DP: Choice – The Choice that is No Choice

Daily Prompt today is to choose a location to be kidnapped to: desert island, jungle or locked in a building.


The Choice that is No Choice

“It is a simple enough decision. Why hesitate?”

“You’ll forgive me if I don’t quite trust your intentions.”

My captor smiled. At least I assumed he smiled. Something in the shape of the silhouette, which had barely moved throughout our conversation, seemed a bit more smiley.

“I bear you no personal ill will,” he said, “I have just been asked to keep you out of the way for a while. Once things have taken their course we will come and get you and you can go.”

I had already made my decision, it was pretty straightforward. Either to be abandoned on a desert island, or locked in a building, which would trigger my acute claustrophobia; or to be left in a jungle, with my creepy crawly phobia. It was a no brainer. Blessed solitude, time to work on my tan, if they gave me paper and enough pencils I would be happy if they never came back, swimming, catching fish. It would be Survivor and Desert Island Discs rolled into one.

The choice wasn’t about my choice of destination, it was whether I chose to trust someone I could not see, who had had me bundled into a blacked out X5 outside Henrietta’s house, and brought here. Wherever here was.

I remembered the bunta joke and began to laugh. Quietly at first, a little hiccoughing giggle, that gained momentum until I was bubbling over with hysterical snorts. I don’t have a particularly attractive or cool laugh, and once it escapes I can’t haul it back. Now, with the wire tight tension it grabbed me and launched me off the cliff face of clownery.

“You find something amusing in the situation?”

It took a while to get my breath under control. “You just reminded me of a joke about choices, and under the circumstances I found it funnier than it really is.”

“Tell me.”

“It’s really not that good.”

“We have a little time until your transportation gets here. Indulge me.”

I shrugged, “You asked for it. There are three explorers deep in Africa, who are captured by a tribe, and tried by the chief for trespassing on his territory. They were found guilty, and the chief offered them a choice: death, or a punishment he called bunta.”

There was no sign from the silhouette to suggest he had heard the joke before, so I ploughed on. “Fearing death the first explorer says, “I choose bunta.” The chief smiles cruelly and the man is dragged off into a hut. His friends hear fearful screams for about 20 minutes, and then the guy emerges, naked, limping, haggard, his eyes empty and his cheeks hollow. He grabs the next guy by the hand and says, “Choose death, there is nothing more terrible than bunta”. Then he falls unconscious to the floor.”

Still nothing from the silhouette. “The second guy also fears dying, and also chooses bunta, despite the warning. An lo and behold 20 minutes later he is out as well, naked, limping and broken. “Choose death” he begs his friend, “choose death.” And with that he passes out too.

“Now with two testimonies in hand the third guy is resigned to his fate. “I choose death,” he says. The chief smiles again and says “Good. Death by bunta.”

Nothing. Not a snigger, not a snort, not even a groan. This must be how a comedian feels when his material falls flat, although it was never really a very good joke. It took a while before he said, “I see. The choice that is no choice. You fear perhaps that there is a building in a jungle on a deserted island?”

I suddenly went cold, and a stinking sweat broke out all over. “Say that last bit again.”

“You fear a building in a jungle on a deserted island.”

“I thought it was a desert island.”

“Not at all, it is just far from any shipping lanes, and there is no human habitation. The island is off the coast of Finland, but too far to swim for shore.”

I should expand on the things I don’t like, enclosed spaces, bugs, and being cold.

“Why are you doing this to me?”

“Because I am being well paid for it. You need to be kept well out of the way until Lady Henrietta is married, and when she is safely away on honeymoon, you can come back.” I definitely heard the smile in the voice this time. “His Lordship thought an object lesson might be in order, so you could reflect on your behaviour. Lady Henrietta has so much to say about you in her diary, and I am always thorough in my research.”

So that was it. My shoulders slumped in resignation. “Tell me about this building.”


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The photo above is one of my own, taken from a seaplane over the Maldives.


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