Tragedy as Child's Play

A relentless fantasy culture can tip daydreams, even vicious ones, over into real life

We played Lord of the Flies in the remoter woods of Rock Creek Park in Washington. We collected stones in bushel baskets and hid them among the dogwood blossoms. And then, nasty little sociopaths, 10 or 12 years old, we lay in ambush and at the signal hurled rocks full force at our enemies, who were led by the boy with yellow teeth.

One day an older boy, who was almost ready to shave, brought a pellet pistol to the war, not a feckless Daisy that would merely sting but a penetrating gas-fired model, almost as wicked as a .22.

That...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now

Subscribe
Subscribe

Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on TIME.com

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!