The original, 25-page short story version of

The Vial of Doom

Copyright © 1980 by Roger M. Wilcox.  All rights reserved.
(writing on this story began 29-May-1980)
The original draft was written on a mechanical typewriter, double-spaced, with no right margin.  All spellings, punctuation, capitalizations, etc. are as in the original.

You have been warned.

Howard Carter never had it like this. At least he had ample searching time, and knew what he was looking for. Me? I had only one person helping me on this expedition. You see, I had recently discovered evidence of another tomb — not of Tutankhamen or an Egyptian pharaoh, but buried benieth miles of earth and sand in the Nevada proving grounds. It was dangerously radioactive out there, but the challenge had to be met.

It wasn't long before we found the approximate location of the tomb. We broke out the shovels, and began digging. This was a long and tiring process, and we needed rest only a few meters down. We were about to give up for the day, and even dig a new hole, when my partner reported hitting something hard. I quickly changed directions, and examined the obstacle. It was composed of solid stone, and seemed to be very large. We began digging around it, hoping to remove it from our path, when we realized how flat it was. Knowing what it must be, we searched everywhere for an entrance, digging if necessary.

After twenty minutes of apparently useless searching, we finally found what we were looking for. A large stone portal, ladened with foreign gold lettering was uncovered, and almost mysteriously appeared before us. Without hesitation, I glommed a crow bar in an attempt to open the massive stone gateway. To my surprise, and to the surprise of my partner, whose name was Hurb, as well, the door swung open with great ease. Before we were able to question the reason of this, a powerful gust of wind was inhailed through the open portal. "How strange," Hurb said, "The tomb was sealed in a vacuum!" We weren't about to wonder now, as I ignited a small floodlamp, and peered into the virtually unused chamber.

"Do you see anything?", Hurb asked.

"Yes," I replied, "Wonderful things!"

We were unhesitant to enter, as we were desperately in need of money. Everywhere was the glint of — lead? We had come all this way for worthless — ulp — lead? Evidently not, for at that moment, Hurb reported a jewel case containing massive amounts of jewelry and gold items. This jewel case was a rather large one, and had possibly enough treasure to make this expedition worth while. But I wanted more than just this — I wanted a real haul from this mission — at least a good ¼ million worth. As I was examining the entire chamber, I noticed a small lead box, about two inches cubed. Since the chamber was kept in a vacuum, the latch on the front was still workable. As I turned it, however, I could have sworn I heard a divine voice saying, "No, no!". The lid swung open with a "click", and revealed a small container of something, with a chain attached. The vial seemed to have a very dull surface, but a few seconds after I opened the case, it began to twinkle with a soft red light.

"Hurb," I shouted, "come look at this!". Hurb ceased his searching to look at my find, as I pointed out its twinkling on the surface.

"Oh, I see you're turning it to reflect the light, eh? Nice effect."

"No, I'm not turning it at all! It's twinkling by itself!"

I wasn't about to give up a good treasure like this one, and proceeded to place it around my neck, as this was the size of the chain. As I lifted the chain (which was still in perfectly good condition), I thought I heard the same voice as I had heard before exclaim, "No! No! The vial is chaos! The vial is chaos!".

"Did you hear that?", I asked.

"Hear what? Just what are you getting at?"

"Oh, nothing, I thought I heard someone say, 'No, no, the vial is Laos', or something like that."

It wasn't long before I finally managed to get that chain attached to the vial around my neck. At that same instant, I heard a creeking sound. As Hurb was able to hear it too, I didn't bother to ask him if he did. Suddenly, a nearby coffin sprang open, and revealed an animated mummy. Oh, if only we had had special kinds of magicked weapons with which to combat him, for our normal weapons did little or no harm to him. He didn't hesitate to approach Hurb, and toss him high in the air. When he hit the ground, he was knocked unconscious.

The mummy picked up a large mace (a rod & chain with a spike ball attached), and swung at my legs. I jumped high in the air, knowing that this could not possibly help me avoid the blow, but it would at least make it less horrifying. To my surprise, I had jumped clear of the blow, at least by several feet — even maybe a couple of meters! Without knowing the reason why, I glanced down at the vial I wore as a necklace. The occasional twinkling on the surface had deteriorated, and was instead replaced with a dull red glow coming from the vial's contents.

The mummy swung at me again. Knowing his strength, I thought for sure that this blow would knock me out, and I would soon be done for. Instead, it merely knocked me back, with hardly the force obtainiable from a mummy. The fear was gone from my blood now. I felt a new, fiery sensation flow through my body, as I clenched a tight fist, and let swing at the oncoming menace. That crushing blow threw him clear across the room. I didn't hesitate to rip off a piece of a coffin beside me, splinter that large board, and throw a piece as if it were a spear. The mummy caught this, and I was expecting him to simply throw it down; but instead, he was thrown back about two feet from the force that I threw it with. "Amazing!", I thought to myself. "I had no idea I possessed such strength!!"

The mummy reached behind himself, and dislodged an average red brick from the wall, which he immediately threw at me. I caught the hurled missile with an extended hand, which absorbed the shock of the throw quite easily. As I lowered my arm, I greatly increased my grip on the brick — so much so, that I was intentionally able to break the brick in half.

