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

"Radomierzew's Warehouse at (address) [in a town upstate]: intermittent multiple hauntings in basement. Ghosts are like uniformed armed men shooting other men. About once a month. Please attend after 6pm when the workmen have gone home.".

Janine gave me this routine-sounding message when we returned from a check-up follow-up visit to a school that we had cleaned of poltergeists 15 days before. Events that such hauntings commemorate are not always real; many ghost copies of fictional characters have been made by someone too near something ecto-active when too emotionally involved in a story. We reached the place easily. We put our proton packs on and one at a time pressed their start buttons, taking the opportunity to check their operating master frequencies, which we usually keep a musical tone interval apart to prevent risky cross-resonance effects that can arise in certain circumstances. As my pack started, at 256 cycles per second, which is middle-C, I sang "Doh!".

Ray's, set a musical tone higher, started, and he sang "Ray!". The note was correct: no sign so far of frequency sliding which might bring two packs into mutual resonance during action.

Egon's, set a tone higher again, started - and he sang "Egonnn!". Same as he did in the courtroom during the Vigo affair {GBF2}, and with the same result: an annoyed look from Ray, who sometimes treats joking as his prerogative.

Winston's started a tone higher again, on F-sharp. With my pack that made the offkey-sounding 'tritone' interval, which mediaeval musicians called a 'devil in music' when it appeared in singing F against B; but that 'devil' will have to remain unbusted for now. We walked up to the warehouse door, our proton packs humming, and several ghost traps with attached tightly coiled pedal leads clipped to each of our belts. A workman called John let us in. There was no ghost manifestation in progress when we arrived. He showed us drawings of the ghosts, but the drawings were too rough to tell us much useful.

"When did the hauntings start?" I asked him.

"They've been happening all the time we've been here. It feels funny in there. The Salvation Army had this place before we came. We've put up with the ghosts all these years, but our new manager's decided to get rid of them." he said.

For no particular reason I remembered a newspaper article about a fragment of movie film that had circulated notoriously for a while in the 1940's. Getting back to the subject, I rang the Salvation Army detachment at its new address.

"Salvation Army here." one of them replied when he answered.

"Ghostbusters here, ringing from your old address, Radomierzew's warehouse." I said, "They've called us about ghost hauntings here. The ghosts are like uniformed armed men shooting other men. About once a month ever since they bought the place. Were there any hauntings here when you had the place?".

"What, you?" he said, "I've heard tales of hauntings there, but no more than what you've told me. Captain Wilkins is the only one of us that's in now that remembers those old times. I'll put him on the line.".

Over their phone, put down on a table, I overheard my message being repeated, and then a startled dismayed-sounding "What!?" from Capt.Wilkins before he came on the line.

"The hauntings here: when did they start?" I asked him, and described them, "Was there any shooting here in the Civil War or War of Independence?".

"Ohhh." he said faintly in what sounded like shock, "I better come over and talk to you in person about this. I'll be there in about an hour.", and hung up.

"Another odd thing." said John when I had put the phone down, "Sometimes one or other of us has gone to sleep in here, and sometimes he has a dream. The same dream, from different people. In it a man with a uniform (not of the Armed Forces) and a rifle, looking scared, says this:-

'Beware the shaking of the earth! when you will fare as we.
Beyond your island job and world, that greater forces be,
you four who'll come to seek us, learn! Were sentenced we two lots,
the one to feel the triggers in here, the other to feel the shots,
when greater forces we had woken forced our tidy world
of sheltering and being sheltered: dark deeds on us hurled.
Think you, Ghostbusters, come to neatly clean away what's left,
that you will be forever of a suchlike fate bereft?'.

This has been happening ever since my firm came here. No idea then what a ghost buster was, unless it meant an exorcist. The firm had a priest in a few times, he burned incense and read out texts, but the ghosts still came again. A bit before you started, there were a few cartoon stories about ghostbusters, with guns a bit like yours, set in the far future, and they had an ape in their team. I wished that someone could bust our ghosts: they gave us the creeps and scared workmen and customers away, and attracted cranks and silly people.".

"Yes, those TV cartoons a bit before we started." I said, "That's we sometimes call ourselves the 'Real Ghostbusters', to distinguish.".

