Mob Mentality – Friday Fictioneers

As a writer, I’m intrigued with situations where there is no easy answer. A story is so much more complex when you can sympathize with all parties and put yourselves in their shoes. As you read this story, ask  yourself what you would have done. I’m curious to know.

copyright Sandra Crook

copyright Sandra Crook

Mob Mentality

The mob of infected surrounded the car, their pounding fists turning it into a drum.

“How can you?” they screamed. “Where’s your heart? We’ll die without that medicine.”

Craig keyed the loudspeaker. “There are only ten doses left. We need them to replicate more or millions could die. I’ll return in two days.”

“You expect us to believe that?”

“Sir, I can’t get through,” the driver said. “They will eventually overturn the car.”

“Run them down,” Craig said finally. As the car bumped forward and the screams increased, he punched the dashboard. “Idiots! Can’t they see I’m trying to help?”


About David Stewart

I am a writer of anything quirky and weird. I love most genres of fiction and in each there are stories that I would consider "my kind of story". View all posts by David Stewart

41 responses to “Mob Mentality – Friday Fictioneers

  • Gunn's Cabin Fever

    I think in situations like that the reader might go for emotion instead of reason and hate him for his order, however irrational – though irrational readers are what we are by nature. I think over a year ago I had a ‘Satan’ cat in a FF story give an ultimatum to a character – he had to choose who was going to die within the next few minutes, either his neighbour, or his neighbour’s wife. Quite a few reader mentioned both should be killed ‘to be fair’. I was stunned!

    • David Stewart

      I think I would probably freeze, unwilling to hurt anyone and keep trying to find some win-win situation. That is pretty shocking that people would want them both to die (in your story), although with the amount of deaths that occur in the weekly run of FF, people may be desensitized to it here.

  • Sandra

    I’d have kept on driving. The greater good and all that. Good story David, liked that. And it made me think.

  • Helena Hann-Basquiat

    Was it Jean-Paul Sartre or Mr. Spock who said: The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few. Or the one?
    Either way, a good outlook.

    • David Stewart

      Thanks, Helena. The needs of the many may outweigh those of the few but try explaining that to a mob. It’s an irony that he had to help them by hurting them (well, I’m sure it didn’t help the ones who actually got run over).

  • Susannah Bianchi

    I would have kept on driving too, except it made me think of the subway conductor on Sept. 11th who was told not to stop to pick up people at the World Trades Center stop, but did anyway and rescued them all. His was the last train to make it through before the towers fell.

    I think one either goes right or left. Who’s really to say what’s the better way.

    • David Stewart

      That is the problem: sometimes people justify terrible things as being for the greater good but they really aren’t necessary. I hadn’t heard that story about the subway conductor but I’m glad he did. He probably couldn’t have lived with himself if he hadn’t. “Just following orders” doesn’t have much comfort value at 2am.

  • high five and raspberries

    I think that by putting the driving in the hands of someone else it made his order to “run them down” a bit hypocritical. Begs to question whether he would have done it had he been behind the steering wheel. Well played.

  • Madhu

    Hard one David, especially if you have seen mobs in action. I hate it when there are no clear good and bad guys! 🙂

  • samorehouse

    These type of stories make me angry and I just want to shoot the mob, though it kills me inside. I’m with the man in the car, “Can’t you people see reason? This, above all other times, is the time for reason, not panic!”

  • Nan Falkner

    Dear David, Great story and well told. The experts (if they really are) inside the car should drive on through. If they are experts, they will be back in two days. Ten vials of medicine is not going to help the whole crowd, so the best chance is to trust him that he will do the right thing. And your story before – the people who said he should have killed them both – if they were serious – Ouch – Run if you know them! Thanks, Nan 🙂

  • Eric Alagan

    Easier to make objective decisions when we or our loved ones not involved. I sort of covered this question in an old post of mine >


  • Jan Brown

    Good story…much more realistic than having a clearly defined good guy/bad guy. The best course of action would have been to leave the ten doses at the lab– don’t take them out in the field where something could happen to them.

  • aliciajamtaas

    Mob action. Singular self-serving response . . . or not.

  • lingeringvisions by Dawn

    If they are going to die anyway….

