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Backfired: New York City, 1991

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Author's Note: The 365 Project is an experimental project to write and post at least one short every day for the next year, not including my semi-regular bi-weekly updates. Whether or not that goal can be reached, we'll see... This is The 365 Project, 13 January.

Disclaimer: "The Real Ghostbusters" and "Extreme Ghostbusters" are the creation and property of Harold Ramis, Dan Ackroyd, etc. and are used for entertainment purposes without permission or intent to profit.

A 'Five Years' side-story. The ending of an era. What brought about the end of the original Ghostbusters and why does Egon carry such guilt over it?

-o0O0o-

"A Lot Can Happen in Five Years
'Backfired: New York City, 1991'
By J.T. Magnus, 'Turbo'

-o0O0o-

Ghostbusters Headquarters
'The Firehouse'
Manhattan Island, New York City
1997

He had lied to his students, he didn't just stay at the Firehouse to maintain the Containment Unit; he stayed as penance, every day in the empty building a reminder of his presumption and resulting mistake. His logic had been sound, but he had forgotten to take the human element into account for his equations.

Doctor Egon Spengler ran his fingers across the outside of the Containment Unit, remembering how it had gotten every pit and ding in its casing from incidents throughout the years, remember how he had lost what he had been trying to save.

-o0o-

Ghostbusters Headquarters
'The Firehouse'
Manhattan Island, New York City
1991

Doctor Pete Venkman slammed his hands palms-flat on the table, "I'm telling you guys, it's the perfect opportunity for expansion; we're a household name again, recruits will be lining up no matter where we open."

Winston Zeddemore, whose Doctorate in Ancient History was still less than two years old, sighed, "We've been over this, Pete; just because Rookie's going solo down south doesn't mean we should all go out on our own for a while. It'd be just our luck to do that and everything go quiet."

"You've got a point about things maybe getting quiet, Winston," Doctor Ray Stantz countered, "But Peter also has a point; I mean, think of the supernatural hotspots we could study. Rookie's already planning to open up in New Orleans, but there's still Chicago, Boston, San Francisco, Saint Augustine, Savannah."

"Hey, I'm always up for sunny Florida," Venkman jumped in with a shrug.

"But think about the costs, Venkman... Facilities, equipment, training new recruits," Winston had been ticking them off on his fingers and here he shook his head, "We're lucky Rookie picked up the job as fast as he did, we can't be sure lightning will strike twice with someone else. What do you think, Egon?"

Egon looked up from his computer, "Technically, the ionisation of the atmosphere from a lightning strike creates a pathway for subsequent lightning to follow - it's actually quite common for lightning to strike the same area repeatedly."

"I meant about this whole 'franchise', 'corporate store', going global idea that Pete's got," Winston reminded him.

"Well," Egon replied, "While the theory is sound and it is proper scientific practice to get a sampling of data from a larger area after an initial smaller sampling prove valuable, I agree that we're not in a position to expand at the moment. Among other reasons, supplying four additional locations including New Orleans with Containment Units, as well as creating proton packs to equip at least fifteen to twenty new recruits would strain our resources to a dangerous point."

"Two and two," Ray commented, "I guess we go to the tie-breaker."

Winston nodded, "I guess we do."

"Yep," Venkman agreed, getting up from the table and walking over to the hole where the pole led downstairs, "Janine!"

"Whattaya want?" the Brooklyn-native's voice came back upstairs.

"How would you feel about being the Chief of Operations for a large multi-franchise Ghostbusting conglomerate?" Venkman asked through the hole, causing the other three to exchange a look.

"How about not?" Janine called back, "I already said I'm not shleping out to Jersey, Westchester, Long Island or anywhere else when some idiot can't figure out how to work the coffee machine!"

"That's a no," Ray commented, looking at Winston and nodding.

Winston nodded back, "That's a no."

-o0o-

Ghostbusters Headquarters
'The Firehouse'
Manhattan Island, New York City
1991

"Venkman!" Winston shouted loud enough to echo in the Firehouse as he stormed in through the front door and across the garage floor, "What is this supposed to be?"

Winston's shout had summoned Ray from upstairs making a list of new books on the paranormal and supernatural that they needed and Egon from the basement where he had been working on the Containment Unit and they both reached the ground floor at roughly the same time; the same time that Winston slapped the newspaper he was carrying down onto Janine's desk. Ray and Egon exchanged a look before they walked over and looked down at the newspaper. Since the last member of their team was taking their time, the two of them saw fit to repeat the request for his presence.

"Peter!"

"Venkman!"

