Microfiction #writephoto: White death

This short story is for Sue Vincent’s Thursday photo prompt. It is inspired by Sonya’s Three Line Tales photo prompt which inspired this story.


June snow filled every hollow. The world was a ghost; fruit hung frozen on the trees. But we’d been here before, no need to panic. Provision had been made and there were enough reserves to get us through. A few days, the weather people said, and the sun would be back, the snow a memory. They were right in a way. About the sun and the snow.

It was Billy, my kid brother, who discovered the real killer. Well, around here, it was Billy. No doubt the world was crawling with scientists who discovered it before and better than Billy, but thanks to him, we suspected something and took precautions. He was fishing in the lake. Broke the film of ice and sat there, wrapped up in his winter coat like a trapper in the frozen north. A bit of cold didn’t bother Billy. What did bother him was what he saw wriggling in the black water. Not fish, nothing he’d ever seen before. He dipped a can in the water and brought some of them home. By the time he got to the house they’d all but disappeared. Like Alka Seltzer, Billy said. All we could see was a mass of filaments like white hairs and they were getting fainter.

“Whatever it was, it’s dissolving,” Dad said and went to pour the water down the sink. Billy stopped him.

“They’re not dissolving,” he said. “They’re getting longer and thinner. Soon we won’t be able to see them, but they’ll still be there. Miles and miles of the fuckers.”

“Billy!” Dad snapped. “Go wash your mouth out!”

Billy might be only a kid, but he’s the smartest one in our family.

“I don’t think we should drink the water any more, Dad. Not until we know what that stuff is.”

So we stocked up on bottled water, a whole lake of it, and eked it out while there were people dying all around us, white tendrils crawling all over them.

The sun’s back now and the snow’s all gone. The government says they’re putting stuff in the water supply to kill off the aliens. But we’re holding on a while longer. There’s snow forecast again next week. Dad’s going into town to the supermarket. Everywhere’s very quiet. Doesn’t seem to be anyone around. There should still be plenty of bottled water left.


If you want to know what happens next, read on.

Published by

Jane Dougherty

I used to do lots of things I didn't much enjoy. Now I am officially a writer. It's what I always wanted to be.

28 thoughts on “Microfiction #writephoto: White death”

    1. Thank you 🙂 Not sure about continuing it. This kind of scenario has been done so often now, there aren’t many corners that haven’t been very thoroughly explored. And you’re right, there would be many more chapters, unless…I can feel an idea squirming in there…

      1. Sometimes it’s fun to try to take the cliches and create your own story. But as you said to me, follow your gut instinct – if it doesn’t feel right now, do something else.

      2. I had a think about it, and the story worked out. Not a whole novel as I thought, just a couple of hundred words. I’m going to post the end now.

  1. A common cry: Don’t drink the water, maybe it’s not lead, but alien filaments that cause the damage.
    Nice segue from Sonya to Sue!
    Holding breath as I click onto chapter 3.

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