***** An All-New ADVENTURES OF DAEMON-STAR Paranormal Espionage Thriller!!! *****

It could be said with some great degree of truth that one would be hard pressed to find a more repulsively squalid and hideously debased example of the habitations of the American canaille than that which is evident in the Brooklyn area of the south end of Baltimore City in the State of Maryland. Indeed, one can in that particular neighbourhood find representatives of that which is euphemistically referred to as the “blue collar” or “working class” -- both terms that politely ignore the fact that the majority of such people survive only by public assistance and/or acts of crime -- so hideously inbred as to have become barely human on the evolutionary scale. Physically repugnant, intellectually vacant, and morally vacuous, the very existence of such rabble in a supposedly enlightened age shows a vast failing of the people of Earth that places that planet in a position of jeopardy somewhat unique.

In the aforesaid area of Baltimore, on a particularly revolting byway known as Jensen Road, in one of a line of small, crumbling “town-houses” resided an individual named Evan Lee Hartsel. Short and morbidly obese with unkempt dung-brown hair and a scraggly growth of beard, splay-eyed and with a nose half eaten away by a syphilitic infection, Hartsel was an especially repulsive, yet sadly not uncommonly found, example of his type. Existing on welfare and disability payments, the latter due to his legs being so thick with fat that he could not walk without spreading them far apart, therefore giving him a gait that would be unacceptably and humorously grotesque beyond the indulgence of any possible form of gainful employment (Hartsel preferred to tell people, however, that he “suffered from depression“, having heard this term on a pop-psychologist‘s afternoon TV show), Evan Hartsel’s home nevertheless boasted a satellite dish and a “PRIVATE PROPERTY. NO TRESPASSING.” sign. As with so many of his class, Hartsel liked to imagine he had something of worth that others would want.

A block down from Evan Hartsel’s dwelling was a grocer’s known as “Lucky’s Market”. Hartsel hated this establishment because it was owned and operated by a Muslim family. Evan Lee Hartsel hated Muslims, all of which he insisted upon referring to as “Islamists“. He also hated Negroes (he called them something far worse!), Jews, Catholics, immigrants, Liberals, homosexuals, women in general (aside from prostitutes), and intellectuals of all types. One of his main joys in life was to indulge in marijuana “vaping” whilst watching woefully idiotic cable television “reality shows”, especially ones of the so-called “paranormal” variety. From the influence of this, coupled with the superstitions common to his peasant ilk, the redneck had begun to fancy himself a “ghost hunter” or “paranormal expert”. It is on this particular caprice that our tale indeed rests.

Across the road from Hartsel’s home was a vacant lot, at the far side of which could be found an old well. This well, long since abandoned, had been dug by early settlers in the area. One evening, just after the stroke of midnight, Evan Lee Hartsel sat as he often did by the second-story window of his horrid house, indulging in his paranoid eyeing of the neighbourhood. He was sure that Lucky the Islamist wanted to rape him, as he had heard that “those Arabs” had a predilection for sodomy. He was also certain that the United States Government was after him due to what he believed to be his vast knowledge concerning conspiracy theories and so forth. Indulging in such bizarre fantasies was another of the gruesome hillbilly’s great pleasures, often leading to a masturbation session after which he enjoyed the salty taste of his own semen as he licked it from his hand.

However, this particular evening found Evan Hartsel’s mentally-disturbed imaginings interrupted when he noticed something strange indeed whilst gazing towards the old well in the vacant lot across the way. Emanating from the well Hartsel noticed an eldritch blue-green glow, brief but definite against the blackness of the night. At this, his slack jaw dropped open in shock, saliva and some dregs of the pork-rinds he had been eating falling from his flabby lips.

Nevertheless, Evan Lee Hartsel felt an odd sense of urgency that began to overcome his usual fears. It was as if something were silently calling to him, beckoning him to come and investigate the phantasmal phenomenon that he had espied. Hartsel thereupon sallied forth from his home, barefoot and clad only in his torn trousers and unwashed “Ghost Lockdown” T-shirt. He waddled across the road and into the vacant lot, approaching the abandoned well. It was now dark, and Evan Hartsel wondered at the weird blue-green radiance that he had briefly noticed.

