Title: Local Knowledge
Fandom: Ghostbusters (2016)
Rating: G
Summary: Something strange is brewing in the nation's capital, and Patty calls on a contact from her network of historians to help pinpoint the source.
Notes: Having at last had a chance to see Ghostbusters recently, I posted the following on Twitter: So I finally saw Ghostbusters, and now I want all the fic about Patty and her personal network of local historians and museum staff. She gets full access to their resources and invites to special events. They keep the GB on speed dial for troubleshooting purposes. Win-win.

[personal profile] skygiants promptly replied: I want you to write yourself a self-insert fic about this.

Now, I don't consider myself to be a true local historian, but when it comes to Cold War and nuclear history, there's one very local tale that immediately came to mind. So here's the hastily written, blatant author self-insert flashfic that spilled forth, totally not meant to be taken seriously by anyone, including the author.


Local Knowledge

'I mean, all of the clues point to D.C. If he was planning to cause real mayhem -- '

'I know, but like I said, isn't it outside our jurisdiction?'

'And like I said, we don't have a jurisdiction. If we did, Yonkers would be a smoking crater right now.'

'All I'm saying is -- '

Erin and Abby had been going back and forth in the same manner for a full ten minutes, squabbling at each other over a heavily marked-up map of Washington, D.C., and in that time Holtzmann had contemplated no fewer than eight entirely feasible ways to weld their mouths shut with the blowtorch that was temptingly close at hand. Only Patty, who had been busy at her computer the whole time, seemed to have been able to completely ignore their argument, and when a tell-tale set of chimes rang out she looked up from the keys and beckoned all three of them over to her desk.

'I've got her on Skype!' she said. 'Get your butts over here and crowd 'round, 'cause we don't have much time.'

Holtzmann was already out of her seat, trailing wires behind her in a tangle of blue and red. Even Abby and Erin seemed to understand that they were going nowhere with their own debate, so they dutifully trudged over and joined Patty and Holtzmann.

Patty gave them just enough time to peer over her shoulders before she spoke to the person on the other end of the call. 'Okay, sweetie,' she said encouragingly, 'spell it out for these ladies like you explained it to me. Remember, they're science-types, so keep it simple.'

The Skype window showed a dark-haired woman in her mid-thirties, surrounded by papers and books, clearly sitting on her bed as she adjusted her laptop screen. The bookshelves behind her head were crammed to bursting, and contained some apocalyptic-looking titles like Armaggedon Averted and The Secret State, though one of the stranger sights was a battered, bright orange paperback with the bold title Will the Soviet Union Survive until 1984? Finally, she stopped fussing with her laptop, and schooled her face into seriousness.

'Uh, okay,' she said, and took a quick steadying breath. 'Right. Keeping it simple. So, over in Arlington Cemetery, there's a body buried in a lead-lined casket beneath a bunch of concrete and steel. It's no ordinary plot; you need permission from the Atomic Energy Commission to do anything with his grave.'

Holtzmann licked a finger, and held it up in the air with a faint tss sizzling sound. 'He's that hot?'

The woman blinked, briefly disconcerted, but pulled herself together. 'One of the guys from the Army's SL-1 criticality accident in Idaho in January of '61. He's the only one of the three of them buried in Arlington, and not even all of him is buried there.' She made a chopping motion against her wrist, as if slicing off her own hand. 'Some parts of his body were so radioactive that they had to cut them off and dispose of them in the desert as nuclear waste. They were giving off more than a thousand Roentgens an hour.'

'The SL-1 core was U-235,' Erin said, thinking aloud. Her eyes glazed over, and she grabbed a piece of scrap paper from Patty's desk and started scribbling equations. 'After more than fifty years....' She trailed off, lost in calculations.

Abby frowned, glancing down at Erin's mathematics. 'But you can't just walk into Arlington Cemetery with a pickaxe and shovel and start digging.'

The woman shook her head. 'Look, I don't know how this guy you're after is planning to pull it off. But if you say that all he needs to jumpstart an army of the nation's uniformed undead is the equivalent of a suitcase full of nuclear material' -- her expression turned grim -- 'all I'm saying is that he might not have to go very far to find that suitcase.'

Patty nodded solemnly. Erin was still buried in her equations, so Abby turned to Holtzmann. 'You think we can get down there in time?' she asked.

Holtzmann pulled back her sleeve and glanced at a nonexistent watch. 'Traffic on 95's going to be a bitch, this time of day,' she said dryly, tapping her bare wrist. 'Might have to bust out the E-ZPASS.'

Patty, seeing how her fellow historian's expression had turned dubious, ignored all three of her colleagues. 'We're on it, girl,' she said to her, with her best reassuring smile. 'I'll call you when we hit Baltimore.' She paused. 'You sure you're up for this?'

This time, it was the woman's turn to smile. 'When I was in college,' she said, 'I practiced organ late at night in a three-hundred-year old haunted church. My friends who came with me said that they'd take care of any crazy serial killer types who showed up, but it was my job to deal with the ghosts -- talk colonial politics with them until I bored them back into their graves, or something.' Her smile sharpened, turning dangerous. 'Never saw one then, so I might as well make up for it now.'

'Let's hope you won't have to,' Abby said. She hooked a finger in Erin's collar and started to drag her away from the laptop. 'Come on, you can finish that in the car.'

The woman watched them leave, Erin protesting loudly at the interruption, and then looked back at Patty and Holtzmann. 'Once you reach Baltimore, I'll grab a bus to the Pentagon and meet you there,' she said. 'If you park there, in the overflow lot, it'll be easier to get to the cemetery on foot.'

Patty's eyes went wide. 'What, we're not taking Metro?!' she exclaimed, mock-horrified.

The woman laughed, clearly in on the joke. 'Not unless you can get here before 7. The Arlington Cemetery stop closes early in the winter, remember?' She started to wave goodbye, and a stack of papers and two books slipped off her bed to land on the floor. 'Crap, I'd better get that. Good luck with the E-ZPASS -- let me know if you need anything.' With that, she vanished from the Skype window.

As the Ghostbusters suited up and ran their final equipment checks, Holtzmann nudged Patty. 'How'd you find her?' she said, nodding to the closed laptop.

'Oh, she likes trains,' Patty said with a grin. 'And she knows the guy who wrote the book on U Street, so once we bust this necromancer dude she said she'd hook me up.'

Holtzmann contemplated this statement, then shrugged. 'Fair's fair. You history-types gotta stick together.'


Notes

Specialist Fourth Class Richard L. McKinley, one of the three victims of the SL-1 accident, is indeed buried in Arlington Cemetery with all of the precautions described. He's missing most of his internal organs and one arm, all of which were too radioactive to inter with him. (In an especially sad and gruesome note, if memory serves he was the only one of the three men to be found alive at the site of the accident, terribly burned from the reactor's scalding steam and water and so radioactive that the Geiger counters the rescue team had on hand couldn't fully register the radiation he was emitting.) But his grave looks no different than any other grave in Arlington; you'd never know the story behind it.

If I were a necromancer and needed a theoretical pseudoscientific independent power source for summoning an army of undead warriors, let's just say that I'd put some serious effort into this one.

Also, here's the book on U Street -- it's a good book, and I do indeed know the author. And the books on my shelves are indeed behind my head as I'm writing this, though they're only as apocalyptic as books about the Cold War usually tend to be.


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