All was quiet in the dormitory of Roland Park Country School as the girl crawled into bed. Her roommates had gone to the cinema to catch the latest romantic comedy film. She had not felt like going with them.

Pink pyjamas clad the young girl’s slender figure and her auburn hair was pulled back into a ponytail away from her heart-shaped face. Her skin was the pure and translucent white of finest alabaster, and she had that particular beauty of one who is just completing the third lustrum of life. Nevertheless, her mist-grey eyes were still wet with tears.

The girl, strikingly-lovely in her adolescent perfection, pulled the bedclothes up around her. The dorm was well-heated, but this early-February evening was especially cold. It was then particularly strange when she found an odd feeling of uncomfortable warmth suddenly assailing her.

But it was not actually a physical sensation. It was more an emotional or mental impression, and was accompanied by a strange vision -- a vision of unnameable vistas of dark dread and ineffable yearning. Then, to the girl’s horror, it was also accompanied by a voice.

“Receive us, young one,” it said in tones at once dulcet and irresistibly commanding. “We are the Vogni. We are the Black Flame. We are Hellfire.” …

My name is RUMANOS -- DOCTOR DANIEL RUMANOS, Literary Illusionist and Intergalactic Man of Mystery. Even though I have the appearance of a tall, well-built human gentleman with striking Anglo-Semitic features, I am really not a mere mortal at all. I am in actuality many thousands of years old and do carry within my blood the vastly superior genes of the mysterious Aeturnusians or “Watchers” of the Daemon-Star ALGOL -- Masters of all Space and Time; this heritage granting me numerous powers and abilities that appear “supernatural” to lesser beings.

Whilst most Algolites are (officially) content to merely observe the goings-on of the Universe around them, their intellects vast and cool and unsympathetic, I am myself a member of a secret organisation existing amongst our elite class, known as the KOSMIKOS or Cosmic Intervention Department. Plausible deniability, and all that. I thus have, for so many years now, made it my particular mission to use my extraterrestrial gifts to defend the innocent from attack, invasion, and assorted similar threats -- both upon Earth and across the vast reaches of the Universe!

On this particular evening, I had been invited to the home of Mr. David Moranis, located in the elite Tuscany-Canterbury district of north Baltimore City in the State of Maryland. Mr. Moranis, a wealthy gentleman in his late thirties, knowing of my work from some reports of it that have appeared (albeit in somewhat-distorted forms) in the news media, had contacted me about a case he felt required my particular expertise. The mystery in question involved his fiancée, a young lady residing at one of the near by private academies.

“Thank you so much for coming by, Doctor Rumanos,” said David Moranis as we sat on opposite sides of the fireplace there in the study of his elegant mansion. “I really did not know where else to turn with this dilemma.”

“I am pleased to help in any way I can, Mr. Moranis,” said I, sipping the steaming hot Earl Grey Tea his elderly Jamaican manservant had brought for us after taking my greatcoat and panama hat. I was wearing my usual blue-and-grey silk suit and jungle boots.

It was a particularly cold night, and the fire burned merrily, illuminating the room in an ever-shifting glow.

I found Mr. Moranis to be a quite good-looking gentleman, tall and thin, with dark hair and cobalt-blue eyes, his features of the highest European aristocratic type. He was dressed in finely-tailored eveningwear. 

The room in which we sat was tastefully lined with bookshelves, filled with collections of the complete works of Eighteenth and Nineteenth Century British authors. Having myself only recently returned from a remarkable series of adventures throughout the vast outer reaches of Space and Time (being those particular experiences recounted in my secret archives under the titles of “Galaxy Phwoar“, “The Boner of Orbimus“, “Hearts in Lemuria”, “Shaga“, and “The Curse of Prick Point“), I found the surroundings to be a refreshingly peaceful change.

“You say the problem concerns a young lady?” I continued. “Your fiancée, I believe?”

“Yes,” he replied. “She is a student at Roland Park Country School. Her name is Karen.”

“A beautiful name, and a fine school. What then is the nature of the trouble?”

“A strange sort of depression seems to have overcome Karen of late,” the gentleman stated. “Her family, who reside in England, have somewhat resisted our relationship, due to the age difference. I believe they will come around so long as we wait for her to finish her education, but the emotional trauma has affected Karen in… odd ways. Odd ways indeed.”

