Many Splarks stories exhibit extreme optimism, uplifting stories about plucky, weird animals overcoming the odds and achieving their dreams. Well, here’s one for you pessimists out there who are tired of goodness and determination. Revel in some doom and gloom!
Mortimer the Porcupine was a very bad-tempered porcupine. Despite the fact that the world in general had never done anything reprehensible to him, he often used his quills to stab random animals and people passing by. Sometimes when the quill didn’t meet its mark, he would yank it out with his teeth and chase after the unfortunate creature, poking it mercilessly when he caught up.
He was kind of a dick, really.
You might hope for a story in which Mortimer discovered in some capricious way that being a dick couldn’t rival the joy of true love or compassion to all God’s creatures. Yes, that would be satisfying, wouldn’t it? But that would merely be conjecture based on your desperate need for an orderly, mammalian-centered universe. Animals like Mortimer preferred to face the truth: we live in a cold, harsh universe that cares as much for you as it does your local landfill. Oh, perhaps it cherishes you both equally, planning for your edification and comfort just as it does for the dump, taking satisfaction in the development and fruition of the marvelous plans it has for you both.
[You: enter life as an exceptionally gifted and oft-misunderstood child, meet your soulmate, marry in an extravagant wedding paid for by your hefty salary, bear exceptionally gifted children, become CEO of a prestigious company, retire in the Caribbean, die surrounded by loved ones, and re-emerge as an esteemed disincarnate being in a mystical realm.
The dump: lives on virgin land with excellent decomposition prospects, is tended by enthusiastic sanitation workers, smells of roses and cedarwood, births a magical carpet of daisies above the refuse once its pit is filled, and hosts a prairie dog colony that revels in this field of daisies.]
But more likely the universe just doesn’t give a crap, and in fact has no consciousness to even be aware of its extreme apathy.
Do you now understand why Mortimer was constantly out of sorts? Admit it: if you had quills, you’d be stabbing people within a 50 mile radius of your house. But since assault is illegal in the human world, you choke down a Sorrows Milkshake and brightly say, “The world is fundamentally good!” You wake up in the morning pretending you didn’t cry yourself to sleep as you pondered your insignificance. You are alone. Your dreams are nothing but random neurons firing. Love is merely a chemical process to compel you to breed children that are likely as exceptional as your average cabbage moth.
The universe did not even see fit to give you quills.
Nevertheless, you may one day strip naked, roll in a vat of paste and then carefully apply handmade quills to your body, perhaps straws you swiped from a fast food restaurant and carefully cut to pointed ends. You will then burst into the conference room of your workplace, screech incoherent profanities, and chase your boss and co-workers out into the busy street while hurling twigs, ballpoint pens, and straightened paper clips at them. When you are struck by the senior citizen van transport, you will gasp out your last breath gazing into the eyes of an unimpressed octogenarian who long ago began whapping whippersnappers with canes, exploiting everyone who was ever admonished to “respect your elders” and “let grandma do what she wants” because “when you get to be her age, the old brain doesn’t make sense of things like it used to and you just need to put up with it for a couple more hours anyway until the van picks her up again.”
You see what you did there? If you’d have just waited it out, you wouldn’t have needed quills. You could have had a cane. You could have had multiple canes, one for each hand. But you, in your impetuousness, had to shake up the natural order of things and reach blindly, madly for quill-hood.
Perhaps you will be reincarnated as a porcupine like Mortimer. If so, rest assured that the universe does not give one flying fuck about how this transformation will affect the development of this silly thing you term a “soul.” It is merely coincidence that you now have quills. Get cracking, Porky. There are some prairie dogs over there that need some dickiness in their lives, and Mortimer can’t do it all.
(Image from Hieronymus Bosch’s “The Garden of Earthly Delights” central panel)
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