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

fundicks

Follow along for more to come! –
best,
Sasha

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

How to Make Racist Friends and Alienate People

photo_2018-04-01_23-44-45

Q sits in my kitchen drinking a canned gin and tonic from a dirty wine glass.

“I can’t make any friends in Russia,” he says.

I wait.

“Q.”

He turns.

“We’re friends.”

He shrugs.

“Kind of.”

“Kind of how?”

“We are just two people who don’t really listen to each other talk. That’s much better than friends.”

I frown. “How is that better than friends?”

“Less judgmental.” He takes a drink. “And I’ll be less sad if you die.”

“Right…”

“Right.”

I light up a cigarette and we drink. N comes in a bit later.

“What are you guys doing?” he asks.

I shrug, “not listening to each other, apparently.”

He looks to Q, Q nods. He takes a seat. “Well, today a pirate tried to take over my bus.”

“What?” Q asks.

“A pirate,” N repeats.

“Oh.”

N sighs and looks at me. I shrug. “He can’t make friends with Russians.”

He turns to Q. “Why can’t you make friends with Russians?”

Q mutters something that sounds like hamster.

“What?”

“I said, Black Panther.”

Both N and I give him a confused look.

He finishes his rosy gin and tonic. “They all keep trying to talk to me about black panther.”

“So?”

“So, they keep saying it is a racist movie. And one person,” he leans onto the table and puts his head to one hand, “one guy even told me he thought the movie wasn’t playing for the first five-minutes because everyone was black and it was dark.”

N looks a bit shameful. I continue to smoke.

“That’s not so bad, Russians just aren’t used to seeing black people, that doesn’t make them racist,” N says, a bit defensive.

Q holds a finger up at him and says, “when I tell them they are racist they always say the same thing.”

“What?” I ask.

Q looks to me, “they say they have a black friend.”

I laugh. N raises an eyebrow, “that’s not so racist.”

“No—they say their friend is Russian-black, tan people from the south. And that it is the same because Russians oppressed them, too.”

N nods, resigned. “Okay, that is racist. But, at least you’ve got us.”

Q looks long at him, then to me.

He sighs.

 

 

The Center of the Universe

centrical

Dave called me in a panic.

“Hey Dave, what–”

“Hey man, so, you’re pretty religious right?”

“Uh,” I frowned at my open refrigerator, I closed it. “Yeah, Dave, I guess. I mean–I go to Church like everyone else.”

There was a pause at the other end, one of those tense serious ones.

“Dave?”

“Yeah, yeah. So, you know, do you think Earth is the center of the universe?”

I decided to take a seat. “What?”

“The center of the universe. So,” he took a breath, “if–hypothetically, earth were the center of the universe and we could prove it, would that mean something to you?”

I tried to imagine the universe, Earth at the center. For some reason it just made me think of my uncle’s swimming pool I used to play in as a kid. Dave interrupted the thought.

“Would that be important, yes or no?” he pressed, he sounded scared, rushed.

I shrugged, “well, yeah I suppose if earth were at the center of the universe, I mean, that’d have to mean something, right?”

Dave sighed through the phone. “Okay, but, what if it meant nothing, it just happened to be the center of the universe because somewhere had to be and that’s just the fact of it, would that be okay with you?”

“Well, it would make sense, God created everything, I suppose he’d want us at the center of it all,” I tried. I knew how smart Dave was, far smarter than me, I wanted to give him the right answer. But, on the other end, he swore.

“Dave?” I tried, “Man, I really don’t understand what you want.”

I could hear Dave break something, he came back to the phone a bit calmer. “It’s nothing, just–I learned something today, I’m not sure if I should tell anyone, the consequences–”

“Dave, I’m not you, but I’m not an idiot. Did you find out that Earth was the center of the universe?” I cut in, unable to contain the excitement in my tone.

He waited, breathing.

“Dave?”

“Yeah, maybe–but, just, can you understand that Earth can be the center of the Universe while at the same time that can mean absolutely nothing at all?”

We are the center of the universe, I thought.

“I knew it!” I cried. Unable to contain myself. “I have to tell Barbara, Oh–and that hippie neighbor kid who’s always blabbering on about energy and karma and crap. Man, thank you! I’m glad you chose to tell me first! I needed this man, I really did.”

I drummed the table, even stood up and jigged; every doubt I ever had, falling away. I don’t remember when I picked the phone back up, but Dave wasn’t there when I did.

Missing the Hogwarts Express

young_macho

We were having some sushi near the Cardinals Stadium in St. Louis. It was too early to have a whiskey, so I ordered a beer.

The waitress nodded politely.

“Don’t you want to see his ID?” my brother asked the waitress. She looked at him, then looked at me, an eyebrow raised.

“You don’t have to,” I grumbled, hand in my pocket. She walked off.

I shot my brother a look, “thanks.”

He smiled. “You’ve been wanting someone to ID you for days, trying to help.”

“I know how you feel,” my cousin interjected from across the table. He was turning thirty soon, too. He looked younger than me though.

“A few weeks ago,” he told us, “I was at this bar and when I ordered my beer, I took out my ID automatically. The bartender just looked at it and said ‘does that make you feel young?'”

My brother whistled, “geez, that’s harsh.”

“I know!”

My mother, whose age is not allowed to be written anywhere in the known universe, looked from my cousin to me, “fuck you both,” she added.

I turned, opened my mouth–thought better of it.

“It’s just,” my cousin began, treading softly, “we’ve gone past our Hogwarts moment.

The waitress came back, setting down my beer. We ordered some sushi before asking, “Hogwarts moment?”

