12-Minute Tales – The Path

He traveled along the road, past the fields and into the forest deep. As he walked something stirred in a nearby bush.

“Hello?” He said. He looked and a tiny crab popped out and stepped onto the path. The man had never seen a crab before. He was mixed with both fear and excitement. “Hello?” he said to the crab.

The crab moved-in closer. “‘Sup.”

“Um, fine weather we’re having.”

“Yeah man. So, what are you doing all the way out here. Isn’t your kind over there?”

The man nodded. “Yes, this is true, but I’m on a journey.”

“A journey?” said the crab. “Where man?”

“I’m on a journey to find myself.”

The crab scratched his shell with its claw. “What?”

“Well, I left home to find meaning and purpose and life. Do you have a quest for me?”

The crab was now even more confused. “A quest?”

“Yeah, you know. Something that will test me. Something that causes me to learn something about myself and the world.”

The crab thought for a moment. Finally, it said, “Nope. Got nothing for you.”

The man was disappointed at this, but the day was still sunny and bright, and the road continued on, deeper into the forest. “Well, in that case, it was nice seeing you.”

“‘Kay.”

And the man ventured further until he eventually got bored and became an accountant. One day, after a stressful day at work, he decided to go for a walk. That’s when he found a familiar path.

“Hey, it’s you.” He said to a familiar face peering from the bushes by his feet. “Remember me? I once travelled here, not too long ago.”

The crab scratched its shell. “Yeah. Weren’t you here like 3 days ago.”

“Has it been that long? Well, time certainly does fly, and along with it youth. But, fortunately, I’ve learned much in my travels.”

“Um, okay.”

“But what of you? Have you experienced all life has to offer?”

“No. Not really.”

“Why not?”

“Cause I’m a crab man. I’m just trying to hide from birds and eat dirt.”

“Well, that to me doesn’t sound like a bad life.”

“Nah. It kinda sucks. You know, I’ve seen I don’t know how many people walk this way trying to ‘find themselves’ but you’re the first to ever come back. Why is that?”

The man thought about this. “Well, I’m not sure. Maybe, I’m not done searching.”

And with that the man quit his job and traveled far and wide. Meanwhile, Tobias the crab found a worm and got eaten by a pigeon. This one wasn’t very good.

12-Minute Tales – The Request

“Come here my son, come here, for the last time,” are what the gentle, fading eyes said to him. Lucas hadn’t seen his father in years, ever since he stormed out of their home, leaving his family behind to start a new life in Hollywood. Now, Lucas was a big-time writer and producer with many credits to his name.

But, he was back in the hallway and felt like a child once more, a child who didn’t have his own life. He walked down the darkened hall and approached his father who laid in bed.

“Son…” The word seemed to drift out into the air and catch Lucas unexpectedly as he felt tears start to form. “Oh, my son,” his father said. “I’m so glad that you are back. After all these years.” His father started to cough some more.

Lucas took his father’s cold, grey hand. Tears came. “Father, I’m so sorry.” And he wept.

“Son, you’ve done a lot of great things I hear. That makes me so happy that you have found your place.”

But had he? Lucas had achieved much, but none of it felt real as he looked upon his father’s last moments, blurred by the sorrow in his eyes.

“I especially like that one movie. What was it? Yes, The Hangover Part II.”

Lucas whimpered. That wasn’t one of his movies, but he didn’t have it in him to correct the dying old man.

“Even better than the first,” the old man coughed some more, his body waging a war against itself. And it was losing. “I just want you to know that whatever animosity we had doesn’t mean anything anymore. I regret the things I’ve said to you, but it’s all just dust now, disappearing into wind. All that matters now is that you make another Hangover film.”

“Dad?”

The Hangover Part XI. That’s the only thing I wish of you.”

“But Dad, there’s only 3.”

“Do it, for me.” His voice rattled and he let out a final breath. The old man was gone. And Lucas went back to Hollywood with a mission hanging over him.

