osw logo
Back to Top

Surprise

Theodore O’Toole, this is your execution decree.

I am your judge, jury and executioner. I’m telling you, a condemned prisoner that you will be hanged at noon on one weekday in the following week, but that the execution will be a complete surprise to you.

You won’t know the day of your hanging until I, the executioner, knock on your door at noon that day.

You’re an intelligent man and upon giving it some thought, you’ll conclude that you would in fact escape the execution.

You’ll reason that your surprise hanging cannot happen on a Friday, as if you’ve not been hanged by Thursday, there’s only one day left and thus, it isn’t a surprise. Friday cannot be the day of your execution.

Given the knowledge of that, it cannot happen on a Thursday either, because Friday has already been eliminated and if you’ve not been hanged by Wednesday, Thursday would then not be a surprise.

You’d then do what men of hubris and arrogance in your position do and also use this reasoning to deduce that you would in fact escape your execution. You’d conclude that if you couldn’t be hung on Thursday or Friday, that Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday would also be void of surprise.

There could be no surprise, therefore, no hanging.

It’s interesting the way men like you use logic, Theodore. In your mind, you reason that there’s simply no way I could end you because if I did, I wouldn’t be able to find the answers that I seek.

You believe you hold all the cards, and that’s quite a unique position to find yourself in, isn’t it?

I’ve promised you an execution, but you won’t know when that execution is. You have the information you know I require, so I surely could not surprise you with a hanging on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday or Friday.

If I did, I would find myself answerless.

However, despite your logical intelligence and reasoning, I will shortly be knocking upon your door. I will be the one who knocks.

And because of all the above, you will indeed be surprised. 

You see Theodore, I don’t require answers. I don’t need them. What I require is the problem you’ve created to simply go away. That’s what I need.

Whilst you deduce that I won’t execute you because I need you, or in terms of the metaphor, because you won’t be surprised – you give gravitas to a logical flaw in your own thinking.

And next week, when I knock upon your door and take you to your execution…

You won’t be expecting it. 

Your end will be a surprise.

But never fear the end, Theodore O’Toole.

The end is where we meet.

And I will send you on your way.

Tombstone