* * * * *
I was born Raymond Van Helsing.
Yean, yeah! Just like the guy who staked Dracula back in the late 19th century. Only I don't look _anything_ like Peter Cushing or Hugh Jackman. In fact, I'd say I have a greater resemblance to a young, brown-haired John Karlen. As in, the original "Willie Loomis" from the original DARK SHADOWS?
Anyway, after spending the Vietnam War in Okinawa as a USAF Security Policeman, my dad (Rodney "Dutch" Van Helsing from Holland, Michigan) decided to follow in all his forefathers' footsteps. Hunting vampires the world over. With his first assignment involving a spate of mysterious disappearances from the famous New York City toy store, FAO Schwartz. And, with said disappearances having one thing in common.
Night shift cleaning staff who were well-documented checking in for work. But, not so much with regard to checking out at the end of their shifts.
Dad spent a whole year there, posing as a night watchman named "Rod Venn," before the vampire in question finally rose to the bait. The only trouble was, his plan almost worked _too_ well. He almost became another one of that vampire's victims, himself!
Fortunately, for him, a smitten woman named Kundalina had been following him around on his job for those same twelve months. Not just any woman, though. But, a "doll-clubber!" A sizechanger, from the parallel-world called Sizeloa, who belonged to a sub-culture that liked to live in doll houses and play with lonely Earth children.
Kundalina retrieved my dad's Swiss army knife from where he had dropped it (in the initial attack); she flicked open its cutting blade; and then used her size-changing power to gigantize the whole thing to the same proportions as a medieval broadsword! One "whoosh/thunk" later, that vampire (one of a subspecies colloquially known as "sizevamps") was a pair of charcoal-gray piles of ash. The larger pile representing her former body...and the smaller one, her former head.
As I'm sure you've guessed by now, Kundalina nursed my dad back to health. Eventually becoming Mrs. Van Helsing, and my mom, in that order. And, as a mixed blessing of his near-fatal attack, I inherited both her powers and the sizevamp's.
Two qualities that helped me become a private detective on my dad's home world after my exile from Sizeloa.
Here, though, I'm known as Ray Venn. Partly because, as a kid, I had often been mockingly referred to (by "pure-blooded" Sizeloan kids) as "Raven" Helsing. Due to my friendship with a Corvus ossifragus I had named Edgar Allen Crow, after raising him from the orphan I had found him as during a Nusi Academy field trip to the Mystery Hill region of New Hampshire.
Anyway; I had just finished mailing off my annual p.i. license renewal fee, to Albany, when I got a phone call from an ex-client.
"Ray? This is J-Rog."
I felt my eyebrows arch in pleasant surprise. "Jolly Roger" was the screen name used by the owner/editor of "Theparanoidsareright.com" Probably the biggest conspiracy theory website on the planet! And, the last I had heard, he had become the proud father of twenty GTS-demigoddesses by the beauteous Sizae-onna (the patron GTS-sea goddess of the Sizeloan archipelago called the Size Islands).
"Nice to hear from you, dude! What are you doing back on Terra Firma?"
"I might have a case for you, Ray. I know how you feel about the Sitmobtia and their human-pet trafficking. And, I think they might be up to their old tricks. But, with a new twist, so as to avoid detection and intervention by Sizeloan authorities."
"What do you mean?"
"There's been a wave of UFO sightings around the world, recently. A gigantic, cigar-shaped UFO, to be exact! And, wherever the sightings have occurred, someone's gone missing. The most recent disappearance involving a polytechnical prodigy who was mountaineering in the French Alps. You might have heard of him; Dr. Niall Freeman?"
I felt my eyes bulge like an anime character.
"The boy wonder who invented the world's first successful cold fusion reactor? Everybody this side of the Amish has heard of him! But, how come his name didn't make the news?"
"The French think tank that currently employs him managed to keep it out of the press. The only reason I know about it, at all, is because one of his co-workers is one of my subscribers. Screen-name 'Perry Meson.' "
I told him the truth: "While I admit this sounds like a typical Sitmobtia snatch, I'm not sure what good I could do you, overseas. After all, I'm only licensed to privately investigate in this country!"
"That certainly didn't stop you when you did all that interdimensional world-hopping on _my_ behalf," he reminded me.
"Okay, okay," I chuckled: "You got me. I just wanted to be sure you weren't the MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE type of client."
"You mean, disavowal-of-your-captured-ass and all that jazz? Forget it, Ray. I don't do that to my friends. Ever!"
"Then, you've got yourself a gumshoe."
* * * * *
MEANWHILE, ON THE ISLAND OF GOD-TEACHERS...
"You're at it, again, I see," observed Mr. G.
"I have no idea what you're talking about," replied Racym Iocc (with as much sincere innocence as he could fake).
"Everytime you've started this type of story, you always declare there won't be a second chapter. And, yet, more often than not, you've knuckled under and done far more than two! So, why are you employing the same old tired reverse-psychology?"
Racym Iocc grinned and shrugged.
"Doctrine of Limited Interference, remember? Those Who Lurk Behind the Fourth Wall must decide for themselves whether or not this story will go on! And, if the curious among them raise the viewer count to greater than one hundred (plus, the reviewer count to greater than zero)? I might regard that as tacit permission to continue."
Mr. G rubbed the palms of his hands together, with anticipatory glee.
"Mind if I sit, and wait to see, with you, then?"
"Not at all!"