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To Plant a Garden is to Believe in Tomorrow


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Quinn Abernathy

Quinn and Gideon Abernathy had barely made it out of the truck before throwing themselves back into their work. Gideon, with his people and his garden, and Quinn with the tiny, single room schoolhouse in which she teaches. Despite how bittersweet their weekend away had been, it had been refreshing. They'd been able to focus on each other, and at least attempt to assemble some sort of hope for their future.

Impending doom would certainly hang over their heads, but the cult would never know.

At some point the night of their return, as Quinn reviews her plans, she wrinkles her nose at them. So boring, she would comment. We never do anything fun, or interactive. She is tired of lecturing, she would express, and so is the class. And that is when Gideon came up with the great idea that would earn him a megawatt smile from his wife ("You genius!"), and extra love and praise.

The next day, she would go into class just as she always does. The children, ages ranging from young to younger, would gather and find their seats as she sips her coffee with a tiny little grin that refuses to quit. She would start the day just as she always does.

She talks to them about their weekend, and they go around the room sharing their little stories until finally it comes back to her. "Well, you all know that Mr. Gideon and I went away for the weekend. We had some very important work to do," she lies. "And it was thanks to that trip that we are going for a field trip."

She waits to see what their reaction will be, and laughs quietly as their eyes widen at the prospect of leaving the classroom.

"Let's go!" Quinn chirps, standing up with her coffee and waiting for them all. Thankfully, winter in Louisianna is perfection. She draws her sweater closer as she walks out with the chattering group, leading them through the tiny little town of sorts until they reach the garden. At the sight of Gideon, her smile widens, and she instructs the group to stop at the edge for fear of his hard work getting stomped on before they even get started.

Carefully, so carefully, she meets him and offers some of her coffee with a simple gesture. She is practically glowing in her own excitement at this outing. Before even thinking about returning her attention to the group behind her, she mouths a quick 'I love you' to the man.

"Kids, Mr. Gideon is going to teach us about the garden, and why it is so important for us."
February 06, 2018 08:36 pm

Gideon Abernathy

Gideon hadn’t missed her sighs and mutterings as she rifled through her “boring” lesson plans. Still, it wasn’t without a small bit of hesitation that he made his suggestion and, as expected, she’d latched onto it with a vice grip. Children have never been his strong suit; they’re dirty, disrespectful, and entirely too dependent. But their minds… Their extremely malleable minds are enough to entice him, if only for a single morning.

It’s because of that suggestion that he’s out in the garden, preparing different types of soil - some treated with his special fertilizer and some not - and thinking of his own lesson plan. He’d been up with the sun, having missed the peace that the garden brought him while they were away. Surprising, considering how much he hates being with the cult. Doesn’t he? Lately, he can’t be sure; the only time his mind feels in tact is when they’re with the commune. Should they wander too far away, he can’t get his thoughts off it.

The class, children ranging from ages five to twelve, are not a quiet bunch, and he can hear them long before they’re anywhere near the garden. He takes a steadying breath, preparing himself for what would hopefully be a smoothe morning.

Quinn signals the kids to remain where they are, something he’s more than grateful for, and approaches alone. He takes the offered coffee and presses a quick kiss to her cheek. Taking a few sips from the overly sweetened beverage, he passes it back to her with a grin before addressing the students.

“‘Morning, guys,” he begins, noting there wide eyes and tight-lipped smiles. They’re afraid of him, and he can’t say he’s not pleased by that fact. “I promise, I don’t bite,” he laughs, and they visibly relax, their small minds quickly put at ease. “Now, come here, this is a hands on lesson today.”

Crowding around the pair, they latch on to their every word, though Gideon does most of the talking. Their hands are quickly dirtied as he implores them to feel the difference between the treated and non-treated soils, calling out every wrong answer when he asks what makes one better. He won’t give them the correct response, yet. Instead, he’ll press on with a different line of questioning.

“Who can tell me why gardens are so important?”
“Hard work!”
“It makes the world prettier!”

An easy grin graces his features, and nods in response to each one. “All correct, you guys must have a good teacher.” Over the tops of their heads, he’ll offer a sly wink to Quinn. “But who can tell me what nourishes the food and makes the world prettier?

