TWO TICKETS TO PARADISE


Of the several cases that I find in my files from the early part of that particular summer, there are three major ones. The first, entitled “The Damnation of Bryan & Baxter” (concerning my infiltration of the headquarters of a Satanic paedophilia network in the area of Denver, Colorado, which was guarded by gigantic, mutated lizards), contains no features of unique interest; whilst the second, “Don Wingo Must Diet”, includes revelations that wouldst compromise the security of a certain high Executive office. For these reasons, I shall present here an account of the experience found in the third of these case files, which is indeed of a particularly bizarre importance and far-reaching impact. It is entitled “Two Tickets to Paradise”, for reasons that will quickly become obvious…

“Holy Morning Delights, Eleven!” exclaimed the girl, addressing me by my official operative number. “That must be the biggest one ever!”

“Ah, yes!” I exclaimed. “I suppose it is rather impressive. Nevertheless, I assure you that I have seen some even larger breakfast buffets in some of the better New York hotels.”

The young lady, Robina by name, was at the time training to become an agent of the KOSMIKOS, that secret service agency of our people, the Watchers of Algol. My assignment was her training, whilst she was visiting the planet Earth during a break from her usual studies at Daemonia Academy, and she had thus far proved quite adept. However, she was still a very young Algolite (indeed, she had only been cleared to begin training because members of her family had so well served as Kosmikos agents in the past), and her powers had not as yet fully developed.

“Try the Danish pastries, young Mistress Robina,” I suggested. “I am sure you will find them delicious.”

“Yes, Master Rumanos,” she replied obediently, her sapphire eyes flashing. She was of above average height and slender, with ginger hair and skin the purest white of alabaster. Even by Algolite standards, the girl was gorgeous. She was clad in a red and yellow dress with a matching short cape and riding boots.

Despite appearances, we were not actually taking time off from our stealth work to enjoy the continental breakfast at the Enchanted Forest Inn here on Route 40 West, just outside of Baltimore City. Our instrumentation had detected some odd emanations from the area, evidence of technology not of Earthly origin.

I poured myself a large cup of coffee and a glass of orange juice, then preparing a plate of several buttered croissants and a couple of jelly doughnuts before sitting down with Robina at one of the tables. I was wearing my usual silk suit and jungle boots, with my leathern greatcoat and panama hat slung over a nearby chair. Several other guests, out-of-town tourists, were minding their own business at the buffet and other tables.

I was glad to see Robina enjoying her pastry and a glass of milk. She certainly deserved some rest and recreation after the harrowing experiences we had already had that summer. I hoped that the technology we had detected would turn out to be something easily dealt with. Most often, such concerns turn out to be just the random emanations from the ejected spare fuel tank of a passing spaceship, or some such thing.

Little did we yet know, however, that our presence was perceived -- perceived by someone who was watching us intently upon a view-screen in a dark chamber filled with strange, otherworldly scientific instruments. 

“Predictable as ever, Rumanos,” he stated in a low, sepulchral voice. “Still a swaggering sybaritic nympholept after all these years.”

He was shrouded in black, a cowl completely covering his features even as he sat alone in his metallic chair. A sense of decay, of mouldering putrefaction born of absolute madness, seemed to permeate his very being; but with it a feeling of power, of intellectual superiority so far advanced as to view most other sentient beings as, at best, mere playthings.

Back at the restaurant, the young girl and I were enjoying our breakfast. I was just going to step back over to the sideboard for some fruit when the gentle neo-classical music that had been playing over the room’s speakers suddenly changed to a raucous old circus theme.

“Ladies and Gentleman, and children of all ages visiting us here today at the amazing and incredible Enchanted Forest Inn!” declared a vociferous announcement over the loudspeaker. “We have the winners in our fantastic giveaway! Yes, the delightful couple at table number four will enjoy an all-expenses-paid vacation holiday at our all-new Paradise Park amusement centre! You will enjoy wonder and enchantment beyond imagining in our land of pleasure and excitement where all your dreams will come true! Fantasies and fairy tales and magic and miracles and romance extraordinaire await you just outside these doors at the most astounding, marvellous, mind-boggling, and greatest amusement attraction of all time: the thrillingly-unforgettable Paradise Park!”

I noticed that a stream of colourful confetti was showering down upon Robina and me.

“What does this mean, Eleven?” enquired the girl.

“It appears, my young apprentice,” I told her amusedly, “that we have won two tickets to paradise!”

And even then, in that bizarre chamber from which we were being watched, that seated figure chuckled wickedly.

