Looking for a short story I read maybe 10 years ago, about a boy who finds out that he’s the only real human on Earth, and all the other people he sees are not human but something else. It takes place during Halloween.

Also, I remember that the Earth is not real either, and they have to construct scenery and environments to fool him. For example, if he were to travel to Paris, they’d need some weeks heads up to build a fake Eiffel Tower, etc. I believe it takes place during Halloween time frame, and they went shopping for pumpkins in the story. Similar to the Truman Show in some aspects, I guess.

  • 3
    I don't think it's the same, but this does resemble the Piers Anthony novel Race Against Time.
    – user2490
    Commented Jan 27, 2020 at 3:30
  • EIther in UK or USA, don’t fully remember. I think the boy had a fake family too, who’d come to care for him and let him in on the secret without telling the rest of the community...but that might be a bad memory. Commented Jan 27, 2020 at 7:20
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    Maybe They by Robert A. Heinlein, as answered in this question.
    – Mr Lister
    Commented Jan 27, 2020 at 12:00
  • 3
    @MrLister Except that the protagonist in Heinlein's "They" is a grown man, not a boy, and there is no Halloween theme.
    – user14111
    Commented Jan 29, 2020 at 4:53
  • Your mentioning Halloween suggests this was young adult maybe -- did you read it when you were still in high school or younger? That might help to nail it down since there are very many stories with this sort of theme.
    – releseabe
    Commented Oct 13, 2022 at 5:44

1 Answer 1


“Just Desert” by M.T. Anderson, from The Chronicles of Harris Burdick - Fourteen Amazing Authors Tell the Tales

Notably, the story is set at Halloween.

His mother sighed. "You've got to understand, Alex. They're working very hard all the time to make all this stuff for you. Everywhere you go, everything you see, they have to build. I mean, they're real quick about it, but it's a lot of effort. And they'd be really, really angry if they knew you saw through it. It would be like ... like finding your birthday presents early, when they're hidden in the closet. Not a good idea."

Alex was agape. "What ... what are you ... saying?" he asked his mother.

And she explained softly, "You're the only person there is. I mean, the only real human being. All of this is set up just to ... well ... How would you put it, Ken?"

  • 2
    Your answer could be improved with additional supporting information. Please edit to add further details, such as quotes or matching details, so that others can confirm that your answer is correct. You can find more information on how to write good answers in the help center.
    – fez
    Commented Oct 13, 2022 at 5:43
  • Can you explain why you feel this is the correct answer? Just edit it in. Relevant quotes are nice, but any explanation is good.
    – FuzzyBoots
    Commented Oct 13, 2022 at 5:43
  • I've taken the liberty of adding a book quote
    – Valorum
    Commented Oct 13, 2022 at 6:49

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