Birgit Stäbler, 1992
Translated from the original German version by Hazel Köhler, with Birgit Stäbler's approval
Captain Scarlet climbed into the Spectrum saloon and reported to Colonel White. This time there had been no Mysteron activity. They had only suspected it. There had been no warning beforehand either, but Colonel White just wanted to be sure.
"Alright, Captain Scarlet," said White via the helmet radio. "Come back to Cloudbase."
"S.I.G., sir," confirmed Scarlet.
In that moment his friend and partner Captain Adam ‘Blue’ Svenson got in.
"Recall?" he asked briefly.
"This is the voice of the Mysterons," suddenly sounded out of the radio. Scarlet and Blue looked at each other. Not again! "Spectrum’s time has run out. Our vengeance will be carried out!" Then it was silent again.
"What the devil is that supposed to mean?" asked Blue.
Scarlet shrugged his shoulders with a ‘what are you asking me for?’ look. He had no idea. In any case, they first had to return to Cloudbase. Perhaps they could find out there what the target of the Mysterons was going to be this time.
Scarlet and Blue stopped in front of the hotel in which they had stayed during their time in New York. The hotel stood next to a small, rectangular building which was protected as a historic monument – a fire station from the 20th century. The building was now a museum for curiosities from the 20th century. Scarlet stopped the car in the car park next to the museum and got out. Blue followed him.
"I’ll get our things," said Svenson. "Wait for me here."
"Okay, if you like," said Scarlet and leaned against the wing of the red saloon.
Blue disappeared into the hotel. He had only been gone five minutes when there was a clanging noise. Scarlet looked up. He suddenly had a bad feeling in his stomach. Not the usual Mysteron-feeling, something else. Some kind of forewarning. He looked around. Between the museum and the hotel ran a narrow street. The noise had come from there. The feeling became stronger. He went down the lane, his gun ready. He saw nobody. Scarlet halted next to the back entrance of the museum. The feeling had gone. Perhaps he had overreacted. He put his gun away. In that moment he was blinded by a brilliant light which appeared directly in front of him. An ear-piercing screaming could be heard. Something pulled and tore at him and then everything was quiet.
No sound could be heard.
Scarlet blinked and looked around. He stood in some kind of large room. A vehicle was parked in front of him. It was white with red stripes on the sides and a strange apparatus on the top. On the trunk was a symbol that he didn’t recognise. At the other end of the room there was a desk with a computer. Behind it, a filing cabinet separated off the next section of the room. A steel pipe came down from an opening in the ceiling and on the left side a staircase lead to the upper floor. At the desk a red-haired young woman was sitting reading a newspaper. She didn’t seem to have noticed how he got inside. Come to that… how the devil HAD he got inside here? And where was ‘here’?
Somebody came humming down the stairs. It was a corpulent man in his mid/late thirties. He wore a light-brown overall and was reading a comic magazine. But that was not what made Scarlet stiffen. By his side HOVERED a slimy green sphere with two orange eyes. The sphere had two arms with four fingers, no legs, but a particularly large mouth with a sparse set of teeth. The slimy sphere saw him and uttered a bone-shattering cry. The woman at the desk looked up – and cried out also when she saw the man with the weapon. Scarlet raised his weapon as the thing careered around wildly and then disappeared THROUGH the wall. The man in the overall looked up and his eyes widened. "What the…?"
Captain Blue went back to the Spectrum-Saloon with two light travel-bags. He looked around in surprise when he realised that Scarlet was not there.
"Captain Scarlet?" he called questioningly.
He did not get an answer. He frowned and began to search the surroundings. When after half an hour he still had found no sign of Scarlet, he called Cloudbase.
"He disappeared without trace?" asked White.
Blue nodded, although he knew that the other could not see him. "Yes, Sir. I have already searched the surrounding area. Nobody has seen him."
White frowned and looked towards his Lieutenant. "Lieutenant Green, begin a search! Try to localise Captain Scarlet!"
"S.I.G., Sir!" Green went to work.
"Captain Blue, stay where you are. Lieutenant Green will contact you."
Blue confirmed and the mic folded back again.
Captain Scarlet was deeply confused and felt some fear. He still pointed his weapon at the man who stood on the stairs as if rooted there.
