Just a few miles north of the limits of the city of Baltimore is the location of the Timonium Fairgrounds, that particular area where, each year from late August through Labour Day, is held that gathering and celebration known as the Maryland State Fair.
On the year in which our story takes place, it seemed that the fair would go on as always, with the usual eleven days of carnival rides, games, live music, food stands and other attractions for the entertainment of the populace. Nevertheless, this was going to be a fair like no other -- in truth, an event of phantasmagorical horror and of unnameable terror born in the eldritch black gulfs of Outer Space.
It was the early morning of the day in which the Maryland State Fair was scheduled to begin. The grounds had not yet been opened to the public, and the only bustle of activity was that of last-minute preparation. At this time, behind the large building housing the old horse stables, in the fairgrounds’ back lot in which were at this time numerous carnie caravan vehicles, a strange noise was heard -- a kind of gasping moaning noise as another object materialised. It appeared to be just another trailer of the type utilised to transport travelling show equipment, but was in reality a disguised DiTraS (pronounced “DYE-tress” and standing for Dimensional Transport Sphere), one of those incredibly-advanced combination Spaceship/Time-machines only useable by the Watchers of Algol.
On this object, a porthole type opening appeared and a figure stepped forth from it. He seemed to be a man of middle years, dressed in a black suit of elegant Nineteenth-Century style. His hair was long and dark, and his face, decorated with a thin moustache and goatee, showed signs of handsome distinction despite being marred with the marks of seeming lifetimes of extreme profligate wickedness and evil beyond all mortal imagining. Most of all, his pale eyes shone with a glare of absolute hypnotic authority.
“Excuse me, sir,” said another voice from near by, that of a heavy-set man in a sport jacket and blue business-wear. “I don’t think I know you. How did you get on the fairgrounds?”
At this, the darkly-clad stranger turned and faced the one approaching him.
“Greetings,” he intoned; his voice suave and perfectly-pitched in its pronunciation. “You are Carl Walken, the fairgrounds manager. I am here to speak with you about a change of plans in your events list this season.”
“Oh, I get it,” smirked Walken. “You’re another stage magician or fake psychic here for an audition. That explains your clothes, anyway. I’m afraid it’s too late for that. All our gigs are booked up. Try back next year.”
“No,” rejoined the other. “It is much more than that. Much more, indeed. I have a proposition for you. You will play a part in what is about to transpire here. You will aid us in the conquest of this planet.”
“Now look here, you… !” exclaimed Carl Walken, his words trailing off into sudden silence as the dark stranger’s eyes met his own.
“You will obey me,” continued the stranger, his hypnotic gaze boring a mentalist beam of power into the other’s mind. “You will do as you are told, and will aid us in the invasion.”
“I… will… obey you,” repeated Walken, his will now fully influenced.
“Yes, you will obey me in all things, as in time shall all. I am Master Don Wingus, and all upon this planet shall soon obey me!” …
My name is RUMANOS -- DOCTOR DANIEL RUMANOS, Extraterrestrial Espionage Agent and Intergalactic Man of Mystery. Even though I have the physical appearance of an human being, I am in fact several thousands of years old and do carry within my blood the vastly superior genes of the legendary Watchers of the Daemon-Star ALGOL -- the most intellectually-advanced race in all of the known galaxies, whose technology is so sophisticated it often appears to be “magic” and “miraculous” to lesser beings.
Whilst most Algolites tend to keep to themselves, preferring to live in elitist seclusion from the rest of the Universe and thus merely observing the goings-on of the myriad races of the vast reaches around them, I am an Operative for a secret organisation known as the KOSMIKOS or Cosmic Intervention Department, tasked with maintaining peace and order throughout the farthest reaches of Space and Time. You know, “plausible deniability”, and all of that sort of thing. It is our ongoing mission to defend the weak, the unfortunate, and the innocent from those who would harm or exploit them.
Currently assigned to Earth, I protect its people (both upon their planet and across the eternal void) from the hideous manipulations of the arch-villain known as Magister Don Wingus and his occult terrorist organisation, Spectral Paranormal; as well as from alien invasions, mad scientists, and indeed all manner of menace. Assisted by my friends -- the beautiful Miss Millie Drake and our catlike robot, Kit-10 -- I am the living icon of Algol on this world. I am a Knight of the Eternal Spires. I am the sword of justice from the planet Daemonia. I am the stellar swashbuckler.
