There are worse things than mere evil...Copyright A. Nellis 1997"...fthagn," he said, finishing the incantation from the cheap-lookingpaperback with the glossy cover. The fluorescent lights failed entirelyto flicker due to a well-designed back-up circuit in the mall's electricalsystem. There was a brief swirl of foul, choking, black smoke, a miasmaof terrible otherworldly evil, but the air conditioning system sucked itaway before anyone was really bothered by it."Who dares summon the Black Pharaoh!" boomed the ominous figure that snappedsuddenly into existance like a cheap special effect from a particularly badepisode of Doctor Who. His form was shrouded in voluminous robes thatsmelled of strange spices from foreign lands, and his face was hidden behinda hideous mask of gold and alabaster that bore a slight resemblance to acrocodile.The teenager with the paperback looked over, a sneer of derision curling hislower lip. "Y'mind? I'm tryna read."The Black Pharaoh paused. A solidly-built woman pushing a stroller beforeher like a ram elbowed him into a shelf of "Dilbert" books, knocking hismask askew. Straightening his mask, the Black Pharaoh looked around him,nonplussed, noticing his surroundings for the first time.The book store was bright and cheerful, the walls painted a particularlynauseous shade of teal. It was crowded, and shoppers pushed and jostledaround him, shooting him dirty looks as they ducked their heads to avoid thesnout of his mask. Across the hall in the shopping mall was a women's shoestore advertising a mark-down clearance sale on grotesque Italian footwear.He turned back to the paperback-holder, an adolescent human male wearing allblack, with lank, greasy hair and numerous metallic rings puncturing thefleshy parts of his face. Ah, thought the Black Pharaoh, finally seeingsomething he understood. A cultist. Well, he knew how to deal with them."You have summoned the mighty Black Pharaoh, the Prince of Chaos. What isyour will, O Worshipper of Those-Who-Shall-Return?""Piece of crud," said the black-clad teenager, flipping the paperback ontothe shelf with disgust. He looked over at the robed horror he had summonedand blinked, as if surprised to see him. "You talkin' to me?"The Black Pharaoh clenched his fists. "Yes, O Invoker of the Sacred Rites.Whole cities shall fall at your feet, all men shall fear you. The CreepingChaos is loose once more upon the world. Augh! What are you doing? Getoff me!"Slapping angrilly, the Black Pharaoh warded the young man off who was tryingto bite his neck. The teenager scowled."I gotta drink your blood an' then we gotta sleep together, right? I readabout this," said the boy."That's disgusting," said the Black Pharaoh, grimacing. "No. You dohorrible and inhuman rites, and I give you vast power.""That's it?"