YOU KNOW MY NAME


***** A NEW TRUE WEIRD ADVENTURES IN SPACE AND TIME ESPIONAGE THRILLER!!! *****

[As the mentalist communications continue to be received from Lord Doctor Daniel Rumanos concerning the incredible adventures that he and Lady Katrina Rumanos continue to have in their myriad travels throughout the unspeakably and unknowably vast reaches of Time and Space, he has made it clear that there still numerous stories remaining from those many other eras of his long career that shall even now be instructive to the members of that august and elite student body which has become known to us upon this world as the League of the Daemon-Star. Seeing as the only occurrence that could possibly summon the Doctor and Lady Rumanos back to Earth -- due to their current and ongoing assignment with the Kosmikos or Cosmic Intervention Department of Algol -- would concern the total breaking down of certain extremely-necessary celestial and temporal barriers (a breach which indeed could only happen as the results of  specific and unnameable actions that are undeniably far too unmentionably terrible and heinously criminal for any sane contemplation), it certainly behoves us to proceed with making the full and complete truth of these extraordinary accounts available now. With this, Dr. Rumanos accordingly sends along his most puissant blessing, along with a timely reminder of the fine motto of his own most noble and exclusive alma mater, Daemonia Academy: FAITH NEVER FEARS. - The Analogue]

DANIEL RUMANOS, Scientific Investigator read the sign outside of the large, Gothic-styled building, located as it is atop a lofty escarpment in the very centre of the posh Roland Park area north of the bizarre and mysterious city of Baltimore, Maryland. A beautiful young woman with blonde hair and sapphire-blue eyes, wearing a modest turquoise-coloured dress, stood before it, her slender figure trembling slightly. She took a deep breath before pulling the rope to ring the bell at the massive, ornate door before her. The chime sounded a deep and sonorous toll, indeed quite like the type of tone that might be heard in a mediaeval cloister. The door then immediately opened with a low creaking sound, but no one was visible on the other side of it.

A long and high-ceiled yet rather gloomy hallway opening before her, the girl tentatively stepped inside. There were several large doorways leading off the immense main hall, but only one was open, and she was pleased to see a light burning inside the room to which it led.

In the room, a tall, lean-muscled, outstandingly-handsome gentleman with dark hair, striking Anglo-Semitic features, and a strangely-pale complexion stood behind an antique desk. He was dressed in an dark, silk suit and jungle boots. The man was me.

“Good afternoon,” I said. “I am Doctor Rumanos. You must be Mindy Doyle, then? Please have a seat and tell me all the details you can concerning the case that you telephoned me about.”

“OK,” said the young lady. “I’ve heard so much about you, and thought maybe you could help since it looks like this has to do with, well… Magic.”

I am indeed the world’s foremost expert on what is often referred to as the Magical Arts, and am perfectly adept at both the so-called “supernatural” and entertainment varieties of the same. Therefore, you could certainly indeed say the young damsel had come to the right place. Notwithstanding this, do please allow me to explain in further detail…

You know my name. It is indeed Doctor Daniel Rumanos, Literary Illusionist and Intergalactic Man of Mystery. Even though I have the appearance of an human being, I am in reality far more than this. For I am actually many thousands of years old, and do carrying within my blood the vastly superior genes of the legendary Watchers of the Daemon-Star ALGOL, this extraterrestrial heritage granting me those various powers and abilities that forsooth appear as “magic” to the people of Earth.

Although most Algolites keep to themselves, content to merely observe the goings-on of the rest of the Universe, their intellects vast and cool and unsympathetic, I am one of a deeply secret organisation (plausible deniability, and all that) among our people known as the KOSMIKOS, and am by this dedicated to helping the innocent and to protecting them from any and all who would harass, harm, or exploit them. This, in conjunction with my related work as a private investigator, is what has led to my numerous weird and wondrous adventures!

The girl then proceeded to tell me about the experience which she had recently had. It concerned an old book written in an obscure, archaic dialect of Arabic, which her late father, a world-traveller and collector of unusual artefacts, had acquired at a bazaar in Baghdad, Iraq many years before. Upon her father’s death, Mindy had inherited the unusual volume -- her mother having no interest in the late gentleman’s “weird baubles”, as she called them.

All had been well until a night one week previously, when Mindy Doyle had been wakened by a strange flash of light in her bedroom. She immediately saw a figure enshrouded in a black, hooded ceremonial robe standing before her bed, its back to her. To her horror, the lass found she was paralyzed -- unable to move or speak!

The darksome figure immediately began rifling through the volumes in Mindy’s bookcase, and soon removed the odd Arabic volume which it them tucked carefully under its arm and quickly walked to the other side of the room. As it moved, the figure briefly turned its face toward Mindy as she lay helpless upon the bed. It was a man with a wide, heavy face, intense eyes, and a full, wickedly sensuous mouth -- a face of indulgence and unspeakable debauchery.

The man continued to cross to the other side of the room and, with another flash of eldritch light, disappeared directly through the wall!! With his disappearance, Mindy Doyle immediately felt herself released from the preternatural thrall and could move and speak normally, though she was understandably still exceedingly frightened.

Do you understand, dear readers, the unnameable demoniacal horror that this innocent and helpless young lady must have experienced in this terrifying and ungodly situation? I in sooth do most fervently pray that you may never be subject to any similarly satanic occurrence!

After she had related this account, I asked her to try to describe the book’s contents to me as well as she could. Unfortunately, she could not read its language, and her father had never spoken of it due to her mother’s dislike of hearing tales of the strangely-exotic and out-of-the-ordinary voyages of his past.

However, Mindy did remember one especial thing about the creepy volume. A rather elaborate woodcut-drawing within it. An illustration of an huge, hideous peacock-like creature standing over what appeared to be a sacrificial ceremony in which a little child, its gender indiscernible, had been sliced fully open, its blood gushing out upon a stone slab which served as an altar.

As the young girl described this, the truth dawned upon me with horrid fullness. The book was likely the long-lost satanic bible of the terrible sect of the Yezidis, those obscene Devil-Worshippers of ancient Persia. It was book that could be used to call forth into full and grotesquely phantasmal manifestation nameless hoards of what humans call evil spirits and demonic abominations. It was in sooth one of the most horrifyingly dangerous volumes ever to exist. A book known to ungodly infamy as The Statement of the Shaitans!!

Some years before this, I had destroyed an especially noxious demonic cult in the Baltimore area known as “The Order of the Shaitans“. The group’s leader, a certain Reginald Lorimar “Ron” Mershon II (also known as “Mephisto the Hypnotist“, amongst other aliases), was killed after a long, perilous occult fire-fight with me [*]. After the sect’s ending, I accordingly purified various belongings that I had gotten from them, ranging from several “paranormal” relics to their old internet website domain, by properly using them for holy and sacred purposes. An unfortunate, but indeed necessary side-effect of all this shite and smegma is that I have since been confused at times with the late Mr. Mershon by the tabloid news media, who have often even claimed that he and I are actually the same person, that I am therefore secretly a Satanist, a pervert, and so on and on ad nauseam. This has indeed been a minor annoyance to me over the years, but such is life. I have certainly never let it stand in the way of my work as a wondrously fantastic Interplanetary Super-Spy and Scientific Detective, now have I?

[* The full account of this is given, in all of its horrible veracity, in the memoir entitled “I Was a Teenage Gargoyle”]

Of far more serious consequence is that this Reginald Mershon’s younger brother, Matthew, survived and went into hiding. The description young Mindy had given of the strange occultic burglar matched him exactly, and this, combined with the fact that the notorious volume known as The Statement of the Shaitans was involved, convinced me that the culprit was indeed Matthew Mershon, intent upon reviving the unsanctified worship of the Shaitans -- those “evil spirits“ of arcane Middle Eastern lore that are in actuality the life-essences of the unspeakable rulers of the ancient, now-destroyed planet Eblis -- and hence reclaiming his late sibling’s devil-worshipping legacy. Do you understand?

Nevertheless, how should I now track down this person and prevent him from bringing obscene spiritual chaos upon an unsuspecting world? A possible solution presented itself, albeit an hideously dangerous one.

