“So then I said to old Homer, ‘Homer, leave out the part about the horse. It makes Odysseus look like a cheat.’”
Millie Drake giggled at this part of my relating to her my adventures in ancient Greece. The girl is exceedingly beautiful, petite and perfect with luxurious chestnut-hued hair, enchanting violet eyes, sun-kissed skin, and luscious cherry-red lips. The tight, short, bright orange dress she was wearing only served to highlight the soft curves of her slender teenage figure. Millie is a young lady of my own race, one of the Watchers of Algol, but she spent the earliest part of her life on the planet Earth in the Twenty-First Century. Upon learning of her Algolite heritage, she matriculated to one of my own alma maters, the august educational institution upon our home-world that is known as Daemonia Academy. She is now in training as a Junior Operative of that intergalactic espionage organisation for which I am myself a long-time Agent, the Kosmikos or Cosmic Intervention Department of Algol.
On the day in which the bizarre events that I am about to relate to you began, Millie and I were relaxing in the café-like control room of the DiTraS (pronounced “DYE-tress” and standing for Dimensional Transport Sphere), the combination Spaceship/Time-machine produced by the incredibly-advanced technology of our people. We were out on a routine galactic patrol mission for the Kosmikos, but had thus far encountered nothing that would be of any concern to that special operations agency of our world.
I was dressed in my usual finery, including a frilled poet shirt, purple velvet suit, and military boots. My panama hat and opera cape hung on a near by coat-rack.
“I guess it‘s too bad that Kit-10 is so little,” mused Millie, “or in stead of the Trojan Horse, there could have been a Trojan Cat!”
“This unit is not a cat, m--,” rejoined the little robot from near by, speaking in her simulated but pleasantly-feminine voice.
Despite her protestations to the contrary, the mobile personal computer known as Kit-10 does have numerous catlike traits in addition to her appearance. One of these is her total inability to show respect to anyone. The closest she can come to it is referring to me by a slight “s--” sound (for “sir”) and to Millie by “m--” (for “ma’am”).
“Well anyway,” I went on, “after that I decided to pay a visit to Hercules and Hebe. I thought it would be interesting to see how married life was treating them, hmmm? Well, let me tell you…”
Suddenly, my reminiscences were interrupted by an alarm from the counter-like control console of the ship. I jumped up from my chair and hastily ran over to it.
“By the Stellar Triplicity!” I swore whilst scanning the readouts. “We are being intentionally pulled off-course!”
“What is it, Daniel?” enquired the girl concernedly. “Who is doing it?”
“The power behind it is immense,” I said. “It is even able to hide the data on where we are being taken! According to the identification matrix, the only thing that it resembles is… one of the Infinitals!”
“The Infinitals?” returned Millie Drake. “I remember learning about them at the Academy. Aren’t they believed to be distantly related to the Aeternusians?”
“Yes indeed, love,” I told her. “Nevertheless, whilst having many of the same godlike powers as our own most ancient forbears, the Infinitals are quite different in temperament. They only use their abilities to play games. Just eternal gaming with no end in sight.”
“Do they play with other Infinitals, or…,” Millie broke off with a look of horror on her lovely face.
“That is what I hope we do not find out,” said I. “Perhaps I can recalibrate the controls in time and break free of the influence.”
I attempted numerous combinations upon the console, but to no avail.
“It is no use, Mills,” I said. “The Infinital has taken control! We are materialising!”
“But where, Daniel?” queried the lass. “Where?” …
A few minutes later, we emerged from the porthole-like opening of the DiTraS, the outside of which resembles a Greco-Roman “Ionic column”. I was first (having now donned my hat and cloak), with Millie close behind me, and Kit-10 following.
We found ourselves in a large room decorated in numerous colours, with toys of every make and description scattered all about.
“Greetings, my honoured guests.” came a boisterous male voice from behind us. “Welcome to the Game Room! I am your host, Mr. Tinkertrain!”
We turned and beheld him. He appeared to be an humanoid male of late middle age, tall and somewhat portly, with grey hair, intent blue eyes, and an eternal smile on his wide face. He was incongruously dressed as an old-style train conductor, and indeed had the air about him of a television children’s show host.
“You are going to have some fun here,” he continued. “So much fun that I hope you will want to stay a long time. In fact, I am sure you will be staying here with me… forever!!” …
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!!! …
“Are your systems showing any information on where we are, Kit-10?” said I as an aside to the mechanical feline.
“Negative, s--,” replied the robot. “No information available. Also, my defensive capabilities have somehow been disabled.”
“So no nose-laser, then?” said I. “Just like the DiTraS engines have been shut down.”
Millie huddled close to me and gripped my hand tightly as we faced the uncanny Mr. Tinkertrain. I reached my other hand in my jacket pocket and retrieved the transonic turnscrew, an advanced scientific instrument somewhat resembling a writing pen.
