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