The Fall of the House of Crowhill

by Dr. Robin Rollinger

As I rounded the bend, and as the foot of Crowhill came into view, I was startled to see a man holding a sign. This was not just any man, but it was Mr. Crowhill himself. Or so I thought. As I continued to approach Crowhill, it became obvious that this motionless object was only a replica of Mr. Crowhill, albeit a highly authentic one. On the sign it was written in Big Green Drippy Letters: Welcome to Crowhill Mansion.

Though I might have been startled by any other replica, it is understandable why this one in particular had such an unsettling effect on me. It was twenty years ago today when I escaped from the clutches of Mr. Crowhill after he and Dr. Rooster had spent an entire night of subjecting me to their System in order to persuade me — nay, mesmerize me — into that One Great Religion, Roman Catholicism. Since my experience at Crowhill Mansion twenty years ago I often had dreams and nightmares about the System of Dr. Rooster and Mr. Crowhill.

In view of the unpleasant experience in question, it may very well be asked why I was returning to that particular location of all places on the face of God's Grey Earth. I was doing so because a few days earlier I had received a letter from Mr. Crowhill wherein he requested my presence at once. Though I am not in any way bound to serve this individual, I was nonetheless moved by reading in the letter his obviously sincere apology for subjecting me to his System and the urgency of his desire to see me. Since the MS gave evidence of nervous agitation I had reason to believe that something was indeed troubling Mr. Crowhill. After spending the greater portion of my life in idle contemplation, I thought that this might finally be my Big Chance to do something really good for a change, and for someone whom I could easily regard as an enemy.

As I continued on horseback in my ascent towards the mansion, I regained my composure from the experience of the Crowhill Replica by reflecting on Husserl's discussion of his experience in Berlin in the 1890's, when he encountered a young lady standing at the entrance of a wax museum, smiling and beckoning, but he soon discovered that this was in fact only a wax replica. What was the relation of this change from regarding the object as a real person to regarding it as only a replica of a person? Is there at first a belief and is the subsequent mental state exactly like the preceding one, except that this belief is subtracted? Or is the change in question to be described in some other way? And did Husserl perhaps think that the young lady was a Freudenmädchen?

I was deeply reflecting on these questions while ascending the hill, until Crowhill Mansion finally came into view. Given my previous encounter with Mr. Crowhill and also the melancholy appearance of that particular structure, it was hardly possible for me to approach it with indifference. Nonetheless, I managed to continue riding towards it, with a certain amount of fascination about the fact that the Enormous Crucifix which had once been displayed on the front of the mansion had been removed. What was the meaning of this? Perhaps Mr. Crowhill was no longer Roman in his religious orientation. This thought I found somewhat consoling, not because of any fundamental antipathy on my part towards that religion, but rather because I still was somewhat apprehensive about the possibility of being subjected to the System or perhaps some new version thereof.

Upon my arrival at the front of the mansion, I got off the horse, as well as a Tired Old Man could do that and made my way to the front door. It opened up before I could even knock or ring, for I was obviously expected. And there was Mr. Crowhill standing together with his trusted servant Walt. They both greeted me cordially, but the servant introduced himself as Waltresky.

“It's the Slavic influence, you know,” said Mr. Crowhill.

“Oh, that's real horrorshow,” I said in reply.

“Yes, real horrorshow,” said Waltresky, laughing. I looked down at him, for he was considerably shorter than I was. He had a hunchback, a grotesquely wrinkly face, and long scraggly hair. He also had a glass eye and was drooling a bit as he laughed.

“And you, Mr. Crowhill? Have you changed your name?,” I asked.

“Heaven, forbid!” he responded.

“Oh, so at least you still believe in Heaven,” I said.

“Most definitely,” he replied.

At that moment I looked up, only to see there in the hallway a man and a woman. I could recognize them. They were Mr. and Mrs. Dunstwerth, whom I had met on that night when I was subjected to the System. They still had that same Icy Look they had had before. Their lack of motion was of course not surprising, but Mr. Crowhill said at once, “They are only replicas.”

“Oh, real horroshow!” I exclaimed. We all laughed for a while, until Mr. Crowhill finally motioned for us to move into his living room, the same living room where he tried to inflict his dreaded System on me twenty years ago.

As we entered, we were greeted by a man dressed in a clown suit.

“Herr Doktor,” Mr. Crowhill said to me, “I would like you to meet Hans Wurst.”

As Hans and I shook hands, I said to Mr. Crowhill, “We already know each other.”

“You do?”

“Yes, twenty years ago, when I signed copies of my book in Clown Town he was there,” I said to Mr. Crowhill. Then I looked at Hans and said, “You were the Mayor of Clown Town then, right?”

“That's right,” said Hans. “But I'm into other stuff now of course. In fact I am working on some Big Plans.”

When he said that he smiled and looked at Mr. Crowhill, who showed some discomfort.

“You made a big impression in Clown Town, Herr Doktor,” said Hans. “We have even named a street after you.”

“Clown Town made a big impression on me,” I said. “I will never forget being surrounded by all those Wicked Wild-Eyed Women.”

“That's because you gave that concert and made All The Right Moves. That was real horrorshow!”

After Hans said that, we all laughed. Then I told him that twenty years of wear and tear prevent me from doing concerts any more, let alone Making All The Right Moves.

“But those women were also impressed by your literary talents, Herr Doktor. Your dialogues between Chowderhead and Horseface are now used as a textbook in our schools.”

“Yes, I know. That last royalty check paid for my horse.”

“I hope it paid for your chowder as well,” said Hans.

We all laughed and Hans said, “I really have to be leaving now. You guys have a good time with all these replicas!” said Hans and pointed to that area of the living room where a certain item of furniture had been twenty years ago.

Here I mean a certain comfy chair which was the Central Instrument of the System. But now it was no longer there. What was in its place? It was another replica! This time the replica was one of Dr. Rooster, on his knees with a rosary in his hand. Upon seeing this I was so caught up in memories and so impressed by the likeness that I was hardly sensible of the departure of Hans Wurst.

“Would you like a beer, Herr Doktor?” It was the voice of Mr. Crowhill, which finally brought me back to my senses.

“Uh, yes. I'll have a lager, if you don't mind.”

“One lagersky coming up!” said Waltresky and walked out of the room.

“Let's sit down,” said Mr. Crowhill. We accordingly sat down. I did so on one of the sofas and he sat down on another one across from it. (The arrangement was basically the same as it had been twenty years ago, except that the comfy chair had been replaced by the aforementioned replica of Dr. Rooster.)

“Do you still serve porter?” I asked Mr. Crowhill.

He answered that he was now drinking the last mug of porter. I noticed it on the table between us. “After I drink this, I will have a replica made. Ah, here comes your lager!”

Waltresky walked in with my lager and sat it down in front of me. “Now I have some replicas to polish!” he said and left the room at once.

Though I was rather perplexed by all this business about replicas, I was primarily concerned about the reason why I was summoned to Crowhill Mansion in the first place. Mr. Crowhill looked as though he hardly aged. He was not only fit, but apparently jovial as well. So what had caused him so much agitation?

After I finally asked him this question, he looked at me very seriously and said, “It's Hans Wurst.”

“What about him?” I asked.

“I think he's evil,” replied Mr. Crowhill.

“Well, if you ask me, everything about Clown Town is evil, but I would just stay away from that place,” I said.

“But in case you forgot, Herr Doktor, Hans was here in my house.”

“That's true, Mr. Crowhill, but what exactly is so evil about Hans Wurst. I can sense the evil oozing out of him, but I can't quite put my finger on it.”

“I'll tell you what it is. He's a vampire.”

“A vampire!?”

“And a lycanthrope too!”

“You mean a werewolf?”

“That's what I mean exactly.”

“I didn't know it was possible for someone to be both a vampire and a werewolf.”

“Well, he is both....and at the same time and in the same respect.”


“I didn't know it was possible either,” said Mr. Crowhill, “until I got to know Hans. But I'll tell you something else about him, and this is even creepier.”

“What's that?”

