Guard Post

Edited by Brian J. White

June 2014

It took a minute to notice over the constant sound of moving water in this place, but it was definitely snoring. The soft noise was drifting around the corner ahead. While he had envisaged many horrors before wandering into this labyrinth, a slumbering stranger had not been one of them.

Bracing for the worst, he slowly eased the side of his face around the corner. The tunnels opened out here and soared high into the darkness above. Not forty feet away stood a massive set of doors which glowed a dirty copper in the gritty light of the burning torches lining the walls. Between the door and himself, however, stood what at first glance he took to be a man. And indeed it was a man; or, to be precise, half of one. He struggled for a second to make sense of the scene — his eyes felt like they were trying to line up the layers of perspective. Eventually, though, he had to accept the fact that there was a man’s torso impaled on a thick wooden post in the middle of the corridor.

One arm was draped over an extremely long spear which was propped against the crook of the man’s shoulder, his stubbled head slumped against the shaft. And he was snoring. Loudly. The intruder stared in horror at where the figure was cut off and the post seemed to enter, just below the belly button. Leathery flaps of skin hung like an obscene skirt, and thick yellow liquid oozed slowly down the post embedded firmly in the floor.

Unsure how best to deal with this unexpected and horrifying obstacle, he stepped out into the corridor. Immediately the figure jerked up with a snort and rheumy eyes considered him uncomprehendingly.

“Fuck. What are you doing here? You shouldn’t be… you shouldn’t be here.” The man furiously rubbed his face, and stared again. “What the hells are you doing here?” he demanded.

“Well I just…”

“How did you get past the drazens? And the Gnorg? How in the hells did you get past the Gnorg?” he said.

“I’m sorry, I never saw any of those things, I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

The figure looked utterly confused. “No one’s ever got past the Gnorg,” he mumbled to himself. But his face hardened, and straightening himself up he said, “Well that’s what I’m here for. Halt, boyo, you’ve come as far as you’re going today.” Grasping the spear, he thrust it out in front of himself in what was undoubtedly meant to be a threatening fashion, the effect only somewhat lessened by the wild weaving of the tip in the air as the figure’s scrawny arms trembled violently.

The intruder took a step back and spread his arms.

“Look, I don’t want trouble, I’m just trying to…”

“I said no further boy, you’re not getting past Bill.”

As if to demonstrate the futility of trying to continue onwards, the figure — Bill, it was assumed — swung the spear up and around his head, swirling it in the air in a complex and dangerous-looking rhythm so that it brushed the walls on each side of the corridor, before promptly dropping it to the ground with a deafening clatter.

They both resided a while in silence, regarding the fallen weapon. Bill subtly leaned to one side and wiggled his fingers in the direction of the spear, but the post rendered him incapable of stretching more than a few inches in any direction.

“Shit. I was worried that was going to happen. I told them to give me a crossbow. ‘Give me a crossbow,’ I said. ‘It’ll be for the best,’ I said. But no, it had to be the stupid spear… Shit… Well,” he said, again straightening up, “I guess we have to do this the old fashioned way. Come here boy, so I can beat you senseless with my bare hands.” Bill raised his fists and set his jaw in a defiant clench.

“Err, I really don’t want to fight you, so I’ll just be on my way if that’s all right.” He began to edge his way down the corridor, keeping as close to the wall and as far from Bill as was humanly possible.

“What?! No, you can’t just walk by me, you’re not allowed through that door. I’m the last line of defence gods dammit, you must face me.”

Bill flailed his arms wildly towards the intruder as he slid quickly past and scuttled towards the huge doors. Regarding the massive slabs of metal for a moment he began to fiddle with a mechanism set in the wall beside it, while Bill shouted over his shoulder.

“Come back here and fight me like a man. What are you doing back there, you’re not allowed through that door. Stop it, you’re going to get me into trouble. Are you listening to me? Hello?!”

The last desperate pleas were drowned out in the sudden grinding of the door sliding open, sending a cloud of dust billowing out into the corridor. With a final glance at the back of Bill’s enraged head, the intruder ducked through the still-opening doors into the darkness beyond. Slowly the shuddering noise subsided and the dust settled.

“Hello?” Bill demanded. “Are you still there? Answer me!”


“Right. I told them to give me a crossbow. And now some sod’s only gone and opened Slagarth’s Gate. Well, Old Bill ain’t taking the blame for that; Old Bill told them they needed to sort out this maze; Old Bill told them some smart arse would come waltzing along and unleash the Angels. Well, Old Bill was right, and that’s just what I’ll tell them when they bring Old Bill’s dinner.”

And with that he crossed his arms and settled in to await the arrival of his masters, or the Angels from beyond the gate, who-so-ever arrived first.

© 2014 Paul O'Donohoe

About the author

Paul O'Donohoe

Fleeing the pungent Irish stew of vague religious guilt and alcohol, Paul moved to London where the stew just got more foreign and complicated. He spends his days alternately bemused and astounded by the world at large, and writing is a doomed effort to put words to the visions that gnaw at the ragged edges of his mind. This is Paul’s first published piece and he fully expects to be dining out on it for the rest of his days.