WEIRD ADVENTURES 3

DEADLY SINS

by Dr. Daniel Rumanos

HEAVEN’S ON FIRE

I really didn’t want to visit frigging Kentucky, you know. Seriously, there are enough redneck types around Baltimore, aren’t there? But there I was in Louisville, investigating the activities of the notorious “Bishop” James Short. There had been rumors in the occult underground for a while that he was planning a very dangerous invocation, one that would top his conjuration of a demon a while back. That’s one that I, Dr. Daniel Rumanos, demonologist and paranormal researcher and all that, had taken care of. “Bishop James” ran like Hell -- appropriately enough -- after I had foiled his plans to bring chaos upon the world in service of his sick libido, and I hadn’t seen him since.

So, just a short time after my return from the wonders of the darkly-splendid worlds orbiting the Demon-Star Algol, here I was outside of a run-down old building with the words “Mt. Calvary New Catholic Church” written on a wooden sign in front of it. That’s life. Well, my bloody life anyway.

I was considering how to best approach this case when a pleasantly-familiar burst of Infernal Flame descended from the sky like a sexy little meteor and turned into a very beautiful girl with gorgeous red hair and shining blue eyes, wearing red and black tights and a matching short cape. It was my wonderful Katrina LeVay, also known as Heaven’s Hell, who had been created by a mad scientist from the DNA of a deceased Satanic Sorcerer, and had been away for awhile on a sort of voyage of self-discovery.

“Hello, my beautiful one!”, I said after we had embraced, “It is so fantastic to see you again! You are breathtaking as always!”

“Thank you, love!”, she said with a smile that could melt my heart.

We talked for a few minutes. She had heard the talk of Bishop Short’s upcoming conjuration, and had thought it best to check it out. Looks like she had decided her life was going to be employed peering into these particular problems as I do, those strange and bizarre happenings which go largely unnoticed by most people in this world, but nevertheless affect them in ways they cannot even imagine.

“From what I’ve heard,” I told her, “It appears the fake bishop is going to attempt to call up a pagan god this time: Faunus, the Roman god of lust!”

“Holy flapdoodle!”, Katrina answered, “He must be so naďve to think he can get away with that.”

“Gods are much more difficult to control than demons, at least initially.” I continued, “Short failed in his last attempt at evocation because he and his cult didn’t wear the appropriate Magical regalia. If he had taken the time to read the Key of Solomon and related Goetic works he would have found out why that is particularly insulting to the evil spirit he had conjured.”

“It’s handy knowing a demonologist.”, she answered with a wink.

We found a side window of the church which had been kept open for ventilation, levitated up to it together and quietly crept inside. Rumor had it that the fraudulent “bishop” was planning his unholy invocation that very evening, not in the church’s sanctuary but in the cellar underneath it.

We entered the basement just as the ceremony was beginning. Bishop James was wearing his scarlet ritual robes and was standing before his group of followers, several young men -- the bishop’s addiction to pederasty being well-known. It occurred to me that once again he was attempting to invoke and control a supernatural being known for its particular attraction to the female gender. What is it about this chap that he just can’t get it right? It’s like he just hasn’t done the research necessary to find out about the deities and demons of homosexuality which would certainly serve his purposes better. I really couldn’t care less about his sexual orientation, but laziness and stupidity does not a good Magician make. It is because of this that his activities so threatened to stir up spiritual turmoil and madness, and why we had to stop him.

Katrina and I began to step forward to prevent Bishop James and his cult from continuing in their grotesque plan when we were both thrown to the floor by a sudden impact like an electric shock. Apparently, the bishop had learned something after all since my last encounter with him. He knew how to set up a Magical Circle anyway. It would be possible to break through it, of course, but it would take a few minutes to complete the correct conjuration. I checked to see if Katrina was alright before beginning. She was fine and I began chanting, nearly silently, the words necessary to cause the Magical defenses which the cult had set up to collapse.

Bishop James and his followers were paying no attention to our presence at all. They were too busy gathering around the altar with its shockingly obscene phallic idol surrounded by the glow of seven large red candles. The evil bishop then began the hideous invocation:

“Thrill with lissome lust of light, Come careering out of night. Come over the sea from Sicily and from Arcady! Roaming as Bacchus, with fauns, pards, nymphs and satyrs for thy guards, on a milk-white ass, come over the sea to me, to me, come with Apollo in bridal dress, shepherdess and pythoness come with Artemis, silken shod, and wash thy white thigh, beautiful God, in the moon of the woods, on the marble mount, the dimpled dawn of the amber fount! Dip the purple of passionate prayer in the crimson shrine, the scarlet snare, the soul that startles in eyes of blue to watch thy wantonness weeping through the tangled grove and gnarled bole of the living tree that is spirit and soul and body and brain -- come over the sea, Devil or god, to me, to me, O Faunus! Come, Faunus!

