Fertilizer

The moment I had signed the sales contract for the old farmhouse I’d been happier than I was in years.

You see, in life, I did everything right. I headed the advice of my teachers and parents. After I’d finished school, I went on to university and got my degree in business. I graduated with honors and started working at a fancy company. After a decade and a half, I’d climbed high enough on the corporate ladder to be head of the sale department. It meant quite the salary, but also more responsibility and more hours on the job.

During these years I moved into a newer, fancier place every couple of years, bought more luxuries, but spent less and less time home enjoying it all.

With each passing year, I grew to hate my life a bit more. I hated my job, my apartment and even the overcrowded city I lived in. I was yearning for a break and for some quiet and solitude.

When my uncle Dennis died, I was surprised to be named the sole benefactor. Apparently, he had no other relatives but me. Selling most of his property I left me with a substantial sum. With the savings I already had, I decided it was time for a change.

I had long dabbled with the idea of moving to a rural area. Growing my own vegetables, get a few chickens and live a self-sustaining lifestyle far away from the big city sounded nice.

It had always been something I was interested in, a sort of fantasy. Reality was different. There were always deadlines to make, projects to finish and contracts to discuss and sing. Time moved along, and year after year I did nothing.

Now though, enough was enough. I didn’t want to end up like the people who’d finally made it to retirement only to realize that they were now too old and feeble to follow their dreams.

When I quit my job, my boss was surprised and flabbergasted. Of course, I still had my termination period of four weeks, but most of that time was spent to make adjustments.

While my boss was busy finding a replacement for me, I started to look around for a promising property. After a week of searching, I found it. It was an old farmhouse with quite a few plots around. It was located in a small village near a mountainous area. Until two years ago it had been owned by a woman, but after she’d died her son had put it up for sale.

When I visited the place, I saw that it was old and not just a bit run down, but I was sure all this could be fixed.

My last day of work arrived quickly.

It was a few weeks later that I finally signed the sales contract and started to move what few belongings I wanted to keep to the old farmhouse. Once I’d put together some sort of temporary living quarters, I decided it was time to move in.

I tried my hands at remodeling the old house myself, but I was soon reminded that I never had any talent using my hands. In the end, I gave up in frustration and contracted a company for it.

It took another couple of weeks, but once they were done the place looked nice, cozy and modern.

After the repairs on the chicken crop were finished, I bought half a dozen chickens and a roaster.

Being woken up by him in the morning reminded me of those childhood days I spent at my grandparent’s farm. The nostalgia flooded over me in pleasant waves as I drank my morning coffee.

By now I decided it was time to visit what few neighbors I had. To the north of me, quite a bit away lived an older lady and next to her a middle-aged couple whose kids went to middle school. After my initial introductions, I didn’t have much to do with them.

To the south lived an older couple, the Richters. They lived in a huge old farmhouse. They used to be farmers themselves when they were younger but had since retired. They were nice and assured me they’d help me out if I ever had any problems.

After that, there was only one person left, the old man living to the farm east of me. It was an old farmer who I guessed was in his late fifties or early sixties. He owned the fields adjacent mine. Only a small dirt road divided our properties. I’d seen him from afar a few times, but whenever I’d greeted him, he’d ignore me. His face was hard as if carved from stone, his lips were always pressed together, and he had a perpetually angry expression.

The moment I walked over towards his farm, he tried his best to ignore me yet again. When he saw that I walked towards him, he turned to me. His face showed that he’d rather do anything else, but talk to me.

“Hello, I’m Daniel Langscheidt, I bought the-”

“Know damn well who you are. You’re the guy who bought Lisbeth’s old house and made it all fancy and what not.”

“Eh, yeah, nice to meet you.”

With that, I held out my hand for a greeting. He didn’t budge or even look at the hand I was awkwardly holding out in the empty air between us.

“Why’d you move here?”

“Oh, I was going to try my luck at farming. I always wanted to grow my own,” I broke up as the old man burst into laughter.

“You? Farming? Your hands are as soft as a girl’s! This land is tough! I tell you right away that you won’t grow a damned thing here. We don’t need to city folks like out here! Pah!”

