Taşlıçay, Ağrı, Turkey © Google Maps

He came to Taşlıçay after a snowstorm and entered Mehmet’s restaurant. The last customer had left and the proprietor had let his staff go early.

“We’re closing, Sir. I have nothing left to serve you.”

“I am not here to eat, Mehmet.” He spoke heavily-accented Turkish and appeared middle-eastern.

“What do you want?”

“To save your life. Great forces desire to take it.”

“You’re insane. Taşlıçay is a boring place. Nothing happens here.”

“After the great flood, elemental spirits, both good and evil claimed the area around Urartu and lay dormant. Tonight they rise from the temple on the hill and the höyük to the south. You are the last direct descendant of the ark, the last one who could prevent them from entering your world.”

“Who are you?”

The messenger of Hashem grew large and powerful, was armored in ethereal light, and drew a sword of silver. “They come.”

I wrote this for the What Pegman Saw writing challenge. The idea is to use a Google Maps location and/or image as the prompt for crafting a piece of flash fiction no more than 150 words long. My word count is 150.

Today, the Pegman takes us to Taşlıçay, Ağrı, Turkey. I looked it up and there’s not much going on in Taşlıçay either currently or historically, except for a few tiny details.

I leveraged the Facebook page for Things to do in Taslicay, which provided the restaurant setting. Going through the Google maps street images, I found the one posted above, which appealed to me since summer is approaching fast.

There’s a burial mound to the south of this rural town and both an Urartu temple and Armenian monastery on the hill above the village of Taşteker. Then I read:

Urartu, which corresponds to the biblical mountains of Ararat, is the name of a geographical region commonly used as the exonym for the Iron Age kingdom also known by the modern rendition of its endonym, the Kingdom of Van, centered around Lake Van in the Armenian Highlands.

Ararat is the legendary resting place for Noah’s Ark after the Great Flood of the Bible, so I thought I’d attempt to wrap all of that together into some sort of mystic tale of disaster and horror, all in 150 words. How did I do?

To read other stories based on the prompt, visit InLinkz.com.

Oh, and how are these locations chosen, anyway?

34 thoughts on “Urartu

  1. Nice tale, but I should note that the ark was made of wood and thus could not have any direct descendants, first, last, or in-between (except maybe Pinocchio). On the other hand, every human currently alive is actually a direct descendent of Noah and the passengers on that ark who were his wife, his sons and their wives. No one else survived, and no children were born to them for more than a year after the flood ended, so no one could even begin to suspect infidelity on the part of any of the women with some other male of another lineage who did not survive the flood. Hence we all are the direct children of Noah; and the “last” one would not be an adult “Mehmet”, but rather some newborn infant not particularly suited to fighting any battles against antediluvian elemental spirits (except, perhaps, in the infant “Harry Potter” style).


    • Okay. Ran a “random location generator” a few times and came up with these:
      Abidjan, the Ivory Coast
      Alexandria, Egypt
      Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
      Ahmedabad, India
      Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo
      Lahore, Pakistan
      Surat, India
      Don’t know if you’ve used any of them in the past. Have fun.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Hi James. The point of using the submission form is to allow people to suggest a favorite place. The list is carefully curated with an eye toward geographical diversity. The most important thing is to find a place with ample photographic opportunity via the Google street view or webshpere. Much of India, Africa, and the Middle East are largely undocumented, as are large parts of central Asia, Austraila, etc. We encourage you to look around Google Maps and send us a suggestion through the form. Thanks. JHC

        Liked by 1 person

      • Not necessarily favorite places, but interesting places. I checked, and these are all well represented in Google Maps:

        Moscow, Idaho
        TCL Chinese Theatre, Los Angeles, CA
        Tierra del Fuego Province, Argentina
        Hebron, Israel
        Chiba, Chiba Prefecture, Japan
        Mt Kilimanjaro, Tanzania


      • By the way, if you’re wondering whether a continent/country has been used before, you can browse the categories on the right hand side of the page of What Pegman Saw. to check. I generally try to alternate locations by hemisphere and avoid doing the same hemisphere for more than a couple weeks.


      • Somewhere in the middle ages, Rochelle, various folks, both Jews and Christians (separately, of course), developed full-blown mythologies about various species of angels. In the Christian world, there was certainly something lost in translation, because those cute little “cherubs” you see in paintings (and later on greeting cards) somehow arose out of someone’s imagination entirely unconnected to the original biblical Hebrew term “kheruv”. There is another mythological character developed from that word, which is the chimerical gryphon that had the body, tail, and back legs of a lion; the head and wings of an eagle; and an eagle’s talons as its front feet. If you recall the Hippogriff from Harry Potter, you’ll get the idea, though that critter had more of the aspects of a horse in place of the lion parts of a gryphon. The “seraphim”, that are mentioned in Ezekiel’s chariot vision and some other places, are literally “burning ones” — which should give some idea what it might feel like to be anywhere near them and the brightness of their appearance. There is good reason for the common human response when confronted with one of these angelic creatures; which was essentially to faint and to fall on one’s face. This is not the response one would expect if confronted with one of those angels that appears in Renaissance paintings to be about to say: “There, there, don’t fret, everything will be just fine”. On the other hand, some other appearances of “the angel of HaShem” were more like ordinary muscular men, like the ones that appeared to Avraham, in the desert not far from Beer Sheva, just after his circumcision and before the destruction of Sodom, or the one that wrestled all night with Jacob before he had to meet his brother Esav (from whom he had parted some years before and not on the best of terms), or the one that presaged the conception of Samson and left in a flash of fire atop a sacrificial altar. Nonetheless, small and feminine, or even merely sexless, is not how biblical angels/agents appear.


  2. Wow, that ending really caught me — I gasped out loud! I like how you foreshadow that something big and mysterious is happening, so the ending is a surprise but also makes perfect sense.


  3. This a story i want to continue to read! I love watching documentaries about the amazing archeological finds, including some hoyuks, of the last twenty or so years, which as i recall are older than many of the oldest things known before then. Mixing it with the ark story makes it quite intriguing!


    • If I expanded the story, I’d have to fix the problem that ProclaimLiberty pointed out. I have a way to do this, but I’ve already got two novels in the works, eight short stories I’ve submitted that I’m waiting to see if they’re accepted for publication, and another story draft I should be editing. Plus I’m watching my grandkids right now, so my plate’s a tad full.

      All that said, I’m glad you like it. Seems to be a winner with many of my readers.

      Liked by 1 person

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