What Would You Do?

By: Shontinique Uqdah

Fear is a pervasive emotion which is uncontrollable, unpleasant, and at times unexplainable. It is elicited by the vast world of the horrifying, which takes on many forms. We all have specific moments in our lives, which represent climatic moments of terror. Perhaps your horrifying experience manifested in the form of a paranormal encounter, an especially chilling story, or a particularly disturbing image, but the result is always the same: haunting and long withstanding fear. I am a fan of horror, and am just as shaken by a good ghost or zombie story as anyone else. I, however, am easily able to control my fear of less plausible, more supernatural horror stories by sticking by rules of survival: no scary movies alone or in the dark, stay out of basements, no Ouija boards, etc. In spite of the general efficacy of my rules of survival, there is one story which sends prickly chills through my body, tears to my eyes, and a suffocating fear to my heart. This story, which I will share with you all now, is self-titled “Tommy”. (I am presenting the story to you all in the same way it was presented to me.)

What would you do? A boy named Tommy is upstairs in his room sitting on his bed. His door is slightly cracked open and he hears his mom call his name. He comes to the door and opens it wider and again hears his mom call to him. “Tommy. Tommy, I’m in the kitchen. Come here for a moment.” He sets off down the stairs to his mom. As he reaches the bottom step, now midway between his room and the kitchen, he again hears his mother’s voice call to him, but this time from upstairs where he’d just come from. This time his mother’s voice calls out in a rushed, urgent, and pleading tone: “Tommy! I heard it too. Don’t go down there, that wasn’t me!” What would you do? Do you continue downstairs to the first voice that could be your mom, but could also be some unidentified “monster” trying to get you? Do you heed the warning of the second voice which could very well be your mom trying to save you from this unknown “monster”, but could also be a “monster” luring you upstairs, keeping you from the safety of your mom?

The way in which the story involves its listener is perhaps the most chilling part of this story. Although this is happening to “Tommy”, the “what would you do” element directly inputs the listener into Tommy’s position, forcing you to experience the story as Tommy does. Tommy has no age, no traits, no face, making it easy to imprint yourself in his position…eliminating the barrier of safety between oneself and the story…posing the threatening possibility that this could be you, this is you. How will you survive it? Although “options” are presented, it is clear that there is no right answer and no real escape. The fact that there is no real ending to this story makes it all the more frightening. It creates a blank page for your now scarred imagination to run erratic.

So, the question I pose to you all is: What would you do?

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18 thoughts on “What Would You Do?

  1. Run out the nearest door as quickly as possible. (I’m also thinking that the monster is the mom upstairs because it took her a while to respond to the voice downstairs – Tommy was almost to the bottom of the stairs before she said anything)

  2. Yup I second Olivia, I would run to the nearest exit away from both voices. Knowing my luck, both voices are monsters and my mom is already their victim. I also am now scared to walk from my room, down the stairs and to the kitchen…

  3. Honestly, I’m not quite sure how I would react to this. The story is scary because of its vagueness, but that aspect also makes it hard to make a decision about how to handle it. I think that I would just run for the nearest door and get out of the house, screaming for help (I’m an admitted wimp). Although when I first read the story I assumed the second voice was the real mother because it was described as being “a rushed, urgent and pleading tone.” The room for thought in this story makes it very interesting to contemplate the reactions different people would have, and thus makes it scarier.

  4. I originally thought I would dash out of the house, but what about my mom? True, she could already be taken by the “monster”, but there is still a chance that she is safe. I don’t know if I’d be able to live with myself if I left my mom. However, would I live at all if I didn’t leave her. Hmmm… decisions, decisions.

  5. The open ended aspect of the story definitely makes it creepy. I have an overactive imagination, so it’s definitely something I could make a ton of endings for. If I were a smart ass, I’d call my mom’s cell phone and see if she answers. Maybe she’s not even in the house at all? Maybe both are monsters, hunting you. Or I could call the house phone and see if the one downstairs answers or something. There’s a lot of ways this could go, but I’d try to think hard before I made a decision.

    • I never even considered the possibility that BOTH voices were monsters. Thanks, you just made this story ten times more scary for me. 😦

  6. That’s so creepy! I would definitely leave, my mom can handle herself. I really just want to know what kind of monster can mimic voices, because that’s bananas. I totally agree that stories like this are the worst, because there’s nothing extraordinary about the situation and when hearing it, or reading it, you feel like it could happen to you.

  7. I’m the type of person to over-think everything and I am also the most indecisive person ever. So, I have a feeling that I would have the same reaction as the majority and run to the nearest exit. I wouldn’t be able to choose between upstairs and downstairs because knowing me I would choose the wrong one. The unknown of this story does make it really easy to relate to and make a connection with the character because there is nothing that makes him different from us.

