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

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 #9: Lucky

Lucky 9

I read a book a while back that said none of us have free will. Every little thing we do, say, and think isn’t up to us at all. It’s all a combination of genetics, circumstance, and luck. If one of those three things were different, we’d do and say and think differently. Thanks to my genetics, circumstances, and luck, I’m writing this for you to read.

My point here is it’s nobody’s fault. I didn’t get to choose my parents. So the genetics part can’t be blamed on me. I am genetically who I am because that’s just how it worked out. (I suppose there’s a certain amount of luck in that also.)

Circumstances? I didn’t create a lot of this situation. My only part was sitting down at the table. I didn’t have anything to do with the other people sitting down at the table. I didn’t know what was going to happen. And I sure as hell didn’t know anyone there had a gun.

We were playing Texas Hold’em. King, Queen, Ace, Six. All Hearts. The River Card hit. Ace of Clubs. The guy on my right. The one with the white hat says something in Korean (though he was a white guy) and drops the other two Aces. The Korean pulled out a gun. Then the guy with the cigar pulled out a gun. I saw the guy behind the bar pull out a shotgun and then I’m deaf for the next ten minutes.

And that’s where the luck came in. When it was all said and done, I was the only guy that didn’t have a hole in him. I had my first ever Royal Flush. So I took the money and ran. I had no choice in the matter. It’s what was always going to happen thanks to my genetics, circumstances, and luck.

Then again, my being arrested as I ran out the door of the illegal casino was part of the luck too. All things considered I’m in a spot of trouble. But knowing you like I do. I’m hoping your genetics, circumstances, and luck put you in a position where you want to bail my ass out of here.

So what do you say, brother?

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 #8: Desperate

Desperate 8Violence is an act of desperation. I first heard that in an interview with Martin Sheen. They had him on a show because the West Wing needed a bump but he’d talked about his own political protests as well. I liked the guy.

I like to think I’m a lot of things: Smart, creative, funny, interesting, sly. One a good night maybe I’m sexy. On a bad one maybe I’m dangerous. But the one thing I never want to be is desperate.

I remember the last time I saw desperation. I had stolen my dad’s new Lotus and taken it for a joy ride. He was in the city and I pulled it into the garage. I was Ferris Fry with all the charm of Ferris Bueller and the money of Cameron Fry. And then I saw the guy who cleaned our pool. He saw me pull it in.

So I went up to him and said, “If you say one word about this to anyone, I’m telling my dad I saw you screwing mom.”

It didn’t matter that I was lying. Turns out the pool boy didn’t matter at all. Dad pulled in behind me. I hadn’t yet turned off the car. My father beat me so hard that night I walked funny for a week. And the whole time I thought about how desperate he must be to control 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 #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