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

The original that a ghost is a copy of, does not have to be real. We have met many ghost copies of fictional characters that were in the minds of people involved in circumstances when ghosts were created. Sherlock Holmes and others from his mythos {GBM171:3 'Sherlock Bones'}, and the Star Trek characters {GBM141:10 WD}, all more or less deformed in name and appearance from the fictional originals, are only two of the hauntings of that sort that we have come across. I remember one month when we had to bust both extremes of the spectrum, from the babyish to the toughly adult.

The first one was dangerous despite the petty silly origin of the characters. The phone in our base rang before Janine came in, and I answered it.

"Ghostbusters here." I said.

A scared-sounding woman answered: "name Infants School in Yonkers. Big ghosts of a cop and two other men and a BEAR!! in the playground, and a ghost car with them. They've been moving things about and damaging things. Some of the children say it's Noddy. Really, children's imaginations. When can you come?"

"Who's Noddy? I'd like to know, as it's easier if I know what ghosts are copies of. What did he do? When did he live? What was his full name?" I replied, for I have not the time to keep up with all the strange stage-names and nicknames used for pop musicians etc.

"He didn't. He's in some children's stories by Enid Blyton." she said, trying not to laugh, "I'd rather get this over before the children come.".

"Oh." I thought. Another of those. I rang the alarm bell to call the other three of us. The time when I read stories of the Enid Blyton type passed when mammoths and woolly rhinos still roamed the land. Ray keeps a boyish affection for some stories of that type, but not quite that childish. They came, and we got in the Ecto-1 and kitted up and set off. (Ray had lengthened the front seat sliders so they can be adjusted to fit a man wearing a proton pack.) We stopped at a big newsagents that sold books also. It is to be wondered what the cashier thought of two grown men in thick tough ectoplasmy overalls and heavy boots and with lethal atom ray generators on their backs running in and desperately grabbing Noddy books from the 'starting to read' section and frantically reading them even as they ran out slapping down a handful of money without waiting for the change; but we needed some idea of who and how many were the fictional originals that the ghosts may be copies of - as modified by the mentality of whoever's thoughts were copied, whether small child imagining everybody in his likeness, or childish adult, or normal adult whose brain was weary after much thinking at his work. Ecto-active foci copying people's fears and ideas can be very undiscriminating. "For a friend." I muttered to her as I ran past.

We arrived and got out and searched with PKE meters. There were only the four that she had said, luckily not the whole mythos to have to chase and catch one by one. The ghosts were still active. Noddy (about human). Teddy (bear, more like a wild grizzly than like the toy and book original, who in the story ran a garage and sold Noddy the car). Big Ears (pixie). P.C.Plod (British-type cop). All about nine feet tall. All messing about randomly and destructively with any loose object in a way that showed that their mental age was that of some child whose imaginations had caused the ghosts, for children of that age often imagine all in their own image.

Any remaining taboo that I had against attacking images of children's story characters snapped when Big Ears picked Winston up and started playing with his proton gun. Real guns aren't toys. I fired, straight-beam and hard. Big Ears dropped Winston and howled in a way that confirmed my ideas of his mental age. Winston grabbed his dropped gun, fired back, and crawled away backwards to reach one of his ghost traps where it had fallen. P.C.Plod suddenly developed angry adult intelligence and full New York-style police riotsquad gear, fired all too real non-ecto teargas, put his shield in front, and charged. Great, whatever kid it was had also seen public order disturbances in reality or on TV. Our proton beams bounced in vain off his hard rounded helmet and visor and gasmask and shield and shin-protectors and flak-jacket, as well armoured as the demon Nekkdasgeddon {GBM46:3, GBM110:3 'Ponquadragor II'} who I had defeated twice. That, and the Bear's claws and teeth: this was a tighter spot than I had expected. But even Nekkdasgeddon had a chink in his armour that I and Egon made good use of. I and Egon and Ray fired at him, occupying his attention for just long enough for Winston to get Big Ears into a trap. Zikkk, fwop, tchyenn, fsscrackle. The familiar noises of a ghost vanishing into a trap came just in time for him to stop the Bear from cuffing my proton pack off me from behind. Nearly blinded by teargas, I reversed my gun and fired backwards and slid a trap behind me. The trap strained like a size 1 submersible grab-dredger on inshore patrol duty swallowing a 16-stone two-cylindered unauthorized scuba diver, but succeeded in time for me to dodge the Cop's baton and run away sideways with the trap. Two down. "Drive at them or I'll %$@ you!" the Cop swore in a foul mixture of English and a language of the Beyond at Noddy, who got in his car and obeyed, but with his limited child's intelligence he yielded easily to two traps thrown into his (fortunately open-topped) car as we jumped aside at the last minute. The car vanished inside also, for it was merely an ectoplasmic construct.