With that, he spat on the ground in front of me and without another word made his way towards his shack.

For a while I stood there, looking after the old guy. I was nothing short of surprised and dumbfounded. Why’d he thrown so much hate at me? What the hell was his problem?

More than a bit mad I want back home. What had I done to get this type of reaction? In the end, I told myself that he was most likely a miserable old fool, who hated himself and people in general. Not my problem.

From that point onward I tried my best to get the farm going. My knowledge was limited though, minimal. The internet with its endless information is fantastic, but it was all second-hand knowledge. I soon realized that if I ever wanted to learn how to do anything, I’d to get my own hands dirty.

I started with the old ladies small garden and planted a variety of different vegetables. The month after that I got the old greenhouse running again.

I soon had to learn that real life was no Harvest Moon. Running a farm and growing vegetable was tough. Needless to say, things didn’t grow well at all.

It was at a later meeting with Hans Richter and his wife that I learned that the ground here wasn’t the best anymore. They didn’t know what it was, but almost everyone had trouble getting things to grow here. You’d need a lot of care and fertilizer if you wanted to succeed.

A decade ago a few small time farmers were still living here. As things got harder, most of them abandoned the trade. Some turned to raise livestock, others changed to different professions.

There was only one, single person whose fields were still flourishing, Old Werner’s.

It turned out that Old Werner was no other than my next door neighbor. When I told the Richters how my introduction with him went, they both started to laugh. Werner was a bitter old man. He didn’t like people and had lived alone most of his life. He was a very solitary man. When I asked if something happened to him, they both said no. It was just how he was. I’d be best for me to ignore him. That’s what everyone else did anyway.

As I’d said, I took things slow, worked the garden, studied different types of seeds, how to take care of crops and many other topics. It was early summer by then, so much too late to actually sow anything on the fields. So I let them lay fallow for the year.

As summer moved along though I was surprised to see how the old man’s fields were bursting with rip grain and vegetables. Sure, they told me the old man was doing alright, but what I saw was more than that. No, he seemed to be doing pretty damn well. I could barely get a couple of tomato plants to bear fruit in the greenhouse, yet he had fields of them!

Harvest came and went. I was frustrated at my own inability to grown anything but also impressed at how well he was doing. I didn’t like it one bit.

As summer turned to autumn, there was one thing I found a bit strange. I often caught the old guy driving out in the middle of the night and returning back home a few hours later.

I’d noticed it by accident when I was out one night. I’d decided to take a walk in the mild autumn air and to gaze at the stars. I was on my way to the local viewing platform when a car approached me from behind. Its headlights were off, and it sped past me, yet I was sure I’d seen old Werner.

I didn’t think anything of it, yet I wondered why he drove around without his headlights on. My first thought was that he forgot them or hell, he might just be an asshole who liked to scare people.

In time I learned that the old man was making these ominous trips frequently. Always in the middle of the night and still without his headlights on. There was no other explanation, he was trying not to get noticed.

Well, to be honest, it was none of my business, and I told myself to ignore him and his weird antics. Yet, I couldn’t help but find it unnerving. I started to wonder what reason he had for this strange nightly trips. I didn’t help that he kept it up all autumn and continued well into early winter. It was a sheer mystery to me.

Once the new year began and spring came around I started to do the same as all other farmers: I started working my fields. I got quite a few stares and scoffs from old Werner. Many snide remarks were directed at me, or I’d see him laugh his ass off when things didn’t work out for me. To tell you the truth, I tried my very best to stay above this petite behavior. Every once in a while though I couldn’t help but yell back something similar.

I’d had a few very long talks with Hans Richter, and he’d been paying me the occasional visit. He helped me to get things going, advised me on when to sew what, what fertilizer to use and so many other important things. I have no clue what I’d have done without him. He was a godsend.

Still, it didn’t matter all too much. Things just didn’t grow. Each day I walked the fields looking at rows upon rows of barren earth. Only here and there a few lonely plants were growing. Old Werner’s fields, on the other hand, were thriving, and of course, the old man wasn’t shy rubbing it in.