I rushed him, and quickly glommed his shoulder. As I grabbed his arm, I pulled with all my might, and slowly ripped it out. The mummy would have been in excrutiating pain, except for the fact that mummies have no nerves, and therefore feel no pain. I swung a mighty fist directly at his head, which caused it to pop off quickly and cleanly. The mummy was finally dead!!!

Hurb, however, had regained consciousness before the mummy was subdued. He reported seeing everything I had done since I caught the brick. I didn't believe him at first, because (1)—my vial had returned to the twinkling state, and (2)—I had forgotten everything I had done, as they were virtually unconscious actions. However, Hurb's "wrist video recorder" had turned on when he hit the ground, and Hurb was able to display this on his "Giant one-inch portable ankle TV". What I saw placed me in a state of total and utter astonishment for a good three minutes. Not only was the vial glowing very brilliantly near the end of the battle, but my eyes had turned jet black, except for the irises, which glowed a deep red, just like the color of the vial.

That vial I had had to have something to do with it. Without hesitation, I proceeded to uncap the mysterious vial so as to reveal its contents. Even though the vial was sealed in a vacuum, the lid refused to come off, regardless of how I tried.

Soon, we had collected all necessary treasures from the tomb, and left and closed the entrance.

The Nevada trade comission was amazed of the fact that buried right beneath their feet was an entire mummies tomb — and they never would've believed the story about the mummy and the vial if they had not seen the video tape! That was a challenge well met. Our names became widely known throughout the USA. There was just one minor complication — some people would kill for a change to use such a vial!:

I was trying to get away from the fury of national fame, so I decided to take a walk along a side street. As I was crossing the street, I noticed a Honda Civic coming up to the corner. However, instead of stopping for me — a pedestrian — he speeded up. He must've been going a good 35 miles an hour when I finally lept out of his way. The driver was obviously intent on killing me, so as he could possess the vial. He swirved, and came at me a second time. He was getting to be too good a driver; I couldn't possibly avoid him.

Again, without knowing the reason why, I lept high into the air — in the direction of my oncoming assailant. Surprisingly enough, I was able to clear the car with a good 5-foot area. The driver seemed slightly astonished, but not as if he wasn't expecting it. Again, he changed his course, and came at me head-on. I didn't know whether or not I could jump again as I previously did, but I didn't have time to find out. Knowing that I couldn't possibly out-maneuver his expertise driving, I made an incredible attempt to out-run him.

The car sped up. I knew I was unable to outrun fifty-five horsepower, but I was willing to die trying. Unbenounced to me, however, the speedometer in the attacking car was registering over thirty miles per hour — I had no way thought it possible for any bipedal creature to run more than twenty-eight tops — and that's one in a million! Nevertheless, he continued to accelerate. As I went faster and faster, I pulled a trick strategy by turning on to the freeway. I must have been going at least sixty-five miles per hour, as I was able to surpass even the fastest makes of cars as I sped along. Realizing that I might soon get a speeding ticket, I was not reluctant to turn off at the next exit.

The countryside seemed to whiz by me, as I was not even tired yet. In fact, I actually felt stronger and more energetic than when I started out! I don't know whether I realized it first, or if the vial had caused me to realize it for me, but the fear left my eyes, and anger had replaced all of my emotions. As I turned onto the sidewalk, I jammed on my "brakes", and suddenly came to a screeching halt. My eyes were glowing red with berserk power and aggression. I grasped a lamp post near me, and ripped it from its foundations. As the oncoming assailant approached me, I proceeded to hurl the lampost straight at the side of his car. It was only because of years of driving experience that he came out with minimal damage. As I ran in the opposite direction, he swirved and made a 180-degree body spin. I needed nothing more. He accelerated to over fifty miles per hour, but I did the same. Just as we were about to collide, I jumped straight forward with my legs extended fully outward.

The impact would have been devistating, except for the fact that my body smashed clear through the windshield, feet first. In a moment of time too short to be measured, my feet bashed against the back seat of the small car. I don't know how the force of that blow could be so strong, but the chassis dislodged itself, and the car tore apart into two separate pieces.

As I removed myself from my section of the wreckage, I headed for his side, with death in my eyes and chaos at my fingertips. The other section was a good half a block away, but that was just a few steps for me. The roof of the car must have caved in, for it was completely covering the would-be killer. I reached out, and ripped the roof off as though it were tinfoil. He was evidently ready for me, for he had a gun pointed straight at me, which he didn't hesitate to fire. Before any deadly destruction could take place, however, I threw out my hand, and caught the speeding bullet in mid-air. As I rubbed the projectile harshly, it fell to powder in my grip.

I glommed his arm, and as he squirmed, I pulled back a powerful hand, ready to thrash his head off. Just as I was going to, however, I heard a divine voice — the same one I had heard in the tomb! It came weak at first, then stronger. "No, no! Stop! You may control the vial now, but don't let the vial control you!! NO!!!"

