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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Write in the MYSTERY genre (04/05/07)

TITLE: The Light in the Barn
By Lauren Bombardier


"What's he doin', Mike?"

He waved his hand at me as he peered through the binoculars. "Sh!"

"I wanna see!" I tugged his sleeve. "Mike, let me see!"

"Will you hush?" He pulled away and glared at me. "How'm I supposed to tell you what's goin' on if I can't concentrate on what I'm lookin' at?"

Mike rarely yelled at me. I sat down on the ground and hugged my knees to myself. "Sorry."

He sighed and looked at me again. "Here. It's your turn." He handed me the binoculars. "Maybe you'll see somethin' I don't."

"Thanks." I peered through the lenses. Everything jumped closer to me and joggled as I tried to find the barn. I could see the grain of the wood, weathered from years of exposure. Splinters stuck out just waiting for an unsuspecting boy to run his hands into them. I rolled the knob to zoom out and individual planks blended into the barn's wall. Light shone through the open door and I could see the shadowy movement of the man inside. Every so often, a dog poked its nose out the door to sniff the air.

I propped my elbows on a log. Something rustled behind me as I examined the barn. Startled, I turned. "Mike?" He didn't answer. "Come on, Mike. This isn't funny."

I grumbled as I looked through the lenses again. A flash of red caught my and I leaned over to look at it. Mike! What was he doing? He skirted the pasture, edging closer to the barn. The dog came out and nosed around and Mike dropped to the ground, hiding in the grass. I looked at the dog. It raised it's head. Did it hear Mike? The man's voice sounded from the barn, but the dog ignored it. I focused on Mike and watched him peer over the grass, then duck back down. The dog looked in his direction.

I wanted to yell at Mike to move, but I knew the dog would find him then. Maybe the dog was nice, but I didn't trust it. Old Man Jackson's dog looked as sweet as candy, but was a vicious ankle-biter. Finally, the dog moved back into the barn, still looking in Mike's direction. The man spoke again, and the dog stepped through the door.

Dusk came quickly, and I couldn't see much. Mike's red shirt was barely visible and I used that to track his progress. The light in the barn sharpened the man's shadows as he moved.

Suddenly, the dog started to bark. The man yelled. There was a crash and the light disappeared. I heard Mike shout, "Andy, help me!"

He's gonna kill Mike. He's gonna kill 'im and let the dog eat 'im. I dropped the binoculars and ran toward the barn. "Mike!"

I skidded to a stop. The barn was dark and quiet. He's waiting for me. I imagined the man standing in the dark, ready to strike. What do I do? I fell to my knees. What was I going to tell Mama? How could I live without my only brother? God…

I hardly ever thought about God, but for the first time in my life, I prayed with the fervency Mama had always desired of me. God, please save my brother! I'll do whatever You want me to if You let him live!

"What are you doin', ya goof?" I looked up at Mike. While I prayed, the man had re-lit his lantern. He now stood in the doorway holding it up.

I sniffled a bit. "Nothin'."

"C'mon, you gotta see this." He held out his hand. I looked at it a moment. He had bitten his nails to the quick again. "Come on. It's worth it."

He helped me stand up and out his arm around me to guide me into the barn. "Andy, this is Buck. He's a carpenter. He rents the barn from Old Man Jackson."


Buck set the lamp down. "Sorry about all that ruckus. My dog is almost deaf, and your brother startled her."

I nodded. "It's okay."

Mike nudged me and pointed. "Look at that."

On the bench stood the most beautiful cross I had ever seen. I walked over for a closer look. Carvings moved all over the surface. Men walked, women danced, and children laughed. In the center, a Man cried. Funny. I gazed at Him. He's…happy..

Awed, I placed my hand over my heart. Thank You. For everything.

It was worth it.

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This article has been read 816 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Julie Arduini04/12/07
Very well done. The suspense just played up to what I felt was a very satisfying end. I liked the descriptions as they watched in the beginning.
Kate Grey04/13/07
Great characters, and a story that kept my attention.
Amy Michelle Wiley 04/13/07
Cool story. Love the cross!
Rhonda Clark04/13/07
This is wonderful. I'd love to see the cross.
Verna Cole Mitchell 04/15/07
This is a wonderful mystery. I loved the characters, the way you built up suspense, and the excellent ending.
Jacquelyn Horne04/16/07
Good writing here. Nice story. You sure needed more space to expound on this.
Marilyn Schnepp 04/16/07
Great lead up to the final entrance, and then I'm a little mystified...funny? People dancing? He's happy? Yes, I'd say it's a Mystery story! Had me biting MY nails...and now I'm wondering? Nice job.
terri tiffany04/17/07
Terrific! I was there with him - good sequence of events and good ending - loved the tiny details that drew me into the characters.
Rita Garcia04/17/07
WOW! Great story, love your characterization of the boys.
Loren T. Lowery04/17/07
Having seen a few mysterious lights in our barns, this had my curiosity from the get go. Was not disappointed with the read, nor the outcome. You were able to hold a good deal of suspense in your words.
Sara Harricharan 04/18/07
I love this mystery! It is great, funny, a sprinkle of suspense and with a wonderful, heartwarming finish! I love the character of Mike, he was my favorite. ^_^
Joanne Sher 04/18/07
Great job of characterization and suspense building. Enjoyed this!
Jeffrey Snell04/20/07
What a fun mystery! Very nostalgic for me, with the barn and the whole atmosphere you created. Great job with the siblings' relationship, too. I was a little confused why the older brother called for help? But a good mystery with a touching ending (you could develop the ending into a larger story of its own!).