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The Listeners

A strong, chilled wind was sent into the peak of the moonlit winter night. A man had died on that night. His only treasured possession was an old and rickety house, hidden within the groves of a dense forest. The light which gleamed from his windows through the darkness each night like a flickering candle was now shrouded in the black shadows. The forest now had only the moon to be its white candle.

But on yet another night, the natural sounds of that forest was overthrown by the sounds of plunging hooves in the distance. The noises stirred together as two men with their stallions approached the house. One man peered at the house with a gleam in his eye. The other looked down with concern.

“I think with this house we can pull it off!” The first man said courageously, the harsh wind billowing his hair. Though he had struck a light the wind's choice to play with the flame left only a dim glow on his face. It was difficult to differentiate between him and the dark trees behind him.

“You don’t know that.” the second man said, now looking at the man next to him, eyes as dark and grey as the skies above them, “They can just as well find us here.”

“Yes, but it wouldn’t be easy. If we hadn’t been here before and known the way we’d be scrap for the wolves right now. It’s luck, I tell you.”

“It’s luck uncle died of a heart attack?”

“It’s what he left us that’s luck.”

The two men hopped off their horses as they looked over the aged abode. The lack of light and seemingly impenetrable darkness made it hard to see, but its features stuck out. It had an odd frame to it with its dark-green paint peeling off, as well as the edges of the wood sticking out of its side. Perhaps its biggest feature was the turret wrapped in large amounts of leaves and plants that jutted out the side of the top floor, which seemed unfitting for a small house like this. It was quite a small house that looked like it had been abandoned for years rather than days. But still, it was a shelter.

“We can do this Neil,” the first man said again, “with the money we've taken for ourselves and this house, we could live the life of kings in less than five years!”

“Yeah, kings…” Neil fixed his gaze at the bright stars scattered across the endless sky, as if wishing for something, and then dropped it back down to the dark house.

“What’s wrong?” the first brother asked.

“Well, it’s just… John, I don’t want to do this.”

“What?!”

“I-I can’t do this John. I can’t! I’m tired of this! I’m tired of always running, tired of hiding. Tired of always being on the run and never staying in one place.”

“We have no need to leave anymore, we’re safe here now. They’ll never find us here!”

“For how long?!”

The air was still for a matter of moments. There was nothing to fill it but the horses silently chomping the grass and the still beating wind.

“I want to leave.” Neil said suddenly.

“What?! You can’t!”

“I know the way.” Neil turned his back to John as he walked to his horse.

“You know what I mean! We both know well that if you leave, you’ll get caught!”

“I’m willing to take my chances.” Neil said as he swung his leg over the horse and adjusted into the saddle.

“Do you really want to be caught Neil? Do you really want to die?!”

“I’d rather that than spend the rest of my living days hiding in fear! I want to travel this world, John. I want to see things. I always did. And I promise you, I promise you, that I will succeed. I’m going to make sure of it. I’m going to make a life for myself. And I’ll come back when I’m done. I promise.”


Neil yanked on the reins of his horse and it quickly began to ride off down the dark path of the forest. John stood there, still watching him and ride away into the unseen darkness, then turned back to the house, saying nothing. There was nothing he could say. He just stayed there stone still, until the horse’s clops faded with the wind.



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