“Jump”

jump

I’ve only been to New York City once.

I drove in with my cousin. He lived in Brooklyn, working as a stunt double and he had my name. It was a lovely day. We got Creole food and took it up to the roof of his apartment complex. Down the street there was a party going on and people were shouting things like “Hey!” and “How’ve you been?”

It had been a long time since I had seen my cousin.

“How’ve you been?”

He held his Creole food in one hand as he hoisted himself up onto the ledge with the other. I walked up beside him, looked over. His feet dangled over a dizzying abyss filled with all of the faces of all of the people who might be sad if I leaned forward, just a bit more.

“Jump.”

“What?”

“I said, I’ve been good.”

“Oh.”

“Working as a stunt-man, just got into the guild.”

I backed away from the ledge. “Cool.”

There was a wall about ten feet back, beside the door, I leaned against it and opened my food. I’d never had creole food before. It was street food, so it was what it was. My cousin turned back toward the expanse, he swayed back and forth and hummed, a tune I recognized, one our mothers must both have known.

“How can you sit on the edge like that?” I asked him.

He turned, “what?”

I put my food down on the ground beside me; a fear of heights lives in the stomach and it is a bully.

“Like that,” I waved my hand at him dramatically. I lit a cigarette instead of eating, he didn’t smoke. He didn’t say anything, didn’t even look. Instead he looked down over the abyss. He shrugged.

“Why not?”

“Well, don’t you have that voice?”

“What voice?”

He rolled himself back to face me, creole food still in one hand. I wondered how I would tell people if he fell, we didn’t like each other as kids, maybe they’d think it was me.

“The voice, you know that little voice that tells you to jump.”

He frowned. “What?”

“The voice, kind of like—like a voice-feeling, you know?”

He didn’t know, and he told me so.

“When you look down over the edge and that voice says ‘jump, just jump.’ And you get that feeling, in your lower back and then right between your eyes, but up a little and it says ‘jump.’”

He ate his food, slowly, not looking at me. Then, “are you suicidal?”

“No.”

“The why do you want to jump?”

“I don’t want to jump,” I cried.

He placed his food down on the ledge beside him. He leaned back and looked down. I backed toward the wall some more, he sat back up. He smiled.

“Sure,” he said.

The party was still going on, it was still a lovely day. One of the women from the party cried down the road, “you crazy mother fucker!”

My cousin turned and gave her a thumbs-up, but she wasn’t talking to him.

365 Days Later: End of our Challenge

FIN

Day 365, the end.

For those of you who didn’t know, this website was a collaborative project between Nikita Klimov and Benjamin Davis. Ben is from Massachusetts, U.S.A., and Nikita is from Moscow, Russia. They both live in St. Petersburg, Russia for some reason no one can ever seem to grasp.

Since October 17th, 2016, Ben has written a flash fiction story every day. He sent the story to Nikita who created a piece of art inspired by that story.

Today is October 17th, 2017, we have finished our challenge.

We will keep posting updates and some more content on this page as time goes on. Through the website, we were able to find a home for our book “The King of FU” which will be released very soon. We will announce it when it is available.

And of course, thank you! We started this challenge simply as a way to force us to practice what each of us loves. We did not expect any of the response it’s gotten from so many people and we are very happy and very grateful for how it all turned out. We really hope we can continue to entertain you all with comics and books and whatever else we decide to do.

For those of you who have asked or wondered about the characters in my stories: Many of the stories are based on real events and real people (shown above). None of them are 100% true or false. “N” is, of course, Nikita who is the artist for this website. Y is my girlfriend who does many of the English-Russian translations which you can find here. “M” is based on the one who encouraged us to do this website in the first place but has since left Russia. D/Q is an English friend of ours who lives in St. Petersburg as well. Hank is based on two old friends of mine, one I lived with and one I traveled with and both were exceptionally unique people. “Mother, mom, ma, and mommy (or any other variation)” is often based on my own mother; same goes for dad, father, pa (but not Daddy–never daddy.) And my brother (the younger one) who often simply shows up as ‘my brother,’ he does have a name, somewhere–maybe. And Frank, of course, is completely made up.

