Yesterday morning, I was just heading out to check on my livestock when I caught sight of smoke coming from the direction of the horse barn.
“Sarah!” I shouted to my partner. “Wake Jim and Ernie and bring buckets. The barn’s on fire!”
My heart rate skyrocketed as I ran toward the source of smoke. Oddly, all seemed quite. The horses weren’t making a sound.
As I rounded the corner of the horse barn at full speed, I crashed into something large and black.
“What the hell?! I screamed as I feel back in shock. Picking myself up off the ground, I looked squarely into the bluest eyes I have ever laid eyes on. They gleamed out from a tanned face set atop strong shoulders. The man wore a black cape, carelessly slung across one shoulder.
“Mornin’ ma’m,” the stranger said, tipping his cowboy hat. My eyes took a moment to take in the cooking fire just outside the barn on the stony ground. A coffee pot swung on a makeshift rack over the flames.
I dusted myself off while assessing the situation. He didn’t seem to be an immediate threat.
I glanced in the open barn door. Everything seemed in order. Jack, stood in his stall calmly looking our way. His placid demeanor seemed to say, “What are you so worked up about?”
“I’m sorry for yelling just now,” I said. “Mind telling me what’s going on?”
“The name’s Al,” the tall man said, looking at me directly with his clear blue eyes. “I’ve got a gold claim just up from your land here in the Kitsap Range. I needed a place to sleep last night and no-one answered my knock at the house, so I slept in your barn. I’m real sorry for scaring you.”
Just then, Sarah and the boys thundered around the corner.
This short story is part of a daily 36-minute freewriting exercise I’m committing to. I used the following prompts:
- Character: a miner
- Action: cooking
- Setting: a horse barn
- Prop: a cape