Moranis trailed off and glanced towards the fireplace. I could see that the subject manner was distressing him more than his well-bred manners could easily handle.

“Go on,” I assured him. “There is no need to hold anything back. If you truly care for the young lady, it is of paramount importance that you tell all.”

“I just want to make it clear, Dr. Rumanos,” he said with a stalwart attempt to control the slight emotional tremor that had entered his voice, “that I do care for her very much, and with a pure heart. She is… innocent, and we have agreed to wait for marriage before… consummating our relationship. It is very important to both of us.”

“Capital to hear, sir,” I approved. “But please, go on with your description of this rather mysterious problem your betrothed has been experiencing.”

“She says she has occasionally felt… a presence, and has heard a voice calling to her. Oh, Dr. Rumanos, I do so hope you don’t say we should just see an ordinary psychiatrist, or perhaps one of those ridiculous television ‘ghost hunter’ types!”

“By no means,” I replied. “I would especially never recommend the latter to anyone in any situation. So, this ‘voice’ -- what does she seem to hear it say?”

“It calls itself by several different names, she says, as the presence seems to be attempting to fully enter her consciousness. It calls itself the ‘Black Flame’, the ‘Dark Enlightenment’, and… ‘Hellfire’.”

I felt a feeling of unmentionable dread within my being as I began to perceive a possibility of what the girl might be experiencing. I took another drink of tea before my next enquiry.

“Mr. Moranis,” I said. “It occurs to me that you have not yet mentioned the young lady’s surname.”

“Yes, I know,” he pronounced with wavering of voice as if revealing this information distressed him. “Her name is… Dashwood. Karen Dashwood.”

“’Dashwood’?” I repeated as a cold realisation continued to come upon me. “As in…?”

“Indeed,” he said, his eyes downcast. “She is directly descended from the family of Sir Francis Dashwood, leader of… the Hellfire Club.”

The information that David Moranis had reluctantly related only served to confirm the horrid suspicions that had already been growing within me. They were suspicions involving a decidedly old and grotesquely obscene evil that could bring unnameable horrors to Mr. Moranis and his betrothed -- and indeed to all of mankind!

Bloody Hell, to be sure! Sir Francis Dashwood, the dissolute Eighteenth Century English nobleman who had headed the notorious Hellfire Club, an organisation of elite dilettantes that had practiced secret Satanic rites in a system of caves underneath an unsuspecting London. The same Hellfire Club that had covertly influenced the Founding Fathers of the United States of America -- especially Benjamin Franklin, himself a practicing Satanist who is known to have attended some of the group’s hideous and unspeakable orgies in worship of those very forces of supernatural darkness. Indeed, it is largely this that led to the rebellious formation and chequered history of this oft-depraved and ungodly nation that has at times earned for itself, in certain circles, the appalling appellation of “The Great Satan”!

This is the unholy influence that I now had to face.

You see, Francis Dashwood had died without leaving any legitimate children, and the maiden Karen Dashwood was, as I verified from Moranis, descended from the cousins who had then assumed his title and estates. That young Miss Dashwood was herself innocent of Satanism or indeed of any other wrongdoing I had no reason to doubt. For I knew the reality of the force behind the diabolical debaucheries of the Hellfire Club -- a force of eldritch evil beyond even the imaginings of witchcraft and black magic.

As is the case with so many of what human beings refer to as gods, spirits, and demons, the force behind the evil of Sir Francis Dashwood and his corrupt cronies was actually an extraterrestrial evil from a planet many light-years from Earth. In this case it was an ancient, space-faring race known as the Vogni, which had cast aside their physical forms in ages past and had become creatures of disgusting orgasmic energy -- an energy known as the “Black Flame“ or, more vulgarly, “Hellfire”. Eventually, they had filtered down to this planet and continued their existence, empowered by the perverted activities of Dashwood and the Hellfire Club. When he had died and the group of sickening Satanists had disbanded, the Vogni had gone into a period of psychic hibernation lasting until the present time, when they had awakened and sought a new host, forsooth an host of blood relation to the one who had so empowered them generations before. Such turned out to be, shockingly, the virginal damsel Karen Dashwood, honour student at the all-girl Roland Park Country School, promising sub-debutante, and beloved fiancée of my client Mr. David Moranis of Baltimore, Maryland!