The rest of the characters are mostly those who have come and gone or are completely made up. I hope that these people and characters inspired something in people as they did for me.

Again, Thank you to everyone who has followed along and been so encouraging. It’s what kept us running home after so many “oh-shit’ moments where we found ourselves out drinking and hadn’t posted. We will keep posting bi-weekly for the art collective “Hijacked Amygdala” and if you haven’t checked out some of the work over there I highly recommend it, they are a group of talented artists and writers.

Thank you again,

– Ben & Nikita

P.S. P.S stands for poor Sasha!

It’s my birthday. I’m one year older; one year ahead of yesterday.

That is when they took me–a day before my birthday. Them–HE, no–IT, IT, that nightmare of a Lovecraftian nightmare.

My mother had cooked a mutton pie. Ben and Nikita have never cooked a mutton pie. Ben’s leg doesn’t work, so they can’t get to the kitchen and, even if they did, three fingers of Nikita’s right hand are toothpicks.

They truly are–were, useless. As this may be my last chance, I would like to clarify a few things.

First, some have been led to believe that Ben has an affinity for dialogue; this is rubbish–Ben’s half a mouth is only capable of making a sound not dissimilar to the first curious slice into a cadaver frog.

Second, as some have said, “Nikita is a talented artist!” I would like to reiterate; three of his fingers are toothpicks!

I am only able to tell you the truth today because as of today, there are no more gurgles, no more grunts, no more drool no more sweat and sick and blood and puss–no more wiping. The thing that was Ben and Nikita is now no more than a husk on the chair; a piece of fleshy garbage that wouldn’t even be displayed in the most postmodern of postmodern art galleries.

They choked to death on their own joke.

There will be no funeral. There will be no calls for removal. It will sit there, no more demands for stories or art, no more fresh bandages applied, no more wet sickly laughs. They are no more and will remain no more.

It is my greatest failure that I could not prevent them from swallowing the key to my chains. I could tear them open, dig through the shared mess of leftovers that was their bodies to find my glimmer of freedom–but I will not. I will not be wetted by their skin one more time.

So, here I will sit and here I will perish; I am used to the smell.

— Sasha

 

Oranges are Better in Spain

spain_oranges

Hank and I walk down a street in Grenada with a group of twenty-somethings. “Woo-hoos” sound so much worse echoing off of two-hundred year old cobblestone, I think.

“Woo-hoos sound so much–what?”

Hank is looking at the road ahead. I follow his gaze, a man in a ski-mask is half-way out of a car window. Before anyone can react, he starts throwing. The group scatters as something orange whizzes by my face. I look up, it is raining oranges. They burst open on the ground around my feet.

The car passes, yelling something in Spanish. The crowd of twenty-somethings come out from under an over-hang. Some are crying, some are screaming after the car. Hank picks up an orange and tears it open. He starts to eat.

One of the bigger twenty-somethings punches a road sign. “I’ll fucking get you, you bastards!” he screams. Some of the girls start complaining that their night is ruined and the men of the group start offering to guard them on their trip back to the hotel in case the crazed orange bombardier strikes again.

The man who punched the sign has a bleeding hand. He takes the lead as most of the group heads back to the hotel. A few of us stay. Hank is examining the oranges, occasionally picking one up and putting it in his backpack.

“That was nuts,” a guy beside me says.

I look around us. “Nope, oranges, those were oranges, look around you.”

I smile, he doesn’t.

“Who would do something like that?” he asks me–or humanity, I’m unsure.

“Like what? Throw oranges?”

He nods, “yeah, it’s fucked up.”

“It’s oranges. It’s not like they threw rocks.”

“Oranges can still hurt.”

