My name is Dr. Daniel Rumanos. I battle the forces of darkness. I am the Daemon-Star! …
On the 500 block of Charles Street in the city of Baltimore, Maryland, is an upmarket optometrist’s shop that goes by the name of “Hot Spex”, which somebody probably thinks is an exceedingly clever appellation. Trendy, pricey, and gaudy, it is nevertheless harmless enough. The third and fourth storeys of this same building are made up of residential apartments, usually inhabited, during the semester seasons, by students from the near-by Peabody Conservatory.
However, it is the second floor of this edifice that here concerns us. Some years ago, it had been the headquarters of a rather shady real estate management company known as the East Coast Assets Group. This business was eventually raided and shut down by the police after being exposed as a front for a particularly-vile lesbian prostitution ring. Since then, however, it had come under the control of yet another perverse and decidedly-ungodly criminal type.
Indeed, on the day in which our narrative occurs a quite interesting scene is being played out there.
Seated in an office-space that is decorated with astrological charts and other occult gewgaws (along with an incongruous old midway poster advertising the late stuntman Evel Knievel) a young and perfectly-beautiful girl, tall and slender, with gorgeous blonde hair and sky-blue eyes, dressed tastefully in a white blouse, violet skirt, and pumps, is seated across a table from a bizarrely-attired figure.
“My name’s Lizzy,” said the girl. “Lizzy Martinez.”
“Ah, my child,” said the other figure, that of an elderly woman with a very long nose and dark, piercing eyes, “I know. I know. Madame Teitelbaum sees and knows all.”
The old woman, dressed as she was in colourful pseudo-gypsy attire and a plethora of garish costume jewellery, reached one of her gnarled hands under the table to touch the girl’s leg. Lizzy moved away from the attempt at contact, but her face showed no trace of the disgust she felt at the thought of it.
Madame Teitelbaum then moved her hands to the top of the table and began fingering the deck of greasy tarot cards upon it.
“You come here today because you wish to know the future,” said the old woman, “and also secrets of your past and of others you know.”
“Yeah, that’s right,” said Lizzy, then adding, without a trace of sarcasm: “Wow, how did you know that?”
“The spirits tell me all, child,” answered Madame Teitelbaum. “They dwell within me and all about this chamber. They told me of your coming, and of that which you seek.”
“Madame Teitelbaum, these spirits you speak of. What are they, really?”
“My, you are an inquisitive young thing, aren’t you?” said the old fortune-teller. “The spirits are from far away. They chose me to be their voice in this world, and have revealed to me many great things. Yes, child, many great things of power and of mystery, and the power is exceeded only by the mystery.”
“Whoa, that is impressive. I was wondering, did they tell you that…”
“Did they tell you that I know you’re really a man?”
And with this, Lizzy Martinez lifted her hand and ripped off the grey wig of “Madame” Teitelbaum, revealing, despite his heavy makeup, the countenance of a man of about forty, with short, dark hair and those same piercing eyes -- which now, not surprisingly, grew narrow with anger.
“Why, you little bitch!” he shouted, his voice now an octave lower and decidedly masculine. “How dare you, you Goddamn little bitch!”
Mr. Mitchell Teitelbaum (that being the fake medium’s real name) stood up and, with a sweep of his hand, threw the table out of the way between the young lady and himself.
“We know the facts of your false claims at being a psychic,” said the girl, rising to her feet with no show of fear. “But fake psychics are everywhere. We also know you have contacted something. Not ‘spirits’ or ‘ghosts’ or anything like that, but instead something that really exists and is very dangerous. Something we have to stop.”
“You bitch!” reiterated Teitelbaum. “Who… ? Who the hell are you, anyway?”
“I told you. My name is Lizzy Martinez… and I am of the League of the Daemon-Star!”
“Goddamn it! Goddamn it straight to Hell! You belong to… him! He would! He would make the young girls spy for him!”
Mitchell Teitelbaum could not repress a look of trepidation at this revelation. It was short-lived, however, and soon replaced by a smug smile, a smile filled with evil and diabolical malice.
