Reader’s Choice (Paradise): Paradise Farm

Paradise Farm

by Mike Evis

‘Hey, Sister Anna,’ said the unshaven man standing by the gate. His shorter companion nodded.

‘Hey, Brother Jed,’ she said.

‘Aren’t you going to the meeting? Wish I was, but we gotta stand guard. Bad people, bad stuff out there.’ He nodded towards the gate.

‘Yeah, I’m going, just needed some air.’

She wandered off, but not without glancing at the poorly scrawled wooden sign, standing askew after a winter storm: Paradise.

The sign’s sorry state, with its disordered, jumbled writing, mixing lower and upper case with a backward R, seemed symbolic too. To think when she came here she’d thought it was such a great place. But that was months ago.

Concentrate, she thought, as she walked along the high hedge. There had to be a gap, a break somewhere that was out of sight.

‘Sister Anna,’ said someone behind her. She turned.

‘Brother Mac.’

‘The meeting starts soon.’

‘I know, I’m going.’

‘See you there.’

Better go, mustn’t raise suspicion. Unwillingly, she walked towards the barn. They were all there, except the two guys on the gate. It was stifling in the barn.


She’d been walking purposelessly down the street, on that day, when the two young women approached her. Later she would wonder: had they spotted something about her, some tell-tale sign that she was alone, with all her friends gone for the summer. Jeremy too was long gone. It was a desolate time.


‘Hi. You look lost, like you’re searching for something.’

‘Maybe I am.’

They talked of a new way of living, as a community; of their leader, Duncan – ‘he’s so inspirational, you’ve got to meet him. We all live out at his farm, he inherited it.’

‘You’ll see things differently there,’ said the other one. ‘Come.’

Their names were Ellie and Clara.

Soon she found herself sitting in the back of a battered old Land Rover, heading towards Paradise Farm.

They arrived in time for the daily meeting. 

Anna stifled her giggles at the bearded, long haired man in white robes who stood before them.

‘He looks like Jesus,’ she blurted out.

‘He’s really very sensitive,’ said Ellie, her forehead creased.


Anna’s mind started to drift as Duncan spoke about how perfect their community was. She’d been there, she’d seen what they’d done to Brother Tom, when he tried to slip out to the village pub one night. That was when she first had doubts. If this was paradise, what could hell be like? And the nocturnal visits by Duncan. Ellie’s words rang in her ears: ‘He’s very sensitive.’

She had to get out, before it was too late. That was why she’d been searching the hedge for weaknesses.

Wait. What was he talking about now?

‘…we need to stay vigilant. They will come and try to shut us down.’

On the table in front of him was a large wooden box.

‘So, as your leader I’ve made preparations.’

He opened the box, taking out something black, shiny and metallic. Anna gasped when she saw what it was; several others near her did the same.

He raised the Kalashnikov high in the air.

‘Brothers and sisters, remember what Jesus said: I come not in peace, but with a sword.’

Mike Evis: is a computer programmer, incapable of passing any bookshop without entering. His stories are published in several anthologies.

You can read Mike’s stories in each of our five Didcot Writers anthologies, and read Mike’s previously published Reader’s Choice pieces, We Predict and Telling it like it is on this site.

Our Reader said:

I liked the interpretation of “paradise” here, and the juxtaposition between paradise and reality. The author weaves a classic cult tale that, while predictable, is an enjoyable read with its dramatic depictions and intense emotion.


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