“I know I seen it,” he muttered ungrammatically whilst peering down into the inky darkness of the well. “What…?”

With this, a long and hideous tendril, thick as a man’s arm, suddenly shot up from the very bottom of the old well and attached its end to the centre of Evan Lee Hartsel’s low-browed forehead. He stood transfixed, his dull eyes rolling back into his head as all the while a vision of an huge alien planet darkly shining in the depths of Space entered his awareness. As if ravishing his very brain he heard a low, whispering voice ejecting its will directly into his consciousness.

“I am an Elder of Uranus,” whispered the voice. “What was lost in my world shall be gained on yours. You shall be my servant and my vessel. The conquest of Earth now begins!!” …

My name is RUMANOS -- DR. DANIEL RUMANOS, Supernatural Swashbuckler and Intergalactic Man of Mystery. Although I have the physical appearance of an human being -- a tall, strongly-built gentleman with dark hair, strikingly-handsome Anglo-Semitic features, and oddly pale skin -- I am in reality far more than this. For I do carry within my blood the superior genes of the legendary Watchers of the Daemon-Star ALGOL; this extraterrestrial heritage granting me numerous powers and abilities that appear “magical” or “miraculous” to the people of planet Earth.

The vast majority of Algolites, Masters of all Space and Time, tend to live in isolation from the rest of the Universe, their intellects vast and cool and unsympathetic. However, their does exist hidden deeply within the government of our people a secret service organisation known as the KOSMIKOS or Cosmic Intervention Department. The purpose of the Kosmikos is to covertly intercede in cases that threaten the security of existence anywhere throughout the incalculable reaches of Creation. Plausible Deniability and all that. I am an agent of this organisation, stationed upon Earth where I work undercover as a stage magician/illusionist (RUMANOS THE CONJURER: Amazing entertainment for parties, corporate events, festivals, and more!!!) and writer of fantasy fiction -- the most effective method of concealment being, now as ever, the broadest of publicity.

Therefore, it was that one day I -- wearing my usual dark silk suit, leathern greatcoat, jungle-boots, and safari hat -- found myself transported to the secret observatory that the Watchers of Algol maintain outside the orbit of Earth’s Moon. My contact for this assignment turned out to be, at least in appearance, a beautiful young girl with blonde hair and dark-blue eyes, a silver coverall garment tightly clinging to her small, lissome figure. I recognised her immediately.

“Greetings, Miss Paypence,” said I. “I must say you look quite lovely today, as always.”

“Hello, Master Rumanos,” she answered with a charming smile. “Thank you kindly.”

Paypence was actually a realistic, three-dimensional computer programme, serving as office assistant and messenger for Master Emmos, who is the Chief Operative of the Kosmikos. I have found it amusing that the usually rather emotionless Emmos would choose the image of such a nymphette for this position (as it were). I thought that perhaps the old man was not really so dour and cheerless after all, until I remembered that her sultry and seductive holographic looks were probably a joke on the part of Quaddos Section, developers of the programme.

“Quite right,” I continued. “So, what has Emmos got on his agenda for my perusal?”

“’Something that threatens the safety and security of the planet Earth, it seems!” replied Miss Paypence. “One of the Elder Things of Uranus has awakened there, and has possessed an human known as Evan Lee Hartsel.”

“Evan Hartsel?” I replied. “Yes, I’ve heard of him. An idiotical chav claiming to be in contact with a paranormal force of some sort. I heard him guest on the Speak Your Piece with Darren Floman chat-show on WBUM Radio in Baltimore. He calls himself ‘The Spiritual Warrior’ and says he will usher the human race into some kind of great awakening. I assumed he was just a nutter or yet another lowlife conman -- but an Elder Thing of Uranus, did you say? Zounds!”

“That is correct,” cooed Paypence. “The first one we have located in thousands of generations.”

Now, the Elder Things were the original inhabitants of the cold gas clouds of their home planet, and it is indeed the horrible civil wars between these gigantic monstrosities that led to Uranus being knocked on its side during the early days of the Solar System itself. This led to a few of them being forcibly ejected from the planet, and so it seems that this one found its way to Earth and waited in hiding for all this incredible stretch of time, now enlisting this Hartsel fool, having found his inferior brain easy to control, and using him in its plans for the conquest of Earth.

