Oh the Choices

Two objects sit before you: a golden hammer and a cup of what seems to be water. A note on the wall says: “Go ahead, make your choice. The outcome will decide whether you’re ready or not.” Ready for what? What is this place? Why these objects? Which will you choose?

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311 thoughts on “Oh the Choices

  1. Mya

    I yanked the blue note off the table holding the two objects and dipped it into the goblets liquid, the wet part of the paper turned into a solid red. I stuffed the note into my jackets pocket and cleared my throat, “All clear.” the rest of the group scurried over staring at me expectantly. When did I become the leader of the charade? “What’s the next …” a big breath, “challenge?” Max stared at me curiously, gasping for breath after the log run we were forced to do. I straitened my back and looked over at the group, “I don’t know, when I arrived here all that was shown were these two objects.” I made way so the group can take a good look at the objects before us; a shining golden hammer and a silver goblet with a clear liquid in it.

    “What the…” Gabby squinted at the objects before her, assessing the current situation and coming up with a plan. It’s always like this, ever since the new school principle decided to make a game, kids have been losing their lives for these challenges, but for what? What is the meaning of every battle we faced and every friend lost? Daydee and Gabs have already passed, each for something different. First were the stairs, the entire school had to go up these large stairs about 10 students width. The trick was, we had a choice, 2/3 parts of the stairs were a trap, and we had 5 minutes to decide our choice of action. My friends and I all choose the middle part, but it was too late. As Gabs were running up to meet us, the timer ran out and the other 2/3’s of the stairs vanished, the students on them fell through, screaming to god knows where. 3/5 of the student’s disappeared in that one challenge. Daydee was doing a math problem but all ended wrong, the other teams won first, and a sacrifice was to be made; it was said that the student(s) who did the math problem would be the sacrifice. Whole groups disappeared and some didn’t leave.

    “What’s in the cup?” Gabby glanced at Logan “It’s a goblet.” She hissed it, correcting the poor boy’s mistake “Goblet or whatever, what’s in the magical cup?” I let out a heavy sigh, “I don’t know, but for now, let’s just choose one and examine it.” “Is whatever in the goblet safe to touch or drink?” Max inquired further and stepped up to the table and sniffed the contents of the goblet. And ignore my suggestion that’s cool too, I guess we picked the goblet. “Step back, your royal sniffness.” Max jumped back, clearly startled that I ruined his practiced concentration. I took the goblet and raised it high, showing all to observe the choice we made. Gabby clearly raised her eyebrow, mimicked by the others. The floors tiles collapse, a dark, large square opened up. The gang stepped back, hesitant at to what is to come next.

    Our senses tingled; I can feel the hairs on the back of my neck perk. It’s the thing the principle sent after us, the thing we all feared and is the cause of our fight for survival. The reason we ran the course we did is all because of this thing, elevating higher and higher. Max’s breathing hitched and it looked like he was on the verge of tears, I agree, after all we’ve been put through, we get torn apart in the end? I chuckled; I don’t think so, not on my accord. Gabby and Max were the brains like Daydee, Logan and Gabs were the artisans and I was the athletic one in the group. Holding the goblet in my right hand, I slowly walked to the opening, careful not to drip any liquid and even more careful as to not get too close. The elevation sound grew louder and louder until the sound stopped at its peak. An elevator stood before us, big and tall, dominating you could say. I was a good 8 feet away when the elevator doors slid apart and a dark creature dashed for me.

    Slimy, grotesque, unsightly, ugly, hideous, smelly, and bones that can stick out anywhere were running at me. By reflex I dodged out of the way and the creature continued to go straight ahead at Gabby who was behind me. Logan grasped the hammer and was ready to defend himself, Max cowered and rolled out of the way of the creature. Gabby stood frozen in place as the creature halted right before her and breathed down her face. Did I mention the creature was tall? I sprang to my feet and did a mad sprint in the direction for the creature. Logan started hitting away at the creature with the golden hammer but it only seemed to grow, taller and bigger. “HHHHIIIIIEEEEGGGGGHHHHH!” was the screech coming from the creature’s mouth. In no time I was upon the hideous sight and splashed the liquid from the goblet onto the creature. Steam gushed out of the spots the liquid hit on its skin. Another screech before the creature dropped on the floor like a fly.

