“Whatever you say, Mayor Kirby,” stated the big, mentally-challenged man as he stood before the desk of the town’s top politician. “You know I is loyal to you and all you wants to do.”

“I know it, Gage,” returned the mayor as he sat behind his desk. “Now we need to get others around to our way of thinking. What I am now planning will do just that.”

“So you is gonna do it at the town fair this year?” asked Gage.

“Definitely,” answered Mayor Kirby. “When all the citizens of our town of Clawfoot have seen the power that will be given me, they will bow down and follow in all things. Now, go back to your janitorial duties. The fair is this weekend, and I need to finish some preparations.”

“Okay, Mayor,” obeyed Gage, then loping out of the office.

Looking quite satisfied with himself, Mayor Kirby stood up and stretched. He was a man of about fifty, with brown hair and cold grey eyes, clad in a blue business suit. He walked over to a door at the back of his office and opened it. The chamber he then entered was small and sparsely-furnished, its only adornment being a sort of altar draped in a black cloth that was embroidered with the symbol of three interlocked triangles. Upon the altar were six votive candles, and above it was a photographic portrait set in a bejewelled frame.

Mayor Kirby gazed at the image of the man in the portrait with a look of extreme adoration. It was the image of a man of middle years, his face decorated with a thin moustache and goatee, and still showing signs of handsome distinction despite being marred with the marks of lifetimes of profound profligate wickedness. His hair was long and dark, and his eyes -- even in a still photo -- shone with an absolutely hypnotic power.

“Oh, Master,” intoned Kirby. “Though you are gone from this world, we feel your spirit with us and know that you will someday return. You will return to take your rightful place as supreme dictator of all. In the meantime, we do your work to make all in preparation for you. It is for this reason that I, as Mayor of the town of Clawfoot, Maryland, will soon call forth a power that shall enable me to bring many great and mighty things to your cause. It is the power of one who has waited on this land for so many years. It is the power of a spirit of darkness, of a being that through me shall once again walk the earth. It is the power of VIRGINKILLER, and it shall soon be mine!

“Hail Spectral Paranormal!” concluded Mayor Kirby in sick satanic ecstasy. “Hail Magister 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 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!!! …

“‘Clawfoot’?” giggled Millie Drake, “That’s a funny name for a place!”

“Quite so, love,” said I, as I drove my canary-coloured Edwardian roadster (affectionately known as “Lizzie”) down that rural route. “It was named that after an inbred genetic deformity found in the family that founded the town nearly a century and a half ago.”

“I wish that Kit-10 could have come along,” stated Millie.

“I know,” said I, also missing the presence of our beloved mechanical feline, “but she needed to remain at headquarters in order to complete the system updates that were interrupted by our recent encounter with the Xoans.”

“So, what kind of energy was it that was detected here by our instruments at Baltimore HQ?” enquired the lass.

“Alific,” I told her. “At least that is what it seemed to be. The Alif were a race of interstellar beings that existed around the time of the formation of the Solar System. They are believed extinct, but it could be that the essence of one of them got trapped in this area when the land was formed.”

“Could it be dangerous?”

“Possibly, but not likely. The Alif were mostly a peaceful lot, just wanderers with no actual planetary home. There were one or two troublemakers amongst them, but they have not been heard of in ages. If they still exist after all this time, they could not be as powerful as they once were. Well, unless… but that possibility is far too horrible to contemplate! Still, it is important that we check it out, hmmm?”

We rode into town and found a parking space near the town square. It was easy to locate, with the signs pointing out that the annual fair was now underway on that bright Saturday morning.

Millie and I left the car and made our way to-wards the square. The girl -- petite, perfect, and exquisitely beautiful with her luxurious chestnut hair, enchanting violet eyes, luscious pink lips, and sun-kissed skin -- was wearing a tight, short-skirted purple dress that only served to highlight the soft curves of her slender pubescent figure. I was clad in my usual finery, including a frilled poet shirt, purple velvet suit, military boots, panama hat, sunspecs, and one of my favourite opera capes.

