WRITING'S ON THE WALL

“It isn’t what they say about you, it’s what they whisper.”
(Errol Flynn)

“PARKING FOR WICKED SISTERS ONLY,” proclaimed the sign by the side of the lot in Baltimore. Now, Wicked Sisters is merely the name of a local restaurant, so I thought little of it as I passed by early on that fateful day.

Perhaps I should have taken it as an omen…

My name is Doctor Daniel Rumanos, Intergalactic Man of Mystery. Even though I have the physical appearance of an human being, I am in actuality far more than this. I do carry within my blood the superior genes of the mysterious Watchers of the Daemon-Star Algol, the most technologically-advanced species in the known Universe. This extraterrestrial heritage grants me numerous abilities and powers that appear as “magic” to less-developed races.

Although the Watchers officially practice complete non-intervention in the affairs of other planets, I am an agent for a secret service organisation known as the KOSMIKOS. Assigned to Planet Earth, I protect its people from alien invasions, mad scientists, and indeed all manner of threats. …

Utilising my power of etheric suspension, I deftly levitated up to the roof of the “pet portraits” establishment next to the restaurant -- wearing my usual silk suit, leathern greatcoat, panama hat, sunspecs, and jungle boots. It was a balmy day for autumn, the active hurricane season having pushed the tropical air northward.

I strolled to the centre of the roof and saw a shimmer in the air before me. It soon coalesced into the form of a tall, stern-faced, white-haired, elderly gentleman clad in a blue-and gold vestment robe. I recognised him immediately as an high-ranking member of the Absolute Convention of Daemonia, that august ruling body of the Watchers.

“Greetings, Master Rumanos,” he said, his voice clear and calmly cultured, his pronunciation complete perfection.

“Salutations, Master Conventioneer,” I replied. “Welcome to Earth. I must say I was not completely surprised to receive your summons to a meeting, considering certain recent events.”

“Indeed,” said the old Algolite, “and the situation is worse than could be imagined. An old enemy of yours has returned: Don Wingo.”

“That old jackanapes!” I exclaimed in astonishment. “I thought his power destroyed, his body imprisoned by the Kosmikos in an unknown location. Wait! He was the other escapee from Zatta[*], then?”

[*For details of this, see our last “WEIRD ADVENTURES” account, “Burn Out The Night”.]

“Yes,” answered the Watcher. “In fact, he led the prison-break, through a far-reaching mentalist contact with the now-deceased human woman known as Carissa Bartley. The powers of Don Wingo have greatly increased of late. He has even managed to integrate the energies of certain Algolitish relics into himself.”

“Bloody Hell! He did always have the knack of adopting various alien technologies to his own use.”

“He has utilised an antiquated, but still somewhat functional dimensional travel device to slip back in Time and alter several events to his benefit.”

“That would explain the chaos that has threatened the Time-stream of late,” I said. “What is his current plan?”

“We know that he is the force behind the human religious cult known as ‘Spectral Paranormal’, and that he will stop at nothing to achieve total domination and rule over Earth, and eventually over all the Cosmos,” said the Watcher. “The Absolute Convention hereby delegates to you, as the only Operative currently authorised in this sector, complete authority to uncover the schemes of Don Wingo and to do whatever is necessary to defeat him.”

“Understood, Master Conventioneer.”

“Also, when Wingo has been eliminated, the convention will be initiating Kothovalth.”

“Total Overthrow!” exclaimed I, translating as well as is possible the ancient Algolitish word that represents what could also be called a reboot of the Universe.

“Indeed,” calmly rejoined the old Watcher. “It has been determined to be the only course that can repair the damage that he has done to the Timelines. May the very essence of the Daemon-Star be with you, Master Rumanos. That is all.”

And with this, the Watcher simply vanished into the void on his way back to the Algol Systems.

Kothovalth, thought I. The Total Overthrow. Universal Reset. Many things will change, but the Earthlings will not even notice it. I took solace in knowing that it would, it its way, undo certain personal tragedies. Tragedies of which I cannot speak. Tragedies that I now know to be the doing of the execrable Don Wingo in his mad plots to become the First Evil, the very SATAN, the original Devil shunned by every decent species of the Cosmos.

The Watcher had given me no indication as to where I could find Wingo, but I already knew that it would be here in Baltimore. This city has been a centre, a rallying-point for the bizarre since its inception, built as it is here on a harbour of the Chesapeake Bay, an area used in prehistoric times as an outlet of Atlantis.

As I walked through the city in contemplation of all this, I passed an old news coin-box selling the Baltimore “SUNPAPER”. “Local Arts Community Outraged By Pedophile Magician’” screamed the headline. Blooming Hell. Such was the false propaganda spread about me of late. I knew now that this was yet another of Don Wingo’s doings. Fortunately, the local police knew better. I have indeed aided Baltimore’s Finest in numerous past cases, including that of the execrable Satanist and narcotics-dealer Jim Forrester[**], now thankfully deceased, and they know me as a duly-deputised agent of law and order in Baltimore City and beyond.

[**See “Rock ‘N Roll Fantasy”.]

Nevertheless, I had to admit that it had indeed been a bit of an annoyance. Humans and their bloody great obsession with sexuality. They are constantly and helplessly drawn to it yet horrified at any truly-pure expression of it.

Not to mention that ridiculously American misspelling of “paedophile”.

That the wicked Don Wingo was behind the hideous Spectral Paranormal cult was no great surprise. It sounded like his modus operandi. Still, what was its exact purpose? The cult members had continued to commit ritual suicide in grotesquely-varied ways. Recent cultic deaths had included the hillbilly Steve Brand of Westminster, Maryland, who died of alcohol poisoning, drinking himself to death over one weekend; and the bizarre Kev Artuz, editor of the New York City-based online horror fanzine, “ROT”, who immolated himself in his apartment, leaving only a ball of grease. Why?

Then, my thoughts were suddenly interrupted, there on that city street, when I found myself surrounded by four figures. They were large and shaped vaguely like men, but made of metal. Of course, I recognised what they were immediately.

“You will go with us now and will not resist, Daniel Rumanos,” said one of them in its emotionless, simulated voice. “You are now our prisoner.”

They were Leknii Replicants!

Do you recognise the utter shock of this situation, my dear readers? The Replicants of Leknii are a race of cybernetic invaders from a planet in Spiral Galaxy 8675309. Originally humanoid, they had gradually replaced their organic systems with mechanisms over the course of generations, and are now almost fully robotic. Only a small organic component remains to integrate the circuitry of these horrid metallic monsters. They now roam the Space-ways in their small, efficient ships, looking for humanoid beings that they can convert and assimilate into their own kind.

“You are now our prisoner,” repeated the Replicant. “You will be taken to Controller Wingo.”

“What!” I exclaimed. “’Controller Wingo’? Oh my… You are Replicants, but you are not actually Leknii, are you? Of course! Don Wingo must have stolen some Leknii technology the last time they attempted to invade Earth[***]! But from whence did he obtain the organic components?”

[***For a glimpse of this, read the account entitled “Beyond This Illusion”.]

“We are disciples of Controller Wingo,” answered the Replicant. “We are Spectral Paranormal.”

“Of course -- the Spectral Paranormal cultists and their sudden penchant for ritual suicide! That sick evil genius has achieved the ‘life after death’ he promised you by bringing you poor fools back as Replicants!”

I admit I blanched a bit at these thoughts. Don Wingo must have now had access to amazing levels of scientific knowledge in order to cannibalise Leknii technology. Such high levels would most likely have been obtained from the Algolitish relics with which he had come onto contact. I wondered to which of the Watchers these things could have belonged. Little did I yet know the horrendously unspeakable truth that would answer that question.

For now, I knew I could not allow myself to be captured by the “Spectral Paranormal” Replicants. Before they could react, I quickly levitated directly upwards, high into the air above the city. The Replicants followed, of course, using the small but powerful jet engines in their metallic feet. This was as I had hoped, however. I would now be able to engage the mechanical monstrosities in battle without worrying about innocent bystanders.

The Replicant closest to me raised one of his arms and shot a blast of energy from it. I barely managed to dodge the firepower, knowing that Leknii energy weapons contain a type of radiation that is harmful even to my own Algolite consistency.

I shot a bolt of my own inborn bright orange and blue energies back at the Replicant. It barely slowed the thing down. I concentrated and shot another bolt, aiming at the grating in the metal monster’s chest area. I knew this to be their weak point, it being the place through which necessary oxygen is obtained for the small but vital organic component of the cybernetic creature.

When my bolt hit, the Replicant was instantly destroyed, shattering into countless tiny shards that were then harmlessly blown away by the breeze.