"Come with trumpets sounding shrill across the hill! Come with drums low muttering from the spring! Come with flute and pipe! Am I not ripe? I who wait, writhe and wrestle with air that hath no boughs to nestle my body, weary of empty clasp, strong as a lion and sharp as an asp. Come, O come! I am numb with the lonely lust of devildom. O Faunus! Come, Faunus!

"Thrust the sword through the galling fetter, all-devourer, all-begetter; give me the sign of the Open Eye, and the token erect of thorny thigh, and the word of madness and mystery, I am a man: Do as thou wilt, as a great god can, I am awake in the grip of the snake. The eagle slashes with beak and claw; the gods withdraw: the great beasts come, I am borne to death on the horn of the unicorn. O Faunus! Come, Faunus!

"I am thy mate, I am thy man, goat of thy flock, I am gold, I am god, flesh to thy bone, flower to thy rod. With hoofs of steel I race on rocks through solstice stubborn to Equinox. I rave, rape, rip and rend everlasting world without end, mannikin, maiden, maenad, man -- O Faunus! Come, Faunus!

“Hail, Faunus!!”

“HAIL, FAUNUS!” echoed back the worshippers as an uncannily perverse form appeared above the altar in answer to the incantation. The huge, lewd figure of a bearded man with the horns, pointed ears, and hairy, cloven-hoofed legs of a goat. It was indeed the ancient Roman god of lust, fertility, depravity and debauchery himself -- Faunus!!

Just then, I succeeded in breaching the Magic Circle, and could only trust I would have time to say the appropriate utterances to banish Faunus before the eldritch monstrosity issued forth through the very gap I had just made in the cult’s mystical defenses.

Bishop James and the members of the cult rushed forward in an attempt to prevent me from approaching the altar. Just before they could reach me, Katrina sent out a burst of flame causing them to back off in fear. I adore having her by my side!

But Faunus was already heading for the opening in the Magical Circle, preparing to go forth into the world which would be helpless before him, a world which would soon be enslaved, its people used as his mere playthings. I shuddered to realize I just did not have time to prevent this from happening.

Then a remarkable thing happened. Katrina’s flame, which was still burning like a magnificent vermillion halo about her lovely body, caused Faunus to turn and look at her. The horny old goat-god then obviously forgot all about his plans to rule the world and focused his attention on the stunningly attractive young woman known as Heaven’s Hell! Can’t say I blame him.

As the randy old deity approached her, Katrina’s eyes widened with apprehension and she began to shoot out bursts of Infernal Flame to keep him away. They couldn’t burn the dreadful god, of course, but they did manage to hold him back. I knew she couldn’t continue this forever, though, and worried about the fact that one touch from Faunus could be the end of her defenses.

Only just in time, I managed to complete the ancient Latin form of banishing, speaking it thrice in the proper vibratory tone. Then Faunus, the deity of perversity himself, vanished as quickly as he had arrived. With this, the remainder of the Circle collapsed as the arcane Magical energies in the room passed outward, and the candles were suddenly extinguished, leaving the moonlight coming in through the small, high-set windows as the only illumination.

Katrina and I left the building as quickly as possible. Outside we saw police cars arriving, but managed to get away unnoticed. They were there to arrest Bishop James Short, who was being accused of sexual abuse by an underage boy. I’m certain the weird heathen altar they found him and his congregation clustered around that eventful night did not help in his defense. The bishop received an appropriate prison sentence, and I’m sure the treatment that “holy” child molester received in the Kentucky State Penitentiary was enough to make Bishop James long for the comparative safety of occultic conjurations.

As for the exquisitely beautiful Katrina LeVay and myself, as soon as we were clear of the church area she threw her arms around me and we began kissing. It was obvious what was going to happen, but I really didn’t want our first night together to be in bloody Louisville, Kentucky, so I used what was left of the residual Magical energy darting about to help teleport us to Venice. Yes, the one in Italy. We spent three wonderful days and nights there, just me and the girl who was too hot for the god of lust, and I declared my love for her, appropriately enough, in the city that Casanova once called his home.

TOMORROW THE WORLD

Katrina had gone for a brief visit to San Francisco, where she had previously been staying, in order to make arrangements to have her belongings shipped to my apartment in Baltimore. I had to stay behind on some research business but was taking a short break to have a drink with my friend Don Wengo that afternoon. When we got to the tavern downtown it became obvious that Don was mostly interested in trying to get the place’s manager to hire him to do his stage magic act there. So there I was, alone at the bar while the two of them talked it over at a nearby table. I was just about to order another vodka when I suddenly, in a whirl of phantasmal, cosmic energy, found myself transported to the Current -- a sort of swirling grey area outside of space and time which is only accessible to members of my own people, the Watchers of Algol. Then, a being appeared in front of me -- a tall, regal-looking man clad in a shining, silver coverall-style garment. I immediately recognized him as a ranking member of the Absolute Convention of Demonia, the supreme ruling body of the predominant planet in the Algolite system.

