Flash Me Fiction: The Hammer and the Pickle by Adam Millard

This week’s flash is brought to us by one of the most prolific bizarros in the biz. A guy I personally look up to as an author, as someone with impeccable style, and as I’ve learned through this web series, a man with impressively hung genitals! (I made up that last part.) Let’s see what he flashed us, shall we?


The Hammer and the Pickle

by Adam Millard


Look, we need to get our heads together,’ Vladimir said, leaning back in his chair. ‘We’ve only got a few days left. I don’t know about you lot, but I don’t fancy telling Stalin that we couldn’t come up with anything decent.’

Lighting a fat cigar, Olaf said, ‘We’ve been at this for almost a month, Vlad. I have to say it’s looking a bit…well, bleak.’

Another man, fat and bald – and with a name that nobody could pronounce – scribbled on a piece of paper. ‘What about this?’ he said, holding the sheet up. On it, he’d drawn what appeared to be a cat and a toothbrush. ‘Snappy, huh? Look, it’s a dog and an axe.’

‘Looks like a toothbrush,’ Vladimir sighed, pinching his nose to relieve the sudden onset of pain. ‘And anyway, what do dogs and axes have to do with communism?’

The man whose name nobody could pronounce – at least not without abundant phlegm and a bout of lockjaw – slammed the paper down, obviously crestfallen. ‘I can’t see you two coming up with anything,’ he said. ‘What was the last idea you had, Olaf?’

‘The breadknife and the toilet-brush,’ his colleague said, albeit under his breath. ‘I can’t think of anything suitable. I mean, who thought it was a good idea to put us in charge of this project? I’m a carpenter, for crying out loud. And you…whatever-your-name-is. What do you do for a living?’

The fat man wasn’t in the slightest bit bothered that they didn’t call him by his name. If the truth be told, he couldn’t pronounce it himself. ‘I’m a dancer,’ he said, with a modicum of pride.

‘See,’ Olaf said. ‘He’s a dancer. How did he get this job? How did any of us get this job?’

‘Look, we’re wasting time,’ Vladimir said. ‘Joseph’s gonna be pissed if we turn up empty-handed. If he has to pop round to Lenin’s house and tell him the bad news, heads are going to roll and I’ll bet we’re the first for the chop. So come on. Think.’

They sat in silence for a few minutes. Occasionally, one of them would grunt as an idea presented itself, and then grunt again as they realised just how ridiculous said idea was. So essentially it was three out-of-shape Russians sitting around a table, grunting. If Stalin had somehow managed to figure out the shape-shifting machine they were working on in St Petersburg (or Санкт-Петербург as it is known to them) transformed himself into a fly, and took up residence on the wall adjacent to the table with the mumbling Russians, it’s safe to say he wouldn’t have been pleased with what he was hearing.

‘I’ve got it!’ Olaf said, almost choking on his cigar, which was chomped to within an inch of its life. ‘What if we have a red star? Huh? Everyone likes stars, and it’s rare that you see a red one.’

Vladimir silently pondered the proposal. ‘People do like stars,’ he said. ‘And it worked pretty well during the civil war.’

‘Oh, sure,’ the unpronounceable said. ‘Let’s go with everything Olaf suggests.’ His sarcastic tone was not lost on the others.

‘It’s a bloody good idea,’ Vladimir said. ‘And not a dog or toothbrush in sight.’

‘Look, we can’t just go with a red star,’ Olaf said, interrupting what would probably escalated into a fist-fight. ‘We need to put something on it; otherwise it’s going to look lazy.’

‘Right,’ Vladimir said, pouring a large glass of vodka. ‘Now we’re getting somewhere. Think, think, think. We need something to represent peasantry.’

‘Cardboard box?’ he-who-can’t-be-named said. ‘You know how much they love a good cardboard box.’

