Category Archives: X. THE ASTRAL PLANE

Week 45

When the Commander was anxious, he had a habit of nervously picking out earwax with his pinkie and then shoving it into his mouth.

While waiting for his masters to finish their opening prayer, the Commander was digging into both ears. Dr. Antonosky just shook his head.

“Control yourself, fool!” the doctor hissed, terrified the Council would hear him. “Do you want earwax to be your last meal?”

He winced, broken ribs making even a whisper painful beyond measure. “I’ll be lucky if I’m merely executed,” he thought.

He glanced again at the Commander. “I hate that mind- controlled idiot!” he glowered. “I never should have let him drive the van!”

The Commander made a frowny face like a farting Basset Hound, removed a finger from his mouth, and whimpered, “Are we going to die?”

Before Antonosky could attack him, howling, a terrible voice thundered from within the Lodge. “Enter, Turd Children!”

As a gesture of supplication, the two terrified servants entered the giant hall on their knees, licking the floor as they crawled forward.

They reached the end of their masters’ table and stopped. There was no use trying to lie or even stretch the truth: The Fetid Lord knew.

The Commander felt a breeze on his neck, and suddenly a saber blade was poised beneath his Adam’s apple.

Holding the weapon was a short, muscular man with ferocious eyes, a relative of Genghis Khan. “Permission to kill them, my Lord?”

“Denied,” said the Fetid One. “We will hear the details of their failure, and then we will cast judgment.” Khan slowly lowered his sword.

Antonosky looked at Yeltsin, sitting on the floor licking himself clean like a Cocker Spaniel. He’d also failed the Order—once.

Reluctantly, the Doctor began his story, telling how they had successfully abducted Paul, only to be chased down by Putin.

The Commander interrupted, pleading. “The War Bear, your Malevolence—when enraged, she’s unstoppable!” A rotten odor was the only reply.

When their story was done, the two servants knelt silently, eyes on the Lodge’s black-and-white checkered floor, awaiting their fate.

There was only silence from the masters. They never conferred in front of underlings, but held their debates on the Astral Plane.

The Doctor prayed to any listening dark forces to spare his life in exchange for servitude. “I beseech thee—kill the fat one instead of me!”

The Commander looked at Yeltsin, with his collar and chain, happily lapping at his bowl of vodka, and thought, “Maybe it won’t be so bad.”

Meanwhile, in another dimension, the members of the Order held their Conclave of Evil.

Week 46

Astride his gleaming, muscular stallion, Byan Khan stamped his halberd against the ground to emphasize his point, but Cheney didn’t hear.

Beak buried deep into his feathers, the former vice-president was too busy preening to pay any mind to his Brothers’ discussion.

On the Astral Plane, Council members were free to manifest as they saw themselves, not as nature made them. Cheney was a great horned owl.

He perched atop the left shoulder of Kissinger, and from time to time Henry would feed him a rodent carcass, or a small frog.

Khan frowned, but continued. “If Putin has secured the Octopus, then he may already know of us. We have no choice but to abandon our plans.”

Walt Disney—no longer a half-frozen head atop a giant mechanical scorpion body, but instead a whole man with mouse ears— disagreed.

“No! Putin’s presidency is not a choice, it is Prophecy! And Vladimir Vladmirovich craves power. Even if he knows, he will take the office.”

“The Mouse King is right,” the Fetid Lord intoned. “Pulpo Paul knows much, but not all. Our darkest secrets still remain hidden.”

“Then Putin won’t know of Mantis,” said Kissinger. “But surely they’ve found him. Diese grünen Volkswagen—green bugs—not very subtle.”

“Yes. We knew we could hide Putin from the Hive for only so long. They will be waiting for his presidency as well,” agreed the Fetid One.

“The Mantis ship will not reach Earth for months,” Khan said. “Until then, she has only spies here. We must strike before her arrival!”

“Yes,” Disney nodded. “The Resurrection will happen before Mantis can act, and then our Lord will have the power to exterminate the Hive.”

The Brothers looked to their Master, but he was staring off at distant mountains, remembering the corpse city R’leh’s cruel geometry.

After a moment, the Tsar of Unholy Odors turned back to his Council. “The time is coming when we will face our true Enemy at last.”

Everyone nodded solemnly. These were powerful men, masters of dark magic, but they knew of an ancient Force that dwarfed their abilities.

Only by using Putin’s near-invulnerable body as a vessel for the Fetid Lord was there a chance of stopping the prehistoric monster.

“With your vitality restored, my Lor …hach! … my Lor …” Cheney stopped to throw up a pellet of bones and hair. “We will surely succeed!”

“With Putin’s body, you will have the power to conjure even a Great Ol …gah …” He threw up another pellet, and Kissinger stroked his head.

“Yes, Richard,” Kissinger said soothingly, “but first we must attend to other matters. What about Doctor Antonovsky and the Commander?”

