Stepping into the now familiar building left the Ghostbusters shivering from the unexpected cold that greeted them. They exchanged a look, not knowing what lay ahead.
It turns out, they needn’t have wondered much. As soon as they made it to the open space, they saw the 10 to 15 ghosts in question, all gathered around what seemed like a throne. The ghost of a regal looking woman was sprawled on it.
“Welcome” she said coldly, causing a shiver to run down Erin’s spine. “We were waiting for you”.
The four women looked at each other again. What was going on?
“Come forth,” the one on the throne motioned for them to join her and her dead buddies. Upon closer inspection, the Ghostbusters noticed that they were all female ghosts.
“Well, we can’t come fifth when there’s only four of us” muttered Holtzmann under her breath. This encouraged the team and they made it slowly towards the gathering of ghosts.
“Unless one of us is pregnant… Erin why didn’t you tell me?” Holtzmann continued and dramatically gasped at Erin.
“What?” she looked at her wide-eyed, “Now’s not the best time, Holtz”
“I call dibs on naming it…” she mumbled, looking down at her feet as she walked. The stares those ghosts were sending their way were making her feel very uneasy.
“Samantha-Jerrika if it’s a girl… maybe Ivan for a boy…”
They had reached the circle the ghosts had made for them in front of the throne. Which was nothing more than crates stashed upon each other. Creative.
They had yet to be attacked, so the four women were compelled to at least listen to what the boss-ladyghost had to say to them.
“We are the Concerned for Society Women Association, or the CSWA” she began dramatically, expecting probably some recognition. Instead she received two questioning looks, one blank stare from Holtzmann and just one (1) dawning in Patty’s eyes. “Damn,” she said quietly. Her friends looked at her. She shook her head and turned to look at the woman on the throne, who was now floating above it.
“We have been active since 1972, fighting for the righteous values of society against those who aim to destroy them”.
Patty snorted and said, “One way to say it. Or, you’ve been bothering people from minorities for 4 decades” she turned to Erin, Abby and Holtzmann and explained to them “They were a bunch of Nazis, going after black people, then gay people… Something like the white-woman version of the Westboro Baptist Church. And you what,” now she was speaking to the woman in charge, “you decided to come back from the dead to haunt modern-day gay folks? Ya nasty!”
“Correct. We are continuing with our purpose to cleanse the youth of their abominable habits. And you four have been an inconvenience. We can’t let that happen.”
As she said that a ghost dropped a crate right behind Erin, causing her to jump forward. Other two ghosts dropped a metal cage, trapping Abby, Holtzmann and Patty. They tried shooting at the ghosts but the cage was made to mess with their technology of ionization and the guns were useless inside it.
“We spent the time studying you and thanks to our little friend” she nodded at Holtzmann, who tensed up and glared at her, “and we discovered that this one”- she pointed at Erin- “is the most suitable for our cause. She will lead us in our second march against the heresy in our society!”
Erin was still very confused. Was this woman for real? (Well ghosts are real, but that is beside the question) And what did she mean by having Erin lead them? What were they going to do?
Before having the opportunity to ponder over these questions, she felt ropes being circled around her wrists and ankles. She found herself strapped to the crates. God, it was so uncomfortable.
Her head snapped up to see the chief Nazi leering at her. Then she glanced at her friends in the cage. They were all equally perplexed about what was going to happen to them. Abby and Patty looked worried, whereas Holtzmann’s face wore a huge frown. Erin knew this meant she was thinking.
One of the ghosts (who looked frighteningly much like her mother) came forward, carrying a metal contraption, the purpose of which Erin couldn’t deduce right away.
“What- what’s that?”
“Oh you see,” the woman in charge replied, “we need your body, but not your mind so… we need to only kill you a little bit, so that we can use you.”
Now that, coming from a ghost, looking like a suburban housewife called Megan, or Rachel, or Allison, wasn’t really threatening. Erin had faced much worse in terms of ghosts and in real life.
So she was surprised when the woman with the metal device produced two metal rods and touched Erin’s temples with them. Suddenly she was overwhelmed by a sharp, hot pain, which immediately made her feel like she didn’t have legs. And arms, consecutively. From somewhere far, far away she could hear Abby scream. It sounded like someone was rattling the bars of the cage. Then the voice of Megan (or Rachel, or Allison) said “Don’t worry, it will just fry her brain, nothing more serious”.
Erin forced herself to look towards her friends. If she was going to die, she wanted their faces to be the last thing she would see. First she saw Patty, who looked furious and like she probably could bend the metal of the cage just with the force of her fury. Erin would remember her for her fierceness, her unshakable faith in the value of the human life. Also her jokes and references. Patty might have always denied it, but she was a huge nerd, probably the biggest one of them. This is what made her belong to the team. However, she could balance their obsession with science with her very own passion for the humanitarian, thus reminding them that sometimes atoms and numbers weren’t everything in life.
Erin then proceeded to look at Abby. Abby, who was there for her when no one else was. Who was her backbone for so long. Abby, whose absence left a huge hole in her soul, one that she just couldn’t fill with the satisfaction of solving equations and developing theories. Abby, who understood her like no other human being ever did. She was the sister Erin never realized she had.
And finally, her eyes landed on Holtzmann. She was brilliant, from the unique way her mind came up with ideas and innuendos, to the way her body moved to the rhythm of her favourite songs. The world had tried to harden her but she was still very soft. She had a very pure soul, Erin thought. And an angelic face. She wanted to be able to reach out and touch it one last time before she went. Maybe this would be her only regret in life- not having kissed Holtzmann. Not having told her how amazing she was and how much she changed Erin’s life for the better.
