From Shadow Show, a collection of short stories inspired by the legendary Ray Bradbury comes “By the Silver Water of Lake Champlain” by Joe Hill, a story about a group of children who discover a dead dinosaur washed up on the shore of the lake behind their homes.
The only indication of sci/fy in this story is at the very beginning when we learn that one of the kids, Gail London, is a robot with human parents. She has three sisters but it is unclear if they, or the neighbor boys they play with, are also robots. Gail is an outsider in her family, always in the way, always blamed when things go wrong, unaware that her constant correcting people’s grammar is actually not helpful in getting people to like you. Despite her robotic ignorance, there is one human she connects with and especially likes, Joel, one of the boys from next door.
While by the lake playing one morning, after their parents have told them to more or less get lost, Gail and Joel discover a giant boulder on the shore of the lake. They realize the boulder is in fact not a boulder, but a creature of some sort, maybe a dinosaur? Terrified but delighted that they will be recognized for making such a historic discovery, Joel agrees to wait by the monster while Gail and her sisters go and try to convince her parents to come see it. But when Gail finally makes it back to the lake, she is shocked by what she hears, and what she finds. The story was compelling and although it didn’t end on a particularly strong note, it didn’t feel like stereotypical sci/fy which is exactly why I liked it.