It is an undeniably true axiom that mystery attracts mystery. In the very many years since my work as DANIEL RUMANOS: The Magician-Detective has become known to the public (albeit often in the woefully distorted forms made available by the tabloid media), countless individuals and groups have accordingly contacted me with problems related to the supposedly supernatural and the possibly paranormal. Unfortunately, not all of these enquiries have come from those who are actually seeking my assistance. Some have appeared via certain sources who have wished to destroy -- or at least to unmistakably humiliate -- me. 

One of the most absolutely hideous of these aforesaid encounters took place when my incomparably lovely wife Katrina and I were on a long-overdue holiday in Egypt. I had, as far as is possible, powered down my Magical abilities in an attempt to seek, in relative anonymity, a brief respite from my often physically, psychologically, and spiritually exhausting career. 

After a day of shopping at the many marketplaces of Cairo, Kat was sleeping peacefully in our hotel room whilst I, still feeling a bit “keyed-up“, took a walk down to the establishment’s lounge for a glass of milk. I soon enough fell into a conversation there with a man named Abdul al-Drogoman, an individual claiming to offer his services as a guide to only certain highly distinguished visitors (such as, of course, myself) who wouldst perhaps be interested in a private tour of the lesser-known parts of Cairo. Despite the lateness of the hour and the darkness that had fallen, I found his offer to be far too much to resist. The possibility of witnessing some obscure Islamic rites and perhaps even some arcane survivals of the Ancient Egyptian religion appealed to me greatly. 

But soon after we left the hotel, indeed when we had only gone a few short blocks, my guide fell into a conflict with a visiting Saudi leader by the name of Eli Aziz. I was doing my best to break up their fight when al-Drogoman suddenly requested that I aid him in settling the dispute by witnessing the two of them in what he referred to as a “custom of supreme antiquity in Egypt” -- a boxing match to be held atop the Great Pyramid of Giza! 

I soon discovered, however, what I actually should have been suspicious of from the start, and indeed most certainly would have been had I not been over-tired and intrigued by the promise of unearthing secret mysteries (Oy, you certainly understand?). Yes, the entire “argument” was a mere ruse specifically designed to lure me into the desert at night and to kidnap me. Before I could even activate my own “mystical” powers, I found myself tied up and blindfolded, then taken to an unknown location, and lowered into an incredibly deep pit!! 

Many were the unspeakable and spectacular horrors of which I dreamed during that terrible descent into Acherontic darkness, but I finally awakened from whatever trance under which they had surreptitiously put me. Managing to free myself from the restraining ropes using the methods of escapology of which I am master, I found myself at the bottom of the immense abyss which I immediately suspected must be the legendary secret temple said in certain obscure tales to be found under the Great Sphinx. 

Still weakened by my experience, I travelled through the dark -- which was only dimly lit by a quality of phosphorescence in the towering stone walls -- in an attempt to find an exit, following a draft of air I perceived and hoped was from outdoors. Instead, I eventually discovered that I had actually been heading farther underground, and eventually stumbled down a flight of stairs and landed in a large ceremonial cavern. 

It was there in that horridly foul and bloodcurdling chamber that I witnessed an eldritch army of half-human, half-animal mummies, led by the obscenely ancient Pharaohs I recognized by their hieroglyphic insignia as Misraim and Kheph-Ra, leaving offerings to a gigantic, five-headed beast with myriad tentacles -- an horribly grotesque monstrosity that rose from a most unspeakably deep orifice in that terrifying ritual hall. 

By now I had recovered my Algolitish power of teleportation, and as I escaped this fearful and abominably evil scene, I suddenly realized that the giant creature was merely the forepaw of a much larger deity -- the hideously wicked, phantasmagorical, and horrendous monstrosity in whose perverse image the Sphinx was carved!! 

