The Unprotected

Chapter 21

Joban held the candle out at arms length and made his way toward the stables.

“Dwayne?” He called, “Are you there, hello?” Joban opened the stable door and extinguished his candle’s flame. Dwayne was seated in a pile of straw, playing on a small instrument which looked like a smaller version of a recorder. The tune he played was melodic and some what hypnotic. Joban lost himself and continued to stand there until Dwayne stopped playing.

“Oh, hello, Joban,” Dwayne said, lifting his head, “I didn’t realise you were there. So, been having any fun?”

Joban noticed he had dropped his candle; at least he had put it out earlier.

“Uh, yeah. I guess…” Joban picked up the candle, lit it and placed it next to some other candles. “So, what do you do by your self in here?” Joban asked, stroking the horses.

Dwayne thought for a moment, “I do things… I play this.” He indicated his instrument, “And I groom the horses. Sometimes even milk the cow, but she was old so Tirdor sold her at the market.”

Joban sat down next to Dwayne, “What is that instrument? It sounds really – er, nice.”

Dwayne handed the instrument to Joban. “Play it.” He said.

“What?! I don’t know how!”

“C’mon, I bet you can. Just try?”

Reluctantly, Joban put his fingers over the holes, raised the instrument to his lips and blew, randomly lifting some of his fingers off the holes. A haunting tune sounded and goose bumps appeared on Joban’s arms even though it was a warm night.

“See, you’re doing it! Don’t stop.”

The horses shook their heads and bumped around in their pens. Joban stopped, as did the horses.

Dwayne smiled, “Have another go, I promise you the horses won’t do that again.”

Joban tried again, eyeing the horses nervously. This time, when Joban blew into the instrument, a different tune played. It sounded happy and cheerful, like nothing bad would ever happen again. Dwayne closed his eyes and dozed, but as soon as Joban stopped playing, his eyes snapped open.

“You – you fell asleep. I didn’t know to keep playing, or to stop.”

“Do you know why you can play it without any experience?” Joban shook his head. “This is a magical recorder. You play what you feel.”

“Oh, I get it.” Joban nodded, “When I first played it, I was feeling unsure and a bit unhappy, but when I found I could play it, I was okay. You play something now.”

Dwayne took the recorder and began to play. The tune was fast, jumpy and sounded like laughter. Joban leaned back and placed his hands behind his head. Suddenly, the melody changed. It became a slow tune, indicating tiredness. Eventually, when Joban had fallen asleep, the recorder slipped from Dwaynes’ grip and he fell back too, falling into a deep sleep. One by one, the candles blew out, leaving the stable in complete darkness.