It was a cloudy afternoon in Baltimore City as I sat in the office of Gargoyle’s Paranormal Investigations with a half-eaten corned beef and pastrami sandwich. I was just about bored enough to actually consider checking my email messages when there was a knock at the door.
I opened it and beheld a very attractive, if somewhat nervous looking girl. She introduced herself as Denise Archer and asked me if I were indeed Daniel Rumanos, parapsychologist and ghost-hunter and all that. I assured her that I was and invited her to sit down.
She was absolutely gorgeous: mid-twenties, long brown hair, big dark eyes, and built like a brick synagogue. I’m certain I didn’t do the world’s greatest job of ignoring all this as I tried to listen, with a reassuring but businesslike manner, to the story of what had brought her to seek my rather specialized services.
The details of her case were these: She had, at a nearby antique shop, made a spur-of-the-moment purchase of something that had caught her eye. It was a pair of pendants, one silver and engraved with a pentagram, the other gold, engraved with a hexagram (the so-called “Star of David”), along with certain words in a language she did not know. The gold hexagram she had with her. I asked to see it and immediately recognized it as a variation on the Seal of Solomon, an ancient magical symbol used to control spirits. I deduced that the Pentagram one must be the matching Seal used to conjure them. There was no way to affirm this because she did not have the silver pendant with her. You see, it had been stolen.
Just the night before, Denise had been awakened by a noise in the small house she shared with a friend. She turned on the light just in time to see a figure in a black vestment-robe escaping out the window, its face hidden by a cowl. Her jewelry-box had been opened, and the silver pentagram was missing.
Now, many people wonder how I know so much about Satanism and related things. There is a reason, but I’m not telling that for now. Suffice to say that I had some very reliable information that a pseudo-Satanic group called the Cult of Asmodeus was going to be meeting that very night at Roosevelt Park in Baltimore’s Hampden neighborhood. The fact that this was just two blocks from the antique shop where lovely Denise had found the two amulets just couldn’t be a coincidence, now could it?
The further fact that it also happened to be the Autumnal Equinox, the very night that the forces of darkness begin to grow in power, was also on my mind. Now I don’t have anything against anyone practicing their freedom of religious expression you understand. It’s just that if these people go around summoning up spiritual chaos I’m the one who has to deal with it. That’s just my job, so don’t go expecting me to be a bloody hero or anything or I might just put a curse on you and then send you a bill for my time and trouble.
We got to the park -- Yes, the chick insisted upon accompanying me -- shortly before midnight. The cultists were already there, five of them, in black robes. All appeared to be male, and the leader looked vaguely familiar to me. It was impossible, however, to clearly make out his features hidden behind the cowl of his vestment.
As the girl and I watched from a hidden vantage point, the cult assembled in a circle and the leader began the invocation, calling upon “the chief devil Asmodeus the Destroyer, Creature of Judgment, Enemy of All Life, Lord of Suffocation, evil spirit of lust who seduced Eve and beguiled even the wisdom of Solomon” to “appear before (them) and manifest (their) desires”. This went on for several minutes as the air grew colder and a whirlwind grew within the circular gathering of the demon-worshippers.
Then, with an immense howling sound, like the baying of a thousand infernal curs, and the unholy stench of excrement and cheap perfume, the demon itself began to manifest. Slowly but definitely, the figure became clearer. It was about 15 feet high and triple-headed, with only one of its faces even bothering to attempt a malformed parody of the human form. The rest of it was an hideous amalgamation of obscene animal forms -- not all of them fully of this earth.
We stood there, right there in Roosevelt Park in the Hampden neighborhood of Baltimore, in the very presence of the incredibly ancient, grotesquely debauched, and unspeakably powerful demon -- Asmodeus!!
TO BE CONTINUED! Don’t miss the shocking conclusion -- Coming soon -- **THE SHADOW OVER HAMPDEN**!
The Mystery of the Missing Pentagram
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