The fair was of the usual type of local festival, with various displays and stands run by area merchants and such. The attendees were largely older folks, but there were a few teenagers playing the various carnival-style games, and some cute little children running about. The refreshment stands offered funnel cakes, hot dogs, pizza, and so on.

There were, of course, booths representing the town’s three churches -- Baptist, Lutheran, and Catholic -- but they were sadly more engaged in ignoring one other’s existence than in proclaiming the Gospel. A small stage featured an acoustic bluegrass combo, and there was a wrestling ring set up with a sign promising an upcoming bout.

As Millie and I browsed about the event, I took the transonic turnscrew (an highly-advanced scientific instrument somewhat resembling a writing pen) from my pocket and activated it to perform a scan of the area.

“Any reading on that Alific energy?” enquired the lass.

“Forsooth, there is,” I answered. “It is strong but thus far intermittent. No definite information on the exact location, but it is somewhere near by.”

My thoughts were suddenly interrupted by a male voice approaching us.

“Hey, aren’t you Millie Drake,” he said, “the movie star?”

The speaker was a man of about fifty, with brown hair and cold grey eyes, dressed in a conservative business suit. You could tell from his attitude that he was someone of local importance.

“You really are her!” he continued. “Welcome to Clawfoot! It’s an honour to have you visiting our little town. I’m Mayor Kirby.”

“Oh, thank you,” blushed Millie.

He had obviously recognised the young girl from her former career as an Hollywood actress. He did not seem to notice my presence at all, but I pocketed the transonic as a safety precaution.

“That last film you did,” he went on, “that science fiction thing. It played our one local cinema longer than any other feature ever has. The kids just couldn’t seem to get enough of it!”

A crowd was beginning to gather around us and I was about to intervene when I was suddenly grabbed from behind and thrown to the ground by somebody or something quite powerful.

I heard Millie Drake scream and then go silent. I knew she had fainted from the horror of what she had just suddenly witnessed.

“Do away with him, Gage,” ordered Mayor Kirby. “I’ll take the girl. She will be perfect for the ceremony.”

“Okay, Mayor,” said a rough voice.

I looked up to behold the speaker, the same one who had thrown me to the ground. It was an hugely-built man, obviously suffering from an extreme case of mental retardation, clad in a rough pair of jeans and a shirt from which the sleeves had been intentionally torn out. Before I could react, he reached down his gigantic hands and grabbed me by the throat! 

I immediately found myself bodily tossed into the wrestling ring, my assailant stepping over the ropes to join me there. I forced myself to stand up before he could again reach me, and succeeded in throwing him over my shoulder with a Daemonian jujitsu technique.

I heard various calls and taunts from the crowd that had gathered around the ring.

“Get him, Gage!” shouted one of the onlookers. “Do the town proud!”

“My money’s on the new guy!” proclaimed another. “He dresses cool!”

They obviously were all convinced that this was the advertised wrestling match. Strangely, I felt a certain assurance that it indeed was just that.

My opponent, Gage the hulking servant of the evil Mayor Kirby, made up for in size and strength what he lacked in intellect. Nearly seven feet in height and hard-muscled due to his constant labour work, his grip on me had been like a vice. If I were going to defeat him, it would certainly be better if I could prevent him from again getting a hold upon me.

Gage soon recovered from my throw, and again advanced to-wards me. I quickly removed my cape whilst dodging aside, and tossed the garment over him. I attempted to grab him before he could get free of it, but he managed to strike me with one of his huge flailing fists. I went careening and bounced off the ropes of the wrestling ring whilst the monstrous Gage succeeded in removing my cloak from his hideous person.

We stood facing each other as the crowd continued its taunts and cheers. I ducked when my gigantic foe again attempted to grasp me, returning an open-handed blow to his chin that barely fazed him. He again punched me, intentionally this time, and I struggled to stay conscious as I whirled around and the pain started to bring on a sense of black insensibility.