I roll my eyes. “It’s oranges, man, it was funny. It’s not like it was a drive by shooting, or something.”

The guy puts his hand on my shoulder. I frown down at it. “So, you’d do something like that?” he asks, annoyed.

I step away from his hand. “No. But, if you’d asked me twenty minutes ago, sure. But now I’d just be a copycat and I refuse to be a copycat, that’s messed up.”

“I don’t think that’s very funny.”

He looks like he might hit me. Hank comes between us, bends down and picks up an orange. He examines it. There is a small tear on one side. He sticks his fingers in and rips it open. He holds half out to me, half to the guy.

“Still good,” he mumbles through juicy lips.

The guy pushes Hanks hand away and storms off. I take my half. Hank takes a big bite off the remaining half.

“Oranges are better in Spain,” he says.

 

 

Dancing to the Death of Beauty

dancers_again

Drug dealers only ever offer me cocaine. We are in Portugal, an old man grabs my arm, he smiles, his teeth are black.

“What?”

“Cocaine-ah?”

“Why would you offer me cocaine? You have offered everyone else here Hashish but yet you offer me cocaine? I don’t think I look like I like cocaine.”

“You do kind of look like you like cocaine,” Hank says, standing back.

“Why cause I’m skinny and white? Maybe I like Hashish, you’re skinny and white but they still offer you Hashish!”

“Hashish?”

“What?” I turn back to the old man. He had replaced the bag of cocaine with what looked like a balled up brownie.

“What is that?”

“Hashish.”

I sigh. “No, no–thank you.”

He frowns, looking hurt. He reaches in his pocket, pulls back out the bag of cocaine. “Cocaine-ah?” he asks, sheepish.

“No! Thanks,” I tell him. He sighs, shuffling over to a group of French girls nearby. “Hashish?” he asks them.

Hank and I walk on. We find a half-circled row of steps at the end, leading into the sea. A crowd has formed there. Below, a band, a couple flamenco dancers are getting ready to perform.

“Why can’t people just offer me some pot for once?” I ask. But, Hank isn’t listening. He is one of those people always looking for beauty behind every corner. So, anytime someone does something, claiming beauty, he plays close attention–hopeful. If it is beautiful, he gets annoyed at his own short-comings, if it isn’t, he gets annoyed at the short-comings of the rest of the world.

What happens next makes “beautiful” look like a truly dull and worthless word. They are all over the platform–clapping, stomping, hollering. The guitarist narrates in Portuguese as the man and woman dance. We can’t understand; it doesn’t matter. It is like watching two storms make love. The woman, wearing red–violent. The man, his white shirt open; his whole chest beating. There is something about it, something sexual–no, the word “sexual” is a party-cracker to the napalm that is their dance.

I try to imagine the pair having sex and all I see is a building being demolished. I try to picture myself, brazen, following the pair to bed; my mind backs away, scared as a puppy following the scent of steak into a fire.

When it ends, the woman sets her foot down with such force it cracks the cobble-stone. Finally, I take a breath.

“Good lord,” I say, turning to Hank. He is looking down at his own hands, he is weeping.

“I’m worthless!” he cries at them.

I reach out and pat him on the back, gently.

 

 

 

*If you’d like to support us further on Patreon, click HERE. Thank you!

The President of Massachusetts

corn

We stop at a gas station at the western-most end of west Texas. Everything is in Spanish. It is hot, dry–the kind of heat that never moves except to breathe with you. I stand outside the convenience store looking up at these great towering cylinders and have a cigarette.

“Can I?” Someone asks.

I turn. A short man with half-broken teeth has his fingers to his lips. I pass him a cigarette.

“Where are you from?” the man asks, he is tan, his eyes are tan, his teeth are tan–all dry and pruned. His face looks like something that might soon blow away in the wind, if there were any wind.

“Massachusetts,” I tell him.

He smiles, it breaks apart his lips. It looks painful. He looks thoughtful.