Now, I am sure that all this was just an hallucination, and indeed several subsequent attempts to find the underground cavern have led to nothing, but of all that I there encountered in that night of ghastly horrors, what haunts me the most is the resemblance I perceived between the ghostly phantom of the Pharaoh Kheph-Ra and my “guide”, the nefarious al-Drogoman! 

But I know that it is all only a dream…

My name is indeed 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 and strikingly-handsome Anglo-Semitic features -- I am in reality far more than this. For I do indeed 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 “paranormal” 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. However, there does exist hidden deeply within the government of our people a secret service agency 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 operative of this organisation, stationed upon Earth from whence I work undercover, disguised as a stage magician/illusionist.

In sooth, my bizarre experience in Egypt was only a prelude to an even more grotesque and unnameable terror; a Nightmare on Fall Street; my battle against -- The Man With The Silver Sword!!! …

Exactly when the planet Eblis broke up has been lost to history. The fifth planet of the solar system of which Earth is the third, its demise led to what is today known as the asteroid belt between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter.

Now, it must be understood that the breaking up of Eblis was not an accident by any means. The planet was surreptitiously destroyed by that immensely powerful race of super-beings known as the Watchers of the Daemon-Star Algol, ninety-three light years distant from the system of which the doomed world called Eblis was once a part. It seems that the inhabitants of Eblis, known as the Shaitans, were of extremely puissant psychic ability; in fact, to such an extent were their potential powers that the Algolites saw them as potential rivals and thought it behoved them (the cause of peace and universal harmony being as good an excuse as any) to prevent the aforesaid Shaitans from evolving further and possibly threatening the Algolitish status as most intellectually-advanced beings in the known Cosmos.

All this was of course done unofficially and in complete secrecy, so as not to in any way conflict with that universally-famous dictum of the Watchers of Algol against interfering with the natural course of life in other civilisations. The planet Eblis was quickly shattered by the combined and technologically-enhanced psychic force of the Absolute Convention of Daemonia, and a temporal loop was set up around the event to prevent anyone -- even time travellers -- from ever proving that it had occurred. There were, of course, rumours.

However, while the physical forms of the Shaitans were destroyed along with their native world, their “spirits” or psychic essences were able to hide from the Algolites and survive. They issued forth towards the Sun, first stopping at the red planet Mars, but finding the savage, warlike races of that world of no use to them.

The Shaitans of Eblis continued onward through space to the planet Earth. Here, they found something which they believed had much more potential: a primitive, apelike species that would become known as hominids -- a creature with the potential for great brain development and growth.

Unfortunately for their goals in the area of developing a race of beings from the hominids that would intellectually avenge the destruction of their own kind, the Shaitans found their own current status as purely spiritual forms a barrier to any direct influence in the development of the human race. They could only suggest, whisper, and tempt the Earthlings towards the direction that they wanted taken. It may indeed be this that gave rise to the “serpent in the garden” myths of antiquity.

Nevertheless, the wraithlike condition of the Shaitans took its toll on this once-advanced type from the destroyed planet Eblis. As the ages passed, they became further and further degraded, until they turned into basically-mindless spirits of what could indeed now justly be called evil. They still tempted the humans into doing things against the natural order, but now only for the sport of it, their original lofty goals being long forgotten.

That the Watchers of Algol themselves may have had a part in even further degrading the Shaitans by influencing Earth religious thought against them is indeed a distinct possibility.

In the century that the people of Earth generally refer to as the Twenty-First, in the nation of that world known as the United States of America, in a city called Baltimore in the State of Maryland, a man named Ray Benjamin stood in the backroom of a shop known as Nuclear Books, of which he was the proprietor, there on Fall Street in the Hampden neighbourhood. Beside him was the store’s co-owner, an overweight, decidedly unattractive woman known as Rachael Rotwang. They were both wearing black vestment robes. Rotwang’s was hooded, while Benjamin wore on his head a silver crown-like circlet that represented a serpent.

Before this pair was an ebony-draped altar lit by numerous candles. Tied to this altar were bound two totally-nude young women who had been drugged into submission. One was blonde and fair-skinned, the other of dark-haired Asian descent. They were both slender and quite beautiful.