“Now, Daniel Rumanos of Daemonia,” he hissed with hatred tingeing his deep, darksome tones, “now I shall at last take my revenge upon you; my aeons-awaited vengeance for the unforgivably-offensive outrage that you committed upon me so unspeakably long ago. Your time is soon ending, Rumanos. I, Mordauntus, have declared your doom!”

It was then that the figure raised his head just slightly and the light of the view-screen fell fully across his features. It revealed a face of nightmares. It was little more than a skull, only thinly covered by a film of horridly scarred skin. Moreover, at the centre of this horrendous visage were two dark eyes that bespoke of insanity but also of intellect and indeed, of strength; for in these eyes glistened a spark of ancient power, glowing deeply within with an effulgence of sparkling orange and blue -- that power which is wielded only by the Watchers of Algol! …

The lovely Robina and I walked through the door at the back of the Enchanted Forest Inn. It was surrounded by flashing lights and surmounted by a sign proclaiming it the “Gateway to Paradise”.

We found ourselves in a large clearing of the wooded area behind the inn. It had been filled with rather gaudy décor. There were faux palm trees and large fountains made to look like waterfalls. Canned music, of a stereotypical “calypso” variety, played from an hidden source.

The bright sunlight and warmth of the summer day added to the illusion of tropical splendour. I was, none the less, wearing my big coat. It is permeated with numerous powers due to its many years of use during my adventures, and I can actually utilise it for a rather cooling effect during hot weather. I expect people who see me clad in it during such conditions think I am just a leather fetishist or else afflicted with some rheumatic ailment.

“So, what exactly is this place, Eleven?” enquired Robina.

“Perhaps it is indeed only a new amusement attraction, as advertised,” I answered. “Nevertheless, it could have some connection with those strange emanations we detected. Going along with this at least gives us a chance to investigate further.”

It was then that we first encountered any of they inhabitants, or rather attendants, of this so-called paradise. It was an humanoid but completely androgynous being of medium height, wearing a multicoloured outfit. Its head was disproportionately large and its features frozen in a wide, rather grotesque smile.

“Welcome to Paradise,” it said in a pleasant but rather emotionless voice. “We hope you will enjoy your stay.”

With that, the attendant walked past us as we continued our stroll through the false tropical forest.

“Eleven,” whispered Robina, “was that a…?”

“Yes, I do believe it was,” I replied with some astonishment. “A robot! Some sort of android or automaton.”

“Do the Earth-people have the technology to produce such automatons?”

“Barely. Certainly not of any very advanced type as yet. It also seems highly unlikely that they would employ them here when human workers are available. After all, it could lead to problems with the Amusement Industry Workers Union.”

“What is a ‘union’, Eleven?” queried the Algolite girl. “Some kind of secret terrorist organisation?”

‘Oh, one of the worst,” I somewhat joked.

By now, we had seen several other of the mechanical attendants. They all simply walked past us and repeated the same refrain:

“Welcome to Paradise. We hope you will enjoy your stay.”

“Indeed,” I said to Robina, “these automata do appear to be of non-Earthly origin.”

“But why?” she queried. “What could their purpose be?”

“I wonder…”

My words were then cut short when we suddenly found ourselves surrounded. There were automatons on every side of us. They had hidden behind the trees and now emerged en masse. As they advanced to-wards us, they now held out their arms straight out before them, and their hands began to glow with a sickly glare.

“What is that, Eleven?” asked the lass with some trepidation. “Is it some kind of radiation?”

“I believe so, and it could very well be a kind dangerous -- perhaps even deadly -- to Algolites. We must avoid it if at all possible.”

Now, as I have said, Robina was still very young, and her Algolitish powers were only beginning to manifest. This cut down on her defensive capabilities, but I had attempted to augment them by teaching her some methods of self-defence known upon Earth. Thus, as the robots approached us we stood back-to-back. I prepared a blast of my own Algolitish abilities and cast it at the automatons approaching from my side. My burst shone bright orange and blue as it hit several of them squarely. They retreated a few paces but were not completely halted by it.

“Good heavens,” I said. “It appears that someone or something was expecting us. These robots must be controlled from some central force, and have been empowered specifically to fight Algolites!”

Robina had delivered a king-fu kick to the attacker nearest her, being careful to avoid contact with its glowing hands. We both knew that allowing any of them to touch us could be exceedingly dangerous. The robot halted briefly, then continued to walk to-wards the girl. Several others also advanced in her direction.

