1:15 PM, 3 April, 20--; Historic Ellicott City, Maryland:

“I will kill you yet, Daniel Rumanos of Algol!” loudly exclaimed the hideous, crayfish-like alien as it hovered over Courthouse Drive. “I will chase you around the Kuiper Belt and among the moons of Jupiter and into the fiery heart of the Sun rather than let you escape!”

As I dodged the rays of potentially-lethal radioactive light emanating from the gun held in the creature’s clawed fist, I shouted its hated name at it in anger:


My name is Dr. Daniel Rumanos. I use my “Magic” capabilities to defend the human race from alien invasions and mad scientists. I am Daemon-Star!! …

Horror in Howard County, as I fled from the alien monstrosity there in the small town known as Ellicott City!

Capo Cuevas was the head of the most notorious of the several gangland crime families originating on the dwarf planet Pluto[*]. The second of his (its!) name (“Cuevas” being the standard transliteration of what is better represented, from the original Plutonian language, as Q’vhazz), he was now seeking retribution against me for my having foiled a series of heinously-criminal plots that his lawless syndicate had instigated across the entire reach of the Solar System.

[* Much more on the background of the notorious Cuevas Crime Family is found in the _Weird Adventures_ account of one of their most outrageous schemes, an account of intrigue and espionage that is entitled “From Saturn With Love”. ]

Born in the uncanny ice-swamps of his dark world, the Cuevas is of a species of intelligent crustacean, about five feet in length. Due to the genetic experiments being conducted by the Plutonians, this new Capo Cuevas had membranous wings that he flapped to propel his flight.

Most recently, this Capo Cuevas had attempted to bring his obscenely felonious plots to the planet Earth, utilising a mutated type of the psyche-sensitive Yuggoth Fungus of his home-world. When it became obvious that in order to accomplish this I would have to be eliminated, the horrid creature had hatched a dastardly offending series of attacks upon me, which I had managed to successfully fight through only after a long and exceedingly-dangerous progression of defensive measures.

The attacks had taken the form of Cuevas using the demoniacal Fungi to generate grotesquely-analogous duplicates of some of my own former foes. These blasphemously-created beings (that had, as an odd side effect, an extremely excessive and annoying assonant alliteration addiction) were known as the Spooky Spiral, the Crystal Cauldron, the Wingo Warning, the Rizak Revenge, and the Hartley Horror. I had soundly defeated them all; much to the consternation of the Cuevas Crime Family, and this had all led to the Capo himself swearing personal reprisal upon me.

“You will die, Daemonian!” hissed the crawfish-countenanced alien gang boss whilst unleashing another terrifying barrage of ray-gun fire. “You will die! You have interfered with our plans for the last time!”

I -- wearing my usual silk suit, leathern greatcoat, jungle boots, sunspecs, and safari hat -- ran around the old building of the Ellicott City District Courthouse and took shelter behind a monument on the far side of the parking lot. The monument was some sort of very bad modern art representation of a thin, vaguely feminine figure with its head bowed as if in mourning. A plaque at the base of this statue identified it as a depiction of Gracie McCumass, this being the name of a local chick who had allegedly committed suicide some years previously, presumably as the result of depression after having been harassed on the internet. That she had actually been murdered in order to cover up her torrid affair with an area Assistant State’s Attorney is a fact known to very few and spoken of by even fewer. Forsooth, the slut and the shyster. The irony of there being a monument to this McCumass bitch so near the court location is indeed beyond all sane comprehension.

“You cannot hide from me, you meddling Algolite!” screeched the Cuevas creature as he again pulled the trigger, the ray squarely hitting the statue, completely blasting the monument out of existence. As I turned and continued my flight from the enraged Plutonian gangster, I mused over the fact that the local government would now have to come up with some other ludicrous way to memorialise bleeding Gracie the Lawyer-Groupie. Perhaps they could enact some ridiculously unconstitutional “cyber-bullying law” or some such legislative nonsense. Whatever makes the fools feel better, I suppose. Whatever it takes to make them not have to take actual responsibility for the unmentionably-depraved conduct of certain elected officials.

However, let us return to detailing my harrying attempts to elude the attacks of the otherworldly killer crustacean, the disgustingly-nauseating and revoltingly-repellent Capo Cuevas of Pluto!

Now, it is in truth quite unlikely that the rays of the Plutonian gun could have actually killed me, due to my superior Algolitish abilities. Nevertheless, it would have definitely incapacitated me for quite some time, long enough for the Cuevas Family to establish their criminal enterprises upon Earth and to begin using the planet as a centre of racketeering in this part of the Galaxy.

I therefore continued to dodge the blasts of finely-focused light in hopes of eventually tiring out the Cuevas creature enough that I could return fire and hit the crustaceous monstrosity with enough of my own extraterrestrial energies to destroy him.

As I ducked amongst the automobiles of the lot, I noticed the door of the courthouse open and an uniformed police officer charge forth waving his nightstick. His big Irish face was florid with rage.

“Stop in the name of the law!” he yelled as he ran. “Stop this disturbance immediately!”

Not having seen the Cuevas, who was hovering now about a furlong above us, the burly policeman ran towards me. Long before the confused officer could reach me, however, Capo Cuevas flew directly over him and proceeded to drop a sprinkling of greyish-green Fungi from the pouch of this substance he carried.

The falling Fungus immediately halted the cop in his tracks and instantly enveloped him in its horrible influence. Within seconds, his entire body had been covered with the phantasmagorical alien growth and its influence had taken its ghastly affect upon his mind.

“I see you there, Daniel Rumanos!” said the voice of what had once been an officer of the law. His accent had changed to that part of the United States of America known as the Southern Midwest, and its intonation had taken on a note of the most unspeakable evil and unholy hatred. “It’s been a long time and I’ve come back to get my revenge! I’m Bobby Zoeller! Just call me the Paranormal Police! The Zoeller Zeitgeist!”

Do you recognise the unspeakable horror, indeed the ungodly terror of this situation, my friends? For the sake of your sanity, I actually pray that you do not!

The psychoactive Plutonian Fungus had caused the policeman to become possessed by a mental analogue of the evil Bobby Zoeller, one of my most notorious old enemies. This Zoeller (or Soeller) had, before his demise, been a disgusting, completely amoral Satanist and Ku Klux Klan leader who, whilst under the influence of an alien force disguised as a fallen angel, had attempted to spread chaos across the USA. I had only managed to defeat him after a long series of bizarrely-perilous escapades that continue to be amongst the most harrowing of my long and storied career[*].

{*For the full and truthful details of the odious criminal enterprises of Bobby Zoeller, see the _Weird Adventures_ account entitled “SPECTRAL, or Goth Odyssey”.]

“You heard me, Rumanos!” again exclaimed the Fungi-possessed cop. “I’m Bobby Zoeller, and I’m goin’ to kill you!!”

He then levelled the police nightstick towards me and sent forth a blast of darksome energy, in sooth a Fungus-copy of the phantasmal and demoniacal powers that the original Zoeller had at one time wielded.

I quickly set up a temporary defensive shield of my own bright orange and blue Algolitish power to deflect the blast. It only lasted a second, but that was long enough for me to turn and flee in the other direction, holding onto my hat, confusing the Fungi-soaked cop for a few moments.

I hoped to figure out a way to reverse the effects of the Fungus without having to cause harm to Howard County’s Finest, you understand.

He soon got his bearings and continued his pursuit of me, however. Unfortunately, we were now entering the quaint “downtown” shopping district of Ellicott City’s Main Street. I had attempted to avoid this area so far in order to avoid exposing any innocent citizens to danger from my battle with the Cuevas (who had, by the way, now gone to hide amidst the rooftops of the Main Street shops whilst its Fungus copy of Bobby Zoeller attempted my destruction).

At this same time, at the further end of the same block, a beautiful young girl exited the “EC Sweet Delights” dessert shop with a sugar-cone of cherry ice cream. The lass was of a good height, slender and perfect, fair-skinned and rosy-cheeked, with chestnut hair and enchanting eyes the colour of emeralds. She was wearing a white blouse and powder-blue skirt along with a blue sweater and fashionable sneakers.

I perceived that she was directly in the possessed cop’s line of fire.

“Run for your life!” I shouted in warning to her.

She looked up from her ice cream cone and her pretty eyes grew wide with shock as she saw me, closely followed by the fungus-covered officer, approaching her. She stood still.

