Tin House


Sign Up for News, Sales
& Events

TwitterFollow Us
FacebookFollow Us
TumblrFollow Us
PodcastFollow Us
RSSFollow Us

Pacific University Ad



Master Plotto Week Ten Winner: Christopher James

With the ghosts of Harrison Ford & Tommy Lee Jones (or David Jansen for those of you in the know) lingering over many of this week’s entries, it was refreshing to come across a story that transported us back to the revolutionary spirit of last spring.

Congratulations to this week’s winner, Christopher James, who just happened to submit our 500th Plotto entry.

Christopher and our other nine winners from this round will be back in a few weeks as part of our Final Master Plot Challenge.

Last week’s prompt: A, a fugitive from justice, will be arrested if he rescues B, the officer who is pursing him, from misfortune.

Speech Bubbles

It’s against the law in my country to protest the terrible things that are done. Sometimes, in the old days, I would put my face in a sink full of water and scream. This is how a man like me expressed anger, amongst bubbles.

Now, when I’m angry, I can tweet. I can update my facebook status. I can blog.

Facebook and Twitter are illegal in my country, but there are ways around that. The government shuts down gaps in the system and we find new ones. It’s difficult to say your piece. When you get online you only have a limited word-count, but that’s okay. When you have worked so hard to get a voice you know the value of each word.

Sometimes, I get locked up. This is how my country expresses anger.

In May of last year five thousand of my countrymen were invited to S______ beach. It’s beautiful in May. The water’s blue, the sand’s white, the sun has got his hat on.

My countrymen were shot and killed, all five-thousand, without explanation.

I tweeted. The water’s red, the sand’s red, can’t see the sun for red. I doubt the rest of the world knew what it meant, if they were even looking.

I was arrested, locked up again. Luckily for me, the government assumes they don’t need walls around their prisons. They think prisoners will stay where they’re told to stay. A hundred years or more of history supports the assumption.

I was an exception, running away.

And once I got away, I had nowhere to go. I went to S_______ beach and looked upon the once-blue sea and imagined life beyond those waters.

They sent a single man to take me back. He said he understood my position, he knew where I was coming from, but things were done for a reason. The government was preparing the people for freedom, but it couldn’t be given all at once. A starved man needs small bites of food or he’ll choke.

You’re a good man, he told me. I see that. Come back, do as you’re told. Be patient.

I stepped into the sea. I was a strong swimmer. I could do more from the other side of the water than I could from here.

I can’t swim, my pursuer said.

That’s better for me, I said. I was already a hundred feet from the shore. He couldn’t swim, but he followed me into the water anyway. Well, it was his own fault if he drowned. A man who can’t swim can’t expect to learn in the sea.

Help me, said my pursuer. I’m drowning.

I looked back, and it was true. If I save you, you’ll arrest me, I said.

If you don’t, I’ll die, he told me.

This isn’t fair, I said.

My pursuer was drowning and didn’t say anything.

I put my head under the water and expressed my anger as loud as the sea would let me.

Christopher James lives and writes in Jakarta, Indonesia, having already tried living and writing in London, Australia, Central America and mainland Europe. Previous publications include pieces in the Times and Camera Obscura. He’s currently working on a novel.

Share |
Posted in General

Comments: 7

(29) Comments

  1. Artois says:

    It’s a great one. I’m glad you’ve made it this far. Congratulations. x

  2. Roberta Pudney Gray says:

    The quiet simplicity of the language you’ve used here to describe the ordinary
    everyday horror of this place reminds how humans accommodate to anything. . . until they refuse.


  3. lucinda kempe says:

    CJS is IN Tin House! This makes me think of David Byrne’s Burning Down the House. Write on, CJS.

  4. Andrew Stancek says:

    Excellent work, Christopher. Congratulations.

  5. Zin Kenter says:

    Christopher! How wonderful to see your story recognized here! Congratulations!

  6. marko fong says:

    great story and congratulations, Christopher!

  7. Richard Osgood says:

    Powerful work, Christopher. Congratulations! Good luck with the Final Master Plot Challenge. You’ll have fun with it–#:-)

(0) Trackbacks & Pingbacks

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *