September 26th 2013
ISBNs: 978-1-909208-10-0 (Print)
WINNER of the Best Anthology Award Saboteur2014
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There’s something about Liars’ League that brings out the wildness in the writers’ imaginations. Here we explore myth, fantasy, science fiction, and the indefinable what the – that makes up Weird. In true Liars’ League fashion there is as much humour as there is darkness and poignancy.
More than twenty tales, varying in style from stories not out of place in One Thousand and One Nights, to the completely bemusing.
Discover mirrors that predict the immediate future and museums where your personal future life is exhibited in the kind of ephemeral objects that might normally find their way into a dustbin.
Meet tadpoles, lazy assassins, and assiduous poisoners; observe deals with the devil, and workplace stress taken to its logical conclusion.
Heroes, villains, and animals – anything and anyone could provide the twist in the tale – cursed travellers, persistent dreamers, aliens, robots and even ice might be the object, or source, of love.
Andrew Lloyd Jones
Derek Ivan Webster
Joshan Esfandiari Martin
Rebecca J Payne
Icosi Bladed Scissors – Alex Smith
‘Basil, darling, I’m in no mood for killing … I will tell you some little tale of each of my twenty blades, and then if you’re still set on a gruesome demise by the Icosi-jian (jian is Mandarin for scissors), well, I suppose I’ll have to indulge you.’ Since Baochi was superstitious about starting at the beginning, she spoke first of blade number two, that of a pair of sewing scissors, which she claimed to have plucked from the painting Degas only called his ‘genre picture’, although in spite of the artist’s wish, commentators ever after insist the painting be named The Rape, and still others claim it must depict a scene from a novel by Zola.
ChronoCrisis 3000 – Andrew Lloyd-Jones
During your reconnaissance, you will need to use your digital scopes to gather visual data. We cannot be sure whether or not the pictures will continue to exist on your return, because in theory, if your mission is a success and you return with the necessary information, the future you are currently witnessing will already have ceased to exist. Although it could continue to exist, but in a different universe, in which case you will have moved through dimensions instead of time. Greg in quantum mechanics however, seems to think that you move in both time and space as a result of your jump. He came in the other day waving a coat hanger and a globe, and this was apparently meant to demonstrate something about the space time continuum, but none of us could understand what he was on about.
Fuzzby & Coo – Angela Trevithick
He returns the next day. I rush to him; there’s something in his beak, which I take from him. He flies off again the moment the object is mine.
He’s brought me a pencil. I press a finger against the tip and gasp as the sharp point pierces my flesh. I scribble on the walls. I twirl it around my fingers. I stare at it so hard that I don’t hear my stepmother put the key in the lock, and I forget to scream and cry and yell.
The next morning I wake at dawn and sit by the window, waiting for Fuzzby. He arrives with a tiny square of paper in his beak. The note reads:
Prince Charming seeks Damsel in Distress. Must have fairy tale looks and dream of a happy ending. Needs g.s.o.h and to be d.t.e. Prefer n/s, s/d.
Derby of Lost Souls – Barry McKinley
‘Would you sell your soul to see the Floyd in concert?’
‘Sure,’ I said.
Paul made a slashing gesture across his palm with the Stanley knife and before I could get out of the way, two or three droplets of bright red blood came splashing down on my cheek.
‘Hey! What are you doing?’ I said, jumping up.
‘Let’s sign our satanic pact in blood.’
‘I don’t want your blood all over me.’
He took a paper tissue out of his pocket and held it tight in his fist. I took the knife and nicked the back of my middle finger.
‘Our souls for Pink Floyd and Knebworth,’ we chanted as we mixed our blood together.
Then, the Angelus bells in town started ringing.
The Icicle – C.T. Kingston
‘Extraordinary,’ murmured the prince, glancing again at the white, shining woman.
‘She is truly my masterpiece,’ sighed the Northern sculptor. ‘A shame she will not last.’
‘What! What do you mean?’
‘Ice must thaw, my lord, and return to the water it once was. See, at her heart, there is a tiny flaw? It is the icicle from which she was formed. Water ran over it, and froze, creating a great crystal, and from that I carved her. She will have melted away by tomorrow.’