"Who the devil are you?" he then asked.
Scarlet stared at the spot in the wall where the slimy sphere had disappeared. A slimy fluid was spattered there, slowly dissolving.
"Ray? What happened? Why did Janine yell?" someone asked from upstairs.
Then another man appeared, in a blue-grey overall. He was blond, lean and wore red-rimmed glasses. When he saw Scarlet he raised his eyebrows in surprise.
"Who are you?" Ray asked again. Scarlet slowly lowered his weapon.
"My name is Captain Scarlet. And who are you?"
The man called Ray looked at his blond friend.
"My name is Dr Ray Stantz and this is Dr Egon Spengler. May I ask what you are doing here?"
"I would love to know where ‘here’ is," murmured Scarlet and re-holstered his weapon.
Then the slimy sphere reappeared. Scarlet instinctively moved back several paces.
"What is that?" he asked with an undertone of fear carrying in his voice.
The green thing hovered towards him and its large orange eyes looked at him with curiosity.
"Oh, that is Slimer," explained Ray, who did not know why the stranger was so afraid of the little ghost. "He is a ghost," he added.
Scarlet paled visibly and his lips formed the word without uttering a sound.
"Ghost!?!" he then gasped out. "Are you trying to pull my leg?"
A third man appeared. He was dark-haired and wore a dark-brown overall. He held a sandwich in his hand. The ghost suddenly looked very pleased, if one could call it that. The man on the stairs three him a withering glance and stuffed the remaining sandwich into his mouth. Slimer turned away in a huff. Then the man saw Scarlet and like his colleague before him raised his eyebrows in astonishment.
"Are we having an early Halloween party or something?" he asked with a full mouth.
I must be dreaming, thought Scarlet. He shook his head in confusion. This is all just a DREAM!!
Captain Blue was nervous. Sitting around without doing anything made him nervous. His friend Paul Metcalfe was in trouble and nobody knew where he was. Lieutenant Green had not been able to locate him yet either. Blue stood up and went down the street a few paces. The old museum arose next to him. Suddenly he began to feel strange. He heard a soft humming which grew louder and louder. He stopped and the humming remained the same. He took one step forward and the humming increased. Then he stepped back and the humming grew softer.
"Cloudbase, this is Captain Blue."
Colonel White responded.
"I have discovered something strange, Sir," the Captain reported. "It could be related to Scarlet’s disappearance but that is only a guess."
"Stay at a safe distance, Captain Blue!" ordered White. "Lieutenant Shadow is already on her way to you. I will send you further reinforcements. Give Green the exact coordinates of your position. He will carry out a more detailed investigation by satellite."
Captain Scarlet sat in the lounge of the four men who lived in this house – which they called their headquarters. The ‘ghostbusters’, as they called themselves. All four of them sat around him and looked at him curiously. Egon Spengler had pulled out a strange apparatus and was examining him.
"It could be some kind of amnesia," Ray was suggesting. He looked at Scarlet inquiringly. "Do you have any other gaps in your memory?"
Scarlet shook his head. "I know exactly what I was doing before I suddenly appeared here. There was also this bright light. Then I felt I was being pulled away and when I could see again I was here."
Winston Zeddemore frowned. "Bright light?"
"Hm," murmured Egon.
Dr Peter Venkman raised his head. "And now let’s have it for the uninitiated, Egon…"
"Hm," Egon mused again and pushed his glasses higher up his nose. "Very interesting. Around Captain Scarlet there is some kind of remaining aura of an unknown type of energy. Unfortunately I cannot say what has caused it. At any rate it is not normal for a human being."
If he knew that …., thought Scarlet, who was reminded of his alienness.
"Ah," said Peter.
Scarlet threw a glance at the magazine lying on the table. News Magazine. He looked closer, his eyes widened and he groaned.
All four looked at him.
"It can’t be!"
"What?" asked Winston.
"Of course," said Ray, "that is the paper from last week. I haven’t got the new one yet."
Scarlet looked at him in horror. "You mean, this is 1992?" he asked unbelievingly.
Ray nodded. He looked at his friends. This guy was really strange. First he appeared in the middle of their headquarters, then he didn’t even know how he had got here and now this.
