The human heart. It is a weak, yet strong part of the body. It keeps humans alive, functioning, both physically and mentally.
Yet, it can also be easily manipulated. Even if one does not have a heart, if they have a strong resolve and will, they can survive without a heart.
But, manipulation isn't the only thing to destroy a heart. It can easily succumb to powerful feelings of false hope and utter despair. Things that live inside humans, devour them from the inside out, turn them into monsters of pure evil.
Hope is the only thing to keep a human from falling forever into darkness. The light inside, even the smallest glimmer, can hold a heart steady.
Such a curious thing, the human heart...
"...Even at the end of the world, it can still be bold and keep the human alive." She said quietly. She was in a large cave, the walls covered in drawings. She stood back up from where she had been kneeling, the ancient lettering standing out.
"Are you ready to go yet?" A voice asked from outside the cave. She turned and faced the entrance of the cave, smiling.
"This might be the last time you ever see this place." She said. "Why are you so anxious all of a sudden?"
"I just feel like we should hurry up and get moving, is all." The voice replied. "Come on. We'd better get moving."
"Alright. Go ahead without me, I'll be out in a few minutes." She said, and knelt down again. The person outside muttered something under their breath, then walked away. She found a sharp rock and carved something in the wall, then walked out, as well.
It was a picture of a bolt of lightning, a flame, and a door, all on a blank wall on a far off side of the cave. On the top of the door were the words, "open if you must, but beware the connections."
Five-year-old Phineas Flynn awoke to find himself shrouded in darkness. He looked around, but there was no one but him. It felt like he was underwater--his ears were clogged, making any possible sound feel muffled and far away. He took a step forward.
Suddenly, everything became bright, and he realized that he wasn't alone. There was a girl standing a little ways away, wearing a white dress. Her ultramarine eyes were dull and opaque, and she hadn't seemed to notice Phineas.
"Hey..." Phineas called out. "Hello? Can you hear me?"
There was no response from the girl, so Phineas decided to walk towards her. As soon as he took a step, however, everything was plunged into darkness once more, the girl looking at him with a terrified expression on her face.
With each step you make, you decide your fate. A voice said inside Phineas' head. You have to choose. Do you want to be in the darkness, or the light? Whatever the girl has chosen is not important. Your choice is. Do you take another step, or stay here?
Phineas thought about it for a moment, then took another step forward. Everything became light again.
You choose the light over the darkness. Your heart is strong, but with a weak will. It will be hard to survive this way. Are you sure about your choice? The voice asked.
"Yes." Phineas said. "My path is in the light. I can make my will stronger. I will survive this way."
Think with your heart, not with your mind. The voice cautioned. You may think that this is your destiny, but does your heart agree? Does this really feel right to you?
"Yes, it does. It feels right to be on this side." Phineas replied.
Very well, then. The voice said. Your destiny has been set. Will you follow the path you've chosen, or stray from it? Only the true nature of your heart will decide...
A fierce wind blew through everything, pushing Phineas back. He fell backwards, and darkness engulfed him once more...
Isabella stood in the midst of the flames, in shock. There was no way out, and even if there was, she would surely be fighting Phineas for it. Her heart shaped pendant sung and thumped wildly against her chest as she looked around desperately.
A scientist struggled to crawl away, coughing on the black smoke that filled the room. She dropped down to the floor and attempted to crawl over to him, but a large fireball blew her back. She stood back up and faced Phineas.
"Why are you doing this to all of these innocent people?" Isabella cried out. "They did nothing wrong!"
"They did everything wrong!" Phineas yelled at her, shaking his head. The crown shaped pendant around his neck shook along with it. "They made us into monsters, and innocent people died from this. Why are you siding with them?"
"Because more innocent people will die if you keep doing this!" Isabella shouted. There was a silence that swept over the two of them after that. The only sound they heard was the crackling of the fire around them.
After a while, Phineas turned away from her. "Very well, then. You can have your precious mortals, who you see as innocent, and I can have the others like me, who are truly filled with light." He ran off through the flames and smoke.
Isabella, on the other hand, stayed. Suddenly, somebody donned in a heavy black coat with a deep hood shielding their face from view came up to her.
"You poor child." They said. "You're so lost from the light and the dark. You walk a strange path of in between."
"What does that mean?" Isabella asked defensively. "If I have to fight you, I will!"
The hooded figure laughed. "Fight? With what? You have no power to wield in your hands. The only thing you can use your power on is people's hearts."
"Stay away from me." Isabella sneered. "I could kill you if I wanted to..."
"Yes, you could, in your mind, but would your heart ever let that guilt slip away?" The hooded figure asked. Isabella gasped in surprise. "You only thought with your mind, which is steeped in darkness. Your heart fights it with it light and innocence. That's why you walk between the two."
Isabella was silent. She thought about for a moment, then nodded.
"So, you see how it is, then. However, I can give you a power to wield physically, to use as a weapon." The hooded figure went on.
"What do I have to do for that power?" Isabella demanded.
"Sign a contract with me, Isabella Garcia-Shapiro." The hooded figure replied. "If you do, then I'll give you the power you crave, the power to stave off the darkness slowly growing with you."
Isabella nodded. "I'll do it. I'll sign a contract with you."
"Excellent." The hooded figure said, a smile in their voice. They extended their hand. "Take my hand, and the contract will be signed."
Isabella hesitated, then finally, slowly, took the hooded figure's hand. At that moment, a bolt of lightning struck the air, and rain pelted down. Pain shot through her body, and she collapsed, her energy drained.
