('I' hereinunder = Peter Venkman) (See GBA#0 'Our Equipment' for notes)

It was one of those times when we get more work than we can easily keep up with. Egon said it was caused by interdimensional crosscurrents and suchlike reducing the general PKE (= PsychoKinetic Energy) activity threshold, whereby dormant ghosts became active, and new ghosts arose from minor concentrations of stray PKE that would otherwise have lain quiet. I mostly knew only that there were a lot of ghosts about, with their various expensively destructive or silly or nuisance antics that make people call us to get rid of them. One that many people as well as us remember too well was the ghost that we called Smiley.

A business meeting in New Jersey dragged on into the small hours until in the room suddenly appeared a 4-foot diameter semitransparent red floating sphere with two waving arms attached at 'ten past ten' angles and on its front a large face with oval eyes a bit taller than wide, large round nose, and a mouth which was nearly always in a deep exaggerated U-shaped cheeky smile. Above the face six radiating lines represented a forelock, and above each eye two lines joined at their outer ends formed an eyebrow.

"Hallo all!" it said cheerily, "You look a stuffy lot! I am the ghost of all the fun that serious-minded people won't allow into their lives!

You meet a friend, he gives excuse, won't even stay for tea?
You want a friend that stays with you all day and faithfully?
I'll leave a copy of myself for everyone to see:
a little face amid your face to keep you company!",

Whoosh I gone! I'll be back, sort of!, and that time I'll stay! I can't stop, I've got lots of faces to put smiles on!".

It vanished with a slight phut. The chairman tried to call order and restart discussion, but everybody was too shaken up, and he had to admit defeat and adjourn the meeting until the morning. "Interruptions, interruptions!" he said exasperatedly, "That cleaner kept trying to barge in; people and relatives ringing delegates about different matters; and now a ghost! It's getting like it was during that {GBF2} Vigo affair. I thought the Ghostbusters had about cleaned up after that.".

Their cassette recorder had been running through all this: they mailed a copy of its tape, and drawings of the apparition, to us, realizing (unlike many others) that it was too late to be any use in getting us out of bed rather than telling us next day. In the morning their meeting restarted. Matters and delays arose. Their noses itched and started to swell steadily, but they were too busy to see a doctor, or to bother with a stray ghost, or to decipher ghost-talk. By the time they started to reach decisions, their noses had swollen to spheres two inches in diameter. As one of them came back with some computer printout, he felt a slight pop from his nose and tried in vain to brush off something that had suddenly started waving about close in front of his eyes.

"I like your little friend!" one of the others exclaimed, and they laughed.

"What's the matter?" he said.

"Look in a mirror!" they said.

But as he watched, one by one the others' swollen noses each suddenly popped out two silly little hands attached at 'ten past ten' angles in a cheery gesture in front of its owner's eyes, and on its front a small face with twinkling oval eyes a bit taller than wide, and round nose, and mouth which at once went into a U-shaped cheeky smile, and lines representing eyebrows and forelock. The noses all frantically bent left and right and handwaved and smiled and winked at each other and each others' owners, clearly wanting their owners to reply likewise.

"Look! I'm back, like I said I'd be. Hi, all!" said the chairman's nose in a high-pitched little voice.

"Hallo, world! I'm here also! said another nose.

"I like your new-look noses!" said someone, "Yes, they are looking at me. Now I know what that ghost meant. 'A little face amid your face' it is! Ghosts! What next from them!? Some silly idea to cheer us up. How can we look formal at meetings with these things sitting in the middles of our faces being silly to everybody? OK, we better call at the Ghostbusters after this meeting.".

"I take it you've all come hoping to drop something off here!" said Janine Melnitz our receptionist as all their noses were as cheeky as possible to her while their owners tried to be formal. We were in, and she called them in. Their noses continued their antics as Egon examined them with a PKE meter, which stayed silent. "Fascinating." he said, "Ghost-initiated development of an autonomous epirrhinal micro-individual with its own personality. There's no ecto component in them. They're just growths of normal tissue, though unusual. Removing them's a job for a plastic surgeon. I better check your meeting room in case that ghost left a trail.". By now I understood 'Egon-ese' as well as I ever will, but I had to ask him what "epirrhinal" meant; it means "on the nose".