“You city folks just don’t have it in you, that’s what it is,” he’d shout over at me and start laughing.

At other times he was a condescending asshole, pitying me. “That’s as far as you’ll get. If I were you, I’d give up while I still could. No reason to keep trying.”

I hated that damned old man.

One day, after I’d watered the few lonely plants that were growing, he came over to pull another one of his nasty jokes.

“Shouldn’t water them too much, don’t want these few plants you accidentally got to grow to go to waste, do you?”

“How the hell do you do it?” I asked instead of reacting to his remark.

He just stared at me.

“How come your crops are growing so well when no one else can do it? And don’t give me this city folk bullshit, everyone else tells me they’ve got trouble as well.”

The old man’s face started to distort into a knowing grin, yet he said nothing.

At that moment I remembered how often I’d seen him walk the fields with these unnamed bags of fertilizer.

“Is it that fertilizer of yours?”

“Heh, not as dumb as you look,” he answered.

“So what sort of fertilizer is it? Do you make it yourself? What do you put into it?”

The old man burst out laughing.

“You think I’m going to tell you a damn thing about it? Oh, I don’t think so!” he said spitting on the ground. “This is my very own, special formulae. You’ve no idea what I’m going through to make it, to perfect it! Before I’d tell anyone, especially you, I’d rather have the devil take me away!”

Without another word, he turned around and stormed back to his farm.

As the weeks went on, most of my fields should stay barren. The old man’s were covered in lush green like they’d been the year before. What the hell was in that fertilizer of his, I wondered.

It was sometime later when I visited the Richters that I saw the local newspaper on the kitchen table. I halfheartedly opened it, and an article caught my eye.

“Middle-aged woman still missing since last autumn.”

The article was about a woman, a mother of two, who’d gone missing on a hiking trip in the nearby area, last year. When I started reading, Susan, Hans’ wife came over.

“Such a sad story… I wonder why it keeps happening.”

“Hold on, what do you mean?”

“Oh, it’s those hiking paths near the mountains. Each year people vanish there. The authorities say its slippery slopes and people aren’t careful enough. Why they don’t close it off?!”

“It really is something,” her husband said,” they always warn hikers and climbers, but people won’t listen. A mother of two, what was she even thinking?”

I listened to them and learned that more than a dozen people had gone missing near the mountain range. Last year it hadn’t only been the woman, but an older man as well. They said it was almost inevitable that people went missing there. Of course, people talked to the local council, but they didn’t listen. The normal hiking paths and climbing locations were safe and secure, and there were enough warnings about straying from them.

As I listened to them, there was something in the back of my mind. Something I couldn’t quite grasp.

Only when I returned home and saw Old Werner, stalking around his fields, did I remember what it was. The woman had gone missing in autumn. Wasn’t that the time when he went on all those trips?

I realized what my brain was trying to put together. The more I thought about it, the more everything did fit together. He drove out in the middle of the night, headlights off, to an unknown location. And there was this special fertilizer of his.

For a moment I couldn’t help but imagine Old Werner out on the hiking paths at night searching for lonely wanderers to turn them into fertilizer.

What was I thinking? I almost burst out laughing at my own ridiculous idea. This was not a movie, this was real life!

Somehow though I couldn’t completely get rid of the idea. I don’t know why I did it, but I started to spy on the old man. It might have been my frustration. It might have been boredom. It might have been the resentment I felt towards him. I’ not sure.

It was not that I believed in my idea. It was way too far-fetched. I told myself that all I wanted was to figure out how he grew his crops and what sort of fertilizer he used. I knew I was only lying to myself though. Now, I thought there was more about this old fool, his strange behavior and that fertilizer of his.

The more I thought about it, the more I was able to convince myself.

Whenever I saw him out in the fields, applying his fertilizer, my thoughts went back to the same topic. I told myself to stop and leave it alone, but I couldn’t. It wasn’t long before my curiosity turned into an obsession and I started to take tabs on him. I took notes on how often he went out, when he got up in the morning, how long he stayed up in the evening and many other things. It wasn’t like I had much else to do anyway. Most of my fields resembled a barren wasteland anyways.

