In Hell, Everyone’s Pants are on Fire!
Faux News and Big Lies might feel like a contemporary pain, but rest assured, dear reader! Your curse has been shared. Liars have been meddling with humanity throughout history. Here ye the accounts of their eternal demise journaled by the damnedest writers in perdition. Note, that each themed entry in the Heroes in Hell™ series can be read separately. Hell has many entry points.
Going back some years ago to Doctors in Hell (2015, to be exact), we introduced a series of plagues in Hell, sent by Erra, the Babylonian god of plagues and pestilence. He and his Seven Sibitti were sent down into Hell to punish the damned in ways Satan should have been meting out punishment. Satan had become too lax, too lenient, and Erra and his gang had been sent on a “mission from God” to show the Prince of Darkness how it’s done. These plagues have remained the consistent, underlying arc through Doctors in Hell, Pirates in Hell, Lovers in Hell, and Mystics in Hell. And then, in 2020, life imitated art when the Covid pandemic began to spread across the globe. Now, with Liars in Hell, art takes its turn and imitates life as we deal with some real events that have happened over the course of the last seven or so years.
Everyone Lies, Everyone Dies
The Big Lie, a term much bandied about in recent times. The stories in Liars in Hell reflect this. Each one has some grounding innot only history but our present-day reality, as well. Following closely on the heels of the previous volume, Mystics in Hell, in this new addition to the series things in the infernal afterlife have gone from bad to worse. Erra’s plagues are still raging. His personified weapons, the Seven Sibitti, are still abroad, meting out justice and injustice to the guilty and innocent alike — although in Hell, innocence is pretty much an abstract concept. Still, the Damned try hard to be on their best behavior, although that’s more often than not an exercise in futility, like praying in Hell. But Satan has become more proactive, both directly and indirectly, covertly and overtly. Satan will not be reduced to the role of a mere spear-bearer — not in his house. Not in his demesne.
Body-counts in Hell are rising due to the plagues and rising civil unrest, but all the countless circles and levels of Infernity are still overcrowded. Old Dead of the BCE era, as well as the New Dead of the modern era fear “Obliteration,” which is the wiping out of one’s total existence, erasing everything you are and once were, leaving not even a memory that you once existed. Satan and his Angel of Death are using multimedia to get their messages across, blaming the Almighty and those Above for the rise in misery. Torture is the response of the devil’s fallen angels to any transgression, real or imagined. New horrors are introduced and inflicted on the lost souls: those who have been maimed but not destroyed on the Undertaker’s table are being sent back out into Hell only partially Reassigned. And they are randomly killing the weak, the plague-infected, and those different from themselves as various factions fix blame and count coup. New Dead and Old Dead alike seek shelter throughout the many levels and circles of Hell, where they hope to hide. But since Liars are in the ascendancy everywhere among the manifold hells, there is no truth to be found and no safety in perdition.
Now the Spark of War has Been Ignited and Soon the Flames Will be Fanned
Seven Degrees of Lying
The opening story in Liars in Hell is by Janet and Chris Morris, and it’s called Seven Degrees of Lying. Under Lord Byron’s protection for a night, Percy Shelley is abducted and drowned. Honor bound, Byron sets out to find and rescue him, dragging Christopher Marlowe, Shakespeare, the Inklings, Satan, Lord Walsingham, and J, the mysterious Bible writer, into the first skirmish of the Liars War. Even Byron’s dog, Boatswain, gets in on the act.
The Liar, the Witch and the Ward Robes
In Andrew P. Weston’s The Liar, the Witch and the Ward Robes, Daemon Grim, the devil’s henchman, is on the hunt for maligning malcontents who seek to evade His Satanic Majesty’s most definitive form of punishment: that of eternal torment and suffering. It’s hard to believe that after all this time there are still those who think they can play fiddle with the rules. But as they learn to their cost, the devil is in the details, and he always wants his due.
Bait and Switch
S. E. Lindberg’s Bait and Switch is a fascinating, behind-the-scenes exposé for living large in Hell . . . by lying, naturally. Renowned tomb raider Howard Carter and his compatriot, discredited evolutionist Ernst Haeckel, are tasked by Anubis to clear the canals that connect the Egyptian underworld of Duat to New Hell. Unearthing arcana lures the duo into neglecting their duties to master the riddle of life, and faux news, while robbing naïve wealth seekers. Read this to learn their secrets to success.
