The Ghostbreakers: A Darkness at Gossedale Manor
The ghost resembled a bloated gray worm or leech, seven feet of oozing, wriggling ectoplasm. Its ugly head held two wicked mandibles, which clacked and clawed the air continuously. It knew it was being hunted now.
As Spence drew his ion rifle and gave it the slight twist that activated the particle accelerator at the heart of his proton pack, he heard Elyk Wyseman’s footsteps just behind him. Dr. Wyseman was the comedian of the group, always willing to lighten up a dour situation with a joke or flip comment. On a case, however, he was (usually) deadly serious. Now he came alongside Spence and aimed his slime blower at the worm creature.
“Ugly mother, ain’t he?” he said with a grin.
Before Spence could respond, the third member of the Ghostbreakers joined them, PKE meter in hand. Dr. Frank Zeigler, a top-rate engineer and technician, had built most of their equipment. Once the head of a nuclear research facility, Zeigler had been let go when his interest in the paranormal grew from a hobby into a full-fledged obsession.
“Wyseman, your grammar is as atrocious as ever.”
Above them, on the landing, the worm creature raised its head, openened its carnivorous maw – packed with needle-like teeth – and roared. The bloodcurdling sound echoed through Chicago’s most famous haunted house, reminding Spence that this was no ordinary case. They were being paid $400,000 to rid Gossedale Manor of all its supernatural squatters, but only if they completed the job in one night. With four ghost traps full already (half their supply), and with the clock approaching 3:00 AM, things were beginning to look grim.
“This one’s a class 6 repeater,” Zeigler continued. “And the giga-meter readings I took a few minutes ago show–”
Abruptly, with blinding speed, the worm-ghost spat thick ropes of ectoplasm at the Ghostbreakers. Spence and Zeigler managed to avoid the snares, but Wyseman was hit and pinned to the floor by the sticky material. The monster roared again and charged down the stairs.
“Look out!” Spence boomed, aiming and firing in one fluid motion. High energy protons generated by the accelerator on his back screamed from the tip of his ion rifle, a multicolored orange and blue maelstrom that singed through the air and stuck the ghost near its tail end. The proton stream reacted with the thing’s ectoplasmic body, stopping its forward momentum and beginning to encircle it in a prison of nuclear particles.
Before it could be completely contained, however, the worm twisted, and the last two feet of its repulsive tail detached and lay, quivering, on the staircase. Free once more, it lunged toward Spence, perhaps meaning to neatly snip his head from his body with its razor-sharp, insectoid mouthparts.
Spence dove to the side, desperately trying to get beyond the thing’s bite range. Wyseman, firing from his back, hit the creature full-on with a barrage of positively-charged mood slime from his slime blower, giving his friend the time he needed to get clear. The ghost shrank back from the touch of the slime stream, which would weaken it and make it more succeptible to attack.
Zeigler put away his PKE meter and drew his ion rifle. A quick glance at Spence, and together they threw furious gold fire in unison. Wyseman saw the creature completely engulfed this time, snaking and twisting in a futile effort to escape the beams. Together Zeigler and Spence slowly dragged the ghost off the stairs and into the air. It hovered, trapped, four feet below the ceiling.
Freeing himself from the entangling slime using his ecto-prod, Wyseman unslung an empty trap from his belt. In a practiced movement, he swung the device using its cord and slid it across the floor under the suspended worm.
“I’m opening the trap…now!” he yelled. As he stepped on the footpad that activated the trap, Spence took his finger off the fire-button of his particle thrower. Zeigler also cut his stream, both men averting their eyes from the trap. It had opened, and brilliant white light blossomed out from within. A complex matrix of particles resembling a moving magnetic bottle surrounded the class 6 entity, bonding to its ectoplasm in an unshakeable embrace. After three seconds had passed, the particles from the trap returned to their original places in the matrix, dragging the screaming worm along with them. As it was compacted and sucked into the trap, the ghost gave one last howl of agony and fear, then disappeared as the trap closed. Tendrils of smoke drifted upward from it, and a single LED flashed red, indicating occupancy.
“Got the slippery bastard!” Wyseman yelled in triumph. “Teach him to slime me!”
Spence sighed in relief. He slipped his ecto-goggles to the top of his head and powered down his ion rifle. Zeigler cleared his throat as Wyseman picked up the smoking trap.
“As I was saying, the giga-meter readings I took earlier have confirmed my suspicions. It appears there is a reservoir of slime beneath this house.”
Wyseman sneered. “Hey, we break ghosts. We don’t do septic tanks.”
“This is serious, Wyseman. It’s the reason this house has so many entities inhabiting it. We have to go down there.”
Spence clapped Wyseman on the back. “Just think of the money, Elyk. That much green will definitely cover your dry-cleaning bill.”
Wyseman looked down at the slime stains on his gray jumpsuit with distaste. “Fine, Frank. But if you two need someone to take a swim in that stuff, count me out.”
Zeigler ignored him and took out his giga-meter. The swinging arms moved upwards and the indicator lights blinked rapidly.
“Let’s head for the basement.”
Johan Spence followed his colleagues, tensed and ready for anything.