ON THE DAEMON-STAR'S SECRET SERVICE


This is a tale of horror for which the world indeed may not yet be fully prepared, but it is one that needs to be told; it is the appallingly gruesome and grotesque story of THE GIANT RAT OF SANDTOWN -- one of the many strange adventures I have had whilst ON THE DAEMON-STAR‘S SECRET SERVICE!!!

Sandtown is a blighted lower-class neighbourhood in west Baltimore. Its appellation originates from the fact that wagons carrying sand used to go through the area back during horse-and-buggy days, leaving behind a fine coating of the substance upon all. Today, Sandtown is an execrable slum inhabited by immoral, bastard-producing single mothers, users of marijuana and crack cocaine, lazy welfare recipients, and the sickening members of those worthless, contemptible street gangs known as the Bloods and the Crips. 

But recently, the doings of Sandtown had caused an effect to be had upon the rest of the city of Baltimore. It seems a certain insignificant street criminal from the district had died while in police custody. This had led to the deplorable, disgusting people of Sandtown rioting, raising havoc in the streets and even burning down the few business which existed in the hideous area. 

Various protests were organised throughout the city -- protests not in reaction to the criminal actions of the filthy inhabitants of Sandtown, but, inexplicably, in defence of them! Even the mayor refused to respond appropriately against the anarchy in and about Sandtown, instead ordering the police to take no “hard action” against the rioters!

It was then that I knew something was wrong far beyond the problems of everyday society. Certainly, civilised human beings could not sympathise with the deserved death of a valueless street thug whose very existence had been a threat to their own well-being. In addition, I was sure that intelligent college students (whom, oddly enough, made up the majority of the protestors) would not organise protests in which they declared themselves on the side of worthless, uneducated, morally-contemptible slum dwellers!

I knew that there had to be another force at work; a baleful psychic influence which was emanating from the Sandtown neighbourhood, stirring up the rioting and protests in order to feed upon the resulting waves of supernatural power which they would generate. But, who would do this, and for what ultimate purpose? This is what I, as an Operative of that extraterrestrial secret service agency known as the KOSMIKOS of Daemonia, accordingly endeavoured to ascertain.

Consequently, my beautiful wife, Katrina, and I travelled to Sandtown, leaving the comparative peace of our home in the posh Roland Park community to the north of the mysterious city of Baltimore, in order to investigate these bizarre happenings.

It was a mostly-sunny day as we walked down the unclean, largely deserted streets of Sandtown. The riots had abated after a few weeks, and the area was returning to its usual “routine” reports of muggings, rapes, murders, prostitution, ad nauseum; making it indistinguishable from so many other low-income slum areas in Baltimore and elsewhere.

I felt an odd psychical influence issuing from, of all places, a sewer grating, and so we soon enough found ourselves intentionally entering the foetid sewage tunnels underneath Sandtown in pursuit of our furtive goal. At least here, I mused, we would hopefully not have to behold the countenances of the disgustingly-inbred human inhabitants of Sandtown.

We walked slowly along the tunnel, the darkness illuminated only by the light filtering in from the gratings along the street above us.

“Daniel, look!” said my beloved wife.

I turned to the slime-encrusted wall beside us and beheld a strangely large white spider. I recognised it as a species that is usually no larger than the nail of one’s little finger -- but here it was as grotesquely large as an hand!

The great arachnid scuttled harmlessly by us and I wondered what could have engendered it. Comparing the sight of it with the evidence of the psychical emanations and the theoretical advanced intellect which would be necessary to create them, I thought it most likely that the spider was the result of intentional genetic manipulation.

As I was describing this conjecture to my wife, we were suddenly interrupted by a cacophonous sound that came echoing down the sewer tunnel. The sound was as of a tremendously amplified squeaking and squealing; undoubtedly the noise of a living creature, but of a creature which was far above the common size of its species.

It was the sound of a gigantic rodent!

My name is DR. DANIEL RUMANOS, Supernatural Swashbuckler and Intergalactic Man of Mystery. Though I have the appearance of a tall, strongly-built human male in his late 30s -- with dark hair, a pale complexion, and piercing eyes -- I am in reality many thousands of years old. You see, I am not a mere mortal.

