There are many strange and usual things to be found in the city of Baltimore, Maryland. Of that there can be no doubt whatsoever. That a city best known for its high crime rate and political corruption (notwithstanding its often-overlooked great historical importance and cultural value) is also home to some of the oddest things to be found on the entire planet is not something frequently addressed by the news media and others whose supposed job it is to report the facts to the public.

Just to put forward one example of this observation, there is a place along Howard Street, a well-frequented thoroughfare that is, as a matter of fact, the main corridor of the city’s light-rail train system, that contains something that would be considered quite bizarre if its existence was noticed by the general public. In fact, it would likely have certain groups of people rather up in arms and calling for an end to the immoral acts of which it is obvious proof.

Of what I am speaking is a sidewalk-level billboard promoting a near by charity organisation that raises money for the children of local impoverished families. This permanent poster includes the photographs of several smiling youngsters -- carefully chosen, of course, to represent both genders and different ethnic groups, so that said charity cannot be rightfully accused of practicing any type of bias.

None the less, if one takes a close look at this billboard (and it must necessarily be a closer look than that cursory glance taken by the countless commuters and other citizens who pass by this scene daily on the way to their various occupations), one will notice something that in reality is blatantly obvious, but which would no doubt be loudly denied by many even if they did consciously notice it.

It is this: the faces of the children are covered with dried semen splattered there by the many homeless men who masturbate to these photographs on a nightly basis.

That this would come as a shock to folks who claim that sexual attraction to young children is a rarely-encountered mental disorder also flies in the face (so to speak) of the fact that underage prostitution is easily-obtained on the streets of Baltimore. Any corner street hustler can quickly direct an enquirer to locations where one can obtain the favours of young courtesans for a price -- concubines teenage or younger, male or female, one or more, and just about any other variation that could be imagined. This despite the claims of conspiracy theorists that such things are part of some closely-guarded “child sex trafficking” and are only available through “elite paedophile networks” or via foreign “sex tourism”, and the like.

No, my friends, such things are indeed easily-obtained on the streets of Baltimore, as they are in any other large American city (and no doubt most small towns as well). That law enforcement for the most part ignores this is really no surprise. In an urban area where multiple murders are a daily event, and where individuals die of drug overdoses so frequently that most never even receive an obituary write-up, that someone may be enjoying a quick paid-for shag with someone below the legal “age of consent” is not really an issue worth taking up the time of an already overworked and beleaguered police department.

Of course, these things are only presented here as random examples, out of many that could be given, of the strangeness that goes on in the city of Baltimore. Nevertheless, none of these points even begin to approach the supreme weirdness of some of the things that happen in that same city. No, not by a long-shot. For there are things in Baltimore that venture far beyond anything of ordinary vice and crime. Things that are rarely even whispered of in the darkest tales of evil and grotesquery. Things of alien terrors and obscene eldritch horrors beyond all sane imaginings.

Gather round, my friends, and I shall give you an example of this as well. …

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 "The Girl From Beyond" 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!!! …

In the heart of downtown Baltimore is a certain skyscraper building with a golden trapezoidal roof. The ground floor of this structure contains an Italian-style eat-in and takeaway restaurant known as “The Pizza Gate”, due to its entranceway being an ornate, stylised gate designed by the great early-Twentieth Century architect, IM Apeddo.

That the top floor of this building, in an area accessible only via a secret entrance, is my own headquarters on Earth -- containing as it does my laboratory and numerous extraterrestrial artefacts -- is not the focus of this account. No, dear readers, this story begins in the pizza restaurant itself, where my young assistant Millie Drake and I were enjoying a lunch break on that overcast city afternoon.

I was dressed in my usual finery, including a frilled poet shirt, purple velvet suit, and military-style boots, with my panama hat and opera cape casually cast over the back of the booth in which we sat. Millie, a exquisitely-beautiful girl, petite-and-perfect, with luxurious chestnut-coloured hair, lovely violet eyes, sun-kissed skin, and a sensuously wide mouth, was wearing a short, tight, powder-blue dress that only served to highlight the soft curves of her slender adolescent figure.

