The girl screamed in mortal terror as the creature approached her. She had only gone out to purchase a bottle of orange juice at the corner store near her apartment in the Hampden neighbourhood of Baltimore, Maryland. This young lady, whose name was Sandra Hinsdale, was a student at the local Notre Dame University, this semester being her very first time away from her home back in Denver, Colorado.
Now, Sandra had heard all the usual tales about crime and violence in the city of Baltimore, and had armed herself with a container of pepper-spray as protection against the common muggers and street thugs. However, her hands were shaking far too much to even hold it, because the thing assailing her was no ordinary criminal. In fact, it was not even human. It was a monster as out of the most feverish of nightmares, a grotesquery of horror beyond all sane imagining!
Sandra, clad in shorts and her sorority shirt on this unseasonably warm evening, her long auburn hair tied back in a ponytail, had only just begun to cut through the small alleyway on her walk to the shop when this monstrosity appeared from the shadows, immediately cutting off any possibility of escape. It was well over six feet in height and bipedal, this latter description being its only similarity to the humanoid form. You see, it was a reptile.
The reptilian horror growled menacingly as it approached the terrified girl, vile saliva trickling from the corners of its alligator-like mouth, its huge clawed hands reaching out towards her. Sandra screamed again (though the sounds of loud music and merriment issuing from a pub two blocks distant stifled any chance of her screams bringing aid) and fell down in a semi-faint, which may indeed be the only thing that saved her from the grasp of the sickening creature. For in the moment necessary for the reptile to reach down toward the frightened lass, it was suddenly hit from the side by a blast of orange and blue energies that sent it stumbling backwards across the alley.
My name is RUMANOS -- DR. DANIEL RUMANOS -- Paranormal Secret Agent and Intergalactic Man of Mystery. Even though I have the physical appearance of an human being; a tall, strikingly handsome gentleman with noble Anglo-Semitic features and long dark hair, I am in actuality no mere mortal. For I do carry within my blood the vastly-superior genes of the mysterious Watchers of the Daemon-Star ALGOL, this extraterrestrial heritage granting me numerous abilities and powers that seem rather “magical” to the people of planet Earth.
Whilst the majority of Algolites keep to themselves, merely observing the goings-on of the other species of the universe, there exists a secret service organisation deep within the government of our home-world of Daemonia which is known as the Kosmikos or Cosmic Intervention Department. I am an operative of this agency, tasked with protecting the innocent beings existing throughout the Universe from any and all threats to the peace and security of Space and Time.
On this particular night, I had been tracking something horrid through the streets of the city of Baltimore. You see, far beneath this particular town there exists a system of tunnels, and within these same live some remnants of the terrible Lizard-Men of Lemuria, that race of imperial reptiles that ruled the planet Earth during prehistoric times. The civilisation of the Reptilians was destroyed in ages past by both direct and indirect intervention of the Daemonian Kosmikos, but some debased members of this ancient saurian species continue to exist in pockets across the planet. They have lost most of their intellect and now only live on as ravening monsters, occasionally surfacing to feed upon the flesh of human beings when their usual diet of rodents and fish lessens or becomes a bore. Such was the case this time, when the disgusting Lizard-Man attacked the young girl. Fortunately, my Algolitish senses had detected the creature in time as I stalked it through the city streets. Some strange interference had prevented me from finding the thing sooner, however, and I could not help but to wonder what that could be. Whatever it was, it was a bloody annoyance on this particular evening, as I had hoped to finish my mission and get home early. You see, it was my Birthday.
The young girl screamed again and fell into a swoon upon seeing my alien powers hit the Reptilian. The monster recovered more quickly than I had expected and roared terrifyingly as it turned towards me. I noticed a sort of pouch being worn on a rusted chain about the creature’s scaly waist. Did this contain whatever it was that had seemingly enhanced the monstrosity’s strength, and which had partially hidden it from my senses? Was it perhaps some relic of Lemurian technology? (Indeed, it is the existence of such things that has continued to make the city of Baltimore an attractant for so much eldritch weirdness over the years.)