Just in time, I grabbed the young lady in my arms and ducked into a passage between the shops leading to an alley. She dropped her ice cream cone as we barely missed being hit by another blast from the powers the Bobby Zoeller analogous policeman wielded from his billy-club. Fortunately, he passed by the way we had gone, his own burst having momentarily blocked his view. I heard the sound of his large shoes continuing down the street away from us.

“What is happening?!” cried the girl. “I can’t even… What was that? Who are you?”

“I am Doctor Daniel Rumanos. That was a police officer who has been influenced by a Fungus from Outer Space,” I informed her. “What is your name?”

“Lisa,” she said. “Lisa Garnier. Are you saying this is some kind of invasion, Doc?”

“Something like that, Lisa, yes,” I said. Now, I do not at all relish being referred to as “Doc”, but I have certainly been called much worse things by far less attracted people, so I let it pass.

“So, you’re one of the good guys then?” the gorgeous girl enquired with a slight smile.

“Well, I do try my best,” I  told her. “Now, Lisa, stay right behind me in the shadows. I need to check something.”

I surreptitiously peered out from the corner and looked in the direction the policeman had gone. To my surprise, he was no longer under the Fungoid influence. It appears that he had encountered two young men who were holding hands whilst exiting one of the local antique shops. Homosexuals, you know. Apparently, some alien bio-chemical technology can be overcome by the natural disgust that police officers feel for sodomites. The cop was now soundly beating nine shades out of the bloody pair of them with his nightstick.

“All right, Lisa,” said I, turning back to her. “We are safe from that particular threat, at least.”

“That’s good, Doc,” said the cute teenager with relief before she then looked upwards, suddenly distracted by something approaching fast from directly above us. “But… What’s that thing?!!”

I looked up and beheld Cuevas of Pluto, who had just begun his descent from the adjoining roof, his hideous wings spread behind him, and his deadly ray-gun aimed directly at the innocent little damsel!!

The beautiful Miss Lisa Garnier, aged fourteen, had just gone out from her parents’ nearby home that spring day, it being the last of her Easter break from school, for an ice cream cone. She was now in danger of becoming “collateral damage” in the efforts of the hideous Cuevas crustacean from Pluto to destroy me.

Like Hell.

“Hold on tight!” I warned the lass as I pulled her close to me, the horrid alien gangster still fast descending upon us, its gun at the ready.

I concentrated and, utilising my own innate and otherworldly abilities, teleported us away from the alley. We re-materialised in a near by semi-wooded area, close to a bridge overlooking a stream. A sign close by proclaimed it the “Tiber River”, but I knew that we were not in Rome. Being that some early surveyor had noted that the valley in which Old Ellicott City now sits is surrounded by seven hills, someone had thought it exceptionally clever to name the stream the Tiber. Oh well.

“Cool!” exclaimed Lisa. “How’d you do that, Doc?”

“Algolitish mentalist powers,” I answered. “An entering of the inter-dimensional gateways between… Look, we do not have time for me to give you a lesson in extraterrestrial technology right now.”

“Oh great,” said the teenaged beauty with a smile of mock crossness. “What you going to do next, spank me?”

“Later, perhaps,” I quipped. “Work before recreation.”

She giggled. “So, what’s that thing that attacked us? It looked like a big old crawdad.”

“It is a criminal crustacean from the dwarf planet Pluto, known as Capo Cuevas. The scourge of the Solar System.”

I rarely use my teleportation capabilities during times of battle. They use up considerable energy, and I had hoped to reserve all I had for a final strike against the Cuevas as soon as I saw its defences down. Notwithstanding, now having to protect the teen damsel complicated matters.

Suddenly, an hideous but now all-to-familiar voice rang out from the sky. The Cuevas had located us.

“You will not escape me, Rumanos!” shouted the Plutonian. “You inconvenience me! You inconvenience me and I will eliminate you!”

“Run!” I exclaimed, taking Lisa’s hand as we ran over the bridge. The alien mobster flapped his leathery wings and pursued us, with shots of his deadly ray-gun ringing out over the woodland. I believe that only the environment of planet Earth aided us in escaping his aim, indeed the increasing warmth of this early-spring day and the brightness of even this hazily-sunny afternoon being quite unusual to the physiology of the Cuevas -- what with having been spawned in the subzero ice-swamps of his distant and darkling home-world.

Then, Lisa’s foot hit a loose board on the bridge, causing her to stumble and fall as her hand slipped from mine. I skidded several paces way from the girl and heard her scream. She was so far unhurt but, before she could regain her footing, the Capo Cuevas was hovering directly over her.

It was then that I heard the alien criminal laugh hideously as he sprinkled the bizarre Yuggothian Fungus over the helpless maiden. Its greyish-green eldritch horror settled over her figure.

The Cuevas flew upwards in order to safely view the results of his latest outrage, and as the poor wee lass regained her feet -- now covered with the alien Fungi -- I wondered which of my horrendously-dreadful and unspeakably-dangerous past enemies would now be manifesting within her!!

“Now I have you, Algolite!” announced the unspeakable Cuevas as he hovered above us. “I turn your friends to foes!”

I watched in abject horror as the alien Fungi completely enveloped Lisa, its sickly substance now covering her entire form.

However, it is then that something singularly-wonderful happened. The eldritch Fungus suddenly fell away and vanished, dissolving into nothingness as if repelled and destroyed by a force far stronger than any nigrescent evil. I looked at the girl and beheld her clean and untouched by the Fungi from Yuggoth, there being no sign whatsoever of its disgusting greyish-green influence as I looked into the clear, lovely emerald eyes of Miss Lisa Garnier.

“Lisa?” I queried. “Lisa, are you all right?”

“I…” she said. “I’m fine, Doc.”

I glanced upwards and saw the disgusting criminal creature, that proverbial thorn in my flesh known as Capo Cuevas, aloft by the flapping of his horrid membranous wings. His repulsive face was still and motionless in momentary shock that his outrageous plan had failed. I took the opportunity and cast a bolt of my bright orange and blue powers at him. The burst hit the repulsive alien gangster squarely in the centre and shattered his crustaceous form, killing him instantly. His remains fell in pieces to the river below, and his ray-gun landed with a clatter on the wooden bridge.

I walked over and retrieved the gun, carefully removing its charging-cartridge before then securely secreting both in one of the voluminous pockets of my coat.

I returned to Lisa and saw that she was smiling sweetly. I must admit that I was a bit amazed and even somewhat confused at what had occurred.

“How did you resist the Plutonian Fungus?” I wondered. “It can only be overcome by extreme positive emotion, like that policeman’s righteous indignation at sodomy. But surely, you could have been experiencing nothing but fear and loathing at the attack.”

“Don’t you know, Doc? I think it was… I mean… because I like you,” she blushed.

“Ah,” I exclaimed in sudden realisation at the beautiful young girl’s interesting explanation. “Well… Good heavens!”

I considered that I would have to engage in an extended series of deeply-probing experiments on the effects that the hormonal responses of an adolescent human female have on extraterrestrial biology. However, there would be plenty of time for that later, and I knew that I would have a willing and enthusiastic subject.

“I say, my dear, it appears that you have lost your ice cream cone,” I said. “I shall buy you a new one, if you will allow me that honour. I think I would quite enjoy a ‘French Vanilla’ myself.”

“It’s a date, Doc!” exclaimed the nubile nymphet happily as she took my arm and we began the brief stroll back to town. Along the way, as I pondered these fantastic and indeed extraordinary events, I could not help but to muse aloud the following quotation:

“’The men don’t know, but the little girls understand.’”

“What’s that from?” wondered Lisa. “One of the great philosophers?”

“Indeed so,” I jested playfully. “His name was William James Dixon.”

Daniel Rumanos shall return.


Todd Colyer was an idiot, and had been one long before his “Traumatic Brain Injury”, the result of an accident from his past job as a stevedore, that he so often prattled on about. Huge and hulking, he was the offspring of a Dundalk family, and as typically inbred and uneducated as is common among the inhabitants of that particular suburb of Baltimore, Maryland.

“Pastor! Pastor Brian!” bellowed Colyer as he charged into the vestibule of Merritt Southern Baptist Church that night, his face florid with exertion. “Pastor Brian! I got it! I got it!”

“Quiet, you imbecilic buffoon,” answered the aforementioned clergyman as he emerged from his office. Pastor Brian Wrightson was a pallid man of about sixty, with iron-grey hair and moustache. He was clad in  business-wear. “Be quiet or you will awaken the entire neighbourhood.”

