JAILBAIT

In a secret location somewhere in the area of Baltimore, Maryland, a grotesquely-effeminate man pranced into a large chamber decorated in antique Victorian splendour. The man was thin and of medium height, with sandy-brown hair and a pallid complexion. He was clad in a tight suit of sooty black with a pink necktie.

“Master,” he lisped, facing a raised dais on which a figure sat upon a bizarre, throne like chair, “we have received more information. Your plan is proceeding well.”

“That is excellent, Oliver,” intoned the figure in a dark, masculine voice. “Our enemy is as predictable as ever. His doom will soon come, as I have foreseen.”

“Your ways are glorious to behold, Master,” said the one known as Mr. Oliver, his voice tinged with admiration of a decidedly pathic variety as he deeply curtsied to the figure seated upon the dais.

The figure was shrouded in a pitch black vestment robe, his face hidden within a deep cowl.

“Our new allies will be contacting you soon, Master,” continued Oliver. “The subspace transmission technology has now been successfully upgraded to facilitate live communication.”

“Excellent, my servant,” said the one called Master, “Excellent indeed. Soon this world, this Universe, will bow before me. Soon all of existence will acknowledge me as its rightful Lord and Master.”

“Yes, Master!” purred Oliver in sickening satanic ecstasy. “Oh yes! We of Spectral Paranormal are pleased to be your servants… your slaves!”

“And soon your loyalty will be rewarded,” proclaimed the evil Master, raising his head just enough to reveal two hypnotic, glowing eyes from deep within his cowl. “Soon you will be recognised as the ‘advanced guard’ of my worship. The one true worship! I am he! I am the rightful ruler of all the Cosmos! I am… DON WINGUS!!!” … 

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 as “magic” to lesser beings.

Whilst most Algolites live in elitist seclusion from the rest of the Universe, I am an Operative for a secret organisation known as the KOSMIKOS, tasked with maintaining peace and order throughout the farthest reaches of Space and Time. “Plausible deniability”, and all that.

Currently assigned to Planet Earth, I protect its people from the hideous manipulations of the arch-villain known as Master Don Wingus, as well as alien invasions, mad scientists, and indeed all manner of menace. I am the living icon of Algol upon this world. I am the sword of justice from the planet Daemonia. I am -- THE DAEMON-STAR!!! …

I found the girl sitting at a table in the Hoagieplace sandwich shop inside a petrol station in the town of Woodlawn, part of Baltimore County. She had honey-coloured skin, hair like liquorice, and emerald eyes -- and was too cute to be a minute over thirteen. The lass had that that allure, that irresistibility -- and the lovely big eyes and wide, sensuous mouth that are really only found in girls that age. She was clad in a white peasant-blouse and a conservative navy-blue skirt that nevertheless revealed the slender, pubescent perfection of her knees and ankles.

I had left my canary-coloured Edwardian roadster, affectionately known as “Lizzie”, parked a few blocks away from the petrol stop (my car does not use any common type of fuel, anyway), and had walked the remainder of the way on that rather dark, overcast morning. I was dressed in my usual finery, including a frilled poet-shirt and purple velvet smoking jacket.

The area, a rest and fuel stop just off the Baltimore Beltway, was rather deserted aside from a couple of sleepy attendants. No one seemed to be interested as I began to converse with the young girl.

“Good morning,” said I. “You would be Miss Brooke Martin, I presume? I am Dr. Rumanos.”

“Yes,” she said, looking up as I approached, “I’m Brooke. Oh, I’m so glad you got the message I left on your voicemail, Doctor.”

“Indeed I did,” I replied, sitting down beside her. “You say you have some problem you believe I could help you to deal with?”

“Yes,” she said, her eyes suddenly cast back downwards. “It, umm, has something to do with… aliens, I think.”

Interesting, I thought. Upon arriving, I had scanned the area for any signs of extraterrestrial technology (utilising my transonic turnscrew, an incredibly advanced device that resembles a large writing pen), but had found nothing.

“Aliens? Please go into more detail, Brooke. I do promise to help in any way I can.”