“In the name of Eblis,” intoned Ray Benjamin, reading from a large book bound in black leather, “the rightful ruler of Earth, I call forth the mighty power of the Shaitans to bestow their blessings upon me! Stand by and accept these sacrifices we offer! May they be acceptable to the most ancient spirits!”

With this, approaching the altar over which was a carven pentagram -- that five-pointed figure of magical power which had once been the proud symbol of the fifth planet itself (and which can now be used, under certain conditions, in order to conjure the nightmarish powers of the Shaitans) -- Mr. Benjamin raised a long, jagged-edged silver sword above the bodies of the two helpless girls!!

Peradventure the reader would appreciate if some background be given concerning this despicable duo, Ray Benjamin and Rachael Rotwang, and how they came to be involved in the aforesaid performance of this unnameable, eldritch Satanic ceremony.

Mr. Benjamin and Ms. Rotwang, who had been platonic friends since junior high school and both fancied themselves part of the Baltimore “arts” scene despite their hideously plebeian origins, had opened Nuclear Books some years previously, giving the shop the bizarre motto “Literature Finds For Mutant Minds”. Benjamin had also founded something called “The Hampden Association of Merchants” (HAM), which he utilised in order to charge local shopkeepers a fee to be listed as a member on his internet website and yearly-updated Hampden Guide brochures. That the HAM was basically a pseudo-genteel protection racket was obvious, as any merchant who did not become a member was ostracised in the neighbourhood. Ray Benjamin had a particular hatred of large department stores -- perhaps a psychological projection of his complex involving the size of certain other things -- and had become known in the local media for having strong-armed, by the use of his HAM organisation, the Mil-Mart national chain and preventing them from opening one of their shops in the area. That in doing such a thing Benjamin had only succeeded in barring countless local folks from obtaining gainful employment, and in preventing Baltimoreans in general from having a reasonably-priced establishment in which to shop, was something he liked to chuckle up his sleeve about. Just for the hell of it, one supposes.

As for Nuclear Books itself, the sickening shop carried a selection of grotesquely hideous items: tomes advocating subjects like Satanism, Terrorism, paedophilia, illegal narcotics use, and various extreme homosexual perversions, among other forms of crime and lewd immorality. It is from among these volumes that Ray Benjamin had found some old copies of The Blacklist, an official newsletter of the late Reginald “Ron” Mershon’s now-defunct cult, the Order of the Shaitans (also known as The Shaitanic Embassy, among other variations). A particularly odious publication that had survived in its day primarily by accepting advertising from neo-Nazi and Ku Klux Klan groups, The Blacklist gave Benjamin information on how to call forth the spirits of darkness, the very forces of awesome phantasmal wickedness. Given his own emotional issues, it was really all just too much to resist.

Now, whilst Mr. Benjamin was indulging his plans for occult power, his business partner Rachael Rotwang had devised a way to make money in the shop that did not involve the selling of books, horrid or otherwise. (Rotwang, after all, did not include reading among her list of favoured activities along with her usual overeating, marijuana use, and sundry other vices.)

What Ms. Rotwang had proposed was the opening of a barroom in the back of the shop. She and Benjamin had easily been granted a liquor license by the city -- they being officially considered “community leaders” and all that rubbish -- and accordingly started selling various sorts of ale and lager to their patrons.

However, we must reiterate that making money in the saloon business was not enough for Ray Benjamin. It was a greater form of POWER that he craved in order to make up for his inadequacies (and his total inability to deal with the fact that size does indeed matter) -- something that mere money just could not purchase.

Therefore, when the day came that two gorgeous local college girls came into the shop and ordered, of all things, club soda from the bar, Benjamin’s wicked mind got to working. This pair of obviously rather innocent young ladies would be perfect for the human sacrifice he had read about and intended to use in conjuring up the dreaded Shaitan spirits!

Ray Benjamin whispered his intentions to Rachael Rotwang through his unkempt “hipster“ beard. The latter, being a devotee of Sappho despite her complete ignorance of Ancient Greek poetry, already had her eye on the two girls. She especially liked the delicious contrast between the tall, buxom blonde one and the petite Asian chick. Certainly, she mused, seeing these two nubile young women tied down nude on a Satanic altar would succeed in giving Rotwang fantasy material for her masturbatory sessions for many years to come.

Slipping something from her own extensive supply of felonious pharmaceuticals into the two girls’ drinks was a simple procedure.

Thus came the two innocent damsels to be bound to the horrible Satanic altar of Ray Benjamin and Rachael Rotwang, there in the back-room of Nuclear Books on Fall Street in the Hampden district of Baltimore City. And then, as the words of the conjuring were completed, and Benjamin held the terrible sacrificial sword aloft over the luscious naked forms of the young girls, something indeed came forth to accept the offering. For then, issuing out from the carven pentagram above the abominable altar, was an abysmally ebon-black accumulation of terrifyingly eldritch horror -- the massed myriad appearance of the unspeakably dreadful, most frightfully phantasmagorical spirits of THE SHAITANS!!!

The swirling, obscenely-evil dark force of the Shaitans continued to pour forth from the carven pentagram as the churlishly horrid twosome known as Mr. Ray Benjamin and Ms. Rachael Rotwang prepared to plunge the hideous sacrificial sword into the innocent hearts of the two helpless, unconscious, and beautiful young girls.

Suddenly, an awesome blast of orange and blue-black energy struck Benjamin and Rotwang from the side, sending them reeling into the wall of the store and knocking them out cold. The silver sword fell harmlessly to the floor.

As I have stated, mine own extraterrestrial heritage as one of the aforementioned Watchers of the Daemon-Star ALGOL grants me numerous powers and abilities which appear as “Magick” to lesser species. Such was the power by which I knocked out the infamous duo, Benjamin and Rotwang, before they could fulfil their murderous intent upon the two helpless young damsels. I had been apprised of their terrifying intentions via the Kosmikos.

I then turned and addressed the horrible, ghastly demonic power of the Shaitans that was amassing in the room:

“Avaunt, you foul phantoms of the Shaitans, in the mighty Name of ALLAHASHEM! Be gone, lest I evoke the ancient force of the Gargouellios against you! Be exorcised! The time of the Shaitans has long passed!”

And with this, the unspeakably phantasmagorical throng of the grotesque and demoniacal Shaitanic spirits reversed their course and quickly vanished from the chamber by my imperious command. So it is done!

I retrieved the silver sword and used it to behead Ray Benjamin and Rachael Rotwang before placing it safely in s scabbard by my side.

I then picked up the two drugged, unconscious, nude maidens from carried them to a place of safety. Before leaving the establishment known as Nuclear Books, I overturned one of the ceremonial candles that were still burning upon the Satanic altar.

The girls recovered and, mercy of mercies, have absolutely no memory of their experience. The only lingering effect at all was a slight tingling sensation felt in their lower extremities that was caused by their exposure to the psyche-magical presence of the Shaitan entities. However, even this did pass after a short time.

As for Nuclear Books, that most revoltingly evil and unmentionably repugnant place of business burned to the ground, with the charred remains of Ray Benjamin and Rachael Rotwang later being found inside by fire inspectors, who immediately put the entire incident down officially as a botched attempt at an insurance job.

Now, concerning the repulsive Baltimore City establishment’s hideously loathsome collection of objectionably abhorrent books, vile volumes, and abominable “literature” which was destroyed along with the detestable and disgusting shop and its ungodly proprietors, I am indeed quite certain that this is considered no loss to the literary world whatsoever.

Join us next time for more of The True Weird Adventures of Dr. Daniel Rumanos. And remember, my dear friends and readers, that in this world of Mystery and Magic -- it is all indeed only an Illusion!!!