Several years ago I was visiting Vashon Island for a radio interview. After the show, my host escorted me to my car and I stopped to look out at a vast meadow adjoining the radio station’s property. On the other side of the meadow was a copse of trees, and a very large, dilapidated barn, as well as several bunker-like buildings and the remains of a once forbidding chainlink fence. ‘What is that place?’ I asked my host. ‘That’s the old Aerie Farms,’ she said. ‘People say dangerous genetic research went on there in the 1990s.’ ‘What kind of research?’ I asked. She looked at me seriously. ‘You’ve heard of the Cloven, right?’ she asked. ‘No,’ I admitted. ‘Oh,’ she said. ‘Best then to leave it at that. Nothing good has ever come out of that place, and likely nothing good ever will. You’d better hurry if you want to make your ferry.’
I departed, as encouraged, to make my ferry. But I did not ‘leave it at that.’ I did some digging, and I learned things about Aerie Farms and The Cloven Project that, honestly, might have been best left unlearned. Still, after opening Pandora’s box, I feel compelled to tell the story…
Garth Stein, Seattle, 2020
Garth Stein is the New York Times bestselling author of the The Art of Racing the Rain, which was adapted for the screen starring Milo Ventimiglia and Kevin Costner. The novel sold more than 6 million copies world-wide and inspired a Young Reader edition as well as four children’s picture books. Stein is the author of three other novels, and is the winner of multiple literary awards. He lives in Seattle with his wife and three sons.
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