Phil Coltrane

Phil Coltrane 2Phil is the winner of Vol 2-10Vol 2-13, Vol 2-19, Vol 3 – 11 and Vol 3 – 29; he is the first 5-time winner of Flash! Friday. Follow him on Twitter; read more of his writing at his blog.

Read his Sixty Seconds interviews with Flash! Friday (one per win!) here: Feb 19, 2014; March 13, 2014; April 23, 2014; February 26, 2015, and July 2, 2015.

As a child growing up in North Carolina, Phil’s brain was corrupted by Golden Age science fiction anthologies from the school library, Star Trek: The Next Generation, and Omni magazine. He went to school at NC State University, and ten years later, still has that dream.

(You know that dream? It’s exam week, and suddenly you realize that you have an exam right now for a class that you forgot about and never attended all semester?)

When Phil is not working his actual job as a .NET software developer, he enjoys spending time with his (non-geek) wife and two daughters. He enjoys reading speculative fiction and zombie stories (but his wife doesn’t let him watch zombie movies anymore).

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Vol 3 – 29: Dashiell vs. the Dragon Invaders, Chapter 3

The mottled orange face of the alien sun loomed large in the viewscreen. Sweating bullets and gasping for breath, Dashiell pressed his browline glasses back up his nose. Blood dripped from the clawmark across his chest. “Just a scratch.”

Leaning against the cryogenic conduit to cool himself, Dashiell checked his .38 revolver. “One bullet left.”

With a crash, the hatch deformed visibly, struck by some awesome force. “I may be a washed-up pulp writer,” he shouted, “but I’m a fighter.” Razor claws forced the hatch open. Dash took aim as the reptilian entered. “Somehow I’ll get back to Earth. Then I’ll let everyone know aliens are real.”

The quadrupedal alien approached deliberately, licking its lips. He backed away. “They say write what you know. Want to hear the title of Dashiell Pendragon’s next bestseller?”

The creature lunged at him, seeming to soar through the air. Leaping aside, Dash took aim and squeezed the trigger. The bullet whizzed past the reptilian’s crested head, striking the cryogenic conduit. As liquid oxygen gushed onto the scaly beast, it writhed in pain. Dashiell covered his ears to muffle its death shriek.

When it fell silent, Dashiell prodded the lifeless alien’s face with the muzzle of his revolver. “Slaying the Dragon.”

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Vol 3 – 11: Runaways on Hope Street

“Tell me it again, Rudder. About the Moon.”

Roderick embraced his kid sister, for warmth as much as affection. The wind ripped straight through his ratty coat. “They’s a huge castle up there on the Moon. Bigger even than this factory. But clean, ’cause the Man in the Moon has hundreds of servants to scrub away the grime.”

Blue eyes admired the bright orb. “It looks like ice. Is it cold?”

“No, Winnie. Up there, the sun’s so bright it makes everything glow like a gas lantern.” He leaned against the icy brick wall, gazing heavenward. Uncaring stars twinkled in the winter sky. “And they’s clear lakes, and open grassy fields for miles and miles and miles. Just like when we was young.”

“It must be real warm there, Rudder. I can feel it now.” Her shivering stopped. “And Daddy is up there?”

“Yes. Daddy went to be a servant to the King and Queen of the Moon. They pays him in diamonds, and dresses him in purple silk, and lets him stay in their castle.”

Sleepily, the girl closed her eyes. “When can we see him, Rudder?”

“Real soon, Winnie.” Roderick, too, closed his eyes. “We’ll be with ‘im real soon.”

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Vol 2-19: Terminal

The Senator stepped out of the train and marveled at Mile Deep Station. “The electric bill must be astronomical!”

“The light is Cherenkov radiation,” explained the General. “Our nuclear reactors produce enough electricity to light up Pittsburgh.”

“It’s safe?”

“Harmless. It’s to keep humankind alive, after all.” The General pointed to a storage area. Pallets stacked four stories high. “Food to feed ten thousand for a lifetime. Seed banks. Hydroponics. Textbooks. Spare parts.”

“I hope it’s enough.”

“Earth’s surface should be habitable again within two centuries.”

The last of Mile Deep’s new inhabitants disembarked the train. The Senator patted the General’s shoulder. “Time to go.”

“Senator, are you sure you won’t stay?”

He shook his head. “Our way of thinking is what made this place necessary.”

They boarded the train. As the doors closed, and the train began its slow return journey to the surface wastelands, the Senator took a final look at the future he would never know.

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L’Enfer, C’est La Guerre

“War is Hell,” the barmaid reminded him, placing a mug of pale lager before him.

Until now, Colonel Boniface had never understood the sentiment. He lived for battle! Primping for the mirror in his dress blues. Saluting his men as they charged bravely past him, into the fray. And how the ladies loved an officer! (War widows needed comfort, too.)

And his Angelique, ever faithful, waiting at home.

Boniface regretted nothing, until that bullet found his brain.

“Vive la mort,” was the motto painted across this tavern’s wall. Time had no meaning here. Golden Horde, Napoleonic infantrymen, soldiers from conflicts past and future, all passed through. Some were heading home. Others…

“Angelique… I’m sorry,” he whispered.

The barmaid’s dress twirled as she turned away, head held high, cradling a dozen empty beer steins. Outside the tavern, a bugler played his muster call.

Boniface drank his beer — a final comfort — and looked to the door with dread.

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The Sands of Space and Time

We’ve watched their history. The passing of nomadic tribes. The rise and fall of city-states. Carthage. Babylon. Karakorum. Empires and peoples come and gone. San. Bantu. Boers.

They live and die upon the Sands, those fleeting giants of the Earth. For all their towering height, their length of time upon this world is short. Ten thousand of us would not match their height. Ten thousand of their years is but a blink to us. They proudly build upon our Sands, yet for all their mighty works, despair: threescore and ten are their years, and then they die, and are buried in our Sands by their progeny.

The first of us to come to Earth, in countless ages past, was fruitful and multiplied, and (thanks to exponential growth) subdued the earth. Our forty-five-greats-grandparent was progenitor to us all, the Sands who fill the deserts and the beaches.

Mankind, too, will pass; we Sands will carry on.

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