COINS OF CHAOS, ed. by Jennifer Brozek. Edge Science Fiction and Fantasy (www.edgewebsite.com), 2014, 232 pp., $14.95. ISBN 978-1-77053-048-5. Click here to purchase.
A 1913 Buffalo nickel can be seemingly harmless. In this collection, the nickel, in all its permutations, effects, locations, and meaning, could create horrors of its own. The carvings made are powerful and the demons unleashed almost unstoppable.
This story collection has the terrifying permutations of this one rare coin, its effect on sinners and saints.
“The Price of Serenity” by Kelly Swails. In 1928, Charles and Lillian fight. Charles walks away to do some drinking and later comes home, hoping to make up, but accidentally causes a fire. The fire claims the life of his beloved son, Daniel, but Charles rescues Lillian, who never forgives him. Charles tries so hard to rescue Daniel, to no avail. At a carnival, a fortune teller gives Charles a coin - perhaps a way to make contact with the netherworld. Charles comes in contact with Oscar, willing to make a deal - to talk with Daniel again - if Charles would do a very illegal deed. Which Charles does and finds out Daniel has not forgiven him. But Daniel can now move on from a purgatory, while Charles stays in one.
“Spendthrift” by Jay Lake. Springfield McKenna, businesswoman at the start of World War II in the Dutch East Indies, comes across the hobo coin - and the more she tries to get rid of it the more problems she faces. And when her plane crashes in enemy Japanese territory, the fighter she is stands up against the coin and the enemy.
“Lies of the Flesh” by Nathan Crowder. Skull is possessed with finding the truth about the past - HIS past. Because he knows the lies of the flesh. He knows that something, even his personal history, can be as superficial and fleeting as flesh. Only bones are real.
“Train Yard Blues” by Seanan McGuire. A trainspotter (a ghost aboard a train) has to deal with the “tithe” train, a train he must exit.
“Skull of Snakes” by Glenn Rolfe. Innocent boys fall victim, one by one, to the horrid bad luck of the buffalo nickel. When one of them loses the coin, the bad luck is transferred to an adult. The havoc the coin wreaks is too much.
“Searching for a Hero” by Dylan Birtolo. A man who acts heroically to stop a convenience store robbery is given a gift of the hobo coin. But the confidence he feels is deceptively dangerous and his fate is similar to those who came before him.
“Something in the Blood” by Kelly Lagor. The “Fall of the House of Usher” happens, in this tale, in the present day, mixed of course with the fate of a hobo coin.
“Definitely Dvorak” by Mae Empson. Katie is a music student who, while awaiting a cab, is attacked by a rapist. She manages to fend him off, but not until she is physically very damaged. All because she kept that 1913 Buffalo coin.
“Justice in Five Cents” by Richard Dansky. An insurance adjuster ends up with the evil hobo coin and finds out from a coin appraiser just how deadly it is.