I am -- THE DAEMON-STAR!!! …
General Alexander Gorton-Steward, resplendent in his US Army officer’s uniform, sat behind his desk in the secret headquarters of the Military Special Services Unit -- located somewhere in the area of Washington, DC -- to which we had been summoned. The General, still a strong and handsome gentleman in his sixties, had already experienced decades of work in counter-terrorist operation before being assigned to his current duties in dealing with extraterrestrial and otherworldly threats to the security of this great nation (and indeed, the entire world) -- his work in this field being answerable only to the direct authority of the President of the United States.
“We got here as soon as we could upon receiving your summons, General,” said I. “We were on assignment in one of the outer spirals.”
I was dressed in my usual finery as I sat beside Millie Drake in General Gorton-Steward’s office, including a frilled poets shirt, purple velvet suit, and military boots. I twirled my panama hat in my hands whilst I spoke.
“Thanks for coming back right away, Doctor,” said the General in his usual strongly authoritative manner. “The equipment you left at our science office detected the radiation from that Goddamn U15 thing sooner than expected. Oh, excuse my language in front of the little lady.”
Millie blushed and smiled at the gruff-but-gallant old General. The girl is exceedingly beautiful, petite and perfect with a sun-kissed complexion, luxurious chestnut hair, lovely violet eyes, and a sensuously-wide mouth. She was wearing a tight, short, purple dress that only served to highlight the soft curves of her slender adolescent figure.
“If the U15 Consciousness has returned,” I considered, “it must have made contact with someone to act as a liaison, and it that has to be someone who could have conversed with it in Outer Space.”
“Daniel, shouldn’t that narrow the possibilities down some?” enquired Millie.
“Indeed, but we should not speculate before we have all the facts, hmmm?” I rejoined. “What we do know is that the U15 Consciousness has a particular affinity for plastic, so it will position itself in such a way as utilise that. General, do you have a location in which the radiation was detected?”
“Yes, we do,” he answered. “It seems to be in the Lutherville/Timonium area of northern Baltimore County. In fact, it looks like the damn thing has centred right on the fairgrounds!”
“Oh my gosh!” exclaimed the girl. “Isn’t the Maryland State Fair going on there right now?”
“Indeed it is, love,” I affirmed. “We need to look into this right away. The U15 Consciousness spread itself unchecked across the galaxy for which it is named. We must do all that is within our power to prevent that from happening here.”
“I’d like to send some backup with you,” added Gorton-Steward, “but we’ll have to clear that with the President. Damn it! He and the Governor of Maryland don’t exactly get along, you know.”
“I heard about that,” mused Millie.
“Worry not, old chap,” I told the General. “We shall go to the Timonium Fairgrounds and investigate. Fortunately, we are not restricted by political intrigues.”
“Thank God for that,” said Gorton-Steward as we stood up and shook hands, “but I promise we’ll work it out and get you some military support ASAP. In the meantime, Doctor, Miss Drake, good luck!” …
Millie Drake and I arrived at the Timonium Fairgrounds in the early afternoon of that partly sunny day, accompanied by Kit-10, our mobile personal computer that resembles nothing more or less than a small robotic cat.
The fair was by now well underway, with the sounds of happy children and others creating a joyous din across the area along with the mixed music of the rides and a local rhythm and blues band upon the stage at the far end of the field.
My mind briefly thought back to a time, so many years before, when I had fought the evil Ron Mershon, Satanist and agent of Spectral Paranormal, on these very grounds. That however, was so very long ago, and I quickly dismissed the memories of that horrid individual from my thoughts.
I took the transonic turnscrew, an highly-advanced scientific instrument somewhat resembling a large writing pen, from my jacket pocket, and activated the setting to scan near by.
“Hmmm,” I considered upon reading the results upon the device. “There is present some radiation like that of the U15 Consciousness, but it seems strangely elusive.”
“Is there a way to better track it down?” enquired Millie.
“Kit-10,” said I, returning the transonic to my pocket. “You have the ability to detect the presence of the U15 Consciousness programmed into your system, hmmm? Would you take a quick survey around the fairgrounds, and let us then know if it seems to be centred in any particular area?”
“Affirmative, s--,” agreed the pleasantly-feminine voice of the mechanical feline, who then moved off across the grounds to begin her survey.
