#87: Participate in the Scintilla Project

28 Mar

I found out about this from someone I don’t know but follow on Twitter.  I think it’s cheating to just edit a story I wrote last year, but I was exhausted yesterday, and you haven’t read it before, so I also think it counts.


Here is a heart.  Here is a dagger.  No, that’s too cliché.

Here is a chainsaw.  Too noisy.

Here is a machete.  Too slasher-in-the-woods-movie cheesy.

Maybe the idea of the weapon is the problem.  Maybe there is no gleaming weapon, because maybe there is nothing tangible attacking this heart.  This heart is just sitting there minding its own business when…out of nowhere comes a terrible, horribly dangerous threat.  You can’t see it, or smell it, and you certainly can’t taste it, but oh, it’s there.  Just take my word for it.  It’s there, affecting every inch of this healthy heart, and it’s slowly draining the life out of it with every false feeling it provokes.  It may appear, to the untrained eye, like the heart is just writhing on its own.  It may look, to the casual observer, like the heart is deliberately folding in upon itself.  But that’s only because Doubt is invisible, and that’s only because all of the other cool heart-crushing superpowers were already taken.

Abuse (Mental and his cousin Physical) took bruising—they were supposed to share, which worked out well because Physical always used the power quickly and strongly, whereas Mental only needed a small but potent dose every once in a while.

Loneliness called suffocation, and no one could protest because they had to admit it was in good hands.  Here’s how it worked: first, Loneliness would ensconce the heart in a warm, friendly glow, and then, right when the heart was getting used to the feeling, it would be plopped down suddenly in a barren field with harsh winds whistling past.  That was only to make the victim acutely aware of the air.  Next, the heart would be ripped out of the field, plunged deep into the ocean, and left there to struggle for the surface.  Some accused Loneliness of being too dramatic, but you couldn’t argue that the ploy wasn’t effective.

Heartbreak insisted upon having exhaustion.  There was a big uproar about this because no one thought Heartbreak deserved a superpower.  Isn’t Heartbreak on its own enough? they asked.  But Heartbreak gave a rousing speech about how it wasn’t going to do much permanent damage by itself; the heart repeatedly experienced it and so inevitably developed a certain level of immunity against it over time.  No, exhaustion needed to accompany it so that after Heartbreak was through with the heart, the dull, constant ache of energy seeping out could finish it off.

Excitement took a Ferris wheel.  Immediately everyone started giggling because, come on, how much trouble could one carnival ride really cause?  Of course, Excitement had the last laugh because it turned out that a few turns around the wheel at high speed without a rest break made the heart beat nearly fast enough to burst.

Mourning had wanted exhaustion, but, since Heartbreak was so adamant, ended up settling for memory.  In the end, it was for the best, because combined with memory at just the right moment, Mourning was an almost debilitating force on the heart.  Not only that, but the duo had a long shelf life—it could pop up at any time and be just as effective.

Hate claimed no extra superpower was necessary to destroy the heart, but after the rest had all chosen, acid was standing around looking so dejected for not being picked that Hate felt sorry for it and decided to use it after all.  Hate and acid were so successful at rendering the heart powerless that these days, no one can even remember a time when they weren’t together.

By the time Doubt showed up (on its way back from hanging out with Worry, like always), there was nothing left but invisibility.  Faith and Hope had actually been hiding it the entire time so that nobody would notice it, but Doubt was so good at conjuring things up from out of nowhere that it took no time at all for invisibility to appear before everyone’s eyes.

So, while invisibility may not be the most impressive sounding (or looking) superpower, Doubt used it to its advantage whenever possible.  Everyone admired the wondrous havoc those two could spring on the heart when no one else was around.  (Heartbreak tried to trade at one point, but Doubt was perfectly content with the pairing.)  Some even said the ability to creep up on the heart unnoticed was the main quality that made Doubt so terrifying—although no one told Doubt about this because of its tendency to blow things out of proportion, and truthfully, they were all a little afraid of it on its own.

Yes, Doubt is here to invisibly pierce the heart and slowly drain its insides while everyone stands around wondering what exactly is happening; it is prepared to wring every last bit of sanity out that tries to cling on.  It will be a tedious process, but it will eventually prevail because it always does.  It will persevere no matter what obstacles appear, and it will also—

No, on second thought, that’s way too painful, even for a tough contender like the heart.  Let’s get those physical weapons back in the picture.

Here is a heart.  Here is a dagger.

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Posted by on March 28, 2012 in Nature


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