I suddenly realized what the message meant. I glanced down at the vial encircling my neck. It was no longer glowing — it was shining with extreme red brilliance. I released the would-be killer from my grip, who was almost unconscious from the unbelievably fast action. Instantly, the vial ceased its shine, and returned again to the minimal dull glow it had before. Soon, it lost even this, and was once again the lowly twinkles on the surface.

I soon realized that through all that had happened, I was lost ten miles from anywhere. As I was searching for a street corner sign, a small gang of crazy teen-agers approached me. They were armed with such devices as chains, sticks, and sticks with nails. The leader of the group came up to me and said, "Hey, geek! What's that you're wearing around your neck, gay boy?"

"None of your business," I replied slowly.

"Hey, ya ----er, you ----in' talkin' to me?!? 'Cause I hate little gay boys what act like ----in' faggots around me, get my drift?"

I hesitated to answer, but before I could, he clenched his fist, and let me have it full swing. I was knocked back a few feet, but I was as mad as if it had been twenty feet. Naturally, the vial saw this chance to try and take me over again. My vial again began glowing dimly red, then brighter.

I knew that my body was soon to go out of control. I jammed my hand into the street below me, and dug out a large chunk of asphault. Immediately afterwards, I proceeded to hurl the projectile at my present foes. The one it hit was stunned incredibly, and knocked on to the ground unconscious. The rest of them began to run, but I was determined not to let them escape. I flung my entire body onto the fastest runner, crushing him to death as I did.

Suddenly, the divine voice reappeared again and said, "No! No! Stop! You must cease this useless murder!! STOP!! I beg of you, STOP!!!!!!!!!!"

I heard the voice, and I wanted to obey it. But I couldn't! The vial had taken complete control over my body, and I was out of control.

The voice suddenly realized that talking would be of no avail, as he needed to materialize. Suddenly, princess Leia's theme rang through the air, and an old man appeared before me. He was something like Alec Guinness, with a long beard and a staff in one hand.

The appearance of this material form caused the teen-aged gang members to escape with double fear-ocity, saying things like "Ghosts! My god, I think I'm goin' crazy! HELP!!!!!!!"

I presumed to chase after them, but the form would not allow me to do so. He had taked control of my mind, and loaded it with signals and messages far more powerful than I was ever capable of producing. My arms reached upward, and grasped the chain currently around my neck. Within milliseconds, a great battle was waged via my mind. The form currently in control of my mind put forth every ounce of will he had available — the vial's power didn't have a chance.

Finally, the vial lost the short battle, and I removed the chain from my neck. The instant the chain left my neck and my grip loosened, I regained complete control over my mind. I proceeded to throw the doomed necklace onto the ground before me, and smash it beneath by feet. The results of this were astounding — the vial was still in tact! Never before had I seen such strong glass for such a thin shell!! With that, I produced a ball-peen hammer from my backpack I was currently carrying with me (I always carry a hammer just in case), and proceeded to attack the menacing vial once more. The pounding seemed to have less effect than my shoe.

"Stop this useless inertia.", the voice said. "The vial is ruled by the spirit of chaos — simple material means such as these have no effect upon such power.

"You see, what you see before you is the material form of 'Law'. The power controlling the vial is that of 'Chaos'. Every century, Chaos leaves the universe he was born in to find a new material form, and to reek chaos throughout this material universe. To do this, he locates his 'vial' somewhere on this planet, since it has more life forms than any other near. This time, he has located it in the tomb you have discovered. That mummy was a freak incident of the radiation on the proving grounds.

"That vial contains powers able to transform you to total chaos, and indeed to become his material form. You were trying to destroy the vial previously by conventional means, but as you have seen, the vial is millions of times more powerful than this. Even the contents are of such magical nature that you cannot open the vial with your bare hands, as you have tried to do."

I suddenly interrupted. "Whoa, hold it — back up a minute there. How did you know about the mummy, and when I tried to take the top off?"

He was quick to reply, "Because I know all. Just as Chaos does.

"There is only one way to destroy the vial. The posessor (or posessee, if you want to talk about devils) of the vial must concoct a simulation of the exact same material which is found in the vial, and add a little touch of a few magic words. I want you to get the following ingredients: one small turquois gem,"

'I can buy one of those for cheap', I thought to myself.

He continued. "A large fire opal,"

"Don't those things cost a lot?", I asked.

"Just wait. Also, you will need one dram of king cobra venom,"

"Hey, aren't those things dangerous?"

"Please, don't interrupt me. Also, an eye of a basilisk,"

"What's a bas—"

"Shut up. Finally, you will need one pint of ink from one of the two existing giant octopi (octopusses). There were three, but when chaos designed the vial, he killed one. NOTE: It is important that when you extract the items from the creatures (venom from the snake, eye from the basilisk, and ink from the octopus), the creature must be alive when you get them. If it is dead, the item will not fulfill the ingredients. Now, GO GET 'EM!!!!!!!!!!"

I don't think I will ever have to face as great a challenge as this. I had recently looked up "Basilisk" in the Encyclopedia Africana. It said that basilisks are native to Africa, but a few have escaped to N. America. These fearsome creatures are eight-legged lizards, whose gaze has the power to turn anything to stone. The very thought of this frightened me half to death.