With us was Kit-10, our mobile personal computer that in sooth resembles nothing more or less than a small mechanical feline, resting under the edge of the table and with the slight whirring sound of her robotic systems sounding quite like a contented purring.

Millie and I were enjoying a large cheese pizza, and I also had ordered a foot-long steak submarine sandwich for myself. For drinks, I had an highly-caffeinated soft drink, whilst the girl was imbibing a diet version of the same.

As we continued our meal, I noticed a young lady at the next table. Perhaps in her mid-teens, tall and well-developed for her age, she was quite attractive, blonde and blue-eyed, with a complexion like the pure white of finest porcelain, and was wearing a white tee-shirt with a bare midriff, a pink miniskirt, and blue sneakers. She was sipping from a small bottle of fruit juice and seemed a bit distracted.

“Hello,” I said to her with a smile. “Nice day, hmmm?”

“Yes, I guess it is,” she replied, blushing slightly. “Hey, is that a robot or a cat?”

“This unit is not a cat,” protested Kit-10 in her pleasantly-feminine voice.

“That is Kit-10, our personal computer,“ I informed the lass. “She may not be a cat, but she does not object to being petted by pretty girls, hmmm?”

“Gosh, I wonder who she picked that up from?” giggled Millie.

With this, the young blonde walked over and scratched Kit-10 lightly behind her metallic ears, the robot’s system noise rising slightly in appreciation of the attention.

“I am Doctor Rumanos,” I said by way of introduction as I stood up, “and this is Miss Drake.”

“So you are the Doctor!” exclaimed the girl. “I thought you might be when I saw you. My cousins told me about you.”

“Your cousins?” I enquired.

“Yes, Heba and Peta,” she explained. “My name is Epheba. Epheba Filia.”

“Oh, all right,” I realised. “Yes, I remember the Filia sisters. That was before your time, Millie. So, how are they doing?”

“They are both away at college,” replied Epheba. “They say that knowing you inspired them to seek the best in higher education.”

“My, ‘tempus fugit’, hmmm?” I mused. “Well, it is nice to meet you, Miss Epheba Filia.”

“Just call me Pheebie,” said the lass. “Everybody does. Well, you know, I was really hoping you could help me with a problem I’m having.”

“Well, we will certainly do our best,” I assured her. “Right, Mills?”

“Happy to help,” agreed Millie Drake, “and nice to meet you, Pheebie.”

“You are both so nice!” said Pheebie. “It’s great to finally talk to people who should understand.”

“Please, have a seat at our table and tell us about the problem, hmmm?” I offered.

“Well, it’s about my boyfriend. His name is Arthur Douglas.”

“A fine name,” I said, “and a fortunate man to be the beloved of a lovely young lady like you.”

“Well, that’s it, you see,” continued Pheebie. “Arthur is some years older than I am, and my parents disapproved of our relationship. We kept seeing each other secretly, but I was afraid that my family might have Arthur charged with a crime or something. Finally, he told me he had heard of an idea that might help. He said he would be going away to take part in a research thing being done by a Professor Tamang at Miskatonic University in Massachusetts.”

“By the Triple Star!” I exclaimed. “I have heard of Professor Tamang’s research. It concerns the possibility of regaining youth in human subjects by way of hormone injections -- the material for which is taken directly from the sexual organs of bonobos!”

“Bonobos?” repeated Millie. “The great apes that are believed to be the closest related to humans?”

“Yes, indeed. Bonobos, you see, are the most neotenous or paedomorphic of primates aside from humankind. Tamang’s theory is that he can encourage a type of rejuvenation by injecting their hormonal secretions directly into the bloodstream of an human subject. Interesting, but fundamentally flawed. Of course, our own Algolite race perfected Rejuvenation ages ago via the reverse engineering of certain futuristic genomes.”

“So what happened to your boyfriend?” queried Millie, turning back to Epheba Filia.

