I hesitated, my finger resting on the button.
‘So,’ I said, ‘pressing this button will kill everyone in the building. Is that what you’re saying?’
‘That’s right,’ crackled the voice on the radio. ‘Cyanide gas will be released, doors and windows will be sealed and the only person to walk out of there alive will be you.’
‘What about the orphans?’ I asked.
‘Each one of them will die a painful, lingering death,’ said the voice. ‘They trusted you and they’re relying on you to save them, but pushing that button will kill each and every one of them.’
‘I understand,’ I said. ‘But am I right in thinking that pushing the button...’
‘Is the only way to get your shoes back, yes,’ said the voice. I shook my head.
‘It’s impossible,’ I said. ‘I can’t decide.’ The thought of being responsible for the carnage that pushing the button would cause made me feel sick to my stomach. I wasn’t a killer, I told myself, hoping it was true. I was a good person. This thing – this terrible thing I was being asked to do – seemed impossible. Unthinkable. On the other hand, they had been very comfortable shoes. ‘Damn you for making me choose,’ I sobbed.