THE CHEERLEADER EXPERIMENT

Don Wingus, the most evil and corrupt being in the history of the Universe, is missing and presumed dead, killed when one of his wicked plots to establish his dictatorship over all of existence backfired upon him. Nevertheless, his disciples live on in the form of the horrid occult terrorist organisation known as Spectral Paranormal.

Evil thrives in concealment, and for some time the location of the headquarters of Spectral Paranormal was unknown to me. Recent events had changed that.

First, there was the disciple of Wingus named Joseph Wilson. When I had dealt with this hideous (and thankfully now deceased) individual, he was entrenched as a tour guide at the Baltimore Aquarium. As it turns out, this position had been secured for him by Don Wingus himself, both for purposes of infiltration and because Wingus found it expedient and amusing to indulge his perverted underling’s fetish for fish. Indeed, the administration of the Aquarium never realised that part of the froth found at the top of their tanks was, for a time, actually Mr. Wilson’s semen.

Before Joseph Wilson had been employed at the Baltimore Aquarium, however, he had had another job. He had been a disc-jockey and sound technician at The Depot Tavern, a Baltimore dive-bar so named due to its close proximity to the city’s main train station.

Further evidence was revealed after the death of the grotesquely-deformed woman known as Madame Temacula. A long-time Wingus disciple and Spectral Paranormal agent, Temecula herself had been from the mountains of West Virginia, but had been given two henchmen who had also been frequent patrons of The Depot Tavern, being would-be “heavy metal” musicians in some god-awful band.

The information concerning the identity of Temacula and her two deceased servants had been obtained for me with the help of my old friend Professor Clarence Quiltey, a forensics expert at Johns Hopkins University.

Therefore, I journeyed to The Depot Tavern one evening, entering the marihuana-smoke filled establishment and bracing my ears to the ridiculous onslaught of cacophonous garbage that is known as “Doom”, or some such nonsense.

I was dressed in my usual finery, including a frilled poet shirt and purple velvet dinner jacket. As I approached the bar I was recognised by the bouncer, a large, disgustingly-plebeian type of the kind most usually seen at this place, dressed in the seemingly-requisite black t-shirt and dungarees. He grabbed me by the shoulder roughly.

“You’re that friggin’ Rumanos guy, ain’t you?” he spat. “You ain’t comin’ in here, you friggin’ paedophile weirdo!”

I wasted no time with this worthless individual, grabbing his wrist and flipping him over utilising my own mastery of Daemonian Jujitsu. He hit the wall and slipped into unconsciousness.

Before any other of the joint’s regulars could also accost me, I took the opportunity to fulfil my mission. Taking the transonic turnscrew (an highly-advanced scientific instrument resembling a writing pen) from my pocket, I proceeded to point it to-wards the row of sound equipment being used by the band. I had already programmed the transonic to overload the electric musical equipment, and now activated it.

Sparks of flame immediately erupted from the amplifiers and I heard the band’s lead guitarist scream in pain as an electrical current took the life from him. Fire began to burst from all sides of the tavern as the building’s rather-antiquated electrical system helped to spread it. Some of the patrons began to scatter and attempt to flee from the carnage, but it was too late for them. Spectral Paranormal operatives or supporters all, they had sold away their rights to be treated as human beings and it was now time for them to indeed face their doom!

I had by now left the building, having used the transonic turnscrew to seal the locks on the doors so that none could escape. Earlier, I had done a radar scan that had uncovered a hidden room underneath the bar -- a room that I knew had to be the secret lair previously used by Don Wingus as a place to plan and plot his evil schemes. I had made certain that the electrical conflagration that I planned to cause would reach to it, thus destroying the headquarters of Spectral Paranormal forever.

As I sped down that street in Baltimore City, driving my canary-coloured Edwardian roadster (affectionately known as “Lizzie”) to-wards the downtown area in hopes of finding a late-night restaurant, I heard The Depot Tavern explode into fire and flame with a sound not unlike the clashing of steel.