Mindy Doyle had inherited the book from her father and had had it in her possession for several years since his death from an heart-attack. The book, especially due to it being a volume of powerful “sorcery“ (actually a manifestation of the advanced extraterrestrial science of the Shaitans of Eblis), would have then been imbued with a portion of the girl’s psychic essence, therefore forming a link which I could properly exploit in order to find the missing tome.

Fortunately, Mindy immediately agreed to allow me to do this, though I was of course careful to warn the dear little damsel of the many horrible hazards to which this would most certainly expose her.

Night was falling by the time I had finished preparations for the séance-like experiment that we would need to perform. This was perhaps fortuitous, as all psychical energy, whether utilised for good or for evil, is said to be far more powerful during the hours of darkness, but we had absolutely no time to waste in waiting to begin.

After lighting three white candles, I proceeded to make several “Magical passes” over Mindy whilst saying certain obscure Cabbalistic formulae (this ancient and holy mystical system being itself an echo of the science of my own incredibly-advanced race, the Watchers of Algol) in a whispered chant. I soon received the impression that the book, and the depraved individual who had stolen it, were currently ensconced somewhere in the Canton neighbourhood of southeast Baltimore City. However, I just could not get it any more precise. Apparently, this execrable villain, aided by the “magical” science of Eblis, had managed to erect a mental barrier in his attempt to prevent any prying into his wicked plans.

I knew that there was only one way to overcome this: Direct and immediate confrontation! I accordingly donned my leathern greatcoat and safari hat, then taking the girl in my arms and concentrated deeply on the location of the book and its purloiner via her telepathic link, and called forth the necessary Algolitish power to teleport us together to their location.

We vanished anon from my office site and re-appeared in a dark, dank cellar in the Canton area. At the opposite end of the room was a makeshift altar with the figure of a distorted peacock --the unholy symbol of supreme satanic pride -- painted upon the wall above it. Before the altar stood a tall figure in the black, hooded vestment as I had expected. I perceived that he had forgone the use of human sacrifice in favour of the far more dangerous sexual substitute -- an horrid and ungodly occult method of masturbation, spilling the seed upon the altar as a “child sacrifice” to the terrible, demoniacal gods!

The repulsive Satanist had just completed this unholy act when we arrived, and indeed the chamber absolutely reeked of the unholy odour of his sweat and semen. He then slowly turned to face us and, as I looked into his cruel dark eyes and saw his thick, sickeningly indulgent lips I knew that I was correct: This was indeed the aforementioned brother of my former obscenely evil, foul, and monstrously immoral foe. This was indeed Mr. Matthew Mershon.

“Professor Rumanos, this is a surprise,” he said with a chuckle revealing that his words were not quite in earnest. The dark forms of myriads and myriads of horrendously puissant evil essences were already swirling around him as his greasy skin, dripping with perspiration, glistened obscenely in the dimly-lit cellar. “And accompanied by some cute little schoolgirl, of course. Well, I guess some things never change, do they, you old hebephilic hero and alien private dick? As you can clearly see, I have already completed the Yezidi Invocations. Brother Reginald is now avenged! The power of the Shaitans is mine, and soon the world, and indeed the very universe, will kneel before me! Rumanos, YOU ARE TOO LATE!!”

Can you even begin to comprehend the unspeakable terror, the hideous shock of this situation? I truly hope that you do not, because to understand this fully could send you into uncontrollable paroxysms of fear, and perhaps into total screaming madness without end!

Mindy Doyle screamed with extreme terror and cowered in the corner of the basement as a seemingly endless stream of the eldritch, howling demonic Shaitan spirits infesting the room began to drift quickly towards her. I had just barely enough time to utilise my alien abilities in order to throw a quick orange-and-blue Algolitish energy circle of protection around the innocent maiden’s slender form before the grotesque phantasms were able to succeed in reaching her.

“It is no use, Daniel Rumanos!” shouted my dark-visaged opponent, between grotesque and utterly insane peels of his obscenely maniacal laughter. “You have lost! I have conquered! I! The Satanic Embassy is reborn! I, Matthew Mershon, am now Grand Master of the Order of the Shaitans!!”

Nonetheless, there happened to be something that the bloody occult wanker simply did not realise. I accordingly clutched the lapels of my old leather greatcoat and clearly spoke the words of a certain powerful evocation in ancient the Algolite language. It was a calling that included the invoking of the strength of the legendary Gargouellios or “Gargoyles” of the ancient Continent of Mu, they who opposed and battled the wicked Shaitans for ages undreamed of -- indeed aeons long before the very first primate ancestors of Man had even appeared upon the planet that you now know as Earth.

Then, in answer to my summoning, between Matthew Mershon and myself suddenly appeared another form: it appeared to be a ghostly apparition, the spirit of the very individual from whom I had appropriated the coat so long before -- Matthew’s brother, Reginald L. Mershon II!

“Brother Matthew, you little punk!” said the supposed phantom, dressed as of old in his carnie splendour, his features a better-looking version of his mad younger sibling. “I should have expected this sort of thing from you! You always were so frigging jealous of me!”

“Ronnie, I…” stammered Matthew Mershon in shocked astonishment, address his brother by the latter‘s childhood nickname. The Satanist’s concentration thus weakened, the terrible and ungodly spirits of the Shaitans of Eblis then began to swirl back to their other-dimensional abode.

“You are not ‘Grand Master’ of anything!” continued the image of the elder Mershon brother. “Never! You will join me now in Hell and find that I have an understanding arranged with its lord, the mighty Lucifer-Astaroth himself! Yes, even there you will find that I am your superior!”

With this, Matthew Mershon fell down quite dead upon the cellar floor, his own life-essence (that which mystics know as the “soul“) then going along with his wicked brother’s and their sickeningly-beloved Shaitans to the dark underworld of the damned -- forsooth that inter-dimensional goal set up by the Kosmikos specifically for the imprisonment of obscenely evil creatures such as this!

It was just breaking dawn as the girl and I left the now-deceased Matthew Mershon’s basement apartment. I had taken that accursed book, the horrid volume known to eternal horror as The Statement of the Shaitans, but had left the malefactor’s corpse for the police to find. I was quite certain that they would just take it for yet another Baltimore crack-house death or something along those lines.

Mindy Doyle and I then stopped for breakfast at a local café, and I was pleased to see that the poor young maiden appeared to be recovering as well as could be expected from all the grotesque and arabesque horrors that she had recently witnessed. She was of course a bit nervous and rather quiet, but appeared to be otherwise unharmed.

“I really am so very sorry that you had to be exposed to such things,” I told her. “I suppose most people are fortunate to be able to go through their lives never even knowing about the truly abominable creatures that lurk in this world.”

“I’ll be OK,” she answered with a weak yet nevertheless sincere smile. “You helped me and you saved me from those… those things. I guess that ugly guy would have taken over the world if we hadn’t been there, right?”

“Yes,” I said. “That is, hideously enough, indeed quite possible.”

“I really think you had better keep that old book, you know.”

“Indeed, that is a first-rate idea. I shall put it away in my collection of arcane and unusual artefacts, where I can be completely certain that it will henceforth do no more harm. In any event, I do fervently hope and pray you will be all right now and always, and that you shall not hesitate to contact me and to let me know if there is ever anything, anything else at all with which I may assist you.”

“I will do that. I promise,” said the dear little lass as she smiled bigger and then gave me a friendly kiss. “Dr. Daniel Rumanos… You are AMAZING!!”

So ended this bizarre and momentous case, it being indeed only one of so many in my long and incredibly adventurous career as a Scientific Investigator and Extraterrestrial Detective. You know my name:  RUMANOS -- DOCTOR DANIEL RUMANOS!!!

DANIEL RUMANOS SHALL RETURN

THROUGH THE EMPIRES OF ETERNAL VOID


A NEW OUTER SPACE MYSTERY FROM THE TRUE WEIRD ADVENTURES OF DOCTOR DANIEL RUMANOS!!!

PART I

“According to the Chronology Calibration Scanner,” said I whilst gazing intently at the self-same instrument upon the control panel of my Space and Time Ship, “we are now at a period of history more than a million years in the future!”

