“The Post” (Short Fiction)

By Rob Huckins

Jasper didn’t know how old he was. Not young, not old. But something. He didn’t know. He felt the same as years ago when he first got the job. He knew gray hairs were a sign of being old. He had plenty. But he was thin, wiry, like a fighter. Someone with no alternative agenda than his job. This job. He remembered the man telling him it was important, the object behind him, in the hall, away from the dusty and winding road, a single route which only went by here and nowhere else until it opened up beyond the hills, out of sight. No matter. He stood here now, ready to defend this piece of history against all comers, as long as he lived. To the end if necessary.

He looked back, to the large brown wooden double doors, and then back to the road. Nobody was around. He stood still, his head moving slowly, back and forth, until he saw a bird in the distance, dipping up and down, this way and that, until it flew out of sight leaving him alone once more. They said they would be coming back soon but that was a long time ago. Weeks? More than that, he reasoned. Months, probably. A year? Maybe. Maybe more. No matter. He was fine. He had plenty of rations, plenty of clean water. He had his music at night, songs he let fill his head in the darkest of hours when all was quiet and unseen, the shadows of the evening pouring into every crease and corner of his world until he wondered if he was the last person alive on Earth.

The guns were everywhere, small ones and long ones, some with heavy capabilities and others meant to be used in movement, maybe if running around the site fending off looters. This hadn’t happened yet. He hadn’t fired a shot. But the threat was always there. At least from what he was told all that time ago, when he was entrusted with the most important task of any at the property. Guard this with your life, he was told. Until the end. When ever that was. He woke each morning before sunrise, ate his breakfast of cornmeal and honey with some coffee he brewed off to the side and then assumed the post. Then it was lunch and usually a light dinner before his music and sleep. He sometimes spoke aloud, just to hear his own voice, when it was high afternoon and he didn’t think he could maintain the schedule anymore. But he did. Just like every other day.

Today was no different. The large doorway was hidden from the road at first glance but anyone looking for the valuable contents of this property wouldn’t be deterred by that minor detail. There was value behind those doors. Huge value. But Jasper did what he was told to do, what he was meant to do. Defend the prize. That was it. There was nothing else.