2 of 5 stars.
The transition from life to death is rarely an easy one for any of the parties involved. This absurdist tale explores many angles of that transition when a plane carrying dozens of passengers and a coffin crashes en route from Denver to Milwaukee. Dozens of suddenly dead souls are jolted by their circumstances, while the deceased occupant of the coffin in the cargo hold suddenly and confusingly finds himself alive.
Beth is a lonely single mother of baby, Janelle, when her husband, Joe, dies. Her Nebraska yard is barren and hard-baked and becomes the landing place of a smashed coffin ejected from a crashing plane. The man in the coffin, Hamzah, comes to the house for help–slowly he remembers the circumstances of his death in a hit-and-run. Meanwhile, the backyard brims with weeds and vines and insects starting at the crash site. Hamzah stays, but ghosts of the plane crash start to descend upon the house . . .
While the premise of someone dead jolting to life while many are suddenly killed provides an interesting situation, no explanations are ever offered. Nor is it clear if the entire scenario occurs in the mind of clearly depressed Beth. Adding extra weight to the Beth’s Crazy Theory is the overly precocious if not sarcastic dialogue provided by the baby. Unfortunately, the baby’s dialogue disrupts the suspended disbelief in the story.
This short story was included in the anthology The Year’s Best Dark Fantasy & Horror: 2010 edited by Paula Guran. I’ve previously read this author’s “Absolute Zero” and “Only Unity Saves the Damned”.
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