“Holy Flapdoodle!” said my wonderful wife, who, despite the myriad adventures that we have had together across so many aeons of existence, has never lost her supremely marvellous sense of wide-eyed wonder. “We’re doing the Time-Warp again! But where are we going, love? To what planet, I mean?”

“Well, it appears the planet is one known in the record banks by the name of Manverkoss,” I replied. “Nevertheless, even the Kosmikos seems to know very little about it -- at least officially, of course -- but there seem to be hints and rumours of what appears to be some kind of fascist dictatorship upon this world arising in this era; one that would seek to wipe out or enslave the other inhabitants of the planet, before then possibly venturing out in an attempt to spread their totalitarian tyranny and racial hated across this galaxy!

“Our mission, my love,” I went on, “is to find and stop this horrendous uprising of fascism, and to help those whom it would seek to persecute!”

“Of course we will do that, babe,” she answered sweetly. “Helping people and saving them from horribly dangerous and disgustingly unholy evils --- it’s what we do!!”

My name is Dr. Daniel Rumanos, Literary Illusionist and Intergalactic Man of Mystery. Even though I have the appearance of an human being -- indeed a tall, strongly-muscular gentleman with dark hair, strikingly handsome Anglo-Semitic features, and strangely-pale skin -- I am in reality far more than this. For I do carrying within my blood the vastly superior genes of the legendary Watchers of the Daemon-Star ALGOL, this extraterrestrial heritage granting me various powers and abilities that appear as “magical” or “miraculous” to people of less-advanced cultures.

Although most Algolites keep to themselves, content to merely observe the goings-on of the rest of the Universe, their intellects vast and cool and unsympathetic, I am one of a secret organisation among our people known as the KOSMIKOS, and am by this dedicated to aiding the innocent and to protecting them from any and all who would harass, harm, or exploit them.

I am greatly assisted in this by my stunningly-beautiful and eternally-youthful wife, Lady Katrina Olivia Rumanos. Originally an Earth-girl, indeed a maiden of the noblest Scottish ancestry -- tall and slender with gorgeous ginger hair, lovely azure-blue eyes, and a complexion the shade of purest alabaster -- she has been augmented by the Kosmikos with incredible powers of her own -- powers that enable her to assist me and to be my companion in my numerous weird and wondrous adventures -- our weird and wonderfully strange exploits across all of Space and all of Time; our awesome travels through the empires of eternal void!!!

Fortunately, our position enables us unlimited access to a DiTraS (pronounced “DYE-tress” and standing for Dimensional Transport Sphere), a fantastically-advanced vehicle by which Algolites facilitate travel throughout the vast reaches of all of Space and all of Time.

Forsooth, not even our status as the First Royal family of Daemonia, central planet of the Algolite systems, is of more importance than our ongoing crusade in the cause of justice, truth, and proper British manners. It is in consequence to this that we were currently on an exploratory expedition to a bizarre alien planet so very far distant from the world you know.

However, little could even we realise that, from the very moment of our arrival, we were being closely watched by a grotesquely-mutated alien race -- creatures of pure evil inhabiting a dark and strangely hidden city, far across the surface of the planet!!

PART II

“The radiation here is a bit high,” I said, reading the outlook on the control board. “It rather looks like the results of some long-ago use of atomic weaponry. Descendants of any survivors among the planet’s inhabitants would likely have had to evolve an inborn immunity. That sort of thing can take strange forms indeed: physical superiority in some cases, but in others, well…”

Even I could not repress a shudder at the unnameable implications of this.

“Is the radiation any danger to us, baby?” enquired the incomparably beautiful Katrina.

“Possibly,” I replied. “As you know, some forms of radiation are quite dangerous even to Algolitish constitutions. Still, we do have something to take care of that in this case, eh? ‘An ounce of prevention’, as the saying goes.”

I pressed some buttons and two café beverages (shaken, not stirred) appeared upon the near by table.

“Iced vanilla lattes!” cried Kat with unconcealed delight. “My favourite!”

“Of course, my love,” I returned. “As you know, I quite share your fondness for vanilla. They have been infused with the proper anti-radiation medicines.”

I picked up the drinks and handed one to my wife.

“Cheers, my beautiful one!” said I, raising my glass.

 “Awww! Cheers!” she replied sweetly, and we both drained our coffees with pleasure.

A porthole opened on the DiTraS vehicle and Katrina and I stepped out upon the surface of this alien world. It was a strange, desert planet, with only a few examples of harsh shrubbery to be seen in its seemingly nearly lifeless environment. I glanced back at our DiTraS, a model personalised for our own use as Agents of the Kosmikos, gleaming there under the planet’s twin suns. DiTraSes, though they usually appear in the shape of what some would refer to as the “flying saucer”, can be disguised to blend in with their surroundings via the use of what is known as anole circuitry. Ours, however, had gotten stuck in the form of a large “Roman column” some time before. Nevertheless, I saw no reason why it would matter in the current situation. No one seemed to be around to see, and the DiTraS certainly looked fine the way it was anyway.

I was wearing my usual silk suit, leathern greatcoat, jungle boots, dark spectacles and safari hat, whilst Katrina was resplendent in a magenta-coloured dress, a matching short cape, and riding boots. 

“There doesn’t seem to be anybody here, love,” said Katrina.

“Indeed,” said I, pondering. “I hope we haven’t arrived in the wrong Time Sector. It can happen sometimes, in these little-explored regions. Still, let us explore a bit and see for certain, hmmm?”

We walked for a while across the planet’s surface, and were just about to conclude that there was nothing of any particular interest to be seen when he perceived several figures approaching from the horizon. As they moved closer, we saw that they were a group of two dozen or so humanoid people, tall and well-built, with blond hair, a bluish complexion, and round, grey eyes. Their clothing, though poor and worn in appearance, showed some definite evidence of grace and taste.

The seeming leader of this group, a man a bit older than the rest, approached us with what appeared to be an expression of some relief.

“Most respectful salutations to you,” said the man. “We have most fervently prayed to the Sky God that he would send someone to deliver us, and our hope rests in you, most noble-appearing strangers!”

“I am Daniel Rumanos of Algol,” I replied, “and this is my wife, Katrina.”

“We do promise to help you in any way possible,” added Kat. “Please do tell, what has anguished you so?”

The group seemed to smile a collective look of relief at our response as their leader continued:

“We are the Verkoss, one of two races inhabiting this, our planet Manverkoss. Many generations ago, we fought a long and terrible war with the other species, which are known as the Manver. Both peoples were greatly decimated by the horrible weapons that we manufactured. While we, the Verkoss, lost most of our technology as a result, our Manver enemies instead suffered hideous mutations, becoming creatures of extreme horror, psychological insanity, and physical degradation. The live within a domed city and come forth regularly to hunt us. Their goal is yet to eliminate our race, to exterminate and annihilate us so that the horrid Manver will exist as the sole rulers of Manverkoss!”

“That is truly a tale of woe,” I exclaimed. “Please, do tell us this city of the Manver can be found, and we shall do whatever is necessary to prevent your enemies from harming you further.”

A collective murmur of approval then began from the assembled Verkoss, but it was suddenly cut short when a female of their number screamed in terror.

“Look!” the girl cried out. “The Manver have found us! They are here!!”

The young woman was correct, for at that very moment there approached, hovering several metres over the planet’s surface, a dozen or so creatures of eldritch nightmare. They were each about the size of a man’s torso -- but it is there that any semblance to sane physicality ended. For these monstrosities were nothing more than persistently pulsating masses of disgusting tendrils, intertwined with cybernetic spirals of metallic material. Their flesh was a sickly yellow, and each of them had two ebon slits for eyes, nearly hidden by their repulsive, tentacular forms.

Suddenly, as the Manver swooped down upon the Verkoss, they shot an hideously powerful ray of red energy directly into the fleeing group, whilst exclaiming with odd, electronically enhanced voices:

“Eliminate! Eliminate!! ELIMINATE!!”

