RIZAK


The Elkridge town clock was just tolling midnight when Anastasia Rizak found the book. It was a folio volume, hidden behind some outdated almanacs and encyclopaedia sets in the backroom of the library. On its black leathern cover were two words, embossed in shining scarlet: “LIBER BABYLON”.

Anastasia Rizak hated being made to work at the Elkridge Public Library. She had been ordered to do so by the juvenile-offenders court as community service after being found guilty of a prostitution-related offence.

This for a friggin’ hand-job?” she had muttered under her breath when the judge had given her sentence.

The elderly librarian, a childless widow, had taken a liking to Anastasia. Being of a completely different social level, the lady assumed that the young girl could be trusted, and had allowed her to stay at the library after closing time to clean and re-shelve the books. The wench was only glad that this would allow her to sooner finish her allotted sentence hours, and get back to hanging around the local pubs and taverns and cheap motels where she could find dirty old men willing to part with a few dollars -- money soon utilised to purchase the crystal methamphetamine to which Anastasia was hopelessly addicted -- in exchange for brief pleasures in the back of an automobile or in an alleyway.

On this particular night, Anastasia Rizak, bored to tears, had wandered into the library storage room. It was here that she had found the odd volume amongst a forgotten stack of outdated reference books.

When she saw the title, despite having no knowledge of its meaning, Anastasia had felt an unusual sensation. It was as if something was calling to her, something very old and very powerful -- something that had been waiting for her.

Anastasia opened the book and found that its text was written in two languages. The first was Aramaic, that tongue of the biblical period. The second was an early-Medieval Latin translation. The Aramaic, of course, was completely unintelligible to the poorly-educated teenager (it being unlikely that she even recognised it was a language), but the Latin, being at least in the same letters as English, she scanned with growing interest in her dark eyes, at the same time pronouncing some of the words, letter-by-letter.

Suddenly, Anastasia Rizak found herself propelled backwards against the far wall of the room. The girl squealed with a mixture of pain and grotesque pleasure at what she was experiencing. An eldritch glow of obscenely scarlet red surrounded her slim figure, and she felt her clothing, a common t-shirt and jeans, being ripped to shreds as if by unseen hands.

It was then that Anastasia first heard the voice. It sounded as the accents of a woman, but deep toned and palpably wicked, at once replete with hoary age and with the sensual delights of youthfulness.

“Anastasia… Anastasia… Rizak… Rizak… Rizak!” moaned the voice. “We have found you at last! It is now, through you, that we shall establish our Empire of Desire upon the Earth! All of mankind shall grovel before us in beggary for our charms. For we are at once the manifestation and the offspring of the Great Whore, the Harlot of Harlots, the Scarlet Woman -- BABYLON!!” …

My name is DR. DANIEL RUMANOS, Literary Illusionist and Intergalactic Man of Mystery. Even though I have the appearance of a strikingly handsome human gentleman with aristocratic Anglo-Semitic features, I am in reality not a mere mortal at all. I am actually 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. 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! …

It was an overcast afternoon that I arrived in the town of Elkridge, Maryland, to investigate the odd series of events there of late. I was accompanied by an Algolite boy known by the name of Robinos, himself a Kosmikos agent-in-training whom I was instructing in the finer points of intergalactic espionage. I was dressed in my usual silk suit, greatcoat, jungle boots, dark spectacles, and safari hat. Robinos had similarly attired himself, but the red and yellow colour scheme that he had chosen was perhaps less well suited to stealth work than my own darker blue and grey. However, he was a young lad, and indeed a newcomer to the people, customs, and costumes of planet Earth.

“Be wary, Robinos,” I instructed. “We know not as yet exactly what we are dealing with. Our instruments only showed the presence of an extraterrestrial influence upon the recent happenings in this area -- the unexplained and sudden rise in immorality, sexual exhibitionism, and related atrocities.”

“Holy Small Town Scandals, Eleven!” exclaimed Robinos, addressing me by my official operative number.

“Indeed, my friend,” I replied. “Though the news media have so far largely ignored it, except as an humorous side-story. You shall find it is indeed an habit of Earth-people, and especially of Americans, to pretend that crime just does not happen in small towns and rural areas.”

Robinos, himself a quite handsome young man, tall and muscular for his age, had sandy hair and intense blue eyes inherited from the noble Algolitish family of which he was a scion. Forsooth, only those of the highest blood among our people are ever recruited for the Kosmikos.

“Look at that, Master Rumanos!” the lad suddenly ejaculated. “Over there!”

Upon gazing in the direction that my companion had indicated, I beheld, across the street near the town square, a large and sickeningly-overweight man of a rather boorish working-class type. He had opened his raincoat (under which he was nude) and was exposing himself to a group of schoolgirls. They reacted with a mixture of screams and giggles before collectively running away around the nearest corner.

“Crikey!” said I, loudly enough for the flasher to hear. “That is rather inappropriate, don’t you think?”

“You gonna stop me, weirdo?” he replied, bounding across the narrow street to face us.

“Indeed we shall stop you!” announced young Robinos impulsively. “We cannot allow you to assault innocent young ladies!”

“My young friend is correct,” I added, whilst retaining composure. “However, we shall first give you a chance to explain and repent of your actions. Perhaps you are being controlled by something outside yourself?”

“I ain’t gonna tell you overdressed creeps nothin’!” the man shouted, flecks of foam forming on the thick, flabby lips of his horrendously lower-class mouth. “I’m just gonna give you this!”

Then, he again opened his coat and, from the area of an horridly-stylised inverted cross tattooed upon the centre of his chest, there suddenly streamed forth a wave of powerful, burning-red phantasmal energy directly to-wards us!!

As the ghastly wave of eldritch alien energy surged forward, I made a quick sign to my companion to do something as he had previously been instructed.

“Robinos, NOW!” I ordered.

From both young Robinos and myself came forth bolts of our bright orange and blue Algolitish energies, meeting in unison against the evil powers being wielded against us. The enemy force reversed as our energy hit it with a loud sparking sound, and the scarlet wave hit our attacker, immediately knocking the malefactor unconscious.

Robinos and I approached our foe and I closely examined the horrid tattoo upon his flabby chest.

“The Mark of the Cult of Babylon,” said I.

“’Babylon’?” enquired my companion. “Isn’t that…?”

“Yes, Babylon or Babalon, in actuality the amalgamation of a species of lust elemental from Galaxy 6685 -- one of the Scarlet Spirals. They always seek a female host, however, this having given rise to the ‘Whore of Babylon’ legends upon Earth. The presence of such horrors would explain the rise of sexual offences here in Elkridge.

“This perverse individual is a mere henchman who was given a small inkling of power in order to defend his mistress,” I continued, as I searched through the pockets of his filthy raincoat. “Nevertheless, perhaps we can find some clew.”

I pulled from the unconscious criminal’s inner pocket a small laminated card.

“Ah, here we go,” I exclaimed. “’Andrew Howard’. Typical canaille name. It is from the Elkridge Public Library.”

“A library card?” said Robinos. “He doesn’t exactly appear to be the bookish type, Eleven.”

“Exactly, my friend. He is definitely not a literary light, even by Elkridge standards. We should investigate this local library without delay!”

We left our erstwhile attacker where he lay and walked the three blocks to the address on the card, soon finding ourselves at the old, dilapidated building that housed the Elkridge Public Library.

“It appears to be deserted, Eleven,” stated Robinos as we entered. “No patrons or staff.”

“Yet the door was unlocked,” I replied, “and the stacks seem to be in order. I wonder if…”

Before I could conclude my sentence, the door to the backroom creaked open, and slinking forth from it came a young girl clad in only a thin, see-through negligee and spike-heels. She had a mass of raven black hair and similarly-dark eyes, her lips full and blood-red. Flashes of the horrid scarlet energies played about her sultry person.

“Holy Teenage Temptress, Eleven!” exclaimed Robinos.

“Steady on, my friend,” I counselled him, “I can assure you that there is nothing at all ‘holy’ about her -- well, depending upon your spelling!”