I am, if the amazing and astounding truth be told, one of the mysterious and incredibly powerful Watchers of the Daemon-Star ALGOL, which shines its luminous blue radiance in the Constellation Perseus and is 93 light years from Earth. My alien heritage grants me numerous astonishing abilities and powers that human beings wouldst consider to be magical, paranormal, and occult.

My beloved wife, the exquisitely and stunningly-attractive LADY KATRINA RUMANOS, who is also known as the Wonderful Heaven’s Hell, was created in a secret laboratory from DNA which carried within itself certain powers as well. She is of above-average height, slender, and will eternally look to be in her late teens. Her hair is a gorgeous red, and she has flashing eyes the colour of azure-blue.

It is our mission in life to seek out the great enigmas and secrets of the Universe, and to oppose those forces that exist on the dark, outer edges and borderlands of reality and that would bring harm to the innocent. In so doing, we reside on the planet Earth and head an organisation known as Gargoyle’s Occult and Paranormal Investigations, itself a front-establishment upon this world for the Kosmikos.

The undulating sound of rodent-squeak echoed down the sewage tunnel underneath the slummy Sandtown area of Baltimore City. From the volume of it, the creature was assuredly quite huge. Fortunately, we soon noticed that the sound was, for now, moving away from us. The monstrous animal had not as yet caught our scent!

“Who could have the power and capability to genetically manipulate creatures to such gigantic size?” I asked aloud. “The technology and the knowledge necessary to do so simply just do not exist on present-day Earth.”

“Could it be yet another invasion from outer space?” queried Katrina.

“I don’t believe so, love. Not this time. Why would an invading alien force hide in such a place as Sandtown -- and indeed somewhere in this odious, malodorous sewer?!”

Katrina’s lovely face showed wonder and uncertainty as she tried to make sense of the uncanny mystery that we were examining.

“You are right of course, baby!” she said. “No being of such terrible power would live in such a place by choice. But then who or what could be behind this?”

At least, I thought to myself with a strong sense of consternation and foreboding, no sane being of such power! Oy gevalt.

“We should know soon,” answered I. “There is a definite current of psychical force surging through this awful place. All we have to do is trace it to its source. However, let us proceed with caution until we get some better idea concerning exactly what it is with which we are dealing.”

The squeals of the giant vermin had by now faded into the distance, and we had walked on several yards through the dank, sinisterly murky sewer. I concentrated as best I could on the psychic emanations, in order to assure that we were moving in the correct direction.

Suddenly, coming from around a bend in the tunnel was a quite surprising and remarkable sight indeed. It was a robot -- an about five-and-a-half feet tall, thinly-constructed mechanical man assembled of some unusually-flexible metallic “skin“. The thing advanced quickly towards us and, before we could react to its unexpectedly abrupt presence, raised an arm and shot from its motorized hand a beam of dangerously-focused laser-like light directly at us!!

I was standing in front, and so I took the full brunt of the robot’s sudden, horrifying attack. The sharply-focused beam of laser-resembling light hit me square in the centre of my chest and, whilst my Algolitish physique is invulnerable to any permanent damage from such things, it did indeed hurt like bloody Perdition. I staggered backwards in pain and stumbled against the grimy, muck-encrusted wall of the sewer.

Before the strange mechanical man could again aim and fire, my Katrina sent forth a perfectly-directed burst of the indescribably wondrous flame which she so beautifully commands as HEAVEN’S HELL -- an extraordinary fire which, by its marvellous vermillion-and-violet colour, shows that it is by no means a product of the natural, everyday world.

The fantastic flame hit the robot and immediately burned out its circuitry. The odd automaton sparked with a loud clamour and then fell motionless to the ground.

“Are you all right, baby?!” enquired Katrina with concern clear in her sweet voice.

“I will be fine, my beautiful one,” I answered, shaking my head in order to clear myself of the lingering pain of the robotic machine’s assault. “Though that beam would have easily and instantly killed an ordinary human being.”