“Members of the Flock.” The answer comes from one of the older children, and Gideon recognizes him as one his father’s cronies’ brats. Dark eyes land on him, and the boy almost seems to cower for a singular passing second. “I mean, with their bodies.”

The children fall silent, some in awe, others seemingly uncomfortable. “He’s right,” Gideon finally cedes, a glint in his blackened gaze. “Our own family, by willingly offering themselves up to God, not only protect us from the Darkness, but continue to nourish us, even in death. And make our world that much brighter, yes?” The resounding cheers of agreement might bring up thoughts of Children of the Corn, but Gideon knows how deeply they believe. They weren’t brought into this by happenstance; they were born here, and this is all they would likely ever know.

“Miss Quinn,” one girl pipes up, her round eyes looking up to her with a curious gaze, “is it true that Miss Claire wasn’t buried here?”
February 12, 2018 06:26 pm

Quinn Abernathy

Everything is going swimmingly, and Quinn is beyond ecstatic. Gideon is doing so well, and even she falls under his spell. This is good, beyond good, that these kids would have a chance to know Gideon as something other than John's son. Standing behind one of her favorites, a sweet girl with long red hair and the most crystaline eyes she has ever seen, she observes and laughs quietly as they work with her husband.

He's a natural, and it impossible not to adore him.

The lesson is innocent, and important to their home, as the garden is their main source of food. But things quickly take a nosedive for Quinn with just a few words spoken.

'Members of the Flock.'

At first, the meaning behind the sentiment sounds innocent, and she can't help the little grin that crosses her features. Gideon looks at him just the same, and the child shrinks slightly.

Patience, she tells herself. They'll see how wonderful he is.

'I mean, with their bodies.'

That grin falters, and chocolate hues cut to Gideon as if willing him to deny it. He doesn't. Instead, he confirms it tenfold. If Quinn could die right there, she would. Inwardly, she feels like wretching. She wants to expel every ounce of food she has ever eaten here, and then some. Outwardly, she maintains her composure. She has to. Gideon needs her to.

She hadn't expected this, but she can easily let Gideon carry on.

Until her fiery little favor turns her gaze upwards with her name upon her lips, those dark hues fall to the cherubic face as the question is left hanging in the air. Claire. If ever there is a name that brings her down, it is this one. Glancing up to Gideon, it is clearly she doesn't quite know how to answer. But she has to, and she knows it.

"Yes," she gets out before licking her lips. "That is true." Taking a breath as steadily as she can, she hugs her mug to her abdomen just a little tighter. "We must protect you from the Darkness, mustn't we?"

Quinn doesn't even give it a chance to carry on before she is willing the conversation away from Claire. Learning that she has been eating food nurtured by the dead and disembowled is more than enough. And that still isn't nearly as disturbing as the way the children had responded to that.

"Sorry for the interruption, Mister Gideon," she meets his gaze, guilty for faltering even a little and willing him to carry on.
February 12, 2018 07:03 pm

Gideon Abernathy

Sorry for the interruption, Mister Gideon.

Don’t call me that,
he wants to say. It sounds so foreign, sliding off her tongue. Is this what she refers to him as in her daily teachings to these children? Is that normal? The children look to him expectantly, easily picking up on the change in the mood. Or, rather, the change in their teacher. Had she really been so unaware? She’d watched as he’d buried Claire’s baby here; he just assumed she was privy to how they disposed of their dead.

“Of course, we must protect you from the Darkness,” he continues, as if the faltering hadn’t been there at all, though his eyes remain glued to Quinn for a solid moment before looking around at the upturned faces. “When we take in nourishment from this garden, we are taking in the good intentions of all those who have been laid to rest here. If someone is consumed by Darkness, such as Miss Claire, they must be disposed of...differently.” The word is heavy, hanging over them with a looming connotation. They are young, true, but that doesn’t mean they’re not wise to what living in this commune meant. “We can’t allow their poison to spread.”

Moments later, he has set them upon planting their own little tomato plants. Shouting ensues, competitions about who can plant faster, bets about whose plant will grow the largest, and chaos runs abound. Gideon takes the opportunity to pull Quinn off to the side, his gaze boring into hers as he attempts to gauge the damage that has been done.

