Doctor Doom and the Black Phantom – A Twisted love Story

 

By

 

Flamingo Boy (flamingoboyfun@gmail.com)

 

 

 

Dr. Doom visits the AC Comics Universe to use the beautiful Old West Heroine, the Black Phantom, as bait to entice the Master of Limbo to free the spirit of his deceased mother who is imprisoned in his realm.

 

 

Note to Reader: I did the best research that I could concerning the Marvel and the AC Universe but I had to take some “artistic license” in order to fill in some gaps and voids (i.e. I had to make shit up about things I didn’t know about). I hope that you all understand and bear with me… if not… then… bite me!

 

PART 1

 

 

Despite being born of humble birth to a family of traveling gypsies (who were considered the scum of the Earth by the general populace), Doctor Victor von Doom managed to rise from the depths of obscurity to overthrow the government of his native Latveria and become its absolute monarch as well as one of the most dangerous and feared villains to the rest of the world.

 

All his life, Doom had three goals in his life.

 

The first was world domination.

 

The second was to destroy his arch-enemy, Reed Richards, aka Mr. Fantastic, leader of the Fantastic Four.

 

On a few occasions, Doom did manage to complete his first goal although his tenors as Emperor of the World were only brief due to the efforts of the Earth’s super-powered heroes.

 

He came so close, so many times, but he was never able to eliminate Reed Richards. Doom won many battles with Richards but the war was still on and final victory was not yet achieved.

 

However, this would not be the case of his third goal: freeing the spirit of his deceased mother who was trapped in Limbo.

 

It had taken many years but Doom was very close to accomplishing this goal--a goal that could only be completed through the use of both science and magic.

 

Doom was a great scientist but not greater than Reed Richards. He was also a powerful mage but not as powerful as the Sorcerer Supreme, Dr, Strange. Despite these limitations, Doom could still hold his own against these two because he could do something that neither of theses heroes couldn’t… combine technology and wizardry into one powerful force! Unlike his two enemies, the great Doctor Doom was a Master of Scientific Magic and able to accomplish feats that neither thought was possible. Despite all Richard’s scientific-know-how… despite that Strange was the greatest mage in the Earth dimension, neither of them could turn the She-Thing back to the human form of Sharon Ventura… both claiming that curing her affliction was beyond science OR magic.

 

Little did these narrow-minded dolts realize that it was NOT beyond science AND magic! Having the great intelligence to combine both disciplines, Doom was able to convert Sharon Ventura back to her beautiful lovely human form.

 

Doom did not cure Ventura out of any sense of compassion, but rather to stick it too Richards and Strange that he could do something that neither could… and Doom knew that it pissed them both off to no end. It was worth it to hold a small victory over the two… and it didn’t hurt that Sharon’s price for her humanity was to visit the good Doctor one weekend every year to be his sexual bondage bimbo. Failure to report for her weekend “tour of duty” would result in Sharon reverting back into a more hideous version of the She-Thing. Sharon didn’t mind. She actually liked being tied up, mildly tortured, and sexually dominated/humiliated.

 

Richards and Strange were so narrow-minded. Richards was too logical to accept the existence of magic while Strange was too wise and totally abandoned the ways of science. This was ironic as Strange was once a brilliant surgeon… and technically a scientist… even he was too stupid to see that science and magic could be combined.

 

Doom couldn’t mock Richards and Strange for their one-track minds and linear thinking. It was Doom’s failure to “look outside the box” which was the contributing factor as to why it took him so long to solve the puzzle of freeing his mother from Limbo.

 

The Master of Limbo told Doom that the key to his mother’s release was within a very unique woman. If Doom could deliver this woman to the Master of Limbo, he would release Doom’s mother in exchange for the woman. Apparently, the Master of Limbo wanted a bride.

 

All Doom had to do was find this unique woman. For many long years he searched through his scanning devices to find her, but could not locate her aura. The Master of Limbo continually taunted Doom that this woman did exist and that he was not looking hard enough to find her… or was even looking in the right places.

 

Doom, at great financial expense as well as his time, scoured the entire world to locate the woman. When he was satisfied that she was not in the Plane of Earth in the time that Doom lived in. He monitored the Temporal Streams of Earth to see if she existed in either the past or the future… but found nothing. He examined every alternate timeline and reality and still found nothing.

 

When he was satisfied that the woman did not exist on the plane of Earth at all, he did the same process of locating her in other dimensions… past, present, future, and alternate time lines. He searched the Microverse… Asgard… Olympus… the Mutliverse… the Astral Plane… the Ethereal Plane… the Omniverse… Polemachus… K'un-L'un… the Dark Dimension… even Cyber-Space, the domain of Deathlok… countless others until Doom was satisfied that he had searched the entire Marvel Universe!

 

And still no woman!

 

The Master of Limbo continued to laugh as he still told Doom that the woman existed. Doom was just too blind to see “out side the box.”

 

“How could this be?” Doom would curse himself from time to time. “I’ve searched this entire universe! I’ve overlooked nothing. There is no where else to look. I’ve searched through everything. The Master of Limbo is not lying to me. This woman he seeks does exist. I know she does. But where? Where!”

 

 

Then one day, it hit him like a bolt of lightning. He remembered that for a time, the She-Hulk had temporarily replaced the Thing as the power hitter for the Fantastic Four while the worthless pile of orange rocks was wandering the world “searching for himself.” That stupid golem didn’t realize that he would have more success trying to find a black cat in a dark closet that didn’t actually exist.

 

During one of his encounter with good-doing, meddling foursome in which the jade giantess was serving tenor, Doom noticed that the She-Hulk would occasionally display bouts of highly unusual behavior… behavior that only he seemed to notice and was totally oblivious to Reed and Sue Richards as well as Johnny Storm.

 

Jennifer Walters would sometimes talk to herself… no… she was talking to someone… an apparent entity that only she seemed to know existed. Walters had a secret that she shared with no one else… not her teammates… not her fellow super-heroes… not her father… not even her own husband, John Jameson.

 

Something deep down told Doom that this entity, in which She-Hulk was speaking to held the key to find his woman who he could exchange for his mother. In his excitement to devise an ingenious plan to capture the jade Amazon and torture the information out of her, he realized that abducting her was not necessary.

 

He suddenly remembered that he had an ace in the hole: the She-Hulk owed him a favor!

 

In his haste to acquire his knowledge from the She-Hulk, Doom had forgotten that two years ago, he had cured Jen’s father, the Honorable Sheriff Morris Walters of a terrible extra-terrestrial disease. Morris became infected when a strange meteorite crashed into his backyard. Fortunately, the Avengers where able to contain the disease and expel the meteorite back into space, but Morris was dying a slow and painful death. There was nothing that Reed Richard’s science or Dr. Strange’s magic could do to dispel the disease.

 

Once again, to show off and rub it in the faces of his two rivals, Doom used a combination of magic and science to create the cure.

 

Doom secretly visited Jennifer while she was at her father’s bedside… apparently hours away from death. He offered to give the serum to her father in exchange for a service in which he could call upon her to perform sometime in the future when he called his favor in.

 

Jennifer was more than willing to go for the deal as she couldn’t bear to see her father suffer, but Mr. Walters intervened and ordered her not to accept the deal. He didn’t want his daughter to sell her soul to a villain like Dr. Doom on his account for any price.

 

Although it was against his better judgment, Doom was so desperate to mock Richards and Strange that he decided to sweeten the pot in order to get Walter’s to agree to his terms. In order to satisfy his father, Doom gave his solemn word of honor that the “favor” would not require Jennifer to do anything illegal or immoral… or cause her to harm or betray anyone. Doom also reassured Morris that he would not ask his daughter to perform any sexual favors since she was married and Doom, despite being evil, still respected the sanctity of marriage.

 

Seeing that Jennifer was safe from manipulation, Morris gave his blessing to take the deal… even though he knew that his daughter would gladly make any sacrifice to save him.

 

Within minutes after Doom injected Morris Walters with the antidote serum, the sheriff was up on his feet and walking around as if he never was sick. Jennifer was so elated that she hugged Doom and cried tears of joy on his shoulders. Doom was not touched by She-Hulk’s sentimentality but indulged her anyway as the heroine was now indebted to him.

 

To read the rest of the story visit http://flamingoboyfun.angelfire.com/bpdd.html

 

 

PART 2

 

Jennifer was not surprised that a few months ago, Doom casually strolled into her law office and called in his favor.

 

When Doom demanded to know the name and the nature of the entity to which he was speaking, Jennifer seemed reluctant to give up the information.

 

“Is it because you took a pledge not to reveal the entity’s identity?” Doom, being a man of honor could understand if that was her reason. “Or does some power prevent you from telling others.”

 

“Neither,” Jennifer answered. “Don’t get me wrong, Doctor… I know that I’m indebted to you and I’m very grateful that you saved my father… and I’m more than willing to perform you a service in exchange. It’s just that… well… it’s so incredible and ludicrous that I’m afraid that you won’t believe me.”

 

“Try me, Ms. Walters… or do you prefer to be called Mrs. Jameson?”

 

“I don’t care. Why do you want to know about this entity?”

 

“That is my concern and none of your business. Out with it, woman!”

 

“Well,” Jennifer blushed as she twisted her mouth and bit her lip. “It’s sort of silly…”

 

Doom was relieved to see that Jennifer was withholding the information because she was embarrassed. “Go on.”

 

“You won’t laugh at me?” Jennifer was still hesitant.

 

“I assure you, madam, that I have found nothing funny to laugh at ever since my parents were killed. I only laugh in mockery when I triumph over an adversary… but that’s not the same as humorous laughing. During your tenor with the Fantastic Four and the Avengers, you should know by now that I do not possess a sense of humor. I am incapable of that. Even if I were, I still wouldn’t have one as it’s a waste of time in my line of work. But… if it will ease your mind… I promise that I will not laugh at you.”

 

“Okay,” Jennifer took a seat behind her desk. Seeing that the information was harmless, and that divulging it could release her from her debt with Doom, she did her summation like the professional attorney that she was. “This universe we live in is not exactly real… it’s the Marvel Universe… a comic book universe. We are all nothing more than graphic novel characters created by folks like Stan Lee and the late Jack Kirby. The entity that I speak with from time to time is the reader… the person that is perusing through a comic book at a particular time. Our lives are not are own. We are constantly being observed from the outside… but much like Uatu the Watcher, they can only observe and not interfere.”

 

Jennifer stood up when she saw that Doom was silent. “I know it sounds incredible… but it’s true. Somehow I acquired the insight to know that I’m part of a comic book. I don’t know how I got this insight… but I know it’s all true.”

 

“Are you trying to tell me that we do not exist?” Doom was skeptical but still intrigued. “We are nothing but illustrations? That cannot be possible. If my life is nothing more than an illusion and a deception… according to the philosopher, Descartes… there is only one fact that I can hold in absolute truth: I exist. If I am living in a world of deception, I must exist in order to be deceived. I cannot be deceived into believing that I exist. No one was the power to do that. My actions are my own. I cannot except that my destiny is determined by the paint of an artist and the ink of a writer.”

 

“Your destiny is your own, Doctor. You weren’t listening, I’m afraid. I said that our universe wasn’t exactly real. I didn’t say that it was never real at all.”

 

“Explain,” Doom responded in his stern voice as he remained in his stoic pose.

 

“Can’t you see?” Jennifer couldn’t believe that a genius like Dr. Doom still didn’t get it. “You have computers, robots, and androids that serve you… right?”

 

“Of course. I have all those things you speak of.”

 

“And some of those are capable of independent thought? They are sentient?”

 

“Of course.”

 

“And what is a sentient computer? An artificial brain. What are free-willed robots and machines? Artificial lifeforms… just like the Original Human Torch and the Vision. Even your own Descarte believed that a brain and a human body could exist without being made of flesh and blood… people have created life using silicon and microchips. Of course, the Frankenstein Monster was an artificial being that was created with flesh and blood. Many artificial life forms believe that that also have a soul because they have a mind as well. You believe in the existence of the soul… don’t you?”

 

“Of course.” Doom wasn’t lying because this was all about freeing his mother’s soul from Limbo.

 

Jennifer smiled as she was starting to get her point home. “I remember on one occasion when you battled the Fantastic Four and you became critically injured… unsure if you were going to live or die. You cheated death by transferring your mind into one of your Doombot replicas. You remained in that machine until your actual body healed on its own.”

 

“That is correct… but I still don’t see…”

 

“Just hear me out a little bit more,” Jennifer poured herself some coffee. “Join me?”

 

“No, thank you.”

 

“Suit yourself. Anyway… while you were inside the machine, did that make you mindless or any less sentient than in your human body?”

 

“No.”

 

“If the machine were to be destroyed with your mind still within it… what would happen to your soul?”

 

“It would leave this Earthy Plane and take its rightful place in the universe.”

 

“That’s right. Even you believe that,  though still inside an artificial body, you are not soulless and would not be condemned to an eternal death.”

 

“That is my belief… yes.”

 

Now for her final argument. “If bodies and brains can be artificial and still retain life, so can the mind, and the soul… then why can not an entire universe… cannot entire reality be artificial as well? Instead of this universe being carbon-based… it is actually built from the thoughts, imagination, and creativity of others? Ever see that episode of the Twilight Zone in which Dennis Weaver dreams up a reality when he sleeps? Every time he is a condemned prisoner sentenced to die. All the same people are in his dream… but every time they get scrambled around with each new dream. One night, a certain person is a judge… the other, he’s the bailiff. One day, one of the residents of the dream realizes it and tries to keep Dennis Weaver alive because… if he’s fried in the electric hair… he’ll wake up and everyone in his dream universe will cease to exist.”

 

“Interesting theory,” Doom rubbed the chin of his metal mask. “I myself know that dreaming is a very rudimentary form of astral traveling and that there are dimensions that exist within dreams. I’ve traversed the Astral Plane myself… but… how does that make my destiny my own? If what you say is true, we are still at the mercy of those that created this… what did you call it… Marvel Universe?”

 

“But you also know that there are times when non-sentient computers and robots suddenly become sentient on their own… something that their creator never intended… for example… when Hank Pym created Ultron. So… if a machine can be sentience on its own… they why can’t a universe do the same? Originally, our reality was not supposed to be sentient… but it somehow evolved and took a life of its own.”

 

“This universe can’t be the genuine article. In a real world, there are no beings with super-powers… mutant or altered human. Would anyone, super-powers or not, actually prance around in a costume? You’d end up getting arrested or die of embarrassment. Think about it? Massive exposure to radiation should be bad for people. It shouldn’t give you super-powers. Radiation kills people… or ends up giving them three forms of cancer. Do the math, Doc.”

 

For the first time in his life, Doom was blown away. He pondered on that thought so long that he forgot that he was in Jennifer Walter’s office. The concept was so mind-boggling.

 

When Doom finally returned to reality, he cursed under his breath. Although this new insight to his life was very interesting, it was not, in the least, helpful to saving his mother. He had just totally wasted a perfectly good favor. It appeared that his hunch about this entity was totally wrong. Being wrong was something Doom did very rarely and wasn’t accustomed to. He had a hard time admitting to himself that he was wrong… especially since there were none of his lowly minions around to blame it on instead.

 

Since Doom had been quietly standing in her office with his arms folded in his usually villainous manner, she misperceived his silence for doubt and disbelief… and if Doom didn’t believe her… that would mean that she was still indebted to him… and she was desperately to square things up with him and get him off her back.

 

Just as Doom was about to declare that Jennifer’s debt was paid in full and then storm out of the office like a child being sent to bed without dessert, the She-Hulk said something that he never anticipated.

 

“I knew it,” Jennifer groaned and slammed her fist on her desk (but making sure not to do it too hard and break it). “You don’t believe me… do you? Oh, shit! I still owe you a favor… don’t I?”

 

Actually, Doom did believe her… or, at least, believed that she believed that she was telling the truth.

 

Perhaps this wasn’t a total waste of time after all. Perhaps there was still a way to salvage something out of this… and have a little fun… leave with a consolation prize. It wasn’t his fault if she perceived that she “still owned him one.” If she was too stupid to keep her mouth shut and speak before he told her that they were even, he might as well make the best out of this delightful situation and not return home empty-handed.

 

“I-I-I am telling the truth,” Jennifer was on the verge of panic. “I swear. Just me a chance to prove it to you.”

 

“I don’t see how that’s possible, Ms. Walter,” Doom replied with a cold tone. “However, indulge me. I’m listening.”

 

“You’re a genius…”

 

“That I am, but flattery will only stroke my ego… not get me to change my mind.”

 

“I mean… being a genius… you must have some sort of a device or drug that would compel me to tell the truth… and then you can be certain that I’m not lying. Would that satisfy you enough to call everything square?”

 

“It would.” Doom smiled a wicked smile under his mask. He already knew that she wasn’t lying but if she wanted to “volunteer,” who was he to refuse… but he wanted her to insist… that way, he could claim that it was all her idea. “Now that you mention it… I do have a machine that would absolutely determine if you are truthful… but… no… you wouldn’t want to do that. Forget I even mentioned it. Stupid idea on my part.” Then Doom walked toward the door. “Forget I even mentioned it. I’ll just come by to collect another time. Have a good day, Ms. Walters.”

 

“No, wait, Doctor, please,” Jennifer only allowed Doom to take two steps before she stopped him by grabbing a firm hold of his arm. “Please.”

 

Doom looked down at where Jennifer grabbed his arm and then gave her a stern look.

 

“Sorry,” Jennifer immediately let him go. She knew that Doom was a proud and arrogant monarch/villain and he did not appreciate being touched and manhandled.

 

“That truth device,” Jennifer continued. “Why do you say that it’s a stupid idea? Is it because it’s painful? Don’t worry about that. I’m the She-Hulk after all. I’m strong and have a lot of endurance, constitution, and stamina. Don’t worry I can take it. Or… is it because it could have an adverse effect on me.”

 

“The device is painless and totally harmless. You have my word of honor on that. However, the procedure is quite time consuming… several hours… and I’m sure that being an attorney, you are quite busy.” Actually, it wasn’t that time consuming at all but Doom planned on taking his time getting Jennifer ready.

 

“Not a problem,” Jennifer picked up her phone and called her assistant. “Darlene… cancel or re-schedule everything that I have on my plate today. That’s right… clear everything for the entire day… just tell ‘em that’s it’s a family emergency. I know I’m supposed to meet with the US Chief Justice… but I have something else better to do. Then I want you to call security and tell them not to let anyone up to my office. I don’t want to be disturbed for any reason… even if it’s an emergency. After you do that, I want you and the rest of the staff to go home. That’s right… take the rest of the day off. Of course… with pay.”

 

“Maybe, you shouldn’t have done that?” Doom said coyly.

 

“Why not?”

 

“In your haste, you didn’t let me finish…”

 

“I don’t care. I’ll do whatever it takes. I just want this debt to be settled.”

 

“If you wish,” Doom feigned his innocence, but he had the stupid bitch right where he wanted her. “But I have to hook you up to the device… a series of probes.”

 

“So?”

 

“Which must be hooked up to your entire body. In order to do that, you must totally disrobe… remove every stitch of your clothing… everything… including watches… rings and jewelry. Everything! There must not be any foreign object on your body whatsoever.” For all the trouble he went through, Doom figured he might as well make his trip worthwhile by getting to see the Sensational She-Hulk totally naked… and manipulating her to do it by her own insistence. In actuality, she didn’t really need to get totally naked… striping down to her bra and panties would be more than adequate… but it the dumb bitch didn’t know that… then who was Doom to stop her from being so accommodating? “Perhaps, we should just forget the whole thing…”

 

“Not a problem,” Jennifer already locked her office door, closed the window blinds, took off her jewelry, kicked her pumps of her feet, and unbuckled her waist belt that she wore around her short skirt. “This is scientific right… like going to the doctor for a full physical, right? You’re a doctor. This would be like… physician/patient confidentially… wouldn’t it.”

 

“Of course,” Doom pretended to agree. This was too good to be true. Not only did he get this fine gorgeous hunk of green woman and fine piece of ass to strip in front of him… but she was now rationalizing, too. How delicious!

 

“Doctor,” Jennifer unbuttoned and removed her tight and expense silk blouse. “Would you be so kind as to unzip my skirt from the back and then unhook my bra?”

 

“If you insist, madam.” Already, Doom could feel his bulge rubbing against the inside of his armor.

 

 

PART 3

 

Four the next four hours, Doom strategically placed probes and sensors on Jennifer… even applying to parts of her body that weren’t necessary. She didn’t even complain when Doom put the clamps on her nipples (which she didn’t know was totally unnecessary). He probed every part of her naked body and Jennifer did not utter a word of protest. She was all too happy to have Doom out of her hair.

 

Using a hidden camera in his armor, Doom made sure to tape the entire procedure. That way, he could now blackmail the She-Hulk into staying out of his business by threatening to show the tapes all over the internet and on www.youtube.com.

 

The device only confirmed what Doom knew all along. Jennifer was, indeed, telling the truth… or what she perceived as the truth.

 

Even though he enjoyed seeing Jennifer in the nude for hours, he still felt slighted by the useless information and wanted to take out his frustrations out on the heroine.

 

Just after he removed the last sensor probe, he sprayed knock-out gas into Jennifer’s face and she immediately fell unconscious. The gas also had a hypnotic effect and he told Jennifer that she would perceive the first man she laid eyes on to be her husband, John Jameson, and she would have an overpowering urge to make love to him.

 

He carried Jennifer’s nude unconscious body to the floor… laid her on her back and opened her legs wide.

 

Earlier he overheard a handsome young janitor named, Juan, remark to his colleagues that Jennifer Walters was a totally hot babe and he would love nothing more than to screw her brains out for hours. A wicked thought soon emerged.

 

Going through her purse, Doom found her cell phone and looked at the phone book so he could find the numbers to locate her husband, John Jameson. His first try was her home phone and her husband answered. Doom used his voice replicator and he now sounded exactly like Jennifer. Jameson had his head up his ass and never suspected a thing.

 

“Hi, John,” Doom said in Jennifer’s voice. “Are you doing anything? Good… how fast can you get over to my office? Because I want you to get over here… because I have a big surprise for you. Twenty minutes will be just fine. The doors will be locked, so use your key. Don’t knock. Just come in. Why? You’ll see when you get here. Love you! Ba-Bye!”