“I’m sorry, Pastor,” returned Todd Colyer, abashed. “You know, my TBI. But look, I got it.”

Colyer, his colourless eyes wide with wonder under his low forehead and unkempt bush of straw-hued hair, pulled an object from the front pocket of his filthy overalls and handed it to Pastor Wrightson. It was a silver pendant, about four inches in diameter.

“Yes,” said the Pastor, his mud-brown eyes gleaming evilly. “The Pentacle is now mine. The Pentacle of our Lord of Darkness. We shall soon summon him. The Black Goat. That very Devil…”

“Will he help with my Traumatic Brain Injury?” enquired Todd Colyer plaintively through his thick lips. “Will he help get me a ViewTube show, so I can talk about my TBI? I want to call it TV Dundalk!”

“Yes, yes, of course, you blithering nuisance,” rejoined Wrightson irritably. “That is nothing compared to what he will give in fulfilling my desires. Domination. Power. Supreme rule over this world!” …

My name is Dr. Daniel Rumanos. My extraterrestrial heritage grants me numerous capabilities that appear as “magic” to human beings. It is my mission to defend the people of Earth from alien invasion, mad scientists, and other threats. I am Daemon-Star!! …

She was too cute to be a minute over seventeen, as a connoisseur of the subject once expressed it. The girl was tall for her age, slender and perfectly-proportioned. Her hair was long and blonde, her eyes like sapphires. A true Scandinavian beauty. She wore a powder-blue dress, a white sweater, and small riding boots.

“Doctor Rumanos?” she queried in a sweet voice, as she stood before me in the Starling’s Coffee location at the Roland Mall that afternoon in mid-March. “I’m Jennifer Mesto.”

“Good afternoon,” said I, standing up from behind my cappuccino to greet the young lady. I was wearing my usual silk suit and jungle boots, and my leathern greatcoat and panama hat were slung over a near-by chair. “Please, have a seat and we shall discuss your case in much further detail than we could on the telephone. Anything could offer a clew, so it is of the utmost importance that I hear all particulars of that which you experienced. Please do attempt to relax and to remember all. Would you care for some coffee, and perhaps a blueberry scone? I can particularly recommend them, Miss Mesto.”

“Please, call me Jenny,” she said with a weak smile as we both sat down. “I’m afraid I just haven’t felt much like eating since that experience I told you about. Oh my God, it was so horrible!”

“You say you awakened and noticed an intruder in your bedroom, Jenny?” I asked. “This was last night?”

“Exactly. It was so terrible, with that man creeping at the foot of my bed. I couldn’t see him clearly in the dark, but he was so big. I was so afraid he would…”

The damsel shuddered and her lovely eyes looked downwards in discomfiture. She had been alone in her north Baltimore home (as she had told me in our earlier conversation), her mother being out of town on a business meeting, and her father having died a few years previously.

“But the intruder then just left quickly through the window?” I enquired.

“Yes, Dr. Rumanos. It took me a few minutes before I could get myself to stop shaking enough to even get out of bed, but I then turned on the lights and noticed right away that my jewellery box had been broken into.”

“So tell me again exactly what was missing.”

“It was a silver pendant, one of two treasures from my father’s antique collection that I inherited and kept in the box. It had a five-pointed star -- a pentagram, I think that’s what they call it, carved upon one side of it, and two inset jewels -- rubies or something -- that looked like weird, slanted red eyes.”

“Hmmm.” I pondered. “That does indeed sound like the long-lost Pentacle of…”

My voice then trailed off. I had felt a sudden premonition of something, of something dangerously obscure and elusive, but soon enough regained composure.

“And what of the other object?” I continued. “You say it was untouched?“

“Yes, that is the strangest thing of all, as it is much more valuable than what the burglar stole. Here, I brought it with me.”

She took the treasure from her purse and handed it to me. It was an oblong pendant apparently made of solid gold. On it was a carven representation of a stylised fish with an accompanying incantation in an archaic Greek script.

“Good heavens,” I exclaimed. “It is an amulet, and I could swear this looks like… ”

My words were then cut short by what felt like a sudden earthquake, a rumbling tremor that I could tell immediately was of decidedly unnatural origin. It was accompanied by a strange oncoming darkness as if a dim fog had abruptly descended upon the café.

Jenny screamed and we both stood up hastily. I could no longer see the other Starling’s customers. It was as if we had been separated from them in some eldritch fashion. Then I looked up and beheld an horror, indeed an unspeakable terror beyond all sane imagining.

For hovering in the air before us was the otherworldly appearance of a demoniacal monstrosity from out of the darkest of legendary nightmares. It was as the head of an enormous black goat, immensely horned and sharply bearded, and its horrid eyes aglow with an hideous crimson effulgence.

“The Sabbatic Goat,” I stated in astonishment. “The Devil of Eternal Disorder… Baphomet!!”

I lifted up the fish amulet that I was still holding, raising it in full view of the hideous goat-head apparition. There was a flash of light, and the horrid monstrosity vanished. 

I looked around the café. All was as usual. The late afternoon sunlight was again streaming through the plate-glass doorway, and the other patrons did not even seem to have noticed the disturbance. Jenny Mesto had noticed it, however, and the poor lass had sunken down into her seat, trembling with fright.

“Dr. Rumanos,” she sobbed. “That thing… What… ? Is it gone?”

“We are safe for now, Jenny, “ I assured her. “At least, for the moment.”

I hastily ordered a triple espresso from the coffee-bar, adding several teaspoonfuls of sugar to it before offering it to the girl.

“Here,” I said. “This will revive you. Finish it quickly.”

Jenny drank the espresso as I sat back down. She was still shaken and pale with fright, but had recovered enough to talk coherently.

“So, what was that thing?” she queried. “How did you make it go away?”

“That, Jenny, was a mere illusory projection of what we are facing,” I informed her. “Baphomet. The ghastly Devil worshipped in the most decadent period of Ancient Egypt as the Goat of Mendes. Its cult was revived in mediaeval times by the Knights Templar, who found some archaic relics of it in their plunder of the Middle East. The Pentacle that was stolen from you was one of these, hidden somewhere when the Templars were suppressed by the Church. It is the Pentacle of Baphomet, used in heathen invocations of the Horned One. I fear that is the reason it was stolen: some modern devotee of that demoniacal horror is planning to bring it into full manifestation!” 

“Are such things real, then?” asked Jenny Mesto incredulously. “Devils and demons? We learned at school that the Catholic Church now teaches that they are all just symbolic.”

“You are correct that there are no actual ‘devils and demons’, in the common sense of what humans call ‘supernatural’ or ‘paranormal’. Notwithstanding, the truth is something far worse.

“This being;” I continued,  “this Baphomet, the Sabbatic Goat, the Horned Beast, is in reality an extraterrestrial force. It is a conscious power that filtered down to planet Earth countless ages ago from its original home in the vastly distant 708-51 Stellar Cascade. It continues its existence only by going into long periods of hibernation, then from time to time sending out mental emanations, raising up followers who feed its needs by violence and unfettered sexual abandon. It is thus known as the Spirit of Lust and also the Lord of Desolation -- due to the unholy and mindless decadence its depraved worship, indeed one of the most powerfully perverted of that ungodly evil that is termed Satanism, would bring upon the world!”

“But you stopped it with the fish pendant, didn’t you? What is that?”

“It is an Ichthys Amulet, and indeed a particularly powerful one. The Ichthys is an early Christian symbol, and this golden pendant indeed contains a reserve of what is known as Divine Virtue. It worked against that mental emanation, but I fear that even it will not be enough if whatever cultist has the Pentacle succeeds in raising the full conscious power of Baphomet!”

I hated having to thus frighten the lass further, but evil thrives on ignorance, and I felt it best to inform her of the facts. 

“Nevertheless, we may be in time to prevent that!” I stated. “Jenny, you must think if you have any other evidence that could lead to the identity of the burglar. Anything at all.”

“I did find a scrap of paper on my bedroom floor later,” answered the girl. “But it’s so silly. I thought maybe it was something I had overlooked from the mail. I didn’t think it could have anything to do with this. But maybe the intruder dropped it while he climbed out the window. Here it is.”