Wincing and rolling her eyes at the shouting, Janine turned the paper around and smoothed it out so that she could read the ad that Winston had circled; it had their 'no ghosts' symbol and phone number, and underneath it in bold font it had printed 'Start your own Ghostbusters! Franchises now available.'

"Venkman!" Janine shouted

Finally, Venkman came out from the back area of the ground floor, stretching his arms and smacking his lips, "What is it, you guys? I was having this wonderful dream involving hunting ghosts in Hawaii; Dana was wearing nothing but a proton pack and a bikini - I never thought the packs could look so good, really."

"What is this supposed to be?" Winston repeated, tapping the ad, "I thought we voted 'no', three to two."

"I know we had a preliminary no," Venkman answered, "But I thought we should at least see what kind of interest there'd be in the idea before we committed ourselves to a firm no or anything."

The glares from Egon, Janine and Winston indicated that might not have been the best answer.

"How much did this ad of yours cost us, Peter?" Winston wanted to know.

"Oh, you know..." Peter drew out.

"How much, Peter?" Egon repeated the question.

"Well, size, color, how long for it to run," Peter then got to the point, "About two."

"Two hundred bucks?" Ray was stunned.

"No, two thousand including the full-color, full-page ad for the Sunday paper," Peter answered.

"You spent two grand on newspaper ads for something we didn't want to do? Peter!" Winston was fuming at this point, "I can't believe you did this!"

"I'm disappointed in you, Peter," Egon adjusted his glasses, "This will reflect badly on us if anyone does call regarding the advertisment and has to be informed that it was printed in error and there are no franchises."

"I don't know you guys," Ray said in a concilatory tone, "I don't like the fact that Peter went behind out backs to take out these ads, but since it's being advertised anyway, we might as well go for it."

"Aw, no, no, no, no, no," Winston was waving his hands with each repetition of the word, "We're not going to 'go for it'. I'm definitely not going to 'go for it'. If we 'go for it' this time, what happens next time we decide against something that Peter wants? He does it behind our backs again and do we 'go for it' that time too? Where would it stop, huh?"

-o0o-

Ghostbusters Headquarters
'The Firehouse'
Manhattan Island, New York City
1992

The last few months had been the worst in Ghostbusters history; even worse than the period of time in which the city of New York had banned all paranormal investigation and ghostbusting activity. At least then, they had each other to turn to through it all. Ever since the advertisment incident, there had been clear lines of demarcation within the team; Egon himself had always been a little detached, but Venkman and Winston were almost at each others throats at times and it seemed as though Ray was never quite sure whether to play peacemaker or take sides - and even then, whose side to take. If something wasn't done soon, the damage to the group would be irreparable, so Egon had reached a logical conclusion; to resolve a conflict, remove the source of the conflict. Following on from that conclusion, Egon had gone down to City Hall earlier that day and canceled the business license for 'Ghostbusters Incorporated'. As far as he could see, nothing would have to change; they would still be able to help people and investigate the paranormal, they simply would no longer do so as a business entity. No business, no need for franchises or investments or anything of that sort, meaning none of the resulting conflict. As soon as he made the announcement over dinner, he discovered that his conclusion was erroneous.

"What? I can't believe this, Egon!" Winston snapped, "I thought we just dealt with one of us going behind everyone else's back and now you go and do this?"

"Let's see, you were 'disappointed' in me for not telling anyone about the ads," Peter pointed out, "Now you've gone and done something that affects the rest of us without telling anyone... you know what that makes you, Egon? A hypocrite. What, is this revenge? You didn't like the idea of franchising from the beginning, so now you've gone and made sure it can't happen?"

Ray just shook his head and stood up from the table, headed for the bedroom.

"Yeah, me too," Peter pushed his chair back, "I guess I better go start job-hunting since none of us have one anymore."

-o0o-

The Firehouse
Manhattan Island, New York City
1992

Less than a month later, there were only two men left at what had once been Ghostbusters Headquarters and one of them was about to leave, but he had one thing left to do.

"I mean, I don't like it, but I can kinda understand why you did it, Egon," Ray held out an envelope to his former teammate, "Here, it's the deed to the Firehouse. You keep it. All it needs is your signature and you can file it down at City Hall. I can't see you leaving the place or the Containment Unit anyway, so you might as well have it."

-o0o-

Ghostbusters Headquarters
'The Firehouse'
Manhattan Island, New York City
1997

Egon turned away from the Containment Unit and walked up the stairs back to the ground floor, making sure to close the door behind him. Now, at least, he had a new way to pay