Then There Were Three

This little story is part four of the continuing saga, The Last Grain of Sand, which I began via a prompt at Bluebell Books’ Short Story Slam several weeks ago. It, part two, Hope, and part three, Like a Fairytale, can be read by clicking on the links below. There are links to the other stories and this one in each story, so you won’t have to keep coming back to this page if you want to read them all. I’m sneaking this chapter in via Kellie Elmore’s Free Write Friday. Enjoy!

Part Four:

Then There Were Three

The cut on my knee was still stinging, but the bleeding had stopped. I was embarrassed at how I’d gotten the one inch gash; tripping over a vine in the patch of huge pumpkins. But, hey, I was scared; the man took off after the girl, and I panicked; he was the only person I’d seen for three days. What’s a ten-year old boy to do?


I ran behind them, as he chased the girl—boy, was she fast—and when she fell, I ducked into the trees and crept closer so I could hear what they were saying.

The man held her upper arm, as the girl—between gasps—said, “Please, don’t hurt me?”

He cocked his head to one side and said, “What? Why would I hurt you?”

The woman relaxed then, and I listened as they talked about what had happened. He told her about his family in Arizona, and his hopes they might be alive. She said her parents—she lived with them on the farm where the giant pumpkins were—had simply vanished, along with, seemingly, everyone in the surrounding area.

The same had happened at my grandparent’s farm. I got up one morning, ate some cereal while watching Gram cook Gramps’ breakfast, then walked down the short drive to wait for the school bus.  The bus never came, and when I got back to the farmhouse, Gram and Gramps were gone. The fire under the eggs on the stove was out, but the eggs were still in the pan; toast was sticking up out of the toaster; an empty plate and cup full of coffee was on the table.

I wandered around looking for them for a while. I wasn’t scared; just confused. I was sitting on the, thinking maybe I was dreaming when the crunch of footsteps on the gravel drive startled me. I snapped my head around to look out the window, and through the sheer curtain I saw the man coming. My first thought was one of jubilation that I was not alone, but my next was one of cold fear. I dashed out the backdoor and hid in the barn, picking a spot in the loft where I could see the house and the road leading to it.

He cooked something on the grill, and the smell nearly overcame my fear, but I stayed put, eventually drifting into a deep sleep sometime after nightfall. When I woke up the next morning, sunlight was streaming through cracks in the barn siding, and I leapt to my feet. Everything came flooding back to my mind, and suddenly, fear of being alone topped my fear of the man, and I scrambled down the ladder and ran to the farmhouse. He was gone.

I burst out the door, cleared the steps with one leap, and ran down the driveway to the main road. I looked west and there in the distance I saw him walking away. Hugging the fence line, where trees and brush grew wild and tangled, I followed him.


As I watched him now, talking to the girl, I knew from the things he was saying to her that he wouldn’t harm me. As I moved out of the cover of the trees and walked toward them, I said, “Hello?”

Copyright © 2011 C. Mashburn

Part one: The Last Grain of Sand

Part two: Hope

Part three: Like a Fairy Tale

Part five: Cinnamon

Part six: L. Aliens in the Morning

Part seven: Dearest Wife

Part eight: Dearest John

Part nine: L. Angel

Part ten: The Books

Part eleven: Play Money



  1. Sherry Mashburn said

    Very, very interesting how you tie in each prompt. I like how this is progressing.

    • I’m glad you think it’s progressing. Sometimes I wonder if it is merely meandering! I’m enjoying writing it based on the prompts!

  2. This reminds me so much of my husband as a little boy and of his “gram and gramps” as he calls them, which are the cutest lil couple ever! I enjoyed this story so much that I read it again actually hoping I had missed something so I could learn more! You must keep on with this, Charles and please please share it with me each time you add a chapter!
    Thrilled to have this in my FWF!!!! Thank you!!!

    • So glad you enjoyed it, Kellie! I am really enjoying writing this story based on prompts, and hope to continue it with Bluebell AND FWF from here on. I have to warn you, I am a bit of a tease when I write these types of stories. I LOVE to keep the readers screaming for more! It makes Sherry crazy when I’m writing a novel. I give her one chapter at a time, and leave her hanging on every one! HAW HAW HAW!

      • Sherry Mashburn said

        Not funny!

      • whut?

      • lol you remind me of my other half … he LOVES teasing me! Laughter and playfulness is what keeps the heart young! 🙂

        Hugs to you and Sherry!

      • Works for us!
        Getting ready to post Part 5 of the story on Bluebell!

  3. terri0729 said

    You two are so cute! LOL, you remind me of Mark and I with your banter 🙂 anyway, another fine addition to your little saga that you’ve started off of these prompts, Charlie!! Keep it up ’cause they are very enjoyable and leave you waiting for the next installment. Blessings, Terri

    • I’m glad you’re enjoying them, Terri. I’m having fun with it. (Sherry’s not!)
      Thanks for the wonderful comment!

  4. cheri said

    ditto Sherry:)
    loved this Charlie:)…

    • Oh, I see how it is; gonna gang up on me now!
      Where you been? Things okay; all things considered?
      You gonna come by?
      Email me!
      Love you!

  5. Eliza said

    Thanks for your comment on my post! I have read all the posts leading up to this one; it’s funny how the story evolved. Very unusual, but entertaining!

  6. elizena said

    Awesome! I’m such a girl that this made me cry. LOL! I’m so glad that no one is alone now and that there is someone to help them through whatever else may come. The main character has become so real to me through your stories. Keep writing and I’ll keep reading. Be blessed!

    • Thank you! Sherry sometimes cries when she reads things I’ve written, and I always tell her, “That’s my job.” I hope to continue this through the prompts for a while, but at some point I may pull out of that stream and begin writing it as a novel or novella. It will take me where it will, so I can’t say how long or short the story might be. I’m so glad you are enjoying it! Thank you for the great comment!

  7. Mikael said

    I remember reading this prompt! I love how you incorporated it! I guess he wasn’t hallucinating…

    • Then you say, ooooohhhh.
      And, yes, it has been fun incorporating the prompts into the story. I cheat a bit on them, but who cares!?

  8. Kirsten said

    I like how you had the boy talk about the main character which allowed the main character to know that he it was safe to come out.

    So are all of these written from different writing prompts? Or was it just the first chapter?

    I’m asking because I just started a project where I’m writing from a writing prompt every day for 365 days straight. Writing prompts are new to me…but I’m finding them fun 🙂

    • In the beginning, they are all from different prompts. I was quite amused that I could take each prompt and continue the story with it. As I began to roll this into a novel, I started writing some segments without prompts–that comes later, though–and, in fact, the last chapter–20–is the first one to use a prompt for several chapters.

      • Kirsten said

        I think being able to weave a story together from different prompts reveals what a gift for writing the Lord has given you 🙂

        I’ll be back tomorrow to read some more chapters!!!

      • Great! Thanks, Kirsten!

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