“They are both idiots, but useful at times.” said the Fetid Lord. “I want them punished, not killed.” He turned to his favorite torturer.

“Yeezus, deal with the servants.” Kanye West—appearing 10 feet tall, covered in gold, and wearing leather jogging pants—bowed in assent.

Week 47

Antonosky flinched as he heard the sound of Yeezus opening the iron door again. He closed his eyes and wondered what new hell was to come.

Kanye West stooped as he entered the low-ceilinged cell and stood in front of the prisoner. “Doctor,” he said, his voice barely a whisper.

“Oh, God,” Antonosky thought, “here we go again.” “Doctor,” Yeezus said, a little louder this time, “we have a problem.”

“We?” thought the doctor, but he said nothing. After a pause, Yeezus continued.

“I promised the Fetid Lord I would not kill his servants, but … there was a little accident with the Commander.”

“You killed him?!” The doctor couldn’t believe the happy news. He would never have to deal with that idiot again!

“No!” exclaimed the Order’s torture master. “No, I didn’t kill him! He just … died. It wasn’t my fault! He was just so weak!”

Antonosky began to see where this was going. After all, this was what they kept him for—his skills, his special knowledge.

It was why they had sent him to Chernobyl with Putin, although no one could have foreseen the meltdown.

It was why they had sent him with the Commander to retrieve the body of that psychic cephalopod.

It was he, Antonosky, who had realized that the octopus was not really dead, but merely in a state of suspended animation.

There had been no provision for that, no Plan B. They had not even anticipated that Putin would try to capture the corpse—the fools!

No, they would never get rid of Antonosky. They would never kill him, although he had begged for death several times in the past few days.

“Doctor!” Yeezus repeated urgently. It was both gratifying and shocking to hear the Angel of Pain plead for his help. Antonosky sighed.

“And what will you do for me if I help you?” he asked. “What do I get if I reanimate the Commander, whom you have killed?”

Kanye West began to protest, but Antonosky interrupted. “It does not matter if it was an ‘accident.’ You heard the Red Tsar’s order.”

Yeezus was beginning to panic. “Anything! Anything, Doctor!” Antonosky pursed his lips and pretended to think it over.

At last he spoke. “No more torture, of course. And should I ever call on you, you are to come to my defense at once, no questions asked.”

Yeezus raised his eyes. “Nothin’s ever promised tomorrow today, but we’ll find a way. It hurts, but it may be the only way.”

The doctor nodded thoughtfully at Yeezy’s lyrics. “All right, then. I will help you. Take me to the body.”

The doctor followed Yeezus from the cell, shaking his head. Imagine! He was actually going to reanimate that idiot! Antonosky sighed again.

Week 48

Pulpo Paul opened his eyes and looked around with interest at the Astral Plane.

As a young octopus, he had developed his psychic powers by studying mind control with the squid of the Himalaya.

His cephalopod sifu had taught him the technique of suspended animation, but never before had he availed himself of it.

He knew his body was in a tank in the back of a yellow Lada nearing the Kara Sea, but his consciousness was here, which was also everywhere.

He would have liked to explore, to go further into this state of being, but he was wary of meeting others.

For a moment he saw a flickering image of a man, ten feet tall and glowing with gold, but he let it go and gently returned to his center.

Now that he had experienced this, he knew he could return another time. For now, his goal was to maintain the death-like state of his body.

If time existed on the Astral Plane, some of it would have passed. Pulpo Paul remembered that one could take on any appearance here.

He wondered if he would like to appear as something other than his earthly form. The question floated in and out of his mind for a while.

Gradually, without any direct intention, he began to change appearance. He grew slightly taller, his tentacles became two arms and two legs.

His beak became a nose, while his eyes remained a cold, icy blue. Wisps of near-translucent hair appeared on his head.

He looked down at himself and noted that he had become human, his lower half encased in fabric tubes but his upper body bare.

The smoothness of his naked chest was pleasing, he thought, admiring his human muscles in a rather abstract way. Then he realized …

“∏ ̈†ˆ ̃¡!” he exclaimed in his native tongue.

Of all possible forms in the universe, he had just taken on the one most dangerous and deadly!

But he could not allow himself to feel the terrible shock and fear at what he had just done, he had to maintain his suspended state.

Humming Rachmaninoff’s “Vespers,” Paul gradually calmed himself, slowly changing back to his earthly appearance.

Elsewhere on the Astral Plane, others felt a momentary disruption, a quick temblor that passed before they could focus on it.

Meanwhile, back on Earth, Putin and Snowy were carrying Pulpo Paul’s tank through the Fortress of Opulence to its place in the Great Hall.

“You’re sure he’s not really dead?” Murder Cat asked doubtfully. “This is just one of Paul’s amazing powers,” Putin replied.

“Once his consciousness returns to us, we will all meet to discuss how he will help us defeat the greatest threat the Earth has ever known!”