I looked down and noticed that we were now directly over the Baltimore Museum of Art. The other three Replicants were still following me. Two of them hurried upwards to meet me in battle. I sent back bolts at them, but was for now too busy avoiding being hit by their energy weapons to aim property at either of their oxygen gratings. Nevertheless, what concerned me the most was wondering just what the remaining Replicant was doing whilst I was thus occupied.

Below us, just outside the Museum, was a group of local junior-high school students who had been about to enter the place for their scheduled tour. They had been distracted by the activity overhead, and had looked up in wonder at the spectacle of several figures far above, seemingly generating flashing bolts and blasts of light. They then noticed one of the figures dropping down to-wards them…

From my vantage point far above, I briefly glanced down just in time to see the Replicant lift up what I could tell was the slim figure of a girl from among the school group. I heard screams of horror from her, and from the others as they realised an inkling of what was happening.

I saw the Replicant carrying the girl jetting forward and beginning to fly across the city. I immediately followed, with the other two Replicants behind me. They had ceased firing their weapons.

I minute later occurred something of absolute terror. From far, far above the streets of Baltimore City the Replicant suddenly released the helpless girl from its grasp. I beheld the poor lass plummeting downwards, her helpless form falling to-wards the ground so very far below!!

I swooped down at lightning-speed and caught the falling damsel in my arms before she could hit the unforgiving concrete of the city. I landed us both safely on the sidewalk. The Replicants had apparently left the area and were nowhere to be seen.

“Just try to remain calm, love,” I said, steadying the trembling girl on her feet. “You are safe for now. I am Doctor Daniel Rumanos.”

“Oh my God!” she exclaimed. “Oh my God! Oh my God!”

“It is all right, really,” I assured her. “Those were Replicants, a type of cyborg, but they seem to have abandoned pursuit.”

“No, I mean, YOU! You are that guy I’ve heard so much about in the news!”

“Oh, well,” I demurred, “try not to believe everything you hear, eh?”

“It’s not that,” she responded with a smile. “I think you’re cool! They just say all those bad things about you because they’re jealous!”

Definitely, the little girls understand.

The damsel was exceedingly lovely, with auburn hair and eyes like sapphires. Her blue dress was decorated with white flowers. She was slender and perfect and her skin was as the purest white of alabaster.

“It’s so great to meet you, Dr. Daniel!” she went on. “My name is Heba.”

“’Heba’?” I said.

“Yes, Heba Filia.”

“Amazing.” “

“Huh?”

“I mean: a beautiful name for an amazingly beautiful young lady.”

She blushed.

I looked around and noticed we were now just outside the Horseshoe Casino and Hotel, which is located in south Baltimore near the football stadium. The gambling house had been there for years, but the adjoining hotel had only recently been added in order to encourage more events at the establishment.

I observed the queue of marquee-styled posters advertising the various current happenings at the place. One was for an Oktoberfest party, and there were a couple for concerts, but the one on the end answered any question as to why the Replicants had so obviously lured me to this location.

It read: “Paranormal Prosperity with Master DON WINGO”.

Bloody blooming Hell. So that was it. Wingo was furthering his cult by mixing it with all that “Prosperity Gospel” nonsense. Typical. Don Wingo, the very essence of evil, would use anything the further his nefarious plans.

I had to investigate, but realised it would be unsafe to leave the girl alone. The Replicants had targeted her in order to get at me, and would certainly continue to do so now that we had made acquaintance.

I explained to Heba as simply as possible what was going on. She seemed quite interested in accompanying me but was worried about one thing.

“They won’t let me in there!“ she said, in reference to casino policies. “I’m only thirteen… I mean, SEVENTEEN!”

“Worry not, Heba,” I reassured her. “You are with me now, and you shall find that such rules no longer apply.”

Miss Heba Filia took my arm and we strolled into the Horseshoe Casino. All things on the twenty-four hour gaming floor were as usual, and we continued onto the mall-like series of shops and food establishments. Along the way we encountered another sign for Don Wingo’s upcoming presentation, announcing that it would be found in Suite 666, of course. These diabolist types are just so bloody tiresome.

We took the lift to the sixth floor and found the door to the satanic suite (There were not that many rooms in the hotel, of course, but the number had been re-appropriated from Room 66). From here, the feeling was palpable; the feeling of an obscene, ages-old, and powerfully-puissant evil.

The door of “Suite 666” opened on its own, though it was not an electric door, and we stepped into an huge room decorated in black-and-red demoniacal opulence, its centre being a large dining table, covered with a splendid repast, and at which sat a man in a totally-black tuxedo, his long brown-grey hair pulled back neatly.

He was apparently of middle years, his face still handsome despite the marks of a life of profligate wickedness beyond imagining. He stood up with a wicked grin.

“Ah, Dr. Rumanos, we have been expecting you,“ he said, eying the young girl and me with his icy hypnotic gaze whilst stroking his thin moustache and goatee. “I would offer you some Chicken Caprese, but I see you prefer the San Quentin Quail.”

“Don Wingo,” I said. “So it was indeed you all along. I almost could not believe it. This is madness even for you.”

“Ah, flattery,” he retorted. “Anyway, you and your sexy little friend are welcome to the new headquarters of Spectral Paranormal. Well, some still call it Horseshoe Casino, but not for long. Just as some still call this planet Earth, instead of Wingo World, as it should be. The entire human race will call it that soon, as they will call me lord and master!”

“So it was you that harassed me in the dreamscape a while back[****],” said I. “That sound I heard, the sound like white noise. It was an old Algolite Time/Space transport machine; malfunctioning a bit, but you managed to work it a few time before it petered out, eh? You used it to travel through the Current and alter certain events, causing chaos you could exploit to your own purposes.”

[****See “Teenage Dream”.]

“Oh, bravo! Bravo!’ mocked the villain. “The great occult detective has it all figured out. Nevertheless, there is something you haven’t yet realised about it all. I found that device on the paranormal black market. It had been circulating around the collector’s trade for some time, but no one could get it to function properly. I got it to work.”

With this, Wingo partially rolled up his left sleeve and revealed an object like a thick bronze band upon his wrist. It was unspeakably ancient and I recognised it as a prototype of the Temporal Bracelet, one of several types of Space- and Time-travel device utilised by the Watchers of Algol. This one in particular I recognised as having been taken from my home-world of Daemonia long ago. I recognised it as having been used by perhaps the most unspeakably-wicked being in all of history. A being that even I, with my long record of dealing with cosmic horror, was hesitant to even speak of -- this despite the fact that this being had been destroyed, totally obliterated an immeasurably-long time ago.

“That transport device…” I said in horror. “It once belonged to… The Nemesister!!”

I noticed that, as I had been busy at my verbal joust with the wicked Wingo, several Replicants had entered the room. Two of them had approached Heba Filia and the poor lass had fainted away, finally overcome by the horrid events of that day.

“Heba!” I shouted. “I swear by the Triple Star, if you harm that little girl, Wingo, I shall…”

“You will do nothing, Daniel Rumanos!” announced the villain. “My power is now far beyond even yours, as you shall now know!”

He then lifted his hands and sent a wave of energy at me; a wave of power unlike any I had ever experienced before. For with this demoniacal force was an admixture of Algolitish power -- residual power Wingo had obtained and absorbed from the device that had belonged to one of the Watchers, albeit one insane and evil beyond any rational imagining. It was the power of The Nemesister.

I felt myself sinking to my knees in pain, as an irreversible blackness overcame me.

“The writing’s on the wall, Daniel!” screamed the insane Don Wingo along with peals of his mad iniquitous laughter. “This day is your end!”

Now, I had often wondered why Satan, the Devil, the First Evil, was a male archetype. Surely, the most ancient and potent manifestation of wickedness had been The Nemesister. But now that secret, like so many others, was revealed: she had used Don Wingo as her manifestation avatar. Wingo himself, through his travels throughout Time, had become the very Prince of Darkness. It was he, using the evil powers of The Nemesister, who had fostered chaos throughout history.

“I will kill you, Daniel Rumanos!” shouted Don Wingo as he continued to pummel me with his unspeakably darksome forces. “I will kill you as I have spread rumours to destroy your reputation! Oh yes, I have secretly been a part of your life for a very long time! I have altered names and shifted focuses to vex you! I have even used the Leknii technology to achieve the true Resurrection for my disciples! It has been granted to those who would willingly end their lives for my worship! Those who would not have been eliminated! A shame about that Chris Lamartine, though[*****]. He had such a nice oily arsehole…”

[*****For more on the deplorable Baltimore-area filmmaker Mr. Christopher Lamartine, and concerning Don Wingo’s particular usage of his oleaginous orifice, see the account entitled, oddly enough, “Girls On Film”.]

Whilst Don Wingo boasted, I thought rapidly of how to extricate myself from this position and save the world -- indeed all of Time and Space itself -- from his evil. I knew of only one possible solution, and it was one itself fraught with dangers unimaginable. I therefore said a word inaudibly. It was a word of only six letters, scarce two syllables. It was a word of horror and hatred. It was a name.

