FIFTY SHADES OF GARGOYLE

Countless aeons of time before the earliest ancestors of what was to become known as the human race had even come into being, there existed upon Planet Earth the legendary and fabled Continent known as Mu. Located in the middle of what is now the Pacific Ocean, this vast land mass was home to a city, forsooth a city of architecture undreamed of, buildings with immense spires and angles beyond the geometry of any sane consciousness. That this city would be home to strange creatures is no surprise -- but indeed what creatures they were!

The Continent of Mu and its oddly-angled city were home to a race of beings known as the GARGOUELLIOS, a genetically-engineered species consisting of hybrid reptilian and mammalian DNA. Incredibly-technologically advanced, the Gargouellios were governed by something called the Source, a bioelectric energy field that manifested itself as a centre of universal love and peace -- indeed a concept that seemingly belied the strange and bizarre appearance of the Gargouellio people; perhaps a lesson to be learned in not judging others by appearances. In sooth, it is said to be their appearance, along with the elusive memory of their existence, that gave rise to the use of “gargoyles”, those grotesque stone sculptures found on the outside of some churches and cathedrals that are said to guard against the forces of darkness.

For a vastly extended period of Earth’s prehistory, the Gargouellios of Mu acted as a defence for the developing planet, protecting its myriad creatures and resources from such arcane threats as the Ancient Ones of Leng, the Lizard-Men of Lemuria, the Cult of Kuthalu, and the Shaitans of Eblis, amongst other threats eldritch and horrid beyond imagining.

The Source that governed the Gargouellios flowed through what was known as the Keeper of Mu, a particularly wise and good individual of their race who was chosen, one in every millennium-spanning generation, to sit at the top of their system. Only once in the entire history of this dimly-remembered civilisation was the office of the Keeper usurped by someone unworthy, indeed by someone not of the harmonious Gargouellio race -- forsooth by someone evil and villainous beyond any other known or unknown threat. This event led to a breakdown, in truth a breakdown of the Source and the universal love and harmony it represented -- a breakdown that echoed down through the ages of Time and threatened to destroy the planet called Earth with a shattering catastrophe that would be felt throughout all the generations of its history!

It was a breakdown that was felt even in your time, dear reader, a threat that indeed menaced all that you know and do not know, all that you love and cherish and rely upon, all that gives you life and all that makes you exist. The story of what happened during that breakdown is a tale you have not yet heard, truly a story of weird adventure and stranger things than any you have ever possibly known.

This, my friends, is that story. …

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 or Cosmic Intervention Department, 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!!! …

Baltimore’s Inner Harbour area was already gaudily-decorated with paper and plastic pumpkins, skulls, bats, ghosts, witches, and lettering announcing a “HAPPY HALLOWEEN!” I was there on an assignment, investigating certain energy disturbances that had been detected apparently emanating from the neighbourhood.

Utilising the transonic turnscrew, a technologically-advanced device resembling a writing pen, I had been scanning the area for the source of the energy disturbances. So far, I had found nothing to solve the mystery (and was even further annoyed by a low, chattering sound I had heard several times from somewhere behind me -- a noise that suddenly ceased whenever I turned in any attempt to ascertain its origin) and had decided to take a brief respite at Uncle Crepe’s Dessert Shoppe, a fine establishment on the upper floor of the Harbourplace Pratt Street Pavilion. Realising that it was almost too late in the season for ice cream, I ordered a Quadruple Scoop French Vanilla Waffle Cone and sat down to enjoy it whilst looking out across the observation deck. As always, it offered a nice view of the harbour, and I noticed the increasing darkness of the clouds on this overcast day. A storm was brewing; a tempest indeed.

Clad in my usual finery, including a frilled poet shirt and purple velvet smoking jacket, I was just finishing my treat when I noticed a shimmering light directly above the chair opposite me -- a light that flashed with multicoloured brilliance before finally coalescing into the shape as of a somewhat small but strongly-muscled man with skin the colour of limestone. He was dressed in a golden tunic, and had pointed ears and arched eyebrows and looked at me with a countenance as of severity mixed with the greatest kindness.

