Ryan Chani

come into my world and take a look around

Short Stories to Get the Mind Going #1 - "The Can"

In an effort to write more and expand on material I started doing writing exercises.  What I've been doing is starting with a random line off the top of my head, then I'll attempt to free write a 500-1,000 (or so) word story that hopefully makes sense or at least flows together and comes to an end.

This experiment has rendered some pretty outlandish concepts that have made me question where my mind can go.  For some reason they are all coming out with a darker undertone and more of a Twilight Zone feeling... But its at least something!

Instead of just letting these tales linger around to collect digital cobwebs while taking space up in my hard drive, I decided to dole them out to some artistic beings I have come to know while in the comedy world.  I asked them to take a look at the stories and come up with a few pieces to give a little visual stimulation to each fable. 


While reading, please know that it was a free write project so there are minimal edits done.  That means try not to judge my grammatical errors...

Illustrations were done by the one and only Owen Linders (producer/host of Thunderbar Comedy Open Mic and beautifully talented artist)

I hope you enjoy!

The Can

“How old is this?  I haven't opened this closet in years so it must be expired by now, if it can even expire.” thinks Paul.  “There’s isn’t a label so no telling what’s inside.  However, all signs would point to it being something that could fit into a regular tin can.”

(holding the can to his ear, Paul shakes the metallic wonder holder)

“Doesn't sound like theres much in there.  not even liquid sloshing.”  The can itself is pretty light too.  “I'm not the weakest man in the world, but even a can of Cambell’s Chunky Soup can be a heavy item.” Paul continues mentally.

“No time to waste pondering on this, I’ll try and get to the bottom of that later.”  Paul places the can on the miniature kitchen table.  The table that has hosted many lonely, single serving, dinners.  Once placed on the table Paul retreats back to his pantry cleaning project.  

Hours pass, filling plastic bags with rotted vegetables, raw spaghetti broken to pieces, dog treats used to train Paul’s companion (who died 2 years ago), chipped collectors mugs, unused coupons, etc.  The bottom of each shelf looked as though it had been a breading ground for fungal chia pets.  These disgraces just fueled his cleaning adrenaline.  

The task was a daunting one, but very self satisfying once the end was in sight.  After bringing out one of the last bags needed to call this an accomplishment, Paul’s eye caught a glimpse of the mystery can on the counter.  It looks as if it’s just been watching me as I sweat.  Walking to the counter Paul questions his memory of placing the can on the kitchen table.  

“Did I move this during my genocide on scum?” he thought to himself while reaching out to pick the can up.  His hand grasps the tin cylinder and attempted to move it upwards.  No dice…  The can felt stuck…  “What the hell?  Are my counters sticky now?  just when you think a job is done…”  Paul turns, entering the pantry to retrieve cleaning items to tackle this new task before he loses his motivation.  

Bending down to pick up his Pine Sol he heard a hard thud behind him, that was followed by the sound of something bowling ball-esk begin to roll.  Looking out Paul could see the can come into sight, rolling until it was in full view from the pantry.  At that point the can halts…

Drawing:  Owen Linders

Paul stares in bewilderment.  With a hesitant breathe he lifts his right foot to begin a slow exit from the closet.  Paul’s foot touches the floor board, as his body weight shifts it causes his motion to become audible with a creak.

Before Paul can make his next move the can begins to spin.  Its’ rotations start off slow, but quickly begin to speed up, a sound similar to nails on a chalk board fills Paul’s eardrums.  As the can’s speed increases a light flickers where the can and floor meet.  This is a short lived union, as the rotations become blurry with vigor and the can starts to raise from the linoleum.

Paul, dumbfounded, on the verge of peeing his pants, jumps back into the closet slamming the door shut.  Dropping to the floor, Paul’s eyes are fixated on the space between the floor and bottom of the door.  The light intensifies.  Brighter then anything Pauls seen before.  

He cant take his eyes off the lights.  The white keeps getting larger and larger through the crack of the door.  Paul is unable to look away.  His vision starts to get smokey, the smell of something burning is caught in his nose.  That’s the smell of his eyes cooking…

Drawing:  Owen Linders

Paul’s vision goes black.  The sound the can created while spinning stops.  Now Paul can hear the can rolling towards the door.  Tin on wood alerts him to its arrival.  A slow creak, signaling the opening of the pantry door sends shivers down Paul’s spine, as well as a stream of warm liquid down his leg.  

“Who’s there!?!  What do you want!?!” Paul yells at the darkness.  

No response…

Paul hears the can roll into the closet.  A tiny nudge on the bottom of his shoes makes Paul aware the can has reached him.  “Don’t touch me!!! GET AWAY!!!” Paul begins to kick while weeping.  Between his sniveling he can hear metal ripping.  The lid must be opening…

Paul quiets down.  Through the slow sound of metal taring Paul pleads one last time, “p-p-p-please… I don't know what’s happening… I can’t see… I’ll help you in anyway I can… just…”  the noise stops and the lid taps the floor.

Air starts to rush by Paul.  Towards the pantry door.  Towards the now open can…

As if hands formed from the shelves, Paul rises up off the floor.  Tilting forward he is shot like a cannon ball right into nothingness.  Paul floats, still blind, only darkness. 

Drawing:  Owen Linders

Paul tries to move his lips, they part, but nothing comes out.  Paul floats on…

The space surrounding him feels like gelatin.  Paul floats on…

The can lay on the floor of the freshly cleaned pantry.  Its’ lid reattached.  Paul floats on…

Located on the side of the tin there are words.  “Expiration: 10/10/16”.  Today’s date.  Paul floats on…

Drawing:  Owen Linders