THE ADVENTURES OF DAEMON-STAR by Daniel Rumanos

VENUSBALL


***** A TRUE WEIRD ADVENTURES Espionage Thriller!!! *****

“There is indeed an alluring thread of mystery running through the silky lace lingerie of existence. My mission is to expertly isolate and unravel it in order to completely expose that which lies beneath.”
(Unknown)

I must begin by confessing that I absolutely despised the thought of being anywhere near this bloody “Psychic Fair”. That such events exist in the Twenty-First Century, still catering to the superstitions found in only the lowest form of peasant, is bad enough. That it was being held in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, made it even worse, as that particular town tends to appeal to blooming idiotic enthusiasts of the American Civil War, which tend to be hideously lowbred “redneck” types. Of course, they all wish the Confederates had won, and tend to fantasise about having a collection of Negro slave-girls to sexually molest on a nightly basis. Revolting individuals, indeed.

However, the worse result of this Psychic Fair malarkey is the fact that a few of its participants have actually managed to contact something -- not something “spiritual”, as they ignorantly assert (either as abject con-artists or as actual believers), but rather those bizarre extraterrestrial beings that exist on the hidden edges of Time and Space, waiting for their chance to invade, conquer, and to indeed enslave the human race.

Such was the case with the execrable individual I was currently facing. His name was Teddy A. Roberts, originally from the small town of Emmitsburg, Maryland, and he was wearing a ludicrous “Musketeer” costume upon his morbidly-obese frame. He had been booked at the fair as a strolling entertainer, but had suddenly announced his intention of using the event as a springboard for his conquest of planet Earth. 

“I am the Solar Swashbuckler,” he abruptly proclaimed in a loud voice that echoed across the fairgrounds, “and you all will kneel down before me!”

With his announcement, a sudden discharge of uncomfortably bright light unexpectedly shone forth from Teddy Roberts, forsooth catching the attention of the crowd.

“I am the reincarnation of Donarree the Musketeer,” he continued, this being some Seventeenth Century individual who had been suspected of witchcraft, “and I bring you the true religion!”

It was then that I revealed my own presence at this ridiculous event, having until that moment appeared as merely an attendee, idly browsing the various displays on that sunny day, dressed in my usual silk suit, jungle-boots, leathern greatcoat, dark spectacles, and safari hat.

“Halt thee, Donna Rae,” said I. “You will cease with this unseemly display immediately. I am Daniel Rumanos of Algol, and I declare you to now be under arrest by orders of the Kosmikos!”

“No, Algolian!” he retorted in a decidedly mocking tone. “The Solarians have warned me of your interference! I deal in family-style entertainment! We know of you, you would-be heroic Hebephile and legendary arcane Casanova! I am their Solar Swashbuckler, and you will not go on living without our permission!”

So, the intelligence we had received was correct. This Roberts individual had in sooth contacted a rebellious faction of the Solarian race. The Solarians are a species of semi-corporeal beings that normally live upon the surface of the Sun. For the most part, they are peaceful and of a quite tranquil temper. Nevertheless, there are occasional uprisings among them of groups of individuals who wish to come forth from their proper Solar abode and expand across the planets. Apparently, they had perceived Teddy A. Roberts to be an easily-influenced disciple, and were using him in order to declare their horrid intentions to invade Earth.

“You will surrender immediately, Sun-worshipper” I responded calmly. “You will place yourself in my custody and the Solarian influence shall be removed from you, otherwise I am authorised to immediately assassinate you.”

No no no NOOOOOOO, Daniel Rumanos!” screamed the Solarian-possessed Teddy Roberts. “You will now feel the mighty power of the new masters of this world!!”

And with this, Roberts suddenly sent forth an horridly concentrated burst of burning Solarian energy that hit me directly with a tremendous and intense heat, sending me careening out of control across the fairgrounds!!

In my headline flight I crashed through several stands advertising fake psychic mediums, various badly-printed books by self-published “authors”, and even some nonsense entitled “Gettysburg Ghost Gadgets”, a proprietor that furnished pseudo-scientific devices to the intellectually-challenged “paranormal investigator” types. Blooming imbeciles, the whole bloody lot of them. I also knocked over a refreshment stand labelled “Ye Olde Myst Coffee Room”, which was run by a trashy chav woman from Sheepstown, West Virginia, who attempted to make herself appear more “exotic” by donning ridiculous fancy dress and by inexplicably claiming to be a “Gypsy“. Bitch.

Nevertheless, I soon enough recovered my self-control and quickly turned back to once again stand face-to-face with the execrable Teddy A. Roberts, AKA the self-proclaimed “Donarree, the Solar Swashbuckler”.

“All right then, Dungaree the Muscatel,” I proclaimed to him. “That does it!”

And with this, I then cast forth a powerful wave of my own orange and blue-black Algolitish energies directly at the Solarian-possessed criminal. My force surrounded him as a shimmering sphere, fully trapping the extraterrestrial energies of the Solarian entities inside it along with his comparatively frail human form.

Having nowhere else to which they could escape in their elemental need to shed Solar heat, the flaming-yellow entities then proceeded to turn on each other -- and in sooth upon Teddy Roberts! He screamed and shrieked in extreme abject agony as his body was burned into a crispy husk, then reduced to mere cinders. Soon all that remained of the self-proclaimed “family-style swashbuckler” was but tiny pile of blackened ashes.

I released the power of my energy barrier and so set free the essences of the Solarians. No longer having the now-deceased Roberts as their host, they would immediately return to their appropriate place upon the Sun.

“Remember, everyone,” I expostulated in announcement to the surrounding spectators, who by now stood about quite gaped-mouthed in wonder, “exposure to sunlight causes damage to and premature ageing of the skin.”

Then, with another show of my own alien powers (knowing that any report of this incident reaching the local authorities would be dismissed as just another delusion of the moronic “occult” enthusiasts), I teleported out of the area. …

My name is indeed RUMANOS -- DR. DANIEL RUMANOS, 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 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 “magic” or “supernatural” to the people of planet Earth.

The vast majority of Algolites, being as they are indeed 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 that is 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 in many varied amazing and incredible adventures upon Earth and indeed throughout all the unknowable vastness of the Cosmos!!

My battle with the sickening individual known to infamy as Teddy A. Roberts and his Solarian Masters was but a minor skirmish indeed in comparison to a truly incredible experience in which I was soon after this involved, an amazingly bizarre adventure that led to me travelling to another world in the -- VENUSBALL!

It all started at teatime. My incomparably beautiful and eternally youthful wife, Katrina, and I were pleased to be hosting a quite distinguished guest that day at Rumanos Castle, this being our home located atop a lofty escarpment to the north of the city of Baltimore, Maryland.

Our guest was my old friend Sir Roger Westmore, the renowned and eminent Oxford sociologist.

“I say, Westmore,” said I as I poured him a cup of our highly-caffeinated Scottish-brew tea, “Capital to see you! So how is the lecture tour going?”

“Quite well, Rumanos old chap,” he answered. “I was rather pleased to see you both in attendance at my presentation at Hopkins last evening.”

“Absolutely, my good man. We most certainly would not miss it for worlds. I must say, however, you quite went over those students’ heads when you so skilfully and admirably defended the role of traditional heterosexuality in society.”

“Indeed, indeed,” returned Sir Roger with an obvious mixture of amusement and annoyance at the stupidity he had perceived to be present in even some supposedly well-educated human beings. “Good heavens, I believe that I even heard some of them begin to mumble something about ‘rape culture’ and other such foolishness.”

“I heard them,” added Katrina. “They say that about any fellow who behaves like a real man these days. You should be proud!”

“Thank you so very kindly, Lady Rumanos,” stated Sir Roger with a very proper and courtly bow of the head. “I have indeed noticed that you never see truly strong and attractive women believing in such things.”

Sir Roger Westmore, elegantly clad in his suit and tie, was indeed a true gentleman of the old school.  He was a lifelong bachelor, having dedicated his life to scholarly pursuits (along with the occasional cricket match). Now fifty, but as strong and active as a man half his age, he was tall and well-built, his dark hair only slightly greying at the temples.

“I must say, Rumanos, my old friend,” he continued, “it is actually quite nice to finally have the chance to see your wonderful home. I have indeed heard so much of your unusual adventures over the last several years.”

“Indeed,” I replied. “Quite a few of our exploits have now appeared before the public, though they are largely dismissed as fictional. In sooth, those who believe in the so-called ‘paranormal‘ are as a rule far too illiterate in order to even begin to understand the accounts, and the vast majority of others simply assume them to be merely works of fantasy.”

“I say, what incredible experiences you have had! Even voyaging, as part of your ongoing missions, into that last frontier of Outer Space! Exploring weird, previously-unknown worlds, meeting alien life-forms and extraterrestrial civilisations…” 

“If you gentlemen will excuse me for a minute…” said Katrina.

Sir Roger and I stood up as my wife left the room. She was going, I knew, to get the special treat she had insisted on herself preparing for tea that day.