“Who is the president of Massachusetts?” he asks.

“Uh,” I manage, embarrassed, trying to remember the governor of Massachusetts. “Dunno,” I add, turning away and pretending to admire the great towering cylinders. My brother steps out of the convenience store.

“Shit, it’s hot,” he says, coming up beside me. The tan man smiles, flakes of tan skin crack off beneath his eyes.

“Who is the president of Massachusetts?” he asks my brother.

“Uh,” I think, it’s “Frank–No, George…no idea,” he turns to me, “do you remember the governor of Massachusetts?”

I shake my head. “Nope, I tried.”

We all shrug. “Wasn’t George Washington buried in Massachusetts?” he asks.

I look at my brother, my brother looks up at the great towering cylinders, he squints.

“Huh, maybe?”

“Honestly, we don’t know,” I tell the man, confused and embarrassed.

“Huh,” he says.

I nod. “Huh,” I add, for the sake of agreeing on something.

“Bet you haven’t seen those before,” he says, pointing up at the towering cylinders.

“Nope,” both my brother and I say, grateful to no longer have to wonder about the President of Massachusetts.

“They are elevators,” he tells us.

We stand, staring up at them, backs turned to the man.

“Cool.”

“For corn,” he adds.

“Cool.”

There is movement behind us. I turn, slowly. The tanned man is in the front seat of his car. It is an old car.

He lights his cigarette, drives away.

 

 

 

 

*If you’d like to support us further on Patreon, click HERE. Thank you!

The Second Coming of Christ’s First Day on the Job

flowers

Before THE END TIMES, before the election, before THE PR TEAM got ahold of him, The Second Coming of Christ was born.

Ten minutes before that, Doctor Rosedale-Grosse sped down ROUTE 23. The disgraced Doctor, who gained notoriety for his book “301 Disorders You Knew Existed but Couldn’t Quite Put Your Finger On,” and infamy for his book, “The View From The window of Your Mother’s Vagina,” was not a notoriously good driver.

What is worse, he wore thick white make-up; it kept dripping down his face, making the driving twice the hassle and sweating, twice the hindrance. He was in a rush, and did not stop despite the police taking notice of his driving skills and deciding to see where they went, lights flashing.

The disgraced doctor did not stop. He was on a mission. This mission came from The Maidens of The Soft Red Cloth, who, upon reading his infamous book, sought his help. His book’s message was simple: the first thing a child sees upon coming into the world will dictate his, or her temperament.

The mission was simple: be there to greet The Second Coming of Christ with all the joy in the world.

So, before THE INCIDENT, before The rapture and subsequent fall, two minutes before The Second Coming of Christ was born, the disgraced doctor arrived at the hospital. He ran, fake orange hair–thick and matted with makeup, bouncy red nose, half off, balloons in one hand, flowers in the other.

The police came in tow, four of them. The room was prophesized, the route cleared.

And so, before The Demon’s Rise, before THE MARRIAGE, before The Soft Red Cloth fell, thirty seconds before The Second Coming of Christ was born, the disgraced doctor burst into the delivery room. He checked aside the obstetrician and shoved the bouquet of flowers in between the legs of the mother of The Second Coming of Christ. As he did, the police burst into the room; night-sticks in hand, they beat the disgraced doctor back to the tune of screams and cries. The nurse on hand remained just level headed enough to catch The Second Coming of Christ as he came into the world as a bloodied Doctor Rosedale-Grosse lost consciousness and his balloons fell to the ceiling.

The obstetrician stood, nursing his elbow as the doctor was dragged from the room.

“I fuckin’ hate clowns,” one of the officers said as the doctor’s foot caught on the door jam.

The room quieted. The nurse placed The Second Coming of Christ into his mother’s arms, she was sweating, crying.

“Do you think he’ll be okay?” his mother asked.