After a couple of weeks, I had his whole routine written down. I knew pretty much everything that went on at his farm.

So I was more than a bit surprised when I saw him drive out with his car in the middle of the night on Saturday. He hadn’t done that in the past five weeks. It was by sheer coincidence that I’d even noticed it. It was already early morning when he returned.

I saw him get out of his car, but instead of going back inside, he went to the back of the car and opened the trunk. I the dark of the night, hunched behind my window, I pressed my binoculars against my head so hard, it hurt. My whole body tensed up, and I didn’t dare move or breath. In horror, I watched how Old Werner dragged something out of the trunk. It was long, big, and covered in a thick blanket. I watched as he heaved it over his shoulder.

As he took a first step towards his hack, I saw something long and thin dangle from the pack.

Oh, Jesus Christ, I thought. Don’t tell me… Was that what I thought it was? Had I really seen it? No, I must be wrong. I was seeing things. Maybe I’d imagined it. But what I’d seen dangling… It couldn’t be. I thought back to the woman in the newspaper article. Was this another one? Another victim? Another ingredient for his fertilizer?

I had to go there and find out more. I should take a look at the shack. The moment I saw how Old Werner returned from his shack, all thoughts about going there left my mind.

It was dark, but in the moonlight, I could clearly see that his hands and lower arms were covered in something. I saw his dark, angry expression as he made his way back to his house. My whole body was filled with fear. For the first time in my entire life I was honestly and utterly terrified.

I couldn’t help the urge to hide as soon as he’d walked back to his house. I knew there was no reason for it. The old guy couldn’t possibly see me. I had the lights off, and I was way too far away from him to notice anything at the windows.

Once he’d vanished inside, I started to calm down, at least a bit. My mind was still a crazed whirlwind of contradicting ideas. One part of it said I was stupid and nothing was going on. The other part told me that Old Werner was a crazed serial killer. Even in bed I couldn’t calm down and took me a long time till I actually fell asleep.

When the rooster awoke me in the morning, I was thankful that the few hours of sleep I’d had were undisturbed and free from dreams about bloodied old men.

While I was drinking my morning coffee, I watched his house as I’d done every morning for the past weeks. As if nothing had happened last night, the old man went out to take care of his fields.

Had this guy really murdered someone last night and dragged the body into his shack? As I sat there, I was almost shaking with curiosity. I had to find out, I had to.

I knew that every week, on Sunday evening, he spent an hour or two at his shack. During that time he most likely mixed up his fertilizer. Once he was done, he went back to his house and most likely straight to bed. This might be the best chance to see what he’s up to in there.

The whole day I was antsy and couldn’t sit still. I made plans what I’d do, how I’d approach and how I’d find a bloodied body lying on the floor of the shack.

When the day finally turned to night, I turned off the lights in my house to give him the impression I went to bed early. He’d believe it, I was sure. Us city folks don’t work as hard as he did, was what he most likely thought in his arrogance. All the while I sat at my window watching him with my binoculars.

My cue was when the lights of the shack turned off, and the old man went back into his house.

I dressed in all but black, and after waiting for another half an hour, I made my way outside.

With low and quiet steps I made my way over to his place. For the first time, I wasn’t mad at how well his corn had grown. It allowed me to get near his house without having to hide much.

Once I was closer, I checked out his farm from between the corn. The lights were off. There were no sounds, and nothing was moving. It was clear that the old man must have gone to bed. To be on the save side, I still waited for another ten minutes.

When they’d passed, I rushed to his shack. My heart was beating heavily when I’d made it, and everything stayed quiet.

I wasn’t too surprised to find the door locked by a padlock. Even I knew that there was no way that I’d be able to open it. I hadn’t imagined that I’d be lucky enough to find the door unlocked anyways.

No, I went for the window of the shack that I was able to see from my house. I knew it would be locked too, but it was one of these old wooden windows. It consisted of two shutters and was only held shut by a metal bolt in the center. I might be able to pry it open wide enough to loosen the bolt and open it.