As soon as Kat exited the area, as if it had in some way waited for this, a very unusual thing happened. Sir Roger Westmore and I were suddenly surrounded by a spherical ball of white energy, and I heard the unmistakable electronic sounds of it slipping, along with us, into the inter-dimensional vortex of Time/Space-Warp!

“I say, Rumanos,” exclaimed Sir Roger, “would you be so kind as to inform me as to what exactly is happening here?”

I must admit that I was quite impressed at his calmness at the matter. Verily, I am certain that most Earthlings of his time would well-nigh beshit themselves in any such situation.

“It is definitely some kind of space vehicle, Westmore,” I responded. “Wait a moment…”

I concentrated on the Chrono-Band, the ring I wear that is actually a piece of highly-advanced Algolite technology. As I suspected it would, it was partially responding to the motion of the sphere in which we had been abducted.

“According to this,” I continued, “our trajectory is towards a location that lies approximately forty million kilometres from planet Earth. I say, old chap, I say! This means of transport is in actuality none other than a rocket to Venus!”

“Good heavens, old man,” said Westmore. “But who would take us in such a manner -- and why?”

“I must admit I do not as yet know. It is not a type of Venusian technology from any of their known eras. We are indeed moving extraordinarily far through the Time-Stream as well, but the interface is, due to blockage from some type of energy field, not allowing me to see how far -- or indeed even in which direction! We could be going to the planet Venus in the days of its most incredibly-ancient prehistory, or perhaps to some distant age in its incalculably distant future!”

Then, the white “Venusball” began to slow down, and we soon materialised, at which the space sphere vanished from around us.

We found ourselves in a tunnel with rounded walls. It was of obvious artificial construction, and lighted by a hidden technological source. The air, which was breathable and Earth-like, contained a definite scent as of enticingly sweet perfume.

“I say, Rumanos,” my companion stated in enquiry, “are we actually on the planet Venus?”

(For sooth, I thought of saying something along the lines of “What else would it be then, a bloody pub or a dry cleaning shop?” but I decided to be polite to the intelligent -- yet quite understandably amazed at this juncture -- gentleman who was my dear old friend Sir Roger Westmore.)

“Quite right, Westmore,” I then replied. “Nevertheless, I still have no idea at all in what time, or indeed for what purpose we could have been transported here. The technology involved is not really like anything in the known history of the Solar System. Let us probe further into this mystery, shall we?”

We walked cautiously down the hallway of the antechamber-like corridor. The door at the far end of it slid open automatically as we approached.

We continued through and immediately beheld a wonder indeed. We had now entered a lofty chamber, elegantly lit and furnished with numerous couches and pillows, in sooth looking quite like a mediaeval Eastern seraglio. Lounging wistfully upon these cushions we observed a bevy of breathtakingly gorgeous young girls, all of them quite slender and blonde, their totally-nude skin of a dazzling whiteness and their eyes like shining sapphires.

Phwoar!” exclaimed Sir Roger, momentarily losing his usual sense of genteel decorum -- something that I could find perfectly understandable under the circumstances.

It was then that a long, erect shaft suddenly rose up from the floor. I could immediately perceive from its construction that it was a piece of alien computer equipment.

“Greetings to you,” came forth a pleasant but electronic voice from the metallic column. “Welcome to the world that you call by the name of Venus. You have been brought here as by what remains of our technology in order that we may request your assistance in a very important matter.”

“Salutations, Voice of Venus,” I rejoined. “I am Dr. Daniel Rumanos of the Daemonian Kosmikos. This is my friend, Sir Roger Westmore, Knight of the British Empire. How may we be of assistance to you?”

“Some years ago,” the computerised intonation continued, “the last of the males of our race were destroyed during a war with Mercurians. Our enemies were defeated -- and we are now protected from all further incursions by our energy barriers -- but sadly not before our own society and people were so shattered. There remain seventy-two females of our kind, as you can here see. You have been brought here that we may request your assistance in fathering a new race of the Venusian people. All of our females our quite youthful, of absolute virginal purity, and fertile or soon will be. The perfection of their lineage, along with your own origins from elsewhere -- though of genetic quality close to our own -- will nullify any possible harmful effect of the coming race having to resort to a certain degree of inner-procreation. We have an unlimited supply of food and other necessities, all that will be needed for the rebuilding of Venusian civilisation, and we believe that you will find your life upon our world to be a pleasant one.”

“Oh, that I can believe,” I said in earnest, whilst glancing at the roomful of temptingly teenage beauties. “Nevertheless, I am happily married, so it would not be quite appropriate. Besides, my being an Algolite could indeed lead to certain complications.”

“Your reasoning is noted,” said the electronic voice. “But what of you?” it went on, now addressing Sir Roger.

“I say!” he somewhat stammered. “Yes… yes, I will accept this challenge!”

“Now, Westmore,” I whispered as an aside to him. “I am sure you are up to this task, but consider. I can return to my own time and place, and shall inform Oxford that I will be completing the lecture tour in your stead, but I still have no way of determining in what era of Venusian history we actually are. Understand that if you do this it is rather likely I will never be able to return for you.”

“I comprehend, old chap,” he retorted whilst we shook hands in farewell, though I could tell his thoughts were more on the group of luscious adolescent lovelies. “But I cannot ignore such a delightfully challenge, eh? After all, I am an Englishman!”

Thus leaving the redoubtable Sir Roger Westmore upon Venus to do his duty with the seventy-two beautiful girls, I utilised the Chrono-Band to return to Earth by following the residue of the passage of the Venusball, and soon found myself back at tea in Rumanos Castle.

I knew that I would have to prepare a report to Kosmikos headquarters concerning this experience. Even though the results were positive, the ability of any alien technology to override the Chrono-Band could serve as a warning of possible flaws in the system -- flaws that our adversaries might possibly exploit as an inroad to a potentially-serious security breach.

Whilst I was still pondering these matters, my wife returned with a large plate of obviously-delicious cranberry scones.

“What happened to Sir Roger?” she enquired. “I’d hoped he would stay to try these with tea.”

“My love,” I replied, “it appears that Sir Roger Westmore will henceforth be getting his sweets elsewhere. Let us just say that he has finally been able to fulfil his long-time dream of penetrating the depths of Space.”

“Is he going boldly where no man has gone before?”

“Indeed,” said I whilst helping myself to a scone, “that would be exactly what he is doing.”

DANIEL RUMANOS SHALL RETURN IN “DR. NEPTUNE

LIVE AND LET MARS


The notices had been appearing on bulletin boards throughout north Baltimore for several weeks. “Baladi the Magician,” they announced, “Master of Wizardry and Illusion”.

Being that I am known as DR. DANIEL RUMANOS, Conjurer Extraordinaire, Supernatural Detective, and all of that, and am the Master Magician of the Baltimore/Washington, DC area (as well as elsewhere), it most certainly needs no other. Therefore, I perceived that it behoved me to investigate this “Baladi” character forthwith.

Through my contacts in the “occult” underground network, I soon managed to put together quite a dossier on this individual. His full name was Marc Baladi, and his interest in the magical arts extended beyond stage illusions into the realms of the blackest of sorceries. He at one time had been a member of Ron Mershon’s Order of the Shaitans and Paul H. Gilmour’s Church of the Satanic Elite. Both of those hideous organisations are now defunct, their leaders long dead, but Baladi had continued his devotion to Satanism secretly, using his show-business magic act as a front. He had rented a dilapidated old building in the Medfield neighbourhood that had once been the home of St. Martha’s Church and, after performing several acts of ungodly desecration in order to de-consecrate it, had begun using it as a theatre, which he named “The Illumatorium”. It was in this location that Baladi now presented his monthly “Family Magic Nights”, presenting rather hackneyed old tricks to an audience made up primarily of locals.

One of these nights had included a performance of Baladi’s version of a venerable, classic magic routine known as The Miser’s Dream. This trick, which consists of the performer appearing to pull showers of coins out of thin air, was perverted by this execrable miscreant into an excuse to fondle an innocent young girl whom he had chosen from the audience to “assist” him. This was facilitated by his pretending to conjure forth the coins from her various bodily orifices.

Indeed, the revolting sexual depravity of Marc Baladi seemed to know absolutely no bounds, and my sources started to indicate that he was gathering his lustful energies in order to use them on the upcoming Halloween in order to call forth and make an infernal deal with some “satanical beast“.

It was obviously that this repugnant, unholy, and undeniably wicked excuse for a human being had to be stopped!

Accordingly, my beautiful wife Katrina and I decided to attend the infamous Baladi’s All Hallows’ Eve show and do whatever was necessary to bring to a proper end his unspeakably horrid activities. We arrived at the theatre shortly before show-time, using a spell of psychic glamour in order to slightly disguise our identities -- so that Baladi, who was undoubtedly familiar with our fame in the areas of both prestidigitation and “paranormal research“, would not immediately recognise us.