“Hello, boys,” she interrupted. “If you think I‘m hot here, you should see my selfies on Likebook! My name is Anastasia Rizak, High Priestess of Babylon.”

“’Anastasia, Princess of Darkness‘, you mean,” I countered. “Not to be Russian to Judgement or anything like that. I like your Russian Dressing. Bit of a Slav to Fashion, are you?”

“Are you two oh-so-distinguished gentlemen looking to have some fun?” the felonious female queried with a seductive wink. “Or are you just an outstandingly-handsome priest and his sexy little altar boy come to hurt me? Tire of having a gay old time at the seminary?”

“Holy Innuendoes, Eleven!” exclaimed Robinos.

Suddenly, Robinos and I were assaulted from behind. It turns out that, whilst she was distracting us, two further male members of the cult headed by Anastasia Rizak, femme fatale and avatar of Babylon, had crept up unawares. They immediately threw some ropes about our persons, and quickly bound us.

“Eleven!” shouted Robinos, “I feel my powers have drained away and…”

“Indeed,” I replied. “These ropes seem to be imbued with a rare form of radiation from the home galaxy of that which is possessing our adversaries here. It is resistant and detrimental to our Algolitish energies.”

With this, my friend and I soon found ourselves securely tied to wooden chairs, and our extraterrestrial abilities curtailed. The two completely nude cultists, again disgustingly obese men of the lower order, stood behind us on guard as if mindless zombies.

“Now, I have you here in my power,” purred the wicked Anastasia amidst her mockingly whorish laughter. “The boys all want to come but they never want to leave.

“Oh, I recognised you as Watchers of Algol,” she continued, “and we have been expecting some of your kind to come here and try to meddle with our plans. ‘Non-interference’, my ass. You Algolites are habitual liars and meddlers! But now, I have you, and nothing -- not even you -- will be able to interfere with the Scarlet Essence of Babylon spreading our Empire of Lust over this entire planet!!”

As Robinos and I remained tied to the chairs, having become the victims of her prearranged trap, the bizarre teenaged harlot forever known to most unspeakable infamy as Miss Anastasia Rizak retrieved the book Liber Babylon from a near by shelf. She then proceeded to open its antique ebon cover (made as it was, I later ascertained, from the cruelly-flayed skin of an African slave) and began to intone the words of the satanic evocation -- her horridly unhallowed attempt to bring the phantasmagorical forces of eternal lustfulness and ungodly immorality fully forth upon the unsuspecting people of planet Earth!

In sooth, the nubile slut had already done so much eldritch evil in the brief fortnight since she had first found the wicked and unholy volume in its hiding-place amongst the storage room stacks. She had left her mother, Lynn, and moved from their squalid trailer at nearby Pirchway Mobile Homes in order to take up permanent residence in the now otherwise-abandoned library. It has since been ascertained that Lynn Rizak died shortly after these events from gout of the stomach.

(It should be added, for the sake of completeness in this totally and unquestionably veracious account, that Anastasia’s father, an homeless, unemployed drifter known only as “Donny”, had disappeared years before.)

Nevertheless, one is left with the important question as to why the archaic extraterrestrial powers of Babylon choose this seemingly-obscure adolescent prostitute as their representative. In this, we can only attempt to make an educated conjecture: with Anastasia Rizak being, through her mother, of Ukrainian ancestry, one is brought to mind of the clans of the horrid Yezidi “devil-worshippers” of Persia, some of whom long ago migrated to the Ukraine in order to escape the persecution being meted out to them at the hands of the righteous followers of the Prophet Mohammed. That the Rizak family was descended from these Yezidis is very probable, especially considering the girl’s own full-lipped and black-eyed features, these speaking of dusky non-European origins despite the ghostly pallidity of her complexion. Indeed, who is to say what abominably atavistic miscegenation had always lurked in bloodcurdling silence, hidden within the youthful slattern’s very being?

In any event, this Miss Rizak, prostitute and atrocious avatar of villainous ungodly evil, now stood there in the public library of Elkridge, Maryland, chanting the words of an archaic occult incantation intended to bring unholy debauchery upon the world!

“My lithe body arched for lust,” she intoned in the Aramaic that the alien forces had taught her to understand, “I do call forth the ascendancy of all things belonging to sensuality and of rapture! By the powers of the Great Whore, the Woman of Confusions, the Matriarch of Abominations and of all that is Perverse, may fornications fill the Earth, and may the secret lusts and desires of all be fulfilled!!”

Whilst the wicked wench was thus occupied, I was at work in freeing my friend and myself from our bonds. Although our Algolitish abilities had been curtailed by the radiation, I was able to apply the skills that I had learned whilst doing undercover work as a stage magician and carnival sideshow escape artist, and soon enough had our ropes untied.

“Holy Houdini, Eleven!” cried Robinos.

We speedily stood up to face the two burly and unclothed henchmen who were guarding us. It took only a couple quick displays of old-style fisticuffs from Robinos and myself to succeed in knocking them out.

It was then that we turned to face Anastasia Rizak. Horrifically, the scarlet forces of Babylon were completely surrounding the strange Slavic strumpet in answer to her calling -- and were rapidly growing in intensity and might!

Do you comprehend the extreme preternatural horror and the unnameable terror of this situation, my dear readers? Sooth to say, for the sake of your sanity and the peace of your eternal soul, I must sincerely pray that you do not!

“She is now here and I am she!” exclaimed the wretched girl in horrid and obscene ecstasy. “Babylon is rising! The power of the Scarlet Harlot is mine, and now the entire human race shall fall down in the unstoppable concupiscence and irresistible adulteries that constitute our worship! Hear me, Earthlings, and do now happily degrade yourselves in lovely filth forever in perverted reverence to LUST!!!”

And so Robinos and I advanced against the hideously debauched Anastasia Rizak, realising that she was mere moments away from unleashing the full force of Babylon -- a power that would indeed bring unstopping perversion, uncontrolled whoredom, and sexual promiscuity upon the unsuspecting human race, leading to a decadence beyond even that which was the downfall of that ancient Mesopotamian city and its empire that is the harlot’s namesake! Indeed, leading to a decadence unseen since that which devastated the home galaxy of the Babylon powers so many countless aeons past.

The surging waves of scarlet energy emanating from Anastasia caused my companion to be driven back. His youth and inexperience in such matters had prevented his Algolitish abilities from as quickly reasserting themselves as did mine.

I forced myself forwards against the horrid Babylonian energies and stood whilst generating a powerful outpouring of defence. Then, at the moment of releasing my power, I spoke the invocation of absolute purity and of peace that can only be used for such purpose at certain times and places and situations. It is a calling forth that is only properly expressed in ancient Algolitish:

KatrinaLiviuh!!!”

With this, a peal as of a thousand thunders was heard and there did open, behind the form of the Babylon-possessed slut known as Anastasia Rizak, an huge entrance to that Bottomless Pit which is known to legend and lore as “Hell” or Gehenna -- in sooth one of the inter-dimensional prisons established by the Aeturnusian Watchers for the gaoling of certain of our enemies judged too dangerous to exist in this reality.

The powers of Babylon then began to flow away from the evil girl and to disappear into the Abyss. In so doing, their true form was briefly and dimly descried -- being as an host of impish scarlet-hued elemental creatures, hideous and horned, and writhing in constant obscene sexual abandon. 

The beings began to claw and pull at the form of the decadent teenaged slut Anastasia Rizak, in order to be certain to drag her down with them into eternal Perdition.

“No! No! No!” she screamed in sudden absolute abject horror. “Please, no! Save me, Algolite! Save me from this! You can have me! I will let you do anything you want to me! Just please… Please, save me!!”

“Shut up, bitch,” said I as I sent a bolt of my alien energies to aid in propelling her into the putrid Pit. “Nobody gave you permission to speak.”

And then, as the horrid wench and the force of that ancient perverted evil vanished into the Hell of Everlasting Damnation, the portal did close behind them and all was quiet.

"A 'Red Scare', indeed," said I.

