"The Hades Hotline" by Alex Petri was posted in Daily Science Fiction on December 17, 2012. "The mother and father of a missing daughter agonize over whether or not to end their suffering of holding out hope by calling the 'Hades Hotline' to find out if their daughter has 'checked in.'" In view of the recent tragedy in Connecticut, this story is ill-timed, a fact which the editors of DSF admit and for which they apologize. Apparently, it had been scheduled two months ago. Obviously, the story has a mature theme and is not for the faint of heart.
Ms. Petri reveals in her notes that her story was inspired by a similar tale in Ovid's Metamorphoses, which I am coincidentally in the middle of re-reading. (That alone earns her 5 to 6 rocket-dragons from me). Through the story dialogue, she masterfully creates a mood that evokes feelings at once of quiet dread, hope, hopelessness, and sheer terror. The push and pull of these emotions serve to drive the story forward. She accentuates these feelings by setting the story in the kitchen of the home of the missing girl. The kitchen, usually a place of warmth and family, is transformed into a mockery of all it once was.
Well-written but tough to read. Again, not a story for the faint of heart. 7 out of 7 rocket-dragons.