15 Minute Story #21: Magic

Magic 21

When you’re a kid it’s easy to believe in things like imaginary friends and super powers and spells and witches and that sort of thing, but when you grow up, it gets drummed out of you. You find out Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny aren’t real. You notice that no one else can see your imaginary friend. You realize that everything can be explained one way or another and that explanation is never ‘It’s magic.’

So when I was young and chose to become a magician, I did it still thinking magic existed. However, I learned fairly quickly that it’s all slight of hand and obfuscation. It’s making someone look here while you do something over there. Magic tricks aren’t magic. They’re just tricks.

While I got very good at performing these tricks and people loved it, the child inside me was sad that I wasn’t performing real magic.

I collected old magic books. More out of curiosity than anything else. I didn’t expect to find anything in there except maybe some material I could use for the act.

I think the book came from somewhere in Eastern Europe. It was made sometime in the 1700s. It’s all hand written. And there are no tricks. Just words. Words I’ve never heard before. I was alone at night in my apartment. I said the words.

My point is that the monsters you hear about? Those ones that were responsible for what happened in Brazil…and Cuba….and Florida? They’re my fault. But it’s not a trick. It’s magic. While I understand that the loss of life is tragic, the child in me is jumping in glee. Magic is real.

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 #20: Love In Flames

Love in Flames 20

“He broke your heart.”  Natalie said, “Fucker.” Kate watched Natalie down the last of her third martini in solid female solidarity. Woe to the next dumbass fratboy who tried a pick up line on this table. Kate smiled. It was her first smile three days. Kate sipped her drink and thought about how a week ago she thought she was going to marry Thomas.

Thomas Ping. Cute. Wealthy. Fun. A house here in Portland AND in Hong Kong. He felt like the first man Kate had ever dated. The others were just boys. Two years and three months seemed like a pretty sure thing. She’d played it slow though. She didn’t move in, though weeks would go by without stopping by her apartment. And when her grandmother died, Thomas was there for her. He paid for the funeral and the limos for her family. He held her and made her feel safe.

All that was gone now. He wasn’t even supposed to be in town. He was supposedly in New York closing a business deal of some sort. But he was in his giant house on a hill in Beaverton just outside of Portland getting drunk with not one but two other women. They say there was some sort of electrical problem that started the fire. Thomas and Bimbo #1  were rescued. Bimbo #2 didn’t make it. Neither did Kate’s relationship.

Kate thought about it and realized Natalie was wrong.

“He didn’t break my heart, Nat.” Natalie gave an inquiring look, “He broke my trust. He broke my plans. He broke our relationship. He broke a lot, but my heart’s just fine. It keeps beating and keeps going. Just like me. Let’s get one more round.”

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 #19: Fathers and Sons

FathersAndSons

Author’s Note: Due to events yesterday I’ve chosen to write a non-fiction piece for the 15 Minute Story today. 

If you ever want to feel useless, just wait until your kid is in the hospital. You stand there looking at this person you’ve known their whole life. You think of all the things you’ve done from him. You think of every single thing you’ve said or taught him. You think of the happy moments. You think of the moments when he screams in your face or cries or yells. You think of the times you discovered new levels of frustration that only parents can find. You think of the mistakes you’ve made. Both personal mistakes and mistakes you made while trying to be a good parent. You think of all of it all at once because right now all of it has led to this moment where your child is hurt enough that he’s in the hospital and since you never bothered to become a doctor, the only thing you could do was bring him to building he was born in and hope the professionals here can fix him. If you’re a parent, you’ll find yourself in this position a few times.

Most of the time whatever is wrong is minor. You’re in and out in a few hours and it’s no big deal. Yesterday was like that. Yesterday my son was assaulted. My morning began with him calling me from a friend’s house where he’d stayed the night and telling me he needed to go to the hospital. He said he was on 45th Street so I initially drove to North 45th only to find out he was on South 45th. So I drove like a bat out of hell all across the city on Sunday morning rain slicked streets. We were home before noon after a few stitches.

A few years ago my son had a bad accident. He’d fallen off of a roof and hit his head. I watched as medical professionals swarmed around him. His face was swollen to an almost unrecognizable state as they worked to save his life. It wasn’t certain that they would. I stood there helpless thinking, “Tonight I get to watch my son die.” But he fully recovered from that incident.