We took our seats quietly and waited for the performance to begin. With little fanfare, Baladi, a grey-haired man of medium build, but with a strong, diabolically assured manner, took the stage.

“Ladies and gentlemen,” he declared, “I am Baladi the Magnificent Magician, and tonight I will bring you the wonder of the age! Tonight, my friends, I will call forth the Master of Desire, the Devil of Lust… Our Lord ASMODEUS!”

Well, Hell! I had seriously hoped that we had heard the last of that alien fiend hight Asmodeus, the Destroyer Demon. My previous battles with him and his evil worshippers had been indeed fraught with danger beyond any sane imagining.

Baladi had already ignited six black candles upon the stage, and had commenced the evocation of the hideous demoniacal being that he intended to summon. I whispered to my wife to do what she could to get the audience, consisting mostly of little children, away from the theatre as quickly as possible. As soon as she began to do this, I bounded up onto the stage and made myself known to the appalling and deplorable Baladi.

“I am RUMANOS THE CONJURER,” proclaimed I, “and you, Baladi, are an embarrassment and a disgrace to our profession!”

“You are too late, Rumanos!” countered the terribly criminal occultist. “Behold! The mighty Asmodeus comes forth and shall bring lustful chaos upon this world -- and I, Marc Baladi, shall rule with him as his new High Priest and Supreme Magus!!”

Indeed, behind this sickening individual the shadowy form of the demon was beginning to manifest -- it was as a phantasmal pool of deepest blackness gruesomely highlighted by the baleful crimson glow of six hideous eyes!

However, I had a rather holy trick up my sleeve -- an entreaty to a wondrous being feared by all devils, a sacred being, one amongst those who are known as the Aeturnusinas or “Angels”.

“Holy Michael the Archangel,” I invoked, “defend us in battle against the wickedness and snares of the Devil. May the Almighty rebuke him, we humbly pray. And do thou, O Prince of the Heavenly Host, by the Divine Power of the Almighty, cast into Hell Asmodeus, and all the evil spirits that roam throughout the world seeking the ruin of souls! Amen!!!”

After I had completed the “exorcism prayer“, I heard the demonic entity howl in disdain, and -- horror of horrors -- I saw it reach forth one hideous black claw and grasp its would be “high priest”, its demented worshipper, Baladi, who screamed in complete and total abject terror as the demon dragged him with it to the darkest depths of that which humans term PERDITION!!

After the horror had vanished and I had said additional incantations to seal the area, I left the theatre -- now once again sanctified to be used as a place of worship of the True GOD -- and searched in order to find out what place of safety to whence Katrina had taken the erstwhile audience. I found them at a nearby ice cream parlour, enjoying some sweet treats Kat had purchase for them all, whilst entertaining each other by trading stories they had heard of our past exploits.

As my wonderful wife happily hugged me and I assured her that all was well, the children raised their voices and declared joyously to both of us:

“Hooray! Hooray for RUMANOS!” …

*****

My name is indeed RUMANOS -- DR. DANIEL RUMANOS, 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 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 “magic” or “supernatural” 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 in many varied amazing and incredible adventures upon Earth and indeed throughout all the unknowable vastness of the Universe!!

My skirmish with the execrable “magician” named Marc Baladi was but a minor affair compared to an experience in which I was soon after involved, a bizarre adventure in which I encountered an invasion before breakfast -- forsooth, an invasion from MARS! …

When I woke up that morning, I could have sworn it was judgment day. The sky was all purple, and there were people running everywhere. Then I realised that I was having a vision.

The Kosmikos had directly transmitted this mental picture into my brain. It was a vision of what could happen if I did not halt the invasion -- an invasion that actually took place in the year 1938. It was to that year that I was immediately transported by the Algolitish powers of Time Travel.

I found myself, of all places, in the middle of a cornfield close by what I later ascertained to be the small town of Orsonville, Illinois. It was early morning on a decidedly overcast day, and I was clad in my usual dark silk suit, jungle-boots, leathern overcoat, and safari hat. 

Running towards me across the field was a slightly-built human figure. As the figure approached I perceived it was a very young, attractive girl clad in a simple pink dress. She was slender and of medium height, with shoulder-length blonde hair and blue eyes.

“Help me, please!” she shouted. “Don’t let those awful things get me!”

“My name is Doctor Rumanos,“ said I, easily intercepting the young maiden, who was quite out of breath from her fleeing. “I am here to help.”

“I’m Susan Wells,” the girl replied in haste, tears running profusely down her pretty face. “Those things! They came out of the hole in the ground made by that ‘shooting star’ we saw last night from the house. They killed my father! They killed Daddy! They just shot a weird light at him and he fell down dead!”

I took her hand gently in order to reassure her.

“It will be all right,” I announced hopefully. “I know it is difficult for you, but please, I need to know what these ‘things’ are. Tell me all you can.”

“They are huge!” Susan cried. “Like machines, I guess. They shoot those lights, those deadly lights! They aren‘t from this world, are they? Oh no! Oh my goodness!!”

“They will be stopped, Miss Wells. I promise you that. I know this may be difficult for you to believe, but I have actually had quite a lot of experience with this sort of thing. Now, please tell me -- where are these machine things now?”

“They…” she stammered. “Oh my, they’re right behind me!”

She pointed towards the horizon in the direction from whence she had fled. I raised my eyes and looked and beheld the horror from which the poor lass had run screaming in mortal terror; the horror that had murdered her father. For approaching at that very moment were five machines, each nearly thirty feet in height. Their tops were like oval discs, and they moved with a bizarre motion of the six long mechanical legs that sprouted from the bottom of each. There movement was accompanied by a grotesque clicking and buzzing sound that increased in volume as the machines approached.

I recognised what they were. They were Martian Death Walkers, battle machines of the most fiercely warlike species in the Solar System, those hideous insectoid beings of the Red Planet.

Suddenly, the buzzing sound coalesced into speech; automatically transmitted from the alien language of the invaders into English. The speech seemed to ooze across the landscape like an obscene emission as it announced its ultimatum:

“Inhabitants of this planet, you will not resist. We have come to rule your world and all its creatures. You shall be our slaves. Any attempt at opposition will bring about the end of your existence. Your choice is this: Die if you try to withstand us or live and LET MARS RULE!!!”

Now, I knew that the ancient insect races of Mars, their ruling class being the military elite, had been expanding to other worlds for quite some time. There own planet was dying, and the Martian way of thinking saw forced colonisation of other races as a birthright of their species.

Earth, though their own neighbouring planet, had been so far largely ignored. It appears the Martians just did not consider humankind to be useful -- even as a slave-race. However, the particular technological advances that the Martians observed Earthlings beginning to achieve during the early Twentieth Century changed this. Human developments leading towards the atomic bomb, computer technology, and like matters were seen as possible future threats. This is why the invasion force had been sent, there in that year 1938.

“All inhabitants of Earth,” continued the voice issuing forth from the hideous alien war machine, “will be connected to our network. You cannot and will not resist. This is the day of Mars. The history of your planet is finished. You exist now only to serve us.” 

Indeed, the Martian “network” is a computerised system of technologically interconnected thought that serves as an expansion of their own insectoid hive-mind. I perceived that what they were planning to set up was a type of planet-wide “web” that would assure no defiance, connecting humanity itself on their “line“ of thought. Any of the very few humans whose minds would be able to resist the network’s thought-control would be simply exterminated.

The Martians had, as I had seen in the past, used such technology in many applications, even beyond military conquest. One particularly horrid instance is its use as an expansion of their own pheromones, making the revolting insects of Mars appear sexually attractive to beings that otherwise would find the thought of intimate relations with a monstrous, six-legged, segmented creature a thing of absolute abject horror. Incredibly, in some parts of the Galaxy, Martian prostitutes were due to this sought after as the ultimate sexual experience!

Then a sudden horrifying thought occurred to me.

“Miss Wells,” I said to the poor girl, “how far are we from Chicago?”

“It’s only about five miles north of here,” she answered between her continued sobs of fear as she stood clutching my right arm for protection.

So, the Martian invasion force was indeed marching directly towards a major city -- a centre of human population from whence they could begin their horrid enslavement of the entire human race! I realised that I only had a short time to prevent them.

“Representatives of the ruling class of Mars,” I said whilst staring coldly at the closest of the five hideous war machines. “I am Rumanos of Algol, and this world is under my protection. There shall be no invasion. You will leave this planet in peace and return to your own immediately.” 

With this, the war machine sprang to life, suddenly unleashing a blast of its eldritch purple death-ray directed at Susan Wells and myself. I quickly generated a brief protective shield of my own orange and blue-black Algolitish power, but even so barely managed to deflect the deadly Martian blast safely away from us.

The other four machines had by now moved around and surrounded us. The girl and I were hemmed in on all sides. I heard Susan scream in absolute mortal terror as a porthole opened on the side of the leader of the five gigantic machines directly in front of us. Creeping forth from this doorway was a copper-coloured insectoid Martian (similar in form to the dermaptera type), the size of a very tall man, long and thinly segmented, the motion of its six legs grotesque beyond imagining.

