I read a short story 1-2 years ago and I don't know the title/author. The story was online, possibly at Longform, although it does not appear to be there. I don't recall if the story itself was new or old.

The protagonist, a boy (maybe his name was Harry/Henry?) develops a friendship with a a girl (Emily? Ellen?) at an orphanage/boarding school.

They are not raised by parents, but by caretakers, and the children are separated from society. When the children are scheduled to leave, they never return or keep in touch with old friends.

When Emily is scheduled to leave, Henry make plans to meet her again, after he leaves. Somehow, Henry realizes that the none of the children graduate or leave; instead, they are killed by a planned revenge murder.

His caretaker explains that another man hated his wife, who left him. Emily was raised (bred? born?) so that the man could satisfy his murderous desire by drowning Emily, who looked just like his ex-wife. Meanwhile, Henry realizes the same fate awaits him. He was raised to look exactly like Hitler, including the haircut and mustache. An old man, who lost his family in the Holocaust, wanted to satisfy his rage by killing Henry.

These are all the details I can recall.

  • This reminds me of the movie The Island... Nov 8, 2017 at 7:10
  • This is reminding me of "Suffer the Little Children", by Stephen King. A teacher named Emily Sidley kills her students, suspecting them to be doppelgangers(like pod people).
    – user35971
    Jan 1, 2018 at 20:56

1 Answer 1


The short story you refer to is: A.: ONLY THROUGH DEATH WILL YOU LEARN YOUR TRUE IDENTITY By ETGAR KERET, published in Wired magazine and available to read here: https://www.wired.com/2016/12/etger-keret-true-identity-through-death/

The kids were A. and N. Antoine and Nadia. They appear to be orphans at a special institute, but the truth is far more sinister. The children are "sponsored" by "donors" who allow the institute to "train" them for specific jobs in the outside world. In fact they are clones raised to be copies of a person the donors want to kill. Once they pass their final test, the donors are allowed to kill them. You will find the story matches your description quite well. Good job with your description.

  • So wait, were these orphans still children or already adults by the time they were killed? The rapid aging thing confused me.
    – forest
    Apr 8, 2018 at 2:12
  • 1
    According to the story, Adolf's facial hair had grown to the point where it could be shaved into the familiar short mustache. His "owner" commented that he "looked just like him". This would indicate the clones were sent to their owners at adulthood. Perhaps in their 20's maybe. The story said the children all had "A genetic disease with a long Latin name. But they all called it “elderness” because it caused all the babies born with it to age 10 times faster than ordinary people". So the institute could produce 20 year old clones in approx 2 years.
    – GeorgeN
    Apr 9, 2018 at 12:49

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