At my whispering of this name, Don Wingo’s powers ceased and he suddenly screamed in pain and buckled forward upon the lush hotel carpeting.

“What!” he screeched, a look of terror entering his cold blue-grey eyes. “Rumanos! What have you done?”

‘Well, Wingo, It is like this;” said, I standing up and brushing off my suit. “You remember when you were young and reading all those old occult books? Even before you started robbing graves and practicing Satanism and contacting eldritch extraterrestrial horrors.  Long before you achieved the power of the Cacodemons of Andromeda by the unholy use your own daughter, poor little Anastasia, in that horrid ceremony that is still shuddered about in York, Pennsylvania. You remember how those books taught that to know the true name of an evil spirit is to have power over it? Well, the reason they say that is a memory; a distorted memory of the ancient wars of the Watchers against the forces of The Nemesister. It was a weakness of hers caused by a genetic manipulation covertly achieved by the Kosmikos. You see, my sis… The Nemesister lost her powers when her true, personal name was spoken. It is a name that only I remember. It is a name I shall now speak now aloud for the first time in countless aeons.”

“No, Daniel, no!” pleaded Wingo. “Please, no! I will share the Universe with you! We can rule side-by-side, as old friends should! We can have wealth, fame, power! We can have all the little girls and boys! We can…”

“I speak now the true name of The Nemesister,” I said, ignoring his desperate attempt at diabolical temptation. “I speak her name and so end her powers. I speak her name and so bring your destruction. I speak her name: Cheryl.”

At this, Don Wingo screamed in pain for one final time as the ancient powers of evil were ripped from him, desiccating his body and all that touched it. After a brief cacophony of unearthly sound, all was silent.

I walked over to where Don Wingo had so recently stood. All that remained was a burn-mark upon the floor. How fitting.

The Replicants had been destroyed with him, they having been pre-programmed to shatter into infinitesimal pieces at the moment of losing contact with their Controller. I revived Heba Filia from her swoon and assured her that all was well. With the recuperative abilities of the very young, she was soon fine again.

Evening had fallen as the girl and I left the hotel suite that fateful day. Only one thing was disturbing me. Just playing a bit in the back of my mind. It was a sound I thought I had heard amongst the myriad noises the instant that Don Wingo disappeared. I hoped and prayed that it was a mere fancy, only a fevered thought caused by the horrors of that day. Certainly, I reasoned, it was just my imagination that it sounded like white noise.

I made a quick telephone call to my friend Detective Borman of the Baltimore Police Department, letting him know that the young girl who had disappeared from the school-tour at the B.M.A. was safe and in good hands.

“No problems now, Heba,” I assured her. “They will not be expecting you back before morning.”

“Cool!” replied the girl.

Heba and I found the Oktoberfest party being held at the casino/hotel. A band wearing lederhosen was playing traditional German music. Best of all, there was cold-cut buffet (or perhaps I should say smorgasbord), and the young lady and I sat down to a much-needed repast. 

Horror and Heba Filia, I mused to myself. Well, I had certainly had enough of horror for tonight…

I knew that soon the Kothovalth would begin, the Universal Reset, as the Absolute Convention of Algol briefly turned the stars off and on again in order to undo damage caused by Don Wingo and the unmentionable powers of The Nemesister. Some things would be different; others, as always, would be the same. Forsooth, what would be an appropriate metaphor for this?

“Awww! Looks like the party’s over,” said Heba, her pleasant voice breaking into my thoughts.

I looked around. The band had stopped playing and were packing up their instruments. A cleaning crew had come in to tidy up the ballroom.

“Worry not, love,” said I, taking the girl’s little hand in mine. “There will always be another party.”

And at this, a delightful smile spread across her lovely face. Party on.

[An all-new series begins soon: “THE DANIEL RUMANOS FILES”!!!]

BURN OUT THE NIGHT

“Never leave an enemy behind, or he will rise and fly at your throat.”
(Shaka Zulu)

Imagine having to deal with a prison-break from Hell, and you will perhaps have some idea what latest assignment was like.

My name is Doctor Daniel Rumanos, Intergalactic Man of Mystery. Even though I have the appearance of an human being, I am in fact much more. I carry within my blood the superior genes of the mysterious Watchers of Algol, the most technologically-advanced species in the known Universe. Whilst most Algolites keep to themselves, merely observing the activities of the lesser species of other worlds, I am an operative of a secret organisation known as the KOSMIKOS, tasked with protecting others from the threats of the cruel warrior races that plague the space-ways. Assigned to the planet Earth, I now defend humankind against all manner of Cosmic horrors. I am the Daemon-Star!

Ages ago, long before life even came into existence upon the planet you call home, the Watchers, before instituting the current policy of total non-interference, established a prison planet known as Zatta for the incarceration of numerous grotesque and distorted forms of life that had appeared during the early formation of matter. These forms, their very existence judged by the Absolute Convention of Algol as being detrimental to the development of rational creatures, were imprisoned upon the dark world presumably forever.

Nevertheless, things have recently changed. Certain forces have of late tampered with the very parameters of the Time/Space Current -- forces that even the Kosmikos have not as yet identified. This led to the horrid beings imprisoned upon Zatta being contacted, per chance, by an human woman known as Carissa Bartley, a self-proclaimed “psychic medium” living in a rural area near the hideously-debased borough of Athens, Pennsylvania. It is from here that the Zatta prisoners burst forth into existence upon planet Earth, immediately tearing Carissa Bartley’s body and soul to shreds and sending her idiotic and morbidly-obese husband Bill (himself a so-called “ghost-hunter”, whose attempts to achieve fame in that particularly-dubious field had only been met with derision from those in-the-know, and whose chance to appear as a regular on a paranormal-themed television programme had been scrapped when the producers grew tired of Bill’s constant paranoid assertions that any critics of the show were “stalking and harassing” him) screaming in terror into the near by hills as fast as his stubby legs could carry him.

Perhaps it was better for the Bartleys anyway. They were about to become technically homeless, not having paid the rent on their trailer-home for months. Carissa’s addiction to prescription drugs (for which she continuously checked herself into the hospital feinting shoulder pain, chest pain, et cetera et cetera et cetera) had eaten up any profits that could be made from her telephone-psychic charlatanry and Bill Bartley’s part-time job as a landscaper. 

From there, the monsters of Zatta were drawn to the environs of Baltimore, Maryland, due to the particular forces of mystery surrounding that bizarrely-storied city.

It is this that led me, that eventful night, to be standing upon Berryman Lane in the Baltimore County area of Reisterstown, facing down two individuals who had become possessed by the Fiip, a particularly nasty non-corporeal race, originally from Protogalaxy 1120, that had been imprisoned upon Zatta for countless aeons.

It was in a partially wooded spot directly across from a sign advertising “Casey’s Automotive”, lit by a slim crescent moon near the horizon, that I faced them. Their names were Greg Serios and Matt Setter.

“Dr. Daniel Rumanos,” snarled Greg Serios, himself a thin man in his fifties, of medium height, his face deeply-lined and his head completely bald, “we are going to take you down, big boy -- and by big boy I mean bitch boy!”

“Why so serious, Serios?” I mocked, clad in my usual silk suit, leathern greatcoat, jungle boots, and panama hat.

“Doom! Doom!” spoke his companion, Matt Setter, a short, obese man of about twenty-eight, with hair the shade of excrement and a scruffy beard. He then let out with a decidedly-idiotic guffaw.

Despite their differences in years and build, both Serios and Setter were wearing the usual outfit of their social class: T-shirts, jeans, and sneakers. Serios’s shirt was printed with the logo of “Fogdog” a small-time heavy-metal rock band for whom he was a sound-technician, whilst Setter’s shirt showed the marihuana leaf to which most of his own worthless life was dedicated.

They were also both surrounded by a strange, dim, unearthly silver glow -- denoting the presence of the hideous Fiip!

“We will kill you, Daniel Rumanos, you frigging paedophile,” continued Serios, mentioning a scandalous and wholly-inaccurate rumour that had been spread recently, mostly via that particularly-mindless internet social media site known as Likebook.

“Actually, I am an heterosexual hebephile,” I jested. “Do your research.”

“Pee-dough! Pee-dough!” muttered Matt Setter. “Doom! Heh heh heh heh heh.”

“I say, are you Irish, Setter?” I queried. “Not that I would ever hound you about your ethnicity or anything.”

“Pee-dough! Pee-dough!” continued Setter, his stupidity unabashed. “Friggin’ Pee-dough! I am Stoner Doom! Four-Twenty! Four-Twenty! Hahaha! Doom doom doom doom doom!”

“You are going down, Daniel Rumanos!” proclaimed Greg Serios. “You are going down, big boy! We’ll only stop when you are dead!”

