The Arm Farm [Part 1 of 2]
Here's a really bizarre short story I've been working on for the past week or so. Hope you enjoy.
The Arm Farm
The roar of the car’s engine cut clear across the open fields of the farm. Chris looked out the passenger window, wishing that he was the one behind the wheel. It was his car after all, but after the accident, it wasn’t safe for him to drive stick shift anymore.
Fields of low plants passed by in a blur as they approached a large farmhouse in the middle of the property. “You sure this is the place famous for bioengineering?” From his observation, it looked like any other farm in the area. “Maybe we took a wrong turn.”
“Nope, there’s the sign,” answered Megan, pointing toward the barn. A large canvas banner had been hung over the side of the building and painted to read: ‘Art’s Arm Farm’.
Chris looked down at what remained of his right arm and back to the sign. “What the hell is an arm farm anyway?”
“I’m sure it’s just some silly gimmick,” she replied. “There’s probably a lab under the farm for developing prosthetics. It looks like he grows other crops too. These days, it’s good to be diversified.”
“I guess you’re right.” Chris looked out at the rows of short plants that stretched out in every direction. They were all covered by opaque plastic bags. “Must have a problem with pests out here,” he commented.
Megan nodded and pulled the car up to a series of painted parking spaces next to the barn. A wooden sign read ‘Visitors enter through the big door’. Megan cut the ignition and the air conditioner eked out a final breeze of crisp, cool air. The sun shone through the window and quickly filled the car with an oppressive heat.
Chris remained rooted to his chair. Before the accident, he had hated relying on others, and a prosthetic felt like the ultimate submission to his newfound disability.
Megan put a hand on his shoulder. “Come on, Chris, we can’t stay in here much longer. Let’s see what he’s got to offer. If you don’t like it, we’ll leave, simple as that.”
Chris sighed and opened the car door. Heat rolled off the farm in a wave, carrying with it a strange smell he couldn’t quite place. There was fertilizer, yes, but something else as well. “You smell that?” he asked.
“Yeah.” Megan wrinkled her nose. “Smells like baby powder?”
He smelled the air and nodded. “I think you might be right.” More specifically, he thought it just smelled like newborn, but he kept that to himself. “Which one do you think is the big door?” he asked, grinning.
“I don’t know, Sherlock.” She pointed toward the large barn door in front of them. “Think it’s that one?”
“Only one way to find out.” Chris pushed open the door to the barn and was immediately struck by the loud disco music playing from inside. Bright, fluorescent lights illuminated the length of the structure, and steel tables with various medical equipment ran in a line down the center.
Chris barely heard her. He was more focused on the older man with a nearly wizard-like beard dancing to the music the center of the barn. He wore a dirt-stained lab-coat and his eyes were closed as he swayed back and forth.
Megan laughed out loud and the older man heard her. He held up a remote in his hand and the music stopped immediately. “Sorry about that,” he said, setting the remote down on one of the lab tables. “It seems I never have time to enjoy a good song anymore.” The man walked briskly through the barn, running his hand along the lab tables as he went. “Business is booming, as they say.”
Chris recoiled slightly as the man walked right up to him, getting uncomfortably close.
“Oh, no need for that, my boy.” The man held out his right hand. “Name’s Art, pleasure to meet you.”
Chris grimaced, reaching out to shake Art’s hand awkwardly with his left. “Chris.”
Art shook his hand and looked to Chris’s stump. “Don’t worry, Chris, we’re going to fix that. Do you mind?” he motioned to Chris’s arm.
Chris did mind, but Megan squeezed his shoulder. “No, not at all.”
Art grabbed Chris’s right arm and examined it. With his left hand, he pulled out a tape recorder. “Three quarters of the right arm is missing.” He squinted at the skin. “Pigmentation is white, probably a three or a four.” Art looked to Chris’s good arm. “Light freckling on the remaining limb. Is that something you’re looking to keep?”
“I’m sorry?” asked Chris.
Art removed his hands. “You’ve got some freckles on your left arm, would you like them on your new arm as well?”
Chris looked mildly confused and remained silent.
“That’s alright, I’ll show you some options.” Art noticed Megan and jumped as if electrified. “You must be Megan. Pardon my rudeness, I’m Art.” He shook her hand.
She shook Art’s hand and smiled. “Nice to meet you, Art. Between you and I, I like his freckles.”
Art gave her a comical wink. “Well, we’ll see what we can do about that. No time to waste, let’s get going and see what the Arm Farm is all about.”
Art led them towards the far end of the barn. They passed by several lab tables, each containing a different arrangement of potting soils, grow lights, and strange flesh-like pods suspended in liquid. Chris wanted to stop and get a closer look, but Art was a man on a mission and walked at a quick clip for his age.
“Started this business about five years back,” he called as they walked. “Back then, it was one lab table and a small plot for growing the prototypes.” He reached the end of the barn and flung open a large door leading outside to the fields. Sun rushed in, illuminating him as a black silhouette on a backdrop of dazzling light. “It’s a beautiful day for it.” Art inhaled deeply and stepped outside.
Megan shot Chris a smirk and followed.
Chris was feeling more uncomfortable by the minute. “What exactly is it you grow out here?” he asked, stepping onto the dirt path that ran into the fields. He could see the rows of plastic bags stretching out as far as the eye could see. They didn’t look like any crops he was familiar with.
“Didn’t you read the sign, son?” Art laughed. “You’re here looking for a new arm, well, here’s my stock.” He made a sweeping gesture to the field.
Chris’s confusion didn’t abate, but there was a sickening turn in his stomach. Looking at Megan, she showed no signs of misgiving, and seemed perfectly comfortable.
“Now, let’s see…” Art stopped at one of the plots and checked a note sheet that had been pinned to a wooden post. “White, three or a four for pigment, some freckling. Let’s check out row three.” Art led them into the fields. “Step carefully now, if you can help it, don’t touch the bags.”
Chris was already keeping a healthy distance from them. The crops sent chills up his spine, almost like they were watching him.
Eventually, Art stopped and bent down to check a few of the bags. “Ah, here we go.” With a flourish, he removed three plastic bags in a row.
Chris’s heart raced as he looked down. “Are those?”
Art nodded with a grin. Poking out of the dirt were three human arms, fingers outstretched toward the sun like something out of an old movie about the living dead. Art ran his fingers along the wrist of one and the fingers flexed. “Now, let’s talk specifics…”
Part 2 coming later this week or next :)