A few years ago, a good friend of mine and I were talking. His oldest son is a few years younger than my own. He said, “Think back to our teenage years. Now think of all the times we almost literally died and how many times did our parents know what happened? Not many. ” I nodded. He went on, “Now think about our sons. They’ll likely get in just as much trouble as us and most of it we’ll never even hear about most of it. And the things we do hear about will scare us senseless because we have no power of them.”

He was right, but then again, if you’re any kind of parent, you’re likely to spend a fair amount of your time scared senseless anyway.

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 Minutes Story #18: Zombie Apocalypse

Zombie Apocalypse18b
They say it’s always good to be prepared. At first I took the whole pop culture zombie craze to be the latest in a series of fads that fascinate people for a while until they move on to something else. But soon I came to realize the truth. They were warnings. The Zombie Apocalypse is real. And it’s coming.

The people who know are stalking up weapons and non-perishable food along with water and gasoline. When it starts people will think it’s just another virus but once it reaches epidemic proportions and word gets out about what’s happening, we can expect a good amount of civil unrest. Survivors will likely be shooting other desperate survivors as much as zombies. After all, most people aren’t prepared and don’t know the truth. That doesn’t mean they want to die.

So it’ll be a mad scramble by the common people to find those of us who’ve prepared. If they have useful skills, they might be taken in by the survivors, but if they have a lot of kids, maybe not. You can only feed so many people after all.

I’ve spent the past few months using the Internet to get in touch with others who know the Truth. These people are the ones who are ready to kill zombies when the hordes come. Most who visit me are happy to find a kindred spirit. Too many treat them like they’re crazy, but I sit and listen calmly as they tell me about their stockpiles, their armored vehicles and their fortified compounds. Many have cut off all ties to family and friends who disagree with them. We sit and talk and drink tea.

To tell the truth, they drink the tea. I don’t. I know it’s got arsenic in it. Their deaths are fairly quiet and quick. I then take them down to the basement where I cut off their heads. Then I use the bone saw to open their skulls.

In a zombie apocalypse, you’re most likely going to be a zombie. And from a zombie’s perspective, these guys are the most dangerous people in the world. It only makes sense to get rid of them now. And in doing so, I can also stock up on the one thing I’ll need when the zombie apocalypse happens: Brains.

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 #17: Two Boxes

TwoBoxes 17
I have two boxes in my head. One is where I put all the shit I understand. And the other is the box I put all the shit I don’t understand. Whenever I put something in the second box, I open the box just long enough to put something in and then I seal it shut. I don’t think about the things in the second box. But every now and then it cracks open a bit.

There was the dead mirror. A friend of mine had a mirror. It was mounted in what look like the portal of ship. You looked in it and you looked like you were dead. There was no other way to describe it. It was genuinely creepy.

There was that time that I was walking through the forest with a friend and for no reason at all I started talking about a big white dog and five minutes later a big white dog appeared.

There was the man running through the train tunnel. He jogged as if it were the most natural thing in the world seemingly oblivious to the fact that there was no light in that tunnel. He didn’t even squint at the sunlight as he jogged out. That tunnel was three miles long.

There was the time that pallet landed on Joey’s foot. Me and Cody lifted it off. It had to have been over a ton. There was no way we should have been able to lift it no matter how much adrenaline was pumping through our veins.

There was that time I saw an actual ghost and just as quickly watched him disappear right in front of me.

All of these things are things I don’t think about because whenever I do, I feel like I’m going crazy. They don’t fit with the rest of the world I know. But the latest addition to the box tops them all. Don’t get me wrong. I believe it and I accept it. I’m even happy about it. But there’s no way I’ll ever understand it.

The latest addition to the box? She’s in love with me.

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 #16: Lunacy

Lunacy 16
“Let me tell you about the moon, buddy.” The guy talking to me showed up about a half hour ago and sat on the stool next to me despite the bar being almost entirely empty. He called me ‘buddy’ immediately. He then spent a good while telling me how hard it was to find a bar in this town without any ‘Jews or Arabs or colored folk’. I almost laughed out loud because it was hard to believe this guy was serious.

It’s been my experience that when you have a crazy drunk talking your ear off, the worst thing you can do is engage him. So I quietly drank my beer and looked straight ahead as he started telling me about the moon.

“The last time we went to the moon was 1972. And then we stopped. You know why? Civil rights. Twelve white heterosexual American males walked on that moon. The moon has only ever known the footprint of the white man. And to keep it pure, the government stopped the Apollo program before the blacks could get to the moon.”

