The crumbling towers of the old, abandoned, dilapidated castle were
shrouded in mist as they reached desperately towards the inky heavens;
while the oak trees stretched their gnarled fingers over the twisting
pathway, casting eerie shadows beneath the thick blanket of fog.
Jackson stood shivering in the arched doorway, his breath rising in pale
clouds before him. The small, black, electronic device clipped to his belt
emitted a steady rhythm as he passed the detector over the ancient oak
"There's no ectoplasmic radiation here," he muttered, "Are you sure the
scanners aren't on the blink again?"
There was a faint hiss of static from his earpiece, then a woman's voice
/"That's what you said last time, and look what happened!"/
"I keep telling you," Jackson sighed, "That poltergeist materialised after
I checked the place out."
/"That's not what the Tech team say; they reported readings from the
Ectoplasmic Scanners three weeks before you were sent to sort it out."/
"Maybe the scanners aren't working properly."
/"Jackson, it's your brain that isn't functioning properly, not the
scanners!" the disembodied voice snapped, "Just do your job before I find
someone else to do it for you!"/
"Ok, ok; keep your hair on. I'm going in!" Jackson lifted the key attached
by a chain to his belt, turned it in the lock and turned the handle.
The old hinges groaned in protest as the heavy door swung open for the
first time in over fifty years and a cloud of dust and debris rained from
the poorly maintained ceiling. Jackson reached up and tapped a button on
his helmet; immediately a strong beam of light illuminated the hallway and
he could make out the spiralling staircase on his left and the many doors
leading to various parts of the castle.
"Still no reading," he said, waving the detector around in the air in front
of him, "There's nothing here but the rats!"
/"Maybe the radiation from the ectoplasm is too faint for the detector to
pick up. Try the goggles."/
Jackson clipped the detector to his belt, reached up to his helmet again
and flipped down the Ectoplasm Detection Goggles, or "Ecs Specs", as they
were better known. These could be altered to pick up radiation readings
from ectoplasm to faint to be picked up by normal scanners. He switched
them on and immediately the hallway turned red.
"Detection frequency two; no reading."
/"Switch up to three."/
"Detection frequency three; still no reading." Jackson replied, twiddling
the knob on the goggles. "Switching to four.. Yes! We have a winner!"
Faint blobs of white had appeared on the banister rails, on the door
handles and in intervals across the floor, as if someone had stepped in a
can of paint and walked through the dusty hallway.
/"Is it old?"/
"Fairly fresh; it's on the door handles, so it's not a ghost."
"Too faint...." Jackson pulled on a pair of rubber gloves and rubbed his
fingers over the ectoplasm on one of the door handles. It wasn't ice-cold,
like it usually was, but strangely warm. "I've never seen anything like
this before; it must be a new species."
/"Bring some of it back for testing."/
Jackson wiped his fingers on a wad of cotton wool, pushed the cotton wool
into a test tube, sealed it, and then placed the test tube in a holder on
"Should I look around, see if I can find anything else?"
/"You'd better; but be careful."/
He pulled the laser gun from its holster, switched it on and started to
climb the crumbling staircase slowly. Funny how poltergeists and ghosts
weren't affected by normal weapons, but disintegrated when exposed to
Suddenly something moved ahead of him. He stopped and switched the Ecs
Specs up to frequency five. The image in the goggles momentarily faded into
lines of static, then sharpened to show the pale white figure standing by
the window on the floor above Jackson. Then suddenly, without warning it
opened its mouth, spat luminescent balls of what looked like a form of
ectoplasm at him and shot into the air. Jackson staggered as the balls hit
him and grabbed the railings for support. Unfortunately they had rotted
over the years and snapped under his weight. The spirit bore down on him as
he fell, reaching out with icy fingers for his throat.
Jackson landed, rather luckily, on an old couch on the ground floor, caught
his breath and fired the laser at the creature. It staggered and screeched
in pain, shattering the windows. Jackson ducked and covered his ears as
glass exploded inwards from the window frames.
/"Jackson! What's going on?"/
"We've got a sylph-banshee hybrid by the looks of things!" He shouted back.
/"Switch the UV power up to seven; that should stop it long enough for the
backup team to get there."/
"Are you crazy? The UV takes ages to power up once you turn it up past
/"Just do it!"/ The earpiece buzzed then fell silent. Jackson knew he was
on his own.
"Thanks a lot Marie!" he muttered, ducking down behind the couch, turning
off the torch and switching the UV gun's power up to seven. A small screen
lit up, and in the faint moonlight that filtered in through the broken
windows he could just make out the words:
/POWER UP 10% CLEAR/
"Come on, come on!" he hissed, slamming the gun against his palm in a vain
attempt to speed it up. The creature was recovering rapidly.
/POWER UP 50% CLEAR/
It was drawing breath again now; it would find him soon and he had no way
to defend himself while the laser was powering up.
/POWER UP 90% CLEAR/
"Yes.yes; come on!"
/POWER UP 97% CLEAR/
The creature leaped at him at the same moment as the power up completed.
Jackson rolled out of the way of the hybrid's attack, spun around and
fired. The creature stopped, completely paralysed for a few seconds, then
it exploded, showering the hallway, and Jackson, in ectoplasm.
"I have got to find a normal job!" he muttered, flipping the goggles out of
his eyes and tossing down the laser gun as the promised backup team
arrived. "You lot took your time; I thought you fancy new vehicles were the
fastest ever developed?"
One of the backup team, a man in his mid thirties with dark hair already
flecked with grey, rolled his eyes at his companion.
"Give it a rest Jackson; we got here as soon as we could. You don't seem to
need our help now anyway."
Jackson looked behind him at the ectoplasm-spattered hallway and, slowly,
his jaw dropped open in surprise and horror. Sylphs and Banshees were
resistant to infrared light; the most the laser should have been able to do
was temporarily paralyse the hybrid.. so what had happened? Was it still
"We have a problem," he announced, reaching down to pick up the laser gun.
Jackson froze and looked behind him through the corners of his eyes. The
younger backup was staggering back into the doorframe, clawing at his eyes
and screaming in agony.
"Get it off me!" he yelled, throwing his arms up in a vain attempt to
protect his face, "Get it off....." suddenly he gasped and swiped at
something near his throat, his face turned blue and he levitated a few feet
off the ground.
Jackson stood up, turned and flipped down the Ecs Specs. A pale form
appeared in front of the young boy, a vaguely human like creature that had
its fingers wrapped around the lads' throat.
"Marie!" Jackson yelled, "Come in Marie, we have a situation. Marie!" there
was no response from the earpiece. Jackson swore loudly and backed away,
almost tripping over the second backup, who was lying motionless in a shaft
of moonlight pouring in through the shattered window. His eyes were oddly
glassy and his face was frozen in an expression of absolute terror.
"Damn it!" Jackson cried, desperately fiddling with the dial of his
earpiece as the creature dropped the backup, turned to him and....