Love, commonly claimed to be the most powerful of human emotions, doesn’t even come close to generating the same amounts of electricity as fear. Researchers aboard the “Tide of Icarus” knows this to be a fact.
They have done the experiments.
It turns out that a good dose of fear generated on average fifteen to twenty times as strong of a current than the most loving test subject could muster. Even hate produced at least four to eight times stronger current than love. By connecting electrodes to the head of test subjects and sending the emerging electrical patterns through an ingenious Tesla invention, the researchers aboard the “Tide of Icarus” could obtain vast amounts of usable electricity. It was the scientific breakthrough of a lifetime.
The mind could in a very literal sense “power the world”.
There was just one problem: It is difficult for most people to maintain a high degree of hate or fear for any extended periods of time. In that sense, love was still superior. However, the electrical properties of love and hate emotions also differed on another level. Hate and fear were similar to violent bursts from a geyser, while love was a slow waterfall from a vast ocean. In electrical terms, hate is strong current and measured in ampere, while love is high pressure and measured in volts.
But despite their best efforts, the researchers could not harness the power of love into being a viable source of electricity. Hate and fear was so much simpler. It was raw, it was pure, it was so easy to convert to high amounts of electricity. So, that’s the path they felt forced to go down. Questioning why these negative emotions were more powerful than the positive ones wasn’t useful, the properties of nature were what they were. Magnetism is strong and gravity is weak, why the universe is built that way is irrelevant. Harnessing these forces was all that mattered, how to put this knowledge into good use for mankind. An hour of negative emotion for a whole day of useful electricity was the goal. A little bit of bad for a whole lot of good. This is how the research into “Sadie” eventually began.
Some of us, a subset of the human population, is particularly well suited for hate or for fear. Some of us can perform and maintain those emotions very well, and reach an almost frightening intensity. So the researchers went out to find the best of them.
The Tide of Icarus
Advertisements in newspapers and posters in public squares asked for “individuals with a bleak or angered outlook on life” and “persons to whom fright comes easily”. After choosing the most promising candidates, they were invited to partake in some simple scientific experiments aboard the famous “Tide of Icarus” … at least that had been the plan, initially, before the girl arrived.
She was eight years old, or nine, nobody really knew for sure. The elderly lady at the orphanage had seen the posters and had hoped for some reward when presenting the little girl who didn’t speak. The preliminary tests were off the charts, her fear values were like nothing they had ever seen before. So intense, so all consuming. She fried the test equipment they had issued to their local Wardenclyffe agencies in cities all over the world in search for someone like her. Excitement mixed with compassion compelled the researchers to take her in. It had been months since she last had a bath, and the researchers soon found out that her fear of water was particularly strong. But they were determined to take better care of her, and if they in the process happened to make additional scientific breakthroughs then everyone would win, humanity above all. Also, they were in need of a breakthrough.
The research at this point had stalled. They had hit a limit, and it wasn’t good enough. They were nowhere near the goal of “one hour of negative emotion for a days worth of usable electricity”. The closest they had come so far, using ethical means, was an exhaustive eight hours of focused and raw hate by a father who had recently lost his two children to a murderer. Anything else didn’t even come close. It worked, but it wasn’t efficient.
Unofficially, the lead researcher on the project, Professor Lyman, had secretly reached promising results using torture. It had started off innocently enough, as mere threats of violence to increase fear levels. But as the subject grew more accustomed to the threats, the output naturally decreased. So the threats gradually became more serious, until they eventually became the real thing. The professor, driven on by the rising results felt like this was the breakthrough that they had been hoping for. But it didn’t last. The subject rapidly deteriorated into madness after continued abuse, resulting in a complete mess of the measured emotional patterns that was supposed to be converted into electricity. It was as if they had drained his mind, leaving it like a used-up battery.
So, when “Silent Sadie” arrived, the anticipation was enormous. This would either save the entire project, or doom it forevermore. Everything riding on the fear measurements of a small eight or nine-year-old girl. But she wasn’t afraid, not at first. The researchers had treated her well. Their compassion had ruined their supposed breakthrough. Their kindness had stolen her edge, her usefulness, now she was just another orphan. That’s when the water torture began.
She almost blew up the entire ship the first time. The electrical overcharge caused damage that put the ship out of commission for weeks. After extensive overhaul, they resumed and found that she could, in theory, power the entire city of London for a day. Electricity for millions, for the price of the brief discomfort of one. But Professor Lyman could sense that there was more hiding under her surface. He was unwilling to commit the same mistake as before, so he didn’t push the torture further, but he did his outmost to foster her hate. He made her hate him, and fear him.
The hate of a child is pure. It is unburdened by logic or reason. It has room to maneuver into territory that the constrained minds of adults can’t even dream of. The hate of Sadie grew, nurtured like a flower from hell. It grew until it one day, together with her fear, together with the evil surrounding her, called forth something dark from another place. All of her hate, all of her fear, all of her pain, manifested itself in something unspeakable.
Her silent screams of fear morphed into a resonating shriek of violent hate.
Death followed like an evil echo.