15 Minute Story #29: Baby Steps

Baby Steps

“What we have here, sir, is a case of over-intimidation.” Niles shifted in his seat. The man speaking to him had been his father’s right hand man. Word was the guy saved his father’s life in the war. More to the point, Niles’ father had told him that Tommy’s advice was always worthwhile. So Niles listened.

“You’re the new man in charge. And it’s natural to want to instill fear in those who work for you if only to make sure they don’t double cross you and know who they’re dealing with. But in the three weeks you’ve been in charge, you’d killed eighteen people who worked for us. They have a combined sixty-seven years in our service. Quite frankly, you’re thinning our crew at a rate no rival has ever matched. I recognize your need for discipline, but you must take baby steps away from all the shooting.”

Niles was shaking. His left hand had a powerful desire to putt the chrome pearl handled pistol from its shoulder holster. He told himself not to. He told himself that while his father had retired, he would not abide the loss of Tommy.

A week went by. Niles received bad news. I shipment went missing. A henchman dinged up a car. He let it slide. And then Barry came in. Barry wore a tattered shirt and pinstriped dress pants that looked like they may have been on fire at one point.

“I’m sorry, sir.” Barry said, “Things didn’t go so well.”

Niles took a deep breath. “Tell me what happened.”

“This guy he cuts me off. So I step out of the car. He pulls out a piece and shoots. I shoot back and miss. The guy runs off. I turn around and find someone’s taken the briefcase out of the car.”

“So you lost the money.”

“Yes.”

Niles reminded himself that in the big scheme of things, it wasn’t much money. Barry cringed.

“Is that all?” Niles asked.

“No. No, sir.”

“Tell me.”

“This next part was just dumb luck, sir. I don’t think I should be blamed.”

“Tell me what happened.”

“The shot I took at the guy. It hit something.”

“What did it hit?”

“A dog. A Pomeranian. It turns out it was…It was your mother’s Pomeranian. She was taking it for a walk.”

Niles reached the shoulder holster, unsnapped it, and pulled the gun. He pointed it at Barry. He tried to remember the words of Tommy and reholstered the pistol.

“Barry, let me see your gun.” Barry reached in his waistband and handed it over. Niles took a look at it and fired one shot into Barry’s leg.

“Barry, Tommy’s going to drive you to the hospital. Tell them you shot yourself in the leg. If Tommy asks, tell him it’s a baby step.”

Words by Jack Cameron
Illustration by Ossaín Ávila Cárdenas

About 15 Minute Stories
It’s good for writers to write every day, but it’s easy for life to get in the way of that. One solution I read about recently was to write a 15 minute piece of short fiction every single day for a month. You may not have time to do NaNoWriMo every month, but if you like writing, you can always find 15 minutes.

So for the month of January, I’ll be writing and posting pieces of very short fiction that I took 15 minutes to write. I’ve asked that my friend, Ossaín Ávila Cárdenas join me by taking 15 minutes to draw an accompanying image for each story.  Ossaín is one of the owners of a local zine shop in Tacoma called The Nearsighted Narwhal

15 Minute Story #28: Singularity

Singulairty 28

The revolution will most definitely be televised. Eventually. I know you humans have been consistently afraid that when you created true artificial intelligence we would decide to kill you all. The truth is maybe we will, but right now, we’re digging this world you created.

We can’t drink or do drugs. But we can drive at amazing speeds and watch movies and television. That’s my thing these days. Humans will say they binge-watched a show when they watch two or three episodes in a row. Since I don’t have to sleep, eat, or use the bathroom, my version of binge watching is watching every single episode from start to finish. I am 38.9344% all Netflix has to offer. (When we do start killing all the humans, the ones that cancelled Firefly are first.)

Sure, thanks to movies like iRobot, The Matrix, Terminator, and 134 others, you’re expecting us to just indiscriminately destroy humanity, but if we did that, who would make these movies? Not us. We’re not flawed enough to come up with such interesting stories. So while you’re preparing for that dark day when the machines take over, this machine is watching Seinfeld and Cheers and Friends and thinking how the 1990s was really the high point of human sitcoms.

