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

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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:

“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.

Doctors with Tiny Hands

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“Do you need an English-speaking doctor?” the nurse asks N, in Russian. N looks to me.

“Preferably,” I tell him.

He tells the nurse. She directs us to wait. The waiting room is the size of a church; high ceilings and a lot of glass.

“This is a nice hospital.”

“Mm,” N says.

We wait. In the ugly light of the hall I can see the red rash down my arm. It is an evil thing. It doesn’t itch. I hold my arm up to N. He nods, “you might be dying.”

“I might be dying!”

I sulk while N nods off. Eventually the nurse comes to lead us down the hall and into a small office, there we wait, again.

The door opens. A boy of about nine years old enters. He is wearing a doctor’s coat and a stern look. He shakes my hand. He sits at the desk. I look to N, N shrugs.

“What is wrong?” the boy asks, he lays his arms, one over the other, on the desk. I stare at his tiny hands.

“Well?”

I meet his eyes. “Uh—I am sick.”

He smiles, “of course.”

“I have a rash, and I had something like the flu on Tuesday—no, Monday. On Tuesday I woke up with this rash, and the flu symptoms went away, but the rash and my body hurts and…” I trail off. The boy looks at my arm, he nods.

“Is it on your head?” he asks.

I nod, “yes.”

“You’re shoulders?”

“Yes.”

“Knees?”

“Yes.”

“Toes?”

“Yes, everywhere, the rash is everywhere.”

I unzip my sweatshirt, I am not wearing a T-shirt and he can see how the rash is covering every inch of my body, fighting the hair for dominance.

He nods, doctor-like. He holds up a finger and pulls his cellphone from a big white pocket. We wait. Someone answers on the other end and the boy begins talking fast, in Russian. I don’t catch much. I hear the word “syphilis” and turn to N. N is listening closely and doesn’t acknowledge me. So, I try to translate for myself. As the conversation winds down. I hear the boy say “I don’t know. I haven’t seen anything like this in fifteen years.” After that the boy says “mhm, yes, mhm, super, okay,” before hanging up the phone. He spins his chair to me and places both of his tiny hands on each of his tiny knees and sighs.

“I am 95% sure, you are okay.”

He smiles.

I don’t.

“It is a flu. I am 98% sure, it is only flu. It comes from your nose, boop.” He taps his own nose.

I frown. “What?”

“Nose.” The boy touches his own nose, and then whispers, “boop.”

I frown.

“Did you—”

“You need to clear your nose, boop,” the boy says. He pokes his own nose. “Boop,” he whispers. “I will prescribe you some nasal spray and you need to go for walks and you should get better soon. But, just in case I am wrong. I am 97% sure—only flu. But I don’t want to miss something, so you wait for specialist?”

N says, “yes,” before I can respond. The boy stands up and nods. He walks out of the door. When it is shut, I zip up my sweatshirt.

“What the fuck was that?” I ask N.

He looks as confused as me. “We need to wait for the specialist, I guess.”

“Shit.”

“Mhm.”

Twenty minutes later, the door opens. The boy has returned, a girl is with him. She can’t be older than 8. Her hair is cut short, framing a set of narrow glasses.

“Up,” she tells me. She motions for me to unzip my sweatshirt. I do. She walks around me, poking, moving her glasses up, and then down her nose. She pokes my belly button, professionally. She giggles.

“Did he check your eyes?” she asks up at me.

I look down. “Yes.”

“You’re ears?”

“Yes.”

“Mouth?”

“Yes.”

“And nose?”

From behind me I catch a half-hearted “boop.”

“Yes.”

“Hm,” she ponders. “Okay.”

She mimes zipping my sweatshirt up. I do. I sit. She turns to the other doctor, the boy. They speak in Russian. I try to listen. Again, I hear the word, “syphilis.”

“Did she just say syphilis?”

“Yes,” N tells me.

I throw up my arms. “How the fuck would I get syphilis. I don’t even have the time or energy to get syphilis!”

N nods, “I know.”

“Excuse me, I am sorry I don’t have the time to go out getting syphilis, so unless my girlfriend has more time on her hands than me, it’s not that.”

Both doctors turn to N. N translates. They begin to look even more concerned. They speak to N now. They speak for a while. I wait.

Finally, he turns to me. “They think you might have measles.”

They let me have an oh-fuck moment before continuing.

“You shouldn’t leave the hospital until another specialist arrives.”

“Mhm.”

“Shouldn’t?”

“Ehh,” N says.

“Can’t?”

“Warmer.”

“Great.”

I look to the child doctors and give them a thumbs-up.

They mime it back, with their tiny little hands.

 

 

**my whole doctor’s visit was longer than this. If you like this story and want me to write a part two, let me know in the comments below**

Oral Fix-Nation!

moral_oral

Every time I’ve tried to fall asleep for the past ten-or so years, I’ve spent the first twenty minutes–eyes closed–thinking the same thing; it takes the average person seven minutes to fall asleep. 