Jenny handed me a small piece of paper she had in her purse. It was an homemade business card, badly-printed from a cheap computer programme. It read:

“Todd Colyer
Traumatic Brain Injury Survivor

This was followed by social media and email addresses. Jenny Mesto quickly did some internet research via her mobile phone, finding out that this Todd Colyer individual was the doorkeeper at Merritt Southern Baptist Church in Dundalk, that sickening suburb in southeast Baltimore County, known for its crime, its polluted air, and its disgustingly incestuous, strangely-bred population. Indeed, I knew that it was just the type of place in which the unhallowed Sabbatic Goat of lore would feel welcomed!

 Jenny insisted upon accompanying me on my expedition to Dundalk. She was indeed too frightened to be left alone, and I agreed that activity, however perilous, would be better than her just waiting for another mental appearance of the Black Goat to come and blast her sanity away forever. I accordingly drove us (in my canary-yellow Edwardian roadster) to the aforementioned Merritt Southern Baptist Church.

It was just after dark when we alighted from the car. A thin crescent moon hung low on the horizon, and what seemed to be the chirping of insects was well-nigh cacophonous in this pseudo-rural setting.

“That sound is unnatural,” I said. “It is too early in the season for cricket-song.”

“What is it then?” queried the girl.

“Certain ancient books say that the sound of nocturnal insects denotes the presence of ‘evil spirits’. Aye, it is likely that the Satanic invocation is already underway.”

As Jenny and I approached the church building, I suddenly noticed a large shadow looming up behind us. Nonetheless, before I could turn to face my assailant, I was pummelled from the rear by two huge hands and sent to the ground. I managed to roll over and peer upwards but could barely perceive my attacker in the darkness. I did hear his voice, however. It was an uncultured plebeian voice, higher than one would expect from such a large man.

“I’m Todd Colyer, “ it said. “I have a Traumatic Brain Injury, and I’m gonna get me a ViewTube show, and you can’t stop me!”

However, the big idiot’s boasting was then cut off when Jennifer Mesto sprayed him in the face from the tiny tin of Mace that she carried in her purse.

“No! Nooooo!” bellowed Colyer. “My TBI! I mean… my eyes! My eyes!”

I quickly stood up and gave Todd Colyer a stout clip to the jaw with my fist, sending him sprawling on the ground.

“Good girl, Jenny!” I  praised her. “Let’s go!”

I took the maiden’s hand and we hurried to the church door. It was locked but that in no way stopped us. Utilising the skills I had learned as a carnival sideshow escape artist, I managed to houdinise the lock in a very few seconds.

We entered the church vestibule and heard the sound of a low human voice chanting from afar off, drifting down from the stairway that led to the main worship sanctuary.

“Strewth! This church has been spiritually desecrated,” I shuddered. “Devoted by its renegade ‘minister’ to the worship of the forces of darkness.”

As we passed the open doorway marked “Pastor’s Office”, I peered in and beheld the proudly-framed “Lifetime Achievement Award” certificate that Brian Wrightson had recently received from some local Dundalk-area community organisation. I thought then of the revolting hypocrisy of this supposed man of God, this well-respected proclaimed “Minister of the Lord”, this so-called “pillar of the community” -- this evil, perverse filth who had sold his very soul to the powers of infernal wickedness in his ungodly quest for perverted luxuries.

“Satanists,” I whispered in disgust. “I bloody well hate Satanists.”

We continued up the stairway and stepped through the doorway of the now-unsanctified sanctuary into a world of terror. The Cross over the altar had been inverted, and before it, in the centre of the room stood the corrupt Pastor Brian Wrightson, wearing the silver Pentacle on a cord around his neck, with his hands raised in the Satanic High Sign, as he concluded the blasphemous rite of invocation:

“Glory be to the Devil, and to the Great Whore, and to the Antichrist; as it ever was, so shall it ever be -- Lust Without End! Hail Baphomet! Hail SATAN!!”

The buzzing sound was even louder here, a crescendo of infernal clamour. Over the unholy altar was a perversely-spinning, swirling cyclone of ebony-black occult power, a force of demoniacal darkness as of the deepest level of Perdition. None the less, this was not the worst of what I beheld that night, there in the desecrated sanctuary of Merritt Southern Baptist Church in that revoltingly-debased suburb known to infamy as Dundalk, Maryland.

“Close your eyes, Jenny!” I urgently warned the lass. “Close and cover them with your hands! Do not look at that thing!!”

For at that moment, forming from the energies of the swirling forces of demonic terror, was a shape made to drive human beings into total and irrevocable madness. It was an unearthly form of obscene terror beyond that seen in any nightmare, a form of ebon evil in which could be dimly perceived every perversion known and unknown to man; and, at the very centre of this horrendous horror were two enormous eyes. Eyes at once those of a monstrous insect and of a lustful goat and of myriad beings not of any sane world. Eyes that glowed a baleful blood-red at the centre of this shape of ungodly iniquity and unmitigated evil.

For the phantasmal shape that I beheld was that of a being of legendary and ancient malevolence, of immorality and decadence, of debauchery and sin beyond the imaginings of any rational mind. The Great Wild Beast, the Goat of Mendes, the Sabbatic Idol, that false pagan “god” that had corrupted the Knights Templar…

It was the manifestation of Baphomet!!!

“He comes! Our Lord Baphomet comes!” shouted Brian Wrightson in sickening ecstasy as the demonic shape continued to strengthen in its unholy manifestation. “He comes to grant me, his rightful servant, all my desires! I will have power! Total world domination! Wealth! Sex!”

“Pastor Brian! Pastor Brian!” suddenly interrupted Todd Colyer, bursting through the door, still half-blinded by the pepper-spray and streaming blood from his thick lower lip as the result his late meeting with my fist. “They hit me! They hit me in my TBI!”

“Quiet, you idiotic clodhopper!” answered Wrightson. “The mighty Baphomet is risen, and he shall give me power and fulfil all my desires! Lust! Lust!! Women… Girls… Little girls…”

“But, Pastor Brian… You said he would help my TBI! My Traumatic Brian Injury, Pastor! Won’t he do that, and get me a show called TV Dundalk?”

“I said for you to be quiet, you moronic blunderer! No one cares about your stupid complaints!”

“But…” stammered Colyer as he was overcome with sudden rage. “My TBI! Pastor, you promised! My TBI!”

With this, Todd Colyer grasped his huge hands around the throat of Pastor Brian Wrightson and began to throttle him.

“Colyer! Colyer, you retarded nincompoop!” gasped Wrightson. “Unhand me, you… you… Aaaauuugghh!!”

Pastor Brian Wrightson’s insults were then cut short as the enormous thumbs of Todd Colyer crushed his windpipe. Colyer then stepped back and clutched his own head in pain. It had all been too much for him.

“My TBI! Oh no, my Traumatic Brain Injury!” he blubbered in pain before then dropping lifelessly to the floor.

Whilst this was occurring, I noticed the phantasmagorical form of Baphomet had ceased to continue its strengthening in power. Without the concentration of its worshipper, the demonic force would take a longer time to complete its manifestation. Seeing this as my opportunity, I took the golden Ichthys Amulet from the pocket of my coat and, with a brief whispered prayer, threw it directly at that obscene horror over the unhallowed altar.

There was a tremendous flash of light, a light bright orange and blue in colour, a light indeed not of this world. With a sound as of the clap of a thousand thousand thunders, the phantasmal form of that very Devil, Baphomet, the Great Beast, vanished away as if it had never been.

Fire quickly broke out in the ungodly sanctuary, caused by the effects of the flash upon the old electrical wiring of the building. Jennifer Mesto and I hastily left, and I drove us away from Merritt Southern Baptist Church. We were soon observing the conflagration from a safe location several furlongs distant, the topmost hill of Holy Cross Catholic Cemetery.

Most of the church building was gone by the time the fire-fighters arrived. The charred remains of Pastor Wrightson and his doorkeeper would be found. They would be reported as having perished in an ordinary and accidental electrical fire. Just a local tragedy, soon enough forgotten.

No trace of the silver Pentacle of Baphomet, or of the golden Ichthys Amulet, were ever found.

“You will be safe now, Jenny,” I assured her as we watched the last of the blaze burn itself out. “The Cult of Baphomet is at an end.”

“But what about you, Dr. Rumanos?” enquired the damsel. “I’m so grateful for your help, but what about you?”

