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Edition 2: Confinement by Kenneth Schneyer

flag USKenneth Schneyer’s Confinement was a shortlisting in the Story Quest Short Story Contest, and deservedly so. The judges were impressed with the supernatural undercurrents of his piece, and yet the stark realism of the contemporary setting and characters is a firm foundation. I find it hard to accurately classify, and recommended to the editor that it be considered a dark fantasy. Read it and test my assessment. GH

She first saw him while she was taking the long way to work to avoid the deformed children. For anybody else, the walk between South Station and the looming tower that enclosed the law firm would be a nearly-straight line, due north, fifteen minutes at most. But Tamara stopped treading that narrow path after the first time she attempted it, because she discovered that it required her to come face-to-face with Saint Drogo’s Infirmary for Waifs.

It wasn’t the building that hurt; it was the children. She had encountered Saint Drogo’s at the same moment as a mother with a cleft-palate toddler emerged, and through the open front door she had also caught a glimpse of the twisted back on a five-year-old. In her imagination, the dark building was bursting with lame, drooling, incontinent, gaping idiots, all children, all demanding attention and understanding, all needing her. Nausea had almost overcome her, and she hurried north to the protection of her own sterile cell at Rheingold, Granada & Pearce.

When she found herself unable to get its name out of her head, Tamara looked up St. Drogo’s. The resolute brownstone clinic had had its genesis a hundred years ago, to care for children no one wanted, who were so awful to look at that adults condemned them. Nowadays it also treated crack babies and infants born with AIDS, and even had a licensed adoption agency to place the many children who were abandoned on the doorstep. That was all Tamara needed to know; she promised herself she’d never see the place again.

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