(It should be mentioned here that included amongst Kit-10’s catlike characteristics is her absolute inability to openly show respect to anyone. The closest she ever comes to it is by addressing me as “s--” -- for “sir” -- and Millie Drake as “m--” -- for “ma’am”.)
“Say, Daniel,” said the girl, “look at those.”
Millie was pointing to a group of statues, seemingly made of plastic, that represented several historical figures from America’s past in a kind of patriotic tableau.
“By the Stars!” I swore. “Could those be… ?”
My words were the suddenly choked off as something grasped me from behind. I felt the form of something small but amazingly strong land upon my shoulders. I then heard Millie Drake scream in total abject horror as two hairy, apelike arms wrapped around my throat and endeavoured to crush my windpipe!
Using my skills at Daemonian jujitsu, I managed to flip my assailant up and over my head. He hit the ground several yards in front of me and I then saw for certain what he was.
My attacker was a dwarfish man with brown skin, covered with black bristly hairs. His face was absolutely bestial, more simian than human.
“Daniel!” exclaimed Millie. “What is that?!”
“That, my dear, is Juan Dingo Junior,” I explained. “I have heard of him, but did not until now believe that he actually existed. He is a proto-human from the deepest jungles of the Philippines, part of a degenerate lineage that has retained certain aspects of the homo erectus. Apparently, he was being proclaimed as an upcoming exhibit at the fair, and someone has hired him in an attempt to assassinate us!”
The subhuman had quickly recovered from his fall and was now again approaching me, chattering grotesquely in his prehistoric patois. I gave him a sharp blow to his face that sent him careening to hit against the machinery behind the Ferris wheel. I then hurriedly aimed the transonic turnscrew to-wards it and activated a setting to redirect the system’s electrical flow.
With this, the horrid jungle-man known as Juan Dingo Jr. exposed his hideous homo erectus teeth in one final snarl at me before this same reaction turned into a shriek of agony as the power surge took the life from him. He then slipped to the ground, now nothing but a charred and lifeless husk.
During my battle with the ape-man, I had endeavoured to keep him away from Millie and so was now several metres distant from her. Before we could then reunite, I heard another voice from behind me; forsooth, a voice all too familiar. I turned to face the one I knew to be my archenemy, Don Wingus.
“Well well well, Rumanos,” mocked the villain, aiming a sleek ray-gun directly at me. “How nice of you and the representative from The Itty Bitty Titty Committee here to attend the fair.”
“You!“ I exclaimed, nobly ignoring his obscene taunt concerning the girl. “I should have known. So you did escape from Lysithea.”
“Oh, of course,” grinned the evil Algolite, “and I have made a pact here that shall give me mastery over this planet, and over the pathetic human race that you are sworn to protect. A shame about Juan, though. He had such an enjoyable anus.”
“Spires of Daemonia!” I swore. “You mean to tell me that you have made a deal with the U15 Consciousness? This is beyond madness, Wingus! That monstrosity only cares about expanding its influence by replacing the populations of entire worlds with plastic duplicates!”
“And so it will,” returned Don Wingus. “Soon the U15 Consciousness will fully manifest itself here at the Maryland State Fair, after which we shall begin to replace this human race with Plasticon duplicates -- over which I shall be supreme ruler. The Consciousness has agreed to then cooperate with my using the Plasticons to conquer the entire planet Earth!”
“The Plasticons have been defeated before and will be defeated again,” I retorted. “That horrible U15 abomination will not be allowed to… !”
“Oh no, Rumanos,” he interrupted with an evil smirk. “You will not interfere. Not this time. Look!”
With this, Wingus motioned in the direction where Millie Drake had been standing. I glanced over and saw that a man had approached the girl from behind, and was now holding her with his arm around her throat.
“That is Carl Walken,” explained the wicked Wingus, still pointing his gun at me, “manager of the Timonium Fairgrounds and my obedient servant. You will surrender at this instant, Rumanos, or he will seriously hurt that little girlie of yours. Walken is an old circus strongman, you see. He is still quite capable of breaking her neck with very little effort, should I give the command.”
“Daniel,” gasped Millie, struggling for air under Walken’s grasp, “don’t listen to him. Don’t worry about me. Just stop the U15 Consciousness. Stop the Plasticons. Look at what is happening!”
I then looked around and beheld a further horror. The plastic figures from the patriotic tableau had started to move and were even now stalking around the fairgrounds. The crowd had only looked at them in wonder -- at these walking representations of Lincoln and Washington and Jefferson and, most grotesquely, Susan B. Anthony -- thinking it was all part of some bizarre show for their amusement.