“From the Gargouellios of Mu I do come.” he spoke, his voice musical with a strange and enchanting harmony. “Request your assistance we do, as Operative you are of the Algolite Kosmikos. Doctor Rumanos you are?”

“Garschmidt, old chap!” I replied with a smile. “You do not recognise me?”

“Me you know?” queried the Gargouellio.

“Of course, old friend! Remember that time at the Spaceways Arcade, when we met those two Venusian girls and… ? Oh, wait… That may still be in your future. Forget I said anything.”  

“Arrived I have to speak of a time of great distress that amongst our people has happened,” he continued. “Usurped the office of the Keeper of Mu has been.”

“What!” I exclaimed. “How is that possible? Each of the Keepers reigns for a millennium, and then announces his successor. Is that not correct?” 

“Indeed correct are you. However, occurred a tragedy has. The last Keeper assassinated was shortly before his reign would have ended.”

“Assassinated? Why, few beings in the Universe would have access to weaponry that could kill a Gargouellio, much less one with the powers of the Keeper of Mu! Was it some kind of energy gun?”

“So appears it does,” answered Garschmidt. “Immediately proceeding the death of him, another figure within the Circle of the Keeper did appear. One of darkness it is, one who has the Source stolen, and the chaos and entropy of instability does seek to bring about -- a chaos that does echo down the Aeons of Time and to destroy all peace and harmony does threaten.”

“That would perhaps explain the energy emanations I was investigating,” I pondered. “It is good that you activated the emergence access codes to follow the Time-Corridor here to my location. Indeed, if the usurper is the one whom I suspect, he would have likely linked to your time from this one. I had thought him destroyed, but…”

I then noticed a man staring at me from at the next table. He was thin and grey-haired, dressed in jeans and a t-shirt with pictures of fish printed upon it.

“Say man,” he said in his rough, blue-collar tones, “You talking to yourself? You some kind of nut?”

“No, I am all right,“ I said, realising that Garschmidt had not as yet made himself visible to the humans. “Just practicing a part from a play.”

“Oh, okay,” he said. “Guess you’re one of those ‘arts’ people. I’m Joseph Wilson. Just got a job as tour guide at the Baltimore Aquarium and supposed to be meeting the school-kids here. The ‘Shark Tour’, you know.”

“Congratulations on your new job,” I said, attempting to hide my annoyance at his distracting me from my own vastly more important work.

“Say man,” he went on, “aren’t you that -- Dr. Daniel Rumanos?!”

With this, he had suddenly altered his tone, and I realised he knew far more than he was saying. Before I could react, he suddenly raised his hands and sent forth a wave of energy, an energy of ebony blackness and unspeakable evil.

“By the Stars!” I swore as the darksome power sent me sprawling from my chair across the floor of the pavilion. “These are Cacodemons!”

“That’s right, Rumanos!” mocked Joseph Wilson. “The Master had given me this power to kill you with! You know who we are, don’t you? Spectral Paranormal says hello!!” …

In his head, Joseph Wilson heard a voice -- a voice of command.

“Destroy him,” said the voice, its dark and masculine tones dripping with extreme and unholy evil. “Destroy Rumanos, he who is our most hated foe.  Remember that I am your Master, I who raised you up from being a lowly ‘soundman’ at The Depot Tavern and granted you the supreme honour of being my slave. I have given you the power of the Cacodemons of Andromeda via DNA infusion. Use it! Use it to destroy our enemy!!” …

The dark wave continued to surround and entrap me. This power, that of the Cacodemons, has its origins amongst a non-corporeal race of conquerors that ruled the Andromeda Galaxy during the Seventh Cosmic War. It is this power that the founder of the intergalactic terrorist organisation known as Spectral Paranormal long ago utilised in his nefarious attempts to further his own plans of totalitarian rule throughout the Universe.

It was now, as Joseph Wilson faced us there at the Pratt Street Pavilion, that Garschmidt made himself fully visible, and unleashed his own powers against the Cacodemons. As they emanated from him, the powers sparkled red and blue and gold and silver and purple and purple beyond purple --- forsooth, the incredible multihued energies only wielded by the legendary Gargouellios of Mu!

“Fifty Shades of Gargoyle,” said I.