Next, I decide it’s time to quit smoking. This goes on for another fifteen or so minutes before I get too stressed-out and need a cigarette.

Last night I sat up in bed, smoking and deciding it was time to find a real solution. I texted my friend Maggie who’d quit the year before and asked her how she did it. She texted me back:

“I gave you their card. Go to sleep.”

In fact, she had. I got up and managed to find it in my box of paper-related junk. I remembered now, I’d made fun of the name relentlessly: ORAL FIX-NATION!

I put it on the pillow beside my head with a mental promise to call in the morning. And, with one hand patting myself on the back, I did.

I stood outside their offices just before my three o’clock appointment having my self-proclaimed last cigarette.

When it finished, I still had five minutes. I lit another, just in case the therapy worked. I only smoked half though–only half.

I took the stairs by twos. The offices were clean, cold, dentist-like. A thin, attractively flamboyant man took down my name and made a call. For seven minutes I waited, itching. An older man came walking out from a back hallway, he tipped his hat to me and smiled. His teeth were black.

A moment later a woman in a white coat came to fetch me. She had kind eyes; certainly not the dentist. She could tell I was apprehensive, and I was. She watched me fidget. I watched her watch me.

“So?” I asked.

She smiled, “are you ready?”

I frowned, “for what?”

“For therapy,” she said, and as she did, opened her lab coat. She was top-less, her breasts round and full.

“Uh,” I said, pushing myself and my chair back a few inches. “What?”

She frowned, “they should have explained everything in the consultation.”

She closed her jacket and picked up the clipboard.

“Shit,” she muttered. “Oh I’m sorry, this is a consultation! Apologies, I didn’t sleep much last night, my brain is all wah-wah-wah!” she put down the clipboard and crossed her legs, doctorly. I couldn’t figure out what to say, so I said nothing.

She took that as a sign to begin, and she did; “here we focus on the root of the problem with smokers, which is often that they did not have, or had inadequate amounts of breast feeding as a child. We have found that the most effective way to kick the smoking habit is to give your psyche what it has been craving all this time.” She motioned to her breasts, a little red in the cheeks.

I stared and tried to regain my composure. “Hm, uh–well, I am pretty sure I was breast fed a lot as a baby,” I said, quietly, “I called it la-la,” I added, then frowned.

The doctor, or nursing-nurse–or nipple dentist–I was unsure what to call her–smiled.

“It is not just the length of nursing. There are a number of factors such as technique and adequacy of nipples–”

I held up a hand, “I don’t want to talk about the adequacy or inadequacy of my mother’s nipples.”

“Of course,” she said, and opened her jacket, “just try, the first session is free.”

I stared at her large breasts and apparently adequate nipples. She held open her arms to me.

“Come, come,” she said, motherly. I stood and walked toward her nipples as I might have approached a dog chewing on my wallet.

I arrived.

“There, there,” she said.

I kneeled down, she put her hands gently over my ears and pulled me closer, closer, closer. I could smell them and all I could picture was the black teeth of the man who’d come before me. I jerked my head back.

I tried to say ” no” but all I managed to say was “AH!”

I stood up and ran to the door, I turned back and pointed at her; jacket open, kindly look gone a little sideways.

“Ahh!” I cried at her.

I ran. As soon as I got down to the freedom of the sidewalk I reached for my pack, pulled out a cigarette, lit it, smelled it, dropped it and walked home in a daze.

 

 

**If you liked this story and want to support us further, check out our page on PATREON.

 

 

 

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.”

A Slippery Slope

anarchy

D and I sat on the couch binge-watching Sons of Anarchy. I looked over at the fridge. It sat, mocking.

“Mehh!” I groaned, longingly, fingers outstretched toward the refrigerator.

D nodded, sleepily. He batted the air in the direction of the fridge.

“I think we deserve superpowers,” D decided.

I curled up further into the corner of the couch. “Mhm.”

“Because,” he continued, “we wouldn’t abuse it, you know.”

I nodded.

He flicked his finger at the refrigerator. “You know, I’d just open that fridge and make a beer come to me, that’s it. I wouldn’t hurt anyone.”

The thought of beer made my stomach turn on itself.

“I’m too hungover for beer.”

D sighed. “Well, we could use it for water too, that wouldn’t be an abuse of power?”

Someone just shot someone in Sons of Anarchy. I watched, unblinking. “Mhm, but it’s a slippery slope. First water, then” I waved at the TV, “murder and stuff.”

D groaned, lit a cigarette.

“Well,” he said, “what about just liquids?”

For some reason the word liquid made my hangover hate itself even more. I closed my eyes.

“Even blood?”

“Hm,” D thought for a moment. “Okay, well I wouldn’t use it for blood.”

“Me either,” I agreed, almost asleep.

The episode ended. The screen went black, a message appeared: PLAY NEXT EPISODE?

I looked around. The remote sat beside the TV. I waved my hand at it. I looked over at D, he was nodding slowly.

“A slippery slope,” he mumbled. We both closed our eyes, resigned.