“Greetings, Rumanos”, he said, “I have been sent to bring you important information.”

“Well”, I replied, “I didn’t think you came 93 light years to pick up some donuts.”

He ignored my attempt at humor and continued, “An old adversary of yours has returned. The one known as Thaskales.”

“Yes, I know. I have sensed his presence on Earth, just as I now know that he is also an Algolite in addition to being a vampire.”

“He is considered a renegade, as you once were. But I have only come to inform you of his current goal. He is in the nation which the humans call Germany, in order to find something which is important to him. Something which will aid him in his plans to subjugate the planet Earth. We must not allow him to gain this power, and you are assigned to go forth and prevent him from succeeding.”

Before I could ask any further questions, I found myself back at the bar. Just like the Watchers to have me do their bloody work for them, to clean up a vast, malicious mess while they continue their official policy of non-interference. They were right about one thing at least, however. Thaskales was a creature of pure evil who needed to be stopped.

I managed to pull Don away from his meeting and briefly filled him in as to what was going on. Then I used the coordinates which the Algolite had put in my head to teleport us immediately to Germany.

Germany? I wondered what Thaskales could want in Germany. Some hideous, buried secret of Nazi occultism? Some ancient Viking relic? Judging from my past encounters with him, those sorts of things hardly seemed like his style. Whatever he was after, whatever he deemed so important, it had to be something of astonishing, unspeakable power.

It was after dark when Don and I arrived in Germany, and we found ourselves in a forest, with the light of the waning moon shining through the tall, twisted trees and casting weird, distorted shadows in all directions. I felt the unholy presence of Thaskales as a palpable manifestation within a few miles of our current location. Walking on towards it and soon coming to a clearing, we then noticed we were walking rather sharply uphill. Don pointed to an old sign identifying the district by the name of Steiermark.

At the top of the hill came into view an ancient, enormous castle. It’s medieval battlements were still impressive despite centuries of decay as it loomed menacingly against the night sky. One could almost perceive a strange, otherworldly glow emanating from it, but surely that was only imagination. On the remains of the castle gate stood magnificently the letter K in ornate wrought iron -- the initial of the surname of the castle‘s extinct masters.

Still following the evil presence, we came at last to the old family crypt in which the castle’s illustrious inhabitants had been entombed. But before we could enter, a malevolently-compelling figure issued forth from it -- this was Thaskales himself, tall and stately in his black suit and cape, his long hair blowing slightly in the breeze and his eyes glowing with a darkly crimson radiance. He was cradling in his arms an antique, silvery funeral urn.

“Well, Rumanos, what kept you?”, he said mockingly, “I quite expected you would arrive here to witness the beginning of my ultimate triumph. I have come here and acquired the lovely dust and ashes of she who shall be my bride. She who shall replace the one whom you took from me. She who will be the total assurance of my success in becoming the supreme and absolute master of this world!!”

Then a flash of shockingly eldritch light came forth from his eyes and knocked both Don and myself to the ground. Thaskales then flew upwards with an echoingly wicked laugh and disappeared over the mountains of the region.

“Oh bloody shit!”, said Don. Indeed, it was obvious that the dark Magical powers of Thaskales were at least equal to my own. Defeating him was certainly not going to be a simple task by any means, and we seriously needed to know exactly who this person was whose grave he had entered that night. The one whom he was obviously intending to raise from the dead to be his Satanic bride.

As soon as we had recovered enough, we entered the old crypt. Its ruined walls and roof allowed just enough of the pale, grotesquely leprous moonlight in to dimly illuminate the dank, fetid interior. Most of the names of those interred there, along with the dates, were quite unreadable due to the wear and weathering of ages. One, however, was quite clear, as if the archaic gothic lettering had been re-chiseled at a far more recent date that of its occupant’s original death. It was the name of she whose ashes the villainous Thaskales had removed. A name of extreme, abominable horror, of one as irresistibly beautiful as she was unspeakably deadly. A dreaded vampire and mistress of the forces of darkness and obscene corruption hideously remembered in legend and lore. Her name -- CARMILLA KARNSTEIN.

