The Key

I guess you might recognize the one or other character from virtual (or even real world) discussion experiences. A kind of modern fable with no perfect solution. Still, something to think about.

Once six figures had been locked in a room:  a princess, a joker, a soldier, a troll, an expert and a maverick.

The task was simply to get the key, if they didn’t they would be trapped there forever. The room was furnished, there was a small hatch to receive drinks and food, and a window that showed they were up on the fifth floor.

In the middle of the room, though, there was a cube with a key symbol etched on its top. The cube was all shiny metal, with rounded edges, no screws or bolts, no holes or slits. Just a perfectly clear surface all over, such as you might know them from video games.

At first, it was the princess’ turn.  She looked and moved the object for a while.

“This looks pretty awesome,” she said, made a selfie with the cube and loaded it up on Instagram. Hoping the others would find a way out.

The maverick frowned.

“I’d love to help out,” said the joker, who was next. “Just forgot my pocket blowtorch. Give me some time until I’ve worked out my new laser glance.”

“Well,” the maverick started, but was given incriminating looks by the others.

“Wait, until it’s your turn!” the expert instructed him, waiting for the soldier’s attempt.

“We’ve all been betrayed, don’t you see that?” the soldier shouted after a while.  “There is no key in this room!”

“But the instructions …,” muttered the princess, receiving a scornful look from the soldier.

“You really believe in this shit they told us? I say the only solution is to smash that bloody door. That’s the way out. No other!”

“I don’t think so,” the maverick piped up.

“No other!” The next moment the soldier was already kicking and banging on the door.

“You’re all dumb assholes,” the troll yelled, “just too stupid to open a bloody door!” Still, not making a serious attempt himself.

The expert ignored him, while carefully examining the room and checking some Wikipedia pages. “According to the way it is mounted, as well as to the serial number in the frame, this is a double steel-clad door.”

The soldier on his part ignored the expert and kept on smashing his body against it.

“The cube seems to be of aluminum.” He lifted the cube from the floor, shaking it. Nothing could be heard, no signs of a rattle inside.

“Aluminum. As I suspected.” The expert smiled, putting the cube back on the floor.

Now, everybody turned to the maverick.

“Well, smartass,” the troll said, “what kind of senseless solution are you to offer?”

The maverick looked at them quietly. Then he turned to the window, opened it, and jumped right out.

“Natural selection, I guess.” The joker giggled. The expert sighed, closing the window. The princess wept, the soldier still maltreated the door.

However, the maverick was lucky. He fell on a flower bed and got away with a fractured leg and some broken ribs. Slowly he grabbed at his pocket, pulling out a silver key. It was still there!

Of course, that would have been the easier way out. But not by any means would he have risked sending this bunch of idiots back into the world.


C. C. Holister (c) 2018

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