Random Exercises: 2 + Torture = 5


Category: Plot

Prompt: 2 + Torture = 5


The whine of the machine was loud enough that it almost, but not quite, drowned out the man in the chair’s screams.

When the whine diminished, so did the pain, and the man in the interrotorture chair sagged, though the straps kept him upright.

“Had enough?” snarled the man in the uniform. “You can end this suffering, you know.” He gestured to the bare red lightbulb hanging over their heads. “All you need to do is tell me that this light is green.”

“Fine,” gasped the man in the chair. “It’s green.”

The man in the uniform frowned. “Wait, I don’t think you’re getting this.”

The man in the chair shook his head to try and clear his vision. He wanted to wipe his eyes but his hands were bound. “What do you mean? You just said to tell you it was green, so I am.”

“No,” insisted the man in uniform, annoyed now. “You can clearly see that the light is red, yes? Well, by torturing you, I’ll force you to say it’s green.”

After a pause, the man in the chair nodded. “Okay.”

“So what color is the light?” smirked the man in uniform.


The man in uniform pressed the button again, and the machine flooded the man in the chair with pain.

When the whine stopped, the man in uniform asked again. “You’re not getting this! What color is the light?”

“I’m getting some real mixed signals here,” shouted the man in the chair.

“It’s very simple,” said the man in uniform. “You and I can both see that the light is red, correct?”

“This seems like a trick question.”

“It’s not,” insisted the man in uniform. “Look, the light is red.”

“Um, you told me to say it was green.”

“Yes, but okay… Forget that for a second. Pretend I didn’t say anything about the light yet. What color would you have said the light was?”


“No, no, no!” screamed the man in uniform. “It’s red. It’s obviously red. Why in the world would we put a green light in the interrotorture room? Red is scary, it’s agitating, it’s intimidating. Green lights are soothing, calming. By forcing you to say that the red light is green is supposed to represent breaking your spirit and making you believe an obvious falsehood, and then there’s the symbolic representation of you stating that the red, which is associated with our brutal authoritarian tactics, is actually green, which would be good and peaceful! Get it?”

“Look, just tell me what color you want me to say the light is.”

“Green, of course!”

“Okay, so it’s green.”

The man in uniform pressed the button again.

When he could speak, the man in the chair said: “But I did what you said!”

“No, you see I want to make you do what I say.”

“I’m trying to do what you say!”

“I don’t want you to be trying to do it. I want you to be trying to resist but be forced to do it anyway!”

“Okay, then I’m resisting!”

“Good!” smirked the man in uniform. Then he pressed the button again. He held it down a long time.

When the man in the chair regained consciousness, the man in uniform glared down at him. “Now… What color is the light?”

“Is this a bad time to tell you that I’m colorblind?”

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