Via File 770, this long list of different endings to “Those Who Walk Away from Omelas.”
Once upon a time there was a city called Omelas, where everyone lived good and happy and fulfilling lives.
And in time it came to pass that a young man by the name of Outis came of age in that city; and, as with all who lived in that city, he was taken to a secret place where a wise elder showed him a small cold dirty room. And in that room there was a small cold dirty child, naked and hurt and starving, who had never known the least human kindness.
And the wise elder said to Outis, “In our city, everything is good and no one suffers. But it all depends on this child. If the least kindness is shown to him, our city will become like all other cities. There must always be such a child in Omelas.” …
Then follows one ending after another, of which my favorites are:
…And Outis asked the elder, “Why?” And the elder showed him to a library filled with books. And Outis studied the books for many years. And when he was an old man with a gray beard, Outis went out of the library and returned to the child and took the child out of the room, and in the child’s place he put a stone. And the stone was naked and dirty and cold; and the child Outis took and bathed and cared for. And Omelas carried on as it always had; and from that day forth no child suffered there.
I like this solution, though not the span of time between problem and solution.
“…[or else] the city will continue on as it always has, only your internet will be slightly slower.”
And Outis went back up into the city, and on that day he became a citizen of Omelas; and the child continued to suffer.
Hah! Biting humor there.
“…the best predictions of our scientists suggest that there will be a slight average decrease in various hard-to-measure kinds of happiness, which nevertheless in total adds up to more suffering than this child experiences.”
And Outis said to the elder, “I will have no part in this evil thing.” And he took the child and bathed him and cared for his wounds. And the average happiness increased in some ways and decreased in others, and the net effect might have been negative, but the best results on the matter had p > 0.05, so the scientists of Omelas could not rule out the null hypothesis.
Definitely my favorite!