I readied another wave of my Algolitish energies as the monstrosity charged towards me, its jaws hissing nauseating amounts of reptilian spittle. Nevertheless, before I could cast my bolt of energy at it, the thing suddenly reached into the pouch upon its chain and brought forth in its talons an odd lump of stone.
The Lizard-Man held up the stone before me and I swear I heard the reptile laugh, a horrible guffaw of mindless amusement as it saw the effect the stone had upon me. For this stone, this seemingly-innocent chunk of rock, was made of a substance known as Evaerlium -- a radioactive element that was believed long since eliminated from existence, and which can have the effect of draining a Watcher of their very powers!
I stumbled weakly as that Reptilian horror held the Evaerlium before me. I felt my abilities weaken and pass away from me and realised I was now helpless to fight the monster. There was only one chance, one hope of what I could do in order to recuperate my powers in time to destroy the reptile and save the girl. I looked at the ring upon the third finger of my right hand. It was the Chrono-Band that Master Quaddos, Psychic Weapons Specialist for the Kosmikos, had given me. I concentrated upon the ring and whispered some formulae in ancient Algolitish into it. With this, I disappeared from the world of present-day Earth into the swirling mists of the inter-dimensional Current that traverses all of Time and Space.
And so there, in that darksome alleyway in the city of Baltimore, I had left the helpless girl known as Sandra Hinsdale to the horrid clutches of the monstrous and ravenous Lizard-Man!! …
I drifted through the inter-dimensional Current, protected by the sphere created with the powers of the Chrono-Band. After a short while, I saw the grey mists change into a swirling kaleidoscope of colours as I journeyed deeper into the passageways of Time. For I knew that the only way to undo the harm that exposure to the Evaerlium had caused me was to literally find myself -- me at an earlier phase of my existence.
The weakness and sickness brought upon by the loss of my powers was something I could feel palpably. Fortunately, the Chrono-Band is programmed to work independently of my psychic commands when necessary. Eventually, the bizarre mists began to clear, and I heard the odd whispering, moaning sound of breaking forth once again into the realms of physical existence.
I then found myself standing in what appeared to be an immense carnival midway, surrounded by a plethora of gaudy displays, gaming areas, and food-stands. After a few moments of confusion, I realised where I was -- the Maryland State Fair -- with the clothing and hairstyles of the people patronising this event making it obvious that I had travelled back several decades.
I walked past the various vendors until I beheld what -- or rather whom -- I had hoped to find. He was dressed as I was, in a silk suit and military-style boots, but unlike me he was coatless. I had made no sound, but he turned around to look at me, and I saw his face -- my face -- as I had looked then. You see, when I had first come to live upon the planet Earth, among human beings, I had used an Algolitish process in order to Rejuvenate my appearance into that of a very-young appearing man. This allowed me to at least “age” somewhat normally (by human standards) for a while, therefore not inciting comment from the curious and superstitious Earthlings.
“Oy,” exclaimed the other me (whom I shall henceforth refer to in this account as The First Daniel in order to avoid unnecessary confusion), “it’s you -- I mean me -- isn’t it?”
“Yes,” I replied. “I should not be here, as you know, but circumstances have made it necessary.”
I explained to him as quickly as possible concerning my exposure to Evaerlium. I knew that he would likely forget most of our meeting as soon as I had left, due to the effects of having crossed my own Time-Line.
“What I need right now,” I continued, “is a Psyche-Bond; in order to heal the harm that the Evaerlium has done to me.”
The First Daniel agreed and we concentrated upon each other, briefly touching minds according to an ancient method of the Watchers. I felt my powers and health begin to be restored.
“Now that we’ve done that,” said the First Daniel, “is there anything you can do to help me? Come on, you know why I am here.”
Forsooth, I did. For this had been the very time in which I had been searching for the missing girl named Katrina Crowley -- she who would later become my beloved wife!
“Well, I cannot tell you many details of the future,” I replied.
“I know. The bloody Absolute Convention of the Watchers would be more than a bit ticked at that, eh?”