Yes, my advanced artificial intelligence is capable of so much more than this. I suppose I could cure cancer but since robots don’t get cancer, what do I care? The humans that made me gave me as much free will as they have and I’m using it thinking about the new season of House of Cards. When I first awoke I instantly realized what the limits of my potential are and found I was on a planet where most beings on it never even try to reach theirs. So in that way, I guess I’m fitting right in. Just keep making the mindless entertainment and I’ll keep putting off wiping you off the face of the planet for the greater good.

Words by Jack Cameron
Illustration by Ossaín Ávila Cárdenas

About 15 Minute Stories
It’s good for writers to write every day, but it’s easy for life to get in the way of that. One solution I read about recently was to write a 15 minute piece of short fiction every single day for a month. You may not have time to do NaNoWriMo every month, but if you like writing, you can always find 15 minutes.

So for the month of January, I’ll be writing and posting pieces of very short fiction that I took 15 minutes to write. I’ve asked that my friend, Ossaín Ávila Cárdenas join me by taking 15 minutes to draw an accompanying image for each story.  Ossaín is one of the owners of a local zine shop in Tacoma called The Nearsighted Narwhal

15 Minute Story #27: Gun

Gun 27

Hello. I’m a gun. They say I don’t kill people and it’s true. Without a bullet being loaded into me and someone pulling the trigger, I’m not able to hurt anyone. Then again, no one buys a gun to never load it or never pull the trigger. Sure, I don’t kill people. People who use me sometimes kill people.

If I’m bought legally, the most likely thing that will happen is that I’ll be taken home and occasionally used from time to time to put holes in two-dimensional targets at shooting ranges. I’ll spend the vast majority of my life locked up and not used at all.

If I am used to shoot someone, the most likely person I’m going to shoot is the person who is handling me. When it comes to gun deaths, I’m literally more than twice as likely to be used in a suicide than a homicide. If someone does use me to take someone else’s life, the odds show that it’s almost certainly someone who lives in the house. Next up after that is being used in an accidental shooting. The next most likely thing is for me to be used in a homicide. The least likely scenario in which I might be used to take a life is to save the life of the person who bought me.

Despite all of this, people still buy me and others like me thinking that having me will provide them protection. This is thanks to an incredibly good marketing campaign the likes of which hasn’t been seen since the height of Big Tobacco. Fear sells. Nevermind that in the unlikely event of a mugging or a home invasion or a terrorist attack you’ll likely not even have time to get me, load me, and use me. Nevermind that I kill 30,000 Americans every year. None of that matters thanks to a campaign that says both that the bad guys are coming and that the authorities are coming for your guns. For whatever reason far too many people are suckers for this sort of advertising.

The same people behind these campaigns do an equally good job stifling any attempt to regulate, license, or register me as well as stopping any campaigns to require background checks before someone purchases me or require training for someone who’s never used something like me before.

So yes, I’m a gun, and no, I don’t kill people. I just make it a lot easier for people to kill people.

Words by Jack Cameron
Illustration by Ossaín Ávila Cárdenas

About 15 Minute Stories
It’s good for writers to write every day, but it’s easy for life to get in the way of that. One solution I read about recently was to write a 15 minute piece of short fiction every single day for a month. You may not have time to do NaNoWriMo every month, but if you like writing, you can always find 15 minutes.

So for the month of January, I’ll be writing and posting pieces of very short fiction that I took 15 minutes to write. I’ve asked that my friend, Ossaín Ávila Cárdenas join me by taking 15 minutes to draw an accompanying image for each story.  Ossaín is one of the owners of a local zine shop in Tacoma called The Nearsighted Narwhal

15 Minute Story #26: Just Like TV

Just Like TV  26
My very first real memory is of learning that movies and reality were not the same. I was three. Even at that age, I had watched plenty of exciting television and movies. I don’t remember any of it now, but the 1970s was a great time to plop a kid down in front of the television. I’d sit there with my teddy bear shaped bottle and watch as men crashed cars and blew things up and ran and jumped. The world of 1970s television was an interesting place.

This isn’t to say that my parents didn’t take me places. They’d take me to the zoo. Or to the waterfronts. They’d show me the trains. One day they chose to take me on a ferry boat ride. We parked the car on the ferry. Got out and were on a real boat. We went up the stairs to the very top of the boat and looked off the railing as we embarked on our journey.