    “What… just… happened?” Gabby whispered her words in parts as she continued endlessly staring at the spot where the creature had its eyes on her. “pH test at its finest.” I was out of breath; the shock of the thing speeding at me was terrifying enough but having it breathe on your face? Gabby must be living in Hell. Logan inched towards us, hanging the hammer at his side; he was pale as a sheet. Even Gabby had more color then this guy. Wait, one, two, three, I pointed at each of us as I counted “Where the hell is Max?” Logan and I searched within the radius of turning our heads; Gabby remained frozen, even more wide eyed then before. A smell grew until it was noticeable; we sniffed like what Max did. A sharp pang hit my stomach, heat rose to my face. So this is panicking, I thought as I saw the torturous sight over Gabby, I muttered what I imagined were my final words “Shit.”

  2. rebekkalynn9800

    Choose Wisely

    “So, you’re in here too, huh?”
    A voice lifts me from my sleep and I start to sit up. I didn’t sit up for long. “AHHHHH!!!!!!” I screamed as pain spread throughout my side and beyond. “Shhhh!!! Do you want them to come and take you away?” The mystery voice hissed quietly. I looked around frantically, but it was too dark to see anything.
    “Where are we?” I asked through gasping breaths. The voice grew silent for a little bit, but when it spoke up again, the voice came out a gravelly whisper, “Welcome to Hell On Earth.”
    I must have looked confused because the voice explained further. “This place was once an asylum for crazy people, but following a earthquake, the west wing of this place collapsed, killing a lot of people. It was devastating, but afterwards, they tore this facility down for good. That is, until now. No one knows how, but someone rebuilt this place. Now more and people die because of it.”
    I felt my side with my fingers and the cloth felt torn and… Wet. There was something wet and sticky where the main tear was. I brought my hand up to my face and, though my eyes were blurred, I knew what it was. “Blood,” was the only thing I managed to say before slipping back into the dark of my mind.
    I woke up for the second time, but I was now alone. I sat up, but, to my surprise, there was no pain in my side. I looked down and realized that I could see better as well. There was a scar, but besides that, there was no indication that there was ever a wound there. I rose to my feet and began to study my surroundings. I was in a circular room with a table in the center of it.
    Upon closer inspection, I realized there were two objects on the table: A large golden hammer with some kind of ancient writing and a stout goblet with something that appeared to be water.
    Above the table there was a note on the wall. The words sent chills down my spine: “Go ahead, make your choice. The outcome will decide whether you’re ready or not.”
    Questions swirled through my mind, but not a single answer. Nothing was making any sense! I went back to the the table and looked between the two objects. The more I looked at each thing, the more I saw.
    I began to grow an interest in the hammer. The writing on it must have been ancient, but that wasn’t what stood out to me. It was the fact that I could understand it! I read it out loud: “A tool to build, a weapon to destroy, A worker’s best friend, a child’s play toy. Though now is gold, it once was red, discover the truth using acid.”
    I stood back and thought about the riddle. A tool, a weapon, a toy, a worker’s best friend? All of those things described the hammer. Though now is gold, but once was red? The hammer was gold… Or was it? Taking a closer look, I saw that the hammer might actually be gold plated!
    Discover the truth using acid? What acid? I could feel my eyes trailing over to the goblet. I suddenly knew what to do.
    I picked up the goblet and, as carefully as I could, poured it on the hammer. The gold plating dissolved and the stone of the hammer remained. But stone was not all there was. As the gold washed away, I saw the red the riddle spoke of. “Blood.” I whispered.
    I realized what had happened almost as soon as spoke. It was no earthquake that caused the Asylum to collapse. It was purposely torn down, because of the rash of murders that happened. The murderer’s weapon of choice? A hammer. It was then that I realized why I was here.
    I had to find the truth.
    I had to know what had happened to me, otherwise I would never rest. So I returned to the place it all happened.
    I returned to the place I died.

