Category Archives: 15 Minute Stories

15 Minute Story #31: The Pipe

The Pipe 31

Heather walked up to her daughter’s room. Paula was at school and wouldn’t be home any time soon. If you asked her, Heather would say she didn’t snoop and respected her daughter’s privacy. In truth, her equal bouts of paranoia and curiosity resulted in Heather snooping every chance she got, whether it was going through her husband’s photos on his phone or making sure her teenage daughter wasn’t getting into trouble.

It didn’t take long. She found a tin made for breath lozenges in Paula’s underwear drawer. She opened it and found a tiny glass pipe, a plastic bag with pot in it, and a lighter. Heather smirked. She wasn’t surprised. Heather had come home smelling of pot more than a couple times in the last few weeks.

Heather considered her options. If she confronted Paula about it, Heather would have to admit to snooping. If she did nothing she was condoning it and while Heather didn’t feel pot was really all that bad, it seemed wrong as a parent to condone such behavior. She could just take it and not say anything, but that would just mean there’d be a new pipe next week.

There was another option. Heather hadn’t smoked pot in years. She laughed out loud at the idea. She sat on her daughter’s bed. Heather unsealed the plastic bag and took a pinch out, stuffing it into the pipe and lit it. She took a deep breath, held it, and let it out with a small white cloud.

Paula decided that it was in her best interests not to attend Biology Class today. Mr. Brendle was always a bit too attentive to his female students and Paula simply wasn’t having it. Instead she decided she’d get baked. Unfortunately, she’d left her pipe at home.

She quietly unlocked the back door and listened. She heard nothing. Her mom was probably taking a walk. Paula took a few steps up stairs. She thought she heard giggling but decided it was her imagination trying to freak her out since she didn’t want to get caught skipping.

Paula got to the door of her room, walked in, turned around, and shut the door.  She walked over to her dresser and screamed out loud when she noticed her mom sitting on the bed.

Heather watched Paula with amusement. Heather was snooping (and smoking). Paula was skipping school. Heather made a decision.

“Here.” Heather said, passing the pipe. Paula sat down next to her mother and took a hit, smiling.

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 #30: The Agency

The Agency 30

“Six years in the Army during which you served in Afghanistan. Four years in the Boston Police Department before you made Detective and worked another three years there where you were the guy who took down Wesley Nathan Bryant. That got the notice of the FBI and for the last seven years you’ve been working with the Bureau taking down the worst of the worst. And all of this has led to this moment where we consider you for the Agency. Let me be clear here, Mr. Simmons. This is a place for those who’ve earned it. And I’d say you’ve more than paid your dues. There is however one more thing…”

This was the sixth interview Simmons had been a part of. He’d filled out dozens of forms, taken a psychological test, and experienced a panel interview that was like being cross examined by Satan. This was the last interview and he was more than a bit sick of jumping through hoops.

“What is that, sir?” Simmons asked uneasily.

“What goes on here at the Agency is entirely classified. You can’t tell your wife, your priest, or your mother about it. What happens in the Agency stays with the Agency. Can you follow this one rule without exception?”

“Yes, sir.”

His interviewer got up from his chair. Simmons stood up. The two shook hands. Simmons followed him down a hallway until they got to a set of locked double doors. There was a 10-Key touchpad. The man said, “Welcome to Agency Base Jenny. Type in the number 867-5309.”

Simmons smirked and typed in the number. The light on the pad blinked green and something in the door clicked. Simmons went to open the door. The man said, “Once you walk through this door, NOTHING will be the same.”

Simmons nodded and opened the door. The first thing Simmons noticed was the waterslide. The next thing he noticed was that the waterslide seemed to actually be a beerslide. Then he noticed the naked women. There were dozens of them. Then he noticed most of the men were naked as well. He looked up and saw a large man who looked like the CIA director on a diving board. He was naked and finished off what appeared to be a joint before diving into a pool of Jello.

“What the-“ was all Simmons was able to get out.

The man said, “The biggest secret about the Agency is that we actually do nothing. Our federal budget pays for the greatest never ending party you’ve ever imagined. You’ll never work another day in your life. Here, whatever you want is yours as long as you tell no one else about this. The locker room is over there. Get out of that suit and have some fun. Like I said, nothing will ever be the same. Welcome to the CIA, the Central Indulgence Agency.”

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 #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’ve 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 pull 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. A 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

This story and others are collected in 15 Minute Stories available at Amazon.com

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