HIGHWAY TO HELL

She was missing. Katrina LeVay, my wonderful Heaven’s Hell, hadn’t been heard from in days. She had gone to California, San Francisco specifically, to arrange to have her things sent to my place in Baltimore, and had just disappeared. San Francisco had been the hometown of Zandor LeVay, the late founder of the Temple of Astaroth and author of The Nephilim Bible, and it was from a formula including LeVay’s DNA that Katrina had been created by the mad scientist and religious cult-leader, Dr. Patrick MacHann. She had gone there to research her background, and simply vanished so far as anyone could tell.

MacHann had resurfaced recently in Phoenix, Arizona. He had survived the fire that destroyed his original headquarters, even using the burn-scars he had received to gain sympathy among his fanatical followers. The new incarnation of his Crown of Thorns Ministries in Phoenix was said to be quite popular among the redneck fundamentalist protestant types that plague America these days. One wonders what their reaction would be if they could even begin to comprehend the true horrors of the weird scientific experiments for which Dr. MacHann used his “ministry” as a mere front.

I am in contact with numerous occult practitioners in San Francisco, but since none of them had any clue as to Katrina’s whereabouts, I naturally suspected MacHann as her possible abductor. How he could have overcome her considerably powerful Magical abilities I did not know, but he was more likely to have been able to do so than any other obvious suspect, due to his having created her in his laboratory to begin with.

My own powers had increased considerably of late, following my return from Algol. I was still learning about many of them. Teleportation, though it still used considerable energy, was now comparatively easy. So I merely concentrated on the correct location and soon enough found myself outside of the building being used as the headquarters of Patrick MacHann’s ministry in Arizona.

I was in no mood for subtlety. I blasted down the door with magical energy and entered the building. I soon found myself inside the large worship space of the hideous Crown of Thons cult, and there was Dr. Patrick MacHann himself standing behind a podium on the stage that served as their altar. I saw none of his followers there, yet he seemed strangely unconcerned for his safety upon seeing my exceedingly angry entrance. The ugly scars on his face, received when he had hurried to save certain items from his burning laboratory, had not changed his smarmy manner.

“Dr. Daniel Rumanos!”, he said, “To what do I owe this visit?”

“Don’t pretend, MacHann”, I answered, “Where is Katrina?!”

“Ah yes,” he chuckled excruciatingly, “My creature which is now your little obsession.”

“If you’ve harmed her in any way, I swear that I’ll…”

“I assure you, Rumanos, I have not harmed her at all. What you did to her, on the other hand…” He clicked his tongue in feigned disapproval.

“What the fucking Hell do you mean?!”

“Why, take a look for yourself.”

He pushed a button on the podium and a secret door in the wall opened. Behind it was a cell with a small bed. On the bed was my beautiful Katrina. She was wrapped in blankets and looked very weak. She saw me and managed a slight smile, moving her hand slightly in an attempt to reach me. I ran over to the cell and tried to speak to her, but she was too weak to answer.

I turned to MacHann, “What is wrong with her?”

“As I said, it is completely your doing, you dirty boy”, he gloated, “She was created with a safeguard that any form of carnal knowledge would cause her to slowly lose her powers, sicken, and eventually die. All in keeping with the moral beliefs of my flock, of course.”

“MacHann, you bastard!” I started to lunge at him, but then heard a grotesque grunting sound behind me. I turned and saw a huge, shocking man-monster, every bit of nine feet tall, and obviously a great deal stronger than anything human.

“Say hello to my ultimate CREATION!!” screamed Machann, “Made from the manipulation of the combined DNA of several of my followers! It that guards my lair! It that will now destroy you, Rumanos, you ungodly sinner!”

MacHann laughed with maniacal glee as the gigantic, gruesome, horrible Creation strode forward and reached out its massive, bulging arms towards me!

(Continued…)

THE ULTIMATE SIN

** Previously in Weird Adventures: Dr. Rumanos has found that his love Katrina has been drained of her Heaven’s Hell powers and is being held captive by the mad scientist Patrick MacHann, and they are now menaced by MacHann’s monstrous new Creation!! **

The hideous Creation reached out its gigantic hands towards me, its colossal muscles bulging under its rough, grey skin. I sent out a defensive blast of magical energy. It was more than I had used to bust the door down earlier, but it only made the Creation stagger back a few steps. The man-monster then slapped me with the back of its enormous hand, sending me flying across the room to collide against the far wall.

I shook off the pain as quickly as possible and then thought of the psychic link that had existed between Katrina and myself since we had first met, the night I had probed her mind. I concentrated on this and sent her as much healing power as I could. Though it could only be temporary, I knew that I could restore her powers.

In the cell where MacHann had confined her, she awoke. I saw her lovely eyes open and begin to flash as her strength came back to her. She jumped up from the bed and then suddenly sent forth a burst of Infernal Flame so intense that it melted the iron bars of the cell immediately. She then flew upwards and hit the Creation with another blast of fire. It roared in pain -- or at least annoyance -- and turned away from me to face her.

