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 door.

"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 answered irritably:

/"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."

/"Poltergeist?"/

"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 his belt.

"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 infrared light.

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 three!"

/"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/

"COME ON!"

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 alive?

"We have a problem," he announced, reaching down to pick up the laser gun.

"AHHHHHH!"

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....

"ARRRGGGGGHHHHH!"