and hid behind Venkman.
"I wish I was in L.A. right now." Venkman deadpanned.
"I'm a little surprised you didn't have us ambushed on the staircase." Egon said, locking eyes with his counterpart--or at least the empty sockets where Peoplebuster Egon's eyes should be.
"And what do you make of that?" the other Egon said.
"That perhaps we're enough alike for you to be curious."
"We are nothin' like those guys, Spengs..." Peoplebuster Venkman protested as he picked his nose. "That stupid-looking guy is nothing like me..."
"Yeah. I only pick my nose when no one's looking." Venkman retorted.
"We do have you out numbered Ghostbusterwise..." Ray pointed out.
"Only if you don't care what happens to your fellow meatbags..." Peoplebuster Ray countered.
"And who's to say we do?" Ray counter-countered.
"We know how strongly you fought to free your fellow meat from the Protoplasmic Containment Unit." Peoplebuster Egon reminded them. "I would say your fellow meat matter to you quite a great deal."
"And what matters to you?" Egon asked his counterpart. "While we freed your captures, our primary goal was to simply escape your plane, and return to our own. Perhaps instead of this pointless battle, we could work together on this: we don't want you here any more than you want to be here."
"Logical point." Peoplebuster Egon admitted. "But there is one other thing: the protoplasmic criminal Epimetheus. We pursued him into a dimensional rift and ended up in this world. He's here too." Peoplebuster Egon drew his slime thrower. "We will not leave this place without him."
"If he is a problem to you, then simply let him stay here." Egon finally answered, through gritted teeth. "He will no longer be a problem. He will stay here, where he belongs."
"Not good enough" the other Egon sneered. "He has been a thorn in our side for years--he's one of the reasons we founded Peoplebusters. You've been a problem to us even absent--accounts got around about you, giving the meatbags a symbol, a rallying cry. Hope. You escaped from us, and inspired other meat with the belief that they could escape us too."
"And it is around Epimetheus that hope has congealed." Peoplebuster Ray continued. "You only escaped us once--he has escaped our justice time after time. There is no place in our world for the living--and when we take him back, beaten and humiliated, and publicly flush him down the PCU on international skelevision, the will of the meatbags who resist us will be broken."
"And here I thought Ray would have an affection for the living." Venkman quipped. "I mean, since our Ray..."
"Shut up, Peter!" Ray hissed.
"Professor Epimetheus is under our protection." Egon said firmly.
"That is most unfortunate." Peoplebuster Egon said just as firmly.
"Attack!!!" Peoplebuster Venkman howled, gesturing for the zombies to begin their assault. As the zombies had been literally foaming at the mouths to do so the entire time, they lept to the attack before the word had even finished being uttered.
"I love LA." Venkman gritted his teeth. "Beaches, girls in bikinis, no zombies..."
"Eat this!!!" Ray shouted, the Slime Blower firing full blast.
The zombies shrank back, the ones hit by the slime falling to the ground, starting to revert to human form.
"Fascinating..." the Peoplebuster Egon mused. "Use of negatively charged ectoplasm to counteract the effect of our positively charged ectoplasm. I admit I'm impressed."
"Oh no you don't!!!" Peoplebuster Ray snarled. "Get back in the game!!!" He fired his Peoplebuster slime tank, making some of the already zombified tourists even larger and more zombified.
Venkman was firing as instructed, to try and intimidate the zombies without hitting them. "I hope you have a good idea for what to do now, Egon!!!"
"I do." But the answer came from the wrong Egon. "Peter!!! Now!!!"
Peoplebuster Venkman swooped around, and broke from between the zombies. He fired his slime blaster, catching Winston in a full stream of slime.
"Oh crap..." Ray breathed. He was too pinned down by zombies to get a good shot to reverse the hit on Winston, yet.
Winston screamed, and transformed into something larger, like an over-muscled version of himself. His skin faded to pure black energy, like a ghost made of pure darkness itself, with only beady white eyes and grinning teeth showing.
"Wow!!!" Peoplebuster Ray exclaimed. "He looks just like the real Winston now!!!"
Peoplebuster Egon grinned. "I believe the interaction of two positive ion streams is, to use a term, 'bad'." He pointed toward the un-transformed Ghostbusters. "Winston, my friend, destroy them!!!"