The Cop remained. He withstood much proton gun fire and yielded slowly but eventually, muttering about "why in Gozer's name did I have to find those three silly kids'-things instead of proper men to back me up?", and a trap sucked him in, leaving his armour and weapons, which to my surprise and alarm were not ectoplasmic but proper ecto-metal from some demonic factory in the Beyond. They had store-code marks on them in one of the writing systems of the Beyond that make everything written in it look like a black magic spell: Egon would identify them later. What had been happening there behind the childish front? The teargas grenade gun and its ammunition were unpossessed normal matter taken from a foreign police force; we later added them to our kit in case of anything, once Ray had cleaned off it an odd semi-ecto stuff that had been put on it in the Beyond to let ghosts handle it easily. The other items were too big for us to use, so we put them aside in store.

I once read a joke about the Biblical sentence "When I grow up I put away childish things" and fathers having to tidy their children's toys away. So ended this battle against danger with a childish face, as disturbing as adults misusing children's toys in such ways as using a child's water pistol to squirt other liquids or fitting a hypodermic needle to it.

We looked around for an ecto-active focus that may have created those ghosts, but found none. Likely the Cop had been sent back to Earth with it to encourage more ghosts to form, and it had gone into the ghost trap along with him. A PKE search showed that the likeliest source of the emotional energy that had been picked up by that focus was a child in a house next to the school, afflicted by an inherited disorder called porphyria, where the skin is full of patches of loose blood-pigment which absorbs sunlight. Some eco-freaks and people obsessed with 'greenism' wish that Man could absorb the sun's energy like plants do; in porphyria it actually happens, but the pigment uses the absorbed energy only to damage the skin painfully. The sufferers avoid daylight if possible and get scarred and act odd in a way that the superstitious often think is werewolfism. Shut in all day with only a few books for company, he read and reread and rereread them and became obsessed with their subject matter - and the Cop noticed the emotional radiation and, not checking the mental age of whoever was making it, set up his ecto-active focus there. In some areas so many porphyriacs come for us to bust their supposed werewolfism that Egon designed a protective all-over anti-sunlight suit with a face shield for them: the wearer looks like a radioactive-area worker but can go out in sunlight unhurt. We gave the boy's parents a brochure about this suit, and went to the school's teachers' common room to give them our bill for the ghost bust.

"The school's cheque book's locked away - the man with the key's with a school team playing away." one of them said.

"It doesn't matter. Cash'd be fine." I said.

"We don't keep that much cash on us." he said.

"When'll the man that can get the cheque book be back?" I said.

"After games he's got some shopping to do." he said.

This discussion went on like this for a while.

"I've been thinking:" I said, probably with a sly-looking smile with the mouth in a shallow 'v' rather than a 'u', "this Noddy and his three friends might prefer to be let go here to play with children of their own mental age, rather than to be stuck in our containment with a lot of strange rough grown-up ghosts etc that we've caught here and there.", for we have our own bills to pay.

"No please!" the headmaster said, and paid the bill. We went back to base.

A few days later, after we saw a television program that said much that had been said various times before about needs to recycle and recover metals and energy, Egon showed us a scientific article that he had found. "Look at this!" he said. I did not remember booking for yet another Egon lecture series, but one came anyway. "The pro-recycling lobby'll like this one!" he said, "It's about new work on an advanced derivative of the 'fuel cell' that can dissolve and oxidise most things, organic and metal etc, and turn the contained energy of oxidation nearly 100% into electricity, and recover component metals and other valuable elements from even very dilute concentrations. It's called a recycler destructor or RD. It says that one put in a dredger can easily find in the silt power for the dredger and plenty to spare, and recover huge amounts of valuable metals that have been lost in the sea down the centuries. Also it can use the electricity to make hydrocarbon oil from water and the carbon dioxide that comes off the oxidation. Just the thing to work through old rubbish tips, and clean up polluted areas, and destroy and recycle rubbish far better than what we had before. The mining lobby may not like it, if so much stuff'll come back from recycling that we don't need to dig so much new: but we'll have to see what that brings. Sometimes new invention find unexpected uses ...".