I walked over to where the delinquent strumpet had dropped Liber Babylon and retrieved the hoary book from the floor, immediately secreting it in one of the appropriately-voluminous pockets of my greatcoat, in which it would be reserved until I could bring it to a place of safekeeping. 

“Is she gone, then?” enquired Robinos as I returned to his side. “Is the evil fully exorcised?”

“Yes, my friend,” I assured him. “The Babylon horrors are vanquished, and Miss Rizak shall now find herself being brutally raped by lust elementals for all eternity.”

“Serves her right,” said the lad.

“You know what?” said I as we exited the Elkridge Public Library that momentous and fateful day. “This kind of activity always causes me to work up an appetite. I think I am in the mood for some ho fun.”

“Why, Master Rumanos,” exclaimed my companion. “What exactly do you mean by that?”

“Ho fun, young Master Robinos,” I informed him, “is a dish of rice noodles most often prepared by stir-frying with meat and vegetables. It can be found at any finer Chinese restaurant. I say, to what did you think I was referring?”

“Holy Double Entendres, Eleven!”

DANIEL RUMANOS SHALL RETURN

ANOTHER WAY TO DIE


“What you want, lil’ girl?” muttered Sean Owens, not even attempting to hide the lust on his loathsomely bestial face as he leered at the astonishingly beautiful young woman standing before him just outside his home in the slums of West Baltimore. “Is you lookin’ to get some stuff?”

“Perhaps,” said the girl, who had no real idea that by “stuff” Owens was referring to the marijuana in which he dealt.

“What be you name, baby?” enquired the morbidly obese Owens as he inched closer to the gorgeous teenage blonde. He was clad in sweatpants, dirty sneakers, and a t-shirt on which was emblazoned the logo of a local basketball league. The dim light from a near by streetlamp glistened on the sweat-beads springing up on his dark skin. 

“I am Sharona,” answered the lass, raising her lovely sapphire-coloured eyes slightly towards the enormous black man. She was wearing what a short dress made of what appeared, amazingly, to be tanned animal skins, stretched tightly across her tall, slender figure.

Owens had seen very few white girls in his neighbourhood, and never one so attractive as this. He again moved closer and reached out his uncouth hand towards the young, flaxen-haired damsel. He planned to simply drag her into the house and have his way with her. Enough drugs in her system would keep her from ever coherently reporting the assault, he reasoned.

But then, just as Sean Owens began to lay his unclean fingers on the girl, he felt a sharp pain in the side of his neck. Sharona had slipped a sharp, thin thorn into his flesh, and Owens felt the poison in which the object had been dipped begin to course through his bloodstream, bringing instant paralysis.

Young Sharona stepped back and let Owens fall to the city pavement. He was completely motionless, yet alive, and his eyes stood wide open and his horrid mouth agape in shock at what had happened.

It was then that I stepped out from the shadows, wearing my usual silk suit, greatcoat, military boots, and panama hat.

“Excellent work, Miss Wallace,” said I. “Excellent work indeed.”

“Thank you, Master,” she replied.

My name is DR. DANIEL RUMANOS, Literary Illusionist and Intergalactic Man of Mystery. Even though I have the appearance of a strikingly handsome human gentleman with aristocratic Anglo-Semitic features, I am in reality not a mere mortal at all. I am actually 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 keep to themselves, 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. 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!

The beautiful girl known as Miss Sharona Wallace was my most recent protégé and ward. Being the child of missionaries who had succumbed to drinking tainted water in the Amazon jungle, she had been protected and raised from the age of two by the kindly old medicine-man of the local native tribe. When the superannuated shaman had finally died, Sharona, now sixteen, had become my responsibility -- I had been in South America at the time investigating reports of some supposed Atlantean relics in the area -- and I had duly taught the young white savage to speak English and had begun to instruct her in the other rudiments of civilisation.

The thorn that Sharona Wallace had used to paralyse Sean Owens, notorious ghetto thug and narcotics pusher, had been treated with curare, that poison found in certain plants of the deep rainforest and used for hunting by the local tribesmen of that area.

As I stood over the prostrate form of the aforesaid Mr. Owens I took a small object from one of the voluminous pockets of my coat. It resembled a silver writing instrument about four inches in length, and was actually an incredibly scientifically-advanced device known as a sonar wrench.

I held the sonar wrench over Owens and activated its scanning programme. In a few moments, the information I wanted appeared on the tiny readout screen of the device.

“Ah,” I exclaimed. “I knew there was some alien influence to which this individual has been exposed! According to this, it can be identified as… Oh no…”

“What is it, Master?” asked Sharona concernedly. “What is wrong?”

I could not repress a feeling of decidedly abject horror as I beheld the name of the extraterrestrial force to which Owens had been exposed. It was a force that was apparently possessing one of his clients, a certain Mr. Scott Gritzen.

“The Mahdimeen,” I read the words aloud. “The Mahdimeen of Cor Leonis.” …

At that very time, approximately twenty-five miles distant, in a small and untidy rural home located in a particularly squalid section of Charles County, Maryland (indeed a mere swamp known as Red Squirrel Marsh), sat Scott Gritzen laughing in evil mirth.

“We will prevail!” he exclaimed as he suddenly jumped up in excitement, his body bizarrely sound despite being somewhat twisted by hereditary cystic fibrosis. “We will bring the Mahdimeen gift of death to the entire human race! We will bring Helter Skelter!” 

“Helter Skelter! Helter Skelter! Helter Skelter!” repeated the two hideously deformed dwarfs that were Gritzen’s children, Damien and Zelda.

“No one will stop us,” continued Scott Gritzen whilst mad foam appeared at the edges of his lips, and black flashes of otherworldly powers played about him, “not even the Daemon-Star! We will kill him! We will kill Daniel Rumanos!!”

“Kill Daniel Rumanos!” howled the disgusting Damien and Zelda Gritzen in response. “KILL DANIEL RUMANOS!” …

“But who are these…” said Sharona Wallace as we trod together through the foggy swampland of Charles County beneath the leprous light of the waning gibbous moon, amidst the buzzing song of myriad nocturnal insects and batrachians. “These things of which you speak.”

“The Mahdimeen,” I answered her. “An ancient race of beings from one of the planets orbiting the star Cor Leonis, seventy-nine light-years from Earth. Millions of years before even your earliest human ancestors came into existence, the Mahdimeen fought a great Cosmic war against my people, the Watchers of Algol. We were victorious, but only after a momentous and incredibly difficult series of battles that left certain regions of the Universe in eternal ruin.”

“When you speak of these foes,” said Sharona, a note of wonder entering her voice, “your speech reminds me of my old master when he would tell of the evil spirits that plague this world.”

“Your shaman was a wise man indeed,” I assured her. “Oh, there are no such things as ‘evil spirits’ -- ghosts, demons, that sort of thing -- but there are immensely strong and unspeakably evil beings that lurk in the darkest areas of the Cosmos. Beings bred in pure wickedness that we must resist and fight at all costs. Of such are the Mahdimeen.”

“But, Master, your people, the Watchers; you said they were the most powerful race in the heavens. Can they not easily defeat all enemies?”

“Well, Sharona, therein lies the dilemma!” I exclaimed. “To even get so much involved in such things is seen by the Algolites as possibly leading to corruption. We must, of course, forever guard against becoming like unto our very foes! The Absolute Convention -- the ruling body of Algol -- only officially authorises intervention in cases of extreme necessity, such as the war with the Mahdimeen.”

“But why were these ‘Mahdimeen’ so difficult for you to overcome?” enquired the girl.

 I hesitated to respond. The very thought of the implications of the answer to this question brought back memories of unimaginable pain and suffering.

“Sharona,” I finally said, “it was… horrible! The Mahdimeen had, for generations, actually ingested a substance known as Evaerlium -- a certain rare radioactive element that is detrimental, indeed sometimes physically fatal, to Algolites.”

“You mean this had become a part of them?”

“Yes, the Evaerlium augmented and fine-tuned their own innate powers to be absolute fighting machines against the Watchers themselves!”

“But were these Mahdimeen not finally destroyed, as you have said?”

