“No One Can Figure Out Why John Fed Himself to a Bear” by Benjamin Davis

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I was thirty years old. I had money. It moved around me. It didn’t grow as I wanted it to, but it didn’t run away from me like it used to. I could afford a car, an apartment, and an assortment of smart gadgets.

I called my friend Carl and said I’d drive him to the zoo. “There is a new superhero exhibit,” he’d told me a few days earlier over a club sandwich. “I really want to check it out,” he’d added, before the day spiraled into sidewalk therapy about our friend John. John had fed himself to a bear.

“Thanks,” Carl told me as I paid his entry ticket. We made our way to the exhibit and I tried to make small talk as we went.

“How are things going with Angie?” I asked.

Carl shrugged. “She keeps wanting to work through everything.”

“Oh, poor baby.”

“No—it’s nice…

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New Essays and Art from Ben & Nikita

Nikita and I have both been working hard since Flash-365 ended. In recent months I’ve written some humorous personal essays about my health with art by Nikita. Check them out:

It took until my late twenties for all of my excessive bad habits to catch up to me. And, it was two years after that before I started (trying) to improve my health in different ways; LASIK, Yoga, trying (and failing) to quit smoking.

 

These four essays reflect milestones in this process and they were published over the past six months in Human Parts. I hope you enjoy them.

 

That Time I got Illegal Butt Surgery in Russia

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I was working as a journalist in Saint Petersburg when the butt pain started. The doctor’s heavy Russian accent made me believe I had “gemroids,” which sounded like asteroids made of gemstones, which seemed a lot better than what I actually had: hemorrhoids. More than a month later, it had all gotten much, much worse.

 

Read the full essay for free here.

 


 

The Art of Staying Sober

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A D.A.R.E. officer visited my high school and told us, “Young people think they’re invincible. This isn’t true!” I sat in the back of the room with my hands under my bum. A voice in the back of my head said, “But I am, though.”

 

After graduating high school, I spent the next 10 years unable to sleep, socialize, or exist past 5 p.m. without excessive amounts of alcohol or drugs. We called the drugs “cheat codes.” Want to sleep? Drink this or take that. Want to have fun? Drink that or take this. Want to socialize? Want to not be bored?

 

All of this drinking resulted in three years of on-and-off debilitating digestive issues, the pain of which I masked with (you guessed it) alcohol. It took months of blood and pain, ending in emergency surgery, before I finally thought, “Okay, maybe that D.A.R.E. guy was on to something.”

 

Read the full essay for free here.

 


 

That Time I got LASIK in South Korea

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A typhoon tore through the city that weekend. In Seoul, South Korea, that means dark clouds, 30-plus mph winds, sideways rain, and falling skies. Survival involves dodging branches, skirting garbage, bracing for hail, and a whole lot of running. A typhoon is like pulling a fire alarm in the great outdoors. Think: friendly fire from God, a biochemical attack, and a weapon that targets a population’s umbrella supply.

 

You can imagine the locals’ surprise at seeing me strolling through this mess in drenched clothes and sunglasses with a world-class, dumb-fuck smile tucked under my nose. Why? Simple: A handful of Korean doctors had just shot laser beams into my eyes.

 

My watch alarm buzzed. I dodged a falling branch, skirted a flurry of garbage, braced myself against the hail, and ran into a semi-covered alley between two buildings. I lifted my sunglasses and squirted a generous stream of fake tears into my still-healing eyes. I blinked, looked ahead, and saw an old lady, stopped dead, staring at me. As my brand-spanking-new perfect vision cleared, I smiled. For the first time in my life, without contact lenses, without glasses, without squinting, I could clearly see the look on her face.

 

It said: “You are a fucking idiot.”

 

Read the full essay for free here.

 


 

The Art of Failing to Quit Smoking

 

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Dr. Lee is a startling woman. If I stood in the middle of a field with my mother on one end (a smile and open arms) and Dr. Lee on the other (rolled-up newspapers in each hand), and they both said, “Come here, boy,” without a second’s delay I’d bound my way over to Dr. Lee. Not for safety, not for comfort or health, and certainly not for a good ear-scratching. I’d do it out of pure, primal fucking fear. So when she told me it was time for me to quit smoking, I had a horrible realization: I was going to have to ghost my doctor.

 

Read the full essay for free here.

Invasion of the Fundiks

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A small man stood in my driveway. He was waiting for me. He pointed. He had eyes like flying saucers and no nose.

He said,

“I AM KLUBBIT!”

He had a French accent. I walked outside. The sun pounded on the poor little man.

“What do you want?” I asked. “I have to get to work.”