She jumped up into the air to avoid them. Her Algolitish levitational abilities had begun to develop, but she had not yet mastered them. She managed to avoid the robots, but could not stay aloft for long. She landed directly in front of me.

“What are we going to do, Master Rumanos?” cried Robin as she huddled close to me for some feeling of safety.

I had by now felt my own powers draining. The nearness of the radiation was having a detrimental effect upon them. Levitation was for now out of the question, and my energies were waning, effectively cutting off all means of defence against the advancing automations.

“Welcome to Paradise,” they continued to repeat, this refrain now having taken to itself a mocking hideousness as they held out their potentially-deadly hands, now mere inches from us. “We hope you will enjoy your stay.”

As the dangerous automatons closed in upon us, I thought of one possible avenue of escape.

“Hold on tight,” I advised as I drew Robina close.

I concentrated deeply on a certain emanation, using my Algolitish abilities to sense the energy emissions from the machinery controlling the robots. Mentally attaching myself to it, I quickly teleported Robina and myself out of the area. There was a brief flash of the image of a swirling, grey mist, pulsating with the energy we were following through the inter-dimensional transition.

We soon re-materialised inside an immense chamber filled with electronic equipment. I looked up to the lofty ceiling, far above us.

“We are beneath the earth; apparently underneath the theme park area,” said I. “This is from whence the robots were being controlled.”

“This machinery,” said Robina in wonder; “it is from many different planets and eras.”

“Indeed. The intelligence necessary to successfully calibrate and integrate them would be immense, not to mention the Time/Space travel necessary to find them all. Only an Algolite…”

I was interrupted by a deep voice, a voice at once arrogant and insane.

“Have you deduced the truth yet, Rumanos?” it said. “I have returned to seek retribution upon you.”

I turned and saw the figure emerging from behind one of the computer consoles. It was the form of what had once been a robust Algolite man, now emaciated by the lingering results of long-ago injuries. His black, hooded robe clung to him like corpse-wrappings, only his gnarled hands and skull-like face showing.

“You!” I exclaimed in shock. “After all this time, you still live.”

“Who is it?” enquired the girl.

“Young Mistress Robina, meet Master Mordauntus, late of Algol and Daemonia Academy.”

“You two are acquainted, then?”

“Indeed we are, young woman, indeed we are,” hissed Mordauntus through his exposed teeth, his only skin an hideous scar-tissue stretched across bare bone. “We were at school together, so long ago.”

“Quite right, Mordauntus,” said I. “Until you were expelled for unlawful mechanical experimentation. After that, you attempted to seek revenge by invading the Academy with your robotic servants, of a different appearance but similar design to those you have here. It was I who found and defeated you. In fact, it was that confrontation that first brought my abilities as a possible operative to the attention of the Kosmikos!”

“Yes, you always were a ridiculous, strutting cockerel,” spat Mordauntus.

“We thought you were obliterated by my more fully developed powers.”

“My body was nearly destroyed, eaten up by the waves you unleashed upon me. Nevertheless, I survived and hid myself in the underworld of Daemonian society, waiting and planning for the day that I could take my revenge upon you. Now, here on this backwater planet known as Earth, that day has arrived!”

“But you were a criminal,” said Robina. “Eleven was only doing his duty as a loyal Watcher in defeating your unauthorised experiments.”

“Ha!” answered Mordauntus. “My hatred for this blustering swashbuckler goes back to before our fight. His constant boasting and telling of tales, his never-ending bragging to impress the little girls…”

“Oh, so that would be it, eh?” I mused. “Jealousy that I was (and am) popular with the ladies? How pathetic.”

“You were, and are, an insufferable braggart and an unbearable meddler! Nothing was ever enough for you. Why, even the night of the Perseids Prom, you could not get by with just one date, could you? You had to bring two girls!”

“Those were the Sinclara Twins,” I reminisced. “They did everything together. In fact, later that same evening, we…”

“Enough!” Mordauntus shouted angrily. “It ends now, Rumanos! It ends now!”

With this, Mordauntus suddenly unleashed a wave of his own Algolitish powers. His emaciated physical condition had not lessened them. The blast sent me reeling against the far wall of the chamber, and the edge of his burst struck Robina as well. I saw the girl fall unconscious upon the metallic floor as the result of the impact.

I charged forward with a burst of my own energies at Mordauntus. It met his in mid-air and filled the chamber with orange and blue sparking and flashes. The battle was now on between the villainous, utterly-mad Mordauntus and me -- a confrontation that I knew only one of us would survive!