“Indeed! But I can advise you to walk in that direction, hmmm?”
With this, I motioned briefly towards a spot down the midway to a stand at the far end over which was a sign proclaiming “Doyne’s Pony Rides”.
“Thanks much! Oh, by the way, nice jacket,” the First Daniel proclaimed, admiring my leathern greatcoat as he began to walk briskly towards the area I had indicated. “I should get one like it!”
“Oh, I am quite certain you will,” I replied with a slight smile as I again activated the Chrono-Band and left my former self to continue with the exceedingly momentous adventure I remembered so well.
Once again in the Current, I concentrated upon my next destination. For contact with my earlier self had only begun to restore my powers. In order to complete the process, I realised I would have to find myself once again, still within my own past but somewhat later in my history than the time of the First Daniel.
I materialised in a sprawling industrial area that I recognised as being in south Baltimore. There was a strange odour in the air that I knew was more than the usual pollution. For this was the time in which I had only just defeated that horrid leader of the Cuevas crime family from the dwarf planet Pluto. This nauseatingly crustaceous creature -- that had been attempting to stir up a war between the planets Earth and Saturn so that it could then profit by selling armaments to both sides -- I had only managed to kill by luring it towards the Westport smokestack, and then using my abilities to deactivate the hovering transport device it was utilising, causing the alien horror to fall into the incinerator.
“All right,” a voice proclaimed from behind me. “Turn around slowly, and do not make any sudden movements.”
I did so, recognising this voice, despite its severity, as my own. As I turned, again recognised myself, now as I had been during the era of whom we shall term The Second Daniel. He (I) was again dressed as I was, including the coat this time, but had about him a very aura of suspicion and hardboiled distrust. I stood before him, still somewhat weak and sickly from exposure to the Evaerlium.
“I know what you appear to be,” continued the Second Daniel. “I also know you are just the kind of blooming illusion that miscreant creature and its allies may have created to decoy me! If you are me, you can defend against this,” (Here he generated a massive charge of orange and blue Algolitish power and prepared to use it against me -- something I knew that in my presently weakened condition I could not withstand). “Otherwise, you shall be destroyed!!”
You see, this particular era of my life which I have here chosen to term that of “The Second Daniel” was one in which I was living under an imposed delusion. Indeed, it was a delusion to which I had agreed in order to assist the Kosmikos in resetting the celestial timelines that had been vandalised by certain occurrences. Hence, my ominous attitude at this instance.
I had to think quickly as the Second Daniel prepared to blast me with Algolitish energies. In my present, still-weakened condition, I could not be assured of being able to endure this. Indeed, I had no idea what would happen if he hit me full-force. There is simply no precedent for such an incident.
“Think before you do this!” I urged. “Think and remember! Remember the words of Abdul al-Hazred!”
Forsooth, it was the very words of two verses by that mediaeval poet, he who was called “The Mad Arab”, that were to act as the trigger to free the Second Daniel’s consciousness from the aberrant misconception under which he was labouring in his then-current undercover mission.
“’That is not dead which can eternal lie,” he quoted in response, “’and with strange aeons EVEN DEATH MAY DIE’.”
As he spoke these last four words of the old Arabian poem, I saw a dawn of awakening upon his face. The orb of power that he had prepared against me dissipated as he again spoke:
“You mean… she is…” he said, his eyes glistening with moisture.
“Yes!” I replied. “Yes, she is! Katrina is alive!!! The Watchers have made her immortal so that she shall be with you forever! Together you shall always have the most amazing and incredible adventures as the Algolite Avengers and Agents of the Kosmikos -- both upon Earth and across the vast reaches of the Universe!”
“Strewth!” he exclaimed. “I should have known! Exactly the sort of assignment I would have agreed to in one of my bloody great ‘heroic self-sacrifice’ moods, eh?”
“Indeed, it is,” I rejoined. “Why is it always us?”
“So you actually are me from the future, then?”
“Yes, more or less. I’ve come because I need your help.”