 

Continuing to use Jennifer’s voice, Doom then called the maintenance supervisor. “Yes… this is Jennifer Walters in Suite 501… sure I can get you Captain America’s autograph. I have a special project that will take the rest of the day. Is it okay if I borrow that nice John from you… I mean Juan… yes… ten minutes… that’s perfect. Can I talk to him… Thanks. Hello… John… Oh, I’m so sorry… I mean, Juan. My Spanish is just terrible… please forgive me. I get confused because John is English for Juan… so please forgive me if I call you John by mistake. I can be such a flibbertigibbet at times. Actually… John… Juan… sorry, there I go again. Actually… it’s more of what I can do for you. Can anyone hear us now? Good. You see… John… Juan… I’ve been noticing that you’ve been checking me out lately… No, no, my sweet man… no need to apologize. I’m very flattered that a handsome young buck would consider giving an old frau like me the time of day. Let’s cut to the chase, okay? I’m so hot for that’s it’s not even funny. As a matter of fact, I’m sitting here in my office all alone and totally butt naked and waiting for you to come up and impale me with our fine Latino manhood. No… this is not a joke. I’m totally serious. No… I don’t care if you’re married and have kids. I won’t tell your family if you won’t tell mine. Just get your fine ass up here and see for yourself. Just make sure to lock the doors to the reception area and my office behind you so that we’re not disturbed. Don’t keep me waiting to long, you well-hung amigo.”

 

When he hung up the phone, he heard Jennifer moaning in her half-conscious state. She was still too weak to move.

 

Doom kneeled beside her and whispered in her ear. “Your husband, John, will be here and he wants to make love to you. He’s doing a little sexual role-playing. He’s going to dress like a janitor and pretend he’s a Hispanic named Juan… John… Juan… get it?”

 

“I like games,” Jennifer giggled in her inebriated state. “I just love Hispanic men… especially Antonio Banderas and Andy Garcia… and my husband. I’m gonna rock his world when he gets here.”

 

Jennifer was totally oblivious when Doom stuck a note in front of her crotch of her opened legs. It read: Go to town, my Spanish Stallion.

 

Just when Doom walked out into the hallway, a man bumped into him.

 

“Senor Doom… I mean Doctor Doom,” the Hispanic man said nervously. “Please… excuse… I did not mention to intrude on you and Ms. Walters… so sorry.”

 

“Don’t apologize, my good man,” Doom put on his fake cheerful voice. “I wasn’t watching where I was going. My business with Ms. Walters is finished. Are you, Juan?”

 

“Si.”

 

“Excellent. She’s been expecting you. Make sure to lock both doors behind you.” Then Doom leaned over and whispered into Juan’s ear. “Can I let you in on a little secret, sir?”

 

“Si.”

 

“I suspect that Ms. Walters fancies you… has a bit of a crush on you… but that’s just my humble observation. Have a good day, Juan.”

 

“Gracias,” Juan smiled as Doom held the door for him.

 

*    *    *    *

 

It took almost a week before Dr. Doom realized that the information that Jennifer Walters gave to him was not useless. He realized too late that he had done the She-Hulk an injustice… but being a villain and a general asshole to boot, he didn’t give a shit.

 

The look on John Jameson’s face must have been priceless when he walked into his wife’s office to see her banging a janitor. Doom learned, through his secret grapevine of sources, that it took two weeks of begging on her knees, groveling, and pleading on Jen’s part for her husband, John, to move back home and not file papers for divorce.

 

Doom’s epiphany occurred when he received a letter from the Mattel Toy Company soliciting his permission to make an action figure in his image. Although he was offered a substantial advance and generous portion of the profits, he told his administrative secretary to write back to the president of the company and basically tell him to go scratch.

 

“The nerve of that capitalist moron,” Doom cursed as he threw the letter into the fireplace. “How insulting! I, Doctor Doom, the greatest monarch in the world… reduced to a child’s plaything. They dare ask my permission to use my image. Ha! What do those fools know? If they knew that we all existed in this… so-called… Marvel Universe… of comic books… they wouldn’t have to solicit my permission… they would only need permission from “Marvel Comics” who own my character… otherwise creating any unauthorized Dr. Doom figures would end up in a lawsuit… copyright infringement… and… wait a minute… why didn’t I think of it before?”

 

In just a few seconds… with words muttered in anger… Doom was enlightened. It was all so clear and it made perfect sense.

 

Comic books are not a monopoly. There are many different publications that compete for the market share of the masses of youngster and geeks that spend their hard money on them. Competition… simple principle of business… that was the answer!

 

In order to prevent other publishers from producing comic books that feature the character from a rival publisher, the characters are trademarked… that’s why they are owned by the publisher for their own internal use unless someone form the outside has their prior permission.

 

That’s why you never see a comic book that features both Spider-man and Superman… because Spider-man is owned by Marvel and Superman by DC… rival publishers. Each publisher is its own separate entity… it creates its own universe… a universe closed off and separate from other comic book universes.

 

Doom figured that if he lived in a Marvel Universe that had taken a life of it’s own… then it could be possible that other comic book universes live in the same manner… universes in which Doom never searched because he never realized, until now, that they could exist. Perhaps… within one of those other universes… there might contain the woman he’s been seeking… the one that the Master of Limbo wants!

 

Therein lies the rub…

 

If each universe is a separate and closed system, then how can they be traversed?

 

Doom cursed as he believed that he was back to square-one… but only for a few minutes.

 

“Of course… maybe not so closed off after all!”

 

Doom ran to his PC and started to serf the internet. In less than a minute, the Google page gave him the answer. He found a page selling comics by mail. One of them was a giant-sized graphic novel from the mid-1970s entitled Superman vs. The Amazing Spider-man.

 

A crossover! That was the answer. It was rare, but not impossible. Heroes from totally different universes can merge paths every once in a while.

 

All he had to do was find those worm-holes to get to them.

 

Being a Master of Scientific Magic, Doom was the only mortal being in his Universe that had the ability to find these worm-holes as the feat required a vast combination of technology and sorcery.

 

The feat was also time consuming… so much in fact… that Doom barely had the opportunity to eat or sleep. This caused him to neglect other things and he was forced to delegate more authority to his underlings in order to make sure that everything else was running smoothly… something that his arrogance made him reluctant to do… but any price was worth releasing his beloved mother from Limbo.

 

Another reason why it was time consuming was that Doom had to observe through these holes slowly, meticulously, and methodically. He had to be careful as he did not want to draw the attention of a higher entity such as the Living Tribunal who would forbade interference into crossing over into a “closed system” and then seal the hole for good or hide it somewhere else.

 

So, within the solitude of his most secret inner sanctum, Doom used his devices to search through the DC universe… the Dark Horse Universe… Malibu Universe… Gold Key Universe… Image Universe… Atlas Universe… Valiant Universe.

 

It was when he scanned through the AC Comics Universe that he finally hit paydirt… in the era of the Old West.

 

He had found the bride of the Master of Limbo in the form of a cowgirl outlaw.

 

Doom was intrigued and fascinated by her. Although a wanted criminal, she only preyed and stole from the rich and greedy or other moral-less criminals, outlaws and cutthroats.

 

Unlike the sentimental heroes in his own universe, this female outlaw was not above killing her enemies… although she never killed an innocent. She only killed people who were killers and usually if they tried to kill her first… but every time she took a life, she did it with courage and honor… she would give them the same chance to kill her… not shooting them in the back like a coward, but giving them the chance to draw on her. He always looked her victim in the eyes.

 

Not only was this woman brave and intelligent, but Doom believed that she was the most beautiful woman that he had ever seen.

 

Doom could not understand the strange feeling in his heart when he first laid eyes on her. It was a feeling that he was not accustomed to. What was this? It almost seemed that his heart was… fluttering? Did he feel light-headed and suddenly weak in the knees?

 

Doom dismissed his foolish thought to lack of sleep and over-work. Doom prided himself on not being sentimental… that was what made other people weak. It was all nonsense.

 

This woman was just a mere tool in his plan to release his mother… nothing more! This woman was for the Master of Limbo. What he did with her after the exchange was no concern of Doom’s

 

But even as he formulated his plan to capture her, Doom could not control the urges and feelings inside of him that consumed his mind from time to time.

 

The hardest emotion that Doom found difficult to lock away into the black, cold sector of his heart was the jealously he felt toward the Master of Limbo. It was not like Doom to be envious of something that the Master of Limbo was about to acquire.

 

It was nonsense… utter nonsense!

 

Doom reminded himself that the reason he was one on the most powerful and feared villains in the world was because he never strayed from his goals or plans.

 

He was Doctor Victor von Doom… and he was never going to let a pretty face alter his course!

 

“Master of Limbo… lucky bastard,” Doom muttered to himself before he retired to his bed.

 

He would start his plot first thing in the morning.

 

 

PART 4

 

 

The year was 1880 and things were going great for the Oklahoma Territory. The prospect of statehood was on the horizon. Oil (black gold, Texas tea) had recently been discovered and settlers were coming in from all parts of the country to stake their claims and get in on the share of the wealth.

 

It seemed that everyone and every part of the territory was thriving and growing… everyone and every place, that is… expect for the town of Tulsa that seemed to be dying a slow death over the last fifty years.

 

The good news for Tusla was that a large glut of oil was discovered around the city limits which would ensure the town’s survival. It would also force the railroad to expand through this town so that the oil (as well as cattle) could be shipped out all over the country and sold. The building of the railroad was the key to survival.

 

The bad news was that the oil was buried two miles underground and there was no conventional way of digging it up and reaching it. The mayor of Tulsa, the Honorable Cuthbert Arlington Crance, knew of an eccentric millionaire inventor named J.R. Ewing. Crance discovered that Ewing had invented an “oil rig” which was a huge tower that could drill for oil even though it was miles underground. The machine could easily bring the oil to the surface and “cap it off” to avoid waste.

 

If Tusla could capitalize on their oil, the town would not die; however, these “new fangled” oil rigs were going to cost a “heap” of money… and the town had barely enough for minimal operating expenses.

 

Fortunately, before all was totally lost, the town had a benefactor in the form of a wealthy land-owner named Zebulon McCallister who had recently passed away days after reaching his one hundredth and tenth birthday.

 

Zeb’s age was not an exaggeration. He had documented proof that he was born in London, England way back in 1770! His mother died in childbirth and was raised as an “army” brat because his father served as a lieutenant in the British military as the company paymaster.

 

Lt. McCallister was a fine and decent man but he suffered from a terrible affliction… gambling. He had bet a sizable amount of cash that he didn’t have on a hand of poker. What were the odds of McCallister’s opponent getting three kings on a three card draw so that his four-of-kind would beat his full house… aces over queens!

 

The men that McCallister owed money to were very unsavory characters who constantly threatened him… as well as his son. Not wanting to be responsible for any harm to come to his son because of his stupid mistake, McCallister did the only thing a desperate man could do… embezzle the money from the military payroll.

 

McCallister was a smart man and was able to cover the inconsistency of the money loss for quite some time… but eventually things have a way of getting discovered. It didn’t take long before the military police were hot on his trail.

 

McCallister booked passage on a ship and hoped to escape to the “New World” with his son. The plan was too little too late. Soldiers were already at the port to intercept him. McCallister gave his six-year-old son, Zeb, one thousand dollars in cash and told him to embark on the ship without him where he would meet his son later.

 

McCallister got the soldiers to chase him to ast as a distraction so that his son could board the ship. McCallister was a fast and sleek chap and he banked on the fact that he could lose the guards and sneak aboard the ship.

 

He was only half-right.

 

Zeb got on the ship to safety without anyone being the wiser but Lt. McCallister was shot dead when a private spotted him climbing the rigging to get to the ship just as it was sailing off.

 

McCallister fell into the water and his body was never found.

 

Although, Zeb was fortunate enough not to see his father die, he knew that he would never see him again.

 

Minutes after stepping off the ship to his new home, Zeb discovered  that the thirteen colonies had declared their independence from England and a Revolutionary War was about to break out.

 

Having no where to go and no one to care for him, six-year-old Zeb enlisted in the Colonial Army as a drummer boy. He figured that it was the best place to go as all his needs would be taken care of.

 

Not wanting to carry one thousand dollars in cash because he was afraid that it would be stolen (and in the military, he would have no need of so vast a sum), Zeb used it to purchase a Revolutionary War Bond. He didn’t understand what an 8.75% return would mean… but it would mature in three years. A fellow solder (who wasn’t as bright) told the boy that when the bond was ready to be sold, he would get back $1,087.50… $87.50 in about three years time for doing nothing… not a bad deal… since $1,000 dollars sitting by itself would still be $1,000 in three years… so long as he original got his original $1,000 back.

 

By the time the War ended and the United States became an independent nation, free of British rule, Zeb had left the army as a young captain. He soon married the daughter of a wealthy land-owner. With her dowry, Zeb proved to be a shrewd investor and soon increased the family treasury ten-fold.

 

It was then that Zeb decided to lock away his uniform and Revolutionary War paraphernalia into his truck… including his war bond. Being in his mid-twenties and a millionaire, he though it was waste of time to cash in a bond for a paltry sum of $87.50. Instead, he decided to put it away and perhaps give it to one of his children or as a retirement present to one of his loyal servants.

 

It never made it into anyone’s hands. The bond remained locked in the trunk and forgotten. Zeb had outlived all his descendants and there was really no one to inherit the property. His last will and testament showed that he was leaving his estate to the town of Tulsa (after taking care of his loyal servants first).

 

It turned out that ol’ Zeb’s fortune was not as vast as everyone believed. It was true that it was vast for an old man to live comfortably but not enough to save the town… only enough to keep it floating for a few more years. Tulsa didn’t need to survive. It needed to grow and thrive!

 

Miss Beetle, the local school marm, and Jackson Tyler Lancaster, Esquire, attorney at law, had volunteered to go through the trunk of Revolutionary War items to catalog them and donate them to a museum.

 

“My goodness,” the proper school teacher said as she pulled out an old piece of paper. “It’s a Revolutionary War bond, Mr. Lancaster. Do you think that it’s still good to cash in? At 8.75 percent on one thousand dollars, that would make $87.50. It could pay off the town expenses for a month.”

 

“May I please see that, Miss Beetle,” Lancaster studied the bond. “I think it still might be good…. Yes… no expiration date listed. All it says is that it is payable by the Colonial Congress three years after purchase… and the Colonial Congress is now the United States Congress… they have to honor this. Wait… there’s more….” Lancaster read the fine print… the same fine print that Zeb didn’t understand all almost a hundred years ago. It pays 8.75 percent interest… per year… compounded annually.”

 

“That’s more money,” Miss Bettle smiled. “It’s not $87.50 after three years… it’s $87.50 per year for three years… meaning that’s it worth… $1,262.50.”

 

“A little more than that,” said Lancaster. “The interest is compounded for three years.”

 

“I don’t follow you, Mr. Lancaster,” said Miss Beetle. “I’m afraid that I was always poor at mathematics as far as accounting goes. My forte is History and Grammar.”

 

“Compounded means that the interest gains interest… the first year we multiple 1,000 dollars by 1.0875 and then we get $1,087.50. The second year, we multiply $1,087.50 by 1.0875 and we get $1,182.65. For the third and final year, we take $1,182.65 and multiply by 1.0875… we get a grand total of… 1,286.13… wait a second… Lancaster studied the fine print some more… there is absolutely nothing on this bond that states when the interest stops.”

 

“You mean that interest on top of interest on top of interest accrues in perpetuity until someone cashes it in?”

 

“Quite right, Miss Lancaster… so long as the United States government is in existence and the U.S. treasury has the money to pay the bond.”

 

Miss Beetle was starting to get the equation. “Eight and three quarter percent interest… compounded annually… for one hundred and four years… growing exponentially?”

 

“Holy Sweet Jesus,” Lancaster grabbed Miss Beetle by the arm, with the bond in tow, and headed for the bank in search of an accountant and an adding machine.

 

The United States government had to honor that bond which was now worth $6,146,722.76!

 

This was more than enough money to put a down payment to build a railroad station and tracks and enough collateral to get a Federal bank to loan them the money to build the oil rigs. A federal armored stagecoach would arrive in a week from Washington D.C. to pick up the bond.

 

It was only three days before the courier was due to arrive that the infamous Dillon Gang broke into the bank at night and stole the contents of a safe. The loss of money was not substantial but the thieves also, without their knowledge took the bond. The thieves had no clue that they had a piece of paper that was priceless to the town of Tulsa. Ironically, the bond was no good for them as only a town official could cash it in. No bond… no six million dollars!

 

The Sheriff of the county would not help (as he was a fat, lazy coward). He claimed that the Dillon Gang was no longer in his jurisdiction and that the theft of a federal bond fell into the hands of the U.S. Army or the U.S. Marshall. The Army was seven days ride away and the Dillion Gang could be long gone by then. The Marshall and all his deputies were away on… what they claimed to… on Federal business… top secret.

 

They tried to hire bounty hunters to retrieve the bond or negotiate for its return. All the bounty hunters that were willing to take the risk of going up against the Dillon Gang wanted a twenty percent finder’s fee and one million up front in cash… which the town couldn’t pay even if they wanted to.

 

It was than that Mayor Crance had a brilliant idea: How do you deal with outlaws when there is no army or law around. You hire an outlaw… someone that can think like an outlaw and knows their habits. He had a perfect choice… an outlaw that was honest… an outlaw that they could trust and would not gouge them.

 

They needed the services of…. The Black Phantom.

 

The mayor’s suggestion paid off. The Black Phantom only asked for a five-percent finder’s fee and only $10,000 down.

 

 

 

 

PART 5

 

With the dawn on the cusp of turning into morning daylight, two figures rode quietly on their horses.

 

The first person was a handsome black man in his early-thirties who was riding an old retired farm horse. The horse didn’t have a lot of speed, but speed was not required for this leg of the mission, as the horse could still walk and canter for a long time without tiring.

 

His name was Thomas Brodon (a favor slave named after his owner, a cotton plantation owner named Mr. Samuel Broden) who came to Oklahoma to try his luck at hunting and later became a tenant farmer in his later years. For more than 15 years, Tom Brodon had been a free man. Freedom had tasted good but it hardly kept his stomach full.

 

Being a former slave that worked the cotton fields, he had no education. Since he never learned to read and wrie, his prospects were very slim at first. For the first five years of his freedom, he had to remain as a sharecropper on the Brodon Plantation until he saved up enough money to leave on his own.

 

Although the “War Between the States” was over for fifteen years and the religious moral majority of the territory were more than happy to see that slavery was good and abolished, this didn’t stop these “God–fearing” citizens from being racist to their “dark-skinned” brethren who were only treated a little better than the poor Native Indians that were imprisoned on reservations. These same people that spoke out for the release of the slaves suddenly became quiet when it came to giving Black citizens the same rights and opportunities as Whites. It seemed that Blacks were only tolerated so long as they stayed with in their places as hired hands or domestic servants.

 

Riding next to Tom, on a fine pure-breed white mare, was the Black Phantom… an Old West combination of the Green Hornet and the Lone Ranger… in the respect that to the general public, she was an unknown masked outlaw… but in actuality… she was a heroine that worked outside the law to right the wrongs of the Lawless West.

 

Even with a black eye mask that was covering up the upper half of her facial features, the Black Phantom was a blonde beauty to behold. Her long hair under her dark blue cowboy (or is it cowgirl?) hat flowed like a corn field when the wind blew through it. Almost her entire wardrobe was dark blue except for a few items. The scarf she wore around her neck was dark blue. She wore a tight denim shirt which accentuated her marvelous full breasts. She also wore tight denim pants which exposed her shapely figure and fine ass. Around her waist she wore a thick black leather belt with a large shiny silver buckle. The only “blue” that she didn’t wear was her black boots and long white riding gloves.

 

Her final, and certainly not lest, ensemble was her dark brown leather holster which hung loosely off her right hip and contained her most important… if not most deadly… piece of equipment… her single-action, six-shooter, colt-45 revolver with a pearl handle.

 

The Black Phantom was as accurate a shoot as she was quick at drawing. She had gunned down (in fair shootouts), many vile outlaws and criminals that thought that they could draw like the wind. She could hit the center of the ace of spades on a playing card from one hundred paces. Only Annie Oakley was a better shot than her.

 

Since Tom Brodon was a fine tracker, the Black Phantom had hired his services for a hundred dollars, even though a very competent tracker by the named of Brady Hasting was willing to do the job for half the money.

 

Tom liked the Black Phantom from the very start. She was very different from any other white woman that he met. Unlike other white folks, the Phantom always treated him with politeness and respect. She never talked down to him. She treated him like she would treat any other person. It didn’t seem to matter to her what color your skin was.

 

What took Tom the most by surprise was that the Phantom, at first, only referred to him as “Mr. Brodon.” This was quite a contrast to the other white folks that only referred to him as “Old Tom” or “Boy.” On the few occasions that Tom was referred by his surname by white people, the term “Mister” never preceded it.

 

Although he was flattered that the Phantom was respectful, he didn’t feel at ease with a white woman calling him “Mr. Brodon.” He told her that he would feel more comfortable if she just called him “Tom.” The Phantom decided to use the more respectful term of “Thomas” instead. In return, she asked Tom to stop calling her “ma’am”… Black Phantom… or just plain Phantom would do. Tom chose a compromise and called her “Miss Phantom.”

 

Tom discovered the Phantom’s refreshing outlook on life and people when, a few hours into their journey, he finally summoned the courage to ask a question that was plaguing his mind since this all started.

 

“Miss Phantom,” he cleared his throat in a humble manner as to catch her attention. “I’m not trying to pry into your personal business, but I got to know something.”

 

“Go ahead, Thomas,” the Black Phantom said. “If it concerns this mission, there are no secrets between us.”

 

“I was just wondering why… you hired me to be your guide.”

 

“Why shouldn’t I? I heard that you were the best. In order to succeed, I need the very best.”

 

“I still think you should have gone with Mr. Hastings. He’s very good, too.”

 

“I know, Thomas… but you are better.”

 

“Thank you, Miss Phantom… I hope you don’t take my last question as in insult.”

 

“Certainly not,” she smiled at Tom. “Now that I think of it… you seemed very relunctant, at first, to accept the job. I found that to be very strange as you don’t strike me as being a coward. What was the deal? Do you feel that I’m not paying you enough but you are too decent to ask for more?”

