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Shadows on the Wall of the Cave: 04/15/10
Kate Wilhelm's stories always carry a theme of loss and surviving under extreme circumstances. "Shadows on the Wall of the Cave" looks at the underlying horror of finding a long lost relative assumed after many years to be dead. Imagine too that the relative in question was a child. This being science fiction, imagine that he still is.
Ashley and Nathan last saw Joey inside a cave the trio had been exploring as children. Joey disappeared. The cave was searched. The surrounding areas were searched. Eventually he was presumed dead. Now he's back and shocked to see that Ashley and Nathan have grown up even if he hasn't.
Wilhelm goes further by presenting an upsetting family reunion with the parents and extended family. I read this story just as the Stacy Dugard case was first playing out. She (and children she had while a captive) were recently rescued and reunited with her family. Of course she didn't stay a child but I can imagine her daughters must look a good deal like she did when she was kidnapped. What she is experiencing provided an uncanny and off-putting backdrop to Kate Wilhelm's story.