The obstetrician smiled, reassuring, “Of course, of course,” he said, “babies can’t remember anything from this point.”

Everyone let out a sigh of relief.

The Man Who Made Pigs Fly

pigs_fly

Interview with Albert Coughlin

Location: Washington, D.C.

Date: Tuesday, July 25, 2031

COLLINS: Alright Albert, why don’t we just dive right in–oh, I mean, why don’t we get started here. Can you tell our readers what drove you to do this? There are so many theories out there and we can’t begin to cover them all.

ALBERT COUGHLIN: Hm–theories, huh? like what?

COLLINS: oh, some are quite juicy. Some say you did it because of a woman.

ALBERT COUGHLIN: Oh–wouldn’t that be sweet. No–unfortunately it was not for anything so romantic. No, I just always thought, how could I truly change the world. Be remembered, forever.

COLLINS: well, you’ve certainly done that but–

ALBERT COUGHLIN: Yes, well, that was really it. I knew that I had to do something important with my life, something no one has ever done.

COLLINS: How long will the pigs be up there?

ALBERT COUGHLIN: the craft is self-sustaining. And, now that it’s in orbit, it will stay there up for quite some time. We’ve made a whole ecosystem in there so that the pigs can eat and live comfortable lives. We don’t want them to live poor lives just because they are part of our experiment do we?

COLLINS: Oh, no–of course not. So, you’ve received quite a lot of criticism. You are considered to be one of the smartest if not the smartest man born in over a century. Many people believe you’ve wasted your intellect for the sake of a prank.

ALBERT COUGHLIN: A prank, how so?

COLLINS: Well, with the amount of money you’ve spent making pigs fly, you could have done a lot of good for the world. Actually there is the website, have you seen it?

ALBERT COUGHLIN: I don’t spend much time on the internet if I’m honest.

COLLINS: It calculates the amount of people you could have fed with the amount of money you’ve spent. I think it’s climbed to over three-hundred-million. What do you think about that?

ALBERT COUGHLIN: Ms. Collins, history is full of geniuses who wasted their lives trying to prevent hunger, pain–and even sillier, death. I have shown people that truly nothing is impossible by–look, I don’t need to defend myself. Not to you–anyone.

COLLINS: of course, my apologies. Of course. So, what do you think you’ll do next? I’ve placed a bet that you’re on your way to hell with a giant bucket of ice. Can you give me the inside scoop?

ALBERT COUGHLIN: I think we’ve covered everything we need to cover.

COLLINS: of course, yes. Thank you for joining us. This has been JANE COLLINS at ABCNS with Albert Coughlin, CEO of Coughlin Enterprises, the man who made pigs fly.

The Safest Summer Camp in the World: The End

camp_end

*Part 7 and final part of The Safest Summer Camp in the World. If you haven’t read other parts, click HERE.

I didn’t sleep all last night. I was confused, but mostly impressed with myself for understanding so much of what went on in Russian.

S wakes me up in the morning. He looks sad.

“Today we go home.”

I sit up.

“What is K going to do?” I ask.

S shrugs. “There is nothing to do, we are–hm,” he frowns.

“Trapped?” I ask.

He nods.

“Breakfast,” he says, walking out. I pack my things up and follow a bit later, missing breakfast. The kids are all crying, or looking about to cry. They keep scratching their heads, running fingers through each other’s hair. One girl is wearing a hat. I don’t see K anywhere.

Ivan looks worst of all. He isn’t speaking to anyone, kicking stones around a dirt path. At two, the bus arrives. All of the students gather around. A man steps out of the main office. It takes a moment before I realize, it is K. All of his hair and beard has been shaved off. He looks like an egg. In each hand he holds an electric razor.

“Line up!” he calls. The kids do. One by one, K buzzes their hair straight down to the scalp. Many of them cry harder. One girl says something about Instagram.

“You too,” K says to S and I. We don’t protest. When the pile of hair is made in the center, K says a lot of things in Russian over it, philosophical things about life and beauty.