Whilst making its horrid buzzing sound, the creature crawled around the exterior of the machine and then hopped to the earth before us. It turned the two largest of its four insect eyes (the two in the front of its head) directly towards us as its disgusting antennae swept around in constant hideous motion.

Susan Wells screamed again and then swooned into a merciful faint as I stood face-to-face with the repulsive Martian!!

It was then that a most curiously bizarre incident occurred. The hideous Martian insect just suddenly collapsed in front of me and split open, an horridly revolting discharge of repugnant yellow-green mucous bursting forth from it. The terrible thing twitched convulsively several times, and was then motionless in its final decease.

“What!” I cried in astonishment as the five war machines then fell crashing to the ground, with the creatures controlling them all now dead. The Martian machinery now lay in large ruined heaps across the field.

The poor wee lass had by now recovered somewhat from her swoon, and I then carefully helped her to her feet.

“It is all right, Miss Wells,” I assured her. “They are all dead! The invaders from Mars are dead! The invasion is over!”

“But… what happened?” she enquired.

“I am not certain what killed them, but I think… of course! Tell me please, Miss Wells, have you felt sick at all recently?”

“Well, yes, I have had a little cold. It’s just the thing that was going around town. Just a head-cold. Daddy had it too, before he…” her voice then suddenly trailing off in sadness at the memory of the fate of her unfortunate father.

“That is it then!” I stated.

“What do you mean? I don’t understand.”

The common cold! It is unknown on Mars, and so the Martians had no resistance to it at all! Simple rhinovirus that humans can get over in a matter of days! They must have detected it when your father approached their landing site and thought it was a form of biological warfare! I am so sorry Miss Wells -- Susan -- but at least you can now know that you and he are responsible for saving Earth from the threat of Martian tyranny!!”

Before leaving 1938 Illinois, I made certain Susan Wells would be taken care of. She was an orphan (her mother having died in childbirth) and had no siblings. However, her aunt resided in near by Chicago, and was married to the publisher of some highly successful “scientific fiction” pulp magazine. Susan went to live with her aunt and uncle. (After returning to my own time, I looked up what had happened to her and found that she had lived a long and happy life, herself marrying a college professor and eventually becoming a mother and grandmother.)

Local rumours of the alien invasion (caused for the most part by individuals who had spotted the war machines from the small town of Orsonville, less than a mile distant) were covered up by government claims, duly backed up by the news media,  that it was only hysteria caused by the misunderstanding of some dramatic radio broadcast.

That parts of the machinery may have been salvaged by someone upon Earth is hinted at by the uncanny similarity of later “internet” technology to the Martian insect hive-mind. Reverse engineering, perhaps.  Not the most comforting of thoughts that, is it?

As for myself, Dr. Daniel Rumanos, the Kosmikos returned me to the exact time and place from which I had started, and I found myself again undressed and in my own bed. It was early morning, and I could tell from the pleasant aroma that my wonderful wife, Katrina, was already up and busy preparing that always-excellent Full Scottish Breakfast she had promised me the night before.

DANIEL RUMANOS SHALL RETURN

SPECTRAL


The Memphian darkness of the secret chamber in the lofty cavern beneath Rumanos Castle was broken only by the light of my ancient oil lamp and of seven candles as I stood in the centre of the “Magic Circle” far below the northwest quarter of the city of Baltimore, Maryland. The “demonic spirit” that I had conjured appeared as a blacker-than-black shadowy shape with glowing crimson eyes in the Triangle of Manifestation before me. 

I am Dr. Daniel Rumanos, one of the legendary Watchers of the Daemon-Star ALGOL. I possess numerous powers and abilities that appear as “Magic” to Earthlings.

“Master!” bellowed the spirit. “I am here! I arrive at your summoning! What is your will?!” 

I had only recently received a psychic premonition of a coming threat -- a veritable maelstrom of horror that threatened to engulf all -- but I, to my very great annoyance, had to admit that I could just not get a clear idea of what it was. 

“You know why I have called you, Servitor,” I imperiously told the demon. “Tell me, then: What is coming?” 

“It is evil beyond evil, Master!” replied the dark one. “A darkness that is rising to destroy this world and the race ruling it! But it is not of our doing, Master Rumanos! I do swear most solemnly by the most-mighty Thrones of the Luciferian Empire we know not of it!” 

The demon’s manner puzzled me deeply. “What could this new horror be, then,” I mused aloud, “that even the Servitors of Astaroth and Beelzebub fear it?” 

“We fear not, Master!” screamed the demon. “It is simply that we have only heard fragments of what to expect from the coming doom!” 

“You shall inform me of all you know right now, Servitor. I command you in the names of ADONAY and of BABYLON, and by the Most Holy TETRAGRAMMATON!!” 

“We know that in the coming weeks the Rising Dark will bring forth masterpieces of terror to many locations around the nation which you inhabit! They are its side-effects, and in turn will create fear from which it shall feed in its coming into being! This is all we know, Master! I swear that is all we know!” 

Odd as it seems to say, I knew that the demonic servitor was speaking the truth. The Seals of Solomon, the spells that I had spoken, and the powerfully-blessed Magical Sword I held prevented it from lying. 

“You have indeed done well to warn me of this, spirit,” I said. “I now license you to depart from this reality. Do now immediately go forth in peace and do harm to no one and to no thing. I command you in the name of YEHASHUAH YEHOVASHAH.” 

The demon then faded from view and I was left alone in the murky gloom of the cavern far within the earth. 

Masterpieces of Terror, the Servitor had said. Masterpieces of Terror. I wondered what classic monstrosities this “Rising Dark”, whatever it was, would soon bring forth in order to plague the world. No matter what they were, I would be informed of them due to the great occult powers and connections I held, and it would no doubt be my task and responsibility to protect the human race from them. No doubt this was part of the frightful, unknown threat’s plans as well -- to attempt to weaken me before its bid to come to power. 

It was going to be a frenetically difficult time, so I knew I must do whatever was necessary to ready my finest, most puissant, and deadliest paranormal defences -- before it was too late. 

Strewth! Here we go… 

*****

It was very soon after this that I received an email anxiously requesting my help from a young gentleman named Jon Hutter. It seems his fiancee, a very pretty young lady named Nina, had made the acquaintance of an Eastern European nobleman called Count Orlock, who had recently moved into an old mansion in their affluent town of New Whitby, Connecticut. 

Hutter was worried that Nina had become increasingly obsessed and infatuated with the handsome, suave Count. But this had gone beyond any ordinary jealousy on Hutter‘s part. He had gone to visit Nina at her parents’ home, and found Count Orlock himself there as a welcomed guest. It was on that particular evening that young Hutter noticed something quite peculiar about Orlock: He seemed to cast no reflection in a nearby mirror. When Hutter pointed this out, the Count angrily smashed the mirror, claiming grievous insult, and then quickly left! 

After hearing this, it was no surprise indeed for me to hear that the telltale fang-marks had already appeared on Nina’s throat. Obviously, the mysterious Count Orlock was a vampire, and had visited the young girl in her bedroom. 

Orlock again victimized Nina the following night as she walked in the garden behind the family home. She was found lying unconscious by the house-maid. Hutter tried to talk Nina into going with him to New York to perhaps hide in safety from Orlock, but her parents refused to let her go, instead sending her to her room with the female servant ordered to look after her. Perceiving that there was indeed something supernaturally sinister about the Count, the devoutly-Catholic family was careful to place a large image of the Blessed Virgin over Nina’s bed. 

It was then that Jon Hutter had bravely, if foolishly, gone to Count Orlock’s nearby residence, Carfax Mansion, in an attempt to confront Orlock himself and deal with the matter. The Count simply and commandingly stated that Nina now belonged to him and that Hutter would be utterly destroyed if he attempted to interfere. It was only the blessed crucifix that young Mr. Hutter thankfully wore that prevented the grotesque vampire from killing him right then and there. 

It was at this point that Hutter contacted me. I promised him I would travel there immediately and do all that was in my power to vanquish the infamous Count Orlock, even if it involved having to excavate Carfax Mansion itself to find the hideous, stalking fiend! 

I was briefly delayed before leaving, in order to properly gather together the appropriate weapons and instruments of vampire-hunting. While I was doing this, Hutter visited Nina on the terrace of her home, where she spoke to him of how she had come to love the night and its fog-enshrouded darkness. Then, a huge bat suddenly flew above them and in its horrid squeaking seemed to speak directly to Nina. The girl then attempted to attack Hutter, but he saved himself by showing her the crucifix as I had instructed him. Nina then confessed what Orlock had done to her, and told Hutter that their love was finished as she was soon to instead become the Count’s vampire bride. 

Then Nina returned to her bed. Thinking she was safe with the protection of the holy image, Hutter left her to sleep. But Orlock soon hypnotized the house-maid into removing the Virgin’s picture from the room and opening the windows! 

