THE CHALLENGE OF DEVLIN PRICE by Daniel Rumanos

THE CHALLENGE OF DEVLIN PRICE

by Daniel Rumanos

A WEIRD ADVENTURES OCCULT DETECTIVE MYSTERY

It was recently that the Tampa Bay, Florida newspapers printed the tiny death-notice of a young woman named Devlin Price. I sincerely doubt if many people even noticed it. The girl had killed herself, though the media reports delicately ignored the details of this — of how she had so perfectly slit her arms open with a razor-blade, thrice on each one, parallel cuts running from the wrists to the bend of the inner elbows.

But there is more, far more, to the story of the woman whose full name was Devlin Xandra Price. Her story is indeed among the strangest of that grotesquely odd collection of accounts contained in my private papers, that repository of paranormal weirdness known as The Rumanos Files. It is a tale that has hitherto remained untold. But now, with the death of Miss Price, the bizarre facts can at last be released.

“Tell the story, love,” said my beloved wife, Katrina, when I showed her the news item concerning Devlin Xandra’s suicide. “It can’t hurt anyone now.” …

The tale began when Katrina and I had travelled to sunny Tampa, Florida to investigate reports of a supposed cult operating there. “Satanic” graffiti had been found in abundance at a local shopping mall, and two small children had mysteriously disappeared shortly before the 30th of April — that ancient occult high-holiday known as Beltane or Walpurgis-Night, when human sacrifice is most often performed.

Now, reports like this are most often just hysteria or the bored populace taking coincidence much too seriously. However, I had indeed myself sensed a profound psychic disturbance coming from the Tampa Bay area, so it undeniably seemed to be worth investigating.

So there we were — myself, Dr. Daniel Rumanos, the extraterrestrial Magician-Detective known as Daemon-Star, along with my beautiful spouse Katrina, AKA Heaven’s Hell — at the Hillsborough Mall attempting to look like a couple just out for a day of shopping while we searched out the whereabouts of criminal devil-worshippers. Do you understand?

I notice a group of young, long-haired chaps in black T-shirts lounging around the food court. They looked like typical metal-heads of the sort which have not really changed since the 1980s, as much as each new generation likes to pretend it is “rebellious” or bloody whatever. Seriously, try listening Wagner or Bach or Gounod sometime, all right kids? You just might find a hint to the occult power you are so desperately seeking.

Anyway, Kat and I continued browsing the various mall shops until we came to a place called Obscura Body Piercing and Jewellery. We were about  to enter this establishment when we noticed that the heavy-metal boys had followed us and were now surrounding us on all sides. My wife immediately activated her powers — the magical flame which she had inherited due to having been created from the DNA of a deceased sorcerer. She kept it discrete, however, with only her flashing eyes and some lambent fire from her fingertips giving it away to close observers.

“Something we can do for you, umm, gentlemen?” said I, in an attempt at politeness that my excellent breeding dictates, even though the situation probably did not really call for it.

“We know of you,” said the most intelligent-looking (relatively speaking) of the chaps. “You are Daniel and Katrina Rumanos, and we have awaited your arrival. We are the Order of the Evil One.”

Bloody Hell. These sods were the blooming great Satanic Cult we had come all the way to 110 degrees in the shade, flying cockroach-infested Florida to investigate? Bollocks.

“It’s OK, guys,” said a sultry female voice from behind us. “I’ll take it from here.”

Kat and I turned then around and beheld a marvel. Slinking forth from the body-jewellery shop was a breathtakingly beautiful girl in her late teens, wearing a skin-tight cat-suit of shiny black spandex material. She was tall and slender, with striking red hair and big, azure-blue eyes. In fact, she looked exactly like my lovely Katrina!

“Hello, Dr. and Mrs. Rumanos,” she continued with an evil grin. “My name is Devlin Xandra.”

Then the girl activated a brilliant demonstration of flashing vermillion and violet flame around her luscious body and proclaimed: “I am THE REAL HEAVEN’S HELL!!”

*****

Now, I knew that this Devlin Xandra person’s uncanny resemblance to Katrina had to be the result of some demonic glamour. Her precedents, which I later managed to piece together through research and some chats with my contacts in the occult underground, were this:

Devlin Xandra Price was the daughter of a man named Lester Price, who had achieved some small fame for himself some years ago as lead vocalist and bass guitarist of a Tampa-based death-metal band called Charon. The band’s biggest claim to infamy was that they had gotten “Magus” Paul H. Gilmour, the (now thankfully deceased) leader of the Church of the Satanic Elite, to do a recording of some occultic invocations, which they then used on their album, Ceremony of the Black Mass. The release included an hideous track called “Baptism of Devlin Xandra”, in which Lester Price described with sickening pride the shamefully horrid and perverse ritual in which he had dedicated his infant child to Satanism.

Mr. Price also formed a group himself called the Order of the Evil One, ostensibly for fans of his music — though he himself was often heard to refer to it as a “satanic youth group”. Oy gevalt.