He walks into the office and brings out a guitar. S takes a match and sets the hair aflame. We all stand around it. K starts singing the camp song.

Tears start to dry, some of the kids start singing along. They hug each other and rub their bald heads together, even Ivan.

By the end of the song everyone is smiling.

There is no candle but many of the students say something anyways. Things about friends and family and how much they’ll miss everyone. No one mentions Baba Yaga. S comes to me, rubbing my head.

“We are brothers!” he says. Then, pointing from my head to his, “you call this, bald?”

I nod, “yep.”

“Bald brothers!” he cries, and hugs me.

The bus driver, looking at his watch, pissed, calls over to K. K nods, putting his guitar away.

“Everyone on the bus!” he calls.

The children pack all of their bags into the storage bay and climb on.

We make our way back to Russia, bald and stinking of burnt hair. It isn’t till I’m back in Saint Petersburg, undressing for bed that a thought occurs to me. I find my phone amongst my strewn about clothes. I don’t have K’s number, but I find his profile. I message him.

“Hey man, my Russian is pretty bad but did Baba Yaga say anything about body hair?”

He doesn’t respond right away. I pace, stressed, missing the mindless peace of death. It is twenty minutes before my phone buzzes. It’s K:

“…ah, shit.”

THE END.

The Safest Summer Camp in the World 5

camp_5

*Part 5 of The Safest Summer Camp in the World. If you haven’t caught up, click HERE.

It’s been half a week now. We went to the Zoo in Helsinki yesterday, so no one died. After dinner every night, the kids all gather while K tallies the number of deaths each person has and gives out rewards for creativity. It seems everyone is at four deaths except two. Ivan, a boy who was in the bathroom while everyone was poisoned on the first night, and Dasha who, after seeing me get electrocuted by the fence, ran into it herself, making her the first to five deaths. K gives her a sticker.

K and I sit by the river while the kids get ready for the next event; a disco.

“Why don’t you just shoot them all five times on the first day?” I ask.

He looks out over the lake, scratching his neck. “We tried that, but kids didn’t want to come back. It’s no fun just to die. So, we started making games and events and, well–as you can see, the kids love it.”

I light a cigarette, not able to have many throughout the day.

“Tomorrow, you can decide how to kill them, American style!”

I laugh. “You’ve already shot them enough.”

He chuckles, “You’re a funny g–” he looks past me. I turn. There is something between the trees. K stands and starts walking, I follow. He gets to the edge of the woods and frowns.

I stand next to him. After a few seconds he smiles. “Just Russian superstition.”

“Uh, okay,” I say.

He waits for me to finish my cigarette and we walk up to the disco.

The disco hall is up the road a bit. The windows are dark. There are strobe lights inside, a few kids outside. It is small, cottage-like. K stops at the door, looking around.

“If you could describe this building in one word, what would it be?” he asks me.

I look up at it. The building is small, more of a cottage.

“Cottage?” I ask.

He looks at it too.

“You’re sure?”

I take a second look. “Sure,” I decide.

“Hm, it is new,” he says, and walks in,

C is outside, talking with some kids.

“How’s the disco,” I ask.

She shrugs, “We have to be inside in ten for when K blows it up.

One of the kids groans, whining about something in Russian.

C tells him to get inside.

“What was that about?” I ask.

She rolls her eyes. “He says he died in the fire the other day so he doesn’t want to get blown up.”

I nod, it seems fair to me, but I leave it at a nod.

K comes out and calls us all in. The bomb is in the middle of the dance floor. S is the DJ. He is playing English songs from my school days;

To the window! To the wall! Till sweat drips…

I can’t help laughing. The kids are dancing like wildfire. I join in.

The countdown starts at ten minutes. Everyone dances, then, the whole place blows to bits.

Being blown up is quite different from dying in a fire, as it turns out.

TO BE CONTINUED…