Strange Horizons, 11 April 2005

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"Survivors" by Elizabeth H. Hopkinson
"Survivors" by Elizabeth H. Hopkinson is a surprisingly moving tale, especially for coming in at under 1500 words.  Liese is one of a number of then-teenaged children rescued from an underground hole where they had been locked away by unknown kidnappers for unfathomable, desperate reasons.  It’s a case which continues to stump the police.  The children don’t remember anything of their past lives, suffering from confusion, delusions, and other mental problems–quite reasonable to expect from people trapped in a dark cave for all they can remember of their lives.

But Liese remembers a wondrous land under the earth, with unicorns, dancing, and fairy folk.  She yearns for it still, although her therapist and friends assure her it was all delusion.  But is it?  Or do the fairy folk continue to steal human babes to raise in fairyland?

A modern take on the old changeling folklore, a la the Pied Piper, "Survivors" is a wistful tale, part melancholy and part magic.