Dr. MacHann was still laughing with maniacal glee. “It won’t work, Rumanos!”, he said mockingly, “She will still die when your little spell has run out. That is, if she even lives until then. My Creation is able to utterly defeat both of you. It is my obedient servant! I am its Creator, its GOD, and I command it to kill you now!!”

The gigantic, hideous Creation looked at MacHann, who was smiling evilly through his hideous burn-scars. It then looked at the beautiful young girl, my Katrina, standing before it. The Creation then looked down at its own grotesque arms and distorted body. I saw a look of complete and extreme sorrow come upon its dreadful face as it realized what it was. This appearance of sadness soon turned to one of extreme and total hate -- Hatred for the one who had created it, its self-proclaimed “God”, the completely insane Dr. Patrick MacHann.

The now self-aware Creation then reached out its enormous hands towards MacHann, who suddenly screamed in terror: “No! No! You must obey me, you sickening monstrosity! I am your Creator! I am your Lord and God! You cannot rebel against me! This is blasphemy! Blasphemy!!”

The Creation now had MacHann’s struggling form in it gigantic arms, and with a decided crunch, easily crushed the very life from him, silencing the madman forever.

As soon as it had released MacHann’s mangled, lifeless corpse from its grip, the Creation turned and strode to the wall, knocking a hole in it with its enormous fist large enough for it to escape. The Creation ran out into the Arizona night towards the desert. It -- he -- is still out there, somewhere.

I ran over to Katrina just in time to catch her as she fell. My spell was wearing out, and the life was once again seeping from her.

“My beautiful one,” I said, “Please, no… I cannot live in a world without you. I love you!”

“Awww…I love you too, Daniel…”, she said as her eyes closed for what looked like the final time. I made no effort to stop the tears that were streaming profusely down my face.

Then, I remembered something. The things in his old laboratory which MacHann had gotten so horribly burned in order to save had certainly included a sample of the Satanic DNA from which Katrina had been created.

I carried her down the hallway until I located the room he had converted into his new laboratory. I laid her now-unmoving body on the examination table in its center and began to quickly look through the various containers on the shelves lining the walls. I found it: A small vial marked LeVay.

I transferred the substance found in the vial to a syringe and, as quickly as possible, added one extra ingredient. I injected the resultant potion directly into poor Katrina’s heart and waited… Waited by her as patiently as possible for the results.

A few minutes later, minutes which had seemed to me like an eternity, I heard her take a breath. It had worked! I softly stroked her hair and said her name until she opened her beautiful light-blue eyes again. She would live, and her powers would return.

I explained to her what I had done, how I had renewed her with what was left of the formula that had been used to create her originally, and also of the new component I had added, an alchemical extract of my own seminal fluid, which would work to counteract the “safeguard” which MacHann, in his fake moralist madness, had included in her.

“You mean, now it’s safe for us to…”

“Yes, but only with each other. The Algolitish Magical force I imbued it with works both ways. You can safely have intimate relations with me, but no one else. Similarly, I can now only with you, or I would lose my own powers, sicken, and die. It’s the only way I could save you.”

This actually turned out to be quite apt, when you consider what happened next. Because right then and there I did something I had never done before for any being -- woman, man, god, spirit, demon, or other -- in all of space and time: I got down on my knees to her. I asked her to marry me. What’s more, she said YES! ,p>She was soon well enough to travel. In fact, she seemed stronger and more confident in her abilities, and of course more unbelievably gorgeous than anything that could be imagined. So we returned to Baltimore and got married, my wonderful Heaven’s Hell and I. The ceremony was performed by none other than my old friend Don Wengo, who had been a member of Zandor LeVay’s Temple of Astaroth years before, and was empowered to act in the capacity of their Priesthood.

So that’s how I married my darling Katrina, AKA Heaven’s Hell, according to the Rites of LeVayan Satanism. An especially appropriate solemnization, indeed.

LIVING AFTER MIDNIGHT

The stars shone down eerily over Baltimore City on this dark, moonless night. Suki was walking home after a brief get-together with her new sorority sisters. She was glad to have made some friends so quickly after coming here from Japan to attend the Johns Hopkins University. Her friends had told her that Charles Village, where the university was located, was a safe neighborhood -- at least as Baltimore neighborhoods go -- so pretty Suki didn’t feel too much trepidation about walking the few short blocks to her apartment.

Suki was suddenly grabbed from behind and dragged into a narrow side-street. Her assailant, a large, ugly street-thug with horrible body-odor, roughly pushed the helpless young woman up against the brick wall face-first. “Don’t say nothin’, bitch”, he hissed, “I kill you little ass if you do.”

