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 #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 #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

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