Authors: Michael Richan
The Impossible Coin
By Michael Richan
By the author:
The Dark River series:
All three series are part of
and there is crossover of some characters and plots. For a
suggested reading order, see the
Copyright 2014 by Michael Richan
All Rights Reserved.
characters appearing in this work are fictitious.
Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.
paperback version of this book is available at most major online retailers.
Published by Dantull (1487
“I’ll go first,” Awan said. “You
two stay to the side. They know me, but if they see you, they’ll be suspicious.
Once I walk through the door, you can come out of hiding and follow me in.”
“Do you think they’re armed?” Deem
“Hard to say,” Awan replied.
“They’re both a couple of bozos, really.”
“Great,” Winn said. “Stupid people
“Just be forceful, don’t take any
backtalk,” Awan said. “They’ve never heard of blood souring anyway, so they
won’t know what I’m doing. Keep them confused until I’m done.”
Winn was itching to get on with
it. “Alright,” he said. “Let’s go.”
“Deem?” Awan asked. “You ready?”
Deem looked a little nervous.
“I’ve only used a shotgun before,” she said, looking down at the pistol Awan
“Remember, we’re not here to shoot
anyone,” Awan said. “If I wanted to kill these guys, I wouldn’t have gone to
the trouble to get the ghost matter. Your job is just to scare them and get
them onto the floor; I’ll handle the rest.”
“Right,” she said, gulping.
They got out of Awan’s truck,
parked a few hundred feet from the trailer on the outskirts of town. As they
walked toward it, they passed piles of rusted metal and discarded objects,
items the brothers had disposed of without bothering to cart off to the county
landfill. The closer they got to the trailer, the more junk rose out of the
Deem and Winn positioned
themselves on either side of the door, and Awan paused for a moment, looking at
both of them before he knocked, making sure they were ready.
Winn held the gun up against his
chest. As he released the safety, he recalled scouting for ghost matter with
Awan several weeks back, harvesting it from a mine outside of Fallon. The
brothers inside the trailer had been using Callers to extort money from local
townsfolk, threatening them with ghostly visitations if they didn’t pay up. The
brothers had become way too greedy and frightened so many people that some had
approached Awan to see if he could do anything to help. Awan, Winn, and Deem
all had the gift, an ability to enter a place called “the River” and see all of
the things others could not: a constant flow of hidden images, including
This should go fine,
as long as they don’t have a Caller in there with them right now.
hated Callers – always had. Callers were ghosts that became ambitious and
struck deals with local cave spirits. Callers were more powerful than normal
ghosts, thanks to abilities bestowed upon them by the cave spirit in exchange
for what the cave spirits desired most – blood. Callers were always looking for
blood to provide to the cave spirits, to keep up their end of the deal. Cave
spirits preferred human blood but would take whatever blood the Caller
The brothers inside the trailer
struck a deal with a Caller to scare people in town who didn’t pay their
extortion money. In exchange, the brothers kept the Caller supplied with fresh
kill they could use to feed their cave spirit. Awan discovered that the
brothers were usually supplying the Caller with coyotes they’d hunt in the land
south of their trailer, but lately a lot of dogs had disappeared from town.
Awan agreed to help the people in
town who were paying money to the brothers, and Winn and Deem had agreed to
help Awan. Awan found a blood souring technique in his grandfather’s journals,
and he spent the past few weeks preparing the materials. Once they applied the
blood souring to the brothers, the blood of anything they touched would become slightly
tainted, just enough to cause the cave spirit to reject it. The Caller would be
forced to locate blood somewhere else, and would stop helping the brothers.
Awan knocked on the door. “Ernie?”
he shouted. “Delmar? Open up. I need to talk to you.”
Winn pressed himself against the
side of the trailer next to the door and felt it move under his back as someone
inside began walking. He looked at Deem, who was similarly pressed against the
other side of the door. She looked amped up.
This isn’t her thing,
Holding people at gunpoint. More my thing.
“Is that you, Awan?” they heard
from inside as the door cracked open. It slowly swung wider, and Winn could see
and smell a large cloud emerge from the trailer. He immediately recognized the odor
– pot. “Whatchu want?”
“I want to talk to you,” Awan
said, marching up the steps toward the door.
“Ain’t got nothin’ to talk to you
about,” came the voice from inside, but Awan was still moving, determined to enter.
