"After Lenny gets through with us, do you think you could do me a favor?"
"That would depend on the nature of the favor."
"Do something about your daughter's suspension, would you?"
"As much as I sympathize, Peter, I'm not going to make any kind of mechanical upgrades to Ecto until we've figured out what's going on and Manhattan is back to normal. I just don't think it's a good idea."
"That's what I was afraid you'd say. Man, I never wanna see another cobblestone again as long as I live."
"That makes two of us."
"Three," said Winston. "Definitely three. How about you, Egon?"
"I never liked them in the first place."
"Okay then, it's settled. The next time one of us sees Santa Claus, we ask him for an asphalt spreader." Venkman glanced up at the doors ahead. "Here goes nothing, guys. Hey! Lenny!"
If the Mayor heard his name being called as the Ghostbusters strode in, he didn't notice it. He had good reason. No one, no matter how seasoned a politician they are, can be expected to hear another voice added to the cacophony of virtually all the bureaucrats in Manhattan.
"-stockbrokers threatening to riot, your Honor, it's not a pretty sight-"
"The Helmsley Organization wants to know where the Empire State Building's gone, everybody wants to know-"
"We've still got the Brooklyn and Williamsburg bridges, but Triborough, Manhattan, and Queensborough are only about half there, and don't even get me started on the tunnels-"
"At least the Diamond District's quiet, but I don't know what that's going to be like tomorrow-"
"-iron lungs, your Honor! In every hospital on the island!"
"Ah, you're here," the Mayor suddenly said, and the rest of the room went quiet. "I've been waiting for- great googly moogly!"
"You know, that's starting to get old really fast," said Peter irritably. "You'd think nobody else in the city woke up this morning looking like a walrus."
"Not on that scale, no," said the Mayor. "Not that that matters right now. Do any of you gentlemen have any idea what's going on? Beyond the obvious, I mean."
Venkman looked over his shoulder at Ray and Egon; Ray and Egon looked at each other. Winston shook his head. With a sigh, Venkman turned back to the Mayor, but before he could speak the Mayor scowled. "That's about what I figured. Nobody has any idea. Nobody."
"You asked other people before us? Lenny, I'm hurt."
"You sure took your sweet time getting here," the Mayor shot back. "All right, you guys, here's the deal. Someone, I don't know who and I don't know how, has turned the clock back to 1905. I dunno if it's ghosts or magic or, or space aliens, or what, but this is the kind of weird crap we pay you and the Spook Squad to handle. Find out what's going on and get it fixed."
A dark-haired man with a pointed beard and a mustache that curled up at the ends, dressed in a spectacularly formal suit complete with vest, morning coat, and a shirt-collar that stopped just shy of his jaw, cleared his throat. The Mayor nodded towards him and said, "The Chairman of the NYSE wants me to remind you that there's a deadline on this. Get it fixed before the market opens on- what day of the week is it, again?"
"Tuesday, your Honor."
"Right. Washington's Birthday this week. Okay, get the island back to normal before the market opens on Tuesday, or your asses are grass."
"That's it?" said Venkman. "That's all?"
"Well, since we're on the subject, I've got a telegram here-" The Mayor grimaced. "A freaking telegram. Jesus Christ, it's 2008. . . anyway, I've got a telegram here from Governor Hundred's office saying he's called for the National Guard. Nobody's allowed to leave the island, just in case this- whatever it is- is contagious."
"Huh boy," said Venkman. "What else? There's always something."
The Mayor cocked an eyebrow at that. "I was getting to that. Dr. Frieden here tells me people're remembering things they didn't know they knew how to do, like work these cockamamy telephones and drive the cars when they couldn't even drive stick yesterday."
"My next-door neighbor woke up this morning half-convinced that he was supposed to report to his sportswriting job at the New York Gazette," said Dr. Frieden. "He's a television news anchor. And the Gazette went out of business in 1936."
Ray risked a glance over at Egon, whose expression had gone very worried indeed.
"These half-assed memories're about the only reason the city's still running. The MTA shut down all the subways as soon as it happened, but we're gonna have to open them up sooner or later. I don't wanna have a million and a half people relying on 'sort of' knowing how to deal with things. Find out what's going on and get it fixed, capisce?"
"Yessir," said Venkman, and saluted.
"Good. Get out of my office and get to work."
On the way out, Egon said, "Peter? You and Winston get back to Ecto. I need to speak to Ray for a moment."
Peter nodded. "Fine by me. I break out in a rash around too many politicians anyway."
As Peter and Winston went on, Egon pulled Ray aside into a small conference room. His expression went even more grim than normal. "We have a problem," he said without preamble. "A big problem. The memory phenomenon the Mayor mentioned, specifically."
"It sounds like the kind of thing that happens when there's a timeline fracture," Ray said. "I read a couple of records of that in the TARDIS archives once. But this isn't a timeline fracture, is it? More like some kind of bizarre timeline splice."
"Probably. But the specific nature of our chronal disjuncture issues isn't what I'm concerned about just now," said Egon. "Ray... do you have a second memory set?"
Ray frowned, considering. "I don't think so," he said, "but then again, I did live in 1906 for a while. I remember the time frame already."
"Consider yourself lucky, because it's an extremely disturbing experience," said Egon. "I've been dealing with the phenomenon since I woke up this morning, and it's been on the same scale of wrongness as the health commissioner's neighbor."
"Uh-oh," said Ray. "How bad is it?"
"Let's just say that I'm equally likely to remember getting rid of ghosts by means of exorcism rituals and ominous Latin or Hebrew chanting as I am to do it by use of the proton pack and traps."
"... we'd better get busy."