I pried away the two shutters from one another until I could fit my finger in-between. At that point, I knew where the shutter was. I’d to be careful. If I broke the window, the old man would hear me without a doubt. After a nerve-wracking minute of toying around with a couple of tools, I finally loosened the bolt, and the window opened.

I scanned the window frame and the area below. Once I saw that there was nothing I could topple over, I climbed inside.

The shack was larger than I imagined. For now, all I saw were shelves filled with tools and various other things. Step by step I made my way through the place, scanning it. In the end, I took out a small flashlight I’d brought, to give things a closer look.

There was a sort of mixing station at the end of the shack. To be honest, it was nothing but an old workbench, but on it was an assortment of things. There were containers of various chemicals and fertilizers, a sack of bone meal and a few bags of his complete fertilizer mixture.

As I looked on, I noticed something next to the workbench. It was a sort of metal composter as well as a freezer united cramped into the corner next to it. The composter was quite modern. It was most likely one of those that helped to quickly compost organic material. I’d read about them.

My skin started to crawl as I stared at it. I took a deep breath, and after toying with it for a bit, I figured how to open it. The instant it opened I almost vomited. The smell alone was enough to make me retch.

When I looked inside, I saw bloody guts and a few pieces of half-rotten meat.

“Fucking hell,” I cursed and stumbled back in shock and disgust. I crashed straight into the assortment of containers on the workbench. A number of them clattered to the ground in an ear-shattering noise.

My eyes grew wide. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. You goddamn idiot, what the hell did you just do!? I turned off the flashlight and waited. Oh god please, I hoped. Please make him stay asleep.

I waited for almost half a minute, praying that Old Werner would stay asleep. My prayers weren’t answered. My heart almost stopped when I heard the front door of his house open.

“Goddamnit, what’s going on out there? If it’s you damned kids again…”

He said nothing else. Oh shit, did he see the window? I tried to think, tried to remember if I’d closed it after me, but I couldn’t. For all I knew, the two window shutters might still be wide open.

“Is someone there?” I heard his voice. Then his footsteps came closer.

“I dare you, whoever the devil you are, show yourself!”

I didn’t move. I hoped against all certainty that he’d go back to his house, but only a moment later I heard him from the side of the shack.

“You’ve got to be kidding me!”

He must’ve seen the open window. I could already hear him rummage with the padlock!

Now or never I thought. There was no way I could explain this to him. I was back at the window, tried to get up, but before I could do any more than to put my foot on the window frame the door opened. In one swift motion, he hit the light switch and saw me standing there, dressed in all black, trying to flee the scene.

“WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING IN MY SHACK!?”

Then the smell hit him and his anger turned to pure rage.

“YOU. YOU. YOU GODDAMN…” but in his rage he couldn’t even finish his sentence anymore. In his blind rage he picked the first tool he could, a rake, and came swinging after me. There was no way I’d make it out in time. I barely ducked away and fled to the back of the shack.

“No, don’t! I swear I saw nothing! I only,” but I didn’t get the chance to finish as I had to dodge another hit of the rake.

Finally, he saw the open composter and the disturbance on the workbench.

“You just had to know, did you? You couldn’t let it be. Do you have any idea what I went through to finish this? One decade, one whole decade… and now you’re trying to steal it?!”

What the hell? Had he just admitted to what I thought he had?”

“That’s it! You’re the last person to EVER barge in here, I swear it!”

And with that, he threw the rack to the ground and came at me himself. He almost jumped me and only now did I realize that Old Werner might have been an old man, but damn was he strong. A life of farming had made his body stout and hardened his muscles. All I was able to do was to struggle against him and keep him from overpowering me. I clung to sheer desperation, as I was pushed back against the workbench.

His eyes were wide open, and a moment later he raised one of his hands and hit me square in the face, once, twice. When I stumbled, he closed his hands around my neck.

