Sidiola lay on her bed in her room while her father slept. She tried not to think about the talking drum in the backyard but she couldn’t help herself. It was brown and ordinary the day they had picked it up from the forest but last night, it had reminded her of the night she had slept in the forest. She couldn’t wait till Lai came and took it away.
She alighted from the bed and took the door in her room that led to their sunny backyard. Her father was tired and after the meal, she knew he would sleep for a very long time. She walked up to the junk drum and lifted the lid.
At first she was surprised because she had expected a blue light to come from inside and hadn’t seen any. Then she reached in and pulled aside the cloth that Lai had wrapped it in. The talking drum lay in the junk, brown and ordinary. She reached for it and turned it round shuddering.
The drum dropped back into the junk as she jumped, scared. She released a sigh when she saw it was Lai. “Why do you always do that?”
“Is your father still around?” He asked as he threw long legs over the fence into their compound.
Sidiola slammed the lid shut. “Yes, he is too tired to go out.”
“What do we do?” He asked her walking to the junk drum and opening the lid. “Where is it?”
“My father is sleeping.” She said to him. “This is the best time to get rid of the drum. I can’t keep it here.”
Lai brought the talking drum out of the large junkdrum and wrapped it up carefully.
“This thing will get you in trouble.”
“Alright let’s go and get rid of it.”
“I don’t have to follow you. It’s your problem.”
“Come now!” Lai jumped over the fence and turned to see if she was following. He waved his hand impatiently. “Come, quick.”
Sidiola thought for a while. Her father was sleeping. It would be nice to make sure Lai really got rid of the drum. She followed him over the fence and they ran down together towards the stream. Lai turned the drum over in his hand. It seemed harmless now.
“I don’t think it is dangerous.” He said.
“It’s very dangerous.” Sidiola looked around. “Let’s throw it into the water.”
“Not here. Somewhere deeper.” He led the way down the path to the stream. Strangely, the stream was abandoned that morning. Most people were carrying news of the masquerades in the forest around the village and the villagers were staying indoors. No one wanted to risk being captured. Sidiola followed Lai down the bank of the stream to the place where it emptied into a wide river.
Across the river from where they stood, she could see the great mountain in the distance. Lai had seen a canoe lying tied to a rock. He jumped in and untied it. “Come on, you want to bury this drum don’t you?”
Sidiola looked doubtful. “I’m not sure you should go in. It isn’t yours.”
“Cry baby!” Lai sneered. “Was it not your idea that we should throw the drum into the water. If we throw it here it will float.” He indicated the water around the banks. “But if we go out there….” He pointed to the middle of the river. “…lots of distance away from the bank, then we can push it in.”
Sidiola sighed and looked around before getting into the canoe. Lai got back out into the water and pushed the canoe away from the bank before jumping back in. Sidiola sat and folded her arms, giving small glances at the mysterious but ordinary looking drum. “Let’s not go too far.” She said.
“Scared cat.” Lai laughed again as he took hold of the oars and began to push them out into the deeper part of the river.
Sidiola eyed him. “Just let us drop it quickly and go back.” Lai kept rowing. He wasn’t very good at it but he got them further from the bank with each thrust. He was looking at the mountain which was still a lot of miles away but loomed bigger, darker and more menacing as they rowed closer.
“It’s okay.” Sidiola said trying to hide her fear from Lai. “Let’s throw it in and go back.” She stared at the water all around and felt a strange attraction to it. A feeling that made her was to jump in.
Lai grinned at her. Then he tipped the canoe twice so that it rocked a bit almost tossing them both into the water.
She grabbed the sides of the canoe hurriedly and flashed angry eyes at him. “Are you crazy?”
Lai roared with laughter and pointed at her face. “She’s scared.”
“Stop it!” She cried.
He put down the oars and picked the drum and tossed it in the water beside them. The drum floated around gently making both children stare.
“It’s not going in. You said it would go in if we came out here.”
“Shut up and stop whining.” Lai said and used an oar to draw the drum back. Then he tried to push it into the water with his hand but it came right back up. Then he tried to use both hands. “Come and help me.”
Sidiola swallowed her fear and moved to the middle of the canoe where Lai sat and joined him. The combined weight of the two of them in the middle of the canoe with them pressing heavily on one side made the canoe tip unto it’s side. Sidiola fell first, shocked as the coldness of the water hit right to the middle of her stomach and sent shivers down her spine. She fluttered her arms about and gasped. Lai was splashing around beside her as well. When she opened her mouth to say something to him, she gulped in a lot of the water. Coughing and reaching for the side of the canoe, a thought panicked around inside her head, She couldn’t swim!
Lai had reached the canoe too and was already climbing in. He had both arms in it and a leg across the vessel. Sidiola felt herself sink into the water but not before she saw the drum begin to change color and radiate an all too familiar blue light. Lai got into the canoe and stopped short as he saw a blue bald headed man with piercing blue eyes standing in it. He stared in shock as the man reached out a hand and pointed towards the drum which unfolded quickly and expanded into a blue carpet of long tightly bound sticks. It sank into the water and encircled the drowning girl in the folds within itself. It then flew out of the water, a blue drum and fastened itself, strap and all, into the crook of the blue man’s arm. It had all happened within a split second. So fast that Lai wasn’t sure if he saw Sidiola being trapped in the talking drum.
The stranger turned around and ran so fast across the surface of the water into the thick mound of trees that lay between the mountain and the stream. His feet seemed to float above the water. Lai was suddenly alone in the canoe with no sign of Sidiola and no sign of the blue bodied man. The water was calm and everything was back to normal. He was sitting alone in the canoe soaking wet and with his mouth hanging open, a completely dazed look in his eyes.