The Tractor: Billybuc Photo Challenge/Prompt#3

Updated on February 14, 2020
Jodah profile image

John has many years of writing experience in poetry, short fiction and text for children's books. Basically he just loves to write.


Bill's Rules or Not

"Oh hell, there are no rules, folks. I’m just tossing out some photos and hoping they resonate with you. If you want to write a story or poem based on one photo, great! If you want to build a story around all five photos, great! If you want to write 200 words, great! And if you want to appease the HP editors and go for 1250, I say, once more, great!"

So, with these strict instructions in hand I wrote the following piece of short fiction.


The Tractor

As daybreak approached and the sun rose over the horizon, the first rays pushed through the gaps in the weathered roof between the rafters.

He wasn’t asleep but he just lay there on the bed of moldy hay, transfixed by the horizontal stripes of light. This old barn and outhouses had been his home for so long now -- ever since --well, he pushed that from his mind.

All he had now were memories, and so he wallowed in his reminiscing of days gone by. This was once his uncle’s farm and as a child he spend many a summer month here enjoying the freedom of rural life, helping with the cattle, and other farm chores his uncle thought a young boy could handle.

This barn and the machinery shed full of tools and farm equipment were wondrous places for a kid to act out the fantastic adventures racing through his mind. Being an only child, with no close cousins, he had to make his own fun, and a vibrant imagination certainly helped.

Barn, shed and outbuildings
Barn, shed and outbuildings | Source

There was an old dinghy in the shed. His uncle had crafted it from the hood of an old Vanguard car. It was pockmarked with rust holes so the chances of floating were next to none, but it had oars and was the perfect prop for some pirating adventures. He’d pretend the barn was a pirate ship and would hoist an old t-shirt on a garden stake as the ‘Jolly Roger.”

The pirate ship would attack others in the vicinity, and after looting and pillaging the pirates would anchor it off shore then he would board the dinghy and row to an island where there was sure to be a buried treasure. Studying a map obtained in the raid, he’d soon dig up a chest of coins and precious jewels.

He stood up and gazed out the window. No one had visited here in what seemed like forever. He longed for company and hoped to see a vehicle or even a horse and rider venture up the overgrown driveway.

The home next door was inhabited and they ran some cattle as well, but no one ever ventured past the boundary fence, let alone visited.

Lazy cattle
Lazy cattle | Source

The old John Deere tractor was still there, sitting idle, but still in reasonable condition for its age. Maybe the engine was seized up from just sitting, maybe not. He felt morose as he stared at it, remember how it had change “things” forever.

He was 12 years old at the time and staying here at the farm on his summer vacation. His uncle lived alone and was always happy for the company and an extra set of hands. Most farm chores were fun for a city boy, like feeding the cattle and chickens, collecting eggs, and milking the house cow. He even learned how to assemble the equipment to separate the milk from cream, and then how to churn the cream into butter.

The only thing he wasn’t allowed to do was drive the tractor. Oh, his uncle showed him how to start it and let him sit on it and pretend, but he always said it was too dangerous to drive until he was older.

Tractor | Source

Well, young boys are curious and reckless, and he couldn’t wait until he was older. One day when his uncle was away in the far paddock repairing fences, the boy climbed onto the John Deere and turned the key. It started with a chug and suddenly lurched forward. It took awhile but eventually he started to get the feel of it and started to build up speed and confidence, moving across the field at a steady clip.

What happened next was vague. He tried to search his foggy memory. He remembered feeling a sudden impact as the tractor struck something, a log maybe, in the same moment it was flipping and the ground rose up to meet him. Then there was blackness.

By the time his uncle returned and found the upturned tractor, it was too late.

Image by carolynabooth from Pixabay
Image by carolynabooth from Pixabay | Source

His next memory was watching his own funeral, and the sadness and tears of his family and friends was heartbreaking, especially his uncle who took all the guilt on his shoulders.

They said his body had been found in the barn. His uncle had followed drag marks in the dirt from where the tractor lay. Somehow, despite the fatal injuries the boy had managed to crawl there, but died soon after.

Depression set in, and his uncle was unable to continue working the farm. The guilt was too much and he never forgave himself. He moved to town and stayed with the boy’s parents for some years, but they have all since passed away.