“But even he does not know what he has gotten you into, kid!” continued the villain. “Those that I have made my pact with will conquer you both, and will bring me to mastery of the world as their representative! They have promised me this, and you will not stop me!”
With this pronouncement, Teitelbaum lifted his hands and cast a wave of scarlet-hued otherworldly energy at the girl. Nevertheless, to his extreme surprise, she not only deftly dodged this attack but quickly sent back a bolt of energy from herself -- a bolt of bright orange power that hit Mitchell Teitelbaum squarely in the chest, sending him reeling across the room to crash against the far wall. He then slipped down into unconsciousness upon the floor.
“Effing cool!” exclaimed Lizzy with a gorgeous smile, as if amazed at her own abilities. “That was easier than I thought it would be.”
The young lady’s feeling of easy victory was soon cut short, nonetheless, when a deep sound began to enter her consciousness. It seemed to emanate from the prostrate form of Mr. Teitelbaum, but it was not a human sound. In fact, it was not the sound of anything properly found upon this world. It was a noise better imagined than described, at once like a buzzing and a howling and a maddening clicking. It quickly grew in volume from barely perceptible to a veritable cacophony.
Then all hell broke loose.
At that moment, Mitchell Teitelbaum suddenly stood up, but he was not awake in any true way. His eyes were open, but he was not aware in the mortal human sense -- for they were now glowing with the same infernal shade of red and then, from his form that was now being used as a conduit, issued forth a myriad of horrors.
They were small creatures of the same hellishly-reddish hue, horned and hideous, an eldritch amalgamation of wickedness. This mass of unspeakable and apparently-demoniacal abominations flew across the chamber and totally engulfed the form of young Lizzy Martinez.
“These are the Imps of Impian-8,” announced Mitchell Teitelbaum on behalf of the infernal creatures. “You, bitch, are now ours!”
It was then that I charged into the room, clad in my usual silk suit, leathern greatcoat, jungle boots, sunspecs, and panama hat. I cast a wave of my own bright orange and blue Algolitish energy at the Impish creatures, scattering them away from the young lass.
“Sorry to be so late, Liz” I told her. “I only just finished taking care of that thing in New Orleans.”
“Oh, that voodoo guy?” said Lizzy, as we automatically took our back-to-back fighting stance against the surrounding hoard of Imps.
“Indeed, that Gilman Ross screwball, alias ‘Papa Gilly’, alias ‘Conjure Botanica‘, alias ‘RossMac Gilbert‘, et cetera,” I answered, these being the various names of the repugnant black magician, horrendously-dangerous madman, and revolting redneck paedophile that I had travelled to Louisiana to face.
“What happened, Doctor?” inquired the girl, as she deftly cast another bolt of her powers at the Imps.
“I left his blasted corpse -- along with that of his hideous hellhound, Juju -- in the bayou as food for the alligators.”
“That is so effing hot!” she exclaimed.
Seventeen-year-old Miss Lizzy Martinez, I should explain, was at this time my latest protégé. She had become so after a rather odd and indeed surprising series of events that I can only summarise here.
Originally from the town of Bradenton in Manatee County, Florida, Lizzy Martinez is of mixed northern Spanish Basque and Dutch ancestry, her mother’s maiden name being Knop. Hence her beautiful blonde hair and exquisitely-lovely blue eyes. Whilst a student there in Florida at Braden River High School, she had been the victim of an attempted rape by a certain Mr. Brad Scarbrough, the principal or head-teacher of that particular educational institution.
The perverse Mr. Scarbrough, after luring Lizzy Martinez to his office by claims that her clothing (in this case, a white t-shirt with no brassiere) was a “distraction” to the other students, had not succeed in his attempt to ravish the beauteous damsel due to her having suddenly displayed a newfound ability to generate and control bursts of otherworldly bright orange energy -- an ability with which she had landed her attacker in hospital.