“By the Stellar Trinity!” I exclaimed. “I had hoped it was not true! Those figures really are Plasticons!”
“Yes,” said Don Wingus after a chuckle of insane mirth, “and each of them is perfectly ready to begin slaughtering these innocent people. You are finished, Rumanos. The second U15 invasion is now underway, and you have no choice but to surrender!”
Just then, a flash of finely-focused light hit the ray-gun that Don Wingus was holding, sending it flying from his hand to clatter against the ground. It was, of course, from Kit-10’s nose-laser. The little robot had returned from her survey and immediately aided against the difficulties that we were facing.
“Thank you, Kit-10!” said I. “Excellent shooting, as always.”
“Of course, s--,” replied the metallic kitten.
Before Wingus could recover from his surprise at this, I leapt over and freed Millie from the clutches of Mr. Walken, knocking the man out with a blow to his head. I knew that he was just under the control of my old arch-foe, and would not harm the lass as long as I succeeded in getting to him before Don Wingus could give him orders. He sunk to the ground, now harmlessly unconscious.
Millie Drake was by now in a swoon from the terror of the situation. I set her down under a near by tree.
“Guard her, Kit-10!” I said. “I shall deal with him!”
Whilst the mechanical cat saw to Millie’s relative safety, I turned and approached the villainous Don Wingus.
“Your theatrical heroics are of no avail, Rumanos,” mocked the interplanetary miscreant. “The Plasticons are spread out across the fairgrounds, and now the U15 Consciousness itself shall manifest to all!”
“By Daemonia!” I swore at him. “You would have that monstrosity, the very amalgamation of the alien gestalt mind that seeks to spread itself across the Universe, to show itself here?!”
“Oh indeed,” chuckled the evil one. “In fact, it will come forth any moment now.”
“S--,” interrupted Kit-10. “Survey of the area shows the U15 radiation to be strongest inside the building housing the stables.”
“Of course,” I realised. “The old fairground stables. That is were the U15 creature has been housed.”
By now, Millie Drake had recovered from her faint and was standing beside the robotic feline.
“Daniel!” she suddenly exclaimed. “Look! There it is!!”
Several huge, horrid tentacles had suddenly emerged from the near by stable building, and in sooth the structure itself soon exploded outwards under the weight of the expanding extraterrestrial monster. The thing was green of hue and replete with myriad writhing tentacles in constant grotesque motion. It was like an octopus and a crab and a lobster and a sea-centipede all at once, and covered with a viscid slime that was like unto an obscene combination of diseased saliva and seminal fluid. As I watched in horror, that alien terror that is the physical manifestation of the U15 Consciousness continued to quickly grow in size, soon reaching a height of fifty feet and a similar width.
“Wingus,” said I, “you cannot actually think that thing will remain an ally of yours! It only seeks to replace the entire human race with its Plasticon duplicates, therefore adding the planet Earth to its expanding consciousness!”
Nevertheless, the villain only looked at the growing abomination and laughed a laugh of ungodly triumph as he looked back at me. Behind him, the monstrosity that was the physical manifestation of the horrid U15 Consciousness continued to writhe and expand in its own unnameable eldritch manner, there on the very grounds of the Maryland State Fair!
“You have failed, Rumanos!” exalted the evil Don Wingus. “You did not foil the invasion plans after all! It was a mere setback, a temporary retreat whilst I met with the U15 Consciousness in Space and made a deal to aid its conquest of this world. Yes, Rumanos, you have failed miserably! You have failed, and now -- U15 strikes back!!”
Do you have the capacity to even begin to realise the complete and utter, horror, forsooth the total and unmitigated abject terror of this unprecedented situation, my dear friends and loyal readers? There we were; Millie Drake, Kit-10, and myself, facing that horrendous gigantic monstrosity known as the U15 Consciousness as it -- along with its terrible Plasticon minions -- readied its invasion of the planet Earth, an invasion in which it sought to wipe out and replace the entire human race with only its own horrid gestalt mind. In addition, all the while this alien abomination was being aided and encouraged by my own archenemy -- the unspeakable intergalactic criminal known to eternal satanic infamy as Magister Don Wingus!