My energies had been somewhat weakened by the earlier clash with the automatons, so I was not at full strength for my battle with the unspeakably evil and totally mad Algolite scientist known as Mordauntus.

“I will destroy you, Dr. Daniel Rumanos!” he taunted. “At long last I will have my revenge! At long last I will rid this Cosmos of your meddlesome existence!”

Whilst our bursts of force sparkled and exploded around the chamber, I noticed that Mordauntus was edging his way towards a certain machine. It was machine which I recognised as a type of energy storage device; a sort of battery, and I knew that the force it contained was the radiation that he had harnessed -- the radiation hideously harmful to Algolites. His objective was obvious: he intended to turn the full toxic force of the radiation upon me in his vindictively insane plot to bring about my destruction!

“Now, Rumanos, now…” he sneered as his nearly-skeletal arm reached for a control lever on the machine, a lever that wouldst release a potentially-lethal ray of the radioactive element directly at me. “Now I bring your doom!”

Nearby, young Robina opened her eyes. She was just recovering from the unconscious state in which our foe’s attack had left her. She looked up and beheld the situation, as the villain readied to possibly kill me.

“No!” she cried. “Oh, no!”

With this, Robina raised her little white hand and released a bolt of her own, newly-developed Algolitish power. It sizzled across the air. She had intended to hit Mordauntus squarely in his chest, but her aim was slightly off due to her inexperience. The bolt instead hit the machine containing the deadly radiation, which immediately fell upon Mordauntus and split open -- completely bathing his body in the deadly power!

I heard Mordauntus bellow in shock, agony, and unnameable pain before his life was extinguished. His body was completely consumed and obliterated, his alien consciousness scattered irretrievably to the farthest corners of the Universe.

Robina had run over and thrown her arms around me, sobbing softly:

“Oh, Eleven, are you all right?”

“Yes, I am well, my dear Robina;” I assured her, “and Mordauntus is gone forever.”

The rest of the machinery in the lofty chamber was crumbling around us, and I looked upwards to behold a fissure that was opening in the ceiling, revealing the blue sky above.

“The entire structure is imploding,” I said. “Without the mind of Mordauntus to hold it together, this chamber, the theme park, the robots, and all the rest of it will quickly cease to exist!”

I pulled Robina closer to me and began to levitate directly upwards.

“Hold on tight?” she asked with a smile.

“Always!” I replied.

I flew up and away, with the beautiful girl in my arms, away from the crumbling remains of the villain’s lair into the light of day and new adventures to come.

Daniel Rumanos shall return.

ABRACADABRA!


She remembered that her name was Megan. Little else was clear to the girl. Her surroundings were dark, save for a thin blade of light that seemed to be coming from a closed doorway. Her mind would not function properly; her memories were obscured as if by a mental fog. She had vague ideas of a life, parents, school, friends; but the details were shrouded.

She became only dimly aware that she was lying on a bed, her hands bound by ropes to the headboard.

Suddenly, the shaft of light grew larger, just for a moment. Then it was obscured by a silhouette, a tall figure standing before her.

“Ah, so you are awake, my cutie,” said the voice of a man, a deep and mocking voice, a voice of one depraved by unnameable and lustful evils. “It won’t be long now. Soon, you will assist me in the calling of the One. The very Essence. The Lord of the Formless Void. The Lord -- Abraxas!! …

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

I was seated at Caesar’s Den restaurant in Baltimore’s Little Italy, wearing my usual silk suit and jungle boots, with my leathern greatcoat and panama hat on a nearby rack. I was quite enjoying an excellent luncheon of linguini with mushroom sauce when an elderly gentleman suddenly appeared sitting across the table from me. I recognised him immediately as Chief of Staff of the KOSMIKOS, that secret service organisation of my people, the Watchers of Algol.

“Greetings, Master Rumanos,” said the Chief. He was wearing the silver coverall garment of his office, his piercing eyes firmly focused upon me.

“Salutations, Master Chief,” I replied. “What brings you these ninety-three light years? All is well on the home-world, I pray? I must say I was expecting more ‘chef’ than Chief in these surroundings.”

“Indeed all is as it ever was on Daemonia,” answered the rather dour Algolite, ignoring my attempt at humour. “How proceeds your usual assignments here on Earth?”

“Nothing of any importance for a fortnight or so. I was thinking of using the lull to take Katrina for our long-delayed vacation at Galactic Centre.”

“Excellent to hear. How is Lady Rumanos these days?” enquired the Chief. “I notice she rarely takes part in your assignments of late.”

