The Psychopath Question

The lights in the auditorium went out.

A few whoops of surprise went up, followed by a rumbling of excited murmurings. The last straggling members of the class who had been attempting to do work admitted defeat in the dim light and flopped down.

"Want to hear a joke?" It was Melissa.

"Yeah, sure, go ahead," I said. The group was supposed to be working on a project, but from the look of the other members' eager nodding, I supposed not. I couldn't really work on the project in the dark anyway.

"Well, it's not actually a joke," she said. "More like a scenario. About psychopaths."

"Yeah, whatever. Go."

Melissa clapped her hands together as the lights flickered but didn't come on.

"Okay. So. You're standing by yourself in a forest and facing an abandoned temple. And you see something passing in front of you like this."

She swept her hand across in the air to send a light breeze towards me, so that if her hand had been outstretched another foot, she would have slapped my face. I leaned back while the others crouched and sat, rapt.

"What is it? Is it (a) a leaf, (b) a ghost, (c) a person, (d) a dog, or (e) a wild animal?" Melissa slapped her waving hands on her knees. "Depending on what you think it is, it determines if you are a psychopath or not."

I didn't think it was a leaf. Leaves only moved with the wind and wind currents usually made leaves bob up and down and all over the place, not go in a straight across direction. And I didn't believe in ghosts, so it couldn't be that.

The others gave their answers, leaf and wild animal, and shrugged their shoulders.

I didn't think it was a person either. If it was a person, then I wouldn't be alone and the conditions of the given situation would be broken.

Melissa told the others that they weren't psychopaths and turned to me, the only person who hadn't offered an answer as of yet.

"Come on, hurry up! You're not supposed to think this hard!" she said. The others looked at me.

I sat back and considered the last two choices. Just because the others had blurted out any old answer didn't mean I worked that way. I was still thinking.

Melissa leaned and whispered something to the others.

It would be unusual for a dog to be randomly in a forest without an owner nearby, but then again the modern world had so few wild animals that wild animal didn't seem like a valid choice either.

"You're thinking way too hard! Just give an answer! This is supposed to be spontaneous!" Melissa said, getting up in my face and making me break my chain of thought. "You're taking too much time and –"

"Dog, then," I said, to shut her up. What did it matter anyways.

Melissa's hands flew off her knees. "Oh my god," she said, as the others snickered. "You're a psychopath!"

"Is it?" I was trying to get a single beam of light from outside the still dark room to shine on my watch so I could find out what time it was. I wished that the lights were back on.

"Do you think that we can go back to working on the project?" I said, still trying to correctly angle my watch.

Through my peripheral vision, I could see the others staring at me.