“I didn’t hear from him for a while,” replied the blonde. “Then, one night, I heard a knock on my bedroom window. I opened it and heard Arthur starting to speak to me. He told me that the research had left him disfigured, and that he didn’t want me to see him until he could turn back the way he was. He stayed outside in the dark and we talked for a while. He said he still loved me and promised he would find a way for us to be together. He came back again the next night, and the night after that, but he soon seemed to be having a problem talking.”

“How so?” I questioned.

“It was like his voice was changing into a growl or something, and that he couldn’t form words right, you know?”

“Yes, I think I am beginning to understand. So, what happened?”

“He said he would have to go away and that I probably wouldn’t hear from him for a long time,” continued Pheebie. “I started crying and told him I loved him no matter what he looked like. Oh, I just wanted to see him so badly!”

As we talked, I began to become aware of a commotion outside the building. I wondered at it, but continued to concentrate on the girl’s story.

“Before he could leave,” Pheebie went on, “I took the flashlight I have in my room and shined it on Arthur. Oh, I just wanted to see him. When I saw what he had become, I screamed! When that happened, Arthur turned and ran away, and I haven’t seen him since. That was two nights ago. My parents heard me scream, but I just told them I had had a nightmare. I later called my cousins Heba and Peta and they told me where I might be able to find you, Doctor. Oh please, can you help me find Arthur, and... can you help him?”

“Before I can answer that, Pheebie,” I said, “you will have to tell me one more thing. You said that Arthur had ‘become’ something. Tell me what it was.”

“Oh, Doctor, it was terrible! Arthur… he had turned into an…”

Then, before young Miss Epheba Filia could utter that final word, there was a tremendous sound. It was the sound of broken glass as the large front window of The Pizza Gate was smashed from the outside. Both Millie and Pheebie screamed at the very sight of what entered, though Pheebie’s scream soon turned into a low sobbing sound.

“Arthur…” she wept. “It’s him. It’s my poor Arthur.”

What had crashed through the window was about the size and form of a man, but it had characteristics of something else. His body was covered with a dark brown hair, and his face was bestial and at best proto-human. He was incongruously wearing a pair of navy blue trousers on his bent chimpanzee-like legs, and the torn remains of a plaid shirt were on his long arms and muscular torso.

Before I could even react, the ape-man gave forth a bellow of animalistic fury and threateningly lunged to-wards us!!

“Kit-10!” I called, jumping up and standing to shield the two girls. “Nose-laser on stun!”

“Of course, s--,” replied the robotic puss.

(It should be noted here that along with her other catlike characteristics, Kit-10 is possessed of the total inability to openly show respect to anyone. The closest she ever comes to it is by addressing me by a slight “s--” sound -- for “sir” -- and Millie Drake by “m--” -- for “ma’am”.)

The thin bean of finely-focused light came from Kit-10’s nose and hit the ape-man. It slowed him in his bound to-wards us, but did not succeed in stopping him. 

“Oh, please don’t hurt him!” squealed Epheba Filia. “Please don’t hurt my Arthur!”

I moved forward to protect the ladies from the ape-man, but a resounding blow from his huge hairy hand soon set me careening across the floor. I struggled to maintain my balance and looked back at what was occurring.

Arthur the ape-man had by now reached out and grabbed the helpless Pheebie, who immediately fainted away in fear. Then, with another bellow of bestial rage, the primate threw the girl across his shoulder and exited the restaurant.

By now, I had recovered enough to run over to Millie Drake.

“Mills!” I called. “Are you all right?!”

“Yes, I’m okay,” she assured me with a hug. “He just took her and left! Gosh, do you think that is really her boyfriend?”