"Meaning that that ghost gave us all a stonking big nose each with a silly face on it and a mind of its own and those silly little hands. I've heard of some silly tricks used to try to amuse people that don't want amusing, but this is the limit! I'm an important businessman. I want rid of it." said a delegate.

"Hallo, all!" said the chairman's nose, and bent to the right to smile and wink and handwave at Ray.

The ghost visited many places, never long enough for us to get there in time, although people often called us too late. "Lets have some laughs, stuffy old teacher!" it said, interrupting a maths class, "Soon you'll all be really nosy! Enough of me to go round to keep you all amused! I can't stop now! I've got a lot of stuffy people to get round! But I'll be back! No more dull formal expressions!", and disappeared as usual, leaving only a litle residual PKE and the class's descriptions for Egon to record. The class's noses started to itch and swell. Egon, and others after him, called the nose growths "epirrhini"; but the public media called them many names, including "stonkers", "silly noses", "fun noses", "happy noses", "smile noses", and "little friends".

"Just see what that ghost did to my class! Not even as if they all matched! Look at what I've got for a nose! Six fingers on each of its silly little hands, sweet little rosy dimpled cheeks, cross-eyed, one blue eye and one green eye when my own eyes are brown, keeps bending round to wink at me!" said the teacher three days later when he brought his class to our base for us to look at. Smiley had started to vary the theme, and on their faces were ordinary stonkers, pairs of stonkers nestling side by side, and stonkers whose own little noses had grown into half-inch-diameter ministonkers, all happily handwaving and smiling and winking at each other and us. Ray remarked that "at least we now 'nose' what that ghost looks like.". They left us drawings that they had made of the ghost.

At least they looked cheerful and amused people a bit. I thought. Those 'fun noses' lighten people's moods, whereby people become more willing to be friendly and helpful in general, whereby this, whereby that, whereby all the world's wrongs are righted and there begins a new age of, etc. It fitted too easily. I sighed. That sort of facile attempted solution to everything at once can be found with variations a hundred times in the repetitive annals of such places as Bellevue where people that develop that line of thought tend to end up. I am not a psychiatrist, but I knew enough to realise what was happening. 'Smiley', being a ghost, was harder to catch than a human and with his ghostly powers was far more able to try to put his theory into practise, leaving an endless trail of silly noses and defaced faces until he eventually got bored of it. A few people liked their new-model noses as amusing little companions, but most did not; special surgical 'epirrhinus removal' clinics were kept busy removing them; luckily they could easily strip the growth away from the natural nose beneath.

Meanwhile our usual work went on. Janine received these two routine calls and sent Winston and Ray to attend to them:-

(1) Zapowski Printers, address: unexplainable persistent interference with machinery and set-up type: poltergeist or gremlin?

(2) Minny's Night Club, address: sightings of ghost animals in public rooms.

At Zapowski's (name chosen by the owner because he had a laser printer!) they had to enter from an alley, where several vagrants who had settled there to sleep, made bold by numbers, refused to let them pass and claimed the area as private, putting on official airs. Winston and Ray did not stop to chop logic with that class of character but switched their proton guns into electric shock prod mode and advanced. Three vagrants fled yowling, and the rest did not wait to find out what would happen; it was not the first or last time we have had to use our proton guns to electric prod or shoot our way out of confrontations with living troublemakers. A workman with a riotshield and a pickaxe handle came out of the back of the premises and helped to chase them off. He let Ray and Winston in, then went out and swept up and burnt the scavengings and old cartons and makeshift shelter the vagrants had left.

Inside, a PKE meter soon showed that the call was genuine. The cause was a gremlin of the common sort, which they caught by setting five camouflaged ghost traps among the affected machinery and waiting, without using proton guns again; causing incidental property damage by shooting about does not improve our image. "Waiting is 90% of hunting", it is said, even though accounts of our activities tend not to make this point as clear as they should.

Ray and Winston left a note at the nearest police station describing the incident, before the vagrants had time to tell lies about it.

They next attended the call at Minny's, as a matter of procedure, although most readers will know what this sort of call usually is; and so it was yet again: "the only spirits were those in bottles". They recorded yet another NPF (Nothing Paranormal Found), probable NX (Natural eXplanation), and left.

