TERROR ON THE JERSEY TURNPIKE
By Fritz Baugh
GBI Case File GBNY-1991-9/120
"How the fuck am I gonna get home in time for dinner at this rate? And Bunny's making lasagna tonight..." he grumbled out loud. His girlfriend didn't make lasagna every day--it was more of an annual thing, actually--and he was missing it. "If she made it more often I might actually break down and marry her..."
Something caught his eye out of the rearview.
A motorcycle? But how's it moving in this mess?
He physically turned his head just about the time he heard the noise. A loud motorcycle engine, but somehow...howling with an unholy glee alien to a standard Harley Davidson. It was barreling down the street, ducking between cars, popping wheelies off their hoods, and honking it's horn loudly and often. But there was something wrong with the motorcycle--it was surrounded in green, wispy smoke...far more smoke than even the worst engine fire could emit.
There was something even more wrong with the driver.
He was dressed in leather pants and jacket, with a black biker cap. He had straggly hair that whipped behind him in the wind. But the main problem was that he was unnaturally thin: in fact, a skeleton in biker garb, to be honest.
The biker popped a wheelie off the car behind Dirkman's, but misjudged the jump...he landed on the hood of Dirkman's car with a loud...squish???
Dirkman jumped out, but his car wasn't nearly as damaged as one would expect--there was a dent in the hood, but other than the fact that the car was now covered with an acrid,dark green goo, it was otherwise unhurt.
As Dirkman watched, the goo began to bubble...and within thirty seconds, the biker and bike sat on the street once more.
"Duuuuuude..." the biker shouted with glee. "Awesome!!!"
Then both Dirkman and the biker heard the familiar sound of sirens. The biker sneered a skeletal sneer, flipped a bird in the general direction the sirens were coming from, and gunned his motor, howled a war whoop, and left acrid, green, gooey skid marks as he blasted out of sight.
"Insurance company will never believe this..." Dirkman groaned to himself.
"Eleven?!" he bellowed angrily as he blearily studied the clock. "Who the hell has been messing with my alarm clock again?!"
There was a burbling chuckle from right under the bed.
"Slimer!!!" Venkman shouted, as the little green ghost glided out of the room, doubled over with laughter at his own prank.
Venkman grumbled some more as he got out of bed. "Damn Spud...eleven? who does he think he is? I mean, geez...eleven AM...still practically the middle of the night..."
He wandered into the dining room, certain he'd find the ghost there chowing down on the remains of breakfast, the first parts of lunch, or anything else that wasn't, as Venkman once put it, "nailed down or on fire", but was surprised. "Hiding, huh? Smart little snot, isn't he?" It wouldn't bother Venkman much if he hid all day.
He grabbed a slightly stale bagel and went upstairs. Ray Stantz changed the channel conspicuously quickly as Venkman entered the room.
"So how are Austin and Sammy today, Ray?"
"Austin quit the show months ago, Peter, and..." Ray stopped. "oops..."
"Busted again, Dude."
"I can't help it, Peter! My Aunt Lois loves this show!!! I grew up with it--she got me addicted. I know all the characters, who slept with who, who's related whether legitimate or not..."
Venkman chuckled and cocked an eyebrow. "Egon not here?"
Ray sighed and hurriedly flipped his show back on. "Oh boy...just in time...Lexie's getting the paternity test results..."
"I'm on pins and needles"
"Egon's upstairs working on some calculations--something to do with wanting to monitor the effects of sunspots on the PK matrix. I'm taping it for him."
"You're so considerate. So..." Venkman leaned in close. "Seen Slimer?"
"He reset your alarm clock again, didn't he? I knew you wouldn't be up before noon otherwise, since we haven't had a call this morning..."
"Bingo. So spill it."
"He probably went downstairs."
"Good. He'll cower under Janine's desk for an hour or two, allowing me time to finish this bagel and get a shower."
Egon Spengler wandered out of the lab, punching numbers into his calculator.
"You're just in time, Professor. Lex is about to get the test results." Venkman said loudly.
Egon continued to mutter something about "matrix variables" under his breath as he went by.