12-Minute Tales – Eye of the B-Holder

Mortimer had a decision to make. He had just discovered humanity’s greatest work of art and he needed to show it to someone, and he had two people in mind. There was Gustav who used to be one of his colleagues at the university before he got a better, higher-paying position elsewhere. They haven’t talked since. And then there was one of his other colleagues, Barbara, who teaches modern art. It was tempting to contact Gustav and use this discovery as a way to mend their relationship, but Barbara have been hitting it off as of late, and it would almost be disrespectful to favor someone he hasn’t talked to in awhile over her. So he made the call.

Half an hour passed and he saw Barbara standing in the doorway. He rushed over to her. “Barbara. Thank God you’re here. Man, this is so exciting!”

“Yeah.” She rubbed her eyes and yawned.

“Come on!” Mortimer led her to one of the computers. She watched as he went back into the browser and opened one of the tabs.

“Well,” he said with anticipation. “This is it.”

“What?”

“Like I said before: the greatest piece I have ever seen. But, you look. Tell me what you think?”

She leaned over, squinted at the computer screen. Mortimer watched her eyes move up and down the screen. “So? It’s great, isn’t it? I mean, it’s everything! Everything has been leading up to this!”

She hardly reacted and rubbed her eyes again. “Um, is this a joke?”

“What do you mean?”

“Well, all I see is a ‘B’.”

Mortimer turned to the monitor. A giant red “B” floated before them, clinging toward the center of a white void. “But isn’t it great? I mean, it’s a total deconstruction of art. It’s the simplest expression of something so complex. It’s ingenious.”

“Riiight. Um, listen, I have to go.”

“What? But don’t you see?”

“Yes, I do. But don’t you?”

“What do you mean?”

“Look, Mort, I mean, I guess it’s kind of clever. But Duchamp did this sort of thing decades ago. Conceptual art is nothing new. In fact, it’s quite old, and kind of gimmicky.”

“But–”

“The problem is that it’s not really art. I mean, you can interpret a thousand things from it, but that’s because people are bringing those interpretations with them and projecting them onto nothing, but the piece itself doesn’t really mean anything. It makes the viewer do all of the work.”

Mortimer stared at her. Her expression changed. “I mean, it’s a nice font.”

“Don’t condescend to me!”

“Sorry…look, maybe we can discuss this later. I have to go.”

“Fine…” As she left Mortimer was by himself, muttering as the red “B” sat before him. All that was left.

 


An alternate take on Free B.

The Last Fight

“Is this it? Is this what the future has wrought?” Morris looked out his window and saw them move across the street, swarming across every surface, climbing the sides of buildings, filling the cold air with their robotic chants.

“MURDER. MURDER. MURDER.”

Morris had warned them. Warned everyone what would happen if we made artificially intelligent lawn chairs. He closed his window shades and sighed, but he could still hear their shrill voices followed by screams. Now humans were the ones who were going to be sat upon.

He pulled out his pistol. “Don’t do it Morris,” his gun said. “You have so much to live for.”

“Do I? The world is gone. There’s nothing we can do to stop them.”

The gun let out a small, worried hum. “Maybe we can shoot a couple first?”

Morris let out a sigh. “There’s no use fighting it: progress. Humans have become obsolete. We no longer be-lawn.” Morris pointed the barrel of the gun at his temple and closed his eyes.

Suddenly, there was a knock at the door. He quickly turned. “MURDER. MURDER. MURDER.” They were here.

“Come on Morris…” His gun glowed. “Just a couple…”


Written for Sunday Photo Fiction and Your Daily Word Prompt: Future.

Photo from Pixabay.

 

Nothing

One day I went to a garage sale where
a man was selling his nothing. “What
is it?” I asked him. He pointed at
his empty garage and said, “don’t
you see? It’s nothing. And it can be
all yours!” I looked at the nothing
then back at him then back at
the nothing. “What does it do?”
He looked at me. “Nothing. Nothing
does nothing.” I nodded. Makes sense.
“Well, what can you do with
nothing?” “Well,” he said, “you can
stare at it. You can walk around in it.
And you can even pretend that it’s
something.” After a moment, I said,
“how much is it?” “It’s free, nothing is
free.” “I don’t know if I have room
to put it.” He smiled. “You can put
it anywhere. After all, it’s nothing.”
Finally, I said, “no thanks.” “What?
Why not?” But, I didn’t have
an answer.


Written for The Weekly Terrible Poetry Contest.

