A Writing Prompt
By Jeff Salter
This week, we’re posting writing prompts. Not completely certain I understand them, but I believe it’s establishing a premise or set of circumstances and leaving it to the blog’s readers to “run with it.” Or if not to “run” … at least to comment on which way they might run.
In researching this premise, I learned that I have long misunderstood the venerable Hobson’s Choice. It turns out that what I assumed was Hobson’s Choice was actually Morton’s Fork.
Hobson’s Choice is: “take this [whatever] … or take nothing at all”.
Morton’s Fork is basically a choice between TWO equally undesirable outcomes.
So, without further ado, here’s your writing prompt:
Ms. Morton’s Fork
Awakened suddenly in the middle of the night, Lesa Morton hears thunderous pounding on her front door.
It’s a man: loud, agitated, and strong. “Open up, Ms. Morton! You’re in danger!”
Lesa is terrified. The only danger she senses is that aggressive stranger yelling and pounding on her front door. As she creeps down the hall past her kitchen, she hears another voice!
This is also a man, somewhere in the dark shadows near her rear entrance … and inside her kitchen! His voice is deep, soft, and soothing: “Don’t let that man inside.”
“Can you hear me, Ms. Morton?” screams the front door man. “Let me in, now! I can protect you!”
Lesa hasn’t said a word. Her voice is caught somewhere deep in her chest, where her heart threatens to pound itself to pieces.
“Listen to me,” says the soothing kitchen voice. “Don’t let that man near you. He’s a killer!”
Finally Lesa manages to squeeze out a few syllables. “If he’s a killer, who are YOU?”
Ignoring her question, the man with the soothing voice, says: “If you let him in, you’re dead.”
The front door man continues to pound and yell.
Lesa peers into the kitchen darkness but can’t see even a shape. “How do I know that YOU’RE not the killer?”
The man in Lesa’s kitchen pauses, as if deliberating how to rely. “I’m already inside. Trust me.”
Assuming she has no firearms (or other obvious means of protection), both her exits are blocked by these two men, and her first floor windows have security bars:
1. Should Lesa run to the front door and fling it open? Then say, “He’s in the kitchen!”
2. Should Lesa hurry into the arms of the man with the soothing voice, and tell him to make the front door menace go away?
Which tine of Morton’s Fork would you select (if you had no OTHER options)?
Does the calming voice belong to a good guy?
Does the aggressive agitated voice belong to a bad guy?
How much can you tell by only HEARING someone?
How did the man with the nice voice get into Lesa’s kitchen?
WHY is he there?
How / why does the front door guy know Lesa’s name?