“I fear so,” I said. “It is results of the experiments he has undergone at Miskatonic University. The hormonal injections from the bonobos have caused him to regress to this primitive form. You stay here with Kit-10, love. I must go and stop him from in any way harming that girl!” …

Outside, numerous passers-by looked on in confused horror as the ape-man carried the helpless young girl away from the front of The Pizza Gate. He then looked up, way up, to-wards the gleaming golden roof of that downtown Baltimore building. As he gazed upon it and considered, a confusion of thoughts ran through his brain. They were human thoughts, memories of a life unconceivable to his now simian thought process. They were thoughts from when he had been a man -- an human being known as Mr. Arthur Douglas. …

He remembered the longing, the desire, the need to be with Epheba Filia. He remembered hearing of the research being conducted by a certain Professor Tamang at Miskatonic University; research that was said to cause bodily rejuvenation. Surely, this was the answer, Arthur Douglas had convinced himself. If he could become younger again, to appear to be Pheebie’s age, or even just a bit older, then her parents would not object anymore, would they? Then their would not be talk of statutory rape charges and protection orders and scandal, would there?

After quickly explaining his plans to the girl, Douglas had gone to Massachusetts and signed up for the research experiments, checking in to an old hotel in the town of Arkham in order to be near the university. The old professor had greeted him casually and kindly, and Douglas had only briefly wondered why this elderly gentleman had not attempted any sort of rejuvenation for himself.

Tamang had explained the mechanics of the experiments in layman’s term as much as was possible, talking of how the injections of hormonal extracts from the African bonobo ape would trigger certain reactions in the human physique that could lead to neoteny or juvenilisation. Arthur Douglas listened politely but did not really care in the long run. If it would help him to be with his beloved Pheebie, it was worth any risk.

At first, Arthur Douglas had noticed no particular effect from the injections. In any event, Tamang had assured him that there was no great risk, and that proper therapy with human blood plasma would work to reverse any side effects of the bonobo serum.

It was a full fortnight into the process when it started. Alone in his hotel room, Douglas began to notice that his body was becoming hairier; that his face was changing and becoming apelike. He also worried that his thoughts were becoming violent and animalistic, but hoped that this part was only his imagination at work.

His next appointment at the university laboratory being still three days away, Douglas had telephoned Professor Tamang with his concerns. The old scientist had told him once again that there was nothing to worry about. They would begin the plasma treatment soon to balance out the effects of the ape hormones.

That was when it all fell apart.

Upon going to keep his appointment at Miskatonic, Arthur Douglas had found that the entire project had been suddenly scrapped. Word of the nature of Tamang’s experiments had gotten out, and the university had ordered it shut down immediately. The possibility of outraged protests from local religious groups and animal welfare organisations alike was just too dire. The laboratory had been closed and cleaned out, all records of the research had been destroyed, and Professor Tamang been sent on an extended “sabbatical” in his native India. There was no word on how to contact him, or on if or when he would return.

Not knowing what else to do, Douglas had gone back to Baltimore. He was daily becoming less and less human in appearance, and so isolated himself in his city apartment, only venturing forth at night.

At first, he had only gone to Epheba Filia’s house and looked on in longing, but soon the desire to speak with her was just too strong. He had gone to her window and done so. He only wanted to be sure that she did not see him; that the girl did not look upon the beast that he was becoming.

Arthur Douglas was by this time finding it increasingly difficult to talk, to form words. His voice was devolving into a low growl with occasional outbreaks of an higher-pitched chattering sound. None the less, he managed to assure his dear Pheebie that he would find a way to help himself, to return to being a man. Perhaps, he reasoned, in time the effect would wear off on its own.

Whilst speaking to the lass, Douglas had struggled to control the thoughts that entered his confused brain -- the thoughts telling him to take her as his mate then and there, to rape and ravish her in pure unfettered jungle lust. He had managed to keep control, holding on to the shred of hope that his human dignity was stronger than all else.