“Indeed they were, at least so far as their bodily forms, civilisation, and culture are concerned.” I explained. “Nevertheless, whenever beings have achieved such profound mentalist powers, there is always the chance that some element of them will survive -- some residual essence. Such seems to be the case here.”

“So this man we are looking for now. He is… possessed?”

“Forsooth,” said I. “The Earthling known as Scott Gritzen is indeed possessed -- possessed and controlled by the very powers of the dreaded Mahdimeen of Cor Leonis!”

This indeed I had learned from my scan of the now-deceased Sean Owens. This Owens, whilst himself gaining none of the powers of the horrid Mahdimeen, had shown evidence of having been in the presence of one who was under their complete influence. As it turns out, Owens had simply been a dealer in illegal drugs doing business with Scott Gritzen, who had especially sought out large amounts of narcotic hemp and opioid painkillers against his own chronic pancreatitis.

Sharona Wallace suddenly shuddered and I heard the sound of her quickly unsheathing the hunting knife from its leathern scabbard at her side.

“Master, be wary,” stated the beautiful jungle girl. “I sense something. Something dangerous and… evil.”

In the time I had known young Sharona Wallace, I had come to respect her hunter’s instinct, along with her amazing physical prowess, these being the result of her having grown up in the savage jungles along the Amazon River.  And indeed, at this time her senses did not fail her, for issuing forth from the slime-drenched foliage of the swamp were two hideously deformed, dwarfish children -- the horrid offspring of Scott Gritzen, the obscene and perverse outcome of his having raped his little sister, Allyson, at gunpoint some years before. Allyson Gritzen had died giving birth to these inbred monstrosities at the age of thirteen, and now the grotesque Zelda and Damien Gritzen stood before us -- and I perceived that they had in sooth come prepared!

“Master,” whispered Sharona to me. “That strange dark glow about them? It is blacker than the shadows! Is it… ?”

“It is power from the force of the Mahdimeen,” I expostulated. “They have gotten it from living so long in close proximity to their father.“

The nauseating Damien and Zelda -- criminally-conceived children of the perverted sex offender known as Scott Gritzen -- then let forth with howling peels of unholy, insane laughter as they lurched towards us!!

These sickening and woefully nauseating creatures -- the very children of Scott Gritzen’s aberrant passions -- continued to glow with the ebony effulgence of Mahdimeen power. Their bodies were twisted and hideously deformed, their clothing filthy rags, and their faces things of shrieking nightmares unimaginable. 

Do you recognise the unspeakable and ungodly terror of this situation, my dear readers? For the sake of your blessed sanity, I actually pray that you do not!

Suddenly, the two monstrosities launched themselves directly at my companion, Sharona Wallace. Being in essence predatory subhuman animals like their felonious father, they recognised her as the weaker of the two of us.

Before I could intervene, the horrid freaks known as Damien and Zelda Gritzen hit the girl fully with their powers, sending her reeling uncontrollably backwards to be stopped only by a large tree several yards behind her. I heard a sadly resounding thud as she hit her head upon the unyielding wood of the tree-trunk, and beheld the young woman immediately sink into unconsciousness.

“Sharona!” I cried in shock and horror at what had occurred.

Overcome with anger at this assault upon the lass, I generated and sent an incredibly powerful wave of my own bright orange and blue Algolitish energies at the horrendous offspring of Scott Gritzen. Damien and Zelda briefly screamed in abject pain and agony before being silenced forever by death. 

In my indignation, I had somewhat overdone the amount of energy needed to slay the two deformed children, and I beheld that my onslaught had in sooth shredded and in fact quite roasted the pair of disgusting dwarfs. Grotesquely, a mixture of blood, bone marrow, and meat juices flowed forth around their nearly liquefied flesh.

“Gritzen gravy,” said I in disgust.

I then turned with the intention of immediately seeing to the condition of my young friend Sharona Wallace. Nevertheless, before I could succeed in reaching the girl, I was hit from behind by an extraordinarily powerful blast of Mahdimeen energies that sent a shooting pain through my body -- for these energies were not merely the residual powers of those who had only been in the presence of a possessed individual, but rather the direct and unnameable strength of one who was totally under the controlling influence of that ancient alien race. Sooth to say, it was painfully obvious that this power did indeed contain a dose of that radioactive substance potentially fatal to my people -- that which is known as Evaerlium!!

Forcing myself to recover enough to turn and face my attacker, I beheld for the first time that unmentionably obscene and horrendously wicked malefactor named in eternal infamy as Scott Gritzen.

He was a man of less than thirty, though with a countenance debauched beyond his years, of medium height and rather thin despite the sagging flesh that denoted a recent and sudden weight-loss (likely the result of his narcotics addiction). His decidedly unkempt hair was the colour of excrement, a scruffy beard grew upon his pallid face, and his soulless eyes held no real life in their fungus-hued green. He wore an oversized sweatshirt and ripped trousers, and his distorted, grotesquely misshapen limbs showed evidence of the crippling deformities of his lowbred hereditary condition.

Most of all, the ebon black radiance of the Mahdimeen of Cor Leonis surrounded his unholy person, causing constant sparks of darkness to play upon the thick, humidity-filled air of that squalid swampland known as Red Squirrel Marsh. Despite his grotesquely plebeian origins, the alien force had managed to enhance his brain and body for their own unholy utilisation.

I sent a blast of my Algolitish power at Gritzen, but the Evaerlium-enriched force of the horrid Mahdimeen protected him like unto a suit of extraterrestrial armour. He laughed with maddening mirth at my attempt.

“I am Scott Gritzen, chosen one of the mighty Mahdimeen,” he announced. “This is my ‘God Complex’, and I will bring Helter Skelter upon this planet! Its people shall turn against each other in acts of extreme violence and, in the end, it is I -- Scott Gritzen -- who will rise and rule this world with the glorious power of Cor Leonis!!”

Gritzen then sent another blast of Mahdimeen powers at me; a long, sustained wave that sent me to my knees.

“Fall before us now, Daniel Rumanos of Algol,” he spat contemptuously through his untidy beard. “Fall before us, icon of our ancient enemies! Fall as you feel the supreme power of the Mahdimeen! It is, for you, another way to die!!!”

The intense powers of the Mahdimeen tore through me with a searing pain of acute and abject agony. The presence of the Evaerlium was palpable, and its effects were wielded against me with incredible fervour by the alien-possessed varlet known as Scott Gritzen. Being already somewhat weakened by having expelled the force of energy I had used to destroy his hideous children, I was for the moment quite defenceless.

“You will die, Rumanos! Die! Die! Die!” taunted the despicable Gritzen amidst obscene peals of his maniacal laughter. “You will now die by the power of the Mahdimeen of Cor Leonis! Die by the power that is now mine -- the power of death that I, Scott Gritzen, shall bring to all the Earth and its people! Helter Skelter! Helter Skelter!!”

Be it known that it is perhaps just possible that my Algolitish abilities would have reasserted themselves to prevail over the horrid force of the Mahdimeen and their twisted human avatar, Scott Gritzen. Mayhap a blast of my powers would have surged forth just before his horrid black energies could have succeeded in bringing me to my final death. This, however, I shall never know for certain…

For just then, as I felt the Mahdimeen powers cause me to sink towards the darkness of unconsciousness and possible death -- they suddenly ceased. I was no longer being pummelled by the eldritch extraterrestrial force coming from the possessed Gritzen. He no longer laughed and taunted and boasted of his heinous plans of despotic conquest. In sooth, an odd silence had suddenly come upon that foggy swampland of rural Maryland.

I struggled to overcome the residual pain in my head and body, and looked up towards where Scott Gritzen had lately stood in seeming triumph. I saw him fall forward flat upon his face and briefly twitch spasmodically before becoming totally motionless in death.

Standing behind Gritzen’s now-prostrate body was Sharona Wallace. The girl’s jungle-learned strength had enabled her to recover from her bump on the head, and she had crept around behind Gritzen whilst he was preoccupied with me. I beheld the hilt of her knife protruding from his back.