“I continue the work for which I exist. Sooth to say, there are things of unspeakable horror, grotesquely evil things bred in the darkest parts of the Cosmos. Arcane creatures and forces of unnameable wickedness and obscenity. Some of these demoniacal monstrosities have found their way to planet Earth, and have, through promises of power and obscene indulgence, convinced certain debased and unworthy members of the human race to worship them. This is what I must fight. Such is my mission, my calling, indeed my crusade. Justice must prevail, and Satanism must be destroyed!!”

Daniel Rumanos shall return.


The small but elegantly adorned rocket-ship raced through the darkness of Outer Space like a silver bullet, its velocity far beyond the demands of usual safety precautions when entering a stellar region. The craft quickly wavered in programmed evasive manoeuvres as the flashes of deadly energy bursts sped to-wards it from behind.

Several lengths behind the rocket was another ship, this one larger and of a decidedly menacing aspect. It resembled what could only be described as a massive, metallic spider’s-web, and it was from this craft that the lethal energy flashes were emanating.

One of the blasts caught the tail-end of the rocket-ship, but the ship’s computerised navigation system compensated and continued on its course, directed as it was towards a small, blue-green planet still many Space-leagues distant.

Coming from the beleaguered rocket could be heard, by those tuned to the correct frequency, an urgent request -- a plea in a youthful female voice:

“Help me, Doctor Daniel Rumanos. You’re my only hope.” …

My name is DR. DANIEL RUMANOS, Intergalactic Man of Mystery. Even though I have the appearance of a tall human gentleman with striking Anglo-Semitic features, I am really no mere mortal. I am actually many thousands of years old and carry within my blood the vastly superior genes of the mysterious Watchers of Algol -- this heritage granting me numerous capabilities that appear as “magic” to lesser beings.

Whilst most Algolites are content to merely observe the goings-on of the Universe around them, I am myself a member of a secret organisation existing amongst us, known as the KOSMIKOS. Assigned to planet Earth, my mission is to defend the human race from alien invasion, mad scientists, and other threats. I am The Daemon-Star!!

It was after sunset, but the streetlamps and shop lights were bright that Saturday evening along South Broadway, close by the harbour in the Fell’s Point neighbourhood of Baltimore. The usual weekend partygoers were out in abundance, going to the area’s famed assortment of bars, nightclubs, and restaurants. The usual prostitutes and street-hustlers lurked about, as well as numerous homeless beggars, all hoping for a handout from the rather well-to-do crowd that patronised the local establishments.

I had just reached the corner of Thames Street (wearing my usual silk suit, jungle boots, greatcoat, and panama hat) when the glow of the molecular transportation beam alit directly in front of me. I stepped back a couple of paces, cautious of what might appear. It is, after all, best to be prepared for the possible manifestation of horrid extraterrestrial monsters.

Nevertheless, what actually stood before me, when the transport beam finished its glimmering, was an exquisitely beautiful young girl. She looked about eighteen, by the human reckoning of years, and was tall and slender, clad in a tight fitting silver-and-gold dress that left bare her arms and her long, gorgeous legs down to her small silver boots. Her hair was hot pink, and her eyes an unearthly shade of pale violet. Her skin was as the pure white of finest alabaster.

“Dr. Daniel Rumanos?” she enquired in a voice sweet and cultured despite being tinged by a tone of distress. “I am Princess Kittery of the planet Catalpha.”

“Pleased and honoured, Your Highness,” said I with a courtly bow. “I received the transmission, and these were the coordinates given for our meeting. I only wish it could have been a more inconspicuous spot.”

“Yes,” replied the Princess as she surveyed the crowded city street. We had already received a few odd stares from passers-by, though strangely-clothed partiers are not really so unusual in the area as to attract too much attention. “Unfortunately, I know little of this planet, and my computer just calculated a location close by your own. My ship is in orbit, therefore enabling the engagement of its cloaking device while the electronic technician carries out repairs. Unfortunately, my attackers will be able to trace the transport beam and may follow shortly.”

“Then we must be ready, and to be so I need to have all the information Your Highness can provide. The incident involves that which is known as The Catalphan Rarity?”

“Indeed it does,” she answered. “Thankfully, they did not succeed in their attempt to steal it.”

With this, Princess Kittery reached into a pocket of her garment and uncovered a small object that sparkled in the lights as she held it in her hand. It was covered with jewels of every colour -- red and blue and purple and golden and several hues unknown to any earthly eye.

“Fascinating,” said I in earnest. “A most priceless treasure indeed. The actual origins of it have been lost in the legends of Catalpha?”

“That is correct, Dr. Rumanos. We only know that it was worn by my most remote ancestor, countless generations ago, when the Royal Catalphan Dynasty was founded. We know not even how it was worn in those days, but it has now been converted to a lapel-pin and only taken from the treasury of the crown jewels for adornment at certain rare functions.”

“And Your Highness was wearing it at an awards ceremony at Galactic Centre when attacked?”

“To be precise, it was after the ceremony, and I was returning to my ship, accompanied by the Royal Guard. In the hangar, we were suddenly assailed by blasts from energy weapons. May guardsmen were all slain, and I don’t know how I survived. I suppose the attackers just missed their target, though I could swear I felt the burn of the firepower briefly on my skin!”

“But Your Highness obviously managed to escape.”

“Yes, I ran to my ship and immediately engaged the autopilot, setting the controls for Earth. Having heard of your exploits, Dr. Rumanos, by our own military intelligence records, I knew it was the closest place I could receive aid.”

“So the criminals that attacked Your Highness, and that pursued the royal ship, were Durmph?”

We had by now strolled a couple of blocks whilst talking, and I saw the Princess (who had safely returned to Rarity to its pocket) raise her eyes skyward with a sudden look of horror. I followed her gaze and beheld, blocking out the starlight, a large alien vessel resembling a metallic spider’s web.

“It’s them!” exclaimed Princess Kittery. “The Durmph! They have found me!”

There was a brief flash of dark light as a passageway opened in the bottom of the enemy ship and three creatures dropped to the ground directly in front of us. They were each several metres in diameter and absolutely nightmarish of aspect: Arachnids with humanoid faces and horns like those of rams, all dark brown of colour and covered with bristly hair.

I heard the Princess scream in abject horror as the three monstrosities quickly approached us!

I quickly cast a bolt of my orange and blue Algolitish energies at the three horrid arachnid Durmphs. Unfortunately, due to my not having enough time to generate a large enough blast, I only succeeded in halting the alien monsters for a few moments. It was long enough, however, for the Princess Kittery and me to temporarily escape into a nearby alley or alcove space between two buildings along the waterside Thames Street shops.

“These Durmph,” said I to Her Highness as we hid in the shadows. “I know they are from a star cluster known as  ‘The Durmphian Web’, and have a background in gangsterism and piracy, but they have since become known as legitimate businessmen, even owning several of the resort hotels and casinos in Galactic Centre. Why would they attempt to steal the Catalphan Rarity? Certainly its uniqueness would make it a difficult item to sell, even if they could find a buyer both wealthy enough and willing to take the chance of detection in being part of such a crime.”

“It appears,” answered the Princess, “that the Durmph have recently added political ambitions to their business transactions. They have been making connections along these lines throughout their sector, and politics in that part of the Galaxy is not exactly known for its honesty.”

“That, Your Highness, is an unfortunate truth in many quarters. So, they feel ownership of the Catalphan Rarity, however they may obtain it, would increase and expand their political status, therefore furthering their ambitions in that regard?”

“Exactly. It seems likely that they had planned to cover up murdering me at Galactic Centre, and somehow claim that my government had passed the Rarity to them, perhaps for safekeeping after the ceremony, before my ship was lost in deep Space. My father, King Catalpha, is a very old man with no other heirs. The Durmph could just possibly make use of the Catalphan Rarity in order to claim supreme power on our planet and on all allied worlds.”

“Tricky!” said I with aghast bemusement. “Bloody tricky old spiders.”

It was then, as if on cue, that we heard a voice. It was a grotesquely raspy but none the less authoritative voice, a voice that seemed to be fabricated from myriads of infernal clickings mixed with a background of concerted squeals and moanings that somehow grouped themselves, however hideously, into vociferous and commanding syllables.

It was indeed the horrifying voice of the largest of the three sickening Durmphs, the one who was their commander.

“Princess Kittery of Catalpha,” it said, “We are the Durmph, and shall be rulers of the Catalphan Sector and of all the Galaxy. You will surrender yourself and the bauble known as The Catalphan Rarity to us immediately. As long as you show no further resistance, neither you nor anyone else will be harmed. You will be then taken into custody and brought to and housed on our home-world of Durmphia, where you will remain until we have finished negotiations with your father.”