She trembled in hideous fear as her attacker ripped down her skirt and began to undo his own loose-fitting trousers. “This gotta happen, girl”, he said with a slight, horrible laugh, “It gonna be good.”

The would-be rapist then noticed something out of the corner of his eye. A tall, shadowy figure was now standing at the entrance to the side street. He turned to face it: a man with long dark hair, wearing all black clothing. The man’s ankle-length leather trench-coat blew slightly in the late-night breeze.

That man was me, Dr. Daniel Rumanos, also known as Demon Star. The criminal looked me up and down as if he were trying to decide whether to confront me or just try to escape. He quickly decided upon the latter and began to run down to the other end of the side-street.

Before the miscreant could reach the end of the street he stopped short. Just a few yards in front of him was another figure, this one a beautiful young girl with red hair, clad in red and black tights and a short cape. She was Katrina LeVay-Rumanos, AKA Heaven’s Hell. Yes, that’s my wife.

Katrina tilted he head slightly and looked at the criminal with a mixture of disdain and amusement on her lovely face. Then she raised her hand and shot forth a blast of vermillion flame, engulfing the rapist and totally obliterating him. Not even dust or ashes were left. No remains, no mess. Just justice.

Young Suki would be alright -- or at least as alright as an innocent girl could be after such an experience. So Heaven’s Hell and I flew upward and away into the night.

A short time later we were seated at an all-night diner in south-east Baltimore. A guy by the name of Bill Hartman was supposed to be meeting us there. He was one of those self-proclaimed “ghost hunters” and the founder of the ridiculously named “Paranormal Society of Greater Maryland”, self-described on their badly-done website as “one of the most respected paranormal groups in the whole world“, don‘t you know. In reality just yet another one of those clusters of silly as-seen-on-TV hobbyists who think they are “professional scientific paranormal investigators” because they have some worthless little pseudo-scientific gadgets they bought from an internet auction site. They then like to go stumbling around in the dark of people’s houses looking for ghosties. Gets them off, I guess.

So a few minutes pass and then Bill Hartman waddles into the restaurant. Not surprisingly, he was a hideously plebeian type weighing well over 350 lbs. He wore a T-shirt and baseball cap both with the name of his group written on them, blue jeans, and white sneakers. He came over, sweating profusely and gasping for air just from having to walk in from the parking lot, and flopped down to sit in the booth across the table from us. Katrina excused herself and went to the ladies room so Hartman wouldn’t hear her laughing at him. She’s very sweet, isn’t she?

So there I was with Bill Hartman who was regaling me with stories about the “late-night investigation” of a local cemetery he and his “crew” had just been on. He assured me that they had “captured some real evidence” this time, both “EVPs” and photos.

I had no intention of wasting my time listening to his ridiculous recordings of white noise while he pretended to hear voices in it, nor to look at photos of dust on his camera lens that he fantasizes are “spirits”. I had agreed to a meeting with this idiot only for the purpose of getting him out of the way, as a warning to others who would risk stirring up spiritual chaos as a balm to their boring, working-class lives.

I looked Hartman straight in his dull, stupid eyes and flicked one of my fingers slightly in his direction. He made a slight gurgling sound in his fat throat and fell face-first to the table -- dead. Mission accomplished, eh?

The diner called an ambulance and Bill Hartman’s flabby corpse was soon removed from the establishment. The coroner’s report said natural causes, most likely a stroke brought on by his repugnant obesity. The “paranormal community”, however, referred to the event, without any sense of the humor in it, as “Hartman’s heart-attack”.

My darling Katrina returned from the lavatory and we left the diner. We had one more little duty to perform that evening. It involved a place named “St. Hedvig’s Independent Catholic Church” in Baltimore’s Brookland Crossing neighborhood -- yet another bloody redneck area, so I was glad we would only be flying over it. The founder of this fake church was a certain “Archbishop” Vincent Ceneco, a rather wealthy individual who had started his supposedly-holy calling in order to stroke his ego. He also enjoyed stroking the numerous low-income young men who sell themselves to older chaps in that particular area.

Some clouds were gathering as we soared high over the city, Heaven’s Hell by using her projection of Infernal Flame and me with my own Algolitish levitation powers. I concentrated on the cloud directly over the so-called St. Hedvig’s Church, willing it to send forth a bolt of lightning directly at the building’s roof. The bolt struck with a totally fulfilling bang. “Archbishop” Ceneco could afford repairs, of course, but it would serve as a forewarning to him. Hopefully he would not make it necessary to go further.

As we were passing over the very center of downtown Baltimore, my wonderful Heaven’s Hell traced in the air a gigantic red Inverted Pentagram with her flame -- a symbol which would glow for several hours over the metropolitan area as a glorious emblem of our ascendancy. We shall become a growing culture of supernatural terror in the occult underground, a force of Satanic warning to all those who would begrudge our existence.