Seeing as this power appeared to be of Proto-Algolitish origin, most likely the result of one of her ancestors having come into contact with some relic of one of my own extraterrestrial people’s long-ago visits to planet Earth, I had been assigned the task of looking after Lizzy and making certain she learned to use her newfound powers properly.
Now as my apprentice (and as such a member of the League of the Daemon-Star and a trainee-level Probationer-Operative of the KOSMIKOS, that incredibly-famous and amazingly-legendary Secret Service organisation of the Watchers of Algol), the beautiful Miss Martinez had gone on a mission to investigate this “Madame Teitelbaum“, fake Baltimore-area psychic-medium and occult racketeer. In such Lizzy had uncovered the presence of the Imps of Impian-8.
(By the way, it should be made clear that only I am permitted to call her “Liz”. to everyone else she is “Lizzy” or “Miss Martinez”. In addendum, she prefers to pronounce her surname so that it sounds like “Martinis”.)
“I must admit that this is actually quite surprising,” said I as I again held off the Imp attacks with my own sparkling alien powers. “The Imps of the Impian system, despite their devilish appearance, are usually quite peaceful.”
“Well these ones aren’t,” retorted Lizzy. “What could have happened, Doctor?”
“I cannot yet fathom it, Liz,” I wondered. “Perhaps it is the unfortunate result of some accident during their long voyage to Earth. Maybe they…”
However, before I could continue my speculations as to the reasons of the Imps’ sudden turn to maliciousness, Mitchell Teitelbaum, still possessed by the increasing Impish power, sudden lurched forward and grabbed Lizzy around her slender waist, tearing the girl away from me to-wards the far side of the chamber before I could even begin any effort to prevent him.
“Liz!” I shouted in shock. I was quite concerned about her ability to continue defending herself. The young girl’s powers were not yet fully developed, and our battle against the attacking Imps had no doubt weakened them. I worried about what might happen to her in the evil clutches of the sickening and perverse Mr. Mitchell Teitelbaum -- empowered as he was by some apparent pact with the alien creatures.
Nevertheless, I now found myself completely surrounded by the diabolically-appearing Imps. They suddenly rushed upon me en masse, and I found myself propelled through a strange porthole-like orifice that had suddenly opened in midair directly above my head.
When the aperture closed behind me, I found that I was inside a large room filled with bizarre alien technology, all aglow with a grotesque scarlet and purple effulgence. To my horror, I realised that I had been thrown into the other-dimensional reality of an Impian spaceship!
I stood up and looked around. The strange, alien technology of the Imps covered the walls of the chamber completely up to its lofty ceiling.
Around me hovered several of the Imps themselves. They were not openly hostile, but seemed to be expecting something -- something from me.
“Ah, now I think I am beginning to understand,” I said. “Your ship is indeed damaged; crippled in some way, perhaps by collision with a small radioactive asteroid or something. Forsooth, that is it, eh? You want me to repair it!”
It had suddenly all become clear to me. The Imps of Impian-8, upon arriving on Earth after their long journey through interstellar Space, had found their spaceship disabled and had sought out someone possessed of the knowledge necessary to help them fix the problem. They had encountered the execrable Mr. Mitchell Teitelbaum. His boasts to be gifted with “psychic” powers had made him appear a logical candidate (like most space-faring races, the Imps themselves have a form of mentalist ability), and the Imps had made a deal with him, giving him some of their own extraterrestrial powers in exchange for his services.
Teitelbaum, of course, had seen all of this as a classic Faustian bargain, mistaking the Imps for the legendary demons of the infernal regions. He thus saw the deal that he had entered upon as something to exploit for his own benefit, something he could manipulate for the satiating of his own sick, lustful desires.
(Do you recognise the horror, the obscene abject terror of this situation, my dear readers? I actually do most sincerely hope and pray that you do not, as recognition of the full import of this interstellar insanity could make you spiral into complete and utter madness beyond any possible cure.)
Nevertheless, I still was at a loss to comprehend what had made the Imps become hostile to humanity. Their dealings with Teitelbaum would have given them a bad impression of Earth-folk, no doubt, but this alone could not account for it.