He spoke:

“I am Klubbit! I am an emissary from Fundiks. We have come to destroy planet earth! You have become a bad society, destroying your resources and warring. YOU! You are chosen to speak for your planet. Tell us! Why should we spare you?”

He had odd-looking knees. I think they might’ve bent outward.

I said, “yeah — alright.”

He stared at me a moment and then said, “What?”

“I said, yeah — alright. Now can I get to work?”

He looked lost for a moment, then said, “You must speak on behalf of your people.”

“Yeah…yeah — your name is what?”

“Klubbit.”

“And your people are fun dicks?”

Fundiks

“Brilliant — yeah, no I think that is a pretty decent end to us, you guys go ahead.”

“But — ”

“Can I go now? I really will be late to work, you know.”

I turned to get in my car.

“Wait!”

“What?”

Klubbit crouched down. His knees did bend outward. He struggled to find words.

“You — I can’t — I can’t go back. This has never happened before, you can say anything, we only need a single reason, any reason.”

He looked up.

I shrugged. “Yeah. oh. well.”

“Are all of your race so empty?”

“If they’re full, they’re full of shit.”

I winked at him in the hopes it might make him feel better but he began to leak something gross out of the skin where his nose should have been and so I got in my car. As I backed slowly out, he placed a hand on the hood and gave me a lost look. I waved.

I got Dunkin’s on the way to work.

I was only five minutes late. Inside the office, I noticed that no one was in their cubicles. There was a noise of bodies coming from the breakroom. I looked and found all of my co-workers crammed in around the small corner television where a bald man stood on a stage in his underwear and a white tank-top surrounded by Fundiks. The President was placing a medal around his neck.

One of my co-workers, Hal — the kind of guy who wears an Irish Yoga T-Shirt on weekends and still says, “well aren’t you cool,” when you tell him about your day — nudged me.

“This dude just saved the human race. I guess these little alien fuckers were gonna blow us up, but this guy talked ’em out of it.”

“Oh, gre — ”

“Shut up,” Hal cut me off.

Everyone leaned in as the man in his underwear took the microphone and began to speak,

“These aliens here have agreed to spare America!”

The crowd went wild. People in the breakroom gasped and clapped. I noticed Klubbit hovering behind the man.

Cheater, I thought.

The man, our savior, spoke again:

“Now that I have saved America, we need to wake up and start solving the problems that have been plaguing the world by removing all of the trash that is poisoning our societies, I’m talkin’ bout the illegals, the homosexuals, the Muslims, the baby-killin’ whores, the — ”

Someone clicked off the television. We stood and stank in the silence that followed.

I turned to Hal and whispered, “one of those Fundik guys came to my house this morning.”

“Well aren’t you fuckin’ cool,” he said.

***

 

This story was originally published in The Moss on Medium

The Moss: A New Project from Flash-365

The Mossavatar“Rock, Paper, Scissors, Moss.”

 

Have you been missing new stories and art from Flash-365?

We have.

The Moss is a new publication on Medium from Benjamin Davis & Nikita Klimov the author and illustrator of The King of FU and The Babushka Society. Creators of Flash-365.

Benjamin Davis is an American author and journalist. He writes a bi-weekly column for Russia Beyond the Headlines: Conversations with Russians.

Nikita Klimov is a Russian artist, designer, and handsome son of a gun.

Come and check out our latest story:

Invasion of the Fundiks

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Follow along for more to come! –
best,
Sasha

DEATH at a Preschool Christmas Party

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In the mirror, I attach the fake ears and tug the hat onto my head.

“It’s the wealthiest Preschool in St. Peter,” K had said, “they’ll pay you a boatload to just stand around as an elf for their Christmas party.”

I sigh now, as I did then, resigned.

I wash my hands and step out into the hall. The Babushka rolls up to me. Her rock-face is polished. Her eyes are onyx.

She points. I nod. I follow her directions to a door inundated with Christmas joy. I go through.

The room is vast, a gymnasium almost. It is crowded with all manner of Christmas. Bells float through the air, jingling. Ropes of ornament-covered pine snake along the walls. A fat tree absorbs the center of it all.

Children wander about the place. None are more than five or six years old. They are dressed almost exclusively in argyle. A snowman in the corner is telling a story as a small blonde girl discreetly stuffs bits of his backside into her mouth. On the other side of the room, Santa Claus is red-faced as he picks up a small boy. A red-nosed reindeer stands calmly next to him, chewing on the inside of its own mouth.

Santa places the boy on the red-nosed reindeer. The boy begins to wail. A woman in a black sweater runs over and pulls the child down. The boy runs off across the room. I see him slide on his belly down a thin layer of ice. A young woman in a blue dress stands beside it. She claps.

A fair-haired little girl walks up to me. Not dressed like the rest. A simple black dress.