 

“No, Miss Phantom,” Tom insisted. “You have been more than generous. I was reluctant because… I thought that you would feel more comfortable riding by yourself with some that was… was…”

 

“Was… what, Thomas?”

 

“Was one of your own people, Miss Phantom?”

 

“One of my own people? Are you trying to tell me that Hastings is a fellow outlaw like me?”

 

“No, Miss Phantom. I meant… your own people… as in White people.”

 

The Phantom stopped her horse and motioned from Tom to do the same. “Everyone is my people, Thomas. I judge people for who they are and not by the color of their skin. You are just as good a person as everyone else, Thomas Brodon… and never let anyone else make you believe otherwise. I know that the words “all people are created equal” may sound like contrived crap to you… considering that, in this country, many Non-Whites are treated like second-class citizens. I promise that some day the likes of Jim Crow and segregation will not exist. Some day, everyone is going to wise up and realized that it’s not about the White Race… the Black Race… the Yellow Race… the Red Race… or the Brown Race. It’s about the Human race.”

 

 

A few hours later, the brave pair of riders came across the pair of trails that they were seeking. One trail had a smooth incline for horses and was wide enough to make room for a wagon. The other was small, narrow, and steep. The only way to traverse it safely was by foot.

 

“Here they are, Miss Phantom,” Tom pointed out the trails. “I must admit, that I was skeptical about remembering where they were after such a long time. It’s amazing how the memory can come back.”

 

“Are you sure that the Dillon Gang is down there?” the Phantom dismounted her horse and surveyed the area.

 

“Positive, Miss Phantom. It’s their regular hiding hole before the ride out of town. They use the wide trail for supply deliveries. They bribe folks from Wells Fargo to deliver to them… they claim it all as lost or damaged items and collect the insurance.”

 

“And your Cherokee scout friends say that a delivery is due by the afternoon? Are you sure about that, Thomas? Are they reliable about that information? It’s critical.”

 

“I swear, Miss Phantom. I’ve been working with those nice native folks for a long time and they’ve never steered me wrong. They’re very honorable folks.”

 

“I’m sorry that I doubted you, Thomas.” The Black Phantom looked down the narrow, steep rode. “How long would it take to reach their camp by foot?”

 

“About an hour.”

 

“Good,” the Phantom handed the reins to her horse to Tom. “Then I’ll think the take the road less traveled.”

 

“You’re going to walk, Miss Phantom? All by your lonesome?”

 

“I appreciate that you believe that I’m a one-woman army, Thomas, but even I’m not good enough to go riding down there with guns blazing and take on the Dillon Gang. This part of the plan requires stealth… and the only way to get that is to take the walking trail… too dangerous for horse riding… and a horse would only get in the way… and would make too much noise as I need the element of surprise.”

 

“That makes sense, Miss Phantom… but it’s too dangerous to go down there alone. I’m going with you.”

 

“Thanks for the offer, Thomas… but my answer is no. I need you to take of the horses. If we leave them here, someone could spot them and tip of the Dillon Gang that they have company. We could be down there awhile and someone could also steal them.” She reached into her front shirt pocket and handed Tom a stack of bills. “You’re part of the job is finished, Thomas. Here’s the rest of the payment for your services rendered. Take my horse back to the O & K Corral. I’ll pick her up when I’m done here.”

 

“Don’t you worry, Miss Phantom. I’ll take really good care of your horse until you get back.”

 

“Which reminds me,” the Phantom reached into her waist belt and pulled out a sealed envelope. “Please give this to Mr. Lancaster the attorney. It’s my last will and testament. Don’t be shocked. I always do this… precaution only.”

 

“These are important papers, Miss Phantom. You really trust an old n****r like me with them?”

 

“I just you implicitly, Thomas… and you are not a n****r. I don’t care much for that word. You are neither shiftless nor lazy.”

 

“That’s very kind of you to say, Miss Phantom,” Tom tipped his straw hat to her.

 

“If I’m not back in forty-eight hours… well… then I’m dead. You’re in my will, Thomas. I’m leaving you my horse, Platinum.”

 

“You don’t have to do that? What would I do with your horse?”

 

“She may be small and only a mare, but she’s the fastest horse around… and she can run very far without tiring.”

 

“That’s not what I meant, Miss Phantom. Your horse is too fine and pretty to be a farm horse. It would be a down-right sin to have such a fine beast pull a plow or a wagon.”

 

“Then sell her. She can fetch you a few thousand dollars, Thomas.”

 

“I wouldn’t know what to do with all that money.”

 

“You told me that your landlord wants to sell the land you rent. You could own your own land instead of being a tenant farmer.”

 

“My own farm? That would be something… Mr. Thomas Washington Brodon, Esquire.”

 

“That has a nice sound to it, Thomas.”

 

“Without a horse… how will you get back to Tulsa?”

 

“I’ll just have to borrow one from the Dillon Gang,” the Phantom smiled wickedly.

 

“Suppose they don’t want to give you one, Miss Phantom?”

 

“Well,” the Black Phantom drew her gun like lightning and effortless spun it on her finger like a pro before smoothly putting it back in her holster. “Then I’ll just have to persuade them, won’t I?”

 

“As much as I’d love to have your horse and my own farm, Miss Phantom, I’m still hoping that you will be back to claim your mare.” Then Tom took off his straw hat. “I got to say that you are the bravest and finest person that I have ever met… and… at the risk of embarrassing you, ma’am… you are also the purdiest women I have ever seen… if I had better propects, I might just consider courting you.”

 

The Phantom knew that Thomas was going out on a limb for his comment. She had heard of black men getting lynched for making passes at white women. “I’m very flattered to hear that, Thomas, and your prospects are fine by me… and it would be an honor to put you on my short list of eligible suitors. Funny… I was just thinking of retiring after this adventure. I’d have more than enough money to live comfortably… maybe buy a restaurant or saloon… settle down with a good man.”

 

“You deserve the very best that life has to offer, Miss Phantom.”

 

“Likewise, Thomas,” the Phantom removed her glove and shook Tom’s hand her own bare hand. A lady of that day and age would never touch a gentleman without gloves… let alone a black man. “You’re a good man, sir. I’m proud to call you friend.”

 

“Goodbye,” said Thomas. “And good luck, Miss Phantom.”

 

Victoria.”

 

“I beg your pardon, ma’am?”

 

Victoria,” the Black Phantom repeated the name as she didn’t even realize why she even said it the first time. She had blurted it out as easily as taking a breath.

 

“Come again, ma’am?”

 

Victoria… that’s my real name… or, at least… any real name that I know of. I have no clue what my actual name is or who my real parents were. A very nice lady who plays the organ for the church found me as a newborn on the steps of the chapel. I was only wrapped in a blanket… no note or anything. She took me to the Sheriff’s office and they decided to take me to the orphanage outside of town until they could locate my parents… they never did. The nuns named me Victoria Fantom Blacke… Fantom with an ‘F’ and Blacke with a silent ‘e’ at the end… get it… Black Phantom? I was named after Queen Victoria on account that it was her birthday when I was dropped of at the orphanage. You see, the Mother Superior was born in England and although she was an American citizen, she still had some love for Mother England. My middle name is Fantom for Mrs. Fantom the organ player… and my last name is Blacke for Sheriff Blacke. Funny… I never told anyone that story before…”

 

Tom decided to take off before he started to cry. “Take care…. Miss Victoria.”

 

Tom rode off with Platinum’s reins tied to his own saddle. Although he was flattered that the beautiful outlaw told him her secret and he had no intention of repeating it to anyone, he still wondered why she would share such incriminating information with someone she hardly knew.

 

Suddenly, Tom felt a feeling a dread and foreboding for the Old West heroine. Perhaps she felt compelled to tell her story because this might be her last chance to do so… as if she felt that she might not return at all.

 

Tom prayed to the Good Lord that he was wrong.

 

 

PART 6

 

The Black Phantom walked the trail for about a half hour until she found the perfect spot. She approached the adjacent riding trial saw that it was secluded enough from the camp site so that no one would witness what she was going to do.

 

She then hid behind a heavy bunch of bushes and patiently waited.

 

 

About an hour later, she heard a pair of horses pulling a wagon off in the distance. She climbed a nearby tree and careful crawled over to the sturdy branch that was hanging over the trail.

 

In the distance, she could make out the driver… a short, burly, hairy, balding man… the kind that thinks he’s a tough guy.

 

This was the Phantom’s favorite part of the hold-up. At first, the driver gets scared… but when he sees that the robber is a lone woman, he gets arrogant and cocky. Then she puts the creep in his place.

 

The driver had no side arm… just a rifle tucked away at the side of the wagon. She would already have the drop on him long before he could reach it.

 

When she felt that her timing was right and the wagon just below her, the Black Phantom jumped from the branch and landed in the wagon right next to the driver. Before the driver knew what was happening, she already had her gun draw and aimed right into his gut.

 

“Stop the wagon,” she ordered. “No funny business or else you’ll end up on Boot Hill.”

 

“Holy shit, the Black Phantom!” cried the driver as he obeyed her command by pulling back on the reins. He made no attempt to go for his rifle. He immediately raised his hands. “Don’t shoot! Oh, God! Please don’t shoot.”

 

In all her capers, she had never seen anyone get so intimidated so quickly. This guys looked so scared that he looked like he was about to pee in his pants.

 

“Alright,” said the Phantom. “Calm down and do as I say, and you won’t get hurt.”

 

“Yes, ma’am,” the terrified driver replied. “Don’t worry. You won’t have any trouble from me… not like those last people. This is my last haul. I’m getting married next week and I’m being promoted to Sales Manager… desk job. That’s all I want, lady. Don’t take that away from me, please. Please! Have mercy!”

 

What was this guy muttering about? What did he mean by not like those last people? No time for that now. “Calm down. Get off this wagon. Leave your duster, blanket and hat behind.”

 

“No problem,” the man quickly jumped off, almost twisting his ankle. “Now what?”

 

“I’m taking this wagon. Run along! The town is a three hour walk.”

 

The man did nothing but stood still in frozen fear.

 

“I said… beat it!”

 

“When I run away… you’re gonna give me one in the back… aren’t you?”

 

“No, I won’t. That’s not my style.”

 

“You’re just saying that. You have the wagon. You don’t have to kill me.”

 

“I’m not going to kill you. Now scam! And don’t let me catch you coming back!”

 

When she saw that the man would not move, she persuaded him to run by firing a warning shot between his feet. The man disappeared up the trail running like a rabbit being chased by a coyote.

 

What was up with that guy? He seemed really terrified. She knew that in her line of work, it was important to be intimidating, but this poor sap seemed to have the fear of God put in him.

 

Seeing that the thought was distracting her too much, she decided to proceed with the task at hand. She took off her hat and mask before putting her beautiful blonde hair into a tight pony-tail. She reached into her bag of tricks and put an old wig of made of long mangy grey hair… similar to that of an old prospector. She applied the spirit gum to her eyebrows as well as under her nose and on her chin. The adhesive solidly held on the fake bushy eyebrows as well as the fake bread and mustache. She took the driver’s canvas hat and placed it on her head, making sure to tip and angle it so that the shadows would cover her eyes. She put on the drivers old coat and turned up the collar to further help hide her face.

 

The Phantom knew that her disguise would not fool anyone if they got too close or if they looked at her for too long, so she took appropriate measures to avoid those two situations. She reached into her pouch and put a large pitch of a strange, green-colored chaw. It was not chewing tobacco, but a sort of precursor to chewing gum. The taste was so sour and tart that it would cause her to hock up large disgusting wads of pale green phlegm for hours. The effects of the gum was harmless but inconvenient and revolting for anyone witnessing the effects of the phlegm… which is exactly what the Phantom wanted.

 

When she searched the wagon, she found a box of what she was hoping for--a case of whiskey! She opened all the corks to the bottles and added a special drug to them all before replacing the corks. She took a vial out of her bag and drank the contents. It was to counteract the effects of the drug she put inside the whiskey in the event if she were required to sample it in front of the others as refusing a drink could arouse suspicions.

 

Just before she proceeded, the Phantom looked around. She had the strangest feeling that she was being watch… but watched from the outside… like a fish in a tank. What a ridiculous thought.

 

 

About ten minutes later, the supply wagon reached the camp. She saw an array of tents and campfires strewn about which were attended by a half dozen or so scanky, thin women… the live-in whores of the Dillon Gang who were only good enough to make food, clean-up, and give sexual favors.

 

In just a few seconds of scanning the camp, she was able to get a layout of the grounds and quickly spotted a small lockbox with the cache of stolen goods that was located in the middle of the camp and had yet to be sorted. Within that lockbox contained the bond!

 

Seconds later, about six unsavory outlaws rushed to the wagon like a bunch of children on Christmas morning. Not far behind them was their leader, Mark Dillion… the only one that wasn’t dressed in filthy clothes. Even though he was a cutthroat, the Black Phantom found him to be very handsome.

 

Before they could get too close and get a good look at her, the Phantom took a large red handkerchief to cover the bottom of her face and then started up with an immediate series of hacking coughs. Even though body and dental hygiene was foreign to these thugs and rogues, even they backed off and kept their distance when they Phantom let fly a disgusting wad of green phlegm to the dirt.

 

“Where’s Charlie?” asked one of the outlaws trying to hide his revolution.

 

“Dead,” the Phantom answered in a deep, raspy voice. “I’m taking his place from here on end.”

 

“Dead?” another outlaw said. “What happened?”

 

“Injins got him. He was caught by the Apaches going through their burial grounds. The idjit was trying to dig up bones so he could sell them in town… for knife handles, I reckon. I heard that they tied him to a tree and gut his belly open. Then they took out his intestines and wrap them around a tree. They stretched around twenty times. Them intestines are very long.”

 

“That’s a crying shame,” an outlaw walked a little closer as he grew suspicious but another grotesque hack and a plem-ball kept him at bay. “How do we know that you know Charlie?”

 

“Cause only Charlie could tell me how to get here, ya dern fool.” The Phantom spit up another good wad.

 

“That’s quite a cough you got there, Old Timer,” Mark Dillon finally spoke. “Are you alright?”

 

“I think so. I must have caught something.”

 

“Better keep your distance, boys. It might be contagious.”

 

“You don’t have to worry about your supplies being infected,” said the Phantom. “I made sure not to tetch em.”

 

“I’m much obliged for that,” said Dillon as he signaled for his men to unload the wagon.

 

“Lookie here!” an outlaw smiled to show many missing teeth as he held up the crate of whiskey. “We scored the mother load, Boss!”

 

“Compliments of Mr. Wells and Mr. Fargo,” the Phantom played it up and followed it up with another loud hack.

 

“No drinking until after supper,” Dillon ordered. “There’s a heap a work to be down before dark.” Then he turned his attention to the Black Phantom. “Say… feller… that cough don’t sound so good. Why don’t you stay up here for the night? Some hot beans and coffee might clear your throat out. We got an extra tent so that you won’t be disturbed and they rest of my boys won’t be so worried about catching your cough.”

 

“That’s down right neighborly of you,” she was hoping that she would get such an invitation as she would not have to sneak into the camp later on.

 

“Then rest a spell while we unload the wagon. I’ll have your money ready for you after we eat.”

 

As the Black Phantom walked toward her tent, she never noticed that Mark Dillon kneeled down and studied her boot print that she made in the mud.

 

“Whatsa matter, Boss?” asked a gang member. “What’s you looking at?”

 

“Nothing,” Dillon quickly answered. “Just thinking.”

 

 

When it got dark, the Black Phantom now believed that it was safe to sit outside without anyone seeing through her disguise. She kept up her hacking, coughing, and spitting to assure that everyone stayed a good twenty feet away from her by the main fire. An outlaw threw some kindling and matches so she could have her own fire.

 

After a dinner of beans and coffee (which didn’t taste too bad), the Dillon Gang decided that it was now time to crack open the whiskey and have a good time. The mangy outlaws opened the bottles by biting down on the cork (with the few good teeth that they still had) before spitting it out and drinking it straight out of the bottle like it was sarsaparilla. They took turns taking large swings (often running down their throats on to their clothes) before passing it off to a fellow outlaw or female serving wench/whore.

 

Just as she hoped, the outlaws didn’t want to risk catching her germs (although they had no problem catching them from their own outlaw brethren) and offered her a bottle just for herself. Throughout the evening, the Phantom discreetly poured the contents of her bottle on the grass to make it appear that she was joining in with the drinking. Occasionally, an outlaw would raise a bottle to her (from a respectable distance) to signal that he wanted her to join him in a drink. When that situation occurred, the Phantom would either pretend to take a swig… take a swig and hold it in her mouth and spit it out when no one was looking… or swallow a very small amount. She had the antidote in her system… but why take a chance?

 

The Black Phantom knew that the drugged alcohol would take some time to work… but not before the outlaws started to get drunk and all the general lunacy began. All the Black Phantom could do was sit back and watch the show as the obnoxious buffoons were already starting to get warmed up.

 

The nightly festivities started somewhat tame with displays of arms wrestling. Growing bored of that, the gas from the beans in everyone’s belly started to ferment and soon a farting contest ensued. Eventually, some of the boys held matches to their asses as they let their wind rip away. They were taking bets on who could shoot their flames the furthest.

 

About an hour after that, the flatulence had aroused her loins. Every man had taken hold of a skank and started making out with her. A few men carried their female conquests to their tents, but most of these Neanderthals leaned their woman against a tree while she hiked up her dress and petticoat. Being horny was one thing… but couldn’t they be discreet about their sexual activity? The Phantom did her very best hoping to hide her disgust.

 

When she saw Mark Dillon walk toward her fire, she started up her hacking so he wouldn’t get too close.

 

“How was the grub, Old Timer?” Dillon asked her.

 

“Just fine,” Phantom answered making sure to keep up her gruff voice. “Thanks for asking, Mr. Dillon.”

 

“Feeling any better?” Dillion poured the contents of his own whiskey bottle into a little silver cup rather than drink it straight out of the bottle. At least this rogue had some class. “I noticed that you’ve haven’t been coughing as frequently.”

 

“I think the whiskey is helping,” she held up the bottle. “I figure that my chest will be clear in the morning. I just need a good night’s sleep. I’ll be out of your hair by first light.”

 

“Stay as long as you need,” Dillon said politely. “As a matter of fact… I was hoping that you might stay a spell longer.”

 

“What you mean, Mr. Dillon?” Phantom hid her nervousness. What was Dillon up to?

 

“You got a name, Old Timer.”

 

“Fogerty… Chauncey Fogerty.” For a second, she believed that she wouldn’t be able to pull a believable name out of her head so quickly.

 

“I haven’t known you for long, Fogery, but I’ve taken a real liking to you.”

 

“I’ve grown rather fond of you me’self, Mr. Dillon,” she didn’t know how else to answer. She hoped that her next comment might throw of his suspicions a bit. “Say… you ain’t one of them thar queers, are ya? If so… I ain’t interested.”

 

“I’m no queer,” Dillon laughed. “I meant no offense.”

 

“None taken.”

 

“What I meant was… that I like your style, Fogerty. While my boys are running around like a bunch of jackasses, you’ve been sitting here like a gentleman. You’re calm and cool. I could use a man like you. How about joining up with me?”

 

“Me?” the Phantom laughed. “In your gang? That’s very flattering of you to ask… but you don’t want an old fart like me in your group. I’d only slow ya down. My eyesight ain’t so good and I doubt that I could hit the broadside of a barn if’n someone was stupid enough to give me a gun.”

 

This did not seem to deter Dillon in the least. “Ever hear of the term: Too many chiefs and not enough Indians? I got the opposite problem: Too many Indians and not enough chiefs.

 

“I don’t quite follow you, Mr. Dillon.”

 

“Now don’t get me wrong. My men are loyal to me. They follow my orders and they don’t give me lip. The problem is that I constantly have to tell them what to do. You see… they lack vision… initiative… can’t think on their own. My gang is getting bigger and I need more leadership. I need to delegate my authority. You have brains and cunning. I’d like you to be one of my lieutenants.”

 

“Golly,” the Phantom tried to stall for time. “This is kinda sudden, Mr. Dillon, sir. Do you need an answer right now? I mean… I’m not thinking straight with all this whiskey in me.”

 

“Oh, no,” Dillon took a swing of drugged whiskey from his cup, much to Phantom’s delight. “Think it over. Sleep on it. Give me your answer in the morning.”

 

“Good idea-er, sir,” she pretended to yawn. “And speaking of sleep… I hate to be rude, but I best turn in now.” Phantom figured that by the time everyone awoke from their drugged-induced drunken slumber, she would be miles away.

 

“Sleep well,” Dillon started to walk away. “I look forward to our business in the morning.”

 

Was Dillon on to her? He couldn’t be! He would have taken action by now.

 

It didn’t matter. In a few hours, Dillon and his brood would be snoring away like grizzly bears.

 

 

PART 7

 

Just to make sure, she waited a little extra time to make she that everyone was out before removing her disguise and putting her mask and Black Phantom attire back on.

 

With all the grace of a ballerina, she quietly tip-toed to the cache of stolen goods and kneeled down next to the locked box. She pulled out her lock picks and opened the small metal box in less than fifteen seconds. When she found the bond, she carefully folded it and stuffed it in a secured area under her shirt.

 

It was when she was about to get up that one of the whores, who was sleeping on her side with her back to the Phantom, suddenly rolled around and pointed a shotgun at her.

 

The Phantom could tell, by the way that she was holding the weapon, that this skank was not properly trained in the use of fire arms. The Phantom thought she might have a good chance to bluff her way out of this.

 

She put her hand above her revolver. “It takes practice to use that shotgun.”

 

“Not from this range,” the skank grunted back. “Not even I can miss with a scattergun from this close. On your feet, bitch!”

 

The Black Phantom had no choice but to comply. Perhaps she could find an opening.

 

“Leaving us so soon, Old Timer?” she heard Mark Dillon’s voice as spun around to verify the owner of the voice. “Thanks for the assist, Molly,” he said to the woman holding the shotgun. “You’re doing just fine, Molly. Just keep her covered for a few more minutes so I can talk to the infamous Black Phantom.”

 

“Aren’t you going to wake up your men?” she tried to act cool and unconcerned despite her predicament.

 

“There all out,” Dillon answered. “Your drugged whiskey saw to that. I knew it as tainted all along… so Molly and I only pretended to drink it… just like you. I have to hand it to you… your disguise and performance were brilliant. You even had me fooled for a little bit.”

 

“What gave me away?” the Phantom was stalling for time.