Is there such a thing as foretelling the future, or are all cases due to chance eventually causing an event something like the prediction? Winston told Egon once that {GBM10.16 SG10} his uncle Jerome dreamed of what he called "... four men, dressed in overalls, holding sticks of lightning. One of them was my nephew Winston all grown up. They were hunting for ghosts ...".

The basement had been cleared of stock and stores. Behind the smell of acid from electric forklift batteries I could feel an atmosphere of gunpoint and fear. Searching with PKE meters, we found where the ghosts were, quiescent in a wall. We opened ghost traps against the wall there and switched them on. This aroused the ghosts, but most of them dodged the traps and came into the room. As John had said, they were in two lots, one lot ordinary-looking or ragged and the other lot uniformed and armed: with feeble ectoplasmic copies of bolt-action rifles with magazines they yet again re-enacted some old violent deed. Although both lots had the usual ghostly distortions from their likely living originals, the uniforms looked so wrong for their rifles that we were dangerously started into immobility while the armed ghosts, leaving their usual enemies, went to separate and surround and overpower us. "Our guns can't hurt them, but theirs can!" their leader called in a thin voice, urging them on, though seemingly in mental pain. We remembered all too well when in a haunted film studio {GBC} we were rescued with seconds to spare from execution by a firing squad of ghosts who were armed with our proton packs which they had taken. I remembered John's poem. Is that how we will end, as 'a pitcher that goes to the well once too often' as the paranormal world develops countermeasures against us? No run of good luck lasts for ever. Load, aim, fire, zap!, clear away what is left, and we are history which is gradually forgotten, leaving Man with no more remedy against ghosts and demons than there ever was.

I backed out away just in time, pulling Egon after me. After much running and shooting we confined most of the ghosts in a cage of particle beam tracks. The cage threatened to burst when Ray left off to run after the unarmed ghosts who had tried to make a run for it while our attention was elsewhere, but the cage held and he brought his catch into it. We fired one-handed while we threw ghost traps in; by now we were proficient at throwing several ghost traps so they all land right way up. A proton beam hit a trap, causing fireworks but no serious damage. The traps sucked in all the caged ghosts as they continued to fire their useless ectoplasmic rifles at us. We ran after the stray ghosts, and caught them all. Last was the leader of the armed ghosts, who raised his rifle defiantly as he vanished into a trap, near enough for me to see his uniform and official hat very clearly. We switched our guns off. Electronic crackles from the traps faded into silence. The air smelt of scorched paint and hot brick and disturbed dust, but somehow seemed cleaner than before.

The armed ghosts' uniforms and hats were that of the Salvation Army.

Seven minutes later Capt.Wilkins came in. He was nearly 80 but still active. His face seemed familiar, but I could not place it. I described the ghost bust. "Typical mix-up of different things that ghosts are often like, and whatever was happening to the living or fictional original when the ghost was created often gets to be far more than its share of what the ghost is." I commented.

"No, no. It's as it was." he said, and went pale, "I better tell you what happened. I was in charge here when we were based here. I was young then: this was a new detachment. We sheltered vagrants, like our hostels always do. Vagrants are like they are: they scavenge, and often if they can't find scavengings they steal when they can. They must live somehow. There was a big steelworks here then. The people about were far poorer than they are now, and could not afford to insure against theft, or to keep losing bits and pieces. Authority and people in general were much rougher with petty thieves than now. People kept tracking vagrants into here and wanting to search and to question, but we refused, and said that we would politely ask the vagrants ourselves. We were too trusting, and too ready to believe what vagrants said without checking up. The steelworks men had won a violent shooting war against bosses' bullies and strikebreakers, and there were a lot of guns and other weapons about. Then we found some men from the steelworks searching one of our stores, and they said they had found stolen stuff in there. I managed to persuade them to leave, and said that we would search our base; but the vagrants said that all the stuff was theirs, and we respected their privacy and did not search their stuff.