With this thought Erin passed out from the pain. The last thing she saw before her eyes closed was Holtzmann’s piercing blue eyes telling her to hold on, that she loved her, that it was going to be alright.
What frightened Holtzmann the most was not that they had tied Erin and stuck metal rods to fry her brain and kill her. What frightened her the most was that look Erin got when she looked at them, when she looked at her. It was so hauntingly peaceful, as if she had given up.
But Holtzmann hadn’t.
She had taken out her pliers from her pocket and was trying not to alert the ghosts of her progress. She had torn through enough knots to allow them to push through the cage. Really, those ghosts had underestimated them and were now going to pay for it. Holtzmann was personally offended.
She stuck her hand in her pocket, grasping the handle of her nano proton gun. The contact with the cool metal calmed her a little bit and made her remember she wasn’t alone in this. She came from behind to where Abby and Patty were rattling their wall of the cage, shouting insults and threats at the Crazy Spectral Women Association.
“Square root of 36, 25…” she started, hoping they or at least Abby would get the hint. At 9 she did and discreetly elbowed Patty in the ribs.
“4, 1 and kaboom” Holtzmann shouted the last word and threw herself through the hole she had made. She whipped out her gun and started shooting at random at the ghosts. They managed to regroup however and started throwing crates at them. Holtzmann ducked and dodged and made her way towards the throne, where Erin now lay unconscious. Yeah, just unconscious.
At some point Abby and Patty had regained their footing. The ghosts concentrated on them, making it easier for Holtzmann to reach Erin.
Once she did, she dropped to her knees and took out the metal rods away from Erin’s head. For good measure she also kicked the device. Holtzmann discovered with a nasty shock that its technology was quite similar to her own design. She kicked it again (harder) and this time it keeled over. She would have laughed at how pathetic it flopped, if the situation wasn’t as dire.
Holtzmann scooped Erin in her arms and checked her pulse. It was there. She sighed with relief. Which was momentary, because she realized she didn’t know what to do. Suddenly the sound from the fight behind her was blocked and all Holtzmann could hear was her own erratic breathing. She didn’t know what to do, Erin could be dying, she didn’t know what to do…
A single gasp prevented her from having a full-on panic attack. Erin was coughing in her arms. Holtzmann gently lifted her head so that she could breathe more easily.
“Hey Romeo,” she said with a sad smile, “where’d you go?”
From somewhere far, far away they heard Abby shouting “keep her conscious, Holtz, I‘m calling 911!”
“Hey Erin” Holtzmann started gently, “I remember everything you said to me”
This got Erin’s attention and she strained to listen.
“And I gotta say, Gilbert, or should I say Erin with an “E”, you are everything I want. And I appreciate the compliments to my eyes or my physique”. Holtzmann heard sirens faintly in the distance.
“Erin, did you really think I was going to let you die? That any of us were?”
“Uhmm uhmm” Erin tried to speak but she couldn’t. However Holtzmann could see the answer in her eyes. So she cupped Erin’s cheeks, leaned down and did the only sensible thing she could think off- kiss the tip of Erin’s nose. “I will never let you go, Erin” she whispered softly.
Erin lost consciousness again by the time the paramedics arrived.
“So we basically got played by a bunch of homophobes” Erin concluded finally.
They were sitting on a blanket in Central Park, chilling in the shade. Erin had made a full recovery, though apparently the waves they were trying to kill her with had left with an almost constant headache.
She shook her head. She couldn’t believe it.
“But why did they pick me?” asked Erin.
“Maybe because they sensed you were the gayest one of us” said Holtzmann, who had just returned with four ice-cream cones. She passed one to Patty and Abby each and then sat practically on Erin’s lap.
“Thank you” said Erin as she accepted the ice-cream. She held it with one hand and put the other one on Holtzmann’s waist. She hesitated slightly but then decided that oh well, life’s too short anyway. She leaned in and kissed her cheek softly. Holtzmann stopped licking her ice-cream and stared at her.
Erin felt her heart speeding up under the intensity of that gaze. Holtzmann smirked and moved her face closer to Erin’s.
The world suddenly disappeared for Erin. As if the sun wasn’t there to warm their backs, as if the birds weren’t chirping merrily. As if even Abby and Patty weren’t there. She closed her eyes and opened her mouth slightly in anticipation.
And sure enough, Holtzmann’s soft pink lips were on her own, pressing lightly. Erin felt her insides clench and warmth spread through her chest. She kissed Holtzmann back and her head got so light that not only did the constant headache evaporate, but also she felt as if she was floating through space. It was amazing.
Erin’s eyes were still half-closed when they separated. So she almost missed Holtzmann licking half of her ice-cream off her cone. When she felt her warm tongue on her hand however, chasing after droplets of melting ice-cream, Erin opened her eyes fully and tried to glare at Holtzmann.
Her attempt probably sucked because Holtzmann just grinned at her and flicked Erin’s nose with her ice-cream. Seeing her so happy, so like herself, Erin couldn’t help but smile herself. Then she grabbed Holtzmann’s hand and brought it up to smear her face as a punishment.
It turns out that all it takes to be happy is having a dorky girlfriend and two loyal friends who pretend nothing’s happening. Also a cute receptionist and now an assistant (in the face of Natasha) who were playing with Mike Hat ten meters away from them also helped.
All in all, Erin thought, if all her time spent in reading and doing calculations, kissing ass and busting ghosts had culminated to this moment in her life, it was so worth it.