“He is The Beast.”

“You mean The Beast?”

“That's exactly what I mean,” said Mr. Crowhill. “He is The Beast who was prophesized two thousand years ago.”

“Does this have something to do with the Big Plan he mentioned?”

“It has everything to do with it.”

Just as Mr. Crowhill had said this and I was getting ready to ask him to elaborate on Hans Wurst's Big Plan, we heard a loud thud from the upstairs.

“That must be Waltresky,” said my host. And suddenly a black cat came running into the room and lept on his lap.

“There, there, Pluto,” said Mr. Crowhill to console his pet.

The cat looked exactly like the one I saw in Crowhill Mansion twenty years ago, except that this one had a white splotch on its chest.

“Herr Doktor, I suggest that we drink up and retire for the night.”

“But I want to know more about Hans and his Big Plan.”

“That will require elaborations which will be possible only when we have fresher minds. You have had a long journey on horseback. You must be exhausted.”

“Yes, I am,” I said while yawning. Then we heard a wolf howl.

“Don't worry. As things are at present, he wouldn't dare harm any of the residents in this mansion.”

“If you say so....,” I said.

“Let me show you to your room.” After Mr. Crowhill said this, we got up and walked upstairs. He took me down an Extremely Long Corridor and opened the last door to his right.

“Here is your room,” he said. It was a comfortably furnished room, but I couldn't help but notice that in the corner there was an area that had been Draped Off. Anxious to see what mystery might lie behind those Ominous Drapes, I told Mr. Crowhill that the very sight of the bed made me so sleepy that I must turn in at once. He bade me good night and left me in my room.

So there I was in the room, hearing the footsteps of Mr. Crowhill as he was walking away. I went over to the corner where the Draped Off Area was and, filled with anxiety, I pushed opened the Drapes only to find.....a replica of Herr Doktor sitting in the comfy chair!

Yes, indeed, it was unmistakably a replica of me as I looked twenty years ago, sitting in that comfy chair with a look of terror on my face. The right arm of the replica, however, had apparently fallen off. That must have been what caused the thud that we heard downstairs. And in the hand of the fallen-off arm there was......a rosary.

What did all of this mean? Did these replicas somehow belong to a System? And in view of Mr. Crowhill's claims about Hans Wurst, was I not to have misgivings about his sanity? Or was that howl we heard really from one single entity which was a vampire, a werewolf....and The Beast? Perhaps tomorrow I would find answers to these questions which spun wildly in my mind until I finally fell asleep.

The Fall of the House of Crowhill

Part II

Part II

The System of Replicas fascinated Mr. Crowhill because it was a system. Ever since he could remember he was fascinated with systems. There were practical systems, such as the one he observed at an early age when his mom wrote a list, went shopping, and prepared the meals, or the ones he made note of in the classroom - not to mention the much more rigorous ones he discovered on the playground. But as he grew he noticed that the entire world was made up a large variety of systems: monetary systems, political systems, theological systems, philosophical systems, grammatical systems, sexual systems, musical and artistic systems, and many more too numerous to count. There was nothing in the world that did not somehow fit into a system. And it was his one great hope to find the System in which all the subsystems interlocked and took on their Ultimate Meaning. In the System of Replicas he thought he was encountering the System of Systems.

But let me resume telling my tale. It was morning and I woke up to the sound of a gentle tapping on my chamber door.

"Herr Doktor!" It was the voice of Waltresky. "Would you like to join us for breakfastsky? Or would you rather like me to bring yours to you? We are not committed to one single system in this house, you know."

"You're not? I see. Well, I'll join you."

"Real horrorshow! Would you like an American or a Continental breakfast?"

"American of course. I like my eggs scrambled."

"Double horroshow! And do you want bacon or sausage?"


"Triple horrorshow!! And do you want links or patties?"

"Links, and please don't say, 'quadruple horrorshow'."

"Alrightsky, we'll leave it at triple horrorshow - and one half! Just come downstairs and the replicas will guide you to the dining room."

"I'll be right there, Waltresky. Thank you."

"No problemsky, Herr Doktor. See you soon!"

Before getting out of bed, I glanced over at the corner where the Draped Off Area was, just to make sure I had not been dreaming. The drapes were still there, but since I had closed them before retiring I could not see what was behind them. However, I decided not to open them again to further confirm what I had observed last night.

I started thinking of Waltresky's instructions about being guided by replicas. I was getting sick of replicas, and it looked like there wasn't going to be a cessation of their display in Crowhill Mansion. I decided that I would tell Mr. Crowhill that I was uncomfortable with all these replicas, especially with the one in my room. So I got dressed and started down the hall, becoming angrier and angrier the more I thought about this whole replica business.

As I came to the top of the stairs I could see yet another replica at the bottom. This time it was one of a young lady in a bikini, beckoning with her left hand and pointing to her right with her other hand. The sight of this replica caused me to grow even angrier at my host and thus more determined to give him a piece of my mind.In spite of my anger I preceded with the utmost calm down the stairs and at the bottom I turned to my left.

As I was going through the door to which the lady replica was pointing, I could have sworn I heard behind my back a kissing sound. Before I even could react by turning around to see who or what made the kissing sound, I saw before me in the next room yet another replica, this one of a vampire pointing to his right (my left). I dreaded to walk past it because I was in absolutely no mood to hear what sort of sound the vampire replica might make, but I went into the next room without hearing a sound.

The room in which the vampire replica was encountered was apparently some kind of recreation area. There was a pool table and a television in it. This was no doubt the room where John and Mr. Tubbyman watched that legendary basketball game 20 years ago. The room that I now entered appeared to be some kind of trophy room. It was filled with trophies of all sizes and shapes. (Well, not all sizes. None of them was larger than the room itself. And I saw no trophy shaped like that replica standing at the bottom of the stairs.) But what arrested my attention more than the trophies was another replica, this time a werewolf. It was standing to my right and pointing with its right hand to a door straight ahead of me. As I was opening the door to which it pointed, I heard a growl. But I immediately saw a sight which was more alarming than the growl.

The room I now entered was obviously the dining room. At the head of the table which could seat eight people, there was Mr. Crowhill. Immediately to his left was a place set for me, and immediately to his right there was......Hans Wurst.

Of course, I was alarmed to see this individual after what Crowhill told me about him. But I was all the more alarmed to see that on his plate in front of him was an Enormous Blutwurst. It must have been a foot and a half long and perhaps two inches in diameter.

Before Mr. Crowhill could even say anything, Hans said, "Herr Doktor, I'm so glad you could join us. Come in, sit down, and chow down!"

Now even though the sight of Hans Wurst and his Blutwurst gave me the chills, my mind was put to rest by at least one thing. He could not be a vampire. It was broad daylight and he was not in his coffin. The peace of mind that I enjoyed upon this reflection, however, was very shortlived, because it at once occurred to me that Mr. Crowhill must be mentally unbalanced. How else could I explain his assertion that Hans was a vampire, however peculiar this individual may in fact be? And how else could I explain all these replicas? Surely these were evidence of insanity. If so, perhaps I should forgo doing what I had intended to do, namely telling off Mr. Crowhill. Perhaps that would only provoke him to make an Enormous Blutwurst out of me! Then I started thinking of his family and what might have happened to them. But the reflections which then ensued are too dismal to convey.

"Please have a seat, Herr Doktor, before your breakfast gets cold," said Mr. Crowhill.

I sat down to a plate of scrambled eggs, hashbrowns, five whole link sausages, and two pieces of toast. I must admit, I was hungry. I felt like Andy Griffith, but without the charming presence of Aunt Bee.

Mr. Crowhill had just finished consuming a Continental breakfast and was sipping tea. When I noticed this I felt like a Major Peasant, but this did nothing to diminish my hunger. And compared to the bizarre sight of Hans, sitting there in his Clown Costume, with that Enormous Blutwurst in front of him, I felt more human than I had ever felt before. Now you can say all kinds of Bad Stuff about human beings, but I would rather be one of those than what was sitting vis-à-vis me. But whatever it was, I was sure that it was not - I repeat NOT - a vampire.