“Well, you see,” she continued. “It’s just that… umm… ”

It was at that moment that I noticed a shadow; a shadow that was somewhat obscuring the light from the plate-glass windows, and turned my head to see what it was. I was met with a man’s fist that hit me right in the nose -- hit me with a blow of incredible strength.

“Daniel Rumanos,” I heard him say, “I’m Detective Garcia of the Howard County Police Department, and you’re under arrest for numerous child sex offences!”

“By the Stellar Triplicity!” I swore as I straightened up and faced him. He was muscular, swarthy-complexioned man of below-average height, black-haired and moustached, clad in plain clothes -- dark trousers and an off-white short-sleeved shirt -- with a police badge attached to his pocket. “What the deuce are you talking about?”

“You came out here today to meet this child for sex!” he went on. “We know all about you, Rumanos! The State’s Attorney has been interested in your activities for a long time, and we have been keeping an eye on you! You and your child-sex advocacy! You need to lay off the kids! You understand me? You are an affront to families and parents everywhere! A lot of people are pissed off at you! Lay off the kids, Rumanos! Lay off the kids!”

“I was not aware that I was laying on any of them,” I rejoined. “Besides, we are in Baltimore County at the moment. Even if I am falsely suspected of a crime, the HCPD has no jurisdiction to arrest me here.”

“We don’t need it!” Garcia shouted. “This is a special case and you are really pissing me off! Now are you going to come quietly or do I have to mess you up?!”

“Officer, for heaven’s sake… ”

“That’s DETECTIVE!” he fumed. “I didn’t spend all that time taking Howard County detective courses to be called ‘officer’, you damned weirdo!!”

I looked at him for a moment and then turned back to the young girl known as Brooke Martin.

“Worry not, love,” I told her. “I will clear up this misunderstanding with the detective here and get back to help you with your problem soon enough.”

I noticed that the lass was cowering in the corner of the booth behind the table, and that her eyes would not meet my gaze. She was very frightened -- but of what? The policeman? Me? Or was it something else entirely?

It was only then, as I beheld the poor girl’s terror at the situation, that I realised that I had been decoyed. None the less, I still found it impossible to believe that this sweet young lady had willingly had anything to do with it. There were other forces at work here, forces far more complicated and much more insidious than misguided attempts at law enforcement…

At that moment my thoughts were interrupted by another blow from Detective Garcia; forsooth, a blow that only served to confirm my suspicions. For it was delivered with far greater than human strength, and the force of it sent me hurtling directly through the plate-glass window and landing in the lot of the petrol station!

The still-infuriated cop followed me quickly, his jump through the large gap I had made when I had smashed through the glass appearing more like the leap of an huge, grotesque… insect.

“Garcia, you may indeed be an official Howard County Detective,” I said as he approached, and as I attempted to overcome the shock of the recent surprise attack and regain my feet, “but you are not exactly here on police business, are you?”

It was then that an absolutely horrid metamorphosis began to happen. The man known as Detective Garcia was hurrying towards me, and I saw his skin begin to change, to transform into the shell of a brown, cockroach-like creature, though still of human size, with six clawed legs, grotesquely darksome eyes and long, horridly-twitching antennae.

“As I stated, we know all about you, Daniel Rumanos of Algol!” he said, his voice recognisably the same despite the grotesque buzzing sound that had now entered into it. “We are the WNUUF, and we will absorb the entire human race as easily as we have taken over this one Earthman! But first, we will destroy the only thing on this planet that would stand in our way! Rumanos, we will destroy YOU!!”

Just as the horrible insect creature -- the thing that had indeed once been an human being, the man known as Detective Garcia -- got to me, I reached out and grasped one of his six legs and, utilising a method of Daemonian kung fu, hurled the thing up over my head to-wards the far end of the lot. He landed with a resounding crash against one of the petrol pumps, which was then detached from the concrete, sending gasoline spewing over the lot.

By now the girl, Brooke Martin, had exited the sandwich shop and was running to-wards me screaming in terror at what she had witnessed.

“What is that thing?!” she enquired. “He told me he was a police officer! He stopped me on my way to Sunday School and threatened to have me put in Juvenile Hall if I didn’t help him arrest you! I was so scared, so I went along with it! I’m sorry! Oh, I’m so sorry!”