I couldn’t help it, I actually turned to look at him to see if there was any trace of humor, but he was dead serious.

“Yup. That’s what they did alright.” He continued. “I’m building my own rocket, y’know. I’m going to the moon. I’m going up to that moon where a white man can be free.”

“Wait a minute.” I said setting my beer down. “You mean to tell me that you’re building a spaceship?”

“Yup. There’s room for three or four. If you earn your keep, you can come along.”

I had tried to ignore him but I was too curious. “So where’s this spaceship?”

“I ain’t built it yet. But I’ve got plans. Saturn V rocket technology is half a century old. I can do it. Though I do need a little funding. That’s why I’ve started me a Kickstarter campaign. With just $30,000,000, I’ll be able to go to the moon and start my own white moon colony.”

“Thirty million dollars?”

“I know it seems like a lot, but there’s like two hundred million white folk out there in America. I only need fifteen cents from each of them of course some won’t do it because they’re race traitors. So what I really need is twenty-five cents from each Believer.”

“Sir,” I said, “I am not giving you a quarter.”

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 #15: Marriage Counseling

Marriage Counseling 15

Paul,

I’m getting married. You’ve been married for years. What do you know that I don’t?

–          Derek

The email struck Paul as a strange question. His first thought was, ‘Well, Derek, I’m not getting married to a redhead. So I quite simply can’t help you.’  Because while Derek’s fiancé was exactly as attractive as Paul had always hoped for, she also seemed to be exactly that nuts as well.

But telling Derek his soon-to-be wife was crazy wasn’t going to cut it. Derek wouldn’t listen and it wouldn’t really be within the realm of things best friends might share with one another. So Paul pushed that out of his head. He tried to ignore the fact that Derek’s fiancé was in all likelihood going to bleed him dry of every penny he or his family ever made and approach the email from the perspective of a friend who has been asked a simple question.

So he wrote:

Derek,

What you need to know about getting married is that it changes absolutely nothing. Whatever you had in your relationship is simply amplified. If some things sucked they will suck more. Marriage doesn’t make being together better. It just makes it harder to break up.

Ignore what other people think. Your marriage is between you and your wife. What your family or her family or her friends or your friends (or me) thinks is beside the point. You made this agreement with her and that’s that.

Lastly, it’s worth noting that if things don’t work out and you get divorced, you will still be my friend. There’s this tendency for people who’ve only been married once to think that getting divorced is the end of the f*cking world. It’s not. Often, it’s the beginning.

That said, the best of luck to you my friend.

–          Paul

Paul looked at his email and thought it worked. He had managed to write something that felt sincere without mentioning that his third wife had just left him three days beforehand. He sent the email and eyed a redhead at the bar. They were trouble, but sometimes they were worth it.

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 #14: Ben And the Infinite

Bill and the Infinite 14

When Ben was little his parents took him to a Methodist Church. Some of his earliest memories were of responsive readings. He’d watch as the pastor said something to the congregation and the congregation would all respond. This would go one back and forth for a few minutes. He was too young to know that the congregation was reading the responses. All he saw was the pastor say something and the people say something back. He thought God was making them speak. And for some reason God wasn’t letting Ben know the right words to say.

Growing up, his family went to church less and less. He still believed in God, but didn’t this too much about it. Then as a teenager he met a girl who went to church. So he started going to church too. He got into it. He was in love and they were both totally into Jesus. They’d live their whole lives together and when they died be reunited in Heaven where they’d be together forever and ever.

But then the girl broke up with Ben. He stayed with the church a while more but it wasn’t the same. He started to think that maybe Jesus was exactly as reliable as his relationship had been. He started asking big questions. He thought about the Romans and the Norwegians and their Gods and Goddesses and how they believed their Gods were just as real as Jesus…and they were wrong.

In time Ben lost his faith and belief in God. He wanted to believe but simply saw no evidence of a God anywhere. He eventually accepted that he was now an atheist. This presented him with a significant problem. If there was no God, then when Ben died he would go back to the nothingness before he was born. He would stop existing. And Ben wanted to exist forever.

Ben looked at science. Cryonics could freeze him when he died and bring him back at some point in the future when the technology allowed him to come back. Then he’d be alive in the future and presumably they’d be able to stop him from dying again with all their technology…but eventually the Earth would be unlivable due to environmental changes or because the Sun exploded. Luckily there were already spaceships. Technology could save him yet again…but after hundreds of billions of years, the universe itself would collapse and where would Ben be then? He could see no way around it. If there was no God and he lived in a finite universe how might he escape? Time travel or dimension hopping he supposed….but how would he do that?  Well, he had a few hundred billion years to figure that one out.