“They now seek to hold me for ransom,” whispered the Princess in indignant horror. “The price being my father’s Kingdom!”

“Stay here, Your Highness,” I counselled. “We do not negotiate with monsters.”

Nevertheless, I surreptitiously peered out from our hiding-place and beheld a horror. The Durmph villains had collected a group of a dozen or so young people, boys and girls mostly still in their teens, from among the varied partygoers in the Fell’s Point neighbourhood. They had corralled the group together in the centre of the large meridian of South Broadway, with the three extraterrestrial spiders guarding them vigilantly on all sides. The Durmph were holding deadly energy weapons, a sort of ray-gun, in the claws of the first of their eight horrid limbs.

Any escape for the youngsters seemed impossible, and I saw them trembling in terror, some sobbing loudly in total abject mortal fear -- fear both of death and of the absolutely horrendous appearance of those unspeakable alien horrors whose very existence in any world of sanity was completely beyond their human understanding. 

“You will surrender yourself and the Catalphan Rarity to us immediately, Princess,” continued the voice of the leader of the Durmph. “You will surrender now or these hostages will die!!”

Do you comprehend the unspeakable extraterrestrial horror of this situation, my dear readers? There upon the meridian of the southernmost block of Broadway in the city of Baltimore, Maryland, stood the hideously horned alien spiders known as the Durmph -- pirates, racketeers, big-time businessmen, and now political aspirants having resorted to shocking criminality in an attempt to achieve their heinous goals -- now holding as hostage a group of helpless young people who had only gone out that evening for rest and recreation!

“I will repeat this once and once only, Kittery of Catalpha,” stated the leader of the Durmph. “You will comply with our demands, surrendering yourself and the Catalphan Rarity to us immediately, or these hostages will be executed!!”

As we stood in the shadows of our defensible alleyway observing this horrendous scene, I heard Princess Kittery shudder with a slight sob.

“Dr. Rumanos,” she said, “I must… I must go and surrender. We cannot allow the Durmph to murder those innocents. Not even the Kingdom of Catalpha is worth that!”

I stood amazed at the heroism and compassion, the incredible and true courage of this beautiful young noblewoman, who was, sooth to say, herself no older than the very hostages for whom she would willingly sacrifice herself. Notwithstanding this, I had to inform her of certain facts that may have, in the extreme emotions evoked by these incidents, not have occurred to her.

“Your Highness,” I addressed her, “I cannot advise such action. The Durmph cannot, under any circumstances, be trusted. They have no honour, and continuously alter their felonious plans to fit the situation. They likely intend to kill Your Highness along with the hostages and then to escape the planet with the Rarity.”

“But what then shall we do, Dr. Rumanos of Algol?” she enquired, her beautiful eyes downcast in inner turmoil.

“Ah!” I exclaimed suddenly, raising my hand to indicate a point down the wide city street. “It appears we now have reinforcements! Look!”

At that moment, stalwartly approaching was a group of perhaps two dozen Baltimore City Police Officers in full riot gear. They were armed with flamethrowers.

Two of the Durmph moved forward in front of the hostages and raised their energy guns, firing upon the approaching police squad. Two or three of the officers were hit and fell before the remainder of them could get within range. Then all hell broke loose.

The remaining police let loose with their flamethrowers upon the two giant alien spiders. The primitive force of these weapons was undoubtedly a surprise to these space-going monsters, and they had no defence for it. They went up immediately in a conflagration of blazing horror, and soon only a blackened pile of ashen arachnid flesh remained of the pair of Durmph criminals.

By now, sirens were wailing as rescue team ambulances arrived to see to the hostages and the fallen officers. Soon enough, the local news media would also be there to cover up the entire affair as just another drunken brawl or whatever. 

In the resultant commotion, no one seems to have noticed the conspicuous absence of the other Durmph, the largest of them, indeed the leader of those horrible spidery gangsters.

I quickly turned around to face Princess Kittery and instead beheld a terror beyond imagining. The other Durmph monstrosity had silently crept up behind us in the alley as we were distracted by observing the late melee out on the street. The horrific creature now held the Princess in the grasp of its arachnid limbs. Her eyes were wide with total abject horror as the alien criminal held its gun to the side of her pretty head.

As I beheld this shocking scene, I heard the Durmph, that sickening horned spider from the darkest depths of Outer Space, laugh with wicked eldritch mirth at its own apparent victory.

I stood transfixed, not daring to move a muscle. I realised that if I made what appeared to be even the slightest attempt to stop the Durmph villain, the horrid monstrosity would pull the trigger of its alien energy gun and blow the brains of the lovely Princess Kittery all over the brick wall of the alley-alcove.

The Durmph reached one of its hideous spider limbs into the damsel’s pocket and pulled forth that object it so coveted, that ancient heirloom of the royal family of the planet Catalpha, that jewel-encrusted item it had committed such terrible crimes to obtain in its ungodly plans to further its ambitions and achieve political power.

“Let the Princess go, Durmph,” I entreated the criminal creature. “You have the Catalphan Rarity. That is all you wanted.”

“No, Earthman,” replied the arachnid, having no knowledge of my true identity. “She will remain a hostage and be my insurance that her father shall abdicate his throne! Then they shall be sent into exile, and the Alliance of the Durmphian Web will be inaugurated as the new rulers of Catalpha! From there we will build an army, a force of supreme military power that will spread our domination across the Galaxy!!”

It was then -- at that moment of unnameable horror -- that I beheld a miracle, or at least the closest thing to such that one could ever expect to experience in this Universe of Madness. For it was then that an effulgent glow began to shine from the Catalphan Rarity -- a strange, glimmering radiance that seemed to come from the very core of that archaic item.

It was then that the Durmph shrieked in pain and final horror before it then just crumbled away into nothingness as if it had never been. I glanced upwards and saw the Durmph web-ship that had been hovering motionless, far above us in the night sky, similarly vanish into non-existence.

Princess Kittery fell forward into my arms. She was still trembling with horror, but unharmed.

“It is all right  now,” I assured her. “The Durmph are destroyed, and Your Highness is safe, as is the planet Catalpha. Observe!”

The Catalphan Rarity, which had been floating in the air before us, then gave a final burst of its radiant glow, before itself disappearing as if into eternity.

“What… ?” enquired the Princess, regaining her composure. “What happened? The Catalphan Rarity, it…?”

“Its true purpose was revealed, Your Highness,” I explained. “At the core of the Rarity were the forgotten remains of an ancient weapon that the first King of Catalpha utilised to defeat his enemies and established the monarchy.  It had the power, at one time, of making those of the royal bloodline invulnerable to violent attack. Attuned to particular DNA combinations, I would presume it was, by some archaic and now-lost science. Sooth to say, the Archives of the Watchers speak of such weaponry having existed in some parts of the Galaxy in those times.

“Anyway, it was ancient and its powers had become unreliable -- believe me, I know the feeling -- but it did protect Your Highness from the Durmph assault at Galactic Centre.”

“Yes!” exclaimed the Princess in astonishment. “Remember? I said I thought the gunfire had hit me, but I was unhurt!”

“Indeed, Your Highness, and it expended the last of what remained of its ancient power here, to destroy the Durmph. Unfortunately, that effort was too much for it, shattering its material essence along with the decorative jewels that had been added to adorn it over the years.”

There was a beeping sound from the young lady’s pocket, and she took out a small, handheld communications device.

“The robotic mechanics have completed the repairs on my ship,” she said, reading the display of information from the device, “and a ship of royal guardsmen is arriving to escort me safely home.”

“Farewell, Your Highness,” I told her with a bow. “Please do assure His Royal Majesty, that even though a portion of the crown jewels has been lost, a far more precious ‘Catalphan Rarity’, the most exquisitely lovely Princess Kittery, is now safe.”

“Thank you so much, Dr. Daniel Rumanos,” said the Princess with a gorgeous smile as she leaned forward and kissed me. “I and my people owe you such a great deal. I promise that your valour and wisdom shall always be remembered on my world. Fare you well, noble Daemon-Star, always!”

And with this, the beautiful Princess Kittery, future Queen of the planet Catalpha, stepped back and, with the shimmering light of the transport beam, left the planet Earth.