What happened next went too far by anyone's reckoning, but I can understand what happened. The steelworks men were far poorer than now and odd bits and pieces mattered, and they were exasperated beyond their normal law-abidingness and beyond control at an endless stream of stuff vanishing that they couldn't spare: crop from gardens, washing off lines, food shop orders collected by false pretences, getting into sheds and houses, bullying the town men's families while the men were at work, etc. The usual accusations about wandering groups. Those were far rougher times than now. We tried to talk the vagrants out of it, and some of them said that they'd stopped it and were trying to stop the rest.

First we knew was a work stoppage and a big meeting of men in town. We took no notice, for we were busy delousing our vagrants. Then, when all our vagrants were in, a whole lot of the steelworks men, armed, led by some who'd been in the US Army, came in and pushed us into a side room and then pushed the vagrants into this basement. They accused us of 'encouraging that lot by being stupid and believing their hardluck stories' and were obviously in a dangerous mood. The town police were all away busy trying to stop a big riot somewhere else. We heard from the basement blows and yells and questioning and a crude attempt at courtroom procedure. That sort of thing here! But worse was to come. The noise stopped. Some of the steelworks men came in to us and ordered us down to the basement, where all the vagrants were, gagged and tied to that pipe over there that runs along the wall. The steelworks men had spare rifles and said: 'You lot harbouring this lot: you made this mess, so clean it up!', and then the worst words that we'd ever heard: 'You shoot them or we shoot you and them!', and shoved a rifle at each of us. I pleaded but in vain. We had to obey them. So it happened that unwillingly in my own base I commanded my men in something that I'd never imagined, and if I'd had or heard the idea I'd have totally refused even to think about it, when", and his voice became weak and he pronounced the next words with difficulty: "those vagrants, found guilty of vagrancy and theft, were executed by a Salvation Army firing squad.".

We four and John were silent, hearing of the events, and his last four words in that combination. Eventually Egon spoke: "And people call us to unemotionally sanitarily clean away the ecto part of the leftovers of old bad deeds, like a cleaner mopping up blood! I recognized your face: all these years in here that ghastly ectoplasmic copy of you has been ordering his men to armed action, including this time against us, in endless repetitions of the events that created them. Sometimes I suspect that the means for people caught up in bad events to leave ghost copies of what happened, evolved as a way to warn future generations that the place or what was done there may be dangerous.".

"One of them movie-filmed us doing it, and copies of the film got about." said Capt.Wilkins.

At least when we took food to hungry villagers in the St.Etheldreda's affair {GBA#4} that time and a gang of tramps tried to loot the food, we first fired over the tramps' heads, and when they still came on we fired at them in a way that gave them nothing worse than skin burns and damage to clothes, to see them off. But what is to come? Will we, any more than that Salvation Army detachment, forever be able to live only in the confined realm of our own jobs and to treat the outside world only as a vague 'They'? It is one thing to remotely pressure 'Them' to do something unspecified about crime or whatever; it is another thing to suddenly become a part of 'Them' and to have to do the dirty part of what you or another keep asking 'Them' to do.

Capt.Wilkins continued: "When it was over we gave the rifles back and went upstairs, and ignored the noises while the steelmen 'cleaned up' below. Nothing else we could do. They left. We got the place back to normal order, and replaced our stores which the steelmen had taken. Eventually we got over it. I don't suppose the vagrants ever had a funeral or an authorized grave. We told the police, who questioned about but found nobody to charge. The newspapers for once were sympathetic and didn't scream the wretched matter across their front pages. The hauntings started soon after, and the bad feelings in there. We sold the place and moved: some of us said the place was cursed. Well, that's it. I better go back to base. I don't want to see what's in those traps of yours, even though they'd likely have the faces of my old buddies from that time.".

"And we better go back to our base and get these traps emptied." Egon said. I made out our bill for the call and pushed it under the warehouse office door. We and Capt.Wilkins left. Winston emptied the traps into our containment, where the captured ghosts were pumped inside, no more to remind any of the public of those dark deeds done in a dark time while darker deeds were being done and planned in and around Germany. How far should we go in detached-mindedly cleaning away this sort of unintended memorial of old tragedy? John the warehouseman's poem resurfaced in my mind. Had we removed a 'warning notice' that we should have left up? If so, would we be made to put it up again? If so, when and where and how? What will happen to us, if we indeed 'fare as' one or other side did there in the 1940's? We had our dinner and awaited another call.