"Yes, they may." I thought, not knowing how soon we would see it happening. At least it was a change from his fungi. A month before he had carried on like this about a man-made substance called AH26 that could according to how electricity was run through it absorb and release oxygen like the haemoglobin in blood does, at much less energy cost than pumping it into cylinders, foreseeing uses for it in submarine motors' air supplies and in breathing sets ... and then I had gone to sleep with my proton pack still on, doing neither my shoulders nor the chair much good. But this time Janine interrupted.

"A ghost ship for you!" she exclaimed to us, and named an inshore fishing village in Maine. There had been articles in newspapers about trouble in that area over shellfish-taking etc between local inshore fishermen's livelihoods and needs to conserve shellfish stocks and the ever-increasing flood of sport scuba divers looking for new leisure space, and about single and group scuba diver disappearances, but that was not our concern at the time.

Great, another job at sea. I rarely take to a boat unless I have to. Sailing is usually much slower than driving on good roads, or flying. It would be fine if only the sea would keep still. I answered and asked for more information. We loaded our kit and got a packed lunch each. Hearing the word "food", Slimer made annoyed noises and splattered himself yet again in vain against the ecto-proof force field that Egon had finally put up round our stored food. We set off.

When we got there we were met by two men in dark blue fisherman's waterproofs with to our surprise what I thought was kit and badges like ours; but a closer look showed from the writing on them that their 'proton packs' were powerful handheld sonars run off bulky battery backpacks, for use underwater, or more usually overside from a small boat. Powerful ultrasound underwater can be lethal. The shoulder badges had the head and chest of a sport scuba diver, instead of a ghost, interlaced with the red 'stop sign'.

"Flip side." I thought. Once {GBC 'Flip Side'} I and Ray and Egon were pulled accidentally through into a part of the Beyond where ghosts had (been allowed by the Powers over there to) set up an Earth-style city (which we nicknamed 'Boo York') to try to live as their living originals had. But most things in 'Boo York' were deformed by their ghostly tastes, and unsightly or creepy to us. There the ghosts were the solid citizens, and we were the Floaters, the Eerie Ones, the Passers through Walls, the Haunters, the Insubstantial Ones who they needed special equipment to handle. Three of their number, the 'Peoplebusters', were skilled in using that equipment to catch us and other living strays who got there by assorted interdimensional accidents, and to stuff us into their type of containment - luckily due to limited technology or lack of need they had not advanced to using a destructor instead. Now we had come to another 'flip side', with another local people, another real or supposed enemy, other tactics to catch or keep out that enemy, and different people calling them or approving of them or objecting to them. Some of their weapons and security precautions were decidedly illegal, but local authority condoned them: when does a local illegal authority become de facto legal, as usage and time gradually accepts it? Likewise the atomic particle accelerators in our proton packs were illegally unlicenced, but usage condoned them until new laws allowed them.

We followed them into an office; on a table in there I saw some training manuals and papers about patrol rotas, which routinely called that sort of sonar a 'proton pack'. I pointed out the obvious risks of confusion; they hastily put the papers away. "If they call those sonars 'proton packs', they likely haven't got real proton packs yet." I thought, "But for how long? I bet that [Professor] Dweeb's {GBA#0} not been as careful as us who finds how to make them. It's better luck than often thought of that most ordinary guns go 'bang!' and tell everybody near that they've been used.". It was elsewhere some time later that Ray bought an inshore fishermen's video about sea patrolling which talked of naval cooperation in keeping up a stock of men skilled in small boat and frogman and antifrogman techniques for any future semi-guerilla war. It clearly showed a big shellfish-poaching sport scuba diver invasion into a lobstering area being summarily silently cleaned up by two men in a boat with a 'Dweeb pack' and a powerful backpack-powered aimable sonar-guided underwater ultrasound gun.

