Skip to content

A Hero’s Ordeal (flash fiction)

June 28, 2011


Not All Who Wander are Lost hosts a monthly writing challenge. This month’s subject is to include a mythical creature in a story of 500 words or less. I decided to play along and hope to entertain you with this rather silly tale.

A Hero’s Ordeal

It had been a long trek through acres of dull meadows and fields. The hero wiped sweat from his brow and narrowed his eyes against the sun. ”Hello, good lady!” he called out to the old woman tending her vegetable patch.
She sized up the stranger for a moment. ”Good day to you, sir,” she replied and stepped closer.
”How far to the shore?” he asked.
”Oh, not so far. Continue down this road, through the forest, and then you will see the ocean.”
”Splendid. Thank you, and have a nice day,” replied the hero, picking up his backpack and his sword.
”Wait,” called the old lady. ”The forest is dark and damp and full of vile creatures.”
The hero smiled grandly at her. She must not know of him. ”Thank you, my good lady, but I have crossed the snowcapped mountains and fought the giants of the Dark Realms.”
”Wait!” repeated the old lady, wringing her hands. ”Before you reach the shore, you must go through the Gate of the Sphinx. Many have died trying to pass. The sphinx will tell you …”
”Don’t you worry,” the hero told her, ”I’ve dealt with sphinxes before. There is no riddle that I can’t guess.”

The forest was indeed a perilous place, but he had braved unspeakable dangers before and was out before nightfall. He reached a long wall with just one gate, and on top of it perched a creature with the body of a predator, the wings of a bird and the head of a man.
The hero stopped in front of it. ”Good evening,” he called, ”I should like to pass.”
The sphinx was roused. ”Certainly,” it said smugly. ”But first, you must listen to this.”
”So be it,” the hero replied, preparing for the question.
The sphinx drew its breath, rustled its feathers, and then began to speak, ”A man walks into a bar. ‘Can I have a beer and some peanuts?’ he says. ‘Sure,’ replies the bartender. He gives the man a pint and waits for him to finish drinking. Afterwards the man asks for a loo. ‘We don’t have a loo,’ replies the bartender, ‘but you can use this,’ and hands the man a bag half full of nuts. ‘What’s this?’ asks the man. ‘In a moment, it will be your peenuts,’ replies the bartender.”
The hero’s face fell. It wasn’t a riddle. It was a joke. He began laughing so hard that he had to clutch his stomach and wipe away tears from his face.
The sphinx stared at him for a moment. Humans. What silly creatures. It wasn’t even a good joke. And he was so caught up in his laughing fit that he didn’t even seem to notice the sphinx jumping off the gate. It swooped down with a flourish of its wings and caught the hero in the chest with its talons.

15 Comments leave one →
  1. June 28, 2011 9:42 pm

    That was so funny. I loved the description of the sphynx rustling its feathers, and the joke…hee hee


    • June 28, 2011 10:42 pm

      Thank you very much! 😀 It was the best/worst joke I could come up with.


  2. June 29, 2011 5:53 pm

    I love the sphinx’s attitude, somehow ‘silly humans’ does seem very much like something a sphinx would think.


    • June 29, 2011 7:03 pm

      Thank you! 🙂 I’m glad it worked. I was aiming for a very … sphinxy sphinx with that little odd tiwst.


  3. July 1, 2011 10:40 pm

    I love the twist on the sphinx! Heros…they always think they know everything. LOL.


    • July 3, 2011 4:35 pm

      Thank you! I think the hero sort of had it coming. 😉 Thank you for hosting the challenge! 😀


  4. July 6, 2011 11:45 pm

    Ha! Great blending of time periods there. Or did you blend genres? In any case, I did not see that coming! Still trying to figure out the joke, though. I have a hard time with the obvious ones. lol


    • July 7, 2011 3:49 pm

      I don’t know, I think I blended anything that would go in the blender for this one. 😀
      I’m really glad that you liked it and hadn’t seen it coming. As for the joke … Not getting it probably is a very good thing. (But a hint: The spelling mistake in “peenuts” was on purpose.)


  5. July 7, 2011 7:41 pm

    lol I knew the joke had something to do with “peenuts.” And now, reading that section, I get it (I think). 🙂


    • July 12, 2011 1:31 pm

      Yay! I mean, it’s the worst joke I could think of, but getting it is probably more fun anyway. 😉


  6. July 9, 2011 7:25 am

    What an imagination you have! Such fun to see where imagination leads.


  7. July 15, 2011 3:46 am

    What a groaner!

    Excellent twist, though!



  1. July Writing Challenge – Moonstruck | Sonia G Medeiros

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: