BURN OUT THE NIGHT

“Never leave an enemy behind, or he will rise and fly at your throat.”
(Shaka Zulu)

Imagine having to deal with a prison-break from Hell, and you will perhaps have some idea what latest assignment was like.

My name is Doctor Daniel Rumanos, Intergalactic Man of Mystery. Even though I have the appearance of an human being, I am in fact much more. I carry within my blood the superior genes of the mysterious Watchers of Algol, the most technologically-advanced species in the known Universe. Whilst most Algolites keep to themselves, merely observing the activities of the lesser species of other worlds, I am an operative of a secret organisation known as the KOSMIKOS, tasked with protecting others from the threats of the cruel warrior races that plague the space-ways. Assigned to the planet Earth, I now defend humankind against all manner of Cosmic horrors. I am the Daemon-Star!

Ages ago, long before life even came into existence upon the planet you call home, the Watchers, before instituting the current policy of total non-interference, established a prison planet known as Zatta for the incarceration of numerous grotesque and distorted forms of life that had appeared during the early formation of matter. These forms, their very existence judged by the Absolute Convention of Algol as being detrimental to the development of rational creatures, were imprisoned upon the dark world presumably forever.

Nevertheless, things have recently changed. Certain forces have of late tampered with the very parameters of the Time/Space Current -- forces that even the Kosmikos have not as yet identified. This led to the horrid beings imprisoned upon Zatta being contacted, per chance, by an human woman known as Carissa Bartley, a self-proclaimed “psychic medium” living in a rural area near the hideously-debased borough of Athens, Pennsylvania. It is from here that the Zatta prisoners burst forth into existence upon planet Earth, immediately tearing Carissa Bartley’s body and soul to shreds and sending her idiotic and morbidly-obese husband Bill (himself a so-called “ghost-hunter”, whose attempts to achieve fame in that particularly-dubious field had only been met with derision from those in-the-know, and whose chance to appear as a regular on a paranormal-themed television programme had been scrapped when the producers grew tired of Bill’s constant paranoid assertions that any critics of the show were “stalking and harassing” him) screaming in terror into the near by hills as fast as his stubby legs could carry him.

Perhaps it was better for the Bartleys anyway. They were about to become technically homeless, not having paid the rent on their trailer-home for months. Carissa’s addiction to prescription drugs (for which she continuously checked herself into the hospital feinting shoulder pain, chest pain, et cetera et cetera et cetera) had eaten up any profits that could be made from her telephone-psychic charlatanry and Bill Bartley’s part-time job as a landscaper. 

From there, the monsters of Zatta were drawn to the environs of Baltimore, Maryland, due to the particular forces of mystery surrounding that bizarrely-storied city.

It is this that led me, that eventful night, to be standing upon Berryman Lane in the Baltimore County area of Reisterstown, facing down two individuals who had become possessed by the Fiip, a particularly nasty non-corporeal race, originally from Protogalaxy 1120, that had been imprisoned upon Zatta for countless aeons.

It was in a partially wooded spot directly across from a sign advertising “Casey’s Automotive”, lit by a slim crescent moon near the horizon, that I faced them. Their names were Greg Serios and Matt Setter.

“Dr. Daniel Rumanos,” snarled Greg Serios, himself a thin man in his fifties, of medium height, his face deeply-lined and his head completely bald, “we are going to take you down, big boy -- and by big boy I mean bitch boy!”

“Why so serious, Serios?” I mocked, clad in my usual silk suit, leathern greatcoat, jungle boots, and panama hat.

“Doom! Doom!” spoke his companion, Matt Setter, a short, obese man of about twenty-eight, with hair the shade of excrement and a scruffy beard. He then let out with a decidedly-idiotic guffaw.

Despite their differences in years and build, both Serios and Setter were wearing the usual outfit of their social class: T-shirts, jeans, and sneakers. Serios’s shirt was printed with the logo of “Fogdog” a small-time heavy-metal rock band for whom he was a sound-technician, whilst Setter’s shirt showed the marihuana leaf to which most of his own worthless life was dedicated.

They were also both surrounded by a strange, dim, unearthly silver glow -- denoting the presence of the hideous Fiip!

“We will kill you, Daniel Rumanos, you frigging paedophile,” continued Serios, mentioning a scandalous and wholly-inaccurate rumour that had been spread recently, mostly via that particularly-mindless internet social media site known as Likebook.

“Actually, I am an heterosexual hebephile,” I jested. “Do your research.”

“Pee-dough! Pee-dough!” muttered Matt Setter. “Doom! Heh heh heh heh heh.”

“I say, are you Irish, Setter?” I queried. “Not that I would ever hound you about your ethnicity or anything.”

“Pee-dough! Pee-dough!” continued Setter, his stupidity unabashed. “Friggin’ Pee-dough! I am Stoner Doom! Four-Twenty! Four-Twenty! Hahaha! Doom doom doom doom doom!”

“You are going down, Daniel Rumanos!” proclaimed Greg Serios. “You are going down, big boy! We’ll only stop when you are dead!”

And with this, the horrid force of the Fiip shot forth from both of them. It was a power that even we Algolites had not had to contend with for many generations, and its strength caught me unawares. I staggered backwards into the woods, the pain of this ancient cosmic evil tearing into my very psyche!

“You are finished. Rumanos!” shouted the Fiip-possessed Serios. “You are finished!”

Then I heard Matt Setter cackle with mirth as I fell to the ground.

Fortunately, my superior Algolitish consistency rallied quickly enough for me to recover before Greg Serios and Matt Setter could generate another blast of Fiip energy. I jumped up and sent a burst of my own bright orange and blue powers in return, focusing it upon Serios, who seemed quite obviously the superior of this pair of possessed malefactors.

There is no effective exorcism for those who have been possessed by the Fiip. The individuals have to be destroyed.

My energies hit Serios squarely and hard, causing him to howl with pain as his human form was torn asunder by the force of my blast. He crumpled to the ground, his life extinguished, as the portion of the Fiip within him were forced back along the Time-stream to their prison upon Zatta.

Upon seeing this, Matt Setter’s dull eyes grew wide with terror as his own innate cowardice temporarily overcame the control of the Fiip. Setter turned and began to run away from me -- in sooth with impressive speed considering his corpulence.

Seeing this, I folded my arms and cocked my head with a knowing grin.

Matt Setter suddenly stopped short in his attempt to flee. He found his way blocked by the slender form of a beautiful young girl clad in a skin-tight purple leotard-type garment. Her hair was blonde, her eyes an enchanting shade of green, and her skin like the pure white of finest porcelain.

“What the actual… ?” stammered Setter, his mouth hanging open in astonishment.

“Burn out the evil;” recited the girl, her voice revealing a Slavic accent, “Burn out the darkness; Burn out the night!”

With this, she then generated a wondrous blast of vermillion-red fire from her body, a strange unnatural flame that desiccated the form of Matt Setter, ending his miserable existence and sending the remaining Fiip back to their proper perdition.

“Excellent work, Katasha,” said I, stepping over the charred remains of Matt Setter as I strolled over to her. “Excellent work indeed.”

“Thank you, Dr. Rumanov,” she replied with a smile.

Miss Katasha Pimenova, age fifteen, was my latest protégée. The result of certain secret and highly-advanced experimentation by a mad scientist working for the SVR, she had been smuggled out of her native Russia by American agents who were working under cover of investigating covert Kremlin influence on the United States Presidential election.

I had first had the case of Katasha Pimenova brought to my attention whilst enjoying cheese pizza with the Clinton family, and it had been thought best that the young girl be placed under my protection and tutelage.

The lovely lass had already proven to be an apt pupil, having aided me in the apprehension of an execrable occult criminal by the name of John John Giles, alias “Ol Soul”. This sickening individual had resided in Deltona, Florida and affected a certain dapper look in his clothing in order to hide his “white trash” origins (though his attempt at a pencil-thin moustache only succeeded in making him look more like John Waters than David Niven). Giles’s own involvement in the illegally-obtained prescription narcotics trade (which he had initiated whilst working as a dental assistant) was believed to be a cover for involvement in Satanism, and my particular investigation involved his possible connections to the shadowy Spectral Paranormal cult. However, John John Giles had committed suicide by using a cyanide capsule before he could be properly questioned.

