Guidance. Short Story.

My weekend was pretty relaxing, visited some friends on Friday, had a bit of a catch up, the rest of the weekend was spent doing very little, I’m also not feeling as tired, so that’s a bonus. Started reading again, Brandon Sanderson’s “Words of Radiance.” I’m enjoying it so far, I have other books to read, but that kind of jumped to the top of my reading list somehow. I don’t really know all the politics involved, I just read what my brain tells me.

I watched a bit of Grimm, which is fairly entertaining, it’s on Netflix, which makes things a lot easier. I also watched some True Detective and honestly, I don’t get it. It’s weird, it should be good, I should enjoy it, but I just find it really boring. I watched two or three episodes, but still wasn’t a huge fan. Like I’d watch an episode and afterwards I’d find myself thinking that nothing happened, nothing at all, but it isn’t the case. It’s very strange. It has a missing sense of urgency to me. I also don’t care all that much about the characters.

It will probably be like Breaking Bad. I don’t like it, but then I watch it as hangover TV and start to enjoy it a bit.

I also made some muffins, they were awesome, blueberry and apple, though I think a bit of lemon zest would go amazingly well with it, so next time I make them I’ll add a little in. Also, the dough was a little heavy, so they didn’t really maintain muffin shape due to lack of muffin pans, so they ended up as more muffin cookies…mookies? They were delicious at least.

On with the show!


Harry sat at the small table, sipping his tea. He took a sip, then yawned, he had woken not too long ago and this part of his morning was run more on habit than any conscious effort. He placed the cup down on the table and rubbed one of his eyes, it felt gritty. A patch of sunlight was edging its way closer to the table, slowly moving across the floor. He still had plenty of time. The house that he lived in was small, one bedroom, the dining room and kitchen were in one room together, and then a small bathroom that somehow managed to have a toilet, shower and sink crammed into it. He took another sip of tea. Perhaps tomorrow he’d try it with lemon and honey. It had been a while since he had it like that. He tried to think back, it must have been at least twenty years ago, maybe thirty, though to him it felt like only a few months. Life out here seemed to blend together. Outside a bird started cawing. Harry ignored it and took another drink. The birds had been getting restless the last few months, he knew what it meant but he had made a decision not to dwell on it, at least not until he had to. He estimated he had another month, maybe two, then it would be time. He had  wondered if they knew what they were doing, by coming here, but he figured that they didn’t. That was the only reason they would come. But then they were a strange lot all together, like little children, told something is dangerous, but they don’t learn that as fact until they experience the danger themselves.

He had been living in this forest for millions of years watching things grow and die, he was their caretaker, shaping everything. Soon that would end. He could be visited once a year and only a thousand times. Once that number was up, it would end. He had made sure to tell everyone that came here their number, and how many were left. They understood, they were superstitious lots, which wasn’t bad for him. They kept people away, presenting a hostile barrier to the world, but as time passed they forgot about him. He became legend, then finally they scattered or died out. He still wasn’t sure which. He had watched as they lived and died. There were many moments when he wanted to step in, save them, change something, but he didn’t. He had to be subtle. He shaped things slowly, allowing it to grow mostly by itself, only trimming back dying branches, occasionally treating some malady.

He didn’t know who created him, though he had wondered about that. It might have been a god, one of the countless numbers that had been fought over, perhaps he had even been created by the earth itself. Disgorged from the depths as some kind of protection, though he doubted that too. After all, if his job was to protect the earth, he wasn’t doing very well. Harry supposed that when the time finally came, he would find out once and for all who had sent him and what his exact purpose was. He knew he did things, made changes, but he didn’t know how or why. He had always lived in this house, with it’s impossible plumbing and never ending supplies of food. He had hundreds of names, but none of them felt right to him, so he had chosen one. No one else got to choose their name, but he felt he deserved at least that. He finished his tea and brought the cup to the sink, he washed it with hot water and a small bit of soap, then he went to the bathroom.

Once he had showered he felt better, when that was done he dressed, his clothes never seemed to dirty as his body did. There were many things about his existence that his simply chose to ignore. He had questioned them at one point, but there had never been answers. He went outside, off the small deck and into the forest. He followed the short path to the clearing and sat down on his chair. Well, it wasn’t really a chair, it was a rock, but over time his body had worn grooves into it, it was quite comfortable for him now. He sat and waited in silence, thinking. He watched the shadows stretch and dance across the clearing, there would be no visitors today, just as there wasn’t the day before, or the day before that, yet this is what he had to do. As he sat he thought, after all there was nothing else to do. Occasionally an animal would appear in the clearing, and completely unconcerned about his presence, went about its business. The animals never stayed long, they seemed to sense that the clearing was not really for them.

As each day past Harry became convinced that his decision was the right one, he didn’t know what would happen once the final visit came, but he didn’t think it would be anything good.

It was the final day, they would arrive. He didn’t know exactly when, but he knew it would be in a few hours. He drank his tea as normal, then he bathed and dressed. He was feeling sleepy, and slightly sick. It was strange and unpleasant. He went to the clearing and sat, as he was supposed to. The tea had been a new blend, one that he had been keeping in reserve. He knew that the various poisons were working their way through his system. He wasn’t sure if it would work, but he had time to gather many, many different kinds. He hoped that it would work, that one of them would be strong enough. He closed his eyes, and waited.

They found him three hours later, a pile of old bones, coated in decaying material, they followed the path that had been worn into the ground to the small hut that he had lived in. They wondered how long he was dead, though they never expected to find a living man. This area had been renowned for having some of the oldest legends. On their journey they had come to the conclusion it was a family title, passed down from father to son, being forced to live as a hermit for most of their lives. The local tribes had vacated the area long ago and with them had gone the last available mates. They had hoped, had he been alive, that he would have so many legends and stories to share with them.

Harry opened his eyes, he was somewhere different, somewhere new. He  was lying on his bed . He got up and went to the kitchen, the house was the same. Outside, everything was a bright blue, he stepped outside and breathed in the air, it smelled of strawberries. He looked out at the sea of blue grass, wondering how he had gotten here. In the distance he could see another house, similar to his. The land was impossibly flat, he looked and saw more mounds dotting the horizon. More like him? He went back into the house and approached the small table, on it was a message, printed neatly:

They Are Coming.


About Alan James Keogh

I am a 26 year old writer who somehow tricked U.C.D. into giving me not only a degree in English and Classical studies, but an Hons Masters in Creative Writing too. Visit my blog where I post short stories twice a week (Monday and Wednesday) and an installment of a serialised novel on Fridays. I did consider writing this in the third person, as though it was written by someone else, but Alan is not comfortable writing in the third person as it seems kinda creepy and unbalanced so Alan decided it was probably best to write in the first person. He hopes it went well for him.
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