A Friendly Expedition

A slow burn with clues so odd that you’ll only get it at the last minute! You may even look at your food differently.

Chiaka Leilah Duruaku, writer

The dry wind slapped the explorer’s face violently like Mother Nature in a cold rage. Against the endless white landscape he awoke in yet another day, the explorer thought to open his jaw to curse this hellish land that had once promised him great fortune. However, his jaw felt clamped shut, alloyed by the intense cold. Only an icy hell can do that.

The explorer decided he would shakingly write that statement down in his cowhide journal because it sounded intelligent and offhandedly remarkable. Yes, he would, and he would be sure to add religiosity in it, because although he had given up on theism in his twenties, he found that Robert Henson’s Stories of an Explorer and the Eskimo sold best because of the “hell” and “icy brimstone” he found in his Alaskan travels. 

The explorer’s lashes were seemingly dipped in diamonds and three degrees from breaking off, while his left middle and right index fingers suffered from frostnip and now lay six feet under formidable snow. However, fingers were the least of the explorers’ losses. He had already been in this unmarked area just past his map’s end for 22 months, and in the process found only two large mounds (called “gold gaps” by Robert Henson). The wolves called the mounds something entirely different.

“They are sacred bügums.” their wolf leader once explained, “They have always been here and will be here long after your wretched presence is gone.”

“We’ll see, Dasz.” The explorer would mutter to himself with his mind racing. He had always been skilled in the exploit business, you see.

The explorer and the wolves had warred since they’d met, or at least that’s the way the explorer remembered it. He arrived in the pleasant Sun Months, so the sludge– of colors blue, pink, and yellow –succumbed to the bright sun and liquified. The explorer happened to notice the small buds of plant life around his boots. He didn’t, however, notice the 6 feet tall beasts nesting on the mountains in the distance. The explorer remembered five cubs tumbling toward him with their teeth bared–

“They were smiling, you dung-fly.” King Dasz once remarked.

 …and their large claws out in front of them. The explorer must have resembled an ant in egg wash, and this excited and pleased the young wolves, who had seen only creatures with big ears and long snouts. Regardless, the cubs’ curiosity killed them. With five creatures barreling in his direction, the explorer retrieved his shotgun and rendered two dead. 

This moment began a feud as rocky as the ice-clad mountains where the cubs were buried. Though the explorer never thought himself to be impure under God, he wondered if the venomous brutes had sensed his own impure intentions and wished to rob him of his life because of it. Again, the wolves ruled over the ice-laden place their ancestors marked over 1,000 years ago. And probably after every meal, the explorer once joked to himself one particularly silent night.

However, the explorer could no longer impassion or motivate his soul to look for gold gaps in the sugar-lined hellscape he was in. He at least had something to remind him of civilization: a photo of his unsmiling wife, Ruth; and Robert Henson in his final Alaskan escapade. He decided that soon, he would bring the largest gold gap home to adoring crowds. He would take King Dasz’s bügum, located in the center of his den, and come home with enough to shower even the sloth with shillings.


I’m in the mood for something really sweet.

You and your sweet tooth. It’s so hot today!


Heat and sweet don’t mix, in my opinion.

Hm. Well, I have just the place.

Oh, okay. Where?

Um, turn left at the light.


The explorer made no contact with the damned wolves that day, for he knew their senses would be heightened afterward. The next night, he planned to rob from them what warmed their very beings and, if successful, would warm his. However, his plan went sideways. As the explorer wrote in his journal the following night:

My plan was born in the righteous and calculating stretch of my mind. I spent the previous days carefully packing my dried skins and salted meat, along with my tools. I waited for the sun to meet the very edge of the earth, and then ran under the safe cloak of cold and impenetrable darkness. My cave is 8 kilometres from the shanty in which the beasts feast and rest every night. I was perhaps 4 kilometers from collapse during my trudge through the snow in the biting cold– a cold which nipped at my ears and wrapped around my face –but I energized my body through consuming bits of the sweet snow as I traveled. I began to see the pleasant light of ember in the distance, so I understood that the wolves had feasted and jived. I hoped this celebration would render them drunk so that I could fumble with their ancient bügum and get out by morning. As I approached their territory, I saw the mass of igloos stand as one against my small form. However, I would not go back. I crept through the domes with the character of a mouse, and made it to the large core den. It had a gap larger than the tallest man, and a long deerskin clinging to it. I slipped through, and saw the beautiful rock before me. It was only the brightest of pinks, like my fantasy of Ruth’s cheeks in the cold. This heavenly rock held a smell so sweet as to entice me to rescue it.  However, the wretched Dasz, whose tail wrapped around the rock, awoke to find me standing there. In a quickness that only inhuman beasts can hold, Dasz took my coat hood in his teeth and threw me out. I must have been sprawling 16 meters laterally from his den, and perhaps 10 meters up. This height caused a great fear in me and I shouted with terror, which awoke many wolves. As they chased me with bloodthirst in their eyes, I dropped my two photos in the snow. My mind raced between the choice I was now beared with: a memorial of my humble beginnings, or a token of my possible future. As I am sure any explorer would, I picked up the photo of Robert Henson and kept running until I found safety in the small opening of my cave. I am sure my Ruthie would understand the sacrifice I made in my journey for wealth, for anything a man creates, he shares with his creation.

