My Grandfather's Farm
The story of how I saved the farm and the world.
Today started like any other day in the midwest. The moment the sun suspected you might be awake, it would pull the curtain of clouds around it. Leaving you to question whether you ought to bring that umbrella or let mother nature continue to tease you with the dark clouds.
Today, I brought my umbrella. Couldn’t hurt. Literally, nothing could hurt me today. It wasn’t that I felt invincible or all mighty. It’s that I’ve hit my lowest. After a rash of mixups at the agency, my client list had nearly vanished before my eyes. I couldn’t tell if I was tired, sick, or just not qualified for the job anymore. Technology changes faster than I can blink sometimes. But Dr. Gregory tells me I’ve burned out. And I should seek freedom and a change of pace.
In other words, he just prescribed me a vacation….
Mr. Bryant, at the agency, said his family had been forever indebted to my grandfather and agreed to let me keep my position under the condition that I take a vacation to my grandfather’s farm and come back only when I’ve refreshed my mind and body. I can’t imagine what kind of turn-of-the-century deal my family had worked with Bryant’s but I wasn’t questioning it. A vacation was a vacation. And I was I took the first plane out of there.
And that leads me to where I am right now. Stuck inside my grandfather’s old barn. I had seen it as a kid but was always told never to go inside of it. They told me it was too dangerous because of all of the old rusty farm equipment. And as I sat on the dirt floor, listening to the rain pound against the ceiling, I noticed it wasn’t all that dangerous at all. I had dreamt that maybe it was a secret passage to an underground hideout. But alas, there wasn’t. It was just me, a few stacks of dirty wet hay in the rafters and a couple of old tools. The farmland here was quite larger than I remembered. Normally you see, as you grow older and bigger, everything becomes smaller to you. That felt strange in a way but still more comforting than I had imagined it would. It felt as though I was home, even though I haven’t been here for over two decades.
My grandfather had passed away when I was around 9 years old. And since then we’ve kept the farm in our family. My aunts and uncles barely visited here. Occasionally they’d scoff at the notion that we’d want to bring our family together for even something as little as a reunion barbecue. Needless to say, we’re not close. And by the looks of this barn and the house off in the distance, it’s been quite a while since any of my family had been here. We’d all moved out into the city making us probably the worse farm hands you can imagine. My dad was the only responsible person in the family, a few years ago he had leased many acres to local farmers who had previously lost their farms in the early 2000s when their bills became too much to handle. He passed away not long after making those deals, and my aunts just kept renewing them as long as the payments would regularly make it into their bank accounts.
I had to laugh just thinking about the last few Christmases that we had managed to get together. All of us just asking the same questions to every person. Sometimes I felt like just bringing cue cards to pass out to everyone with answers to how work was going, how I liked my new apartment, and if I’d tried that sushi place down on Mulberry.
Looking around the barn I noticed some cracks in the ceiling, gaps in the dry planks, and just then it hit me. It was completely dry inside - and I’m just talking about where I had plopped myself down. The haystacks were dry, the dirt below me was dry and grainy, everything was dry as a bone. I started poking around the barn, moving boxes of tools and anything to find a wet spot from the rain. This barn was easily 100 years old or more at this point, and with the gaps in the wood, there should have been at the very least some mud forming on the floor from all of the rain pouring down. As I shuffled a box near the door, a fluffy-haired cat scurried out walking in between my legs. I bent down and looked through the gap in my legs and watched as the cat shuffled across the barn and hopped up on the workbench with absolute ease. He sat down and turned his attention to me and waited for me to turn around.
He was a rather large feline - standing nearly as tall as my knees. And he must’ve weighed 25 pounds at least. I gazed awestruck at his paws as he sat on the bench. Carefully, I walked over to him with my hand outstretched towards him. He looked at my hand, curiously, as if he expected me to present him with a gift of food.
“Hey!” the cat meowed as my hand drew near to his head.
I stopped as if lightning had just struck through my body. I stared at him wide-eyed.
“Do you always pet your relatives on the head when you greet them?” he said.
I couldn’t believe a cat was speaking to me. My eyes were locked forward, but suddenly I felt like I was falling backward to the ground. With a thud, my head hit the ground and everything went black. I fainted.
What felt like an eternity had passed before I felt the cat’s gigantic paws on my chest. He was using his front paws to hold himself up. “You fainted,” he said. And I could feel myself fading again before he took his paw and slapped my face. I shook my head and sat up a little.
“Am I dead? Is this some kind of weird heaven?” I asked him.
