As a younger man, Hank Spectre enjoyed a meteoric rise to Croquet fame. After leading a team to beat the Soviets. Hank Spectre turned around to clean up the world of Professional Croquet. His stories have been made into daytime dramas. But one story, nobody knows. The day Hank Spectre beat the Devil himself in a game of Croquet, and paid a terrible price.
He was a super star who had it all, and was considered the World’s Greatest Croquet Player. Yet, Hank Spectre still wasn’t happy, he had been the underdog all his life, and was lost now that there seemed to be no more Goliaths to his David.
He sunk into a depression, and traveled back to his families old home in Georgia looking for pieces of who he was.
As he wondered the forests at the base of the Appalachians, he came across an old man setting upon a hickory stump, whittling a croquet mallet.
Pursuing, perhaps, a thread of wisdom, Hank asked the old man if he would like to play a round.
The old man cackled in a voice like needles,
“Boy, you ain’t stand a chance to the likes a’ me. Yer a hasbeen, yer all washed up, you abandoned Georgia and now ain’t no one care fer Hank Spectre. You ain’t nothing, and you can’t play Croquet worth a damn”
This hit Hank and toyed with his greatest fears and frustrations, he gripped that old man by the whiskers and lifted him up off the stump.
“Listen old timer, Georgia never did me no favors, and fame ain’t a suit that fits right on me, but if The Lord, Jesus, and the Devil all rolled up into one, I’d still beat the britches off ‘im cause I’m the best Croquet player there ever was.”
The old man just chuckled bitterly, and wandered back a ways till they came to a meadow with wickets and stakes already set up.
And so they played Croquet, and with each stroke the old man revealed bits of his true form. Horns spiraled out from his head, his shoes broke apart to reveal cloven hooves, and when he opened his mouth you could spy the glimmer of a forked tongue.
But Hank didn’t notice, for once he had found an opponent to match his skill. They Roquet’d back and forth sending the other’s ball out into the dust. They played on through evening, where the light of distant hellfire kept the course lit. With a look of surprise and dismay, the devil realized the Hank Spectre was not the push-over mortal he expected. A trick bounce with a curve, and Hank Spectre passed the last wicket, hit the start post, and finished the game in a single stroke.
And with that hit, Hank saw the Devil for what he was, as the Beast drew up to his full height, his gnashing teeth dripping with acid.
“Well played Spectre, your God has saved you.” the ends of the Devil’s mouth curled into a wry smile.
“Heaven ain’t got nothing to do with it! I told you once and I’ll tell you again, you Son of a Gun, I’m the best there’s ever been, better’n you, better’n Jesus, and better’n the Almighty himself.” But as Hank blasphemed the Devil roared with laughter. Hank felt a chill like he’d never felt the warmth of a sunny day, and the Devil faded away leaving the smell of sulphur and smoke.
Through his hubris, Hank Spectre had woven a curse that has forever bound his soul to his mallet. Spurned by both heaven and hell, he wanders the lawns immortal.
He has since been recruited into the Croquet Intelligence Agency, using his talents to take out high risk Croquet Criminal Organizations. He’s worked his way up to the top, and has been functioning undercover in an attempt to track down the terrorist organization known as the Pall Mall.
However, a note has made it’s way to his attention. A dark claim and a darker offer to lift Spectre’s curse, and give him his life again. Will he hope again for a chance of redemption, does he dare trust the men he’s devoted to hunt, we’ll see as Hank Spectre enters the arena of Killer Croquet.