James tried not to let his exasperation show as he put the phone down. These people from 'The Barn' really didn't let go easily. His only mistake had been to discuss with one of them at the local fair for half an hour. Fresh out of university the calm of Braymore was a welcome attraction compared to the all-pervading noise of London traffic. But after only a few days James could not look at a cow in pasture without envying it its steady activity. So having an equal to talk to was an unexpected treat. He'd even agreed to the proposed personality test just to prolong the acquaintance. He'd nothing better to do, anyway. But ever since, the people from 'The Barn' hadn't left him with one day's peace. First, they'd smothered him with literature, written by their renowned guru. Then the results of his personality tests came through.

'I've got some bad news,' the voice began. 'You're personality is showing mulitple fractures affecting various parts of your life...' Inevitably, they'd gone on to offer him the only thing that could cure his inner life and make him whole (their words) once again. It had taken them months for him to persuade them that neither his bank manager, nor that of any other bank would welcome further debts of the kind they were contemplating. After that things calmed down for a while. The people from 'The Barn' were still there, but they no longer bothered him. Then he met Jan.

Jan was from down South. That's all she ever said. She'd left home after a rift with her parents and was hiking through Yorkshire; ... had been hiking through Yorkshire. From the moment they set eyes on each other, James knew she'd never leave Braymore again. Three weeks their affair lasted and it was torrid as it was brief. Then, one night Jan had suggested they visit 'The Barn'. True, his reaction had been hefty, but she'd not seemed peturbed. Which made it all the more puzzling why she should just vanish like that.

The same day the phone calls began again. And James soon discovered that Jan had just been one more tactic in the sect's ever-expanding quiver. That was when he'd determined, come what may he'd get Jan out of there. And he was obviously getting them rattled. That was why they let her phone, to persuade him that she was happy, to persuade him to stop his quest. But he knew the truth. And he knew in a few days his quest would be over. He just had to continue to be patient.

That was his undoing. The children of 'The Barn' were quicker. And not even the local newspaper suspected there lay more behind the headline:

Cottage Fire Kills Braymore Prodigal


Phew, 'Children of the barn'. Clever stuff!!

26 August 2009 at 12:17  

Interesting twists and turns and layers in this short story! Enjoyed it!

26 August 2009 at 13:15  

Welcome back, Paul. This had some really great twists, and some just wonderful lines.

26 August 2009 at 14:59  

absolutely marvelous :)

loved it

My 3WW

26 August 2009 at 15:46  

I will agree with Andy!

clever you!

Elegant Expressions

26 August 2009 at 16:44  

An outstanding piece with a fantastic ending.

Have a good day,


26 August 2009 at 17:21  

Nice story to come back to time and again.

Always enjoy a bit of a thrill.

26 August 2009 at 18:47  


I enjoyed this...

26 August 2009 at 21:39  

It's so great to be able and read a short story with a nice bang at the end. This was as unexpected as it was fun to read!

27 August 2009 at 02:45  

Nom nom nom! Tasty fiction! :)

27 August 2009 at 08:53  

Excellent fiction! I had no idea where you were going with this. Great story line.

I enjoyed this!

27 August 2009 at 13:18  

It was marvelloues.Ending was never visible.You pulled it real well.
Be my enemy
Ram's Reality:Is this what we need to answer


31 August 2009 at 14:37  

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