All was quiet in the dormitory of Roland Park Country School as the girl crawled into bed. Her roommates had gone to the cinema to catch the latest romantic comedy film. She had not felt like going with them.

Pink pyjamas clad the young girl’s slender figure and her auburn hair was pulled back into a ponytail away from her heart-shaped face. Her skin was the pure and translucent white of finest alabaster, and she had that particular beauty of one who is just completing the third lustrum of life. Nevertheless, her mist-grey eyes were still wet with tears.

The girl, strikingly-lovely in her adolescent perfection, pulled the bedclothes up around her. The dorm was well-heated, but this early-February evening was especially cold. It was then particularly strange when she found an odd feeling of uncomfortable warmth suddenly assailing her.

But it was not actually a physical sensation. It was more an emotional or mental impression, and was accompanied by a strange vision -- a vision of unnameable vistas of dark dread and ineffable yearning. Then, to the girl’s horror, it was also accompanied by a voice.

“Receive us, young one,” it said in tones at once dulcet and irresistibly commanding. “We are the Vogni. We are the Black Flame. We are Hellfire.” …

My name is RUMANOS -- DOCTOR DANIEL RUMANOS, Literary Illusionist and Intergalactic Man of Mystery. Even though I have the appearance of a tall, well-built human gentleman with striking Anglo-Semitic features, I am really not a mere mortal at all. I am in actuality many thousands of years old and do carry within my blood the vastly superior genes of the mysterious Aeturnusians or “Watchers” of the Daemon-Star ALGOL -- Masters of all Space and Time; this heritage granting me numerous powers and abilities that appear “supernatural” to lesser beings.

Whilst most Algolites are (officially) content to merely observe the goings-on of the Universe around them, their intellects vast and cool and unsympathetic, I am myself a member of a secret organisation existing amongst our elite class, known as the KOSMIKOS or Cosmic Intervention Department. Plausible deniability, and all that. I thus have, for so many years now, made it my particular mission to use my extraterrestrial gifts to defend the innocent from attack, invasion, and assorted similar threats -- both upon Earth and across the vast reaches of the Universe!

On this particular evening, I had been invited to the home of Mr. David Moranis, located in the elite Tuscany-Canterbury district of north Baltimore City in the State of Maryland. Mr. Moranis, a wealthy gentleman in his late thirties, knowing of my work from some reports of it that have appeared (albeit in somewhat-distorted forms) in the news media, had contacted me about a case he felt required my particular expertise. The mystery in question involved his fiancée, a young lady residing at one of the near by private academies.

“Thank you so much for coming by, Doctor Rumanos,” said David Moranis as we sat on opposite sides of the fireplace there in the study of his elegant mansion. “I really did not know where else to turn with this dilemma.”

“I am pleased to help in any way I can, Mr. Moranis,” said I, sipping the steaming hot Earl Grey Tea his elderly Jamaican manservant had brought for us after taking my greatcoat and panama hat. I was wearing my usual blue-and-grey silk suit and jungle boots.

It was a particularly cold night, and the fire burned merrily, illuminating the room in an ever-shifting glow.

I found Mr. Moranis to be a quite good-looking gentleman, tall and thin, with dark hair and cobalt-blue eyes, his features of the highest European aristocratic type. He was dressed in finely-tailored eveningwear. 

The room in which we sat was tastefully lined with bookshelves, filled with collections of the complete works of Eighteenth and Nineteenth Century British authors. Having myself only recently returned from a remarkable series of adventures throughout the vast outer reaches of Space and Time (being those particular experiences recounted in my secret archives under the titles of “Galaxy Phwoar“, “The Boner of Orbimus“, “Hearts in Lemuria”, “Shaga“, and “The Curse of Prick Point“), I found the surroundings to be a refreshingly peaceful change.

“You say the problem concerns a young lady?” I continued. “Your fiancée, I believe?”

“Yes,” he replied. “She is a student at Roland Park Country School. Her name is Karen.”

“A beautiful name, and a fine school. What then is the nature of the trouble?”

“A strange sort of depression seems to have overcome Karen of late,” the gentleman stated. “Her family, who reside in England, have somewhat resisted our relationship, due to the age difference. I believe they will come around so long as we wait for her to finish her education, but the emotional trauma has affected Karen in… odd ways. Odd ways indeed.”

Moranis trailed off and glanced towards the fireplace. I could see that the subject manner was distressing him more than his well-bred manners could easily handle.

“Go on,” I assured him. “There is no need to hold anything back. If you truly care for the young lady, it is of paramount importance that you tell all.”

“I just want to make it clear, Dr. Rumanos,” he said with a stalwart attempt to control the slight emotional tremor that had entered his voice, “that I do care for her very much, and with a pure heart. She is… innocent, and we have agreed to wait for marriage before… consummating our relationship. It is very important to both of us.”

“Capital to hear, sir,” I approved. “But please, go on with your description of this rather mysterious problem your betrothed has been experiencing.”

“She says she has occasionally felt… a presence, and has heard a voice calling to her. Oh, Dr. Rumanos, I do so hope you don’t say we should just see an ordinary psychiatrist, or perhaps one of those ridiculous television ‘ghost hunter’ types!”

“By no means,” I replied. “I would especially never recommend the latter to anyone in any situation. So, this ‘voice’ -- what does she seem to hear it say?”

“It calls itself by several different names, she says, as the presence seems to be attempting to fully enter her consciousness. It calls itself the ‘Black Flame’, the ‘Dark Enlightenment’, and… ‘Hellfire’.”

I felt a feeling of unmentionable dread within my being as I began to perceive a possibility of what the girl might be experiencing. I took another drink of tea before my next enquiry.

“Mr. Moranis,” I said. “It occurs to me that you have not yet mentioned the young lady’s surname.”

“Yes, I know,” he pronounced with wavering of voice as if revealing this information distressed him. “Her name is… Dashwood. Karen Dashwood.”

“’Dashwood’?” I repeated as a cold realisation continued to come upon me. “As in…?”

“Indeed,” he said, his eyes downcast. “She is directly descended from the family of Sir Francis Dashwood, leader of… the Hellfire Club.”

The information that David Moranis had reluctantly related only served to confirm the horrid suspicions that had already been growing within me. They were suspicions involving a decidedly old and grotesquely obscene evil that could bring unnameable horrors to Mr. Moranis and his betrothed -- and indeed to all of mankind!

Bloody Hell, to be sure! Sir Francis Dashwood, the dissolute Eighteenth Century English nobleman who had headed the notorious Hellfire Club, an organisation of elite dilettantes that had practiced secret Satanic rites in a system of caves underneath an unsuspecting London. The same Hellfire Club that had covertly influenced the Founding Fathers of the United States of America -- especially Benjamin Franklin, himself a practicing Satanist who is known to have attended some of the group’s hideous and unspeakable orgies in worship of those very forces of supernatural darkness. Indeed, it is largely this that led to the rebellious formation and chequered history of this oft-depraved and ungodly nation that has at times earned for itself, in certain circles, the appalling appellation of “The Great Satan”!

This is the unholy influence that I now had to face.

You see, Francis Dashwood had died without leaving any legitimate children, and the maiden Karen Dashwood was, as I verified from Moranis, descended from the cousins who had then assumed his title and estates. That young Miss Dashwood was herself innocent of Satanism or indeed of any other wrongdoing I had no reason to doubt. For I knew the reality of the force behind the diabolical debaucheries of the Hellfire Club -- a force of eldritch evil beyond even the imaginings of witchcraft and black magic.

As is the case with so many of what human beings refer to as gods, spirits, and demons, the force behind the evil of Sir Francis Dashwood and his corrupt cronies was actually an extraterrestrial evil from a planet many light-years from Earth. In this case it was an ancient, space-faring race known as the Vogni, which had cast aside their physical forms in ages past and had become creatures of disgusting orgasmic energy -- an energy known as the “Black Flame“ or, more vulgarly, “Hellfire”. Eventually, they had filtered down to this planet and continued their existence, empowered by the perverted activities of Dashwood and the Hellfire Club. When he had died and the group of sickening Satanists had disbanded, the Vogni had gone into a period of psychic hibernation lasting until the present time, when they had awakened and sought a new host, forsooth an host of blood relation to the one who had so empowered them generations before. Such turned out to be, shockingly, the virginal damsel Karen Dashwood, honour student at the all-girl Roland Park Country School, promising sub-debutante, and beloved fiancée of my client Mr. David Moranis of Baltimore, Maryland!