Vladimir was about to dismiss the fool wholly from the office when an idea struck him, a notion so clever that he forgot all about the idiotic suggestion. ‘A hammer!’ he said. ‘Yes, we could put a hammer on the red star.’

‘What? Like a toffee-hammer?’ Olaf asked.

‘No, a big hammer,’ Vladimir said, excitedly. ‘A bloody great big hammer that’d ruin a poor man’s kneecaps.’

‘That’s a bit much isn’t it?’ the unpronounceable said. ‘I thought it was going to be a sign of the proletariat, not a threat to those who opposed it.’

‘We could make it a non-threatening hammer,’ Olaf said. ‘Maybe if we put something with it, it’ll take the edge off.’

Vladimir nodded. ‘That might be a good idea. Something non-scary. Something that people will look at and go, “That’s completely fine, and not at all life-threatening”. Any ideas?’

The fat man drew a picture of what they had so far. Luckily, he had a red crayon in his pencil-case. ‘This all looks well and good,’ he said, holding the design up. ‘But what if we do this?’ He scribbled something else, adding to the motif with an eager hand. When he held it aloft, both men looked on with no small amount of incredulity.

‘What is it?’ Olaf asked. ‘Looks like some sort of aubergine.’

‘It’s a pickle,’ the man said. ‘A hammer and a pickle. Your weapon and your fruit.’

‘Isn’t a pickle a vegetable?’ Vladimir said. ‘I mean, if Stalin asks, it’s probably best if we have some idea.’

‘Who cares whether it’s a vegetable or a fruit?’ the unpronounceable said, slapping the sheet of paper enthusiastically. ‘It’s bloody brilliant. He’s going to love it, I know he is.’

‘I don’t know what the fruit’s for, mate,’ Olaf said, shrugging. ‘But you’ve given me a great idea. What if you lose the pickle…bear with me…and go with a…wait for it…a sickle!’

The man with no name ripped his design up; he was too angry to even bother.

‘I love it!’ Vladimir said. ‘A red star with a hammer and a sickle. We could make them yellow so they stand out nicely. It all makes sense now.’

‘See, that wasn’t too difficult, was it?’ Olaf said, lighting his cigar for the umpteenth time and arching his back until it cracked. ‘We should do this more often. I hear there’s a company in the USA need a logo for some fast-food company.’

‘What’s it called?’ Vladimir said, sipping at his vodka.


‘Just a big M should do it. Wow, this is easy We can even keep the same colour-scheme.’

Flash Me Questions


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

Adam Millard: My name is Adam Millard, a semi-successful author from the United Kingdom of England, or Britannica if you prefer, and I flashed you because you told me you would post a rather unfortunate picture of me with two aardvarks and an aubergine if I didn’t.

KS: I like the analogy you made between fast food and communism. You even used a pickle to represent the failed communist state as the thing everyone picks off when they order fast food burgers. You can’t just ask for your burger without pickle. The criminally underpaid near-slave workers will go irate and pile on more pickles out of spite, at best. At worst they’ll jack off into your food. I can relate. I’m so poor my phone keeps shutting itself off, my computer already blew up leaving me to fend for myself on a cheap laptop that contains none of the multi thousand dollar programs I pirated 5 years ago, the radio on my car doesn’t work half the time, and the only thing I use it for anyway is to plug in my phone that randomly shuts itself off in a car whose wheels have fallen off FIVE TIMES now. That’s more wheels than a car EVEN HAS. Was there a question in there? Uh…

AM: I think there was a question in there, and I believe it was: Do you like aardvarks? And the answer is no, not since the aubergine incident.

KS: I don’t know anything about anything but it seems like you know a lot about history. At least enough to know about what flags look like. Who do you think would win in a fight between an anthropomorphic gay rainbow flag and an anthropomorphic rebel flag?

AM: Flags have been getting a lot of bad press recently, and I think it all stems from the time a Jolly Roger took a really long piss on an Atlantic Transport flag. I should imagine an anthropomorphic rainbow flag would take some beating, but that’s neither here nor there. What we need to remember is: sarongs are the real bastards.

