The introduction to A Town Called Pandemonium.
The town sits in the emptiness of the New Mexico Territory. If you wanted to visit – perhaps to make a deal with cattle baron Representation Calhoun, or conduct a different sort of transaction in the bordello of Waterloo Jones – it could be quite a memorable journey. The town is surrounded by ravines, mountains and an inhospitable desert. There’s no train, and the intermittent stagecoach guarantees only an uncomfortable passage.
Nor is Pandemonium’s isolation solely a matter of geography. In this slightly alternative history, the town has some unusual neighbors. The Anasazi still rule all their ancestral lands, uncommunicative and concerned only with their own unfathomable goals. The new state of Deseret sits to the north, its founding fathers looking hungrily at the unoccupied land of the New Mexico Territory.
For the residents of Pandemonium, however, this seclusion can be a blessing. This is a dying town, filled with the foolish, the reckless, the outcast, the hopeful and the truly desperate. From the sheriff to the undertaker’s wife, everyone has a secret. With the silver boom in the town’s past, these secrets weigh more heavily than ever before.
In Sam Sykes’ “Wish for a Gun” a lonely widower finds his heart’s desire buried right by his front door. The Deakins boys, from Will Hill’s aptly-named tale, also find something deep underground, something both extraordinary and horrible.
Both Archie Black’s “4.52 to Pandemonium” and Sam Wilson’s “Rhod the Killer” feature ostensible innocents. But they too are revealed as more what they seem, and may God have mercy on those unlucky folk who cross the paths of Rhodri Anwell and Mrs. Philpott.
The title character of Chrysanthy Balis’ “Belle Deeds” has her secret lust and, later, shame. Chrissie Miller discovers what happens behind closed doors in Den Patrick’s “Red Hot Hate”. While Osgood Vance’s “Sleep in Fire” and Scott K. Andrews’ “Grit” both feature men wrestling with their personal demons, Joseph D’Lacey’s hero struggles with an entire hidden history – and terrifying future. Dark deeds and darker secrets: Pandemonium is awash in them, and Jonathan Oliver’s “Raise the Beam High” explores the consequences of revelation. What happens when that which has been hidden is brought to light?
The stories of A Town Called Pandemonium – be they macabre, funny, dark or droll – are all linked together by the spectacular artwork of Adam Hill, who has given this played-out boom-town a whole new lease on life.
Welcome to Pandemonium.