It was at that time that I arrived by my teleportation powers. I immediately went with Jon Hutter to check on Nina and found that she had disappeared from her bedroom, evidently having been abducted by the obscenely-evil Orlock. 

We hurried with much haste to the mansion in hope that we would be in time to save the innocent girl from becoming an un-dead creature and the wicked Count’s eternally-cursed consort. 

Fortunately, it was almost dawn and I knew that the vampire would have to return to his coffin during the hours of daylight. We found him there, deep in the cellars below Carfax Mansion, and while Hutter continued to search the unhallowed abode for his lovely Nina, I produced a wooden stake which I had concealed within my long coat and impaled the vampire, the hideously-debased Count Orlock, through his unholy, dark heart. 

With the vampire’s satanic influence now destroyed forever, Nina returned to her usual sweet self, and I am pleased to say that she and Hutter were joyfully married soon afterward. 

But, as I wished them well and returned to my Baltimore headquarters, I knew that such brazen activity from the vampire could have been only under the influence of the Rising Dark, and that I would have to be continually on my guard in the coming weeks as its malevolent power continued to grow -- and as I a sought a way to identify and defeat it!! …

The activities of the dark force continued soon afterward, when the following was brought to my attention: 

A certain Conrad von Dippel, who was a particularly-genius medical student residing in the small, usually-quiet Pennsylvania Dutch city of Whitehall, desperately wanted to create a man in his own image, using the remains of the dead -- in fact, the young scientist was completely and utterly obsessed with the idea, and this pretty much to the exclusion of all else. So he and his humpbacked assistant, Justin, set forth under cover of darkness to the old cemetery just outside of town and secretly disinterred a freshly-buried coffin, then stealing the corpse for Dippel to use in his unholy, utterly insane experiment. 

But they soon realized that the head and, most important of all, the brain of the body were severely damaged. To remedy this, Dippel then sent Justin to purloin a better brain from the local medical college. However, the idiot humpback took the wrong brain -- the twisted brain of a severely mentally disturbed convicted sex-offender who had only recently hanged himself in his prison cell! 

Soon afterwards, the experiment was conducted, where extracting the mysterious “ray of life” which he has discovered from the energy of a powerful thunderstorm, Conrad Dippel brought to life the terrifying body which he had assembled -- the huge, grotesque amalgamation of stolen corpses joined together in an horrific surgical patchwork: The Dippel Monstrosity!! 

But Conrad soon realized what a terrible, aggressively-dangerous monster he had created, and so immediately locked the creature in a cell beneath the old house outside of town in which von Dippel has been conducting his secret experiments. 

Feeling a definite sense a remorse at the results of his own unfettered scientific curiosity, Conrad Dippel then left the house, trusting his assistant Justin to be able to guard the monster while Conrad himself attempted to forget its existence. But the strength of the Monstrosity had been in this very much underestimated, even by its own creator, and so it soon escaped, knocking down the steel door of the cell with ease, and then strangling Justin to death with its large, gnarled hands. 

Roaming for several days through the nearby countryside, the Monstrosity eventually encountered a beautiful teenage girl who was walking home from her job at a nearby market… 

The next day, the mangled, hideously-violated body of the young woman was found by her friends whom had gone out in search of her. 

When revealed, the incident propelled the town’s population into an uproar of vigilantism and, demanding the death of the unhallowed fiend which had so horribly defiled and murdered the innocent girl, they quickly took to the countryside themselves -- in search of the perverted, unknown murderer that we now know to have been the Dippel Monstrosity. 

It was then that I heard of these events in the news reports. The media was downplaying the rumors of a literal “monster” being the perpetrator of the crime, resigning it to the hysteria of the locals who claimed to have glimpsed the brutal monstrosity lurking in the nearby woods. But I perceived right away that these horrifying events were a part of the continuing influence of the Rising Dark, that mysterious, coming evil that was on the way and which threatened to soon engulf the world and all its people in eternal, screaming eldritch madness!! 

But, by the time I arrived, the enraged townspeople had quite taken care of their own immediate problem-- they had pursued the creature to the old, decayed windmill of a nearby abandoned farm, then they had set the mill on fire in their attempt to destroy the revolting Monstrosity forever! 

I stayed in the area of Whitehall, Pennsylvania for a few days after that, essaying to absorb any psychic emanations which could help in my investigation of the coming evil. But I knew that I could not stay very long, as it would soon be continuing its unholy influence elsewhere, raising more hideously grotesque, bloodcurdling monsters and wicked, malevolently ungodly horrors -- in what was only the merest preliminary to the unspeakably horrendous and obscenely-powerful threat from which it had become my unenviable duty to defend the entire human race -- and indeed perhaps all of life on Earth itself!! …

One thing I couldn’t help noticing was that these manifestations of the rising evil’s power were strangely… familiar. The next one was no exception. 

It involved a beautiful young Romany girl named Sada Ouspensky, who contacted me concerning her boyfriend, a wealthy local playboy in Seattle, Washington whose name was Mike Kemp. 

Sada and Mike had become romantically involved when her people had come through town during the carnival season., and the girl had stayed behind to be with him. He had rented a downtown apartment for her, knowing his family would not approve of the affair. 

But Sada’s Gypsy family didn’t approve either, and her older brother, Orlando, secretly returned to Seattle with designs towards using violent means to put an end to it and thereby defend his sister‘s honour. 

Orlando Ouspensky, by the way, happened to be a werewolf

One night, the hideous werewolf attacked Mike as he left Sada’s apartment building, but met its end when Mike pulled a silver-bladed dagger from his jacket pocket -- a family heirloom which he had been somehow influenced to carry. (I believe, in retrospect, that this was part of the secret magical manipulation of the Rising Dark). 

Mike killed Orlando the werewolf, but not before being deeply bitten on the arm by the terrible man-animal. He fled the scene but did not even find it necessary to establish an alibi. Orlando, whose body returned to its human form after death, was a wandering Gypsy with no identification on him, and the police just assumed he had been yet another victim of the frequent muggings of the area. The event was soon forgotten by the local authorities. 

But Sada knew and did not forget. She knew that Mike now had the horrid curse of the werewolf transferred to him, and that he would soon, at certain times, begin to be transformed into a ravening beast. 

Within a month, Mike had already changed into the wolf-like creature and had stalked the city streets, first killing a local cafĂ© clerk. He only retained vague memories of being a werewolf and of killing the innocent, and struggled as best he could to overcome the urge. This, to the great misfortune of young Mr. Kemp and also to poor Sada, who indeed loved him dearly, was doomed to failure. 

But Mike did give Sada the silver dagger and made her promise -- to absolutely promise -- that she would carry it with her at all times. 

Then the night came that Mike attacked Sada in his horrible werewolf form -- his urge to kill, to maim, to devour overcoming even the affection he felt for her. It was there on the dark rain-soaked streets of downtown Seattle that the sobbing girl used the silver dagger to set the man she loved free from the gruesome curse of the werewolf. 

It was only then that she contacted me. I am quite well-known among certain sections of the Romany people due to my own supernatural powers, but wondered why she had waited until the end of the matter to request my aid. Nevertheless, I left for Seattle as soon as possible, thinking that perhaps Sada just felt in need of spiritual counseling after the horrifying experience she had undergone. 

I met the young woman in one of the many coffee-establishments for which the great city of Seattle is justly famous and spoke to her of the unfortunate matter. She said she would return to her people soon, but indeed wanted to speak with me first. 

“I am so very sorry to hear that you had to experience this, but you know you had to do it,” I consoled her. “He wanted it that way. That’s why he entrusted the dagger to you.” 

“I know that, Dr. Rumanos,” said the girl sadly but firmly. “I thank you for your kind words, but there is another reason why it was so urgent that I speak with you.” 

“Really?” I inquired, wondering what it could be. 

“Yes,” she said. “The night after Mike’s death I had a strange dream -- a psychic message which I knew was meant for me to tell you. It has been repeated three times, and in the traditions of my people that means that it concerns something which must come to pass, something big, something… dangerous. Perhaps something from which only you can protect this world.” 

I looked at her in astonishment. Had she gotten a message somehow that would help me in identifying the menacing evil that was on the way? So it appeared! 

“What was it?” I managed to ask. 

“Only four words: ‘Beware the Southern Cross’” …

What did it mean? “Beware the Southern Cross”, the young girl had told me. Was it something or other to do with the stars of the constellation of that name? A cult which worshipped them, perhaps? Yet another extraterrestrial invasion? I did not know and indeed could only speculate. 

Before returning to Baltimore, I stopped by the National Museum in Chicago in order to view some rare Egyptian antiquities which they had in their collection, and also to hear a direct account of some unusual activities which had been rumoured -- and which I believed may have been once again influenced by the Rising Dark. The museum’s curator, Dr. David Bakerson, a rather dignified elderly English gentleman known to me, filled me in on the details of the case. 