Winston leered and fired.
Ray jumped for cover, barely dodging the beam.
"Just wait til we get home and tell Winston about this." PB Venkman chuckled. "He sorta got to help us this time after all..."
Peoplebuster Egon's right eyebrow raised up in a familiar gesture. "The beam...there's something different about it...
"Prepare to eat it, Ghostbusters." Winston leered again.
"I don't think so." Egon retorted. Just as Winston fired, his own beam sprang to life.
"OH SHIT!!!" Peoplebusters Ray and Venkman shouted at once.
Egon's yellow beam and Winston's red beam collided...
And in a flash of light, both beams disappeared.
"What the???" Peoplebuster Ray cried.
"Now, Slimer!!!" Venkman shouted, throwing a doughnut hole.
It landed right in the hand of Peoplebuster Venkman. "What in the name of Life Day is this?"
The only answer he got was being tackled by a green, drippy ghost that covered him with its slime as it did.
"A negative charged ion beam!" Peoplebuster Egon realized. "The two energies canceled each other out!!!"
"He slimed me, Ray!!!" Peoplebuster Venkman howled indignantly.
"Time to cancel you out, with extreme prejudice." Ray said firmly.
Ray fired, dousing Winston with the pink slime.
Venkman shouted to Slimer. "The other two, Slimer, get'em!!!"
Slimer jumped Peoplebuster Egon. Peoplebuster Ray jumped back, dodging Slimer, but falling off--or, to be more accurate, through the observation deck...
...But his shout of horror was cut off when he realized he was floating. "I'm floating, like a meatbag! This is so cool!"
"It means your psychokinetic polarity has adapted to our plane, and become predominantly negative electrostatic." Egon said with just a hint of a gloat. "Which also means you're just another ghost now." With that, Egon stuck his thrower through one of the windows and fired, catching Peoplebuster Ray in his particle stream. The fat, apelike Peoplebuster writhed and cursed, but could not break out of the beam.
Venkman lined up his shot, and got both his and Egon's counterparts in his beam before the two slimed, confused Peoplebusters could react. "Trap!!!" Venkman shouted.
Ray was still pinned down sliming the last of the zombie attackers. "Slimer! Trap!!!"
Slimer flew over to Venkman, removed the trap from the side of his proton pack, dropped it, sheepishly picked it up, and flew it over to a clear spot of ground.
Egon dragged Peoplebuster Ray to his two comrades. He and Venkman held the threesome fast as Venkman stomped on the foot pedal, opening the trap. "You won't hold us!!! We'll find a way!!! We'll find a waaaaaaayyy...." Peoplebuster Egon shouted as they were sucked into the trap.
Venkman exhaled as he shut down his thrower. "That's what they all say."
Egon looked about ready to collapse, but didn't say anything. He didn't look as relieved as he should be, though.
Winston, meanwhile, was starting to sing "Higher and Higher" from the puddle of pink mood slime he was sitting in the middle of.
"I guess there was a Peoplebuster Winston after all." Ray shrugged. "I guess we just didn't get to meet him last time. Or this time."
"I wonder if he feels as groovy as I do right now..." Winston said semi-deliriously. "I wonder if Kaila's home right now...oh yeah..."
"Why look so glum, Egon?" Venkman asked. "Not every day a guy outsmarts himself in so literal and beneficial a way."
"I wonder..." Egon mused. He shook his head. "Let's get this trap back to headquarters. The sooner this is dealt with, the better."
They were met by Epimetheus--looking, they were relieved to see, more like his old self--and Janine, who made sure to give Egon a heartfelt hug when he got out of the car.
"What's that, Janine?" Venkman quipped. "You say you want to go back to your bath, but want to take Egon with you?"
Janine didn't make any verbal response, or even look at him, but did scratch her forehead with her middle finger.
"How are you feeling, Professor?" Egon asked.
"I distinctly remember telling you to call me Ian...' Epimetheus responded. "Quite a lot better. Dimensional transit can take a lot out of one, not to mention getting used to gravity again..."
"Glad to hear it, Ian." Ray laughed. "You'll be glad to know your old friends the Peoplebusters are now safely stuffed in a little box, and about to be flushed into a bigger box."