“I believe you, Brooke,” I assured her. “He is... or was… just a well-meaning but misguided policeman, but has been taken over by the Wnuuf, an intelligent insect species originally from Galaxy 190261414. They left their home-world ages ago, and now roam Interstellar Space -- not even needing ships, hence my not finding evidence of any alien technology here -- looking for host bodies. One of them must have laid its eggs in Garcia’s body just before it died… ”

Just then, Brooke screamed again and the Wnuuf blindsided me, having recovered quickly from hitting the pump. Together, the thing that once had been Detective Garcia and I went skidding across the petrol station lot.

“We will destroy you, Algolite scum!” he buzzed. “We will destroy you and spread our swarm across this planet! You will not succeed in protecting this world from us!”

“Ah, but how did you even know of my presence on Earth?” I queried as the Wnuuf and I attempted to best each other with bizarre wrestling holds. “Who tipped you off? Indeed, who encouraged the Wnuuf to use this Detective Garcia as an host, therefore attacking me in a way that some would consider quite embarrassing? Why, I would say it almost seems like the work of… ”

“You will be destroyed, Daniel Rumanos! The human known as Garcia is now part of our swarm! He is assimilated into us! His thoughts of glory in apprehending you! ‘Jailbait’! ‘Jailbait’! ‘Statutory rape’! His personal hatred of you works to increase our strength, you, as he and his kind would say, ‘creepy paedophile’!”

“Ha!” I exclaimed, barely avoiding the Wnuuf’s attempt to clasp one of its claws around my throat. “Did I just get called ‘creepy’ by a bloody great cockroach from Outer Space?”

With this, I kicked the monstrous Wnuuf -- indeed that gruesome being that, incredibly enough, had taken over the body of a detective from the Howard County Police Department -- causing him to bound about eight storeys into the air.

I rushed to get out from under where I thought the grotesque insect would land, and ran to-wards the girl with the intention of protecting her.

“Brooke!” I exclaimed. “You have to get away from here! The Wnuuf eggs that are in Garcia are near the very end of their incubation stage! Soon they will be… ”

What happened next transpired more quickly that it can be described. The Wnuuf had used his rudimentary wings to ease his descent, and hit me hard from behind. I careened across the concrete and crashed headfirst into a low, stone wall that had been set up at the edge of the lot.

“You are finished, Daniel Rumanos!” announced the Wnuuf. “You are finished, and now we will take this child to further ourselves! She -- as the first of many that shall be bred from me -- will be host to the eggs of our swarm!!”

I then heard Brooke Martin scream in the most abject terror as the hideous Wnuuf approached her, and felt a wave of blackness -- the result of the terrible blow to my head -- begin to overcome me…

At the same time, back at the eldritch headquarters of Spectral Paranormal, the pathic Mr. Oliver was peering at the readout of an electronic device incongruously attached to the mantle of a Nineteenth Century fireplace.

“Master Wingus,” he said. “Our enemy is in dire straits. He is battling the beings known as Wnuuf at a location in the Woodlawn area.”

“Excellent indeed, my servant,” responded the evil Don Wingus from his throne-chair. “The intelligence information the Wnuuf received from us will aid them in hopefully destroying him. They have been briefed that the end of his existence is necessary before they can absorb the human race into their insect hive-mind collective. I directed them personally to lay their eggs in that Garcia fool, whom I had already instigated to a fever-pitch by sending him reports about the supposed sexual activities of Rumanos. Human moral panics are so easy to manipulate. The rogue ‘copper’, you see, is really just a silly little want-to-be crusader against so-called ‘sex criminals’. Detective Luis Garcia, Howard County’s Finest -- not that that is saying much. I suppose he felt the need to somehow overcome the feelings of racial hatred the hillbilly locals had against him for being Hispanic. The last two years of the idiot’s police work have been spent entirely by tracking down ‘registered sex offenders’ that didn’t properly send in a change of address or some such nonsense. More glory in that than just constantly breaking up trailer park fights there in ‘HoCo’, I suppose. He has even been working on the side for some ridiculous ‘child advocacy’ group, to which his overzealousness has made him an embarrassment. Ah, but it is such a simple pleasure to influence attention-seeking moralistic hypocrites like this Garcia bloke. Besides, he really does have such a nice oily orifice…”

“You are wondrous to behold, Master,” moaned Oliver. “To serve you is better than all things! No one can stand against you!”