According to Dr. Bakerson, a High Priest of Ancient Egypt known as Setheru had been resurrected from the dead soon after his mummy was unexpectedly discovered by an archaeological expedition nearly two decades ago. According to hieroglyphics found in the tomb, the evil Setheru had been buried alive for attempting to use black magic to bring his love, the incredibly beautiful young Priestess An-Ste-Naph, back from the dead. 

One of the archaeologists at the dig had read aloud from the mysterious Black Scroll which had been buried with Setheru, returning life to the wicked High Priest. The horrid Setheru escaped from the tomb, taking the Scroll with him, intending to search the world and its people for the modern reincarnation of An-Ste-Naph. 

Years later, Setheru had taken upon himself a new identity as a modern Middle Eastern gentleman named Mostafa Bey. He then contacted an American expedition visiting Egypt and showed them where to excavate in order to find the tomb of the Priestess An-Ste-Naph. Her tomb was uncovered and the mummy and treasures found therein were transferred to the United States and put on display at the Chicago National Museum. 

Just shortly after this Mostafa Bey himself showed up at the museum and was welcomed cordially and with many honors for his invaluable aid in unearthing this important archeological find. But little did anyone know of his true, darkly-sinister motives. 

It was then on one fateful day that Setheru encountered Jessica Middleton, a girl visiting the museum with her class from the University of Illinois -- and noticed that she bore a quite striking resemblance to the Priestess. Believing the lovely young woman to be An-Ste-Naph’s reincarnation, he planned to murder her, so that he could then again resurrect her with the soul of his lost love and make her his bride. 

But Jessica then remembered her past life as a Priestess in Ancient Egypt, and began to pray most fervently to the awesomely-powerful goddess Nephthys -- beseeching the dark goddess to save her from the fate which the insane Setheru/Mostafa Bey had in store for her. As the murderously-mad high priest stood over her that night in the otherwise-unoccupied museum, two beams of dark-purplish light silently emitted from the eyes of the statue of Nephthys -- destroying the Black Scroll, and reducing Setheru himself to dust. 

As the Black Scroll burned away to ashes, Jessica escaped from the museum, later informing the curator -- whom Setheru had hypnotized into being absent during these hideous events -- of her story, which he now duly passed on to me. 

I then respectfully thanked Dr. Bakerson for relating this story, and asked him to inform me right away of any other odd or seemingly-supernatural events which happened to occur or to become known to him. He sincerely promised that he would. 

I quickly returned to the Rumanos Castle in Baltimore, intending to spend some time doing research -- and indeed whatever else was necessary in order to find the meaning of the enigmatic “Southern Cross” and the terrible darkness rising which threatened the entire world in gloom-enshrouded ways of continuing and growing ghastly wickedness -- ways which I could now strongly feel would, if I did not identify and stop them -- soon come to total and complete fruition with evil, grotesque, and obscenely-debased consequences far beyond any and all sane imagining!! …

However, whilst I was occupied with this, further horrific events were occurring back in Whitehall, Pennsylvania -- events that I only pieced together later from reports, anecdotes, and hearsay. Further events involving Conrad von Dippel and the horrific Monstrosity of his mad, insane creation. Events of fear and shrieking eldritch madness -- of evil and wicked science gone beyond the pale of reason. Events of most extraordinary Horror!! 

Even I did not realize that the Dippel Monstrosity had actually survived the fire at the old windmill! It had fallen unseen into a flooded pit beneath the mill and, hideously enough, managed to escape destruction, though now grotesquely burned and scarred to even greater ugliness than its already incredibly gruesome visage! 

Not knowing this, Conrad von Dippel had returned to his lovely young wife-to-be, Valerie, at his ancestral home near Philadelphia. Still feeling remorse at the results of his unholy experimentation, Conrad had by now renounced his creation, but still believed he could be somehow destined to unlock the divine secrets of life and of immortality itself. 

That very same night, the horrible Monstrosity, wandering aimlessly through the wild, gloom-cloaked hill-country of north-eastern Pennsylvania, followed the sound of a violin playing and encountered an old blind hermit. The poor, lonely old man thanked the Lord for sending him a friend. He then, over the next few weeks, taught the monster to speak and shared meals with it. 

But then, to bring this seemingly idealist happenstance to a sad ending, two lost hunters stumbled upon the cottage and immediately tried to kill the monster. It attacked them in self-defense and accidentally knocked down the cottage killing the hunters and the hermit -- the only friend it had ever had in its entire, obscenely-tortured existence. 

It was only days after this that Conrad and Valerie, now married, were visited by the Monstrosity. It then demanded that von Dippel return to his laboratory and create a mate for it. Conrad, of course, refused and the Monstrosity retaliated by kidnapping Valerie -- only guaranteeing her safety if Dippel agreed to its demand. In fear for her safety, Conrad then returned to his tower laboratory where, in spite of himself, he began to grow enthusiastic over his work. After being assured of Valerie’s well-being, Conrad completed the body of the new, female monstrosity! 

A terrible storm raged as final preparations were made to bring the monstrous bride to life. Her body was raised through the roof. Lightning struck -- sending electricity into the monster‘s mate. Incredibly, amazingly, Dippel had again succeeded in his perverted, blasphemous, ungodly experiments -- She lived!! 

The excited Monstrosity then saw his would-be bride and reached out to her in yearning, in desire, in longing and unspeakable craving. The female monster, screaming in the most abject expression of total, unmitigated terror, rejected him. 

As Valerie raced to Conrad's side, the dejected Monstrosity rampaged in shock and unbelievable psychological pain through the laboratory. It then told Conrad and Valerie von Dippel: "Go! Leave here and live!“ 

But, to the strange female creature, the she-monstrosity, which it then knew would be its one-and-only chance at a companion, its prospective mate who had indeed only rejected it as all others had and always would, it said in a ghastly, extreme determination of weirdly-mingled love and hate: "We return to the dead!" 

While the Dippels fled, the Monster, rejected, despised, and realizing that this and this alone will be its horrible lot always and forever, pulled the lever and brought about the destruction of the tower and its unhallowed laboratory -- just hoping against hope only that it may succeed in destroying its monstrous, sickening self FOREVER!! …

My colleague Dr. Bakerson, curator of the National Museum of Chicago, soon enough came through with relating to me yet another incident of grotesque horror -- of weird science which was obviously influenced by the rising darkness!! I shall repeat it here pretty much verbatim according to the notes which he duly sent me regarding this most unusual case: 

A certain very mysterious stranger, his face swathed in bandages and his eyes obscured by dark goggles, had one night taken a room at The Lion Rampant Inn in the obscure northern California village of Sunville. The man had virulently demanded that he be left alone. Later, the innkeeper, a Mr. Hill, was sent by his annoyed wife to evict the stranger after he had made a huge mess in his room while doing research and had also fallen behind on his rent. Angered, the odd stranger violently threw Mr. Hill down the stairs! 

Confronted by a policeman and some local villagers, the strange man removed his bandages and goggles, revealing that he was invisible. Laughing maniacally, he then took off his clothes, making himself completely undetectable, and drove off his tormenters before himself fleeing into the countryside. 

The stranger was Dr. Ian Moucheron, a genius chemist who had discovered the secret of invisibility while conducting a series of tests involving an obscure drug called duocane. Brandi Stuart, Moucheron's young girlfriend and the daughter of his employer, a certain Dr. Stuart, became quite distraught over Moucheron's long absence. So Stuart and his other assistant, Dr. MacKenzie, searched Moucheron's empty laboratory, finding only a single note in a cupboard. Stuart then became rather concerned when he read it. On a list of chemicals was duocane, which Stuart knew to be extremely dangerous -- after all, an injection of it once had driven a guinea pig mad. 

Later on the same evening of his escape from the inn, Moucheron turned up at Stuart's home. He had forced MacKenzie to become his visible partner in a plot to dominate the world through a reign of terror, commencing with numerous cold-blooded murders. They drove back to the inn to retrieve his notebooks on the invisibility process. Sneaking inside, Moucheron found a police inquiry already underway, conducted by an official who himself believed it was all a hoax. After securing his books, he attacked and killed the officer out of spite. 

Back home, MacKenzie called first Stuart, asking for help, and then the police. Brandi persuaded her father to let her come along. In her presence, Moucheron became more placid and calls her "sweetie". When he realized MacKenzie had betrayed him, his first reaction was indeed to get Brandi away from danger. After promising MacKenzie that at 11 o'clock the next very night he will murder him, Moucheron escaped and went on a fantastic, hideous killing spree. He caused the derailment of a train, resulting in over a hundred deaths, and then proceeded to throw two volunteer searchers off a cliff. The police soon offered a reward for anyone who could think of a way to catch the Invisible One. 

The chief detective in charge of the search used MacKenzie as bait, feeling Moucheron would attempt to fulfill his promise, and devised various clever traps. At MacKenzie's insistence, the police disguised him in a police uniform and let him drive his car away from his house. Moucheron, however, was hiding in the back seat of the car. He easily overpowered MacKenzie and tied him up in the front seat. Moucheron then sent the car down a steep hill and over a cliff, where it exploded on horrible impact. 