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 #13: Options

options13
Frank sat in his car in the parking garage for a full ten minutes. He thought about his options. The car had a full tank of gas. He could drive to the ocean right now. He could be less adventurous and just pull out of the parking space and go home and get back into bed. The parking garage was eight stories tall. There’s a chance he could get enough speed to smash through the concrete and dive his car into the street.

OR

He could get out of the car, go into the office and go to work like he had done 40 hours a week for the last few years and how he’d done at other jobs for years before that. He could also go into the office and quit on the spot. It would put him in financial trouble but so what. He’d been in financial trouble before. He thought about his last job. His boss there was so psychotic that the guy actually dressed up as Hitler for Halloween. He thought about how great it felt that he’d never see that pudgy son of a bitch again. He looked forward to the day he could say the same of this place.

He stepped out of the car and walked into the office. He thought about how some people go nuts and shoot up office buildings. He never wondered why. He knew. He also knew that he’d never do such a thing. He wasn’t interested in killing people. And trading his cubicle for a prison cell didn’t seem to be much of difference in his opinion. Less Netflix. That was about it.

He sat down at his desk and fired up his computer. The options were always there. And almost every morning he made the same choice. Sometimes he wouldn’t go in at all.

There was a time when Frank thought he was special. Millions of people went to work every single day week in week out for decades without getting fed up or burned out. But he learned from talking to coworkers that pretty much everyone felt the exact same way.

He didn’t know how to fix it. Many of his coworkers got by taking cigarette breaks slowly killing themselves while getting a few minutes outside the building. Frank had quit over a year ago. He had bills and a family. He couldn’t quit. And finding another job would likely be more of the same.

So he went to Toys R Us. Frank bought a container of bubble liquid. He went out with the smokers and while they blew smoke, he blew bubbles. It didn’t solve the problem but for a few minutes each day, he took his problems, put them in a little container, pulled out his weapon, and blew them away.

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 #12: The New Pet

The New Pet 12

My girlfriend works in an occult shop. This means that the candles in my house don’t only smell nice, they have a meaning. The green candle is supposed to give you success in money. The black one takes away nightmares. I have a dozen different kinds of incense at all times. There’s almost always at least a tiny bit of glitter somewhere on her body. It also means that sometimes she brings home strange things that I didn’t know actually existed.

I first noticed there was something in the turtle tank when I got home from work. I might not have noticed. It’s been a while since we cleaned the thing, but I heard the audible pop of a bubble. I glanced at the tank from the couch and saw two more purple bubbles float to the surface of the water and then pop.

I stood up to take a closer look. I wasn’t prepared for what I saw. While the turtle was sitting on his floating piece of bark, there was something else at the bottom of the tank. It was about the size of the turtle, but its face was full of tentacles and when I looked at it, it looked right back at me. Another purple bubble appeared in front of it and floated up. When it popped, I noticed the brimstone smell.

“Honey,” I said, “What’s in the turtle tank?”

“Oh.” I heard her say from upstairs, “I got him from work.”

“What’s in the turtle tank?” I repeated.

“It’s Cthulhu. A baby one.”

“What?”

“It’s okay. The turtle will enjoy the company.” She came downstairs and looked at it as another purple bubble popped.

“What’s it doing?” I asked.

“It’s conjuring.”

We’d talked about pets before. I was fine with the turtle. Ultra low maintenance pet that doesn’t shit around the house. No big deal. We’d talked about getting a dog, but neither of us are home enough for that. But we had definitely not talked about bringing home a Dark God to make friends with our turtle.

Just for the record, it did NOT make friends with the turtle. The next morning when I turned the light on in the turtle tank, I noticed something different about the turtle. It took me a minute to realize that it wasn’t the turtle at all. It was Cthulhu wearing the turtle’s shell.

It turns out there’s no returns when you buy Cthulhu from a new age shop. Not even if you’re an employee. There’s also no selling Cthulhu or moving Cthulhu if Cthulhu doesn’t want to be moved. And while it may be cute as a baby (if you find tentacle faced green monster baby Dark Gods cute), it’s important to note that Cthulhu gets bigger.  A lot bigger.

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