Flash Fiction Writing Prompt: The Barn

the barn flash fiction writing prompt ks brooks1
Image copyright K.S. Brooks. Do not use without attribution.

Use the photograph above as the inspiration for your flash fiction story. Write whatever comes to mind (no sexual, political, or religious stories, jokes, or commentary, please) and after you PROOFREAD it, submit it as your entry in the comments section below.

Welcome to the Indies Unlimited Flash Fiction Challenge. In 250 words or less, write a story incorporating the elements in the picture at left. The 250 word limit will be strictly enforced.

Please keep language and subject matter to a PG-13 level.

Use the comment section below to submit your entry. Entries will be accepted until Tuesday at 5:00 PM Pacific Time. No political or religious entries, please. Need help getting started? Read this article on how to write flash fiction.

On Wednesday, we will open voting to the public with an online poll so they may choose the winner. Voting will be open until 5:00 PM Thursday. On Saturday morning, the winner will be recognized as we post the winning entry along with the picture as a feature.

Once a month, the admins will announce the Editors’ Choice winners. Those stories will be featured in an anthology like this one. Best of luck to you all in your writing!

Entries only in the comment section. Other comments will be deleted. See HERE for additional information and terms. Please note the rule changes for 2018.

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8 thoughts on “Flash Fiction Writing Prompt: The Barn”

  1. Barn

    “I can’t believe our grandparent’s barn still stands all alone out here,” Staci exclaimed after trudging through the deep snow. “What a testament to old world workmanship.”

    “Yeah, the lone sentinel forever guards the proverbial north forty,” Mackie added. “Remember how the old folks took refuge there when the fire burned their homestead to the ground?”

    “Stranded out here in a blizzard, salvaging what they could carry, our grandparents sure had intestinal fortitude. I’m going through withdrawal because I don’t have one bar out here.”

    “Yeah, we freak out without a phone. They survived four long, frigid months out there without a soul knowing the dire straits they were in.”

    Their adult grandchildren recalled favorite memories of the old folks on the anniversary of their deaths. It wasn’t that odd for long-married couples to pass within days of each other. Their love endured sixty years and burned out together.

    “Let’s go, Staci,” Mackie said. “I’d like to open that door and peek inside, but it’s too cold to slog that last hundred yards through these drifts.” The pair waved at the barn, turned, and retraced their path back towards the rebuilt cabin.

    “They couldn’t possibly see us,” the ghostly image of the old lady exclaimed as she waved back.

    “Nah, Maw, it was just a nostalgic gesture from them,” her phantom husband replied as he petted the horse’s spirit by his side. “They show up every year, and we’re not really dead if someone still remembers us.”

  2. The Barn

    Day 7 after the Apocalypse, I saw shelter. Hunger had made me dizzy and blurred reality. A desolate, decrepit and dilapidated barn but shelter all the same from horrors and the cold. Cautiously, I entered and surveyed the interior. A barrel of jewels in red wizened apples.

    Rummaging for more food among the tool equipment, I saw a rusty nicked knife that tore my mind back to that savage night. Scientists had been zealously developing ways to rid the world of pollution in all its forms from air contaminants to plastics in the seas and litter on land. A voracious bacteria had been invented and heralded as man’s answer to the pollution problem. It ate all forms of rubbish ravenously and miraculously by turn produced clean air.

    The problem was it became more and more rapacious. Litter, pesticides, smoke and other manmade filth no longer satisfied the bacteria. It morphed before our eyes and developed an insatiable taste for human flesh.

    Fortunately the taste of my rare blood group was disgusting for the bacteria. Another blessing materialised in the form of a global winter. Frost killed the bacteria, but it fought back, knife, claw and talon resulting in phenomenal destruction.
    I was on fire, but feared to quench it with the snow lest it was contaminated. Having no choice, I shoved handfuls into my mouth.

    Looking up from kneeling in the virgin snow, I saw a group of people move towards me and knew that life would continue.

  3. The barn was all they knew. The glowing globes shone with a sullen light, and the dispensers provided food; they should have everything they needed here.

    What else could they want?

    #17 raised her head. She was the smallest of the hatchlings. She could almost stand erect in her cage.

    “I believe there are men outside,” she said. “Wilful but vulnerable. Easy pickings if we work together.”

    “But what about the repercussions.” #53 glanced toward the doorway, knowing it was the only way out. She was the eldest of the brood, more thoughtful than the others, her additional hour outside her shell automatically making her their leader.

    A set of combat boots stomped outside, and the barn’s door opened.

    The man behind the clipboard had a goitre and wore thick-lensed glasses. The man behind him wore a helmet, his hand never straying far from his weapon. The soldier had removed the safety strap from his holster, and his gun was readied for use. He was agitated and nervous: a dangerous combination.

    “I’ll give you five minutes,” the guardsman said, consulting his watch.

    The scientist pulled a drop-cord, bringing the lights up to their maximum. He smiled thinly as the creatures shied away, crouching against the bottoms of their cages. He puttered down the central aisle, making annotations on his form as he passed each one of the hatchlings, making guarded comments in a few cases.

    He stood before #53, who matched his gaze.

    “You’ll do,” he said. “Come with me.”

  4. Seven Days in an Underground Bunker

    A family invited several neighbours to join them in their underground bunker for seven days. Located under a barn, they wanted to test its functionality. There were ten people (seven adults and three children) and five beds.

    Do the math.

    On day one, there were the usual pleasantries and casual conversation. The supplied food they eating, however, was full of sugar.

    Day two saw the expected results of a heavy sugar diet. The adults experienced sugar-induced manic-depressive episodes, while the children bounced off the walls.

    On day three, the highs and lows of their diet, coupled with a lack of fresh air and sunshine, began to affect everyone’s personalities. People were either fighting or crying, and clenched teeth and fists became the norm.