But the doom of Dr. Moucheron, the dangerously-insane Invisible One, the scientist who had driven himself mad with his experimental ventures, was soon to occur. 

Moucheron had sought shelter from a snowstorm in a barn. A farmer heard snoring and saw the hay, in which Moucheron was sleeping, moving. Terrified, the man had quickly notified the police. The police surrounded the building and set fire to the barn. When Moucheron came out, the chief detective saw his footprints in the snow and opened fire, mortally wounding him. Moucheron was then taken to the hospital where, on his deathbed, he admitted to Brandi that he now believed he had tampered with something that was meant to be left alone by mere mortal men. After he had died, his body gradually became once again visible. 

Oy! What a tale!! …

The next yarn of our ever-expanding, fantastically-grotesque, bizarrely-eventful and hideously-amazing Spectral Odyssey opened with the debut of the new season at the Lyric Opera House right in my own city of Baltimore, with a production of Mozart's Don Giovanni. A beautiful young girl named Christine had made a sudden rise from the chorus to become the understudy of the prima donna. 

At the height of what had been the most prosperous season in the Opera's history, the management suddenly resigned. As they left, they told the new managers of the Opera Ghost, a phantom who asks for opera box number five, among other things. The new managers laughed it off as a joke, but the old management left troubled. 

The next day, Miss Virginia Carlotta, the prima donna of the opera, barged into the manager’s office enraged. She had received a letter from "The Phantom," demanding that Christine sing the role of Donna Anna the following night, threatening dire consequences if his demands are not met. Christine was in her dressing room at that moment, speaking to a phantom voice. The voice warned her that she would take Carlotta's place on Wednesday and that she was to think only of her career and her master. 

Wednesday evening, Carlotta was ill and Christine took her place in the opera. During the performance, the managers went to Box 5 to see exactly who had taken it. The keeper of the box did not know who it is, as she had never seen his face. The two managers entered the box and are startled to see a shadowy figure seated. They ran out of the box and composed themselves, but when they entered the box again, the person was gone. 

In her next performance, Christine reached her triumph during the finale and received a standing ovation from the audience. Later, once again in her dressing room, the phantom voice finally fully revealed his horrifyingly-lecherous intentions to Christine: "Soon, Christine, this spirit will take form and will demand your love!" 

Carlotta then received another discordant note from the Phantom. Once again, it demanded that she take ill and let Christine have her part. The managers also got a note, reiterating that if Christine does not sing, they will present Don Giovanni in a house with a curse on it. 

The following evening, despite the Phantom's warnings, a defiant Carlotta appeared as Donna Anna. At first, the performance went well, but soon the Phantom's curse took its effect, causing the great, crystal chandelier to fall down onto the audience. Christine ran to her dressing room and was entranced by a mysterious voice through a secret door behind the mirror, descending, in a dream-like semi-swoon, by a winding staircase into the lower depths of the Opera. She was then taken by gondola over a subterranean lake by the masked Phantom into his lair. The Phantom introduced himself as Harold and declared his love; Christine fainted, so Harold carried her to a suite fabricated for her comfort. The next day, when she awakened, she found a note from Harold telling her that she was free to come and go as she pleases, but that she must never look behind his mask. In the next room, the Phantom was playing his gigantic underground pipe-organ. Christine's curiosity got the better of her, causing her to sneak up behind the Phantom and tear off his mask, revealing his hideously deformed, skull-like face. Enraged, the Phantom immediately made his plans to hold her prisoner known. Responding to her attempt to plead to him, he excused her to visit her world one last time -- but only briefly. 

It was then that I, having been apprised of these singular occurrences (I always have season tickets at the Lyric, after all), arrived and took the young girl away to safety, removing the hypnotic spell which the evil Phantom had placed upon her. 

Soon after, a mob infiltrated the Phantom's lair. As the clanging alarm sounded and the mob approached, the Phantom attempted to flee. But the Phantom was pursued and killed by a mob, who throw him into the Inner Harbor to finally drown. Finis. 

It was immediately after this that I received word of the death of Dr. David Bakerson, who had been horribly murdered late one night at the Chicago Museum. His body had been mutilated, with crosses carved into it by the killer’s -- or killers’ -- cruel knife. Upon the unfortunate gentleman’s corpse had been draped a most sickening symbol -- a Confederate Flag, on which had been written the name of the organization behind it; the hideous, demoniacally-charged cult of terror that had been plaguing the nation with these grotesque, chaotic horrors -- The Klan of the Southern Cross. …

Bloody Kluxxers! Blooming Goddamned worthless Confederate fascist scum!! That is what I would have to contend with to solve this mystery and to save the nation -- and indeed the world -- from an absolutely-unspeakable evil. Seriously, I feel that nothing could have angered me more. Demons and ghosts and strange night-terrors and supernatural horrors and physically-malformed monsters I can understand, but the continuous, oddly human need to hate each other for such totally ridiculous reasons is something that is still -- and perhaps always will be -- beyond the reach of even my extensive and quite obviously ingenious understanding of the vast, seemingly-immeasurable universe and the mighty forces that guide it. 

In any event, it now appeared that the “Rising Dark” was somehow being caused by a group of racist redneck cracker filth calling themselves The Klan of the Southern Cross. But how? Had they made a deal with some “infernal” entity in exchange for a path to domination being opened to them? This is what I had to discover before I could even hope to defeat them. 

But before I was able to do so, my attentions were diverted by one more case of classic, monstrous horror! 

Recognizing that understanding the influence that the wicked force was having would greatly aid me in the cause of tracking down and defeating them, I carefully followed the reports of this monstrous horror -- The Fish-Man or The Thing from the Dark Florida Swamp -- as they appeared in certain rather-exclusive, deeply scientific reports to which my long experience and complicated connection had given me access. 

An expedition in the Florida swampland had uncovered strange, outlandishly-bizarre fossilized prehistoric evidence of a link between land and sea animals in the form of a very large, skeletal hand with grotesquely webbed fingers, and a return expedition had quickly been funded in order to look for the remainder of the ancient creature’s skeleton. 

Taking a small ship into the swamp was a scientific party which included a beautiful young woman researcher, Julia Stephens. 

The scientists were unaware that a huge, amphibious-yet-anthropomorphic "Fish-Man" monster survived in the remote swampland and was watching them -- watching them very closely, and watching the lovely Julia in particular. 

One eventful day, young Julia went swimming and was hideously stalked underwater by the horrible, misshapen and bloodcurdling thing, which then got briefly caught in one of the ship's draglines. Although it had soon escaped, it had left a gruesome, menacingly-horrific claw behind in the net, thus revealing its existence to the understandably-stunned scientists. 

Subsequent encounters with the Fish-Man claimed the lives of several of the ship’s crew-members, before the horrid, ghastly Fish-Man was itself finally captured and locked in a steel cage on board the boat. However, it escaped during the night -- attacking and quite easily killing the two men who were guarding it. 

Following this incident, the scientists decided that they should immediately return to civilization, but as the ship tried to leave, they had found the entrance to the swamp blocked by fallen logs -- courtesy of the escaped Fish-Man, which was now absolutely determined to keep the beauteous Julia with it captive as its mate! 

The thing then abducted Julia one night and took her to its gloomy cavern lair. The men of the expedition quickly gave chase to save her. 

Finally, Julia was rescued and the terrifying thing -- The Thing from the Dark Florida Swamps -- was then riddled with bullets before it retreated to the murky bog-land where its body slowly sunk into the watery depths -- hopefully to its final demise. 

*****

Now that the name of the Klan of the Southern Cross cult had been revealed, it was only a short time until I was able to ascertain the location of their headquarters via my numerous contacts in the occultist underground. You can imagine that it was of no surprise to me that this hideously racist organization, which used the Confederate flag as its symbol -- a symbol of abject loathsomeness matched only by the debased swastika of Nazi Germany -- had as their meeting place a church building in the vicinity of Birmingham, Alabama. 

This horrid church, which went by the name True Christian Community Assembly, boasted as its pastor a certain Bobbie Soeller (Yes, “Bobbie” was the name on the man‘s birth certificate, not Robert or even Bob but “Bobbie“), who had some time before made a few appearances on internet radio shows as a self-proclaimed “paranormal investigator”. Yet another trailer-trash “ghost hunting” hobbyist. Bollocks, but I am so bleeding sick of them!! (One would think that the fate of the vile Zef Bazans and his “Ghost Escapades Crew” -- who, according to the official account, were killed when a freak storm knocked a hole in the roof of their Las Vegas penthouse hotel suite -- would have taught certain people a lesson. But no.) 

Anyway, it is undoubtedly during his activities as a sham “expert on the paranormal” that this Bobbie Soeller character had become possessed with some type of negative spiritual force which had then led him to found his “church” and to become the Rising Dark, influencing the coming of all these grotesque horrors which had so hideously occupied my time for what amounted to several weeks now. This entity -- whatever it may be -- obviously had the goal of feeding from the terror thereby raised in order to heighten the powers of its followers in a bid towards total world domination -- its use of the name of a fascist KKK group only making this all the more painfully obvious. 