My cousin nodded. “Yeah, you know, when someone comes and takes you away somewhere magical or tells you about some magical adventure. The chosen one is never thirty. That guy tried to help with those books about magic college–”

“The Magicians?”

He nodded.

“But, even that was early twenties, I mean–what are thirty year olds good for in any book these days?”

We all thought for a bit.

“Falling in love?” My mother tried.

I sighed, “getting murdered.”

We brainstormed for a bit but never got much further than love and murder. By the time the waitress came back we were deep in thought. She placed the sushi down in front of us and paused. She looked down at me, my face fallen. She sighed.

“Would it help if I checked your ID?”

Not thinking, I looked up. “Could you take me on a magical adventure?”

Her face took a step back before the rest of her could react. “Uh–” she managed, before heading off to another table. I turned back to a frowning family.

“Looks like it’s murder for you then,” my brother said, before helping himself to some sushi.

 

Killing Chickens

killing_chickens

As a kid my mother used to make a joke when the McDonald’s drive-thru took too long. This was before they took credit cards.

She’d say, “what, are they killing the chickens or something?”

My brother and I always laughed, or rolled our eyes or both.

We got older, yet still we laughed, rolled our eyes, or both. We started dating. My brother had long-term, strong, targeted relationships. I dated like shotgun pellets in a tree full of birds.

Once, I was dating a girl named Fern; her real name was Kate, but people called her Fern. She didn’t like McDonalds.

We were on our way to the train–it was late. My mother asked if we’d like to stop for McDonalds. I said, “yes.” Fern said nothing, but ordered a milkshake. The line was slow, long.

“What, are they killing the chickens or something?” my mother said.

I didn’t laugh as hard as I usually would have; it was cut short. Fern was bristling, I could feel her heat.

“McDonalds tortures birds,” she muttered to me.

I rolled my eyes. “I know, please, not now,” I tried.

So, she addressed my mother. She went on for a while. I’d heard it before; “it’s barely real meat anyways, they keep them in cages, poison them”–I’d seen the documentary with her.

Fern was practically in tears by the time she finished educating my mother from the backseat. It took so long that we had made it to the window before she finished–out of breath and wet-eyed.

I put my arm around her and sighed. I couldn’t see my mother’s face. The drive-thru window opened. It was a young girl, two nose piercings.

“What, were you killing the chickens?” my mother asked the girl.

They both had a good laugh. Fern took the train alone.

 

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.

 

 

As Good a Time as Any

immortality

On the day immortality was invented, my grandfather threw himself off a fifteen story building. I was there, we all were there. Mom was crying.

He sat on the edge off the roof. He gave us a long speech about life that I don’t remember much of. I do remember that mom was crying and at the end of his speech, she asked only, “why?”

My Grandfather, who moved well for his age, stood up and sighed. “Honestly, I was just waiting for all the assholes to die,” his eyes lingered on my step-father for a noticeable moment. Then, he sighed again. “But,” he continued, “it doesn’t look like that’s going to happen, now.”

My aunt, unmoved, grunted. “Childish,” she muttered. My Grandfather hugged her anyways. He hugged everyone. He came to me last, the youngest. He didn’t hug me, he looked down.

“Whatever comes next for you, it isn’t life,” he told me. He walked to the edge, turned and looked around at all of us.

“Oh well,” he said, and jumped–the best an old man can jump. It was enough. He fell even as my aunt cried “don’t!”

I couldn’t hear him hit the pavement.

By the time we ran and looked down, he was already there, a crowd was forming. A little girl stood over him, she looked up. She didn’t seem too bothered.

In fact, no one did.

The Paris Test

paris_test

We find a Vietnamese place between where I live and Q works. It’s fair since neither of us likes walking too far from where we need to be.

“Why are we getting Vietnamese?” he asks.

I shrug. “I wanted soup.”

“We’re in Russia. They practically invented soup.”

“Yeah,” I agree, “but,” I point to the bowl, “this is the only soup they won’t put mayonnaise or sour cream in.”

Q nods. “I am so tired.”

“Why?”

He sighs, “I went on a walk last night with some racist girl.”

“How do you know she was racist?” I ask.

He shrugs, “The Paris test.”

I choke on a bit of soup. “What the hell is the Paris test?”

“I ask them if they like Paris.”

“So?”

“So, if they say no, they are racist.”

I sit back and try to find some secret meaning in what he said. I don’t. Instead, I say, “what?”

“Well, you know how racist Russians are. If they don’t like Paris, it’s because of the immigrants.”

I cross my arms, “that’s–”

“And,” he cuts me off, “what do they say after that?”

I sigh, “that they are dirty and cause a lot of crime,” I mutter.

“That they are dirty and cause a lot of crime,” Q repeats, pointing at me. He raises an eyebrow.

I sigh. “Okay, yeah.”

“To be fair, it’s mildly racist for Russia,” he admits, “like the other day, I was playing never-have-I-ever with some Russians and one girl–out of nowhere just goes ‘Never have I ever run down the street with niggers.'”

“Uh–what does that even mean?”

Q throws up his arms. “Who knows.”

“So, walking girl was just mildly racist.”

He nods, “for Russia.”

“Right.”

“In England, she’s an outright bitch.”

We finish our soups in relative silence. When the table is cleared Q wipes his hands on a napkin. “She did say the n-word, though,” he admits.

“So, she’s full racist then.”

“Yeah, full racist.”

“So are you going to see her again?”

He sits and thinks a moment, “it was a really long walk. I don’t think I want to do that again.”