‘It is there…the relentless pressure of a million craving minds on the barrier of Time – and if it should break…’
From the author of The Body Snatchers and Time and Again, a collection containing:
Such Interesting Neighbours
The Third Level
Cousin Len’s Wonderful Adjective
Of Missing Persons
Something in a Cloud
There is a Tide…
Behind the News
Quit Zoomin’ Those Hands Through the Air
A Dash of Spring
Contents of the Dead Man’s Pocket
Cobwebs hung in weird, grotesque festoons from the vaulted roof. There was a strange odour in the ancient cellar. A bent figure crouches over forbidden books and mixes indescribably strange ingredients in a cauldron. The cauldron bubbles and foul fumes arise. The alchemist transfers the secret formula to a flask. It travels carefully and ceremoniously from flash to retort and back again. Unnatural things happen in the flask… terrifying things. Suddenly a human figure appears, yet it is not human in all respects. Has the alchemist made this strange, frightening thing, or has it come from realms beyond? The alchemist finds himself involved in a series of breathtaking psychic adventures such as he had never imagined possible even in his wildest dreams.
Throckmorton P. Ruddygore, master wizard, had troubles again – but this time, they were partly of his own making. He’d finally beaten the Dark Baron, stripped him of all magical power, and exiled him from Husaquahr to Earth. But he hadn’t counted on the Baron’s using a computer there to create even more effective spells.
Of course, the Baron couldn’t use those spells. But the forces of Hell soon sent him a second-rank wizard who could – and a demon in the cellar to amplify the spells’ power. And now the Baron was developing a scheme which would surely result in Armageddon before its time!
So once again Marge the fairy and Joe the barbarian were called on to do the dirty work. They had to return to their home world and somehow stop the Baron – if they could…
The beautiful young daughter of a wealthy family is robbed of her money and jewels, and she herself disappears soon after… A young man fleeing a band of murderous hobos becomes the target of a lynch mob…
Frozen to silent rigidity, they sat straining every faculty to catch the minutest sound from the black void where the dead man lay. As they listened there came up to them, mingled with inexplicable footsteps, a hollow reverberation from the dank cellar – a hideous dragging of chains behind the nameless horror which had haunted them through the interminable eons of the ghastly night. Up, up it came toward the room at the head of the stairs where they huddled fearfully. They could now hear quite clearly what might have been the slow and ponderous footsteps of a heavy man dragging painfully across the rough floor. It stopped in front of their hideout and all was silent. Suddenly their rang out against the silence of the awful night a piercing shriek, and a great The Oakdale Affair force began to bend the flimsy door…
Six stories from Phillip Mann, taken from his long and varied career.
Includes stories from the Out of Time Cafe, a very unusual refuge from reality. It attracts people afflicted with a deep malaise. It offers what seems from the outside to be sanctuary, but it can be subversive too, for on entering the cafe, one gives up a certain amount of independence, and before one knows it one is trapped. There is no escape… save one: the lift which services the cellars descends… but no one who has used the lift has ever returned. On a brighter note, the cafe has a will of its own, and travels different dimensions with ease and every journey is a new beginning.
Also featured are The Gospel According to Mickey Mouse, originally produced as a hugely successful radio play; Maestro;Lux in Tenebris, a cautionary tale about a medieval stonemason’s encounter with an anachronism and the effect it has on his culture; and An Old Fashioned Story, wherein Jody is having problems with his Sythno companion Elizabeth, who head butted him without warning. He is attempting to repair her. Then Elizabeth and her Sythno Joseph from next door drop in…
In every mouse’s long life, there comes a time when ancestral voices tell him to move on. Pedlar, a yellow-necked mouse, has reached that point. Told to leave the Hedgerow and go on a long journey, the adventurous mouse says his farewells and sets out for a far-distant country knows as The House. Reaching his destination, Pedlar enters a strange new world inhabited by many warring tribes: the Stinkhorns of the cellar, the great Savage Tribe in the kitchen, the library Bookeaters, the Invisibles, the Deathshead and the rebellious 13-K Gang.
During his stay, Pedlar witnesses a momentous truce, in which the tribes come together at an Allthing meeting and decide to rid themselves of the greatest pests in The House, the greedy, stupid nudniks – the humans. And so the Great Nudnik Drive is set in motion, a time of considerable anxiety for the nudniks, when clocks strike twenty and inanimate objects seem to have a life of their own. Ranged against the mouse tribes are the nudniks’ allies: the two cats, Eyeball the Burmese blue and Spitz the ginger tom; the Headhunter, a barbarian human child; and Little Prince, the Headhunter’s cannibalistic pet white mouse. The House becomes a hotbed of riot and discord, until Pedlar finally comes up with a solution. The outcome of this heroic struggle has gone down in the annals of mouse history, a history tens of thousands of days long, and the whole remarkable tale is recorded here, between these pages.