And with this, the horrid force of the Fiip shot forth from both of them. It was a power that even we Algolites had not had to contend with for many generations, and its strength caught me unawares. I staggered backwards into the woods, the pain of this ancient cosmic evil tearing into my very psyche!

“You are finished. Rumanos!” shouted the Fiip-possessed Serios. “You are finished!”

Then I heard Matt Setter cackle with mirth as I fell to the ground.

Fortunately, my superior Algolitish consistency rallied quickly enough for me to recover before Greg Serios and Matt Setter could generate another blast of Fiip energy. I jumped up and sent a burst of my own bright orange and blue powers in return, focusing it upon Serios, who seemed quite obviously the superior of this pair of possessed malefactors.

There is no effective exorcism for those who have been possessed by the Fiip. The individuals have to be destroyed.

My energies hit Serios squarely and hard, causing him to howl with pain as his human form was torn asunder by the force of my blast. He crumpled to the ground, his life extinguished, as the portion of the Fiip within him were forced back along the Time-stream to their prison upon Zatta.

Upon seeing this, Matt Setter’s dull eyes grew wide with terror as his own innate cowardice temporarily overcame the control of the Fiip. Setter turned and began to run away from me -- in sooth with impressive speed considering his corpulence.

Seeing this, I folded my arms and cocked my head with a knowing grin.

Matt Setter suddenly stopped short in his attempt to flee. He found his way blocked by the slender form of a beautiful young girl clad in a skin-tight purple leotard-type garment. Her hair was blonde, her eyes an enchanting shade of green, and her skin like the pure white of finest porcelain.

“What the actual… ?” stammered Setter, his mouth hanging open in astonishment.

“Burn out the evil;” recited the girl, her voice revealing a Slavic accent, “Burn out the darkness; Burn out the night!”

With this, she then generated a wondrous blast of vermillion-red fire from her body, a strange unnatural flame that desiccated the form of Matt Setter, ending his miserable existence and sending the remaining Fiip back to their proper perdition.

“Excellent work, Katasha,” said I, stepping over the charred remains of Matt Setter as I strolled over to her. “Excellent work indeed.”

“Thank you, Dr. Rumanov,” she replied with a smile.

Miss Katasha Pimenova, age fifteen, was my latest protégée. The result of certain secret and highly-advanced experimentation by a mad scientist working for the SVR, she had been smuggled out of her native Russia by American agents who were working under cover of investigating covert Kremlin influence on the United States Presidential election.

I had first had the case of Katasha Pimenova brought to my attention whilst enjoying cheese pizza with the Clinton family, and it had been thought best that the young girl be placed under my protection and tutelage.

The lovely lass had already proven to be an apt pupil, having aided me in the apprehension of an execrable occult criminal by the name of John John Giles, alias “Ol Soul”. This sickening individual had resided in Deltona, Florida and affected a certain dapper look in his clothing in order to hide his “white trash” origins (though his attempt at a pencil-thin moustache only succeeded in making him look more like John Waters than David Niven). Giles’s own involvement in the illegally-obtained prescription narcotics trade (which he had initiated whilst working as a dental assistant) was believed to be a cover for involvement in Satanism, and my particular investigation involved his possible connections to the shadowy Spectral Paranormal cult. However, John John Giles had committed suicide by using a cyanide capsule before he could be properly questioned.

(Oddly, this type of action had been observed in numerous Spectral Paranormal cultists of late -- including the hideous transvestite Rahnee “RX” Alexandre, who shot himself in his Howard Street apartment after giving a presentation on his sick lifestyle at the Baltimore Book Festival; the horrid child-molesting lesbian Jacq Johnson, local “sex educator” and proprietor of the grotesque pornography-shop known as Honey in that same city’s Hampden neighbourhood, who had intentionally destroyed her internal organs with a particularly-corrosive acid introduced into her vagina via a hollow-out dildo; and the trashy Chucky Dukeheart IV of the terrible heavy-metal band The Secret Serpents, who plunged a Samurai sword into his own heart. Indeed, the strangely disparate group of individuals making up the Spectral Paranormal sect seemed to be rather suddenly addicted to ritual suicide. As to why, I had not yet been able to determine.)

Following our adventure in Florida, Katasha and I had been summoned back to Baltimore in order to deal with this escapees from Zatta case.

“Dr. Rumanov,” said the girl, this being the closest her Russian accent had thus far come in pronouncing my name, “what is that?”

She was referring to a strange odour, something as of brimstone or sulphur, which had suddenly filled the air.

“Remnants of the mephitic atmosphere of the prison planet,” I informed her. “It permeates all organic matter that has been there. We would not have noticed it on the non-corporeal Fiip, or their Earthling hosts. Something else is here, and near by. Something else that has escaped from Zatta.”

As if one cue, something burst forth from the cover of the trees; something big; something horrid. It was more than twice the height of a man, with two claw-like limbs and five heads like grotesque birds. It let forth with an ungodly screeching sound as it rushed to-wards us.

I recognised the horror from some of the darkest legends of my own home-world:

“The Khudras.”

This thing, the Khudras, as with many of the grotesque and distorted forms that populated the Universe in its earliest stages of its formation, has echoed down through the ages in the mythology and legends of many cultures throughout the Cosmos. I daresay, my friends, that you may recognise some similar terror from the lore of your own ancestors.

The monstrosity barrelled to-wards us at an absolutely-fantastic speed. Just before it could reach us, I cast a bolt of my Algolitish powers at it. The bolt hit one of its throats, severing an hideous head that immediately vanished.

Nevertheless, any thought that the Khudras would be thus easy to vanquish was soon enough squelched. For, in place of the missing head were quickly grown up two equally-sized heads to replace it!

I severed another of its heads and the same thing happened. I then attempted destroying two of them at once and only ended up with the creature immediately growing four more. The horrendous monster now was resplendent with a total of nine heads!

Do you realise the absolute abject horror, indeed the most extreme and unholy terror of this situation, dear readers?

Then I had an idea.

“Katasha!” I called to the girl. “Use your flame on its necks when I sever an head! Understand?”

Now, the English-language skills of young Katasha Pimenova were at this time still less than perfect, but she soon enough caught the implications of what I was suggesting.

“Da, Dr. Rumanov!” answered the beautiful Russian girl.

And so, whenever I would lop off one of the heads of the Khudras with my energies, she would immediately cauterise the wound with her flashing vermillion-coloured flame. 

“A ‘red scare’ indeed,” said I.

Eventually the monster, headless and defeated, fell dead, its horrible remains then vanishing into the void.

But then, before we could even have a moment’s respite from the escaped horrors of the prison planet, another monster approached us. Its footsteps shook the ground and it made a sound as of grunting defiant mockery. The same sulphuric odour filled the air as it neared us.

It was shaped like an hugely muscled man, nude and hirsute, and fully as tall as an house. His ugly face was as a distorted parody of any human countenance.

“What is that, Dr. Rumanov?” enquired Katasha.

“That, my young friend, is one of the most feared and dangerous beings of the early Galactic Wars.” I informed her. “He was the Warlord of the Dark Spirals. His name is Ghlyt.”

As the terrible giant approached us, I sent a large burst of my Algolitish powers directly at his chest area. Shockingly, this seemed to have no effect whatsoever on the fearsome Ghlyt!

Katasha Pimenova, perhaps overly-emboldened by our recent success in vanquishing the Khudras, rose lithely upwards into the air by utilising her fantastic red flame as a propellant.

“Katasha! No!” I cried.

Nevertheless, it was too late for my warning to be of any help to the girl. The monstrous Ghlyt raised one of his huge hands and, with a noise like a mirthless guffaw, he simply swatted the poor wee lass as a normal man would an insect. I saw her slight figure hurtle through the air, helplessly impelled to crash into the near by bushes!

I could see that, in the unnumbered aeons that Ghlyt had been imprisoned upon Zatta, he had lost his intelligence. The thing was now just a mindless horror.

I was worried for Katasha’s safety, but none the less managed to concentrate on defeating the giant. I cast a powerful bolt of my Algolitish energies directly at the centre of his forehead, remembering this to have been accounted his weak-point according to the ancient chronicles of the Watchers.

My bolt made contact and left an indentation in the horrid monstrosity’s forehead. Ghlyt shuddered and wavered and then fell to the ground with a thunderous thud, his body then vanishing into the void back to the prison world.

I ran to see if the girl was injured. To my relief, I found that her powers had prevented any damage, and only had to help her to her feet amidst the brush of that Baltimore County roadside.

“Is that all of the monsters, Dr. Rumanov?” she enquired.

“So it appears,” I replied. “Odd, though. The dossier from the Kosmikos said there were four escapees from Zatta. Perhaps the mass of Fiip were counted as two. I thought they had just divided into two convenient human hosts.”