In the harbour was a patrol boat type craft about 30 feet long with hydrofoils and hydroplanes and a smoothly rounded windowless top, that I recognized as a type called FSPB (Fast Submersible Patrol Boat) that can go fast on the surface and also submerge for a while; its bow can open to scoop objects up. I had seen it before in an article that Egon once found and showed me, but this one had bigger bow and stern sonar blisters, and on its stern an ominous large extra bulge which I found later was a heavy-duty RD.

They told us about the haunting: "It's an old-style deep-sea fishing schooner. It sails about. Sometimes it dumps piles of rotting fish in a harbour or on shore or at sea. The crew come ashore and damage things, and sometimes take things. It scares customers away: some people think from it that all our fish'll be haunted. It used to be around Gloucester in Massachusetts a lot. It's on the Grand Banks sometimes: nobody's allowed to fish there now, the Government say the fish stocks there need to be let recover. People who've got near it say it's got ten crew, if they can stand being near it long enough to count. Some say that one of the crew looks different from the others and tries to hail other craft, but the others stop him. Glows all over it does, and its crew also, not bright enough to see other things by its light though. Weird. It's been around here the last three days. Its crew came ashore at night two days ago looking for something, all shimmering, and I could see through them if there were lights behind them. My dog saw them and howled and ran in, and now he won't go out again. We'll take you out after it in the morning at first light.".

"Where do pleasure craft go here?" I asked, for I saw only work craft there.

"They don't. This is a working harbour, not for amateur Columbuses. We've wasted too much time lifeboat-rescuing incompetents. Not for amateur Cousteaus either." one of them said.

"When did this ghost ship first appear?" I said.

"First time it was seen was about fifteen years ago, one night at Marblehead. Then it went to Gloucester. Its crew wandered about the town most of the night in the fog. Sometimes they went up to people, all cold and white, in oilskins like we wore before plastic waterproofs came in. In the morning they had gone." he said.

By now it was dark. We made arrangements, and talked about this haunting, and other hauntings, and sea-fishing in general, and so on, for a while, then we went back to the Ecto-1 to sleep. There is a limit to how much kit we can carry with us; we have slept in body bags (this time plus the padding off the equipment racks) enough nights away from base for it not to concern us, but it gave some of the locals the creeps.

In the morning as we went into the harbour office two local vans and a large building-site-type dumper passed us and stopped. The dumper's load sheet lifted in a gust of wind, showing under it a disorderly pile of camping and sport-type diving gear and clothes. From the vans came out eleven local men with riotsquad gear and guns over dark blue fishermen's waterproofs, and eight gagged and handcuffed prisoners, battered and still wearing portions of sport diving gear.

"Yet another plan to live off our shellfish for a fortnight stops after their first night here." their squad-leader said to me, "A few sport divers didn't matter, but more and more came. We've got to do something about it, if the state doesn't. The cities get bigger, want more and more fish and shellfish, even more reason to leave us and our sea area alone for us to catch them and let them breed; but people also run out of room on land to mess about and then come here to play at frogmen, and hardly spend a cent here but bring their own everything. They used to be some help getting stuck gear up, but many of us can scuba dive for ourselves now. Plus trippers that go out in inflatables and haul our pots. Plus outsiders that sneak inshore instead of staying right out at sea. I dive more in a month than most sport divers do in a year, and I stick at it through the winter. We go into action on land or sea or underwater, like the Marines boast of except that we don't have to live off the taxpayer to do it. But when it comes to - ghosts - better you than me. Other places have had priests out making incense smoke and chanting texts at - that ship - but it did no good. We called others afraid for talking like that - until we saw it off the point in the evening three nights ago when some of us were hauling pots. It stank. One of its crew hailed us, but we weren't staying around to find what he wanted! How you four can keep on just walking up to ghosts, I'll never know.".

