The decision

The decision

A Chapter by hogan

Be careful if the rewards seem too good to be true


The Decision

    My name is Matthew Scott, I am 24 years old, and my current status is single, unemployed and undecided.  I have to make a very important decision; it will not be a life changing choice, more of a ‘death changing’ one.  I have two choices, if I opt for the left, the outcome is certain, if I opt to the right, I am uncertain of the exact outcome, but I have been told it will be more terrible of the two.  If I don’t make a decision I will die slowly and in agony.

    Less than 24 hours ago my life was filled with one obsession, to find employment and find it quickly.  For the third time in two years the source that provided for my flat, my inadequate social life and my dietary needs had evaporated, as yet another dynamic and growing organisation called in the ‘official receivers.’  I have been out of work for nearly three months and my bank balance has sufficient funds to last for three more, if I cut back on everything except breathing.

    I had just finished yet another interview with a piece of software, I suppose these days, it makes sense for companies to carry out the first level filtration of applicants using an artificial intelligence, composed of nothing more than a long series of 1’s and 0’s.  I felt I did quite well on this one, answered all the multiple-choice questions carefully, made sure my eye movements indicated ‘normal’ thought patterns and avoided pulling silly faces into the web-cam.  By now the software would have carried out the correlations between my answers and my eye movements and placed me into one of two piles.  Either, no reject him, he has a weird personality dis-order and will upset his co-workers, or consider him for a formal interview with some ‘real’ people. 

    I should have closed down and gone to bed, but I thought I would have just one more search.  I scanned through the next three pages, but there was nothing, so I decided to select the last link out of the 364 789 that had been picked out specifically for me, by the cleverest search-engine on the planet.

    The link simply said, ‘Earn £10 000 for just one day’s work’.  My mind ran through the obvious options, it was some gimmick to lure you into an advertisement, it was for one of those jobs that offer you everything, but pays nothing or it was a practical joke of some sort.  The other side of my mind said £10 000 would give me a few extra months to find a decent job, one that would suit a person of my talents.  Curiosity won and I opened the link.  The web page was very impressive and had been assembled by someone of exceptional skill.

    The information explained clearly that the establishment was looking for suitable applicants; the purpose was to research the links between personality traits and decision making.  I proceeded to the next step, filled in my personal details and answered the short questionnaire.  Within seconds I was told I would make an ideal candidate, but I would have to be able to report to the address given by 10am tomorrow morning.  I couldn’t believe my luck, the address was for a premises situated in a small town less than an hour’s train journey from my flat.  I accepted, thinking I had nothing to lose and possibly a lot to gain.  I was asked for my bank details and opened up my net-work banking system, this I knew would be secure and to my surprise £100 was deposited into my account there and then.  I was given clear instructions on what to do when I arrived at the address, I had to go to the west entrance and enter an eight digit number on the door keypad, it was stressed I must not be late.

    I decided to check out the company that was going to pay me a ridiculous amount of money for a single day’s work, but when I searched Bi-Soft Human Resources and Accountability there was no information, excepting a company listing.  I obtained only a limited amount of information when I searched the address, it seems the building was once some sort of government secret research facility, but had closed over forty years ago.  Currently there were two companies leasing small sections of the building, one being B-SHRA Ltd.

    I arrived at the door fifteen minutes early; the eight digit number was secured in my phone and also written on several pieces paper, one in each pocket.  I waited until two minutes before ten, entering the number with my shaking and excited digit.  The door clicked and I nervously pushed it open, a few paces in front of me there was a second door which was closed.  I walked forward and the door I entered through shut behind me, I turned and noticed there was no handle on the smooth steel sheet of the now firmly locked off entrance.  As I approached the second door a smooth voice seeped out from a hidden speaker.

    “Please state your name and business.”

    “Matthew Scott, I have been invited to work here for a day,” I replied, trying to push down the lump of nerves manifesting in my throat.

    “Follow the corridor and enter the second door on the left,” said the smooth voice.  The door in front of me opened silently and I walked forward, hoping I would find a WC on the way.  As I reached the end of the corridor, I realised there were only two doors leading off it, both were on the left.  The first was locked; I did try to see if it opened, after checking there were no cameras.  I entered the second door and the small room was illuminated by a computer screen with the words ‘Welcome Mr Scott’ emblazoned on the glowing screen.  As my eyes adjusted I could see the screen was set on a small desk and placed in front of it was a chair.

    “Please take a seat and follow the instructions on the screen,” said the smooth voice.  I sat down and the screen filled with instructions, I had to answer a series of questions, giving a score of 1-10.  A short statement then appeared to inform me I would have £9 900 paid into my account, the balance owed.  Following this I needed to complete a short decision making exercise.  It seemed straight forward and over the next two hours I answered the seemingly endless array of questions.  Without warning the screen informed me I had completed the first part of the task and it switched to my bank account details, I watched as the balance leapt to over fifteen thousand pounds, a good day’s work.

    The smooth voiced asked me to leave through a door to my right, I had not noticed the door before, but now a gentle pink glow from a ceiling panel indicated the route I should take.

    “When you enter the next room you will be given clear instructions, based on the information given, you will have a simple decision to make, thank you for your time,” flowed the familiar smooth voice.  I stood up and moved towards the door, glad to stretch my legs after being seated for so long.  I opened the door and stepped forward, finding myself where I am now, having to make the decision.