“Is the transonic off also?” whispered Millie to me.
“So it appears, love,” I answered her, returning the device to my pocket. “So it appears.”
“Now, my friends,” continued our Infinital host. “Let us see what theme has come out of the toy box for you here today!”
With this, a toy train came along a track near him. He bent over and picked up a slip of paper that was resting in one of the freight cars.
“Oh, this is a good one!” he exalted. “Oh, it really is a good one! You have gotten Arcade Time!”
“Now you just wait a minute, Mr. Tinkertrain.” I protested. “I happen to be Dr. Daniel Rumanos, Operative of the Kosmikos of Algol. My companions and I have no time to play your games, and I must demand you release us and our ship immediately!”
“Oh this is great!” laughed Tinkertrain. “Such enthusiasm! We are going to have a good time today! Now, let me explain what is going to happen. You will be allowed to play a series of games. If you lose any of these games, you will be made to stay here forever, yourselves as game-pieces! Haha! Is that not great?!”
“But what if we win?’ enquired Millie.
“Oh, we will get into that later,” rejoined the Infinital. “No need to complicate matters by telling all right away, now is there?”
“Now you listen to me, Tinkertrain,” I again attempted. “We know that you are an Infinital, and that this world you have created is all just a projection of your mind. Your powers are immense, but that does not give you the right to kidnap travellers in order to utilise them for your amusement. We will under no circumstances take part in your ridiculous…”
Then, with a loud popping sound, Millie Drake and Kit-10 suddenly vanished from the room.
“What!” I exclaimed. “Where have they gone? Why, if you hurt them, I shall…”
“No worries,” interrupted Mr. Tinkertrain. “Your friends have simply gone to play their own games. They will be granted challenges according to their level. As for you, something more advanced -- and, of course, much more violent! You know, since you call yourself ‘Doctor’!”
“Tinkertrain, you will return my companions immediately! You will stop this foolishness and allow us to leave peacefully!”
“Now, it is time for your game challenge to begin, Doctor!” he announced in his booming voice, completely ignoring my protests. “Enjoy!!”
Then, whilst the loud laughter of the Infinital known as Mr. Tinkertrain echoed through my head, I found myself quickly transported to what seemed to be another place entirely. I was seated in the cockpit of an high-tech fighter jet aeroplane, which appeared to be flying high over the surface of a planet much like Earth.
I then looked out the front window of the plane and beheld an horror; forsooth, a terror indeed. It was a veritable flying army of grotesque alien creatures like big deformed insects, each of them being about the size of my aeroplane. They were all swooping directly to-wards my position, locked in tight formation.
Before I could react, the closest of these hideous monstrosities fired off an energy weapon from its very body -- the power of this hitting my jet plane with a resounding explosion!! …
Elsewhere, Millie Drake and Kit-10 found themselves in a strange corridor. On the floor on both sides of them were lines of white lights like small pellets.
‘What has happened?!” exclaimed the girl. “Where is Daniel, and where are we?”
“Insufficient information, m---,” answered the mechanical puss. “It can only be assumed that we have been brought to the virtual location of the first of the games in which we are supposed to be taking part.”
“So, what are these things on the floor?” asked Millie, walking forwards to them.
As the lass stepped on one of the light-pellets, it disappeared with a beeping noise. At this, Millie could not repress a giggle.
“So I guess this is the game,” she reasoned. “It looks like we’re in some kind of maze, and I think that we are supposed to walk around and step on all of these pellet things!”
“It does seem logical, m--,” said Kit-10, “but caution is advised.”
Millie Drake then continued to walk around the maze, followed closely by Kit-10. As they had expected, whenever the girl stepped on one of the light-pellets, it disappeared with a beeping sound.
“Well, this is easy!” exclaimed the lass. “I hope Daniel is all right, wherever he is.”
“Danger approaching!” suddenly exclaimed the robot cat. “Danger approaching!”
“What is it, Kit-10?” questioned the girl, whirling around. “Oh my gosh!”
Millie had seen what the danger was, for fast approaching behind the pair were four shapes like multicoloured ghosts.
“Advise running, m--,” counselled the computerised feline.
The girl needed no further warnings, and began to hurry around the maze along with Kit-10, with the bizarre “ghosts” in close pursuit.
“What can we do?” cried Millie Drake. “They’re getting closer, and there doesn’t seem to be any way to escape them!”
As she spoke, she and the robot continued to pass over the vanishing pellets. Then, they approached one that was much larger. When Millie stepped on it, there was a triple beeping sound and the four ghosts suddenly changed to all blue in colour.
“Those ghosts things are running away from us now!” observed the lass.
With this, the girl and the robot continued around the maze, continuing to make the strange light-pellets disappear. They only had a few more to go when the four ghosts suddenly changed back to their usual hues and again began pursuit.