“No, my dear boy.” He said with a chuckle. “You’re not dead. Do you not recognize me?”
I looked deeper into his eyes and tried to really have a good look at this seemingly old cat. The harder I gazed upon him, he looked back equally as hard. His eyes were familiar to me, but only just barely. Enough that I knew I had met him before when I was younger.
Suddenly it clicked, he had the same eyes as my grandfather. But surely this was just a coincidence.
I think he sensed things were clicking in my head because he spoke as if he read my mind. “I’ve been waiting for you or someone in our family to finally visit this old barn. I’ve been playing around in here for decades. And it’s gotten absolutely boring not being able to share this secret with anyone.” he said as he started trotting around on the dirt floor. “It’s a secret that I’m very glad to share with you of all people. You seemed to be in need of some good news.”
“What news? What secret? Who -- what are you?” I asked.
“In my human days, you all called me Adam. I’m your grandfather, of course!” he said as if everything suddenly made sense.
“Grandpa Adam? How in the world do you expect me to believe you’re my grandfather? You’re a cat!” I shouted in utter disbelief.
“You were always a smart one. Yes. But surprisingly you’re not focusing on the important thing in this situation.”
I looked at him puzzled, still in disbelief that I was talking to a cat. I’d certainly gone crazy. This wasn’t my family’s farm, this was obviously some kind of weird afterlife. For a moment I internally questioned if I was a cat. I looked down at my hands and legs and just then, the cat smacked my hands down.
“Stop it, son! We don’t have much time!” he said, changing his demeanor. “You being here opened the door to the other side. You were so focused on me being a cat, and not on the fact that I died 25 years ago! You’re not concerned by any of that?”
He was right, I wasn’t even thinking of that. “You’re a cat, who talks. Being dead was the last thing that came to my mind.”
“Fair enough.” he chuckled.
“What’s this secret, why is there no time? Sorry, I’m a little dumbfounded right now. A minute ago was I sitting in an old barn, and now I’m feeling like I’m stuck in a fantasy movie from the 1980s.” I asked knowing that I would never get used to talking to a cat, let alone my supposedly dead grandfather.
“Sit up, sit up. You see this farm, it’s just a farm. It’s built on negative space. It shouldn’t exist, and for most people, it doesn’t exist. It’s something that you catch out of the corner of your eye. The longer you’re away from this place the more you forget it exists. It’s like a memory that you only remember when you speak to an old friend that you haven’t seen for years.” he said, as he started walking towards the workbench again. He hopped up, and continued, “the other side of this space is a world like no other. And sadly the worlds are starting to merge. They’re becoming one. When the merge is complete I will officially cease to exist. Two worlds merging together means that the smaller world would assimilate. In other words, I would fully become a feline. My memories wiped, abilities gone, and immortality taken from me. But this is where you come in. If you choose to, of course.”
“How do I come in? How can I help?” I wanted to learn more. I was so intrigued by what I had just been told.
“It’s easy. Sort of. We need someone to take over the farm. Restore its vitality, help it flourish, bring it all back to life. By doing this, you’ll restore the barrier between the two worlds. Ensuring that barriers hold strong is imperative for sustaining our world. In return, we’ll be funneling vital nutrients throughout the planet to ensure your farm and all of the land can begin to thrive again. We haven’t had this issue in a long time, because our family has kept up with this barrier protection from generation to generation. With your father passing away at such a young age, we had a gap in our protectors. It’s your time now. If you so choose. And I hope you do.” He said as he nonchalantly rolled over to his side with his tail flopping over the edge of the table.
“In other words, what you’re saying is give up my life in the city and move here? Leave my apartment, my friends, my job. Everything?” I asked him as my legs were bouncing just thinking of all the change that I would need to make happen. He nodded in return and stretched his front paws outwards, really showing off how remarkably large his paws are.
“What you’d get in return is a lifetime of prosperity. Knowing that you saved not one but two worlds. I understand if you need a minute….”
“I’m in!” I interrupted him. “I’m in, I don’t care. The city has gotten too much for me. The people there were always so rude to me, and I never felt like I fit in. I thought maybe I just needed to meet the right people. It’s scary, but deep down, it feels right.” I felt an instant load lift off of my shoulders as I said all of that.
And with that, my grandfather jumped down and led me out of the barn where it had stopped raining. We had some work ahead of us.
About the author
Born in Northeastern Pennsylvania, now residing in Michigan with my girlfriend and two pups. Raised on a steady diet of science fiction, fantasy, and comedy with an affinity for any story that’ll allow my mind to wander.