Arabian nightsMature

Collaborative story based on the stories from "one thousand arabian nights" and the disney movie "aladdin"

Chapter One; of street rats and desert nights
Aladdin, by rhetoric
Word Count: 1,199

The sprawling city of Agrabah stood out against the stark black night sky, the palace lights dimming even the lights of the city, glowing against the horizon to blot out the stars with its luminescence; the desert stretched out as far as the eye could see in every direction. 

The isolated city did not suffer because of its location; instead, it thrived in the blazing-hot desert.  Shipments came in daily from all around the world, most dropped at the palace airport.  The marketplace was lively and had expanded exponentially over the years; in the most recent decade, it had developed into something more akin to a mall than a marketplace, but the name never changed and no one contested it.

It was a night like any other, except for one small detail.

Deep in the city streets, hiding in one of the multitude of alley ways, crouched Aladdin, as he had many a night before.  But this night was different.  There was a static electricity in the air that sparked against his skin.  He had gotten used to predicting storms, and there was no indication of one brewing in the atmosphere; he wondered what was causing his nerves to be so on edge.

He rationalized that his anxiety was due to his up-and-coming evening, and the dread within him grew; he trudged on, despite such weighty fear, and made his way out of the alley once the guards were out of sight.  He shrugged his jacket tighter around him, burrowing in against the cool desert night air.  The club was a few blocks away, and he rushed there, hoping to avoid any more guards.  Inside, the dim lighting took a moment to adjust to.  It was crowded, as it always was, and bodies shoved from side to side as onlookers stepped out of the way of the brawl taking place in the center. 

Bookmakers bellowed over the uproar of the fight, calling odds and accepting bets.  He made his way silently to the back, into the small, damp locker room, and stashed his jacket in one of the unused lockers.  Aladdin ran his fingers nervously through his onyx hair and scoped out the empty space.  He was already tired; the day had been long and fruitless; but it always was, for men like him, when they sought honest work. 

An unpleasant, albeit familiar, voice hollered behind him, “Hey street rat!”

Aladdin grimaced, braced himself, and turned to face the fight coordinator.  “Hey Abdul.”

Abdul whacked him on the bare shoulder with his wide, sweaty palm, and grinned happily at him.  “Good to see you’re back, kid,” he started, making a few marks on his clipboard, “We can fit you into the next fight, if you’re interested.  We just had someone drop out.”

“Why did he drop out?”  It was too suspicious to have a conveniently opened slot like that.  Aladdin wanted to make his money and head home before the market closed, sure, but not at the risk of his life.  He knew too well what kind of fight it would be if someone else had dropped out.

Abdul gave him an exhausted sigh and rolled his shoulders, not looking up from his clipboard, “Guess he got scared.  That’s irrelevant, street rat,” he snapped, “Do you want the slot or not?  It’s the only free slot all night.”

Of course it was, Aladdin thought; conveniently, too, he’d bet.  “Fine,” he said.

He stretched briefly but the warning bell rang not long after Abdul left, and he toweled himself off quickly before making his way to the ring.  The man waiting for him was unfathomably huge; at least six-foot-six with muscles nearly as thick as Aladdin’s torso.   His opponent loomed over him as they faced off in the center of the ring, but Aladdin extended his hand out for the traditional handshake.  Clasping Aladdin’s forearm with a hand that could crush his skull, his opponent appraised him with a jeering chortle.  He said, “This should be over soon, street rat.”

Aladdin didn’t argue – trash talk had never been something he was good at; he’d long ago discovered it best to keep his tongue still and return the mockery by winning the fight.

The announcer screamed over the intercom, barely audible still over the ruckus of the club, “Round One; Maahir versus Ali.”

The bell sounded and Maahir lunged for him; but Aladdin was fast – that was his secret weapon against monsters of Maahir’s size and power.  They never expected the speed because it was a trait they could not master, and so they overlooked the smaller adversary as a worthy opponent and made their first mistake – lunging.

Side stepping, Aladdin brought his kneecap up to collide with Maahir’s broad chest; hard enough that the crack of breaking bone wasn’t just satisfying, it was devastating.  Maahir couldn’t breathe; he sucked air into his lungs in panicked, uncontrolled gasps, but very little made it all the way in.

Aladdin followed it up with a solid punch to the jaw and Maahir stumbled backward, his vision blacked out with the force of the blow.  Aladdin looked small, but he contained a raw, sinewy power beneath his taught flesh and sharp features.  There was something virile and uncontainable pulsating within him – and he let it out only when he was in the ring.  Maahir’s eyes widened as Aladdin stepped in for the final strike, and Aladdin wondered if this was the first time Maahir had been bested in the ring.  There was a virgin fear flickering behind the man’s brown eyes.

Aladdin pivoted on one heel and landed a violent kick to Maahir’s chest as he rose, foolishly; the blow sent him flying back into the unforgiving arms of the crowd.

The bell sounded as Maahir lost consciousness.

Aladdin stepped out of the ring and made his way back to the locker room.  He toweled off for the second time and threw the towel into the dirty rags bin across the room.  The locker door swung open.  Abdul walked in with a smirk on his lips, and Aladdin wondered what he’d managed to trick someone into, briefly, before deciding it was better if he simply did not know.

Abdul quirked an eyebrow at Aladdin as he removed his jacket from the locker.  “Where are you going, street rat?”

Aladdin froze.  Was it possible that he had been the one Abdul got something over on?  “Home,” Aladdin said, hoping his gut was wrong.

“Not just yet, you’re not,” Abdul said, a tisk-tisk following his scolding statement.

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

“You took a slot that was in the competition.  You have six more fights before you can collect your winnings.”

Aladdin threw his jacket back into the locker and slammed it shut.  The entire row shook with the impact.  “You son of a b*tch!”

Abdul offered him a smile that dripped with hubris, and Aladdin resisted the urge to beat him to a bloody pulp and leave him in the locker room.

But he was hungry, and if he wanted to eat, he needed the money.

Six fights, he told himself.

If they were all as easy as Maahir, he’d be done within an hour.

The End

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