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I read this short story in an anthology back in either the late 90s or early-to-mid 00s, and I'm pretty sure it was published not terribly long before that.

I think the title of the story is the word in question - it's always shown as a bunch of characters printed over each other. The protagonist happens to see the word written down and, on a whim, asks his secretary or assistant if they know about it. The assistant, the next day, says that on his suggestion they invested in some random stock and they made a pile of money.

The protagonist then uses the word to guide a variety of decisions, and they always turn out well for him, until he realises he's being chased down, presumably by the people who discovered/developed the word and don't want him in on the deal. He jumps into a taxi, and the driver asks him where to go, and he uses the word. Unfortunately, the taxi driver was one of the people after him, and tells him that he should have used the word to ask which taxi to take. In the end, the bad guys have him trapped, and they ask him how he wants to die - he gives his answer, and the bad guy says "Good choice".

13

This is F. Paul Wilson's short story, "ROVPD/CAVEE/EFI" (approximation of the title, which is the overlaid word itself). Summary from a Goodreads review, "Man happens on a magic universal word, misuses it, and is caught by the word's owners." That pretty much is the summary of the story, which ties into the Repairman Jack / Adversary Cycle storylines in that the owners are the Septimus Lodge secret society.

He actually uses the word to direct the taxi driver, but it fails because the driver ignores his directions and simply takes him to the Lodge.

Here is an illustration of the word/title:

The Word

  • 2
    Absolutely fantastic, thanks! And from Goodreads I can confirm that the anthology would have been the "Magic Lover's Treasury of the Fantastic", which I must have borrowed from my local library. Also, I'm very interested to hear that it's part of a larger set of stories, that I will have to track down. – ConMan Jul 1 '16 at 4:29
  • I've highly enjoyed the Repairman Jack stories, as well as other pieces by F. Paul Wilson. I'll admit that I haven't been quite as thrilled with some of the Adversary Cycle books not associated with Repairman Jack. – FuzzyBoots Jul 1 '16 at 4:56
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    Is it me, or does that title look like it could spell out "David Copperfield"? – DisturbedNeo Jul 1 '16 at 9:33
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    @DisturbedNeo: Huh. Interesting, given one of the anthologies it was initially published in is David Copperfield's Tales of the Impossible. – FuzzyBoots Jul 1 '16 at 10:09

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