“Aye. While Kat is immortal and eternally youthful, she can experience pain. Knowing this is something our enemies can exploit and have used against me, I have found it best for her to live in retirement at one of our seaside resort homes. When I am working, she amuses herself with caring for her pet felines and reading classical poetry. Not a bad life at all, really.”

“It is good to hear that she is safe and well.”

“Thank you.”

I took a sip of coffee as the Chief sat in absolute silence.

“Look, Chief,” said I at last, “as much as I appreciate the show of concern, I know you did not travel here just to ask about the health of my family. There is some other matter, eh?”

“Indeed there is, Eleven,” replied the Chief, now addressing me by my official operative number. “A concern as great as any you have faced before. It has come to our attention that a certain Earthman by the name of Jay DuBrueler is attempting to call forth the being known as Abraxas.”

“Abraxas?” said I in astonishment. “That demoniacal evil has not been heard of in nearly twenty centuries, since the fall of the Basilidean Gnostic heresy that last threatened to bring forth his chaos upon this planet. They blasphemously referred to him as ‘The Father of God‘. Medieval Christian cosmologists later called him ‘the oldest demon known to man’. Magicians still mischievously use his other name: ‘Abracadabra!’”

“Indeed so,” replied the Chief. “He was originally Abraxas the Great, Emperor of Galaxy 424. Finding himself bereft of new worlds to conquer, he used the combined mentalist force of the myriad races under his command in order to teleport himself across the Cosmos to the Milky Way.

“He hoped to expand his empire here, but the resulting backlash of the psychic forces necessary to achieve such a leap drove him into complete madness. The earliest ancestors of humankind not even in existence then, and the Gargouellios of Mu -- with some help from the Watchers, I might add -- succeeded in binding him in one of the inter-dimensional prisons. It is from there that Abraxas attempted to the return from the darkness by the worship of the Second-Century heretics.”

“So now he is trying again, through this DuBrueler character?”

“Quite so. Jay DuBrueler, late of the area of ‘Harpers Ferry, West Virginia’,” informed the Chief, pronouncing the name of the Earth location with the unusual intonation it indeed was to him.

“Harpers Ferry, you say?” I said in disgust. “That degenerate cesspit has been an hotbed of Satanic cults and occult corruption for years now. It should burn.”

“DuBrueler has moved to Baltimore.”

“Bloody Hell!” I exclaimed. “This city has enough problems without having to deal with hillbilly devil-worshippers.”

“Your mission, of course, is to destroy Jay DuBrueler and to assure that Abraxas remains forever imprisoned.”

“Understood. I will get on it immediately, Chief.”

“There is one complication: DuBrueler has kidnapped a young human female for use in his calling forth of Abraxas.”

“The sexual sacrifice?” I shuddered. “That is indeed the most dangerous and wickedly powerful of the so-called ‘paranormal’ technologies. What is the poor girl’s name?”

“It is Megan McCrable.”

“Megan McCrable! Why, her disappearance is known. There are ‘missing person’ posters of her up all over the city. Hot little blonde, age sixteen.”

“It is most imperative that you stop DuBrueler from performing the rite with her. It would free Abraxas and bring chaos and mayhem upon this planet, the resulting havoc perhaps wiping out the entire human race. This you must prevent.”

With this, the Chief of Staff vanished. He had communicated my assignment to me and returned to our headquarters in the Algolite systems. I would receive no further assistance, in accord with the official “non-interference” policies of our kind. It was now all up to me as a covert agent.

I turned from the table to call the waiter for my bill and then stopped abruptly. There was a strange black mist, a fog of eldritch darkness, enveloping my table. You see, a certain side effect of the information having been given me is the opening of possible communication between myself and the insane forces of evil that I would be fighting. They had indeed taken no time to begin their assault.

It was then that I beheld an huge ebon shape beginning to coalesce before me. It was a shape as of no being known outside of complete and utter madness, a shape of ungodly obscenity, a shape of the absolute and unmentionable horrors.

And accompanying this apparition I heard a low chant, a chant proclaiming the name of that ancient and insane evil, that grotesquely-archaic otherworldly conqueror that threatened to bring eternal disorder and unending pandemonium upon an unsuspecting world:

“Abraxas… Abraxas… Abraxas… “

I cast a wave of my bright orange and blue Algolitish energies at the vision, for that is what it was. An illusion sent by the mentalist force of Abraxas as a warning to me from afar.

The spectre vanished as my power hit it, disappearing back into the void. Nevertheless, I knew that this ancient evil was still of extreme potency if it had the ability to produce such a phantasm before my campaign against it could even get underway.

