Veteran's Bootleg 2, by Molly Ostertag. If I didn't post this page now, the stuff about it on the forums would probably be lost in the sea of threads for a while.
Matka tucked her daughter in, humming an old tune.
"What are you singing?" asked the girl.
"Just an old song," Matka said "Now go to sleep."
"What is your song about?" her daughter asked, pushing herself up on the pillow. She was at that age when everything is new and curious. Matka sighed, the troubles of the day pressing at her.
"It is a song to warn little girls," she said "against the things that will eat them if they don’t go to sleep!" She tickled her daughter and pulled her blankets up.
The house was echoingly empty, despite the rhythmic breathing of eight other sleepers. Usually there were twelve people living in the house, but three of them were…gone. Matka forced herself not to look at the three dark, empty beds, like shadowy coffins. Thinking thoughts like that would make them real, she chided herself. And yet…
Her son, her younger sister, her nephew. Three strong young people, with much to live for…missing. Gone somewhere into the depths of the forest. Of course, maybe they had gone to the city, with its factories and automobiles, maybe they had gotten tired of Strelv and the mountain. Would they leave without a good-bye, though? Matka still kept their clothes, their belongings, in case they decided to return. She walked across the room to the family shrine. It was a simple niche with a statue of a nameless god, smiling benignly on the house and its inhabitants.
"Can you help us?" she asked the god, silently so as not to wake anyone. "Can you? I am so afraid for them, who knows what has happened? Can you help us?" The god did not respond to her questions, but a wind rattled the shutters of the house and the statue blinked, smiled, and turned to plaster again. Matka sighed and turned away, dimming the last of the lamps. Darkness fell in the house, and it was dark outside as well.