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Coin Flips

Tina Connolly lives with her family in Portland, Oregon. Her first fantasy novel, Ironskin, was a Nebula finalist, and the sequels Copperhead and Silverblind are now out from Tor. Her stories have appeared in Lightspeed, Tor.com, Strange Horizons, and Beneath Ceaseless Skies. She narrates for Podcastle and Beneath Ceaseless Skies, runs the Parsec-winning flash fiction podcast Toasted Cake, and her website is tinaconnolly.com.

Caroline M. Yoachim lives in Seattle and loves cold, cloudy weather. She is the author of dozens of short stories, appearing in Lightspeed, Asimov's, and Clarkesworld, among other places. For more about Caroline, check out her website at carolineyoachim.com.

Heads. Most people wouldn't decide to ship out to the colonies on a coin flip, but we're not most people, right babe? When they said you wouldn't come out of the coma I had the medical team transmute your consciousness into a gold coin. The head is your lovely face; the "tail" on the back is a double helix segment of your DNA. You're in my pocket forever, my lucky piece. You know how we used to fight--no, not really fight--love fights, little kitten tussles--about who got to make the decisions? Well now it's all you. I flip the coin, you decide what we do. You are still in there, aren't you?
Heads. I'll upload my consciousness to the shipboard computer, and put my body in stasis. Your coin will remain safely in my pocket, keeping my body company for a trip that will take decades for you but only an instant for my uploaded mind. You know me so well, babe. You know I desperately want to see the colony itself, and not languish for decades on a stinking colony ship, only to die en route or arrive too old to enjoy our new life. I hear it's like the Wild West out there. Cash for the taking, if a man is bold enough to stake it. I hear you saying reckless, but you're wrong. Not reckless. Brave.
Tails. I didn't pay the extra charge for the body replacement, so when we arrive I'll go back into my own body, no upgrades. You are so sentimental, to have me keep my physical form. Is it because you lost yours? Or because you're worried about the expense? I know you're always trying to rein me in, but this time you'll see. There's so much land, a man can stake all he can claim. A new gold rush, with crystalized rocket fuel instead of gold. You'll see. The wildcatters are out there, staking their claim on all the riches a planet can hold. We'll be in the money for good. No more disasters.
Heads. Are you mad at me? Have you changed your mind about the colony? I thought for sure when I flipped you to see if you wanted company in my pocket you would say no. The handful of quarters I'm sending with you can't talk, you know. They won't have consciousness. They're even one step down from that lunk you found at that bar in Miami. Fine, whatever, if you want to rub up against them for 80 years, see if I care.
Tails. South Quadrant 4392. I've got a good feeling about that landing site. Just the place to stake our claim. Bet it's got a vein of zarbidium streaking through the canyons. Fuel crystals are a hot commodity. We make enough money, I'll get you an android body first thing. I swear it, I really do. 'Course, I'm going to need access to your accounts to fund the expedition. The problem with putting you in a coin is they didn't declare you legally dead. I didn't think of that. But we'll figure out a way for you to tell me your password. Is the first letter A? Heads for yes.
Tails. Not an A. This is going to take forever, but it'll be worth it, babe. B? We'll work this out together, no matter how long it takes. I'm not logging every damn flip though, I'll just mark the letters as we get them sorted out.
BAST@RD? Very funny, but BAST@RD didn't unlock the accounts. You stay in there and think about what it would take to get me what I need.
Tails. You want me to re-upload to the computer and you get my body? I don't get it, I really don't. You already dismissed this body. There I was, on a hot streak, and you walked off with Signor Motomelli. Changed my luck from good to bad, all in a hot New York minute. Lost the hovercraft, lost the fancy penthouse flat that so impressed you. If I'd had anything else to bet with other than you, I would have. You know that, don't you? Let's do best two out of three.
Tails. You're determined to have my body. And what, I'm going to go into the coin? I'll die in stasis, I really will. I didn't know Randall was going to knock you unconscious when I hired him to get you back from Motomelli. It was supposed to be all hijinks and adventure, I thought we'd laugh about it the next day, I really did. No, they didn't pick him up, you know how high up he is, and with you not being legally dead. Look, double or nothing. One more flip, you get my body and we'll stake the claim in your name. You can't keep coming up tails forever, babe. Even an old gambler's luck has to turn sometime.
Tails. You're cruel, babe, but a deal's a deal. At least flip me sometimes. For old times' sake.
The End
This story was first published on Tuesday, February 17th, 2015

Author Comments

This is our second co-written story (the first, "Flash Bang Remember," appeared in Lightspeed in 2013). The two of us were up way too late one night kicking around thoughts for a novelette we were working on, and we came up with the brilliant idea to co-write a flash story. Caroline came up with the concept and wrote the first half. Tina wrote the second half. Then we bounced it back and forth until everyone was happy with it. Caroline thought obviously we should flip a coin to decide who would be credited first in the byline. Tina called tails and won.

- Tina Connolly and Caroline M. Yoachim
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