As he passed the doorframe, Winn slid in behind him, jumping to the third step.
Deem was right behind him.
Awan walked into the trailer and
quickly stepped aside to allow Winn and Deem to enter. It was dark inside, but
Winn could see the brother in front of him, dressed in overalls. He raised the
gun to him.
“What is this, Awan?” the man
“Just get down on the ground,
Ernie,” Awan replied. “Where’s Delmar?”
The man in the overalls began to
descend to the floor. “Ain’t gonna tell ya,” he said.
“Deeper in the trailer,” Awan said
to Winn and Deem. As Ernie reached the floor, Awan placed a knee in his back,
pinning him down. He reached under Ernie’s chest, releasing one of the straps
on his overalls, and pulled the material down, exposing the skin on Ernie’s
“Now, hold on there, Awan,” Ernie
said, laughing. He was as high as a kite. “I ain’t into that shit, you know!”
Awan ignored him and pulled a
small metal cylinder from his jacket pocket. It looked like a miniature tin
can. He placed it over one of Ernie’s kidneys and pressed it into the man’s
Winn heard rustling from deeper in
the trailer. “Stay on him,” he said to Deem, motioning to Ernie. “I’ll find the
He walked down the trailer’s
hallway. There were three doors ahead of him – two of them open, the middle one
closed. The rustling was from behind the closed door.
“Come on out,” Winn said. “Nice
“I ain’t done,” came the voice
on the can. And I was worried about this?
Winn waited until the door opened.
A short but rotund man emerged, dressed only in a pair of boxer shorts.
Winn pointed the gun at him. “Over
there,” Winn said, waving the gun in the direction of the living room. The man
padded down the hallway, seeing his brother on the ground under Awan.
“Whatcha doin’ to Ernie?” he
Deem turned when she heard the
other brother and pointed her gun at him. “Down on the ground,” she said to
“I don’t think you know who you’re
messin’ with, Awan,” Delmar said as he dropped to his knees. “You rob us,
you’ll never get a decent night’s sleep ever again. You’ll have night terrors
for the rest of your life.”
“Stow it,” Awan said, removing the
object from Ernie’s back. It left a faint red mark on the man’s skin. “On your
“This here’s the worst decision
you’ve ever made, Awan,” Delmar said as he lowered himself to the floor of the
trailer, his face next to a discarded copy of
Bob Dylan’s face next to Delmar’s. “We’re gonna see to it that your family
spends the rest of their days terrified. How do you like that?”
“You were always so full of shit,
Delmar,” Awan said as he pressed a knee into the man’s back and positioned the
object. “You aren’t going to do anything. You and Ernie have been stealing money
from people, and yet you still live in this shithole? I’m guessing you smoked
it all away.” Awan pressed the object into Delmar’s back and held it in place
as its ingredients passed through the man’s skin and into his kidney.
“With your sister,” Delmar said.
Awan leaned into his knee,
pressing harder on Delmar’s back. “You’re a pig, you know that?”
“So is she,” Delmar said. “She
loves to take it…”
Awan cut him off by grabbing
Delmar’s hair with his free hand and pulling his head back.
“Slit his throat, will you?” Awan
said to Winn. “Let’s slice him open and let him bleed out right here in his pig
“Gladly,” Winn said, kneeling next
to the man’s exposed neck.
“Hold on, fellas,” Delmar said. “I
ain’t told you the best part yet.”
“And what is that?” Winn asked.
“She squealed when I rutted her,
right here on the floor!”
Winn pulled back and swung at
Delmar, knocking his head free of Awan’s grip. His head fell to the floor,
“Thank you,” Awan said to Winn.
“You better not ‘a killed him,”
Ernie said, looking up from the floor at the other end of the room. “I’ll tell
the sheriff you did it.”
“You go right ahead and call the
sheriff, Ernie,” Awan said, holding the object in place on Delmar’s back as it
finished its work. “I’m sure he’d love to come around and have a chat. Maybe
I’ll call him myself as soon as we leave here. Tell him about the strange odors
in this trailer. Tell him to come visit you, and to bring the drug dogs.”
“Now, Awan,” Ernie said,
pretending to smile. “Ain’t gotta do that. I’m sure Delmar’s fine.”
Awan pulled the object from the
man’s back, noticing the red mark it left behind.