We returned to the Roland Park area, to the luxurious Carlyng Apartment Building where we reside. We landed on the roof there from whence the entire city can be seen. The first glow of morning was just breaking in the east as I held the gorgeous Katrina in my arms.

“Did you enjoy our night on the town, my beautiful one?” I asked her.

“I loved it, Daniel!”, she replied charmingly, “What are we going to do tomorrow night?”

THE EXORCISM OF LYNDA CLEMENT

“Without warning, a wizard walks by / Casting his shadow, weaving his spell…”

- Black Sabbath (The Wizard)

Don Wengo couldn’t help snickering at the sign outside the witchcraft store on the outskirts of Baltimore that sunny afternoon. THE CAULDRON, it read, A New Type of New Age Shop, whatever the Hell that means. Most of the people who call themselves “Wiccans” and so forth wouldn’t know real Magick if it bit them on the arse.

Nevertheless, Don went into the shop. It was filled with the usual gewgaws: crystals, candles, and cauldrons. A small selection of books could be found on a rack in the far corner, but it was very obvious that no one ever bought them. Not terribly literary, these “neo-Pagan” types.

The store’s proprietor was much more interesting. Her name was Lynda Clement and she had just tuned 18. She had dark hair, green eyes, and a hot young body. She had inherited the shop nearly a year earlier from her mother after a certain fiasco concerning the evocation of an arch-devil in an abandoned church building on the other side of town.

Lynda smiled at Don. He was a good-looking guy -- Tall, well-built, with long brown hair. He wore a black leather jacket over black jeans, boots, and a heavy-metal band t-shirt.

It seems Lynda had just had enough of fake “occultism” several months back when a local drug dealer had come into the shop and forced her at gunpoint to light a candle and say a success spell for his business. A bit cheeky, that. After this, Lynda had made a deal with a minor demon called Kezmidel, offering it her devotions in exchange for the powers of sexual parasitism. She had since made it her habit of seducing men who came into the shop -- Taking them into the back room and draining them of life-energy during intercourse. Not harming them enough to attract attention, of course, but just taking a few years worth of vigor from each one.

Sexual promiscuity was no problem for Lynda. Her adopted father had been abusing her regularly for many years.

So Lynda beckoned Don into the back room where she put her hand between his legs and began gently massaging him there. A few minutes later all their clothes were off and they were on the small bed in the corner. Don kissed Lynda slowly on the mouth and them began tracing down her firm youthful body with his lips and tongue. She shuddered with pleasure when he reached her full breasts, and then her stomach.

A short time afterward Lynda gasped and smiled when Don entered her. He was much bigger than any of the other guys she had known, and she arched her back with delight as he began thrusting inside her. This continued for well over an hour. Lynda was amazed at Don’s stamina and wondered if she was going to bleed down there despite being absolutely dripping with the flow of natural lubrication. Then Don gripped her tightly with his hands on her thighs, penetrating even more deeply inside her as he reached his climax. At the very moment of it he intoned in a deep, resonant voice, “OL SONUF VAORESAJI GOHU IAD BALATA!”

Lynda hadn’t noticed the Magical Sigil that Don had earlier traced with his saliva just below her naval. It now began to glow with a burning black flame as Don Wengo’s Enochian Invocation had its effect. Lynda screamed with a mixture of ecstasy, pain, and absolute horror as the balefully demonic powers of a sexual parasite left her forever.

She was completely spent and lay on the bed trying to catch her breath. Don put his clothes back on and left the shop without saying another word. Lynda had now been exorcised and would do no more harm to anyone. In the next few weeks, the energy she had stolen from her victims would have an opposing effect to what she had intended -- She would begin to age prematurely and would soon appear to be a matronly woman of 50 at least.

Outside, Don took his mobile phone from his pocket and dialed the number marked Daniel Rumanos. “Hey Brother,” he said when the phone connected, “It is done!”

“Good work, old chap!”, said the voice on the other end of the line, “I knew that particular Sigil would take care of the problem when charged properly.”

His Magical Working for the day finished, the Wizard Don Wengo wondered if there were any good bars in the neighborhood. He could use a drink, and maybe he would even meet a nice girl.

NIGHT OF THE WATERBUGS

This is the story of the total crawling chaos that engulfed the city of Baltimore, Maryland. It is also the story of how I died. It was the night of the waterbugs.

It is unknown exactly how it all began. Probably some chemical spill caused by the hideously lazy and sickeningly negligent blue-collar workers that beleaguer the Baltimore area, and also much of the rest of America these days. Anyway, something had gotten into the food supply of a nest of those large, shiny-black cockroaches which are colloquially referred to as “waterbugs”. They were growing to monstrous size -- many of them twelve feet long, and as that grotesquely momentous evening came on, they began swarming outside on the streets and buildings of downtown Baltimore City.