The prince touched his finger to the ice-maiden’s face; it came away bearing a cold drop of water, like a single tear.
‘What a pity,’ he said softly.
The Love Below – David Malone
My brother suffers from Kunderan vertigo; a heady, insuperable desire to fall upward. There is very little we can do other than try to weigh him down. On the day of his baptism, the priest informed my parents that David had a ‘heavenly calling’. He meant it literally.
His condition dictates that he varies in lightness. Upon leaving the house my mother, who is more of a worrier than my father, stuffs books into his coat pockets. She does this to quell her fear that one day his feet will simply up and abandon the pavement.
‘We have to take precautions, Alma,’ I am reminded as she wedges hardbacks into his duffel.
Content Management – Derek Ivan Webster
‘When were we married?’
‘My final go live date was –’
‘When were we married?’ she gently corrected him.
‘On January 12th, 2020.’
‘Good,’ she nodded. ‘And what is today’s date?’
‘January 12th, 2025.’
‘Exactly,’ she smiled. ‘Now, define anniversary.’
His mind buzzed, happy to receive such a tangible activity. When he spoke his words took on a deliberate monotone: ‘New Oxford, American Edition. An-ni-ver-sa-ry. Noun; the date on which an event took –’
‘Special usage. The date on which a country or other institution –’
‘The date on which a couple was married in a previous year. Example,’ his words suddenly adopted the manufactured singsong of an overzealous actor, ‘He even forgot our tenth anniversary!’
‘Enough,’ she said softly.
Jethro – Ellen O’Neill
Ol’ Jethro, he’s tall as a grizzly and twice as ornery. Like to died the first time he walked in my door, stooping so low his nose scuffed the floor, beard like a broom sweeping it clean, just so’s his head wouldn’t bang against the top of the door frame. Would’ve pulled the whole house down if he did that. He’d come in, all scrunched up like, stuffing himself into my ol’ comfy easy chair like it’s a toy one – you know, like in little Addie’s doll house, the one her daddy Joe made her when she turned six. Just before Joe died, that was. Anyway, that’s what he looked like, Jethro, when he’d come to visit – a giant in a doll house. Had the bellow of a lion been done wrong – least got his tail stepped on. Yep, tall as a grizzly and roar like a lion, that man.
Let There Be Light – James Smyth
Some evenings we sit on her porch, swaddled in blankets, and she lets me lay my head on her lap. She puts her warm hand on my forehead, and she talks to me. She tells me that she remembers what it was like before, when the world turned, and the sun rose, and everything was all right.
‘Do you mean you dream about it,’ I say, ‘Because sometimes I –’
‘No.’ She cuts me off. ‘I remember it.’
I know this can’t be true. Nobody remembers those days. Nobody is old enough. And yet, when she strokes my hair, and speaks to me in that voice, I can almost believe it.
‘Tell me about it,’ I say.
Daphne Changes – Joshan Esfandiari Martin
Dough was nice. Kneading it and pressing it against her skin, she found it soothed the dry blotches on her wrist. Tino complained. He kept finding slivers of hard skin in the bread, like wood shavings. In the later stages of her condition Deedee took to encasing her shins in wet pastry. Tino said she was going crazy, but the irritation was so intense she would have happily bought her clothes at a bakery, if only it might help. At night she would have vivid dreams: being baked whole, en croûte, by Tino.
Haiku Short, Parakeet Prawns, Konnichiwa Peter – Lee Reynoldson
I often dream that I am Japanese.
My mornings are cold, dark, tea-swilled, burnt-toast mornings.
In my Japanese dreams, I glide through Tokyo’s electric nights waiting for the sun to rise. I am old, serene, patient. I have seen many things, many beautiful things in my Japanese dreams, but I have yet to see the blossoms fall.
My world is street-lit and red-bricked.
Wet, fag-butt-littered, chuddy-splattered streets drift by as I’m bus-shook to work.