“Heavy metal, indeed,” said I. …

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 “miraculous” 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!!! …

The tortured man screamed one final scream of absolute horror, of terror and pain and anguish, before expiring. He was clad in a blue worker’s uniform, complete with a name-tag that declared his moniker to be “Fred”. Somewhat elderly of appearance, with greying hair and the deeply-lined face of a lifetime labourer, he lay on a table with his wrists and ankles held down by clamps.

“Useless,” spoke the creature standing over him. “Completely useless.”

The creature was like a short, squat man wearing a silvered coverall garment over his obviously thickly-muscled form, his head covered by something resembling a diving-helmet. He held a large, triangular device in one gloved hand, switching off the eerie light that had shone from it. He then raised his other hand and began to speak into another device upon his wrist:

“This is Adjunct Major Ttyffe recording. The Earth creature ceased living shortly after experiment began. Little or no resistance to fear. Body system seems weak and underdeveloped for facing conflict. Will do further tests on others, but must begin to conclude that this species is of no foreseeable opposition. Our conquest of this planet should be of no difficulty.” …

The young girl walked slowly down the steps into the basement. She had thought she was alone in the building. Her coach and the other members of the Parkville Middle School Cheerleading Squad had already left, and she had just been waiting for her older brother to arrive in his car to pick her up (and had just about concluded that he had decided to go gaming with his friends and had forgotten all about her) when she heard a noise.

“Oh my,” she had said to herself, her beautiful eyes wide with concern. “What could that be? I hope somebody isn’t hurt.”

It was a noise like a cry, a far off scream, as of someone in agony, seemingly coming from the school basement. Remembering the requisite Rescue/CPR training she had taken the year before, the girl had swallowed her fear and gone to investigate.

The lass was slender and beautiful, still clad in her short-skirted, bare-midriff cheerleader outfit, resplendent in its violet-and-cherry school colours. Her hair was like liquorice, her eyes the deepest shade of blue. The girl’s complexion was as the finest and purest white of alabaster, and her mouth was wide and sensuous.

The basement was dark, the only light coming from near by streetlamps shining obliquely through the high up windows. The girl crept along warily, careful to not trip over the various types of classroom equipment kept here in the dusty basement storerooms, and which she could barely see in the dim illumination.

The girl heard footsteps coming from an adjoining room and she quickly ducked behind a stack of old transparency-projectors. She carefully peered from behind them and her mouth opened in wonder at what she then beheld.

A short man in a strange coverall garment and helmet stalked out petulantly from a doorway. He continued over to where a breeze of air was wafting down from upstairs and began to remove the helmet. There was just enough light from the windows for the girl to observe his face.

What was revealed was to the girl a thing of complete eldritch horror and total otherworldly madness. The creature’s head was dome-shaped and hairless, with a thick spiny ridge reaching from his forehead to the back of his almost non-existent neck. He had three eyes, deep red in colour, and his small, cruel mouth seemed set at a perpetual snarl. His skin was coloured a dark grey.

Overcome by fear, by extreme terror and disbelief at this suddenly bizarre and unexpected situation, the young girl started screaming.

The alien creature whirled around at the sound and, in his haste, upset a store of gymnasium equipment. He was briefly distracted whilst a dozen or so soccer balls bounced around him.

The girl turned and ran, hurrying up the stairway into the darkened central corridor of the school. …

I had just arrived at Parkville Middle School (part of the Baltimore County Public School system) that evening, it being the night following my raid upon the headquarters of Spectral Paranormal. I was at the school to investigate, as a mission for the Kosmikos, reports that a Dojjolye was using it to perform experimentations upon human subjects. I had already ascertained that the alien warrior had left his spaceship concealed in a near by wooded area, and had then made my way to the school post haste.

Parkville Middle School seemed abandoned at first, as I used the transonic turnscrew to open the lock on the main doorway and enter the front hall. I proceeded down the corridor, which was illuminated only by the night-time security lights. Finding nothing, I was just about to begin a scan for alien technology when I saw someone running to-wards me.

A few seconds later, a beautiful young girl in a cheerleader’s uniform flew into my arms.