It is likely that, despite the existence of what could be called the generational curse of the Dashwoods, teenaged Karen would have been spared the devilish attentions of the Vogni had it not been for the psychological stress she had been undergoing; the stress caused by her family’s opposition to her relationship with Mr. David Moranis. Oh, the folly of humankind in their futile attempts to append the moral laws that the Almighty has given to all of us! For indeed, where in the Holy Gospel is it even hinted that there could be evil in the pure love of a distinguished gentleman for a young lady -- a love in the form that is indeed the most natural and healthy of any human desires?

Even as I sat speaking with Moranis about his case, discussing the further details and particulars of the situation, I began to notice something odd indeed. Even thought the fire continued to blaze strongly in the hearth, the room had steadily become conspicuously darker. It had happened so gradually as the be barely perceived, and it is only when I thought to refill my teacup from the kettle that I noticed that it was so dim that I could hardly see my hand before my eyes. I said nothing at first, but glanced towards the fireplace to observe.

“Dr. Rumanos,” said David Moranis in sudden realisation, “do you notice that… it is… ?”

“The darkness,” I completed what he sought to express. “It is unnatural. We are being observed by the forces of the Vogni!”

It is then that, knowing that its phantom presence had been detected, the preternatural horror of the Black Flame waited no longer, and, bursting forth from the flames of the hearth came forth a wave of unspeakable and horrendously ebon energy, an huge surge of loathsomely black psychic conflagration that shot directly for us both!!

I immediately generated a defensive wave of my orange and blue Algolitish energies against the horrendously demoniac powers of the Vogni. The forces collided with a resounding thunderclap of phantasmal preternatural force.

None the less, the hideous Black Flame was not completely halted, but continued to flow forth with unspeakable otherworldly grotesqueness from that whilom peaceful fireside there in the north Baltimore home of Mr. David Moranis.

“By the Stars!” I swore to myself. “My powers are somewhat unreliable these days. They have just not been the same since that experience I had a while back in Los Angeles[*].”

[* For the full and shocking details of this, see the undeniably factual and irrefutably accurate Weird Adventures account entitled “Immortal Sins”.]

David Moranis stood nearby, understandably shocked and amazed by the appearance of the eldritch ebony horror.

“Mr. Moranis,” I called him to his senses. “In order for any possibility to exist of defeating this Satanic force, you must tell me something; something of the highest importance.”

“Yes…” he stammered, bravely retaining composure. “What is it, Dr. Rumanos?”

“Tell me: Do you truly love that girl? Do you truly and with all that is within your being love Miss Karen Dashwood?”

“Yes… Yes, I do love her! With all my heart I do! I love her! I swear it! I love Karen more than life itself!”

“Excellent to hear, sir!” I proclaimed in approval. “Then this is what we must do: The force of the Black Flame has created a temporary inter-dimensional gateway through your fireplace to the location of its centre of power -- which is, I believe, the current location of Miss Dashwood! If you will have your obliging butler retrieve my hat and coat, you and I shall then go on a little journey together; indeed, a brief voyage through the dark passageway in order to confront the evil at its source. It is the only way I can foresee to defeat the Vogni and save the young lady!”

And so we did. Mr David Moranis and I did boldly step through the black, swirling inter-dimensional gate and did instantly travel the distance, finding ourselves in the dorm-room of Karen Dashwood, there at Roland Park Country School!

As the portal closed behind us there in that dormitory, we beheld the seemingly supernatural power of the Vogni, that obscene extraterrestrial terror known as the Black Flame and the blasphemous Satanic “Enlightenment”, the full force of the profanely Luciferian Luminosity that is the very source of the legendary Hellfire that is the supreme horror of humankind.

Moreover, at the very centre of this swirling phantasmagorical terror stood a beautiful young girl -- a gorgeous teenage maiden with auburn hair and mist-grey eyes, slender and helpless and innocent in her pink pyjamas as the ghastly alien force of the Satanic Vogni used her as the focal point for its re-entry into the world.