It is likely that, despite the existence of what could be called the generational curse of the Dashwoods, teenaged Karen would have been spared the devilish attentions of the Vogni had it not been for the psychological stress she had been undergoing; the stress caused by her family’s opposition to her relationship with Mr. David Moranis. Oh, the folly of humankind in their futile attempts to append the moral laws that the Almighty has given to all of us! For indeed, where in the Holy Gospel is it even hinted that there could be evil in the pure love of a distinguished gentleman for a young lady -- a love in the form that is indeed the most natural and healthy of any human desires?

Even as I sat speaking with Moranis about his case, discussing the further details and particulars of the situation, I began to notice something odd indeed. Even thought the fire continued to blaze strongly in the hearth, the room had steadily become conspicuously darker. It had happened so gradually as the be barely perceived, and it is only when I thought to refill my teacup from the kettle that I noticed that it was so dim that I could hardly see my hand before my eyes. I said nothing at first, but glanced towards the fireplace to observe.

“Dr. Rumanos,” said David Moranis in sudden realisation, “do you notice that… it is… ?”

“The darkness,” I completed what he sought to express. “It is unnatural. We are being observed by the forces of the Vogni!”

It is then that, knowing that its phantom presence had been detected, the preternatural horror of the Black Flame waited no longer, and, bursting forth from the flames of the hearth came forth a wave of unspeakable and horrendously ebon energy, an huge surge of loathsomely black psychic conflagration that shot directly for us both!!

I immediately generated a defensive wave of my orange and blue Algolitish energies against the horrendously demoniac powers of the Vogni. The forces collided with a resounding thunderclap of phantasmal preternatural force.

None the less, the hideous Black Flame was not completely halted, but continued to flow forth with unspeakable otherworldly grotesqueness from that whilom peaceful fireside there in the north Baltimore home of Mr. David Moranis.

“By the Stars!” I swore to myself. “My powers are somewhat unreliable these days. They have just not been the same since that experience I had a while back in Los Angeles[*].”

[* For the full and shocking details of this, see the undeniably factual and irrefutably accurate Weird Adventures account entitled “Immortal Sins”.]

David Moranis stood nearby, understandably shocked and amazed by the appearance of the eldritch ebony horror.

“Mr. Moranis,” I called him to his senses. “In order for any possibility to exist of defeating this Satanic force, you must tell me something; something of the highest importance.”

“Yes…” he stammered, bravely retaining composure. “What is it, Dr. Rumanos?”

“Tell me: Do you truly love that girl? Do you truly and with all that is within your being love Miss Karen Dashwood?”

“Yes… Yes, I do love her! With all my heart I do! I love her! I swear it! I love Karen more than life itself!”

“Excellent to hear, sir!” I proclaimed in approval. “Then this is what we must do: The force of the Black Flame has created a temporary inter-dimensional gateway through your fireplace to the location of its centre of power -- which is, I believe, the current location of Miss Dashwood! If you will have your obliging butler retrieve my hat and coat, you and I shall then go on a little journey together; indeed, a brief voyage through the dark passageway in order to confront the evil at its source. It is the only way I can foresee to defeat the Vogni and save the young lady!”

And so we did. Mr David Moranis and I did boldly step through the black, swirling inter-dimensional gate and did instantly travel the distance, finding ourselves in the dorm-room of Karen Dashwood, there at Roland Park Country School!

As the portal closed behind us there in that dormitory, we beheld the seemingly supernatural power of the Vogni, that obscene extraterrestrial terror known as the Black Flame and the blasphemous Satanic “Enlightenment”, the full force of the profanely Luciferian Luminosity that is the very source of the legendary Hellfire that is the supreme horror of humankind.

Moreover, at the very centre of this swirling phantasmagorical terror stood a beautiful young girl -- a gorgeous teenage maiden with auburn hair and mist-grey eyes, slender and helpless and innocent in her pink pyjamas as the ghastly alien force of the Satanic Vogni used her as the focal point for its re-entry into the world.

When I beheld the wee lass, that helpless and pure virgin named Karen Dashwood, the lovely sub-deb cursed to this ungodly fate only by activities that had occurred several centuries before her birth, I hoped and prayed that the terror of the Vogni could be abated without harm to her. For I knew that, should the admittedly-mad plan I had in mind fail, the only hope left to save the unsuspecting planet Earth from eternal enslavement to the Vogni (beginning as it would with a Satanic reign of unhallowed horror and blasphemies unimaginable) -- the only hope, I do say, of abating this, would be to bring about the death of the stunningly-beautiful and innocent young damsel, Miss Karen Dashwood!!

Do you recognise the unmentionably obscene and utterly frenzied horror; the very unholy terror of this fearful situation, my dear readers? Indeed, for the sake of your own sanity, I most truly pray that you do not!

Whilst the ghastly energy of the Black Flame continued swirling about the slender form of the young girl, my mind could not help but to think back to the numerous female creatures of evil and iniquity that I had encountered over the many years of my career: the doomed Vampiress Stefanie Ingamells; the fatally-seductive lamia, Carmilla Karnstein; the unmentionable Szepasszony; the repulsive Waddling Witch of Hampden, Mrs. Shelley Clem; the two hideous Daughters of the Horse-Leech; the detestable Marina Kraven; that loathsome offspring of sodomy, Marceline Short; the Irish bog-bitch known to infamy as Joni O’Doyle; the hideous Naamah, mother of the terror Asmodeus; the diabolically duplicitous Devlin Xandra Price; the dark demirep named in eternal damnation as GhostsDemons; the revolting “psychic sensitive”, Klarissa Feck; and that Ukraine girl who nearly knocked me out, the unspeakable Anastasia Rizak; among others, named or nameless or unnameable, horrifically-remembered or well-nigh forgotten.

These devilish dames were beings of pure wickedness, each and every one of them having invited the very forces of darkness into their persons by acts of ungodliness and sinful vice unimaginable to any decent individual. Moreover, in the end they had only been defeated by bringing about their death or confinement in irrevocable madness.

Nevertheless, one thing I knew as I thought back over this horrid catalogue of feminine wickedness, one thing of which I was certain: Karen Dashwood was not one of these.  She was a pure, chaste virgin of wondrously noble, pure English descent. An intelligent, innocent young lady in no way responsible for the sinful depravity of a family member now dead for centuries.

I knew that the only thing that had even made her at all susceptible to the perceived “curse of the Dashwoods” was that mental anguish, the psychological trauma that she had felt due to her parents having voiced some objections to her upcoming marriage to her beloved, Mr. David Moranis. That they had done this for no other reason than a so-called “age gap” -- that grotesque artificial construct that has become a sad obsession of modern society -- was all the more liable to have attracted the dark forces of Satanic malevolence.

To convince her family to cease their objections would be easy enough. I would only have to be certain that the Dashwoods soon received a letter congratulating them on their daughter’s upcoming nuptials, a letter from another British Family who are close personal friends of mine -- forsooth a Family who dwell in a rather palatial residence located in the City of Westminster.

However, in order to safely and permanently exorcise the phantasmagorical power of the extraterrestrial Vogni from the blameless teen damsel was something else entirely, indeed something that would require action by the very gentleman who had summoned my assistance in this exceedingly bizarre and momentous case.

“Mr. Moranis,” I told him. “Go to her. It is the only way to save her. Do it now and show no fear. If you love her, go to her.”

And at this, David Moranis walked directly over to his beloved Karen Dashwood, all trepidations having been overcome by his devotion and adoring affection for the lovely young maiden. At his approach, the churning powers of the dark force of ungodliness known as the Vogni, the Black Flame, or Hellfire -- did simply and immediately vanish. It was finished, as quickly as that. I knew then that the very power of love had broken the curse that had so long plagued the Dashwoods. The Black Flame was now extinguished forever.

Whilst I discreetly made my exit from the school, I pondered over the unfathomable mysteries of “the way of a man with a maiden”, as a certain sage once expressed it.

“David!” exclaimed Karen Dashwood as her fiancé held her in his arms. “What happened? I was going to bed when I heard that voice and then I can’t remember… I can’t remember anything until I saw you just now!”

“It’s all right, darling,” I heard him reply as the girl settled her pretty head on his shoulder. “There is no reason now to be afraid. Dr. Daniel Rumanos has helped us.”


Heroes never die.
(Mickey Spillane)