“Oh, I’m so glad you’re here, whoever you are!” she exclaimed. “There’s something here, in the basement, something terrible!”

“Try to relax, love,” I consoled her. “I am Dr. Rumanos.”

“Doctor who?” she enquired.

“No, Dr. Rumanos,” I corrected her. “I have no idea why people so often make that mistake. But you can indeed call me ‘Doctor’.”

“I’m Dolly Byrd,” she introduced herself.

“You most certainly are,” I said. “Now, this thing you saw, would it happen to be a short, bald-headed alien soldier type?”

“Yes! How did you know?”

“Well, actually, I know all sorts of things, Miss Byrd. You see…”

“Dolly.”

“I know all sorts of things, Dolly. You see, I am here looking for that alien. He is one of a space-going warrior race known as the Dojjolye. Forsooth, the Dojjolye are a clone race, bred only for war, and expertly-trained in all aspects of fighting and battle strategy. They are currently attempting to conduct a series of experiments on the people of Earth, in order to ascertain what level of resistance this planet could offer against them. Actually, the Dojjolye Star Empire has been at war with another alien race, known as the Jegrodis, for centuries. They now feel that this planet is in a good tactical position for them to use as a field command centre, but wanted to see what kind of opposition they might first have to face from its inhabitants. They are using a device called the ‘Adverse Thought Transmitter’ that causes the unfortunate subject to experience the emotions of extreme and uncontrollable fear by preying on whatever inherent phobias he or she may have, and making them appear to be real. Three of the Dojjolye, armed with these horrid devices, were sent to different regions of the planet, and I took care of the other two last week. One was in Scotland; the other was cruelly experimenting on a native tribe deep in the jungles of El Salvador.”

“El what?” she enquired.

“Salvador, Dolly. It does not surprise me that the third would be in the Baltimore area. This region seems to attract violence. By the way, I like your school colours.”

“Thanks,” she said, smiling sweetly at my attempt to calm her fears. “You like the cherry?”

“Very much,” I assured her. “Now, this Dojjolye -- where was he when you saw him last?”

“He was right behind me.”

“What!” I exclaimed.

I was then hit sidewise by the searing heat of the energy weapon upon the Dojjolye’s wrist device. I saw Dolly Byrd faint away in fear as I myself slipped into unconsciousness from the effects of the weapon. The Dojjolye strode into view and looked down upon our prostrate forms.

“Another two test subjects,” he sneered. “The experiment will now continue.” …

I awakened with a terrible headache, and found myself chained to a wall in what appeared to be the school basement. Dolly Byrd was near by, lying upon an examination table to which her hands and feet had been clamped. She was just recovering from her swoon.

I looked around the room. The Dojjolye was there, doing some adjustments on a triangular device about a half-metre long. I recognised it as that horridly cruel apparatus known as the Adverse Thought Transmitter.

Crumpled and discarded against the far wall was the corpse of a man, grey haired and clad in a janitor’s uniform.

“I see it’s too late to do anything to help that poor chap,“ I said.

“Oh my God!” cried Dolly in recognition. “That’s Mr. Fred, the school custodian! He was such a nice old man! He used to always sneak in pizza for the football team after practice…”

“The subject proved to be of an inferior type,” announced the Dojjolye. “This female of the species is much more interesting.”

“Well, I do agree with you there,” I said, “though I am certain that you impotent clones could ever truly appreciate the charms of a young lady,”

“I am Adjunct Major Ttyffe of the Dojjolye Imperial Army,” sneered the alien. “You know of our kind, Earthman?”

(So the Dojjolye had not as yet had a chance to perform a bio-scan on me, and still mistook me for an human. I decided to attempt using this to advantage.)

“Oh, I can assure you the Earth authorities know quite a bit about you, Ttyffe,” I lied. “We are prepared for your invasion, and the United Earth Space Fleet is prepared to blast your kind out of existence.”

“That is impossible,” rejoined the Dojjolye. “No one can stand against us. We are the most perfect military force in the Universe.”