My first venture was to put the vial in the lead box it came in, grab as much money as I had readily available, and buy a turquois gem. After locating a small hawk shop which would probably sell me such a gem for half price, I entered. The price for jewelry such as this was astounding. $49.95, plus tax!!! There was no way I had that much with me.

Thinking quickly, I reached into my backpack, pulled out the lead box, opened it, and produced the Vial. I then proceeded to wave the vial in front of the attendant's face, using it as a pendulum. At the same time, I chanted, "You are losing consciousness ... you are falling into a deep state of muscular sleep ... you are desperately tired and in need of sleep ... your eyelids are closing ... sleep ... sleep ... sleep."

I knew it was time to give him a command. "Hand me the turquois gem", I said. I searched around. There was no fire opal in existence. Dammit! I also needed a weapon to fight off the three "monsters" I needed to encounter. How about a gun? No, it would be useless underwater against the giant octopus. No swords were available. A dagger — yes, that would work almost as well. "Give me that dagger," I said to the hypnotized clerk. This he did, with extremely glassy eyes. "When I leave, you will awaken, and will forget everything that has happened."

As I left the store, I could see the attendant slowly come out of his trance. While I was in there, I had picked up a few light-dose sleeping pills, for I had a brilliant plan on how to get the fire opal — legally! It was getting to be night time, as the sun had already set. This was the time my plan would go into action. I proceeded to a small jewelry store on the edge of town. Just coming back from his rounds was the night watchman, with a thermos of something drinkable on his person.

As he opened the container, I needed him to look in another direction. Suddenly, as if by will of the powers of Law, he did take a gaze in the other direction. Seeing the opportunity, I snuk up on him, and plopped a small sleeping pill into his thermos. With that, I dashed out of sight. The reason I didn't hypnotize him with the vial as I did to the clerk at the hawk shop was that the vial can never be used more than once for the same application without a great chance of promoting chaos.

It wasn't long before he poured some into a cup, and drank it. Those sleeping pills were weak, but they were fast-acting, as it was only a matter of minutes before he fell into a light but true sleep. Now, I proceeded to open the front door. Locked. No matter. All I had to do was to obtain the keys from the guard, then open it up, and replace their opal with a glass one I had in my backpack. As I reached into his back pocket, he began to arouse. Time for phase II. Instead of pulling out the keys, I pulled out a small wad of money. As he woke up, I said, "Sleeping on the job, eh? Wait'll I tell your employer about this!!!"

"Hey, man, like — I don't know what came over me! One minute I was awake, an' the next I was asleep! Hey, ya gotta believe me, man!"

"Oh, I believe you, alright! It's just that — well — I want that large fire opal in the display case!"

"Hey, man, like — that's stealin'!"

"No, it's just what I call ... replacement! You see, what I want to do is replace that fire opal with this glass likeness of it! Then, when they find out it's a fake, neither of us would get nailed for it! However, if you decide to rat on me, I'll just tell them you were sleeping on the job, and you may well get canned! OK?"

"Okay, man! I'll open th' door for ya!" He reached into his pocket, removed a set of keys, and proceeded to open the door. There, inside, was the second step toward the total destruction of Chaos. I was unhesitant to enter, replace my gem in the stand, remove theirs, and get out.

Before I left, however, I pulled out the small wad of money I had pulled from his pocket, and said, "Just to help keep you quiet ... here!", as I gave him the roll of bills.

"Hey, thanks, man! G'bye!!!"

"Adios!", I shouted back to the black guard.

Well, that was step two. Now, for step number three. This step was slightly more dangerous than the first two — I had to mess with a live king cobra for some live venom. As I approached a small, second-hand zoo, I knew that dawn was slowly approaching. I had to work fast. As the front gates loomed above me, I suddenly had an idea. I reached into my backpack, removed my lead box, popped it open, took out the cial, and inserted the tip into the lock. Afterwhich, I began to turn the device. Slowly, but surely, the gate's lock opened. Instantaneously, I ripped out the vial, jammed it into the lead box, closed it up, and threw the whole kit and kaboodle into my backpack, closing it as I did.

Quickly, I entered through the gate. I could feel the gloom in the air as I approached the deadly cage of — IT, That bad ol' cobra. To my surprise, there was a ladder leaning against the glass-walled cage. I proceeded to climb the artificial steps, waiting to open the top, and climb in the cage via a glass entryway. As I entered, I noticed that the cobra was asleep. This gave me a slight initiative. I produced a one-dram container, which was covered with special extracting cloth, lifted up the cobra's head, and forced his fangs through the cloth. All that did was wake him up, but when he noticed the position of his fangs, he began to cause venom to spew forth from them into the container. This was exactly what I wanted. As soon as one dose of venom was extracted, I forced his head upward, which caused an enormous flow of venom into the one-dram container — enough to fill it.

Now, all I had to do was remove my dagger, and cut his throat. That wasn't as easy as it sounded. I managed to slash his throat, but not cut it off. All the cobra did was yank his fangs from the jar. As he did, I popped a plastic lid over it so it wouldn't leak any of that valuable venom. The cobra struck. I dodged, and the blow missed me completely.