Kat and I walked over to where the robot now lay harmless on the slimy ground. I squatted down to examine it.

“How singular!” I exclaimed. “However, this does explain one important part of our bizarre mystery: Whomever is behind all of this is from Earth’s own future, indeed from about the middle of the Thirty-Fourth Century, I should say.”

“How can you be so certain, love?”

“Elementary, my dear Katrina!” I responded. “This particular type of robot is a model popular during that era of the planet’s future history. It was (or, rather, will be) marketed as ‘The Motor Valet‘; being a sort of household servant -- a mechanical butler! This one has been greatly modified, however. To overcome its programming, which would have made it completely impossible for the robot to do harm to anyone, and to have altered it thus into a potential killing machine -- well, that will have taken an amazingly brilliant scientific mind indeed.”

“But is it really probable that somebody from the Thirty-Fourth Century could have travelled back to our time?” asked my wife.

“It is actually just slightly possible,” I answered. “There are indeed some records deep in the secret archives of the Kosmikos concerning a series of unauthorised time-travel experiments conducted by certain fringe human scientists upon Earth during that century. Fortunately, this planet’s own legal authorities did what was necessary to stop such hazardous experimentation, and the Watchers themselves did not have to become involved in stopping it -- at least, not officially.

“However,” I continued, “All of this just begs the question: Why would someone from that time, with the ability to travel through the temporal corridors, find it in some way useful to stir up such unrest here in Baltimore, using a powerful and maleficent psychic influence to cause the riots and protesting? It just makes no real sense. I wonder…”

At that moment, with a sudden and horrific onslaught upon our senses, the deafening, ear-splitting sound of grotesquely-amplified rodent-squeak interrupted our conversation. We looked up and beheld, running along the sewage tunnel directly towards us, in a manner terrifyingly reminiscent of an unstoppable, speeding railway train, a monstrously huge and obviously quite carnivorously-ravenous, unspeakably vile and loathsomely verminous creature -- a GIANT RAT!!!

I cautioned Katrina to stay behind me and then I strode with bold determination directly into the path of the oncoming giant rat. I generated a slight yet dazzling display of my Algolitish energy powers, the resulting orange and blue light dancing impressively about my body.

The gigantic rodent suddenly halted only inches from my face. It was fully eight feet high at the shoulders, and its repulsive, repugnant odour filled the air nauseatingly. I looked the huge vermin square in its glossy black eyes and exerted the powers that I possess that enable me to enchant animals, and to bend them to my will through low-level psychic transference.

The big rat began to back away from me slowly, and when the gruesome thing had thus covered several yards, it suddenly turned and ran quickly in the very direction from which it had come, away from us.

“That poor creature,” I said. “It is only an ordinary sewer rat, but it has been genetically manipulated to gigantic size and used as a guard of sorts. But by whom?”

“We should know soon, babe,” answered Katrina. “We must really be getting close for whomever is doing this to feel it necessary to send so many of its ‘guards’ after us; first that robot thing and then that horrid giant rat!”

“Yes, my love. We must indeed be quite near someone’s hiding place.”

My devoted wife and I advanced farther around the bend in the tunnel, and beheld something which promised to lead to the solution of the mystery of who or what had the ability to travel back in time from Earth’s Thirty-Fourth Century, to psychically generate riots and protests in the city of Baltimore on order to serve unknown (to us) reasons, and to even cause everyday beasts to grow to such monstrous proportions.

What we saw was a door, a sort of metal aperture upon the wall of the tunnel somewhat hidden by the dark recess into which we had strayed. It had upon it a type of round, safe-like combination lock that yielded easily to my talents as an escape artist. I accordingly opened the metallic doorway and then Katrina and I stepped into a large underground chamber -- the secret lair of the time-travelling, mad scientific genius we knew had to be behind all we had encountered that eldritch day!

The chamber was lit by a type of phosphorescent wallpaper which I knew in Earth’s future would eventually replace electrical lighting as the chief form of illumination. Scattered about the room were various amazing scientific instruments and gadgets. Some were definitely from the future itself, while others looked like they had been cobbled together using contemporary components to approximate as closely as possible items of a more advanced technology.