Then I realised something, something horrifying. It was the 30th day of April, that which is known as Beltane or Walpurgis Night -- the most important celebration of those who follow the ungodly rites of Satanism. I knew that this Jay DuBrueler lunatic would not waste the opportunity to utilise this coming night in which to call forth his infernal lord, the oldest of the demons -- Abraxas!

I quickly paid my bill and left the restaurant. There was no time to lose in finding DuBrueler and halting this outrage, including his intention of using an innocent teenage girl as the so-called “sexual sacrifice”.

It was in truth no surprise that this DuBrueler filth would do such a thing, as a look at his antecedents will reveal.

Jay DuBrueler was born to a working-class family in Frederick County, Maryland. His father died of lung-cancer when Jay was a small lad, and the boy dropped out of school soon afterwards, moving into his mother’s basement in his teens, and remaining there for the next two decades.

Despite his lack of a formal education, Jay DuBrueler did show a modicum of intellect, reading old horror novels and a few books on electronics and so forth. Along the way, he discovered some occult texts at a local bookstall. These included that hideous volume known as _The Satanic Bible_, written by the late Anton Szandor LaVey, whose own status as a conman and fraud did not prevent him from unleashing truly unholy terror through his attempts at literary works.

DuBrueler liked LaVey, and did some delving into his background. He especially enjoyed the rumours that LaVey had fathered a child by his own barely-teenaged daughter. DuBrueler, although by now a tall, well-built young man, with dark hair and not unhandsome features, had failed in any attempts towards romance. Women were generally disgusted by his poverty and his seemingly-shiftless existence. If he could use Satanism as a method of procuring sexual liaisons, mused DuBrueler, then so much the better.

However, along the way it seems that Jay DuBrueler had acquired a rather extensive criminal record. Drugs charges (he was hopelessly addicted to that revolting weed known as marijuana), driving while intoxicated, assault charges due to various drunken brawls at local taverns, and so on. After some time, DuBrueler decided he needed new stomping grounds in order to continue his Satanic pursuits. A possible location eventually presented itself to him.

West Virginia is the most debased and disgustingly-abject State in the Union. DuBrueler decided that its horribly low levels of sophistication found there would make it perfect as a place for him to establish his base of infernal operations. Therefore, now in his thirties, he finally moved out of his mother’s home and headed to hillbilly land.

Once in West Virginia, Jay DuBrueler first stayed at Nahkeeta Campsite near Martinsburg. It is from here that he abducted a three-year-old girl, brutally raping her in the near by woods before leaving her there, bound and gagged, to bleed to death. The child’s disappearance was never reported, her family being transients who felt they had no recourse to the police or other authorities.

After leaving the campground, DuBrueler settled in Harpers Ferry, that town being, as always, seemingly a gathering-place for the area’s worst elements. Its status as a tourist-trap makes it a prime location for petty crime and con games of all types, including the numerous fake “haunted houses” charging a fee for the purpose of bilking credulous thrill-seekers. To the occult-obsessed criminal known as Jay DuBrueler, the area sounded like a paradise, and he soon enough found a way to thrive there.

What DuBrueler did was indeed an old ploy of his type: pretending to be attracted to a lonely old woman and using her home as a place to flop. The chosen victim of this swindle was a certain Mary Addams, a widow in her late fifties who owned a local jewellery shop, which was rather optimistically known as High Street Accessories.

One day, whilst lazing around the shop, Jay DuBrueler discovered an item in the display case that fast caught his attention, an item that Addams had acquired from the estate sale of a deceased local collector of the bizarre. It was a disk of very old-looking pewter, about three inches in diameter. On it was an engraving of a creature rather like a grotesque gamecock, accompanied by a name of ancient and most nigrescent evil: Abraxas.

DuBrueler immediately appropriated the horrid talisman and began to use it in his Satanic conjurations, marvelling at the phantasmagorical manifestations he could now accomplish. Indeed, it is then that the hoary horror of Abraxas the Great, conqueror of a distant galaxy, reached out to Jay DuBrueler, the now utterly-mad alien intending to use him as a tool in its plans to break free from its inter-dimensional prison and to spread chaos across the world.

To begin his perverse worship of Abraxas the Great, the wicked DuBrueler had taken “Victoria Harper”, a stray cat that had become the unofficial mascot of Harpers Ferry, and had slaughtered the poor little kitty (“Just for fun!“ he exclaimed as the cat’s blood gushed from its throat that he had cut with a steak-knife) upon the old deal table he utilised as a Satanic altar.

