The young scientist
Author’s Note: Thanks very much to my Beta’s, Letomo and EllandrahSylver. The following ways of notation may be found in this story. This is excluding whatever I need to represent chatting, texting and stuff like that. Speech:
“Who’s on first.” Thought:
*What’s on second.
#I-don’t-know’s on third.# This is a sequel to the earlier Ghostbusters’ short, chapter 2 of this set of vignettes, Egon and Janine. The Young Scientist
Janine Spengler drove her car, a rather nice model bought with some of the money Egon had made with one of his less lucrative patents, carefully into the garage/office/main room of the Ghostbusters headquarters. Ray immediately ran upto the car to take Little Ray and Winston followed to gather up Petra in her carryall. Petra opened sleepy eyes, yawned and fell into a deeper sleep.
Little Ray on the other hand started to question Ray about the thousand and one things that were constantly on his mind. Egon’s genius was hereditary. And apparently her own social intelligence was enough to overcome her husband’s awkwardness in social situations.
“Hey Janine. They’re in the basement,” Winston rolled his eyes at Little Ray’s burbling questions and grinned down at Petra’s sleeping form.
“He promised to take her to school!” Janine growled.
Ray shrugged. “He did. The School for Engineering and Applied Science. She’s bored to tears in class, Janine.”
“She also needs to socialize with kids her own age, not just college students!” Janine reiterated an old, well worn argument. Apparently Egon’s genius was contagious too, if you caught it young enough.
Ray shrugged. “She gets uncomfortable with them.”
Janine shook her head in exasperation. “She’s not that much more emotionally advanced than them. Main Lab?” she asked, resigned.
“Main Lab. We’ll take care of the kids.” Ray assured her as he got out the ‘My Little Nuclear Scientist’ play set he and Egon had made for Faith when she was six. Little Ray loved that.
Janine sighed and then firmly marched down the stairs to the basement where her husband's workroom was located.
The lab had once been cold, damp and dingy. But Egon and Ray’s income from engineering solutions had allowed them to upgrade the premises considerably. She could hear the voices of her husband and eldest daughter as the thick steel door stood partially open. It was only closed for the most dangerous experiments. And she had made absolutely sure that both her husband and Faith understood that those were not for her little girl. The mention of Egon’s parents’ garage, a phone call to said parents and a screaming Mrs. Spengler that he might be idiotic enough to blow him self up but was not going to do that to her granddaughter had made it very clear to all the Ghostbusters that Faith was to be kept out of the line of fire until she was of age.
Even Egon had understood. And not even his scientific curiosity was big enough to endanger his children.
The lab Janine entered was well lit and filled with top of the range, high tech equipment, most of it designed by Egon, some by Ray and one or two pieces even by Peter. (Though none of those worked.) In the middle of the Lab sat her eldest daughter, on a high wooden stool, in shorts and a t-shirt, with low gym shoes and ankle socks, her tortoise shell patterned round glasses on her nose, her sun-browned legs swinging. She’d insisted on the glasses, despite the fact she had twenty-twenty vision. She was also covered in electrodes.
“EGON SPENGLER!” Janine stormed into the Lab. “What do you think you are doing?”
“Heya Mommy!” Faith called out. “Daddy and I are trying to ascertain why there’s an anomalous bio-ectoplasmic signal in my aura. I noticed it when I did a scan using the new scanner.”
Egon, the upper half of his body buried underneath a vast black machine covered in knobs, levers and dials and attached to a state of the art computer, grunted his assent and confirmation. A slight nois, as of screws being done and undone, could be heard.
Janine very slowly counted to twenty. “Anomalous bio-ectoplasmic signal. Right. Is that the reason you’re not in school?”
Faith winced and looked guilty. Egon’s knees jerked slightly but then he continued the screwing noise that had momentarily stopped.
Janine sighed. “Egon. Get out from under there.”
Egon slid out, the little wheels under the plank he was lying on squeaking. Janine shook her head as she took in the condition of his coveralls and the slime and gunk on his face and in his hair. “I suppose that I’m lucky that Faith wasn’t under there with you?”
Faith pouted. “Daddy said it might throw off the readings if I got too close to the electro magnetic core aligner-” Faith’s voice cut off as Janine held up a hand.
“So the only reason you’re not covered in oil and slime is because it might pollute the data? No deep, parental reasons?” Janine’s eyes were fixed on Egon’s, who looked sheepish.
“And she’s not in the school we’d agreed she’d go to so she’d at least meet some children her own age why so you could run these tests?” Janine’s voice was quite calm, she proudly noted. “And my daughter is sitting in a cold basement, shivering, for the same reason?”
Faith looked down, suddenly noted that she had goosebumps and was cold. Very cold. Her conversation had distracted her, but now she could feel that she was cold. And her stomach hurt. The lunch Uncle Winston had brought hours ago was still sitting, almost entirely untouched, on the desk.