Among these objects were what I recognised as a psychic projection helmet, a “collection booth” for the gathering of energies from emotional disturbances (something which would be outlawed soon after the necessary equipment was invented), video screens showing hidden-camera views of several points in the surrounding sewage system, numerous chemical apparatus of the kind used for genetic experimentation, and, most astounding of all, something which looked like a wooden cabinet -- but which I immediately identified from the pictures of it that I had seen whilst studying the secret Algolite spy chronicles of future Earth.

“That cabinet,” I stammered in incredulity. “It is the infamous ‘Temporal Cupboard’ of the most notorious scientific criminal of the Thirty-Fourth Century! The banned time conveyance of the villainously-insane researcher known as…”

“Rasheem Tarcer,” interrupted a deep voice from the corner, correctly finishing my sentence. The possessor of this voice then stepped forth from the shadows. He was a tall man wearing a grey coverall-type garment (which would seem to rather be the favoured style of clothing among citizens of technologically advanced, futuristic societies) with matching boots and gloves. A grotesquely-yellow silken mask concealed his face.

“That is who I am,” stated this almost-phantasmal seeming figure. “I am the greatest scientist in all the history of this planet! The one hated and persecuted by those jealous fools who sit in authority! I am RASHEEM TARCER!”

“Of course!” I said. “The notorious Rasheem Tarcer! In the year 3368, you disappeared from prison in New Sumatra while awaiting trial for having engaged in unauthorised time experiments. It was never explained, and was soon covered-up in any reports to the public. Ah! You achieved a way to have your Temporal Cupboard on remote control, didn’t you? It was psychically summoned to your cell and you then travelled backwards to this time!”

“And who would you be?” answered Tarcer contemptuously. “Have the Earth Temporal Police transgressed their own laws concerning time travel and followed me back to this wretchedly primitive century?”

“Oh, nothing like that,” I replied. “Well, not precisely, anyway. I am Dr. Daniel Rumanos, and this is my wife Katrina.”

“Don’t be ridiculous!” he countered. “Those are the names of characters from children’s storybooks.”

“Really?” I responded, turning to my wife. “I say, what about that, then? Kat, my love, it appears that we are legendary!”

“Holy Flapdoodle, baby!” she said with a smile.

“But tell me, Tarcer,” I continued, “why have you been using your psychic projection helmet to stir up such distress among the locals, and then presumably collecting the energies in this emotional energy booth, hmmm?”

“I was…” Tarcer continued, “injured in the accident that crippled my time conveyance. It was hit with a sudden and strangely unforeseen energy surge. The psychic force of these primitive emotions is useful in replenishing my bodily vigour. It is necessary until I can complete repairs on the Time Cupboard and return to a century where I can receive proper treatment.”

(I did not tell him, but the mysterious energy surge was undoubtedly sent from Algol by the Kosmikos, secretly directing Tarcer to the appropriate time and place for me to deal with the situation -- whilst they could maintain Plausible Deniability.)

“And in addition you have genetically manipulated some of the local vermin -- such as that rat -- to aid your dangerously-enhanced robot in guarding your lair?”

“Exactly! The spiders proved disobedient, but rodents have a much more controllable temperament. They only survive for a few weeks after being expanded to that size, however. It speeds up their life cycles as a side-effect. The one you encountered is the third I have prepared during the two-and-one-half months that I have been trapped here.”

“Fascinating, Tarcer. Quite fascinating. Nevertheless, your conduct is inexcusable. We cannot allow you to continue to conduct dangerous and uncontrolled experimentation with the temporal order. Your experiments are now over!”

Rasheem Tarcer let loose with an evil, maliciously insane laugh. “You would attempt to stop me? The self-appointed authorities of the Thirty-Fourth Century failed to do so, and so will you! In fact, you will pay for your insolence towards me. I am Rasheem Tarcer, the greatest scientific mind of the ages!!”

