This is a short story I recently finished. Part two of Three
Andy had been a hedge fund manager on Wall Street until three years ago when he and his wife, Sara, a junior attorney on her way to partner at a large corporate law firm, took a summer vacation in Colorado. Both fell in love with the mountains and the peace there.
After returning to their hectic life in New York they started to find it had become less rewarding and they both were feeling confined after their visit to the open spaces of the West. On his way to work one morning Andy bought a Mother Earth News magazine at the newsstand where he bought his usual morning paper. Looking through it reminded him of growing up on the farm in upstate New York.
Sara, from a small town in Ohio was beginning to realize how much she missed the quieter lifestyle of her youth. After careful and thoughtful consideration, they decided they needed change and elected to shed their careers and big city life and move to Colorado to try to find some land and start a small farm to raise vegetables and such for farmers markets and whatever other venues they might find to sell what they hoped to grow.
After telling their parents, all their friends, and their coworkers about their plans and with everyone thinking they had completely lost their minds, they sold most all of everything they owned and headed off to a new life.
Three months later they found the ideal land of fifteen irrigated acres in the southwestern corner of the state. The area was not on their radar, they were hoping to be closer to metropolitan Denver but the scarcity of land and high prices sent them farther and farther away to this location. Their land was five miles outside of the small town of Johnston, an eight hour trip to Denver.
Both had made good salaries in their work and had a goodly sum in a savings account and CDs along with stocks and bonds and were able to buy and make the necessary upgrades to the property and be free and clear of debt. There was a vintage, but well built and sturdy, ranch house along with several out buildings, all needing repair, along with a broken down corral. It was the one time family homestead of a now defunct ranch, most of it sold off over the years in small parcels for homes or small horse properties. No one had lived there in over ten years.
The first few months were spent cleaning up and repairing the buildings and upgrading the house, especially the kitchen and the one bathroom. Solar panels now lined the south facing ranch house and with the batteries, they could effectively be off the grid. Tall fences were erected to keep out hungry deer and other critters. They purchased a small Kubota tractor outfitted with a tiller and a blade for snow removal.
They found the independent minded people in the surrounding area warm, welcoming and helpful. There were a number of independent organic farmers in and around the area. There were several larger communities within an hours drive with local food coops and farmers markets. The area was teeming with good healthy food sources and they were assured, if they wanted, there was a good market for more.
After the first year of learning the ropes about climate, growing season, water management, far different from what they knew from their experience growing up in the East, they managed to have their first productive garden. It was small for sure but productive enough to be able to have a booth at one of the farmers markets with enough salable fare. They were proud of their accomplishments from their hard work.
* * *
“What the hell! you’re right. Where is everybody? Stop, there’s Jason’s dog.”
She rolled down the window and called out, “Buster. Hey Buster. Come here boy.”
The Beagle, recognizing her voice from all the times they visited their friends, Jason and Mary Larson, bounded over to the truck, acting happy to see someone. Sara opened the door and Buster jumped in.
“Let’s go by the Larson’s and drop Buster off. They should be home.”
They drove a few blocks to the Larson’s and Sara took Buster to the door and knocked. No answer. She opened the unlocked door and called out to dead silence. She went in and looked around. Everything looked normal, but the house was completely deserted.
She walked back to the truck, now trying to keep herself from total panic. Buster happily jumped in with them again and they drove around town, stopping by several houses of people they knew. No one was there. No one was anywhere.
Sara got out her cell phone. She had service and called some friends, another farmer about five miles from their place.
“Hi Sara, I was just thinking of you,” Sue answered after a few rings.
“Hey Sue, are you folks okay?” Sara asked quickly.
“Yeah,” she answered sounding puzzled by the question and the urgency in Sara’s voice. “Why?”
“Andy and I are in town and it’s completely deserted. I mean there are no people. Truly, nobody . . . anywhere. I found our friend’s dog roaming around loose but there’s no one home.”
“What’re you talking about? No one? Why would that be? A whole town just can’t disappear? I don’t understand.”
“Seriously, we checked everywhere. We checked several of our friend’s places and there’s nobody there. Everybody’s gone.”