(It should be added that modern Uranusites are blue-skinned humanoids, originally colonists from Saturn, and upon Uranus the horrid Elder Things are believed to be extinct.)

“We believe it is the goal of the monster to transform Earth into a ‘Quantum of Uranus’;” Paypence continued, “a new, smaller, reproduction of the utter chaos that existed in that world during the ancient reign of the Elder Things!”

“Hideous,” I rejoined. “So my mission is to prevent this from occurring.”

“Correct, and Eleven,” she said, addressing me by my Official Operative Number, “Master Emmos also instructed me to say to you, and I quote: ‘Tell Rumanos this time to at least make an attempt to keep the graphic violence and sexual innuendos to a minimum’.”

“Miss Paypence,” I reposted with a wink to the delightful digital damsel, “I shall certainly do my best.”

I returned to Earth just in time to find myself in the middle of what has to be (with perhaps two or three exceptions) the most utterly bizarre and completely preposterous hostage situation that I have ever encountered in the course of my long and distinguished career.

Shortly before my arrival, the repulsive and churlish knave with the name of Evan Lee Hartsel had appeared hovering above the Renaissance Hotel near Baltimore’s Inner Harbour area. It was only just after sunset, and the shimmering blue-green effulgence denoting Hartsel’s possession by the Elder Uranusite glowed with phantasmagorical abnormality above the city lights in the darkly-clouded sky. Channel 13 News had already been in the area, in order to cover a convention being held at the hotel for fans of some long-running British science-fiction television series. They had immediately turned their cameras and microphones upon the horridly and terrifyingly evil Evan Hartsel.

Megan McCummings, the stunningly attractive young newswoman on the scene, had managed to overcome her fear at the situation and then had attempted to secure an interview with Hartsel. After all, she reasoned, this was all most likely just a special effects publicity stunt for the sci-fi convention. But McCummings’s attempt at on-the-spot journalism had quickly turned into absolute abject horror when a mass of hideous tendrils had suddenly sprouted from Evan Hartsel’s midsection and reached down to her, enwrapping her lithe figure in their horrid clutches and lifting her upwards to the insane Hartsel’s position above the city skyline!

“I am the Elder of Uranus!!” bellowed Evan Hartsel, his voice a strange admixture of his own plebeian accent and the augmented intelligence of the extraterrestrial monstrosity. “I am the Spiritual Warrior … ain‘t I! Uranus will now reign over all! CHAOS is the New Order! You bet your bean! We shall dominate this world, and your human kind will only exist to serve us!”

The newsgirl Megan McCummings screamed and screamed and screamed again in complete mortal terror when the sickening tendrils proceeded to rip her clothes from her body, leaving the young woman’s form in complete nudity, the glowing radiance of the horror from Uranus now shining with odd beauty upon her flaxen hair and fair skin.

It is then that I came upon the scene, having been transported directly there by the Algolite Kosmikos in order to hopefully deal with the situation and fulfil my mission. I realised, of course, that I could expect no further assistance from headquarters. Such would too obviously contradict the plausible deniability purposes of the secret agency as well as the official policies of isolation of the Watchers themselves from the affairs of the rest of the Universe.

“Daniel Rumanos, Agent of Algol!!!” shouted the Elder Thing speaking through the loathsome hillbilly known as Evan Lee Hartsel. “You shall not stop us… douche-bag! We gonna win and take over this planet… ain’t we!”

I had only the time to send out a brief psychic summons before plunging right into the thick of things. Using my Algolitish powers of levitation, I then flew directly upwards, intending to meet the revoltingly villainous Hartsel in midair.

“Avaunt, sirrah!” I cried. “I do command you by the authority of the Kosmikos of Daemonia!”

Nevertheless, before I could reach him at the vertiginous height where he hovered, the alien-possessed redneck committed two horrendous acts of absolute outrage (and in direct defiance of my having invoked the name of the most famous secret service organisation in all of Creation!). He ejected a gigantic surge of dark force -- his pulsating blue-green Uranian energy -- directly in the direction of the hotel building (filled with innocent people attending the science-fiction convention), whilst at the same time releasing his hold upon young Miss Megan McCummings, sending the helpless girl plummeting from that tremendous height towards the unforgiving concrete of the city street far below!