KS: If you were a blood thirsty, iron fisted communist dictator, and this is a two-parter so stick with me, what would you want your slave-nation’s flag to look like? A giant picture of yourself with that metal thing in your mouth that you like post around Facebook, I’d imagine…. Also, for the second part, what kind of punishment would you dish out to the guys you charged with creating your brand new evil empire’s flag and colors when they inevitably fuck up and disappoint you?

AM: My flag – and I’ve already got one up in my micro-country (back garden) – is like the rainbow flag, only made out of smells instead of colours. And as the despot of my own micro-country, I have to butcher minions all the time, though I’m not quite up there with Pot, Mugabi, or Cyrus just yet.

KS: If Stalin, Hitler, Roosevelt, Churchill and Mussolini all had a five way gay relationship but no two knew about any of the other three, who do you think would be tops, who would be bottoms, and who would be the most jealous of who when they all inevitably found out about this day time soap opera level sex scandal? Would they have each other assassinated? Or would they become psychologically damaged cuckolds, begging their lover to tell them all about the size of the others’ cocks while they masturbated in misery like I did when I found out I was being cheated on?

AM: It might be because I’m from Britainland, but I reckon Churchill was a regular John Holmes. If sex-tapes were as popular back then as they are today, I’m pretty sure most of them would feature him in some capacity. I think Hitler would be the first to turn on the waterworks upon discovering this incongruous ménage à funf, but he’d die before getting the chance to be mad, because Mussolini was riddled with the cock-pox. In fact, they’d all die as a result of Mussolini’s stinking yoghurt-slinger, all except for Churchill, because Churchill turned Mussolini down with the line, “I may be drunk, Muss, but in the morning I will be sober and you will still be ugly,” or something to that effect, and thusly survived.


Adam Millard is the author of twenty novels, ten novellas, and more than a hundred short stories, which can be found in various collections and anthologies.

Website: www.adammillard.co.uk

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Adam.L.Millard

Twitter: @adammillard

Flash Me Fiction: Public Transit by Michelle Garza and Melissa Lason

This thing rolls on, gang! This week we have a little diddy from two of my favorite new psycho chicks, Michelle and Melissa, the Sisters of Slaughter! I’m in a book called WISHFUL THINKING with these two weirdos that came out last year. If you dig their flash be sure to check that out! Here we go!



By Michelle Garza and Melissa Lason


I want to snap your bones, lap at your marrow. Feel you so warm inside of me, filling me up until I am once again whole. I want to inhale you, taste you, ingest you… you will sustain me. Your essence will stoke the fires of my soul through this long winter of loneliness. When I sleep your voice shall fill my ears, your countenance my sweetest dreams. Isn’t that beautiful, my love? To know that you and you alone could grant my soul life. That your love can resurrect me from the eternity of dark dormancy this world has cast upon my heart.

I want to worship you by opening your heart with my fingernails and reading the sacred messages that your blood might pass along. I’m positive that it will tell me that you love me just as deeply as I do you. That you want nothing more than to bare your skin to me then let me strip it clean from your bones in a restless dance of desire. I will keep you inside of me, hold you there until death comes to claim me.

Even then we will be as one.

So, what do you say?

Will you be mine?

Why are you looking at me that way? Where did your smile go? The smile that was so inviting that I couldn’t resist sharing this seat with you. Like a magnet of destiny your eyes called to me, and in that moment I knew that you would be the one.

What do you mean, am I joking? Why would I jest about my feelings? You just opened up to me, showed me your soul in the fifteen minutes of sitting beside one another. You told me about your day at work, your favorite book, how you are enjoying the autumn weather. Why would you tell me those things unless you wanted me to love you?

I’M crazy??