With this reasoning, I dismissed the topic and turned my thoughts to other things.

“You know what, Katasha?” I went on. “This kind of violent exercise always makes me hungry. Would you care to join me for some cheese pizza?”

“Da, Dr. Rumanov,” said the Slavic beauty with a smile. “Hot and ready!” …

On that same eldritch night, the figure of a man enshrouded in a black, hooded vestment-robe walked into The Depot Tavern. This Baltimore dive-bar is so named due to its close proximity to the city’s main train station, but this man had not come to town by train.

The bartender could not help rolling his eyes as the strange figure entered the establishment. The dark stranger had stopped briefly and chuckled wickedly at a recruiting poster for Spectral Paranormal that hung on the tavern wall, at the top of the small flight of stairs leading to the bar area.

“Another damn weirdo,” muttered the bartender to himself. He had gotten irksomely used to such people since the dive had started hosting its weekly “Baltimore Batz” goth nights. However, this was not one of those nights.

As the stranger approached the bar, the bartender noticed an odd odour that seemed to be emanating from him. Was it… sulphur?

“What can I get you, sir?” enquired the bartender, hiding his disgust.

“Whiskey, my good man,” returned the other. “Make it a double, and keep them coming. Add a beer chaser.”

“You want to pay up front, or run a tab?” asked the bartender after fixing the drinks.

“A tab, my boy, a tab,” replied the man, his voice somewhat bemused as if by the thought that anyone would actually expect him to pay for a drink.

The bartender fetched a pad of sticky-notes and a ballpoint pen from under the bar.

“Name?”

With this, the dark stranger pulled down his cowl, thus revealing his face as he raised his glass and downed the whiskey. It was the countenance of what appeared to be a man of middle years, his dark hair streaked with grey, and his features decorated by a moustache and goatee. He had once been quite handsome, and his face still had marks of distinction, though now somewhat saggy and bloated -- forsooth the results of an existence of profligate wickedness beyond imagining.

“My name’s Wingo,” he said, his eyes glinting with a look of absolute and unspeakably diabolical evil. “Don Wingo.”

[To be continued this Halloween in the next _Weird Adventures_: “Writing’s On The Wall”! For other appearances of the villainous Don Wingo, see “Beyond This Illusion”, “Teenage Dream”, and “Girls On Film”!]

GIRLS ON FILM

The sign on the mailbox said “Midnight Crew Productions”, there on the 3600 block of Jones’-Fall Street in the city of Baltimore, Maryland. The studio loft apartment to which said mailbox belonged was actually the home of an individual by the name of Christopher Lamartine, amateur filmmaker best known for the excruciatingly-bad “horror sex comedy” entitled _The Dunwich Whore_.

On the morning on which our narrative begins, however, Lamartine (known to his friends as “Chris La”) -- a man of about thirty, dressed in a black T-shirt, blue jeans and white sneakers -- is not yet indulging in his penchant for cinematic stupidity. He is instead to be found kneeling in cringing reverence before a man cloaked entirely in black. The strange figure’s face is hidden behind a cowl, and he is seen to occasionally shimmer as if it were only quasi-corporeal.

“To do your will is the only law, my master,” said Chris Lamartine, trying vainly to hide the fearful quiver in his voice. “As you have taught, so do I obey.”

“Report,” said the man, his voice clear despite an underlying layer of seeming white-noise. “I need your report on the campaign against Dr. Daniel Rumanos.”

“It’s going well, Master,” replied Lamartine. “We have continued the false rumours that he is a paedophile and a racist.”

“Lamartine, remember that they are not ‘false’ rumours if I say they are true. Reality matters not at all. Only my will, my orders, my teaching -- they are your only truth.”

“Yes, Master,” shivered Chris Lamartine. “I’m sorry.”

“Continue your report.”

“We have spread the rumours and…”

“Whom do you mean by ‘we’, Lamartine? While I have empowered you to use others, I must know their identity.”

“Some members of my old film crew, and my wife, Melissa. Even though we’re separated, the bitch is still under contract. She’s especially happy to help against Rumanos. Like so many women her age, she is crazy jealous over his fondness for younger girls.”

“’Fondness’!” thundered the other. “’Fondness’, indeed! Be careful of your words, Lamartine! You are to claim that he is a child molester!”

“Yes, Master. I’m sorry. Oh, we have had another problem…”

“What is it?”

“In trying to say that Rumanos is secretly a Nazi. It’s difficult when he’s such a well-known friend of the Jewish community.”

“That matters not at all. Repeat it often enough, and it will be believed.”

“Yes, my master.”

“Continue the campaign, Lamartine. I have given you and your associates a portion of my power for your own defence. Do my bidding well, and you will stand in an honoured place when I take complete control over this planet. Fail, and I will smite you with pain beyond your puny imagination!”

“Yes, Master,” cringed LaMartine. “To do your will is all pleasure; to fail you is pain and death.”

“Soon, my servant, soon the forces of Spectral Paranormal will spread across this country and we will take control.”

“Yes, Master. Today America, tomorrow the World!”

“The method of science…” spoke the dark one.

“The aim of religion,” said Christopher Lamartine, completing the cultish formula.

With this, there was a louder blast of the white-noise, and the shape of the one Lamartine called “Master” flickered and vanished.

Chris Lamartine then stood up and wiped the cold sweat from his face with the palm of his hand. His hair and eyes were both brown, with his features evidencing a strong infusion of Latin blood despite the pallor of his complexion.

There is a knock at the door; a light, tentative knock. Christopher Lamartine’s oleaginous countenance suddenly takes upon a lustful appearance as he realises it is his noonday appointment.

Lamartine opens the door and beholds a pretty girl of about thirteen or fourteen. She is of medium height and slender, blonde and blue-eyed, clad in a short, flowered dress.

“Mr. Lamartine?” she enquires.

“Call me Chris, babe,” he replies. “You’re Stacie O’Brien, I presume?”

“Yes,” affirms the young girl, as Lamartine takes her arm and pulls her into the room. “I’ve really been looking forward to this audition. I‘ve wanted to be a movie actress since I was little, and I saw your ad online and couldn’t resist trying out!”

Chris Lamartine glances into the hallway before closing the door, obviously to confirm that the girl truly came alone.

“Would you like a drink before the test shoot, Stacie?” he leers. “I have some good Italian wine here. Wait, I think I have some left…”

“Umm, no thank you,” the girl answers. “I would like some water, if that’s OK. It’s kind of hot today and I had to walk over here.”

“Of course, of course,” says Lamartine, disappointed but undaunted. “Just a sec.”

Christopher Lamartine takes a glass from the cabinet and fills it from the sink-tap. He then glances over his shoulder to be certain the girl is not watching him too closely. He deftly removes a small tablet from his trousers-pocket and quickly dissolves it in the water.

“Here you go, babe,” he says, proffering the glass to the girl. “Bottoms up.”

Stacie O’Brien drains the glass and then sets it down on a near by table.

“Now,” announces Lamartine. “Let’s get you on film.”

“OK. Umm, do you have a script or anything for me? I’ve done Shakespeare with my school theatre group, and I also know some modern stuff…”

“Never mind all that, Stacie,” Lamartine says as he adjusts his camera on its tripod, and turns the studio lighting to best highlight the girl‘s alabaster skin. “We do mostly improvisation here, but I’ll let you know if I want anything in particular.”

“Oh, OK,” the girl replies. She realises she is starting to feel a bit dizzy, but brushes it off as a result of nervousness.

“Now, the film is running. Look up at the camera and slowly lick your lips.”

The girl does so. As the effect of the drug increases, she feels her will leaving her.

“Now, run your hand through your hair… slowly. Yeah, just like that.”

Stacie O’Brien finds that she is having increased difficulty in staying on her feet.

“And now, Stacie,” says Chris Lamartine, his oily features darkening with lechery. “Take off your dress.” …

My name is Doctor Daniel Rumanos, Intergalactic Man of Mystery. Even though I have the physical appearance of an human being, I am actually far more than this. For within me are the vastly-superior genes of the mysterious Watchers of Algol, Masters of all Space and of all Time, forsooth the most technologically-advanced species in the known Universe. This otherworldly heritage grants me numerous powers and abilities that appear as “magic” to lesser beings.

Whilst most Algolites keep to themselves, merely observing the going-on of the rest of Creation, I am an operative for a secret service organisation known as the KOSMIKOS, or Cosmic Intervention Department. Assigned to the planet Earth, I utilise my extraterrestrial abilities to protect the human race from all manner of threats. I am the Daemon-Star!

Now, I had actually been investigating the activities of the horrid individual known as Christopher Lamartine for some time, but had been called away on other matters before I could close in and take appropriate actions against him.