However, the career of Mr. Lester Price, both as a rock musician and as a cult leader, ended when he left his wife and young daughter and ran off with a teenage groupie from Cleveland, Ohio named Polly Belknap (who preferred to be called by the ridiculous moniker “Sinn Satanna, Sweet Slave of Satan”. Seriously, try to say that one without spitting, or at least wanting to do so).

But even Polly had left Lester Price when she found that middle age, obesity, and alcoholism were leaving him both financially broke and sexually impotent. He had stayed in Cleveland alone, getting a job as a nighttime security guard for a coat-hanger factory, and now spent his spare time doodling crude cartoons of nuns being raped by demons.

Devlin barely remembered her father, but found some old CDs of his music in her mother’s attic, along with promotional material for his OEO cult and a copy of Paul H. Gilmour’s self-published book, The Scriptures of Satan, which mixed diabolism and black magic with disgusting neo-Nazi rants. This had led her into further dealings with young, would-be devil worshippers, who were pleased to assist in the revival of the Order of the Evil One — with Miss Devlin Xandra Price as its new High Priestess!

But the demonic forces of eldritch evil which Devlin Price had managed to contact in her insane bid for occult power were more devastatingly powerful than the lesser demons that her idiot father had dealt with in his own bygone heyday — as I was about to find out that fateful afternoon, as Katrina and I faced Devlin and her group of metal-head disciples, there in the Hillsborough Mall in bloody sodding sunny Tampa, Florida.

“Yes, you heard right,” purred the insane girl known as Devlin Xandra. “I am the real Heaven’s Hell, and with the powers I and my devoted followers here have, we will wipe the Earth clean of your kind, Katrina and Daniel Rumanos!!”

Then, without further warning, Devlin hit Katrina with a powerful blast of Infernal Flame, sending my wife careening out of control across the mall floor!

Before I could move to assist her, I found myself stopped from doing so by the young male metal-heads who now made up the rank and file membership of what was called the Order of the Evil One. Their eyes were glowing crimson red, a sign of powerful demoniacal possession, and I indeed felt a force of palpably intense, tremendously hateful wickedness emanating from their bodies. There were seven of them.

“Holy flapdoodle, bitch!” I heard my lovely Katrina exclaim as she recovered from Devlin Xandra’s attack and readied her defences.

Then the same one of the young men who had spoken before again apparently talked — but it was not his human voice I heard this time, but instead a low-octave rumble of demonic sound that spoke through him: “We have long awaited the chance to face you, Rumanos. To avenge the many things you have done against our kind — against our brothers in the realm of absolute darkness. We are the Seven. We are the MASKIM!”

I then knew what obscenely powerful horror with which I would have to contend. Those seven evil fiends known to the ancient Babylonians as the Maskim: The Ambushers; The Liers-In-Wait!!

*****

They are Seven! They are Seven! (warn the ancient Babylonian texts against the Maskim) They are Seven in the Deepest Pit of Darkness!

They are Seven! They are Seven! They are Enemies of Our Master ENKI!

They are Seven! They are Seven! They are Seven Times Seven! …

The fiend-possessed boys surrounding me continued to advance forward, with their hideous eyes glowing balefully red as they ingenerated a sphere of the most abysmally dark energy — trapping me inside with them. …

Mall security by now had turned off all the electricity in the large shopping centre, citing a power-outage as their excuse to evacuate all innocent bystanders from the building. It was now past the time of day when direct sunlight would shine through the mall’s skylight windows, and indeed the Stygian gloom was only penetrated by the flashing vermillion and violet flames as Katrina and Devlin continued to throw volleys of Infernal Flame at each other!

“Your envy has bred hatred, Devlin!” said Katrina. “I am the TRUE Heaven’s Hell, and you are a mere want-to-be!!”

“You really are such an idiot, Katrina!” countered the wicked Devlin Xandra Price. “Have you ever even questioned the odd secrets of your origin? Well, have you?! Has it ever occurred to you to wonder how, if you were created from the DNA of a Hasidic and Cabalistic Jewish Mystic, you are obviously so ethnically Scottish in appearance?! Also, exactly why did Howard Levi pretend to be a Satanic High Priest named ‘Zandor LeVay’ anyway?”

“It is in no way your concern!” Kat replied. “My Daniel and I will be able to deal with any mysteries about my past! You are just jealous of our powers… and of our love!!”

“Oh, right,” returned Devlin with increasingly bitter contempt tingeing her every word. “Dr. Daniel friggin’ Rumanos. Hahahaaa! The lies that deceitful old bastard has told you, girl! Really!! That utter bullshit about how he can only have sex with you or he will die! Haha! Do you really, really believe that? Oh, it’s true that he managed to set it up the other way around, manipulating your DNA so that if you were to have relations with anyone else you would sicken and perish. That serves his deep-down feelings of inadequacy and self-loathing very well, I’m sure. But him? He is so full of it to tell you that!!”