“Dead have to go somewhere, Quinn. And I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but we don’t have a graveyard. This is natural.” It’s obvious in his tone that he’s more trying to convince her than give hard, genuine fact, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t necessarily believe it. “I did this back at Valar Morghulis, too. The dead go in the ground, and plants grow out of the ground. This is natural.”
February 27, 2018 06:27 pm

Quinn Abernathy

He's displeased. At least, that is what it feels like as his gaze bores into her own before he expands upon her answer and carries on with the impromtu class. The weight upon Quinn's shoulders is crushing, and the twist of her gut has set her on edge. But from now on, the children wouldn't know. Only Gideon. Only ever him.

That's the beauty of living here. A person is either born into this life, or brought in. And when brought in, they must evolve. For Quinn, that means becoming more aware of herself and others. It dictates everything, for each and every action of her own has an impact on their lives. She has learned to lie. It is a skill that grows each day as she puts on a good face for those around them.

Only Gideon knows the truth, even when she wishes he didn't.

Pulled aside, away from the chaos that is her class, Quinn is not afraid of meeting his gaze. There is a serious comfort she finds in it. She feels cared for. It just doesn't change things.

"I didn't... I didn't realize," she murmurs, taking a second only to glance at one of the children as they become especially loud. All the better. Despite the calm of her features, her eyes tell a different story.

Sickened, saddened, and a little frightened, Quinn chews at her lip for a moment as she tries to come up with a true answer for her husband. She can feel the ground shrinking beneath her feet. A quick breath is taken, and her hands fidget nervously. "This is scary. It doesn't feel right. I'm scared."

One deep breath, and Gideon, is all that is keeping her calm in the midst of her hushed response.
February 27, 2018 06:57 pm

Gideon Abernathy

“This is natural,” he repeats, his tone firm but gentle. There’s no denying that his mind is frazzled, and he can’t quite grasp what it is she’s so afraid of. Death seems too cliche, and nothing about this seems more unsettling than anything else they’ve seen. Still, he has to consider that this comes naturally for him. It’s more likely that he’s the outlier in the situation, and he’s simply refusing to consult empathy.

“It’s what they believe,” he offers softly, “and is it really any worse than anything else? They celebrate death, they don’t look at it with fear. Burning their loved ones, or even putting them in a box to rot, it’s This is more comforting.” Even as he speaks, he can’t help but feel as though he convinces Quinn as he convinces the Flock; it’s coaxing, easing them into something they were originally hesitant toward. And it feels natural.

Pushing the thought from his mind, he cracks a half-smile, just as the kids start calling for their teacher’s attention with shouts of MISS QUINN, MISS QUINN. “Either way, I think your class needs you. We can talk more later.”
February 27, 2018 08:32 pm

Quinn Abernathy

For just a second, a split second, the look on her face says she doesn't for one second believe what he is saying. Quinn absolutely understands it, and understands the truth behind these words, but eating food that is grown within soil, fertilized by the dead? It's too much. No. It's wrong. But would Gideon really ever steer her wrong? He's never given her a reason to doubt him, and to question him now is equally wrong.

She needs to be more pliable.

A gentle nod is given to him, returning his quasi-smile with a small one of her own. "Of course..." Quinn leans up, pressing a kiss to his cheek. "Thank you, Giddy."

It still doesn't feel right, but for him - she will power through. His truth is her truth, and she would do better.

With that, her attention turns, and Quinn is thrust back into her world as the children begin to flaunt their successes. One brave soul even asks for a critique, instead of his teacher's praise, and Quinn is sure to call in the master of the garden for such a high honor. It is from the garden that Quinn would dismiss her class, and she would walk home with Gideon, hand in hand.

Once home, she shuts the door behind them. There is little time now before their guest would arrive, and Quinn can't waste a second. The stove is turned on, and the meal she prepared early in the morning is pulled out, ready to be baked. And, waiting for the oven to warm, she looks at Gideon.