Dumped out, spewed into an industrial estate land, I’m fag-gasping into the factory that owns my soul, shrinks my aching Western heart.
Antique Shopping – Lennart Lundh
‘No chips or scratches in the silvering,’ she reported. ‘Come over here and see what you think. I’m guessing there’s a very attractive couple in the mirror.’
I stood next to her, on her left, and looked.
‘Um, what a shame. There must be a flaw in the glass. I can see me,’ I told her, ‘But not you.’
She didn’t answer immediately, but shifted her weight from one foot to the other and then back, all the while looking intently at the mirror. ‘That,’ she finally said, ‘is strange.’
‘You didn’t tell me you had vampire blood in you,’ I joked.
‘Trade places with me.’
I moved to stand on her right side. ‘Okay, so the mirror has vampire blood in its family.’ Now I could see her reflection but not my own.
Candyfloss – Maria Kyle
Used to be, every other night I saw her; sometimes every night.
How’d I know it was night? Everybody dreams at night, don’t they? Night-time was for her and me and the banal monsters and the uncanny clowns and the people you know with the faces you don’t. Carnevale.
So yeah, every few nights. The dark would come out like a fox from the shadows and so would she. And there I’d be, waiting for her. Always.
An Account of Six Poisonings – Nichol Wilmor
My sign was the pestle and mortar. My knowledge was roots and seeds, vines and leaves, bulbs and berries. I was a grinder, a blender, a crusher, a mulcher; I was a master of tubers. I mixed the tinctures and measured the powders that might cure or kill. (A single grain may be the difference between health and death.) Mine was a calling, a position of trust. I was the court’s poisoner.
Free Cake – Peng Shepherd
After the Cleaning Crew leaves and my team returns to work, I close my door and sit at my desk, staring down at my hands. I have to find a new Assistant Director of Communications now, a task which is not easy. The now-former Assistant Director of Communications, the exploded one, was excellent at his job. No one else in the Communications Department has the same amount of experience or expertise. I will have to interview external candidates.
But worst of all, I have to reset our DAYS WITHOUT EXPLOSION! counter back to zero, which puts my department in last place, and gives the lead to the Sales division, with 52. I step back and look at the row of DAYS WITHOUT EXPLOSION! counters on the wall in the staff kitchen and sigh. Even Finance is ahead of us now.
Worms’ Feast – David Mildon
A sudden hush fell upon the room as the landlord wiped down a dusty blackboard. Soon every man in the room was clutching a little scrap of paper like my companion’s, each with a line of red digits stamped upon it.
As the chalk squeaked out 10 lines of numbers, the room filled with perverse cries of jubilation as men realised they were not amongst the winners. Once the landlord replaced the white stick, ten men hefted packs, belts and canvas bags and moved towards the back of the room.
Hollow Man – Rebecca J Payne
Here – take my coat. It’s all right, I won’t notice the difference – the whole of this world feels cold to me. Where I come from it’s so hot that the air itself is on fire all day and night. And the stink of it sometimes! That takeaway across the street is cooking rancid meat. Can you smell it? It’s like that everywhere back home. Rotten, foul, burning flesh. I don’t know how I put up with it for so long before coming here. Hold on to me if you think you’re going to stumble; I want to get you home safely.
The Museum of the Future – Richard Meredith
The Museum itself was a vast, abandoned warehouse piled to the roof with every kind and colour of trash you could ever think of. Old furniture, newspapers, scratched CDs and cracked DVDs and worn-out electrical junk; clothes outgrown, toys and gadgets abandoned, broken jewellery, faded photographs. I especially remember the cellphones, thousands of them, old and battered even when they were some razor-thin, ultramodern design that probably hadn’t even been thought of yet.
‘What the hell?’ I said. If I was just going to be shown the contents of a hundred dumpsters and told that this was the future, I wanted my goddamn kidney back.
