The laboratory is clean and immaculately white. Surgeons sharpen their precision blades. Three bodies start returning to consciousness, struggling to work out where they are through the haze of drug cocktails and the concussion from being wacked on their head. On any other day, what is about to happen would be illegal. But today we subscribe to a higher law; the law of science.
Also, we’re in international waters.
This floating, lawless, sea laboratory was built for one purpose; studying whale life. However, it is also the perfect place to solve the age-old question: “Can you gain your enemy’s courage by eating their heart?”
Often believed to have a mystical effect on the warrior who consumes it, ritualistic cannibalism has been practised by everyone from the early Scythians to Harry S. Truman, though it has waned in popularity in recent years.
But in this age of the nanny state and section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act, have we become a nation of cowards? And can we remedy this through a process humans have been using for thousands of years?
I have arranged for three enemies from my past to be brought to this laboratory so we can test what courage you can gain, if any, from eating your enemies’ hearts.
There’s Ben Dwyer, my school yard bully. Ten years ago he pulled down my pants in front of Julie Connors and I swore I would get revenge if it took me 10 years, so thank goodness this assignment came up when it did.
Sara Begley was my manager when I worked at National Australia Bank. She refused to give me the Christmas holiday period off even though I had requested it months in advance. It’s hard to know if this will even work as I’m not sure she has a heart.
Finally, there’s Dean Shields. He stole my ex-girlfriend several months after she dumped me by treating her with respect, as if she were an equal. He is perhaps my greatest enemy.
The first thing you notice when tucking into a flambé-d heart is that the screams don’t stop even when the bodies have been lifeless for quite sometime. Like a bitter, high-quality pork, human heart pairs well with a fresh white wine, such as a Viognier. As I eat, a wave washes over me. Is this my enemy’s courage? Or the existential dread of committing an unrepentable sin? When finished, I return to my room for testing.
After several weeks of non-stop testing, my team and I are now ready to publish the results of our experiment.
Our Conclusion: Courage is a vague, intangible quality and is impossible to define scientifically.
Matthew Farthing is the Science Editor for The (un)Australian. In the late 90’s he broke new ground in studying the effects of putting tiny hats on penguins. Follow him on Twitter.