“Again I say, you have failed!” reiterated Don Wingus. “You have utterly failed in your attempts to defend this pathetic planet, Rumanos! You have failed, and the U15 Consciousness will now conquer Earth, with me as commander of the Plasticons!”
“By the Stellar Trinity, Wingus!” I retorted. “You have been in such a hurry to humiliate me that you have completely overlooked the inconsistency, the complete contradiction in your plans. Think about what it is that you are saying. Do you really believe that the U15 Consciousness, an alien horror that only exists in order to spread itself across the Universe, will allow you to live, much less to be in control of anything? Think about it, Wingus. Look at that unspeakable monstrosity and think about it!”
I saw a light of realisation dawn in the eyes of Don Wingus as he contemplated the creature now menacing the Timonium Fairgrounds and -- forsooth! -- the world. For the first time, I beheld a look of open fear upon his face; fear of what he had helped to unleash upon the world -- an horror that would show him no more mercy than it would anyone else in its intention to conquer, to destroy, to replace.
“Rumanos,” he finally stated, “what can we do?”
“The U15 is a gestalt consciousness,” I considered. “If we could link our minds together against it…”
“Yes, I see,” said Wingus. “The combined mentalist power of two adult Watchers could indeed prevent the monster from expanding itself further -- but for how long?”
“Hopefully for long enough. At least until a way to destroy it presents itself, hmmm? So, are you willing?”
“Yes, Rumanos. I am.”
With this, Don Wingus and I stood shoulder-to-shoulder and faced to-wards the unspeakable horror of the alien U15 Consciousness.
“Contact,” said I.
“Contact,” responded Wingus.
The temporary melding of our two Algolitish minds then happened, and we focused our thoughts upon the U15 monster. The thing at first shuddered, then it became perfectly still, ceasing all writhing of its grotesque tentacles, ceasing all growth and expansion as it felt the force of the combined will-power of Don Wingus and myself.
Then was heard a sound, the sound of United Sates Air Force jet aeroplanes streaking across the sky.
“Look, Kit-10!” cheered Millie Drake, who was still watching from close by, “The General came through! It’s a squadron of bomber jets!”
“Affirmative, m--,” agreed the robotic pussycat.
The jet fighters then began a dive down to-wards the now-immobile U15 creature, unleashing their full firepower upon it. The horrid thing was soon aflame, and then quickly crumbled away into nothing, unable to retaliate due to the mental block that two Algolite consciousnesses had placed upon it. Within a mere minute, it was as if the horrible monstrosity had never been there.
Around the fairgrounds, the Plasticon figures ceased from motion, now, without the influence of the U15 mind, nothing but harmless plastic statues.
As soon as our mental link stopped, Don Wingus roughly shoved me to the ground and ran quickly for the back-lot of the fair. I glanced up and saw him from afar, entering what appeared to be a carnival trailer parked amongst others. Then, with the unmistakable noise of a Daemonian Time/Space engine, the “trailer” faded from sight -- dematerialising, I knew, into the inter-dimensional current only accessible to our superior technology.
I stood up and brushed myself off whilst Millie Drake ran over to me with Kit-10 close behind her.
“Fear not, my love,” I told her. “The U15 Consciousness has been banished from this planet, its physical manifestation and influence shattered beyond repair.”
Seeing the creature destroyed, the fighter jets had now left the area. As for the crowds attending the fair, they where by now already returning to normal. To them, it all now seemed as if what had transpired was no more than an illusion intended for their idle amusement. Perhaps it is indeed best for them to think that way, for if humankind were to have any actual idea concerning the truth of the darksome horrors that peer at this planet with eyes of alien evil from across the cosmic gulf, those cruel and unfeeling extraterrestrial terrors that wait and plan and plot and would destroy or enslave this world without a thought of ethical conscience, it would quite likely send the populace screaming into complete and unredeemable madness.
“So Don Wingus escaped?” asked Millie.
“He did,” I acquiesced. “One of the carnival trailers was his DiTraS. We will have to deal with him again. When and where, we know not. Nevertheless, the U15 Consciousness and the Plasticons have indeed been defeated and, for today, our work is done. I say, Mills, let us spend some time enjoying the fair, hmmm?”
“I was hoping you would say that!” giggled the beautiful lass as she gave me a warm hug.
And with this, Miss Millie Drake, Kit-10, and I strolled off to join the crowd of merrymakers.
***** DANIEL RUMANOS AND MILLIE DRAKE SHALL RETURN IN “STALKING STACY”