Flash Fiction – Obedience Nightmares and Roleplay Realities

Instructional Design or ID Fiction, Short Stories and Cases set in the e-Learning and Corporate Training Environments

Why Jason Changed?

“It’s not real,” the man holding the sack over the prisoner’s head whispered to his companion who had the knife pressed to the prisoner’s throat.
“I know, John,” said his companion in a steady voice, “but if it doesn’t look real, we don’t get paid.”
It was difficult to read the expression of John, whose face was hidden in the shadows except his mouth. A sliver of light that came through the crack in the old rotten wood of the rafters overhead, fell on his lips that scarcely moved as he formed the words.
“Our authority is limited to elicit obedience from her. She is already scared, and I don’t see the need to draw blood.”
“Oh I know, I know! But when we punished that punk, did they stop the experiment? Did they say that we weren’t supposed to punish him? They didn’t. I bet they are sitting there getting a kick out of the whole show. Who knows? They might even be selling tickets. So who are we to deny them the pleasure? Eh?”
Jason wasn’t always like this. He was a nice man. A bachelor, but he wasn’t known to be violent towards women. Actually he was considered quite chivalrous. However, since the experiment began 5 days ago, a distinct change had come over Jason. He was no longer introverted and submissive. The experiment required them to play the roles of soldiers who had captured the enemy and were now responsible for ensuring that they didn’t escape.
Jason however had taken his role a lot more seriously than others from the very beginning of the experiment.
“Jason, you’ve got to get a hold on reality. She is not an enemy soldier – she is a student of history in our University.”
“Which university are you talking about, John. Look around. This place stinks. There are no toilets, there’s no food, and nobody even knows that we are here. We might be stuck here forever. And look at these pathetic little things. They don’t have the nerve to defend themselves. They know that they are our prisoners,” said Jason, pressing the knife closer to the prisoner’s throat.
And then it happened. The prisoner’s foot flew out and caught Jason in the crotch. The knife flew out of his hand and clattered against the wall, and Jason doubled up on the floor. The pain shot through his belly and his thighs, making his mind go blank for a few minutes.
John stood spellbound for about half a minute, and then he abruptly pulled the sack away from the prisoner’s face. Later on his hospital bed John would reflect upon the scene, he’d remember that he had seen a glint in her eye, and that the glint had made him uncomfortable, but all he remembered seeing was that glint…and then nothing.

(Fiction based upon the Stanford Prison Experiment, the Milgram Obedience Experiment,  and the movie, The Experiment.)

Coffeebeans the pup cartoon on training and psychology - Milgram's obedience experiment and standford prison experiment.

Questions to ponder upon:
1.    What happened in the end and why?
2.    Why Jason, an otherwise well-meaning person began torturing the “prisoner”?

Related Stuff:
The Experiment – Stanford Prison, Milgram, and The Threshold.