Suddenly, the horrid Gage came up behind me and grasped his huge arms around my chest. He began squeezing and I realised that I could not breathe. I only had seconds before I would go down in final defeat. Rallying my strength, I moved my foot back and hooked it behind his heel, then with a sudden jerk a took him off his feet to fall down backwards -- careful to keep my full weight on top of him.

Before the giant could recover from this, I turned over and applied a jujitsu technique to pinch the nerves in the side of his neck, immediately rendering him unconscious.

I stood up and, as I was obviously the victor, the crowd reacted appropriately, some cheering and some booing, before they began to all just wander off to the other amusements of the fair. I re-donned my cape and looked around, the raised wrestling ring giving me a vantage point that revealed most of the area of the small town.

To my horror, I realised that Millie Drake was nowhere in sight. I struggled to think clearly and concentrate on the situation. I knew I had no time for mistakes or miscalculations. Where had the girl been taken, and to what ungodly fate? Most of all, how could I find her and prevent the committing of whatever grotesque evil for which she had been so abruptly kidnapped? …

In the secret ritual chamber behind his office, Mayor Kirby was laying the still-swooning form of Miss Millie Drake down upon the horrid altar. He had secured her hands and feet with rope and had stuffed a cloth into her mouth to prevent her screaming for help.

“She is here, Master Wingus,” announced Kirby whilst worshipfully gazing at the framed photograph of the missing criminal mastermind who is the founder and guiding force of Spectral Paranormal. “Mistress Drake of Algol. My servant, Gage, will vanquish the meddling Dr. Rumanos, or at least keep him occupied until it is too late to interfere with our purpose, and his little girl-child here -- being as a Watcher eternally celibate despite any supposed sexual activity in which she may have taken part -- shall be an acceptable offering for the one that shall now bless me with thus-enhanced power! She shall now be my sacrifice to the last of the Alif, the one known as -- Virginkiller!! …

I knelt down over the unconscious form of the hulking servant, Gage. My only hope to reach Millie in time was to apply an Algolitish mentalist technique upon him. I hoped that his challenged brain was coherent enough to give me some useful information.

I pressed three of my fingers against his sloping forehead and concentrated deeply, making the psychic contact necessary for me to probe the hideous man’s thoughts. I only saw jumbled flashes of anything that might be of use. Amongst these was the face of Mayor Kirby, whom Gage obvious loved rather as a father figure, even though the politician treated him only as the lowliest of servants. Finally, I beheld what I needed. It was the image of a room, one amongst the many that Gage had so frequently been a told to clean. Nevertheless, this was a room unlike any of the others. It was relatively small but obviously of great importance. I could not make out the details, but it had a black-draped altar against one wall that marked it as that most bizarre and unnameable of all horrors -- a chamber dedicated to the blasphemous rites of satanic worship!

In Gage’s thoughts, I saw that the horrid chamber was located in the back of the mayor’s office. I immediately left the area of the fair and set out to-wards the town-hall building in which I knew this incongruous terror had to be located. …

In the chamber, Mayor Gage had donned a black ceremonial robe and had chanted the opening invocations of the demoniacal ceremony -- the ceremony in which he intended to summon the ancient horror of the last of the Alif -- the eldritch thing known as Virginkiller!

Upon the altar, Millie had somewhat regained consciousness, and now lay shivering in terror as she realised what was occurring, her cruel bonds preventing any attempt at escape, the gag in her mouth keeping her from crying out.

“Come to me, O Great One!” intoned the wicked Mayor Kirby. “Come to me, last of the mighty Alif, and do grant me power! Come to me and make thy presence manifest, O Virginkiller!!”