 

“Your foot print,” Dillon took off his coat before neatly folding it and placing on the ground. “It was much too small a size to be from a man… and I also noticed the ‘V’ impression on the bottom of your boot. V is for Velluex footware. They only make shoes and boots for women… and Velluex is the signature boot of the Black Phantom. Also, I know that Charlie can’t stand the sight of dead people so he would never go out grave robbing.”

 

He then picked up a gun and holster and buckled it around his waist. “I could have ended this from the very beginning. I could have blown your cover and let my men gang rape you… over and over again… and then skinned you alive when we were done.”

 

“Why didn’t you?”

 

“Because I have a reputation to uphold,” Dillon took the string that hung from the holster and tied it around his leg so that it would stay in place and not impede his quick-draw. “I’ll be a living legend when I beat you in a fair fight.”

 

“You want to gun fight me?” Phantom seemed a little nervous. “You want to quick-draw against each other? Are you serious?”

 

“Serious as a heart attack, little masked lady.”

 

“If I try to draw on you… you’ll kill me more sure.”

 

“Probably…”

 

“I don’t want to fight you, Dillon.”

 

“Why not?”

 

“I’m a thief and robber… not a professional killer. I’m not much of a gun fighter.”

 

“Not what I’ve been hearing lately. There’s a story going around that you robbed a stagecoach… then you made the two drivers and the four passengers kneel on the ground before you shot them all in the back of the head. Welcome to the club… Killer!”

 

“You heard wrong,” Phantom shouted. “I never shot anyone in the back in my life. No wonder that Charlie-guy was so terrified of me. He believed this story that I was a stone-cold killer. He thought I was going to take his wagon but still kill him anyway. I wouldn’t do that. It’s not true.”

 

“It don’t matter because a lot of people believe it true. Either way… I still win.”

 

“That’s crazy! I was hired by the people of Tulsa to get this back. Why would never hire me if I did such a horrible thing.” She reached into her shirt and pulled out the bond. “This piece of paper is all I want. There’s no need for anyone to fight or get killed. This paper is worthless to you. As far as the rest of the stolen goods are concerned, you can keep them. Let me walk away and everyone wins.”

 

“You have three choices, Black Phantom,” Dillon said coldly. “First, if refuse option two or three, then I tell Molly to empty both barrels into you and your dead for sure. Second, you can fight me… and perhaps survive. Third, you can walk away… but you got to hand over your mask to me… your toll for safe passage out of this camp… but then, you get to live for sure. What’s it going to be, lady?”

 

“You got me pegged good,” Phantom grunted. “Unmasking me is a fate worse than death. It looks like I have no other choice but to go for option two. Are you sure you want to do this?”

 

“I’ve never been more sure in my life.”

 

“Very well,” the Black Phantom tied her string around her leg just like Dillon. She undid the snap the top of her holster that held her revolver in place and prevented others from taking it away from her.

 

Dillon gave Molly a nod of his head and she put the shotgun down before walking away from it, ensuring that she was not going to interfere. She then hid in the tent, content not to come out again until long after the carnage had finished.

 

“I’m ready, Dillon.”

 

“Your move… Black Phantom.”

 

And so… the stare down continued… waiting for the right time to make their move.

 

Even though she knew that she would be dead soon, the Black Phantom was not afraid. Dillion was faster than lightning and had killed every great gunfighter in the West. The Black Phantom was an accomplished gunfighter but Dillon was way out of her league.

 

She couldn’t complain. She knew the risks of her profession and also knew that this could happen. All she could do now was go down fighting like a brave hero. She would not surrender her mask. She would not beg Dillon to spare her. Her death would be no shame… to be gunned down by the great Mark Dillon.

 

She saw Dillon’s eyes and knew that he would draw on her soon if she didn’t make her move. Her death was mere seconds away. All she could do now was to do her very best.

 

The Black Phantom drew her gun.

 

She was fast that day… faster than she ever was in her life.

 

It was close… it was so close.

 

When she felt something hit her chest, the impact knocked her hat off her head as she landed on her back. With his gun still smoking, Dillon looked down at her and gave a mischievous grin.

 

Phantom found that she had a hard time breathing… but not because he had a hole punctured through her lung… but more like she had the wind knocked out of her… more like being punched in the stomach. When she looked down on her chest, she saw no blood.

 

Dillon rushed to her side and kneeled next to her. He took his discarded coat and tucked it under her head. “Take it easy, Phantom. You’ll breathe normally in a minute or so. Take the air in through your nose and out your mouth.”

 

She obeyed the instructions and found it easier to breath with each passing breath. She was too stunned and shocked to question why she wasn’t dead.

 

“My goodness, you were fast,” Dillon began to laugh. “For a second, I thought you had me. You are one brave lady. You stood your ground… didn’t grovel. It was an honor to swap pistols with you.” Then Dillon threw his hat into the air. “Ye-ha! I just beat the Black Phantom. Now I’m truly the best.”

 

When he saw that she was breathing normally and had shaken off most of her stun, Dillon grabbed the Phantom by the back of her hair and lifted it up just enough to press her lips onto his. Since she liked the kiss, Phantom didn’t fight him off.

 

“What happened?” Phantom said as Dillon helped her up to her feet. “Why ain’t I dead?”

 

“Rubber bullet,” Dillon picked up her hat and replaced it on her head. “I invented it myself. I may hurt a mite… but it’s non-fatal.”

 

“What’s your game, Dillon?”

 

“To see who’s the fastest gun in the West. It was down to only the two of us… on account that we took out all the other competition. I always wanted to fight you, Phantom. It was an itch I’ve been needing to scratch for years. I had it all set up. I knew that if I pulled enough capers that our paths would cross.”

 

“Why this elaborate set-up? Why didn’t you just walk up and challenge me?”

 

“Because you won’t accept. You only fight when pushed into a corner… just like I did a few moments ago. It also took a long time to perfect my “mercy bullet” because I wanted to find a way to fight you without killing you.”

 

“Why’s that?” Phantom was so skeptical. “What would you care?”

 

“Because I like you,” he stroked her hair lightly with his fingers. “I could never bring myself to kill a fabulous beauty like you. Some day, I plan to retire from outlawing… and you could be my wife some day.”

 

Phantom knocked his hand off her hair. “If you think that I’m going to marry you just because you beat me to the draw, then you got another thing coming.”

 

“I said could be my wife. I never said would be my wife.”

 

“You asshole,” she gave him a hard slap to the face. “If this was a mock-fight, then why did you make me think that it was real? While I was staring you down, I was getting ready to meet my maker.”

 

“A fake fight is not as exhilarating as a real one.”

 

“It me it was real… but you knew that it was fake,” Phantom snapped back.

 

“It was just as real for me. My bullets were rubber. Yours were still, very much, real.”

 

“My God,” Phantom examined her gun and found that Dillon was telling the truth. “I could have killed you. The risk was all on you… because you forced yourself into a position where you had to win. All I suffered was a little humility. Sorry.”

 

“Accepted.”

 

“Would you really have accepted my mask if I agreed to give it up.”

 

“Never,” Dillon said with all sincerity. “Losing your mask would kill the Black Phantom more than any other bullet.”

 

They both leaned in and kissed again.

 

“So what happens now?” Phantom asked.

 

“You got your bond and I got what I wanted. Time for you to go back and claim your reward. If it’s in the cards, our paths will cross again. Now scat out of here before my men wake up.”

 

Seconds later, the Black Phantom waved good-bye to Mark Dillon as she rode out of camp on the way back to Tulsa.

 

Little did she know that it wouldn’t not “be in the cards” for here to see Dillon again.

 

 

PART 8

 

 

That mock gunfight with Dillon had synched it.

 

For years, the Black Phantom had been wavering between hanging up her guns or continuing to be an outlaw/heroine a little longer… and now, her mind was totally made up to quit.

 

If not for that rubber bullet, she would be dead. The only reason that she was riding back to Tusla was that Mark Dillon was a man of honor and he showed her mercy. Dillon was only playing to stroke his ego, not for blood. The next time, there would be no rubber bullet.

 

She now realized that her career as an adventurer was artificially extended. She should have been killed long ago. It wasn’t her skill and prowess that kept her alive… it was her awesome body and pretty face. Perhaps her opponents were a little slower on the draw because they were mesmerized by her beauty… and a little reluctant to draw on her… just enough to give her the edge.

 

Eventually, in time, there would be a foe that didn’t give a rat’s ass about her looks. Also, in time, her looks would start to fade with age… and no one would hold back on an older, unattractive woman.

 

Her finder’s fee for returning the bond was more than enough money to live in moderate comfort for the rest of her life. Tulsa seemed to be a nice place to settle down. It was a growing town and the people seemed all-abiding and friendly to her, despite that she was an outlaw. She was not wanted in Okalahoma Territory, and if she stopped being the Black Phantom, she was safe from the Law and Bounty Hunters. The mayor even mentioned that he could get here a Federal Pardon for her help and cooperation.

 

She also had three trusted allies that could assure her success as a new proper citizen in good standing: Mayor Crance, Councilor Lancaster, and Mr. Thomas Bordon.

 

 

 

It was a little after sunup, when the Black Phantom rode into town. She had a big smile on her face as she felt this was the start of the beginning of her new life.

 

Strange? The town was deserted!

 

Unless the Phantom totally lost track of time, it was still a weekday morning and the streets should have been bustling with people doing their everyday business.

 

She searched the town for over a half hour and found no signs of life.

 

She did a double-take when she saw the town bulletin board in the middle of the town square. Normally, this board was used to inform the town of meetings or special events like a dance or church social. What was posted now was totally sinister.

 

Above the well-done and detailed artistic sketch of her likeness read the following…

 

 

WANTED: DEAD OR ALIVE

FOR MURDER

THE BLACK PHANTOM

REWARD: $500,000.00

 

 

Normally, a wanted poster with her image on it never distressed her and she usually paid them no mind; however, this placard was very different from all the others.

 

First, she was not wanted in Oklahoma. The territorial government never put up her wanted posters. Although an oultlaw, they knew that she did a lot of good for the territory by bringing more dangerous criminals to justice. The Federal Marshall considered the Phantom’s illegal activities to be minor and inconsequential and not worth the effort to track her down.

 

Second, she was wanted for murder. She never killed anyone except in self-defense or in a fair shoot-out, gunfight, or quick-draw. Those she killed were killers and never took the life of an innocent.

 

Third, the poster read Wanted: Dead or Alive rather than Wanted: Alive. Her non-violent criminal activities never warranted for any bounty hunters to shoot her on sight.

 

Fourth, there were too many damned zeroes following the number ‘5’. The bounty on her was never for more than $500. Most of the elite bounty hunters who could easily catch and capture her, never bothered as the trouble was not worth the small payment. Only inexperienced idiots ever went after her and those morons, she could handle.

 

Even wanted for murder, no scum killer ever warranted so huge a reward unless they committed some sort of Federal offense like Treason.

 

The Black Phantom leaned on the board and tilted up the wide front brim of her cowboy hat so she could lean in close to read the fine type of the newspaper article that was posted next to the wanted poster.

 

Seven days ago in Wyoming, the Black Phantom pulled over a stagecoach, robbed it and then murdered the two drivers and four out the five passengers.

 

The lone survivor, a twelve-year-old boy, had somehow managed to get out of the coach and crawl under it without the outlaw spotting him. After robbing the passengers, she ordered them, at gunpoint, to move away from the coach, kneel on the ground and put their hands on top of their heads.

 

She then proceeded to shoot the six victims in the back of the head, despite that no one made any moves to resist her.

 

When the Phantom rode off, the boy had walked nearly twenty miles for help until he came across a cattle drive. The cowboys accompanied him to the nearest town where the sheriff was informed. When the bodies were taken to the undertaker, he had removed a silver bullet, the Black Phantom’s signature caliber, from each victim.

 

One of the victims was the nineteen-year-old niece of the territorial governor of Wyoming who was on her way to San Francisco to get married.

 

“The Governor’s niece!” the Black Phantom said out loud. “Her uncle is one of the wealthiest men in the territory. No wonder the reward was a half million dollars. The Governor must have put up that cash himself… knowing that such a huge amount of money would entice every top bounty hunter around. I could never stop running. I’d never have a chance.”

 

“This is all wrong. I was in Montana when this occurred. I have witnesses that can prove it.”

 

Underneath the article, the Phantom spotted a business card tacked under the article. It belonged to Lancaster the attorney. There was some handwriting on the card which he recognized as belonging to the lawyer. It read: Phantom, turn yourself in before the bounty hunters get you. I will defend you! Hurry! Before it’s too--

 

Apparently, Lancanter didn’t have time to finish and had to post his card and leave quickly.

 

It was then that things added up, and she discovered, too late, why the town was vacant.

 

She was up Shit Creek without a paddle!

 

She heard the gun shot and the whiz of a bullet as it breezed above her head and hit the top brim of her hat that was tilted backwards. The impact took her precious cowboy hat off her head. She instinctively touched the top of her head and only felt her soft blonde hair minus her hat. She sadly watched it roll on the streets like a wagon wheel as the wind blew it away and out of sight.

 

“Oh, shit!” She, again, was too late in realizing that the shooter did not have bad aim. He purposely shot her hat off to distract of those few precious split seconds to go for her gun.

 

Whisssssh-Snnnappp!

 

She had heard the loud thunderous snap of a whip just as the tip of her finger touched the butt of her pistol before slipping out of her reach.

 

She looked down to see that the buckle to her holster had exploded… shattered to pieces by the bullwhip. With nothing to support it, the gun became dead weight and slipped off her shapely hips.

 

Whisssh-Snaaapp!

 

The bullwhip struck again before the Black Phantom could reach her holster. The whip wrapped around her gun and snapped back to the owner out of her reach. With his free hand, the Master of the Whip caught the gun and holster and examined it. His partner already had a gun trained on her, making she that she would not make another false move.

 

She never saw these two men before, but whoever they were, they were pros as they managed to disarm her in seconds. She raised her hands as she believed that the best course of action would be to surrender. It was best to let these bounty hunters take her in quietly as she believed that she had nothing to fear until this horrible mess was straightened out. She was innocent of the charges and she could prove it.

 

“Howdy, Black Phantom,” said the first man with the gun that caused her to lose her hat. “My name is Trickshot.” He turned his head to his partner that was only armed with a bullwhip. “And this here is my brother, Snapper. Your purdy murdering ass belongs to use now.”

 

“Nice gun,” said Snapper. “I know an auction where some rich folks would pay top dollar for the gun once owned by the notorious Black Phantom.”

 

“You can take whatever you want,” Phantom decided to play passive so that this situation wouldn’t turn ugly. “Just please don’t hurt me. I’ll come along quietly.”

 

“Damn right you will, bitch,” said Trickshot. “Just keep those hands up where we can see them.”

 

“We’re gonna take your tight-ass to Cheyenne and you’ll also be hung for murder,” said Snapper before he started snickering. “Of course, I got a feeling that you might get killed while resisting arrest…”

 

“Yep,” Trickshot continued. “That would save us all a lot of trouble. The money is still the same if we bring back a corpse.”

 

“Then you’ll be killing an innocent woman,” Phantom hoped to keep them rational. “I know that you gentlemen heard this before, but I didn’t do it.”

 

“That don’t matter to us,” replied Snapper. “We just want our money.”

 

“I now my rights. I want to see my lawyer. His name is--”

 

Whisssh-Snaaapp!

 

The whip went toward her hard again and ripped off her scarf that was tied around her neck. Much like her lost hat, the scarf was blown out of sight from the wind. Amazingly, Snapper took off her scarf without so much knicking her skin.

 

“Shut it, tramp,” yelled Snapper. “We have that stupid Lancaster and the rest of the town’s folk locked up in the town meeting hall. The mayor even had the gall to tell us that he would wire Butte, Montana to establish your alibi so we cut all the telegraph wires and broke the telegraph machine. By the time everyone gets out to tell the Governor of Wyoming that you didn’t kill those people, we’ll have collected our bounty and be long gone.”

 

The Phantom put her hands on her hips pretending that she was mad. “So you know I’m innocent… but you’re going to haul me in anyway?”

 

“Darn tootin!”

 

“You fiends!” Now that her hands were in position, she slowly and subtly tried to reach for something she tucked inside her wide black waistbelt… something she put away for an occasion just as this.

 

Having a keen and sharp eye, Snapper caught on!

 

Whisssh-Snaaapp!

 

Much like her lost holster, her big silver buckle shattered and exploded, taking the belt off her waist, as well as its contents, two small derringer pistols. Much like her hat, Phantom touched her now beltless waist in disbelief. She was relieved that there was no broken skin or torn fabric.

 

“Kick those guns over to the side,” Trickshot menacingly waved his gun at her. “Try that again and you’ll take one between the eyes.”

 

“Okay,” Phantom said nervously as he kicked her weapons away as instructed. One of them, she managed to kick within a reachable distance when her captors didn’t complain.

 

“She’s a tricky one, Bro,” said Snapper. “I bet this bitch has a shit load of weapons concealed on her. Better not take any chances.”

 

“Take off your gloves,” Trickshot ordered.

 

The Phantom didn’t like the directionmthis was headed. “Why? There’s nothing inside them. I swear. You have all my weapons.”

 

“Toss your gloves to me!” Trickshot ordered again. “You can do it on your own… or we can fisk you.”

 

“No,” the Phantom took over his white riding gloves. “I can do it myself.” She then threw them to Snapper who examined them and found nothing.

 

“Now, your boots,” Snapper ordered, still not satisfied.

 

Phantom took off her boots and was relived that the ground was not hot enough yet to burn the soles of her feet. She tossed them to Snapper who found nothing.

 

“Satified?” Phantom grimaced.

 

Trickshot made a wicked smile and whispered something in Snapper’s ears. Both men laughed.

 

“Shit,” said Snapper. “That’s a good idea-er. Let’s have some fun with this bitch ‘til the boss gets here.”

 

“Two bits says you can’t do it,” snickered Trickshot.

 

“You’re on!” Snapper answered.

 

“Do?” Phantom grew more nervous by the second. “Do… what?”

 

“I suggest that you keep a mite still, little lady,” mocked Trickshot.

 

Whisssh-Snaaapp! Pop!

 

The top button of her tight denim shirt snapped off and flew off into the air. The Phantom gasped as she felt her top loosen and saw that a bit more of her awesome cleavage was exposed. Normally there were five buttons, but she always dropped the first two.

 

“One down. Two to go,” Trickshot smiled with delight.

 

Whisssh-Snaaapp! Pop!

 

The second button flew off as cleanly as the first. The Black Phantom stood frozen as more of her cleavage became visable.

 

“Two down. One to go,” Trickshot mocked. “Don’t choke, Bro.”

 

“I never miss,” Snapper said confidently.

 

Whisssh-Snaaapp! Pop!

 

With the third button popped clean, the Phantom’s luscious cleavage fell forward much to the delight of her captors.

 

“That’s two-bits,” Snapper said smugly.

 

“Damn,” Trickshot’s eyes bulged out as he viewed a good portion of her magnificent mounds. “Shit! They’re so damn round and perfect. I can’t wait to sink my teeth into them and… hey… wait a second… I can’t see any nipples on those titties. What in tarnation is that? She’s cheating. She’s got something on under that shirt. It always looked that she had nothing underneath. What kind of strange under-garment is that?”

 

“It’s called a bra, you idiot,” Phantom shot back. “It’s the new craze in underwear.”

 

“What’s wrong with a corset?” Snapper asked.

 

This was just the distraction she needed to stall and think of a plan. “If you ever wore a corset, you’d understand. It’s like having a giant thumbscrew pressed across your chest. This bra is more comfortable and has more support.”

 

Trickshot stared at the new underwear in disbelief. “Are you trying to tell me… that little contraption is what pushes your breast up and keeps them together… and keeps them from bouncing around?”

 

“Of course,” answered the Phantom. “How else would I be able to ride a horse without giving myself a concussion?”

 

“That makes sense,” Snapper got his whip ready for another strike. “Let’s see the rest of it. Take off your shirt and toss it over to us.”

 

“Now wait just a minute! I’m not….”

 

Whisssh-Snaaapp! Riiiippp!

 

Snapper hit the top of her pants which split open and fell off her waist and then wrapped themselves around her ankles. She had to kick them off before he tripped over them. When they saw her panties, they two men could hardly contain themselves.

 

“I said… take off your shirt,” Snapper repeated his last order with a fierce bark. “Do it now… and kick those trousers over here, too… or else the next strike will leave a permanent scar on your face.”

 

“Alright,” the Phantom did what she was told. She gave them a defiant look even though she stood helpless before the two men only clad in her bra and panties.

 

“Hey, Bro,” Trickshot’s deviant thoughts were still not out of his mind. “Double or nothing says you can’t strip her down with only five strikes.”

 

“You’re on!” Snapper smiled with delight.

 

“Wait a minute!” Phantom protested to a pair of deaf ears.

 

“If I were you, bitch,” said Snapper. “I’d stay still!”

 

Whisssh-Snaaapp! Snap!

 

To her shock, Pantom felt something loosen from her left shoulder. She turned her head just in time to see that the whip had severed the left shoulder strap of her bra… one half snapping to the front… the other to the back… leaving a bare shoulder.

 

Whisssh-Snaaapp! Snap!

 

She gasped again as the same thing happened to the strap on her right shoulder. One more strike and she would be rendered topless.

 

The Phantom froze like before when the whip was slowly disrobing her… but she didn’t freeze out of fear. She had frozen in order to concentrate on how fast it took the whip to strike and snap off an article of her clothing. She now believed that had Snapper’s timing pegged.

 

“What’s that you got stuffed in your left boob?” Snapper noticed the folded up bonded that the Phantom earlier stuffed in her bra.

 

“Probably a love letter to that coon that she was riding with the other day,” Trickshot laughed as he answered for the Phantom. Then, wanting to get back to business, he continued to the task at hand. “Time to set those puppies free. It’ll be worth losing a half dollar.”

 

The Phantom concentrated.

 

Whisssh-Snaaapp! Thup!

 

This tip of the whip was coming at her cleavage… but instead of splitting her bra it half and causing it to fly off her body, the fast hands of the Phantom had caught the end of the whip and she yanked forward on it hard.

 

The unexpected momentum caused Snapper to collide into Trickshot and they both fell to the ground. The impact caused Trickshot to drop his revolver which landed out of his reach.