"Bon appetite, Herr Doktor," said Hans.

"Yes, I wish you the same, Mr. Wurst," I said as I looked at that Grotesque Blutwurst.

As I began eating my breakfast, I couldn't help but noticing that Hans' hair had increased in Volume and Shininess since the last time I saw him.

When he saw me looking at his hair, he said, "I guess you're wondering about what's on my head."

"Yes, I am."

"As far as I'm concerned, it's the only appropriate hairdo for preaching."

"You preach?"

"Yes, I do. Not every week, but tomorrow I shall deliver a sermon and need to get my hairdo ready for the occasion. Besides, it gets me into the mood."

"I see."

Actually I had no desire to inquire further into Hans' preaching or his hairdo or his philosophy of preaching in that hairdo or the mood attached thereto. The individual was so utterly bizarre I was just hoping that he would leave.

"Well, let me consume my Blutwurst and split the scene, man," said Hans.

It was a godsend that he was doing exactly as I wished. But what I then observed was not a pretty sight. Hans picked up his Blutwurst with both of his hands and opened his mouth wide. I could see, for only a moment, but ever so distinctly, Two Big Fangs, which proceeded to sink into that Blustwurst and suck it empty within a span of time that no mortal could possibly measure. He dropped the remains on his plate and got up.

"See you guys soon. And Mr. Crowhill, don't forget about the Next Step."

"No need to remind me," said Mr. Crowhill.

"Catch ya later," said Hans and walked out the door.

When the door was closed behind him, we could hear him say, "Come on, Lyco, Vampire, and Vamp!"

Clearly I heard the footsteps of several people leaving the house. I looked at Mr. Crowhill in astonishment. The face of Mr. Crowhill, however, did not show the slightest sign of shock, apparently because he had witnessed such Extraordinary Things all too often. "Did you hear that?" I asked

"Yes, I did," replied Mr. Crowhill.

"Mind if I go look?"

"Go ahead. It will do you no good."

I got up and walked out of the dining room and noticed that the werewolf replica was gone. I continued into the recreation room and noticed that the vampire replica was gone. Instead of checking to see if the vamp replica was gone, I noticed drapes in front of me. These no doubt covered a window through which it was possible to see the front lawn. So I went to them and opened them at once, but I could not see anyone at all outside. There was however one curious fact that I did notice about Mr. Crowhill's front lawn. It had lots of circular burnt areas all over it. Each area was about a yard in diameter.

When I returned to the dining room and sat down, I asked Mr. Crowhill what those burnt areas were. He told me that Hans had been practicing bringing down fire from the sky. When I asked him how Hans could be a vampire and yet be up and about in broad daylight, I was told that he was not just any vampire.

"Hans is The Beast. He breaks the laws of normal vampires," said Mr. Crowhill. "But you did see his fangs, didn't you? And you did see how he handled that Enormous and Grotesque Blutwurst."

"Yes, I did," I responded. "Alright, Mr. Crowhill, you have convinced me that Hans Wurst is at least a Vampirelike Individual of some kind. But I am still not convinced that he is The Beast."

"You will be," said Mr. Crowhill with a degree of certitude that I have frankly never witnessed before in my life. "But eat your breakfast before it gets cold. Waltresky stuck it in the microwave while you were looking out the window." I took a deep breath and said, "Alright, Mr. Crowhill. There are lots of things you have to explain to me. I hope you are now ready to explain them."

"I don't know if I can explain them all in one go."

"Maybe not, but it is now at least time to start."

"I agree. Waltresky! Refill Herr Doktor's mug with coffee. We might be here for some time."

"Da!," said Waltresky as he entered the room and proceeded to refill my mug with coffee.

"So where shall I begin?" asked Mr. Crowhill.

"At the beginsky, of course," I said. Waltresky laughed at this as he was leaving the room.

"Very well, it all started when I saw an add in the Clown Cryer. There was an add for the manufacture of replicas upon request. Replicas could be made in any shape and size...."

"ANY shape and size?"

"Herr Doktor, please! This is no time to get philosophical."

"Very well, I take you to mean that the replicas could be made in any shape or size that a sane person might want"

"Do you want to make this explanation even longer and more tedious than it must be?"

"No, please resume, Mr. Crowhill. But I am sure that it couldn't be tedious by any standard."

Mr. Crowhill then resumed, "Now I had been looking for a long time for someone to make a replica of Dr. Rooster, because he was, as you know, a truly great man." "He was? Past tense? Does that mean he is no more?"

"Sorta. But that is why I was wondering about where I should begin. Let me continue and we can come back to Dr. Rooster later."

"Sounds good."

"At first I had a replica made of myself, just to see how well it would turn out. If they would have done a bad job on a replica of me, that would not have been any great loss. But I would not have been able to bear a Bad Replica of Dr. Rooster. As it turns out, they did an excellent job, so I decided to let them do one of Dr. Rooster. You have of course seen both replicas. They are as realistic as one could possibly expect replicas to be."

"But not as realistic as the ones Hans brought with him this morning."

"Not yet anyway. But let me explain one thing at a time."

"Okay, go on."

"As I became more curious about why this service of replica making was offered at such a low cost (for whoever was doing it was just bearly breaking even), I got in touch with man behind it all."

"Hans Wurst."

"Yes, and I use the term 'man' lightly, but that is what I took him to be at the time. Anyway, I noticed that he made replicas of prominent people such as Dr. Rooster with particular eagerness.. After I found out through further inquiries that he had made replicas of other prominent people, I began to suspect that he was devising a whole System of Replicas. And that of course piqued my curiousity to the utmost degree. For I am intrigued with systems of all kinds."

"That's understandable."

"But the system I began to discover was extremely diabolical. Hans was intent on replacing these people with the replicas. After the right ones were all replaced, he would gain control of the World System and then the prophisied events would ensue."

"So does this mean that Dr. Rooster has been replaced?"

"Well, he was already on ice, so to speak, so the replacement in this case was automatic."

"Does this mean that the real Dr. Rooster is dead?"

"Not necessarily. And we must hope and pray that he isn't - not permanently anyway, for Dr. Rooster is our Great Hope."

At this point I felt very dissatisfied with Mr. Crowhill's explanations and cried out in frustration, "Ah, you speak in such riddles! Please explain to me what has happened to Dr. Rooster. Also, tell me this. If the System of Replicas is to be a Replacement System devised by The Beast, then why did you say last night that you were going to have a replica made of a mug of porter."

"You are to be commended on your memory, Herr Doktor. That last question is easy though. I was trying to bring some levity into an extremely grave situation. Besides, I thought it would be nice to have a replica of a mug of porter," said Mr. Crowhill with a smile.

"Alright, but explain this to me. You said that the replicas were meant to replace prominent people. But in my room there is a replica of me, with its right arm broken off apparently due to the carelessness of Waltresky. Now I might enjoy some popularity in Clown Town (of all places!), but no one in his right mind would call me a prominent person. So why is there a replica of me - of all people?"

"It was no accident that the arm was broken off. That in itself would require an extensive explanation. But as to your prominence or your alleged lack thereof, you should keep in mind, Herr Doktor, that the Grand Scheme of things is very different than the petty schemes of men."

"There you go being cryptic again!"

"This will all at first sound cryptic, and will remain so to a degree until all is fully revealed. But you will soon learn, Herr Doktor, that you are much more prominent than you think."

"I guess that means that you are not going to tell me right now how I come into the picture. Then at least you could tell me what in God's name has happened to Dr. Rooster?"

"Very well, Herr Doktor. You will see that none of this is easy. Drink your coffee and follow me. I will show you what happened to Dr. Rooster and try to explain what we need to do in order to resist the Vile and Godless Evil that Hans Wurst desires to unleash upon the world in his attempt to deceive mankind."

"Before I go anywhere with you, Mr. Crowhill, you must tell me one thing. You must understand that you put me in an Extremely Difficult Situation, and it is thus not the easiest thing in the world to trust you, especially after my last visit to your estate. But I prefer to let by-gones be by-gones. In any case, it would help to build some trust if you could tell me where your family is. As I recall, the last time I was here, you had a wife. You apparently also have children, because I saw some toys in the recreation room. So where are they?"