This man is her entire life. He possesses her heart and soul, and Quinn is sure she would follow him into fire if he asked it of her. He challenges her. He makes her stronger. He makes her proud.

A glance is had toward the door, knowing that any minute now, their worst nightmare would knock upon it. The oven beeps, calling for her attention, and the heavy pan is slipped into the oppressively hot space before she looks at Gideon again. "You were amazing today, Giddy. They loved having your attention, and I loved watching you work."
February 27, 2018 08:57 pm

Gideon Abernathy

The class wave their goodbyes before they happily - and loudly, Gideon notes, rubbing at his left temple - head home. The lesson was a success, but he can’t help but wonder at the lasting effects, even as Quinn squeezes his hand lightly.

Of course, the reality of their evening plans set in, and he internally groans. Being back in his element, he’d nearly forgotten his father’s return, thus the meal they would be sharing. As soon as the door is shut, he’s fidgety and reclusive, switching between restless pacing and restless sitting. Her words of praise permeate his psyche’s walls, and he all but waves them away. Something along the lines of just doing my job slips off his lips, muffled even more by his hand rubbing tiredly at his face.

This is what John does to him.

Suddenly, he’s right next to Quinn, and he gives her an apologetic look as he shakes his head slowly. “I don’t want you getting close to John, no matter the end goal. This is a bad idea, and I’ve been trying to fight off this feeling since we talked about it. It’s not that I don’t trust you, I do, don’t know him like I do.” That foreboding knock comes at the door, and his blackened gaze flits to it, narrowing slightly, before returning to her chocolate hues. “Promise me, okay?” Without waiting for a response, he moves to open the door, not even bothering to plant a false smile on his face.

John stands in the doorway, a bottle of wine held in front of him as inconspicuously as possible. Instantly, he holds it out to Gideon, a grin plastered across his features brightly. “Evening, son,” he offers, inwardly satisfied at the locking of his host’s jaw, “I brought a port, it pairs well with anything, I’ve found.” Brushing past, he approaches Quinn easily and presses a light kiss to her cheek, complimenting the smell of the meal as a form of greeting. “I saw the pair of you out in the garden with the children, decided to take a practical approach today?”
February 27, 2018 09:34 pm

Quinn Abernathy

He's being himself in lieu of their plans, anxious and nervous and pacing about as he mentally prepares himself for what is to come. Quinn is used to this. She recognizes it, and knows that the best things he can do is remain positive. What she isn't prepared for is his sudden appearance at her side. Quinn nearly drops the dishes in her hands when she sees him out of the corner of her eye, letting out a breath and then a quiet laugh at herself. Her gaze lifts to his as she secures the load, and the smile melts right off her face as she listens.


Promise me, okay?

"I'll-" but he's gone already, moving for the door and swinging it open before she can get the words out. Instantly, John is goading and prodding at Gideon, and Quinn pretends to be none the wiser as she lays the plates upon the table.

"Hi, John," she smiles, slightly shaken still by the sudden request from Gideon. He's thrown her a curveball, and Quinn is unprepared. It's as the last dish is rested upon the table that her father-in-law reaches her, placing a kiss upon her cheek that she wishes she could scrub away here and now. It takes everything in her power not to lock onto Gideon. Instead, she takes a small step back from John, finding some speck of dirt that must be gently pushed from the table's surface. "Thank you. I hope it tastes as good as it smells, honestly."

Without a second thought, she is pulling glasses from the cupboard. "It was Gideon's idea. The children really responded well, and enjoyed it. They do love getting their hands dirty."

Her gaze shifts to Gideon momentarily as she sets the glasses down on the table. Quinn puts on a big smile. "They loved the attention, too. They were hanging onto his every word. They never pay that much attention to me anymore."

She's rambling. She knows it. Quinn has been presented with a topic and has latched onto it because her game has been completely thrown. Not only that, but she isn't sure if she is doing the right thing. Instead of stroking John's ego, she is grating it by praising Gideon. Everything is unbalanced.

Today has been so long.

"That port was a great call. It'll go great with the roast. Thank you, John." Without a second thought, she steps up to Gideon, standing close beside him to get a better look at the bottle. But it's more than that. Quinn is so aware that he is on edge, and given what he just said... she needs him to know she is going to do her best to honor his needs and present a united front.

