The New Generation of Classic Short Stories

Vol. 17, No. 2

This Box Contains a Quantity of Hydrocyanic Acid That May or May Not Have Been Released Already by the Decay of a Small Amount of a Radioactive Substance. Also, There Is a Cat in the Box. (A Choose-Your-Own-Adventure Story.)

by James Brubaker

You have been selected to participate in an experiment. You arrive at a laboratory and are guided to a room. Inside the room there is a box with a note attached to it. The note says: "This box contains a quantity of hydrocyanic acid that may or may not have been released already by the decay of a small amount of a radioactive substance. Also, there is a cat in the box. If this hasn't yet happened, when the radioactive substance does decay, a mechanism within the box will release the hydrocyanic acid, thus killing the cat. If you choose to open the box, the cat will be either alive or dead, but not both."
Do you open the box? (Go to section 2.)
Do you open the box? (Go to section 3.)
Do you not open the box? (Go to section 4.)

You open the box and the cat is alive, sleeping, curled into a ball with one paw wrapped over its eyes like a child. The cat is gray with black stripes.
Do you leave the cat in the box? (Go to section 5.)
Do you pick up the cat and hold it in your arms? (Go to Section 6.)

You open the box and the cat is dead. The cat is gray with black stripes. You detect the faint scent of almonds because hydrocyanic acid smells like almonds.
Do you feel bad for the cat? (Go to section 7.)
Do you feel indifferent toward the catÂ’s demise? (Go to section 8.)

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