With is bizarre pronouncement, the madman pulled forth a large ray-gun from his garment and aimed it directly at me. I quickly sent out a blast of my Algolitish force and successfully knocked the gun from his hand. But his sudden movement had already caused the grotesquely yellow-hued silken mask that covered his face to be upset. In anger, Tarcer raised his hand and ripped the veil away.

We then beheld the time-criminal’s face, and understood what he meant in reference to the injury he had sustained. His visage was as a dried, leprous parchment, stretched tightly over the bone of his skull. His eyes projected hideously forward in a perpetual stare of total and complete madness. This was the horribly disfigured countenance of Rasheem Tarcer!

As I saw the repulsively deformed face of the shockingly, irrevocably mad scientist known as Rasheem Tarcer, and as he released another grotesque, bone-chilling peal of mirthlessly maniacal laughter through his lipless mouth, I realised that this man was in reality little more than the walking dead. Only the genius of his brilliant -- if horrendously warped -- mind had permitted him to find a way to preserve his crippled, misshapen body. The clever yet ruthless ploy of instigating the Baltimore riots and then collecting the psychic force of them in his odd booth, subsequently redirecting it into his injured body -- this was indeed a thing of outstanding intelligence, of extreme intellect tinged with the inspiration of complete and utter madness; the type of deeply-ingrained, screaming insanity which indeed can only be found in those of a tremendously exalted level of intelligence.

I then shuddered to consider what the dire consequences could likely be if this horrid individual were vouchsafed to continue his work on repairing his damaged time machine. The entire history of planet Earth and of the human race itself would soon be at his twisted mercy!

“Daniel,” said Katrina, calling me out of the reverie into which I had briefly fallen in contemplation of our mad adversary. “I know that we need to stop him before he can do any more harm. We will do that, but…”

Then my sweet wife turned to Tarcer with a look of sorrow upon her beautiful face. “I am sorry,” she told him. “Sorry that you have had to endure this horrible injury, but you cannot be allowed to go on with what you have been doing. I truly am so very sorry, but we really do have to take whatever means are necessary to stop you, because you cannot go on with what you have been doing!”

Rasheem Tarcer was briefly silent, as if the wonderful compassion of Mrs. Katrina Rumanos did indeed touch him in some deeply hidden way. However, he soon recovered his insane pride and stated: “I need no pity from you, young lady! You two will not succeed in stopping me! No words or deeds can ever achieve that!!”

Nevertheless, I perceived that the exchange had left Tarcer off-guard. I accordingly lunged forward quickly and kicked him directly in the centre of his chest, sending him stumbling backwards into the interior of the energy collection booth.

Before he could have any chance to recover from my onslaught, I adjusted the controls of the mechanism and switched it on. A current of colourless power surged through the machine and we heard him, the dangerously brilliant lunatic known as Rasheem Tarcer, scream in hideous pain. I had switched the polarisation of the machine’s neutronic stream, and it proceeded to work in reverse; rending the very life-force from his disfigured body. It was all over in a matter of seconds, and then a lifeless, desiccated husk fell to the floor and crumbled into countless pieces.

Such was the end of the greatest scientific criminal of Thirty-Fourth Century Earth -- there in a secret chamber adjoining the sickening sewers of a crime-infested slum area of Baltimore, Maryland, more than thirteen-hundred years before his own time.

Before Katrina and I left the vicinity, I programmed the machinery in Tarcer’s lair to overload and self-destruct. I knew that the corrosive elements of the sewage system itself would rapidly succeed in totally eliminating any lingering vestige or scraps of future technology, this including the remains of the automaton, the now-harmless robotic servant that we had previously discarded in the darkness of the sewer tunnel.

As for the giant rat, we left the creature there -- unharmed and now free to live out its short rodent life in roaming through the sewers and alleyways of the Sandtown neighbourhood. Perchance, I considered philosophically, it shall exercise its carnivorous proclivities upon beings far more abhorrent and far less worthy of existence than itself: the detestable local gang members, the hopeless narcotics addicts, the wicked and corrupt single mothers (along with their sinfully-conceived, revoltingly-illegitimate, abominable offspring), and other odious, loathsome, detestable human vermin.

DANIEL RUMANOS SHALL RETURN