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

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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

15 Minute Story #11: Change The World

Change the World 11

In third grade my teacher told us that each of us had the power to change the world. More importantly she told us that we changed the world every day without even knowing it. Every little thing changes the world. Picking a flower. Stepping on an ant. Dropping an ice cream cone. Each event changes the world in tiny ways that may end up being part of a big reaction.

The recess bell rang. The ground was wet from rain the night before. I saw a mud puddle and jumped into it splashing water and mud all over the place. “Bang!” I said, “I just changed the world!”

Earlier tonight, I was out of beer and the store was a longer walk than the bar. So I went to the bar. I selected a seat that had a bad view of the television because I couldn’t care less about sports. Not that it mattered. It was a playoff game and every touchdown would send the whole bar into an uproar. When they won, everybody cheered. And then there was me, quietly drinking my IPA. I looked across the bar at you, the only other person not screaming their head off in celebration.

And then you smiled at me. Bang. You just changed the world.


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 #10: Victims

Victims 10

The news sites, the TV, the cops. They all said the same thing. They called him ‘the victim’. I suppose it’s technically accurate. You call someone a victim it’s almost like it was expected. I mean what’s a victim but someone something bad happens to? But I’ll tell you. Jake was a lot of things, but the last thing I’d call him was a victim.

That night was Day Three for him. Three days since he parked his car in front of my house, knocked on my door and said, “You’re the one guy I know who isn’t into the shit. I need to be clean. Cassie’s pregnant.” I told him to stay as long as he liked as long as he was sober and I took his phone.

It wasn’t like the movies. He didn’t go nuts. He sweated a lot, but other than that he was pretty normal. He ate half the food in my apartment. He didn’t leave. He told me what a good friend I was. We watched a bunch of South Park. I asked how he was going to make things right with Cassie. He said he didn’t know. He just didn’t want the kid to have a drug addict for a father.

It was just past midnight on the third night when we heard the glass break. I got up and looked out the window. I could see someone in Jake’s car with a flashlight. I turned around to see where Jake was, but he was already out the door in his boxers.

Jake and I had known each other for years. We’d been in more than our share of bar fights and he never once needed my help putting some guy on the ground. But it’d been a long time since I was like that. So I didn’t follow him out. I called the police.

I didn’t see what happened. I was on the phone. I only heard the gunshot. Then another. Then another.

That was ten years ago. And I keep thinking about that word. Jake’s the victim. It sounds like something only happened to him. Somehow I’m not included in that equation. Neither is Cassie. Or Jake Jr. But really, if Jake’s a victim, so are we.

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 #7: Answers

Answers 7
They say I have a criminal mind. I watch movies and TV shows and it’s not that I’m hoping the bad guys get away with it. It’s just that I understand where they’re coming from. They say this isn’t good. They could be right. I mean us fourteen year olds should probably be thinking of other things.

So I’m riding in the car with my parents after going to Taco Time for dinner. It’s during one of those weeks where they’re actually getting along and we’re acting like a family. I pretend right along with them but sometimes I ask a question that bothers them and they look at each other as if the other one is somehow responsible for the shit that comes out of my mouth. But it’s really just me thinking too much about things that people do even though they could spend the rest of their lives in prison for doing them.

“Where’s the profit in serial killing?” I ask.

“What kind of question is that?” My mom says.

“A question I want to know the answer to?”

“What your mother means is why would you ask a question like that, son?”

No. What my mother means is ‘What the hell is wrong with you?’ and that’s what you mean too. I should apologize but instead I decide to just dive in and say everything I’ve been thinking that day:

“Bank robbers, burglars and other thieves do it for the money. Rapists do it to get off. Murderers do it sometimes for the money and sometimes because that person did something they didn’t like. But serial killers murder lots of strangers, hide their bodies, and do it over and over again until they get caught. That’s a lot of work and no real payoff.”

There’s silence in the car. My Dad told me this story once about how he used to read magazines like Popular Science and Omni trying to find something his father didn’t know so that he could stump his father with a question but every time his Dad had an answer. My Dad really wanted to be like his Dad.

So I wasn’t too surprised when he was the one that answered.

“Maybe it feels good.”

“WHAT!” My mother yelled. And suddenly they weren’t getting along again.

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 doNaNoWriMoevery 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 calledThe Nearsighted Narwhal

 

15 Minute Story #3: Putting The ‘Fun’ In Funeral

Putting The FUN in Funeral 3

She wasn’t the first girl to smile at me, but I forgot about the others when she did. We were at my grandfather’s funeral. I was there out of familial obligation. Personally, I never liked the guy. He was an unapologetic racist and a drunk. The only surprising thing about him drunkenly driving his car off an overpass was that it took him so long to do it.

So I didn’t think too much of pulling out a pack of Mentos and popping a couple in my mouth. She smiled seeing me acting like a kid. I wasn’t sure who she was. I hoped she wasn’t related to me. Her long black hair hid half her face and her black dress was more appropriate for a club than a funeral but you won’t find me complaining.

After the funeral she said, “Can I get one of those?”

“A casket? Sure. My understanding is we all get one eventually.”

She let out a small laugh. “I meant one of your candies.”

“Oh.” I pulled the roll out and gave her one.

“So how’d you know the deceased?” I asked thinking ‘Please don’t be a cousin. Please don’t be a cousin.’

“I didn’t.”

“You just go funerals for the fun of it?”

“No. My uncle died. I was trying to go to his funeral but I got the day wrong. I thought it was today. It’s tomorrow. So I figured as long as I was here, I might as well join in the festivities.”

She chewed my candy. We looked at each other.

“So…” she said with a smirk, “Come here often?”

“Every chance I get.”

“Are you busy tomorrow?”

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 doNaNoWriMoevery 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 calledThe Nearsighted Narwhal

15 Minute Story #2: The Marty Party

TheMartyParty2

Oh, you’re going in the book, motherfucker. When I write that explosive memoir telling everything that’s happened, you’re going in that book. What will I call that chapter? Douchey Guys And The Men Who Are Fooled By Them? I’m sure you’d say it was just a Marty Party, but my friends were there and they saw you and they saw what you did and they told me. So now I know and now you know I know. I hope it was worth it.

You’d say you were too drunk to remember. You’d say you didn’t mean to kiss him. You’d say a lot of things, but you can’t right now, can you?

I can’t believe you walked into that party and said, “He couldn’t make it.” Yeah, that might be due to the fact that we got pulled over on the way there and thanks to our little pre-funk, I blew a .09 and got arrested. Did you bother to tell them that, asshole? No. Instead you got drunk, made out with Chad’s brother and then…

I spent the weekend in jail, you know. The whole damn weekend. You’re the only one who knew I was there and you didn’t bother to tell anyone. You just got your mac on and hopped up on that railing trying to show off your gymnastic skills. But you were drunk and the railing wasn’t stable. Marty’s place has a great view, but that view means quite a bit of a drop.

I wonder if it was painful. Now having a DUI is the least of my worries. I’m the guy who has a cheating dead boyfriend. My friends want to console me but they don’t know what to say.

Next month, Marty’s having his legendary Valentine’s Day Party. He hasn’t sent me an invitation. Thanks a lot. You ruin my social life even in death. I hope landing on those rocks hurt like hell.

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 NaNoWriMoevery 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 calledThe Nearsighted Narwhal