  3. asclepius

    My second try at posting a response to a prompt. So constructive feedback definitely appreciated, but have some mercy on me!

    The house was dark when I entered shortly after 11, and, as usual, Janet had already gone to bed. I took off my jacket, loosened my tie, and went to the kitchen to see if she had left me anything in the fridge.

    As I started to open the refrigerator door, something odd on the dining room table caught my eye. I walked over to take a closer look.

    Laid out on the table were two strange objects and a handwritten note. The first was a golden hammer sitting on a wooden base. The other object was a wine glass filled with what appeared to be water. Puzzled, I read the note.

    “Go ahead, make your choice. The outcome will decide where you’re ready or not.”

    The handwriting was Janet’s. I racked my brain for what either of these objects could possibly mean.

    On the wooden base holding the golden hammer there was an inscription: “Congrats Honey! I am so proud of you!” Now I remembered. It seemed like so many years ago. I had forgotten all about this. When I had won my first case, Janet had given me this as a surprise: a gilded judge’s gavel. I had worked so hard to make it through law school, scraping by on loans and whatever Janet could make waiting tables. Winning that first case was so special. And the memory of her giving me that trophy brought a smile to my face.

    But what of the glass filled with water?

    It was a wine glass. Why would a wine glass be filled with…oh, now I remember. Our very first date. I had wanted so badly to impress her. But we were both just college students. I could barely even afford fast food back then. So I saved up everything I could and I bought a bottle of red wine, the best I could find for twenty-five dollars. But as I went to pour it into the glasses, the bottle slipped out of my hands and crashed on the floor. I was so afraid I would lose her, so I improvised. I filled the two wine glasses with water, and as we looked in each other’s eyes, we pretended we were drinking the finest wine in the world.

    All that seemed like a lifetime ago.

    The decision in front of me was very simple. I went to the wine cabinet and picked out a second wine glass to match the one on the table. I filled the second glass with water, and carrying the two glasses in my hand, I entered the bedroom.

    The room was dark but a familiar voice called out quietly, “you have chosen wisely.”

  4. silvermist

    She clutched at her covers in fear, at the sudden chillness of her surroundings.
    Something was definitely not right, she couldn’t place her finger on it. She took a deep breath, and sat up.

    Her room was…gone. She was in a large circular room with polished black walls, smooth black marble floors, and a ceiling so high that she couldn’t see it, or it was black as well and it couldn’t be seen.

    What bothered her the most was the lack of windows, doors, or an obvious light source.

    Until she heard the voice.

    Then she panicked.

    The voice was cold, unnatural, and seemed to come from the very walls of the room, reverberating through her spine.
    She would have run, except she forgot how to. She stood rooted in place, from fear, anger, curiosity, she couldn’t tell.

    “Well, here you are…in the flesh. I should tell you, no mortal has ever visited my chambers before. But you…you are the first one here by invitation.”

    Mortal? Did he call her ‘mortal’? Like she was supposed to be dead or something. Was she? But when she found courage to open her mouth, another question came out, “Who…are you?”

    He laughed. Not a cold laugh, like she would have expected. But a laugh that sounded almost genuine, but ended almost as soon as it started.

    “I have never been asked that question. People who appear before me always know who I am. Your time hasn’t come yet. You’ve been burdened with a lot. So much pain in someone so very young…you would probably blame me, I suppose. But I didn’t have a choice. I’m giving you one. Memories are a powerful thing. But remember, child, knowledge comes with a price.”

    She looked around and paled at the new piece of furniture that seemed to have materialized behind her. The table didn’t look exactly solid, but as if it was made of dark grey smoke. A small, intricately fashioned golden hammer lay to her left. The centre of the table had a circular dent that could easily fit the head of the hammer.
    On the other side, a thin, silver cup of what seemed to be a clear sparkling liquid stood tall, beads of condensation on its surface, wafting a sweet, almost entrancing vapor in her direction. A note on the wall said: “Go ahead, make your choice. The outcome will decide whether you’re ready or not.”