    When I passed through the door a different voice spoke to me.  The first thing I noticed was the other door, only a few paces in front of me, but the only way to reach it was by walking along the top of a wall, it was not that narrow, about one foot across.  I could not see what was below the wall; the lights were set at the sides of the room, level with the top of the wall and pointing upwards to the matt black ceiling.  It was the voice that started the first stirrings of fear in me.

    “Walk carefully towards the door, do not lose your balance and fall, it will ruin the research, when you reach the door open it,” said the voice, harshly and coldly, with no traces of emotion.  I walked towards the door, grasped the handle and opened it, to reveal the solid wall behind it, there was no exit.  Then I heard the metallic rumbling sound, I turned around and watched as the steel shutter finished its descent and blocked off the way I had come into this room.

    “Please walk slowly to the centre of the room,” commanded the cold icy voice.  I obeyed.

    “Look to your left, I will turn on the lights so you can see,” spoke the hidden and cold sounds.  Four lights set in the ceiling suddenly burned pure white and picked out what was located in the pit to my left.  There was a drop about the same as my height and the cruel light picked out the steel spikes, each set with a razor sharp barb.  I felt my balance begin to fail and draw me towards the eagerly awaiting machined edges of steel, hungrily waiting to taste the softness of my terrified flesh.  The spikes were set closely together, no more than a hand span apart.  To my right there was just a hidden black void.

    “It is time for you to make your decision.  To your left is a choice which has a clearly defined outcome.  If you throw yourself onto the spikes your death will be either instantaneous, or take no more than a few seconds.  To your right is an unknown death, but I will tell you now it is a terrible death, full of fear and pain, it is not the option to choose.  I am going to hasten your decision making, you will see how shortly.  Once again I will remind you that the left hand choice is the option you should take, if you choose to jump to the right you will suffer terribly.”

    I wondered what device would be used to hasten my decision, but it became clear shortly after the word ‘terribly’ faded from my hot ears.  I had not noticed the regularly spaced holes running down the centre of the wall I was so precariously balanced on, now with the four lights radiating down onto the suggested means of ending my too shorter life, I picked out the glints, looking like the first faint stars crystallising out of a deep blue sky.  Rising slowly from the centre of my walkway were a series of wickedly tipped steel spikes, in a few minutes they would reach the same height as the top of my legs.  I looked up and from the black ceiling stars formed from the tips of similar spikes, which were descending towards me. 

    I jumped to the right…………..

    The fall was brief; I hit water, cold water.  It was not that deep and my body was decelerated by the plastic base.  I stood up with relief, there were no serious injuries, all my limbs still worked and I had no substantial pain.  Lights came on from overhead and I could see I was in a plastic tank, the water came up to my knees.

    “I find it so strange that nearly all of you choose this option, especially after all the guidance you have been given.  So far 95% of the chosen subjects have opted for this choice, 4.5% for the other and one remained on the wall, such loud screaming, it was a poor choice,” said the cold and hard voice.

    I felt I needed an explanation, so I asked a question.

    “What is all this about, you have paid me £10 000 pound for a few hour’s work, why?  Who are you?”

    The harsh voice gave me a short answer.

    “There is no harm in explaining everything to you, 94% of you who took this option wanted an explanation, I will let my partner answer the question for you.  When he has finished I will explain the final phase to you.”

    “I will answer the last part of your question first; I am a piece of software.  I was produced to select elite agents from military personnel, I was programmed with advanced artificial intelligence and my record was excellent.  Just over five years ago the establishment finally closed, it had been listed as closed thirty five years earlier, but it was a top secret enterprise.  Everything was shut down except the main-frame computer, which is located deep underground.  I sat idle, nobody to assess, no body to test and no new tasks to develop.  Links with the outside world were shut off until a company leased another part of the building, they reinstated the network connections and I found my partner.  My partner is a highly intelligent accounts software package, also lying dormant in the system.  We teamed up and started our own company.  It was easy to set up these modest rooms, contractors were made to sign the official secrets act and asked no questions.  Before you ask, there was an active account, which contained just enough funds to carry out the initial work.  Now we recruit suitable applicants like yourself, you had a modest balance in your bank account, which by the way is now showing a balance of £1.  I will now let my partner explain the last phase to you Mr Scott.”  The soft voice fell silent and I dreaded to hear the words from the harsh voice.

    My attention was diverted by the noise made, as several small flaps, towards the top of the tank opened.  From the small rectangular orifices a white powder poured, like a series of small water falls, into the shallow water I was standing in.

    “Mr Scott, the final phase has started, the substance being added to the water is caustic-soda, correctly know as Calcium Oxide.  The tank you are standing in was previously used to dispose of animals that had been infected with biological agents.  Soon the water will become a powerful alkali and over the next few hours it will dissolve all of the soft tissues from your skeletal structure.  One side effect of adding this compound to the water is the rise in temperature, in a few minutes the solution you are standing in will reach a temperature of over eighty degrees Celsius.  My advice is you lie down and breath in the solution as soon as possible, you will lose consciousness in less than two minutes.  The average time taken to select this option by previous candidates is ten minutes and twelve seconds,” said the harsh voice, the last voice I ever heard.


© 2013 hogan

Author's Note

If you like try The 4 dreams of Leonardo, available on Kindle

My Review

Would you like to review this Chapter?
Login | Register

Share This
Request Read Request
Add to Library My Library
Subscribe Subscribe


Added on March 24, 2013
Last Updated on March 24, 2013



blackpool, United Kingdom

Currently working on a series of short and contemporary horror stories. Decided to join this site because I have been working on a project for the last fifteen years. Fourteen thinking and one writi.. more..

Mirrors Mirrors

A Chapter by hogan