  • sharmishtha basu

    well, if i was in such a situation, my car would have been loaded with tear gas shells, to scare off anyone who was trying to waylaid 🙂

  • patriciaruthsusan

    David, I would have gone by helicopter. A person that intelligent would have suspected the roads to be swarming with the infected and wouldn’t even try to drive through. Well written. 🙂 —Susan

  • rochellewisoff

    Dear David,

    This one’s a jaw-dropper. It seems to be lose-lose situation. Seems to me if they gave in to the mob, only a few would get the medicine and the people in the car would probably have been trampled to death.
    Kudos on a thought provoking piece. No easy answers here.



  • siobhanmcnamara

    Tough call – I love stories that raise these types of questions. I honestly have no idea what I would do in such a situation. While the greater good seems the right way to go, being faced with desperate people would be heart-wrenching

  • dmmacilroy

    Dear David,

    Your protagonist sounded eerily like mine, in a way. All depends on your perspective and I guarantee you there would be ten people in the crowd who’d take those doses without blinking.

    Run ’em down.



  • Lisa Yow-Williams

    What a dilemma you’ve created. Rational thought is kind of lost in this type of situation. I have to say I wouldn’t trust most people to come back and save me or the others. What if down the road it happens again and the mob wins? So many variables. Then I think about the greater good, saving millions versus a few. There’s no right answer here. If you think about it, this is sort of similar to war. We send a few soldiers to fight for the freedom of millions of people, and they are willing to ultimately sacrifice themselves. So, perhaps these few people should be too. Fantastic use of the prompt. You got us all thinking.

  • misskzebra

    Very interesting story. Not long ago, I went through an assessment centre for a job, and one of the first group activities we did involved something like this. We were told a story about some kind of disease outbreak and we had to decide which characters got cures and who didn’t in five minutes. The entire group were ruthlessly practical, (as they were for the rest of the assessment centre).

  • patrickprinsloo

    I expect these are the decisions that people in power make on a daily basis. A pity they’re mostly idiots (our fault for voting them in).

  • Perry Block (@PerryBlock)

    It’s like the old problem about having the opportunity to save either the world’s greatest painting or the world’s worst Nazi from a burning building. I can sidestep that one because there’s no way I’d run into a burning building in the first place. I think the truth is most of us have no way of knowing what we’d do until we actually faced such a situation.

  • starlight

    But of course he has to drive on! It’s not like he could save all those people beating on his car anyway. Or any of them, probably, since there’s no way a mob would line up in an orderly fashion and let him innoculate the first ten. I would think the vials would all end up trampled and broken, while Craig was killed by the angry mob. So he isn’t killing anyone by driving through them. The driver isn’t speeding into the crowd, the mob has every chance to move. So really, if he stopped, he’d be the murderer, since then he’d be killing millions. (Although the person who says he should have left a few vials back at the lab has a very good point!)

  • Björn Rudberg (brudberg)

    Of course the rational me.. sitting here reading the story say — run them down.. but being the driver having to perform the deed.. much trickier..

  • wmqcolby

    To quote the old joke:

    Q: You crashed? I’ll bet you were in a dilemma.
    A: No, I was in a Lambourgini!

  • Amy Reese

    Tough call, David. Sometimes a few must be sacrificed for the greater good (or many must be sacrificed!). Seeing how the mob might overturn the car anyway, I don’t think they have much choice but to push through. And there’s not enough vaccine to make a difference. Great story!

  • rgayer55

    Craig is right, of course, but some may not last two days and unwilling to sacrifice their lives for the greater good. Excellent tale, David.

    • David Stewart

      That is a good point. I was assuming that all of them would survive until he could get back with more medicine, but even if that were true, the infected people wouldn’t necessarily know that or believe it if the authorities told them.

  • storydivamg

    Panic is as interesting thing to watch from the outside as it is a terrifying thing to experience in person. Good story this week, David.

    All my best,
    Marie Gail

  • Kim

    Good adrenaline rush…:)…..I would have to leave, keeping the greater good of the masses in mind, but it’s hard to digest running over people to accomplish this…..considering that perceived or a real lack of medicine in the face of death is a highly intense emotional situation, I would have tried to leave via air and not car.

Let me know what you think. I appreciate all comments and criticisms.

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