I couldn’t breathe. Only at this moment did I realize that he was really going to kill me. I was going to die. Stars appeared in front of my eyes, but there was nothing I could do. I twitched in his iron-hard grip, grasped blindly around for something, anything. My hands closed around something hard and cold. With all the power I could muster I swung it into the direction of Old Werner. There was a nasty sound, and the old man screamed up.

Only when I swung it a second time did I see what I was already holding. It was an old mallet. For a moment I saw the surprise in his eyes, and his grip loosened, only to close once more even harder. In his fury, he wasn’t just trying to strangle me anymore, no he was going to break my neck by sheer force. Again and again, I hit him with the mallet. After three more hits, his grip finally loosened and he slumped down and fell to the ground.

As I looked down at his head, I saw a nasty inward bump at the top where I’d hit him. What I was most surprised though was all the blood that still kept gushing forward.

Time stood still. As if in a trance I watched the blood flow from his unmoving body. It must have been only seconds before I realized what I’d done, but to me, it felt like an eternity.

The bloody mallet clattered to the floor, and I pushed old Werner’s body away from me.

I started shaking, almost screamed up. I’d killed him. I’d murdered someone.

I had done the right thing though, hadn’t I? He’d have killed me. He killed others! The guts, the meat, the freezer! There was no doubt! And I’d done it in self-defense!

When I opened the freezer, my world crumbled apart. What I found inside wasn’t a corpse. Neither was it body parts. It was a dead animal. In the freezer were the remains of a deer. Part of its lower half was missing, and his innards were carved out. The blood and the guts I’d seen!

What about the arm I’d seen last night though? It must have been… but then I saw the legs of the deer. What I’d seen had been a long, thin, body part. Only the dark of the night and my imagination had transferred it into the arm of a person.

Dear god, what had I done? Had this old guy really done nothing more than to create some sort of complicated organic fertilizer?

Right at this moment, my instincts activated and I turned to run. I’d already made it to the door of the shack when my mind started to work again. What the hell was I doing!?

Should I call the police? What would I tell them? That I broke into his place because I thought he was a serial killer? That he attacked me after that and I killed him in self-defense? Would they even believe me? In that outfit?

No, it was much more likely that they thought I’d broke into his shack, he found me stealing his stuff, and I killed him. Or hell, that I came in here and killed him. I’d made it no secret that I hated him.

Shit. Shit. Shit. What the fuck should I do?

First I turned off the light in the shack. Was there anyone nearby? There’d been so much noise! As I watched and listened, I remembered that no one else lived near enough to have heard anything. The only person who’d heard anything would’ve been no other than me.

I went back inside, closed the door of the shack and then the window. I checked the wood splintering on the window and tried my best to get rid of it and make it sound as natural as possible.

After that, I put everything back that the old guy had pushed off the shelves in his onslaught.

Finally, there was the old guy himself. Was he really dead? I awkwardly touched his neck to see if there was any pulse. Then I looked at his head again and wondered what the hell I was even doing.

For a while, I wondered what to do, but then I saw his huge fertilizer bags. Old Werner might have been strong, but he was still a scrawny old man. The irony was not missed on me when the old man’s body was almost a perfect fit for it.

I pushed the body bag to the front of the shack and then started to meticulously clean up the blood. First I wiped up the floor and the workbench. Then I checked every notch and cranny and used one of his many chemicals to get rid of any blood spatters. I checked the whole place multiple times over. I had to make sure there were no blood splatters left anywhere. Only then did I open the door again.

Once again I checked the area. Sure, it was dark and not even thirty meters to the cornfield. Yet, I knew if anyone should see me carrying a bag of fertilizer through his yard the night before he went missing… I couldn’t risk it.

When I was sure that I was completely alone, I sprint to the edge of the cornfield with the heavy bag over my shoulder. Once I’d made it, I stumbled forward for a few more meters, but luckily avoided to crash to the ground.

For a moment my head was spinning, and I almost passed out from the sheer exhaustion.

I rested the bag between the cornstalks and ran back to the shack. The whole place smelled of the chemicals I’d used. Once more I went through it, using water to clear away the residue of the chemicals.