“What’s that you put on him?”
“Just a little payback, Ernie,”
Awan said. “For how kind you and Delmar have been to everyone in town.”
“I don’t know what you’re talking
about,” Ernie said, starting to push himself up from the floor.
Awan walked to the trailer door,
and Winn and Deem followed. “You and Delmar are out of business, Ernie,” Awan
said. “And if you try anything else stupid, I got a lot more whoopass I can
bring around on you.”
“Whatever you say, Awan,” Ernie
said snickering, reaching behind his back to locate the strap of his overalls.
Deem and Winn walked out the door,
and Awan followed, slamming the door shut behind him.
“He thinks your whoopass was
knocking Delmar out,” Winn said to Awan as they walked back to his truck.
“Would love to see the looks on
their faces when the Caller tells them the blood is rejected,” Awan said.
“I’ll bet they still don’t figure
it out, even then,” Deem said.
“You’re probably right,” Awan
replied. “Those two are dumber than a box of hair.”
“That was too easy,” Winn said as
they sped back to Vegas in his Jeep. Several dust devils were spinning in the
distance. Winn could hear Deem slurping at the bottom of her Big Gulp, and he
knew she’d want another one soon. There would be nowhere to stop for miles.
She’d have to wait.
“I think they must have just
exhaled from a bong hit as we walked in the door,” Deem said. “I can smell it
on my clothes. My mom’s gonna notice if I walk in the house like this.”
“Poor dumb bastards,” Winn said. “Awan
told me he planned to mail them a letter in a couple of days, explaining that
they’d need a doctor soon if they wanted to stay alive. Who knows if they even
know how to read.”
“They’re in trouble,” Deem replied.
“Dialysis isn’t cheap.”
“They should be able to afford it
with all of the money they stole from people.”
“If there’s any left,” Deem said,
and paused, looking out the window. “Doesn’t it bother you to do something like
that? I mean, actions have consequences. They’re permanently damaged for the
rest of their lives.”
“Those two assholes?” Winn asked.
“Nah, doesn’t bother me at all. They had it coming.”
“We’re taking Awan’s word for it,”
Deem said. “What if he’s wrong? What if he exaggerated their role? What if
they’re not as bad as he made them out to be? What then?”
“Do you think Awan would do that?”
Winn asked. “After all he did for us with the skinrunners?”
Winn looked at Deem. She seemed
deep in thought, as though she was mulling over a moral dilemma that was really
bothering her. Winn knew that moral dilemmas were the soup du jour for Deem
lately, having survived a close call with excommunication from the LDS church.
Deem was really a jack Mormon, completely inactive in the church, even though her
father had been a prominent Stake President before he died.
“No, I don’t think Awan would lie
to us,” she replied. “But sometimes there are unintended consequences, even
when you think you’re doing the right thing.”
Isn’t that the truth,
thought. He’d had one or two scrapes with unintended consequences over the
years, and knew they could derail the best laid plans.
“And besides that,” Deem
continued, “we form our opinions of people based on our interactions with them
in the present, and take their word about their past. We’ve known Awan for a few
weeks, but who knows his real story. Who knows anyone’s real story?”
“That’s pretty philosophical,”
Winn said, “and bordering on cynical. I understand you’ve had your faith in
people shaken lately. But you don’t want to become a cynic.”
“Why not?” Deem said, sitting up a
little defensively. “You and I have known each other for, what, two years? Three?
Before that, you might have been a felon or an escaped convict for all I know.”
“I’m not,” Winn said.
“It’s not like I checked,” Deem
said. “I just take your word for it. And you’re not exactly forthcoming about
your past. There are times when I feel I hardly know you. And we just helped
someone we’ve known for barely a month damage two people’s kidneys for life!”
“I trust Awan,” Winn said,
remembering the talk the two of them had in the motel room in Fallon, after
they collected an ingredient for the blood souring from a nearby cave. Awan
opened up about some of his life during that conversation, and Deem hadn’t
heard any of it. Winn wasn’t about to share it with her, either. It was
personal stuff, things Awan felt comfortable telling Winn after he learned that
Winn was bisexual. It helped build a bond of trust between the two. If Awan
wanted Deem to know those things, he’d have to tell her himself. Winn wasn’t
going to betray a trust. “Your problem is you second guess yourself too much.”