Garschmidt then turned to face the agent of Spectral Paranormal, the human known as Joseph Wilson. The dark wave about me dispersed, and I was about to join the Gargouellio when something else happened; something that made this entire already incredibly-hazardous situation all the more complicated.

A group of young girls, members of a class from The Thomas Henry Schickner Academy For Young Ladies, arrived at the pavilion. They were the ones who had been expected to meet Joseph Wilson for the tour at the near by Baltimore Aquarium. Here they were, a group of innocent, helpless little damsels, walking right into a dangerous melee, forsooth a firestorm of powers and conflicts beyond their abilities to comprehend, much less defend against.

As Garschmidt continued to trade shots of energy with the Cacodemon-possessed Joseph Wilson, I quickly made my way over to the girls.

‘Excuse me, ladies,” I told them. “I am Dr. Rumanos and I am sorry to announce that the ‘Shark Tour’ has been postponed. Please make your way out of the pavilion and…”

But then, despite my best effort to distract them, several of the girls noticed the Gargouellio and his battle against the evil ersatz tour guide. They were briefly wide-eyed in wonder at this sight, and of the bizarre flashes of ebony black and multicoloured light that emanated from the combatants, before turning and fleeing with screams of fright that echoed down the hallways of the building.

One of the girls, a particularly beautiful one with shoulder-length blonde hair and azure eyes, the pink sweater she wore over her blue-and-white school uniform accentuating the lines of her petite figure, ran directly to me for protection.

“What is that?” she enquired. “What’s happening here? Who’s that green guy?!”

“That ‘green guy’ is called Garschmidt, and he is a wonderful friend,” I assured her. “He is a Gargoyle from a time and place long ago, and he is trying to protect us all from the forces of darkness, Miss… ?”

“I’m Shaylin -- Shaylin McKenzie,” she introduced herself, calming a bit. “Did you say you were some kind of Doctor?”

“Indeed I am,” I assured her. “Although where I come from, a ‘Doctor’ is more like what you would call a ‘secret agent’.”

“Oh, all right, but, Doctor,” she said, a new look of terror suddenly entering her lovely eyes as she beheld something -- something standing behind me. “What is that?!”

I quickly turned to face what had so frightened the young girl, and what met my gaze was an horror indeed. It was a giant, a man-thing of more than seven feet in height. He was brown-skinned, thickly-muscled, and almost entirely covered with course black hair. He was completely nude except for a fake “leopard skin” loincloth. His face was hideously simian, and he muttered at me with a sound I remembered as the strange chattering that I had heard earlier.

Nevertheless, the most horrible thing of all about this creature was the tattoo upon the bulging bicep of his left arm; a symbol resembling three interlocked triangles -- a symbol that I recognised as the secret sign of Spectral Paranormal!

Then, almost as quickly as it can be told, this horrid ape-man hit me with his huge hand, a blow so forceful that it sent me sprawling across the floor of the pavilion. Then he grabbed the screaming girl and, throwing her over one of his enormous shoulders, burst through the glass leading to the observation deck before suddenly scaling the side of the building, through the rain of the storm that had just hit, using his grotesquely-splayed toes to climb to the rooftop!

Upon reflection, I released who and what this creature actually was. He was known as “Burto” and had been advertised as being on display at the local Ripley’s Believe It Or Not museum. Burto was said to be a proto-human that had been found deep in the jungles of the Philippines, forsooth part of a long-lost, grotesquely-inbred tribe that had retained some of the characteristics of the homo erectus and other prehistoric hominids.

Little had anyone known, of course, that Burto was also a servant of Spectral Paranormal.

Shaking off the effects of the giant’s blow, I ran outside onto the observation deck and looked up to the roof of the building. By now, poor little Shaylin had fainted from fright and the subhuman Burto had laid her down at his feet. As I looked on, the hideous ape-man beat his chest and screamed a cry of simian dominance that echoed over the area, amongst the peals of thunder of the ongoing storm.

Do you behold the horror, the obscene abject terror of this situation, dear readers? The prehistoric brute had kidnapped the innocent young girl, for his own bestially sordid purposes, whilst himself under the employ and protection of that interstellar terrorist organisation known to eternal infamy as Spectral Paranormal!!