I swung my dagger. It hit on exactly the same place. The cobra's head still wouldn't sever. That there is a strong cobra! Suddenly, as by a blast from heaven, the cobra's neck exploded in a rage of sparks, and was thrown clear down to the ground. I expected to see loads of blood, but there was hardly a scratch worth. I thanked the power of Law silently, and left to carry out step four.

The encyclopedia Africana said only that "a few have escaped to the United States". It didn't say where! I needed to know this, and badly. On a reflexive impulse, I closed my eyes, and concentrated on a Basilisk. A divine voice (obviously that of Law) told me not to concentrate so hard; to let the thoughts flow through my mind. Within a few short moments, the image of a basilisk was in my mind, roaming around in a national park just north of Bakersfield. Before thinking any further, I awoke, and proceeded to pack for a stand-by flight to the second biggest So. California state.

All I needed for this trip was my infamous backpack, containing the vial, its case, the already obtained three ingredients, and my already used dagger. As I went through the entryway to the airport, a male attendant took my backpack, and placed it on a conveyer belt. When I came out, he asked, "Do you have a permit for this dagger?"

'A permit?', I thought. I naturally didn't think I needed one, and I certainly didn't have time to obtain one while the clerk at the hawk shop was hypnotized. Suddenly, a great power of Law flowed through my body, giving me a feeling of domination; power over the meek attendant before me. I pointed a powerful forefinger at him, and insisted, "That dagger is legal". As a reply, the attendant said, "That dagger is legal."

"You're clean"!

"You're clean."

"Move along!"

"Move along." With that, I put the dagger back in the backpack of mine, and headed off toward the boarding gates.

After arriving at the Bakersfield airport, I took a touring bus to the Bakersfield National Park. As I passed a sign on the road saying, "BASILISK CROSSING", I forced open the bus' front door, and lept out. The forest was thick with trees of all kinds imaginable — more like a jungle. The rocks existing were of all shapes, and sizes, and textures. As I was examining the different stone types, I noticed one in the exact shape of a chipmunk, to the last detail. The basilisk! Since the rock appeared new, the basilisk must have been nearby. Suddenly, I heard some slithering noises approaching me from the front, and I knew what it must be. I took a quick glance through the bushes just to be make sure. Before me was the giant, eight-legged lizard, gazing straight at me. I threw myself back from the bushes with my eyes closed, for if I had looked into its eyes, I would have been turned to stone. I readied a kung-fu hand to stun the offender temporarily — for enough time to plop its eyes out.

In a sudden burst of strength, I lunged forward, and hit the back of the basilisks neck square on. That did the trick. He was stunned, but I knew it was only very temporary. I extended my arms, and grabbed its eyes, pulling with heavy strength. Within a short moment, which seemed like infinite time to me, I had yanked out both of the basilisks deadly eyes.

As I plopped them into my backpack and closed the sack once again, the basilisk awoke. It looked mean, but couldn't possibly attack me fiercely, since it had no eyes with which to see or petrify. It raged up, and threw me from its body. Suddenly, as if it were a high-speed salamander, its eyes regrew! Within seconds, it had regained sight, and had regained the power of stone transformation. Knowing what might be in store for me, I shut my eyes tight, and jumped clear of the path of the gaze. When I opened my eyes, I found myself on top of the beast. Ruthlessly, I began stabbing and slashing at its neck. The dagger shed blood but once or twice, and certainly didn't kill the eight-legged horror.

In a burst of anger, the basilisk lashed out its tail, and whipped me from its back. As I rolled along the ground, I quickly got up to attack it. Remembering the deadliness of its eyes, I quickly retreated, diving to the ground.

I was desperate — there had to be another way to kill it. I looked around. Off to the right of me, within arms reach, was a strangely shaped stone. It was disc-shaped, and very shiny on one of its two flat surfaces. A mirror! Just what I needed!! I grabbed the stone, and held it over my head so as to shield my face altogether. The basilisk approached me in a deadly manner, waiting to kill me with its gaze. Its eyes began to glow, and I knew what was on its mind. Suddenly, it glared upward — right where my face would have have been. In a flash of dim, sky-blue light, the basilisk was, and forever more shall be, a stone statue.

The forest was a beautiful one. All it needed was a lake. As I was walking out, I did see a large and clear blue lake. On one side of it was a sign, saying, "BEWARE — GIANT OCTOPUS". 'Aha!', I thought. 'The fifth step, and hopefully the last!'

I took off my backpack, and set it by the lake, removing my dagger as I did. 'Hold it a minute!', I thought. 'How am I going to breathe under there? I'm not a fish!'

With that, Princess Leia's Theme returned to my ears, along with the divine voice of Law, saying, "Simply believe in the power of law, and breathing will be unimportant to you!". I shut my eyes, chanting in my mind over and over, "Law is all powerful! I believe in the power of law!"

