Note: the story comes with an editorial warning from Daily Science Fiction that it is a dark, adult tale. In short, you won’t see any rainbows.
Jacob holds his four-year-old daughter Becca up to the basement window so she can look out to the outside world. There, the reader is told, “[a] cloud of cancer fibers drifted across the yard outside like spider silk.” Many of the fibers appear to be about several inches long, but most are dust. They squeak when they hit the window and leave scratches.
Becca asks her father if he saw the cancer that got Mommy.
“No, honey, these are a different kind. Mommy… was already sick before [we] got here.”
Jacob carries a bottle of pills in his pocket. He vows today is the day.
The author offers no explanation for the cancer fibers, but their origin is unimportant. They’re getting worse. Jacob can do nothing to stop them.
The story centers on Jacob trying to protect Becca as much as he can, even to the point of eventually killing both of them. He lies to her, he shelters her, and he rations food.
In her cocoon, Becca is incapable of seeing evil, adding to the poignancy of the story. The reader can understand a parent’s love and a well-crafted tale, but this is not a story to enjoy.
I do have to add a few remarks about a handful of editing oopsies. These do not reflect on the quality of the work of the author, however. One typo involved the author’s name in his byline. Sh!t happens, of course, but in this poor guy’s story, more than a few boo-boos seem to have slipped by, through no fault of his own.
According to the author’s blurb, author William R.D. Wood lives with his wife and children in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley in an old farmhouse. His work has appeared in Nature, Tales to Terrify, and Alien Invasion Short Stories. His site is here. Not that I would ever criticize anyone after my neglecting my site so regularly, but Wood’s really needs to be updated.
The story can be read here.
Author: William R.D. Wood
First published: Daily Science Fiction, October 21, 2019