Flash Me Fiction: Lunch Break by Daniel Vlasaty

This week’s Flash Me Fiction comes to us by way of my Chicagoland buddy, Daniel Vlasaty. Or as I like to call him, He-Who-Wins-At-Beards. Let’s see what kind of fiction he flashed me, shall we?


By Daniel Vlasaty

I take a walk on my lunch break and it’s the only time during the day that I see the sky or the sun. It’s the only time I see anything other than those white walls, the computer screen, and buzzing florescent lights.

I walk over to the grocery store a few blocks away to buy some bullshit frozen meal and maybe a bag of veggies to eat. Maybe a bottle of soda if I have enough money left over.

The sun is out, high in the sky, and there’s a warmth that I haven’t felt in months. It’s springtime and the birds out chirping and people are riding bikes and soon, just like every year, I know that it will be too hot and humid to even breathe out here.

I pay for my food and as I am leaving the store a bird flies into the automated sliding glass doors. It flutters around on the ground for a second before dying. Its neck bent back at the wrong angle.

I stare at the bird’s still body and I feel sorry for it.

I think, What a shitty way to die.

A woman and a young boy walk toward me, entering the store, and as they pass the bird the boy points at it and laughs. He asks what the crazy bird is doing on the ground like that.

The woman tells the boy to shut the hell up. “You ain’t stopped talking all day, boy, shit, damn,” she says. And the boy starts to cry but the woman tugs a little harder on his arm and pulls him into the store.

I walk away saying sorry silently in my head.

Sorry to the bird because it had to die.

And sorry to the little boy because he has a shitty mother.

Just sorry in general.

I bum a cigarette from a guy waiting for the bus and he smiles at me and hands me his lighter so I can spark it up too.

He’s a good guy, I tell myself. One of the few left in this city.

There are about a dozen birds lined up on top of the bus stop shelter. They are cooing and rustling their feathers. None of them look at their fallen comrade back at the entrance to the grocery store.

As I head back to work I notice more and more birds lined up along the streetlights and light poles and stop signs. Perched on all the telephone lines and newspaper boxes and mailboxes and fences and parked cars.

So many birds.

There are more and more flapping around in the sky. So many they’re almost blocking out the sun.

Pigeons and sparrows and canaries and eagles and hawks and crows and vultures and some that I don’t even know what kind of bird they are.

There are more and more of them the closer I get to the methadone clinic. Cooing and screeching and squawking.

I can see them floating all around the city. They move like a swarm of bees. Riding the wind together like a heavy cloud.

When I get home that night I watch the news to see what’s going on. There’s a reporter broadcasting from some random street in the city. I can hear her voice. She’s talking about the birds. About how they are taking over the city. About how all air traffic above the city has been suspended indefinitely after the birds have caused at least one plane to crash while attempting to land at O’Hare. Everyone onboard is presumed dead but we won’t know for sure until emergency vehicles are able to clear a path through the birds to get to the crash site.

I can hear her saying all this, screaming it over the collective noise of the birds. But I cannot see her because a small crowd off birds has gathered directly in front of the camera.

A brown and white pigeon shifts its head from side to side as it stares into the lens.

And then the feed cuts away and my TV screen is full of static. And all the lights in my apartment go black. The whole neighborhood goes dark.

And there is nothing but the sound of the birds outside.

I pull my cell phone out to call my wife but I can’t get a signal. She hasn’t made it home from work yet and I’m starting to get a little worried.

I look out the window but all I can see are birds.

Flash Me Questions


Kevin Strange: Who are you and why did you flash me?

Daniel Vlasaty: My name is Daniel Vlasaty and I flashed you because I think I have a pretty nice penis and it’s probably something everyone should see at least once…on wait, are you going to upload all those dick pics I sent you??

Speaking of flashing I had this idea that I think is hilarious. Let me know what you think. So I want to get these tattoos that I’m calling nipple beards. Which are beards that I would have tattooed around my nipples. So it would be like my nipples had tiny little beards.


KS: This is a really cool little story but I can’t help but wonder if the birds really represent Something more. Something deeper. Something like an insatiable craving for KFC? Did you write this piece hungry? Can you imagine how delicious a city full of fried chicken would smell? Think of the rats, though. If the birds were fried chicken, you’d have a whole different epidemic on your hands. Do you think fried rat would taste good? Do you think birds would eat it?

DV: Well firstly I don’t eat meat. And I haven’t in like 7 or 8 years. And every time I walk past a KFC or a Popeye’s or any other fried chicken place I get sick to my stomach. The smell grosses me out. But then on the other hand, some of the rats we have here in Chicago are huge, like huge-HUGE – I’m talking the size of cats or small dogs. So you fry up one of those babies, I figure you got some good eating on your hands.

It is funny that you mention this though because apparently like the first handful of stories I ever got published all had to do with people eating or food in some way. Someone pointed that out to me and I was like Say what?

And yeah, I’m pretty sure a bird would eat a fried rat. I don’t think some of the street birds are really all that smart. Plus I think they’ll eat just about anything, right? I saw a pigeon eating a cigarette butt once. I was like Damn, that’s pretty dumb and shit.

Crows are cool though.

KS: In the story, your narrator can’t get a hold of his wife. I think you’ve implied that she may have been lost in the bird craziness. BUT, what if she was really the cause of the bird mess? I’ve met her, she’s the small, quiet type. You know what the small quiet type are usually up to? Casting bird spells to destroy the world. That’s right. I think your wife is a bird witch. I think she sent that bird into the window to assassinate you. What did you do to piss your wife off so bad she sent a city full of birds to murder you, dude?

DV: I can neither confirm nor deny such allegations.

All I can say is this. We’ve been working with some of the best minds this city has to offer to get her – and there’s no clinic term for this yet but the doctors have been calling it her – “bird rage” under control.

As far as what did I do to piss her off… sheeeee-it where do I even start?

KS: Speaking of bird messes. Think about all that bird shit… If Chicago was really overrun by killer birds, there would be mountains of shit. What if you took a proactive approach and started scooping all that shit up selling it to the survivors of the Birdpocalypse as a renewable energy source? Dude you’d be ballin. What’s the first thing you’d buy with all that bird shit cash?

DV: After I made my bones as a bird shit mogul I’d maybe buy an island somewhere. Or a bunch of drugs. Or just a nice suburban house where my wife and I could raise some next generation bird rager witches. And I would be a quiet and good husband and father so as not to invoke the wrath of my family of bird raging witches. Can you imagine being the parent of a teenager that had to power to unleash a city-sized swarm of murderous birds on you ever time he or she got pissed off?

But seriously…drugs. I’d buy all the drugs.

Oh and a Bianchi (which is a stupidly expensive bicycle – but I like it and if I had a grand I’d totally buy one).

KS: If the bird apocalypse killed every other person on Earth but you, would you start fucking birds? I don’t think I could fuck a bird. Maybe an ostrich. Ostriches have nice asses from all that running they do. They’ve got butts like black girls. I’ve never really thought about that before. I would totally bang Ostrich booty. Would it be tight? Do Ostrich dudes have big wangs? Turns out turtle dudes have dongs almost as long as their whole bodies. Trying to bang a turtle chick after a turtle dude would suck. What was the question?

DV: I think you answered the question quite nicely and it appears my work here is done.

But I just want to say. What if it was like the bird version of a mermaid? Like half-woman, half-bird? Like woman on top and bird of the bottom?

I think that would be kind of weird, right? What’s a bird’s vagina even like?



Daniel Vlasaty lives in Chicago. He is the author of The Church of TV as God (Eraserhead Press) and Amphetamine Psychosis (Black Dharma Press).