 

Before they could shake off their stun, Phantom rushed forward and kicked Snapper with the heel of her bare foot which caused him to roll around the ground clutching his bloodied mouth. Trickshot managed to get to his knees, but the Phantom kicked him right in the stomach and knocked the wind out of him.

 

Phantom used this opportunity to go for Trickshot’s gun. There was no way that they could stop her. She wasn’t sure, at this point, if she should shot to kill or merely to injure.

 

She never got the chance!

 

Just as she lifted up the pistol and before she could get a good grip on the handle, an arrow had knocked the weapon out of her hand and it flew out of her reach.

 

She looked up and so that the archer was a young, bare-chested Indian. Behind him, were six armed men with their guns aimed at her and ready to fire if she made another false move. She had no choice but to surrender.

 

“Good work, Strongbow,” the Phantom heard a female voice but could not locate the owner as she was blocked by six gunman. “You just saved these idiots’ lives. I knew it was a good idea to let you join up with us. Tie her up, boys… good and tight. We can’t take any chances with this philly.”

 

Before she knew it, the six men descended her and easily overpowered her. They forced her hands behind her back and bound her wrists together with a series of tight, strong, inescapable knots.

 

“Can’t you two jerks carry out a simple instruction?” the female voice said again. Phantom had her back to this other woman and could not see her. “I told you to apprehend the Black Phantom and bring her to me… not to strip her down like a whore.”

 

“But we just wanted to have a little fun, Boss,” Trickshot said nervously.

 

“You wouldn’t begrudge us that,” Snapper hoped to cool things down. “We just wanted to humiliate her before taking her mask away.”

 

“Assholes!” the woman slapped them both. “This here happens to be the notorious Black Phantom. Show a little respect. If I catch any more you boys trying to strip her down further, I’ll skin you alive. Although she’s our quarry and the enemy, her last moments on this Earth before she hangs should be with a little dignity. That mask she wears is a badge of honor. She earned it. Not even we have the right to take it off… at least… while she still breathes.”

 

The men roughly spun the Phantom to face the “boss”. On first sight, she gasped in disbelief.

 

The woman that stood before her was an exact duplicate of herself and wearing the very same clothes that she was wearing before Snapper whipped them off.

 

The Black Phantom was looking at another Black Phantom!

 

“Howdy, pretty blonde,” said the fake Black Phantom. “My name is Starr Belle and I’m the one that framed you.”

 

“Why?” the Phantom struggled in her bounds but could not get free. “What do you hope to accomplish out of impersonating me?”

 

Belle looked at her helpless captive and couldn’t believe that she didn’t have it figured out already. “A half million dollars, of course. We plan to collect the bounty on your head. I never planned on this. I had the idea of disgusing myself as you for a one-time deal to rob a stagecoach. Then some loud-mouth uppity young bitch starts running her gums that her uncle is the territorial governor of Wyoming and that if I robbed her, it would really piss him off. I knew that the boy was hiding under the coach… and I pretended not to see him so that there would be a witness.”

 

“Then I remembered that good ol’ Uncle Governor was one of the richest men in the country. I figured that he would be really pissed if someone murdered his niece… so pissed that he would front his own cash for a bounty to catch the killer. It was a brilliant idea. My gang collects the cash, and you get the blame.”

 

“That won’t work,” the Phantom said to Belle as the men pointed their guns at her and signaled her to walk toward an undetermined part of town. “The Wyoming court does have tough hanging judges sitting on their benches… but they’re fair judges, too. If it ever comes to trial, I can prove that I was hundreds of miles away when the murder was committed.”

 

“That don’t matter, Sweetie” Belle replied and seemed unconcerned with the valid point that the Phantom had just made. “The Governor wants justice. By the time they figure out what really happened, we’ll have collected the money and be long gone.”

 

“You’ll have your money, but you won’t be able to enjoy it too much,” Phantom came back slowly. “The truth will come out at my trial and then you’ll be hunted for the rest of your life.”

 

“What ever gave you the idea that it would go to trial? I don’t plan on being hunted. Remember, that the bounty is dead or alive… and dead women tell no tales.”

 

The Phantom’s smugness turned to despair as she her abductors forced her to round the corner of a building and got her first glimpse of a gruesome sight… a gallows with a noose ready to go!

 

“Don’t look so surprised, Phantom,” Belle smirked. “Why subject the poor citizens of Cheyenne to a shocking public execution? We’ll just save them the trouble and grief. Let’s string her up boys!”

 

“Oh, my God!” Phantom cried. “You’re going to lynch me?”

 

 

PART 9

 

Although she was overpowered and helpless, the Black Phantom still resisted as the men slowly pushed her toward the gallows. The only thing that she could do was dig her bare heels into the dirt and slow them down for a few seconds. The men seemed to get a kick out of it. They could have easily got her to stop resisting by beating her up or pistol-whipping her but chose not to. It was all a game to them and they wanted to see how long she could hold out until they got her into position.

 

“Quite making such a fuss, sweetheart,” Belle patronized her. “You’re only delaying the inevitable. This is strictly business… nothing personal against you. This could be a lot worse, you know?”

 

“A lot worse?” Phantom answered as she managed to dig her feet in and delay the progress for a good three seconds. “I’m going to be hung. How much worse can it get if this was ‘personal’?”

 

“Well,” Belle had a strange way of rationalizing her diabolic actions. “This being business, I stopped my boys from completely stripping you down and I’m letting you keep your mask. If this was personal, I’d let them finish you off and take turns rapping you. This being business, I’m making sure that my boy, Cletus, has tied a perfect noose and will position it so that your neck will snap like a twig the second that you drop and the rope goes taught. You’ll die quick and painless. If this were personal, I’d tell Cletus to put the noose in such a position that if would take you up to ten minutes to die!”

 

The Phantom knew that Belle was right about that. She had witnessed many hangings that had gone wrong. She had seen many people die an undignified death… slowly choking and squirming as they hung. On one occasion, the noose caused a condemned person’s head to rip clean off!

 

“Wouldn’t it just be easier to shot me?” Phantom hoped for a more honorable death.

 

“Death by firing squad is only for military personnel,” Belle scolded her. “The penalty for murder in this territory is death by hanging. We can’t go breaking the law now can we?”

 

“Miss Belle, please listen to me,” Phantom decided to play one last card. “Give yourself up and I promise that you will get a fair trial. Mr. Lancaster is an excellent defense attorney. He can have you tired outside of Wyoming so that you would get a fair trail. He can cut you a deal. If you confess to the murders, they’ll commute your sentence to life rather than execution.”

 

“I really believe that you could make that happen, Black Phantom,” Belle said with all sincerity. “But to be perfectly honest, I’d rather die than spend the rest of my life in prison.” Then she turned her attention back to her men. “Hurry it, up. Five dollars apiece to each of you if you can get that noose around her neck in the next three minutes.

 

Eventually, they were able to drag/push the Phantom to the set of stairs that led to the Phantom. Forcing her to walk up them was a little more tricky. Due to lack off room on the steps, only two of the men could fit on the steps behind her to force her up the stairs.

 

Since the man-handing power went down by two-thirds, the Phantom decided to make her move. Because they were in a rush to collect their respective five dollar reward, they were getting sloppy with how they were holding her. When she got to the third stair, she dug her heels deep into the corner of the step and then bent her knees. With all her strength, she pushed back on her legs.

 

Just as she planned, the sudden push threw the two men that were holding her to release her and go colliding into the other men that were staring at them at the bottom of the staircase. They all feel over each other.

 

Seeing her only chance to escape, the Black Phantom leaped off the stairs like a jungle cat and made a break for it. Although, running with her hands tied behind her back wasn’t easy, she still raced like the wind.

 

“Get her, you morons!” Belle shouted. “Don’t let that bitch get away.”

 

Belle’s henchmen stumbled to their feet, but it appeared that the Phantom had a really good had start. Although, it was very unlikely that they could catch her, they ran after her anyway.

 

“Shit,” said Trickshot. “If she gets away, the boss will tan our hides for sure. Damn, that bitch can run like a gazelle!”

 

Phantom smiled to herself as it appeared that she might get away. All she had to do now was get out of their sight, find something sharp to cut her bonds, free the townsfolk, and run the outlaws out of town with their help.

 

All she had to do was behind the next building, cut to the right, and then she would be out of sight.

 

Just as she made her turn, she collided into someone and they both fell to the ground. It was Tom Bordon.

 

“Miss Phantom,” Tom said with total surprise. “What you doin’ in the street almost naked? Why are you tied up?”

 

Phantom was too stunned from the impact to answer. A few seconds later, the men, followed by Starr Belle, arrived on the scene and lifted the Phantom to her feet.

 

“Tie her ankles,” Belle threw another coil of rope to her men. “We can’t take any chances with her now. She can run like the wind.”

 

“What’s going on?” Tom was totally confused as Belle’s men tied Phantom’s feet together as securely as they did her hands.

 

“Congratulations, boy!” Belle gave Tom a pat on the back. “You just helped us re-capture that murderous Black Phantom. Does any one have two-bits that we can give to this boy?”

 

“Murder?” Tom couldn’t believe it. “Who did she murder?”

 

“Don’t you read the paper, darkie?” said Trickshot.

 

“I don’t know how to read, sir,” Tom lowered his head.

 

“She killed six people,” said Belle. “Including the niece of the Governor of Wyoming.”

 

“Is that true, Miss Phantom?” Tom could not believe it.

 

“No, Thomas,” Phantom had shook off her stun. “It’s not true. I swear! That woman that’s dressed like me did it. She wants to hang me and deliver me dead to the Wyoming authorities to collect a half million dollar reward.”

 

“Don’t listen to her, boy!” said Belle. “She’s a killer and she’s going to hang for it.”

 

“Funny,” Tom scratched his head. “No one said nothing about Miss Phantom going to trial and being found guilty and being sentenced to hang.”

 

“There was no trial, Thomas,” screamed the Phantom. “They’re going to lynch me. Please, help me.”

 

Belle could have easily shot this interloper but decided to see if she could manipulate the dumb n****r to her way of thinking and get him to simply walk away. “She don’t deserve a trail. We’re going to save the taxpayers their time and money. Are you trying to say that someone who killed six people in cold blood doesn’t deserve to die?”

 

“Then after her trial when she is convicted, then hang her.” Thomas came back. He knew then that something wasn’t right. Lynching was only reserved for Indians and blacks like himself… never white people.

 

Snapper tossed Tom a quarter but he hit it hit the ground.

 

“Now be a good n****r. Pick up yer two-bits, and go home… and there won’t be anymore trouble, boy.”

 

“No,” Tom held his ground. “You’re going to kill Miss Phantom without a trail. That’s murder! I won’t let you do it. Over my dead body!”

 

Tom fought valiantly, but was soon over-powered by the men.

 

“Over your dead body, huh?” Belle gave Tom a wicked sneer. “Have your way, stupid coon. String ‘em both up.”

 

“You should have kept yer mouth shut and minded your own business,” Trickshot taunted Tom. “You are one dumb and crazy n****r!”

 

Crazy? That was the answer. It was the only way she could keep Tom from sharing the same fate as her.

 

“No, Miss Belle,” she pleaded. “Please wait. Leave Tom alone. He can’t hurt you. I swear.”

 

“Why not?” Belle signaled her men to momentarily halt as she was curious to hear the Phantom’s explanation.

 

“Because Tom is harmless,” Phantom spun her lie and hoped that she was believed. “Trickshot is right. He is crazy. He’s not in the right mind. He was kicked in the head by a mule when he was a boy. He has the mind of a child… can’t even take care of himself. The whole town pitches in to take care of him. No black man in his right mind would interfere in a white man’s business.”

 

Tom knew that the Phantom was lying. It would serve no purpose if he died as well.

 

“You got a point there,” Belle rubbed her chin. Killing this witless spade would be like killing a helpless baby. I’m a vicious killer… but even I have my limits.”

 

“The masked white woman-outlaw is correct,” Strongbow the Indian finally spoke. It was obvious to the Phantom that this man didn’t speak much at all… but when he did, people listened. “This dark one is crazy. That is because a spirit lives within him. If when kill this man, the spirit will have no home and it will take its revenge on us. We do not need to make that kind of an enemy. Killing the dark one would be very bad for us. I cannot allow this.”

 

“Superstitious Injin,” snapped Trickshot. “That’s bullshit. We should just hang them both.”

 

“Superstitious?” Strongbow faced Trickshot without intimidation. “Aren’t you the same person that told me that you would never have a gunfight on Friday the 13th? What about your brother, Snapper? Why does he carry that rabbit’s foot? Zeek even told me that if I hold my breathe while riding across a graveyard, I’ll live for five minutes longer.”

 

“That’s not superstition,” Trickshot tried to save face. “That’s called not taking any chances.”

 

“Enough, bickering!” Belle waved her arms. “Let the boy go. Strongbow… lock him up with the others. If he gets away, I’m holding you responsible.”

 

“Wait, please!” Phantom shouted before Tom could be whisked off. “Does the condemned get a last request, Miss Belle.”

 

“If it’s reasonable,” answered Belle. “If you request not to get hung, I’m going to put a bullet in your n****r friend’s head.”

 

“Nothing like that. There’s a piece of paper that I need Thomas to deliver to Mr. Lancaster. It’s tucked in my bra.”

 

Belle snatched it out of her underwear and handed it to Tom. “No say your goodbyes and get out of here.”

 

Although he couldn’t read, Tom recognized the paper as the bond needed to save the town. He took off his hat. “Good-bye, Miss Phantom. Thanks for everything you’ve done… for me and the town. I won’t never forget you.”

 

“Nor will I, Thomas. Good-bye”

 

“This is all my fault, Miss Phantom. I’m sorry.”

 

 “No it wasn’t. Don’t ever blame yourself for this. I should have watched where I was going.”

 

 

Tom lowered his head as the men dragged the Black Phantom away. Since her feet were now tied, this action was now effortless.

 

Strongbow gently took Tom’s arm and walked him away. He hated himself because there was nothing that he could do to for her.

 

“Hey,” Strongbow suddenly spoke to him. “Do you got a match?”

 

“You think I’m crazy, redskin!” Tom thought he had nothing to lose at this point. “They’re going to lynch that beautiful, innocent girl… and you want a match? For what? To smoke ‘em peace pipe.”

 

“Cut the crap,” Strongbow wasn’t in the mood for jokes. “A match. Either you have one or not. Which is it?”

 

 

 

The men were carrying the Black Phantom up the stairs were halted by a sight they didn’t expect. Something whizzed into the air. At about a few hundred feet it exploded and left an umbrella of bright colors… a sky rocket?

 

“That’s sure purdy,” said Trickshot.

 

“It ain’t the Fourth of July… is it?” Snapper scratched his head.

 

“Neither,” said Belle as she motioned to one of her men. “Jethro, check it out.”

 

As Jethro ran off, the remaining men carried the Phantom to the gallow’s stage and forced her to stand above the trap door. She looked in horror as she saw the cracks that separated door and stage.

 

“Thank good care of her, Cletus,” Belle said to the man standing by the noose. Obviously, he was assigned the duty as the hangman. She walked off the stage to get a better view of the upcoming show. “Nice, quick, and clean. Got it?”

 

“Yes, Boss,” Cletus put the noose around the Phantom’s neck and tightened it. He then whispered in her ears. “Try to keep your neck relaxed. That way, it’ll be over in a jiffy. If you tense up, you’ll feel the pain… even if only for a second, it’s terrible.”

 

“Thanks,” Phantom muttered under her breath. “I’ll do that.”

 

“Elvin,” Belle barked at another man. “Would you do the honors and pull the lever… but not until I say now.

 

“With pleasure, boss,” Elvin licked his lips and walked over to the lever. He spit on each of his grim-stained hands and rubbed them together before grabbing hold of the lever to ensure that he wouldn’t lose his grip.”

 

“Cigerette?” Cletus the hangman asked.

 

“Please,” Phantom answered. She didn’t smoke, but her gut instinct (and the strange sky rocket) told her to take the cigarette and stall for time.

 

Cletus put the cigarette in her mouth and lit it for her. Since her hands were bound behind her back, Cletus had to take it out of her mouth when she needed to blow smoke. This stall tactic bought her another minute.

 

“Hood?” Cletus held up a black burlap bag.

 

“No, thank you.”

 

“You sure are one brave philly to face death with your eyes open.”

 

It wasn’t courage that she refused the hood. It was fear. She did not like having things totally covering her head and the second that the hood was tied in place, she would start freaking out.

 

“Any last words, Black Phantom?” Belle decided to mock her for one last time.

 

Again, stalling for time, the Black Phantom spoke. “Killing me today and collecting and large sum of money does not mean that you have defeated justice. You’ve only side-stepped it today. It may take years, Starr Belle, but all of you will see justice… one way or another.”

 

“Justice?” Belle laughed. “Where was your justice when my father and brothers were gunned down because some wealthy rancher wanted my father’s land and he wouldn’t sell it? Where was your justice when the rancher’s henchmen raped me and my mother? Where was justice when the Sheriff did nothing because the wealthy man paid him off to look the other way? Where was justice when that same sheriff allowed that rancher to take our land? Where was justice when they condemned my poor sick mother to the insane asylum where she killed herself? Where was your justice that left a poor young girl like me on the street with no one to look after her… a girl that had to sell her body to survive. There was no justice. I had to kill that rancher and that sheriff myself before I got justice. There is no justice in this world for the likes of us, Black Phantom. Think of that for the next thirty seconds before you die.”

 

As Phantom realized that Belle had a valid point, the reality finally sunk in. This was it! She was going to die!

 

The thought of that started to make tears well up in her eyes. She wasn’t crying because she was afraid to die. She knew that in her line of work that death was a possibility and she accept the risk. She was crying because she would die with many people thinking that the Black Phantom was a cold-blooded murder… and she could not prove her innocence if she were dead. Just when she thought she was out of the outlaw business, fate had a strange way of drawing her back in.

 

The Black Phantom took a dead breath before she left her entire body go limp. If she did this right, it would all be over soon.

 

“Now!” screamed Belle to Elvin as he pulled the lever.

 

The Black Phantom couldn’t help but let out a loud scream as the trap door underneath her gave away and was now standing on air.

 

A split moment later, she felt her body fall.

 

PART 10

 

As the Black Phantom was ready to accept death, she heard the sound of an arrow passing over her head followed by the tearing of fibers.

 

As she continued to fall, she waited for her neck to snap… but something wasn’t quite right! It seemed that she was falling too far and for too long. The rope should have gone taunt by now! Something happened! She was continuing to fall. She was going to hit the ground. She braced herself for the pain she would feel as her feet, ankles, or legs would break on impact.

 

There was no pain or hard impact. Someone had caught her and both her, and her “catcher” had harmlessly stumbled to the ground.

 

“Miss Phantom,” Tom shouted as she removed the noose from her neck that only had a few feet of rope on it. “Thank God that you’re all right?”

 

“Thomas,” Phantom was still a bit bewildered over her near-death experience. “You saved me. Thank you. What happened? Did the rope break? It couldn’t. I still would have felt it pull on my neck.”

 

“Not broke, Miss Phantom. “Cut with an arrow.”

 

Suddenly, Phantom heard the discharge of a multitude of revolvers and rifles. She heard of hard thump above her. When she looked up, she saw Cletus the hangman’s head had slumped over into the opening of the trapdoor. There was a bullet hole right between his eyes!

 

“What’s going on?” said the Phantom.

 

“That would be the townsfolk and the Marshall’s men that I signaled,” said Strongbow who joined the twosome. “I’ll explain in a minute. Follow me, Thomas. Get the Black Phantom out of the line of fire.”

 

Tom picked up the Phantom like a groom carrying a bride over the threshold. He followed Strongbow behind a building.

 

“Cut her loose, Tom,” Strongbow through him a knife and explained to the Phantom what was going on as she was being freed of her bonds.

 

Strongbow showed the Black Phantom a badge and told her that he was a deputy for U.S. Marshall Jason Tillman. Strongbow was working undercover, as he often did, for the Marshall. Tillman had the foresight to hire non-white deputies to help confuse outlaws. He would get his undercover agents to infiltrate outlaw gangs as criminals were too narrow-minded and racist to ever suspect that Indians or blacks were lawmen.

 

The “federal business” that kept the Marshall and his deputies away from Tulsa was Starr Belle and her gang. The Marshall and the Governor knew that the real Black Phantom was not responsible for the murder of the niece. One reason was that it was confirmed that the Phantom was seen in Montana when the crime was committed. Secondly, the bullets taken from the victims were only silver plated. The Black Phantom uses pure silver! The Marshall suspected Belle but had no proof. Also, since she was in Oklahoma territory and not wanted there, the Marshall could not arrest her until she committed a crime or found proof that she impersonated the Black Phantom and murdered those people.

 

There was no half million dollar bounty on the Black Phantom. It was a bogus plot made up by the Marshall and the Governor to flush out Belle and set a trap. They did not mean to use the real Black Phantom as bait as they all still believed that she was in Montana and not in Oklahoma.

 

It was Strongbow’s job to infiltrate the gang, become a member, and ride with them. The Marshall and his men would be a safe distance away for Strongbow who would secretly mark trails or leave message as to where they were heading and what Belle was up to. Strongbow was given a skyrocket to use in an emergency to signal the Marshall and his men to come in with guns blazing.

 

While all the outlaws were at the campfire discussing their illegal exploits, Strongbow mentioned how that Black Phantom murdered the Wyoming Territorial governor’s niece and that he put a half million dollars on her head. When he mentioned that the Phantom was in Oklahoma, he was able to manipulate Belle into formulating the plan of going after the Black Phantom and turning her in for the reward.

 

In order to make the bounty look real, Strongbow would volunteer to ride into town ahead of his outlaw friends to make sure that the town was something that they could handle and also to check to see if any of the gang had wanted posters up. Since Strongbow was the only one that wasn’t wanted, he was a logical choice to be the scout.

 

When Strongbow rode ahead into town, he would contact the local authorities and identify himself as a deputy marshall. If they disputed his credentials, all they need to do was telegraph Cheyenne.

 

The town would then put up the bogus wanted posters to convince Belle when she rode into town and it seemed to be working. Strongbow, who believed that the real Phantom was not in Oklahoma was hoping that Belle would grow tired of the search and commit a crime in the interim. That way, Marshall Tillman could arrest her and have reason to hold her until they could find proof that she was guilty of the stagecoach murders. Failing that, they would lean on her henchmen and offer them a deal of leniency in exchange for testifying against the Phantom.

