#FridayFlash: Adventure!

FridayFlash: Adventure!

by Tony Noland

Adnan slept on the carpet, shivering as he had for seven times seven nights. He woke to the sounds of wind ruffling the tasseled fringe, and the low rumble of thunder beneath him.

He peeked over the edge of the carpet. Far below, whether ten farsakh or a hundred, enormous storm clouds towered. He tried to counted the heartbeats between the flashes and the thunder, so as to better estimate the distance, but the flashes were too many, the clouds too far away. It was a mighty storm, and he pitied anyone caught under it.

In the first ten days of his journey, he had delighted in pushing his hand out beyond the area of calm air above and around the carpet. At half an arm's length, his fingers were snagged and pulled, the wind whipping by more quickly than a sandstorm's breath. He was flying at a tremendous speed, and it had thrilled him at first.

After ten days, however, the wonder of the journey paled. He had tea and naan in the mornings; tea, naan and hard cheese for luncheon; tea, naan and almond cakes for evenings. The serving dish was magically filled three times every day, and every day with the same delicacies. The cheese was salty and rich, the naan was warm and soft, the almond cakes crunchy and sweet, and the tea was outstanding, the best he'd ever had. He was sick to death of all of it.

When he'd leapt on the carpet in the High Vizier's private treasury, he'd wished aloud for adventure and the chance to do mighty deeds, to conquer tyrants and woo fair maidens. The carpet lifted so quickly, he'd tumbled backward and gotten caught in the folds. When it flattened out so that he was able to stand, he was already high above the city, flying like an arrow to greatness.

That was seven times seven days ago. Adnan yawned and stretched, then reached for the serving dish.

He blinked. Instead of a serving dish, at his feet lay leather-strapped pieces of bronze armor: matched armbands and legbands, a breastplate and a half-helmet. Next to them were a wrought iron chain and a curved sword, as wide as his hand and as long as himself. In wonder, he bent to pick up the sword. Its hilt flowed into his hand, the silvery weapon so well balanced that it felt as light as a riding crop.

The carpet tilted downward. He was high above a mountain range, dominated by a massive central peak with sides as smooth as glass. Astride its apex, glittering in the sun, was a fortress bigger than any city he'd ever known or heard of. Even from this distance, the battlements of the city wall were frightening, spiked and bristling with the spears and swords of a vast army.

Adnan became armed and armored in an instant, he knew not how. To the central hall he flew like a falcon, there to alight on the highest balcony of the highest tower. He stepped from the carpet, to the gasps of a score of beautiful women, their long tresses and almond eyes wide with shock and hope at his presence.

A roar of hate made him turn. By the door stood a man fully twice as tall as he. Gripped in his bear-like fists, the handle of his wide, chipped battle axe was like a young tree, swinging over the giant's head as though uprooted in an angry storm. Adnan's mouth went dry and his stomach went cold. A single blow from such a weapon would kill him instantly. His strength was like nothing Adnan had ever seen; such a man could fight for hours, even for days without pausing for breath. There was no way to survive a pitched battle with him. Against such a foe, there was only a fast victory or a fast death.

His heart pounding, Adnan balanced on his toes and waited for the strike. It was not long in coming, as the man-mountain bellowed his rage and smashed the axe down in a whistling arc. Tiles shattered and sparks flew as the floor's mosaic was destroyed by the blow. Adnan's left foot was clear by barely a fingerwidth. Flashing downward with all his might, Adnan struck with the triple loop of chain in his left hand, not at the giant, but at the axe handle.

When his deadly foe yanked his axe back up for a true killing stroke, Adnan's arm was nearly torn from its socket. Pulled upwards by the giant's strength, he barely had time to angle his sword for the strike that would either save his life or end it. Flying forward, he twisted his right hand and gripped with manic power, bracing the hilt against the bronze legplate on his thigh. With every grain of force in arm and leg, he rammed the sword into the giant's right eye down to the hilt, his fingers stinging as it pierced bone and bronze.

The giant's roar of agony shattered Adnan's ears, and his own blood flowed from them to mix with the black rush from the around the sword hilt. Adnan stumbled back as the giant fell, scrabbling with insane, magical strength at the sword.

From under his breastplate, Adnan drew his own dagger. Though neither magical nor wondrous, it was as sharp as it had been since his father had bequeathed it to him as his sole inheritance. Again and again, Adnan slashed with it at the giant's neck, the backs of his knees, his elbows, anywhere the armor was weak and the veins thick.

At last, with a gasping death rattle that was chilling to hear, the giant stilled and lay dead. Though weary unto death himself, Adnan was no fool.

"Carpet!", he called. "Lift this body and take it out beyond the walls of the city. Set it on a high peak, there to be protected from the vultures if he be truly dead, and there to be no danger to me if not. Do this, then return to me."