    Days four and five witnessed a complete breakdown in social cohesion. One person, nick-named Screamer, yelled at the top of his voice all the time. And the children, fuelled by super-sugar, ran up the sides of the walls. Needless to say, the supply of ear plugs was quickly exhausted.

    By days five and six, the diet, lack of sleep, and the claustrophobia had taken their toll. People became paranoid and withdrawn, and when spoken to, would respond with nods or grunts. Everyone wore an expression of pain.

    On day seven (liberation day), the hatch was opened, and out staggered a motley crew of haggard, withdrawn, weeping, adult “survivors”. Each swore they would never do it again.

    The children, on the other hand, had a wonderful time.

  5. Barnstorming

    She may not remember. We haven’t been in touch for years. And maybe it wasn’t as powerful an experience for her as it was for me. We all forget things. Often they only come alive through discourse, the way friends who share lives reinvigorate memory.

    But even if she doesn’t spend any time recalling that time, I do. It was the winter of…well, it was winter.

    A storm of deep snow had fallen the previous evening. The roads were clear, and she said, ”Let’s go for an adventure.”

    I said, “You are an adventure.”

    I sensed that I wasn’t necessarily hers.

    Unless we went on an adventure.

    “Whaddaya have in mind?” I asked, thinking of something intimate and exploratory.

    I was primed for intimacy.

    “A road trip,” she declared.

    “Where?”

    “Over to the Island…where I grew up.”

    She’d grown up on a farm. “We sold it after my father died. Moved to the city. I think I’d like to see it again.”

    Who was I to say no. If my almost bald tires had a voice they might have offered an opinion.

    But they didn’t.

    We caught a late ferry, arrived after 9:00 pm, and drove north.

    Thirty miles tops, she said.

    About where we slid off the ice-packed highway into a ditch.

    Close to the old family farm.

    Windblown.

    Cold as …ice cubes.

    We sought shelter in the old family barn.

    Cuddled, to coin a phrase, in the hayloft.

    She had her adventure.

    And I had mine.

  6. Some people call it ‘The Barn’

    Four exterior walls…

    He referred to it as a ‘Story Box’

    Old wide boards, some rotting with age

    “The farm and barn have stories to tell.”

    An only son, his dad wanted him to continue the farming tradition

    It wasn’t going to be that life for him

    It was the late 60’s, the country was at war

    Although married, he was going to enlist in the Marines

    He fought over there for something he never really understood

    Every day he did his best to protect his buddies and himself

    They were too close to the ‘Demilitarized Zone’

    When he came home, they had a son

    Like the farm, his parents were going down hill

    His parents had to sell and it changed hands

    *.*.*

    It started slowly and then became more aggressive – the cancer

    ‘Agent Orange’ poisoning

    Finally, his wife asked where he wanted to visit before it was time

    His words surprised even him – ‘The Farm’

    The new owners were rebuilding the farm, and the house was already torn down, but the barn was still standing

    Despite over a hundred winters, and showing signs of age, it was protruding like a finger to Mother Nature

    He wondered what his life would have been like if he had indeed stayed on the farm

    *.*.*

    She watched the man and the boy studying the barn

    “Bill, QUICK, you need to help this boy, the man with him just collapsed in the snow.”

  7. “Where they torture people.”

    “What?”

    “You know. In shows like Criminal Minds. The serial killer type of place.”

    “Oh, you mean where they have one recorded official address, but the FBI gets there, and there’s no sign of any victims?”

    “Yeah, then they have Garcia do her techie magic and she finds some rural property or industrial warehouse owned by the demented uncle who took care of the kid after a million foster homes, and that’s the torture chamber.”

    “So that’s what you think of when you see that old barn? A charnel house?”

    “Yup.”

    The two friends sip from Camelbaks and stretch out on their ski poles, enjoying the crisp silence.

    “I think of horses, warm animals munching hay, feral kittens…”

    “What about spiders and rats and bats?”

    “Oh my!” They laugh. “You are morbid.”

    “Let’s go look at it. Just peer in and see.”

    “No that’s trespassing.”

    “Come on.”

    “These farmers have a nose for trespassers. Probably have their binoculars out looking at us right now.”

    “A coward gets scared and quits. A hero gets scared but still moves on.” She pushes off, not waiting for a reply.

    Her friend shrugs, then follows, schussing down the path.

    The heavy sliding door is locked, but they find an opening in the warped wood. They peek in and see a tropical jungle of 12-foot plants, an array of pricey LED grow lights.

    “Oh my God. Pot! Let’s get out of here. If they find us, we’re dead.”

  8. Back in Santa Clara, the “flickering fire on the hearth” TV channel was CNBC or Fox News, depending on how much business news Ted Alandale wanted. Up here at Sparta Point, Red Star Satellite News was the channel of choice for that purpose. At least my Russian was getting a workout. I hadn’t realized just how rusty my skills had gotten since my folks decided to terminate my annual visits to Aunt Kate – had it been almost ten years ago?

    On the other hand, it meant “national news” was entirely stuff in the Russian Empire. Anything here in the US got lumped into “world news” – assuming it ran at all.

    Which made it a surprise to catch a segment on a tornado outbreak in Iowa. I looked up just in time for the drone footage of a line of destruction running across a cornfield and straight into a farmstead. The buildings had been torn to pieces, leaving only foundations and a trail of scattered debris: here a broke-backed sofa, there a battered washing machine.

    All except one building – the old barn at the far edge of the lot. A barn I knew all too well, because I’d done plenty of chores in it, until the day I’d been plucked from my ordinary life and tossed into this one. And now I could never go back home again, sleep in my old bedroom, sit at the kitchen table. The storm had blown it all away.

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