By Daniel Rumanos
It was a cloudy, oppressively humid afternoon in Baltimore, and Katrina LeVay-Rumanos had just gone to The Spiral Comicbook Shop at the Roland Mall in hopes of finding a nice Birthday present for me. She is my incredibly beautiful wife, also known as the wonderful Heaven’s Hell. I’m Dr. Daniel Rumanos — Demonologist and Occult Investigator and Alien Exile and all of that — but this tale isn’t about me, so bugger that.
Anyway, Katrina had temporarily powered down her Heaven’s Hell abilities, which somewhat suppressed the psychic link between us, so that she could surprise me with whatever gift she would choose that day. She looked through the store’s selection of graphic novels and related superhero and science-fiction memorabilia. Katrina knows I sometimes like to escape for a few moments from the mysterious eldritch horrors and extraterrestrial madness of our real lives by looking at similar things in fiction. Please don’t even attempt to think too deeply on the pathology of that!
But while Katrina was browsing in the shop, its owner, Rick Shelton, was in the back room trying to think out a dilemma. Save for his few regulars, business had been bad for quite a while. Far too many comic book geeks were now purchasing their items via the internet and therefore stores like Shelton’s were suffering because of it. Things had gotten so bad that, several months ago, Shelton had turned to some volumes of Black Magic which he had found in the shop’s used books section. Surely, he had reasoned, he could conjure some demonic spirit or other that could restore some business to him.
But these occult rites all required blood sacrifice. Shelton had started with cats, but had to stop that when it hit the local news just how many innocent felines were disappearing from the neighborhood. He had then turned to little children, luring them with the shop’s weekly “fairy tale night” and casting a spell of forgetfulness over their absolutely clueless parents before abducting them to be ritually murdered. But he had only had the nerve to do this with two of them before deciding it was far too dangerous to continue. Besides, if someone found out they might think he was a damned pedophile instead of a demon-worshipper! You can’t have that sort of thing.
Now, thought Shelton, some new sacrifice was needed. Something better, something exquisite. While he was thinking this, he glanced at the security camera screen and saw the gorgeous young woman looking through the more-expensive trade paperbacks. Oh yes. That was it!
Shelton turned to Elias, his hulking, mentally-challenged servant. Elias had come into the world 22 years ago, exactly nine months after the night Shelton had escorted his little sister to her Junior Prom, and had been with the family ever since.
“She’s the one,” said Shelton simply, “Do it.”
Elias grunted in obedience and lumbered out onto the shop’s sales-floor. He had quite a lot of experience sneaking up behind unsuspecting girls, that being the only way the hideous monstrosity would ever be allowed to touch one, so Katrina didn’t even hear him approaching until he had hit her over the head with a toy “ray-gun” modeled after one from some old sci-fi T.V. series. She was rendered unconscious immediately and fell to the floor.
When Elias had finished dragging Katrina into the back-room, Shelton looked down at her and rubbed his hands together in gleeful anticipation of the grotesquely ghastly plans he was formulating in his dark, twisted mind.
“We shall gather the other members of our Circle right away,” he said with an unspeakably maniacal intensity, “This shall be the time. We shall call forth from the Great Abyss the Archdemon of Wealth himself to bestow his infernal blessing upon us! Yes… Yes! We shall now evoke the Mighty Devil MAMMON!!”
The members of Rick Shelton’s small Circle of cult followers were gathered at the decaying, long-abandoned chapel in the cemetery near the Roland Mall. They were all male geek-types who tended to hang out at his comic book store, usually spending their Saturday evenings at role-playing card games all huddled around a table at the mall food-court. The mall management didn’t really care, considering the very large amount of fast-food this rather corpulent group tended to purchase.
But, this particularly overcast afternoon in Baltimore they had something far, far more dangerous in mind — The were going to call forth the mighty arch-devil MAMMON and offer him a human sacrifice, in hopes that the dark demon would use his infernal powers to heighten the financial intake of The Spiral Comicbook Shop.
The gorgeous young girl they had kidnapped for the sacrificial purpose was named Katrina, and the coven had no idea that she was actually the occult super-powered Heaven’s Hell! This had made little difference at the time, though, as she was still quite unconscious, tied up and lying on their horrible altar as the members of the “Circle” stood around in breathless anticipation of the rite.
“Elias!” shouted Shelton to his oversized, retarded servant, “The book!”
“Yes, Dad,” answered Elias as he handed Shelton a big, leather-bound volume of black magic. Elias was distracted. He was looking forward to the part later on in the ceremony when he would be ordered to tear the sacrifice to pieces with his bare hands. Elias liked that part.
“I told you not to call me ‘Dad’ in front of people,” whispered Shelton in annoyance, taking the volume and opening it. The ancient book was filled with the magical sigils which the group had since carefully copied out in the blood of abducted cats and children upon the walls, floor, and ceiling of the now-unhallowed chapel.
Shelton grinned with wicked malevolence as he began to read the grotesque Magical incantation:
“Spirits of Darkness open my eyes that I may see Mammon! Spirits of Darkness heighten my senses that I may feel his approach! O Mammon, Lord of Wealth, open wide the Gates of Hell and come forth to grant us great riches! Amen. Evil from us deliver but temptation into not us lead and bread daily our day this us give. Heaven in is it as Earth on done be will thy come kingdom thy. Name thy be hallowed, heaven in art who father our!”
Then, with an unholy howling sound louder than the noise of any hurricane, the awesomely hideous form of Mammon appeared hovering above the altar. It was a humanoid-reptilian form, with immense horns and huge, dreadfully-glowing red eyes.