I stood up, shaking off the last of the effects of my ordeal, and walked over to Scott Gritzen’s corpse. The horrid power of the Mahdimeen, the last trace of the existence of that ancient and horrid race, had safely dissipated into the ethers with his death. Ironically, the technologically advanced horrors of Cor Leonis had been brought to their final end by the blade of a savage.

“’Another way to die‘, indeed,” said I.

I pulled the hunting knife from Gritzen’s back and, after safely wiping his tainted blood from it with my pocket-handkerchief, returned it to the attractive teenager.

“Capital work, Miss Wallace,” I assured her. “I thank you much, and I -- along with this world -- am indeed forever in your debt.”

“You are welcome, Master,” she said simply whilst returning her knife to its sheath.

Dawn was then breaking and had begun to dispel the marshy mists as Sharona Wallace and I left the area of that swampland in Charles County.

“Come along now,“ I instructed the beautiful blonde jungle girl, “and we shall take a stroll to the nearest town and have some breakfast.”

“Belgian waffles with a side of turkey bacon?” she answered with a smile as her lovely blue eyes sparkled in the early morning light.

“I say, my Sharona, it does now seem you have indeed learned to appreciate the absolute best that civilisation has to offer!”

DANIEL RUMANOS SHALL RETURN

ALL THE TIME IN THE UNIVERSE


“It’s no use, Dr. Rumanos,” snarled the wicked Von Wingo as we stood on the command bridge of his spaceship, The Flamingo Terrace, “You are alone, and will not succeed in your attempt to frustrate my plans!”

“Really, you sickening old slaver?” I rejoined facetiously. “I have fought my way through your entire system of guards and defences. Do you expect me to now just give up?”

“No, Dr. Rumanos,” he said as his cold blue eyes narrowed hatefully. “I expect you to die!”

“Good God, Wingo!” I swore. “How many times I’ve heard that one!”

At this, Von Wingo raised his semiautomatic ray-gun and aimed it directly at my midsection.

“All right, then,” said I as I prepared to defend myself. “But can we go ahead and just get this confrontation over with? I have a date with a fiery redhead.”

My name is DR. DANIEL RUMANOS, Literary Illusionist and Intergalactic Man of Mystery. Even though I have the appearance of a strikingly handsome human gentleman with aristocratic Anglo-Semitic features, I am in reality not a mere mortal at all. I am actually many thousands of years old and do carry within my blood the 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 keep to themselves, 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. 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!

Such was my confrontation -- as I stood there clad in my usual silk suit, leathern greatcoat, panama hat, and jungle boots -- with the execrable Galactic slave-dealer and habitual criminal extraordinaire known as Von Wingo.

And so Wingo, his all-black suit and flowing cape darker than the deep space outside the porthole windows, pulled the trigger of his ray-gun, causing it to emit its searing beam of deadly yellow-hued energy.

I deftly generated a charge of my own Algolitish energies, using it as a sparkling bright orange and blue shield to deflect the death ray. Before the evil slaver could again fire, I cast a bolt of my powers towards him. To my surprise, it only caused him to slightly step backwards. The material of his clothing had been impregnated with its own form of shield against energy weaponry of all kinds.

“Stalemate!” shouted Von Wingo. “But not for long, Rumanos… Not for long!”

Then, Wingo pressed a button on the wall behind him and a sliding doorway opened to his right. Nothing was yet visible in the dark of the passage thus revealed, but I immediately perceived a sound; a low growling and grunting noise as of some hideous beast.

“Now, Dr. Rumanos, you meddling Kosmikos office-boy,” he announced insultingly, “say hello to my little friend!”

At that moment, crawling forth from the doorway was a creature of insane nightmare, a monster that Von Wingo had found on one of the primitive outer-rim planets from which he also imported slaves. It looked like an huge, corpulent, alien crocodilian, with six clawed legs, three hideous reptilian eyes, and several rows of large, razor-sharp teeth within its gigantically-gaping jaws.

I recognised this monstrosity immediately as a droobee, and knew of the reputation of its species as being among the deadliest carnivores of the entire Galaxy.

“Her name is Lexi,” taunted Wingo, “and it’s way past her feeding time!”

Then, with a tremendous, ear-splitting roar, the giant reptile lashed its armour-plated tail and charged directly towards me!!

It has often been said, probably even by some who should actually know better, that when one is in a supposedly life-threatening situation, one’s life flashes before one’s eyes. This was not my experience as the hideous reptilian droobee sped towards me. Instead, my mind flashed back briefly to the facts uncovered during the investigation that had led to my face-to-face confrontation with the execrable Galactic criminal Von Wingo, and also to his exceedingly strange antecedents.

This Von Wingo, so it had been ascertained, was a direct descendent of an individual named Donna May Wingo, who had flourished in the early Twenty-First Century in the horridly-debased small town of Tunkhannock, Pennsylvania -- an area known to be especially filled with grotesquely hidden crimes and secrets sins beyond the imaginings of decent persons. This Donna Wingo had termed herself “Queen of the Vikings” due to the family story that her grandmother had been the illegitimate child of a servant girl in the household of Princess Marie of Denmark. That the princess had been kind enough to stand godmother to the poor little bastard was enough for Donna Wingo to consider herself the scion of northern European royalty, and the “Viking” pretensions were the natural result of her own white-supremacist beliefs.

Despite her beliefs to the end that she was going to appear as a cast member on some idiotic “paranormal” cable television show, Donna May Wingo died in obscurity, living alone with her pet pig, “Kevin” (what with Donna Wingo being one among so many ignoramuses at the time who thought that it was both unique and perhaps even clever to name a pet swine after the film actor Kevin Bacon), and swearing all along that her double-wide trailer in the hills was a “Citadel in the Endless Mountains” and that one of her descendents would someday subjugate all of Creation. Shortly after her death, it was briefly a scandal in the area that she had indeed given birth to a child, a boy of decidedly porcine aspect that she had named “Donald Jay”, after herself. He had quietly been taken into protected custody by child welfare services as the result of his mother’s opioid addiction.

It was three thousand years of family degradation later that brought about the result of Von Wingo becoming the terror of the Galactic quadrant in which the obscure human colony where he was born was situated. Evidencing a predilection for crime from his youth, Von Wingo had in turn been a narcotics dealer, a pirate, a murderer-for-hire, a prohibited weapons smuggler, a dealer in horrendous pornography and prostitutes (including his own preadolescent daughter, Stacey “Woogi” Wingo, whom he had sold into the harem of one of the loathsome Black Sultans of Trappist-1), and finally, a slave-trader -- selling humanoid indentured labour to the illegal produce plantations along the outer rim of the Milky Way.

In this, Von Wingo had become Public Enemy Number One of the Fifty-First Century, and his description was well-known to police and other authorities throughout the Galaxy -- Born: 28 March, 4968 (now age forty-nine); height: 5’10”; weight: 180 lbs. (although he had gained quite a bit of weight since this description had first circulated); with long, lanky, dung-brown hair (now greying and with a scraggly beard added) and those unfeeling, soulless, icy blue eyes.

And so now, as I stood upon the bridge of his spaceship, the notorious slave-scow with the incongruous name of Flamingo Terrace (it being a former Galactic cruise vessel that he had appropriated during his days of piracy), his pet reptile, Lexi the monstrous crocodilian droobee, barrelled towards me with its hideous jaws agape!

Can you comprehend the absolute terror of this situation, my friends? 

Using my abilities, I jumped upwards over the beast and landed behind it in order to gain time. I knew my Algolitish energies would not have enough immediate effect on the creature’s plated hide, and had to think of another form of defence. By the time the monster had turned around to again face me, I had readied my attempt.

I stood firm and stared hard at the beast, asserting my superior will over its low animal mind. I looked deeply into its sickening yellow eyes and mentally projected my dominance into its puny brain.

The grotesque monster relaxed and then proceeded to lay down upon the floor, now (for the moment at least) totally docile.

The menace for a while abated, I quickly looked around the deck and perceived that the evil slaver and pirate known as Von Wingo had disappeared. He had fled the chamber whilst I was contending with the monstrous droobee.