Yet another man rang us from a meeting after Smiley had been there and gone.

Soon after that, Winston and Ray came back with the gremlin and put it in our containment. They switched the television on; it was showing 'Finance Today', which they watched boredly until the program suddenly cut, blaming a technical hitch; then Ray went to our workshop and Winston to rest.

I found later why the program cut. In the studio suddenly appeared a large red semitransparent sphere with a smiling face and two waving arms. "Lets have a few smiles, you boring financial lot! I can't stop, but I'll leave you all a copy of me to help you!" it said, floating towards the camera's line of sight. The cameraman exclaimed in disgust and cut just in time before it got on the air. It disappeared with a slight phut. After some argument the program was restarted. Life went on. The studio personnel's noses started to itch and then swell.

I sent Minny's a bill for our time. I excuse genuine mistakes, and delusional insanity can't be helped, but people do not need to drink to the point of hallucinating. Minny's blamed an unidentified customer of theirs for ringing us; a few letters later passed between us and Minny's but achieved nothing. The interdimensional currents remained turbulent, and we were still very busy.

Next night someone put in our letterbox an abusive illiterate note addressed to 'Trampbusters' about the incident with the vagrants. I sent photocopies of it with a covering note to the police and to Zapowski's, and also to its sender's purported address telling the actual occupant there that a vagrant dossing at his back was using his postal address. I wrote advising the residents, who were tired of this sort of nuisance, to make their own rota patrols of their back entry alley to keep it free of undesirables. They followed this advice. The vagrants moved on. So ended another of the various NPI's (Non-Paranormal Incidents) that we get caught up in sometimes.

In the middle of all this Egon insisted on going to the fungal section of a big biology conference in town, to present the results of some of his work. (His hobby is fungi.) He said that there were some 'big names' there. I told him that if he went he must go in full action kit and stay near a telephone in case we needed him urgently.

We came back from a big haunted mansion cleanout job that used nearly every ghost trap we had, and began the long job of putting each trap in turn into the slot in the front of the ghost containment in our basement so that it could suck the trap contents out, and then cleaning and recharging the traps. After that we had a much-needed rest. People have a habit of calling us in time for us to finish just in time for the dull TV programs. 'Finance Today' was on again, continuing the previous week's talk about shares. The speaker's nose had swollen bulbously, but skilled makeup largely hid it if he stayed face-on to the camera. Suddenly his nose popped out two little hands and a small face which at once winked and smiled and waved at everybody. "Hi, world! I'm back, like I said I'd be, as a merry little round stonker to nestle in the middle of your face making you look more cheerful!" it said in a high-pitched little voice.

This went out on the air. The interviewer, annoyed and thinking that it was some out-of-place joke-shop trick, curtly finished the discussion; and as he did so, his own swollen nose popped out its hands and face and said: "And I'm here also! A neat little mid-facial mini-companion for you! No more dull formal looks!". All the studio personnel's noses did the same. One nose's nose then grew out into a ministonker. On the studio manager's face three plump stonkers nestled side by side hiding his nose; three little faces smiled at the world amid his face, and six silly little hands waved about in front of his eyes. He frantically cut the program and put some music on and rang us.

My PKE meter found nothing there, and I advised them to see a plastic surgeon. Before I could finish explaining, my walkietalkie beeped. "Janine here. Go back to the haunted mansion.", it said, and gave the address, "Either you missed one, of the ghosts, a big one, or their big boss has come from 'over there' to find what had happened there. Big 'devil' interrogating the residents at flamethrower point. Class 8 probably. Collect Egon from his conference: I'll ring the conference to expect you and to tell them that it's urgent.". I had to go.

"These three silly-smiling things I've got instead of a nose, I suppose that at the next office party I could put three little plumed tricorne hats on them as the Three Musketeers, and myself dress as D'Artagnan." the studio manager said as we rushed out to the Ecto-1 (our converted Cadillac ambulance) and away.

Outside the conference building I got out, wondering vaguely if Smiley would notice the meetings in there and interrupt them as at many other places before. "Where's Egon Spengler?" I asked the doorman, "Tall, slender, wavy blonde hair. We need him on a job. Our receptionist should have phoned him here about us coming for him.".