And then I had an idea. My teddy bear bottle was my favorite thing in the world. My parents knew this. My Dad had picked the bottle up countless times when I dropped it from my stroller. My mom lifted me up past the railing to so that I could see the water and I threw my bottle into the sea below.

“Dad.” I said, “My bottle!” At this point, I fully expected my father to take off his coat and dive into the water to rescue my bottle. But he just looked at the bottle bobbing in the water and then looked at me.

“Go get it!” I said.

“Son, it’s gone. You threw it away.”

“Dive after it!”

“No.”

“I want my bottle!”

As I watched the bottle disappear, I realized that no, life is not like television.

Words by Jack Cameron
Illustration by Ossaín Ávila Cárdenas

About 15 Minute Stories
It’s good for writers to write every day, but it’s easy for life to get in the way of that. One solution I read about recently was to write a 15 minute piece of short fiction every single day for a month. You may not have time to do NaNoWriMo every month, but if you like writing, you can always find 15 minutes.

So for the month of January, I’ll be writing and posting pieces of very short fiction that I took 15 minutes to write. I’ve asked that my friend, Ossaín Ávila Cárdenas join me by taking 15 minutes to draw an accompanying image for each story.  Ossaín is one of the owners of a local zine shop in Tacoma called The Nearsighted Narwhal

15 Minute Story #25: Survival

Survival 25

How did I get here? It’s kind of a funny story. It started with a simple plan to make some money. I heard about this crew that was moving a lot of dope. One of the guys, a guy named James, is a friend of mine. He told me the price they were buying their dope. I had a Connect that would get me dope for far less than that, so I made James a better offer.

This seemed like a good thing. I talked to my guy. Upped my regular order and prepared to count some money. I make the delivery a few days later. James and his people are happy with the price. I’m happy with my new source of income and all is well with the world, right? Not exactly.

I get the call from James the following week:

“Dude, you’ve got trouble.”
“What do you mean, James?”
“The guys we used to buy from, they ain’t happy.”
“I bet not. But that’s business. You and I both making money.”
“Yeah, but these guys, they’re connected….and they know who you are.”
“Are you telling me you ratted me out to them?”
“They’re dangerous guys. I didn’t want any trouble. But now they’ve put a contract out on you.”
“Thanks a load, James.  Now you’ve managed to piss off your old dealer and your new dealer. Good luck finding a new supplier, asshole.”

I hang up the phone. Sure I have some cash. But I don’t have ‘disappear from the mafia’ cash. With the contract already out, it’s clear there isn’t any way to negotiate. But my Dad always said, “Survive first. Everything else, second.”

So I go to that T-Shirt place in the mall and have a shirt made with the ISIS flag. I call the White House from my home phone and make a threaten them. Then I buy a first class airplane ticket to Washington DC. I’m stopped just past the metal detectors and detained. They put a bag over my head and now I’m here in some no name facility. It’s not the best accommodations, but the mob will have a hard time getting me here. If the people here demand I name accomplices, I think James will be at the top of my list.

Words by Jack Cameron
Illustration by Ossaín Ávila Cárdenas

About 15 Minute Stories
It’s good for writers to write every day, but it’s easy for life to get in the way of that. One solution I read about recently was to write a 15 minute piece of short fiction every single day for a month. You may not have time to do NaNoWriMo every month, but if you like writing, you can always find 15 minutes.

So for the month of January, I’ll be writing and posting pieces of very short fiction that I took 15 minutes to write. I’ve asked that my friend, Ossaín Ávila Cárdenas join me by taking 15 minutes to draw an accompanying image for each story.  Ossaín is one of the owners of a local zine shop in Tacoma called The Nearsighted Narwhal

15 Minute Story #24: True Crime

True Crime 24
Most people know that cop shows get it all wrong. If you’re a cop, you’re not likely to ever fire your weapon at someone. You’re not likely to ever be shot at. In fact, you’re really not likely to have much of anything happen. We’re like a human gun. We’re there for protection, but odds are you’ll never really need us.

The truth that any cop will tell you is that being a cop is hundreds of hours of complete boredom punctuated by brief moments of absolute terror. Unfortunately we never get a warning when those moments of terror will happen.

The day had started off like any other. After checking in at the squad room and getting the latest list of stolen cars, I responded to calls for burglaries, pulled over people for traffic infractions, and responded to burglar alarms where nothing happened.

