In which our troubled hero is first alerted to his Destiny. Will he accept it? Or even remember where he put his car keys?
Mandraxe the Magician finally awoke, troubled by the fleeting shadow of the memory of a dream. Something to do with a Mission but all he could remember was the bit involving Sheryl Coke, media love-goddess, and a dog. The fatefully misfiring synapses of his mind had misplaced the all-important Mission and instead, the yearning for Deleter was early upon him.
The Mission was misfiled and the stabbing finger of recall could not place it but it could and did inflict intense pain on the left hemisphere of the Mandraxe brain. The right hemisphere meanwhile pulled up a stool, opened a newspaper and read the cartoon section waiting for the electrical storm next door to die down.
'Good morning to the day', he mumbled stumbling across the sticky curlicued carpet towards the shards of morning light emanating from the punctured brown curtains, 'but first, a drink. '
'What was it I needed to remember?' thought the tormented Magician 'I know it's important. The dream said so. No. It's gone. Ouch. O f***. O Deleter!! My one true love......'
The fragile Magician titubated towards the window sill where a not-quite-empty bottle of Deleter stood. He tripped over a stray cushion, stepped into a half full ashtray, cursed, hopped a yard forwards onto the sharp edge of a discarded can of strong lager, yelped, hopped from one foot to the other and fell heavily forward, head landing CLUNG! inside a stinking unemptied tin wastebin containing the remnants of a threeweek old tray of chicken chow mein takeaway, now Mandraxe’s white styrofoam crown. From beneath his crown out jutted rancid noodles like a greasy red fringe.
Just then, in his wife's dressingtable mirror, Mandraxe the Magnificent caught a fleeting sidewise glimpse of himself and a look of horror froze upon his reflection. And now the ginger noodles had cartoon faces on the ends and were now haranguing him in unison. They were shouting at him, telling him again the dream-truths he had forgotten in waking, but the cacophony of tiny anthropomorphic noodle voices was indecipherable to him. Only the pain inside his head told him he was really awake.
It was the final straw. His life like his curtains was in tatters. His arch enemy Exardnam was in the ascendency in their nightly psychic battles in the ethereal spectrasphere above Burslem. A three week old takeaway crowned his noble brow and was shouting at him in a strident chow mein accent. And his wife was gone. Her short note still clung by a curling corner to the door of the broken fridge, reviled and yet over time precious meyond measure to him, a Treskilling yellow of heartbreak.
'Sick and tyred (sic) of this shit. I fink youv gone mad. Goodbye.'
Quivering with delerium tremens, Mandraxe took his head into his hands and wept.
Fortunately he had not yet read the eviction notice which lay unopened beneath the sofa where he had inadvertently drop-kicked it.
Outside, above the grimy streets, the shabby Victorian terraces and the 1960s Modernist nightmare flats and crack piazzas of Burslem, a storm was brewing. Exardnam was growing stronger and Mandraxe seriously needed to get his act together. And quick.
The noodles fell silent. They knew he meant business.