"After I met Hans Wurst and discovered that he was such a dangerous individual, I decided to send them away to my other estate where they would be safe."

"You have another estate?"

"Yes, I do."

"And would you mind telling me where this other estate is?" "Of course I wouldn't mind. It is on Crowhill Mountain," replied Mr. Crowhill with a smile that conveyed pride. "But the house you are staying at has been in the family much longer. It is the House of Crowhill. May it never fall! For in it dwells the Crowhill Spirit."

I took that last remark to be some sort of flippant poetry.

"Now drink your coffee and follow me," said Mr. Crowhill. "I'll disclose to you show what has become of Dr. Rooster."

So without a word I drank my coffee and followed Mr. Crowhill out of the dining room. Mr. Crowhill almost tripped when his cat came to his feet for attention. It was then that I noticed that the white splotch on the cat's breast was more distinct than before. It was now a silhouette of a comfy chair.

The Fall of the House of Crowhill

Part III

You can turn back now, Herr Doktor," said Mr. Crowhill, as we stood before a door deep in his cellar. The door had a crucifix on it. This of course made me suspect that he had not given up his allegiance to Rome.

Before we came to this place in the Crowhill Cellar, we had walked down many steps. We began our descent when we entered a door in the hallway, right where the replicas of Mr. and Mrs. Dunstwerth had been standing earlier. These replicas were now gone. The only remains of them which we observed before going into the cellar were two arms, each of which had a rosary in the hand. When Mr. Crowhill observed that these replicas were gone he became extremely silent and pensive. I knew that this must be an ominous sign.

As we went past an area in his cellar where he kept wine, I jokingly asked if he had a cask of Amontillado to offer me. But he did not answer. It was almost as if I wasn't there.

"Why should I turn back now, Mr. Crowhill?" I asked as we stood before the door which apparently held some Great Mystery behind it. "Don't you believe everything I told you about Hans Wurst?" asked Mr. Crowhill.

"Quite honestly, Mr. Crowhill, I don't what to believe," I said.

"But you have seen...."

"Yes, I know what I have seen and heard, but at this point I can't turn back. I really need to know what's happened to Dr. Rooster."

"Very well," said Mr. Crowhill. Next to the door there were several fur coats hanging. He took two of them down and gave me one.

"Here, put this on," he said. He was still in his pensive mood as he put on one of the fur coats. I put on the other one.

Next to the door there was also a Huge Set of Keys hanging on a nail. He took them off the nail.

"Haven't I seen those keys somewhere before?" I asked.

"Yes, you have," he said. He took one of the keys off of the chain and handed it to me. "I want you to take this key and leave this house tomorrow," he said with the utmost solemnity.

"Leave so soon?" I asked.

"Yes, I want you to leave in the morning and go to Crowhill Mountain," replied Mr. Crowhill. "I will give you instructions of how to get there. It is absolutely urgent that you do this."

Reluctantly I took the key and said, "Very well, Mr. Crowhill. Can I now see Dr. Rooster?"

Mr. Crowhill opened the door before us with one of the keys and switched on a light next to the door. "Ecce homo!" he exclaimed.

We walked into the cellar room, which was extremely cold, and I saw right in the middle of it a Huge Ice Cube, about 8 cubic feet in volume. In the midst of the Huge Ice Cube was Dr. Rooster kneeling, in precisely the same pose as the replica in the living room of Mr. Crowhill. And yes, Dr. Rooster had a rosary in his hand. It looked as if he had been frozen while he was doing the rosary. Perhaps he was engaged in the Extremely Intense Roasary Treatment when he was at that time.

"This isn't another replica, is it?" I asked.

"No, this is the real thing," said Mr. Crowhill.

At that moment the black cat slipped into the room. I once again observed the white silhouette on its breast. There was no mistake. This was a silhouette of a comfy chair.

"You don't need to tell me at the moment how Dr. Rooster got in that ice cube, but I would love to know what you propose to do with him. When people are frozen, that is pretty much the end of them," I said.

"That is true about most people," replied Mr. Crowhill.

"I know you have great respect for Dr. Rooster, but he was still just a man," I said.

After making this assertion, which Mr. Crowhill apparently didn't hear with pleasure, I noticed that the cat went over to one of the walls and was scratching on what appeared to be another door. On this door was yet another crucifix.

"Mr. Crowhill," I exclaimed while pointing at the door. "Have I seen that crucifix before?"

"Yes, you have, Herr Doktor. You have seen the crucifix and the keys." The crucifix was of course the one that both Dr. Rooster and Mr. Crowhill held in front of me 20 years ago while I sat in the comfy chair. In the center of that crucifix was a compartment that contained dials and switches. These were used to control the comfy chair and other things in the immediate environment thereof. The keys were the ones that Mr. Crowhill wore around his neck 20 years ago. So there I was, in the room with Mr. Crowhill, Dr. Rooster in the Ice Cube, the crucifix, and the keys. Naturally I started wondering if the comfy chair wasn't also there.

"Mr. Crowhill, what is behind that door in which your cat has taken so much interest?"

"Herr Doktor, you have just remarked that Dr. Rooster is just a man. I realize that he is indeed a man. But you are forgetting that he discovered the one weapon, perhaps the only weapon, we can use with any effect — with the help of Dr. Rooster of course — against Hans Wurst."

"Mr. Crowhill, I think I know the weapon you have in mind. Now I want you to tell me plainly and without any more crypticisms: Is the comfy chair behind that door?"

In response to my question Mr. Crowhill walked over to the door and selected a key. Before opening the door, however, he turned a dial in the center of the crucifix. Then he opened the door and there it was, glowing with a Mystical Luminosity, none other but the one and only comfy chair. The cat immediately lept in it and started purring.

"And what do you propose to do with this cursed thing?" I asked.

"It is not a cursed thing! It is the only way to defeat The Beast, I tell you."

As he said this, I stood there, staring at the comfy chair which was surrounded by all kinds of Catholic Stuff in that small room. Everything in that room was illuminated by the Mystical Luminosity of the comfy chair.

"With it we can revive Dr. Rooster and defeat the Evil One. But we have to work fast. The disappearance of the two replicas in my hallway means that Hans is ready to add them to his Animate Replicas."

"Like those three vile replicas that he brought with him this morning?"


"But why were the arms left behind?"

"Because there are rosaries in the hands. What would The Beast have to do with rosaries?"

"I see."

"I am glad you see," said Mr. Crowhill. "Now let's go back upstairs and have lunch. After that we will have to get to work."

So he closed the door to the comfy chair and turned the dial in the center of the crucifix again. We left the room and Dr. Rooster, such as he was, and began our ascent.

As we entered the hallway of Crowhill Mansion, I saw once again the replica that was in the same location when I came to breakfast. I could have also sworn that she winked at me.

"Oh no!," said Mr. Crowhill. "This could mean trouble."

"Mr. Crowhill," I said. "I am not in the least inclined to see Hans Wurst consume another Blutwurst."

"That is understandable, Herr Doktor. If you wish, you can go up to your room and I'll have Waltresky bring lunch to you."

"That sounds good."

"What would you like to eat?" asked Mr. Crowhill.

"Certainly not a Blutwurst!" I exclaimed.

"Certainly not. How about kishke?"

"Kischke? Isn't that the same as Blutwurst?"

"My dictionary says that kishke is a beef casing stuffed with matzo meal or bread crumbs, flour, onions, etc. and then steamed and roasted."

"It is the et cetera that I am worried about," I said.

"Suit yourself," said Mr. Crowhill. "Would you like a pizza?"

"That sounds good. Make it a pizza with extra cheese and mushrooms. Make sure that it has nothing on it that would be appealing to a vampire. I want no et cetera of any kind!."

"Alright, I shall come up and see you after Hans leaves."

So Mr. Crowhill and I parted. He headed towards his dining room and I started walking up the steps. I heard several kissing noises from the vamp replica as I was walking, but I was resolved not to look back.

