Hishout Farm was one of oh so many that’d been abandoned after the area’s topsoil blotted away into dust storms. Rain follows the plow, so they’d said, and so it had–a black rain, the sort that even Unitarian farmers had to admit gave them a certain end-times chill.

Nobody seemed to remember much about Hishout, his family, or where they’d come from. If pressed, one of the old-timers that hung out at Strasser’s might allow that the Hishouts were from back east and struck out for California, but that was speculation commingled with the distant fog of memory.

No, the only matter that set the Hishout farmstead apart from all the others that had failed and foreclosed, swept like flotsam before the black prairie skies , is that it hadn’t been sold or torn down. The fields had returned to plow-untouched nature, but the farmhouse and barn stood tall, unbowed by the weight of years, as if any day now Hishout might return, wipe his brow, and set to tilling once more.