(Oddly, this type of action had been observed in numerous Spectral Paranormal cultists of late -- including the hideous transvestite Rahnee “RX” Alexandre, who shot himself in his Howard Street apartment after giving a presentation on his sick lifestyle at the Baltimore Book Festival; the horrid child-molesting lesbian Jacq Johnson, local “sex educator” and proprietor of the grotesque pornography-shop known as Honey in that same city’s Hampden neighbourhood, who had intentionally destroyed her internal organs with a particularly-corrosive acid introduced into her vagina via a hollow-out dildo; and the trashy Chucky Dukeheart IV of the terrible heavy-metal band The Secret Serpents, who plunged a Samurai sword into his own heart. Indeed, the strangely disparate group of individuals making up the Spectral Paranormal sect seemed to be rather suddenly addicted to ritual suicide. As to why, I had not yet been able to determine.)

Following our adventure in Florida, Katasha and I had been summoned back to Baltimore in order to deal with this escapees from Zatta case.

“Dr. Rumanov,” said the girl, this being the closest her Russian accent had thus far come in pronouncing my name, “what is that?”

She was referring to a strange odour, something as of brimstone or sulphur, which had suddenly filled the air.

“Remnants of the mephitic atmosphere of the prison planet,” I informed her. “It permeates all organic matter that has been there. We would not have noticed it on the non-corporeal Fiip, or their Earthling hosts. Something else is here, and near by. Something else that has escaped from Zatta.”

As if one cue, something burst forth from the cover of the trees; something big; something horrid. It was more than twice the height of a man, with two claw-like limbs and five heads like grotesque birds. It let forth with an ungodly screeching sound as it rushed to-wards us.

I recognised the horror from some of the darkest legends of my own home-world:

“The Khudras.”

This thing, the Khudras, as with many of the grotesque and distorted forms that populated the Universe in its earliest stages of its formation, has echoed down through the ages in the mythology and legends of many cultures throughout the Cosmos. I daresay, my friends, that you may recognise some similar terror from the lore of your own ancestors.

The monstrosity barrelled to-wards us at an absolutely-fantastic speed. Just before it could reach us, I cast a bolt of my Algolitish powers at it. The bolt hit one of its throats, severing an hideous head that immediately vanished.

Nevertheless, any thought that the Khudras would be thus easy to vanquish was soon enough squelched. For, in place of the missing head were quickly grown up two equally-sized heads to replace it!

I severed another of its heads and the same thing happened. I then attempted destroying two of them at once and only ended up with the creature immediately growing four more. The horrendous monster now was resplendent with a total of nine heads!

Do you realise the absolute abject horror, indeed the most extreme and unholy terror of this situation, dear readers?

Then I had an idea.

“Katasha!” I called to the girl. “Use your flame on its necks when I sever an head! Understand?”

Now, the English-language skills of young Katasha Pimenova were at this time still less than perfect, but she soon enough caught the implications of what I was suggesting.

“Da, Dr. Rumanov!” answered the beautiful Russian girl.

And so, whenever I would lop off one of the heads of the Khudras with my energies, she would immediately cauterise the wound with her flashing vermillion-coloured flame. 

“A ‘red scare’ indeed,” said I.

Eventually the monster, headless and defeated, fell dead, its horrible remains then vanishing into the void.

But then, before we could even have a moment’s respite from the escaped horrors of the prison planet, another monster approached us. Its footsteps shook the ground and it made a sound as of grunting defiant mockery. The same sulphuric odour filled the air as it neared us.

It was shaped like an hugely muscled man, nude and hirsute, and fully as tall as an house. His ugly face was as a distorted parody of any human countenance.

“What is that, Dr. Rumanov?” enquired Katasha.

“That, my young friend, is one of the most feared and dangerous beings of the early Galactic Wars.” I informed her. “He was the Warlord of the Dark Spirals. His name is Ghlyt.”