Burto looked downward and saw me, then chattering a challenge in his grotesquely-apelike native patois through his hideous homo erectus teeth. Obviously, he saw me as his rival, the local alpha predator that he was challenging for dominance, and for the right to mate with the most alluring of the local females -- the privilege to claim the preteen pulchritude of the beautiful Shaylin McKenzie. Well, so be it. Challenge accepted.

Upon the rooftop next to Burto was the pole with the Maryland State Flag waving at its summit. I saw the flashes of lightning playing in the clouds and had an idea.

Taking the transonic turnscrew from the pocket of my jacket, I aimed the device at the flagpole and used its setting to loosen the screws holding the pole to the roof. The pole fell sidewise to-wards the ape-man. As I had expected, he raised an hand to grab it before it could hit him. With this contact to organic matter, the flagpole instantly became a lightning-rod, with the electrical charge from the clouds flowing through it and entering Burto’s form.

The prehistoric proto-man gave one echoing scream of pain before the lightning charge killed him. His huge body plummeted from the roof, heavily landing on the wooden pier below, shattering it to splinters before the remains of Burto splashed loudly into the harbour, sinking to the bottom.  

“The bigger they come, the harder they fall,” said I.

I quickly climbed to the rooftop and retrieved the girl. She was just recovering from her swoon.

“What… ?” she moaned as I picked her up to carry her to what I hoped to be relative safety. “Doctor, what’s happening?”

“Just the Law of the Jungle, sweetie,” I replied. “No worries.”

None the less, before I could find a place to safely leave young Shaylin, I noticed that the battle between Garschmidt and the Cacodemon-possessed Joseph Wilson had moved outside onto the observation deck. Flashes of the eldritch black energies wielded by Wilson alternated with the wondrously-multicoloured ones of the Gargouellio. …

“Fight harder, you fool,” repeated the voice in Joseph Wilson’s head. “Do away with this ridiculous Gargoyle and then centre your attack upon Rumanos! I swear, if he joins in the fray I will have to blast through your form fully into this reality! I will deal with him personally!!” …

I had just deposited the girl under a near by table and was running over to stand beside Garschmidt, hoping all the while to formulate a way to aid him in the fight against the Andromedan Cacodemons, when it happened. Joseph Wilson screamed in pain and terror as he realised what was being done to him.

“No, Master, no!” he cried. “I have served you well! Please don’t kill me! Please, Master, nooooooooo!!”

And with this, the form of the man known as Joseph Wilson disappeared from this world. The Cacodemons went with him, for even their darksome powers were unable to stand before who then appeared, having utilised a DNA link to Wilson in order to complete his entrance into this time and place.

What appeared was like an halo of golden energy, sparkling and showering forth light in all directions at once.

“Him it is,” said Garschmidt with a shudder frighteningly unbecoming to one of such power. “The office and honours of the Keeper of Mu he has now fully usurped.”

At the centre of the circle of light was the figure of a man, a man dressed in a black vestment robe, a man with a face I knew only too well and had in truth hoped to never again behold.

His countenance was as of one of middle years, still handsome though marked with the effects brought about by what would in truth amount to lifetimes of horridly profligate evil and wickedness beyond all mortal imaginings. His hair was long and dark, and his face was decorated with a Mephistophelean moustache and goatee. Through it all, his pale eyes shone hypnotically.

Indeed, it was the founder of Spectral Paranormal himself, in sooth the most evil and corrupt being in all the Cosmos. It was the one known to eternal infamy as MASTER DON WINGUS!!!

“You!” I exclaimed. “I should have known for certain, but I could not quite bring myself to believe it! So you did escape from the Outermost Barrier, and indeed even managed to use its lingering powers to Rejuvenate your body -- and to travel back in Time in a plot to usurp the office of the Keeper of Mu!”

“It is all mine now, Rumanos!” shouted Wingus amongst peals of his mad insane laughter. “Past, present, future, and all that is in between them! I am Master Don Wingus, and I am the Keeper of Mu! The Power of the Gargouellios is mine to do with as I please! Even you and the meddling Kosmikos cannot stop me now! I shall take this planet and accept the worship of its people, and then I will take this solar system, this galaxy, this universe!!”