“Could the damage to your ship have something to do with it?” I pondered. “Ah, of course! I think I have it!”
I walked over to one of the consoles. I recognised it as the one controlling the artificial atmosphere of the spaceship’s interior and removed the sonar multi-tool, my highly-advanced mechanical device, from the pocket of my coat.
“The atmosphere of your planet, Impian-8, is similar to that of Earth, but not at all identical. You can survive in the environment here, but if certain elements of your air supply were suppressed when your ship was damaged, it could have induced a temporary effect on your intelligence and psychological wellness…”
I activated the sonar multi-tool to scan the console. “Yes, that is it!” I exclaimed, and began the necessary repairs. …
At that same time, outside the other-dimensional confines if the Impian spaceship, a scene of further outrage was being played out in the office of he now-exposed “psychic medium”. When Mitchell Teitelbaum had propelled Lizzy Martinez across the room, empowered as he was by the abilities that he had acquired from the Imps, she had hit her head against the far wall and had then lapsed into partial unconsciousness.
“No, no…” she moaned nearly sub-vocally. Her own developing Proto-Algolitish powers had been depleted for the time by over-exertion. “Leave me alone…”
For even in her near-swoon the girl understood Teitelbaum’s evil intentions as he stood over her, his debauched face and dark eyes filled with lustful glee along with the energies of the alien Imps.
“I’m going to have you, bitch,” he leered at the helpless lass as he began to undo his trousers, “I’m going to have you right now, whether you like it or not!”
Just then, as the wickedly-lustful Mitchell Teitelbaum stood over the helpless girl, the porthole-like aperture of the other-dimensional Impian spaceship suddenly reopened above and behind him. From it I zoomed forth, immediately grasping the perverse import of the situation and casting a bolt of my powers at Teitelbaum. He reeled and fell to the floor, the powers with which the Imps had gifted him now streaming out of his body to-wards the aperture.
I reached down my hand and helped the lovely Miss Lizzy Martinez to her feet. Aided by her burgeoning powers, along with the remarkably rapid self-healing ability of the very young, she recovered quickly from her faint.
The porthole had now closed, and the high-pitched whining sound of the invisible ship’s engines was increasing in volume.
“Hold on!” said I as I took the girl in my arms. I propelled us both through the near-by window, shattering the glass. Then utilising my powers of levitation, I managed to slow our descent and we landed softly on the city pavement below just as a sound like (yet unlike) a sonic boom occurred, signally that the spaceship had now left Earth.
“Are you all right, Liz?” I enquired. “I had to get you out of there before the ship fully engaged its engines. The feedback of it entering inter-Temporal Space-warp will have destroyed all organic matter in that room!”
“Including that old Teitelbaum creep?” she asked.
“Absolutely,” I assured her, “All that was mortal of Mr. Mitchell Teitelbaum is now annihilated.”
“Well in that case I’m doing great, Doctor!” she announced with a smile. “But what was the problem with those Imp things?”
“As I said, they are usually quite nice. Their ship had become damaged and they were stranded on Earth with an atmosphere somewhat detrimental to their mental health. They just needed someone to help repair their craft so they could return home.”
“So you did that easily, of course.”
“Of course,” I replied. “Such elementary interstellar engine design would have been considered antiquated by my people when the Cosmos was smaller than half its current size.”
I noticed that a small crowd was beginning to gather and I took Lizzy’s hand in order to quietly leave the area.
“So, how far away is the planet of the Imps, anyway?” Lizzy queried as we began to walk away from the location of our latest adventure.
“Precisely 4,106,850,700 Impioods.”
“Their equivalent of light-years, more or less,” I informed her. “To express the same distance in Earth calculations would take several days, and I would rather go have lunch.”
“Sounds great, Doctor!” she exclaimed happily.
“Come along then, Liz. I know an excellent delicatessen near here, and I shall treat you to a ‘cloak and dagger’ sandwich.”
Daniel Rumanos returns in “Beyond This Illusion”.