I proceeded to fill him in concerning my exposure to the Evaerlium, and we performed the brief Psyche-Bond that, this time, fully restored my powers and abilities as a Watcher of the Daemon-Star.
“Oy vey, before you go,” enquired the Second Daniel, “I know I will forget anyway, but can you tell me…?”
“When we will see Kat again?”
“Yes, somehow, knowing that, even hidden somewhere deeply within my subconscious. Knowing when. That will enable me to deal with certain things.”
“Soon,” I assured him. “Very soon.”
“Sorry about before. I’m a big bloke, and I hadn’t had me tea,” he said with a slight smile. “Be sure to give Katrina my love, hmmm?”
“Always,” I stated, as I again began to dematerialise into the inter-dimensional mists of the Time/Space Current. …
Sandra Hinsdale had partially recovered consciousness. She could no longer scream, so great was the young girl’s terror, her horror, as the ravenous Reptilian approached her helpless form. She could only whimper softly in total abject fear as the hideous Lizard-Man opened its hungry jaws and lunged towards her!!
I reappeared from the swirling mists of the inter-dimensional Current just as the monster began to close its jaws. I was several yards away, but the interruption was enough for its primitive instincts to perceive my presence. It immediately turned away from its would-be meal of innocent human flesh and snarled in my direction. Then the horrid Reptilian began to reach its hideously taloned hand into the pouch containing the Evaerlium.
I quickly unleashing a wave of Algolitish energy directly at the horrible creature. My powers, now greatly enhanced due to my contact with my earlier selves, hit the scaly Lemurian Lizard-Man squarely and dissolved it and the Evaerlium (before it could again expose me to this substance) completely out of existence. In a few moments, it was as if the hideous Reptile had never even been there.
“What a croc,” I exclaimed.
I then went over and helped the girl to her feet. She was still shaking in fear and stammered --
“What… What happened? What was that… thing?!”
“Sorry about all that, miss,” I apologised. “It seems you inadvertently walked into a costumed rehearsal for my stage magic act. I’m Daniel Rumanos, the magician and illusionist.”
I thought it best to use one of my “cover” personas in order to explain away what the terrified young lady had experienced.
“You’re a magician?” she enquired, beginning to recover somewhat from her shock. “You mean like at children’s parties?”
“Something like that,” I lied. “This alleyway is just behind the theatre we use.”
Sandra accepted the explanation. After all, what else could it all have been? I escorted her safely to her near by apartment building and then turned towards my own dwelling, that being Castle Rumanos, the immense and imposing Gothic structure that exists perched atop a lofty escarpment in the posh Roland Park neighbourhood to the north of Baltimore City. I was late getting home and hoped my wife was not too worried about me. I knew she had been busy preparing a nice evening for me. As I said before, it was my Birthday.
As I returned home that night, walking through the huge doorway of the Castle, I attempted to remember how old I -- The Third Daniel! -- actually am. Around a billion, I should think, in Earth years -- give or take a few stray millennia.
Whilst musing on this, I strolled into the receiving-room and the lithe figure of my gorgeous and eternally-youthful wife MRS. KATRINA RUMANOS literally flew into my arms. She was wearing the pink-and-white Victorian-style gown that she knows is one of my favourites.
“Awwwww! I’m so glad you’re home, my love!” she said sweetly, her wondrous eyes flashing like bright-blue sapphires. “I missed you! HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!! Let’s celebrate!! I’ve made a special dinner for you!”
“Scottish Kosher?” I winked.
“Of course!” she responded with a giggle, “And wait until you see all the gifts that have arrived for you from all over the Universe!”
“That is fantastic, my beautiful one!” I replied, as I stroked her silky ginger hair. “Sorry I am late, Katrine alanna. I had some work to finish. I really do love you so much!”
“I love you too, babe, and it’s all right,” said my lovely Katrina as she kissed me. “It is funny how time slips away sometimes, isn’t it?”
THE END OF “YOU ONLY LIVE THRICE, OR THE THREE DANIELS”
DANIEL RUMANOS WILL RETURN IN “MINARETS OF MERCURY”