"And all the tourists are okay, Frump grumbled something that sounded approving, and even Jack's happy." Venkman added. "He even offered to pay us this time and everything!"
Slimer floated out, finishing the last of the bag of Krazy's burgers they'd picked up for him on the way. He belched loudly, and babbled something approving about the "Mystery Clown Spices"
Winston held up a smoking ghost trap, his face still lit up with ectoplasmically enhanced joy. "And here's the box right here! Maybe we should let the Professor dump it in the Containment Unit himself!"
"I'm not sure..." Epimetheus said, hesitantly.
Suddenly, the trap jumped from Winston's grip, the lights on it starting to blink red.
"Shit!!!" Ray shouted. "Are they breaking out?!"
"Why not..." Egon growled. "We did when they caught us..."
"What are we going to do?!" Janine asked loudly.
Epimetheus grabbed the trap, and ran to the portal device. He flipped a few buttons, and the hum it was making grew louder. The door opened. "When I get inside, Egon, key sequence 313 into the system."
"What...what are you doing?!" Egon asked.
"I'm taking them back where they came from." Epimetheus shook his head.
"Throw the trap in there, and then..." Ray started to suggest
"Egon, I'm going back." Epimetheus said. "Here I'm just another washed-up old man. Barbara's gone. There's nothing keeping me here."
"Prof..Ian..." Egon started to protest.
Epimetheus grabbed Egon's shoulders. "Barbara and I never had children, Egon. It just wasn't in the cards for us. But in you I see someone I very much would have like to have had for a son. And you've done quite well for yourself--you have the finest friends a man could ask for, and a woman who not only loves you, but who is exactly what you need."
Egon was struck speechless.
"In the legends, Epimetheus was the brother of Prometheus. He was the creator of Pandora's Box. And now, I've created my own Pandora's Box, which threatens not one but two worlds." he glanced at the portal. "I have to make this right. I have finally found what I was meant to do--helping the poor people of that bizarre world is as much my calling as hunting ghosts is yours. On the Flip Side, I'm needed, in a way I never will be here. I hope you understand."
The strange thing is, Egon did. "Yes..."
The trap jumped again, more smoke coming out of it. An angry voice much like Egon's came out of it. "You won't hold us!!! I almost have it!!!"
Epimetheus grabbed his old student for a quick embrace, then ran into the portal with the trap. "Sequence 313, Doctor Spengler."
Egon didn't even respond, keying in the numbers as ordered.
The portal door closed, and began to hum and shake.
There was a loud thunk, and the whole portal device visibly lurched.
The control panels lit up with red lights.
Egon stepped away for only a second, to activate his PKE Meter.
"Epimetheus!!!" the voice of Peoplebuster Egon shouted from inside the portal.
"You meatbag scum!!!" Peoplebuster Venkman shouted.
Then the huge, elevator sized portal lurched again. It groaned, and with a noise defying description, the entire device seemed to be sucked into nothingness.
"Like I said earlier..." Venkman shook his head. "There's no way Dana is gonna believe this..."
Janine put her arms around Egon's waist. "I'm so sorry..."
"It was what he wanted." Egon replied.
"I am sure I'm gonna be real depressed when this mood slime wears off." Winston said brightly. "But right now I still feel like having a party!"
"How mad do you think Compford's gonna be?" Ray asked. "Maybe we better save some of the mood slime for him..."
"We tell him most of the truth--that we confirmed Professor Epimetheus is now trapped in an alternate dimension, that the entities that attacked the Statue of Liberty were from that dimension, and that the portal was destroyed when we sent them back where they came from." Egon answered. "If that isn't enough for him, then there's not much else we can do about it."
Egon held up his meter. "I'll have to analyze the data, but I may have gotten a reading on the configuration of the exact dimensional shunt. One way or another, I do not think we have seen the last of Professor Ian Epimetheus."
Peoplebusters are from the episode "Flip Side" (RGB-175001;#402), written by Tony Marino.
Ian Epimetheus created by Barry Peterson, developed by Fritz Baugh
Thanks to Kingpin for some clarifications about the layout of the Statue of Liberty.