"I can’t believe it." Scarlet shook his head.
"What’s wrong with it," prodded Winston.
"About 80 years."
Lieutenant Shadow pointed a scanner at the place indicated by Blue. The device hummed softly and transferred its measurements via satellite directly to Cloudbase. She frowned. Strange. She knew this device perfectly since she had designed it together with Lieutenant Green. The measurements she was receiving were completely wrong.
"Lieutenant Green? Do you have the data?" she asked.
Green confirmed. He would now carry out a few tests. Shadow put the valuable device away again.
The question was directed at Captain Blue. But he only shrugged his shoulders. Suddenly they heard a noise. Blue squinted his eyes and tried to discern something in the now murky street. Nothing. He drew his weapon.
"You stay here and cover me! I will take a look."
Shadow did not like this but he was the higher-ranking officer. So she just nodded.
Blue went down the street. Strange, the humming had stopped. At that moment a blinding white light appeared in front of him. A screaming filled the air. Blue felt caught and torn away. He wanted to cry out but could not utter a sound.
Lieutenant Shadow stared at the white light. She could not move. Then the light was gone. And so was Captain Blue.
Four perplexed ghostbusters looked at Captain Scarlet disbelievingly. "2070?" croaked Peter. "This must be a bad joke!"
"I wish it was," Scarlet said dejectedly. He was still wishing that this was all just a dream but it had now turned out to be brutal reality.
Egon was looking thoughtful again. "Very probably some kind of time tunnel. You don’t happen to know what caused this phenomenon?"
He looked at Scarlet questioningly.
He could come up with a guess. Spectrum’s time has run out. That must have been it. The Mysterons had struck again. And not too lightly. But how could he explain about the aliens to these ghostbusters. Ghostbusters. That too was really unbelievable. Scarlet did not believe in ghosts – at least up to this point he had not. But he had seen Slimer who was in the vicinity of Peter and still looked at him with curiosity. The small ghost also sensed the fear felt by the stranger when he came closer. And the man had a strange aura.
"I think I know who is responsible for this. But how they did it is a mystery to me."
Then again: what could he tell them? He came from the future. Would it change the future if he told them about the danger of the Mysterons? Probably. One could prevent the Mars expedition, or if not that, one could take a much more cautious approach. Then he would never suffer this accident… No, he could not change the future. There were so many unknown factors. But if he had been sent by the Mysterons into such a ‘near’ past – would they not expect him to change something? Or had something gone wrong…?
Egon took out a calculator or something similar and began to put in some figures.
"You cannot stay here, Captain Scarlet. That could have a detrimental influence on both our and your time."
"In what way?" He had been right!
"I cannot tell you exactly. But you must go back."
"And how is that supposed to work? I mean I don’t even know how I got here! And neither why just here!"
"Hm," said Egon again and Scarlet saw how Peter pulled a face theatrically. "You arrived at 13.56 hours. At that time I had just started an experiment with the new banishing container system which is still going on at the moment. That could be what brought you here. If that had not taken place you might still be tumbling through time somewhere."
Scarlet opened and shut his mouth. So that was it1 That had been the threat. He really would have been lost in time! He had been damned lucky.
"So you believe that you can repeat the procedure?" he asked hopefully.
Egon weighed his head. "Stopping the experiment and restarting it does not take a great effort. But I will have to carry out some tests. I will need an exact description of the place where you were when the light appeared and exactly where you got out."
Scarlet nodded. Nothing simpler than that.
"Tell me, Captain," asked Winston curiously, "how did you get your name? I mean you do not look like someone from the Airforce. And you are called ‘Scarlet’ and wear red? Does that have a special meaning?"
Scarlet smiled. The first smile the ghostbusters had seen on him. There could be no harm in lifting this little "mystery".
"I work for an organisation called Spectrum. All agents carry colour-codenames. Thus the uniforms and the name."
Peter grinned. "So for example, ‘Captain Lilac-Dotted’?" he was joking.
Scarlet grinned as well. Slowly he started to thaw a little. "Something like that."
At that moment they heard another bloodcurdling scream from downstairs.
"Janine!" called Ray and they all jumped up.
