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.

 

 

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.

The Worst Art Teacher in Hell

devil's_santa

I got a job working in Hell.

Lucifer doesn’t speak English, so that’s something.

“He understands a bit, so be careful,” the math teacher tells me. We work at the school for kids of wealthier residents. I teach art. There isn’t a Staples in Hell, but there is a printer.

I hand out the worksheet; a color by numbers. Lucifer’s son sits in the front right corner, as always. He’s a sweet kid. I think the other teachers baby him too much. When I hand him the printout, Santa with Rudolph and a bag of toys, he colors the whole thing purple. I give him a high five. He smiles, his teeth are razor sharp, but white. At the end of my hour, the math teacher comes to collect the kids.

She goes pale. I follow her gaze. The purple Santa looks up at her.

“Oh no!”

Lucifer’s son looks at his drawing, then up at the math teacher.

“You have to fix this,” she says, in a panic.

I frown. “He’s four,” I remind her.

She shakes her head. “No–no.”

She walks over to the desk and pulls a fresh Santa from my pile.

“Here, you have to fix it.”

Lucifer’s son looks about to cry. I cross my arms.

“No.”

She turns to Lucifer’s son. She picks up his drawing and crumples it into a ball.

“Again,” she growls at him, in Latin. She turns back to me.

“You help him.”

She walks out before I can protest, taking all of the other students with her. I sigh and sit down.

“Come on.”

I pat him on the head, he manages not to cry. Together, we color in Santa. It is pristine, red. I write his name at the top, a little askew to make it look as a child might have done it.

Lucifer’s son looks at his own name, he nods, knowingly.

“Go to math,” I tell him, in Latin.

Before he goes, he hugs me. I can’t help smiling even though his teeth cut my leg a bit.

Once he is gone I flip over his drawing. On the back I start writing:

2+3=7

5+2=9

1+6=3

A/S/L?

 

printings

Sometimes when I go to type a website into the search bar, I forget what I was going to look for–only a moment, then I look and realize my fingers have typed f-a-c-, and the autocomplete has already filled in Facebook.com.

This terrifies me.

Once upon a time, there was a time, a dark time, before snapchat, before twitter and Instagram, before even Facebook, there was AIM.

In this era, there were places of mystery, adventure, and–as parents always warned–danger. These places, rife with perverts and catfish, were called chatrooms.

I was ten. My older brother was fiddling around in Microsoft Paint. It was an advertisement for Tommy Hillfinger.

“What are you doing?” I asked. He showed me how skillfully he’d removed all evidence of advertisement from the photo.

“Some girl on this chatroom asked for a picture of me,” he informed me. He saved the picture of the Hillfinger model, then sent it. He clapped his hands. We went upstairs to have a snack. By the time we got back to the computer, the picture had almost sent. As we ate he said that the girl had sent him a picture of her tits! Which he then explained was another word for boobs. I asked to see.

He pulled it up. I whistled; I’d just learned to whistle.

“Want a copy?” he asked, conspiratorially. I tried to nod, but my wide-eyed look was answer enough. He hit print. At that moment, our mother called us to dinner. In a panic my brother shut the computer off completely. My heart calmed, he took a breath.

“Coming!” he called.

We scampered up the stairs, they were thick, carpeted–good for scampering. It was lasagna. Our father came home halfway through dinner, he didn’t care for lasagna.

We should have known better, thought more, but we really liked lasagna, even though we’d already snacked. We were both on our third, maybe fourth helpings, when our father came into the kitchen holding a piece of paper.

My brother went pale first.

“This,” he turned the picture to us, “is not what the internet is for.”

I, instead, went red. My father, shaking his head, walked out folding the paper as he went.

Our mother looked from my brother to me.

“Idiots,” she muttered.

We were grounded from the computer for a month. I couldn’t wait to be an adult; when I could print as many pictures of boobs as I wanted.

Something To Do With Sitting at the Bar

pink_drink

Sitting at the bar is no different from sitting at home. Sitting at the bar is no different from sitting at home, but drunk. Sitting at the bar is no different than sitting at home, but with people. Sitting at the bar is no different than sitting at home.

There is another person sitting at home, at the bar, on the end, she is crying. I watch her, curious. She is crying into something pink. She doesn’t look like the type to drink something pink; doesn’t look like the type to cry.

She turns.

She dries.

She walks towards me. I look ahead.

“Do you want to fuck me?” she asks, close enough for me to hear.

She left her drink where it was.

I look at her then down at her hands. Her nail polish is white–chipped.

“No, I tell her chipped nail polish.

“Then what are you looking at?” she accuses me.

I shrug. “You were crying,” I say. I wait, she doesn’t respond. “I felt bad,” I add.

I don’t know what her face looks like in the moment, I don’t check. I just hear her say, “that’s worse.”

“That’s worse,” she says, again.

Then, she leaves. I look over at her pink left drink. I don’t know if she paid or not. I don’t know where the bartender is. I walk over and drink it in one. No one else in the bar seems to care. I shuffle back to my seat, the bartender still hasn’t come out.

I finish my own drink and go home.

 

 

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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.

 

 

 

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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.

 

 

 

 

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