“We’d better hurry!” cried Millie.
Then it happened that when the girl stepped in the final pellet, the ghosts disappeared and an electronic victory tune was heard.
“Kit-10, I think we won!” exclaimed the lass.
“It appears so, m--,” answered the robotic puss.
Then, the raucous voice of Mr. Tinkertrain was heard from overhead.
“This game is ended,” announced the Infinital. “Congratulations! Now, it is time for you to pass on to our second challenge here today. Have fun!”
It was then that the entire scene suddenly changed. Millie Drake and Kit-10 suddenly found themselves in the middle of what appeared to be a busy eight-lane highway, with numerous motor vehicles moving at high speeds in both directions.
“Kit-10, what happened now?” cried the frightened girl. “How can we get away from all this, and…”
Then Millie Drake screamed, indeed the poor wee lass screamed in absolute abject terror as she stood there beside the little robot. For, at that very second, barrelling straight to-wards them was an huge eighteen-wheeler lorry!
Attempting to evade the oncoming truck, Millie jumped forwards and, to her surprise, was propelled much farther than she had expected. At the same time, Kit-10 had moved to avoid the collision in her own usual gliding fashion, but had similarly found herself jumping high and far away from the vehicle.
“What happened, Kit-10?” called the lass. “How did we jump like that?”
“It appears that for this part of the gaming sequence,” explained the catlike computer, “we have been given the ability to leap rather like certain amphibious batrachians found on the planet Earth.”
“You mean we can jump like frogs?”
Therefore, Millie Drake and Kit-10 then continued across the freeway, jumping to avoid the various oncoming motor vehicles.
When the duo managed to reach the far side of the highway, they found themselves overlooking a river, wide and running quickly. In the water was evidence of something, something that inhabited it, something large and dangerous and reptilian -- for every now and again could be seen a glimpse of a massive thrashing tail or an enormous armoured back.
“I guess we’re supposed to cross this river now,” reasoned the girl. “But how? We can’t swim across with those things there! They look like alligators!”
“Affirmative,” agreed Kit-10. “They definitely have the appearance of creatures of the crocodilian order, m--. However, if you will observe farther upstream, you will see that what is likely our intended conveyance is now approaching.”
Indeed, swimming to-wards them were several large, friendly-appearing turtles. There were more of them at regular intervals across the width of the river.
“Okay, if you say so,” pondered the lass. “Here goes!”
Millie then jumped and landed on the back of one of the turtles, followed by Kit-10 who landed on the one next to her.
Giggling at the ridiculousness of it all, the girl again leapt and propelled herself right over one of the menacing alligators. She again landed on a turtle’s back, with Kit-10 joining her there a moment later. None the less, the young lady’s luck was not to hold out, for with the very next jump she miscalculated, falling short of the intended landing-place on another turtle, and in stead splashing down in the water.
“Danger, m--, danger!” the girl heard Kit-10 warning from atop a turtle.
Moreover, in sooth, at that moment a gigantic alligator rose from the river and swam quickly to-wards the helpless Miss Millie Drake. The girl screamed in total hopeless fear as the huge carnivorous reptile opened its enormous jaws and prepared to snap them shut upon her!! …
Whilst Miss Millie Drake and Kit-10 had been dealing with the bizarre games that the insane Infinital known as Mr. Tinkertrain had set up for them, I had continued to take part in that strange aerial combat against supposed alien invaders.
The blast from the eldritch alien rocked my jet aeroplane but did not destroy it. I looked at the controls in front of me.
“SHIELD 1 DOWN,” announced a readout. “SHIELD 2 REMAINING.”
I then looked up and saw that another of the attackers was firing at me. I hurriedly reached out and grabbed the plane’s joystick, using it to quickly dodge the blast. I knew that another direct hit would take down my final shield, and that any after that would presumably blow up the aircraft -- and me with it!
I noticed that next to the joystick there was a button. Feeling that I now had nothing to lose, I reached out my hand and pressed it.
With this, a burst of energy was emitted from my aeroplane. It shot through the sky and hit one of the alien monsters, obliterating it immediately.
“Yes!” I exclaimed, becoming enthusiastic in spite of myself.
I continued to dodge the alien fire, whilst at the same time returning my own energy blasts to them. Eventually, I found that I had wiped out the entire squadron of monstrous invaders.
“First Wave completed,” came the loud voice of Tinkertrain. “The Second Wave now will commence. Have fun, Doctor!”
With this announcement, another entire army of aliens appeared. They were stronger and faster than before, and there were many legions more of them this time.
Despite my efforts at avoiding and destroying them, I was eventually hit by another blast.
“SHIELD 2 DOWN,” announced the readout. “NO SHIELDS REMAINING.”