First, I had had to deal with the hideous homosexual horror of a certain Steve Coop in the hideously-debased small town of Cabin John, Maryland. Coop, who worked as a graphics designer for Wildthings Press, a publisher of badly-formatted third-rate eBooks, had been using the obscene energies of his sickening pederastical proclivities in order to enhance his reputation as a “white wizard”. Going by the magical names of “Phoenix Rising” and “Linthal“, he had begun to assemble a group of followers who had even gone so far as to announce their presence at the Washington, DC Gay Pride Parade!

Needless to say, I succeeded in destroying Steve Coop and his disgusting cult of nefarious nancy-boys there in the town of Cabin John (which was indeed as much of an outhouse toilet as it sounds like). A rather queer case it was, indeed, and it had left me feeling rather fagged.

Following this, I was called even farther afield by having to stop the criminal plots of a group of redneck “paranormal investigators” known as the East Tennessee Ghost Chasers. These hideous hillbillies had hoped to spread chaos across the country, beginning with their own despicable state, by use of certain ancient incantations they had found on some backwoods relics. These spells were, of course, actually remnants of the science of an ancient civilisation that had existed on the North American continent before the development of even the earliest of human ancestors.

Tracking down and eliminating each member of the East Tennessee Ghost Chasers had taken some time, as well as a good deal of energy. By the time I had returned to Baltimore, and to my scrutiny of Chris Lamartine, his seemingly-unnatural powers had somehow greatly increased.

Then, on the day that I had finally gotten to take action against Lamartine, I suddenly found myself waylaid by one of his closest associates.

I was just outside of the local branch of the Enoch Pratt Free Library -- wearing my usual silk suit, leathern greatcoat, jungle boots, sunspecs, and panama hat -- when I beheld this individual. He was a podgy young man with fair hair, clad in a grey polo shirt and tan shorts. I recognised him from my investigations as Jamie George, the self-proclaimed “stock-boy by day, screenwriter by night” of Lamartine’s Midnight Crew.

“Dr. Daniel Rumanos,” he proclaimed in his rather squeaky voice, “Your end is coming soon! You will die in shame and dishonour! My friend, the great and wonderful Chris La, has communed with the Master himself, the very Devil, the First Evil!”

“Stand aside, you ridiculous underling,” I warned him. “My business is with your boss Lamartine, not his lads.”

“Chris is in a meeting right now,” he replied with an attempt at businesslike haughtiness. “You’ll just have to wait.”

I moved forward with the intention of physically removing this Jamie George idiot from my presence when suddenly he raised his hand and unleashed a blast of ebony-black demonical energies directly at me. I was driven back several paces by the force. It was indeed surprisingly-powerful, and was to my extreme horror that I realised just what it was.

“Feel a portion of the power that the Dark Master had given us,” mocked Jamie George, “The power only given by the Lord of Darkness himself! Feel the force of Spectral Paranormal! The method of science, the aim of religion!”

Indeed, I recognised the energies as something that could only be achieved by an adept of supreme and masterful power over the forces of darkness. They were, incredibly and amazingly, the combined powers of two of the most evil and ungodly alien races of all time -- they were the combined forces of the Kakodemons of Andromeda and the Shaitans of Eblis!

Can you even begin to recognise and comprehend the unnameable horror, forsooth the obscene and unhallowed terror of this realisation, my dear readers? I do truly hope that you cannot, for full understanding of it could very well send you screaming into total and complete madness for the remainder of your natural existence!

The combined powers of these ancient demoniacal alien beings were indeed potent, and I felt the swirling forces of their eldritch darkness and unholy hatred as they surrounded me. Nevertheless, I realised that they could be easily banished. This was due to the lack of experience and personal strength in my human foe of the moment, Mr. Jamie George.

In other words, this was borrowed power.

“Allah-Hashem! Anthropropolagos!” I spoke the ancient form of banishment and sent a wave of my own Algolitish powers throughout the demonic conflagration. With a sound as of phantasmagorical howling, the combined Kakodemons and Shaitans vanished.

I looked and saw Jamie George standing transfixed, with his slack jaw hanging open. When he beheld me free of the diabolical powers in which he had put his faith, he turned and fled. Unfortunately for him, he did not look before crossing the street.

Jamie George was hit by a passing delivery truck and splattered across the pavement. I quickly left the area before a crowd could gather, hurrying to the near by studio of Midnight Crew Films, and to my confrontation with the late Mr. George’s boss, that unspeakably perverted human scum known as Christopher Lamartine.

I burst into the studio just in time to see Lamartine approaching the young girl, his lewd intentions quite evident. She was wavering back and forth on her feet, obviously under the influence of the barbiturates he had secretly given her.

I pulled the girl away from him and eased her onto a near by cushioned settee.

“It is all right now, love,” I assured the damsel in a whisper. “I shall aid and protect you. I am Doctor Daniel Rumanos.”

“Dr. who?” she enquired groggily.

“No. Dr. Rumanos,” I corrected her.

I then turned back to the evil villain known to infamy as Chris Lamartine. He was trembling with anger and outrage at my interference in his perverse plans. I could tell from his presence that he was at least a somewhat more powerful adept of the “occult” science than his late underling had been. Just how powerful, I could not as yet ascertain.

“No!” he screamed in furious anger. “No no no no no! The Master has given me power, and I am going to use it!”

Then, the sickening Lamartine suddenly unleashed from his person a horrid stream of blackest eldritch darkness. It was again the combined powers of the Kakodemons and Shaitans, those ancient horrors of Andromeda and of Eblis, and I braced myself for the impact of this amalgamation of unspeakably ages-old terror.

However, I was to feel no impact. Mr. Christopher Lamartine, in his raging indignation at his foiled plans of molestation, had sent the demonic forces not at me, but at the helpless damsel who lay near by.

Do you see the supreme dread in this, my friends? I looked on in horror as the ebony blackness of the ancient alien demons engulfed the young lady’s slight, vulnerable form!

I quickly cast a bolt of my bright orange and blue Algolitish powers at Chris Lamartine, sending him crashing against the far wall. I then turned back to the poor wee lass.

To my surprise, the demoniacal forces seemed to be having some difficulty in maintaining contact with the girl’s body. It was as if they just could not find anything of her that was of their own provenance.

“Of course,” I said to myself. “Purity. Her virginal purity has acted as a shield against them!”

I could not be certain, of course, how long this defence would last against the incredibly ancient evil of the Kakodemons and the Shaitans. I accordingly uttered the proper formulae to banish the darksome beings into perdition before they could succeed in finding anything, any sin or fault or foible, which they could utilise to strengthen their hold on this reality.

At my command, the dark mass of alien horror vanished into nothingness. All that was left was the sweet young girl, sleeping peacefully upon the settee.

I then turned back to face Lamartine. He had recovered from my quickly-generated blast of energy and was now busy examining his motion picture camera on its tripod. It seems he was rather concerned with an effect that my flash had had upon it.

“You rogue!” he shrieked in trembling, grief-stricken outrage. “You swashbuckling fiend! You… You overexposed my film!”

It was then that Chris Lamartine, Baltimore-area independent filmmaker and legend in his own mind, sunk down to his knees sobbing in sorrow and grief at the loss of his latest attempt at cinematic perversion. He stayed that way until my friends from the Baltimore Police Department (of which I had been made a duly-deputised honorary member following my having aided them in defeating the “zombie” of the satanic filth and drug-pedlar known as Jim Forrester[*]) arrived to appropriately apprehend him.

[*See the _Weird Adventures_ account entitled “Rock ‘N Roll Fantasy”.]

I personally looked after the young girl, the lovely Miss Stacie O’Brien, and made certain there were no lasting ill effects from the drug Lamartine had surreptitiously given her. An ice cream sundae and a couple of highly-caffeinated soft drinks at a local dessert shop did the trick.

I found Stacie O’Brien to be a quite smart and talented young lady, despite her naïveté, and I promised to help her with her budding acting career by introducing her to a legitimate theatre company of my acquaintance who were preparing a season of Moliere. She was, I am pleased to say, quite happy and grateful at this.

Still, I could not but ponder concerning the implications of what I had just experienced, I could not even speculate as to the identity of what dark master, what highly-experienced and unspeakably-evil adept of the dark arts could have been behind it all. The First Evil. Spectral Paranormal. Horror and Hebephilia. I wondered…

Late that night, in his small cell at Baltimore Central Booking, Christopher Lamartine was awakened from sleep by a dark figure standing over his cot.

“Master!” he stammered, cold sweat again breaking out on his greasy face. “Master! Oh, Master, please… !”

“You have failed me, Lamartine,” said the dark one from within his cowl.

“No, Master! Please! Please don’t kill me, Master! Please let me live! I am loyal to you, Master! Hurt me, torture me, sodomise me again if you want, but please let me live!”