Then, that last night had been the end of any civilised thought processes. When his beloved Pheebie had seen his appearance and reacted in horror, whatever remained of man in his brain had left him. He had run away a frightened animal, then living for two days hidden in one of the public parks of Baltimore, stealing food from a near by fruit stand, before he again picked up the scent of what he knew to be his mate. He had found her surrounded by others, but he had managed to take her, and now knew that he must find a place above all others, a place where he could defend what was his and win the right of “lex talionis” -- the law of the jungle -- the right to ravish the female that he had taken to be his and his alone! To do this, he knew that he could and would kill if necessary. …

I exited the front door of The Pizza Gate just in time to see the apelike Douglas make his decision. He had been gazing far upwards to the top of the building whilst clutching the fainted girl in one of his long, hairy arms. He had decided. It was time to take a place above all and to show his dominance.

Then, the ape-man that had been Mr. Arthur Douglas, still carrying the unconscious Epheba Filia on his hairy shoulder, began to climb to-wards the roof of the skyscraper!!

Can you even begin the perceive the unmitigated horror, in sooth the supreme and unbridled terror of this unspeakably bizarre and incredibly grotesque situation, my dear readers? Arthur Douglas, now more ape than man due to his participation in those bizarre experiments at Miskatonic University, had taken the helpless Miss Epheba Filia with him, carrying the poor girl in his climb to the top of that towering building in Baltimore City -- his intent being to show and declare his bestial dominance from that vantage point high above the urban jungle! As a man, he had loved her. Now, as a beast, he intended at all costs to take her as his mate!!

The ape-man found it easy to scramble up the building, his bare, hand-like feet grasping it easily. Seeing that he would reach the roof in a matter of seconds, I hurried into the skyscraper’s main entrance and took the lift to the official top storey, then going out the window in order to climb the remaining part to meet Douglas on the roof.

Utilising a variation on the rock-climbing skills that I had at one time learned from Aleister Crowley in exchange for teaching him Kabbalah, I fast made my way onto the golden trapezoidal top of the building and faced the ape-man. He had put the girl down on the centre of the roof and turned to-wards me. His eyes narrowed with hate and a snarl of challenge came from his mouth.

“Douglas,” I said. “Arthur Douglas. If any part of your consciousness is still human, think of who you are and what you are doing. You are a man, not an animal. I understand how you feel about Miss Filia, but realise that she does not deserve to be handled in this way. She is a young lady, not a possession to be taken against her will.”

As I spoke, the beast-man was slowly loping to-wards me, his head tilted slightly as if listening in interest to my words.

“I may be able to help you,” I continued. “I will need your cooperation, but we can run some tests and find out a way to reverse the process, hmmm? However, for this to happen, you have to stop behaving in this manner. You have to free the girl and come down from this place. You have to be careful to do no harm no anyone. My own laboratory is near by, and there we can…”

None the less, I then found out that my pleadings were to no avail. Mr. Arthur Douglas has receded too far into bestial savagery, and any civilisation within him had washed away. For, at that moment, as I spoke, he suddenly leaped forward and reached out his long arms to-wards me whilst uttering an howling cry of animal dominance.

I dodged to the side, narrowly escaping his grasp. I then responded with a kick to his stomach area, followed by several quick blows to his face and head. It was enough to have knocked out any human being, but its only effect on the ape-man was a slight retreat, followed by a screech of rage and a chattering challenge -- a challenge that had with it a message that could be understood without the benefit of language; a challenge that included the assurance that, one way or another, our fight would be to the death!

I was keeping my fists up to guard against any return blows from his hairy hands, when he suddenly did something unexpected. With a speed born of jungle hunting skills, he jumped upwards and came down on top of me, landing on my back from behind and wrapping his feet around the side of my head -- then utilising his horrid splayed toes in an attempt to gouge out my eyes!!

I intentionally fell backwards, hoping that the sensation of my weight so suddenly being shifted to his lower midsection would succeed in my escaping his grasp. Forsooth, it did not succeed completely, but it did manage to loosen his grip just enough that I was then able to grab his legs and to wrestle them off me.

