Bewildering Stories

Change the color of the text to:

Change the color of the background to:

Good Choice

by Ásgrímur Hartmannsson

Benny had a way with women. He’d get them drunk, take them to their apartment, strangle them, strip them and lay them on their beds. Then he’d gently kiss them, and sleep by their side till the morning. Ten times he did this before he got caught.

Benny saw no reason to deny it. He did it, he knew. He also knew that they knew. They had proven five murders on him. He spared them the trouble and confessed to the other five. It didn’t make the punishment any less capital.

Benny smiled as the judge sentenced him to death. Only few men get to know when their time is up. And life would be peaceful and serene until the time came. But there was one thing. Benny was given a choice:

“How do you want to die: the gas chamber, or lethal injection?”

“Is that all the choice I get?”


“Why do I even get a choice at all? I didn’t let my victims have any, so why should I?”

“I didn’t make the rules. Which way do you want to go?”

“Since I get to choose, neither.”

“You have to.”

“But they are the same. Come on! Lethal injection or gas chamber? What’s the difference? Either way, I’ll be strapped down, and toxic chemicals will fill my body. There is no variety.”

“So what do you want?”

“I want a firing squad.”

“A firing squad?” Sigh.

“Or you could drop me out of an airplane. That might be fun.”

“That’s not exactly humane...”

“You are the ones going to kill me, so lay off the humane. This is about how I want to go. Maybe I don’t want humane.”

“Where are we going to find men willing to be on a firing squad?”

“Hey, ain’t I the dangerous serial killer, that everybody hates? I tell you, there won’t be a problem.”

“We can’t do that.”

“Sure you can.”

“Okay. We won’t do that. As a matter of principle. We don’t do that anymore. It causes too much pain.”

“And being strapped in to be injected with chemicals causes no mental anguish?”


“Okay. How about blowing me up then? That’s painless.”


“You heard me. Just take me out of the city, strap ten pounds of TNT on me, and set it off. It won’t hurt.”

“But your body will be all over the place...”

“Who cares? I won’t need it. You can choose whether you pick it up, or just leave it for the wildlife. I’m bio-degradable, I think.”

“I’m not sure the government will go for that.”

“The government? Isn’t it my choice?”

“You already have a choice: gas or injection.”

“I want it to be gas or firing squad.”

“No firing squad. You have to pick something else. Gas or injection.”

“How about gas or being thrown out of an airplane?”

“That’s inhumane.”

“No it’s not. It’s just the same. I’ll explain: when the plane is taking off, it’ll feel just like when they’re walking me to the gas chamber. When they open the door at altitude, it’ll feel just like when they’re strapping me in. And when I’m falling to the ground, it’ll feel just like when they’re pumping the gas inside, but with a better view.”


“Maybe some men want to be beheaded. Why not include that as a choice? Are there different methods for women? How do they get to die? I know that in the Middle Ages in some countries, men were beheaded, and women were stuffed in a bag and drowned. In Turkey, or some Arab country, they were stuffed in a bag full of cats till they were clawed to death. The aristocracy got thrown off a tower. Did you know that?”

Sigh. “Just choose one.”

“I already told you. I want to die by firing squad.”

Benny didn’t get his choice. He was strangled by the warden shortly after being asked whether he wanted to be buried on a Friday or on a Saturday.

Copyright © 2003 by Ásgrímur Hartmannsson

Home Page