The alien force around me seemed to continue to grow, and was beginning to become overwhelming. Suddenly, several of them broke away from the squadron and began to dive directly to-wards my fighter plane -- intending to make a kamikaze-style collision that could in truth blow my jet to smithereens!!
Can you even begin to recognise and to comprehend the most extreme satanic horror, indeed the incredibly obscene phantasmagorical terror of this unspeakably diabolical situation, my dear friends and always-loyal readers? Though we were in in different places, and playing vastly different games, Miss Millie Drake, Kit-10, and myself had all similarly now come to the end of our endurance. I knew that if the mad gaming challenges of the grotesque and bizarre Infinital who called himself by the name of Mr. Tinkertrain were not ended immediately, we would lose and, though we would likely survive what were after all merely simulations, we would then be condemned to stay at the uncanny Game Room with him forever and ever!
Realising that the games were so set up so that no one could actually, in the long run, win them, it then finally occurred to me how I could succeed in overcoming Tinkertrain’s control. I realised that a certain “hack” was possible of this system that, though it was actually a projection of the Infinital’s profoundly-powerful mentalist capabilities, in truth resembled nothing more than an advanced computer program.
Then, just before the supposed alien invader would have crashed into my aeroplane, I did it.
“The game is now over,” said I in a loud, boisterous, obstreperous voice that sounded exactly like that of Mr. Tinkertrain the Infinital. “The beings known as Miss Millie Drake, Kit-10, and Dr. Daniel Rumanos shall now be set free from any further gaming, and allowed to depart.”
Immediately, the simulation ended and I found myself back in the Game Room. I turned and beheld Mr. Tinkertrain standing near by with a look of astonishment on his face. He was momentarily speechless. …
Just as the massive jaws of the alligator would have snapped shut on poor Millie Drake, she suddenly found herself and Kit-10 returned to the Game Room. Seeing that I was also now there, she ran and flung her dear sweet little arms around me.
“Oh Daniel!” she squealed. “I’m so happy to see you again! What happened?”
“Worry not, Mills,” I told her. “The situation has been dealt with and we will now be able to get away from this horror.”
“I must say that you people turned out to be no fun at all,” complained our Infinital host, “but you should know I cannot allow you to leave. You have to stay and play more games! You have to stay with me and have fun!!”
With this, there suddenly appeared in the Game Room the figures of numerous things rushing straight to-wards us. These included the alien monsters from the game that I had played, along with the ghosts, lorries, and alligators from the ones Millie and Kit-10 had endured.
“He has set them free from the simulations to harass us here!” said I. “Kit-10, your nose-laser should work now!”
And indeed, the mechanical feline started firing off blasts that hit the game figures approaching us. At the same time, I retrieved the transonic turnscrew from my pocket and aimed it at the things, setting forth an energy wave that further drove them back.
“Now, we need to escape before he manages to come up with something else!” I instructed my companions. “Hurry into the DiTraS!”
Millie Drake, Kit-10 and I ran through the porthole opening of our ship. Just as it closed behind us, we heard the voice of Mr. Tinkertrain, that insane eternal being that had kidnapped us and forced us to take part in his strange games.
“No! No! No!” he bellowed. “This is not fun! Come back and play my games! Come back and have fun! Come back and play my games and have fun forever!!” …
A short time later, I had dematerialised the DiTraS and taken us safely away through Space and Time. I had then explained to my companions what had happened, and had listened to the story of their own experiences. I now stood at the ship’s control panel entering some code terms into the messaging system with Millie Drake and Kit-10 standing near by.
“Fortunately, that experience seems to have had no permanent effect upon the DiTraS engines,” I announced. “I have sent a message to the Kosmikos, advising that warning buoys be set up around that area of Space. Then hopefully nobody else will ever be trapped in Mr. Tinkertrain’s Game Room.”
“There was no real way to win those games, was there?” asked the girl.
“I think not. No matter what, he would have thought of a way to keep us there forever. The Infinitals are immortal, their powers beyond anything that would allow them to interact with other beings in any normal fashion. I suspect that playing such games is the only way they have to relieve the loneliness, the ennui.”
“Daniel, did you really end the games by imitating his voice?”
“Yes, I knew that he was obviously controlling the games by psyche-sensitive voiceprints,” I elucidated, “and so knew that the system would mistake me for him and obey my commands. As for being able to do the imitation, it is an old Algolite technique. I learned it from an old Algolite, hmmm? Nevertheless, it is usually only a party trick. I fear that my using it in this matter may be considered a bit unethical. It appears that I am, after all, a bit of a cheat.”
“No, you're not,” said Millie Drake with a playful smile. “You are an Odysseus!”
***** DANIEL RUMANOS AND MILLIE DRAKE SHALL RETURN IN “SURFER GIRL”