Downstairs, exactly on the same spot where Scarlet had been standing, stood a man in a uniform which was very similar to that of Scarlet. Only this one was blue. He was tanned and blond and somewhat taller than Scarlet. He looked around in confusion. When he discovered Scarlet he seemed relieved.
"Let me guess," murmured Peter. "Captain Blue."
"A time tunnel??" Blue looked at his friend disbelievingly. "and 1992?" He shook his head. Man, what a story!
Scarlet sighed. "Yes, unfortunately it is true. But Dr Spengler here already has an idea how he might send us back."
Blue looked at the lean man. He nodded slowly and pushed his glasses higher up the nose again.
"It is a theory. And I hope it works. But there is a catch…"
"And that is?" asked Ray cautiously.
"We can’t send the two captains back on their own. That would be too dangerous. The energy emissions could injure them."
"Oh," said Blue.
"But there is a possibility…"
Colonel White was on site. That was unusual, for normally he always stayed on Cloudbase. But this was something different. Two of his agents really had disappeared without trace. No computer or satellite could locate their position. Normally the position of a Captain or Lieutenant could be found with the help of the transmitter in their helmet if they were anywhere on the planet. But that was not the case.
And then Green had published the results of the measurements which he and Lieutenant Shadow had examined together: a very strong energy field existed only a few metres in front of him in a small narrow street. The computer did not know what kind of energy it was. It could only tell them that it was of a very unusual type. White had arranged for the surrounding area to be evacuated. The hotel was empty and all roads blocked. In a radius of 2 kilometres there was, apart from the Spectrum agents, not a soul.
"Well, Lieutenants?" asked White.
Shadow and Green looked up from their devices. Neither looked as if they had just made an immense discovery.
"Nothing new, Sir."
And then it started. First there was the noise again. It was a soft humming which grew into a shrill scream. Then the light appeared again, in the middle of the small street between the museum and the hotel. And then something came out of the light. It was a car, or to be precise a white Caravan, and for those who knew about car models, from the 20th century! On the roof there were multi-coloured lamps, as on an ambulance, which flared up again and again. A siren was screeching loudly. The car came out of the white light at an incredible speed and shot down the road.
At the end of the road stood an SPV….
Winston saw a dark point appearing at the end of the light tunnel.
"That is the exit," announced Egon calmly, as if this was a Sunday outing.
The point quickly grew larger and then they were out. But that was only the beginning of their problems.
"Watch out!" Ray cried out in shock when he saw the squat thing approaching them.
Winston wildly turned the steering wheel and stepped on the brakes. Ecto-1 lurched, turned first to the right, then to the left, but did not slow down. Winston trod the brakes as far as they would go. The wheels blocked and squealed. A black tyre mark was left on the asphalt.
"Who the devil parks his tank in the middle of the street?!?!" called Winston.
In the back of the car Captain Scarlet gripped a support. Captain Blue sat opposite him and was also fighting for support. Suddenly something small, green and slimy came flying towards them. Slimer had flown to the back because of the skidding.
"Aahhh!" the little ghost gasped in fright.
Scarlet saw the ghost coming towards him. Then it said ‘splat’ and he was slimed from top to bottom. His whole uniform was covered in green goo. But Blue did not escape unharmed either. Slimer hit him on the left side and then landed in Peter’s lap. He pulled a face in disgust and tried to get rid of Slimer. Another lurch of the car tore Slimer away from Peter – and through the windscreen. He flew through the area directly towards an older man dressed in white… Winston’s hands gripped the steering wheel as the giant vehicle came towards them. And then Ecto-1 finally came to a stop. Winston sank back into his seat and gave a sigh of relief. The others followed his example.
The four Spectrum agents stared in amazement at the white Caravan, and with more than amazement at Colonel White who had changed his uniform colour from white to slimy green… Next to him a small sphere of the same slimy green with orange goggle-eyes was hovering. A man disembarked from the vehicle. He wore a dark-brown overall covered with the same green liquid as White’s uniform jacket at his stomach and upper thighs. He was swaying a little.
"The next time I do this, I’ll take a regular flight!" he groaned. "I will never go with you again, Winston!"
Then he looked around. Only a few centimetres from the front of Ecto-1 stood a kind of tank. It was a vehicle with five wheels on each side and no windows. On the surface there were three letters: SPV. And then he saw the four agents who looked at him as if they had been struck by thunder, Slimer and Slimer’s victim. Above him three jets were passing by. His face brightened and a grin spread across his lips.
"It worked, boys!" he called in delight.
Two more men got out. One of them held a device in his hand and scanned the area. They were followed by three others. Two of the men seemed familiar to the Spectrum agents.
"Captain Scarlet! Captain Blue!" gasped Captain Anthracite.
The two looked exactly like the lower half of the overall of the first man. Only worse – at least as far as Scarlet was concerned. He was covered with this green substance from top to bottom. Captain Anthracite and Lieutenant Shadow went towards the six people.
"Are we glad to see you two again," said Anthracite relieved. "We thought the Mysterons had got you."
Anthracite looked at the four ghostbusters and the strange car. An oldtimer. And in damned good shape.
"So who are these four gentlemen here?" Shadow asked.
"And what is that?" asked Anthracite and pointed at Slimer who had followed them.
Blue sighed. "That is a long story," he said.
Colonel White leaned back in his chair. His uniform had been given a makeshift clean after the encounter with Slimer. He, the four ghostbusters and the two Spectrum Captains were sitting in the lounge of the now empty hotel. Somewhere the green balloon was hovering about as well. Scarlet and Blue had just tried to explain, with some help from the ghostbusters, especially Dr Egon Spengler, what had happened in the last few days. And that was UNBELIEVABLE!
"So," White said slowly, "if I understand all this correctly, you, Captain Scarlet and Captain Blue, were transferred into the past by an energy field which was probably a work of the Mysterons. Into the year 1992."
"Something like that, Sir," said Scarlet. "Only the plan of the Mysterons was to send me through the timestream forever, without any chance to ever get free again."
"But thanks to Egon’s little experiment," added Dr Peter Venkman and gave his colleague a friendly glance, "your Captain landed at our place. And his colleague came just after him."
White frowned. "And what will happen to you now?"
"Oh," said Dr Ray Stantz carelessly, "no worries, Colonel. We’ll go back the same way we came. That is no problem. We just have to do it in time."
"What do you mean, ‘in time’?" inquired White.
Egon looked at his watch. "In about 3 hours the field will begin to close. After that there will be no trace of it left."
White nodded. This visit from the past was something unique. But for the four men it was more dangerous than for Spectrum. Whatever they found out about the future could change the past. Of course, there were fantastic possibilities concerning the future. But they were playing with fire if they were to change anything. Nevertheless, the temptation was great.
"Alright, we will leave the whole area sealed off until then."
Barely three hours later the four ghostbusters were standing in front of their headquarters again – the headquarters of the year 2071.
"Man," murmured Winston, "how I would love to look around a bit more here."
Ray nodded in agreement. But they could not stay and too much knowledge of the future would only be harmful. So they held their curiosity in check. Especially as far as these mysterious Mysterons were concerned that everyone was talking about. Slimer was still hovering near Lieutenant Shadow and Captain Anthracite. Ray called him and the ghost hovered towards him with a sullen expression.
"We’ll be going now," said Ray.
"Ooh, Ray," replied Slimer. He liked it here.
Ray shook his head. Slimer trolled in the direction of the car. One after the other the four ghostbusters got into their 1959 Caravan. Winston started the engine and Egon activated the little generator that would carry out their time-jump. Then he gave Winston a sign. He accelerated and the white car jumped forward. Peter pressed the button that switched on the siren. Squealing, the car disappeared in the blinding white light. Then everything was still.
"And you are sure, Dr Striebeck?" asked Colonel White. The scientist nodded.
"The field has completely disappeared. Based on its strength, the Mysterons need a lot of energy to produce it. That is why it did not last very long. It broke down as soon as the car disappeared in it."
If one could trust the usual methods of proceeding the Mysterons would not use the same tactic again. And yet, White was concerned that the Mysterons might have the use of a time machine.
"Thank you, Dr Striebeck," White dismissed the scientist.
Then he turned to the report again. It was a book excerpt to be precise. About a group of scientists from the 20th century who called themselves ghostbusters…
In the lounge there were three Captains and a Lieutenant who were all occupied with the same historical data as Colonel White.
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