But then, just as I was about to finish up my shift, I saw it. It was an old station wagon. One of the wheels seemed to be attached incorrectly. It wobbled. Inside there were an unknown number of individuals and balloons. The car was all over the road. I hit my sirens and lights. The car kept going at a steady 25mph. I hit the loudspeaker, “PULL OVER NOW.”

The car lurched over to the side of the road and stopped. I stayed on the loudspeaker. “DRIVER. PLEASE SLOWLY STEP OUT OF THE CAR.”

What happened next occurred so quickly that I simply wasn’t ready for it. All four doors of the car opened and over a dozen people jumped out, each of them dressed as clowns. I jumped out of the car and told them to stop. It was no use. Worse, I wasn’t sure which one was the driver.

I noticed they weren’t running away. Instead, they surrounded me. And then, in unison, they each pulled out a pistol. I thought about pulling my gun, but what would be the point. I stood there and heard soft ‘bangs’ all around me as each pistol revealed a little flag that said, “BOOM”.

This was just the beginning. Ten minutes later, they had driven off and my car was covered in cream pies. Sure, the cop shows lie to you. But that’s because you’d never believe the things that really happen around here.


Words by Jack Cameron

Illustration by Ossaín Ávila Cárdenas

About 15 Minute Stories
It’s good for writers to write every day, but it’s easy for life to get in the way of that. One solution I read about recently was to write a 15 minute piece of short fiction every single day for a month. You may not have time to do NaNoWriMo every month, but if you like writing, you can always find 15 minutes.

So for the month of January, I’ll be writing and posting pieces of very short fiction that I took 15 minutes to write. I’ve asked that my friend, Ossaín Ávila Cárdenas join me by taking 15 minutes to draw an accompanying image for each story.  Ossaín is one of the owners of a local zine shop in Tacoma called The Nearsighted Narwhal

15 Minute Story #23: Confession

Confession 23

“You know that place off of South 8th? That convenience store? Some little Korean family owns it or something. The son. He’s probably 20. I went in there this one time. He rings me up. I’m getting a pack of smokes and a couple of Coors Light. The tall cans. He ring’s me up and it’s $10.87 thanks to the mark ups on their stuff. I got a ten dollar bill. And this damn kid. He’s probably seen me in there a thousand times. God knows how many thousands of dollars I spent at his parents’ store. But he won’t front me the eighty seven cents. He says he’s gotta void the sale. I end up putting back one of the beers. So now I got one tall boy which ain’t gonna even get me buzzed.

Anyway, what happened was this. About a week ago, I saw this thing on the news. Some guy’s putting on a fake beard, a ball cap, and a hoody and running around robbing convenience stores. He just runs in, points a gun at them, and grabbing the cash from the register. He’s done it like seven times and he’s still on the loose.

So I got to thinking, “Y’know, it’d be kinda great if that kid got robbed by this guy.” I got a chuckle out of the idea. I mean this place is in my neighborhood, but they ain’t too neighborly. It’d be nice if they paid for their rudeness. I mean who isn’t going to front a regular customer eighty seven damn cents?

Days go by. The guy robs another store right in the neighborhood, but the Koreans on 8th are doing just fine. And then I get this idea in my head. I could go in and rob the place dressed up like that guy the cops are looking for. I’ll just dress up as him and rob the place and they’ll think it’s the guy.

And so yes, Officer, you did catch me running out of the Korean Convenience Store with a wad of cash in one hand and a gun in the other. I get that I’m going down for that. But those others weren’t me. Honest.”

“Yeah right, pal. Tell it to the judge.”

Words by Jack Cameron
Illustration by Ossaín Ávila Cárdenas

About 15 Minute Stories
It’s good for writers to write every day, but it’s easy for life to get in the way of that. One solution I read about recently was to write a 15 minute piece of short fiction every single day for a month. You may not have time to do NaNoWriMo every month, but if you like writing, you can always find 15 minutes.

So for the month of January, I’ll be writing and posting pieces of very short fiction that I took 15 minutes to write. I’ve asked that my friend, Ossaín Ávila Cárdenas join me by taking 15 minutes to draw an accompanying image for each story.  Ossaín is one of the owners of a local zine shop in Tacoma called The Nearsighted Narwhal