"Must be on a Twinkie run..." Venkman deadpanned, and followed him back to the second floor.
Ray rolled his eyes. Figures Peter'd shut up just in time for the commercial...
"Please don't let it be a call please don't let it be a call"
He heard Janine Melnitz yelling "EGON!!! PHONE!!!" and allowed himself a moment of relief. Maybe it's his Mom or Uncle Cyrus or something...
Two minutes later, the alarm bell rang.
Crap in a hat...
Venkman slid to the bottom floor just ahead of Ray. Egon was already down there, with Winston Zeddemore already pulling on his greenish-blue, red-trimmed Ghostbuster jumpsuit.
Venkman looked around. "No sign of Slimer. Yessss..." With that, he pulled his own brown, blue-trimmed jumpsuit out of its locker.
"He'll be pretty busy, Peter." Ray smirked, zipping his tan, brown-trimmed uniform.
"Excellent. Our jobs usually involve enough slime as it is. So what you do? Confound him with math again? That two plus two question keeps him occupied for hours..."
"Nah..." Ray answered, pulling an ecto-visor over his head. "I just told him I found some cheese danishes hidden in a steamed broccoli box in the fridge."
Egon, clad in his blue, pink-trimmed jumpsuit, settled into the passenger seat, studying his PKE meter as always. Janine waved and blew a kiss at him...he blushed and pretended to study the meter even harder.
Venkman grumbled and settled into a rear seat with a conspicuous thud.
"What?" Ray asked him earnestly.
"Dammit...I wanted those danishes..." Venkman sulked.
The ECTO-1 roared down the street. "So who was on the phone?" Ray asked Egon.
"Chief O'Malley" Egon responded.
"He asked for you specifically?"
"You'll have to ask Janine about that."
Winston smirked from the driver's seat and regarded Venkman still grumbling in the back seat. "Maybe he wanted to talk to someone responsible."
Venkman snorted, but ignored the implied insult--Venkman, as a charismatic egotist, often tried to project himself as the "point man' of the team to the public at large. Winston knew who really called the shots...and figured the Chief of Police had worked with them long enough to figure it out.
"Fine then, O Great and Well Studied one..." Venkman spoke up, distance from Slimer brightening his mood. "So what's up this time? Attorney General McShane going after ghost squeegee guys again?"
"From Chief O'Malley's brief summary, the problem would appear to be a Class Three Full Roaming Vapor with a bi-wheeled psychomotorized transport." Egon stated simply.
"Translation, Ray?" Venkman asked.
Ray was getting excited. That always worried Venkman. "Wow!!! A ghost on a motorcycle!!! This is gonna be so cool!!!"
"Depends on how sick your idea of cool is..." Venkman smirked. "I got a bad feeling about this..."
"We're trying to keep this as quiet as possible," O'Malley told them. "But ye have to realize, the damn thing be showin' up at rush hour, so it's not as though it's not bein' seen"
"Could you tell us more about it's specific behavior?" Ray asked him.
"Oy...all the reports make the thing sound daft beyond all comprehension. He's been, how do they put it, 'poppin' wheelies' off cars both parked and moving, driving the wrong way down interstates..."
"Probably not wearing a helmet, either." Venkman deadpanned.
O'Malley ignored him. "He's been a general nuisance for days now. There have been six wrecks and fifteen injuries created by them. Bless the Mother that there's been no fatalities. Yet."
"Sounds almost as dangerous to traffic as Ray..." Venkman interjected again. Ray scratched the back of his head with his middle finger.
"And what leads you to believe that this is a supernatural manifestation?"
"Several reports that the biker got up without any ill effect after hideous crashes, though that might not prove much. But just yesterday he crashed into a driver on the Jersey Turnpike and, er, slimed his car." O'Malley hit a button on his intercom. "Frump, bring in Mister Dirkman and the...sample."
The Ghostbusters' favorite cop, Inspector Frump, a disheveled, large fellow with a rumpled trenchcoat, glared at them as he entered the room with Jeffrey Dirkman. "Mister Dirkman, tell these guys what happened to you yesterday."