Where are you going? Believe me, the driver won’t pay attention to you if you try to tell him I’m bothering you. I’ve ridden this same route for years and Tom won’t listen to you. Sit down and put your fucking phone away! A big man like you is going to call the cops on a little woman like me? Ha!! What are you afraid of… someone loving you? Someone completing the broken puzzle of your soul!

Don’t sit beside HER! She’s a dirty whore. She will only lie to you and hurt you but me…I offer eternal loyalty. I will never leave you! NEVER! I would follow you to the end of the earth!

Don’t deny that you feel the same way about me. I could feel your soul calling to mine!!

Talk to me! Hello?? I know you can hear me!

Ignore me all you want, that’s fine, whatever!

Just remember that you told me a lot of things in our time together… including where you get off.

Flash Me Questions


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

Michelle and Melissa: We are Michelle Garza and Melissa Lason. We are also known as The Sisters of Slaughter. We flashed you in hopes of luring you into our secret underground lair where we would strip the flesh from your bones and bake a Kevin pot pie.

KS: So you girls are obviously psychos…. haha Which one of you is the craziest? What’s the craziest thing she’s ever done?

MM: Michelle is… it’s not that Melissa isn’t crazy, it’s just that she hasn’t been busted. Melissa hides her psychotic side a little better. Michelle has done a few memorable things such as beating up dudes, digging up rabbit carcasses to keep their skulls and losing a job for quoting the infamous “I wanna kill everyone. Satan is good. Satan is my pal.” Scene from the classic Tom Hanks flick The Burbs.

KS: With that in mind, what’s the most gruesome way the Sisters of Slaughter have killed a motherfucker in your fiction? Is it JUST fiction? Cause I’ve seen stories about whackjob weirdos who write violent super shit and then turns out 5 years later the bodies turn up in their garage and it turns out the fiction wasn’t fiction at all, but a blue print for murder! Admit it, you two are the first ever twin girl serial killers aren’t you? AREN’T YOU?

MM: First off, we admit nothing!!! Hahaha! No bodies= No crimes! One of the most gruesome deaths we’ve inflicted upon a Mofo to date (in fiction) would probably be a character being beaten alive from the inside out by hundreds of carnivorous space ticks.

KS: I know plenty of real life crazy people who cling on to the first human being who makes the mistake of speaking to them, but those people are definitely not super hot horror writer twins. Super hot horror writer twins like you two probably get skeezed on like the main character in PUBLIC TRANSIT all the time. What’s the creepiest thing a dude has ever asked you guys?

MM: We’ve been asked about a billion times if we ever made out or do each other. And of course the answer is no. Our parents are from the south but we don’t participate in the whole incest thing. We always asked those creepers if they would blow their brothers or fondle their cousin’s wieners and that shut them up pretty fast.

KS: Have you ever woken up from a night of heavy drugs and drinking and forgotten which twin you were? Is there any way to REALLY know which one of you is which? What if your parents got you mixed up when they brought you home and just never had the heart to break it to you two that they have no idea which one of you is which?

Our parents always dressed us in different colored clothing as to not mix us up, but who knows. As kids people learned the slight differences in us, mostly in personality. Michelle is more the type to tell you to eat shit as to where Melissa would craft a voodoo doll out of your hair and torture you nightly in secret.

This actually just inspired a story in our brains. Thanks, Kevin!

2015-01-07 16.57.10

Melissa Lason and Michelle Garza have been writing together since they were little girls. Dubbed The Sisters of Slaughter by the editors of Fireside Press. They are constantly working together on new stories in the horror and dark fantasy genres. Their work has been included in WISHFUL THINKING by Fireside Press, WIDOWMAKERS a benefit anthology of dark fiction and the Poetry showcase volume one put out by the HWA. They are very excited to have a story chosen by Sinister Grin Press to be included in an upcoming anthology called FRESH MEAT. Come visit them on Facebook at www.facebook.com/sistersofhorror.com



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).