I had seen three local men in diving gear the previous evening: rough-looking men in efficient-looking work-and-action gear that solidly protected all the usual spots which are vulnerable in fighting. They looked about as safe as a great white shark for unwelcome outsiders to go near underwater or on land. They could do all local salvage and other underwater work that needs doing. They were no stranger to limpet-mining or assault-boarding outsiders' craft that endangered fishing or gear or try to take anything from local wrecks. They could 'see' and communicate underwater with their personal sonars far further than by eye through the usual low underwater visibility. Whether their actions were legal was irrelevant, for the local authority condoned them, reckoning that productive work comes before trading and finance and pleasure. We had to put up with seeing it while we were there; we are ghostbusters, not everything-else-busters, we four couldn't hope to do what all the pressure of all the sport diving clubs hadn't managed to do; we haven't the means to tell everybody else what to do. We four can all scuba dive; we have gone underwater after ghosts before now, but we don't get much time off for pleasure diving. And in the beginning our proton packs also were illegally unlicenced devices.

They set off in an (all too efficient and much done before) radio-coordinated search pattern, with one of us as PKE meter man in each of four of their boats. Helmets with visors kept their heads and faces far warmer and drier at sea than oilskin hoods or souwesters ever did, as well as being ready for any action that arose. Ray read PKE from a cove. As his boat was approaching it, one of its crew saw something, got a backpack sonar out from under gear, swept its gun part about in the water as if searching, found something, and said a few codewords into it. Those sonars could also be used to send modulated-ultrasound messages. "They'll find more than a yoho." he said.

"What's a yoho?" Ray asked.

"A thing that walks in fog. Scared the %$& out of men digging clams in the old days [usually for bait, when most fishing was by hook and line].".

The boat, following Ray's PKE reading, sailed into the cove, past some patches of rising bubbles from scuba divers, and grounded. Ray landed, and found and busted the ghost routinely; as the ghost trap's force field activated it, it looked like a native Red Indian who likely had drowned while canoe-fishing long before white men came; so ended the sad but now irrelevant tail end of a long forgotten petty tragedy.

He also saw two cars onshore, but said nothing about them when he got back on board. As they were setting out, he saw the FSPB rushing in. It slowed and settled as it retracted its hydrofoils, then, still at speed, sank bows first. There were clangs and bumps underwater, and the scuba divers' bubbles rapidly one by one all stopped. In the shallows the water swirled once as if something big was turning round underwater. A little later, as the FSPB resurfaced in the mouth of the cove and went out to sea, Ray again saw on its stern half-emerged the ominous bulge of a heavy-duty RD, and felt a moment of realization.

At about 11 a.m. Egon noticed another and much stronger PKE reading as his crew were hauling lobster pots in passing. With the inevitable bad language they abandoned the pot hauling and followed his directions. The source of the PKE was moving east at about 2 knots. Gradually they got nearer it, until they finally saw what looked like hull and masts and sails, glowing unnaturally. As they approached it, he saw that it was indeed a ghost of a sailing craft, one that he knew of. Fact and fiction mixed in a wave of unreality in his brain as the tidy partition between them broke down, for it was a craft that (except for film set reconstructions) had sailed no real-world sea but only the pages of fiction. It was the 'We're Here' of Gloucester in Massachusetts.

He remembered its name from the book 'Captains Courageous' by Rudyard Kipling and two films made of it. His boat's men, shivering in fright but comforted by seeing his proton pack and hearing him start it, stood off from the ghost ship at a distance while he radioed the other three of us to come. As his brain cleared, he remembered the usual mechanism that makes real ghost copies of the fictional. Somewhere, sometime, someone had got too obsessed with the characters and scenario too long near something ecto-active.

With our inboard motors we caught up with it easily, for it moved at sail speed. We surrounded it as the men with us tried however they could to withstand being that close to the supernatural. It stank of decaying fish. Ray, who still well remembered his boyhood fiction books, recognized the seven men and two boys who manned the shimmering craft. There were a Disko (the skipper), and a Dan (his son), and a Long Jack, and a Tom Platt, and a Manuel, and a black cook, and a Salters, and a Penn, and a Harvey, all semitransparent and palely shining, weary with long sailing and fishing without respite. There was also a tenth, who was not in the book and looked more solid. Like many past-life repeaters, they likely had at the start the will but not all the skill to live as they had in life; but they re-learned with time. All too easily he could imagine the crew searching the real world in vain for places and people from the stories; however often they haunted the real Gloucester, Disko and Dan never found his wife or their house, nor Wouverman and his wharf, nor even sites or memories of them; nor did the boy Harvey ever find his parents, but they had to sail again, and again, and search in desperation in other places, until wearied utterly of the sea, but had to sail yet again. In frustration they sometimes attacked things when ashore. Such happens when things are put where they do not belong.