  8. I love how a lot of people have decided to ditch their mom! I also think it’s interesting that the majority of stories like this, the urban legend-like stories that we have covered in class, leave it open for the listener to become the character. The lack of distinguishable aspects impacts the listeners interpretation. However, what we discussed in class with Gina is that it can also be slightly terrifying when the character is clearly defined and has a lot of the same characteristics as you. This is because the character can mirror your life. In a situation like this, I guess I would continue to follow the original voice I heard. It seems a little suspect, that the more urgent voice is from where he just came. I would probably have called to my mom when I was upstairs, either telling her I was going to come downstairs or that I was busy. It’s interesting but you never know your own reaction unless you’re actually presented a horrific situation yourself. A situation that is life or death.

  9. This story is really scary, especially since there is no ending. After reading this, I asked myself “what did Tommy do?” I don’t know what I would do in this situation. I would be terrified, that’s for sure. I guess I would try to listen to the voices, seeing which one is my mother’s voice and then run to her. But if I couldn’t figure it out I would definitely run away from both. I agree with serenasana, my mother could already be the victim.

    • That’s part of what makes it horrible for me too: “What did Tommy do?”. In my mind I feel so sorry for “Tommy” because he is forever trapped in this scenario. Someone needs to just finish this story, because “Tommy” is somewhere reliving this horror every time this open-ended story is told. At least we are able to separate ourselves from the story and create our own ending, which obviously involves our survival (and hopefully our moms’ survival?). Poor “Tommy”.

  10. Wow that story really freaked me out. I already broke one of your rules of survival: no scary movies alone or in my case, scary story. For me, I don’t think I would be able to decide which mom was the real mom and which was the monster trying to lure me downstairs or upstairs. So I would just run back to my room and hope that the mom upstairs wasn’t the monster and wouldn’t come running out of her room as I am running to mine. I’ve got goosebumps.. This story was too creepy!

    • I wouldn’t have the guts to run back upstairs. I’m picturing the source of the voice upstairs calling to me from close to the top of the stairs. But never, never run back to your room, and that goes for any scary story! The bad guy/ monster always checks the bedroom. There is no safe spot there, not under the bed, not in the closet. If this monster can mimic your mom’s voice, I am willing to bet it can find you hiding under your covers. No one else is home. Get out of the house! lol

  11. First of all, I hate scary what would you do stories; however, since I already read it and have been asked the question, I’ll answer. Maybe it’s also because this is the first what would you do question that I actually have an answer to. Since both are claiming to be my mom, I’ll ask something in Arabic, if the monster can reply in Arabic at the same time as my mom, then I’ll ask a personal question that only my mom could ever answer. If it’s right, I know who to go to and run out with, if it’s wrong or both answer the question, I’ll just tell her to run out with my baby sister and the person that refuses, is the monster. I actually got the last part from a story where two women fought over a child, each saying he was theirs. When they went to the king, he said the answer was simple, split the child in half so each could have a piece. The fake mother agreed and that was how he found out who the monster was, and who the real mother was. Use this method in real life if you guys ever get into a “what would you do” situation that is similar to this. It works!

    • Woah. I really like that King story. I’ve actually heard stories similar to that. The monster is too stupid, greedy, and evil to realize that splitting a child in half is a no-no. What a great trap! That is a smart way to detect who, if either, is your real mom. I honestly doubt that I would be clever enough at that terrifying moment to come up with such a great idea.

  12. Seeing as how I hate scary stories and situations (I still run upstairs in my house at night because I think someone’s chasing or watching me). I would freak out and get of the situation as soon as possible. I know the monster would be terrified of my mother and we’d all be safe.

  13. lol Mitch that is funny! I would grab my handgun (9mm Sigma) from the safe go back up stairs first and clear the up stairs of danger. If i saw a monster, hopefully 15 shots would do the trick! If upstairs was clear and my mom was up there, obviously I have check the down stairs. Id grab my extra clip just in case I had to reload quickly. If a person or monster has broken into your house, that has to be assumed your life is in danger based on the fact it/they are in your freaking house ! If you had no idea what an elephant or a bear was, one might call it a monster- how do you stop an elephant from charging and trampling you like a monster squishing a bug- Elephant Gun! worked in Tremors! Go Kevin Bacon!

  14. Really good question. I would more than likely just stand there frozen with fear and confusion. But then, I would ask a question, something so personal that only my mom would be able to answer. If both were monsters, and that was proven, then I would definitely run out the door without looking back.

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