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Original Science Fiction and Fantasy every weekday. Welcome to Daily Science Fiction, an online magazine of science fiction short stories. We publish "science fiction" in the broad sense of the word: This includes sci-fi, fantasy, slipstream-- whatever you'd likely find in the science fiction section of your local bookstore. Our stories are mostly short short fiction (flash fiction) each Monday through Thursday, hopefully the right length to read on a coffee break, over lunch, or as a bedtime tale.

Please read our current short story below. Browse the topics in the sidebar; everything from aliens to time travel, fairy tales to wizard tales; and read what intrigues you. Don't forget to subscribe via email to receive each story in your inbox every weekday for free.

Galactic Band-aid

When Jedd Cole is not writing stories, one can find him brooding over the pages of other worlds both real and imaginary (but mostly imaginary), usually accompanied by his wonderful wife. His stories have appeared or are forthcoming in Nebula Rift, Bastion Magazine, The New Accelerator and Bewildering Stories, among others. This is his second story in Daily Science Fiction. Read his creative writing blog at electricdidact.weebly.com or follow him on Twitter @electricdidact.
Don't get me wrong. They came in peace, bringing it in their multiple six-fingered hands. But looking back, we should have known better.
The Aralax are travelers, just like any alien race you hear about in campfire tales, only these don't shoot the first things they see crawling on the planets they visit. The Aralax aren't conquerors or warriors.
They're fixers.
When they first entered the Milky Way, I was a tank ship commander fighting with the Centauri Alliance, my sixth or seventh tour of duty under my sixth or seventh banner. Sides changed all the time back then, and if I wasn't fighting for the Centauri Alliance I could always go with Unitaria or Yeoman, Inc. or the Ur Empire or any number of others. Even Earth was an option, I guess, though technically the planet had been dead for centuries.
War was the best way to make a living before the Aralax came.
The trick was they were indestructible. We sure tried to blow them to kingdom come (as if), but with no success. The Aralax didn't squash us in revenge; they simply stood their ground until we were all out of ammunition.
That's when they went to work.
They taught us how to smelt down our weapons, our warships, our bunkers into the raw materials for homes, dams, plowshares. And they taught us what a plowshare was because none of us had the slightest idea. They helped us reprogram our robots for use in the fields, at the street corners where traffic lights were broken, in old folks' homes.
Even I learned this strange new way. My husband and I found each other (we'd been fighting in different wars before) and settled down. Others came together, learned to raise moderately kind children, build houses, work the fields. (Had there always been fields before?)
The Aralax looked upon us with benevolent alien smiles and, having finished, left the way they'd come. When we looked back, we saw a new galaxy. Perhaps we could actually make it here without the machinery of war.
I remember, of course, the first time after all this that I slapped my husband in the face for something he said or didn't say (the details are foggy). Our children began to forget about the brand new plowshares and turned to the robots for help to slap their own partners. (They all had multiple wives and husbands, you see, and cheated on these regularly--don't we all?)
Yes, we use our hands, the most authentic of weapons. Also we use harsh words, but we find that fists are more effective.
I sometimes miss the Aralax, now that there are no more factions. We are now each of us a faction individually, I suppose, waging our own private wars. You could say the bleeding has begun again under the Band-Aid those nice aliens stuck to our collective finger; but a little bloodletting is often healthy. It's hard to think of a universe without it, in any case. Maybe the Aralax will come to see this at some point in their future, when they are more mature. All in all, I'd say we've come to a better understanding of ourselves, our galaxy, and our place in it.
The End
This story was first published on Wednesday, May 27th, 2015


There aren't any named characters in this story, but sometime during editing I realized that the narrator had a definite personality, and as I went back over it, that character kept punching holes in my proposed parable-like veneer. She knew what really happened; she'd been there, and she had definite beliefs about her experience. And she knew that "Galactic Band-aid" ought to be a satire. But hopefully it's still poignant. Can peace be taught? Can conflict be exorcised from humanity with mere education? Or is strife something that's more intrinsic to the human psyche?

- Jedd Cole

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