I'm trying to find a short story from the 60's(?) about a future society dominated by mutant(?) children who've killed off all the adults except, for sentimental reasons, one. The adult was a man. They kept him out of some kind of respect or gratefulness.

It’s told from the children’s perspective. The punchline is something like “...we killed them [the adults] all”. And that’s the last line, nothing after it.

It’s not Children of the Corn.

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    This seems sparse. And then what happened? Was it told from the perspective of the adult or the children or someone else? Where are you likely to have read it?
    – Valorum
    Oct 16, 2017 at 18:35
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    sounds reminiscent of the Star Trek TOS episode Miri as well: memory-alpha.wikia.com/wiki/Miri_(episode)
    – NKCampbell
    Oct 16, 2017 at 20:08
  • Was he a children's author? The last line was "We must have loved him too to keep him alive"? I think it may have been in one of the Dangerous Visions books but I can't recall more at the moment.
    – Wudang
    Oct 16, 2017 at 21:36
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    Did the kids wipe out all adults using psi power? Like all at once their infant minds bonded together and they 'disappeared' the grown ups.
    – Danny Mc G
    Sep 10, 2020 at 15:01
  • I also remember the short story vaguely and it was about a future society with an old man who lived among child savages who kept trying to educate them, but the children ignored him or barely fed him enough to keep alive. The theme was similar to earth abides except much bleaker. I am sorry not to know the author or title. I read it back in the 1970's so it could have been published earlier. Jun 27, 2022 at 3:30

2 Answers 2


That's sort of like "Small World" (aka "The Underdweller"), a short story by William F. Nolan, available at Project Gutenberg; first published in Fantastic Universe, August 1957, available at the Internet Archive. It has been reprinted many times; does any of these covers ring a bell?

The children are not mutants. The adults were not killed off by the children, but by aliens. The children tolerated the man at first, but as they got older they turned against him.

He thought once more about the beginning, six years ago—about why he was still alive. The alien ships had struck Earth suddenly, without warning. Their attack had been thorough and deadly. In a matter of hours, the aliens had accomplished their clever mission—and the men and women of Earth were destroyed. A few survived, he was certain. He had never seen any of them, but he was convinced they existed. Los Angeles was not the world, after all, and since he had escaped, so must have others around the globe. He'd been working alone in the drains when the aliens struck, finishing a special job for the construction company on B Tunnel. He could still hear the weird sound of the mammoth ships and feel the intense heat of their passage.

Hunger forced him out, and overnight he had become a curiosity. The last man alive. For three years, he was not harmed. He worked with them, taught them many things, and tried to win their confidence. But, eventually, certain ones came to hate him, to be jealous of his relationship with the others. Luckily, he had been able to escape to the drains. That was three years ago, and now they had forgotten him.

[. . . .]

Lewis Stillman knew that he was going to die.

The rifle was empty at last; the final bullet had been fired. He had no place to run because they were all around him, in a slowly closing circle.

He looked at the ring of small cruel faces and thought, The aliens have done their job perfectly; the stopped Earth before she could reach the age of the rocket, before she could threaten planets beyond her own moon. What an immensely clever plan it had been! To destroy every human being on Earth above the age of six—and then to leave as quickly as they had come, knowing that Earth's back had been broken, that her survivors would revert to savagery as they grew into adulthood.

Lewis Stillman dropped the empty rifle at his feet and threw out his hands. "Listen," he pleaded, "I'm really one of you. You'll all be like me soon. Please, listen to me."

But the circle tightened relentlessly around Lewis Stillman. He was screaming when the children closed in.

  • No, its not Nolan's, nor is it Star Trek.
    – alex
    Oct 17, 2017 at 18:13
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    It is told from the children's perspective. The last line is something like ",,,before we [the children] killed them [the adults].." It is a bit scary abd the last line comes as a surprise. That's all I can remember. Thanks.
    – alex
    Oct 17, 2017 at 18:15

Possibly Children of the Corn by Stephen King.

Children of the Corn" is a short story by Stephen King, first published in the March 1977 issue of Penthouse, and later collected in King's 1978 collection Night Shift. The story is about a couple who end up in an abandoned Nebraska town that is inhabited by a cult of murderous children who worship a demon that lives in the nearby cornfields. ....

When they arrive in Gatlin, it appears to be deserted. They do not see any cars or people anywhere. After driving past a gas station and visiting a diner, they notice that several things (such as gas/menu prices and calendar dates) are very outdated. ...

At the altar, Burt finds a King James Bible (with several pages from the New Testament cut out), and a ledger where names have been recorded, along with birth and death dates. While reading the ledger, he notices that all names were changed from modern to Biblical ones, and that everyone listed as deceased died on their 19th birthday. Burt realizes that the children of Gatlin killed the town's adults and that members of their community are not allowed to live past their 19th birthday.

  • No, it’s not Children of the Corn. I’m sorry about the duplicate question, I simply forgot, but it wasn’t answered and it haunts me. @use14111 That’s all I remember. I can’t pinpoint the year. The adult was a man. As I said, they kept him from some king of respect or gratefulness and the killed all the others. And that’s the last line, nothing after it.
    – alex
    Sep 10, 2020 at 12:11

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