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Janet / Jane

by Tinka Boudit She/Her 2 months ago in urban legend · updated 2 months ago
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A very real horror

Unsplash Image - Manuel Bonadeo

The cabin in the woods had been abandoned for years, but one night, a candle burned in the window. "It comes to this," Jane said blowing out the match. She turned around and looked at the teenage girl, Janet, sitting silently at the table. "It's scary, I know. It wasn't always like this. I didn't think it would be like this. It was like this for my grandmother. It wasn't like this for my mother or for me. These are horrific times we live in." She lowered the hood of her sweatshirt and sat at the table across from the teenage girl. The teenage girl had been crying, she had been crying for the last several days anytime they talked.

"Jane, you said you know, what was it like for you?" The teenage girl asked between sniffs.

She sighed, "Safe, clean, inexpensive. Not like this. Not risking life and liberty just so our lives can be our own, Janet."

They both knew Jane and Janet weren't their names, but the pseudonyms were absolutely necessary, The Network required it, for the protection of all of them.

"How long will we have to wait," Janet asked.

Jane looked at her watch, the second hand ticked. Everything in The Network was analog; no digital trace meant no tracking, anonymity. "The Source said she would be here at 10PM. We made good time; we shouldn't have idle time anywhere. That's where the risks come in."

"Why we kept moving," Janet asked.

"The Network wanted to make sure you were serious. That you were Janet. But time is obviously an issue." Jane ticked her head looking at Janet.

Jane took a deep breath. "How did it feel?"

"It will hurt. I won't lie about that. It's going to be worse for you than it was for the other Aunt Janes. But the pain now is going to be less than the pain later. It will pass." Jane reached out for Janet's hand.

"I don't think anything can feel worse than what's already happened." Janet said.

"The human brain is designed to forget physical pain; the emotional scars will come back and haunt you. They came back for me," Jane said.

"The pain? Or what lead up to it?"

"The lead up, the anticipation is worse than the result. But I'll be right here for you. You can hold my hand if you want."

Janet looked at Jane's hand on the table, her hand weathered and scarred. Jane clearly worked hard. She had over the last two days, she was able to set up and strike their campsites quickly. She chopped and hauled woods without gloves. She knew how to forage for regional plants. Janet was thoroughly impressed when Jane caught a rabbit, carved it, and they ate it for breakfast one morning. Janet rested her hand in the echoing warmth of Jane's hand. "Thank you again for doing this. I know what it means for you to bring me here," Janet said.

"I made my choice to be here, just like you." Jane reached into her small bag and pulled out a portable CD player. She handed Janet one of the earbuds. "This brings us Jane's more comfort than you realize. It's what our grandmothers went through. It's not far off from what you're going through. As big as it was, as culturally significant as it was, it amazes us time and time again how easy the true story is forgotten."

The music played. Janet got a sad smile on her face. "I won't hear these songs the same way ever again."

"No Janet ever does."

There was a knock at the door. Jane pulled out the earbud and slowly approached the door. She knocked back twice. From the other side the woman's voice called, "The Source."

"Jane." She opened the door to the door to see the familiar face. The Source could have been one of a few people, Jane was glad to see it was the one with short blonde hair. Jane liked this Source more than some of the others.

"I have everything. Put out the candle. Close the blinds. I can do this quickly," The Source said .

The Source set up, Jane prepared the room, and Janet nervously prepared herself. The trio worked quickly with minimal crying. The Source handed Jane a bottle of pills. "Take two a day for the next week. Jane knows what to do if there are any issues." The Source took her equipment and was gone as quickly and unceremoniously as she arrived.

"Is she always that fast with her work," Janet asked.

"She has to be. For her protection, ours, and The Network. The sooner you forget her face, the better."

"I don't think I even saw her face."

"That's a good thing." Headlights reflected through the cabin and were gone. "We'll give it an hour, and we'll head back to the car. If you think you're up for it sooner, let me know."

Janet nodded. "C-can we listen to the CD a little more?"

"Absolutely."

Jane cued up the CD player. The familiar drum riff comforted her, but she knew for sure Janet would never hear the song the same way ever again. The Dirty Dancing Soundtrack, "Be My Baby," by The Ronnettes would never sound the same again. This Janet now knew Penny's journey.

urban legend

About the author

Tinka Boudit She/Her

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The Soundtrack BOI: WA

Bette On It: Puddle, Desks, Door, Gym, Condoms, Couch, Dancers, Graduate.

Purveyor of Metaphorical Hyperbole, Boundless, Ridiculous, Amazing...and Humble.

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Nice work

Very well written. Keep up the good work!

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