Without hesitation, the carpet slid under the bloody mass, then flew out and away over the parapet.

Adnan felt a hand on his arm, and spun, dagger at the ready. There, arms filled with steaming washbasins, salves and ointments, the women smiled and waited, heads bowed in gratitude. The sweetness of their mixed perfumes was matched only by the distant, wafting aroma of fine tea and fresh, warm naan.

===== Feel free to comment on this or any other post.
Like it? Tweet it!


  1. (heh) I should think he'd be sick of tea and Naan by the end. It's a fun story, but I was oddly more riveted by his boredom than his final excitement. I wanted to hear more about how disappointed he was that a hero's life was not "as advertised."

    Wonderfully painted and very tactile. Nicely done.

  2. I have a feeling the tea and Naan will be much more enjoyable now that he has all the beautiful ladies to share it with. I wonder if he'll choose to end his adventures here, or if the wish will make him continue on. This was a fun story to read.

  3. Gotta say I'd never get bored of naan, especially the Peshwari one stuffed with raisins, sweet nectar. Now I actually want one, curse you Carpet travelling adventurer!

    Liked the vultures logic.

    Marc Nash

  4. Ha, I am with Marc - Peshwari naan is what I had in mind when I read this. I wouldn't mind a magic carpet either.

    I do love the way that your flash stories vary - this was very different to your western last week - and yet they are always great to read.

  5. The writing is excellent, as is the diction and pacing. The quality is never lacking, and the style brings me back every week.

    However, this time around, I found the ending somewhat lacking. It felt, perhaps, too straight-forward. I wasn't expecting him to receive his wishes, and the trial put in his way before he did so seemed too easily overcome.

    I suppose I was expecting more heft to the final turn of the tale.

  6. Thanks for the comments, guys.

    @The Four Part Land: This ending wasn't I had originally intended for this piece. I meant for this battle to be nothing more than a preliminary bout, so Adnan could get a big-assed battle axe that he could use in the next fight. However, this was running long, so I wrapped it up with a reasonably happy ending instead of my usual dark and/or mixed-message ambiguity.

    I had a different story locked and loaded for this week, but decided to pull it at the last minute. This is an un-edited first draft that I wrote to try to get out from under a lousy mood. Sometimes I challenge myself with form, content, style or genre. For this, I set myself the task of writing something exciting and upbeat, since I'm that is the undiluted antithesis of how I feel at the moment. I don't know how well it succeeds at being exciting, but at least it's not dreary.

    I guess I could go back and re-work the ending, but that would mean waiting for the carpet to come back from dumping the body, having one of the ladies explain to Adnan that more adventures await him now that he's proven himself, etc., etc. I might do that writing someday, but not tonight.

  7. I kept expecting something bad to happen ... wishes being what they are, and all, but it'd be interesting to see how he reacts in the long run to having what he wants and always being obeyed by the carpet. He could turn into a bit of a tyrant.

  8. Good for you, being fearless enough to dump the prepared one and go for something completely different!
    And you know what? I really think it worked for you. I thoroughly enjoyed this story, so much so that I read it twice. Loved the food references... I could taste the naan, smell the eastern fragrances. And how magical was the carpet and the fight with the giant.
    Bravo, Tony!

  9. Food and adventure. What's not to like?

    Really great description of the fight scene.

  10. I will admit that the whole way through, I was expecting a sudden turn for the worst.

    Writing something cheerful is difficult at the best of times. I'm pretty crap at it, and usually don't even try. I wouldn't even think of trying when I was feeling down.

    As to the ending, I think for me, it felt that the story was too short for the plot, that there was an opportunity for something more to fit in between the final conflict and the travel. That the story could do with being stretched out. Like you'd placed a short story inside a flash.

    Thanks for the wonderful writing and the willingness to respond.

  11. A shallow thing for me to compliment, but I loved this title. Adventure! Exclamation point! It's so proud of its goal.

    Then, the story was nice too. I guess.

    Of course it was nice, you wrote it. The carpet was my favorite bit, and the order to dump him on a high mountain where he'll either be no problem for me or not get defiled by birds. What prospects.

  12. That was so cinematic. I was imagining it done like the Thief Of Bhagdad. Good show.

  13. If we were all so lucky to eat naan and drink tea all day, then after a brief skirmish banish our foes on a magic carpet (I have a few at work who could use the red carpet treatment). Very tight writing, fabulistic feeling. Peace...

  14. Be careful what you wish for, and all that!

    Even though he stole the carpet in the first place, I'm glad it all worked out in the end.

  15. I loved this Tony. I read it as middle grade fiction and thought it would make a good premise for a children's book. With a longer work you could work out the tension between the MC and his unpredictable carpet.

