James, John, Jane

James, John, Jane

This story is based off this Guy in Your MFA tweet.


James, John, Jane



James stood in front of John and Jane, and put his hands on his hips. “We have to do something about this,” he said.

John chugged a soda, then slammed the glass bottle down on the table next to him. “I still don’t believe any of it,” he said, before burping.

“Well it’s true,” James said. He saw Jane on her phone, typing away. “Stop that! You’re going to ruin everything!”

“Geez,” she said, putting the phone back in her purse. “We can’t afford to take any risks, not now.” James began pacing back and forth in front of John and Jane. “We can’t let them take us one by one. We can’t let them take us at all.”

“‘Them’?” Jane scoffed. “I know you’re a little delusional sometimes but you’re going too far even for me this time.”

“You can’t see what’s going on! But I can!” James shouted. “James Carpenter. John Cornell. Jane Caraway. They’re using us as figures. Making us into messianic archetypes to butcher and derive meaning from.”

Jill put her palm on her forehead. “Who is ‘they’?”

“The authors of our very existences. Them.”

John burped again. “You think we’re all created just to die for a cause or something? Calm down, bro…”

“Yes! You understand!” James exclaimed, ignoring the “Calm down” portion of what John said. “We’re being led like lambs to the slaughter.”

“Bible quotes?”

“No, I… Shit. It was, wasn’t it?” James took a deep breath. “Okay… You guys remember Jared Cox, don’t you? Used to go drinking with us?” They nodded their heads. “He joined the Army two years ago. Last month? Killed in action. What was he doing? Saving his squadmates so they could escape and warn command.”

“Oh damn… I never heard about that… “Jill said.

“He went out like a fuckin’ hero,” John said. He raised his empty soda bottle in an invisible toast to his deceased friend. “Good for him.”

“Yes, he went out like a hero. And that’s the problem. We can’t let this continue to happen.” James took another deep breath. “I mean… You both remember what happened to Jessie Carol, right?” All three of them took a small moment of silence. Finally, James opened his eyes. “You understand now, surely. It’s happening to all of us.”

“But how could we…” Jill trailed off.

“I’m a local politician in a metropolitan city,” James said. “You, Jill, are a Twitter activist with eight million followers. It’s not a question of how, but when.”

“And what about me?” John asked. “I don’t even have a job. All I do is play Xbox all day.” He said this with a strange sense of pride that confused both James and Jill.

“You’re even more at risk,” James said. “Because I know you, John, and I know you always do the right thing. You live in a high-crime area, and the moment you heard your neighbors were having a break-in, you know exactly what you would do.”

John said nothing in response.

Jill looked at her powered-off phone with anxiety. “What can we do about this?”

“That’s… I don’t know.” James looked down solemnly. Then he looked back up with determination. “But I know I’m not just gonna sit down and take this. I’m not someone’s sacrifice!” With this, James turned around and stormed out.

“Uh, where’s he going?” Jill asked John.

“No idea,” said John.

James Carpenter died that day.


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