“You got a cigarette?” she asks.

“Huh?”

She sighs, “you got a cigarette?”

“Uh…”

“I’m not a child.”

“Oh…are you a midg—uh I mean– a dwarf?”

She giggles.

“I’m DEATH. And, I want a cigarette.”

I’m not sure whether or not to laugh.

“What do you mean you’re DEATH?”

“I’m not sure what else I could mean. That polished rock turd out there hired me to be here so…”

DEATH shrugged, “I’m often in Russia this time of year anyway.”

I continue to stare at the frail-looking girl. She winks. “Just between you and me,” she lowers her voice, “I never go anywhere I’m not needed. Even for the kind of scratch, this place shells out.”

“Right,” I manage.

“So, you got a cigarette or not?”

I nod.

“Let’s go have one then. Take my hand, everyone thinks I’m a child anyways. Pretend you’re taking me to the bathroom.”

She holds out her hand. I take it hesitantly. Suddenly she grabs it tight, very tight.

“Your time has come!” DEATH says, her eyes go black. I panic and jerk my hand away. My heart stops.

She bursts out laughing. She holds her stomach and bends over, a joyful tear falling from her eye. “You should see your face,” she gasps.

I feel like vomiting.

“Oh, that never gets old,” she says, catching her breath, “but, seriously, let’s go.” She holds out her hand again, her eyes back to blue. I don’t take it. She steps forward and grabs my hand anyway.

“Don’t be a pansy,” she says. She leads me out the door.

The fear in my legs has subsided by the time we get to our destination, a closet. Inside I light up two cigarettes. She takes one. She smokes through her nose. I can’t wipe the frown off my face. It’s beginning to hurt.

“So, what are you doing here?” DEATH says through the cloud that’s sprouted up between us.

“Uh, I am an actor.”

She snorts. “Bummer.”

“Mm.”

We finish our cigarettes in silence.

“We better go back,” DEATH says, holding out her hand again.

I take it this time, apprehensively. Before we leave, I can’t help asking,

“What did you mean that you never go anywhere you’re not needed?”

DEATH smiles up at me and shrugs, innocently.

Continue the story at https://deathatapreschool.com/

The Babushka Society | Now Available!

The Babushka Society is now available!


Baba Yaga menaced Russian children for generations, but what would happen if you ran into her in modern-day Russia? The Babushka Society is a demented magical-realism adventure set in the heart of Saint Petersburg, where two young men stumble across a babushka conspiracy, led by Russian fairytales’ stalwart character Baba Yaga, to take the country of Russia back from the Hipster scourge.

**This is a bilingual Russian-English story, translated by Julia Pyatnitskaya**


Where can you pick it up?

KINDLE: check us out on Amazon and receive your copy for .99 | click HERE

PDF: Pick up a FREE PDF from Nada Blank E-Press | click HERE

PATREON: If you’d like to support me on Patreon, sign up and receive a copy and follow along with future projects. | click HERE


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*Illustrations by Nikita Klimov

When you’ve finished if you could please leave a review on Amazon and Goodreads, we would greatly appreciate it.

If you haven’t already listened to The Babushka Society Radio Drama, you can check it out here:

The King of FU

The King of FU

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Our first published book has been released. It is a somewhat demented poetic magical-realism memoir about growing up in America in the 90’s. Written by Benjamin Davis, illustrated by Nikita Klimov and published by Nada Blank Press.

You can get it on Kindle or Paperback on Amazon. It is up on Kindle Unlimited right now as well so if you’ve got that you can read it for free.

If you haven’t got the time or energy to read about my weird childhood masturbatory habits, please share and tell your friends.

You can find it on Amazon here:


KINDLE Edition                                                        Paperback


 

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Or if you don’t have a kindle / live outside of the US, you can get a digital copy straight from the publisher:


https://www.nadablank.com/copy-of-epress


 

*Note: if you are buying a hard copy through amazon, please buy the paperback. The hardcover was a test copy that did not work out, but was bought by a wholesaler before it could get taken down.

**Also, if you have a blog/website where you do book reviews, please contact me at benjamindaviswriter@gmail.com

Thank you all very much for the support you’ve shown us over the years. If you’d like to support us further after reading the book, please we’d greatly appreciate it if you review the book on Amazon & Goodreads.

Ben & Nikita

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A Brief History of IKEA

Hi Guys,

The Drabble, a magazine that publishes stories that are less than 100 words, just published a very short story I wrote a while back titled “A Brief History of IKEA” about the truth behind the founder of IKEA. No, not that he was a Nazi. It is so much worse.

Check out the story by clicking HERE

like and leave a comment if you enjoy it.

Thanks,

Flash-365