  16. I know you struggled with the ending, but I rather like the one you stuck with, Tony. This was a great tale, kept me engaged.

  17. My favorite part was the floating on the carpet above the clouds and the imagery. I could just see it and feel it totally. You do a wonderful job with imagery in your stories.

  18. I loved the opening of this and the background about the carpet-- I almost wish I could have been a fly on the wall of this character as he made the choice to step onto the carpet and leap into adventure. You built a great world in so few worlds, and I for one, wish I could see more of it.

  19. This is very cinematic. I saw the whole thing in 3D. ;)

    Love this story, Tony. And now I want Indian food...

    Hope writing this put you in a good mood. It put me in a good one.

  20. Very visual. Is it an excerpt from a longer piece?

  21. Thanks for the great comments, everyone!

    @Janet: I guess I habitually do horrible things to my characters, so much so that a happy ending is a shock. Must think about that more.

    @Cathy: Sometimes, the challenges I impose on myself have everything to do with the writing process, and much less to do with the prose that results. I wanted this to be sensual - smells, sounds, visuals, textures, tastes - so I'm glad the Indian food is working for you!

    @Marisa: Thanks! I like fight scenes, and should do them more often. Enough of people sitting around talking!

    @TFPL: That's true, the ending was all a bit forced. After a thousand words of self-imposed mood modification, I'd just plain run out of personal energy. This piece is going to have to stand as a testament to the meeting of an obscure goal.

    @John: I was scratching my head with the title, then decided to go gonzo.
    Then, the story was nice too. I guess.
    Some weeks it's steak and lobster, other weeks it's meatloaf and potatoes. What can I say? I'm glad you liked the carpet, and the logic. It just seemed a reasonable precaution, just in case the giant is only "mostly dead".

    @Anthony: Thanks!

    @Pamila: I watched Thief of Baghdad again recently. Great flick.

    @Linda & Icy: Oh, this is just the first small step in the ADVENTURE! he wished for. The carpet is only getting him ready for bigger and better things.

    @G.P.: Thank you! It didn't occur to me to see this as juvenile or YA fiction. It's a bit bloody, but that could be toned down...

    @Thom: Thanks! I'm still not thrilled with the ending, but it is what it is.

    @A.S. & Amalia: Monica like the visuals of the carpet sequence best, too. Hmmm...

    @Gracie: Ah, the 3D trend is reaching even into #FridayFlash! I was just as depressed after writing this as I was before, but I feel much better today, thanks.

    @Cathryn: Nope, this was an extemporaneous, off-the-cuff standalone. What you see here is pretty much as it came out of my fingers.

  22. Love a bit of action and adventure. Now I want naan bread and tea (and it's breakfast time over here - nothing wrong with that, I think).
    Cool fight scene.
    Adam B @revhappiness

  23. I was expecting the hero to jump from the carpet after x amount of days in order to escape his adventure. This was quite a bit different, and yes I think the bread would taste better when served by beautiful women. :D

  24. Always end of a day of battle with a cup of tea served by beautiful women. What other kind of day is there?

  25. Much as I like naan, I'd be gasping for a burger after 7x7 days of it!

    Really liked how the armour appeared instead of the naan and tea

  26. I like this carpet. Wish I had one, too. Maybe give me a long flowing mane of hair to go with the sword?

    Fun story, Tony. It captivated from beginning to end.

  27. As I said on Twitter this read like a 1001 Nights inspired story and it was very consistent with the style and atmosphere typical for those stories.

    I agree with The Four Part Land that the ending was rather too happy for the battle was won with ease.

    But I do now what it's like to run a bit too long. :D

  28. I liked the happy ending; it feels like there's more to come, so it's only fair that he gets to enjoy an easy start, right?
    Kari @ The Best Place By The Fire

  29. This was charming. Like the others, I enjoyed the fight scene, although perhaps for different reasons. He had only wished for the opportunity to conquer tyrants. What if this were just an opportunity? What if he failed? Like all good adventurers, he slayed the mighty beast. He even ended up with a harem of perfumed beauties and a new appreciation for naan. Your story was a lovely way to start my day. Thanks.

    Take care,

  30. Cute. I smiled at the ending where he's left with tea and fresh naan. I hope the beauties make up for his unchanging diet.

  31. Great story Tony. I love how you started this with his initial excitement and boredom. Funny how even the greatest adventure in the world can be mundane after awhile. The ending was fun too. Love the story arced to him loving the scent of naan.

  32. You really meant it when you called this Adventure! A fun story a=with a great ending.


Thank you for leaving a comment. The staff at Landless will treat it with the same care that we would bestow on a newly hatched chick. By the way, no pressure or anything, but have you ever considered subscribing to Landless via RSS?