"It's seen some action: half its front mast's missing." said Winston.

"It was made like that, with a stump foremast. A lot of those fishing schooners were." a fisherman corrected him, still sounding shuddery.

The extra man on the We're Here looked at our ghostbusting gear in wonder, and seemed to try to hail us, but Disko grabbed him hard by the left shoulder and ordered him back to duty, and he rejoined the others, one pale shape among ten.

As we surrounded the ship, it tried to sail away on all of its sails, but our boats easily kept up with it. Its crew tried to put boats out, from the nests of dories on its decks, but too late; with last-century eyes they looked bleakly at our boat motors as if wondering what ever could make effective 'ship steam engines' that small and not needing shovel stoking. We lay down and fired over our gunwales to avoid the cod-heads and ballast that they threw at us, as we encased ship and crew in a branching tangle of proton gun beams. Their sticks and Disko's revolver were ectoplasmic and useless, for they had not heard of us and never expected such an assault from the living. Disko gave orders in a thin ghost's voice. They started to concentrate their throwing at the men steering our boats, who however like all the men with us wore thick overalls and helmets with visors as important items of gear in case of trouble. Our boats dodged back and forth alongside the ghost ship until its crew ran low on non-ecto objects to throw. The extra movement added to the waves made aiming our proton guns harder. After eleven minutes of firing a big ballast stone kept till last made Winston's steersman duck and damaged his boat's wheel (they all had inboard motors), and they likely counted '1 down, 3 to go'; but a few seconds later the whole ecto-construct, ship and dories and crew, started to distort and collapse, and was quickly sucked in portions into our ghost traps which we held out at it tied to the ends of poles. The bust had proved easier then feared. The air felt cleaner, and we all saw each other with no ghost ship between us.

But the sea was not left quite empty. The We're Here's extra crew member was swimming in the eddy left. I unclipped a spare trap from my belt and threw it at him, and knelt on its pedal; he grabbed at it but did not vanish inside it. I aimed my proton gun at him, but he ducked under, and surfaced clinging to my boat's gunwale. As we all aimed at him, he frantically climbed onboard my boat and clutched my ankle. Something about the grip told me something dreadful. "Cease fire! He's not a ghost!" I shouted.

He stood up wearily, his clothes and skin shimmering, emitting PKE like a class 3 ghost, but yet a living man, of about 25 but weatherworn and looking much older after many years of sailing and deepsea fishing without cease. He wore ectoplasmic but fairly solid copies of old-style fishermen's oilskins over blue jersey and seaboots and souwester, now badly burnt with proton beams. We had to leave them on him till we got to shore, for we had no spare clothes with us. As he told me why he was there, the fishermen shuddered and some crossed themselves, for they had heard tales of men who had boarded ghost ships and were condemned to sail on them forever, first as living and then as ghosts.

"I'm James Middleton. I lived to Marblehead." he said in Disko's old-style New England fishermen's dialect that he had had to learn all too well, only gradually and thankfully returning to normal speech, "I couldn't go aout, 'cep' in the dark. I hev red bits to my skin. Ef I went aout in day, the light made my skin hurt. So I read books. We didn't hev many books. My mum an' dad wuz aout a lot, they had no other children."

"Porphyria again!" I realized. A curse as bad as werewolfism, worse for us because we can't bust it. That cursed genetic error giving a man's skin a useless mockery of plant photosynthesis, availing only to burn the skin. King George the 4th of England had it, and suffered severely the result of having to go out routinely by day with it, and history books tell what came of that.

James continued, sounding unreal at the ending of long dread: "The haouse felt creepy. They had 'Captains Courageous', that's a book wi' the We're Here and Disko an' so on in it. I kep' readin' it. I drew a lot o' drawin's o' the people in the story, an' some thet showed me with 'em. I wrote other stories 'baout 'em. I wished I could go aout like 'em, ef I only could. I wuz 10 then. That wuz 'baout 15 year ago. I could only go aout in the dark. Then one night when I walked daown to the harbour I saw the We're Here tied up there fer real.".