    But she didn’t see all these things first. What caught her attention was the design on the surface of the table. A skull and crossbones. She stopped breathing as she put two and two together. She knew who the voice belonged to.

    The drink. The waters of the Lethe. She knew what it would do. It would wipe out all her memories since the day that had changed her life.

    The day she had woken up in the hospital with no recollection of how or why she was there. The reluctance of her mother when she had asked about it.

    The piercing stares. The whispering. The accusing looks. The way that no one ever looked her in the face after that. All the visits from family, cut short, because of something she couldn’t quite put her finger on. But the guilt. The pain that grew with every passing second. As to why, she had no clue.

    She had endured two weeks of that torture, she wouldn’t anymore. She needed to know.

    She picked up the hammer, and brought it down, harder than she meant to, pushing it into the circular dent in the middle of the table. It didn’t make contact. Instead, the entire table dissolved into smoke, rising and swirling around her, and in the depths of the grey, she saw two figures, moving, not like a video, but not quite unlike.

    She saw herself carrying a baby, her little neice. The two month old was a delicate little thing, with huge, watery black liquid eyes and a cute little smile that made her heart melt. The child nuzzled comfortably against her neck.

    She checked the temperature of the little bath she had drawn up, apparently satisfied, she carefully lowered the child into the warm water.

    She watched herself suddenly go rigid, fall to the floor and convulse. She watched helplessly as she flailed on the ground, till the water rose in the tub, the child still inside.

    She collapsed on the floor, as the smoke around her broke form, washing over her and disappearing, leaving her shaking with shock, denial, guilt. She lay there for hours, minutes, days…she lost count.

    She suddenly remembered something and jumped up, reaching for the silver cup. But it had vanished along with everything else.

    A choice.

    And she had made the wrong one.

    (A note to the reader: The supernatural element in the story is perhaps, not clearly explained. I had assumed that the few references, the talk of mortals, the skull and crossbones, the Lethe reference, and the subtle “I had no choice in the matter of your neice’s death” would be enough clue for the reader to figure out who the voice belonged to.

    Hades, the Greek God of the Underworld, is the main focus of the supernatural. His main domain, the Underworld, guarded by Cerberus, the giant three headed dog, also houses five magical rivers, including the Lethe, which is said to contain waters so powerful that it is capable of wiping out memories of an entire lifetime.

    I have, perhaps arroganly, overlooked the fact not everyone is a nerd, and hence not aware of Greek Gods and the various magical rivers they have under command. If you had it figured out, you have my appreciation. If you had not, well, you know now.)

  5. shadowsiryn

    Two objects sat before her. A golden hammer and a cup of what seemed to be water. On the cave wall, scrawled in First Age script, a note read: Go ahead, make your choice. The outcome will decide whether you’re ready or not. “
    Ready for what? she thought to herself.

    The glow from the stalactites illuminated the bluish purple walls with an eerie grace. She looked around the entry way, and then glanced back out the mouth of the cave. She could just go home. This seemed a little silly. What were the parameters? What was she going to use the items for? She racked her brain to try to remember what hammers and chalices symbolized to the First Age Solars of yore.

    Bah. Like that information was readily available. There were far more people alive at that time then there was now and even now the symbolism attached to a common item could vary greatly depending on which cardinal direction one travelled in.

    She snorted to herself as she moved about the cave, poking here and there, looking for any other information about the person who set up the challenge, or what would come when she finally made a choice.