I had to take the chance — it was now or never. I removed a small, one-pint suction container from my backpack which lay at my side, and dove down through the water. Yes, I could indeed breathe unaided! I glanced downward, toward the center of the lake. There, right in the dead center, was the biggest octopus I had ever seen. Its body alone was at least ten feet in diameter! Its tentacles were at least twice as long as its body was wide. Nevertheless, the challenge had to be met. I approached it slowly. Then I noticed what its status was — sleeping. This gave me a good initiative. Somehow (please, don't ask me how!) I managed to sneak under the octopus, and insert the extricator into its ink spout. I then proceeded to pull the handle back, and draw forth the necessary two cups of liquid needed to complete the fifth ingredient.

Suddenly, the octopus woke up. I could tell this because it had successfully engulfed me with one of its eight tentacles, and was pulling me toward it. I whipped out my dagger, and slashed at the tentacle fiercely. The tentacle wasn't destroyed, but I weakened it enough for me to escape from its grip. I swam away at a maddened pace, with horrid fright. All-of-a-sudden, I began choking; drowning. I was letting go of the forces of law, and they were letting go on my breath. I would never make it to the distant surface without air. I knew what I must do. I let loose in a blinding fury of courage — ready to lose my life if necessary. That was all I needed, for my breath had returned. I was at a twenty foot distance from the monster, but it was closing on me rapidly. I turned to face it, and threw my dagger with the expertise of a knife thrower. Before I was to learn the outcome, I sped away at a terrified pace.

The dagger sang through the water, and struck the octopus directly on its top side. That slowed him up, but not enough to stop him — no, indeed — I barely escaped from the lake with my life.

I thought I was safe, but it was not to be so. That bloody monster had followed me up, and was emerging out of the water! I had to think fast. I reached into my backpack. No more weapons — damn it! My dagger was still lodged in the octopus — I could see it sticking out. Suddenly, I had a brainstorm. I pulled out the infamous "lead box", popped it open, removed the vial (carefully), and threw it, via the chain, directly at the creature's body.

The vial let loose in a rage of sparks, tracing over the octopus' body completely. The creature let out a long, continuous cry, and sank back into the lake, dying. Before it completely submerged, however, I took back my dagger and the vial of Chaos.

At last, the five steps were completed! All I had to do now was seek Law, and get the final destruction instructions. This was not as easy as it sounded. I was just about to make contact with Law, when a low roar exploded on a nearby hill. As I looked over in that direction, I caught the last faint glympse of a bolt of lightning striking the hilltop.

Suddenly, the flash took material form — the form of a hundred-foot giant! He was clad in black robes, holding a gigantic staff in one hand. His face was cold and stern — almost like iron. And around his neck was — a glowing red vial. Migod, that is CHAOS!!! I'm gonna die!

"You have resisted chaos long enough!", he shouted. "Now, if you will not be chaotic, you simply will not be!!" With that, he pointed the tip of his staff at me, and shot a small lightning bold. I knew I couldn't possibly escape its destructional power, but I jumped out of the way just the same.

I could hardly believe that I was still alive. That leap made me feel strong; bold; abideable. That leap took me fifteen feet into the air, and landed me with but the force of a one-foot drop! And what's more, I was not wearing the vial!! It was obviously not the work of Chaos, for he just stared with astonishment, and asked, "Who did that?"

"I did!!!" — it was the spirit of Law!!!! He, too, had assumed the material form of a great giant, only clad in blue robes, with a cool face. He hadn't a staff with which to produce lightning bolts, but he did not need one. All he did was raise his arm to a stiff and vertical position, and point his finger to the sky.

Suddenly, as if produced from the very finger of Law, a great vertical arc of electricity was formed — reaching out into the endless void of space, as far as the eye could see. As he rotated his vertical arm downward, so went the electrical horror along side it. Finally, the top of the arc reached the enemy, Chaos.

This would have "killed" him, as well, if he hadn't raised his staff in a defensive manner, grasping it with both hands, to block the bolt. The staff absorbed the bolt of lightning completely, taking on a shimmering electrical glow as it did. Suddenly, he twisted his staff so that it was pointing head-on into the attacking arc, and let out with his own electric defense. This was essentially a "push-fight", as each was trying to "out-push" the other's lightning.

I wasn't going to just stand there and watch — I wanted Law to win. I looked around for a formitable object I could use as a weapon. None of the objects available seemed powerful enough to use against such a giant opponent. I closed my eyes to think and let the power of law flow through me. Suddenly, I opened my eyes, and in a flash of supernatural realization, recognized where I was. This was the middle of the Nevada proving grounds! Chaos had simply disguised it as a holly and mountainous region. Again, I looked about. Right behind me was a round patch of dirt, much looser than any around me. I spun 180 degrees, and began to dig furiously.

Suddenly, I ran into something hard. I dug my way around it. It was sharply pointed at a sixty-degree vertex, with four faces. A pyramid! I swung my hand and arm madly at the soil, and within a few strokes, had cleared a good six feet around each face. With that, I crushed both hands about the massive stone structure, and proceeded to lift it with all my available strength, including that which I borrowed from Law. The strucure must have weighed five tons — there was no way that even the vial could grant me such power. When I finally lifted it out, I noticed its true size — fifteen feet tall!!