It was all too clear. He could go out only at night. His chief daytime mental consolation shut indoors was that one book, for he had no others to read. He got one-tracked on its scenario, endlessly drawing and writing about the characters and imagining and describing himself being with them. Normally that would have run its time and either faded away harmlessly or made work for a psychiatrist. But the house had something ecto in it; we would have to look for it later, unless we had already caught it: we had had busts in Marblehead before. That made his obsession into risky unintended invoking, gradually and unknowingly creating an ecto copy of his all too eagerly sought wishes. Ghost-stuff, feeding on his emotional radiation, had grown and accumulated until there was enough to 'get up and walk away', or that time to sail away. But things thus wished for by the inexperienced often go wrong. On that fateful night he had found it and boarded it, too eager to meet his too much hero-worshipped fictional characters to wonder how they had made the impossible jump from book page to reality. He had walked the glowing ectoplasmic deck - and never set foot on land or other craft again for 15 years.

"The fish always went bad an' they had to dump 'em. Their salt wuz no good. Everything stank. They never got proper salt." James said.

"I know. Ectoplasm won't preserve fish." Egon said.

"A few times I thought o' slippin' off in a dory, but 'twuz always too far to land or they wuz watchin' me too well. I got near other boats - livin' men's boats - twice, but they mistrusted I wuz one o' the ghosts an' cleared off: my skin's a'ready ha'af ghost, what wi' the stuff off 'em they rub on me so's I can handle their gear an' so's their clothes'll stay on me. An' I mistrusted the dory might break up ef 'twuz away from the We're Here an' its men too long: ghost stuff's funny." James said.

"Yes, it is." said Egon, who knew ecto-matter well by experience, and then to us: "There's so much ectoplasm in and around him that a bit more'd likely be enough for it to organize into a ghost possessing him. Lucky we got him now. He must have been emoting hard for a long time near a strong ecto-active focus to make by himself an ecto-construct that big and strong. He was trapped for 15 years onboard his own creation.".

"Nothin' but work an' bein' yelled at, and bein' knocked 'baout till I was big 'nuff to fight back, and hevin' to run to everything, an' they never let me ashore. No-one alive to talk to ever. While I was with 'em, the sun didn't make my skin hurt. Naow - I mean 'now' - it's startin' again." James said.

"I'll send him one of my porphyria suits." said Egon.

It was a pity in a way. If they could have been persuaded to accept the living as fellows, they could have, in old times, even as ghosts, have been a useful part of the deepsea fishing community there. But now there is no use for hook and line fishing schooners, and no bulk supply system for salt for fishing boats, and no bulk market for salt fish in these days of freezers.

"What happened here?" I asked him about scars round his wrists.

"They're from 'gurry sores'." James said. "From wet oilskins rubbin', and fish an' salt gittin' in. They said it means I'm a 'blooded Banker', thet's a man thet fishes the Grand Banks, not a money banker. Thank you for getting me off thet boat. I just went on it and I was stuck working with nine ghosts for 15 years. I still can't believe it, that dirty boat and its crew's gone and I'm off it at last. What are your guns? Real ray guns like in space stories? No! ...".

"Feel us. We aren't ghosts copied from some space story." Egon interrupted, "These guns are real. I invented them.".

"That's not so easy. With what they did to my skin all over me, ghost stuff feels as solid as proper stuff." James said, but after feeling us and our kit for nearly two minutes seemed convinced and very relieved. We and he all got into one boat, leaving the rest to carry on fishing - and patrolling. The boat floated deep and crowded with the extra load, and we had to lie on top of each other like caught fish to cut down the top-heaviness. As we were about to leave the place, the FSPB, which had been watching, approached and asked us what had happened, and we replied. A hissing of air or gas in its workings stopped. There was a clanging scrape of something of thickish hollow metal being pushed astern into its RD bulge and then being ground up. Its pilot did not come out but talked through a speaker - if it had or needed a human pilot at all, with recent developments in intelligent computers (it gave no PKE reading). It extended a flexible pipe and refuelled our four boats, then left. We also left.

