Child M

An essay by Stuart Metcalfe, as provided by Steve Toase
Art by Leigh Legler

Monitoring group: Centre for the Care and Re-integration of Feral Children

Location: St Hubert’s Clinic

Case ref no: 2014/142

Patient: Child M

Lead Consultant: Dr B Sinderford

Assessment report


Child M is an eleven year old girl. She was found in a large area of deciduous woodland on the outskirts of the Yorkshire Dales. Although difficult to ascertain how long Child M had been living outside, due to her lack of any recognisable speech, we believe that she was abandoned prior to the acquisition of language. Our best estimate is between 12-18 months old.

Child M was found by a local dog walker who alerted local emergency services. Although Child M was not able to be secured immediately, canine units tracked her to the deeper undergrowth. During attempts to rescue Child M, several of the officers suffered severe attacks by various insects, notably ants, and also several species of beetles that are normally believed to not be aggressive.

We were alerted by local social services and carried out our initial assessment within 48 hours of Child M’s removal from the woodland.

Physical condition:

Although underweight, Child M did not display signs of malnutrition common to most feral children.

Child M’s hair was clean, though several clumps of hair showed evidence of chewing and removal (see below).

Her skin was also clean. Over her whole body, the examination revealed a series of parallel scratches consistent with the movement of insect feet. However, no bites were found at all, in contrast to other cases of children exposed to large populations of ants at a young, vulnerable age (see

Child M

Child M displayed a series of strange physical symptoms. At first, the team believed that these were ante-natal, and may have led to her abandonment in the woodland. However, upon examination, these were found to have developed during Child M’s time living feral.

To read the rest of this story, check out the Mad Scientist Journal: Autumn 2015 collection.

Stuart Metcalfe has been a staff nurse at St Hubert’s Clinic for five years, following a successful career in the NHS. He changed employment after catching a fleeting glance of a hirsute humanoid figure in a local woodland. This chance encounter, which may or may not have been real, led to Stuart researching feral children, and finding the jobs vacancy website for St Hubert’s. In his free time he collects Cab Calloway 78s and likes bouldering.

Steve lives in North Yorkshire, England, and occasionally Munich, Germany. His stories tend towards the unsettling and unreal, dealing with revenge, loss, faery, chess playing bears, and ancient gods.

His work has appeared in Cabinet de Fees’ Scheherezade’s Bequest, Pantheon Magazine, Innsmouth Magazine, Jabberwocky Magazine, Sein und Werden, and Cafe Irreal, amongst others. In 2014, his story “Call Out” was published in The Best Horror Of The Year Anthology 6.

Steve is currently working with Becky Cherriman and Imove on a commissioned project called Haunt.

Leigh’s professional title is “illustrator,” but that’s just a nice word for “monster-maker,” in this case. More information about them can be found at

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