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I read it in the 1980s in some unremembered book of short stories. The tale takes place maybe a generation after nuclear war, in a cabin hidden in the backwoods of America.

A man and woman and their early teens daughter live in near starvation amid a snowy landscape, they were (I think) hippies, so that may date the story back to the late 1960s.

He’s out in the woods chopping up deadfalls for firewood and some raiders find the cabin, the woman screams and tells the girl to hide. The man, possibly known as Mouse, comes running with the axe, she can see how afraid he is, he is outnumbered and killed.

The raiders then rape the woman and daughter and force her to cook what little food there is, they are amazed by the old fashioned stove, in the bombed out city there are only open fires.

They have with them, on a leash, a mutant, I think he might be a brother of the rape gang leader. This unfortunate person has no eyes or arms, they throw scraps to him and he fumbles about with his toes and then flexes food to his mouth.

The gang drag her and her daughter outside, possibly to slaughter them, but arrows fly out the bushes and kill two bad guys, the others run away. Their rescuer is a wanderer from a far away valley, he invites them both to go with him and they pack to set off on the journey.

Suddenly he is killed in a return raid by the surviving gang members, then they revenge themselves on the females, they again rape them, then get the stove red hot and make them dance on it as their feet burn.

That’s all I recall of this bleak tale

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  • 3
    Sometimes people downvote on the reason of content.
    – FuzzyBoots
    Dec 11, 2021 at 21:00
  • 2
    @FuzzyBoots. Yeah, I'll try and remember to only ask about happy jolly stories haha
    – Danny Mc G
    Dec 11, 2021 at 21:02
  • What makes this science fiction or fantasy?
    – Lexible
    Dec 12, 2021 at 0:29
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    I’m voting to close this question because this does not appear to be a question about science fiction or fantasy.
    – Lexible
    Dec 12, 2021 at 0:30
  • 3
    @Lexible - It's set in a post-apocalyptic future "a generation after nuclear war"
    – Valorum
    Dec 12, 2021 at 0:55

1 Answer 1

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I am pretty sure this is "The House by the Crab Apple Tree" by S.S. Johnson. Originally published in the Feb. 1964 edition of The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction with a cover by Jack Gaughan illustrating the story.

The story can be read in the Feb. 1964 edition of F&SF which is online at the Internet Archive: https://archive.org/details/Fantasy_Science_Fiction_v026n02_1964-02_PDF

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  • Yeah, having now downloaded it I can confirm that's the grim story I was trying to find. The man was called Weed, not Mouse but I had most of the other details correct
    – Danny Mc G
    Dec 19, 2021 at 2:52
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    FWIW I've found a link to a review of this story reflexionesfinales.blogspot.com/2013/09/…
    – Danny Mc G
    Dec 19, 2021 at 3:59

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