The farm was sold, well a number of times, and the lonely occupant was always excited especially if they had children. The tenancies, however, were always short, despite grand intentions, with the new owners always citing that the barn and outbuildings were haunted - inhabited by the ghost of a young boy.

Just then, he heard and engine rev, and through the window he saw a red pick-up truck rumble up the drive. He smiled ..



    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • Jodah profile imageAUTHOR

      John Hansen 

      5 months ago from Queensland Australia

      Thank you Ann, yes tractor and quad bike accidents are the most prevalent on our farms as well. I appreciate you reading, and you stay safe also.

    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 

      5 months ago from SW England

      I see what you mean about the similarities, John! Good story and well-told. There are so many accidents with tractors, especially on unstable ground, in this country. Many farmers don't bother with the safety stuff as it's too time-wasting and fussy. Who can work on a farm dolled up with all the gear?!

      Anyway, well done with this. I'll read number 4 soon (I'm still working on that!). Keep safe and well.


    • Jodah profile imageAUTHOR

      John Hansen 

      6 months ago from Queensland Australia

      Oh okay Flourish. Thank you for your comment and also sharing what happened to your dad. I am pleased this story seemed realistic to you.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image


      6 months ago from USA

      How spooky and also realistic. My father grew up on a farm and nearly lost part of his finger from a tractor accident. He was driving the tractor doing work on the farm as a 6 year old when it overturned. Part of his finger was hanging off and now it’s permanently wonky.

    • Jodah profile imageAUTHOR

      John Hansen 

      6 months ago from Queensland Australia

      Thank you so much, Lori.

    • lambservant profile image

      Lori Colbo 

      6 months ago from Pacific Northwest


    • Jodah profile imageAUTHOR

      John Hansen 

      6 months ago from Queensland Australia

      Thank you, Chris. I greatly appreciate your comment. This was written partially from memories of my visits to my own uncle’s farm..though I never tried to drive the tractor, fortunately. Yes, I could see you put a lot of effort into your stories from Bill’s last two prompts. Cheers.

    • cam8510 profile image

      Chris Mills 

      6 months ago from Traverse City, MI

      John, you laid such a great foundation for this story. We loved the boy and were excited for his time on the farm. How sad. I wouldn't be able to bear the death of a nephew or any child whose care was entrusted to me. But in the end, maybe the ghost of the child learned something. Don't spook off the newcomers. haha. Great story, John. I enjoyed it. I'm glad you tipped me off that you had written it. After I saw Bill's photos, I did nothing but write and rewrite, so would probably have never found your story.

    • Jodah profile imageAUTHOR

      John Hansen 

      6 months ago from Queensland Australia

      Thank you Jason. Glad the story got you hooked and kept your interest throughout. Cheers.

    • Nicoartz profile image

      Jason Nicolosi 

      6 months ago from AZ

      Hi John, what can I say? Great story. I really got sucked right in from the beginning. It was interesting and intriguing all the way through. Great curve. I loved that it was a ghost story. Nice job on "Bills challenge"!

    • Jodah profile imageAUTHOR

      John Hansen 

      7 months ago from Queensland Australia

      Thank you for reading this Alan and offering some insight. Yes, there will always be “what ifs” and yes, it just anyone has what it takes to run a farm. I also could have taken the story further to elaborate on his haunting activities but as you said, “he wasn’t a poltergeist” and all he wanted were friends to play with.

    • alancaster149 profile image

      Alan R Lancaster 

      7 months ago from Forest Gate, London E7, U K (ex-pat Yorkshire)

      Pithy tale, John, and salutary. Uncle should've disabled the tractor, eh?

      Guilt trips aside, no-one seems to have made a determined 'go' at running the farm. You're either born to it, or you're doomed to failure. Maybe that's what haunted these tenants. In the backs of their minds there's a;ways that fallback: I can always pack it in if things get out of hand.

      Maybe you could've made something of the boy's haunting, but then he wasn't a poltergeist and the haunted were kith and kin.

      Good on yer, John!

    • Jodah profile imageAUTHOR

      John Hansen 

      7 months ago from Queensland Australia

      Hi JC, thank you for taking the time to read this story. Glad you enjoyed it.

    • JC Scull profile image

      JC Scull 

      7 months ago from Gainesville, Florida

      Great story John. Thoroughly enjoyed it.

