Social work academic Beckett’s 23rd story for Interzone, and as before he draws on his professional knowledge, this time positing a near-future dystopic nightmare of what it is to be a social worker.
A child death at the heart of this story – a young girl thrown to her death down a well by her evil father – Beckett making it as clear as possible as to where the guilt lies. But in his Daily Mail future, a media-driven anti-social worker sentiment has got us to the point where those deemed guilty of failing to protect the child face summary justice. Loom-operator Johnny is one driven to join the lynch party once the guilty social worker has been named, although he has a few qualms in the process.
However, with a neat twist in the tale, on his way home Johnny is press-ganged into government employment, as there has been a big problem in recruiting social workers, and that is to be his new career.