I hurried out the still-open doorway and down the hallway of the ship. I knew that there was only one way towards which the fleeing villain could have gone: to the craft’s one-and-only airlock!

As I entered the room in which the airlock was found my heart sank a bit. The criminal filth Von Wingo was nowhere to be seen. However, I quickly ran over to the port window and peered out of it. The sight that met my eyes filled me with cold, creeping dread.

I saw a rocket-cycle speeding away from the ship. The notorious and disgusting felon Von Wingo was escaping!!

I knew that, no matter what the cost might be, I could not allow this tragedy to happen. I knew that I must at all odds succeed in the completion of my mission. The wicked blackbirder known as Von Wingo had to be stopped, lest he manage to escape justice and then to establish himself elsewhere -- and thence continue to build his horrid criminal empire across the Galaxy!

I hurriedly glanced around the room. It was a small hanger in which was another rocket-cycle, matching the one Wingo was riding. I ran over and jumped upon it but then realised I did not have the proper ignition key.

I reached into one of the pockets of my voluminous coat and retrieved a small cylindrical object. It was about four inches in length and looked somewhat like a metallic writing instrument. In fact it was a device known as a sonar wrench, and I then proceeded to quickly program the appropriate settings into it.

I held the sonar wrench over the control dashboard of the rocket-cycle and felt the ignition fire up. Pocketing the device, I then drove the vehicle, with its domelike cover closing around me, to the airlock. The hatchway opened and, with a blast of rocket power, I shot forth on the cycle into open Space.

I saw Von Wingo from afar and put the rocket engines into overdrive. He detected my efforts, and immediately started to zigzag about in an attempt to disorient me.

“I will completely destroy your life, Rumanos,” his voice crackled over the rocket-cycle’s radio communications device. “Even if you live, you will now have no reputation!”

“It won’t work, Wingnut,” I replied calmly. “Give yourself up now and I shall turn you over to the custody of the Galactic Police for a fair trial. At worst, you will then spend your remaining days in a high-security space-station prison playing the bloody guitar or something. Otherwise, if you in stead choose to not cease your current course of action, I am indeed fully authorised and licensed to kill you.”

“No, you meddling Algolite anti-fascist snowflake!” he rejoined bizarrely. “It is you -- YOU, frigging Daemon-Star -- who will regret your actions, or else not live to do so!!”

It was then that I noticed something that was indeed quite odd. Von Wingo had circled about and was keeping in the immediate area of the spaceship. I had at first assumed he would attempt to find an asteroid or something with a cratered surface where he could, perhaps, hide until I had given up the search. But no, he was instead staying near by. Why?

I quickly glanced at the dashboard of the rocket-cycle. The fuel gauge showed that it was perilously low. Did the wicked Von Wingo know that this cycle had not been properly refuelled? Also, was his in the same condition, or had he tricked me into following him with the intention of leaving me stranded in the darksome and airless depths of interstellar Space?

“It’s over now, Daniel frigging Rumanos!” he shouted over the communicator. “You are now finished! Finished! Do you hear me?! You are finished!!”

Not seeing any use in continuing the listen to his absurdly hateful and stereotypically villainous rhetoric, I switched off the communicator and continued to concentrate on keeping apace with Von Wingo’s speeding rocket-cycle.

What next occurred actually happened far more quickly than I can relate it here. Wingo suddenly turned the path of his cycle back directly towards his ship. The airlock hatchway opened and his vehicle slipped inside it, the hatch then quickly closing behind him.

Still immediately behind Von Wingo, I then found myself hurtling towards the outer hull of the spaceship -- and the rocket-cycle would no longer respond to my attempts at controlling it. To my horror I realised why, and also that this horrible criminal, the sickening miscreant scum known to Galactic infamy as the ungodly and immoral slave-trader Von Wingo, had -- as incredible as it may indeed sound! -- succeeded in hoodwinking me.

My borrowed rocket-cycle was now completely out of fuel and totally out of control, and I was within a scant few seconds of being smashed to a pulp upon the unyielding metal hull of the ship!!

I hurriedly took the sonar wrench from my coat pocket and, holding it outwards before me, waited until they very last possible moment  before activating it, hoping and praying that I would be in range of the opening mechanism of the hatchway.

Then, just before the rocket-cycle would have smashed against the ship’s hull -- and myself with it --, the hatch opened and I flew through the opening into the hanger.

Upon contact with the artificial atmosphere of the spaceship, the cycle skidded to a stop and I alighted from it whilst the airlock closed safely behind me.

I saw Von Wingo’s rocket-cycle abandoned beside the one I had appropriated, but he himself was nowhere in sight. I accordingly turned towards the passageway to go after him when he suddenly stepped from where he had been hiding at the turn of the near by hall. He then pulled the trigger on his ray-gun and blasted me directly in the chest area!

The pain was searing and immense, and I hit the floor hard, knowing that only my superior Algolitish physique had saved me from death or permanent injury. The unspeakably evil Von Wingo then chuckled as he moved towards me, his gun held cocked before him.

“Now, Daniel Rumanos, you dashing hero of hebephilia,” he mocked, “you have reached your end!”

“Wingo!” I shouted, looking up. “Look out! Behind you!”

“Really, you fool?” he retorted, “Do you think I could fall for that old… Aaaaugh!!”

Von Wingo’s scream of shock and pain was then cut short as the huge, hungry jaws of Lexi the horrid droobee closed upon him. The scaly crocodilian monstrosity, now having recovered from the effects of my hypnotic spell, had lurched silently down the hallway behind Wingo whilst he was preoccupied with me. Nevertheless, just as Von Wingo -- slave-trader, pimp, and pirate -- died, he discharged a blast of his ray-gun directly down the horrid creature’s throat, hitting some vital organ. The droobee shuddered and expired with the crushed and bloody carcass of the villain still in its reptilian maw.

“Droobee droobee droo,” I crooned, shaking off the effects of the ray-gun blast only by utilising my extraterrestrial self-healing powers.

I went to the command bridge of the ship, that notorious Flamingo Terrace of the now-late slaver Von Wingo, and programmed it to self-destruct, setting the timer at just enough for me to make my escape.

I then hurried down to the cargo hold of the ship and approached what appeared to be an old “Roman column”. It was, of course, in actuality my own fantastic Space/Time ship, the DiTraS (Dimensional Transport Sphere). A round doorway opened in the column and I entered.

Soon after, a strange gasping, moaning noise was heard -- the sound of the engines as my DiTraS and I disappeared into the void of the inter-dimensional Current.

From within the café-like control room of my ship, I watched on the view-screen as The Flamingo Terrace was blown to countless atoms, taking with it the last mortal remains of the disgusting criminal known to eternal shame as Von Wingo.

I had soon tuned the controls of the DiTraS to take me to my next destination, the far-off vacation planet on which someone waited for me; someone wonderful and perfect; someone who has my love for all eternity.

The ship re-materialised upon the balcony of our holiday home upon the resort known as Planet Caledonia, overlooking the immense pleasure-forest of that world, its trees green and blue and purple and also many other colours -- including some hues unknown to mankind.

I ran across the balcony and entered the upper sitting room of the house. I noticed that it was filled with cats -- cats of all kinds, forsooth several dozen of them. Black cats and white cats and calico cats and orange tabbies and Persians and Siamese and many more.

“Kitty cats!” I exclaimed joyously.

It was then that my stunningly beautiful wife, LADY KATRINA RUMANOS, flew into my arms, her long hair trailing behind her like red gold, her flashing azure eyes filled with happiness. Her tall, slender figure was clad in only a diaphanous silvery nightdress, and her pure alabaster skin shone gloriously in the light of the planet’s four moons filtering in from the glass doorways.

“Oh, my love!” she sighed, “I’m so glad that you’re here! I have missed you so very much!”

“I’ve missed you too, my beautiful one,” said I. “Sorry I was away for so long. I had to work late.”

“I understand, babe,” she replied sweetly. “I spent the time waiting for you by, well, collecting cats!”

“Quite right!” I approved. “I must say they are quite better pets than Pennsylvania porkers or obese alien alligators.”