"He's in conference!" said the doorman looking annoyedly at my uniform and kit, "I'm under orders not to let reps and workmen and relatives and allsorts interrupt delegates and speakers on excuses. I can take a message and hand it to him when his meeting breaks for lunch. Same with phone calls. Sorry, rules.".

"I'm hardly a rep or a casual botherer, or in the same class as a meter reader!" I replied, "He's one of us also, and we need him urgently for the work that he gets his income from! Either let me in or call him out or take a message to him now!".

"Not unless you can prove it's as serious as you say. Bad enough him coming to a formal conference in that ectoplasmy overall with those badges on and that atom ray generator on his back as if he hadn't got an office suit to his name!".

From inside suddenly came alarmed shouting and running footsteps and talk of a ghost. "That's enough permission, I think." I replied. We pushed him aside and ran in. Scared people told us clearly enough where to go. As we reached the rainforest society meeting room, I heard a silly voice from inside saying: "You are a dull lot, going on about a lot of dull trees for ever! Soon you'll all each have your own little me to wave and smile for you if you're too busy to!", and more of the like. We rushed in, ready for action, and for the first time we saw Smiley. Before we could aim and fire, it vanished as usual; but Ray recorded its ecto-frequency, so he could set the PKE meter to detect it much easier; thus we found that it was still nearby. We ran out, following the signal. From a room labelled 'Fungal Society' came a silly voice, and annoyed shouting including Egon's, and the sound of a proton gun shot. We ran in. Smiley was there. "Bye bye, nose bozo!" Egon exclaimed as he and us all fired at it. Its usual speech praising its new design of nose turned into a loud "yeeeek!" as four proton gun beams hit it and held it in a mesh of atomic particle tracks. "Yerk! No more fun noses to cheer up dull people!" it said as its cheeky mouth-arc inverted in dismay as it vanished into a ghost trap. The trap's lid shut over it. The trap's 'occupied' light started to flash. Egon picked it up and ran out with us to the Ecto-1. That was the end of Smiley's freedom and nuisance. But in the conference building it had started one last big batch of silly noses.

We got to the haunted mansion, and ran in. From a room we heard frightened people apologising, and a hard voice ordering: "When I send my followers here to have some fun where they won't get in the way, you will let them have that fun, never mind calling that new lot with their fancy kit, whoever or whatever they are!". We rushed into the room. In there was a traditionally shaped devil with reddish skin, horns, pointed ears, cloven hooves, and tail with arrowhead-shaped tip. Strapped to its back was an efficient-looking device of two big ecto-metal tanks whose lower ends were connected by a flexible tube to a gunlike device with several controls and a wide front nozzle which blasted consuming fire, not merely dirty ecto-slime. "Flamethrower! This one means business." Ray muttered as the devil fired his weapon across us.

The burning stuff stuck in clots to and cleaned out several patches of ecto contamination on our uniforms, but did not hurt us. "We aren't ghosts yet, so ecto-fire doesn't hurt us!, bozo! Leave people alone! We don't come round your realm haunting and messing about!" I shouted as we fired back. Our shots hurt him, and he realised in fright what would happen if one of our proton beams pierced one of his flame fuel tanks. I recognised his weapon. They are described in Tobin's Spirit Guide. Egon called them 'ectoflamethrowers' when he read about them; the languages of the Beyond have older shorter words for them, and many phrases laden with fear and dread. Very effective against unprotected ghost matter, one of the oldest and handiest weapons 'over there', long before humans invented similar earthly weapons, far longer lasting on a refilling, with more operating modes (including sometimes a blowtorch mode for ecto-metal working). It had helped him mightily in his realm countless times in wars and in stopping disorders and suppressing rebellions, but now he had to jettison it at last on one venture too many into our world, and it lay where it fell, like its owner looking to us semitransparent and insubstantial. The devil, fleeing in alarm from his dropped weapon, failed for a vital few seconds to resist our proton beams. After a brief struggle the ghost trap that Winston threw under him sucked him inside, and its lid closed with the familiar 'tchyenn' noise and electronic crackles, and its red 'occupied' light started to flash, and there was quiet and normality again. Birds sang outside.