The US military evacuated the area and was doing all it could to contain the gigantic insects. We went to help: Myself, Dr. Daniel Rumanos, AKA Demon Star; my wife, the beautiful Katrina, known as Heaven’s Hell; and our friend the Wizard Don Wengo. Don and I constructed Magical barriers and defenses against the horrid bugs, and Katrina burned many of them to death with her wonderful Infernal Flame, but there were just too many of the huge, revolting things. They were breeding like what they were -- roaches -- and it was obvious if something were not done they would quickly overrun the city, the country, perhaps the planet itself. There would soon be hundreds, thousands, millions of them.

It was determined that the breeding-center of the swarm colony was based around the dugouts of Oriole Park at Camden Yards. Even if enough pesticide could be used to wipe all of the waterbugs out, its run-off would poison the area’s water-supply for generations.

We founded a temporary headquarters in the deserted Gallery Mall, and it is there I made a decision which could have been my final one. Don was watching the entrances, to be certain none of the giant. disgusting bugs slipped in. I had a couple of minutes alone with my lovely, wonderful Katrina. I told her how much I loved her, or at least as much as any words can express it.

“You are everything to me, Kat, my beautiful one,” I told her, “I would live every day of my life for you. I would die for you.”

I held her in my arms and kissed her. I promised I would be back and then, before she could say a word of protest, I Magically teleported out of the mall.

I reappeared at the Calvert Cliffs Nuclear Power Facility -- right in the center of the main reactor. The pain was beyond excruciating as I absorbed its radiation into my body. I screamed with an intensity as I never had before, but kept my consciousness and teleported to my next destination.

I materialized at the center of the field at Camden Yards. Time to play ball, you fucking waterbugs. They were everywhere -- crawling on their hideous legs, their long, back-swept antennae in constant, grossly bizarre motion. I ignored this as best I could, hitting any insect which attempted to approach me with a blast of occult energies, and headed for the dugouts.

Those dugouts, as well as the numerous tunnels the enormous cockroaches had dug from them, were filled with masses of slimy waterbug eggs, reeking with a malodorous odor beyond imagining. I managed to get to the center of all of it and released the nuclear power from my body. I controlled the radiation with my psychic will to expand it to the limits of the ball-park, wiping out the bugs and their eggs. As they died, the roaches made a ghastly hissing sound that I know will forever haunt my worst nightmares.

When I was certain that the last of the eggs and larvae had been destroyed, that all that could remain were the stray bugs around the city which the military could now exterminate, I drew the nuclear energy back into my body and levitated up. Up, up, to the upper atmosphere, as close as I could get to the edge of space -- and released the nuclear energy safely, letting it dissipate around me. As soon as I had done this, I began falling. I had now reached the end of my endurance. I had just enough strength left for one more teleportation, so I caused myself to appear back at the Gallery Mall, where I passed out at Katrina’s feet.

She knelt down beside me and reached out her hand. She felt my body already cold as an effect of the radiation-poisoning. She screamed my name in terror as the tears burst from her beautiful blue eyes and streamed down her lovely face. Hearing her, Don Wengo came over to us.

Then, a few yards from us another form began to materialize. At first an eldritch ebony mist, it soon took shape as a very tall, diabolically distinguished figure in a dark suit and long cape.

Don confronted the figure. “Thaskales!”, he said, “Come to gloat, you bloody bastard? Your little vampire romance with Carmilla didn‘t work out, eh? What happened, did you find out she liked girls?”

By now Katrina had risen and walked a few steps towards Thaskales.

“Stay away from him, Katrina!,” Don warned her in alarm, “That’s Thaskales! He is pure evil!”

“I know who he is,” answered Katrina, “I mean… who he really is. I also know that he is one person who would never, ever harm me!”

“It has been so long since I have seen you -- so many painful ages”, said Thaskales, “But I have not forgotten you…my beautiful one.”

“You mean...?”, stammered Don in sudden realization, “Thaskales was really Daniel all the time?!”

Thaskales was indeed me, having traveled back from the far, far, unspeakably far future, from a time long after I had somehow become infected with vampirism and descended into absolute, horrendous wickedness and monstrous depravity.

He now turned to my lifeless form lying on the floor. Then Thaskales began to fade as the mist of glowing dark energy that was his life force entered my body. He was giving his life to restore mine, and he was doing it for the sake of Katrina‘s happiness. Thaskales had indeed never forgotten the promise he -- I -- had made to her.

Healed and restored, I sat up. That night of terror was over, and I felt the warmth of Katrina’s embrace.

The Weird Adventures

Daniel Rumanos: Literary Illusionist