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Friday, November 13

Landscrapes: Part 1 – Barking up the Wrong Tree

The route to the farm was much easier to follow by day. The pavement turned to gravel in parts, and the road took the agents far from other farms.

Further down the road was the turnoff to the Finley farm, recognizable by a galvanized mailbox with RR#3, 237 painted on it. A graveled road led to the farm, sprawled across a narrow valley.

A long driveway led up to a gate and the farmyard. In the distant fields a solitary scarecrow stood sentinel. Around the yard were a farmhouse, barn, woodpile, equipment shed, chicken coop, garage, and a few small sheds. Out to the left of the yard was a greenhouse and attached to a wooden frame building, the laboratory. A fence surrounded the farm buildings and yard; to the outside of the perimeter fence was a fifteen-foot-wide band of scorched earth. Through a second gate a track led uphill from the farm to the forest which crowned the ridge beyond.

The agents stopped the car at the band of earth. Hammer got out to inspect it.

Next to the trees on the outskirts of the fields was a five-yards-broad band of earth that had been laid bare, burned, and flattened.

Hammer stuck one finger and the dirt and tasted it. "Lyme…some other defoliants. This patch of earth was chemically stripped."

"Finley trying to keep the woods out?" asked Jim-Bean, looking around at the scraggly oaks and junipers that led up to soaring sugar pines.

"Or keep something in." Hammer checked that both pistols were loaded. "Look at the gate."

The gate was off its hinges, lying by the side of the road, broken and bent. Glass twinkled around it in the dust. more


posted by Michael Tresca at 8:47 AM

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