"How have you been, John? Are you happy to be home?"
February 27, 2018 10:16 pm

Gideon Abernathy

Quinn puts off her nerves like Gideon puts off his tension. Both are palpable, and they’re playing right into John’s hands. Showing any sign of stress to the viper is not in their best interest, but if there’s one thing they lack, as a couple, it’s self-control.

Taking a deep breath, Gideon lets a good portion of that tension melt away, if only to save face. He’s convinced Quinn to drop the plan of sucking up to his father, so there isn’t much else to be worried about, at least for the evening. And if he can relax himself, he’s sure she would follow suit. He’s no fool; he is the reason she’s in the state she’s in. So he’d fix it, as best as he can.

John, on the other hand, is completely at ease. Honestly, taking a break from the being the cult figurehead is doing wonders to his blood pressure. And to hear it told around the commune, they weren’t exactly thrilled with the switch in leadership. They’re attempting to acclimate to it, but Gideon hasn’t proven himself as well as he should have. What the Shepherd and Messenger don’t realize is that their Flock is fickle, and not ones to show weakness in front of.

He doesn’t miss the way Gideon inhales and exhales slowly, or the way that Quinn glues herself to his side. They wear their emotions on their sleeve; it’s a wonder they’ve survived this long.

Taking the lead, as he is wont to do, he seats himself at the table and nods to Quinn’s appraisal of the vintage. “I’ve found that port goes well with most dark meats, and if I know my son, I know he likes his red meat.” John meets Gideon’s gaze, the dark eyes narrowing slightly as his green hues hold them easily. He only looks away when the pair sits as well, a smile pulling at his lips.

“Yes, I’m quite happy to be home,” he responds, a glint in his eye as Gideon starts cutting into the roast aggressively. “Though, I was talking to Dan before I came here,” he continues, as if recalling a conversation they started earlier, “he said he was...unhappy with a book that Max came home with.”

“I already spoke to Dan.” Gideon’s voice is stiff, his eyes raising once more to meet his father’s gaze. “He’ll not want to burn another one of Quinn’s books again.” Spoken like a threat, John is almost proud.

“You should be careful, what you introduce to these people. They’re simple, they’re set in their ways. Keeping them blind to the outside world is in your best interests.”
March 07, 2018 11:38 am

Quinn Abernathy

Gideon breathes, and Quinn breathes with him. In many ways, she feels that he is an extension of herself. She feels as though she is one with him, a whole unit within themselves, and it is easy for her to feed off his emotions. This is why, so often, she lets him take the lead. Despite yet another jab, Quinn watches as Gideon sits, only leaving his side to retrieve dinner. A roast, laden with fresh vegetables from the garden.

The memory, just a fresh, sets her off of dinner as she places the meal upon the table and takes her seat beside Gideon.

She listens as the men talk between themselves, hands folded into her lap as Gideon cuts the roast. Gideon's response brings her a certain amount of pride. He's steady, far more than she currently is, and clear. Quinn feels her bond with him strengthen just that much. A team. A united front.

"Thank you, Gideon," she praises him softly, not having yet had the chance to thank him for taking this up for her.

'Keeping them blind to the outside world is in your best interests.'

"It sounds like the Flock is still keeping you busy, John. I hope that isn't interfering with your resting." Quinn is quiet, but just steady enough. Those chocolate hues lock onto John. Nothing in her tone is forceful, but instead gentle, and far more like herself than she has been in a very long time.

This is the Quinn that Gideon first met. Soft and kind, yet strong, in her convictions. Seeking reason, and good. And perhaps, just a little more wise to her surroundings.

"Everything we do here, we do together."

Her gaze falls to the table, taking in the spread before them. Roast. John's favorite. She had specifically made that because Gideon told her eons ago that this is his favorite meal. She stands, picking up the burgundy, and goes about opening it before moving to pour into John's glass.

"Most of these children could barely read or write when I met them. And they are making huge strides every day. They want to learn. They want to be children."

She's poured John's glass, Gideon's, and is now hovering above her own. "Should we not better them, so that they may better the Flock?"