But the stranger only replied by slightly raising one black-gloved hand, and Chris Lamartine then choked and clutched his chest as he felt his heart burst open. He fell back dead upon the tiny prison cot, a stream of blood bubbling from one corner of his mouth.

At this, the robed figure voiced a low wicked laugh. It was as if the bringing of pain and of death, even in the destruction of his own servant, brought him great pleasure.

Then, he made a movement as if adjusting some device upon his wrist, hidden under the ebon vestment, and, with the unmistakeable gasping and moaning sound of the activated engine of an Algolitish Space/Time travel machine, the dark stranger faded into the void.

TEENAGE DREAM

Algol -- the “Daemon-Star” - is actually a system of three stars located ninety-three light years from Earth in the constellation known as Perseus.

The inhabitants of the Algolite system (my own people) are known as the Watchers. Masters of all Space and Time, we are the oldest and most highly advanced civilisation in all the known Universe. In reality we exist as beings of pure ecstatic energy, but maintain a humanoid form for cover and the necessary humility to interact when necessary with the other beings of the Cosmos. Our science appears as what is known as “magic” to mortals.

Now, it should be understood that the Watchers of Algol never interfere in the affairs of other races and civilisations -- well, officially anyway. There does exist, hidden deeply within the government system of Algolitish society, an elite “secret service” organisation known as the KOSMIKOS or Cosmic Intervention Department. It is the ongoing mission of this agency to defend against the numerous dark and unholy evils that have bred in the darkest eldritch corners of the Universe.

You see, whilst our home planet of Daemonia (the central world of the Algol system) has given rise to the word “daemon”, meaning a spirit of inspiration, some other life forms have become a perversion of this, being what some refer to as “demons” or “evil spirits”, utilising their own technologies for purposes of interplanetary conquest and suppression of weaker beings.

These wicked ones include the Kakodemons of Andromeda, the Shaitans of Eblis, the Maskim of Mercury, the Mutations of Manverkoss, the Leknii Replicants, the Reptilians of Lemuria and Atlantis, and many others. It is these creatures of ungodly malevolence and perverse iniquity that it is my purpose to fight.

My name is Rumanos -- Doctor Daniel Rumanos. Born of the most noble and illustrious family of the Watchers of Algol, I have taken it as my duty to work as an operative of the Kosmikos, assigned to the planet Earth, from which I protect the human race and defend against all manner of threat. I am the living image of Algol upon this world. I am the Daemon-Star! …

I had arrived in the area known as Lutherville, in northern Baltimore County in the State of Maryland, by special request of a young lady residing there. You see, my work has become known upon Earth to a certain extent, publicity actually aiding as a form of concealment in this case, and I am sometimes contacted by private citizens of this planet to aid them in bizarre circumstances that have gone beyond their control or ability to cope. Such was the case here.

The girl’s name was Sarah Porter, age sixteen, and she was a student at the near by high school. I could tell from the telephone conversation that we had had that she was an intelligent and thoughtful young person, though somewhat overwrought by certain experiences she had recently undergone.

A friend of hers, a girl named Nancy, had died some time before under rather strange circumstances. You see, Nancy had been having a series of strange dreams in which she had apparently imagined being molested by an individual known as Andrew Howard-Bee, a convicted sex offender who had died in prison decades before. This execrable miscreant, known to local legend as “Andy Bee” (though he preferred to be known as “Drew Bee“, and had made a big issue of this in his taunting letters to the police and media) was said to have been a practicing Satanist, though this was not mentioned at his trial for fear of “religious discrimination”!

Andy Howard-Bee, after being found guilty of rape and child molestation, had received the maximum sentence for his crimes. He was kept isolated from other prisoners to avoid the moral outrage that even hardened criminals allegedly feel for paedophile types, but nevertheless was found hanged in his cell a few months after the beginning of his incarceration at the Maryland State Penitentiary. Apparently, he had committed suicide by tying bed sheets together and jumping off the unused top bunk of his prison cell.

Howard-Bee’s death was considered good riddance by the people of Lutherville. His remains were quickly cremated and he was buried without ceremony in an unmarked grave. After this, his name was only used as a sort of “bogeyman” to scare local children. “Be a good little girl or Andy Bee will get you”. That sort of thing.

Because if this, nobody thought much of young Nancy’s claims to be having nightmares of Andy Howard-Bee. That is, until she had died from bleeding to death in her sleep, the bleeding caused by a violent rupture as if she had been brutally raped by a monstrously-endowed man.

There was, however, no additional evidence of rape or violation with any other object that could have caused such profuse bleeding. The medical diagnosis, therefore, was that poor Nancy, fifteen years old, had died of natural causes due to some unnamed physical ailment. Rest in peace and let the media move on to the usual political news and community events. Hideous.

And so, you can imagine that when, nearly a year after these horrible proceedings, Nancy’s friend Sarah Porter began having dreams in which the deceased rapist Andy Howard-Bee was chasing her through the woods, the young girl thought it prudent to take them seriously! Having heard of my own work through certain interesting (if distorted) Baltimore-area news reports of UFO sightings and “paranormal” cases, the teenager contacted me as soon as she had a chance.

I had arrived a bit early at Lutherville Station Shopping Centre, where I had an appointment to meet Miss Sarah Porter at noon in order to discuss her experiences. I was clad in my usual silk suit, leathern greatcoat, jungle boots, sunspecs, and panama hat.

It was 11:15 AM by my watch and seeing as I still had some time before the young lady was due to arrive, I stopped at the local bagel joint for a Reuben sandwich. After my luncheon, as I walked back out into the glaring midday sunlight, I suddenly noticed the form of a man standing in the parking lot staring at me. He was of medium height and somewhat obese, wearing a T-shirt, jeans, and sneakers -- all black. He looked to be perhaps a mixture of Caucasian and Native American ancestry, and sported a shaven head and a short goatee and moustache. In his dark eyes seemed to lurk unmitigated evil, and I saw hanging from a silver chain around his neck the horrid inverted pentagram of Satanic worship.

It was just as this person unleashed a wave of incredibly-powerful darksome energy at me that I realised whom he was. It was from old mug shots I had seen that I recognised him, for this was apparently none other than the long-dead devil-worshipper and serial rapist Andrew Howard-Bee!

I braced myself for the confrontation with “Andy Bee” when suddenly, to my astonishment, he just faded and vanished. The man, along with the dark energy he seemed to wield, was simply no longer there.

I stood there wondering what exactly I had experienced -- A mentalist projection? An hologram? -- When I heard a pleasant female voice from behind me.

“Excuse me. Are you Dr. Rumanos?”

I turned and beheld a stunning young brunette with enchanting green eyes standing before me. She was wearing a tasteful purple dress which was tight in that delightful way the dresses of still-growing girls tend to become tight.

“Miss Porter?” I enquired, glad to affirm by my knowledge of her name that I was indeed the person she sought.

“Sarah,” she said, proffering her hand.

“Nice to meet you, Sarah,” I said, briefly taking her hand. “Just call me ‘Doctor’.”

The girl was real enough, and I did not mention to her the recent apparent apparition of Andy Howard-Bee, instead enquiring further concerning her own recent experiences and any knowledge of local lore concerning the late criminal.

As it turned out, it was well-known to the locals that Howard-Bee’s home was close by, though no one had approached it in years -- so great was the superstitious fear of this horrid individual, even long after his death.

Sarah Porter was obviously an intelligent and brave young lady, only showing fear or nervousness when she mentioned her recent dreams, along with some tiredness from having lost sleep trying to avoid them. She offered to show me to the location of Andrew Howard-Bee’s house, and I thought it was indeed a good opportunity to unravel the mysteries at hand.

Behind the shopping centre, and on the other side of the tracks of the Maryland Transit Administration’s light-rail train, we came to a path through the woods. Somewhat overgrown as it was, we soon enough made our way to the dilapidated old shack that had been the home of the now-deceased Andrew Howard-Bee (alias “Andy Bee”, alias “Drew Bee”), convicted sex offender and suspected devil-worshipper.

I quickly opened the rusted lock of the dwelling and we entered, with much-suffused sunlight filtered through the surrounding trees and the framework of the broken windows being our sole illumination. Clearing away some cobwebs, we found the only furniture of the one-room shack to be a decrepit old armchair, a decaying mattress on the floor (beside which was a shapeless stack of what had once been pornographic magazines), a couple of broken lamps, and a now-rotting wooden table.

On the table, however, was the most important thing: several old, mouldy books of the “occult” variety. Included were the _Satanic Bible_ and _Satanic Rituals_ of the late Anton Szandor LaVey; the similar _Satanic Scriptures_ of the neo-Nazi dwarf, Peter H. Gilmore; the terrible _Dark World_ by the paranormal pederast known as Zak Bagans; and, worst of all, a sheaf of stapled-together photocopied papers of the horrid _Necronomicon_ of the medieval “Mad Arab”, Abdul al-Hazred. The latter had obviously been made from the edition of that work found at the Eisenhower Library of Johns Hopkins University.