When I finally got to my room I noticed that on one side of the bed there was a table. It was already set for one. There was also a bottle of red wine on the table. Under the assumption that the wine was for me, I picked up the cork screw lying next to it and opened the bottle. After I poured a glass, I took a sip. It was a little bit on the sweet side, but still very good. (It was a red wine from Kaiserstuhl in Baden.) I walked over to the other side of the room, sipping the wine, and noticed that there was stereo equipment there.

Mr. Crowhill had lots of LP's. He must have had everything that Jethro Tull ever made. He also had the album I made 20 years ago. It was called "Dance, dance, dance!" On the cover was a picture of all kinds of people debauched in dance, making the dancer face. You know how it looks. They had their eyes closed and their lips pooched out. Hardly dignified.

Then I started looking at the CD's. There was one called "American Stuff." The first few selections convinced me that this was the CD for me right now: "Adagio for Strings" by Samuel Barber, "Rhapsody in Blue" by George Gerschwin, and "Three Places in New York" by Charles Ives. I put in the CD and was immediately swept away into a blissful state by the piece by Samuel Barber.

Then I noticed that Mr. Crowhill had a poem on his wall. So I started reading the poem while sipping the wine and enjoying the music.

Sweet balmy nights on Crowhill,
Shrine of tranquility,
Take me far from Clown Town,
Set my spirits free.

Remove these godless replicas
From my stately home.
And by the grace of God above,
Never let me roam

Into that dread dominion
Where The Beast resides,
Consuming mortal flesh and blood,
Where no peace abides.

Give me no more Blutwurst!
Give me eggs and ham,
Or sausages or bacon,
But you can keep the spam!

Oh, Father high in Heaven,
Smile down upon Your son,
Who serves You from the comfy chair
Beneath the Mary Bun.

And bring all men into the light,
Let us all come home,
For there will be no peace on earth
Till we reside in Rome.

The poem certainly confirmed one thing, just as the experience in the cellar had done. Mr. Crowhill was still Roman Catholic. Yet, I could not explain why the enormous crucifix which had previously been on the facade of Crowhill Mansion was now gone. But maybe the explanation was simple. Maybe it had been taken down for maintenance of some kind. After all, there could have been a lot of gadgetry in that thing.

Suddenly I heard a knock on the door.

"Come in," I said.

It was Waltresky with my pizza. After he muttered a few pseudo-slavisms and told me how horrorshow the pizza was, he set it on the table and left. I sat down to eat my pizza. "Rhapsody in Blue" was playing now. I was having an excellent time eating the pizza, drinking the wine, and listening to Gershwin. And after I was done eating I lay down on the bed......just for a little while, I thought.

The wine had made me a bit drowsy. And now the first part of Ives' "Three Places in New England" was playing. The music, "The 'St. Gaudens' in Boston Common (Col. Shaw and his Colored Regiment)," was beautiful, but it was also very strange. I did enjoy it, but it only took a minute or two before I dozed off and started dreaming.

There I was, sitting high up and far back in the bleachers of what appeared to be the combination of a football stadium and a cathedral. It was enclosed, but the enclosure was transparent.

Suddenly, very brisk music started playing. It was the second part of the Ives piece, "Putnam's Camp, Redding, Connecticut." On the playing field there seemed to be a lot going on. It was crowded with people who were all moving about chaotically. I decided to go down to take a look.

The music got quieter as I left the bleachers. I hurried down the steps to the field, because I was anxious to see what was going on. The music was buiding up into chaos again and sounded something like a football fight song when I finally made my way onto the field.

And there I saw football players throwing footballs, jugglers juggling, clowns riding around on big tricycles and doing all kinds of clownish stuff, belly-dancers doing their thing and hootchie-cootchie girls doing the hootchie-cootchie. I can hardly describe all the types of people and activies I saw, but when I stepped into the crowd I felt myself being pushed forward.

As those in back of me were pushing me forward, those in front were clearing a path which was unmistakably leading to the other end of the stadium-cathedral. And suddenly I was hit by a football and then by another and another, until I was bombarded by massive amounts of them. Before I knew it, I was whipped and kicked and spat on and laughed at by the people on the field. At one point someone shoved a huge object under my left arm. It was a cross, large enough for a crucifixion.

The crowd kept pushing me forward on the path, through the gauntlet. Closer and closer I got to the other end of the stadium-cathedral, when I could see someone up on a podium. It was Hans Wurst with a Big Shiny Hairdo. When I was clearly in his sight he pointed at me, and his arm started stretching towards me. His hand grabbed me by the collar and drew me towards himself rapidly. I struggled. I tried to take off my jacket and shirt in order to get free from his grip. But while I was trying this with my right hand, I felt a pistol in the inside pocket of my jacket. I knew what I had to do.

When Hans pulled me up to the podium he flung me down, and a bunch of Roman soldiers started running towards me. They had huge hammers and spikes in their hands. The crucifix that I had been holding was now lying on the ground to my left. Behind Hans I could see that two people had already already crucified. On the cross to the right was Mr. Crowhill and on the one to the left was Dr. Rooster. Apparently I was going to be crucified right in the middle, between two such prominent individuals. The idea of crucifying me in that place of honor could only be the product of an Extremely Perverted Mind.

So there I was on the ground, about to be crucified. Just as the Roman soldiers were about to grab me and Hans stood there laughing at me, the music stopped. At once I cocked the pistol, pulled it out, aimed it at Hans, and pulled the trigger. The gun shot woke me up from the hideous dream. As soon as I awoke I heard laughter from downstairs. The laughter lasted but for a moment and could hardly be described as human. Then the third part of the Ives piece started playing. It was "The Housatonic at Stockbridge." The music was no longer chaotic. It was not at all loud or abrasive. Yet, it was strangely tense.

Then I could hear someone coming up the steps and walking down the hall. There was a knock on the door. I lept from the bed and opened the door. It was Mr. Crowhill.

"We must get to work at once," he said, as he walked into the room and laid his pistol on the table. He didn't need to tell me that at lunch he had decided to take matters into his own hands and assassinate The Beast.

The music was building up to a cescendo. He walked over to the Draped Off Area where the replica of me was. The music reached a climax when he opened the drapes and I could see that the replica was gone, except of course the arm with the rosary in the hand.

The music was calm again. From what I had been told this morning in the cellar, I knew what we had to do, though the details remained vague and mysterious to me.

"Let's go," I said. Mr. Crowhill and I walked out of the room. The music was over. We turned out the lights.

The Fall of the House of Crowhill

Part IV

There I was, sitting on one of the couches in Mr. Crowhill's living room. After we had come down stairs, in order to Swing Into Action, he told me that he had to make some phone calls. So I had to wait for him. He allowed me to make myself comfortable in the living room. So I sat on one of those couches which faced each other and were perpendicular to the wall. The comfy chair that was at one time against the wall, between the two couches, was now gone. The replica of Dr. Rooster that I saw in the same location when I arrived the previous day at Crowhill Mansion was gone too, except of course for one of the arms. In the hand of that arm was - as you might have guessed - a rosary. What could I do there? As I was sitting on the couch, I looked at the bookcase on the wall facing me. I walked over to take a look at the books in it. I saw "Being and Time" by Heidegger, "Truth and Method" by Gadamer, "The Dialogues between Chowderhead and Horseface" by Herr Doktor, and "Critique of Pure Lunacy" by.....I forgot the guy's name....and many other volumes which were clearly meant for casual reading. I looked all over, however, for the critical edition of the works of Dr. Rooster, but couldn't find it. In fact, I couldn't find one single volume on Roman Catholicism. These, I thought, must be kept in the Secret Library, with so many other Mysterious Items which would have occupied me intensely while waiting. Alas, they were not there.

I opened up the "The Dialogues between Chowderhead and Horseface" and read the following dialogue.

Chowderhead: Hi there, Horseface. What are you reading there?

Horseface: The Bible. I am trying to figure out what really happened in this story of Adam and Eve.