PART III

The hideously tentacled, sickly-yellow Manver swooped down with terrible quickness upon the helpless, scattering Verkoss, all the while blasting their horrid death-rays and screeching with grotesquely-shrill, electronically-enhanced voices:

“Eliminate! Eliminate the Verkoss race! ELIMINATE!”

Can you understand the terror, the horror of this?! I sincerely hope that you cannot, dear readers. However, if you can, it indeed may very well send you into trembling paroxysms if eldritch and unmentionably ghastly fear.

I glanced at my wife and saw her gorgeous blue eyes smouldering with righteous indignation. Together, we activated our own awesome powers, valiantly flying upwards directly at the attacking Manver creatures, whilst I cast forth bolts of my incredible orange and blue energies, and Katrina her most wondrous vermillion and violet fire!

The Manver attempted to turn their deadly rays upon us, but soon perceived that it had no effect. Overwhelmed by our defence of the Verkoss, after several Manver had been destroyed by our amazing abilities the remaining number of them turned and fled with astounding swiftness above the desert landscape of the planet.

I briefly considered the possibility of chasing the retreating Manver in order to conclude the confrontation, but then considered it better to see to the condition of the innocent Verkoss. Kat and I accordingly returned to the ground.

The Verkoss had scattered, and it is indeed sad to relate that some of them had been hit directly by the Manver rays and killed instantly. I soon found the Verkoss leader, who was rather taken aback but physically unharmed, and conferred with him, seeking information on what could be done to stop any further attacks from the wretched Manver.

The Verkoss leader informed me that the legendary domed city of the Manver could be found only by a treacherous trek through a tunnel into the large underground cavern in which it was situated. In the city was said to be the Manver power source, a central system that ran the cybernetic life support system by a wireless antenna to each Manver. If this could be found and deactivated, the mutated creatures would cease to survive.

Unfortunately, the precise location of the Manver city was unknown, having been lost to history long before, therefore disallowing the possibility of me using my Algolitish teleportation powers to enter it and to thenceforth destroy the power source. The aforesaid journey through the tunnel was the only way, and there were grotesque rumours of a gruesome monstrosity that guarded the way to the city; a creature known as the Shermonnor.

I accordingly readied an expedition to find the city, accompanied by a company of several of the most stalwart of the Manver men. The rest were left to bury their dead and to seek shelter against any further attack. Though she hesitated to even temporarily part we me, I insisted that Katrina stay to aid and protect them.

We shall not herein dwell upon the details of the entire journey across the desert wilderness and into the underground tunnel. Suffice to say that I and my Verkoss companions encountered several minor adventures along the way, but nothing -- absolutely nothing -- was allowed to prevent our purpose: to find the city of the evil Manver, and to destroy the power source of the latter, therefore preventing those disgusting mutations from continuing to pursue their genocidal intentions upon the Verkoss race.

(During our journey, the Verkoss informed me of various legends and traditions concerning the past of their world. It seems that at one time they and the Manver were of one great race, indeed the very “Manverkoss” for which the planet was named. This humanoid, originally green-skinned species eventually split into two warring political parties, eventually evolving apart into the yellow-hued Manver and the blue-complexioned Verkoss.

It is the radiation weapons of the final stages of these ancient wars that led in time to the horrid mutations of the Manver, both physically and mentally, into repulsive monstrosities of hideous appearance and profane, ungodly ethnic hatred.)

The tunnel was lit by a ghostly phosphorescence, and it is after the Verkoss men and I had penetrated deeply into the planet that we heard an uncanny sound coming from in front of us. An enormous, eldritch croaking noise. And then suddenly approaching us with a bizarre hopping run along the high-ceiled tunnel was an huge toad-like fiend; a monster of most horrible aspect and obviously quite deadly intent -- the SHERMONNOR!!

PART IV

The grotesquely obscene yellow caste of the Shermonnor, along with its slanted, darkly hateful eyes, bespoke of its origins as a genetic experiment of the Manver. They had bred the creature by unnaturally mixing traces of their own DNA material with an indigenous giant toad of the planet, and now used it as a guardian to their hidden city.

And now the horrid monster was racing down the underground tunnel, directly at the Verkoss and me, croaking through thick, flabby lips its hideous bawling bellow that quite eerily echoed about the rocky, high-ceilinged passageway.

My friends, do you recognise the incredible terror, the total and complete abject horror of this supremely demoniacal situation?!

I quickly sprang forward, casting a bolt of my mighty, seemingly miraculous Algolite energy directly at the horrid beast. It only succeeded in slowing the creature slightly, so primitive were its pain-receptors, but I continued in sending forth flashing volleys of power at the monstrosity. At last, the Shermonnor shuddered and, grotesquely, burst open with a splatter of most deplorably nauseating appearance and odour. The gigantic toad-thing, indeed that most freakishly-monstrous guardian of the entrance to the location of the darksome city of the Manver, was consequently destroyed.

I continued onward with the group of Verkoss men for only a very short time before the tunnel debouched into what was an huge cavern, which was in itself indeed numerous kilometres across. Centred in this most fantastically immense, toweringly lofty cave was our goal: the bizarre, black-domed forbidden city of the Manver!

It takes far fewer words to tell the remainder of this fantastic tale than would seem necessary to relate the incredible bravery of my friends, the noble Verkoss. Suffice to say that we found their way into the city and, deftly avoiding the unnameable hazards of any further direct encounters with any members of the horridly mutated Manver race, we finally managed to locate and destroy, by the use of my abilities and scientific knowledge, the power source. At this, we witnessed the the Manver, with their life-force thus severed, fell to the floors throughout their metallic city, now harmless and completely, entirely inactive.

It was soon after this that my beautiful Katrina and I found ourselves honoured as the greatest heroes in the historical annals of the planet Manverkoss, and a great celebration was held for us by the Verkoss in one of their desert camps. It is at this function that I presented a speech which would be an address of inspiration to the people of the Verkoss for all time to come.

“Soon, people of the Verkoss race, we shall have to leave you and continue our journeys to other worlds,” I spoke near the conclusion of his discourse, the lovely Katrina by my side. “The Manver are dead, and the Verkoss are now the undisputed rulers of Manverkoss!“

I was here interrupted by immense cheers and applause by the assembly of the great Verkoss people to whom we had become saviours.

“Be always strong, my dear friends,” I appealed. “The very future of your kind is yours to mould as you will. In time, the blessings of technology will again be yours, and no doubt, the noble Verkoss race will build a great civilisation, eventually adventuring forth intrepidly into the reaches of Outer Space. Remember to be always most refined and cultured in all of your dealings with the many other peoples of the Universe. Stand up for truth and justice, and for the ways of the Highest. Only thus shall you do honour to our memory, to the name RUMANOS, and to the name known throughout Time and Space as one of valour, fearlessness, gallantry, and courage -- the name of the KOSMIKOS of ALGOL!!”

My wonderful Katrina and I soon thereafter left the planet Manverkoss and travelled onward in our incredibly fantastic spaceship, the DiTraS. The Void was once again calling to us, and we accordingly blasted onwards through the unspeakably vast reaches of the Cosmos, among the Heavens, past the countless fields of the stars of infinite Space and Time, voyaging forever and ever throughout the Universe towards weird adventures anew!!!

DANIEL RUMANOS SHALL RETURN

THE LAST DAY ON EARTH


“Impotent ghetto trash,” muttered Gudrun Sterling under her breath. “That’s all I frigging seem to get anymore.”

Gudrun was a prostitute, plying her trade on the corner of MacHenry Street in the Pigtown neighbourhood of southwest Baltimore. Now age twenty-six, she was noticing a definite lessening of interest among the various “johns” who prowled the area looking for a hook-up. She knew she just had to accept the fact that she could not compete with the numerous teenage hotties walking the streets of what is known as “Charm City”.

Oh, she still made enough money to support herself and her two children -- though just barely -- but Gudrun just found it a bit bloody insulting that the only clients she got these days were lower-class street hoodlums (cruising the area looking for a “white bitch“ and unable to afford the younger ones), their manhoods ruined by narcotics abuse. She tried to remember how long it had been since she had really enjoyed a good, hard shag.

