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The Old Barn

A Game of Hide-and-Seek

By Dawn SaloisPublished 3 years ago Updated 3 years ago 8 min read
The Old Barn
Photo by Jukka Heinovirta on Unsplash

Wade ran down the dirt road with all of the speed he could manage. He was playing hide-and-seek with his older cousin, Lloyd. To date he had won a grand total of zero hide-and-seek games. He was fiercely determined to make today his first victory. He racked his brain for a good place to hide where Lloyd would not think to look for him. His lungs burned from the effort of running so fast for so long. His dark hair was damp and sweat was trickling into his hazel eyes.

He left his parents’ farm running at top speed, but he knew his cousin would stop counting any second to pursue him. The rules of the contest were simple: he could hide anywhere he could run to by the time a count of 300 was reached. He had been counting in his head since the start of the game and he had already reached 250 when he reached the old Sherburne place.

The Sherburne farm had been abandoned since before Wade was born. According to local legend the family still owned the farm, but could not bear to sell it or live there since the tragic loss of their only child in a freak accident. There was an old rundown house and a gray, faded, dilapidated barn. Wade realized that he would have to choose one of the structures very soon, because he was running out of time. He also realized that his footsteps were stirring up a trail of dust as he ran, and he didn’t want Lloyd to find him just because he could see the clouds of dust he left in the dry June afternoon.

Wade thought the Sherburne house looked scary and might even be haunted. The barn was not inviting with its weathered boards and rusted nails, but it seemed slightly less intimidating than the house. Wade felt a wave of panic when he realized that his time was running out, so he ran to the barn, opened the door just enough to squeeze through, and closed the door after him.

Wade instantly felt like he had succeeded in escaping a life-threatening situation. Lloyd was unlikely to check the Sherburne place for him any time soon. His parents had told them not to go on the property when they were younger. Wade felt justified in trespassing now that he was a grown man of eleven, though. Lloyd would most likely assume he would be too scared to hide in either building and would look for him just about anywhere else before he checked the Sherburne place. This game of hide-and-seek was in the bag.

After his grand imaginings of victory Wade took a look at his surroundings. The early afternoon sun penetrated the barn’s interior enough that he could see inside the barn pretty well. He had expected to find an empty building, but instead there were bales of hay and straw that looked really fresh. They had probably been harvested and baled within the past year. Wade wondered whether one of the neighboring farms was using the barn for storage. As he looked around the old abandoned barn he saw more than just hay bales, though. There were all sorts of tools hanging from nails in the barn, too. The tools were unlikely to be stored in the barn by anyone who wasn’t using them on a regular basis. There were saws, hammers, hand drills, and various types of screwdrivers all hung on nails. The tools did not look old or rusty, but could have been used any time to repair the buildings or fences on the farm.

The barn did not look at all abandoned from the inside. Wade was relieved, but disturbed at the same time. He felt safer being in the barn than he would have if it looked deserted, but he was also uncomfortable with how much it looked like it was currently occupied. Just then a boy about his age entered through the side door. He had short, light brown hair and golden brown eyes. He was dressed in overalls and an old, faded red shirt. Wade looked at his own button-up shirt, jeans, and tennis shoes and felt overdressed. The young boy seemed just as surprised to see Wade as Wade was to see him.

“What are you doing in our barn?,” asked the boy.

“Your barn?!,” asked Wade. “Are you squatting? Nobody has lived here since before I was born.”

“You must be lost,” said the boy. “My family has lived here since before my dad was born.”

Wade had a moment of sheer panic. He was sure he was at the old Sherburne place, but he realized he had been so stressed out about the game of hide-and-seek that he must’ve run into someone else’s barn.

“I’m sorry,” He said. “I must have gotten confused. I was playing a game with my cousin and I thought I was coming into an empty old barn. What’s your name?”

“I’m Jim,” said the boy. “I didn’t think there was anyone even close to my age on any of these farms.”

“It’s nice to meet you, Jim. I’m Wade. I thought I was hiding down at the old Sherburne place. It’s been abandoned for years. They say the family left after the son died. I heard they had some sort of farming accident.”

Jim looked like someone had just told him that Elvis was still alive and living in town. “This is the Sherburne place, but I don’t know where you got the rest of your information. My farm is not abandoned and no one has died.”

Wade wasn’t sure what to make of things. He had heard the story of the old Sherburne place since he was a little kid. The Sherburnes had a son named James who had died in his teens because of an accident involving a storm while he plowed the field. They had been completely distraught and ended up leaving. Nobody knew where they had gone, but they all knew the farm was abandoned.

As Wade thought back on the story he suddenly made the connection: Jim was a nickname for James. But how could a boy who had died years ago be in the barn looking at him in the present day?

“I’m sorry for all the confusion, Jim. I must be thinking about whichever relative you’re named after. There was a boy named James who was killed on this farm years ago. There was an accident during a storm involving a plow and the family just gave up and left after he died.”

“Well,” said Jim. “As far as I know I’m the first James in my family. Where did you hear that story?”

“From my folks,” said Wade. “But everyone knows why the Sherburne place is abandoned.”

Jim looked at Wade for a moment and said, “When did you say this happened?”

“I don’t know for sure,” said Wade. “I just know it was a long time ago before I was born. I think it was even before my father was born.”

“I don't understand how this all fits together,” said Wade. “All I know for sure is that I’m playing a game of hide-and-seek with my cousin and I ran in here to hide. I thought this place was abandoned.”

“I’m sure it was an honest mistake,” said Jim. “You can hide in here for a while if you want to. My parents are in town buying supplies. I won’t tell anyone you’re in here.”

“I’m just going to take a peek outside to see if Lloyd is around anywhere if that’s okay.”

Wade walked over to the side door and slowly opened it. As the door swung open he saw a dark sky filled with stars. He couldn’t have been in the barn for more than a few minutes. The stars were not the only lights in the night sky, though. Red and blue lights flashed from the top of the county sheriff’s car. Wade was alarmed by the presence of the law enforcement officers. He went straight over to explain his mistake to the deputies.

“I’m so sorry officers,” he said. “I was playing hide-and-seek with my cousin and I thought this barn was abandoned. I didn’t think I was in there for very long. I was just talking to Jim. He lives here. I didn’t mean to trespass. I was just confused.”

“You’ve been missing for hours,” said the deputy. “Your parents contacted us to help find you. Mr. Sherburne didn’t report you for trespassing.”

“Mr. Sherburne? He lives here?”

Wade looked at the house. Where a run-down, empty house had once stood there was a modern, well-maintained residence. A middle-aged man with graying light brown hair and overalls had been standing in the open doorway. He came walking over to the barn as soon as Wade looked at him.

“Hey Wade,” said the old man. “It’s good to see you again.”

“Do I know you?,” asked Wade.

“We met a long time ago,” said the man. “I’m Jim Sherburne. Thank you for the tip about the storm.” He said, giving Wade a wink.

Wade felt chills running down his spine. “I don’t understand…” he said.

“You should get home to your folks. They’re probably worried,” said Jim. “We can catch up any time,” he said with a smile.

“Okay Jim...I mean Mr. Sherburne. Thank you for letting me hide out in your barn.”

“Anytime, Wade,” said Mr. Sherburne.

Wade walked over to the sheriff and asked, “Can you take me home now? My parents must be worried.”

Short Story

About the Creator

Dawn Salois

Mother of a wonderful son. Writing is a relatively new passion of mine. I love to create my own images. Self-published author of Shadow and Flame.

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