With this, a force of deepest crimson suddenly rose up in the room, a swirling cacophony of sight and sound that denoted the presence of a force of obscene spiritual evil. It was a noise as of the howling of a thousand infernal curs, coupled with screams and wails and laments as of the legions of the damned. With this was the gruesome sight of blood-red unhallowed energies -- a mere beginning of the manifestation of the diabolical powers that the evil mayor intended to take for himself, and for the service of that horrible occult terrorist group known to eternal infamy as Spectral Paranormal!

Kirby smiled with a look of triumph as he took a long ritual knife from a sheath at his side, then raising it on high as he continued his unholy prayer.

“Receive the sacrifice that I have prepared for thee, O Virginkiller!” chanted the madman. “As thou hast received thy name from the many innocent maidens that have been offered thee throughout the millennia, so do I give thee this girl-child! Take the blessing of life from her, that I may receive thy power!” …

As I approached the town-hall building I was suddenly beset with another obstacle, howbeit one of incorporeal form. I felt a force as of extreme spiritual darkness, a profound energy of wickedness beyond all sane imaginings. It seemed to rise against me, to place itself in my way in order to prevent my advancement to-wards my goal of saving Miss Millie Drake from an horrid fate, and of preventing the calling of the renegade Alif known as Virginkiller by the insane politician.

Whilst I struggled against the strange power, it began to appear around me as a swirling storm of crimson-red energy, combined with the sound of howling and weeping and lamentations eternal. It surrounded me, blocking out the light of day and plunging me into increasingly deeper levels of demonic horror.

I concentrated deeply in my efforts to break free of the bizarre energies. I thought of that which is most dear to me. I thought of the one a must save. I thought of my friend, my companion, my beautiful one -- I thought of Millie Drake and found in this the strength to loosen myself from the surrounding evil.

Forsooth, I overcame the obstacle by the very power of Love!!

I fought and the crimson force lessened around me enough that I was able to open the door and enter the town-hall. As I did, I did not notice the figure of the servant Gage about a an hundred yards behind me. He had recovered more quickly than I could have expected, and had followed me to this location.

I ran through the town-hall corridor until I found the mayor’s office and then located the door -- the locked door that I had seen in the mind of the mentally-retarded servant; the door that I knew to lead into the satanic ritual chamber in which the evil Mayor Kirby had taken the girl and was at that moment performing the ungodly rite to call up the thing known as Virginkiller!!

I quickly managed to houdinise the lock and opened the door, rushing into the chamber. The sight that met my eyes removed all question as to exactly what I was dealing with.

The crimson energy of the evil Alif was here as it had been outside, but stronger, filling the chamber with an absolute tempest of phantasmagorical terror. There lay young Millie Drake upon the hideous altar, surrounded by several burning candles. To my extreme relief, I saw that she had not as yet been harmed, though cruelly bound and gagged.

Above the altar was a framed portrait, a blasphemous icon. It was the face of the intergalactic criminal mastermind known as Don Wingus, founder and guiding force of that unholy organisation to which the mayor of this town belonged, that same organisation the horrendous symbol of which was embroidered as three interlocked inverted triangles upon the altar-cloth -- the satanic terrorist network known as Spectral Paranormal!

Before the altar stood Mayor Kirby, clad in his black ceremonial garment. I beheld that his feet were now bare, in order to better receive the current of power that he wished to take into his very being. To my disgust, I saw that his left foot was made up of only two large toes, and realised that Kirby was himself a scion of the family of genetic mutants for which the very town of Clawfoot had been named!

So intent was he in the performance of the unhallowed ritual that Kirby had not noticed my arrival. He raised the gleaming dagger above the helpless figure of the lass and started to plunge it downwards to-wards her!

With lightning fast speed, I aimed the transonic turnscrew to-wards the horrid knife and activated a setting that made the instrument jump with a sudden electric shock. Mayor Kirby dropped the dagger upon the floor with a cry of pain and outrage before turning to face me.

