Tuesday, January 23, 2024

“Service With a Smile” • by Gustavo Bondoni


General Stein watched the top-secret video of an alien ship, just like the one in Washington, destroying the Kremlin.

“We need an expendable force to judge their capabilities, before sending the real army out there.”


Antoine chanted “Earth welcomes you,” with the rest of the crowd.

An official-looking man approached.

“Welcome to the Army,” the man said. “You’ve been drafted.”

“We don’t have a draft.”

“We have aliens now. Here’s your rifle. There are no bullets in it, so no danger to our visitors. Just walk towards the spaceship.”

Antoine looked around. Everyone else seemed to have their rifles, too.


Gustavo Bondoni is novelist and short story writer with over three hundred stories published in fifteen countries, in seven languages.  He is a member of Codex and an Active Member of SFWA.His latest novel is a dark historic fantasy entitled The Swords of Rasna (2022). He has also published five science fiction novels, four monster books and a thriller entitled Timeless. His short fiction is collected in Pale Reflection (2020), Off the Beaten Path (2019), Tenth Orbit and Other Faraway Places (2010) and Virtuoso and Other Stories (2011).
In 2019, Gustavo was awarded second place in the Jim Baen Memorial Contest and in 2018 he received a Judges Commendation (and second place) in The James White Award. He was also a 2019 finalist in the Writers of the Future Contest.

His website is at www.gustavobondoni.com

Gustavo has become a regular contributor to Stupefying Stories and we have quite a few stories of his stories on this site. Check them out!


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The Pete Wood Challenge is an informal ad hoc story-writing competition. Once a month Pete Wood spots writers the idea for a story, usually in the form of a phrase or a few key words, along with some restrictions on what can be submitted, usually in terms of length. Pete then collects the resulting entries, determines who has best met the challenge, and sends the winners over to Bruce Bethke, who arranges for them to be published on the Stupefying Stories web site.

You can find all the previous winners of the Pete Wood Challenge at this link.

This time the challenge was to write a flash fiction piece playing off key word: draft.

More stories to come!