    It seemed strange to her, that she would be so drawn to such a nonsensical place. Still, the draw was unmistakable. Ever since she had Exalted, she had been getting flashes of memory and dreams of this very cavern. She paused in her ruminating poking shuffling messing about with things and tried to recall if, in her dreams, she had picked one or the other. She could remember the walls, the humidity of the air… she even had a memory of reaching out, of her muscles tightening as she stretched her hand towards…. Fog. Nothing. She shook her head. This was almost as frustrating as having a quiz and remembering which part of which parchment the answer was on… but not being able to see the actual writing. She held for just one moment more, adjusting her body to actually mirror the movement she remembered doing. Her eyes closed.
    Just as she hit the point her body recalled… her fingers touched the wall – and a bony knob sticking out that seemed warmer than the surrounding air. She opened her eyes with curiosity and felt around the outcropping, moving her body closer so that her second hand could come up and explore as well. How strange that she wanted to do nothing more than press herself against the wall as if to hug it. There was a fuzzy sensation of home. More comfort than she had had since times long past. Memories of two girls curled up in a wagon, huddled together on a single bedroll, keeping each other warm as thunder rolled outside and rain spattered down. The memory and the moment took on a balancing feel. As if she were on the threshold of something magical. Her pupils dilated in the space of a single heartbeat and she grew completely still. The moment stretched on for what seemed like an eternity. Before she broke her pause statue hold and moved towards the altar with the offending choice.
    Slowly she crossed the room as if in a gel. Her hands she held near her waist – as if anticipating something, or feeling the water although there was none. Throughout all of this, the feel of her sister pressed against her buoyed her and granted gave her strength. She stood before the choice and slowly reached out. Her hands crossed one another, and with her right she took the hammer to the left. At the exact same moment her left hand closed around the cup. With a jerk, she pulled them both up at the same time, her breath held back in anticipation.

    In the distance, she heard three muffled clunks, as if gears were turning in a giant machine. The slight tremor that ran through the floor was her only warning. With the speed and finality of an executioner’s axe, a solid stone piece fell down through the mouth of the cave, startling her companions and sealing them all in. They were plunged into darkness to the sound of their frightened cries, and the balancing feeling shattered as the floor gave way. Down she tumbled – through a rabbit hole that led to something more unknown than anything she had yet encountered. Landing with a meaty thwack onto the platform underneath her, her last thought was that perhaps she should really stick to thinking and leave the intuiting to those more suited to it. Then she lost consciousness.

  6. keyhonay

    “The test”

    The guards pushed me into the room. I tried to catch my footing but ended up sprawled out on the cold cement floor. I could hear them laughing as the door slid shut and the room became silent. Picking myself up, I stood in the room and looked around. A table before me held two objects, one being a golden hammer that seemed to glow faintly. On closer examination, the hammer looked as though it was painted gold and sloppily at best. It also seemed to be a common store bought hammer, possibly purchased from a local big box store. The other object was a small porcelain tea cup with an ornate pink flower design squiggled along its side. It had a chip on the rim and the handle had been glued back on. Inside the cup was a clear liquid, poison I was sure. Pinned the wall behind the table was a note, on it was written, “Go ahead, make your choice. The outcome will decide whether you’re ready or not.”

    After a few minutes I picked up the cup and went to a corner of the room. In the corner I poured most of the liquid out. When there was about a ¼ left I went back to the table and picked up the hammer. With my back to the door and the hammer held to my chest. I made loud gagging noise and dropped the cup as I fell to the ground still holding the hammer.

    Lying onto my chest with the hammer underneath me, I stayed completely still and slowed my breathing down to look dead. After 10 or 15 minutes I heard the door being unlocked. When the door opened, I heard a guard say, “You see, told you he would drink the poison.” “Yeah, fine, I owe you a 20,” said the other guard.

    When they had gotten close to me, I pulled the hammer out from under me and swung it at the ankle of the closest guard. There was a crunching sound as the hammer made contact with the bones. The guard screamed, and I rolled to my left, knocking the other guard off his feet. There was a loud gun shot and I felt a bullet zip by my head. The guard fell against the wall, before he could take another shot I flung the hammer at his face. It hit home with a crunch and the guard slumped to the floor, knocked out cold. I turned back to the first guard; he was still holding his crushed ankle as tears ran down his face.

    Getting to my feet, I picked up the knocked out guard’s gun and put two rounds in his chest and two in the chest of the other guard, before grabbing the keys and escaping from the cell. The alarm sounds as I ran down the hallway thinking, “Yeah, sure give me a hammer. That was smart.”

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