“Dr. Daniel Rumanos,” he spat in disdain. “Yes, I know who you are. You may have delayed the sacrifice, but you have not stopped it. For I, fortified with what we of Spectral Paranormal have learned from the Master Wingus, have succeeded in calling up Virginkiller, the last and greatest of the Alif! He knows that I am the one destined to receive his power, and shall now take his revenge upon you for your attempt to rob him of his proper offering!!”

Moreover, with this, the crimson energy in the chamber began to rush to-wards me. I staggered backwards upon its impact, and indeed felt myself sinking to the floor as a paroxysm of pain engulfed my body.

“You are finished, Rumanos,” mocked the evil mayor. “You are defeated, your girl-child shall now die, and the power of Virginkiller shall be mine!!”

Amidst the chaos of the Alific power, I heard his mad laughter as the darkness of oblivion started to overcome me.

Can you even begin to perceive the most extreme and unspeakable terror, in truth the phantasmal horror of this unnameable situation, my dear friends and readers? The evil Mayor Kirby of Clawfoot, Maryland, that hideously-depraved Agent of Spectral Paranormal, had called forth the power of the being known as Virginkiller, and this same ungodly energy now again threatened to overcome me in a way that could possibly prevent me from saving my dearest friend, my companion, the beautiful Miss Millie Drake, from being sacrificed in that satanic ceremony!

Then, just before unconsciousness would have completely overcome me, an huge figure burst through the door. It was the servant Gage, and he rushed headlong to-wards Mayor Kirby, ignoring all else in the chamber.

“Mayor!” he shouted, blubbering with tears. “Mayor Kirby! He hurt me! I wasn’t able to beat him! I’m sorry, Mayor! I’m sorry!”

It was the that Gage proceeded to grasp Kirby in supplication, whilst at the same time loudly weeping in sorrow at having failed in his mission.

“Gage!” returned the politician. “Gage, you moronic fool! Let go of me! Let go!!”

However, Gage heard none of this over his own loud crying, and Kirby started to struggle in a vain attempt to free himself from the giant’s grasp.

Whilst the villain was thus occupied, the Alific energies that had been all around me seemed to lessen somewhat, being no longer under any control, and I managed to stand up. I then hurried to the altar and freed Millie from her bonds.

“Oh, Daniel,” she gasped as I removed the gag from her mouth. “Thank God! Thank God you’re here…”

I lifted the dear girl in my arms and began to carry her away from the altar. Just as I did so, Kirby and Gage crashed into it in their struggles, upsetting the lit candles and causing them to fall to the side and catch fire to the black cloth that draped that unholy table of infernal worship.

I glanced around briefly before hurrying from the chamber. The alien force of Virginkiller was still lessening and beginning to dissipate. Both the crimson-hued phantasm and the cacophony of diabolical noise were dispersing, as if dissolving into non-existence. I knew that without a sacrifice or the concentration of the one who had summoned it, whatever was left of the ancient creature would simply fade away, back into the obscure inter-dimensional void from which it had been called.

Whilst I ran from the town-hall, still carrying Millie Drake in my arms, I heard Mayor Kirby and Gage both screamed in anguish as the flames consumed them along with the rest of the room. The conflagration would soon spread to the remainder of the building, destroying all evidence of what had occurred before the local fire department could succeed in extinguishing it.

I sprinted around the area of the fair, now largely ignored by the crowd of townspeople who were beginning to notice the flames that were starting to consume their town-hall building. We got to where I had parked Lizzie, and I then carefully put the girl in the passenger’s seat before I got behind the steering wheel.

I revved the car’s engine and sped away, relieved to put the strange town of Clawfoot behind us. Millie moved over and put her dear little head on my shoulder, still trembling slightly from the grotesque eldritch horrors that she had experienced.

“Worry not, Mills,” I comforted her as we rode down the highway back to Baltimore. “You are safe now, and that terror is all over. Mayor Kirby is dead, and the last of the Alif will never again have enough energy to manifest. Their time is now long past, and the power of Virginkiller is no more!”