“Don’t you even dare talk about my beloved that way, you stupid little slattern whore!!”

With this, Katrina enveloped her body entirely in wonderfully flashing fire. Devlin Xandra did precisely the same thing, and the two gorgeous, paranormally-powered girls shot upward into the air as their battle continued. …

In the sphere of horrendously eldritch magical energy, I desperately struggled to remember the words of the Sumerian-Babylonian exorcism against the Liers-In-Wait, as the demoniacally possessed seven young men continued to effect me with despair by mind-invading applications of their chthonic, demoniacal powers of grotesquely and dangerously diabolical, Acherontic terror! Buggers.

Really, dear reader, can you begin to understand the shocking horror, the absolute demonic menace and ghastly, phantasmal terror of this hideous situation?!! …

At the same time, the dreadfully perilous occult battle between my beautiful wife, Mrs. Katrina Rumanos, and the lovely-but-nefarious Miss Devlin Xandra Price continued, flying far above the mall floor, with blinding flashes of Infernal Flame as they whirled in circles of incredible, amazing agility and fantastically preternatural speed… HEAVEN’S HELL VS. HEAVEN’S HELL!!!

*****

The fantastic battle continued unabated, with Katrina Rumanos and Devlin Price shooting volley after volley of fantastic mystical fire at each other while flying high above the mall sales-floor. Amazingly, they seemed evenly-matched, the powers of the hideous Maskim and the myriads of associated attendant spirits having given Devlin an incredibly, frighteningly close approximation of the powers of Heaven’s Hell!

I have no doubt that my wife would have eventually prevailed — after all, the original will always in the long run prevail over imitations, even in the world of magic and illusion. But how long would this perilous fight last in the meantime?

“I will destroy you, Katrina Rumanos!” shouted the beautiful-but-deadly Devlin Xandra Price. “I will take your place in the occult world and be the ONLY Heaven’s Hell!!”

It was just then that I managed to burst forth from the dissipating sphere of dark paranormal energy generated by the seven demoniacally possessed blokes. I had completed the Babylonian Exorcism Against the Ambushers, the Liers-In-Wait — therefore invoking into myself the power of the warrior-god Marduk, son of Enki, Master of Magicians — and then the young men, now free from diabolical influence, had fled in terror from the shopping mall.

I quickly levitated upwards and sent a powerful blast of psychical energy at Devlin Xandra while repeating the concluding statement of the Exorcism:

“O Evil Demons! O Evil Fiends! O Demons! It is not I but the Lord MARDUK, Son of ENKI, who commands you! Be gone from this mortal being! The power of MARDUK compels you! The power of MARDUK compels you!!!”

With that, the demonic forces left the body of Devlin Xandra Price and returned to their own proper Perdition. Her powers gone, the young girl fell limply to the floor, the now-fading energies of her false Flame only serving to somewhat cushion the blow of landing.

I immediately alighted beside Devlin, and found the girl cowering in a corner of the lower mall hallway. She was stunned but not seriously injured. With the devilish glamour lifted from the young woman, she only superficially resembled Katrina. Her hair was obviously dyed red, and her eyes, though blue, were duller and without much intelligence.

“No, no,” she sobbed. “Please don’t hurt me anymore. I… I’m sorry. I only wanted to be something special.”

I had generated an orb of Algolitish Magical Energy in my hand, and was preparing to blast the girl out of existence.

Then I heard another voice from behind me. It was Katrina: “Don’t do it, Daniel. She’s harmless now.”

“But, Kat,” I replied, “she tried to kill you! She made deals with horribly ancient demonic forces!”

“She’s just a kid. She didn’t know what she was doing. Come on, love. I’m all right. Let‘s just go home.”

Amazed as always by the sweetness of my wonderful wife, I turned away from Devlin Price and ignored her continued weeping as Katrina and I left Tampa, Florida, and returned to Baltimore. …

Later that night, as Kat and I lay in bed together back home at the Temple of the Starry Wisdom, I stroked her silky hair and said to her, “Sweetie, I want you to know that I have never lied to you. You are everything to me, and I will never do anything to hurt or betray you. I know that if I did, it would destroy me. I’m really not sure if it would literally ‘kill’ me, but I would truly be the same as dead.”

“Awww! It’s OK, love,” said my wonderful Katrina. “I know and understand. We will always be together, and I love you.”

“I love you too, my sweet little Kitty-Kat,” I replied as we embraced, finding the ultimate magic there in each other’s arms.

And it is on that night, I must add, that our son — Ehrich Levi Rumanos — was conceived.

***** DANIEL RUMANOS is a professional stage Magician/Illusionist and author of the Weird Adventures series of Occult Detective Mysteries. He resides in Baltimore, Maryland, but it is probably safer (to your physical well-being, though not your sanity) to visit him online at: http://rumanosmagic.blogspot.com *****

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