As the terrible giant approached us, I sent a large burst of my Algolitish powers directly at his chest area. Shockingly, this seemed to have no effect whatsoever on the fearsome Ghlyt!

Katasha Pimenova, perhaps overly-emboldened by our recent success in vanquishing the Khudras, rose lithely upwards into the air by utilising her fantastic red flame as a propellant.

“Katasha! No!” I cried.

Nevertheless, it was too late for my warning to be of any help to the girl. The monstrous Ghlyt raised one of his huge hands and, with a noise like a mirthless guffaw, he simply swatted the poor wee lass as a normal man would an insect. I saw her slight figure hurtle through the air, helplessly impelled to crash into the near by bushes!

I could see that, in the unnumbered aeons that Ghlyt had been imprisoned upon Zatta, he had lost his intelligence. The thing was now just a mindless horror.

I was worried for Katasha’s safety, but none the less managed to concentrate on defeating the giant. I cast a powerful bolt of my Algolitish energies directly at the centre of his forehead, remembering this to have been accounted his weak-point according to the ancient chronicles of the Watchers.

My bolt made contact and left an indentation in the horrid monstrosity’s forehead. Ghlyt shuddered and wavered and then fell to the ground with a thunderous thud, his body then vanishing into the void back to the prison world.

I ran to see if the girl was injured. To my relief, I found that her powers had prevented any damage, and only had to help her to her feet amidst the brush of that Baltimore County roadside.

“Is that all of the monsters, Dr. Rumanov?” she enquired.

“So it appears,” I replied. “Odd, though. The dossier from the Kosmikos said there were four escapees from Zatta. Perhaps the mass of Fiip were counted as two. I thought they had just divided into two convenient human hosts.”

With this reasoning, I dismissed the topic and turned my thoughts to other things.

“You know what, Katasha?” I went on. “This kind of violent exercise always makes me hungry. Would you care to join me for some cheese pizza?”

“Da, Dr. Rumanov,” said the Slavic beauty with a smile. “Hot and ready!” …

On that same eldritch night, the figure of a man enshrouded in a black, hooded vestment-robe walked into The Depot Tavern. This Baltimore dive-bar is so named due to its close proximity to the city’s main train station, but this man had not come to town by train.

The bartender could not help rolling his eyes as the strange figure entered the establishment. The dark stranger had stopped briefly and chuckled wickedly at a recruiting poster for Spectral Paranormal that hung on the tavern wall, at the top of the small flight of stairs leading to the bar area.

“Another damn weirdo,” muttered the bartender to himself. He had gotten irksomely used to such people since the dive had started hosting its weekly “Baltimore Batz” goth nights. However, this was not one of those nights.

As the stranger approached the bar, the bartender noticed an odd odour that seemed to be emanating from him. Was it… sulphur?

“What can I get you, sir?” enquired the bartender, hiding his disgust.

“Whiskey, my good man,” returned the other. “Make it a double, and keep them coming. Add a beer chaser.”

“You want to pay up front, or run a tab?” asked the bartender after fixing the drinks.

“A tab, my boy, a tab,” replied the man, his voice somewhat bemused as if by the thought that anyone would actually expect him to pay for a drink.

The bartender fetched a pad of sticky-notes and a ballpoint pen from under the bar.

“Name?”

With this, the dark stranger pulled down his cowl, thus revealing his face as he raised his glass and downed the whiskey. It was the countenance of what appeared to be a man of middle years, his dark hair streaked with grey, and his features decorated by a moustache and goatee. He had once been quite handsome, and his face still had marks of distinction, though now somewhat saggy and bloated -- forsooth the results of an existence of profligate wickedness beyond imagining.

“My name’s Wingo,” he said, his eyes glinting with a look of absolute and unspeakably diabolical evil. “Don Wingo.”

[To be continued this Halloween in the next _Weird Adventures_: “Writing’s On The Wall”! For other appearances of the villainous Don Wingo, see “Beyond This Illusion”, “Teenage Dream”, and “Girls On Film”!]