But the entity itself -- what was it? I am loath to admit I had no idea, and the very fact that it could hide its identity from one such as I showed that it must be a frightfully powerful force indeed. 

So, though I felt totally knackered from my recent experiences, I knew there was no time to be wasted in waiting to face this sickening Bobbie Soeller, the macabre Klan of the Southern Cross, and whatever unspeakable evil was secretly empowering them. I accordingly teleported, one Thursday evening, to the True Christian Community Assembly building near Birmingham, Alabama. 

It was a small, non-obtrusive church-building in a quite isolated area with a rather large spread of dismal grounds around it. A small sign over the door read “No non-Whites, non-Christians, or foreigners”, proving that my sources were certainly not incorrect in asserting that this was indeed the headquarters of the occult Klansmen. 

I boldly entered the building and walked into the unhallowed sanctuary. Who should I see, standing beside the pulpit, but the aforementioned Pastor Bobbie Soeller himself! He was an individual of medium height and build, clad in a white business-suit with a red necktie, with short, dark hair, and coldly grey eyes. He possessed a low, sloping forehead and was practically chinless, and had a rather thin-lipped, cruel mouth which curved evilly into a crooked grin when he saw me. 

I could immediately tell that there was no human soul remaining in that body. Mr. Bobbie Soeller was indeed perfectly possessed, but by what? 

“In accord with my rights I hereby address the entity inhabiting the body of Mr. Bobbie Soeller,” I proclaimed. “By the powers in me ordained I now declare the end and absolute cessation of your diabolical machinations!” 

At this the being animating Soeller laughed -- laughed with a shocking joy as if it had found my proclamation of exorcism a mere trifle. 

“Doctor Rumanos,” it/he said, with a huge, booming voice tinged profanely with Bobbie Soeller’s own hillbilly accent, “It is you who are the expression of the demonic realm. For I whom you now face am a manifestation of the forces of Heaven -- I am an holy angel of righteousness come forth to cleanse this world from the wickedness of uncleanness and of all impurity, especially that of its continued miscegenation! I am the proclamation of the divine principle, I am holiness manifest -- I am KHADRIEL!!” 

Then a white light flashed from Soeller’s eyes, knocking me backwards several steps as I saw the radiance about him, and the seemingly-unmistakable wings of angelic presence spread with horrible majesty behind his now-hovering form!! 

So, after all of this it turns out that the “Rising Dark” was a bloody ANGEL! (Well, actually some extraterrestrial force pretending to be one.) It is a funny old Universe, eh? 

“Khadriel,” I said, “you arre a real cad. Why, just bloody why, pray tell, would an angel, even a sodding nut-job rebel one like you are, want to lower itself to the position of possessing the body of an inbred cracker idiot like this Bobbie Soeller scum?” 

“Ah, but that would be it, wouldn‘t it?” said Khadriel. “His will was just so simple, so wonderfully compliant. Unlike far too many of this disobedient race of mortals, to whom I say Heaven has thus far been much, much too lenient. But no more! Now, I employ the terrors of the human-kind to increase my power, and through my growing leadership, Heaven shall expand to the world of the material, and shall use the creatures of flesh as our servants forever, as indeed it should have been from the very beginning, the very genesis of the Creator‘s works!” 

“Yes,” I countered him, still pretending to go along with his affectation of being an angel, “I know that some of you lot never really got over the fact that Allah gave the human race free will, now did you? Just could not take it, could you, that mere creatures of flesh were in His eyes perhaps equal to you? 

“But now tell me,” I continued, “why did you allow Soeller’s sick cult of followers to murder my friend Dr. David Bakerson? He had nothing to do with this! There is only one possible reason for you do such a senseless, horrible thing: It was only to spite me, was it not?!” 

Again, the hideously insane angel laughed, laughed with ghastly mirth: “Well, at least the good Dr. Bakerson didn’t offer to do any pirouettes, unlike that poor little ballerina girl you murdered a while back, eh, Rumanos?” 

“Do not give me any of your bloody sanctimonious judgments, Khadriel,” said I, “or shall I instead call you ‘Bobbie’?” 

“Well then, Rumanos,” the angel replied. “By the same token, I most certainly wonder by which of your many other names do you prefer to be addressed then, hmmm? -- Hieronymus, Merlin, Nostradamus, Casanova, Robert-Houdin, Rasputin, The Mershon, Daemon-Star… Perhaps you can tell me, how many are there again?” 

“Actually, I was thinking of just calling myself ‘The Great Rumanos’,” I told him with a pride I knew would irk him, “but that would be redundant.” 

“It matters not, for your time is now over.” Khadriel stated, his voice now rising to a mad, ringing crescendo. “I have weakened you by the many toils which I have recently caused, and now I will witness your ending!” 

“Yes, yes, I have heard it all before, you old angelic wanker. Just shut it and go ahead and do your bloody worst.” 

“I need do nothing, Rumanos. My servants, the soldiers of the Invisible Empire, shall do it all at my command. 

“White brothers of the Klan of the Southern Cross,” he continued, “come forth and do kill this creature, this practitioner of Blackest Magic -- Come forth now and do utterly exterminate the one known as Dr. Daniel Rumanos, the Daemon-Star, our most-hated enemy!!” 

Then, from behind the pews of the church came the grotesque Klansmen, in their white sheet-like robes emblazoned with the holy symbol of the Cross which they had debased to their own, horridly-racist use -- with their masked faces and their sickening, pointed hoods. A full dozen of them then advanced towards me from all sides. I was trapped. 

“Exterminate him!” again bellowed the utterly mad Khadriel. “Destroy our most-hated enemy, the infamous Dr. Rumanos! Kill him! Kill the Limey bastard! And I hear he is also secretly a Muslim! Kill him! KILL HIM!!” 

So, is this really it, then? Am I to die right hear and now, at the hands of an hideous cult of blooming hillbillies in white sheets who are commanded by an absolutely, un-redeemably insane “rebel angel” who wants to eliminate me from being in the way of his evil plans to overthrow the Almighty? This, after having been much-weakened by weeks of investigating and battling numerous monsters and unspeakable horrors? 

Bollocks. 

As the sickening members of the horrible Klan of the Southern Cross closed in upon me, I quickly reached into my coat pocket and produced a parchment talisman on which were written several Magical Words of Power in blood -- my own blood. I am the most powerful “Magician” in the Cosmos, and using my own blood is most certainly a highly dangerous enterprise. Nevertheless, this was indeed a desperate situation -- and one which I had prepared for. 

I held the talisman before me and said calmly, “Servitor, release them.” 

From the talisman immediately came forth a jetting stream of blackest occult energy, spreading, creeping around the church interior and soon coalescing into the forms of all the classic monsters which I had faced recently: The vampire Count Orlock, the Dippel Monstrosity and its Mate, the Cursed Werewolf, the mummified Setheru, the Invisible One, the Lyrick Opera Ghost, and the Thing from the Dark Florida Swamp!! 

As soon as these truly universal horrors had become present, the cult members just dissolved into nothing, having been totally overcome by the ancient, primal fear of these unhallowed terrors which had haunted countless and untold generations of the human race. Their physical bodies now destroyed, their hideous white robes then fell harmlessly to the floor on every side of me. 

The human form of Bobbie Soeller dissolved as well, as the eldritch, ghastly monsters advanced towards the grotesque Khadriel. Then, just before they, having now returned in shape to the formless dark essence which then surrounded the false-angel, enveloping him completely and disappearing into the phantasmal inter-dimensional void in which the insane “angelic” insurgent would be imprisoned by the manifestations of the collective fear of the entire human race in abject blackness forever and for all eternity -- it was then, with a dreadful sound which I will never totally eradicate from my thoughts -- that I heard the sound as of an angel screaming in terror

All was then quiet in that building of the headquarters of the True Christian Community Assembly of Alabama as I walked outside and put a shield of forgetfulness around the remote church, so that it would be always forgotten and no innocents would stumble upon the horrid mental residue of the fearful events that had transpired there. 

As the moon shone down with silvery radiance upon me that phantasmagorical night, I again held forth the talisman and concentrated for a moment, until a familiar, shadowy form with glowing red eyes appeared before me. 

“I thank you for looking after them, my faithful Servitor,” said I. “You are now again licensed to depart in peace until you are once more called to my service.” 

“Yes, Master,” replied the Servitor in its voice like the crackling of flames. “I only await your further commands.” 

Then the demon faded from view as I prepared to return home for a long-awaited and much-needed rest. 

Thus endeth my SPECTRAL Gothic Odyssey, or The Adventure of the Rising Dark. I am Dr. Daniel Rumanos, THE DAEMON-STAR, and I am indeed quite certain that I know and understand horror far better than any bloody false “angel” ever could.

DANIEL RUMANOS SHALL RETURN