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"Science Fiction" means—to us—everything found in the science fiction section of a bookstore, or at a science fiction convention, or amongst the winners of the Hugo awards given by the World Science Fiction Society. This includes the genres of science fiction (or sci-fi), fantasy, slipstream, alternative history, and even stories with lighter speculative elements. We hope you enjoy the broad range that SF has to offer.

Missiles on the Way

Alfred C. Airone has been an avid science-fiction reader since childhood. Now retired, his career includes working as a chemist in water treatment and IT manager for a 100-person laboratory. This is his first (and hopefully not last) story published in Daily Science Fiction.

"MISSILES ON THE WAY!" The headline was in two-inch type. Sam Spool had just sat down in the subway car and unfolded the morning paper. So they finally did do it, he mused to himself. He felt disappointment--he had been sure the peace talks would work out. As the train lurched and started out of the station, he turned the tabloid over and began reading the sports pages.
At the office, there was more talk of the impending attack. "They say there were about fifty missiles launched." Sam heard this from LaMont Turner, who was known to keep up with such things. A few co-workers had gathered near the reception desk, where Tim O'Farrell, the elderly security guard, was filling in while the regular reception clerk was on break.
"Any heading straight for us?," asked Mary Corddry from Finance.
"It's still too soon to tell," said LaMont.
"We're the largest city in the country--I can't see how they'd do otherwise," offered Sam. The others in the small group all nodded. Mary moved off, intent on whatever errand had brought her into contact with the small group.
By the next day, the broadcast news stations were informing everyone that the missiles were more than a third of the way across the ocean. It was a big topic of conversation at lunchtime.
"I heard we've responded," said Sharon Ling to a few others who, like her, were digging bag lunches out of the lunchroom refrigerators. "I heard the same," added Tom LoCastro. "They'll pay, that's for sure. They never should have started it."
"I really thought the peace talks were going well," said Sam.
"Yeah. So did everyone. Boy, did we get that one wrong."
The next day, as Sam arrived at work, his phone bleated the receipt of an official work email informing everyone that there would be early dismissal at four o'clock. The day went uneventfully otherwise. At four o'clock, Sam found himself riding in the elevator with Tom LoCastro. Sam had known Tom for a year and had always liked him; they greeted each other as they stepped into the elevator car.
They reached the first floor, walked through the lobby and out the building's ornate, 75-year-old doors. Outside, the mood seemed more focused than usual for a rush hour. Sam and Tom stood for a few moments, both taken by surprise by the same perceptions: the pedestrians on the crowded street seemed more determined to catch the first subway home, the street traffic was thicker, the honking louder and more impatient. They watched the endless, swirling crowd, listened to the tramp, tramp, tramp as office workers and delivery personnel, maintenance workers in overalls and schoolkids adorned with backpacks and earphones strode toward their destinations, slipped down the stairways to the subway, or queued up at the corner, leaning out into the street, hoping to spot an approaching bus.
"Hey, wanna stop for a beer?," asked Tom. He pointed to a favorite tavern across the street which remained open.
Sam glanced at his NetWatch. "Yeah, sounds good. I think we've got time."
The End
This story was first published on Monday, October 4th, 2021
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