Sept/Oct 2020 • Vol. XLII No. 5 Fiction |

The Fourth Child

At that time, because of the war, people lived in tunnels in the ground. You should know: when I say war I do not mean a war that has happened, but a war to come. If you did not know a war was coming, I am very sorry to be the one telling you this bad news. But that’s why I’m writing to you — you in the past — so you’ll know. You haven’t lived through the war yet, I have. It was safer underground because of the carpet bombing. Whole towns moved underground, digging through solid rock with machinery and without. In some places the digging was an organized effort, voted on; in others, people dug for themselves. Neighbors discovered neighbors by the ringing of their picks and shovels or by tearing down a wall to find the beams of friendly headlamps in their eyes. Oh, they said, it’s you! Inside these tunnels, it was completely dark. That’s something to understand. At first people brought down lights, ran wires, and for a while their new homes were lit like a c

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Samuel Jensen is a writer from Texas. He holds an MFA from the Helen Zell Writers’ Program at the University of Michigan, where he now teaches. His fiction has appeared in Cimarron Review, Strange Horizons, Masters Review, and elsewhere, and has been listed as “distinguished” in Best American Short Stories, nominated for a Pushcart Prize, and awarded a fellowship from the Denver Lighthouse Writers Workshop. He is currently at work on a novel.

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