I leapt to my feet, realising only then that we had by now moved to the very edge of the roof. I glanced and saw the city street far below. Then it happened. The apelike Douglas had also recovered and regained his feet and, before I could properly defend myself, he delivered a punch with one of his long hairy arms directly to my face. I staggered backwards and felt myself falling. There was nothing beneath me. I was hurtling off the side of the skyscraper! …

Back at the restaurant, Miss Millie Drake and Kit-10 had been watching what they could of the proceedings. They did not know of my peril at that precise moment, but they did realise that the ape-man had taken the helpless girl to the skyscraper’s rooftop, and that I had hurried there in an attempt to save her.

“Oh my gosh!” cried Millie. “This is all like some weird fairy tale, like ‘Beauty and the Beast’ or something. It also reminds me of some old movie, but I can’t remember which one.”

“Accessing cinematic databanks, m--,” replied the computerised cat. “Reference found. Incident resembles the climactic scene of the 1933 RKO Pictures film production of…”

“Never mind, Kit-10,” interrupted Millie Drake. …

I had reached out, barely in time, and had grabbed onto the edge of the rooftop. I now hung precariously by one hand as my foe again roared in apish fury before continuing his assault.

Indeed, the ape-man was just about to renew his attack, an attack that would have possibly resulted in him flinging me from the roof of the building to the streets far below, when something happened that diverted his attention from me entirely.

“Arthur…” came a weak female voice from behind him. “Arthur, no. Don’t… Don’t hurt anybody. Please, don’t.”

With this, the beast that had been Arthur Douglas turned away from me in order to look back at the girl, the girl named Epheba Filia, the girl that he had so dearly loved and cherished when he had been a man.

Whilst he was distracted, I managed to pull myself up back onto the roof. The ape-man did not notice, and I waited and watched what was happening.

I saw the apelike Arthur Douglas gazing at the young girl, and I noticed a realisation dawn in his eyes. It was a realisation of something not of the animal kingdom, but of that spark of nobility, of civilisation, which has enabled the human race to rise above its bestial origins.  I beheld that one final glimmer of humanity, of true manhood, had remained in that otherwise animal brain; for what I saw was a look denoting his feelings for that lovely young lady, feelings not dominated by unbridled lust and carnal desires, but rather feelings of affection, of devotion, of love.

Then, with one final cry, a cry more of human woe than of animal pain, Arthur Douglas turned and hurled himself from the rooftop to the streets far below.

Epheba Filia was trembling in fear and sorrow when I picked her up and carefully carried her to the window, then descending in the lift to the ground floor of the skyscraper. When we got there, she broke free of me and ran outside.  I followed at a distance, and was soon joined by Millie Drake and Kit-10. I quickly let them know what had occurred on the roof.

Millie hugged me and we watched as Epheba approached and knelt down beside the broken body of Arthur Douglas. As the last bit of life left him, his bestial appearance disappeared, and the face of an handsome gentleman appeared.

“Arthur,” sobbed the girl. “I love you. I love you so much.”

“I… love you too… Pheebie…” spoke the man Arthur Douglas with his last breath.

The Baltimore Police Department had by this time cordoned off the area, and representatives of the local news media were beginning to arrive. The story, as they understood it, was that a distraught man had committed suicide by jumping from the building. It was understood that it had something to do with a doomed love affair, but the minor girl’s name would be left out of any public reports.

Quotes of some onlookers who claimed to have seen an ape involved in the incident would, of course, be dismissed as hysteria.

I stood with Millie Drake, holding her hand, as we watched Epheba Filia crying over the now-lifeless body of the man that she loved.

“You did all that you could, Daniel,” said Millie sweetly. “I know that you did.”

“I just wish that I could have saved him, love,” I said. “There may have been a way of turning him back.”

“Daniel, he just didn’t want to possible hurt her any more,” continued Millie. “His love for her made him know that it was better to end his life than to do that.”

“You are wise beyond your years, Mills,” said I in wonder. “You truly are.”

“Oh, not really,” she blushed. “It’s something any child who has ever heard the old fairy tale understands.”

“What do you mean?” I quizzed. “What fairy tale?”

“You know,” said the girl, her enchanting violet eyes gazing up into mine. “The one that says: ‘It was beauty killed the beast’.”