From his dais, Don Wingus then raised his two black-gloved hands in order to lower his cowl. With this movement, he revealed an horror indeed. His face, indeed his entire head, was a mass of scar tissue, mutilated and disfigured beyond any real resemblance to an humanoid countenance. What remained of his skin was stretched tightly over the skull. His lips were gone, his mouth like an open wound revealing his mottled teeth. Only a few tufts of dark-grey hair remained upon his head and chin to tell of his once-handsome appearance, and from the centre of this horror still glowed those pale, wickedly-hypnotic eyes.

“The day has come!” spat Wingus, his darkling voice rising in hateful timbre. “The day of my vengeance, when our enemy’s continued meddling will cease forever. “The day has come when Daniel Rumanos shall be utterly destroyed!!” …

From the daze of semi consciousness, I heard a voice. It was a sweet, feminine voice; a voice in anguish and terror; a voice crying out for help -- forsooth a voice crying out for me.

“Doctor! Doctor Rumanos! Save me! Please save me, Doctor Rumanos!!”

It was the voice of Brooke Martin.

I rallied myself, shaking off the effects of the recent blow. I turned to face the horror of the Wnuuf, that insectoid monstrosity from another galaxy that had already subjugated the body and brain of a Maryland police detective -- and that now intended to utilise the innocence of that poor wee lass in order to begin spreading its hideous swarm across the planet Earth!

The Wnuuf had grabbed the girl in two of its horridly clawed legs, and was beginning to scuttle across the concrete lot of the petrol station. I hit the Wnuuf with a tackle worthy of any great rugby player, but did not succeed in knocking it over. Wnuuf are indeed incredibly strong, as any insect would be if brought up to human size.

My tackle did succeed, however, in causing the Wnuuf to loosen its grasp on Brooke, and a couple of quickly-delivered blows to its head caused it to be distracted enough that I could take hold of the girl and extradite her from its grip.

Holding the young lady in my arms, I ran back across the lot in order to keep her safe from the Wnuuf, having to be exceedingly careful not to slip on the petrol that by now had covered the entire lot from the burst pump. She was almost in a swoon as I carefully put her down behind the stone wall that I had careened into earlier.

From my now-crouching position, I looked up and beheld the Wnuuf. He/it was still back where I had left it, but something of extreme and unnameable horror was occurring.

“You have still failed, Daniel Rumanos! You have failed! The new swarm is born!!!”

And then, bursting forth from the stomach of the creature that once had been Detective Garcia of the HCPD was a seemingly endless swarm of hideous insectoid Wnuuf that quickly spread across the station lot!

“Go forth, my children!” the parent Wnuuf shrieked ecstatically. “Go forth and absorb this world!!”

Can you comprehend the extreme and unholy horror of this situation, my friends? Wnuuf are, in a sense, sexless, without gender, and each of them carries the fullness of the hive-mind within its very being. The one that had laid its eggs in Garcia had died directly after, its body ancient and having endured the hardship of crossing Interplanetary Space. And so now, this creature that had once indeed been a human man was becoming the progenitor of a new race of insectoid horror, forsooth a swarm of absolute terror that intended to go on in utilising the human species as hosts to continue its unholy existence!

The Wnuuf were pouring forth from the eggs hatching from the horrible insectoid body that had once been that of Detective Garcia. They were comparatively small, if indeed one can think of six-inch cockroaches as small. There were hundreds of them, and they were beginning to spread across the lot of the petrol station. I knew that hope would be lost if they succeeded in escaping the area. They could survive by feeding on just about anything -- plant life, small animals, garbage, excrement, dead things. They would grow and breed by depositing their eggs in human hosts around the world. There was absolutely no time to lose. The human race -- perhaps all life on Earth -- was doomed unless I acted quickly.