It was then that DuBrueler encountered a snag. Mary Addams discovered his Satanist activities and, in no way approving of such things, sent him packing. He moved back to Maryland, raising money by selling prescription medications he had pilfered from Addams to Baltimore City’s illegal narcotics market.

And so, I arrived in the disgustingly blue-collar east Baltimore neighbourhood of Edgewater this 30 April -- Walpurgisnacht -- to prevent the satanic criminal Jay DuBrueler from achieving his demoniacal goals. I parked my canary-yellow Edwardian roadster at the end of Maple Leaf Road and began to cross the field to DuBrueler’s domicile -- a small, dilapidated house in the distance. I hoped to all that is holy that I still had time to save the girl, innocent Miss Megan McCrable, from his perverse embrace. Surely, DuBrueler would know he had to preserve her virginity until the ceremony in order to properly present the “sacrifice”. He would wait until midnight, the “Witching Hour” when, according to the superstitious, the powers of evil are most exalted.

A curious yellow fog had arisen that now-late afternoon, increasingly obscuring my surroundings as I crossed the grassy field. Then suddenly, as from out of nowhere and everywhere at once, I found myself surrounded by the appearance of myriads of darksome, eldritch forms. Forms of unmentionable and abominable alien shape and plethoric otherworldly visage.

This was no vision. I was being attacked by the servitors of Abraxas; the very manifestations of the psychic essences of those uncountable alien races who had been subjects in his own remote galaxy. The very beings whose amalgamated power Abraxas had used to transport himself across the Cosmos.

This mass of demonical terror surrounded me on all sides. Then, all at once, the dark horrors rushed upon me!!

Of the many beings who were the inhabitants of Galaxy 424 during the time of the Empire of Abraxas the Great, it could be said that very few of them would be considered of any sane visage to the humanoid mindset. Strange, writhing, obscenely distorted forms surrounded me, twisting and shifting in constant, grotesque motion; forms vaguely resembling gigantic insects and spiders and reptiles and centipedes and crustaceans and cephalopods and myriads of other shapes -- many of them beyond any possibility of description.

With this were howlings and buzzings and clickings and indeed a cacophony of diabolic sound.

What these creatures intended in their attack upon me I could only surmise. That they were servants of Abraxas was definite, but their rationale -- if indeed such a thing can be ascribed to such monstrosities -- was seemingly far beyond any type of logical comprehension.

That they were insane was definite. Their having teleported, along with their dark master, across such an unbelievable vastness of Outer Space so many uncountable aeons past had sent them into complete and utter screaming madness for all eternity. At this knowledge I could only think: if these servitors were so powerful and forceful in their abject insanity, what even higher unnameable powers of the twisted mind could then lurk within their superior, that legendary conqueror of worlds, Abraxas the Great?

As the alien forms swirled around me in constant hideous motion, feelers and claws and tentacles and fins and unmentionable appendages continuing to writhe and squirm and thrash about in horrendous constant motion, I was also beset by mental images of other scenes, scenes unfathomable.

I beheld scenes of uncountable darksome worlds; planets and comets and star systems of the most ancient age of that distant galaxy. Whirling planets with rings and moons and vast structures built for forms unimaginable of figure.

Darkling orbits of eldritch chaos and of seemingly-infinite enormity.

Moreover, during it all, I heard the chant; that chant of the worship of that incredibly-powerful being of sinister satanic terror, the oldest of the demons, the so-called “Father of God”; that creature of cosmic horror and horrid eternal evil whose adoration is only the continual repetition of his feared and awesome name:

“Abraxas… Abraxas… Abraxas!!”

Through all of this, I endeavoured to concentrate, to break through the distractions of the great cosmic wickedness that was being revealed to me. I had to concentrate on my mission, to that with which I had been entrusted: preventing the debauched cultist Jay DuBrueler from achieving his satanic goal of bringing the insane and demoniacal alien tyrant known as Abraxas into manifestation upon Earth, and therefore plunging the unsuspecting human race into a world of dark chaos from which they would likely never return.

In this, I most was able to concentrate on saving the girl, the beautiful young woman that DuBrueler had so cruelly abducted. The girl whom he now intended to force into taking part in his perverse evocation. The innocent and blameless maiden whom he intended to violate upon his altar of madness -- the so-called “sexual sacrifice” that would raise the psyche-static energy necessary to bring the eldritch abomination of Abraxas into total and complete manifestation. I concentrated on the damsel named Miss Megan McCrable.

