The following morning Vince woke me before sunrise. He explained that everyone was going to the garden. I needed to get up and meet him in the living room so I pulled myself off the floor. My bones cracked and popped, as a not-so-friendly reminder that I was no longer as young as I used to be.
While I got dressed, I watched the sun start to rise. I could not help but to feel a sense of loneliness. Even though we were surrounded with danger at every turn, we were all together; a unit, a Family. But everything had changed from those days. It seemed everybody was now looking out for themselves. It was only my son and I left and even that wasn't a certainty; he might want to go his own way after he healed.
When I got to the living room everyone was already gathered and appeared to be waiting for me (I have never been one to be on time). As I entered Vince began to speak. He said that Dr. Vaughan was more than willing to share his vegetation with us, but we would have to harvest it ourselves. So aside from our daily duties to keep the farm going, we would also be responsible for the up-keep of the garden as well.
We all piled into the back of a horse-driven buggy, the image of canned sardines popped into my head. Even with Vince and PJ in the front, we were all pretty cramped but at least it kept us all warm against the morning chill. I heaved a sigh and tried to set back, hoping to get a bit more sleep, which could have happened if it weren't for the constant giggling and laughter between Renee and Arturo. I glanced over toward where they were, all snuggled together, smiling at each other and openly enjoying the moment. I told myself to get over it and tried to sleep the rest of the way there.
We traveled up the dirt road that ran alongside the house for sometime, until stopping at an old wooden gate laced with sharp barbed wire. Daniel and Linnie jumped out from the back of the buggy. They dragged the aged barricade open so we could enter into the doctor's garden.
Vince told everyone to get out of the buggy and that we would all meet back at the gate at noon. I stood up while still in the back. I looked around and saw that the size of the garden was simply awesome, acres upon acres of land. Once I got down off the carriage, Vince led Rose, Renee and I through the farm to different sections that would be ours to tend. My plot was the last we came to. It was a quinoa field mixed with an assortment of other vegetation. As I looked around I noticed a large building off in the distance. I asked Vince about it and he told me that was where Dr. Vaughan and Francine worked, although no one really knew what they were working on because no one was allowed to go there.
I asked him why but he had no clue. Vince said that it was Vaughan's number one rule; if anyone was ever caught out there they would be forced to leave the farm. I could only imagine what they were doing out there, but I knew for my own good to just mind my own business.
Vince asked me if I had any questions for him. I told him that farming was fairly self explanatory. He gave me an almost amused grin, then handed me a small pack that hung on his belt and told me not to forget to be back at the buggy by noon as he walked away.
I looked down at the small pack that Vince had handed me. I figured it to be a military issue item because of the army-green material it was sealed in. I opened the wrapping and removed a fold-out spade shovel.