Chowderhead: I thought it was pretty straightforward.

Horseface: Of course you did, Chowderhead. It takes a brilliant mind like mine to see the problems.

Chowderhead: What problems are those?

Horseface: Haven't you ever noticed that God tells Adam not to eat the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, but when Eve speaks with the serpent she adds that she and Adam are not even supposed to touch it?

Chowderhead: Gee, I never noticed that, Horseface. What do you make of it?

Horseface: Eve is adding to God's word. Either she is doing this on her own, or Adam conveyed to her this distorted version of God's command.

Chowderhead: So which one do you think is guilty?

Horseface: Obviously Adam is, because we are told by the Apostle Paul that Adam brought sin into the world. But most people think that the first sin was eating the fruit. If that was the first sin, you would have to say that Eve brought sin into the world. This problem is however solved once you see that the first sin was the distortion of God's command.

Chowderhead: So eating the fruit was really the second sin?

Horseface: Oh no, the second sin was Adam's failure to exercise his authority over the woman. We know that Adam must have been standing there right next to Eve while she was speaking to the serpent. Now I don't know about you, Chowderhead, but I think that it is clear from scripture that a man has authority over his wife. So by falling down on the job of commanding that foolish woman not to eat the fruit, he was failing to do what a man has gotta do. When he ate the fruit himself, he only put the icing on the cake.

Chowderhead: But why do you think that Adam was right there with Eve and the serpent?

Horseforce: Because it says that Eve gave him the fruit. He must have been right there if she could simply give it to him.

Chowderhead: Now hold on there, Horseface! You can give something to someone from a great distance. Someone just gave me a cassette tape through the mail. It came all the way from the other side of the ocean. So maybe Adam was clear on the other side of the Garden of Eden and Eve sent the fruit to Adam by mail or DHL.

Horseface: Don't be such a chowderhead! In the first place, it was fruit and not a cassette tape. They don't let you send fruit by mail or DHL. In the second place, they didn't have that stuff back in those days.

Chowderhead: Oh yeah, I forgot about that. But maybe Adam was temporarily inflicted with laryngitis and couldn't tell Eve not to eat the fruit.

Horseface: Now that is a brilliant hypothesis, Chowderhead!

Chowderhead: Coming from a genius like you, Horseface, that is a great compliment. I am truly honored.

Horseface: Let's go for a drink now. All this deep thinking makes me thirsty.

Chowderhead: I'm with you, Horseface. I'm in the mood for some of that porter stuff.

Horseface and Chowderhead walk into the sunset to their friendly local tavern.

I closed the book with a sigh and put it back on the shelf. Then I noticed to my right, in the corner where long ago Peace and Tranquility were oozing, there was a guitar. It was an electric one, though there was no amplifier to be seen in the room. I picked it up and went back to the couch and strummed it. Even I could tell that it was Way Out Of Tune, but that was no problem. All I could play required one string anyway, the top one of course (you know, the big thick one) because this one was so easy to pick. So there I was, sitting in the living room of Crowhill Mansion, playing "Louie, Louie" and "I Can't Get No Satisfaction" on the top string of an unamplified electric guitar. I could have gone on like that for eternity.

As I started reminiscing about my days as a rock star, Waltresky entered the room with tea and cakes.

"Please don't let me disturb you while you're jamming, Herr Doktor," he said, as he set down the tea on the coffee table between the couches.

"No problem, Waltresky," I said, as I put the guitar down on the couch. I was actually a bit embarrassed. "What is going on?"

"Master Crowhillsky is still making some phone callskies, but he thought that you might like to drink some teasky while waiting."

"That is an excellent ideasky, Waltresky"

After he poured a cup of tee, he handed it to me and asked with a smile, "Or would you like another glass of winesky, Herr Doktor?"

"Very funny," I said. "But thanks a lot for the tea."

"You're welcome, Herr Doktor. Now I shall be on my way."

"But wait a minute, Waltresky. I thought you might clarify a few things for me."

"Clarify? I have been taking a course in Continental Philosophy. The teacher told me that you ain't supposed to do that, because what you are really doing when you pretend to clarify stuff is....."

"Never mind what that guy...."

"Girl! Or rather, woman! Better, ....."

"Whatever! Never mind what he, she, or it said. Tell me what happened while Hans Wurst was here."

"You heard the gun shot, didn't you?"

"Yes, Waltresky, I heard it and surmised at once that Mr. Crowhill shot Hans." "That is exactly what happened. Are you happy with the clarification that you didn't need from me?" asked Waltresky in a sarcastic Slavic tone.

"No, I want to know why this happened," I said.

At this point Waltresky shed a tear and said, "He did it for me."

"Do you mean that Mr. Crowhill was protecting you by shooting Hans?"

"That's exactly what I mean," Walt replied as he started crying harder.

"Ah, I see. There is so much that I don't understand," I said.

"There is so much that none of us understands, Herr Doktor."

"True, but please tell me how Mr. Crowhill was protecting you."

"He shot Hans, right in the head, because Hans wanted him to kill me."

"Why did Hans want Mr. Crowhill to kill you, Waltresky?"

"Don't you remember what Hans said to Mr. Crowhill this morning as he was leaving?"

"Oh yeah, something about the 'next step'."

"Exactly. The next step," said Waltresky, "was to start replacing the replicas. He wanted to eliminate relevant individuals and replace them with replicas."

"But why would he want you to be eliminated? I've seen no replica of you."

Waltresky looked up me and smiled. "I keep it hidden," he said. "I have been very unhappy with my appearance for years. At one time I hand a smooth baby face, but now my face is all wrinkly. At one time I had a Big Shiny Hairdo, but now my hair all scraggly. At one time I had a couple of Newmanesque blue eyes, but now I have this watery real eye and this glass eye. Some say it is real horrorshow, but I'm afraid they mean it in the wrong sense."

"Newmanesque, as in Cardinal Newman?"

"I could never be on That Level! I meant Paul Newman."

"I see."

"Anyway," Walt continued, "there is a replica of me, as there is one of you and seven others."

"Let's see, those would be of Dr. Rooster, Mr. Crowhill, Mr. and Mrs. Dunstwerth … and who else?"

"The Three that accompany Hans."

"You mean Lyco, Vampire, and Vamp?"

"Exactly," Walt replied.

"Alright, let me put this together now. There are altogether nine replicas. Hans intends to eliminate the original people whom they replicate. Does this have anything to do with the hypothesis that he is The Beast prophesied in Revelation?"

"It has everything to do with it! But it is not just a hypothesis."

"What does it have it do with it?....whatever you want to call it."

Walt seemed rather distraught that I didn't understand what was going on, but he collected himself and answered as follows: "The Beast in Revelation has ten heads. Each replica is to become a head. When the original person is eliminated, the replica becomes animate and joins Hans."

"Is that why Lyco, Vampire, and Vamp accompany him and make strange noises?" I asked.

"Exactly. Hans became a werewolf not just because he is a Scary Guy (which of course he is), but rather in order to hang out with werewolves and to kill one of them. Likewise, he became a vampire, so he could hang out with vampires and kill one of them."

"I see. But don't tell me that he became a vamp...."

"I guess he did. You don't know how twisted the mind of Hans is."

"So let me get this straight. Hans was out to kill you in order to continue his Program of Replacement, as a crucial aspect of the System of Replicas."

"Exactly," replied Waltresky. "He had told Mr Crowhill that I had better be a Blutwurst the next time he comes here. Mr. Crowhill tried very hard this afternoon to stall, but when Hans finally demanded his Blutwurst … bang! … Mr. Crowhill shot him in the head."

"But I don't get it, Waltresky. So far we have only accounted for nine replicas, namely of Dr. Rooster, Mr. Crowhill, Mr. and Mrs. Dunstwerth, you, me, Lyco, Vampire, and Vamp. But the beast in Revelation is to have ten heads. So where is the tenth head?" I asked.

"That is the Main Head, the head of Hans himself," replied Waltresky. "Do not forget the scripture that tells us that one of the heads was wounded."