The attendants at the station had already fled the area. I took the transonic device from the pocket of my jacket and pointed it to-wards the line of track-lighting above the station. Due to the cloudiness of the morning, the automatic shutoff mechanism of the lamps had not yet been triggered. I activated the transonic with a wave specified to shatter the glass of the electric light bulbs. As this happened, sparks of electrical power showered down upon the petrol that had been released from the burst pump earlier.

It was then all over in a matter of seconds. The swarm of Wnuuf, including the one that was once Garcia, ignited and burned to ashes. Soon all that was left was an odour as of dead cockroaches mixed with burnt fossil fuel.

“Is… Is it over, Doctor?” queried young Miss Brooke Martin. “Are they gone?”

“Yes,” I said. “All is well now, love. The Wnuuf swarm will bug us no more. No doubt the fire department will be along soon, and all this will just be attributed to lack of proper safety precaution by someone. One of those stories claiming that using a mobile phone whilst pumping petrol can cause a fire, or some such nonsense. In any event, you are now safe.”

“Oh, that’s all so good to hear!” she exclaimed. “I really am so sorry about what I did before. If there is any way I can make up for it… ”

“You say you were on your way to Sunday School?” I enquired.

“Yes, I was” she said sweetly. “Oh, but it’s too late now. There’s only time to get to late mass if I could hurry… ”

“My car is parked around the corner, and I am quite certain I could get you there in time. If you would allow me to escort you?”

“Oh, that would be so nice,” she answered with a beautiful smile.

“Then, Miss Martin,” I announced with my most courtly bow, “it will indeed be my most supreme honour to accompany you to church.” …

“Master! Master Wingus!” sobbed Oliver at the secret lair of the horrid occult terrorist organisation known as Spectral Paranormal. “They have failed! The Wnuuf have failed to destroy Rumanos!”

“Damn that accursed nympholept!” snarled Don Wingus, his disfigured face pulsing with rage as he stood up and descended from his dais. “Damn that Daniel Rumanos to the farthest reaches of unexplored Space! Damn that sickening girl-lover for all of eternity and beyond!! Damn him! I would that I had murdered him when we were children together on Daemonia!”

“Master, the transmission we have been expecting is being received,” announced Oliver with a tone of relief in his prissy voice. “Our other allies are now requesting communication.”

“Put them through immediately, Oliver!” ordered Wingus, walking over to stand before a large video-screen that had been hidden as the ornate mirror upon a far wall. “Put them through immediately!”

The image on the screen crackled for a few moments before it became clear. Then it revealed a thing of absolute unmitigated terror. It revealed the command centre of a spaceship in which were several alien beings, each hovering at about a metre from the floor. The one of these beings that seemed to be in command then turned to face the screen. It was about the size of an human torso, but that is where any resemblance to sane Creation ended. The thing, like its cohorts, was as a mass of fleshly tendrils intertwined with strands of technology. It was a sickly yellow-brown in colour, and from its centre shone two dark, hatefully-slanted eyes.

“We have arrived,” stated the being, broadcasting its high-pitched, abrasive, technologically enhanced voice. “Our plans are underway, and the information that you have sent to us has been received.”

“Excellent, my friends, excellent,” responded the villainous Don Wingus, an evil chuckle now entering his voice. “We of Spectral Paranormal will aid you in your elimination of the Earthlings, and of our mutual enemy who is protecting them.”

“It is then agreed,” said the alien horror, its harsh voice slowly rising in volume. “We together will be an axis of power to conquer all of Time and Space! You will have your place as Galactic Governor when we, THE MYNVER, have subjugated this entire region and have become its supreme masters!! However, we will first eliminate the one who is our mutual enemy, the Algolite spy known as Dr. Daniel Rumanos! Eliminate the enemy! Eliminate!!”

“Eliminate!” echoed back the other Mynverkossian Mutations in grotesque chorus “Eliminate!! ELIMINATE!!!”

And with this, the intergalactic criminal known as Don Wingus let forth with a laugh of supreme and unmitigated evil… 

***** DANIEL RUMANOS SHALL RETURN IN “RUNAWAY”