    • Jodah profile imageAUTHOR

      John Hansen 

      7 months ago from Queensland Australia

      Thank you for reading Meg. I am glad you felt sorry for my ghost. Yes, children's sense of adventure and daring often gets them into trouble, fortunately not always with such dire consequences.

    • DreamerMeg profile image


      7 months ago from Northern Ireland

      Oh, the poor ghost and such a shame that every family moves on quickly. We are adventurous as children and sometimes that leads to tragedy.

    • Jodah profile imageAUTHOR

      John Hansen 

      7 months ago from Queensland Australia

      Thank you, Liz. I appreciate that. It is what I hoped to do with the story.

    • Eurofile profile image

      Liz Westwood 

      7 months ago from UK

      This is a well-written story with a tragic twist. You keep the reader hooked.

    • Jodah profile imageAUTHOR

      John Hansen 

      7 months ago from Queensland Australia

      Hi Venkatachari, I enjoyed writing this story from Bill’s photos. They really spoke to me, or my muse at least. Glad the story kept you guessing. Thank you so much for reading.

    • Venkatachari M profile image

      Venkatachari M 

      7 months ago from Hyderabad, India

      A fantastic story, John. Thanks for the treat.

      Your muse always works wonders. I enjoyed the twists and the ending. A great response to Bill's challenge.

    • Jodah profile imageAUTHOR

      John Hansen 

      7 months ago from Queensland Australia

      Thank you, Bushra.

    • Bushra Iqbal profile image

      Anya Ali 

      7 months ago from Rabwah, Pakistan

      Good story! Thanks!

    • Jodah profile imageAUTHOR

      John Hansen 

      7 months ago from Queensland Australia

      Hi Linda, it is good that you felt sorry for the ghost. I was hoping to get that type of reaction. Thanks for reading.

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 

      7 months ago from British Columbia, Canada

      I felt sorry for the ghost at the end and was interested in his future, which is a mark of a good story. You've made great use of Bill's photos, John.

    • Jodah profile imageAUTHOR

      John Hansen 

      7 months ago from Queensland Australia

      Thank you Peg. I haven’t written many ghost stories before, in fact I think this is a first. I am so happy that it worked out ok. Thank you for reading.

    • Jodah profile imageAUTHOR

      John Hansen 

      7 months ago from Queensland Australia

      Ruby, the photo of the window was actually attracted me to do this challenge the most. I didn’t know where I would go with the story at first, but then the tractor took over. I am just glad it worked.

    • Jodah profile imageAUTHOR

      John Hansen 

      7 months ago from Queensland Australia

      Thank you Devika. I enjoyed this challenge. The pictures were great.

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 

      7 months ago from Houston, Texas

      This is the best ghost story that I have read in some time. Thanks for the ride!

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Richert 

      7 months ago from Southern Illinois

      This was such a great story, a bit sad, but the surprising twist made it a paranormal read, which I love. It's funny how you picked the tractor to write about. When I saw the picture of the black building with the window, I immediately thought of a bank robber hiding. I always like what you write, be it a short story or poetry.

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 

      7 months ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      John you met this challenge through your great talent and imagination.

    • Jodah profile imageAUTHOR

      John Hansen 

      7 months ago from Queensland Australia

      Shauna, boys are forever curious and reckless unfortunately. I could have made the story longer and had interaction with some of the later tenants I suppose, but I simply hinted that maybe that was to come with the arrival of the red truck. Who was in it is up to the reader’s imagination I am afraid. Yes, I know you are partial to the paranormal so I hoped this would appeal to you. Thank you for reading and for your insightful comment.

    • Jodah profile imageAUTHOR

      John Hansen 

      7 months ago from Queensland Australia

      Bill, as soon as I saw this weeks photos I felt a story forming. Not sure where this idea came from but a muse often works in mysterious ways. I changed the tractor pic just to make it a little different. I am happy that you enjoyed the read. Thanks again for setting this challenge and the encouraging comment.

    • Jodah profile imageAUTHOR

      John Hansen 

      7 months ago from Queensland Australia

      Hi Allen, Thank you for reading my story and for your fine comment. I admit the setting was somewhat of a hybrid from my Australian upbringing and based a lot on my childhood memories of my own Uncle Bill’s farm and what I imagine a typical US farm setting might be like (hence the pickup truck rather than a Ute as we would say in Australia.) it was fortunate that your tractor episodes did not end tragically. My experiences would also have been red (Massey Ferguson.) I appreciate the interesting exchange. Take care.