Along with these volumes was a spiral notebook that Howard-Bee had utilised as a diary or journal. As he had pled guilty at his arraignment, this important evidence had never even been presented in court.

I looked through the diary pages, straining to decipher his crabbed, barely-literate handwriting. Here are a few extracts of what was found there (I have corrected his spelling and some of his grammar, and have also slightly censored a few of his more perverse statements):

“They who I worship say they can enlarge and make stronger that part of my body, but I got to sacrifice myself for them to be able to. I don’t like hearing that but guess I will since they say I also first can raise up energy by having some little girls in my bed. Real little ones I hope. …

“They I worship say they are called Chironines. I don’t know what that means but I don’t guess it matters. I just want to have the young chicks and get my thing made bigger. I think me having the Cherokee blood makes this all easier, since they were more psychic or whatever it’s called. …

“Have done another one. Got a little yellow-haired hottie from the school bus stop and brought her here. She ran away after and I hope she don’t go to the cops. It don’t matter though cause I’m about ready to make the transforming, as they I worship call it. That means I got to be dead for awhile anyways. They say I will first come back in dreams and my new thing will tear open the girls dreaming about me. The power from them bleeding to death will be enough after a few for me to come back in the real world. …

“I hear the cops outside. Guess this is it. I’ll be back soon and do them all so hard. Hail Chiron! Hail Satan!”

I pondered in horror what this revealed to me. The “Satanic” force with which Andrew Howard-Bee’s occult delving had come into contact was that of the Chironines! Now, this had originally been a monastic order on the planet Saturn before being forced to flee that world when its society’s then-new socialistic government had suppressed all religious organisations.

The order had migrated to Chiron, a tiny planet that lies just outside of the orbit of Saturn. In time, the monks and nuns of the Chironines, as they came to be called, had left celibacy behind and degenerated into an unusual kind of partially-telepathic sexual perversion. This due to their isolation coupled with the fact that they had, as with most Saturnians, certain mentalist abilities. Physically dying out after generations of inbreeding among their small number, the Chironines were rumoured to have continued some level of existence by appearing in the sexual dreams of others on their former home-world.

However, the Saturnians had soon put an end to this. Their psychiatric expertise along with the technologically-enhanced mentalist defence barrier eliminated all supposed traces of the Chironines and similar threats on Saturn. But now, upon Earth, the dead Satanist and serial rapist Andrew Howard-Bee had contacted what remained of the Chironines and used their power to extend his own perverted life beyond the grave!

I turned to speak to Sarah and saw that the poor damsel had fallen asleep in the old armchair whilst I had been preoccupied examining the old books.

Then I heard her talking in her sleep.

“No. No.” she said whilst squirming in the chair. “Leave me alone. Don’t touch me. No. Please, no.”

“Sarah!” I shouted. “Sarah, wake up!”

But it was no use. She was deep in an unnatural slumber, and dreaming. Dreaming a dream of an horror far too real -- and potentially deadly. For she was, I realised, dreaming of being attacked by Andy Howard-Bee!

Knowing that there was no time to lose, I quickly knelt down and touched my forehead to Sarah’s, whilst using my Algolitish mentalist powers to enter a state of lucid unconsciousness within her already established dream-world.

I immediately found myself in her dream. The setting was a distorted version of the interior of the old shack. I saw Sarah Porter lying helpless on the floor. She was nude, as people often find themselves to be in dreams. Standing over her was the form of Andrew Howard-Bee, his prurient intentions more than obvious.

A midnight-blue energy shimmered around Andy Howard-Bee’s repulsive form -- an energy I recognised as the power of the Chironines.

Howard-Bee turned, distracted by my sudden appearance upon the scene. Nevertheless, as I began to leap to-wards him, I unexpectedly found myself taken away from the situation. I was then in a different dreamscape -- if that is indeed what it was -- entirely.

I seemed to be in a type of limbo, as in the centre of a vast colourless void, filled as it was with the rushing sound as of electronic white noise. 

Do you recognise the sheer horror of this situation, the horrendously unspeakable terror of it, my friends? With no time to left to lose, I had suddenly been taken away from the scene of Howard-Bee’s intended assault upon the helpless girl; an assault which, if I did not succeed in preventing it, would likely result in her death!

I then perceived another figure standing before me. It was as of a man, taller and thinner than Andy Howard-Bee, and cloaked entirely in black. I deep cowl hid his face.

There was a feeling of unmentionable, palpable evil emanating from him.

“Who are you?” I enquired in astonishment. “What is this place?”

The figure raised a hand and pointed at me as if in accusation. I the heard him speak, his voice muffled somewhat by the white noise.

“Rumanos,” he said mockingly. “Doctor Daniel Rumanos. It is over and I am coming for you soon. The Age of Horror and Hebephilia has begun, and the spectral paranormal terrors will be multiplied beyond your endurance. I will destroy you, Dr. Daniel Rumanos! I will kill you and scatter your corpse throughout the very limits of existence!”

I realised that his voice, distorted as it was, held a quality of elusive familiarity.

“Again, who are you?” I insisted.

“Die, Dr. Daniel Rumanos,” he reiterated amongst continued peals of his grotesquely evil laughter. “Suffer and die!”

He then unleashed a wave of demoniacal energy at me, a wave of ebony-black force of the type I knew could only be wielded by those amongst the most powerful of wicked beings. 

I prepared my Algolitish defences to ward of the dark energy, barely managing to do so in time, and feeling the horrid concussion of its undeniably powerful force.

I then sent a bolt of my own bright orange and blue power back at my mysterious antagonist.

I hit him squarely in the midsection, my energies sparkling luminously, and thought for I moment that I had vanquished him. But then, when the flash had faded, I beheld him still standing before me, and heard again his wicked mad laughter.

“You have failed, Dr. Daniel Rumanos,” he shouted. “You have failed!”

To my own horror, I felt the creeping sensation that he was correct.

“I will kill you, Dr. Daniel Rumanos,” the mysterious one again exclaimed, “Do you hear me? But first, I will completely and totally humiliate you! I will ruin your life and your reputation for all time and then -- then -- I will kill you!”

“Who are you?” I again demanded.

I was answered only by further peals of his grotesque, insane laughter.

Again, do you see the unmanageable terror of this situation, dear readers? It is indeed beyond all earthly expression.

Then, I saw the figure suddenly start to fade, along with the surrounding void and its strange white-noise sound. It all soon disappeared entirely.

In a matter of moments, I was back in the dreamscape of Miss Sarah Porter being menaced by the execrable Drew Howard-Bee.

I noticed that absolutely no time had elapsed here whilst I had been occupied with the mysterious figure in black. Apparently, my encounter with the other had indeed taken place outside of any manifestation of temporal existence, even that of dreams.

Howard-Bee was still looking in my direction as he stood over the helpless teenage girl. The shimmering midnight-blue power of the Chironines still played about his dreadful form.

Without hesitating, I hit Drew Bee with a tackle that would have done credit to any rugby football player. This contact, due to my Algolitish powers, caused him to be taken out of the dream immediately. I found myself struggling with him on the floor of the real-world shack and gave him a sharp blow to the face before regaining my feet.

The body of Drew Bee, being as it was only a partially-physical construction, very soon dissolved into nothingness. He had not yet completed enough of his psyche-sexual transference in order to assure his return to any true corporeal existence, and my punch to his ugly face had caused just enough pain for him to not be able to concentrate on escaping back to the dream-world. His form dispersed, and not even dust remained. I knew then that the hideous satanic rapist Andrew Howard-Bee, alias Andy Bee, alias Drew Bee, was no more.

It was then that Sarah Porter woke up screaming. She quickly jumped to her feet and I rushed over to comfort her.

“Doctor, what… ?” she finally said, calming down at the sight of the real world and the safety of my presence. “What happened? I was dreaming and saw you fighting him and…”

“There is nothing more to fear, Sarah,” said I, putting a consoling arm around her shoulders. “That nightmare is over and will not return.”

I indeed knew, as I led the girl out into the light of day, that neither she nor anyone else would be further molested by the sickening criminal known to infamy as Drew Bee, and that the contact upon Earth of the Chironines had been severed.

None the less, at the same time I could not help but wonder about the other figure; the mysterious man cloaked in black; the one who mocked and threatened and had seemed to have about him an aura of unspeakable evil beyond imagining -- the one only I had encountered. Was he just a figment of my own unconscious mind or something more? Little could I know in what way I would discover the horrifying truth of this in days to come.

Forsooth, little could I even begin to know in what horrendous and unmentionable ways this had already commenced to change my life forevermore!