“Holy flapdoodle!” exclaimed Katrina, finally awakening from the stupor she had been under since the sickening Elias had hit her over the head.
Katrina immediately activated her Heaven’s Hell powers, the incredible abilities she had been given when she had been created from the D.N.A. of a the late, great Satanic Sorcerer, Zandor LeVay. She immediately burned away the rope-cord with which the cult had bound her, and rose into the air with a jetting force of her wonderful vermillion fire.
Rick Shelton’s group immediately lost their nerve, upon seeing the monstrous form of the demon and the beautiful, red-haired young woman with her mystical powers of Infernal Flame. All together, it was far too much for them, and they fled the scene. After leaving the cemetery and fleeing down the street, the large, heavily-built Elias tripped and fell on top of Shelton, accidentally crushing the latter’s chest into a gory pulp.
Elias burst into tears and blubbered, “I’m sorry, Dad! I’m sorry!”
“I told you not to call me Dad, you mutated, inbred fucking moron!” were the wickedly insane Rick Shelton’s final words as blood gushed from his mouth and he died of his sickening injuries.
Back at the chapel, Heaven’s Hell was face to face with the demon Mammon!
“Well, it looks like your own cult has abandoned you,” she couldn’t help teasing the great arch-devil.
“It is no matter, you child!” the demonic spirit answered in its deep, basso voice, “I am Mammon, Lord of all Wealth and Riches, and I have other servants in my employ who shall assist me to ravage the Earth!”
“Why would you want to ravage the Earth?” Katrina then inquired with concern.
“Why?!” Mammon answered with loathsomely diabolical mirth, “Because I can! I will certainly not be called forth from the Pit for no reason whatsoever! It is time for some ravaging!! Come forth, my servants! Rise! RISE!!”
Then, the graves of the cemetery began to break open, as the putridly rotting corpses of legions of those interred there began to arise — An unholy army of dead-but-walking zombie slaves of the awesomely powerful arch-devil Mammon!!!
The legion of putridly rotting corpses rose from the graves of the old cemetery near the Roland Mall in Baltimore and issued forth, shambling hideously towards the city streets — A legion of dead-but-walking servants for the use of the arch-devil who had been called forth that oppressively-humid, overcast afternoon!
In the graveyard’s long-unhallowed chapel the mighty demon in question, the unholy spirit of greed himself, shouted his commands at his undead army, the dark-green scales of his grotesque, reptilian-humanoid form glistening with wicked malevolence:
“RISE! Rise my slaves! Go forth to ravage the Earth, so that the pitiful human race will feel the wrath of the Hell-Lord MAMMON!!”
The beautiful Heaven’s Hell, also known as Katrina LeVay-Rumanos, hovered in the air facing the huge, monstrous form of the eldritch demon, her wonderful jetting red flame keeping her aloft.
“You know I can’t allow this, Mammon,” she said, “I must stop you.”
“You stop me, girlie?” answered the unspeakably ghastly Mammon with evil mirth, “I would bloody well like to see you try!! Really, who do you think you are, anyway?!!”
“I am Katrina of the blood LeVay! I am Mistress of the Infernal Flame and the chosen Consort of the Living Icon of the Demon-Star ALGOL upon Earth! I am HEAVEN’S HELL!!” she retorted, drawing the Sign of the Banishing Pentagram upon the devil with her fire and then continuing the words of her own Shaitanic Rite of Exorcism, “Mammon, Spirit of Malevolence, Dark Lord of all Wealth and Greed — Recognize me now as your superior and be gone, back into the Pit of Tartarus!!”
The great demon then howled again with a phantasmal sound as of all the winds joined together and vanished as if he had never been there.
Outside, with no power left commanding them, the horridly shuffling zombies all turned back and returned to their graves, where they became once again motionless in death.
The demon and his evil cult now gone, the wonderful Heaven’s Hell quickly left the abandoned chapel, only stopping long enough the pick up the large, ancient book which the now-deceased Mr. Shelton had dropped in his urgency to flee.
Meanwhile, back in the luxury apartment at the Carlyng Building that I share with my lovely wife Katrina, I was just finishing up some research work which had occupied my thoughts for a while. I turned on the television and tried to relax. The early evening news was on. Something about a disturbance at the old cemetery near a local shopping mall. The police were dismissing it as just some teenagers smoking pot in the graveyard chapel.
Katrina came home then, looking as breathtakingly gorgeous as ever.
“Happy Birthday, Daniel!” she exclaimed, handing me a huge, leather-bound, black book, absolutely ancient in its appearance.
I opened the volume and looked at the title page. It was the exceedingly rare and notorious Secretius Grimorium of Pope Honorius the Great in the original Medieval Latin! I flipped through it and saw that someone had quite recently penciled in loose English translations of some of the dangerously and authentically powerful Magical Incantations contained therein.
“Thank you so much, my beautiful Kat!” I said with much happiness, “What a fantastic gift! It will be an excellent addition to my collection, and a great aid in my research! I hope you didn’t go to too much trouble to get it, though.”
Katrina hugged me tightly and smiled. “Don’t worry, babe,” she said sweetly and with complete sincerity, “It wasn’t any trouble at all!”
* Daniel Rumanos is a professional stage Magician/Illusionist, award-winning author of the dark fantasy series The Weird Adventures of Dr. Daniel Rumanos, and fiction editor for Honeysuckle Magazine. Website: http://www.danielrumanos.com Twitter: @Daniel Rumanos *