“Nonsense!” I returned. “You have been at war with the Jegrodis for generations, and have not been able to prevail.”

“We will emerge victorious over the octopoid scum of the Jegrodis soon, just as we will prevail against your kind, Earthman,” insisted Ttyffe. “Our experiments will assure that.”

“‘Experiments’?” I mocked. “Since when do Dojjolye value science?”

“Science is only useful as a tool of war,” he replied. “War is the way of the Universe, and all that aids it is useful to us.”

With this, the Dojjolye held his Adverse Thought Transmitter device over the helpless Dolly Byrd and activated it, the effect of its eerie light sending thoughts of fear and phobia into the beautiful young cheerleader’s mind -- thoughts of snakes and of spiders and of falling and of darkness and of being alone. The girl screamed and I saw tears burst from her eyes.

Do you recognise the unspeakable and ungodly horror of this situation, readers? The Dojjolye soldier known as Adjunct Major Ttyffe was tormenting that helpless young girl, causing her to experience the loathsome terror of every dreadful nightmare usually held in the deepest depths of the human mind!

“Stop it!” I shouted. “Stop torturing that poor child, you unspeakable abomination!”

Ttyffe was turned away from me. In his haste to ignore my pleas, he had not noticed that I had managed to free myself from the chains utilising an advanced escapology method. I hurried over and gave him a jujitsu blow, flooring him, and sending the horrid torture device to smash to pieces against the far wall of the basement chamber.

I went over to Dolly and quickly used the transonic turn-screw to release the girl from her bonds.

“Dolly, can you hear me?” I whispered in her ear. “It is the Doctor.”

She nodded her head in recognition, weak but already beginning to recover from her fright with that alacrity that only exists in the very young.

“All will be fine if you just listen to me, love,” I continued. “Listen to me…”

Nevertheless, the Dojjolye known as Adjunct Major Ttyffe, bred and trained for battle of all kinds, had managed to recover quickly and rose up to face me. I knew I only had a matter of second before he would activate his energy gun.

“Ttyffe!” I confronted him. “These people upon which you have been experimenting are nothing. It is I who represent the true warrior race of this planet. As such, I now challenge you to unarmed, hand-to-hand combat. As an honourable warrior of the Dojjolye Space Empire, you cannot refuse!”

“Your challenge is accepted, Earthman,” returned Ttyffe. “But you do know that such a battle can only be to the death?”

“Of course, Dojjolye. I would not have it any other way.”

And with this, after a brief ceremonial bow akin to that performed by noble combatants everywhere, the Dojjolye warrior and I rushed upon each other to clash in a fight, a battle, a violent conflict from which I knew only one of us could possibly emerge alive!!

I was much taller than the Dojjolye, but he was bulky and incredibly hard-muscled. Our fight consisted of wrestling holds and blows and martial arts manoeuvres -- in sooth, it seemed to be a mixture of every type of hand-to-hand, one-on-one, unarmed combat known to civilisation.

Ttyffe would pummel me hard with his fists, and I would respond with a chop to his midsection that sent him briefly staggering. When I attempting to use this moment to gain the advantage, he would come back with a sudden barrage of kicks that necessitated my protecting my head area until I could return a roundhouse punch that temporarily stopped him.

Then, the alien soldier suddenly grasped me around the chest area and attempted to squeeze the life from me. The pain was intense and extreme as I struggled for breath, but I managed to reach out from the anguish and give Ttyffe a blow to the face with my elbow that caused him to relax his hold; to relax it just enough for me to hook my foot around his ankle and send us both crashing to the floor.

I leaped up quickly and stood facing the Dojjolye as an honourable fighter should, when he suddenly activated the energy weapon on his wrist device. Nevertheless, in stead of firing on me at point blank range, as was his intention, the gun backfired, causing a blast that enveloped his entire arm and caused him to cry out in pain.

“You have lost, Dojjolye,” I announced to him. “Your attempt to trick me and use your weapon was not the way of a worthy soldier. Your actions have proven that your people have no right to occupy this planet! Besides, it appears that you are now, well… ‘unarmed’.”