Though unsuccessful, this experience held in the explorer a passionate desire to leave quickly and rich. 

“The wolves did not kill me then, so surely they wouldn’t hurt me past a push and a nip now.” the explorer proposed in mutters to himself. He was now fishing beside the large stretch of choppy ice. It was a dark early morning.


Ooh, I’ve never been here before! It’s… quaint. Cute pink and blue wallpaper, I guess.

Oh please, Mac. It’s beautiful! Slushies, shakes, icees, anything cold.

That sounds good, Sasha.

Look at all these flavors.

Yeah. The actual cookies in the cookies ‘n creme here.

I like their bubblegum rainbow icee most… but it’s not here. Excuse me, sir? Do you guys have any more bubblegum rainbow?

Uh, I think so. Lemme get some more from the back.

Thanks, sir.

Oh, ‘Bubblegum’, Sash! 

Uh, yeah.

I heard something else, like… “bügum”.

What? How in the hell does “bubblegum” sound like ‘bügum’?

I don’t know! But look, he’s back with your flavor.


The explorer felt himself falling into a heart-numbing slumber as he sat on the ice waiting for the fish to come to his hook. However, a vibration shook him from what was soothing his protruding ribcage, filling his sinking belly, and pulling him into a soft embrace… It was the shaking of the entire landscape, which began to crack and crease as the water threw itself back like one in a laughing fit.

“Oh my! What in the heavens..?” Escaped from the explorers mouth and began to shudder. 

The explorer jumped up from his stance near the lake and joined the earth’s convulsions. He shook violently, as did everything within him: his yellowing teeth chattering like diesel locomotives against steel; his eyes doubling over in his sockets; his bones clanging as pipes do back in Glasgow. The sky before him was also changing, swirling and spinning as the colors changed from cool white to night black to vibrant blue and pink. 

“I am being s-sh-shaken out of my d-d-depths!” The explorer screamed. 

Suddenly, the ice and snow cracked and separated as if a passage was being made for a holy being. The explorer, with an ebbing fear inside of him, picked up running, for he felt as though he would meet his untimely end if he did otherwise.

A long fracture followed his quick feet, running through his legs and ahead of him. It was headed south, towards his cave. This hairline began to expand, growing wider and wider as it swallowed the land around it. It was becoming an opening to the center of the earth! And it was taking the outer layers with it in its quest to meet the middle– even if that meant dragging the peaceful elk, meek foxes, and small hares with it to melt in matters so horrendous that an onlooker would die right on the spot. The explorer wished not to be an onlooker.

Watching this spectacle, the explorer turned northeast to the wolves den as if being chased by the devil himself. And he felt he was, especially when the devil’s hand grabbed onto his foot and, in vibrations, dragged him to the center of the earth. The explorer’s heart shattered to pieces, his eyes pricked with only the most desperate of tears, and he felt his mother, the family dog, his old mates, and his wife Ruth flash before him.


But I would not die. I was sliding towards the deepening crescent-shaped hole under me, but I clung my feeble hands to the edge and pulled myself onto the shaking land. From there, I ran as if powered by lightning and all things holy. I ran, dodging the smaller holes that too, wished to meet the hot core of the earth. I made it almost 5 kilometers before collapsing and squeezing myself into an embrace I hoped to be impenetrable. The tremors stopped suddenly, and I felt whole.


I love this flavor. I’m telling you, it’s so good.

It’s probably overhyped.

No way. Try it!


The explorer would leave this wretched hellscape which killed his understanding of human existence. How could this world, supposedly drawn up by Him for man, so viciously torture man in methods so devilish? And so the explorer dug his vibrating hands into the sweet snow, which was softening in the bright sky, and clawed his way up on his feet. His knees were collapsing on themselves, but would refuse to succumb to the silent but deadly nature of the frozen tundra.

The explorer decided he would write that statement down in his journal as well. He was, as he began to realize, the prime example of European ideals and Western civilization. “For only an Englishman,” as Robert Henson wrote in Stories of an Explorer and the Eskimo, “can be faced with seasons and peoples so barbaric as those in Alaska, and yet return a civil and God-fearing man.”

The explorer stumbled the rest of his journey to the wolves’ den. He would leave a wealthy man, hero, and saint.


In another time and place, the wolves were returning from their days-long hunting trip (on which they slaughtered over thirty elk and hares of enemy gangs) when, from several miles away, they peeped at a small figure in the town square. It resembled an ant in egg wash, though it was dragging a much larger pebble with it. The wolves slowly came to a conclusion which churned their very insides and stabbed their very hearts.


The damned explorer was stealing their ancestral bügum!!


The wolves dropped their food and began to streak through the icy slopes. Their galloping produced thunderous claps throughout the white clearing, alerting even the most distant creatures of a great awakening. The wolves felt great fear rise up through their navels and into their eyes and perked ears. For what was the wretched man, so high and mighty, going to do with a rock? The rock didn’t entertain, produce, or slave away. Isn’t that all the English see in the things around them? And yet, this reasoning created only higher waves of uncertainty and confusion… that chased them as they ran down hills and around powdered bushes.