 

It was when they approached Tulsa when things started to go wrong. This time, instead of sending Strongbow ahead of them, everyone rode into town together. That’s when Belle learned that the real Phantom was doing a job for the town. They locked up the townsfolk and waited for the Phantom to return so that they could ambush her. Belle had one of her wanted posters and knew that the sight of this would flush her out.

 

Strongbow had no choice but to disarm the Phantom when she was about to draw on Trickshot and Snapper as it was for her own safety. He was afraid that the other six men would fire on her and he also did so to avoid suspicion if he did nothing to protect his fellow outlaws. He needed to keep the Phantom alive long enough so he could slip away, fire his rocket, and have the Marshall and his men ride in.

 

Just as Strongbow hoped, the Phantom stalled long enough for Strongbow to slip away with Tom so he could light the rocket and free the townspeople. While the Phantom was being hanged, Strongbow and Tom snuck into their respective places. Strongbow shot the arrow which tore the rope in half and Tom was below to catch her.

 

“I swear, Black Phantom,” Stronbow insisted. “We never knew that you were in this territory. We had no intention of involving you at all.”

 

“That’s all right,” Phantom smiled and kissed him and Tom and the cheeks. “It all worked out. Thanks for saving my hide. Now, how about we join in the fun?”

 

Just as they where about to get up, Jethro, the man sent to check out the rocket, emerged from a corner with his rifle ready. The barrel was pointed right at Thomas as he was squeezing the trigger.

 

“Thomas, look out,” the Black Phantom instinctively pushed her friend away.

 

It was then that Strongbow felt a strange sensation. Almost as if time were being distorted.

 

He didn’t have time to ponder that thought when he heard the rifle discharged. He fired an arrow and hit Jethro square in the chest… killing him instantly.

 

The Black Phantom screamed as she felt burning lead going into her belly.

 

“This doesn’t look good,” the Phantom touched her wound and looked at her hand, totally stained with blood before collapsing to the ground.

 

“Sweet Jesus! No!” Tom cried as he got up and ran to the Phantom. He cradled her head in his lap as he took a handkerchief to cover the wound, hoping to slow down the bleeding. “That bullet was meant for me, Miss Phantom. Why did you do that? You already saved my life once already.”

 

“What are friends for?” Phantom managed a smile.

 

“Stay with her, Tom,” Strongbow started to run off. “I’ll get the doctor.”

 

“Tom,” the Phantom’s voice was faint. “I just wanted you to know that… what I said… about it being alright to court me… I meant it… no joke.”

 

“Please, Victoria,” Tom begged. “Don’t talk. Save your strength. The doc will be here in a jiffy and fix you up as good as new.”

 

With the last remaining vestiges of her strength, the Phantom lifted her hand and softly touched his face. “Thanks for not abandoning me. If looks like this time… my luck has run out….”

 

Then the Black Phantom’s body went limp… and she expired.

 

“Nooooooo!” Tom screamed at the top of his lungs before he collapsed his head and let it touch the Phantom’s and then broke down and cried.

 

*    *    *    *

 

The bullet-riddled carcasses of Starr Belle, Trickshot, Whipper Snapper, Elvin, Jethro, Cletus, and the other henchmen were strewn out in the town center. The townspeople had gathered around now that the carnage was over. Marshall Tillman was the only one that remained on his horse. When he saw Strongbow, the marshall waved him to come forward.

 

“Outstanding work, Deputy,” said Marshall Tillman. “There were a few glitches in the plan… but it all worked out in the end. We also owe thanks to the Black Phantom for making this possible. Where is she?”

 

Strongbow lowered his head as he made a gesture behind him. The townsfolk gasped in horror as the parted like the Red Sea when Tom Brodon carried the lifeless body of the Black Phantom toward the marshall.

 

“Dear Lord in Heaven,” the marshall could not believe his eyes. “This can’t be possible. I thought we where in time to save her from being hung.”

 

“You were, sir,” answered Tom. “But not from the bullet that was meant for me. She’s a hero.”

 

All the gentlemen removed their hats and placed them over their hearts as they joined the ladies to lower their heads in somber respect. Many had the sign of the cross and a few others cried.

 

Silently, Tom walked over to Lancaster and handed him the bond.

 

“The Black Phantom did not die in vain,” Lancaster held up the paper. “She recovered the bond and saved our town.”

 

“As mayor of this town,” Crance suddenly spoke. “I declare that this day be declared Black Phantom Day. Every year we will morn her loss and show our appreciation for what she did. Every year, we will display our flags at half-mast. We will close the school and all local government offices.”

 

 

 

Two days later, the Black Phantom was finally buried after an extensive hero’s funeral. Every citizen of Tulsa took a part in the ceremony. They actually had to draw straws to see who would get the honor of being a pole-bearer. There was no argument as to who got to give the final eulogy… it was Thomas Brodon. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house.

 

 

 

Fifteen-year-old orphan and tomboy, Tess MacIntire, was in attendance for the funeral. It was the only time she ever wore a dress.

 

She was a girl that could fight, shoot a gun, or ride a horse better than any boy in all of Tulsa.

 

She swore that one day, she would wear the mask and resume the mantle of the Black Phantom.

 

The heroine would ride again!

 

 

PART 11

 

 

It was just after she pushed Thomas out of the way that she saw the bullet stop a few mere inches before striking her. She could still move but everyone and everything around her was motionless… as if all time around her had suddenly motioned a halt.

 

A hand grabbed her wrist and gently walked her away from the path of the bullet. When she glanced to see the owner of the hand, she was looking at her double for the second time today. However, this double was an exact duplicate of herself… down to being stripped down to her bra and panties with the cut shoulder straps.

 

“If you wish to live, then allow me to take your place,” said the replica. “Otherwise you will die. I am a LMD… life model decoy. To your 19th century technology, your physicians and undertakers will be unable to determine that I am not a real person. Fear not for me. I am a robot. I am not alive and I have no sentience. I am merely doing what my master has programmed me to do.”

 

When the LMD stepped in front of the bullet, all time resumed. Although the Phantom could see everything that was going on, she somehow knew that no one else could see her.

 

She saw herself die before her very eyes and Tom Brodon held her and cried. Within a span of a few seconds, she was able to “see” the resolution to the story. She saw her own funeral and was made aware of a young girl’s promise to continue the mantle of the Black Phantom.

 

Suddenly, the scene closed up… her known reality was collapsing inside the pages of a book… a comic book… a graphic novel. She saw the cover of the comic book… she was dead while a crowd circled around her and mourned. On the cover were the words: Final Issue: The Death of the Black Phantom.

 

When she was pulled out of her universe, she had become aware that she was a character created in a comic book universe. Apparently, the sales of her magazine were low and her publishers decided to end her series… by killing her off. Then after a long hiatus, they planned on bringing in a “new and improved” Black Phantom and start over again from scratch.

 

Someone from outside the AC comic Universe had intervened on her behalf and saved her from oblivion.

 

Seeing that she now had nothing to lose, she allowed herself to get “sucked in” to this new universe.

 

As her body descended into the void, she learned that she was being taken into the early 21st century and somehow acquired the knowledge of the world and its technology.

 

She briefly saw the image of an armored man in a green robe and hood… a master of Science and Sorcery. He was summoning her. This was a powerful man… a man that bowed to one… a man whose entire arsenal was in the armor… technology… magic… kinetic bolts… plasma energy that could turn a human to ashes.

 

A hole opened up beneath her and she fell through. This time she could feel the actual sensation of falling. She was in a real universe this time.

 

A soft mat broke her fall and it took a few seconds to rub her forehead to get re-oriented with her new surroundings.

 

She was in some sort of a gymnasium… and she wasn’t alone.

 

Although the shadows hid his features, she could tell by his outline that he was the armored man.

 

“You’re the one that saved me from death,” the Black Phantom finally spoke.

 

“I am,” the armored man answered. “Welcome to my abode, Black Phantom. I’ve looked forward to this meeting for quite some time.”

 

The Black Phantom walked toward the armored man and extended her hand. “You saved my life… maybe even from totally oblivion. How can I ever thank you?”

 

“You’re thanks are not necessary, lovely one,” the armored man took a surprising cynical tone. “I’m afraid that by taking you out of the frying pan, I’ve taken you in the fire.”

 

Without warning, the armored man reached out with his gauntleted hand and took a firm hold of her wrist. “I am Doctor Victor von Doom. Ruler of Latveria… and you, young lady, are my prisoner!”

 

“Let me go!” Before she knew it, some unknown force gave her the strength to throw Dr. Doom to the floor and making him release his grip. This was an impossible maneuver as, even with leverage, there was no way that she could do that with someone encumbered with the additional weight of body armor.

 

Deciding to ponder that later, she made a mad dash for what appeared to be an open doorway some one hundred yards away.

 

“We’ll get her, master,” said one of Doom’s guards as a few more followed.

 

“No weapons!” Doom ordered. “I want her alive and unharmed. Not so much as a scratch.”

 

The guards behind the Black Phantom had no idea how fast that she could run. They had no chance of overtaking her. Sadly, the guards on the other side of the room were in position and harmlessly tackled her to the floor.

 

They had a hard time holding her as she was violently fighting back and it wasn’t easy for the guards that were trying to subdue her without causing injury.

 

“My God! She’s remarkable,” Doom muttered to himself as the Black Phantom avoided being totally manhandled by fiercely lashing out at her attacker with punches, kicks, and even biting. Doom couldn’t believe how fast she could run… or how she managed to knock him off his feet.

 

He let the donnybrook continue for another minute before intervening. “Enough. The Crimson bands of Cyttorak will seal your fate.” He waved his hands and let the red bolts of energy fly in his quarry’s direction.

 

“Oh, shit!” the Black Phantom explained. “I don’t want to be tied up again.”

 

Somehow knowing that these bands were magical in nature and that they were unbreakable except through a spell that could dispel magic, the Black Phantom broke free of the men and tried to outrun the bands.

 

She was only able to get three steps before the crimson bands wrapped securely around her ankles. The second she hit the floor, the other bands wrapped around each end around her wrists and then tighten and forced her hands to be helplessly bound behind her back once more.

 

“Lift her carefully, guards,” Doom ordered. “Bring her to me. I want to get a closer look at my lovely captive.”

 

The Black Phantom could do nothing as the guards dragged her towards Dr. Doom. Although she was now totally at his mercy, she still gave him a snare of defiance.

 

“It’s a sin for a beautiful face like yours to be hidden behind a mask,” Doom gloated as he stroked her cheek with one his metallic fingers. “Hans, remove it!”

 

“Nooooo!” the Phantom struggled and thrashed her head to no avail. “Don’t! Please!”

 

With her arms and feet bound, there was little that she could do as she felt a pair of fingers behind her head loosening the knot to her eyemask. She felt it fall off her face and saw it drift slowly down to the floor. All she could do was hang her head down in shame.

 

“Look at me, Phantom!” Doom ordered. “Let your head. Let me see your naked face.”

 

When she didn’t respond to the command, Doom gave his guards a nod. One of them grabbed a handful of her soft, long blonde hair and pulled back, forcing her to lift her head.

 

“My God!” Doom gasped he cupped her chin in his hand. For a second, he thought he felt his heart flutter. “I knew that you were such a lovely creature… but… damn it… I never knew that you would be drop-dead gorgeous!”

 

“You bastard!” Phantom screamed. “You’ll pay for that!”

 

“No need to get angry, my lovely. Your mask means nothing in this universe. I already know who you are… or should I say… who you were… Victoria Fantom Black! I know all your secrets!”

 

As the Phantom was in shock over Doom’s last statement, he nodded to three of his guards who pulled out their knives. He wanted to see the rest of his prize.

 

The Phantom screamed as the three cut in unison. The one blade placed between her cleavage took an outward stroke and cut off her bra while two other stokes at her outer thighs cut off her panties.

 

“Magnificent!” Doom felt his heart flutter again and he got a full hard-on. Never before he seen such an awesome body on a female that had neither super-powers, was altered physically, or wasn’t even human. Again, he felt jealously toward the Master of Limbo. Doom could not keep his eyes off her. She was the most beautiful woman he had ever seen!

 

“Her breasts are awesome, master,” cried one of the guards. “I wonder if they are real or fake?”

 

“Of course they’re real, fool!” Doom cupped her breasts. “She’s from 1880! They didn’t have transplants back then.”

 

“They didn’t have this kind of underwear back then either, master,” one of the guards held up her severed bra and panties.”

 

“Is it my fault that the author of this story takes some artistic license?”

 

Even though Doom’s hands were metallic cold, she liked it when this deranged armored figure felt her up. A few seconds later, she realized her mistake.

 

“Damn you, monster! I’m going to kill you for this humiliation! You’re a dead man! You hear m—mmmpphhhhhhh!”

 

With a nod of his head, Doom cut the Phantom’s words off when one of the guards suddenly wrapped a ball-gag around her mouth and fastened it to the back of her head with a buckle.

 

“Not too tight,” Doom said. “We don’t want to break her jaw.” Then he cupped her chin. “Look here, girl. There’s no shame in being defeated and humbled before the mighty Dr. Doom. You never had a chance. No one here doubts your courage and determination. I have the utmost respect for you. That spark of defiance in you is probably the reason that you were chosen. I don’t expect you to kneel or grovel before me; however, as your new master for the interim, I expect you to show me respect and speak to me with a civil tongue… and if you cannot do that… then you will not speak at all.”

 

“Mmmmmmphhhhhh!” Phantom still defied Doom despite her predicament.

 

“Although it is not our intention to break you, it is still required that you need to know your place. Only by assuring your obedience to me can I succeed in my plan… but how do I do that without harming you? Easy… by using your secret. I’ve read all your magazines. I know that if any man can unmask you and then make you cum, you must serve him. You are no match for my vibrating hand. Blindfold her! With her sense of sight reduced, she will feel the full effects. My God! This is my favorite part.”

 

Seconds later a dark, but soft blindfold was tied around her eyes. She felt Doom’s cold metal hand clump between her legs and grasp her crotch.

 

Then she felt Doom’s hand vibrate… it felt good! Although Doom’s hand only vibrated for a few seconds, she good feel the energy go inside and continue. At first the feeling in her clitoris was a gentle tinkle and tingling… but slowly and gradually got more intense! Her crotch started to get moist and she could feel the spasms and sensations of sexual pleasure build up in her body.

 

She was getting turned on and there was nothing she could do to stop it. Doom signaled for his guards to gently place Phantom on the floor.

 

“Mmmmmm!” she rolled around and gyrated her pelvis… arching her back with immense pleasure.

 

As much as she tried to fight it, a part of her didn’t want to resist.

 

Finally, with no willpower, the Black Phantom let out a loud moan and allowed herself to cum good and hard.

 

“Ahhhhhooohhhmmmmmmmarrhhhhhhhhhhh!”

 

After all these years, she had been totally defeated.

 

Being physically spent, along with the revelation of what just happened, had caused her to pass out.

 

Doom lifted up the Phantom’s beauty limp body and held it over his head as effortless as on might lift a rag doll. One hand was supporting her below the neck so that her head arched back. His other hand was supporting the small of her back.

 

As Doom ranted and raved, the Black Phantom briefly came in and out of consciousness but was unable to make out what her conqueror was saying. Being content in her defeat, and still blindfolded, bond, and gagged, she closed her eyes and embraced the darkness and fell asleep for good.

 

“All hail the new Queen-consort of Limbo,” Doom proudly proclaimed to his subjects holding Phantom in the air the whole time. “I’ve captured and defeated the infamous Black Phantom… something those Western hero dolts in the AC universe never got close to accomplishing. I will finally free my mother from Limbo and succeed in one of my three ultimate goals… of which all those heroes said would never be done! This buxom blonde beauty is the key to my triumph. I am Doctor Doom! And I can do anything! No one can stop me now!”

 

Doom’s guards gave a mighty roar of approval.

 

PART 12

 

 

When the Black Phantom finally awoke from her slumber, she opened her eyes and realized that she still couldn’t see. It took a few seconds to realize that it was because she was still blindfolded. She was still nude and bound and gagged as well.

 

Despite her unusual situation, she felt comfortable. She was lying on her side on a soft warm bed. In a strange twisted sort of way, she was enjoying her bondage and helplessness. She was glad that her career of running around as an outlaw without a home was finally over. She wasn’t even angry at Dr. Doom for abducting her, tying her up, umasking her, stripping her down bare, and humiliating her.

 

The Phantom had found herself attracted to this mad genius who called himself Dr. Doom. A part of the reason was that he had given the greatest sexual experience and thrill in her entire life… without even having to put himself inside her!

 

She rolled over on her back and took a deep breath as she began to contemplate her future. What was the villain going to do to her? Was he going to do her in after he had his fun with her? When that time came, how would he kill her? Would it be a bullet to the head or a slashed throat… or would it be slow and painful?

 

What did Doom want with her? She knew that this was not about ransom or revenge? What was his game?

 

 

Dr. Doom paced up and down the door outside of the Black Phantom’s “room” for many hours. He couldn’t decide whether or not to go in. Why did he hesitant? It was his palce and he could go anywhere he chose.

 

Why was he was fascinated with this woman? Why did he want her so badly? Why didn’t her succumb to his urge and just take her and be done with it? What was this part within him that didn’t want to violate her by force?

 

Doom desperately needed to blow off some sexual steam. Normally, this was easy to do. If he wanted female companionship, it was his right as ruler to command any unmarried woman of Latveria over the age of sixteen to attend to him in his bed. All it would take was a snap of his fingers, and there would be, at least, one hundred beautiful women waiting in line for the honor of sharing his bed.

 

He pleasured himself with many beauties in the Marvel Universe… Invisible Woman, Viper, Ms. Marvel, Spider-Woman, Scarlet Witch, Gamora, Black Widow, Marvel Woman, Black Cat, Moonstone, Rogue, Silver Sable, and Mystique… just to name a few.

 

The issue was that he didn’t want any other women. He only wanted the woman that was behind the door. He wanted the Black Phantom! What was it about this cowgirl that was driving him nuts? No other woman had seemed to satiate his appetitive, but something in his gut told him that this Western heroine could? Was that why the Master of Limbo wanted her?

 

The irony of it all was that Doom could go into her chambers and take the Black Phantom anytime he wished. His deal with the Master of Limbo mentioned nothing that she had to be delivered as a virgin. However, something was restraining him. He didn’t want to take her by force. He wanted for the Phantom to want him to take her… and he wanted to do so without manipulating her free will or tricking her.

 

After all these years of doing evil, he now couldn’t bring himself to take pleasure with a mere female?

 

“She’s not a mere woman,” Doom said to himself. “There’s more to her. What is it? How did she throw me to the ground with such ease? Even she was shocked by her display. I must have this woman! I must! But how? What hold me back? Why do I seek her approval? I am Doctor Doom. I never ask. I take what I want! Yet… the thought of forcing myself on her makes me sick to my stomach. I’ve taken many women before and never felt as such.”

 

Then a thought raced Doom’s mind: he cannot violate a woman if she consents to his advances… but a woman such as the Black Phantom would never allow herself to be intimate with the likes of him.

 

No longer able to contain himself, Doom entered the bed chamber and locked the door behind him.

 

 

The Phantom had dozed off again and the sound of a door opening and then locking awoke her. She was no longer alone in the room. She simply froze and held her breath as she felt her mattress get lower.

 

Someone was sitting on the bed right next to her.

 

Then Doom finally spoke. “I will remove your gag if you promise not to scream and carry on like a moronic damsel in distress. Will you behave?”

 

Phantom nodded in the affirmative. Seconds later, Doom careful removed her gag.

 

“Doctor von Doom,” Phantom softly rasped as her throat was dried out. “Is that you?”

 

“It is… and it’s just Doom… Doctor Doom… not Doctor von Doom.”

 

“Sorry,” she rasped again.

 

“Your throat must feel like sand paper, my dear. I’ll have to remedy that.” Doom went to the wet bar in the room and retrieved a bottle of water from the refrigerator. He lifted her head up so that she could drink without spilling all over herself. “Sip it, slowly.”

 

The water was cold and delicious… the best she ever had. It was so clean and pure and it didn’t smell. It was not like well or river water that had to be boiled before drinking. The water that she was accustomed was always lukewarm and smelled like sulfur and often had a metallic aftertaste.

 

“Cold enough for you?” Doom asked.

 

“Yes,” Phantom’s voice was back to normal. “Thank you.”

 

“Would you like something to eat?”

 

“No… thank you. I’m not hungry right now. Any chance of getting this blindfold off?”

 

“After a while. It must remain on for the time being as I wish to remove my mask and I don’t want you to see my face.”

 

“Why not? Are you afraid that I’ll tell people what you look like?”

 

“No… it’s nothing like that. You see… underneath this metal mask there only lurks a remnant of a face… a face so hideous and grotesque that even I cannot bear to look at my own reflection in the mirror.”

 

“Then why bother to remove it at all?”

 

Doom did not answer her question. He simply got off the bed and, slowly and methodically, started removing his armor… piece by piece.

 

Phantom heard loud thumps hitting the floor and quickly surmised that her captor was stripping himself down. It didn’t take a genius to figure out what he had on his mind.

 

“Doctor Doom… sir… Your Majesty,” Phantom said nervously. “Please… I know that I am not in any position to resist or ask anything of you… but may I be so bold as to make a humble request?”

 

“Go on.” This was the first time that Doom indulged another person in such a manner.

 

The Phantom chose her next words very carefully. “If it is your intention to rape me, I cannot resist you. That’s well and fine. I’ve been through that before… and if you wish to kill me when you are done…”

 

“You want me to finish you off quick and painless,” Doom finished her sentence. “You have my word that I will not kill you. I went through a lot of trouble to abduct you alive and unharmed… and I need to keep you that way.”

 

“I don’t care if or how you kill me. In my line of work, death is a better than average consequence and I’ve accepted that. If I promise not to scream, carry on… if I’m submissive and if I do any thing you want… would you not hit or beat me while you’re doing it? I don’t care if I get raped… but please, please, don’t hurt me. I’ll do whatever sick thing you want.”

 

“When were you raped?” Doom knew the answer but, for some strange reason, he wanted to hear it from her own lips.

 

“It happened when I was fifteen. I was packing my bags to go to New York City. I was going to a special college to become a school teacher. That’s all I ever wanted to do back then... I never had any thoughts of becoming an outlaw.”

 

“Then, without warning, a band of outlaws storms our orphanage. They were on the run from a posse. They demanded that we hide them and feed them. The Mother Superior told us to give them whatever they wanted. She believed that if we complied, they would ride off and leave us alone. I counted the days as they passed. Every time I went to bring them food, they all looked at me in a strange way. I was too young and naïve to understand that it was lust and desire in their eyes. I couldn’t wait for them to leave.”

 

“But… they didn’t leave… even after it was confirmed that the posse a hundred miles away. They found the cellar that had a cache of the ceremonial wine. It only took about an hour before they all got drunk. That’s when they started to bust up the orphanage. The raped and killed all the nuns before setting the place on fire and riding off into the night.”

 

“Six of them found me hiding in the barn. I told them that I would do whatever they wanted so long as they didn’t hurt me. I was foolish enough to believe that if I didn’t raise a fuss, they would rape me and let me go. They tied me up… cut off all my clothes until I was butt naked… then they started beating me. I begged them to stop hitting me as each of them two turns apiece.”

 

“When they were finally done, my nose was broken… both my eyes were swollen shut… and I was starting to swallow my own blood. Just when I thought that they were going to leave me, one of them sneaks up behind me and wraps a rope around my neck.”

 

“I woke up two days later in a hospital. Apparently, the man who tried to kill me was too drunk to realize that he didn’t finish the job and only thought he left me for dead.”

 

“I knew that the sheriff would not have the time or resources to track these men down. It was that night that I realized that there was no justice in this world… and in order to have my vengeance, I would have to do it myself. I also knew that I had to work outside the law to find these bandits. They were cowards and I knew that the fear of what they didn’t know would be their bane. That’s when I put on a mask and became the Black Phantom.”

 

“It took years for me to track down those men so that my friends at the orphanage could rest in peace. All of them are killed by my hand while resisting arrest while the rest are in prison sentenced to execution or life imprisonment.”

 

“We have a lot in common,” Doom’s voice did not sound as low or mechanical without his mask. “I, too, had no intention of being a villain or a monarch. I planned on either being a doctor or a traveling magician. When my mother was killed because she was believed to be a witch, a part of my humanity died. The other half died when my father died in the mountains. He used his own body to keep me warm while he froze to death. We were on the run from King Vladimir’s soldiers. The king had enlisted my father’s aid to help his ailing wife. When she died, the king blamed my father. That is why I became a villain… that is why I came back to my homeland to kill the king and usurp his throne. It was humanity’s contempt for me that I became Dr. Doom!”

 

Silence followed for several minutes. The Phantom spoke when she heard the last piece of Doom’s armor hit the floor.

 

“Can we get this over with?”

 

Normally, Doom would be angered by such a remark… and he answered in a way he never dreamed of answering before. “I will not rape you, Phantom. However, I will have my kiss. Wherever it leads after that will be up to you. All you need do is say stop and you have my word that I will take it no further. I also give you my word that I will not punish you for rejecting me.”

 

Phantom did not make a reply. Although what Doom said was totally ludicrous, she believed him.

 

 

Doom’s kiss was soft and gentle at first… with no tongue. When Phantom made no sound, he put her tongue in his mouth and got more vigorous as her stroked his fingers (sans gauntlet) through her long soft blonde hair.

 

When their lips first touch, Phantom felt a spark… a spark that traveled through her body and gave her waves of passionate energy. She enjoyed Doom’s kiss and it felt when more sensual because of her bounds and blindfolds.

 

Doom pulled his head back and finally broke the kiss. He waited to hear her say stop… but she didn’t!

 

Instead the Phantom said, “Oh my God!” before moving her head forward. Despite her blindfold, she was able to target Doom’s lips and continue with another passionate kiss of her own.

 

Phantom made no objections as Doom continued to seduce her. He started kissing and licking her all over… her cheeks… her ears… her neck… he moved down and started to work on her breasts. It was when he tickled her nipples with his tongue, that the Phantom started arching her back. She was moaning with delight and she started to thrust her hips let a wild mare.

 

She couldn’t see Doom’s body, but she could tell when hers touched his, that it was firm and muscular… and hard… just like his cock that he was rubbing against her inner thigh.

 

Phantom couldn’t believe how gentle and tender Doom was. He was touching and stroking her body smoothly and not roughly. He was kind and considerate every time he took their sexual encounter to the next level.

 

Doom dispelled the Cyttorak Bands around her ankles (although her hands were still bound behind her back) so he could spread her legs and put his face in her crotch.

 

Her licked her vigorously and Phantom moaned louder and thrusted her hips harder.

 

When Doom determined that she was wet enough, her impaled her with his mighty cock. He made sure that his initial thrusts were slow, shallow, and gentle before gradually getting faster, deeper, and harder.

 

“Do you want me to stop?” Doom asked.

 

“No!” Phantom screamed. “Please don’t stop. Please keep going. Oh, my God! I never imagined that it would be like this! Oh God! Oh… oh….oh…. oh…..oHHHHHHHARRRRRRRROOOHHHHHHHHHH!”

 

After Phantom climaxed, Doom let himself go and exploded inside of her.

 

“Oh, Shiiiiiiiiittttttt!” Doom cried as he came longer and harder than he ever came before.

 

 

 

Now, both totally spent, Doom collapsed on top of Phantom. He caressed her before they both fell asleep.

 

 

PART 13

 

 

“My God!” Doom stroked Phantom’s hair after he woke up. “You were incredible.”

 

“That was awesome,” Phantom woke up as well, hoping that they would go another round. “You were so great. I enjoyed every minute. I love you.”

 

“What did you say?” Doom suddenly stood up with an annoyed tone in his voice.

 

“No,” Phantom realized her mistake. You never say I love you after your first time with a particular man. It totally scares them off. “I meant to say… I love… it. I was so overwhelmed that I didn’t realize what I was saying.”

 

Doom responded by reactivation the Bands of Cyttorak and re-secured her ankles. He picked her up and but her on a chair so that she was now sitting upright. Almost immediately, she could hear Doom putting his armor back on in a hurry.

 

“Please, Victor… I mean… Doctor,” Phantom pleaded. “I didn’t mean to upset you with my careless remark. I was caught in the moment. I got carried away. My mouth was talking before my brain could shut it. I read a book once… about this phenomenon about how a victim starts to get feelings toward the person that kidnaps them. That’s what overcame me.”

 

Doom removed Phantom’s blindfold so that she could now see. It took a few minutes before her eyes adjusted to the light. When they did adjust, she saw Doom standing in front of her in his full armored dress.

 

“Stockholm Syndrome,” Doom finally spoke.

 

“I beg your pardon? I’ve never been to Europe. I’ve never left North America.”

 

“No. Stockholm Syndrome is the phenomenon your were talking about.”

 

Phantom saw that Doom was trying to help her find a way out. “That’s right… Stockholm Syndrome… that’s what I had… but only the brief temporary kind. I’m much better now. I swear. I won’t say anything stupid like that again.”

 

“This was a mistake,” Doom walked toward a wall, turned his back to her, and folded his arms behind his back. “I should never have forced myself on you. I’m sorry for that.” Doom couldn’t believe himself. For the first time in years, he had a regret… and he admitted to someone else that he was wrong. On top of that, he actually apologized!

 

“You never forced me,” Phantom answered softly. “I let you do it! I wanted to do it… God help me.”

 

The moment of silence that followed was so awkward that the Phantom was willing to say anything to end the torture. “Look, Doctor, we both had our fun. Let’s just leave it at that.”

 

“I agree,” Doom decided to take the out. “You are being very sensible. Perhaps forgetting about the whole thing would be logical.”

 

“Yeah,” Phantom sighed. “It’s best to forget that it ever happened.” Typical male asshole! She gives in to her desires and the jerk wants to put a great night of passionate sex to the side just to keep his ego from bruising. However, she wasn’t about to let her captor off the hook that easily.

 

“Now that the good times are over,” Phantom continued. “Let’s get down to business.”

 

“What do you know about my business, woman?” Doom seemed to be back to his cheerless, arrogant self.

 

“Well,” Phantom cleared her throat and pretended that his sudden cold brush-off didn’t affect her. “I do know that you didn’t go through a great deal of time and trouble… as well as pissing off some higher entities… to bring me here just so you could have a one night stand. What do you plan to do with me? I think that I’m entitled to know that.”

 

“A prisoner exchange. I’m going to trade you to the Master of Limbo so I can get my mother back.”

 

“You’re just going to hand me over to someone else… like I’m chattel?”

 

“I swore an oath to my mother that I would free her.”

 

“Then release me, Victor… I mean Doctor. We can join forces and free her.”

 

“The deal has been done, Phantom. You cannot help my mother in that way. It’s not her body that’s been trapped in Limbo… it’s her soul. In order to free it, I must give the Master of Limbo a bride to replace her… and he had chosen you.”

 

“Me?” Phantom couldn’t believe it. “Why does he want me?”

 

“I do not know. He just wants you.”

 

“What a second!” Phantom exclaimed as she made a dreaded discovery. “You said your mother’s spirit.  Does that mean that I have to be a spirit, too? You do intend to kill me then.”

 

“No,” Doom took some offense to Phantom’s remark. “The Master of Limbo desires a flesh and blood bride.”

 

“I’m sorry about your mother… I really am… but that doesn’t give you the right to condemn me to Limbo.”

 

“I have every right!” Doom snapped. “I will do whatever is necessary to free my mother. If it’s any consolation, I’m giving you up begrudgingly. I would much rather have you for myself.”

 

“As what, you son-of-bitch? Your Royal Whore? I won’t be reduced to a white sex slave. I’ll take my chances with this Master of Limbo. At least, he’s willing to marry me before he does perverted things to me. Asshole! I can’t believe I was stupid enough to fall for your false charms and let you seduce me. I even let you cum inside me. What the hell was I thinking? Other than the time I was raped, I’ve never allowed a man to do that to me. I always made them pull out before….”

 

“Silence!” Doom’s voice boomed through the room. Phantom was so taken aback that she stopped talking. “You would not be my whore! You would be my consort. Strange as you may find it to believe but I don’t wish to rule alone for my entire life. Having a Queen would be good public relations as well as the rest of the world seeing me as a dictator.”

 

“Shut up, Victor! Stop patronizing me. We both know that I would not be suitable for you as per protocol.”

 

“What do you mean, woman.”

 

“I’m a commoner. As a king, you have to marry another royal or a noble… like a princess, duchess, or, at least, a woman of title… a lady.”

 

Doom approached Phantom and stared her right in the face. “Hear me, woman! As monarch of Latveria, I can marry anyone I chose… be it royalty, commoner, peasant, nobility, upper-class, slave, upper-class, begger, servant, or middle-class. If someone disapproves of my bride then they can take it up with me if they dare. I can’t believe that someone like you who refuses to let her era make her believe that women are inferior to men, can be so blind. Royalty, nobility, and titles are not a birthright. They are inside of you. The ability to lead others and rule them is not heredity… it is earned. I overthrew King Vladimir and earned my right to rule Latveria. No one gave it to me. I am not ruler simply because I was born. I have no royal blood. I was the son of wandering gypsies… considered by many to be the lowest form of life on Earth. It was my genius in the ways of science and magic that I ascended from humble birth to monarch. If one such as I can be a king, then why can not you be a queen?”

 

She hated it when villains were right. “You know, Victor. Despite you villainous ways, you have a sense of honor and I can see a spark of decency within you that’s yearning to grow. I would be your consort… just so that I could nature that spark so that it would ignite into a fire of goodness. I could teach you to channel your energies toward helping the world rather than trying to conquer it.”

 

Doom took a deep breath. Phantom’s speech had caused him to lament briefly… but only briefly. “That is what makes you noble, my lovely… and probably the reason why the Master of Limbo desires you. Sadly, I regret to tell you that you are mistaken about my decency. Any spark I might have had was extinguished long ago when my parents died. Even if I did have one, I could never allow it to grow. I can’t afford to be decent in my position.”

 

Phantom hung her head low. Again, Doom was right. There were outside forces that caused Victor to become Dr. Doom much like the outside forces that caused Victoria Fantom Blacke to become the Black Phantom. They were both victims of their surroundings. Although they had a free choice to change their lives, a small part of it was not really their fault.

 

“It doesn’t matter, Doctor,” Phantom said softly. “It’s all a hypothetical situation anyway. No matter how it goes, I’m still screwed. Do with me what you will.”

 

Doom looked at the clock and decided to change the mood of the bleak situation. He touched a button on his armor and Phantom floated off her chair and levitated a few inches off the ground. As Doom walked out the bedroom, the force that was lifting her was following Doom.

 

“Where are you taking me?” Phantom asked.

 

“We have some time to kill before I prepare your body for Limbo and make the trade. Fear not, the procedures are painless. In the meantime, I wish to enjoy the pleasure of your company as I give you a tour of my palace. I apologize that I cannot free you from your bonds as I cannot take any chances with you. I know that you are honor-bound not to try to escape… at least not consciously. However, subconsciously, there is a force within you that may cause you to lash out at me without you being in control of your actions. I felt a portion of that power when you threw me to the floor.”

 

“How about some clothes? I’m still naked here… at least a blanket….”

 

“Afraid not, my dear. You must remain in the nude for three reasons. First, in order to go to Limbo, nothing of this world except yourself can pass through the gateway. You must be in your complete and natural form… no clothes… no jewelry… absolutely nothing.” Unlike the She-Hulk debacle, Doom was not stretching the truth or withholding information. “Second, you are a master at concealing weapons, and only by keeping you totally disrobed can I assure that you are hiding nothing. Third, it pleases me to see you naked. It stirs up a feeling in my loins that I have not experienced in a long, long time.

 

In a morbid sort of way, Phantom was flattered.

 

 

PART 14

 

 

As Doom showed Phantom his palace, they talked and got to know each other better. The more that Phantom knew about Doom, the more she began to admire him… and the more she grew to love him despite what he was going to do to her.

 

Doom was a tyrant, but he truly loved his kingdom and his subjects. He had created a county that was a utopia… that was prosperous… free of war and disease… no hunger… no wants. All he asked from those he ruled was their absolute, devotion, loyalty, respect, obedience, admiration, and adoration.

 

While it was true that Doom ruled through fear and intimidation, he did not do so at the point where his subjects hated him. Hate causes uprisings and revolutions. Doom was wise in the fact that he gave his people enough to be comfortable and content.

 

Doom was, indeed, a tyrant, but, at least he was an honest and overt tyrant… unlike his predecessor, King Vladimir who was a covert tyrant who only pretended that he was benign and gave his subjects the illusion that it was not a dictatorship. Vladimir would actually tax his subjects and keep a good portion of the money to line his own pockets rather than use it for roads, schools, and health care. From what the Phantom learned of Doom, she would prefer subjection by him rather than Vladimir.

 

For hours, Doom showed Phantom the wonders of his place and they got to know intimate details about each other lives. Despite being a bound prisoner, Phantom enjoyed talking to Doom. She felt comfortable in his presence and she felt that she could speak to him candidly about any subject… and it appeared that Doom felt the same way.

 

For all his evilness, Phantom found herself more drawn and attracted to Doom. He was brave, noble, fearless, charismatic, and determined to finish anything he started. She desperately wanted him to seduce her again!

 

Doom couldn’t believe that over four hours had past and he had to get Phantom prepared for the delivery.

 

 

When Doom took her into his laboratory, he discovered that a minion of the Master of Limbo was already waiting inside for him. With the exception of the bird-wings affixed to his back, the creature looked totally human. If it weren’t for his unkempt, long hair and scraggly beard, this man could be considered handsome. He almost looked like a member of a biker gang with his leather vest over his bare chest. He also wore denim pants and a pair of black riding boots. His body was adorned by various tattoos… most of which were snakes or naked women.

 

“What are you doing here?” Doom was annoyed. “The exchange is not for another two hours.”

 

“Don’t get your panties all in a bundle,” answered the winged man. “The boss just sent me over here to make sure that things were still copasetic.”

 

“They are,” Doom snapped. “As you can see… I have the girl… unmasked, bound, and naked as per your master’s instructions. Now leave here at once.”

 

“And make sure she stays bound,” the creature started to approach the Phantom. “I heard that she’s one feisty bitch and we’re not taking any chances with her. I gotta say that she’s one smoking hot broad and a fine piece of ass.”

 

“Victor,” the Phantom tried not to appear appalled. “Who… or what… is that?”

 

“His name is Bock,” Doom answered. “He’s the Master of Limbo’s chief toad.”

 

“Victor,” Bock laughed. “I see that we’re on first name’s basis here. Well, Victor, I happen to be the Master’s Chief lieutenant, advisor, and right hand man.”

 

“You’ll have to forgive Bock, my dear,” Doom took a more calm, but cynical tone. “He has much too high of an opinion of himself. The only reason he works for Limbo is because no one else will have him. He used to be an angel but was too lazy to spread the work of good so he was expelled from Heaven. Hell didn’t want him either because he was too stupid to be a proper agent of evil.”

 

Bock ignored Doom’s insults as he was too busy checking out the Phantom. “You are so fine. Maybe, if you played your cards right, the boss might let me break you in for him.” Phantom tried to recoil as Bock touched her face. “Whatch say, pretty-britches? Would ya like ol’ Bock to sink your tuna boat with my massive pink torpedo?”

 

“Don’t touch her!” Doom fired off an eldritch bolt.

 

Bock was just barely able to bring up his eldritch shield to avoid absorbing a painful mystic energy blast. The concessive force, however, threw him back a few feet and made him land on his ass.

 

“Don’t you dare touch her again! Hear me? She is my property until the exchange and no filthy lackey is going to put his hands on her. I would also suggest, Bock, that after the exchange you best have you master’s prior permission before making any physical contact with her.”

 

Phantom felt a strange feeling in her heart when she saw Doom’s chivalrous act. Did her capture defend her because he had feelings for her… or was it just an excuse to lash out at Bock who he apparently had distain.

 

“Okay, Geez!” Bock got off and brushed himself off like it was no big deal; however, Bock was seething inside. Fighting Doom now would be pointless. Even though Bock had the power to overcome Doom, the armored villain was still on opponent that could put a world of hurt on him… win, lose, or draw.

 

In order to defend his own lost honor, Bock tried humor and insults. “What’s all the fuss about her anyway? Why am I wasting my time? Now, that I think off it… you ain’t so good-looking after all.”

 

Now feeling safe from any reprisal, Phantom responded. “Well, Bock, you must fell real good about yourself now that you can’t even get an ugly girl to give you the time of day.”

 

Bock sneered as Doom laughed. “You’ll be laughing out your ass in a few hours bitch.” He then opened a dimensional doorway and went back to Limbo.

 

“Pay him no mind, my dear,” Doom comforted his captive. “He won’t dare do anything to you. The Master of Limbo is very possessive.”

 

Before Phantom could answer, Doom slipped a small mask over her mouth which was held in place with an elastic band behind her head. It was some sort of breathing apparatus. Doom then levitated her above a vast of bubbling orange water.

 

“Fear not. Your bath will be harmless. It’s a special compound of scientific and mystic chemicals. Since you are not dead, I need to protect your body for the harsh deteriorating effects of Limbo.”

 

Doom let Phantom drop into the vast. Some metal coils wrapped around her ankles and dragged her to the bottom in order to prevent her from floating to the top.

 

The water was warm and soothing… almost like when she once soaked her aching bones in a hot spring in Arkansas. The bubbles tickled her skin and even aroused her when they went up her crotch.

 

From the outside, she could see Doom having a heated discussion with an older gentleman. Although she couldn’t hear what they were saying, she knew by the arm gestures and body language that they were talking about her.

 

 

Dr. Heinlein was very nervous and surprised when Dr. Doom called his office and personally asked to see him on a medical matter. For over thirty years, Heinlein was the Royal Physician who attended the royal family as well as all the palace staff. He was also one of the few servants that served Dr. Doom who had also served the previous ruler, King Vladimir.

 

Heinlein was surprised that he was kept on staff after Doom usurped the throne… and more surprised that Doom never ordered his execution. It was he that referred the ailing Vladimir’s wife to Dr. Werner von Doom when Heinlein failed to diagnose the queen. When the queen died anyway (through no fault of Werner Doom’s), the king ordered his execution which caused Werner and his son to hide in the mountains were Werner died and the tragedy set forth in motion the creation of Dr. Doom and the Doom Dynasty.

 

Heinlein wondered if the new monarch kept him alive because he knew that he was at fault… or if Doom was just bidding his time to find the perfect way to get revenge.

 

Ever since he served Doom, the monarch only spoke to him on one occasion after he usurped the throne. After that Doom only contacted him through servants, letters, or emails… but never in person… until now.

 

Doom also said that the reason was medical. This seemed preposterous. Doom was never sick a day in his life. Heinlein knew that he was an excellent physician, but compared to Doom’s knowledge, he was a med student. If Doom had any aliments, he would simply treat himself. What matter would a genius need to consult with a lowly general practitioner?

 

“I am here, sire, Heinlein bowed his head. “As you command.”

 

“Thank you for coming on such short notice,” said Doom. “I would not have disturbed you if the situation wasn’t so urgent.’

 

Why was Doom being so nice? This gave Heinlein an uneasy feeling.

 

“For many years, you have faithful served the masters and staff of this palace. All my servants respect you and think very highly of you. I have been watching you for years… and I must admit… that initially I thought of killing you. However, seeing your dedication to medicine and the care of those I rule, I found you more useful to me alive. You have never divulged medical information to anyone else without the patient’s prior consent. I am now convinced that you are a man of honor and you will respect the patient-physician privilege.”

 

“Of course, sire,” Heinlein bowed again. “I would never violate patient-physician confidentiality. How my I serve you?”

 

“That woman,” Doom pointed to the Phantom behind the glass vast. “She has bewitched me!”

 

“I am so sorry to hear that, sire… but I cannot assist you in that. I am a man of medicine… not of the occult.”

 

“Please forgive me, Doctor. I was speaking metaphorically. It’s my heart… something ails me and I cannot figure it out.”

 

“I see,” Heinlein took out his stethoscope. “What are your symptoms?”

 

“My heart feels like it’s been twisted in knots. It hurts when I breathe too hard. My heart sometimes skips a beat…”

 

“When did this start?

“Ever since I captured that woman… I want her.”