Fibbers in Hell
Next up is Fibbers in Hell, by Michael H. Hanson. The biggest lynching in the history of hangings is occurring in Hell’s old west town of New Bodie. The only problem is that the three famous liars — Chief Doublehead, a/k/a Incalatanga, one of the most feared warriors of the Cherokee nation; D.H. Ridgely, one of the survivors of the Little Big Horn massacre; and Pearl Hart, the Canadian-born outlaw who committed one of the last recorded stagecoach robberies in the Old West — do not take too kindly to their loved ones being strung up. With the aid of a mysterious and powerful being, these three fibbers are going to try an impossible rescue.
The Münchhausen Trilemma
Richard Groller’s The Münchhausen Trilemma, concerns the infamous Baron Münchhausen, who seeks redress through the courts in Hell, saying his family name has been besmirched and that he is truly not “The Baron of Lies.” New Hell lawyers, with the assistance of the members of the Bavarian Illuminati, the Demon Pazuzu and Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, the German poet, playwright, novelist, scientist, and statesman, prosecute the case using subterfuge to strike a blow against the Injustice System.
In my own Hell’s Bells, it’s business as usual in the Afterlife. Everybody wants something. Doctor Frankenstein wants to build a time machine. Movie star Errol Flynn wants to go along for the ride. The Hunchback of Notre Dame wants to find and ring the Bells of Perdition which, as legend has it, if rung three times will open the Gates of Hell, thus allowing the Damned to escape. But is it truth or just another lie? Meanwhile, Ferdinand Demara, a/k/a The Great Imposter, and his partner, P.T. Barnum, the carnival huckster and circus showman, are tracking our intrepid trio’s every move for Satan. Special guest appearances include Pinocchio and Geppetto, Triboulet the famous French Court Jester, Mister Hyde, Ernest Hemingway, Vincent van Gough, Grigori Rasputin, and Anna Anderson, the most famous of the Princess Anastasia impersonators. It’s one helluva ride for all.
School of Night
Janet and Chris Morris close this latest volume in the Heroes in Hell™ series with their tale, School of Night. Caught between powers Above (Erra) and below (Satan), Sir Francis Walsingham enlists Christopher Marlowe to stave off a cataclysm between the two. Satan and author John Milton visit the Inklings Club. The confrontational climax at the School of Night also involves Sir Walter Raleigh, “Wizard” Henry Percy, 9th Earl of Northumberland, and J the Bible writer. At the School of Night, Erra receives a lesson on the human condition, as the Liars War reaches New Hell.
So come visit Hell and enjoy the company of our heroes and villains. There’s plenty of action, drama and gallows humor to go around. But bring your own pitchfork. It’s better to have it and not need it, than it is to need it and not have it. You never know when it might come in handy.
Joe Bonadonna is the author of the heroic fantasies Mad Shadows—Book One: The Weird Tales of Dorgo the Dowser (winner of the 2017 Golden Book Readers’ Choice Award for Fantasy); Mad Shadows — Book Two: The Order of the Serpent; Mad Shadows—Book Three: The Heroes of Echo Gate; the space opera Three Against The Stars and its sequel, the sword and planet space adventure, The MechMen of Canis-9; and the sword & sorcery pirate novel, Waters of Darkness, in collaboration with David C. Smith. With co-writer Erika M Szabo, he penned Three Ghosts in a Black Pumpkin (winner of the 2017 Golden Books Judge’s Choice Award for Children’s Fantasy), and its sequel, The Power of the Sapphire Wand. He also has stories appearing in: Azieran: Artifacts and Relics; Savage Realms Monthly (March 2022); Griots 2: Sisters of the Spear; Heroika I: Dragon Eaters; Poets in Hell; Doctors in Hell; Pirates in Hell; Lovers in Hell; Mystics in Hell; Liars in Hell; Sinbad: The New Voyages, Volume 4; Unbreakable Ink; Stand Together — A Collection of Poems and Short Stories for Ukraine; the shared-world anthology Sha’Daa: Toys, in collaboration with author Shebat Legion; and with David C. Smith for the shared-universe anthology, The Lost Empire of Sol. In addition to his fiction, Joe has written numerous articles, book reviews and author interviews for Black Gate online magazine.
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