The explorer watched all of this, and sensed a grave end to his–

“What are you doing?” King Dasz seethed as he pounced on the explorer and folded him into the ice. “You vile, filthy human.” 

The explorer fell into the ground but made no sound, for he was taken by shock. However, his body felt the pressure of the beast’s body on him. Deep pain rang into the cavities of the explorer’s body. 

“I’ve been crushed,” the explorer explained to no one in particular. “by a heathen.”

The King wolf, whose paws were still pushing the explorer into the ice, leaned forward with vigor, for he wished to be tortuous. Like a palm outstretched, soft pain stemmed from the explorer’s core and grew into his heart, his legs, and his very breath.

The other wolves circled the explorer with bloodshot eyes and ragged breaths. They spat large globs of saliva, and kicked quite near the crumpled explorer’s face, for they wished to contribute to the man’s death but understood it wasn’t their place to do so. However…

“O King Dazs,” One older wolf began timidly, “leader of the Poles and universal land, Creator of sky and earth, General of all great and fairly won wars, Son of Häagen, Father of Breyers and Baskin, to His very Majesty the King of–”

“Oh, get on with it.” The explorer managed to shout from his dent in the ice.

“… I advised His Majesty, the King, to slit the very throat of this unscrupulous gremlin when it first slithered into these great icy plains. For what is a man to do in a land of peace but rampage and plunder?” 

King Dasz huffed, but kept an even glare at the old wolf. The old wolf balked as though engulfed in the anger, but continued. “Look at what he has done! He has committed every forsaken and foreseen offense the royal sybil predicted! And now look! We experienced a grave shaking of the land never seen before, and the ancestral bügum has been moved out of its divine position!”

The other wolves nodded and hummed in sober agreement. Their lives would forever be changed, and the explorer was to be blamed.


Mac, what are you gonna order? 

I’m not sure…

You’re so indecisive! There’s literally a line forming behind us.

It’s my first time here, okay? I want to order the right thing.

All of the flavors are great, trust me. How about… “Pea-nut gonna lie?”

Meh. I’m over peanut butter and chocolate. 

Arg. Um, excuse me sir? We’ll have two medium bubblegum rainbow icees.

Sasha! You don’t order for other people!

Well, I do when the ‘other people’ are holding up lines.

Hrm. Well, the bubble gum pieces do look pretty good…


Two wolves pushed the ancient rock back into its spot in King Dasz’s den, while the rest stood limply. The wolves glowered down at the simple ant who spoiled their egg wash. 

This ant was bloody and slack in his coat, with one boot several meters from the rest of his body. Despite this, it was wordlessly agreed upon that the assault the human layed on the wolves could not be amended or matched. However, the wolves would try anyway.

“I say,” the old wolf posed, “we chew each arm and leg from him over the next couple of days. He will suffer a long and painful death.”

“He will bleed out,” a brown wolf growled, “and that’s simply no fun.”

“Henson was right,” the explorer seethed weakly, “Your kind is barbaric.”

“Just bite his head off!” A low voice suggested.

“Don’t argue in front of the damned thing! It’s listening and calculating its next–”

A thunderous crack shuddered in the plain. Suddenly, ground began to rumble in ways which were recognizable to every creature who had stumbled their way through the morning. The coast in the distance broke off into islands; the trees and bushes shot up and out into the air; snow and ice splintered off and chased the elk up into the mountains; burrows dug by the hares soon closed in and killed them; the sky spun into the colors of the white sun and the darkest depths of the sea; the earth screamed in utter terror and pain as it’s insides spilled into the land of the living.

And the explorer, who managed to sit up with help from the shaking ice globe he was in, began to laugh. He couldn’t stop, for he felt touched by the hand of God.

The wolves, who were screaming in anger and fear, bared their teeth at him, for they wished not to show weakness to the Prince who brought great Darkness to their lives. However, the apocalypse would not subside. It broke the mountains and brought them into an enlarging blackness… which approached them all.


So what do you think? 

Mm. Mhm. It’s really, really tasty.

Yeah! So good.

I love the chunky texture.

Yeah! That’s why I keep coming here. It, like, gives me life.


As the black void came nearer and nearer, heat pushed the explorers and the wolves in, like a warm-breathed mother pulling her child into an embrace. And the explorer felt this embrace, despite long screams and cries from the broken wolves still circling him. Perhaps a God did exist, and perhaps He was taking him to a superior haven where one could lay in the heat and give off sweat instead of warring off the cold.

“Look what you’ve done!” the wolves screamed, pouncing on the explorer with a sort of angry surrender. No one made an effort to kill him, even as he was now a crumpled mound in the melting ice.

“Look at Him come for us all,” the explorer announced, “this will do richly in my journal.”

The wolves, elk, hares, snowflakes, water droplets, and every atom of the frozen tundra screamed 1,000 times over with heartbroken agony as the enlarging black hole entangled with the spinning sky and swallowed everything into a heat-singed hell.

And therein ends another day at Friendly’s.