When I beheld the wee lass, that helpless and pure virgin named Karen Dashwood, the lovely sub-deb cursed to this ungodly fate only by activities that had occurred several centuries before her birth, I hoped and prayed that the terror of the Vogni could be abated without harm to her. For I knew that, should the admittedly-mad plan I had in mind fail, the only hope left to save the unsuspecting planet Earth from eternal enslavement to the Vogni (beginning as it would with a Satanic reign of unhallowed horror and blasphemies unimaginable) -- the only hope, I do say, of abating this, would be to bring about the death of the stunningly-beautiful and innocent young damsel, Miss Karen Dashwood!!

Do you recognise the unmentionably obscene and utterly frenzied horror; the very unholy terror of this fearful situation, my dear readers? Indeed, for the sake of your own sanity, I most truly pray that you do not!

Whilst the ghastly energy of the Black Flame continued swirling about the slender form of the young girl, my mind could not help but to think back to the numerous female creatures of evil and iniquity that I had encountered over the many years of my career: the doomed Vampiress Stefanie Ingamells; the fatally-seductive lamia, Carmilla Karnstein; the unmentionable Szepasszony; the repulsive Waddling Witch of Hampden, Mrs. Shelley Clem; the two hideous Daughters of the Horse-Leech; the detestable Marina Kraven; that loathsome offspring of sodomy, Marceline Short; the Irish bog-bitch known to infamy as Joni O’Doyle; the hideous Naamah, mother of the terror Asmodeus; the diabolically duplicitous Devlin Xandra Price; the dark demirep named in eternal damnation as GhostsDemons; the revolting “psychic sensitive”, Klarissa Feck; and that Ukraine girl who nearly knocked me out, the unspeakable Anastasia Rizak; among others, named or nameless or unnameable, horrifically-remembered or well-nigh forgotten.

These devilish dames were beings of pure wickedness, each and every one of them having invited the very forces of darkness into their persons by acts of ungodliness and sinful vice unimaginable to any decent individual. Moreover, in the end they had only been defeated by bringing about their death or confinement in irrevocable madness.

Nevertheless, one thing I knew as I thought back over this horrid catalogue of feminine wickedness, one thing of which I was certain: Karen Dashwood was not one of these.  She was a pure, chaste virgin of wondrously noble, pure English descent. An intelligent, innocent young lady in no way responsible for the sinful depravity of a family member now dead for centuries.

I knew that the only thing that had even made her at all susceptible to the perceived “curse of the Dashwoods” was that mental anguish, the psychological trauma that she had felt due to her parents having voiced some objections to her upcoming marriage to her beloved, Mr. David Moranis. That they had done this for no other reason than a so-called “age gap” -- that grotesque artificial construct that has become a sad obsession of modern society -- was all the more liable to have attracted the dark forces of Satanic malevolence.

To convince her family to cease their objections would be easy enough. I would only have to be certain that the Dashwoods soon received a letter congratulating them on their daughter’s upcoming nuptials, a letter from another British Family who are close personal friends of mine -- forsooth a Family who dwell in a rather palatial residence located in the City of Westminster.

However, in order to safely and permanently exorcise the phantasmagorical power of the extraterrestrial Vogni from the blameless teen damsel was something else entirely, indeed something that would require action by the very gentleman who had summoned my assistance in this exceedingly bizarre and momentous case.

“Mr. Moranis,” I told him. “Go to her. It is the only way to save her. Do it now and show no fear. If you love her, go to her.”

And at this, David Moranis walked directly over to his beloved Karen Dashwood, all trepidations having been overcome by his devotion and adoring affection for the lovely young maiden. At his approach, the churning powers of the dark force of ungodliness known as the Vogni, the Black Flame, or Hellfire -- did simply and immediately vanish. It was finished, as quickly as that. I knew then that the very power of love had broken the curse that had so long plagued the Dashwoods. The Black Flame was now extinguished forever.

Whilst I discreetly made my exit from the school, I pondered over the unfathomable mysteries of “the way of a man with a maiden”, as a certain sage once expressed it.

“David!” exclaimed Karen Dashwood as her fiancé held her in his arms. “What happened? I was going to bed when I heard that voice and then I can’t remember… I can’t remember anything until I saw you just now!”

“It’s all right, darling,” I heard him reply as the girl settled her pretty head on his shoulder. “There is no reason now to be afraid. Dr. Daniel Rumanos has helped us.”


Heroes never die.
(Mickey Spillane)