“Awww! I love you so much, Daniel,” said my lovely and eternally-youthful wife. “Forever and for always!”

“I love you too, Katrina,” I replied as I pulled her closer for a kiss, whilst the numerous felines meowed and mewed and purred around us. “I shall love you always and forever. After all, we have All the Time in the Universe!!”

***** HAPPY HOLIDAYS FROM YOUR FRIENDS AT THE ADVENTURES OF DAEMON-STAR!!! *****

DANIEL RUMANOS SHALL RETURN

IMMORTAL SINS


Never forget that you are better than they are.” 
(Saint Jerome the Hermit)

Jonnella “Jonni“ Morrissey, age 23, liked to refer to herself as “The Bitchy-Witchy”. Petite, slender, with dyed-black hair and pale skin, having multiple tattoos and body-piercings, she was borderline attractive in a rather trashy way. Originally a Cockney from the Stepney district of London’s East End, she had had come to America in her teens hoping for big-time stardom, the girl was now lead singer in a Los Angeles-based rock group (their music was self-described as “Goth-Punk-Grunge“) known as Dirty Goat, which had become the house band at an LA nightclub located on the Sunset Strip and called, appropriately enough, Lucifer’s.

What brought me to California that particular evening to see a performance of this Dirty Goat were reports that Miss Morrissey had, on several occasions, enthralled her audiences with displays of “magical” powers, and had begun to build what could ominously be referred to as a cult following.

My name is DR. DANIEL RUMANOS, Literary Illusionist and Intergalactic Man of Mystery. Though I have the appearance of a strikingly handsome human gentleman with aristocratic Anglo-Semitic features and dark hair (which I have intentionally let go a bit grey of late in order to look even more respectable), I am, in reality, not a mere mortal at all. I am actually many thousands of years old and do carry within my blood the superior genes of the mysterious Watchers of the Daemon-Star ALGOL; this heritage granting me numerous powers and abilities that appear “supernatural” to lesser beings.

Whilst most Algolites keep to themselves, content to merely observe the goings-on of the Universe around them, their intellects vast and cool and unsympathetic, I am a member of a secret organisation amongst the elite class of our people, known as the KOSMIKOS or Cosmic Intervention Department. I thus have, for so many years now, made it my particular mission to use these gifts to defend the people of Earth from attack and invasion from unfriendly extraterrestrial races, mad scientists, and assorted similar threats.

However, I had some time prior to these specific events left Earth in order to explore the Universe in my Space/Time ship, the DiTraS. Only the summons that informed me of the breeching of the very Temporal Parameters I had left to protect that planet had forced me to return and, as I was to soon find out -- not a moment too soon!!

You see, it appeared, according to the report I had received from the Kosmikos, that the sudden and bizarre empowerment of Miss Morrissey had occurred exactly after this unexplained breaking down of the Temporal Parameters.

As I stood in the audience at Lucifer’s -- clad in my usual silk suit, greatcoat, panama hat, dark spectacles, and jungle boots -- I wondered about the secrets of this bloody Jonnella Morrissey person. Her appearance was not personally known to me, and yet there was something, something indeed, quite hauntingly familiar about her. It was something elusive, enigmatic, and actually rather grotesque. The “music” of Dirty Goat only succeeded in boring me immensely. It was nothing but mindless noise with lyrics based upon common semi-Satanic drivel. For something that was said to be at once Goth and Punk and Grunge, it just sounded a bleeding awful lot like Death Metal to me.

But then, whilst her guitarist played a solo turn, the young woman known as Jonni Morrissey strutted to the front and centre of the stage in her tight, black leathern cat-suit, and, to the absolute awe of her admiring audience, suddenly levitated directly upwards into the air!

At this juncture, I decided the moment had indeed come for direct confrontation. Unpunished displays of such power before groups of impressionable human beings are unspeakably dangerous in so many regards. I therefore immediately leapt up onto the stage and spoke into the public announcement system:

“Attention, Jonnella Morrissey. I am RUMANOS and you must now make an account of your actions!”

At a signal from Jonni, the band stopped playing and the audience continued to stand by in astonishment at what they had just seen. The girl descended to the stage before me and grinned wickedly, her intent green eyes fixed upon me with a bizarre mixture of amusement and disdain.

“Lord Rumanos of Daemonia,” she said, surprisingly using my Algolitish title, “you have been expected. It is quite interesting to see you again.”

“What do you blooming mean, ‘again’?” replied I. “We have most certainly never met before.”

“Oh, haven’t we? Surely I have not been forgotten, hmmmm?”

“I can assure you, I have no idea who you are, young woman. But I cannot allow you to enchant innocent people with whatever ‘paranormal’ abilities you possess.”

“Oh, you know who I am,” she continued. “I have waited long since our last confrontation. Waited for my moment. Waited… for this!”

And then Jonni Morrissey raised her hand and cast a bolt of hideously powerful orange and blue-black energy directly at me. It hit me painfully, but not as excruciatingly as the shock of the devastating knowledge that this amazing exhibit of alien force brought to me.

So then, the mysterious girl who called herself by the name of Jonnella “Jonni“ Morrissey, the Bitchy-Witchy, was not human. She was actually one of my own people, one of our immensely-powerful race of Space/Time Masters -- an Algolite!!

Do you realise the absolute screaming insane horror of this, my dear readers? The strange woman known as Miss Jonni Morrissey, the self-proclaimed “Bitchy Witchy” and “Gothic Punk Grunger” was actually an Algolite! Nevertheless, I still had to wonder: Which one?

In any event, I perceived that I had to move the ensuing confrontation between us away from this crowd of innocent onlookers. I accordingly sent an incredibly-powerful bolt of my own Algolitish energy directly at Miss Morrissey -- the impact of it causing her to be hurtled through the air and to crash through the roof of the nightclub.

I followed her immediately, levitating smoothly upwards into the night far over the city of Los Angeles. The lights of the city shone from below us, even as the myriad stars twinkled above in that clear California sky.

“Ah, Rumanos,” said Jonnella Morrissey when I had reached her. “This is just like old times, is it not? Remember?”

I looked into the girl’s face. I could still swear that I had never encountered her before, and yet… there was indeed something bizarrely familiar in her expression -- in that look of extreme hatred and total, unmitigated evil.

“You have shown me that you are one of our race; one of the Watchers of the Daemon-Star,” I stated. “Nevertheless, I am certain that I have never met you before. Your form is not known to me. Again, one who calls herself Jonnella Morrissey, I enquire: Who are you?!”

“You know who I am,” she again replied with excruciating offhandedness. “You certainly remember our battles, our fights on this world and others.”

“When?”

“Long ago. Yes, I was indeed in a different form then -- albeit a human one, like this one is. It was then that I endeavoured to continue my lives-long programme to force our people, our high and mighty Algolite civilisation, on to even greater glories; to bring about our evolution into beings of pure ecstatic light! And then, THEN, I would lead them as the supreme and eternal ruler, and we would issue forth to work our will upon all of Time and Space!!”

I felt a cold chill of utter horror as her words brought back memories of the past, of my hazardous and supremely-terrifying confrontations with a most dangerous enemy -- one who was indeed the most notorious and infamous political criminal in all the vast annals of the aeons-long history of the Daemon-Star.

“It was in those days,” she continued, “before our now-legendary battles, that I poured so very much of my superior Algolitish sperm into this luscious young body. For in those days little Jonni Morrissey was just a juvenile ‘paranormal’ groupie and want-to-be rock singer; and I was, after all, perfectly possessing the body of the host of television’s Ghost Escapades, the now-late Zef Bazans. Ah, yes, the body of this girl absorbed so much of my DNA that I was able, after the destruction of my previous form, to draw my essence to it, and to totally possess young Miss Morrissey in order to continue my plans -- to prepare for my ascension to become the supreme rule of the Watchers of Algol!”

“The telegony,” I said, still in utter astonishment. “You really did use it to save your consciousness from destruction, you Time Molester! So you are, in actuality…”

“Yes! I am the one! The one who is the greatest of all in the history of the Watchers! The one who is hated only out of jealousy by our kind! I am the one! I am the one!”