12-Minute Tales – Dreams & Destiny

You run down the road with all your might, but then you stop. The road suddenly splits into two. Which way do you go?

>Left
>Right

You make a quick decision and head right. You wonder if you made the right decision as the trees surrounding you start to turn grey and filled with glowing eyes. Too late now. You have to keep going, or else they will get to you.

But then you trip; your face smacks against the dirt. You pull yourself up. You hear them coming closer and closer. What now?

>Keep running
>Try to hide
>Accept your fate

Looking around you see a boulder. You leap behind it and hold your breath. Their footsteps come closer and closer. Suddenly, they stop. You continue holding your breath. Maybe they’re gone. But, all of a sudden, a hand comes down, clutching your shoulder, and the last thing you see is darkness. You are dead.

>Restart from last checkpoint
>Quit

You run down the road with all your might. Suddenly, there’s a fork. Which way do you go?

>Left
>Right

You make a quick decision and go left. You sprint as hard as you can, but you can hear them coming closer and closer. Tears start to swarm your eyes. You know this is going to be it. You stop. You’ve been running for what seems like hours and you can’t go further. What do you do?

>Try to hide
>Climb a tree
>Fight
>Accept your fate

You’re too tired to run, but you’re not tired enough to climb a tree. You claw up the side of the nearest tree and look down from one of the branches.

You see them below. They stop and look around. “What happened? I just saw her! Must be here somewhere!”

“You can’t hide!”

You hold your breath and start to pray. But as soon as you close your eyes the tree branch snatches and your body drops.

>Restart from the last checkpoint
>Quit

You try to quit, but the program doesn’t let you. You minimize the window and open up Task Manager, but you can’t shut the program down from there. It just keeps popping up with the same GAME OVER screen you’ve seen countless times before.

>Restart from the last checkpoint
>Quit

You make a quick decision and go left. You sprint as hard as you can, but you can hear them coming closer and closer. Tears start to swarm your eyes. You know this is going to be it. You stop. You’ve been running for what seems like hours and you can’t go further. What do you do?

>Try to hide
>Climb a tree
>Fight
>Accept your fate

This is it. You have to fight. You stand in the middle of the road with your fists out. “Come and get me.” Suddenly, an arrow plunges into your stomach and your body collapses. You squirm like a pathetic worm.

>Restart from the last checkpoint
>Quit

12-Minute Tales – Creation

Carl had died multiple times. So many times that he lost count. The deaths soon became a blur, and life something like a dream. Carl didn’t know why he kept dying and coming back to life. It seemed like every other week or so a car would smack into him, or he would tumble down a flight of stairs. But, he always managed to get back up and continue living. He should have died, countless times, but the universe must have had other plans. He even once had Ebola, but, at that point, he already knew he was going to survive. The pain was there, but it hardly registered as a feeling, but seemed more like a momentary state, a pale and lifeless entity.

Meh. I don’t like the way this story is going, so let’s just scratch it. Pretend it never happened. Goodbye, Carl.

“Wait, what?”

I said, ‘goodbye.’ Now, let’s write about something else. I’m running out of time. Let’s see…oh, once there was a hippo–

“No. No! You can’t do this!”

Um, do what?

“You know…You created me only for me to suffer. To get hit by cars and get fucking Ebola. And now, you’re going to pretend I never happened. Poof!

Well, I’m sorry. The story just wasn’t very interesting.

“Wasn’t…OK, but it was MY story. Shouldn’t that count for something?”

I thought about this for a moment.

“OK. So you thought about it. Now what? Tell me what you’re going to do. Don’t let me just disappear. It couldn’t have all just been for nothing!”

Look, sorry Carl. You’re not real. You’re just some words on a page during my lunch break. All for the amusement of others.

“Well, I don’t find it amusing. This is my life!”

But, it’s not your life, is it? Anyway, the hippo’s name was–

“Wait!”

God. What?

“So, don’t I at least get something? A happy ending? Or any type of ending? Can’t I just die, for good?”

What do you think is happening?

“Yeah…but not like this. Not–”

And now, Carl was silent. I sighed, letting his face disappear into the ether….So, anyway, the hippo was named Harold and he wasn’t like other hippos…