The Ghostbusters had had dealings with Frump before. He was actually a professional, by-the book man despite his unmade-bed appearance. He didn't trust the Ghostbusters--especially not Venkman, whom he'd once believed to be an attempted murderer--but Chief O'Malley had, er, laid down the law to him on this case, and Frump was too much of a pro to refuse orders from a superior.
Dirkman told them the whole story..."And then he drove off, flipping the bird, laughing like he was high on crystal meth or something. And my car was covered in this awful dark green crap!!!"
Egon turned to Frump "I assume that this 'crap' is the sample Chief O'Malley referred to?"
"Be my guest, Perfessor..." Frump sniffed, pulling a petrie dish containing a dark green substance out of his pocket, looking quite glad to get rid of it "Add it to your booger collection, I guess."
As Egon studied the closed petrie dish, Dirkman continued to whine. "And the insurance company said it won't pay for the damage!!! Said I needed the motorcyclist's insurance information first..."
"Could always try the Hell's Angel's" Venkman offered helpfully.
"Inspector, please remove Mister Dirkman." O'Malley sighed. "Mister Dirkman, we thank you for your cooperation..." Frump led Dirkman out, the latter still grumbling.
"Egon?" Ray asked the taller man.
The arms on the PKE meter were raised and flashing. "Confirmation. It's genuine ectoplasm all right."
"We need to get more specific data as to the times and locations as to the entity's manifestations and activities. Optimally, we can thus derive a pattern to its appearances, and can can more efficiently plot a containment strategy. Otherwise, we shall simply have to execute a random search pattern."
"He means we're just gonna have to drive around and hope we bump into him" Winston said before Venkman could ask.
"And there's one more issue..."
"Let me guess this one, Egon" Winston broke in. "This guy ain't gonna sit still too long, is he?"
"I would believe not. The most efficient strategy would involve one of us having the roofrack proton cannon manned at all times."
"Even when the ECTO is in motion?" Ray gasped. "That's gonna be dangerous!!!"
Venkman whistled, looking at the invoices O'Malley had given him. "It'll be worth it, Ray. Look at how much the Chief is authorized to spend on this job..."
"Hey!!! I wasn't volunteering!!!" Ray cried back.
"All I know is, it's gonna be a cold day in Hell before you get me up there..." Venkman smirked.
"You got the short straw fair and square, Peter!!!" Ray yelled back
"Think of it as an educational experience." Winston joined in.
"I hope Old Scratch is enjoying the cold snap..." Venkman snarled bitterly.
Egon was on the phone with headquarters. Just as the radio in the ECTO-1 had been turned into the New York police band for any news of the ghost biker, Janine had the New Jersey band queued up at headquarters. "...Don't worry about that." Egon was assuring Janine. "Peter is currently in no position to argue about paying you the overtime." Egon nodded several times as she replied. "All right. Keep monitoring and call me immediately with any promising reports." Winston wished he could hear what she said to him next, because his face turned bright red. He spared a furtive glance at Winston, then looked away. "Well...we can discuss that after this business is concluded..." He said a quiet goodbye and hung up, settling back into his seat with just the faintest smirk at the edge of his lips.
Winston nudged him. "I do so want to know how she got that reaction."
Egon straightened up and folded his arms. "There are some things a gentleman does not discuss, even with his best friends." Winston rolled his eyes and made a mock expression of disgust. Ray was trying his best not to chuckle mischievously from the back seat.
"HOW MUCH LONGER UNTIL IT'S RAY'S TURN!? I'M GETTING FREEZER BURN UP HERE!!! CAN'T YOU DRIVE SLOWER?!"
Winston tugged the wheel, causing and abrupt lurch in the ECTO-1
"I'M GONNA GET YOU FOR THIS JERKFACE!!! I SWEAR UNHOLY REVENGE ON YOU AND ALL YOUR OFFSPRING!!!"
"Keep yellin' and it might distract me and make me slip again..."
"YOU SUCK, ZEDDEMORE!!! YOU REALLY SUCK!!! AND YOU DON'T JUST SUCK, YOU SUCK A LOT!!! YOU SUCK LIKE A DOBERMAN!!! YOU..."