Ttyffe stood up, cradling his now-lifeless left arm in his right hand, and began to make his way to-wards the doorway.

“You have won nothing, Earthman!” he snarled back. “The great Dojjolye Star Empire will yet conquer this world!”

And with this, the alien warrior quickly stalked away. I soon heard his heavy footsteps echoing down the school corridors to-wards the outside.

Dolly Byrd then skipped over and handed me back the transonic turnscrew before then throwing her dear little arms around me. 

“Did I do it right, Doctor?” queried the lovely lass. “Did I push the right button?”

“Miss Dolly Byrd,” I told her. “I can assure you that you indeed push all the right buttons.”

“Umm, so how did you know he would do that?” she asked. “Try to use his gun, I mean?”

“The honour of the Dojjolye Imperial Army has always been that they are a purely military force, dedicated only to war,” I explained. “When I saw that they are now using scientific experiments as part of their strategy, I realised that they had compromised their own principles. Besides, no civilised being, even one dedicated to a life a wartime slaughter, would ever resort to torture, as they have now done! I thus realised that it would only take a little impetus for him to commit such a cowardly act as attempting to use his energy gun in what was supposed to be a barehanded combat. Not being able to do it myself without him noticing, I slipped the transonic to you and whispered what to do to make it cause his weapon to overload -- and you did it quite well, love; quite well indeed!”

With this, the gorgeous young cheerleader smiled and blushed and we shared a quick but especially warm kiss.

We were then interrupted by the sound of an explosion coming from the distance outside.

“What was that, Doctor?!” enquired Dolly.

“Oh, that was just Ttyffe’s ship blowing up,” I explained. “I paid a visit to it earlier, before I got here, and programmed the engine to self-destruct if he tried to engage the lift-off sequence.”

Dolly Byrd glanced then at her mobile telephone, on which she had just received a text message.

“It’s my brother,” she explained. “He says his car broke down and he can’t pick me up. Our parents went to some theatre thing tonight. How am I going to get back home? I can’t walk home in the dark!”

I looked at the girl, young Miss Dolly Byrd. She was exquisitely beautiful, a true nymphet, made for love.

“Worry not, sweetheart,” I assured her. “I shall get you home safely, but I do sincerely hope that you will do me the honour of joining me for dinner first. I know an excellent seafood establishment near here.”

“Yes!” she exclaimed. “I would love it!”

“Fantastic! I suppose you would indeed be in need of a ride, since you apparently do not have a ‘Dolly Llama’.”

“A what?”

“Never mind. Come along then, Dolly, and I shall introduce you to Lizzie.”

“‘Lizzie’?” repeated the girl disappointedly. “Is that your girlfriend?”

“No, nothing like that,” I explained. “Lizzie is my car.” 

“Oh, okay!” Dolly Byrd said, flashing another lovely smile as she took my hand. “That’s good to hear!” …

A few days later, a strange figure walked into the North Baltimore headquarters of the “child advocacy” organisation known as the Maryland Children’s Alliance. He was tall and dressed in a black suit of Nineteenth-Century style. His face showed him to be apparently a man of middle years, his countenance still showing marks of distinction despite being marred with the signs of lifetimes of great profligate wickedness. His hair was long and dark, and his visage was decorated with a thin moustache and goatee. Around him there seemed to be an absolute aura of satanic darkness and acute decadent iniquity.

“May I help you, sir?” said a thin, pale, and obviously-homosexual young man serving as the group’s office receptionist.

“Yes, you most certainly can,” said the man in black, his voice replete with a tone of arrogant authority. “I am here to see the director of this organisation. We need to speak about some changes that will be immediately implemented.”

“I’m sorry, sir,” answered the receptionist. “You’ll need to make an appointment if you want to speak to the Director.”

“I need no appointment,” said the other as stared down at the receptionist with eyes glowing hypnotically. “I am Master Don Wingus, and you will obey me.” … 

***** DANIEL RUMANOS SHALL RETURN IN “GARGOYLES JUST WANT TO HAVE FUN”