“Yet you cannot be him! Gender-change is expressly forbidden by the laws of the Algolites! It is an hideously sinful abomination!”

This is indeed the case, though not for any homophobic or gender-biased reason. It is because of the horrid possibilities of what could occur with any being capable of both Time Travel and sexual reproduction. So horrible is the potential of this, that it is this very act that had resulted in the breaking up of that protective field of the Temporal Parameters.

“Such laws do not apply to me!” she then shrieked in answer to my accusation. “I am above all! The one -- the greatest one who shall soon rule all! I AM NEPHAL!!!”

Nephal. Well, blimming blooming bleeding Hell.

“Yes, Rumanos, yes!” continued the being now speaking through the form of Jonnella “Jonni” Morrissey with maniacal merriment. “I am the one! The one great, supreme, and immortal ruler of our Algolite Race! I am NEPHAL!”

As much as I wished it were at all possible to deny it, I knew that what she was saying was the truth. I could sense the presence of my old enemy. Nephal, forsooth the greatest political criminal in the vastly long history of the Watchers of Algol, had indeed at one time delivered himself from his punishment of perpetual imprisonment in solid rock by possessing the body of television “ghost hunter” Zef Bazans. Easily destroying the human soul of Bazans, Nephal had made the body his own and used it to continue his dark plans to force the evolution of our people into beings of pure energy, in its way returning us to the form of our Aeternusian progenitors whilst dangerously maintaining our physically-based sensations. To Algolites, whose own system of ethics forbids meddling with the natural cycles of the Universe, even to hint at the possibility of attempting such things is indeed a crime beyond any possible forgiveness.

In cooperation with the Absolute Convention of Daemonia, that highest ruling council of the Watchers, the Kosmikos and I had succeeding in defeating Nephal and his mad, utterly insane and diabolical schemes[*]. It was hoped that the evil consciousness of Nephal had been successfully scattered throughout the thirteen corners of the Cosmos, indeed dispersed among the immense reaches of Space and Time far beyond any possible repair.

[* The full chronicles of this are given in the accounts found in The Rumanos Files under the titles “Starfall” and “Fallen”.]

However, Nephal had now returned, having this time perfectly possessed the body of Miss Jonni Morrissey, a onetime fan and lover of Ghost Escapades TV host Zef Bazans. Yes, to my utter horror and disgust I had to admit that Nephal had returned and now he/she(!) was preparing to attempt a recommencement of the barmy scheme of creating completely non-physical Algolites and using them to rule over all other species of the Universe.

Do you understand the utter terror and disgusting depravity of this unspeakable, unnameable, and unnatural situation?!

“My secret following, the most blessed Cult of Nephal, await me on the home-world,” she proclaimed, “and now they shall assist the final transfiguration as I shall become supreme ruler of our people forevermore!!”

“You will not do it, Nephal!” I proclaimed to her. “I shall not allow you to return to Daemonia! You will not be permitted to change our people to suit your idea of ‘perfection‘! You will not be allowed to impose your iniquitous commands upon others!”

With this, I hit her with a profoundly powerful blast of my own bright-orange and blue Algolitish energies.

Nephal/Jonni Morrissey was forced backwards across the sky, but recovered all too quickly, throwing another bolt of her own energies at me. I was prepared for this, however, and managed to dodge it.

“You shall not stop me this time, Rumanos!” said she. “I have already prepared for my triumphant return to Daemonia! My will, bolstered by the psychic force of the adoration of the fans of Dirty Goat, has allowed me to do this…!!”

Suddenly, at Nephal’s summons appeared above us a large spherical vehicle glistening silver in the starlight. I recognised it immediately as a STraDi -- a primitive form of a DiTraS (pronounced “DYE-tress”) or Dimensional Transport Sphere, the Time/Space ship used by the Watchers. This, then, is what she had psychically built during her time as Jonnella “The Bitchy Witchy“ Morrissey, would-be rock star. Buggers.

Then, an even more hideous thing happened. Before I could even begin to protest, Nephal, there in the form of Miss Jonni Morrissey, took my face between her hands and kissed me full on the lips. Whilst I attempted to recover from the utter and complete disgust that I felt at this appalling and revoltingly unnatural abomination, Nephal flew upwards and entered the STraDi, activating its engines and dematerialising the craft into the Space/Time Current.

Therefore, I was left hanging in the skies above Los Angeles, California, as the wicked and evil Nephal travelled onwards to attempt her demoniacal plans in the home star system of our people: Algol.

“Sodding Nephal,” shouted I as the odd gasping and moaning sounds of the dematerialised STraDi engines faded from my hearing. “I would tell you what to go do with yourself, but you obviously already did that years ago!”

However, I knew that I had no time for such bizarre mental ruminations. There was still one slim chance left of my preventing the unmentionable Nephal from reaching Algol, and of stopping her from beginning what could very well amount to a reign of chaos among our illustrious people.

I flew quickly down to the corner of Hollywood and Vine, where I had left my own DiTraS travel machine, which is disguised in the form of a “Roman column”. Shooing away the inebriated prostitute that was leaning against it (and ignoring her offer to melt my popsicle, whatever the blazes that means), I entered the ship and dematerialised it.

Soon, in the café-like control room of my DiTraS, I had appropriately set the controls and was hurtling through the eldritch grey mists of the Space/Time Current -- in pursuit of the execrable Nephal. I saw her STraDi on the view-screen and prepared the only way now possible to stop her: temporal collision!!

If I could manoeuvre my DiTraS to occupy the same exact point of the Current as her STraDi even for one infinitesimal moment, she would then be stopped, her human body and travel machine destroyed. Nevertheless, it was also very probable, in fact quite all but certain, that this action would destroy my machine and me as well.

“Goodbye Katrina, my love, my darling wife,” I whispered as I prepared to ram my DiTraS into the rear of the evil Nephal’s STraDi. “Goodbye, Ehrich, my noble son, and my dear little daughter, Karen. I am so very proud of you. I know you will all understand why I had to do this. If I did not, the Universe would not be safe for you or for anyone else ever again.”

And then, contact happened between the two ships, and immediately all was darkness…

To my surprise, I woke up a short time later, on the floor of the DiTraS control room. I had an headache you would not blooming well believe, but I was unharmed. The circuitry of my ship had switched to minimal autopilot mode, and I soon enough set things aright. My own craft, of a much more advanced and sturdy type than Nephal’s, had survived the impact. As for me

“Right,” said I. “I do sometimes forget that I am immortal.”

The other ship had been completely obliterated, and there was no sign of Nephal’s Algolitish consciousness within the Current. I hoped and prayed that it had this time been scattered beyond reconstruction to the farthest reaches of Cosmic Space and Time.

I prepared a psychic message, by my authority as an Operative of the Kosmikos, concerning the details of my encounter with Nephal and sent it through the Current addressed to the Universal Overseer of the Absolute Convention of the Watchers, and then returned to my headquarters on Earth for a much-needed rest. …

In the capital city of the planet Daemonia, central world of the amazing civilisation of the Watchers of Algol, the Universal Overseer, eminently respectable and venerable in his robes of office, delivered the psychic record that I had sent him to its intended place in the Secret Archives. The recording took the form of a tiny point of blue light, which could be held in the hand.

In the dimly-lit room of the library antechamber, the Overseer handed the recording to the Keeper of the Secret Archives.

“Be certain this psychic recording is properly preserved, Master Keeper,” said the Overseer. “It is of invaluable importance to the future of our Republic.”

“Yes, Master Overseer,” replied the Keeper.

The Universal Overseer then turned and left the Archives to return to his duties in the capital. He did not see the utterly wicked sneer that crossed the face of the Keeper as the latter slipped the recording into the pocket of his black coverall garment. It was in no event going to be added to the archival library for preservation.

The Keeper’s visage was one not recognised on Daemonia, but it was one that would be known to Earthlings who happen to be fans of old “paranormal reality television” shows. It was the face of ZEF BAZANS!!!

DANIEL RUMANOS SHALL RETURN