‘Chill,’ said my guide, ‘I’ve found your stuff.’ He flicked his torch eyes over to where a freestanding glass case, about the size of an icebox, emerged under his gaze from the darkness. A sign on it said ‘Exhibit 1’
Touchdown – Christopher Samuels
‘Jesus Christ,’ said Hanne, blanching even further, and crossing herself. The craft began to list and turn; I could feel the skewed g-forces pushing me out of my chair. I grabbed the control column and wrestled it, my hands slick with sweat, and through my head ran a mantra: Jesus, Allah, Buddha, Jehovah, Beelzebub – just get us out of this alive and I will give you anything.
Needless to say, that’s something I now rather regret.
What H20 Feels Like to the Tadpoles – Tom McKay
It’s like a thick clean canvas on a cold tented night they say, it’s like pulling the hood up on your jacket real tight – it’s like a world of beads you can never part, it’s like a fishy momentum, it’s like cracking an egg cleanly onto a bed of flour – and then they reconsider and shake their heads and say, no, no, it’s not like that at all.
We’re not following, we say, exasperated, we don’t understand – and those of them with small developing hands point at us questioningly.
Heriot – Richard Smyth
I am grateful for the doctors, who are reasonable men and women. There is another man here. Danny, he is called. I am not sure how reasonable he is.
When I first arrived here he engaged me in conversation. This was before I had been briefed by the doctors. I told him the truth, as I then believed it to be.
I am Professor Martin Heriot, I said. In June twenty-one-sixty-three I, as the project leader at the Fysiska Institutionen at the University of Lerwick, submitted to an innovative treatment devised by our researchers. I did not enter into detail: I don’t think Danny would have understood the detail. It was intended, I said, that I should achieve retrograde motion in the temporal plane.
He gasped, and said: ‘you mean…?’
There was a long pause. I realised that he hadn’t the faintest idea what I meant. I told him that it had been intended that I should travel back in time. And that it appeared that that objective had been achieved.
The Last Words of Emanuel Prettyjohn – Jonathan Pinnock
Eric Jones, self-styled cult survivor and webmaster of silentgabrielisanevilbastard.com
Those swine wrecked my life. Before I joined them, I had a job. I had a wife. I had access to my kids. More than that, I had self-respect. But a year with them and I was a raving nutter, reduced to living on the streets. You would not believe some of the things I saw.
And that Silent Gabriel, he should be strung up for some of the things he done. Just ask him how much he’s making out of this, next time you see him. But you won’t get an answer. I guarantee you that.
Zwo – Alan Graham
Like much of Berlin, the airport was undergoing sizable reconstruction, which meant that given our mutual struggle with the German language it took a while to find where to meet Krond’s friends off their flights. I never quite knew how to deal with recognizing Krond’s otherworldly co-stars. You could go by their appearance in posters from their heyday, but decades had passed, and who knew how they might age, if at all?
The Wolfman from Sirius seemed completely unchanged from his glory days, while the Creature From The Black Lagoon had turned grey. Krond bounded over to them, his clawed arms more than lengthy enough to surround them both. The Creature twitchily fished out a cigarette, ‘We can s-s-moke in this airport, c-can’t we kid?’ he asked me, lighting up before I could answer. The Wolfman gave nothing away, his eyes hidden behind expensive sunglasses.
The Elephant in the Tower – David McGrath
I have been kidnapped by the English, whipped and smacked inside a box then carted to Hell, a stinking, rainy, festering, muddy-muck, flea-ridden, soiled, bubonic hideousness of a Hell.
I have yet to be told of a reason.
I have yet to be officially received by nobility.
I have been simply kidnapped, stolen across the sea and locked in the Tower. There are three lions already imprisoned here and when I called to them for some sort of explanation, they roared me quiet because I had woken them. A mangy polar bear then sauntered over and asked my name without a third party’s introduction, just alright there, geezer! What’s your name then? I don’t know what came over me but I was not going to stand there and be asked my name without knowing the asker’s title or standing. I, well, it’s indecent but I ran at him. Shackles were placed upon my feet as result, these jailors declaring me unruly. The cretins! There is such a disgusting smell in this place. They have constructed a box for me to sleep in, no bigger than half of me. Tomorrow I shall wake up in Poissy, in Louis’s arms, and this will all have been a foul nightmare.