As these thoughts went through Gudrun’s mind and she attempted to smile invitingly at the occasional automobiles that passed by on this none-to-busy evening, she suddenly perceived a strange sensation. It was as if something was crawling up her back. At first she assumed it was an insect, one of the species of large, blood-sucking mosquito that haunt the city nights. However, before she could even move to swat it away she was overcome with the realisation that it was something far worse -- and much bigger.

Gudrun Sterling screamed in mortal terror as she felt the grip of numerous appendages wrapping around her body. But then, even this scream was cut short as she crushed into unconsciousness by the things, and then dragged to the open grating of a nearby sewer.

This was the last ever heard of Gudrun Sterling, single mother and ageing street whore. No trace of her has ever been found. Nevertheless, she was not the only person to disappear mysteriously around that time; a time the locals still refer to as that of the Pigtown Pestilence. …

My name is Dr. Daniel Rumanos, Literary Illusionist and Intergalactic Man of Mystery. Even though I have the appearance of an human being -- a tall, muscular gentleman with dark hair, striking Anglo-Semitic features, and strangely-pale skin -- I am in reality far more than this. For I do carrying within my blood the vastly superior genes of the legendary Watchers of the Daemon-Star ALGOL, this extraterrestrial heritage granting me various powers and abilities that appear as “magic” to the people of Earth.

Although most Algolites keep to themselves, content to merely observe the goings-on of the rest of the Universe, I am one of a secret organisation among our people known as the KOSMIKOS, and am by this dedicated to helping the innocent and to protecting them from any and all who would harass, harm, or exploit them.

I am greatly aided in this by my stunningly-beautiful and eternally-youthful wife, Katrina. Originally a maiden of the noblest Scottish ancestry -- tall and slender with gorgeous ginger hair, lovely azure-blue eyes, and a complexion like purest alabaster -- she has been augmented with powers of her own -- powers that enable her to assist me and to be my companion in my numerous weird and wondrous adventures!

On this particular day, Katrina and I had gone to investigate this so-called “pestilence” in the Pigtown area of Baltimore. Pigtown, so-called because of the slaughterhouses that used to be there, and the pigs that were herded to them from the local train-stop, is an impoverished neighbourhood, know for prostitution and narcotics dealing. The City of Baltimore had at one time attempted to improve Pigtown’s reputation, at least cosmetically, by changing its name to “Washington Village”. However, the area’s predominately-Caucasian population had very much objected to this (thinking it sounded somewhat “Negro”) and so it remained known by the unclean appellation of Pigtown.

Kat and I had left our posh north Baltimore headquarters and headed to the white-trash slum known as Pigtown in our canary-yellow Edwardian roadster, affectionately known as “Lizzie”. I was clad in my usual silk suit, leathern greatcoat and jungle boots, topped with dark spectacles and safari hat. My wife was resplendent in a candy-striped dress, riding boots, and a matching short cape.

It was in the afternoon on that cloudy day, and we had only just begun motoring amongst the largely-deserted byways of Pigtown when we suddenly felt a strange tremor.

“Holy Flapdoodle!” exclaimed Katrina. “It’s an earthquake!”

“I don’t think so, love,” I replied, after glancing in the rear-view mirror. “Look behind us.”

For just then a rift had opened in the very centre of the street just behind our car, and from it had burst forth an undulating mass of huge, grotesque, sickly slime-dripping grey tentacles!!

The writhing tentacles reached out for us, but fortunately Lizzie is no normal automobile. I have done some interesting modifications to her. I quickly flipped a switch on the dashboard and we immediately rose up into the air, hopefully out of reach of the waving slimy tentacles.

“Good work, babe!” exclaimed Katrina.

Then, as we flew over the city skyline, something occurred of absolute obscene horror. The tentacles, and the monstrosity to which they belonged, rose upward and began to ascend towards us! It was an eyeless grey creature, of a disgustingly phallic shape about twelve feet long, not including the horrid mass of threescore or more tentacles it had, which tripled its length.

“What is that thing, love?” Kat enquired.

“A Ceresite,” answered I. “An indigenous life-form of the asteroid Ceres. Just a mindless animal. They are very rare now, though some of them evolved the ability to exist whilst travelling in Space, and this one has apparently thus filtered down to Earth. They subsist by digesting organic flesh and the energies contained within it. It is unusual for one to emerge into the daylight, but they hunt by scent, and it must have perceived us -- due to our more-than-human status -- to be a potentially quite appetising meal!”

As I spoke, we continued to pick up speed as I guided Lizzie out and away from the city. We were going to have to battle this Ceresite, and it would be far safer -- in order to avoid injury to innocent bystanders -- to do it in a more open area.

I eventually landed the car in a vacant lot near the small town of Waldorf, Maryland. The Ceresite descended behind us and then the eyeless fiend hid itself in the darkness of a nearby stretch of wooded swampland.

Katrina and I jumped out of Lizzie and turned back towards the woods. Before we could look for the monster, however, we were interrupted by a man running over from the adjoining housing development -- a particularly squalid habitation of the State’s “blue collar” working-class.

“Hey!” he said. “That’s a cool old car! Wish I had one like it!”

He was a youngish White chap of medium height, thinly built with unkempt, mouse-brown hair and a scraggly attempt at a beard. This bloke was of the decidedly inferior type and wore a rather dirty T-shirt, ripped jeans, and sneakers with no socks. His sallow complexion and dull, rather glazed-over eyes bespoke of an addiction to drugs, most likely that most pernicious and ungodly weed known as marihuana.

“My name’s Dustin Gretz,” the imbecile continued. “Who are you?”

“I’m Dr. Daniel Rumanos,” I responded with as much politeness as was possible under the circumstances. “This is my wife, Katrina.”

“’Doctor’?” he responded. “Cool! Where’d you become a doctor?”

“A place called Daemonia Academy.”

“Never heard of it. Is it in Canada or somethin‘?”

“More than likely,” I lied.

“Cool!” Gretz went on idiotically. “I’m a comedian! I did a gig last month in Dundalk at the German Hill Bier Hall! I did a part in a short film called Bloody Tears too! I’m also gonna be the new host tonight on…”

“Look at that, Daniel!” interrupted Katrina. “Over there!”

I turned to the direction she was indicating and saw coming down the road a small bus painted a bright red and white. The lettering on the side of it proclaimed it the official transportation of the “Hadley High School Cheerleaders”.

The hungry Ceresite had already emerged from the woods and was descending upon the school-bus. We heard from it the horror-stricken screams of its adolescent female passengers as the hideous extraterrestrial monster wrapped its slimy tentacles around the vehicle!!

Before Kat and I could even react, the obscenely horrid Ceresite arose and began to fly upwards with the school-bus in its grasp. Apparently, it meant to take the girl-flesh filled vehicle elsewhere in order to consume its meal.

 I immediately activated my Algolitish powers and levitated up towards the monster and its intended prey. Katrina was at my side, propelled by burst of the wonderful vermillion and violet flame that is hers to command.

Dustin Gretz, who had observed these proceedings with open-mouthed idiot awe, suddenly turned and ran away across the field like a scared rabbit towards his low-income home.

“I must be havin’ a bad trip!” he exclaimed amid numerous profane oaths. “Either that or these people are really just a bunch of terrorists or perverts or Muslims or somethin‘!”

I cast a bolt of my orange and blue-black energies at the Ceresite creature. It dodged to the side with lightning-fast speed, still clutching the bus. Katrina attempted to burn it with volleys of her fire, but it managed to quickly avoid these as well. I suddenly noticed a bizarre flicker of four glowing circles within the monster’s upper body as it detected our powers. It seems that Ceresites do have a type of “eyes” after all, which are activated only when its senses detect a blast of energy or firepower!

The screams of the mortally terrified young damsels in the bus continued, although by now several of them had certainly fainted away in absolute abject horror at what was transpiring. The horrendous and sickening tentacles of the alien monstrosity clutched the vehicle in a constantly shifting mass of absolute eldritch terror.

Above all, we could not allow the extraterrestrial monster to get out of sight. It would quickly devour the pulchritudinous busload of warm, youthful maidens and emerge refreshed and ready to continue it reign of fear throughout the area. Katrina and I had to think quickly and be prepared to do whatever was necessary to save the teenaged cheerleaders and defeat the grotesque Ceresite.