Janine followed her gaze and then her normally soft brown eyes hardened. “Egon, get those electrodes of her. Then shower. I’m taking Faith home and give her dinner.
Egon started to gently remove the electrodes. Faith looked up at him. “It’s not your fault, Daddy. I forgot too.”
Janine rolled her eyes. “Yes, but he’s supposed to be the responsible adult. You are seven years old. Now come on, your grandmother is making chicken soup with Matzah balls.”
Faith licked her lips, then down at her father. “Dad? Can you hurry up? I’m kinda very hungry…”
Egon nodded, removing the stuck on electrodes and placing them on a cardboard representation of the human body. His stomach growled as well. “Janine, my jacket is over there, Faith can wear it until she’s warmer again.” Egon’s voice was apologetic.
Janine nodded and got the jacket, draping it over Faith’s slim shoulders when the last electrode was gone and leading her upstairs with a nod and a very slight smile for her husband. Egon hurried to the shower.
Janine smiled as she heard Little Ray giggle as Ray bounced him up and down on his knees, all the while explaining Newton’s law of Gravity. Petra was sleeping, her little fist wound tightly around Winston’s large forefinger while the big man was writing a report with the other. Winston had very firmly put his foot down about calling his goddaughter ‘Winstonia’. No one had told Peter that Petra was named after Winston’s mother, not him.
“Thanks for looking after them guys. If Egon isn’t up in three quarters of an hour can one of you go down and kick him?”
Ray nodded, reluctantly placing his namesake back into his kiddy seat. “Yeah, sure, no problem.”
Janine’s eyes narrowed. “Ray, have you eaten?”
Ray nodded, if rather sheepishly. “Winston made me.”
Winston snorted. Janine laughed. “Once Egon is up here, come to my mother’s. She made chicken soup with Matzah balls. Knowing her, enough to feed a regiment. You too, Winston.”
Winston grinned as he slotted in Petra’s baby seat. “Will do. C’mon Ray, lets clean up here a bit and get ready so we can lead Egon to water.”
Ray laughed, kissed little Ray and Faith and immediately started to clear up some of the day’s debris.
Janine nodded and walked to the phone to warn her mother of the upcoming invasion.
Egon Spengler sat in his study, reading. They were old books. The sort of books he normally only turned to for historical research, or to sneer at them. He wasn’t sneering now.
“Egon? What are you still doing up?” Janine asked from the doorway.
Egon looked at the book in front of him. “Worrying.”
Janine stepped into the room. Egon’s shoulders were slumped and his face was haggard. She had never, not even in the most extreme and dangerous situations, seen him this way. “Egon? What’s wrong?”
Egon closed his eyes. “I thought it was the machine, I thought I was reading it wrong. I wasn’t. There is a paranormal ‘hook’ in Faith. Or-or maybe a lead in. I don’t know. Something that will allow a paranormal presence or power to locate her…”
Janine, who knew her husband and his business quite well, let out a gasp. “Or posses her?”
Egon ran a tired, trembling hand through his hair. “Yes. I’ve been trying to find out what it might be. I-I fear…”
“You fear what, Egon?” Janine walked up to him, putting both her hands on his shoulders, drawing him near so his head rested between her breasts.
“It is an old legend. Very little is known about it, I only do because I found some books in a haunted house. A ghostly girl let me to them. I thought they were an invention to allow men to control strong women, nothing more…” Egon started to fall into professorial mode, one of his defence mechanisms and Janine gently rubbed his neck.
“She may be a potential Slayer. They are girls mystically chosen to defeat the supernatural, the paranormal.” Egon whispered, his eyes on the stained and half decayed pages of the book before him.
Janine perked up. “Well, isn’t that good? She’ll fit into the business even better! After college she can-”
Egon let out a sound that was half sob, half sigh. “No. Most Slayers… they’re… The ones I read about were called at fourteen, fifteen, sometimes younger. They seldom last longer than a year or two.”
Janine’s hands tightened on Egon’s shoulders. “What do you mean, last longer?”
“They’re killed. By vampires, or demons. Slayers are perambulating nexuses of paranormal activity, their very presence draws in demons. The older they get, the more powerful, the greater the attraction,” Egon explained in a halting voice. “The ghost who showed me these books, she was a Slayer.”
Janine nodded. “Right. Okay. Well, that may be how it’s been, but not how it’s gonna be. No daughter of mine is going to be some sacrificial lamb,” she glared at the tree branch moving in the wind outside the window of the study. “She has the Ghostbusters in her corner. And no matter what, I’m not letting my little goil get killed!”
Egon relaxed, just a trifle. Janine’s Brooklyn accent was sharp enough to cut wood right then, a sure sign of agitation. That usually meant she was ready to start hitting people and unwilling to compromise. He found it oddly comforting.
“We will do our best. Our very best,” Egon stated softly.
Janine nodded. “The best and better.”
Egon raised both his hands and put them on hers. “We’ll keep her safe.”