It was then that I realised -- to my absolute and unmitigated dismay -- that there was simply just not enough time for me to succeed in deflecting the massive energy wave cascading in a collision course towards the building and to also save the lass from falling to her death. What to do, dear readers, what to do?

Of course, I decided to save the girl. Really, did you ever bloody well doubt this?

I swooped under the plummeting form of Megan McCummings just in time to prevent her from crashing onto the pavement, and caught her safely in my arms. She had collapsed into a swoon.

Just then, I glanced up at the horrid energy wave cascading to-wards the hotel building, and saw that it had been suddenly deflected away by a blast of glorious vermillion and violet flame -- the very “Mystic Fire” wielded only by my breathtakingly beautiful and eternally-youthful wife, LADY KATRINA RUMANOS, who had now arrived in answer to my earlier mental summons! Her tall, slender form flew through the air with her gorgeous ginger hair trailing behind and her enchanting eyes shining like pale sapphires. The wondrous flame played fantastically around her pure white skin, and she wore an elegant, cherry-coloured dress and matching short cape, along with small riding boots. Originally a young girl descended from Scottish royalty, Katrina had been especially gifted with amazing powers by the Kosmikos, in order to stand as my companion and helpmate in our many varied adventures upon Earth and throughout the unknowable vastness of Space and Time.

I quickly delivered Miss McCummings to the care of a local paramedic rescue brigade that had by now arrived on the scene. (I hear that the young woman recovered well, and soon after left the rather dubious profession of telly news reporter to become in stead a librarian. Just imagine.)

I then looked up and beheld the utterly crass Evan Lee Hartsel still hovering just above the city skyline. He was perspiring profusely and trembling as with ague. Obviously, the possessing presence of the powerful alien life-form was far too much for his inferior consistency to endure. I immediately summed this up as a fatal flaw that we could exploit in order to defeat the hideous Elder Uranusite.

“Kat,” I addressed my beloved wife who had by now landed by my side, “target him directly and let us combine our powers against him.”

“Right, my love!” she answered.

And so together we melded our powers, my bright orange and blue Algolitish energies and her fantastical fire, as an upsurge of power directly to-wards the disgustingly-overweight trash known as Evan Hartsel, that sickening subhuman that was being used as a vessel by the unutterably ancient and unspeakably grotesque extraterrestrial terror.

Soon enough, Hartsel’s now-lifeless form fell from the sky as the Uranusite’s hold upon him was loosened. It was then, in the darkness of night above the beleaguered city of Baltimore, Maryland, that was briefly seen the true form of that primeval horror from the gas clouds of Uranus. It was a gigantic, darkly amorphous blob, miles high and wider than the entire city, and covered with an ever-quivering mass of unholy tendrils and feelers. Verily, a primordial thing of horrendously eldritch fear and never-ending nightmares unimaginable.

From the spectral and colossal shape of the horrible monstrosity then shot upwards a tremendous beam of blue-green light as it left Earth forever, travelling to vanish along its beam of energy to finally die in the outer blackness of Space. Indeed, the Elder Things of Uranus lived for aeons and aeons -- but they were never truly immortal.

My lovely Katrina and I walked over to the remains of the worthless human waste known as Evan Lee Hartsel, where he had fallen upon the pavement. All semblance of life having been drained from him by the Elder Thing, and his being further blasted by the powers we had used in order to defeat the creature, his body was now only a dried husk, which fell to pieces as we observed it. 

“That’s the way the cracker crumbles,” said I.

So ended the case of the (hopefully) last Elder of Uranus. After stopping for dinner at an excellent seafood restaurant hard by the Inner Harbour, Katrina and I returned to the home that we share in the north of Baltimore to await our next assignment.

The only further musing concerning this whole debacle relates to the science-fiction television series that was having its fan convention at the Renaissance Hotel on that ominous evening. It seems that when the programme’s producer and head writer heard a somewhat garbled account of what had occurred that night, it was decided that there were now enough script ideas for the show to be renewed for yet another season, at least.