We thus continued to fire volleys of our respective powers at the monstrous creature, but nonetheless it continued to avoid them with deft movements in every direction.

“What can we do, babe?” queried Kat as she hovered by my side, far above the ground there over Waldorf, Maryland.

“I have an idea, sweetheart!” I replied. “We need to be careful not to hit that bus full of innocent girls, but this might just work! Let us attempt to box the monster in!”

My wife immediately perceived the plan, and she then accordingly generated a fantastic semicircular burst of her wondrous, sparkling flame at the disgusting Ceresite creature whilst it was attempting to gain altitude.

Now, I must admit that I am not certain why what happened next occurred. It could be that the Ceresite was overwhelmed and confused by encountering Katrina’s flame. It could be that the creature was angry, or afraid, or -- if this seemingly mindless monstrosity could actually be capable of such thought -- just wanted to spite us. In any event, what occurred next was a terror beyond even all that had happened thus far on that exceptionally fateful day.

The Ceresite suddenly bolted downwards in order to avoid Katrina’s flashing fire. At the same time, it released the hold of its myriad tentacles upon the school-bus. The result was, as you may well imagine, quite obvious and yet dreadful beyond all rational belief.

The bus began to plummet and I beheld, to even my complete horror, that they would soon strike not only the ground, but also a large area of electrical cables stretching across the highway below!!

Can you recognise the absolute supreme terror of this situation, dear readers? For the sake of your continued sanity, I most truly do pray that you cannot.

I immediately generated a wave of my bright orange and blue-black Algolitish energies and directed it to just beneath the school-bus, and thus to just above the power cables. The bus landed on the wave that I had created, and rode across it down to the highway. Fortunately, the driver had the sense to just keep going when they had levelled out on the road, and the bevy of gorgeous teen cheerleaders was saved!

My energy wave then dissipated, and the Ceresite, still attempting to avoid Katrina’s flames, swooped down directly into the power-lines. Its strange senses had not detected the danger therein, and the horrid creature was quickly slain in a burst of electrical power that sizzled and burned the horrifying monstrosity to an unrecognisable husk of black gristly death.

“A bit of a shock,” said I.

The alien threat -- the hideous extraterrestrial monster that had become known as the “Pigtown Pestilence” -- now having been destroyed, my lovely wife and I returned to Lizzie and I drove the faithful car away from the area of Waldorf, Maryland.

Dusk had just fallen as we reached a roadside diner and stopped for a meal. It was a small, privately-owned establishment but seemed clean enough. We glanced at the menu and ordered spaghetti and coffee for two from our waitress, an attractive young Latina whose nametag said “Sarita”.

The pasta arrived quickly and was pretty good, served with a side-salad and warm garlic bread. As we ate our dinner, a radio on the front counter played some “classic rock” tunes broadcasting from a local station.

Nevertheless, the music came to a sudden end when a chat show was suddenly announced.

“Gooooooooooooooood evening, Baltimore!” said an annoying and oddly-familiar voice. “Welcome to Speak Your Piece here on WBUM AM Radio! I’m your new host, Dustin Gretz, and we are broadcasting tonight from our studios right here in beautiful downtown Dundalk!”

“Wait…” whispered Katrina to me. “Isn’t that…?”

“The idiot we met earlier!” I replied.

“Tonight on the show,” continued the imbecilic Gretz on the radio, “we have as our special guest my brother Brandon, director of the new movie Bloody Tears. Later tonight, two more guests will be joinin’ -- err, joining us! They are members of the cast of the American Destination channel paranormal TV show, Ghost Thugs!

"But first,” the moron went on, his voice suddenly taking on a note of feigned seriousness, “I need to report to you something I experienced earlier today, and to expose a dangerous threat to our great all-American community. It is a terrorist and sexual pervert known by the obviously fake name of Doctor Daniel Rumanos! He has been seen in the company of a very young red-haired girl that he has obviously hypnotised to use as his accomplice, and they are known to be part of all kinds of weird crap, just like all Islamists and everyone else who is not one of our beloved and pure All White -- I mean Alt-Right brethren and ummm, sisteren! Just today, this Rumanos character was seen by me to be involved in an act of perverted terrorism with a busload of underage schoolgirls! Lucky that I, your host Dustin Gretz, was there to protect them, which is why people now call me The Dustinator!”

This last announcement was punctuated with the pre-recorded clanging sound of a prize-fight bell before the moronic and deplorable Dustin Gretz persisted.

“Hopefully we have heard the last of this Rumanos sicko,” he blabbered, “but be on the lookout for him -- he looks like he might be a Jew or an Arab [Gretz pronounced it ‘AY-RAAB‘]! Remember, the creep probably will have that redhead with him, who likes to start fires and whose name I think is ‘Cat‘-something! They are very dangerous!”

“Oh my,” said the waitress with a wink as she handed me our bill. “Try not to run into those two.”

I paid for our meal, including a respectable gratuity for Sarita, and Katrina and I left the diner.

We were both silent as I drove Lizzie back to our long-time dwelling, the palatial Rumanos Castle, perched atop a lofty escarpment in the posh Roland Park neighbourhood to the north of Baltimore City.

I prepared myself a glass of malted milk in an attempt to settle my stomach, and Kat and I were soon standing together atop one of the highest turrets of that old gothic mansion which had been our home and headquarters for a so very long time.

“I am sick of this planet, my love,” I finally stated. “I am tired of these people and how they never understand. How no matter how much we try to help them, all they seem to know is superstition and HATE.”

“I know, babe,” said Katrina as she took my hand. “I know exactly how you feel.”

“My sweet little Kitty-Kat, we could do our work for the Kosmikos anywhere in the Universe,” I said, looking into her wonderful azure eyes, eyes as wondrously blue as the skies of Earth once were before humankind filled the planet with pollution. “I am an Algolite, after all. Eternity is my home. We could leave… right now… tonight!!”

I thought of our old Space/Time Ship, the DiTraS, waiting for us in its secret chamber below the house.

“This world is no longer my home either, love,” Kat replied sweetly, her hair shining like red gold in the moonlight. “Let’s go, and we can travel together in infinity forever and ever.”

This World Is Not My Home,” I mused whilst taking my wife, the wonderful and incomparably beautiful Lady Katrina Olivia Rumanos, in my arms. “I seem to remember writing a song by that title once, a long time ago.

“I suppose that is it for Earth,” I pondered. “We will not be able to return, you know, because of the Temporal Parameters. This world and its people are entering a new Dark Age that will last a thousand years. The best of them will be heading for Space themselves during the next few centuries, leaving this planet to barbarism and savagery until a new Enlightenment arises.“

And so was the night of what had been, for us, the last day on Earth; save for some ultimate words of encouragement that my Katrina, the Wonderful Heaven’s Hell, gave me before our departure:

“Don’t worry, love. There will be someone here to help those few good people when they need it. In fact, the ones whom you have inspired and taught how to help: The ESF, MI9, the Analogue, and your students -- The League of the Daemon-Star!”

“Yes, sweetheart, the ones whom we have inspired,” I answered, then continuing with a thoughtful grin; “I say, before we depart I shall leave some instructions for a member of the League; that girl Rosalie. She is one of my top students, and I shall instruct her to pay a visit to the studios of WBUM Radio. The young lady can do absolutely devastating things with a kris knife.”

COMING SOON
WEIRD ADVENTURES IN SPACE AND TIME
THE NEW SERIES

MOONRAPER


“MOONRAPER: Sickening Selenite Stalks Schoolgirls”, screamed the tabloid headlines in the year 2151. As is usual with such reports, they were not exactly factual. True, a young girl had been attacked by something in her bedroom at the private boarding school on Moon Base 3, something that was likely one of the rarely-encountered creatures said to inhabit the interior of Earth’s natural satellite, but there was no evidence that the thing had sexual violated her. That the poor lass had actually died as the result of the attack (apparently of sheer horror) seemed of less importance to the salacious reports. As always, sex sells media, and -- in its way -- frightens people even more than death.

