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(To read the first and second episodes, click here and here, respectively)


James had reached the designated place the man had asked him to come to. He waited for the man’s call, his hands still on the steering wheel. He looked at the passenger seat to his right. The revolver, the mask, and the gloves were scattered on the seat. He heard the distinct ringtone and picked up the phone almost immediately.

“Get him out of the trunk. I’ll call you again.” The man’s coarse voice commanded.

James acquiesced not realizing the man had disconnected the call. He wore his makeshift mask and gloves and tucked the revolver under his waistband. He went up to the trunk. He hesitated at the thought of him betraying his friend. He strengthened his will and opened the trunk.

Aaron’s eyes stared back at him. His eyes were dreary and held contemptuousness. James pulled him out of the car. He dreaded the entire time he was pulling him out because of how he had to act like. He had to act like he didn’t care, that he was not his friend. He made Aaron kneel and waited.

It was silent. No one around. James and Aaron were in a place that closely resembled that of a desert. Wafts of sand, victim to the wind, flew past them. They made no eye contact.

What will they do to Aaron?

Just then, the phone started ringing again.

“Hello?” James answered sounding almost desperate.

“Remove the duct tape.”

James obliged.

“I’ve done everything you have asked me to do. What do you want?” His voice under the mask made his voice gruffly.

“Put the phone on speaker.”

James complied without further ado.

“There is just one thing you have to do.” James was getting apprehensive now. “You have to choose.

Aaron or your beloved mother. You kill Aaron and your mother lives. You spare Aaron and your mother dies. You have ten minutes. Oh, and Aaron, you can plead, cry, do whatever it takes to make James spare you. No point hiding it any further.” James’ body became stiff.

“Don’t you think James?” The man stopped for a second to breathe. “And your mother will plead and cry, so don’t you go disconnecting the call or you can say bye-bye to your mother.”

“Also, If you do kill Aaron, it will be made sure that you will not be faced with any kind of criminal offense. Just wanted to make. That. Clear. Happy choosing.”


James made an attempt.

“Aaron, I-“

“I knew it was you the moment I saw you pull a gun on me. You thought I wouldn’t notice the tattoo.” Aaron said angrily. “I- I don’t understand. Why’d you do it?”

James remained silent.

“I didn’t take you for being the cowardly one. I Guess people do show their true colors in the end.”

James was speaking into the phone now.

“Mom?” His voice trailed off and wavered. His mother didn’t answer, but he heard her stifled sobs and silent cries. He had never seen or heard her cry, which made it, even more, harder for James. He felt like an Iron was being pressed onto his chest.

You have ten minutes. You have to choose………….have to choose………….choose. The voice reverberated in his brain again and again. James was under complete mental trauma. No matter how hard he tried to fight his moral conscience, the moral conscience always triumphed over logical and rational thoughts.

James took out the revolver from under his waistband. He removed his mask rendering it as impractical. He reminisced the memorable moments with his mother and the memorable moments with Aaron. He went over the memories again and again until he came to a conclusion. He made his choice.

Aaron saw James pointing the gun at him. He closed his eyes and started trembling at the thought of death.

It will be over soon. Aaron said himself.

James did it in an expeditious manner.

Aaron heard the revolver go off. There was a sharp pain in his forehead or that is what Aaron imagined.

He looked up. He didn’t see James standing with a gun. He saw James’ lifeless body sprawled across the road, revolver still clutched in his fingers.

Aaron’s emotional state was something indescribable. He felt his entire existence agonizingly painful.

In a distant, ramshackle environment as James’ mother heard the gunshot go off, she felt the same way as Aaron, only she was oblivious that she will never see her son ever again.




The above story has its analogy with the prominent trolley problem( thus, the title). The above story’s conclusion is not the ‘answer’ to an unanswerable hypothetical conundrum. The title is named the way it is because of metaphorical purposes. I implore you to not confuse it with the ‘real’ solution. There is no solution. Every answer to the problem is as equally bad as every other answer.


(Click on the "Cliffhanger" tag to get the list of all epsiodes that have been published so far.)

Tagged in : Opportunities, Ashwin Ambal, My space, Ghouse Mohamed,