We got back to harbour safely, and James walked wonderingly on land, in a sailor's rolling gait, dripping wet and still shimmering eerily. In the harbour office we gave him his first meal of decent food for a very long time, since the ghost crew knew little about cooking for the living. With the most thankful good-riddance I have ever heard he took off his ectoplasmic outer clothes and 15-years-old underclothes. A ghost trap took what it could. The vanished into the harbour's onshore RD - all too efficient a device, which routinely tracelessly consumed seized unauthorized shellfish-poaching sport divers' gear, cylinders and all despite the high-pressure air in them, as well as all local rubbish; I realized what the FSPB had been emptying and grinding up as it met us at sea. We went all over him with open ghost traps to remove the heavy ecto contamination which the ghost crew had put in his skin and hair so that he could handle the ship's ecto-matter gear. After his first warm bath for 15 years, he was given new clothes; they had the sense not to dress him fisherman fashion. We treated a new 'gurry sore' and a few proton beam burns that he had. He had no proof of identity except his fingerprints, which would not be on file. Someone opened the back of the RD and took out of its back big bins of neatly separated metal oxides, which gave no clue to what they had been parts of. We found a cafe open and bought a meal. The cafe had not heard of a West Pier Pizza, and I had to list its ingredients. The FSPB came in and docked; someone opened its access hatch and put empty RD bins inside it somewhere and took full ones out - what had their contents been parts of?

As we went out, three scuba divers in a RIB (= rigid inflatable boat) docked - heavily built local men in Kevlar-reinforced drysuits, rebreathers in backpack boxes, hard safety helmets and rounded fullface masks, and shoulder badges. They had bags of shellfish on them, presumably as authorized by local rules. One of them also had a power-sonar with its backpack strapped to his chest. Egon's PKE meter when reset gave a 'non-ecto matter computer running' reading at them: likely their breathing sets were computerized mixture rebreathers, all too silent and bubbleless as well as long duration not decreasing with depth. The inflatable disagreed with previously stated local contempt for inflatables as "good only for trippers to mess about in, except the inshore rescue boat, and that spends most of its time rescuing careless trippers", except that it had odd-looking mounted gear down its midline, and what looked like auxiliary electric motors on an arm mounted across its bow. The man with the sonar had the 'diverbuster' symbol on armbands. Another dangerous-looking bunch probably with tales to tell of many 'antipoacher' actions against superior numbers both here and seconded to other inshore fishing areas round here, if they would. But they backed away from our ghost traps when we told them what we had caught. The sun had nearly set.

"It's a subskimmer." Ray said to me, "I read about them. They were made at Hexham in England, and later in France. We made this one here. They can deflate and reinflate as they go, and transform into a submerged diver-rider and back. Handy for patrolling as well as for work.".

Great, something else to look out for if I ever want to explore the seabed in a spare moment. The people here have their own views about outsiders crowding in until they have to put the shutters up. Also in the harbour, having docked at night, was a submersible craft about 60 feet long with at its front end a long flexible arm like a long-reach excavator's. Some sort of conveyor in a flexible distendable cover ran along this arm's underside from the back of the clamshell grab into the front of the hull; it had oversized bow and stern sonar blisters, and certainly a high-capacity onboard RD. It was intended for dredging, but from tales that I had heard I wouldn't like to meet that underwater either.

After the expected arguing and allegations of poor prices at the fish markets, the harbourmaster paid our bill. Four of the traps were very full, but could be safely let wait for a day or two. We took James to Marblehead on our way home. His old parents still lived in his house. They recognised him. There was no PKE reading in the house; it was one we had cleaned out before. They listened with wonder and dread to his tale and ours, and gave us dinner. We wondered what job prospects James had now, with schooling interrupted at 10, and after that nothing but 15 years as an old-style hook and line and dory deepsea fisherman when there is no living now for those skills; and having to go about in a porphyria suit looking like a spaceman. Could he make up his missed schooling and exam passes now 15 years late? Would he have to be a fisherman after all, after finding nothing else that he had the skill for? He still emitted a little PKE, but it faded away with time. We slept in the Ecto-1 and went back to our base in the morning, and emptied the traps, expecting the inevitable newspaper headlines, in which James's story would certainly push a routine traceless group scuba diver disappearance onto inside pages or out of the papers except in diving magazines. Our containment was satisfyingly final to us as it swallowed the ghost ship and its crew that had scared an area and held a living man captive for 15 years and distorted his life. I reflected that the modern inshore fishermen that I had been among likely thought much the same of their FSPB.