"Oh, I see," I said. "So there isn't a replica of Hans."

"With Hans you are on a whole different level. Don't even try to figure him out." "Very well, but if everything you say is true, Mr. Crowhill was actually fulfilling a prophecy by shooting Hans in the head."

"Didn't you hear that ungodly laughter that came right after the shooting?"

"Yes, I did," I replied.

"That came from The Three, as they dragged out the corpse of Hans," said Waltresky. "It was a laughter of triumph. But Hans still has much to do before he can reek havoc on mankind."

I drank down the rest of my tea before it got cold, when Mr. Crowhill entered the room. "I am so sorry to have kept you waiting, Herr Doktor. But we need a lot of help to accomplish our task. So I was on the horn, inviting people over to help us."

Then we heard some noise outside. It sounded like motorcycles, lots and lots of motorcycles. Waltresky left the living room and entered the hall to open the front door of Crowhill Mansion.

"Welcome, friends!" he said. In came Mr. and Mrs. Dunstwerth in leather jackets, followed by an entourage of people in leather jackets. Waltresky brought them all into the living room, which was fortunately rather large and sparsely (though tastefully) furnished.

Only few words were exchanged between Mr. Crowhill and this group of people when there were more people at the door. This time it was John and Mr. Tubbyman and their entourage. All of them were wearing those ridiculous UK jackets and caps. They said they came on foot because they want to be just like basketball players.

"We really must get started while the weather is right," said Mr. Crowhill. It was raining very hard. There was also lightning and thunder.

Mr. Crowhill led all these people down to the cellar. He wanted them to heave Dr. Rooster in the Big Ice Cube all the way up to the attic of Crowhill Mansion. He also wanted them to do the same with the comfy chair and the concomitant crucifix. This was all done, though I won't bore you with the details. One point of interest, however, was that the comfy chair had a rather large ice cube on it. In this ice cube was Mr. Crowhill's cat. We must have left it in the comfy chair that morning and it froze there. I have no idea though about how the ice cube was formed. Those who know the Ways of Science are free to explain it, unless of course it belongs to the realm of the Miraculous, whatever David Hume might say.

When we reached the attic, Mr. Crowhill opened a door. We walked through the door to find an enormous laboratory, filled with all kinds of machines. In the middle of laboratory was a large table. Mr. Crowhill wanted the comfy chair on the table. Then he wanted the large ice cube (with Dr. Rooster in it) on the comfy chair. The small ice cube (with the cat in it) was to be put on top of the large one.

Once this Stacking Procedure was executed, Mr. Crowhill asked us all to gather round the table and pray. While we were doing this, he and Waltresky started switching all kinds of levers and turning all kinds of knobs on the machines. On the ceiling directly above the table a panel slid, leaving an opening through which the table could obviously fit. It was raining hard, and there were flashes of lightning and peals of thunder.

We all joined hands and sang "Kum Bah Yah," while Mr. Crowhill went over to a lever that came out of the floor. As he pushed it, the table began to rise towards the ceiling. It went through the opening and was fully exposed to rain, the lightning, and the thunder. When we were finally done singing the Long Version of the aforementioned composition, Mr. Crowhill started pushing the lever back to its original position. And the table came back down through the opening.

Everyone in the laboratory was silent, until we finally heard a gentle voice accompanied by a purring sound. As the table got lower and lower, it was evident that the voice was none other than the voice of Dr. Rooster, saying the rosary. Finally, he came into view. It was Dr. Rooster, no longer in an ice cube, seated comfortably in the comfy chair, saying the rosary, with the cat on his lap purring up a storm. Truly Incredible was the Peace, not to mention the Tranquility, that oozed from that source, not only to every nook and cranny of the laboratory, but probably out of the opening above the table and hopefully to Clown Town and indeed to the whole world.

Suddenly Mr. Crowhill made his way through the crowd gathered around the table. When he was finally standing next to the table, facing us, he shouted in Great Exultation, "He's alive! He's alive!! He's alive!!!"

The shouting seemed to bring Dr. Rooster to an awareness of his immediate environment. He stopped saying the rosary and started looking at Mr. Crowhill and the crowd around the table. At first he seemed a bit disoriented, as you can understand, but he began petting the cat and smiling as if he was in an a state of Extreme Contentment.

Mr. Crowhill then faced Dr. Rooster. He opened his arms wide and exclaimed, "Brother!"

At once Dr. Rooster got up out of the comfy chair and lept down from the table. The two embraced. It was a Big Emotional Moment for all of us. We cried profusely.

After that, Dr. Rooster noticed me and exclaimed, "You are are still here!"

"There is much to explain, Dr. Rooster," said Mr. Crowhill. As he proceeded to explain what has happened in the past 20 years, especially the advent of Hans Wurst and the System of Replicas, none of this seemed to be surprise Dr. Rooster at all. In fact, he seemed to have already been aware of Hans and the Great Evil that would unleashed upon the world from that individual.

"Well, it looks like there is only one thing left for us to do," said Dr. Rooster after intently listening to his brother's explanation.

"What is that?" I asked impulsively.

"We must march into Clown Town of course," replied Dr. Rooster. "There we must fight Hans."

"Now wait a minute you guys!" I said. "I am not really much of a fighter." "Don't you worry about a thing, Herr Doktor," said Mr. Crowhill. "I told you this morning that I want you to go to Crowhill Mountain tomorrow. Due to the recent turn of events, it is all the more urgent that you go there. We will see to it that you have safe passage to do so. You needn't join us in the fight."

"Oh, I see," I said somewhat ambivalently, because I didn't know exactly what was waiting for me on Crowhill Mountain. I didn't even know where it was.

"But we won't fight Hans in Clown Town," continued Mr. Crowhill.

"We won't?" asked Dr. Rooster.

"No, we won't," replied Mr. Crowhill. "We will march from here into Jammertal, where Clown Town is. Then we will march through Clown Town to the desolate area on the other side of Jammertal. That is where Hans now resides in the Crystal Stadium-Cathedral."

"Mein Gott!" I exclaimed.

"What is it, Herr Doktor?" said Mr. Crowhill. "You look like you have seen a ghost."

"I had a dream this afternoon about the Crystal Stadium-Cathedral," I said. "And it was not at all pleasant. But I take it that we have little time. So let me ask you where Crowhill Mountain is."

"It is on the other side of Jammertal, just beyond the desolate area," said Mr. Crowhill.

"I see. So it looks like I will be marching with you," I said.

"We will be honored by your presence, Herr Doktor," said Dr. Rooster most cordially.

"And I will be honored by yours," I said with whatever cordiality I could muster, talking to a man who had been in an ice cube for 20 years.

Mr. Crowhill then announced that we were to dress for battle. He led us into another room of the attic where there were shields, helmets, swords, and even armor. I myself chose to wear a Viking helmet, but my sword and shield were rather modest. There was just a simple cross on the latter, no crucifix. I did not want to wear armor. I was not going into battle, but I thought it might be wise to protect myself. (After all, I had been told that it was now the law of the land that you are allowed to walk around with a sword in public. Some of the local politicians had been pushing for this law for some time, saying that carrying around swords not only reduces sword-related crime, but it also builds all character. In any case, we dressed for battle and started downstairs.

As we were walking along, I asked Mr. Crowhill what we were to do about the pouring rain when we get outside. He told me that Waltresky has set up a Big Umbrella for us as soon as we exit Crowhill Mansion. Sure enough, as we streamed out the front door of the mansion there was Waltresky holding up this enormous umbrella, which had a Mysterious Glow. I looked up and saw an image of Mary in it.

"Waltresky," said Mr. Crowhill, "I want you to stay here at the mansion, and do something about those replica arms. The rest of you, I want you to mount your vehicles, unless of course you are on foot."

Now my horse was in some stables next to the mansion. Mr. Crowhill had a horse there too. And Dr. Rooster took a donkey. I had the honor of riding on my horse to the left of Dr. Rooster. Mr. Crowhill was to his right. The three of us headed the procession, as we began marching down Crowhill. Somebody back there must have been holding up the Big Mary Umbrella, because it was moving along with us. Or maybe it was doing that without any human support. Who knows?