"Happy doing business with you, Isabella Garcia-Shapiro." The hooded figure said, then opened a swirling blue and black portal and left, chuckling softly to themselves. Sirens soon filled the air, and firefighters came to put out the fire. Isabella was taken to the hospital, but was somehow unharmed.
Meanwhile, on the outskirts on Liverpool, England, a young couple ran through the downpour, lightning streaking across the sky. Cars' headlights blinded them, but they still ran, not stopping until they reached the far off mansion.
The girl went in first, then the boy. The girl's parents ran down the stairs at the sight of them.
"Oh, Kathleene, what on earth happened to you?" The mother asked, embracing her. She noticed the little boy in her arms. "Who's this?"
"I'd ask who the older boy is, as well." The girl's father asked. "He has a girl with her."
"We found them on the street, sir." The older boy said. "The boy was unconscious, but the girl was awake. She fell asleep on the way over here."
"They're not street urchins. Look at their clothes." Kathleene went on, holding out the boy. "Look at the necklaces. It's some kind of weird insignia."
"We think they might've escaped from somewhere." The boy said, brushing some of the girl's hair out of her face. "But, it says on the back of her dress that this institution this dress was from is in America."
"Institution?" The father grumbled. "What kind of institution?"
"From the name, it sounds like some sort of research facility." Kathleene replied. "It's called the Elements Project."
"Well, then, I suppose we should find out who these kids are." Kathleene's mother said. "Come on. Let's take them to the lab."
At that moment, the girl woke up. She looked around, confused.
"Oh, you're awake." The older boy said, gently placing her on the floor. "Are you well enough to walk? What's your name?"
The little girl stood up, then tears started to form out the corner of her eyes. "I...I don't know...I don't my name, I don't know anything..."
"It's okay." Kathleene said to her, kneeling down. "We'll find out who you are. Don't worry." She stood back up and turned to her parents. "Let's begin the tests on the boy now. She's had a rough day, so let's start on her tomorrow morning."
Kathleene's parents nodded, then took the boy from her and walked downstairs. Kathleene, the little girl, and the other boy walked upstairs.
"So, are your parents doctors or scientists or something?" The boy asked.
"Both." Kathleene replied coolly. They stopped in front a room in the front of the hallway. "This will be your room for tonight. Tomorrow, we run the tests on the girl, and all three of you will go home."
"Um, alright." The boy replied, surprised by her sudden change in demeanor. "Goodnight, then."
Kathleene nodded and walked away with the other girl to the far end of the hallway. She stopped in front of two rooms across from each other.
"This room right here is my room, and the one across from it is yours." Kathleene said. "Tomorrow, we're going to see if we can figure out who you are so you can see your parents and go home, okay?"
"Okay." The little girl said. "Are the tests going to hurt?"
"No, not at all." Kathleene replied. "It'll be like you're that little boy. Fast asleep. You won't feel anything."
"Um...I won't stay asleep as long as he is, right?"
"Huh? What do you mean?"
"That boy's been asleep for days and days, and hasn't woken up, no matter how loud I yell at him."
"How long exactly has he been asleep? Do you know?"
"Um...seven...or eight...or nine...? I don't remember that very clearly."
"I...I see. Well, goodnight."
As soon as the little girl closed the door to her room, Kathleene ran downstairs to her parents' lab. The lab was a large, crowded space, filled with various machines and monitors. In a metallic white pod with a transparent teal lid was the little boy, a red laser scanner sweeping across his body.
"Kathleene..? What the...?!" Her father exclaimed in shock.
"You need to stop the tests!" Kathleene said. "That boy's in a coma!"
"I found a match on both of them." Kathleene's mother replied. "How long has he been in a coma for?"
"Let me see those results." Kathleene's father said. He brought up the image on a bigger monitor. "There's two images here, one of them from America. It seems as if they went missing around the same time."
The images were missing children posters, one from London and the other from a town called Danville.
"My main concern is why on earth did they go through all the trouble?" Kathleene's father mumbled. "If the kidnappers were from America, like that boy thought, then why not just kidnap four American kids? Why them? Is there something about them that makes them targets...?"
The little girl woke up to find a mysterious figure in a heavy hooded black coat sitting in a chair next to her bed calmly.
"Relax, my dear child." The hooded figure said. "I mean you no harm."
"Who are you?" She asked. "What do you want from me?"
"I'm here to give you this." The hooded figure replied, and held up a card, with the girl's face on it. "It's your memories. Also, a special power. Something that you need to quell the inner struggle you're already facing." The girl was confused. "You have inside your heart light. A lot of light. But, that leaves you weak to very bad things. Dark things. With this power that I have, I can make you not weak to the dark, and still be strong in the light."
"Can I still have the light in my heart?" She asked. "Can I still have a lot of light?"
"Of course you can." The hooded figure said. "And your memories, too. Do you want to see what your parents would think of you if you didn't know who they were?"
The little girl shook her head. "Gimme! I want to not be afraid of the dark, and to remember who I am!"
"Good. I'm glad you want those things." The hooded figure said, and took her hand. A strange sensation, like being filled up with a freezing cold liquid, went up the girl's spine. The darkness in the room surrounded her, and she fell back onto her bed, unconscious. The hooded figure opened a portal, and was gone.
Later on the next day, Kathleene noticed that both the girl's and boy's necklaces were gone. The girl asked her about what necklace she was talking about, as she had no recollection of ever getting one. The same was with Phineas and Isabella.