My name is DR. DANIEL RUMANOS, Intergalactic Man of Mystery. Even though I have the appearance of a strikingly-handsome human gentleman, tall and muscular, with Anglo-Semitic features and long dark hair; I am in reality much more than this. For I do carry within my blood the vastly superior genes of the enigmatic Watchers of the Daemon-Star ALGOL, this extraterrestrial heritage granting me numerous powers and abilities that appear as “magic” to the people of planet Earth.

Although most Algolites keep to themselves, merely observing the goings on of the Universe around them, I am an agent for an highly secret organisation known as the KOSMIKOS, made up of certain members of the ruling class of our home-world, and it is therefore my responsibility to utilise my alien gifts in order to defend the weak and the oppressed from those who would harm, harass, or exploit them. Dealing with this so-called “Moonraper” was to be the latest assignment in my numerous adventures throughout the vast reaches of Space and Time!

I arrived on Moon Base 3 a couple of hours before my appointment to meet with the Headmistress of the Little Ladies School for Girls. I decided to have a general look around the public facilities of the base, and as such had wandered into the swimming pool area on its top level. The clear dome covering this section had been treated with a chemical that caused it to turn blue when the Sun was shining through. Several potted palm-trees enhanced this Earth-like setting.

I strolled around the pool, dressed in my usual silk suit, leathern greatcoat, jungle boots, dark spectacles, and safari hat. The pool’s one current user emerged from the water and immediately caught my attention. She was an absolutely gorgeous girl, between the ages of perhaps eighteen and twenty, tall and slender, with auburn hair and hazel eyes. She was clad in nothing else except the tiniest string bikini, and her dripping wet skin was slightly tanned.

“How do you do?” said I.

“Hello there,” she replied with a smile. “I don’t think we’ve met before, have we? You aren’t a resident of the base.”

“No, I’m just a visitor. My name is Daniel.”

“I’m Summer,” she answered as she put on a thin, white dressing-gown. It clung to her wet skin in a way that only enhanced her busty, but otherwise svelte figure.

“Nice to meet you, Summer,” I stated. “I say, do you happen to know a place where I could get some lunch, hmmm?”

“Sure, there is a food court with several options just down the hallway. The only big restaurant here is Pierre’s, but it isn’t open until later.”

“Thanks much. I’m sure I can find something suitable at the food court.”

Summer leaned back slightly to wring out her long, silky hair, her breasts showing their hard nipples clearly through her slight attire.

“I say,” I then added, “would you care to join me for a bite, eh?”

“Oh, I wish I could, Daniel” she replied with a provocative flutter of her eyelashes. “Unfortunately, I have to get back to work. I am free for dinner later, though.”

“Sounds fantastic! I will meet you at 19:00. Pierre’s Restaurant, did you say?”

“Yes. That is,” she added, licking her luscious lips sensuously, ”if you like French.”

“Very much,” I replied. “See you then.”

I left the pool area and walked to-wards the food court in the direction the girl had indicated. I found a delicatessen stand and ordered a pastrami sandwich on rye with spicy mustard, a kosher dill pickle, and an iced coffee (shaken, not stirred) then sitting down with my meal at one of the tables. There were only a few other patrons present, Earthlings and one Venusian.

I was enjoying my sandwich and thinking things over for my appointment at the school when I suddenly felt an odd tingling sensation at the side of my neck. I reached up and pulled from my skin a small metallic dart, which I could see had been dipped in poison. Somebody was trying to murder me!

Fortunately, my Algolitish consistency allowed me to shake off the effects of the poison quickly. Nevertheless, by the time I stood up and looked around, no one was in sight who could have thrown the dart.

This dart was of a common type, the kind used in pub games. Similarly, the poison was a simple cyanogen-9 blend that could be put together by anyone after a visit to any chemist’s shop.

I decided to not cause a scene involving this attempt to kill me. I could speak with the Lunar Police later and review the food court’s security camera footage in order to see if it had caught the culprit. It seemed unlikely that this would be the case. In any event, they would have obviously worn a disguise, and the physical effort necessary to throw the dart would likely be hardly noticeable on video from afar.

I sat back down and finished my meal. Obviously, someone was disturbed with my endeavour to investigate this “Moonraper” case. But who… and, even more poignantly, why?

I arrived at the school and easily found the office of the Headmistress. She was an elderly, grey-haired British widow, Mrs. Whittaker by name, dressed very properly in a long grey dress. I found her a bit prudish, as did befit her position, but not unpleasant of personality.

“Dr. Rumanos,” she said as she sat behind her large mahogany desk, “what can you tell me about the monster that was seen running from the room of that poor girl? It must have done unspeakable things to her, for her to have died of fear.”

“The creatures matching that description,” I relied, sitting in the small but comfortable armchair that the Headmistress had indicated, “are one of several semi-legendary species, variously termed Moonites or Selenites or Lunarians, that are said to inhabit the core and underground caverns of the Moon, breathing the thin atmosphere that exists there.”

“But I know of no one who has ever even encountered these things before,” the Headmistress stated with a puzzled expression.

“They are generally very shy by nature. It has never even been known for one to approach, much less attack, an human being. The particular type you described stay underground, as they can exist only by feeding off a type of radiation emitted by certain stones found near the Moon’s core. The beings are small and vaguely humanoid, as was described, and are very adept at squeezing through crevices and such. This is likely how the one you described escaped.”

“Indeed,” the worthy lady replied with a barely-suppressed shudder. “Several of the girls glimpsed that horrid creature before it disappeared down the dormitory hallway.”

“And you say there are no security cameras in the school?”

“No, we cannot have them. Too much possibility of footage of the students in their rooms or in the showers showing up on those disgusting pornographic video networks, as has happened to some other educational institutions.”

We were suddenly interrupted by a buzz at the office door.

“Come in,” said Headmistress Whittaker.

A young woman entered, clad in a white blouse and ankle-length blue skirt. I stood up.

“This is Miss Landers,” stated the Headmistress by way of introduction. “She is my assistant and a student teacher here. As it is her responsibility to see to the daily needs of the girls, I thought it appropriate that she should be here for our interview, Dr. Rumanos.” 

I looked at face of the new arrival and realised that it was Summer, the girl whom I had met at the pool.

“Miss Landers,” said I, then adding as an aside to her, “I didn’t recognise you with your clothes on.”

Summer Landers gave me a slight smile of recognition and pulled up a wooden chair. She sat down and smoothed out her skirt quite primly.

“Now, Miss Landers,” continued the Headmistress, not hearing my comment, “tell Dr. Rumanos what you told me and the police about what happened to poor little Annie.”

“She just seemed to have died of terror,” said Summer Landers. “I suppose it was from the very sight of that thing when she woke up and saw it -- sitting at the foot of her bed or whatever.”

“And you say there was no evidence that she had been… violated?” I enquired.

“No, the coroner said there was no evidence of sexual molestation, despite what the news media have reported. It seems Annie‘s heart had just burst from sheer fright.”

Our conversation was then suddenly interrupted by the shrill sound of an alarm siren.

“INTRUDER,” stated the pre-recorded voice of the school’s warning system. “INTRUDER ALERT.” 

It turned out to be a false alarm. One of the students -- a cute, over-excitable Italian girl named Gina -- had seen a shadow in the hallway and started screaming “The Moonraper! The Moonraper!”

Nevertheless, it was actually just the usual shadow of the adjoining building, suddenly cast by the beginning of Earthrise outside the near by window. Order at the school was soon restored, though I could sense a certain tenseness among all the students. Certainly understandable, with the mystery at hand, but I hoped that such emotional reactions would not negatively effect my investigation.

I still had some time before my dinner date with Summer Landers, and used it by first stopping by the local precinct of the Lunar Police Department. As I had expected, the footage they had extracted from the food court security cameras did not reveal the culprit who had attempted to assassinate me. Nevertheless, the very fact that they had known exactly where to stand in order to stay out of sight of the video surveillance, as well as to be able to so quickly escape after having thrown the poisoned dart at me, made it evident that the suspect was someone very familiar with the Moon Base -- likely a resident rather than a visitor.