    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 

      7 months ago from Central Florida

      John, at first I thought perhaps the young boy accidentally ran over his uncle, but that wasn't the case at all. Too bad he didn't listen to his uncle's warnings. He missed out on life because of his defiance.

      I would have loved to perhaps have some interaction between one of the many tenants and the ghost-boy. You know how I love the paranormal.

      This is a good story, John. Your muse kicked into gear right away with this set of photo prompts.

      BTW, who's in the red truck?

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      7 months ago from Olympia, WA

      A wonderful imagination, John, and a treat to read. You took us on all manner of twists and turns in a short period of written time, not an easy thing to do. Beautiful read, and thank you for taking part.

    • Aliswell profile image

      Allen Edwards 

      7 months ago from Iowa

      Good day John..Your wonderful story set a charge flowing that conjured up, in my rapidly degrading -- pre-intergrated circuitry -- memory bank, many similar emotions that you must have drawn on to write it.

      Having lived and worked in Australia for quite some time, I found the similarity of your rural setting scenery; characters; and plot, to be easy to accept, and relate to my own: "growing up on that Iowa farm"..even though, I am fairly certain, quite a few "Yanks" could not.

      I spent many an hour in our barn, trying to bring alive those comic book characters and movie heroes, in as many death defying scenes as i could conjure up.

      I also, can completely put myself in the situation of the tractor versus boy boy tragedy. My own(2) episodes did not end with such deadly consequences, but were it not for that extra 15 feet of field or that 3 foot of extra road width..Things could have gone really bad! And, last, but certainly...not least, both my tractor rides were of the "red" variety(Farmall)

    • Jodah profile imageAUTHOR

      John Hansen 

      7 months ago from Queensland Australia

      Thank you Eric, glad this left you intrigued. Come back as many times as you wish.

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 

      7 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      A treat to read. OK not joyful. I not sure why this intrigues me so. I will back to read again.

    • Jodah profile imageAUTHOR

      John Hansen 

      7 months ago from Queensland Australia

      Yes, manatita, Bill was very flexible with the rules for this one and it certainly offered the writers a chance to do there own thing so to speak. When I studied the photos, the idea for this one just came to me in an instant and the story flowed quite easily surprisingly.

    • manatita44 profile image


      7 months ago from london

      Good of Bill to leave this one so freely open. More opportunities, I guess. You've done a great job with the kid and scenery. Took him through death and the afterlife. Ingenious, he was, but a good case in point that curiosity can be fatal, as was this cause. A Poignant piece.

    • Jodah profile imageAUTHOR

      John Hansen 

      7 months ago from Queensland Australia

      Thank you very much Pamela. Yes, tragic I admit, but I am happy you found it enjoyable.

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 

      7 months ago from Sunny Florida

      I would definitely say you met the challenge. This is a tragice tale but a good story. Well done, John.

    • Jodah profile imageAUTHOR

      John Hansen 

      7 months ago from Queensland Australia

      Hi Nikki, thank you for that wonderful comment. I am glad you enjoyed reading this as much as I did writing it.

    • nikkikhan10 profile image

      Nikki Khan 

      7 months ago from London

      Excellent and ingenious piece of writing, John.

      I didn't expect such a horror story at the end. Bit of creepiness and irony on boy's side, I loved it.

      You did it so well, well done!

    • Jodah profile imageAUTHOR

      John Hansen 

      7 months ago from Queensland Australia

      Hi Rosina, thank you for reading my little tale. I am glad you enjoyed it even if I kept you wondering at the end.

    • surovi99 profile image

      Rosina S Khan 

      7 months ago

      This was definitely an interesting story following Bill's photos. I wasn't prepared for the young boy's ghost at the end but it closes the story on a curious note, left to the imagination of the reader. Thank you for your superb contribution.

    • Jodah profile imageAUTHOR

      John Hansen 

      7 months ago from Queensland Australia

      Val, your comment humbles me. I am glad I succeeded in painting a picture that you deem worthy to grace the wall in front of your desk. Cheers, my friend.

    • ValKaras profile image

      Val Karas 

      7 months ago from Canada

      John, my friend -- With this one, you (again) succeeded to create in my mind such a beautiful picture that I wished I could frame it and place it on the wall here in front of my desk. Bravo!


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)