Guardian of the Temple. Short Story.


“And you shall protect this place for the rest of time.”

Pretty grand words for the first ones I’d ever heard. Sent a tingle up my spine they did, I mean, I was something now, I was somebody. I’d managed to claw my way up the shit heap and get first in line for assignments and here I was, immortal. No grant me three wishes then piss off bullshit for me. No, I was in charge, I had power. Sure the power wasn’t technically supposed to be used outside of my job description, but it wasn’t like there was anyone to stop me after a while.

For all the fancy talk of protecting, it was really quite boring. I basically sat around and watched people come along to worship what ever god was in the temple, watching for threats. Then there was a brief holy war, war, more of a skirmish really. These people didn’t know war, hell, once they were down, that was it, they were done. I’ve been in wars where I’ve been killed multiple times and they still expect me to keep going. Not so easy when someone’s armour clad foot is standing on your severed head. The war never made it to my temple, but I’d heard whispers, mental updates from those like me protecting the same god. The battle ended about six miles from here, can you believe it? I was so close to getting some action, then nothing. I assume we won, though no one thought to tell me anything about it. So I was just left sitting and waiting.


Sure, it was boring, but at least I had the people to look at, they can be mighty funny looking at times. Not that I ever pointed and laughed, that would be unprofessional. I held my tongue, didn’t even crack a smirk. It was about four hundred years after I was created that I finally got to show off my moves. The crowds had been dwindling for the last while, but there were still a few monks scurrying around. A group of bandits came along to ransack the temple. Man, you should have heard the noise of my joints when I stood up, great booming cracks. I think one of them shit themselves from the sound alone. Now that was a fun battle. It was over in a few minutes, each one torn limb from limb, I even included a handy clean up by hurling their bodies a few miles away. The priests were all pleased by what I’d done, but I think they might have gotten a bit of a shock because they started to leave offerings for me. Me! Like I even needed to eat. It was hard to find a good quality religious leader them days. There was a brief upswing in attendance after that episode, people travelling for miles to come see the temple. Then, attendance fell away again. Slowly but surely, soon we’d be lucky if we saw one outside worshipper a year. Then the monks stopped coming, one by one. It was starting to get a little lonely. I mean sure, I didn’t exactly talk to anyone, but I could listen in. The god was getting a little bored too. He popped up to see me sometimes. Or was it a she? It’s always hard to tell with divine beings. We had some nice chats about the strategic protection of the temple, but I could tell that he was put out, feeling a little unwanted. A few hundred years after that he came up to me one day, half assedly thanked me for my service than shot off. Didn’t even give me a chance to tell him that it wasn’t enough to get me out of sitting around here.

So here I am, stuck, alone. Trees started growing over everything, vines too. Occasionally I’d stand up and stretch myself out, clean myself up a little. I mean technically I wasn’t supposed to, but there was no one around to see, who was going to tell? Everyone else had buggered off. It’s been a long, long time. I think most of them are gone, at least those who’d remember me. They’d a pretty high opinion of themselves though. Now I’m stuck here for ever. I’m considering doing a bit of light travelling. I mean, if I’m to protect this place, I need to scout the area right? See what the lie of the land is. Hell, there could be an army camped over the hill and as long as they were quiet I’d never even know! It’s just good tactical sense really. I’m a bit iffy about these joints though, they are getting stiff. Dunno if I’d be able to pick up some oil somewhere. I mean, if I’m supposed to live forever you’d think they’d have thought of that kind of thing. I could just destroy this place myself. That would free me. It wouldn’t be pretty or fun and I’d be in a lot of pain, but I wouldn’t have to worry. Hell, if I leave and someone destroys it anyway I’ll have a ton of grief coming my way. In my early years I was happy for the cushy job, no more infighting or backstabbing. Man, there was a lot of backstabbing. It was sort of my thing. Easiest way to climb the pile really, there’s a tip for you there, a knife in the back makes a surprisingly good hand hold, even if they are writhing around on the tip of it. Now though, now I’m bored. It’s just the same thing. Watch the tree grow and die, oh look, there’s a new one. Big shock. Make bets with myself over which way the river was gonna start going, closer or further away. Spoiler alert: It dried up. So now I just get to sit and wait and wait some more.


You know what? Fuck it. I’m going for a walk.


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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