Sunday, September 13, 2015

Writing Prompt: Decisions, Decisions

By Janice Hardy, @Janice_Hardy

This week’s prompt is a story starter, so take the element provided and turn it into a story of any length you choose. If you’re stuck on size, I suggest aiming for 1000-2000 words.

Write a story about someone facing the toughest decision of their lives.

“Toughest” can be subjective. A five year old deciding which toy to give away can be pretty earth-shattering for the child.

Skill challenge:
Try writing about a decision that has high stakes only to the person making the decision.

1 comment:

  1. Press the blue button and the world's smartest 2% of people die.

    Press the red button and everyone below the poverty line dies.

    If I don't press a button in five minutes, I die.

    I sit up from the chair. Turn my back on the buttons. The door is locked. I can hear Ester's voice on the other side. “What's Daddy doing?” I wish I could text her. Tell her Dad'll be out in a few minutes. If I don't press a button, she's up next. They lined us up alphabetically.

    I sit back down in the chair.

    If I kill the smartest people it could doom the world. I read somewhere that the Earth has about 100 years of resources left. We'll be overpopulated and die from starvation. Wait—is that what the article said? Wish I had my phone.

    But I'm certain it was something like that. The world will end through overpopulation. If I kill the poor it'll buy humanity some time. And it'll buy time for the smart people to solve the problem so the world doesn't become overpopulated again.

    I hold my hand over the red button.

    Where is the poverty line, exactly? Is it relative to where you live or is there some bar that applies to the world? How many people would I kill? Four or five…billion? I have two nephews who just graduated college. Thousands of dollars in debt and no jobs. My brother would kill Ester out of spite. He'd go insane.

    Now amplify that times billions. The whole world would be mad with grief. Even the smartest 2%. It would be chaos. An apocalyptic wasteland.

    I rest my hand on the table.

    How many people are in the smartest 2%? I guess that would be around…140 million. It would be chaos too, but…how many people died in World War 2? That number had to have been in the tens of millions. The world kept turning.

    And these 2%. They've had their whole lives to solve the overpopulation problem, but they've let us march into doom. Sure, the smart people aren't necessarily the ones who control the corporations and governments, but there must be plenty of overlap. A new generation of smart people could rise up from the poor and middle-classes. They will have grown up facing the problems of today and have the urgency to fix them.

    But what if there aren't as many smart people at the head of governments and corporations as I think? I'd be getting rid of the sensible leaders and allowing the idiots to run the world. They'd suppress the next generation. How do you define a smart person?

    A voice crackled through the loudspeaker, “You have two minutes to decide.”

    After I'm dead, Ester would come in and press the blue button. She likes that color. She wouldn't know what she's doing now, but she'd realize it someday. It would wreck her. Even if she could live with it, people would track her down and make her pay. Even idiots are capable of that.

    God, I sound like such an asshole.

    Maybe I should just press the blue button for Ester. Do what she would have done and spare her the misery. The assholes who designed this contraption would have to be pretty smart. I bet I'd take them out too.

    “One minute.”

    No, they probably made themselves immune to this, the cowards. This is their solution. They couldn't decide whether to get rid of the smartest or the poorest to solve the world's problems, so they forced people the middle make the decision. It had to be one person? It couldn't be a vote?

    The worst part is that this won't solve anything. A bunch of people will die and we'll find ourselves back here again. What if that happens sooner than we think? Ester could be one of the smartest or poorest by then.

    I need to stop this. I have to ruin this experiment so that they never attempt it again.

    “Thirty seconds.”

    I raise my hands.

    And press both buttons.