Ray rubbed his itching nose yet again and took out of a pocket a large sprayer which he used to cover the dropped ectoflamethrower with what we call 'Enampa' (Ecto/Normal Anti Mutual Penetration Agent), a mixture of ecto and normal matter that Egon had invented to coat ecto-matter objects with so humans made of ordinary matter could handle them. In Tobin's time no living man could use ecto weapons, but weapon and man went through each other, as empty as the air. I told him not to be long, as the trap wouldn't hold 'big boy' for ever. We had met ectoflamethrowers before, and their usual fate was to ecto-explode violently, destroying its wearer but harmlessly to us, when pierced by a proton beam or pulled by a ghost trap's suction field, or to be low on fuel or even empty and thus useless when captured. We returned to base, where 'Ectoflamethrower Eddie' and then Smiley were finally and thankfully pumped from the ghost traps into our ecto-containment in our basement.

"Light is green, trap is clean." I said as the traps' 'empty' lights came on. Ray made a dismayed noise as his nose, which had been steadily swelling, popped; but he was too busy and excited to bother much. He put the ectoflamethrower on. I felt a shiver of alienness seeing that ancient feared weapon of the Beyond strapped to a living man's back and its gun part in his hands. Even through the coating it shone with a ghastly ghostly light and was clearly not of earthly make and not made of earthly matter. We would have needed more ecto workshop facilities than we had then to make one ourselves, and far more to refill them. We do not often capture them. I felt a bit unreal, realizing that at last for once the common superstitious or deranged belief that "Fire cleanses! Fire purifies! (etc)" was literally true. If we could get hold of them more often, they would be our readiest weapon to destroy ghosts and burn possessing spirits out of people or valuable objects without damaging anything made of normal matter. Not till some time after this could we at last go 'over there' ourselves routinely in the Ecto-4 and raid them from demon lords' armouries and factories, and once even bring back an ectoflamethrower filler, which Ray and Egon got running reliably in our basement and gradually found out how it worked and how to make one ourselves.

Some people dislike our readiness with ecto devices, and say "Nobody lives for ever. When inevitably your own ghosts go Beyond, far out of reach of base and backup and normal matter to remake their relied-on familiar ghostbusting equipment out of, they will no longer be immune to ectoflamethrower fire and will see and find the hard way enough and too much of them and other ecto weapons in the hands of those realms' guards, without messing about with them when alive."; but I reply that we will accept that when it happens. Of what those two ghosts, Smiley and that devil, left us, one was far more useful to us than the other, in inverse proportion to their relative prettyness, and they had different fates, while life continued and other and usual work pressed. Ray asked "What shall I do with this?" about the ectoflamethrower, for we had far more possible uses for it than its un-renewable fuel supply would last.

"And what shall I do with this?" he asked, pointing to his swollen nose, which had popped out two silly little waving hands and a small round-eyed round-nosed face with a U-shaped cheekily smiling mouth. I had forgotten about Smiley. "Keep it! It completes you! It nestles in the middle of your face real nice!" I replied. But after he put the weapon in our ecto-proof storeroom, a hospital 'Epirrhinus Removal Clinic' disposed routinely of his unwanted mid-facial mini-companion along with hundreds of others.

"And what shall I do with these?" a new surgical attendant there asked about yet another trayful of sad-faced severed stonkers, now no longer pert little ornaments each on someone's face but detached limp-handed two-inch fleshy spheres, some joined in twos or threes or with ministonkers still attached, their little mouths no longer smiling but in grieving inverted arcs, little oval eyes staring sadly, lamenting the unamusableness of men and the hardness and practicalness of the world. In our ghost containment Smiley who they were little copies of did the same, when we saw him on odd occasions through the observation window. Outside, memories of him went into the past and became merely history, when the hospitals had got through the work that he caused them. But a man who had not bothered to have his stonker removed caught a cold on the train to work, where as expected many caught his cold off him. But also, their noses itched and started to swell...

The author invented 'Smiley', and 'epirrhini' alias 'stonkers', but copied their shape from the March 1991 version of Comic Relief 'red noses'. Comic Relief (7 Great Russell Street, London WC1B 3NN, England, tel. 071 436 1122, fax 071 436 1541) presumably has the copyright on their characteristic shape.