With this thought in mind, I unleashed a burst of my bright orange and blue Algolitish powers around me, blasting away the images of the demoniac alien servitors. Suddenly, they were silent, and I saw that I was back in that Edgewater field, with the extraterrestrial distortions now banished.

Nevertheless, it was then that I new horror overtook me, forsooth an horror of realisation. For it was then I noticed that time had passed whilst I had been in the dark grip of the servitors; much more time than had seemed, for what is a temporal difference to beings of such ancient origin? It was now well after sunset, and the misty field was enshrouded in the darkness of nighttime.

For this had been the purpose of the servitors: to delay me. I knew that it was now midnight, the time allotted for the sexual sacrifice and the final conjuration of Abraxas. I hurried towards the house of Jay DuBrueler in my final attempt to prevent this and to save the helpless girl, realising that I might already be too late!

Inside the house, Jay DuBrueler had completed the opening evocations, and already an huge, ebon-black phantasm was forming over the altar of madness that he had constructed. DuBrueler smiled evilly, his sallow complexion and dark eyes alit by the numerous candles burning around the chamber. Copious amounts of incense, made from hideously unlawful herbs, filled the air.

Lying helpless upon the altar was Megan McCrable, exquisitely beautiful and nude and powerless to prevent the outrage that was intended. Her pure white skin shone clearly in the candlelight, her lush golden hair framing her perfect features. She slightly opened her lovely blue eyes, but the sickening narcotic tranquillisers that DuBrueler had given her in her food prevented her from attaining full consciousness.

Jay DuBrueler approached Megan’s helpless figure with unrestrained lust showing upon his bestial face. The short time that he had kept the girl there had to him seemed like an eternity of waiting, but he had managed to restrain himself until now; and now the time had come for him to perform the “sexual sacrifice” -- to forcefully violate the young virgin and to use the resulting psyche-sensual energy of this outrage in order to bring the horrid abomination of Abraxas into full horrid manifestation!

DuBrueler could not repress a chuckle as he opened his black ceremonial robe and prepared to take his obscene pleasure with the helpless damsel. His desire was engorged to the extreme, and he knew it would not take long to perform the perverse rite and to thereby complete the calling forth of his chaotic, demoniacal lord.

“Abraxas,” the wicked Satanist chanted as he drew near the poor wee lass, “Abraxas... Abraxas!”

But then, mere seconds before the villainous filth Jay DuBrueler could begin his ravishing of the maiden, he heard the sound of the glass shattering in one of the windows. DuBrueler looked up just in time to see me as I delivered a flying kick to his midsection, sending him hurling across the room, safely away from the girl. He hit his head against a shelf, and I beheld him fall down dead as blood poured from his now-cleft skull.

I turned quickly to the hideous form of Abraxas forming above the altar, and recited the prayer to exorcise the spectral horror from this reality:

“In Nomine Dominus Nostri Christos Jesus Excelsus!”

There was a sound as of countless souls in everlasting agony, and then silence as the horrid form vanished, cast back into its proper hell -- hopefully for all eternity.

There is a reason, dear readers, why the alien horror Abraxas had became known, albeit so blasphemously, as the “Father of God”. It is because that the fear and danger of his very existence had caused the human race to turn to the worship of the One True Lord and Creator, and to embrace the extraterrestrial technology -- taught them by the Watchers of Algol through the Gargoyles of Mu -- that is known upon this planet as Abrahamic Religion.

I picked up Megan McCrable and carried her from the house. I would return her to her grateful parents, who would ask few questions out of happiness to see their teenage daughter safe. Megan would recover well, considering the circumstances, and she would remember little of what had occurred due to the drugs that the villainous DuBrueler had given her.

That night, as I carried the beautiful girl from the house of evil, she looked up at me dreamily, a slight smile upon her lovely lips.

“I like your coat,” she said softly, feeling the leather against her naked skin.

“You should see me in a peplum,” I replied, and she swooned

Daniel Rumanos shall return.

...BUT THE LITTLE GIRLS UNDERSTAND


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

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

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

“Cuevas!!”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Like Hell.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I…” she said. “I’m fine, Doc.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Daniel Rumanos shall return.

THE MYSTERY OF THE MISSING PENTACLE


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“So tell me again exactly what was missing.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Todd Colyer
Traumatic Brain Injury Survivor
Dundalk”

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

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

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

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

“What is it then?” queried the girl.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It was the manifestation of Baphomet!!!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Daniel Rumanos shall return.