I wasn't about to marvel over my great strength now; Law was losing, badly. Putting my entire body into a throwing force, I hurled the would-be stationary monestary at Chaos' chest. Since I wasn't such a hot shot, it hit his abdomen — exactly what I had planned on! Chaos was thrown to the ground by the force of that mighty blow — he didn't have a chance to parry the killing electrical force, which soon consumed him completely.

"Hooray!", I shouted. "Now I won't have to destroy the vial! Chaos is gone for —"

"Only a century!", Law interrupted. "All he's done is lost his material form. He will certainly be able to retain the vial before the dawning of the next solar day — then, law may never again win!!! If, however, you destroy the vial now, it will take at least a good millenium to recreate another model — even a crude one. Then, law has a 6½ point favorite over chaos, and who knows? We might even win for a change!!"

"That's what I've been meaning to ask you about," I interrupted. "How am I supposed to destroy the vial with just these five ingredients?"

"Well — the Nevada proving grounds, eh? This is the perfect site for the vial's destruction! Now, then, you'll need a large bowl —"

"How am I gonna get a salad bowl in the middle of the desert?"

"Why don't you just look in that wrecked pyramid by that non-existent hill over there?"

I walked over to the former pyramid, and examined the debris of treasures I had left behind. Indeed, among them was an alabaster bowl! And a big one, too! I picked it up with careful hands, and returned to the original site of the soon-to-be destruction. I rested the large bowl on a set of balanceable rocks, and changed my gaze directly upward. "What now?", I asked.

"Now, remove the two gem stones, and grind each into powder, placing the powder in the bowl."

I opened my redily-available backpack, and crushed both gems together as I took them out. The turquois was small, and powdered easily, but the fire opal was barely chipped. As I placed what little was now powder into the bowl, I removed a hammer (that same ball-peen hammer I had used before) with which to pound the translucent yet tough gem.

Suddenly, a voice echoed from out of nowhere, saying, "Can I give you a hand, friend?" I looked behind me. Coming from the direction of Las Vegas was a dunebuggy. And in it was Hurb!

"Hurb!!" I shouted. "It's good to see you! You wouldn't believe the adventure I just had."

"Never mind that. You look like you need help. What are you trying to do, anyway?"

"I'm trying to turn this gem to powder, so I can combine it with a few other ingredients, and destroy the vial of Chaos!"

"Huh? Slow down a bit. First off, where'd you get that big red piece of glass?"

"This isn't glass — it's a five-thousand dollar fire opal."

"FIVE THOUSAND BUCKS?!? How'd you get your hands on that?"

"It's a long story, nevermind. What is important is that I get this gem powdered. Can you gi'me a hand?"

"I can do better than that — I can give you a buggy! This dune buggy engine has a giant pile driver attachment on the front. Here — I'll show you." With that, he reached into the trunk of his 'buggy, and pulled out a great steel cylinder. "Hey, this thing's heavy! Can ya gimme a hand?"

"Sure!" I put forth my hand, and placed but a single finger under a small hook. With the force I applied, the cylinder was easily lifted into place by Hurb. He didn't even seem to notice my great strength, especially since I was trying to make it unnoticeable.

"Okay, I got it working! An' I'm ready t' start pounding!!" I placed the valuable fire opal under the crushing pile driver, and told Hurb to let it fall. The mightiest of gems then fell to powder.

I brushed the frail powder onto my hands, and transported it carefully to the bowl. "Now what?", I asked to the heavens.

At first, Hurb looked at me as if I was crazy, but when Law replied, "Now, add the king cobra venom", he stood astonished for a full half a minute.

As I completed the second step of finality, I asked, "What next?".

"Now, squeeze the basilisk eye in your fingertips above the bowl, letting the liquid drip down in it.". This I did.

"Finally," concluded Law, "Pour in the octopus' ink, and stir the mixture with a silver rod."

As I poured in the last of the five vital ingredients, I suddenly realized what I didn't have. "What silver rod?", I asked. When I glanced down at my unused left hand, I saw a small siver rod, as if it had never been non-existent. Naturally, as soon as the liquid darkness was poured in, I began to stir. After about a minute, it became thick, however suddenly.

"Now," said Law, "Chant these words: Mai Lu Ku"

"Mai Lu Ku," I replied.

"Kin San Chaos"

"Kin San Chaos."

"Now, wave your hands over it thrice, and quickly remove the vial." I waved my hands strangely, and quickly produced the lead box, and popped it open. "Now, throw the vial into the liquid, and run!", said Law.

"Well, Hurb, get ready to run!!", I announced.

"Okay, I'll use my dunebuggy. You?"

"In a one-seater dune buggy? No chance!" With that, I hurled the chained vial of doom into the liquid, and ran with all my might. Hurb had a little trouble starting his dune buggy, but was soon on his way.

Before I ran, however, I noticed that the whole mixture within the bowl was beginning to glow a deep red. "What's happening now?", I asked Law.

"The mixture you have created is the same as that in the vial. What is now happening is that the stuff outside is eating its way through the impenetrable glasslike exterior to the deadly liquid interior. Ever as you are running away now, the stuff is getting ready to — explode on contact with the same material. Indeed, the molecular structure will change, but —"

"Oh," I interrupted. "You mean a chemical change. Big?"