With this, the circle of light, along with Don Wingus, began to levitate upwards into the air as he showed his increasing connection to the powers of the office of Keeper. His evil laughter increased as the fury of the storm gathered around him and seemed to meld together with the arcane energies at his command.

“And so, Wingus,” said I, “even with this power, a power that could be used to bring peace and harmony to this world, you still can only think of using it to bring others under your thrall. Poor, damaged people who will serve you as you abuse them, like you did with Joseph Wilson and that ape-man.”

“Yes, it really is a shame about Burto,” mused Wingus. “He had such a nice hairy hole.”

After this, there was a moment of silence as Garschmidt and I looked on at the wicked Don Wingus. Then something happened, something perhaps unexpected but in its way -- something not completely surprising. For at this moment the powers that Wingus was wielding as the Keeper of Mu suddenly began to fade and lessen, and I saw his form begin to tremble, to convulse as the forces began to drain from him.

“What!” he exclaimed. “What is this? Can it be… ? No! I cannot lose this power! I am Don Wingus, Master of All Existence! I… I… NO!! NONONONONONONONONO!!!”

“Spoken an abomination has he,” said Garschmidt to me (I noticed that the Gargouellio had refused to directly address the false Keeper). “Rejected him the Source has. There is in him no Love. There is found in him no Truth.”

“Indeed, Wingus,” I added. “Friend Garschmidt is correct, of course. You know nothing of love, of beauty, even of any true pleasure. Your very words have betrayed your obscene desires, your repulsively perverted satanic lusts. You are no Keeper of Mu; you never were and never will be.”

“No, Rumanos, you ridiculously inveterate girl-lover!” screamed Don Wingus as he began to fade away, the powers having detached themselves from him. “I will come back and have revenge! I will make you suffer for this! I will make you suffer in ways beyond any pain you have ever known!! I will… I will… I will…”

And with this, the evil Don Wingus vanished into oblivion. The powers of the Keeper briefly burned bright and then, with a sound as of a gasping and moaning of eternity itself, they could be seen no more.

“Once again free the Source is, and of the evil has cleansed itself,” Garschmidt said. “Back to my time the powers of the Keeper have gone.” 

By now, young Shaylin McKenzie had come over and was clinging to me. I put my arm around her.

“All is well now, my dear,” I assured her. “Peace has overcome pain; Harmony has overcome discord; and Love has overcome hate -- as it always must. The evil had been defeated, and the plans of the evil one are vanquished.”

“For my return to Mu has the time come” said the Gargouellio. “Choose a new Keeper my people must. Pray that they choose well, I bid you.” 

“I am sure they will, my old friend,” I informed him. “In fact, I am quite certain of it. Farewell!”

“To you, Doctor Rumanos, and to your young companion -- farewell my friends!” spoke Garschmidt as, with a flash of wondrously multicoloured light, he transported back to his own time. …

Later that evening, I relaxed with Shaylin at my own secret headquarters, located in the golden trapezoidal roof of a city skyscraper. Some classic blues music played from the sound system as we enjoyed a dinner of excellent cheese pizza.

“So, Doctor,” said the young lady. “Whatever happened to the Gargoyle? I mean after he went back home? He seemed so nice, so I just wondered.”

“Oh, he actually did quite well for himself, sweetheart,” I assured her. “Quite well, indeed. Here, let me show you…”

Going over to a near by cabinet, I took out an object from my collection of obscure and often-alien artefacts. It was a stone of glistening white that fit in the palm of my hand, shaped like a multi-faceted crystal.

“This is a relic of ancient Mu,” I informed the girl. “It is hundreds of millions of years old. See this writing upon it? It is in the language of the Gargouellios, unspoken by anyone in the world today. Indeed, I may be the only living person able to read it.”

“What does it say?” she enquired expectantly.

I then translated the ancient, engraved script to her:

“TO MY FRIEND DOCTOR RUMANOS --
PEACE AND LOVE BE WITH YOU ALWAYS,
GARSCHMIDT
THE KEEPER OF MU”

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