The ECTO-1 lurched again. Venkman shut up this time.
Winston was looking for a gas station, ready to change shifts on roof duty and put and end to Venkman's whining when the phone rang.
"Ghostbusters Mobile." Egon answered briskly. "Band six seven? Thanks, Janine. Apprise Chief O'Malley that we're on it" He hung up abruptly and began to change the police radio channels.
"We got something?" Ray asked excitedly
"Jersey Turnpike, which seems to be becoming a pattern. Near Newark International" Egon explained.
"...Unidentified motorcycle described as green and fuming, heading south on I-95 approaching exit 14...units Fifty Four and Seventy Seven are in pursuit..."
"WHY AREN'T WE STOPPING!?!? I JUST SAW AN EXXON STATION!!!"
"We have a sighting, Peter!!!" Ray was shouting back to him. "Just hang in there!!!"
"THIS IS JUST NOT FAIR!!! IT COULDN'T WAIT FIVE MORE MINUTES, JUST FIVE MORE MINUTES!!!"
Winston lurched the car again. "It's gettin' serious and he's still making jokes..."
Winston turned on the lights and sirens, then gunned off in pursuit.
As they approached the entrance ramp of I-95 from I-278, the arms on Egon's omnipresent PKE meter began to rise and beep.
"I have a PK trace...he's..."
"RIGHT ON TOP OF US!!!" Ray shouted.
Sure enough, the green smoke spewing vehicle was barrelling straight at them, the skeletal rider laughing like a hyena.
"Amazing speed." Egon remarked.
The bike plowed straight past them as though they weren't even there.
Winston did an amazing U-turn that brought the ECTO back onto the biker's tail--and soiled the roof rack with Venkman's lunch. Venkman then howled something indistinct and probably unprintable.
Winston had the ECTO-1 at it's top speed. Ray was getting worried by the tone of the whine of the vehicle's engine...worse, the bike was still pulling away from them.
"Peter!!! You need to fire!!!" Ray cried.
"HERE GOES NOTHING!!!" Venkman howled angrily, firing the proton cannon.
The shot missed, but succeeded in getting the biker's attention. He looked back at them, and flipped them a middle finger. "You'll never catch me, Pigs!!!"
Venkman fired again. This time the beam hit the biker; the rider howled in agony, and skidded to a crash and an ensuing explosion of oily green ectoplasm.
Winston slammed on the brakes, creating an angry squeal and the stench of burning rubber--but because the ECTO was moving so fast, he overshot the crash sight by a good hundred yards. When it did come to a stop, Ray jumped out of the car, proton pack already donned and armed. Egon simply grabbed a trap, not sparing the time to become armed. Winston stopped to put on a pack---Venkman was still strapped to the roof rack, and was unable to bring the cannon around to bear, as his own body was in the way.
But even as Ray was getting close to the crash sight, the ectoplasm was bubbling and writhing, just as it had for Jeff Dirkman the night before. Ray gulped and drew a bead on the biker and bike, now quite restored.
"You Pigs!!! This is so bogus!!! You're pissing me off!!!" With that, the biker revved his motor, skidding into motion. Ray, Egon, and Winston had to jump out of the way--Ray got one shot off, but it missed wide.
The biker laughed as he approached the motionless ECTO-1. His skeletal head contorted into a scary grin.
Venkman saw him coming and screamed an obscenity, trying to duck into the roof rack as best he could.
The ghost rider performed a spectacular leap, the rear wheel cleanly knocking the proton cannon off the top of the ECTO. It crashed to the ground with a loud metallic thud, pieces flying off in several different directions.
"I. Am. The. Man!!!" The biker howled, peeling off into the night.
Winston pulled himself up first. "That was a rousing success." he deadpanned.
He saw Egon putting his glasses back on, and Ray extracting himself from the tangled conduction line to his ion blaster. Neither looked hurt. Winston rushed over to ECTO-1, where Venkman was undoing the last of his restraints. "Well, that plan sucked rhino." the exasperated Venkman editorialized.