"Wait! I must also warn you that the elements — the atoms themselves — will change their structure and be neutral gasses forever."

"You mean — a nuclear change?", I asked with growing horror. "Th-that's — that's an A-bomb!!"

"Exactly. Hurry now, you don't want to be reduced to nuclear ash, do you?"

Migod, a nuclear explosion! There was absolutely no way in the world that I could live through that. And waht about poor Hurb? No dunebuggy ever built could outspeed a nuclear explosion — a five mile radius of destruction. I didn't want to die! I was going to live.

I lept high in the air, hoping Law would have given me some escaping power. Nothing. I had done my mission, but I didn't want to be doomed to die because of it. I glanced behind me. The explosion had already begun, and I was glad that the shock- or sound-wave hadn't reached me yet.

"LAW!!", I yelled. "PLEASE, DON'T LEAVE ME HERE TO DIE!! HELP ME! PLEASE, HELP ME LIVE!!!". Law didn't respond. He had left me in a time of need. Had he wanted me to die for the cause of law?

Well, whatever it was, the artificial mountainscape that Chaos had before created had returned. This would make my escape even more impossible.

Suddenly, I was hit by a great aerial earthquake. The shock-wave. That would have torn me apart, if I hadn't been standing behind a boulder at the time. The rock was pretty well demolished, however. I knew I hadn't much time before the explosion's range itself hit me.

I climbed emphatically up the non-existent mountain. Or was it non-existent? Suddenly, it hit me — the mountains were here, and Chaos had actually disguised them as a desert for all these centuries! Now I knew I hadn't a chance.

I stopped to rest about ½ way up the mountain. I knew this would lose me a good two or three seconds on the explosion, but why prolong the inevitable? I glanced at the world around me quickly, as it would probably be my last look. Suddenly, I spied a glowing rock. This glow, unlike the others I had encountered on this adventure, was light green. And on the bottom was written a single word — "WISH".

"Oh," I wished, "If there be one wish I have now, it's to be on the other side of this mountain!" Suddenly, the explosion's roar dimmed immensely. As I opened my eyes, which had been closed when I made the wish, I saw that I was indeed on the other side of the great mountain. And not quite pouring over the top of it was — the fireball of the nuclear explosion.

I made it!!! Chaos was destroped for a millenium!!!! I felt great — almost as if I had just escaped a nuclear explosion. Poor Hurb. The thought of his death changed my expression completely.

As I moped away from the mountain range (probably the Sierra Nevada), I heard the hum of a distant engine. I twisted my head about 120 degrees to my right to see the source of the noise. Barging through a small crack in the mountain was Hurb's dunebuggy — with Hurb in it!!!

"Hurb!", I shouted. "You're alive!! How'd ya do it?!?"

"Simple. When I saw the nuclear explosion, it reminded me of an old bomb shelter that was in use when they were testing nuclear bombs out in this area. Naturally, I drove my dunebuggy into it, and — hey! Where'd all these mountains come from?!?"

"It's a long and boring story. Anyway, these'll be here 'till tomorrow morning, when Chaos comes back to try and claim the world once more. Hey, your dunebuggy looks like a dirt storm hit it. Here, let me help you clean it out."

I began digging away at the small load of earth in the back of his buggy. Suddenly, I spied something within the pile, glinting like gold. I removed it at once. It was a ring — just an ordinary-looking one, with no markings or fancy jewelry anywhere. Yet, I felt as if its value was the world to me.

I placed it on my finger. It was rather large, and slid on quite easily; yet it fit snugly once in place.

"Hey, where'd ya go?", asked Hurb.

"I'm right here — you blind or something?". With that, I took off the precious gold ring.

"Oh, there you are!", exclaimed Hurb. "Hey, that was hot! Le'me see you do that again."

"Do what? All I did was put on this ring, like this —"

"You did it again!! Hey, let me see that ring!"

"Okay, sure thing." I removed the ring (which, believe me, was not an easy task), and gave it to Hurb. What I saw astounded me. The instant Hurb placed the ring around his left ring finger, he disappeared! Yet, he was only invisible, as he was able to communicate with me, and lift small objects. "Here," he said, removing the ring and handing it back to me. "You found this — so it's all yours!"

"Whatta strange ring," I said, accepting the item. "I remember hearing about a ring like this once before ... somewhere ..."

"Oh, no!!!", sounded a Lawful voice from heaven. "Not again!!"

"Whadaya mean, 'again'?", I asked in reply.

"Up 'till now, you've known me as just 'Law', and that's it. I am actually the spirit of 'Gandalph', the wizard from middle earth."

"Oh, my god!! You mean —"

"Yes, Frodo, that is the Ring of Doom!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

TTTTTTT   H      H   EEEEEEE      EEEEEEE   N      N   DDDD
   T      H      H   E            E         NN     N   D   D
   T      H      H   E            E         N N    N   D    D
   T      HHHHHHHH   EEEEE        EEEEE     N  N   N   D    D
   T      H      H   E            E         N   N  N   D   D
   T      H      H   E            E         N    N N   D  D
   T      H      H   EEEEEEE      EEEEEEE   N     NN   DDD

(of course, one never ends, one only begins!)

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