I then spent the remainder of my spare time browsing some of the local shops, and doing some quick research at the MB3 Branch of the Aldrin Public Library, before arriving at Pierre’s Restaurant to meet Summer.

She was already seated at our reserved table, looking exquisitely beautiful in a hot pink evening gown.

“I was afraid you wouldn’t come, Daniel…” she said as I sat down, “or should I call you ‘Dr. Rumanos‘?”

“Daniel will do,” I replied with a grin, “as long as I do not have to continue calling you ‘Miss Landers’.”

She giggled. The waiter came by and I ordered caviar with everything for two, veal fricassee, and a bottle of champagne, vintage 2086 (a very good year, I might add).

“So,” said I after sipping a bit of the champagne, “whatever led you to study to become a teacher? Certainly a noble profession, but it must be a bit lonely for you at a private girls’ academy on the Moon.”

“It was a family member who first got me into it,” she replied. “My uncle was head teacher of the middle school I attended on Earth.”

Our conversation continued in this vein, with my enquiring as to what college she was attending and so forth. She was in her third year, and would be earning her degree early due to her time as assistant to the Headmistress at Little Ladies.

The waiter arrived with the caviar served as it was with a large mound of warm toast, as well as small side dishes of onions and boiled eggs, both finely diced. The waiter assured us that our main course would be served shortly. Out of politeness, I turned and told him that there was no hurry.

“Now, Daniel,” said Summer in a playful tone when the waiter had gone away, “I’ve told you about me, so tell me about you.”

“What would you like to know then?”

“Well…. Hmmm… How long have you been an Operative of the Kosmikos?”

“I say,” I replied just slightly taken aback, “you are familiar with the Kosmikos?”

“Of course,” said she. “The Kosmikos of Algol is the most famous secret organisation in the Galaxy.”

I wondered how much she actually knew. Probably just rumours and innuendos culled from muddled news reports.

“Longer than you’ve been alive, I’m sure,” I said in answer to her question. In actuality, it would be longer than even her earliest ancestors had been alive, but one must keep some secrets.

Summer seemed to be enjoying the caviar, and so was I. The veal fricassee arrived, and was also excellent. Nevertheless, for some unknown reason I had begun to feel a bit ill, just a hint of stomach sickness or something. I hoped it was just my imagination, borne of being away from the school I was investigating longer than perhaps was wise. I had taken safeguards, and was certain that the Headmistress would contact me immediately if anything happened, but still…

Meanwhile, in one of the rooms of the school dormitory, a young girl named Jodie had just closed her lovely-blue eyes for sleep. The soft glow of Earthlight through her shaded window gently lit her soft flaxen hair and her pretty, fair-complexioned face. She had said her prayers before getting into bed, and a look of  peace was upon her beautiful features as she fell into a deep slumber.

Suddenly, something slipped deftly through a slight aperture in the wall panelling of the student‘s room. It was a small, thin creature with a grotesquely misshapen head and pale green skin. Its eyes glowed in a manner as denotes beings used to living in darkness.

Silently, the Moonite crept over to where the helpless girl was sleeping and reached out its horrid hand to-wards her bed…

Back at the restaurant, the waiter had now brought dessert, the house speciality chocolate mousse, but I was not in any condition to enjoy it. A definite feeling of upset had hit my stomach. Suddenly, just as I realised what was happening, my head sunk down to the table.

“Oh my,” said Sumer Landers, “it looks like my friend can’t hold his champagne.”

But Summer’s demeanour changed suddenly when she saw a shimmering light begin to envelope my body and she realised that my fainting was a put on.

“Oh no you don’t!” she shouted as she jumped across the table and folded herself around my person. The transportation device I had activated beamed us both out of the restaurant.

We re-materialised from the teleportation beam at the school, in the room of the girl named Jodie, just as the hideous Moonite creature was reaching out to-wards her bed. When it saw us, it let out a frightened yelp and ran for the corner of the bedroom.

“No!” suddenly screamed Summer at the Moonite. “You were supposed to kill her, you repulsive monster!”

The creature would likely have disappeared through a seam in the wall, but when it heard Summer it turned back and looked at her.

The noise had now awakened the young student, and I whispered to her to be quiet and not fear. She shivered somewhat behind me but was surprisingly brave considering the situation into which she had so suddenly emerged from sleep.

“Kill her!” continued Summer to the Moonite. “Kill them both!”

“Summer,” I said calmly, “you do not want to do that.”

Nevertheless, she persisted. “Kill them! I order you to kill both the girl and that man!”

I had just taken note of the tone of disgust in Summer Landers’ voice when she uttered the word “man”, when the Moonite suddenly pounced upon her. It was then all over before I could react. The creature visibly drained all of the life-force from Summer’s body, and she dropped down dead.

I unleashed a quick blast of my own Algolitish powers, which sparkled with an orange and blue-black brilliance as they destroyed the Moonite.

I then sat down on the bed and put my arm around the crying girl.

“It’s all right now, love,” I assured her. “It’s all over.”

I reached under the bed and found the small piece of rock that I knew I would find there, and then looked over at the corpse of the beautiful but wickedly insane Summer Landers. I thought of all the evil she had wrought. Attempting to poison me twice -- the second time by slipping the poison into my drink whilst I was talking to the waiter; having purchased a black-market piece of illegal rock from the Moon’s core -- a stone containing a bit of the radiation on which those nocturnal creatures feed; and indeed having placed the rock in the bedrooms of two innocent students, resulting in the death of one of them!

“Cruel Summer,” said I.

The next day, I sat in the office of the Headmistress with Mrs. Whittaker and young Jodie.

“One thing I don’t understand,” said the venerable lady. “Why did the Moonite attack the girls if it feeds on the stone’s radiation?”

“The bio-electric impulses that accompany violent emotions -- fear, anger, hate -- are somewhat similar to the radiation at the Moon’s core,” I explained. “When the first girl, poor Annie, woke up and saw the thing, she no doubt reacted with extreme fright, causing it to see her as a food source. It became a natural emotivore. The same thing happened when Miss Landers let loose with her anger and hatred.”

“Yes,” said the Headmistress, “I’ve just been going over the private diaries found in her room. It seems Miss Landers had a background of horrible child sexual abuse at the hands of her uncle. It caused a psychological hatred of both juvenile girls and adult men in her. It appears she even anonymously called in the ‘Moonraper’ stories to the tabloid media, just in order to harm the school‘s reputation.”

“I knew there was no reason the Moonite would sexually assault human beings. They are usually rather shy and harmless creatures, and I am sure you won‘t have trouble from any more of them. I had set the transportation app on my mobile device to beam me immediately to the location of any Moon rock radiation in the school, which happened when it was activated by the thing’s feeding. Summer Landers was clever in her plans, but ultimately was too obsessed to really care about the consequences to even herself.

“Oh, good heavens,” I continued in sudden realisation as I stood up to walk to the door. “I just remembered that I should go back to Pierre’s Restaurant and settle my bill. I wouldn’t want to get a reputation for skipping out after sampling their fine cuisine!”

“The school has already taken care of it, Dr. Rumanos,” the Headmistress assured me. “It was the least we could do after all the help you’ve been.”

“Very kind of you,” said I with a bow. I then turned to Jodie, who had sat quietly by up until now. “Will you be all right, young lady?”

“Yes, thank you,” she said sweetly. “I just glad I didn’t wake up until you got there. If I had seen that thing I would have screamed and…”

“Indeed. Fortunately you had nice dreams, eh?”

“I really did! I was dreaming about my home back in Auckland, on Earth. When I was little and the iced cream truck would come by on warm evenings. I remember the little song it played and everything.”

“Quite right!” I responded with encouragement. “I’ve always said that happy thoughts and memories are extremely useful in getting through stressful and unpleasant situations. In fact, I even once said to good Queen Victoria: ‘Vickie, just close your eyes and think of England.’”

“You really knew Queen Victoria?” enquired Jodie in astonishment.

“Indeed,” I confirmed, “when she was a very young girl.”

“And you called her ‘Vickie’?” queried Headmistress Whittaker, feigning the look of bemused censure proper to her position.

“Only when we were alone. Cheers!”

DANIEL RUMANOS SHALL RETURN