And as she finishes pouring her own drink, taking her seat once more, she allows her gaze to fall on John once more. "These children are the future of the Flock."
March 07, 2018 05:44 pm

Gideon Abernathy

John lets her speak, taking the opportunity to take a few hearty bites from the plate before him. From his peripherals, he watches as Gideon seems more interested in cutting the food rather than eating it, and it’s only once his host has abandoned his plate and taken up the port that he’ll finally speak.

“Well, if I may be so bold,” he offers, the hint of a smile pulling at the corner of his mouth, “I think, together, you should concern yourselves with the mutterings around this place. Perhaps focusing so much on the children has made you blind to their parents. And that’s bound to get you into trouble.”

The sound of shattering glass cuts through the room, and Gideon grits his teeth dangerously hard as he pulls a piece of jagged crystal from his palm. The wound is superficial, but his heart races for other reasons. There isn’t much, in his opinion, keeping him from launching across the table and sinking a knife into his father’s neck, effectively ridding them of their most prevalent issue. It’s hard to say if what John says is true, but it wouldn’t surprise him; they hadn’t done enough to gain the Flock’s following. And, should he kill John, that would just be counterproductive.

But he has to kill someone.

Don’t,” he hisses as Quinn moves to get up. Instead, he pushes away from the table and grabs the nearest towel. The table is soaked, but he mops up as much of the liquid as he can before haphazardly picking up the glass and depositing it in the bin. Without a glance toward Quinn or John, he stalks out of the house, slamming the door behind him.

Meanwhile, John remains unaffected. In fact, he continues eating as though nothing has gone awry. Amusement is evident in the glint of his eye, but he keeps them downcast, as if the behavior is too shameful to be witness to.

The door closes with a bang, and John waits a moment before speaking. “I think you should also be concerned with him. But again, that’s a bit bold, isn’t it?” He pats her hand, as if conveying sympathetic pity, and rises from his chair. “Thank you for dinner, Quinn, it truly was delicious. I haven’t had cooking like that since Emely was alive.” He stows his plate on the counter, draining his glass before setting it down as well. Moving toward the door, he wishes her a good night and takes his leave.
March 15, 2018 09:38 pm

Quinn Abernathy

John's words have her borderline shocked, as if the man had just dumped ice cold water over her head. Already, the girl's mind is work, trying to decide on what course of action to take. It is shattering glass that breaks her from those thoughts almost immediately, worry etched all over her face as she turns her attention to Gideon and assesses the damage. There is broken glass before him, on him, in his hand, and he plucks it from it's fleshy bed without a sound. Her first and only instinct is to care for her husband, and she is moving to get up.


It isn't a request, or a denial, but a command, and Quinn listens. It is there, in silence, that Quinn would remain as Gideon mops drink and blood from the table and picks up the glass. She doesn't watch him; She knows better.

The door closes behind Gideon with an oppressive slam, and the world is suddenly smaller than it was just moments before.

I think you should also be concerned with him.

Frowning, she looks up as he makes contact with her hand and notes again how bold he may be, as if he very much regrets having to have said it. He stands, thanks and compliments her, and takes his plate to the counter. But of all the things that takes a hold of her mind, it is the mention of Emely.

To be compared to Emely Abernathy is to be put in a harrowing position. She loved her husband, and then she didn't, though she still remained a dutiful wife. She bore three children, Quinn's husband included, and raised them the best she could. She tried to save them, and because of that, was murdered.

Of all the people Quinn would ever want to be compared to, she is one of the last on a very short list.

Alone now, she moves. Quinn would clean up the rest of the spilt burgundy and glass. The table cleared, and wiped down in full. Dishes would be washed, dried, and put away. When it is all said and done, Quinn Abernathy would step out of their home and into the Louisiana evening. A walk sounds nice, and she needs it desperately. It would help.

Along the way, as she strolls her way slowly throughout the commune, it is impossible to miss how quiet it is here. People remain in their homes, happy in their ignorance with their full bellies. In the silence, it would be two figures in the distance that would catch her attention, drawing her in like a moth to the flame.

She follows.
March 16, 2018 11:17 am
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