"Kyrie eleison!" sang Dr. Rooster. Before I knew it, the whole crowd was singing a Full Blown Mass. When they got to the Credo, they even let me do a "ich glaube an Gott" thing, which developed into some kind of Fugue Thing. It was really good.

So there we were, marching through the countryside and singing the mass. As we were marching there were many who joined us. These were of course the Wise Farmers who live between Crowhill and Clown Town. Some of them had swords. Some of them had pitchforks. Some of them came from the hills. Some of them had farms in Jammertal. But all of them were Extremely Wise and knew the mass forwards and backwards. Though the procession had accordingly enlarged, this was not a problem. The Big Mary Umbrella was big enough and strong enough to include and protect us all.

We were doing the Agnus Dei when we entered into Clown Town. The place looked considerably run down compared to the way it looked 20 years ago. The only lights I could see were red. And there seemed to be a sex shop on every corner. Nevertheless, there were many Wise Street People in Clown Town who were eager to join us. Once again, the Big Mary Umbrella was big enough and strong enough to include and protect us all. In fact, I had the distinct impression that it had become larger for this very purpose.

As we reached the other side of Clown Town, we were done singing the mass. We saw the desolate fields of Jammertal stretch before us. Our silence seemed to match this desolation. Yet, we moved long in complete resolution, and the Big Mary Umbrella moved right along above us.

Some of the Wise Farmers and Wise Street People brought along their children. Though I would be reluctant to bring a child into such circumstances, it was not for me to judge their Supreme Wisdom. And one of the children shouted that there was a MacDonald's in view. I could see it in the distance myself. As it occurred to me that I hadn't eaten anything since that pizza, I started feeling hungry. Man others were hungry as well. But there must have been 5,000 of us, not counting the women and children. I seriously doubted if there was enough food in that place to feed us all.

Though I expressed my doubts on this matter, Dr. Rooster told me that he would be willing to go there and get what we needed. Everyone indicated what he wanted, but the Wise Farmers and Wise Street People didn't even have to write anything down. They went with Dr. Rooster and returned with the food.

So there we were, in the midst of the desolate area, eating our Big Macs, french fries, etc. The children had happy meals, which included little toy comfy chairs, Mary umbrellas, and crucifixes. After we had eaten, Dr. Rooster and Mr. Crowhill were eager that we should advance towards the Crystal Stadium-Cathedral before night falls. So that is what we did.

We marched silently onward, until our destination finally came in to view. It looked exactly as it did in the dream and caused me to shudder. However close we got to it, we could not see inside, because it was raining so hard. It had a big awning jutting out from the front of it to perform the same function as our Big Mary Umbrella.

Finally we came to a halt. From us in the front of the procession to the start of the awning the distance must have been about 30 feet. As we stood there, there came streaming out of the Crystal Stadium-Cathedral exactly the sorts of people I had dreamed about. Among these were football players, Wicked Wild-Eyed Women of various types, and clowns. There was even a group of guys with Big Shiny Hairdos and flashy suits, holding books. All the people who streamed forth and stood under the awning actually had a kind of shininess about them, as if they were somehow artificial. We under the Big Mary Umbrella, by contrast, looked very unpolished, but at least we were real.

Suddenly I hard a loud noise that I at first thought was thunder. But it had not been preceded by a flash of lightning. And it sounded much louder and much more blood-chilling than any thunder known to man. It was the roar of The Beast from within the Crystal Stadium-Cathedral.

The crowd beneath the awning laughed when they saw how unsettled many of us were in reaction to the roar of The Beast. Then they cleared the path from the front entrance to their front rank, but what came forth didn't look like like a beast of any kind. It was rather......a cowboy, albeit one that was bigger and shinier than any cowboy I have ever seen. Suddenly he pulled out a lasso and started swinging it around. He was obviously very skilled with a lasso and seemed to be Highly Entertaining to his comrades. They were laughing and clapping, while we drew our swords and held up our shields.

There was then another noise, this time the sound of a helicopter. It was getting louder and louder, but it was not coming from the other side. It was coming from our side. It kept getting louder until it finally came into view in front of us and landed between the two armies. On the front of it was huge crucifix. And from it emerged Waltresky. But he was obviously extremely excited and had some absolutely crucial news to tell us.

"Fallen, fallen is the House of Crowhill!" he shouted as he came running towards us.

"What are you saying, Waltresky? How did this happen?" asked Mr. Crowhill in considerable dismay.

"I gathered up all the replica arms with the rosaries and was standing in the hallway, wondering where to put them," replied Waltresky. "And suddenly the house was struck by a bolt of lightning. All the walls and the floors above me were at once burned to a crisp. And for but a second the roof was hanging in the air, when suddenly it came crashing down."

"But why weren't you crushed by the roof?" I asked out of great curiosity.

"I just so happened to be standing under that opening in the ceiling of the laboratory," Waltresky replied. "Hail Mary!"

"It certainly sounds like a miracle," said Dr. Rooster.

"Yes, it does," said Mr. Crowhill, who kept his composure remarkably well for a man whose house had just fallen. "But now we must seize the opportunity."

"What is that?" asked Waltresky.

"I want you to take Herr Doktor in the helicopter to Crowhill Mountain," replied Mr. Crowhill.

"But Mr. Crowhill...." I said with great reluctance.

"No time to think about it! Can't you see that a battle is about to begin," he said, as he nudged me forward.

So Waltresky and I started walking towards the helicopter. That Shiny Cowboy was still doing lasso tricks, which were at that point hardly of any interest to me. Suddenly, however, I felt the rope tighten around my waist and I was violently dragged in the mud. Yes, I was lassoed and pulled over to the other side.

As I was being dragged, kicked, and beaten, I heard the crowd say in unison, "Take him to Hans! Take him to Hans!"

Then they grew silent and I drew back from me. I was no longer being dragged.

"Get up, Herr Doktor!" exclaimed someone.

Though I had been weakened, I managed to get up on my feet and look in front of me. I was standing before the entrance of the Crystal Stadium-Cathedral. It was only a few feet away from me. The Big Shiny Cowboy was standing in front of the doors, looking at me and smiling an evil smile. Then we hard the roar of The Beast from inside. This time terror struck so deep in my heart that it must have stopped for a moment.

As I stood there in terror, the crowd began to say in unison, "Feed him to Hans! Feed him to The Beast! Who is like The Beast? Who can make war against him?"

At the same time, however, I heard a helicopter. It was getting louder and louder. Was this Waltresky going to Crowhill Mountain without me? Was I abandoned? As I sank ever deeper in despair, the helicopter was now very loud and seemed be hovering somewhere above me. But I couldn't see it, for there was the awning above me.

This awning, however, suddenly ripped opened, and down came Dr. Rooster and Mr. Crowhill. At once Mr. Crowhill drew a circle around us with a piece of chalk and threw down some rosaries, while Dr. Rooster held up his shield and threatened the crowd with his sword. They actually drew back. I looked up and could see the helicopter, from which a rope extended down through the big tear in the awning.

"Herr Doktor," said Mr. Crowhill after he was done drawing a circle around us thrice, "I want you to grab on to that rope and Waltresky will pull you up into the helicopter. We have no time. Do it at once!"

So I held on to the rope and was being pulled up. Mr. Crowhill looked up at me and shouted, "And whatever you do, don't look back!"

As I was pulled into the helicopter, I noticed that the comfy chair was in the passenger seat. I had no idea how Waltresky rescued it from the rubble of the House of Crowhill. I was not even concerned with what might happened if I sit there. For I had just learned who my true enemy was. The door of the helicopter closed, and I was sitting in the comfy chair on my way to Crowhill Mountain.

I was in tears. But my tears were tears of joy. It was the joy of knowing that the world is not devoid of ones who will risk their lives for others, let alone for a wretch like me. And as we approached Crowhill Mountain, I became intoxicated with the thought that there is hope for me and the rest of mankind. Sure I was that The Beast would be destroyed.