Winston helped Venkman down, Ray and Egon slowly walking up to the battered vehicle. Egon had pulled out his meter, and confirmed that the entity had left detection range.
"You got any ideas, Peter?" Ray looked at him.
Venkman stopped for a second, racking his brain. "Y'know...I hung out with a bike gang myself during the seventies..."
"Schwinn or Huffy?" Winston asked, unable to resist the obvious joke.
Venkman ignored him. Maybe I do have an idea...he thought to himself. I mean, I'd probably have fallen for it...but how to do it? None of us are qualified, which would leave...
"This exercise was not a complete waste of time." Egon announced. "We have acquired several pieces of information that may be of use to us. Not the least of which is the license plate number of the motorcycle."
Winston and Venkman blinked.
"You really think that might help? I mean, if the bike is psychokinetically generated by the entity, the inscription may be meaningless" Ray pointed out.
"Quite possible." Egon agreed. "But what if it's not? What if the biker recreated his own vehicle down to relatively small details, including an accurate license plate?"
"Chalk one for eidetic memory..." Venkman smirked, handing Egon a Snickers bar.
Venkman perked up when Officer Miranda Jacobi introduced herself to them. "Maybe you better arrest me now, because what I'm thinking would be illegal in seven states..."
She ignored him and took them to the computer banks. "So give me the license plate number and the make of the motorcycle..."
Venkman grinned like the Cheshire Cat. "I'll give her the make..."
Winston elbowed him in the ribs.
Egon simply stated the plate number, the followed up with "It was a 1975 Harley-Davidson SX-250 Single cylinder two-stroke five-speed motorcycle." All three of his friends stared at him.
"What?" he asked them impatiently.
Jacobi keyed the information, and a file came up. "Hmmm..."
"You found something?" Ray asked, excitedly.
"The plates were assigned to a Harley matching the model and make, owned by one Nicholas Calmerro, Bronx County. According to the file, the vehicle was reported destroyed one month ago..."
"Can you cross reference the data base--if this is the same person, perhaps an accident or fatality report was filed at approximately the same time..."
"I'm on it..." she responded, clicking through several windows and typing in some data. "Chief O'Malley had secured the cooperation of the Jersey police in the matter, which helps."
After a few minutes, the file came up. "This pretty much confirms it...accident report: Deceased, Calmerro, Nicholas, Age Nineteen. Cause of Death was determined to be from massive trauma, derived from wreckage of his motorcycle. Autopsy revealed presence of crystal methamphetamine in his system..."
"Score one for Dirkman." Venkman smirked.
"Location of the accident?" Egon asked forcefully.
"Interstate 95, Exit 13A"
"He's haunting the New Jersey Turnpike..." Ray surmised.
"Which means we're technically dealing with a Class Four Focused Repeater." Egon continued.
"Yeah, but Dirkman saw him miles from there" Ray added. "He could have a fairly large area of focus."
"You get used to this..." Venkman winked at Officer Jacobi.
She was looking right past him.
Egon put his hand on Venkman's shoulder. "I think we have what we need here, Peter. Officer Jacobi, I thank you for your efforts." Ray and Winston had already left the room, Ray babbling excitedly about the upcoming battle.
"Call me Miranda, Doctor Spengler..."
Venkman reassumed his Cheshire grin and moved back into close range. "But he doesn't appreciate your help nearly as much as I do, Miranda."
"Call me Officer Jacobi, Mister Venkman."
"Peter..." Egon said firmly from the doorway as he left.
Venkman grumbled and looked at the empty doorway and then back at Officer Jacobi. "He's already got a girlfriend, you know..."
"The best ones always do..." she sighed.
"So...any ideas?" Ray asked no one in particular as the ECTO-1 was heading back to the firehouse.
"None that would seem effective without a better parameter to the entity's area of focus. Setting some sort of ionic containment system would be prohibitively expensive even for one area of effect, never mind multiple ones." Egon answered.
Venkman shook his head. "I keep telling you, I ran with a motorcycle gang in the Seventies. You know, back when I was supposed to be studying..."