I also closed off the composter and the freezing box. Before I did that though, I got part of the animal meat, cut it to pieces and ground it up with the mallet.

I added the ground up meat to the composter. I made sure to leave the bloodied and dirtied tool on the workbench. I had to make it look as if it was the last thing the old guy had done.

At this moment I noticed something else. A notebook was stashed away in a small shelve above the workbench. When I opened it, I found that it contained the old guy’s notes on how to create his special type of fertilizer. It was pages upon pages of ingredients with detailed instructions.

I skimmed one of the pages, and it specified how certain ingredients had to be gathered. On the next one, he clarified that deer meat was best during their mating season, in autumn or early winter.

That must’ve been the reason for his secret trips. He was getting deer meat for his fertilizer. All he’d been doing was trying to keep his formula a secret.

Once I was outside again, I closed the padlock, careful not to leave any fingerprints on it.

Carrying Old Werner’s body over to my house took quite a while. Every ten meters or so I had to take a break. Once I’d made it, I hid the body down in my basement.

After that I went back to the cornfield, to make sure there were no tracks or blood splatters anywhere.

It was an hour or so before dawn when I was finally done with everything. I was utterly exhausted and pretty much fell into my bed.

The next day was a blurry mess for me. I spent most of it in bed, curled up under my blanket. Murder is not something from which you move on with your life. You just can’t.

It was only in the evening that I remembered his little notebook. Reading through his notes was the only thing helped me to turn my thoughts away from what I’d done. It’s not an understatement that the topic of fertilizer saved my sanity that day.

I carefully went over every page. I knew damned well that I’d not be able to turn my harvest around. I might try my luck in the greenhouse though, and if that would be a success, I could prepare for next year.

During the next days, I procured quite a few things: a composter different fertilizers, chemicals, bone mean and a variety of other ingredients.

One thing I was missing though and that I wasn’t sure how to get was deer meat, but I knew I had a substitute for it in my basement. It was still quite fresh, and most importantly, I had to get rid of it.

It was a nasty piece of work as you can imagine. I almost vomited every couple of minutes. Due to the heat, Old Werner’s body had been rapidly decomposing. I almost vomited the moment I saw his bloated, squishy corpse.

Eventually, though I got used to it. I grew numb, or I was already. There is one thing though, I told myself over and over again. This was not a person. This was a hunk of meat, nothing more. Once I cut it up though, it became pieces. The blood, the flesh, the bones, it all became things. And that way it got easier. I didn’t mind anymore. Grinding Old Werner up had become nothing but work in the end. Gruesome work, sure, but still only work.

It took me the better part of two days, but after that, I’d ground up the old guy’s remains. Finally, I added them to the other ingredients in the composter.

It was about a week or so later that the police arrived at my doorstep. I’d never seen an officer like that. Old, tired, and most of all, utterly disinterested in what was going on. He asked me a few questions. The typical ‘when have you last seen him’ and other similar ones. I answered them truthfully, and the guy said he’d be back if he needed more information.

He checked the old guy’s property, the shack, the house. The only thing he noticed was that Old Werner must have gone out in the middle of the night.

It was clear that this officer didn’t give a shit. He didn’t care what happened here in this small village. He concluded that Old Werner must’ve walked off and vanished in the middle of the night. They put together a search party, but it was only a few people, and they never found out a thing. Old Werner became just another name added to the list.

After this, his house was put up for sale, but no one seemed to show any interest.

It’s now late in the year, and the fertilizer I’ve created has developed nicely.

Six weeks ago, I upgraded the greenhouse for winter farming. Since then things have grown well, really well. The tomatoes are big, ripe and almost bursting with flavor. The old man had indeed created a splendid recipe.

What’s more interesting though, is that I can’t help but notice how fast and strong the plants have grown. They look even healthier than Old Werner’s. It might be the unique conditions in the greenhouse. To be honest, though, it might be due to my own little addition to the fertilizer.

As I’m typing this out, I can’t help but laugh at the grim irony of the situation. The one way the old man was able to improve his fertilizer even further was by becoming part of it himself.