 

“I won’t need this,” Heinlein put this stethoscope back into his bag. “Obviously the woman is beautiful and she has a magnificent body. All you need do is take her like all the others and your feeling will pass.”

 

“I already have, Dr. Heinlein. I want more. I want her every night. I cannot stop thinking about her… and it’s not just her body. I enjoy her company. It makes no sense. Why cannot I quench my feelings of lust and desire?”

 

Heinlein smiled slightly. “It is not lust and desire you feel toward the woman… it is compassion and love. You are smitten with the Black Phantom. It seems, sire, that you and the Master of Limbo have the same taste in women.”

 

“I… in love?” Doom refused to believe it. “I am Doctor Doom. The only emotions I have are hate and contempt. I despise humanity. Love is a weakness. It was the non-existence of love that made me Dr. Doom.”

 

“Love is foreign to you, sire, because it has been a long, long time since you have felt such an emotion. For the first time since you declared your enmity toward humanity, you’ve come to care for someone else other than your deceased parents. If that’s not love, then I don’t know what love is. To say that you have no love is simply not true… is it not your love for your mother that you go to such extremes to save her from Limbo? This is the only time you’ve helped someone else without having an ulterior motive or asking for something in return.”

 

Doom was silent for a time before he answered. “Thank you, Dr. Heinlein. That will be all.”

 

Heinlein bowed and took his leave.

 

 

*    *    *   *

 

 

“You’re really going to do this?” Phantom said as she was suspended above the portal opening between the Doom’s world and Limbo. All Doom had to do was press the button to release the cables that were holding her up.

 

“Yes,” Doom said somberly. “For the sake of my mother… I must. Once the master of Limbo takes you into possession, he will release my mother’s spirit… and then she can freely roam the universe as she sees fit.”

 

Phantom tried one last ploy. “How do you know that the Master of limbo won’t double-cross you? He could still keep me and not release your mother at all.”

 

“He cannot break a contract,” Doom hoped that this false cold-demeanor would somehow justify his actions. “If he breaks the agreement of the exchange, he will no longer be taken seriously by the other higher entities of the universe. They will also punish him severely for it.”

 

“I see,” Phantom signed. “This is it then?”

 

“I’m afraid so, lovely one. If it’s any consolation, I will press this button with a heavy heart. Goodbye, Victoria… it was nice… almost getting to know you.”

 

“Goodbye, Victor. I still think that there’s a spark of decency within you awaiting to grow and nuture.”

 

Doom slammed his hand done on the button but stopped his finger a mere fraction of an inch before pressing the button. When he tried to force his hand down, it began to shake nervously.

 

“Please stop stalling,” Phantom pleaded. “Just get this over with! Please!”

 

As much as Doom tried, he couldn’t bring himself to push the button. “Arrrgghhhhh! Mother forgive me! I cannot do it! Dear God… it’s true. I’m in love with this woman. I love the Black Phantom!”

 

Before the Black Phantom could say I love you, too something more pressing caused her to shout, “Victor, look out!”

 

It was too, late!

 

A series of squid-like tentacles from an unseen source had totally wrapped themselves around Doctor Doom. Bock flew up from the portal opening and turned his hand into a claw as to cut Phantom’s suspension wires. He managed to catch Phantom as she fell and supported her up putting his arms underneath her armpits and locking his fingers together across her chest.

 

“Naughty, naughty, Doomo!” Bocked mocked. “What about the deal you made with the boss?”

 

“The deal is off,” Doom tried to break free of the never-ending tentacles. “You can’t have her.”

 

“The deal cannot be undone! You knew that all along.”

 

“Then tell your master to pick someone else in exchange for my mother.”

 

“No can do, Doomsy-baby! The wheels have been set in motion. They cannot be stopped. If you want to keep this worthless bimbo, you better find a suitable replacement for her in the next sixty seconds.”

 

“Then take me instead,” Doom said without hesitation. “The Master of Limbo has always hated me for waging war on his domain so I can free my mother. He’s always wanted revenge on me… and what better way than as his prisoner.”

 

“Too little, too late, Doomsday,” Bock snickered. “The boss doesn’t want your physical body. He wants your soul.”

 

“He can have it then. All you need do is order your tentacles to squeeze the life out of me.”

 

“Still no good,” Bock finally had the troublesome Doom right where he wanted him. “Mephisto of Hell already has claim to your soul… although the Master would delight in seeing your eternal damnation.”

 

“I agree to those terms… the Phantom’s freedom for my torment. Kill me!”

 

“I will, Doom-o!” Bock laughed. “But on my terms. I’ve waited a long time for this and I’m going to have you killed slowly and painfully.”

 

“Do your worst!” Doom said defiantly and without fear. “Arrrrgghhhhhhh!”

 

Slowly, and painfully, the tentacles squeezed doom… crushing him and choking him at the same time. His armor was protecting him, but it would soon give out.

 

“Watch carefully, sweetheart,” Bock said in Phantom’s ear. “You don’t want to miss this. That armor will soon give out and his head will pop off life a cork on a Champaign bottle.”

 

Not wanting Victor to die painfully and suffer eternal damnation, Phantom had to do the only thing that could save him… sacrifice herself. “No! Stop! The deal is not broken! I’m still willing to go through with it… Victor’s mother’s soul for me.”

 

“Nooo!” cried Doom. “Don’t do it, Victoria. I’m not worth it!”

 

“Yes, you are,” Phantom cried back. “I can’t let you suffer eternal damnation on my account.”

 

“It’s a mess that I made, Victoria. I should have to wallow in it. You going to Limbo will only delay my trip to Hell. I’m damned if I die now… or of old age fifty years from now.”

 

“That’s not true! As long as you’re alive, you can find salvation. God forgives. All you need do is ask. You can forsake your evil ways and avoid Hell.”

 

“I can’t let you go, Victoria! I can’t”

 

“Out of your hands now, Vic,” Bock butted in. “The bitch has taken the deal. Done! See ya’ in the funny papers.”

 

Bock let himself and Phantom drop down into the portal. The tentacles released Doom and quickly dissipated as quickly as they appeared.

 

“Nooooo!” Doom cried as he leaped toward the portal but it sealed up seconds before he could reach it.

 

“Curse you, Limbo Master,” Doom smashed his armored fist on a lab table and broke it in half. “I’ll get you for this. I swear!”

 

The pain in Doom’s chest tightened and he fell to his knees. He took off his iron mask so that he could breathe.

 

“What have I done?” Doom muttered. “God in Heaven… what have I done?”

 

Then Doom collapsed on the floor and cried.

 

 

PART 15

 

 

As Bock flew Phantom through Limbo, all she could see all around her was grayness and a few assorted clouds of mist.

 

“Don’t worry, Toots,” Bock said. “You’ll get use to the view. Besides, your stay here is only temporary. There’s a limit on how long we can keep a flesh and blood mortal around.”

 

“How long is that?” Phantom knew that she shouldn’t ask but something compelled her to do so.

 

“Up for as long as five hundred years… but in your case… maybe only as long as fifty or sixty. As long as you’re here, you won’t age. You won’t need food or water. You won’t even need air. You won’t even need to go to the bathroom. Ain’t that great?”

 

“Why only a short stretch of fifty years? Is your ‘boss’ benevolent or something?”

 

“Fifty years is all the boss needs… sooner, if Doom doesn’t die of old age first.”

 

“What do you mean?”

 

“The boss will explain it all.”

 

Not long after, Phantom could make out a structure in the distance that was resting on a cloud. It was a magnificent palace and it was getting bigger and bigger as they drew nearer and nearer.

 

As they few near they huge double doors to the main entrance of the palace, Phantom gasped at a horrible sight.

 

She saw a wooden pole about fifty feet high that came to a cross. The intersecting piece of wood was about five feet below the top and about three feet on each side. What distressed the Phantom was that, tied with rope and vines on top of the cross part, was a naked woman. Her facial features were hidden by a metal mask that was locked around her whole head. There were only small holes in which Phantom could see a pair of eyes that were sad with despair.

 

“Oh, my God!” Phantom cried. “That poor woman! You crucified her!”

 

“No, we didn’t,” Bock argued back. “She was dead long before we put her up there. She’s our scarecrow… a little reminder to the rest of the residents in Limbo to stay in line… or else! She also serves to discourage others from coming up her to talk to the boss. One look at her, and they go straight back to where they came.”

 

“How awful and cruel!”

 

“She’s in no pain. This is Limbo… not Hell. She only suffers from boredom and monotony. You should she the scarecrow in Hell.”

 

 

Moment later, Bock landed and made Phantom kneel. “Behold, your new lord and master.”

 

The Master of Limbo was a tall, handsome, and slender man. He dressed in an outfit similar to a Roman Emperor with a crown made out of metal leaves.

 

“Welcome to Limbo, Black Phantom,” he said with a joyous voice. “I’ll try to make your stay here as uneventful and mundane as possible.”

 

“As you can see,” Phantom said bravely. “Victor… I mean… Doctor Doom has kept his part of the bargain. I won’t serve you until Doctor Doom’s mother is free.

 

“But of course, lovely lady,” the Limbo Master clapped his hands in an effeminate manner. “Cynthia von Doom. Front and center, please.”

 

Within the blink of an eye, a beautiful woman with dark hair in her thirties appeared before them. She was dressed in a skimpy toga that was just enough to hide her “naughty parts” from prying eyes. Her hands and feet were shackled together in front of her with a thin chain. It must have been a very strong chain despite its flimsy appearance else the woman could have freed herself.

 

“What is it?” the Cynthia von Doom said.

 

“I’m so sorry that I disrupted your aimless staring at the sky, Cindy, but I have some good news.” The Master of Limbo waved his hands and the chains fell off. “You are free to go. I hereby release you from Limbo.”

 

“What trick is this?” Cynthia looked around in disbelief.

 

“No trick, dear. Your son, Victor, has arranged for your release. This lovely blonde is going to take your place. I have no more need of you.”

 

“What is this?” Cynthia looked at the Phantom. “This woman is not dead. She is flesh and blood. I don’t even know who she is. She cannot be here.”

 

“Your son has found a way.”

 

“Who are you girl?” Cynthia kneeled next to Phantom. “Are you kin to me? Or did you commit some offense against my son, Victor? What was your crime? Tell me. You have nothing to fear from me.”

 

“My name is the Black Phantom, Mrs. Von Doom. I’m a friend of your son.”

 

“A friend?” Cynthia stood up and folded her hands. “You’re bound and naked. If this is how Victor treats his friends, I shutter to think how he deals with his enemies.”

 

“Enough small talk,” the Master of limbo interrupted. “I have what I want. Now, kindly leave Limbo, Cynthia.”

 

“I will not,” Cynthia held her ground. “I will not abandon someone else to serve my sentence… let alone an innocent woman who is not even a spirit. This is very cruel, Master of Limbo, even for the likes of you.”

 

“The doorway out of Limbo will only remain open for only a few minutes, Cynthia. I suggest you take it.”

 

“Then let her pass through it and I will remain.”

 

“The deal has been made. Only you can pass through. Don’t blow your opportunity. Frankly, I don’t care if you stay or go, but the girl remains here. If you don’t like it, then take it up with the Living Tribunal. Either leave or stay here.”

 

“Then I remain here!”

 

“No, Mrs. von Doom,” Phantom pleaded. “Don’t do that. It’s pointless for both of us to be exiled here. Your son, Victor, needs you. Without your help, he’ll suffer eternal damnation when he dies. Besides, my stay here is only temporary. What matters to me is inconsequential. You must help Victor.”

 

“What’s it going to be, Cindy?” the Master of Limbo pretended to look at a watch on his wrist. “Last chance… stay or go?”

 

“I’ll go… curse you!” Cynthia sneered at the Master of Limbo before turning her attention to Phantom. “Farewell, and thank you, brave heroine. Your sacrifice for my son will not be forgotten. I promise. However, you’ve been wronged in this dealing, I will make amends. I swear it!”

 

“Wait, Mrs. von Doom,” Phantom almost forgot. “When Bock stormed in on Victor, I forgot to tell him something. If you’re able to contact him, can you tell him… I love him, too?”

 

“Of course,” Cynthia smiled. Could it be possible that someone finally melted the cold heart of her ruthless son?

 

Then she was gone.

 

“Well, now,” the Master of limbo kneeled next to the Black Phantom and started to rub his hands in delight. “Now it’s time to have some fun. Let’s start the ball rolling with a simple question: Do you believe in true love… love at first sight.”

 

Phantom couldn’t believe that question but decided to indulge her new master anyway. “At the risk of sounding like a romantic fool… yes, I do. I believe that a few fortunate people have a true love out there… a soul mate… a perfect true love match. I’ve seen it happen only once in my lifetime to a friend of mine.”

 

“You are partially correct,” the Master of Limbo came back. “True love… soul mates… and love does exist for everyone… not just a few. The problem is that very few people get to meet their perfect match because they are often divided by countries or circumstances. Often soulmates exist in different times, different worlds, or in different universes… much like in your case. In you, I see a perfect bride.”

 

Phantom started laughing. “Do you mean to tell me that of all the women in all the universes, that I’m your true love? I hate to break this to you, but I’ve been looking at you for quite some time and I feel no feelings of love. You may be able to force me to be your bride… you may have made me your love slave… but you can never make me willingly love you.”

 

“Bravo,” the Master of Limbo clapped his hands in a mocking manner. “A most brave and excellent speech; however, there is no little detail that you and Doom never took into consideration. I said that for his mother’s release, I would except a bride… but I never said my bride.”

 

“What-What do you mean?” Phantom grew nervous.

 

“I didn’t pick you as a perfect bride for me. I found you to be a perfect bride for Doom… and perfect revenge.”

 

“What are you trying to do? This was not about me at all? It was about getting back at Victor? How? Why?”

 

The Master of limbo rolled his eyes at his captive. “For years he has battled me for the release of his mother and made me look like a fool. I know that his love for his mother was hurting him… but not hurting him enough. Then I had an idea: for every great man, there is a great woman. True love is more powerful than mother/son love. What if I were to trick Doom into exchanging his true love for his mother?”

 

“Even now he is agonizing in his decision to let you go. He is crying like a little baby. He will yearn for you so terribly that it will consume his very life… and slowly eat him away. He will neglect everything… lose his kingdom… neglect his own health because his heart aches. He will die a slow and agonizing death. Of course, he may kill himself and go to Hell for it… but that would help your situation as then I would free you.”

 

“You fiend!” Phantom hissed. “You monster! Victor is much too strong for that. He will overcome his heartache… or he will simply just forget me.”

 

“I doubt it, cutie-pie,” the Master of Limbo snapped his fingers and the pole with the scarecrow lowered to ground height. “I intend to give him a constant reminder.”

 

Bock untied the woman from the pole who collapsed on the ground. He unlocked the metal mask from her head and then tossed it to the Master of Limbo. Bock pushed the woman’s body with the soul of his boot until she started to stir.

 

“Rise and shine, bimbo,” Bock yelled at her. “Your tour of duty is over. Get the hell out of here before I change my mind. And put some clothes on! People will think that you’re a whore.”

 

Not one to argue about her new fortune, the woman ran quickly out of sight.

 

It was when she felt Bock’s burly hands on her shoulders, forcing her to remain still on her knees, as well as the Master of Limbo walking toward her and opening the mask, was when the Phantom realized what they intended.

 

“No, please,” she begged. “Not the mask. I can’t stand that. Nooooo!”

 

They both ignored her pleas as she futilely struggle while the Master of Limbo took the heavy, cold metal mask and locked it on to her head… hiding her beautiful face until it was removed.

 

“You are our new scarecrow, Phantom!” the Master of Limbo yelled over her screams and cries. “And there you will remain until Doom dies. His heartache will force him to look into Limbo from time to time to check up on you… and all he’ll see is your bound and naked body on this pole as a constant reminder of his stupidity. He will hear the wails of souls as they pity your plight. He will see you, but your face will remain hidden to him. You will be together… but always apart. Clever bastard, aren’t I.”

 

Bock placed Phantom on top so that the pole was between her back and her bound wrists. He used addition vines to secure her in place so that she wouldn’t fall off. Then the Master of Limbo raised the pole higher than before so that all of Limbo, and all those that peered into it, would see his helpless, captured prize.

 

 

It took a few hours before the Phantom lost all her strength to scream and plead. The mask was so heavy that she could not even keep her head up and she had to let to hang down to rest on her chest.

 

The once-proud and feared gunslinger/outlaw of the west was now reduced to a permanent display item to scare others.

 

Phantom let her body relax and accepted her fate.

 

 

*    *    *     *

 

Phantom had no idea how long she was up there. Days… weeks… months. She had no idea because every time she looked out the eye holes of the mask, the sky never changed. She could not determine the break between night and day.

 

For a long time, she prayed for help, hoping that the Higher Power might take pity on her and intervene on her behalf. Thus far, no one answered. Phantom knew that see did some dishonest things in her life, but nothing she believed to warrant such punishment.

 

Enduring scarecrow duty was taxing on a soul doomed to Limbo, and the Master of Limbo never realized that the drudgery was far worse for a flesh and blood mortal. The Black Phantom prayed for death. If she was to suffer this fate, then it should be as a soul, not a living person.

 

Her ordeal was not painful. It was boring and uneventful. There was no way to determine the passage of time or anyway to distract herself. All she could do was hang around and wait… until Victor died so that she could be released.

 

She began to wonder if the ordeal would render her insane. Would she be a broken woman when it was finally time for her release?

 

 

Finally, the Master of Limbo appeared before her… floating in the sky.

 

“How’s the view from up here, my charming scarecrow?” the Master of Limbo taunted her. “Good news. Doom is teetering on the precipice leading to insanity. It’s only a matter of time before he finally cracks. Would you like an early parole? All I need do is send a projection of you to him. Plead for him to take his life so that you can go free.”

 

Somehow, Phantom found the words to speak. “No. I won’t help you destroy Victor. If he kills himself, he’ll go straight to Hell. Never! I’ll stay her for ten times fifty years before I do that.”

 

“Have it your way, ungrateful trollop!” The Master of Limbo grabbed her mask and shook it silently. Her head banging on the inside metal made her head ring painfully. “It could take Doom years to die while he rots away in a padded room. I’m giving you one last chance to free yourself early.”

 

“No, thank you,” Phantom said softly despite her hurting ears. “I’d prefer to stay here and let things run their course.”

 

“Very, well. I hoped that you enjoyed this distraction. I promise that it will be the last. Farewell, you stupid…. Arrgggggh!”

 

An eldritch blast caught the Master of Limbo in the back as his body started to plummet downward.

 

Phantom managed to raise her heavy head and see the blurry image of Cynthia von Doom from her eyeholes.

 

“Fear not, my child,” Cynthia said. “I have come to save you.”

 

“Mrs. von Doom. How?”

 

“In my years of residence in Limbo the foolish Master has forgotten that in my physical form, I am a very powerful witch. I learned that my physical was not truly dead… merely resting. The Master prematurely stole my soul before I breathed my last. As a result, my body was rejuvenating itself rather than rotting away… getting stronger and stronger until my soul could rejoin it and come back to life. I’m more powerful than ever… and with that last blast, I was able to temporarily take a portion of the Master’s power.”

 

Cynthia effortless lifted Phantom from off the pole and took her to ground level. She removed Phantom’s mask and used her magic to finally dispel the Crimson Bands of Cyttorak and release her from her bonds for good.”

 

“Do you trust me, Victoria?”

 

“Yes,” Phantom muttered. “What’s going on?”

 

Cynthia used her augmented power to harmlessly blast Phantom’s mind and alter her memory.

 

She picked up Phantom’s limp, unconscious body as she carried the poor girl out of Limbo.

 

Cynthia would then use her temporary augmented magic to alter reality to an ending that she saw fit. She knew that by doing so, it would seriously drain her powers to where she would be a normal human with only slight mystical abilities.

 

Cynthia von Doom didn’t care and she was more than willing to pay the price.

 

She was a woman of her word, and she was going to make amends… one way or another.

 

 

Epilogue 1 (1880)

 

 

Cynthia von Doom had used her newly acquired power to give sentience to the LMD of the Black Phantom and also made her believe that she was the actual Black Phantom.

 

In this reality, Cynthia made Thomas Brodon grab on to the Phantom’s wrist as he fell so that the bullet hit her in a less vital area.

 

“You were lucky, Phantom,” said Doc Henderson as her finished stitching up her side. “The bullet went right through you without hitting any vital organs. If it had hit you just an inch to the left, I’d be looking at a dead woman.”

 

“Thank God, that you’re alright, Victoria,” said Tom. “If you died, it would have just ripped my heart to pieces.”

 

“Take her to the hotel, Tom,” said Henderson. “And make sure that she gets rest for the rest of the week.”

 

“Don’t worry, Doctor. I’ll take real good care of her.”

 

The Phantom said nothing as she reached over and kissed Tom. The doctor smiled as he packed up his bags and left them alone.

 

Epilogue 2 (Present Day)

 

 

In this time era, Cynthia used the last vestige of her power to create a reality in which she wasn’t gunned down by a nervous soldier and her husband, Werner von Doom, did not freeze to death in the mountains while protecting their son while hiding from King Vladimir.

 

With his kind parents to nature him, Victor von Doom did not despise humanity. Instead, he learned to embrace it. He did not get disfigured. He did become a master of science and sorcery put used it to help humankind rather than conquer it. He did create the Doctor Doom armor, but this armored hero was just as heroic as Iron Man.

 

Doctor Doom led a successful revolt that overthrew the cruel royal family of King Vladimir. The people of Latveria were so grateful to be liberated from under the thumb of Vladimir, that the wanted to proclaim Victor von Doom as the new monarch.

 

Doom declined and told his people that they should have a government with a democratically elected leader. It didn’t take long before Doom was unanimously elected president.

 

About a year later, President Doom married Victoria Fantom Blacke, a Wild West Show Entertainer.

 

 

 

As Victor admired his handsome face in the mirror, he left his robe fall to the floor so that he now had nothing on. His bride, Victoria, who was wearing nothing under the bed sheet was waiting for him

 

“Come now, Mr. President,” said Victoria. “Let’s hurry up and consummate this marriage so I can officially become First Lady.”

 

Victor smiled. “That, my dear, will be the greatest pleasure of my office.”

 

 

The End.

Flamingo Boy 1-7-08

(flamingoboyfun@gmail.com)