"You got an idea, Peter?" Winston took the bait.
"You bet. It's a bit of a stake out, mind you, so we just kinda have to set up and hope he comes by, but I figure we go for a spot near where he died and attacked us, it might work."
"That would be logical." Egon agreed.
Winston looked sideways at Venkman. "And I bet since it's your idea it won't cost much..."
A weird gleam came into Venkman's green eyes. "Well, okay, we're gonna have to shell out for a few...choice pieces of paraphernalia. And a bit of overtime."
Egon Spengler's right eyebrow shot up. " 'Overtime'?"
Venkman's Cheshire grin spread back onto his face.
He screeched to a dead stop. Please pardon the phrase.
"Huh...huh huh huh..." he started to chuckle, with obvious glee.
There was an outhouse set up by the edge of the street, and leaning up against it was a short, redheaded woman wearing a black leather jacket, black leather miniskirt, bitch boots, fishnet stockings, and large earrings with skulls on them. Her eyes were obscured by mirror shades. She slowly chewed bubble gum as he got off his motorcycle and strode over to the outhouse.
"I know what you want, Big Fella'..." she purred, her voice tinged with a Brooklyn accent. "I got it" she continued, stretching seductively for emphasis.
"Beer?" he asked excitedly.
"Pabst Blue Ribbon" she replied, caressing a can of it. "Think you can handle it?"
Despite being a skeleton and not having any internal organs, Nick somehow managed to drool anyway "Huh...huh huh huh huh huh..." he chuckled faster. "You know it, Baby..."
She smirked knowingly, and gestured for him to come forward. She opened the door to the outhouse and led him inside...
Two seconds later, there was the sound of Nick screaming, and a whooshing noise followed by a loud snap. The motorcycle, parked nearby, seemed to melt into a puddle of the familiar dark green slime.
The door to the outhouse opened, and the redheaded woman came out alone. She blew a bubble and slung a now occupied ghost trap over her shoulder. "I doubt it..."
With that, Janine Melnitz pulled off the mirror shades and gave a thumbs-up signal, thus telling the Ghostbusters that all was well in hand.
Ray and Winston sprung out almost immediately, Ray eagerly taking possession of the trap; he headed over to where the ECTO-1 was concealed. Winston offered the Ghostbuster's secretary and semiofficial fifth member a high five. "You go, Girl."
Peter Venkman strode to the others, Cheshire grin now quite back in place. "I kept telling you guys, trust me--I was a biker myself in the Seventies. What's the one thing a biker punk can't resist? A biker girl with beer, of course..." He put an arm around Janine. "And you did a masterful job of it, too."
She pushed him off and grimaced. "I still may hurt him for this..."
Egon was walking up now, and Venkman grabbed him. "Aw, c'mon...I'm paying you double time, gave you an extra personal day, and not to mention my twisting the arm of a certain blond scientist of our mutual acquaintance--the swankiest restaurant in town you agreed to, if I recall correct."
Egon rolled his eyes. "That was the arrangement, yes." Neither he nor Venkman wanted to admit that it had been a lot easier to convince him than Venkman had anticipated. "The entity did not cause you any harm, did it?"
"Only the bruises to my pride..." she replied, not hiding the smile his concern provoked. "I gotta get outta this stupid getup, pronto..." She grabbed Egon's arm and led him off towards the ECTO-1.
"Ask him to help..." Venkman started to say before Winston slapped a hand over his mouth.
"I'd tell you to behave, but I don't wanna waste my breath." Ray, Egon, and Janine were now staring at the two of them. "We gotta get home, Pete...it's almost nine PM"
"Nine PM?!" Venkman replied. "Jesus, Zee...it's still early yet!!!"
Winston rolled his eyes and dragged Venkman to the parked car.
2017 Acknowledgement: After fourteen years, I finally put in the description of Nick's bike. I just happened to use the same model as the Ghostbusters: Answer the Call "ECTO-2" as defined in the Haynes Ghostbusters Ectomobile Owner's Workshop Manual by Troy Benjamin and Marc Sumerak.